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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

From Rhino and the Princesses

Don't forget, from now until Christmas Eve, Rhino wants to celebrate the holidays with you. You can purchase a copy of WHO WILL DANCE WITH ME? from my eStore. Enter the coupon code: NZ3N4ZFC and receive 20% off.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS from our family to yours!

Friday, December 13, 2013

We Wish You A Merry Christmas...

The end of the year is looming once more. I seriously don't know where the entire year goes. I do know the beginning of 2014 will either be filled with lots of good things or more plodding along. Why? you ask. Let me tell you.

First off, my entry to the Henson Co.'s Author Quest. It has been sent is out of my hands and into someone else's. They are notifying the top 5 on January 7th. Should I be deemed worthy, I will then have to write out the entire 50,000 word novel that they want written. It's a bit anxiety-inducing and exciting all rolled into one. Lots of nail-biting will be happening.

Second, I've been querying. MOTHER OF MONSTERS is out with an agent who closed to submissions right after I sent it and will be getting through everything in her inbox by January 6th.

Third, while I'm waiting to hear back on MOTHER OF MONSTERS, I sent out THE SOLUTION (because it matched better with other agents. Not every agent reps the same things which makes it difficult to write in varied genres.) Anyway, one of the agents it's out with has promised to respond to everything sent to her before the 20th by Christmas. This means I'll know on one whether or not a full will be sent or if I'll be getting another rejection to add to the wall in my stocking.

Fourth, which may or may not be an issue, is ABNA. In past years the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award has been announced around the end of November to the beginning of December. As of today, nothing has been said. Speculation abounds that the announcement will go up on January 1st. Whether or not this is true has yet to be determined. If it does, a lot is going to ride on the first three points and if they go anywhere. If there is no ABNA for 2014, well, it'll be one less thing to worry about come January.

With all this craziness (not to mention edits, revisions and constant writing of other things) I wanted to make sure I wished everyone a very Merry Christmas. Hope all your wishes come true.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Confetti and Champagne Phreak Show

That's right. Confetti and champagne for everyone!

Sadly, this is not to celebrate me. It is, however, to congratulate the awesomely talented Lucas Hargis and his lovely new agent, Louise Fury. PHREAK SHOW is on its way!

I wrote about Lucas' journey to land an agent back at the end of September. If you missed that post, which contained love for two other fantastic writers who also connected with their agents, you can find it here.

There are no words for how happy this news makes me. For anyone unfamiliar with his writing, Lucas has an extraordinary gift for niche writing. Pegging his work down or trying to explain it is difficult, but reading it is completely mind-blowing --- in a good way. Truthfully I've worried he wouldn't land an agent based on those agents trying to market it to a publisher. He got full request after full request after full request. I told my husband it was because those agents loved it and wanted to read his work, but had no clue how to go about selling it.

His betas and critique partners loved his work. It's really hard not to, even with all the unconventional ideas he throws at you. His storytelling draws you in and doesn't let go. Every time he says he has something new that needs readers, my hands get all grabby. Yes, I may be a fangirl.

It's funny. I remember 'meeting' Lucas about two years ago when he started popping up on all the writing sites I frequent. Within a week, he was everywhere, including ABNA and Authonomy, where he infiltrated our World-Builder's Alliance. Back then, he was working on CAPRITARE and I told my husband how jealous I was of his writing. Since that time, I've read parts of two other novels and a short story he entered into the Dark Carnival showcase. Each time, he amazes.

So, while my husband might own one of Lucas' art pieces (what? I didn't tell you he's an artist? He also re-purposes items and furniture with his partner under their company Lucah Designs) I'm looking forward to the day when I own one of his books.

Want to show him some love? Check out his PHREAK SHOW Facebook page.

And for Lucas and Twiggy, this is for you. ;-)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Book Rundown for 2013

Look at that. Somehow we're at the end of another year and the beginning of holiday shopping season. Time flies so fast. This means a rundown of my favorite books of 2013. As a disclaimer, this does not mean they were all published this past year, only that I read them during the last 11 months. They are ones I recommend for the reader on your shopping list. I'm going to try limiting myself to three in each category, but no promises.

Ready? Here we go.


The Hero's Guide to/League of Princes Series (Christopher Healy)

Not your average fairy tale, this series follows the exploits of Prince Charming --- all four of them and their princesses. The Prince Charmings are all upset because, well, Charming isn't really their name, but it's what all the bards remember. Now they're joining up for adventures and trying to make names for themselves, mainly Frederic, Duncan, Liam and Gustav.

Hilarious and lots of fun, I recommend this series, especially if you have boys who don't want to read 'Princess Books' and girls who do.

The Year We Were Famous (Carole Estby Dagg) 

Fictionalized account of a Mother-Daughter team walking from Mica Creek, Washington to New York City with the hopes of saving their family's farm. Centering more on their relationship than the hardships they must overcome, this is one of the best historical fiction I've read for this age group.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There
(Catherynne M. Valente)

Yes, this is the second book in the series. Yes, I recommended the first last year. 

If you like ALICE IN WONDERLAND, you'll love these. A little darker than Alice's adventures, September's travels are no less wonderful.


Eleanor & Park (Rainbow Rowell)

A love story that makes those involved take a look at themselves. In the end, it's less about falling in love and more about finding yourself. It's about standing up for what you believe in and those you care about. 

While I'm at it, I'd also recommend Ms. Rowell's FANGIRL. 

What I Saw and How I Lied (Judy Blundell)

Ms. Blundell has a knack for historical mysteries set in the early 20th century. This one is no different. I highly recommend her books for the young detective in your life.

Marcelo in the Real World (Francisco X. Stork) 
Heartbreaking and heartwarming, this one takes a look at life and corporate law through the eyes of an autistic 17-year-old Marcelo. He spends a summer in the 'Real World', working at his father's law firm. While he's there, he discovers life isn't all black and white, and sometimes a person has more strength and courage to make things right than he realized.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children (Kirstin Cronn-Mills)

This one makes it on my list because Mika's Grace Kelly is mentioned on the first page. Ok, that's not the only reason, but it's a good enough one. 

This was the first book I've come across and read that deals with transgender and what those who identify with the opposite sex deal with in their daily life. The author also includes resources at the end for anyone looking for more information or support. 


The Ghost Bride (Yangsze Choo)

Marriage to a deceased bride-groom brings more than anything young Li Lan imagined, including the unraveling of a mystery started before she was born.

Historical fantasy, this book is beautifully written. Think along the lines of Spirited Away for adults. Choo mixes the spirit world and 19th century Malacca to bring life to her take on this Chinese tradition. 

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? (Maria Semple)

I know I'm late to the game with this one, but it's as good as everyone says. Told through a series of letters, e-mails and the odd interjection by Bernadette's daughter, Bee, we follow the unraveling of a once brilliant architect who's lost her drive and confidence. With a push from nosy and ridiculous neighbors and the intervention of her well-meaning, if often absent husband, she sets off on an adventure of a lifetime to reclaim some of her former glory.

 The Woman Who Died A Lot (Jasper Fforde)

Because I'm a Fforde junkie, I needed to add at least one of his to this list. I also read the first two books to his YA series, which I also recommend, but had too many others for that category.

We're back and following the fabulous Thursday Next and her crazy mixed-up world full of dodos, neanderthals, and the odd clone getting into the works. She also has Chronoguards and the ability to read herself into books. Nothing in Thursday's life is ever simple.

There you go! This year's book recommendations. If you'd like more, you can always check out my Goodreads page and my Recommendation Shelf.

Happy Reading!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Done!...Or Not Quite Finished Yet

Here we are, nearly through November and I haven't posted. I thought about posting, but then again, I think about a lot of things and never get around to doing them.

As you can see by my lovely calendar, I have completed NaNoWriMo as of last night. Not that it means much other than I managed to get 50k+ words onto paper. The story is not yet finished.

At the beginning of the month I said I was using this time to complete partially written manuscripts. Well, I'm happy to say the first draft of PROMETHEUS' LANTERN is done and awaiting the Red Pen of Doom. I then turned my attentions to a collaboration project I've been tossing around with my husband for...well a long time. It's a 1920s detective story currently entitled TINMAN. We originally were writing it as podcast episodes, but changed our minds and are now attempting to get it written as serialized fiction: 10 'episodes' per story arc, each episode running around 5,000 words. We have roughly 5 story arcs in mind, although we haven't gotten past the first one yet.

At this point, I'm halfway through the 6th episode, which means over halfway done this story arc. When I finish, we'll revisit the idea of doing serialized or straight-out novels. Until then, I have a lot of words left to write. They're going to have to wait until December to be written.

Earlier this week I got an email reminding me of a Christmas Short Story Showcase I had agreed to do. Guess who forgot all about it? Yup, this girl. So for the next two weeks I'll be working on that. Once everything's finalized on the website, I'll post the link here.

On top of that, I'm only half done revising my Dark Crystal piece. In case you missed it, there is an Author Quest going on to search for someone to write a sequel to the Dark Crystal. To enter, I wrote a short piece (contest rules said between 7500-10,000 words) set in the Dark Crystal world and hinting at what my novel would be like should I be chosen. Yes, this is a long shot, but since I can't work with the Muppets as a children's TV show host, I might as well try the writing angle, right? Now, I need to have that done and in before the end of the year.

Last, but not least, PitchWars starts on December 2nd. Before that hits, I want to look over the novel I'm planning on entering, since it's been sitting on the back burner for a long time. DOWN THE WOODED PATH is going to get one more shot at the world before I tuck it away and move on.

So, I've got a busy month and a half (most of it being the next two weeks) in front of me. I guess this is what happens when you start seriously working on projects and getting your work out there. Suddenly DEADLINES are EVERYWHERE!!!

I haven't even thought about what I'm doing for ABNA should it be held again next year. Because, it's not until January and that's a year away, right?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A NaNo-ing We'll Go

Guess what's coming up?

Yes, Halloween. I mean after that.

Thanksgiving? You've gone a tad too far.

I'll give you a hint: It starts on Friday.

That's right, it's NaNo Time! Most of you have been around and are familiar with NaNo and what it means. For those who are scratching your heads, I'll give you the condensed explanation.

NaNoWriMo (often shortened to NaNo) stands for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November with participants working towards a goal of 50,000 words (the word count of a short novel) by the end of the month. Winners get bragging rights, certificates and cool badges to display on social media and make their friends jealous. Winning also brings with it prizes from other sponsors (CreateSpace & Scrivner) as well as the beginnings for a future published novel.

I've participated in NaNo three years (this will be my fourth!) and twice in its summertime sibling Camp NaNo. Every time I've managed to get out 50,000 words, although there have been a couple close calls. For my efforts, I have a hard drive full of manuscripts waiting to find their way into the world. Some have come close, but none have quite broken free.

Last year during NaNo, I decided to do something different. With a couple incomplete stories hanging around, I chose to do a Finishing Month rather than a Writing Month. I just kept whatever I wrote during November separate from what I previously wrote, still accomplishing a total of 50k words. Looks like I'll be doing something similar this year.

Sitting on the back burner of my writing drive are two manuscripts waiting for an ending. This just may be their month. One is a detective story set in the 1920s. I started working on that with my husband, but put it aside for other things. I think it's time for Detective Jane Cassidy to get some more action.

Slightly less forgotten is the follow-up to MOTHER OF MONSTERS, PROMETHEUS' LANTERN. With the story half written and a good idea of where it's going, Maya and her friends are ready to kick Hera's butt. Again.

Something new for this year is the widget on my blog. If I can point your attention over the the upper right-hand corner, you'll see a lovely calender. It will be tracking my progress for the month. Feel free to yell at me if you see my numbers slipping.

Now I have today and tomorrow to finish getting ready. The characters are itching to get started.

Who else is ready?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Saying Good-Bye to a Dear Friend

My family tends to be blessed with longevity. The first family member I remember losing was my great-pepere when I was thirteen. The next was my great-grandmother who passed away at the age of 104 when I was twenty. Her own sister passed away a few years ago. She was 102 at the time.

As you can imagine, things like this make you believe you're invincible. There's this feeling that your family will live forever, or pretty darn close to it. Recent events over the past couple of years have proved the falsity of those beliefs. Never have I attend so many wakes and funeral, memorial services and prayer vigils as I have in the last three years. I suppose that's the price of having loved ones around for so long. They've always been there for us and we assume they always will. We can't imagine life without them.

Loved ones don't stay with us forever, despite what we want to believe. They all age and move on together, in sudden rapid successions.

This past Monday I received news of the passing of a family friend. Mrs. Genevieve Ralph, one of my grandmother's best friends left us on Friday, October 18th. It took me until now to gather my thoughts for this post. Even now, I'm not sure I can do her justice. She was so much more than the person I knew, but this is how I'll remember her.

Going through family photos from the holidays, it's difficult to find one where she didn't make an appearance. Sometimes she's sitting around my grandmother's table, enjoying the meal with us. Other times she's sitting in a chair talking, having stopped by for dessert. When we were younger, she brought me and my brothers and sister presents for Christmas. On my bookshelf I still have copies of The Prince in the Golden Tower and Go In and Out the Window with inscriptions in her slanted handwriting.

Mrs. Ralph was one of the most caring people I know. Supportive always of her friends and family, she surrounded herself with like-minded people. Never one to pull punches, her criticisms were blunt and to the point. The two of us exchanged writing samples, offering feedback and advice. When I started off with my website, she was the first to offer her own stories to be placed in the 'Friend's Work' tab.

Tonight I go to say my final farewell to this wonderful woman. If any of you have a chance to read her work, I encourage you to do so. She was bitten by the writing bug later in life, but her observations are full of stark beauty. Part of me also wants to believe that every time a writer's work is read, their angel get new paper and pens.

Let's give her lots of paper and pens.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Happy October!

It's October! With October comes my favorite holiday: Halloween.

I know, I told you all that I'm a chicken when it comes to scary movies/TV shows/stories, but there's something about a month of terror culminating in a night of dress-up and sugar highs that appeals to me.

Yes, I'm strange.

With the upcoming holiday scares already happening, I would like to invite you all to check out Freaky Fridays: The Dark Carnival on Pen & Muse's Blog.

This is a showcase of writer and illustrator talent from all over. Each of us chose a topic pertaining to the carnival theme and wove a story or picture around it.

Every Friday starting tomorrow, new stories and pictures will go up for your enjoyment. Having been granted a sneak peek at a few of them, I guarantee you're all in for a treat...with a possible trick thrown in.

On top of Pen & Muse hosting this fantastic showcase, they're doing a give-away. It's open now, and another reason to check out their blog. To the lovely and wonderful ladies of Pen & Muse: Thank you!

Now it's up to you. Enter if you dare. Or are you too chicken?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sharing the Happiness 1.5

Remember when I said I couldn't give out details on one of those offers of rep because they were still thinking it over? Yeah, I should have waited a day.

I am happy to be able to share more good news. The incredibly talented Nicole Panteleakos signed with Rachael Dugas of Talcott Notch Literary for her YA Connected. This is one of hers I have not had the pleasure of reading, but judging from the two I have (Anabel Mist Does Not Exist and Katie Clark is Special Ed which made me cry) this one is going to be fantastic.

Some crazy coincidental background info:

I met Nicole through ABNA (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award) in 2011. Oddly enough, although we've yet to meet in person (officially - we did attend the same party once in 2006), we discovered we share many of the same friends due to our shared interest in the theater and the fact we grew up less than an hour away from each other.

To top the crazy Small-Worldness off, we had the same high school English teacher, a favorite for us both, despite attending different schools in different states. Our teacher, Mr. Dick Martin who released his own book last year, left my high school when I graduated and started teaching in Connecticut.

With her agent signing, I hope to be able to announce a book deal for her in the near-future. A book launch would be the perfect way to finally meet face-to-face.

Congratulations, Nicole! And best of luck on the next part of your journey to publication.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sharing the Happiness

I promised a 'Sharing the Happiness' post last week, but kept putting it off in hopes of having more to add. Unfortunately, some of the good news I was waiting on got derailed or those involved haven't gone public. That means part of this post will have to be a little vague and a follow-up post will be making an appearance once they formally make the announcements.

First off, let's all celebrate, because we can.

When I see you at the finish line, I'm going to take my time

Now, onto the reasons we're celebrating. Starting with the ones I *can* share. The wonderfully talented, all-around fabulous and heck of a nice guy Sean McConnell signed with agent Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Agency. You can read all about it here. If you're on Twitter, I also suggest following both Sean (@SP_McConnell) and Terrie (@AKA_Terrie). They're both very positive and helpful.

If you'd like a sneak peek of what Sean's capable of, check his work out on his website, Ballatore Academy.

Next came news of two other friends (both of whom I can't believe haven't gotten signed yet) with offers of rep. Yes, the good news was coming fast and furious last week.

The first one opted to reject the offer of rep. (Yes, you read that right.) Like any business venture, entering into a contract with an agent takes trust and belief that they're the right one for you. The extraordinarily talented Lucas Hargis had neither of those with his offer. He blogs about it on The Write Frame of Mind.
I'm still crossing my fingers something good comes from this round of queries.

Both Sean and Lucas will be participating in Freaky Fridays: The Dark Carnival with me this October. Details to follow this week. I highly recommend checking both their work out.

Second friend is still thinking over their offer and going through their options. Once things are all official, another post will be going up so everyone can send their congratulations.

Finally, on a non-writerly note, a close friend of mine announced her engagement. Again, I have to be vague as possible since she hasn't announced it yet. I'm insanely happy for her and can't wait to celebrate. She will be getting a post of her own because she is amazing herself. For now, I have to keep quiet. But, she deserved a mention in my happiness post.

With all this incredible news surrounding me, I have none of my own to share. It's ok. I'm enjoying the happiness and good vibes coming off all my friends. The promise of good things ahead for some of them. For those of us going through the writing and querying process, we're all at different stages.

I'd be lying if I said writers don't get a little jealous when we hear about others getting those offers. For me, I'm more jealous of these three friend's talent. I seriously CANNOT wait to be able to share their stories with everyone. Maybe it's because I've fought alongside them so long in the Query Trenches and saw them go through disappointment and near misses. Maybe it's because I read early drafts and critiqued their work. Whatever the reason, I have never been so happy to hear about offers of rep, even if they ultimately got turned down.

As for me, well like the song says, "I'll be just fine/When I see you at the finish line/Doesn't matter if I take my time." That finish line's the same for us all and it's not going anywhere. I'm just taking a more scenic route to get there.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Can't Stop the Madness

It's that time again. Once more, Twitter is the place to be if you have a finished manuscript that you want to pitch. That's right -- Pitch Madness Time! If anyone's interested, you can hop over to Twitter and use the hashtag #PitMad. In 140 characters, give agents on the feed the hook of your story, level (MG, YA, NA, Adult) and genre (Contemp., Fantasy, Horror, etc.)

One tweet per hour so we don't overload the feed. No favoriting other pitches, although commenting on them is highly recommended.

Since a few agents on the feed asked writers to post a longer pitch and short excerpt on their blogs/websites, I'm doing exactly that right now. Without further ado, what I'm pitching today on #PitMad, the unabridged versions.

Mother of Monsters
Pitch: Gods don’t die; they wait.

In the country of Elpis, the Greek gods of old have reawakened. Many are thankful to be remembered. Some are still hurt by humankind’s ability to push them aside so easily. One wants revenge.

Maya, a young girl from an influential family, becomes the vessel for Hera’s plans. Kept on an island for five years with only select companions for the duration, Maya is forced to mother forgotten monsters of ancient Greece. Monsters created to keep mankind in line. 

Angry over what Hera plans to do with her children, Maya does her best to secretly upset the Goddess’ plans.  Teaching them about family and loyalty, Maya plants the seeds of rebellion in each monster she creates.

With an army at her disposal, Hera sends the monsters into the world, spreading her message of death and destruction. Now Maya needs to stop them, and Hera, before what’s left of humanity is wiped out in the name of a vengeful goddess.

At 60,000 words, MOTHER OF MONSTERS explores the bonds of family and the ability to love unconditionally.

Excerpt: Chapter One

Old gods never die; they wait and scheme. None did this better than Hera. Now her plan was missing only one element. A whispered word would set things right.
The night air was cool, but Hera didn’t mind as she entered the bedchamber of Thisbe, loyal servant to the goddess. Thisbe’s family had served Hera well for the past two thousand years. When Greece fell and Elpis rose in its place, her ancestors were the first to embrace the old ways. Now, Hera would repay them for their faith.
“Send her away. Save your daughter. You must find a way.” Hera’s words echoed in Thisbe’s head, keeping her from sleep. Her daughter, Maya, would be thirteen in the morning. Sacrificial age for the first born in a household of Hera.
“I must honor my oath to my goddess.”
“Do you believe this is what your ancestors fought and died for?” Hera said, planting seeds of fear and doubt in Thisbe’s tired and troubled mind. The words became young men and women in uniforms, dirty and injured. Flashes of light from their guns illuminated the battlefield that served as a graveyard once the fighting was done.
“My ancestors fought in the Last Great War to free us all. They built Elpis on the ashes of Greece. Their vision of a new country based on old ideals is everyone’s vision.”
“Yet you argue with yourself. Is their vision truly your vision as well?” Thisbe’s dream turned from the battlefield to an Elpis she had never known. Elpis when it was still Greece. Paved roads thick with cars sprawled through the countryside, connecting towns and cities. Tall buildings reached towards the sky, competing with Mount Olympus.
The picture Hera showed her shimmered to be replaced with the Elpis Thisbe had always known. Dirt roads in place of the smooth, black asphalt, many in disrepair and overgrown. The cars, once so abundant, rusted in secluded junkyards, abandoned with all memories of the Technological Age. Skyscrapers and office buildings had been long ago knocked down. Priests and priestesses of the old Greek gods called them blasphemous attempts to live among the gods.
Still Thisbe wouldn’t be swayed.
“I am loyal to Hera.”
“What would Hera do with a dead daughter?”
“The same she has done with every dead child for the last two thousand years. And all the Sacrificed before Ancient Greece fell and our ways were lost for so long.”
“Foolish woman. Hades is the only god with any use for the dead.” Hera hissed and Thisbe’s dream ignited with a painful red light. The girl must be sent to her alive if her plan was to work. For her plan to go unchallenged, it must be done in secret.
The pain in Thisbe’s head caused her to cry out, finally giving in to the goddess.
“How should I save her?”
“Set her adrift. Poseidon may take mercy on the child. Now go, while your household sleeps. Save Maya before it is too late. If she is sacrificed in the morning it will be to Hades, not Hera.” Thisbe woke from her half-sleep, shivering in the late night air. She slid from her bed, careful not to wake her husband, and stole into Maya’s room.
“Get up quickly.” The whispered words in her ear startled Maya, but her mother hushed her before she could cry out. Thisbe dressed her daughter up in old clothes and took her to the kitchen. With Maya looking on in confusion, Thisbe packed a small satchel with enough food for a week.
“What are you doing?” Maya asked, her voice thick with sleep. Thisbe said nothing, leaving the household to slumber in ignorance while she disappeared into the night with Maya. The message from Hera still burned in her mind, giving her a faint hope. Could it be possible her daughter would be allowed to keep her life?
Maya ran to keep up as her mother hurried down to their family dock. An old rowboat was tied to the pier and Thisbe lowered Maya into it. Under the seat she placed the sack full of provisions in hopes Maya would be back on land before they ran out.
“Mother?” Kissing Maya on the forehead, Thisbe kept the tears running down her face hidden from her daughter. Fear kept her silent. If she spoke, Maya would insist on fulfilling her duty to their goddess. Maya was loyal to a fault. No, sending her off without disclosing her intentions was the best. Getting the boat off into the current before Maya could comprehend her intentions on her own would be better.
 She looked for the last time at her oldest child before she untied the boat and pushed it off into the current.
“Mother!” Maya’s shriek was lost in the wind. The boat rocked wildly as Maya screamed, trying to be heard. Her hair whipped across her face and she pushed the dark curls frantically out of her eyes. Safely on dry land, her mother had become no more than a dot along the shore.
Standing on the dock, Thisbe watched as the boat carrying her daughter headed off in the direction of a small, uninhabited island not far from the coast. If Maya could reach land, she may be able to live out the rest of her days. They wouldn’t be days of leisure and play, but they would be days spent on earth instead of across the river in Hades’ land.
Hera wasn’t about to be deprived of her sacrifice. This particular one, however, would be of something other than a life.

Down the Wooded Path

Pitch: Cindy Smith should be living a fairytale life. Trouble is, she's living in the real world and it's falling down around her.

Some girls would embrace a name like Cinderella. Some would flaunt it. Some, like Cinderella Smith, would count down the days until they could legally change it. Saddled with what she considers an unfortunate and cruel name, Cindy, as she insists being called, avoids dancing, dresses and make-up.Her whole life changes when she dreams about a cottage the woods and a grandmotherly woman straight out of a fairytale. Before she knows it, she’s broken her vow never to attend a dance and agrees to go to her high school’s Spring Fling with her best friend, Benny Gordon.

Meanwhile, Cindy realizes that she is losing her mother, but isn't sure to what. She returns home after the Spring Fling to find her that mother is in ICU after a collapse in the grocery store. As the clock strikes midnight, her mother succumbs to an aggressive brain tumor that she kept hidden from Cindy.

Devastated, Cindy blocks out everything around her. With Benny's help can she finally learn that she needs to live her life from moment to moment and find her own fairy tale?

Complete at 50,000 words, DOWN THE WOODED PATH is a YA fantasy about finding your own way.


Seventeen years. That’s how long it took me to learn one very important lesson; happy endings only exist in stories. Even then the endings aren’t as ‘happily-ever-after’ as the movie industry likes us to believe. For starters, The Little Mermaid turns into sea foam in the original story. How the heck is living out the rest of your days mixed with seagull poop considered a happy ending? And don’t even get me started on Little Red Riding Hood.

It’s safe to say my household has always been on the odd side. My mom and grandmother come from a long line of ardent believers. Not the religious God or Jesus kind. Oh, no. While some people study the Bible or Koran, my grandmother put her faith in the fairy godmothers and princes on white chargers gracing the pages of ‘Grimm’s Fairie Tales.’ But her beliefs didn’t end with the stories.

She was by far the oldest person ever to hang up a stocking on Christmas Eve or put her teeth under her pillow when she had them pulled and dentures made. Her glee at finding the stocking filled or a dollar thrust under her pillow when she awoke was almost embarrassing. My suspicions centered on my mother being the enabler of her own mother’s delusional expectations. 

The one time I confronted her about it, my mother became offended and refused to talk about it. A little while later, Mom sat crying softly to herself in her bedroom. I decided it was better to keep my suspicions to myself.
Despite trying my hardest to keep my grandmother’s crazy in check, it still managed to creep into my life at the worse times. Sunday was no exception.

Spring was getting started and wanted to begin on a high note. Or at least on a hot note. With no air-conditioning, our house was unbearable. Outside wasn’t much better, but at least the odd breeze made it a little cooler.

The town park became my destination for the day. Pine Hills wasn’t big enough to have anything like a theater to spend the day inside and cool. Not that I had the money to spend on a movie even if there was. Instead, Pine Hills was blessed with the Wunderland Beauty Spa and the county hospital. Neither were very exciting.

On Maple Street I passed a group of little girls playing jump rope. The four of them must have been about seven or eight-years old, their pigtails and curls bouncing along with their chanting.

“Cinderella, Dressed in Yella…” I cringed and walked quickly away, the clicking of the jump rope and slapping of sneakers on pavement following me. It never made sense to me why little girls found jumping over a piece of string fun. And the chants they came up with were even worse.

Why couldn’t they enjoy something more useful? Like auto mechanics? Then they wouldn’t need to rely on some guy to rescue them every time their car broke down. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Why I'll Never Be a Children's Show Host

Well, I did it. I sent in my audition tape for the Sprout's Next Host Hunt. Mostly because I told everyone I would and a little bit because I was attempting to plug my children's book. (I'm shameless, I know.)

I think it backfired.

As many of you know, I do theater fairly regular. I have no issue performing in front of crowds. Cameras are another matter all together. Especially if I need to talk to them like I'm talking to a real person. It's a lot harder than I was prepared for, even with all the mental notes I made.

Anyway, I ended up taping my audition twice. First time, nerves took over and I was all over the place. It also ran 39 seconds over the allotted 2 minute time frame, which meant it wouldn't be judged on my singing since it was at the very end. I know, probably for the best, but doesn't show time management or following directions very well. Not a good impression to make.

I had to wait to make the second tape, since it would automatically be disqualified if kids appeared in it. Again, as most of you know, my kids are with me nearly 24/7. Finding quiet time to reshoot was nearly impossible and ended up being done at 10 pm on the day it was due. Again, not the best time management on my part. Also, to add to the fun, I woke up with an earache that wouldn't go away (I still have remnants of it as I type this) making it impossible to smile. Needless to say, a cheery host I did not make. But, it fell in the two minute range --- a minute forty-seven to be exact. Out of time, it would have to do.

But life is never simple. The second audition wouldn't upload to the site. After nearly two hours of cursing and muttering, I gave up. Out of curiosity, I attempted to upload the original video. Lo and behold, it worked. Go figure.

Well, since I'm not one to go back on my word, I went ahead and sent it. Not my best work by any means, but neither was the second go. The practical part of my brain says a third try wouldn't have been the charm, either. I'm just not very good at playing me.

Also on my lists of promises was the posting of my audition so you can all share in my pain. I really wanted to back down on this one. I know they're bad (don't tell me otherwise, I know you're lying) but a promise is a promise. Both attempts for your cringing pleasure. Go ahead and laugh at them, I am.

First Attempt

Second Attempt

Besides, my opportunity at working on public television with puppets isn't over yet. I still can do this:


Hubby says I look good in black, so it's kind of like destiny. Right?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lo, The Summer Has Passed

With Labor Day weekend looming before us in a few days and the kids already back in school, I'm left wondering where the heck summer went. Seems like it just arrived with all its parades and barbecues and it's already on its way out the door.

Those of you who know me well, know that I'm not a winter person. Summer girl all around here. Which is why I'm always sad to see it leave so soon. Summer never gets to stay around long enough. And with its end, my birthday creeps a little closer, reminding me of all the goals I set before I turned another year older. All the goals I haven't *quite* managed to meet. Sort of like my New Year's resolutions. I think they all go off together to party as soon as I make them, knowing they'll never be fulfilled.

Anyway, the optimist in me sees the end of the summer as a new beginning. This year for the first time both children will be attending school full-time. Does this make Mommy nervous? Yes, yes it does. Are they enjoying it so far? Yes they are. With the exception of Bug needing to wear shorts under her uniform dress, they've adapted to the change well. They're making friends and learning in a small classroom environment. Good for us all.

With them out of my hair, I mean off learning and growing, I have time to focus on writing. Yes, it's amazing what I can do when I don't have to jump up every two minutes to break up a fight, fix a snack or entertain two small children. I can FOCUS. It's a miracle. Now to find out if focusing will pay off in the end.

Writing isn't going to be my only focus. I'll be able to query and hopefully my letters will make sense. It's a big step for me. Gibberish in my emails and messages will be a thing of the past. Maybe. If it isn't already hard-wired into my brain as a second language. Who knows at this point?

I was very much hoping to be able to share some good news with this blog post, but the good news has yet come to pass. I will say some of my querying is starting to show results. Will I have awesome news to share before my birthday next month and quite possibly fulfill one of my goals, for the first time ever? I'm crossing my fingers that it'll happen. What I can say is that agents will research writers as much as we research and stalk them. Eventually the mutual stalking will lead to chatting. If you're lucky, it'll end up in a partnership.

So, although the summer is ending, I'm looking forward to a promising fall. So long as the ghosts and goblins stay out of the works, it might be the best one yet.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Pitfalls of Talking to Non-Writers about Writing

Well, I survived another round of NaNo, my second time doing Camp NaNo and fifth overall NaNo experience. Which means I have an awful lot of editing to do. Eventually one of those manuscripts will be ready for the big time. I hope.

During Camp NaNo month, I was discussing the MS I was working on with people who don't write and who aren't huge readers. When I mentioned doing NaNoWriMo, I found myself in the following conversation:

Them: I don't think NaNo is a good idea.
Me: Why not?
Them: Because it takes up all your time. And what happens when you run out of words? People will just use filler words to finish.
Me: It's a possibility, but the main point of NaNo is to get the rough draft down on paper. It works the best for people like me who need deadlines or they won't finish a draft. Novels aren't written in one draft.Yes, agents cringe when December hits because people will send out work fresh off the press, without editing it or going over it. But, there have been lots of good books to come from NaNo by writers who are serious and take the time after to get things right.
Them: And if everyone's doing it, they're going to run out of ideas. Then what are they going to do?
Me: o.O

So, this is when I realized talking about the writing process with people who don't write is much harder than I thought it would be. For most writers, ideas will come from nowhere and quite unexpectedly. Everyone has different ways of being inspired. I guarantee doing NaNo and other writing challenges are not going to exhaust all their ideas. Some writers will get stuck, but for many, it's temporary. Sooner or later, something will spark a thought that will lead to characters and a plot.

I decided to shift the conversation to what I thought would be less controversial topics. I may have been wrong.

Me: I'm thinking about rewriting TROUBLE IS MY FRIEND (currently a picture book) and making it a chapter book for slightly older kids.
Them: How are you going to do that? Won't older kids not like the idea of an imaginary friend?
Me: Well, I'm still toying around with the idea. I might make Trouble an actual character, still imaginary, but so he can be interacted with. Won't be for much older kids.
Them: Won't they get confused? Do you really want to promote blaming things kids do wrong on an imaginary friend? Right now I think it has a good message.
Me: Kids will blame imaginary friends anyway. Bug does it all the time.
Them: So why encourage it?
Me: Because it's a story that kids will want to read.
Them: But it won't have a moral. I like stories with morals and a lesson.

So, my friends, if my first 'Banned Book' is a picture book (or chapter book) about imaginary people/friends/things, you'll know why. You'll also understand why I don't discuss the writing process with non-writers, unless they're interested in becoming writers.

Until then, Happy Writing and Reading! I'll be over here in the corner, muttering to myself and possibly scribbling on the wall. Don't worry, I'll blame it all on Trouble.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Greetings from Camp NaNo 2013!

I'm taking a quick break from Camp NaNo to write a letter home. (aka - this blog post) I had a shaky start, with it being 4th of July and a long weekend. In the last week, I caught up and surpassed my word count goal. Saying that, the rest of the month will now be jinxed.

Several people have asked about this story and I thought I'd take the time to explain it, to the best of my ability. I'm not even quite sure where it's heading.

First of all, let me say that I'm pushing my comfort zone boundaries nearly to their max. Over the years, I've stretched those boundaries little by little. There was a time when I wouldn't write anything I didn't want my mother to read. Happy and uplifting or with solid moral lessons, that was the way to go. It took me a while to break from that mindset and realize that's not where my writer's brain wanted to go.

Yes, I still enjoy writing children's books, but I also wanted to write darker stuff. As followers and readers of my blog, you know I knocked down the wall concerning abuse and murder with WHAT THE WHOLE TOWN KNEW. Deciding to write that was a huge step forward for me, even if it never gets published. It meant I was capable of writing in that vein of thinking. I could push my personal boundaries and trample them.

I'm a huge reader. My house is full of books of every type. I mean EVERY type. You can't go in a room at my house without encountering them. Even the bathroom has a small bookshelf. Reading so many different genres and styles means my brain likes to mix them up to see what happens. It brings up lots of What ifs? that need exploring.

I still have things I won't write. Erotica, for one. I mean, I get squirmy and uncomfortable writing a kissing scene, how well do you think I'd do getting that graphic? But, most other things are fair game.

Now, onto my current project, which started out as a romance, but is quickly becoming more literary with romantic elements. Some of you saw me asking for help on Facebook, looking for military information. Everyone who stepped up, thank you! You gave me a basis to build on, although I'm going to need more help when I go for revisions.

OF LOVE AND WAR is first person POV (Point of View), from the perspective of Private Billy Brown. (First comfort level breached - writing from male POV.) Set in US Army (Second comfort level - military and warfare), it follows Billy, through flashbacks (Third comfort level - non-linear writing) as he falls for a superior officer, David Long (Fourth comfort level - gay romance) during the repeal of DADT. Yeah, I'm taking on a lot at once. My biggest worry is making sure I portray all of these elements in the right way. My second worry is finding Beta readers willing and knowledgeable enough to straighten out any inaccuracies I accrue along the way.

So, that's the current news from Camp NaNo. Have any of you written out of your comfort zone? Even if it was a different genre or story length. What was it and how did it go for you?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I'm on a Panel!

I'm still here. Taking the 'Absentee' thing a bit seriously again, I'm afraid. Last week it was family vacation week, this week started Camp NaNo. Working on something new and I'm completely out of my element. I'll let you all know how it goes at the end of the month.

Between getting writing, editing and revising done, I'm still making appearances. This month, I'll be sitting in on my first panel at Charlton Library. I'm excited and a bit nervous. If you all want to come and give me some easy questions, I'd love you forever.

Seriously, if you're in the area and considering self-publishing, come check it out. I won't be the only one there, so even the hard questions have a chance of being answered.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Loving Thy Neighbor

This week's blog post has been bouncing around in my head for a while, trying to consolidate into a single cohesive thought without much success. I'm not sure even now I can get all my thoughts in line, but I'm going to try. Basically it all comes down to one thing: Hate.

I'm not talking about the frustrated, "Ugh! I hate this computer/car/traffic." I mean complete, unrelenting hatred for people you don't know. For people different from you, in a group whose views and lifestyles you don't share. A hate you have so ingrained that nothing anyone says or does will ever change your mind.

First of all, I want you all to know how much its hurts to hear hatred so strong being spewed by people I know and love. It physically affects me to the point I have to leave the area where the tirade is taking place or I get nauseous. How the people such attacks are aimed at deal with the abuse, I can't image. What crushes me even more is when God is brought into the argument. I completely shut down at that point.

It doesn't matter what 'group' the attacks are aimed at - ethnic, GLBT, men, women - it's still wrong. For anyone wondering, yes, I'm a Christian. Currently I'm Episcopal, but I was brought up Catholic and switched to Baptist in my teens. In all my years of Christian education, the one main ideal that I've always tried to cling to is 'Love Thy Neighbor.' It doesn't say, 'Love Thy Neighbor if they believe everything you do.' Not, 'Love Thy Neighbor if they share the same skin color.' It's simply 'Love Thy Neighbor.'

Signs outside churches proclaim: All Are Welcome, but oftentimes 'outcasts' are shunned. We cling to saying like, "What Would Jesus Do?" Most of the time I feel like they're really asking, "What Do I Think Jesus Should Do?" For the record guys, Jesus didn't turn away anyone. His message was one of love, not hatred. Of tolerance towards all.

The recent surge of states ratifying same-sex marriage has brought out the best in humanity, proving that many of us are willing to accept people as they are. It has also brought out the worst. I don't think I need to expound on this second statement, since it had to be a debate in the first place. And the debate is extending its tentacles past the older generations and trying to take hold in younger ones.

I've been told not to read certain children's books to my kids because the stories depict things that are 'unnatural' and I should shield them from such topics. The fact that a book written about such garbage could be published has fallen on my (semi) deaf ear more than once. Here's some news for you: this book which not only helps kids understand families with two mommies or daddies, is based on a true story.

Not only is it true, but hiding the fact from my kids that such families exist is ludicrous. I have many friends who are in happy, healthy, long-term gay or lesbian relationships. Some have expressed a desire to have children and I know they would make fantastic parents. At some point, my own children will pick up on the fact that their family isn't like ours, but I want them to understand that it's perfectly ok.

Before anyone brings up the argument about kids being brought up in such households lacking a positive female/male role model, I'm going to ask you to look at your own family. How many of you have relatives that are single mothers/fathers? How about divorced/remarried? Do those kids still have good role models to look up to? Do they have a loving and supporting family? Guess what? So do the kids in any other family dynamic. Trying to cling to the Perfect Family model is ridiculous. Even back in the 'good ole days' there were single parents, kids raised by aunts, uncles, grandparents. Family is family. Family are the people who love you, end of story.

Now, I've gotten slightly off-track. I told you trying to get my thoughts to settle down was difficult. What I'm basically saying it love is so much better than hate. When you're going around with anger towards people you don't even know at a personal level, it's going to consume you. Every time I hear someone spouting it off, I want to (gently) shake them and ask them if they're listening to what they're saying. If they know why they're so angry and hate-filled. Most of them are sadly too stubborn to understand. To realize they've allowed themselves to be consumed by hatred so strong, they can't even pinpoint why it is they hate them so much. It's never going to benefit you, just wear you down. Your life will be much fuller if you let more people into it.

I'm going to ask everyone to do something for me. Take the time to know people for who they are, not what they are. Don't let labels define them. You want to fill your life with people who are funny, like to watch scary movies and spend the day at the beach? Find the people out there like that. Find the people who are good people, the ones who you enjoy being with. Want to hang out with the guy who loves everything about Star Trek, but word around the office is he's gay? For the love of God, make friends with him. No, seriously. You want to spout biblical verses, make your actions speak louder than those words. Because they really do. 

Don't turn around and cut someone out of your life simply because you find out they're different. Unless you find out they're one of those reptilian pod-people trying to take over the government. Sorry reptiles, I think Earth has enough problems without you guys trying to run things.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Peek Inside...

Some of you know this from following me on Facebook and Twitter, but I'm currently waiting on queries sent out for contests. Waiting stinks. So does querying. Anyone who likes to query, I will gladly give my manuscripts to and have them query for me.

So, while I wait, I'm working on revisions and other projects. Every time I open my writing folder, I'm surprised by the amount of stories in there. They're all at various stages, but it doesn't make the folder any smaller.

Anyway, since I generally only share information on what I'm working on RIGHT NOW, I thought it'd be fun to delve into my hard drive (really Dropbox) and give you all an idea of what's currently living there. Who knows, maybe someday soon some of them will be on bookstore shelves, ready for your reading pleasure.

Children's Books - These are all picture books. No MG (Middle Grade) for me yet. This list doesn't include any that I've handwritten and haven't gotten around to typing.

  • Who Will Dance With Me? - Self-published. This is the only book I have out at this time.
  • Trouble is My Friend - Being Queried. Currently waiting on a contest request for it. *fingers crossed.*
  • The Blueberry Man  - Being Queried
  • The Lonely Minotaur - Being Queried
  • Barefoot Weather - Ready for Querying
  • The Noise Gobbler - Revisions. Almost Ready for Betas
  • Can You Teach... - Revisions.
  • Bridgy Bug and Doodle - Um...this one may stay in my hard drive....
Young Adult - Some I originally had in this category have graduated up to adult. Fantasy books in particular have a fuzziness to them concerning which one they fall in.
  • Down the Wooded Path - Queried, Revised, Queried, Revised. This one keeps getting so close and not quite making it. On the back burner until I have time to work out the kinks keeping it from making it.
  • Grand Jete - Only the first two chapters have been done. This might end up being a NaNoFiMo project this year.
Adult Novels - The range here is about as broad as it can be. I have issues trying to pin my writing down to one genre, so I write whatever I feel like.
  • What the Whole Town Knew - Being Queried. This is another that I'm waiting for contest results on. (Again with the crossing fingers.)
  • Pandora Revisited - Being Revised. This one recently got a rejection with request to revise and resubmit, so that's what I'm doing. Originally intended to be a YA, it was decided it'd make a better adult. So, the Main Character is getting a bit more...frisky. 
  • Generation Gap - First Draft is completed. Revisions are in the near future.
  • Mother of Monsters - Revisions & Writer's Group project. Another intended YA that's turned into an adult. Themes got a bit out of hand while working on this and several agents who I queried suggested targeting an adult market instead.
  • Prometheus' Lantern - First Draft. This is follow-up to Mother of Monsters.
  • Jack and the Corporate Ladder - First Draft. Another potential NaNoFiMo project.
  • In Love and War - Bits and pieces on random scraps of paper and documents. This is my intended Camp NaNo project.
  • Echos - Opening paragraph. Yeah...I should look at that sometime.

So, that's my hard drive in a nutshell. I have poems and short stories in there, as well as a whole folder of Religious Dramas. The Religious Dramas had been requested work, but due to unforeseen circumstances, never used. If anyone you know wants some, I got a whole bunch.

Anyone else's hard drive look like this? So many projects and so little time?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

False Security

By now many of you have heard about Angelina Jolie's decision to have a double mastectomy. If you hadn't, well now you have.

I've now had some time to think about this and want to share my thoughts with all of you.

First of all, kudos to her for making such a tough choice. I know it's not an easy decision and she did what she felt was best for her. Cancer of any kind is a very scary thing to deal with.

Now, the reasons I cringe a bit not only about her doing this, but her sharing her decision with the world.

Let's start with her celebrity status and the fact a lot of girls and women look up to her. A lot of them will go out and want to get tested for this mutant gene. If they find out they have it, they'll be inspired to get a mastectomy as well.

I know a lot of you are now going, "Isn't this a good thing? It will reduce their chances of breast cancer. Preventative measures are best. Besides, it's not like they'll be any less of a woman for doing it."

My answer to the last part: They may think they'll be ok with losing their breast, but ask any cancer survivor who didn't have a choice. They prepared themselves, thought they would be ok after the surgery, but still found themselves grieving when it was done. They lost a very visible part of themselves and it takes some getting used to. Anyone who says it didn't upset them is lying.

As women, we're just as obsessed with our breasts as the men are. Think about when we were teenagers going through puberty. Tell me you weren't stressing about them then. Sit in a room full of other women. Unless it's a Puritan Church group, I guarantee the subject of breasts will come up at some point. Heck, they were talking about them in the waiting room of my daughter's dance class. It's part of us. We can survive without them, but it doesn't mean it will be easy.

Yes, there are ways to cope with it. Reconstructive surgery, specialized clothing, learning to embrace the 'New You.' I've even seen all-over tattoos to make those scars into something beautiful. But, it still takes time to adjust.

Now for the biggest reason this worries me: a mastectomy isn't 100% proof against breast cancer. Her chances might drop, but they still exist. My own mother has survived breast cancer twice. She had a mastectomy the first time, was cancer-free for two years and it came back IN THE SAME SPOT. She's one of the least likely candidate to get it in the first place and she ended up with it twice.

We also can't forget, although it's not as frequent, but even men get breast cancer.

What I'm getting at is I'm afraid after they go through with this preventative measure, many of these women will feel like they're free and clear. They'll think, erroneously, that they don't have to worry about getting breast cancer now. Will they continue with regular check-ups? What are they going to do if, after subjecting themselves to this surgery, they end up with it anyway?

We've become a society of 'Preventative Measures'. We try to protect ourselves against everything imaginable before the threat can even materialize. Sometimes I wonder if we've gone too far.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Shuffle Off this Mortal Coil

It's never easy telling someone that a loved one has died. Trying to find the right words. Not breaking down yourself as you say them. Staying strong and comforting those who have been hit the hardest by the loss.

Now add in the fact that the person you're faced with is a child. And the person they lost is their great-grandparent.

As I write this, I've come to the realization that my two children have already witnessed more death and loss than I did when I was twice their age. I suppose it's to be expected. Up until two ye ars ago they had both sets of grandparents, three sets of great-grandparents and a great-grandmother. As of last night, they have lost two of those great-grandfathers.

My husband called me to let me know. He was five minutes too late to say good-bye. Since he was staying to spend time with his family, it was up to me to let the kids know. Unsure of how they were going to take it, I dragged them out of the pool and sat them down.

"You guys know how we told you Grandpa-Next-Door (their name for him) was sick? Daddy just called..."
"And he died?" my son asked. I nodded. The kids looked at each other, made some sniffling noises and asked if they could go back in the pool. The reality didn't hit them.

Honestly, this has been their reaction to most death. A couple months will go by and they'll mention the person, or pet, and how much they miss them. But, they don't cry. Not really.

This isn't to say they never cry. If they see someone hurt or upset, they get upset. That's something they understand. Death, they don't. They don't grasp the permanence of it. For them, being brought up Christian and learning about Heaven and how we all end up there eventually, death isn't the end. It's not much different than someone moving away.

It makes me think: Is sadness to death something we're born knowing or do we pick it up, mimicking the sadness we see in the adults around us? At what point does the permanence of death finally register? Is it a gift or curse to be so certain about life-after-death that crying seems silly?

I don't know if I'll ever find the answers. All I can do is watch and observe, waiting to see if a day ever comes when they question their faith. Part of me hopes they never do. Tears are never for the dead, they're for the living grieving something they've lost. If there's nothing lost, just moved on for a bit, there's no reason for crying, is there?

I keep trying to tell myself that, but it doesn't work. My tears still come.

Before she dived under the water, my daughter asked, "Are we still sad, Mommy?"

Yes, Baby. We're still sad. We're going to be sad a long time.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

End of My First PiBoWriWee

Finished! Today was the last day and I'm happy to say, I did it! Seven new manuscripts wait for my red editor's pen. The question is, which one gets it first?

As promised, I'm letting you vote. Based on only the working titles, I want you to pick the one that appeals to you most. The poll can be found here.

Now for the contenders:


So, what do you think? Vote now until Friday night. Saturday, the revision begin!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Supernatural Chicken

I'm a geek. Anyone who knows me knows this. Anyone who follows my blog, knows this. If you haven't already come to this conclusion, than you have somehow managed to miss all the posts about Comic Cons, Doctor Who, superheroes, and the short-lived Nerd Cat Diaries. (Sorry, the cats refused to cooperate any longer. Besides, Winter is no longer coming.)

Anyways, I finally caught up on all my current shows and decided I needed to start in on others I've been meaning to watch. With two kids, it's hard to get 'adult TV time', so I end up watching series in a marathon run when they're asleep. (Thank you, Netflix!) It also means I'm very far behind on what all my friends are watching and talking about. Except Game of Thrones. Read the books and own the first two seasons, so there are no spoilers there for me. Everything else, though, I am sadly lacking.

So, with a clean slate to start a new series, I flipped through Netflix, trying to figure out which one I needed to get through next. Unfortunately my first choice, Castle, is not on Netflix. Boo! Moving on, I decided Supernatural would be the 'natural' choice. And so began my night.

It should be noted that I'm not a blood and guts gal. I'm squeamish when it comes to anything like that. Hubby tried to get me to watch Walking Dead with him and I only stomached two episodes before calling it quits. I also don't do suspense well. I've managed movies like PSYCHO (the original) and most Hitchcock Presents, Twilight Zone and things of that nature. Movies like THE SHINING, I made it about five minutes to the end and had to leave the room. I couldn't even watch the trailer for THE CONJURING. In short I'm a chicken. Why I thought Supernatural would be a good idea just before bedtime is beyond my now very clear comprehension.

I think when I pushed the play button, I was expecting something along the lines of Buffy. Some blood and gore, but a little bit of comedy to off-set it. Yeah, nothing like that at all. To call the whole episode dark is an understatement. I won't give anything away in case, like me, you want to check it out for yourselves. Just be warned, Creep Factor is high. I have been told it varies from episode to episode, so I'm willing to give it another shot. With all the lights on, in the middle of the day, of course.

After making it through the first episode, I decided to call it a night and curl up with my David Sedaris book. I thought this would counteract the visions of demons and ghosts flitting through my head. I'm not so sure it did. I have a sneaking suspicion that I was warding off the forces of evil in my sleep as I now am experiencing inexplicable pain in my left shoulder. Or, I could have slept on it wrong.

I'm going with the demon theory.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A National Writing Week? For Picture Books? Sign Me Up!

So, this is apparently a thing. I had no idea until yesterday. For years now I've done NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) as a way to focus myself and get first drafts out of my head and onto paper - or Word - and eliminate excuses as to why I haven't completed anything. From doing NaNo and Camp NaNo, I've managed to finish four novels and make good headway on several others. It's a great kick in the butt, mostly because I'm highly competitive and hate to lose, even if it's only bragging rights. Hey, I use what works.

Now this interesting 'competition' comes across my Twitter feed. Similar to NaNo or National Poetry Month, this one is aimed at picture book writers. And it's only a week. Easy peasy. Well, at least I think so right now. Here's the catch: National Picture Book Writing Week challenges you to write a new picture book every day for that week. Again, not a big deal, right? I mean, it's fewer words per day than NaNo since picture books only run between 0-1000 words. Shouldn't be a problem.

But, I do have a slight fear. Small, really. What if I run out of ideas? Sure when I'm writing a full-length novel I might run into road blocks and write myself into a corner, but I have a general idea of what I'm doing each day. With this challenge, each day will literally be a blank slate. All new characters, story lines and situations to come up with. New problems to present themselves and become resolved all in a short time span and then it's on to the next one. Will I be able to come up with that many ideas, one right after another? I have no idea, but I'm willing to find out.

Next week, when I embark on this new journey, I'll be posting here daily with the results of the previous day. I won't post entire stories, but I will share synopses with you all. And I'll tell you when the muse just wouldn't show. At the end of the week, I'll let you all vote on which story sounds the most interesting and that will be the one I focus on for my next project. I'm counting on you guys to help me decide since I anticipate them all being awesome. (Ok, I may be a bit optimistic.)

If you want to join me in this endeavor, you can check out all the details here on Paula Yoo's blog. Let me know if you're doing it and we can celebrate together when we have seven brand new, bright and shiny stories waiting to be released on the world.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Week's Worth of Posts in One

Well, last week was a bit hectic. I had several posts floating around in my head, but every time I went to write on, something in the news made my thoughts and opinions seem trivial. So I waited for a good day. Unfortunately, it just wasn't a good week.

Now I'm going to give a little clip of what I had planned for last week, as close to in order as I can. Enjoy.

Last Monday's post was meant to consist of a discussion on music. The prior Saturday we attended a concert of British pop star Mika in Boston. In short, he was fabulous. Joking with the audience, relaxed and lots of fun. One song he sang the end of a capella and unmic-ed. At one point he realized he messed up his set list so started taking requests instead. I'm pretty sure he's also one of a very few select people who cannot only get away with saying, 'all right, you f-ers', but also make it sound endearing. I think it's the accent.

During his concert, he shared stories about how some of his songs came to be. This one is particularly poignant, as it was written during the London Tube bombings. He was stuck home rather than being able to go to the studio to record, so he wrote. This is the result. I wonder now why he chose to share that particular story two days before the Boston Marathon, around the corner from where the tragedy took place.

There was going to be a mommy post in the middle of the week. That one may still show up sometime in the future. It had to do with bullying, as I'm seeing it mentioned in a lot of my friends' Facebook and twitter feeds, and that worries me. With two small children getting ready to enter school for the first time next fall, I'm concerned about what they might be facing. I try to prepare them the best I can, but will it be enough? Will they continue doing all the things they enjoy doing or will their peers make fun of them, resulting in them changing to fit the popularity mold? All things I keep thinking about.

Friday I was going to make another posting attempt. Thursday I had back-to-back book signings. In Woonsocket, RI I did a reading and signing at their library. I ended up with two small crowds due to stragglers showing up later, but it worked out fine. It gave me a chance to connect with different people, many of whom just wanted to chat or show me their work, which was a first. But part of the purpose of doing these is to meet with people I wouldn't usually, so it was all good.

The second signing was up at the Leicester Library in MA. My, um, crowd for that one was much smaller. Mainly one little boy. They did warn me when I set up a date that over the last eighteen months they had three signings with no shows in terms of crowds, so I guess one is an improvement on that front. However, making the most of my time up there, I was shown around the building. The librarians were very hospitable, taking me to rooms full of awesome historical items that the public doesn't have access to. They have an antique fire engine on their second floor! And a 'Bat Room' that no longer has any bats in it, but lots of old history books. (The bats have been successfully sealed out.) I also had some more quiet writing time while I waited. More of PROMETHEUS done along with some work on the second episode of TINMAN. So, yay!

So, there you have it. Last week's intended posts all smooshed into one. At some point I may further expand on what were meant to be the first two posts. More likely, I'll end up going off into some other direction all together.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Cracking Stories 4 Children

Hey guys! WHO WILL DANCE WITH ME? is making the rounds on the internet. We're on a brand new children's book blog, Cracking Stories 4 Children. Take a peek and check back often as the lovely Malika Gandhi will be adding more.

Monday, April 8, 2013

How Do You Compete?

So, as many of you know, I had a book signing over the weekend. Before anyone asks, it was less than stellar. In the room next door was a library book sale. Can't really blame everyone for heading in that direction, can I? Not when they could get boxes of books for less than one of mine. Such is life and the nature of this business.

It's ok, though. People saw me and chatted. Even if they didn't buy a book, they know who I am now. Or at least, knew who I was for those 5 minutes or so while we talked. It's a slow assimilation, taking over getting into every home in America, never mind the whole world. I don't mind, there's still plenty of time.

Meanwhile, I managed to get notes on another project condensed for my next edit and drafted another children's book. (Yeah, I had a little time on my hands.) No use getting riled up over a small bump in the road to greatness when I've already fallen into so many potholes along the way. As ever, onward and upward!

Which reminds me. I have back-to-back readings/signings coming up next week. One is in Woonsocket, RI and the second is Leicester, MA. Hope to see you all there. And no, I won't be competing with book sales at either one.