Blog of a Writer on the Go and Barely Here.
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Monday, October 27, 2014

NYC or Bust: Or Why I Almost Cried on Friday, Part the Second

Yesterday I posted the first part of my NYC Henson-filled adventures. If you missed it, you can catch up here. Today you get to hear about the Dark Crystal reception.

For anyone who doesn't know me in real life, I'm very much an introvert and socially awkward. (I'm working on it.) Now, remember I've already gone through a heck of an emotional roller coaster earlier in the afternoon. This information makes the fact that I spent most of the evening with a maniacal smile plastered on my face and a deer-in-the-headlights mentality a little less horrible.

Not going to spend a lot of time on the actual screening other than to say it was so much better than watching it on the TV screen. The colors and detail were so vivid, I caught things I'd never seen before. I wasn't the only one to notice the difference, either. It was pretty well agreed that no one ever wanted to watch it any way other than on the big screen.

Movie and public presentation finish and those of us invited to the after-party head up to the room. Again, we have only name tags with our association to the Dark Crystal. (Mine said 'Author Quest.' Michael Frith's said 'Dark Crystal Cast/Crew.')

I grabbed a soda and move towards a corner where I try not to hide, but I'm not sure what to do with myself. The room was filling with cast and crew members from the Dark Crystal, including Michael Frith, Kathryn Mullen and, of course, Brian and Wendy Froud. I tell Erin, my co-adventurer, that I'm completely out of my depth.

A few of the other authors and creature contest finalists are there, so we chat some more. I'm still trying to figure out how to go about talking with all these people I'm in awe of. Turns out I didn't need to worry. Not only were they all super-friendly and approachable, but Cheryl Henson facilitated what was probably my most memorable moment of the night.

Think of someone you look up to for inspiration. Someone you admire, whether it's a writer, musician, doctor, scientist. Got that person? Now, think of one of your life's greatest goals. It could be to become published, picked up by a record label, discover a cure for a disease. Think of someone who can help you reach that goal either because they're already in the field or they can fund it or they have resources you can use. Got both those people? Good. Finally, imagine that the person you admire brings over the person who can make your dream come true to meet you. That is what Friday night felt like.

I was still over at the fringe of the party when I look up and see Cheryl Henson heading straight for me with three Random Penguins in tow. (Ok, only writers and publishing people will get that joke.) Ms. Henson stops in front of me with the executive editor for Penguin Group for Young Readers and two other editors and makes introductions. They go something like this:

"This is Editor A, B, and C (no, they had real names, but I'm leaving them out for the sake of this post) from Penguin. This is Emily McKeon. I wanted to make sure you connected with each other. I've already told her how much we enjoyed her writing and the reason we had to drop her from the running."

At this, maniacal smile is firmly in place as I shake their hands and they in turn tell me how great my writing is and ask if I have any other fantasy pieces. We talk for a while, I can't even tell you exactly what was said because my brain was going, "Oh my god, is this really happening?" over and over again. They move on after a bit and Erin whispers behind me, "I think Cheryl Henson just fangirled you."

After something like that, it was hard to top, but the night continued to be fantastic. Wendy Froud told me she liked my story but wishes she knew what happened after. Some of the creature contest winners brought their creation, a working puppet, and Kathy Mullins animated it. Then she gave the creators tips to make it better and more life-like when it's being puppeted. In the spirit of Jim Henson, everyone there was more interested in helping others out than trumpeting their own successes. They wanted those of us new to this to succeed. It was mind-blowing to have these people who we looked up to and aspired to be like, excited over our work.

As I made my good-bye rounds and gained contact information from other writers so we could keep in touch, I also gained the business card of the executive editor of Penguin. He handed it to me saying, "For you, Emily. In case you have anything you'd like to pass along to me."

Deer-in-the-headlights and a stammered 'Thank You' from me. Hopefully my awkwardness didn't make him change his mind. (I still have his card, so that's one point for me, yes?)

Finally, I had to say good-bye to Ms. Henson, who spent time chatting with me like we were old friends. She was talking with Michael Frith when we went to leave, but she asked him to wait a minute when she saw us getting ready to leave. She then hugged me (yes, I got a hug from Cheryl Henson) and thanked me for coming. Like a sincere, "Thank you so much for coming and being a part of this." My brain, despite being nearly fried at that point, managed an acceptable, "Thank you for all of this. It's amazing and an honor to be included."

So, that's my Friday in a nutshell. There are a lot of little things that happened at both events that I didn't include, like my awkward chat with Toby Froud. But if you'd like to hear more about anything I mentioned or if you have questions, I'm very happy to talk more about it. I will say that when I got home on Saturday, my brain finally caught up with everything that happened and I cried.

They were happy tears. I want to thank everyone who took the time to read and critique my Dark Crystal entry to make it the best it could be. It's because of all of you that this Dreamer's dream was made reality.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

NYC or Bust: Or Why I Almost Cried on Friday, Part the First

A Sunday morning post! Weird, I know, but I have a lot to tell you all about my trip on Friday. I also needed to take yesterday to finish letting my brain absorb it all. Yes, it was amazing. Yes, I'm so glad I didn't give up and decide there was absolutely no way I could make it because...Oh. My. God.

First, if you're new here and unaware of my deep love of all things Henson, you can check out my previous post about the new Muppet Movie. Got an idea of my feelings towards them? Great.

Second, most of you should by now know that I'm working to become traditionally published. I'm querying, entering contests, submitting, and writing new and different things all the time. About this time last year I entered the Dark Crystal Author Quest. Out of roughly 500 entries I made it to the top 25 and landed as an Editor's Choice. Sadly not a top 5 finalist and obviously not the winner, I was bummed but ecstatic to have made it that far. See, all the entries were read by editors at Penguin, but only the top 25 went through Cheryl  and Lisa Henson and Brian and Wendy Froud. Even if they didn't choose mine, they had read my words. That alone was huge. (If you're curious, my entry can be found here.)

Fast forward to the end of last month. I received an e-mail inviting me to a special reception after a Fan Fest screening of The Dark Crystal in New York. The reception was for all Editor's Choice winners, along with the Creature Contest finalist. Present would be the Frouds and Cheryl Henson. After initially declining, I was able to work out something with my family that allowed me to change my response, because how many chances would I get at something like this?

Already excited about the event, the deal was made better last week with an e-mail stating that we were invited to a special Muppets Workshop tour with Cheryl Henson. Uh...yeah. I took five whole seconds to accept that invite.

My mind was buzzing with a mix of excitement and nerves by the time we arrived for the tour on Friday. Truthfully, I expected the tour to be professional and museum-like. I was not prepared for what it was.

Cheryl Henson and Z (the head of the Jim Henson Foundation) met us at the door, through which we had already caught a glimpse of Snuffy. I introduced myself and Ms. Henson smiled and said, "I'm so glad you came. I loved your story."

Ok, so that was cool, but part of me was thinking she said it to be nice. Not that my ego minded, because I mean, Cheryl Henson just said she liked my work.

We all mingled and chatted before the tour, snapping pictures. Well, I took four pictures before my brain melted, but Erin, who accompanied me, took a lot more. I'll be stealing some of her pictures later this week to show you all. For now, here are mine from Muppet Workshops:

Original reception desk with Sesame Street characters

Mr. Snuffleupagus!!

Skeksis chair from the movie!

Me, in the skeksis chair. ;-)

Tour itself was fantastic. Everyone was laid back and willing to chat with us. The main project they were working on were walk-around costumes for a SNL skit. It was fun to see them working on those as well as muppets for Sesame Streets around the world. Yes, they make all the muppets and replacement muppets there. Also, yes, I got to play with one of the muppets - a green wolf-like muppet. My hand was found to be too small to work that particular muppet correctly. I could barely reach the mouth padding.

Ms. Henson let us wander and ask questions after. I have to say, she was warm and genuine and down-to-earth. She wanted us to network and talk about our work and open the possibilities of future collaborations and interactions between everyone gathered. No, "Here's the Tour, Here's the Door." She encouraged us to hang around as long as we wanted, chatting with us the whole time.

Here comes the first near meltdown.

Cheryl Henson comes over to me and says, "I need to tell Emily something about her work," to which I reply, "Uh oh."

Guys...I'm still having trouble comprehending this, so bear with me. She tells me that my writing is fantastic and my story was wonderful and then she asks me if I know why I was dropped. (Remember everyone, 25 entries went through her and I NEVER mentioned my work, title, nothing. She only has my name to go off of.) She tells me they couldn't pass me on because of the Garthim. They discussed it, but because they had put up the rule about the Garthim they couldn't risk having another author crying foul, so they couldn't put it through. THAT WAS THE ONLY REASON! She said someone needed to tell me that, because my writing is really good. So, yes my fears were well-founded, but to hear it from her made my day. She then told me to keep writing and not stop, that I needed to continue.

Guys, hearing praise like that is always awesome, but coming from Cheryl Henson?!!?! AHHHH!!!

But that's not the end. Not by a long shot. However, this post is already nearly novel-length on its own, so tomorrow I shall fill you all in on the party, because, once again, NOT WHAT I EXPECTED!!!

Don't worry, all good things, all good things. ;-)

Monday, October 13, 2014

I'm A Travelin'

Halfway through October already? Crazy! Winter will be here before we know it...but I'd rather not think about the ice and snow right now. Which is good because I have a lot of things taking up my time and attention.

First up: Indiegogo campaign is just below 1/3 of the goal. Help spread the word so we can reach 100% by the end of the month. Also, until the 15th anyone who pledges $15 or more gets an extra treat: A WHAT THE TOWN KNEW tote bag. This is what they *probably* will look like:

Next up: Travelling! A lot of travelling happening over here. We just got back from our first big family trip to Disney (which was fantastic and we can't wait to go again) and I have two more trips coming up within the next month. On the 24th I'll be taking a day trip to NYC for the Dark Crystal Fan Fest. I'm insanely excited about this, mainly because I get to say, 'I'm on the list' for the after party. Yes, I get to attend an invitation only reception in acknowledgement of my Dark Crystal Author Quest entry. There will be pictures.

Trip number two is two weeks after, heading out to Arizona for my best-friend-since-forever's wedding. While I'm out there, my online presence will be sporadic, so don't give up on me if I don't answer right away.

After the trips, I'm settling down to local events. I'll be at the Jesse Smith Memorial Library in Harrisville on November 12th for my writer's group open house. Then back again on December 10th for a local authors reception. Info for both can be found under my appearances tag. (I may also have some WHAT THE TOWN KNEW cards with me for the second event.)

Tying in with the Indiegogo, I have a lot of editing and revision to finish before January when the whole thing goes off to be professionally edited. Yes, I have secured a fabulous editor who will give WHAT THE TOWN KNEW that final polish before it gets released. Things are happening!

So, if I'm not around quite so much, you know why. You can still message me and I'll get back as soon as I'm able. My response just won't be instantaneous like it normally is.

Now...what do you all think of the tote? I'd love your feedback before I order them.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Peek Behind the Scenes of THE DARK CARNIVAL Anthology

The air has grown crisp - October is here. With October comes autumn leaves, apple cider, and the siren call of The Dark Carnival.

Will you answer its call? Will you heed the beckon?

The doors are opening.

Will you leave with your life?

In this anthology, several authors and illustrators explore the dark and hidden dangers that lie within a carnival that has come to town. But it is no ordinary carnival. It's The Dark Carnival.

And when The Dark Carnival comes to town, there's no promise that anyone can leave...alive.

Edited by: Jolene Haley, Kristen Jett, and Jessi Shakarian

Contributors include: Kat Daemon, Kristen Strassel, Julie Hutchings, C. Elizabeth Vescio, Mark Matthews, Brian W. Taylor, Kim Culpepper, Eli Constant, Mari Wells, J. Elizabeth Hill, Nicole R. Taylor, Ashly Nagrant, Kristin Hanson, Calyn Morgan, Tawney Bland, Roselle Kaes, Ken Mooney, Emily McKeon, Bobby Salomons, Ezekiel Conrad, Sheila Hall, Michelle Davis, Lucas Hargis, Vanessa Henderson, Ryan Bartlett, Debra Kristi, Jessi Esparza, T.A. Brock, Ruth Shedwick, Brian LeTendre, Amy Trueblood, Gregory Carrico, Jamie Corrigan, Kate Michael, Tyle Anne Snell, Alicia Audrey, Meghan Schuler, Jamie Adams, Wulf Francu Godgluck, J.C. Michael, Suzy G., Kristin Rivers, and Claire C. Riley.
*Final lineup subject to change


Want to show The Dark Carnival even more Goodreads love?
Add it to your shelves - horror, anthologies, and thriller are good places to start.

Did you say you have more love? Pin the shiny new cover to Pinterest, send out some tweets, and scribe it into Facebook. You never know - show The Dark Carnival enough love, and it might just let you leave.

About Pen & Muse Press
Need writing tips? Want to learn how to market yourself as an author? Pen & Muse Press was started to give you just the tips you need. No matter how long you’ve been writing - or haven’t been, embrace your craft.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Treats are Better Than Tricks

Good Monday Morning Everyone!!!

(No, I'm not really that chipper first thing in the morning. Especially on Mondays. Internet does wonders for appearance, doesn't it? ;-) )

Anyway, we're well into October now, which means all things Halloween. It also means time is ticking down once again for Lizzie and WHAT THE TOWN KNEW. I really need to make this goal, which means I need all your help spreading the word.

I've said it before and I 100% mean it: No amount is too small! Seriously, if everyone who sees my posts contributed even $5 my goal would be met and surpassed. Which in turn means I can reach my stretch goals, including being able to donate money from my book sales to Domestic Abuse victims and shelters.

To motivate you all, not only am I still running the contest, I'm doing a special Treat.

With Halloween coming, so is Trick-or-Treating. I don't know about you, but I always preferred the Treats to Tricks.
Me and Lizzie want to give you all another chance at a Treat. Since the Early Bird Special is over, we're going to let you have another shot at the tote bag. From now until the 15th anyone who donates $15 or more will receive the tote bag along with the rest of their gifts. With the book coming out in April, the tote bag will be a perfect addition to bringing WHAT THE TOWN KNEW on a beach day.
So, help spread the word! And remember, you don't have to donate to win the contest.
Check out all the perks available here.