Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Second Chance...

So you think you missed the Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans Amazon giveaway ? No, BUT TODAY IS THE LAST DAY! (Click on the link. I've made it easy for you to enter!)

And if you win, please consider putting a review up- (it's ok, you don't have to love it, but please be specific why so people will know that you actually read it. Yes, people do this.)

But the great news is....(dramatic pause....) You can enter to win on Goodreads ! (See, I'm making it sooo easy to get a copy, that's how much I want you to have this book.) And while you're on Goodreads, would you please mark the book as Want to Read? Help an author out! :)

Doesn't this beautiful cover draw you in....?

It tells the second part of Jack's story. You do know that owls eat squirrels, right? You must be curious why Jack and Owl are working together, and how a wagon fits in...

Enter to win, and good luck! If you don't win, consider asking your local bookstore to order it. Or, your local library. (That's almost like winning a free copy, but the library keeps it safe for you, you don't have to dust it, and the author makes a sale.)

Stay tuned for the final book in Jack's story, Evolution Revolution: Book 3 Simple Lessons (although I'm sure I could write many more because Jack is smart, curious, and trouble-bound).


Monday, February 13, 2017

What Are Sisters For?

Now that Evolution Revolution: Book 2, Simple Plans is out (available on Amazon or Goodreads, soon Barnes & Noble), I'm going to give you a sneak peek at another interior illustration by Cathy Thole-Daniels (in case you weren't convinced previously that this is a fun-for-all-ages book...)

This is Jack and Sister. That's a piece of nut she's snorting out her nose because she's laughing at Jack. She takes all the best food for herself, is kind of lazy, yet she has Jack's back during the great war with the machines. Isn't that the way with most siblings? They annoy us, don't do their fair share of the work, and want first dibs on anything good- but we can depend on them in a bind. But like siblings, Sister has her own story.

Stop by and get to know Sister, Jack, Owl, Bird, Rat- and two humans who are intent upon disrupting their lives in the name of science.

Happy reading!

And enter to win a copy of Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans by going here. And if you would be so kind to mark it as "Want to Read" on Goodreads or leave a review? Thanks! Whuck, whuck! (says Jack).


Monday, February 6, 2017

Enjoying the Win...

Most of you know I'm a huge New England Patriots fan. (Or, now you do.) So I'm going to enjoy a day with my fellow Pats Nation, to enjoy this special win.

Why it's special-
  1. Ok, it's the Super Bowl. Some teams have never made it there. Some have made it there, but have never won. 
  2. The Patriots have been in seven Super Bowls (a record).
  3. Coach Bill Belichick has more Super Bowl wins than any other coach. (He has wins with 2 other teams as an assistant coach).
  4. There are Patriots fans in every state and many countries around the world.
  5. No other team has come back from such a deficit (25 points) and won.
  6. There has never been an NFL duo (coach/quarterback) with as many shattered records and wins as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
Here's our quarterback, Tom Brady.

Why he's special-

  1. He's the only quarterback to win 5 Super Bowls.
  2. He's the only quarterback to win 4 MVP Super Bowl awards.
  3. He's the second oldest qb to win a Super Bowl.
  4. He's smashed so many records, I can't recount them all.
  5. He's not done yet.
Love/hate them/him, it was history and I saw it happen. I'm going to be happen and reapply myself to my writing with the same dedication and focus he exhibits. 

Except it'll have to wait until after I clean up from my Super Bowl party...

Losers focus on winners, winners focus on winning.

Go Patriots!


Thursday, February 2, 2017

A Small Thing, A Memory So Big

See this?

These are those cheap rings you get out of a gumball dispenser, or in a goody bag from a kid's birthday party. I don't know where my son got them, but he scooped up three and gave them to me as a present (wasn't a holiday or my birthday). He knew I liked sparkly jewelry. He thought he was giving me something precious.

And he was. It was a gift of love from his heart, as valuable as the dandelion bouquets he used to collect for me so many times during the summer and spring. All he saw was the beauty. When I look at them, I see his youthful innocence, hear his giggles, feel his tight hugs, and even smell the fresh scent of baby powder.

Memories like that are fodder not only for a story, but for a character. I have a novel, The Recalling, that is based on the memories a girl has for someone she lost. Suddenly finding a necklace stirs up those memories--good and bad. The story develops around those memories and the necklace.

Not just things, but our senses can revitalize memories. The smell of salt water makes my heart ache for the eastern end of Long Island where I grew up from seventh grade until my twenties. It brings back memories of going to beach parties, getting severely stung by a jelly fish (in the face), having my cousin spend summers with me, doing work around the old farmhouse my parents were restoring, and getting my first car. It also brings the sadness of the loss of five friends in car accidents, one the boyfriend about whom The Recalling is based on, my parents' divorce, and everyone in the family going separate ways.

The taste of homemade bread and apple pie returns me to our farmhouse kitchen when my mother baked. We had a fireplace in the kitchen, where the cat and dog would sleep in front toasty by the fire during blustery winter days, and where my mom would put bread on the mantle in a bowl to rise.

Songs and music evoke remembrances; the theme from Jaws gave me the chills (I lived on Long Island where the movie was supposedly set and sometimes there were shark sightings). Certain church songs bring me to tears because the music and verse are deep in meaning. And I will always rock out to classic songs like Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA because I have to sing and dance with it, like it's in my DNA.

Use your memory or make up one for your characters. In my middle grade novel, even Jack the gray squirrel has memories of his brother being eaten by Fox, and his mother searching for food, but never coming home. These memories make him cautious and wary for danger. We are, in some ways, defined by our past; we want to hide it, or forget it, or relive it, or use it. Memories are snatches of our past. If characters are to be believable, they have to be more than a person doing something in the present. Characters have to have regrets and longings, fears and desires, motivations and inhibitions. Memories are Nature's way of keeping our past ever present and fluid, able to be summoned.

No matter the age, culture, situation, everyone (and it's believed that animals do too) has memories. It should be true for characters as well.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Just a Little Peek...

While I wait for Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans to debut, I'm going to tease you a bit. Here's one of the inside pics, created by my fabulous illustrator, Cathy Thole-Daniels:

The main character, Jack the gray squirrel, is learning quite a bit from his human friend Collin. (I'm not going to tell you what, but it's pretty amazing. Sorry, you'll have to buy the book or ask your library to get a copy.) If you've wandered around Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, you've seen stories about animals doing some amazing 'human' things: unlocking doors, dancing to music, skateboarding. This makes me smile because maybe this book will move from fiction to non-fiction. 

Strange things are happening...

Don't miss Jack's continuing story.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

You Know More Than You Think, But It's Not Enough

I prefer to spend my time writing or revising, but as every published author knows, you have to do public relations. If you're self published, you do it all, but even traditionally published authors get stuck doing quite a bit, especially nowadays with publishers pumping out more books than ever on shrinking marketing budgets, and, I'm going to say it, celeb or high profile authors (who don't need that much promo) sucking up unfair percentages. So keep that in mind as you seek an agent or editor-you know you have to start thinking about promotions (You've been told a million times: get a website, engage on social media, build a following, get involved in the writing community, etc.)

There are plenty of books and videos to give you the basics. You may surprise yourself by how much you already know and may be doing. Lately I've read Your First 100 Copies: The Step-By-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book by Tim Grahl, and I've been listening to video seminars by Steve Harrison. Neither, along with several other books I've read, was the complete  Holy Grail of public relations. Tim's book was for people with absolutely nothing done (not even a completed manuscript). As I have four traditionally published books, I'm not new to this game so I picked up very little from the book. (Hint: get marketing books from the library because buying them can add up.) As for the video seminars, I find them too basic (it's why I don't attend many writing workshops, they are geared for beginners), long winded (it could have been done in less than an hour), and a lot of these seminars are better suited for non-fiction and those who want to get into public speaking, presentations, and making money off what they know. The presence of a well-known person (who isn't a writer, but an editor/publisher) didn't help and rather hindered the presentation as it was a walk down memory lane for too long a time for me; I don't have hours to sit and listen to things I already know or don't need to know.

For beginning writers, it would be inspirational and especially helpful if you need tips on how to keep writing, perfecting your work, starting your social presence. For additional $$$$$, you can hire these people or buy a series of videos taking you step by step through promoting your book. I'm neither recommending nor not recommending; you need to decide how to spend your money based on your needs.

At least I've learned how much I do know. I'm not claiming to know it all, and I'll keep searching for more books, videos, seminars, and classes to help with book marketing, but I'm in a decent place for things I can do on my own. Things I can't do, like hook up with people in higher places who can push my book further is why I hired a part time publicist like Rebecca Grose of So Cal Public Relations.

If I discover any groundbreaking information, I'll share, but I'm finding everything you need to start is mostly available in books and videos you can get on your own.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Discovering Her Creative Zen

This is one of my absolutely favorite pieces of art:

I love Asian inspired pieces, and this hangs in my downstairs library. Besides being painted, the geisha's dress and sash are applied silk fabric. I love the way the artist incorporated both visual and textural elements. You can't touch the silk because of the glass, but you can see it. (I wouldn't want anyone putting their greasy fingers on the silk anyway. This isn't a 'touch me' museum.)

The artist started painting, drawing, sculpting, and creating in other mediums later in life- in her 50s or 60s. Some of her pieces I don't care for, but just like with my books, there are people who don't like them all, and that shouldn't take away from enjoying the work that they do, or stop them from checking out newer ones.

What impressed me most about the artist is that she never thought she had creative talent. Artistic ability always belonged to someone else. I don't know what spurred her to say, 'Screw it, I want to paint.' But she did, and I'm glad. Maybe New York art galleries would laugh at her work if she tried to get a showing, but hey, I've seen some 'art' that leaves me cold (religious depictions in feces??), and I'm very choosy about modern art (I don't do 'Campbell's soup labels' kind of thing). Art is in the eye of the beholder even if beholders are few and far between. Art should be for one's self, itis personal expression and doesn't need to fit anyone's expectations. If others like or appreciate it, bonus. No one should be afraid to try, to experiment, to throw reservations to the wind.

So don't worry that your creative work isn't 'good enough.' If you don't like it, you can rework it. Artists are never happy with their creations, always wanting to tweak it just a bit more, but don't let it discourage you. I've perused my previous books and without fail, can find sentences that I'd like to rework, but it's done and I have to move on. I have to take the plunge on the next project.

Get working, express yourself, please yourself. And if you become afraid of what others will think, just remember my mom and her painting in my library.