Thursday, April 16, 2015

In a universe far away...

It's not Monday, but I visited Natalie Zaman's blog and she has this name generator for My Little Pony. Here's my result:

Your pony name is:Sunbeam MagicYou are a unicorn born in Canterlot. You are the most likeable pony this side of The Everfree Forest!Your best friend is a toucan named Zapper.

I don't know if my parents ever would have called me "sunbeam" but the toucan and I are going to have long chats over chai tea...

Want to find out your Little Pony name? Go to her blog and see what comes up for you....

Because life shouldn't always be so serious....


Monday, April 13, 2015

That Blank Space...

This is a blank space.

It's where my veggie garden will bloom and flourish (I hope).

It's kind of like that blank page, canvas, wall, piece of fabric, or musical staff. It needs to be filled, worked on, trimmed, redone, watered, planned.



It needs attention, it demands time, it sucks energy.

Whatever your creative medium, give it what it craves and take away what's not good. Keep your efforts going even when editors, gardeners, Mother Nature, mentors, friends, or anything else intervenes.

Only you can see the potential in that bit of dirt. That empty page. That unused canvass. That bolt of cloth. That musical scale.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Beware The Little White Rabbit...

I'm so excited about the debut of the Beware the Little White Rabbit anthology which releases on April 14th. My twelve fellow co-authors have done an amazing job of fabricating stories around the Alice in Wonderland theme which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. (150 years????) There is something here for everyone: steampunk, sci fi, Chinese folklore, contemporary, western, historical, psychological thriller, and more.

Here's the cover for my story (black and white for print version, color for ebook):

If you know my obsession with a certain tea, then you'll understand the tag line, "Nothing in the Galaxy Satisfies Like Tea...."

The individual covers were designed by editor/author/artist/colleague/friend Shannon Delany.

I don't have everyone's cover, so keep an eye out, they'll be popping up!

If you just can't wait, and have to be one of the first to get it (we understand this completely and are in line right behind you) here are links to satisfy your cravings:

Leap Books


Happy Adventures in our Wonderland!


Monday, April 6, 2015

It's Happened!


The daffodils started opening in time for Easter Sunday!

The happy faces make me, well, ecstatic. It means winter is gone, spring is here, and it's a countdown to great weather, outdoor concerts, opening my pool, working in my garden and more daylight hours.

And here are the beginnings of my hyacinths!

Because spring and summer energize me, after I finish my blog, I will skip editing for a while to go outside and make some vitamin D, pick up sticks around the yard, exercise the kid and the cats, and let my spirits soar.

You can't write about life if you don't experience it.

Wishing you all spring happiness!


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The 'List'

Like many authors, I aspire to be on The List. You know, the New York Times Bestselling list. The A list. The short list for an award.

I made two: the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators short list for the Crystal Kite Award. Members chose books from their traditionally published ranks in 11 different regions. Sirenz didn't win but really, it was a thrill to be nominated for that first book.

On the second list I have have a lot of authors keeping me company: the midlist. It's kind of like no-man's land between unpublished and superstardom. It's where most authors end up. Most of us get overlooked in favor of the big names.

But how does a book make it to the 'superstar' list? Sales have a lot to do with it (hence, 'bestselling'). And how does one get to be bestselling? It's not by talent alone. There have been some stinky books, in my opinion, that have sold millions, won awards, or had movies made of them. And there is a gold mine of superb books that don't make it off the midlist. (And no, I'm not talking about Sirenz, Sirenz Back in Fashion, or Blonde OPS. I'm talking about other people's books, this is not a plug for Sirenz, Sirenz Back in Fashion or Blonde OPS.)  Certain books just pick up a following and momentum builds. It also helps if you spend a lot of money on PR (either publisher or author), have people who are rabid about helping promote your books, and the critic gods smile on you. But even with that, some books languish, with the rest of us, on the midlist.

Beloved author Jane Yolen, seeing many authors pushed aside when celebrity books debut (as celebrities, they already have promo and money) has established a grant to help midlist authors. It's hard to compete with all the actors, singers, talk show hosts, rockers, sports players, and some-who-are-famous-but-I-don't-know-why people pushing their books and sucking up PR dollars. It's not easy being a green writer.

It's one reason I don't gush over celeb books. I use my effort for my midlist colleagues because they need it more, they're more appreciative (has anyone gotten a thank you from a celeb for mentioning or praising their book?), and frankly, I think they deserve it. We spend years perfecting our craft, revising, re-imagining, resubmitting our work. No ghost writers or on-call editors for us! Plus, we do most of the marketing for our books; publishers can only do so much when you're not a guarantee of million dollar plus sales.

So, pick a not-so-well-known author to read from the library, from the bookstore. Share it with your friends. Talk about it on your blog, your Facebook page, Twitter, Yik Yak, etc. You might be the difference between a truly good author continuing to write or being forever lost in the midlist.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Good or Popular?

I'm painting my kitchen and listening to some classic CDs, like REM's Eponymous. Part of one song catches my ear and I stop giving the wall and window trim the first coat of white.

Not everyone can bear the weight of the world.
Think compassion...

That's evocative of so many thoughts. I have family members and friends who suffer from depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and other mental illnesses. To me, this is a powerful phrase because it hits home.

While I'm mulling and painting, another (oldie) song comes up with these words:

You were licking your lips and your lipstick's shining,
and I was dying just to ask for a taste...

It's You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth  by Meatloaf. I swoon with the imagery these words provoke. This is good writing.

So when the radio comes on and I hear:

We found love in a hopeless place (repeat 100 times) it's kind of blah.... It's not descriptive, it's not emotional, it's just... words. But Beyonce's song is popular.

Some authors. like some songwriters, are beautiful writers and I want to weep from the power of their thoughts. Add moving music and I'm both envious and enraptured. I want to write something that affects someone in their heart, or makes them laugh and forget their woes for a bit.

Other writers are popular, and there's a difference. There are mega bestselling authors, or rock star writers and their writing is... okay. We all know personal preference comes into play, but I can't help wondering if it's like 'follow the herd' mentality. There are Pulitzers that put me into a coma, yet they are labeled 'great' writing and everyone rushes out to buy the book. (I wonder if they read it...) Then, there are little known writers whose book I chance upon (or am asked to critique) that will always stay in my head. Little popularity, but good writing nonetheless.

I'm not begrudging anyone their success, I'm just saying I won't be part of the herd. Like Andy Warhol's soup can art; it's called a masterpiece but I can't see it. I would argue that Thomas Kinkade was a thousand times more talented. Art critics and buyers don't agree. (I have some fabulous preschool art from my kids that should be worth a cool quarter mill....)

Eye of the beholder aside, it's another reason I don't do reviews. I don't follow the crowd when they ooh and ahh over a particular book and I can't give it away fast enough.

There's room for the less well-known authors (and singers and artists) to get their share of the limelight. Let's not drown one person with all our attention when we can lavish it on many.

Back to painting...


Monday, March 16, 2015

What To Do....

I love the idea of this one manuscript.

 It needs work, possible major changes, but to throw out almost everything?

That's the advice from a trusted friend/well known ed/publishing big wheel. And from my agent.

What do you do when the advice is contrary to everything about the story, in no way fits or enhances your vision and you can't even think how to make the changes?

I don't want to throw the story away--I love it too much. But the changes... make it seem too much like everyone else's story. A few I can make, one I even had in the beginning, and it's feasible, but the others just aren't me.

I don't want that.

Non-fiction is so much easier. Yes, research, but the facts are the facts. Writing about the Titanic? No matter how or why, it sunk and no non-fiction piece will ever tell you otherwise.

Fiction is where anything can happen, Unless it doesn't fit in with what the publishing world wants. I feel like my story has to be someone else's.

So do I kill the story?

For now, it goes in the drawer. Maybe I need some time, distance, and consideration. I just can't write someone else's story because the words won't flow.

Goodnight, sweet tale, perhaps we shall meet again in the near future...

picture courtesy of Microsoft