I’m a bona fide published author of fiction! Urban Harvest: Tales of the Paranormal in New York City is now available at Amazon. The anthology features stories by Laurie Wenham, Laurie Treacy, Tara Hill, Don Corcoran, Saif Ansari, Donna Ansari, Alex Shvartsman, Sean Sakamoto, and me. I’ve read a few of the stories, and they are quite good. I hope to do a review shortly. Anyway, please check out the book and I hope you’ll support it. All proceeds go to City Harvest and will help feed the hungry in New York City.
I have had a few exciting events recently. I submitted two stories for two anthologies, and was accepted to both. Yay!
The first is a paranormal short story, “Under the Mattress,” that will appear in the anthology Urban Harvest: Tales of the Paranormal in NYC. The proceeds from this collection will benefit the organization City Harvest. The expected release date for this eBook is September of this year.
The second story is titled “Lucid” and will be part of the Stalkers anthology edited by Cynthia Shepp and Rene Folsom. I’ll update when I know a release date.
I’m very excited about both these projects and can’t wait to read the other stories in the collections.
On a slightly separate note, I got the notion to try my hand at writing a comic script. At the moment, I’m converting a short children’s story I wrote a while back. The process is much harder than I expected, and I never thought it would be easy. But the conversion process is showing me where the story is lacking in detail or where it includes unnecessary detail, so I’m glad I decided to do it.
Keep your eyes peeled for information about the publications and have a great day!
About a week ago, we had some time to kill in my writing group, and we decided to do an impromptu exercise. One of our members gave us an opening line, and we wrote for 10 minutes. The following was my result. Whether or not it turns into anything longer remains to be seen.
The kittens were the first to sense it coming.
Mango’s orange fur puffed out, her tiger-striped tail swished, and the black spot on her back arched upward. Chutney crouched low. His green eyes dilated, and his paws spread, unsheathing sharp claws that gripped the carpet beneath him. Mango growled. Chutney hissed. I turned my head toward the window.
“Shh…” I cooed at the kitties who were my only companions at the moment. “Easy now. Let’s not panic.”
I thought of calling Ray. He should be in his room at this hour. I didn’t want to wake him if he was sleeping. I knew he had an early day at the conference where he was presenting his paper on the failings of The Dark Knight movies.
No, I wouldn’t bother him.
Outside, the outlines of the trees whipped side to side, and the wind beat the metal chimes into a squealing frenzy.
“Maybe I’ll just check the storm windows,” I said to the cats that were still in their battle stances, yowling at me to “Do something, lady!”
Rising from my favorite spot in the recliner by the fireplace, I grabbed a crutch, settled it under my arm, and hopped toward the windows. When I reached them, I shrieked and fell onto my butt. There was a face on the other side of the glass.
Not the worst thing ever for 10 minutes. If I were to continue the story, I’d stay away from making it scary – at least not at this point. Maybe it’s Ray at the window and this could turn into a sweet romance. Or maybe it’s the neighbor’s dog, and the kittens will go to war with him. Or maybe, I don’t know…dragons.
I heard or read somewhere today (not for the first time) that people often ask where authors get their ideas. Well, there it is – it starts with an image or a line and stories just kind of evolve from there. That’s the easy part, when the imagination runs wild. The work comes after you get the ideas out and you have to craft them into something.
If I ever decide to take this to a conclusion, maybe I’ll post the finished product.
I have a tendency to read multiple books at once, and while I read mostly Fantasy, I love to branch out. So I’m always looking for recommendations.
This week I have read/am reading:
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
While I have read the HP series about a billion times, my daughter has recently taken an interest in the series. Since this is her school’s month-long reading program, PARP (Parents As Reading Partners) and she tackled the first three books on her own, we decided to read this one together. It’s a whole different experience reading it aloud with her and watching her discover the world I fell in love with years ago. We’re having a blast with it. She particularly enjoyed doing the voice of the Sorting Hat.
Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini
I just finished this one last night and although I started reading it with no expectations, I found myself pleasantly surprised by how much this YA Paranormal resonated with me. It was a quite moving examination of the bonds that hold humans together even beyond this life. I especially appreciated that the love stories were not all romantic, but delved (to use Kim’s language) into friendships, sibling relationships and mentor/mentee bonds. A beautiful story.
A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson
Our library decided to run a program this month—have a blind date with a book. They wrapped up a bunch of books from all genres and you just pick one up at random with no idea what you are going to get. It’s meant to get readers out of their comfort zones, so of course I jumped right in. Hmm…it’s a little farther out of my comfort zone than I was expecting, so it’s going to be a bit of a challenge, but I will finish it. From the 32 pages I’ve read so far, there seems to be a romantic element and there is a motif of describing East African birds as the main characters are bird watchers. The writing is actually engaging, I’m just finding it hard to connect to the characters so far. But I will persevere.
The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
I’ve had this one on my Nook for a long time, and I just happened to glance at the prologue today. That was all it took to suck me right in. I have no idea where the story is going, but it seems there are angels and demons. Color me sold.
So that’s what I’m reading at the moment. How about you? Throw some recommendations my way!
An electric blue, red-eyed dragon, crawling up my right forearm, wings spread as if about to launch into flight. My husband and I agreed I could get that tattoo once I accomplish a specific goal. I can’t wait. I’ve always found dragons beautiful, especially blue ones. So imagine my shock last week when, during my writers group, one of my friends said, “But dragons aren’t really beautiful, are they?”
Having never considered any other possibility, I had to think about it. Who wouldn’t find them beautiful, and what would affect the beholder’s perspective?
Culture would have to factor in. While dragon legends show the creatures along a diverse continuum, the polar opposites are the eastern and western views. Eastern cultures revere dragons as lucky, protective, magical and heroic. Old western lore tends to depict them am as monstrous, winged killers that burned innocent villages and hoarded treasure. In the latter light, there is certainly little to see as lovely, right? Who in their right mind could appreciate a reptilian bat likely to toast the skin off your bones? These western images illicit fear, not admiration.
Although I’ve been subject to the Smaugs and the Reign of Fire mean dragons, I still can’tcannot bring myself to imagine then as anything less than majestic. If anything, I find the badass dragons as awesome as the nice ones. Killer whales and tigers are amazing despite the fact that they could make a meal of me without batting an eye. You’d be hard pressed to get me close to one, but I love to watch them from a distance. (I might not be able to resist a trained tiger if I ever had the chance to pet one, but an Orca? No way.) I suspect if I ever found myself in a world were malicious dragons exist, I’d probably feel the same way. They’d be incredible…from the other side of a 100-foot pole. However, if I were lucky enough to encounter benevolent dragons, you wouldn’t be able to get me back to planet earth. Until that day comes, I will enjoy immersing myself in and creating tales of sleek, powerful, flying beauties that reflect every color and hue.
And I’ll keep working toward that tattoo.
The protagonist in my one of my novels finds her way into the fae realm through a sidhe (shee) or faery mound. It occurred to me that the sidhe becomes her gateway to transformation from a victim, with little control over her circumstances, to an empowered young woman. It seems to me that the fae mounds hold more significance than I had thought about before, so I did some digging.
The Tuatha De Danann, or the children of the pagan goddess Danu, were an early race in Ireland, but according to legend, as told in Brian Froud and Alan Lee’s Faeries, a final defeat in battle sent them to live under the hills and became the Daoine Sidhe. These people shrank in size, becoming the faery folk as we know them today, when Christianity dominated paganism in the region. In their case, their transformation symbolizes the death of one belief system as another emerged.
You can find small, hill-like mounds all over the Irish countryside. These mini-hills, or Sidhe (Shee) mounds were traditionally burial sites. Graves. This marks the Sidhe mounds as entrances to the underworld, and they bear great resemblance to the oldest burial mound in the country, Newgrange, which predates the Egyptian pyramids.
The many tales of fae stealing people, especially babies, and trapping them in the faery realm begin to take on a different significance in this light. These legends may have provided early people with a vehicle to cope with literal death or for managing more the metaphorical death of major change and transformation. The Tuatha De Danann became deified, but then receded as Christianity phased out pagan worship. The loss of children or loved ones, so common in those days, would have been more easily and less painfully explained if they were stolen away and possibly still existed in some far off place. The timeless theme of death as a representation of transition appears all throughout literature. Whether they signify a societal shift, like paganism becoming a hidden religion in the face of Christianity’s rise; or they bring comfort to a mother who loses her infant child; or they explain why the sweet baby that survived infancy suddenly becomes a beast in toddlerhood (it must be a Changeling!), the fae stories manifest that theme.
For the past week and a half, my Unicorn submission preparations—all my writing, really—has been derailed by illnesses. First, my daughter came down with Strep and was home from school for several days. Now I am trying to shake some unspecified viral sinus infecting thingee. (My brain stopped processing once the doctor said I wasn’t getting antibiotics to get rid of it.) This has not been a complete waste of time though. I think I see a silver lining in the pain, suffering, and inordinate amount of fluid from the past days.
One of my favorite aspects of being a writer is the research. I love learning new things, and I can sit at this screen for days researching random topics. We don’t need to get into how often I actually do that. While I’m not what you’d call a science geek, I won’t lie; I find the occasional experiment fascinating. Which brings us back to my sinus issues.
Once I quit mentally cussing out the doctor, I read the info sheet she handed me explaining why antibiotics are generally prescribed for sinus infections only if they don’t clear up after a week on their own. What I originally heard was, “Blah blah blah suck it up for a week.” The handout gave several drug-free suggestions for helping clear said sinuses. One method is nasal irrigation using, among other devices, a neti pot.
I was familiar with the concept of the neti pot and nasal irrigation from my days teaching yoga, but I never got up the nerve to try it. Here was a perfect opportunity. I could experience it and record all sorts of gross details for later use in my writing. I certainly did not expect to come away with such a wealth of information as I did.
- When I first start pouring the saline solution into one nostril, there’s a weird glugging inside my head as the liquid goes through the nasal cavity. This happens more when my sinuses are really clogged or swollen.
- I have not yet felt like I am drowning, but since the pot is see-through, I can watch the water level decreasing, which takes for-ever. At least it feels like forever. Which makes steeling myself for the second nostril more fun.
- If I mix the saline incorrectly, it burns a little, like when you get pool water up your nose after a cannonball. There is a good reason I don’t do cannonballs into pools. I don’t enjoy burning inside my head.
- My favorite part of this process is when one side is so clogged that the solution doesn’t run through from one nostril to the other but instead backs up into my mouth. It tastes salty, let’s assume because of the saline.
- I’ll spare you the after-effects once the pot is emptied through the nostrils.
Aside from this thing actually helping my illness, these details may prove to be invaluable one day. As a middle-grade and YA writer, the chances of me calling on them one day are relatively good. If, for example, I ever find myself needing to write about milk coming out someone’s nose, I am in a much better position to describe it than I was a few days ago. Overall, I would have much preferred to have my health than this information, but at least I’ve been able to put the time to good use.
Pardon me, time to irrigate again.
Welcome to my author page!
I had a whole post written about my preparations for the Unicorn Writers’ Conference in March and how all the revisions for my two manuscript review sessions are falling into place. But a funny thing happened during the 6 hours that I’ve spent trying to build this site. I had to reinstall it, and I did remember to back up the .php files with the content. Or so I thought. Guess which file didn’t get backed up? Right–my blog post.
When will I learn? Write posts in Word and copy them. Never write directly into the blog (yes, I am doing that right now, but I will copy this into Word before hitting ‘publish’) I actually got nervous and switched to Word before finishing. So there. Another recent lesson I hadn’t written about but will now–keep each version of your manuscript.
I had a scare last night when I realized that the only copy I had of the full manuscript of my fey novel was in PDF format. I had other files that were named to indicate that they were supposed to be the full manuscripts, but at some point, I must have accidentally overwritten one and backed up the overwritten copies. Cue frantic search for a PDF to Word converter.
Fortunately, one friend let me know he had a converter for me at the same time another friend reminded me that I had sent her the manuscript in Word over the summer. Whew! This time when I saved it, I made it a read-only file. When I’m ready to make the next round of edits, I will copy and paste into a new file with a new name. So that was my most recent writing adventure.
I don’t remember what all else I wrote earlier. I listed a couple of books that have been invaluable during my revision process:
Second Sight by Cheryl Klein
The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson
The rest of my previous post is being fogged over by the haze of an impending migraine. So thanks for visiting and I look forward to sharing my process with you.