Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Moods--Thoughtful

Memorial Day Thoughts

The first Memorial Day (Decoration Day) was observed in 1868, and for 144 years Americans have honored those who've died in the service of our country.

My family has been lucky. While several of them served in two world wars, we've lost only one family member in combat. When I think of him, when I pause to remember all those I never knew who gave their lives, I also give thanks to those who fought and survived. While they didn't pay the ultimate price, they often sacrificed other things: youth, health, time with those they loved, and often their potential for becoming who they were once destined to be.

Each Memorial Day I hope that peaceful negotiation will replace the destruction of war and that we won't add more men and women to the list that we honor on this day.

Some quotes that plead the case for PEACE.

We must be prepared to make heroic sacrifices for the cause of peace that we make ungrudgingly for the cause of war. Albert Einstein

The days, the weeks, the years out here shall come back again, and our dead comrades shall then stand up again and march with us, our heads shall be clear, we shall have a purpose, and so we shall march, our dead comrades beside us, the years at the Front behind us: – against whom, against whom? All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque

The fight was lost. The dragons were coming with invincible strides. The army, helpless in the matted thickets and blinded by the overhanging night, was going to be swallowed. War, the red animal, war, the blood swollen god, would have bloated fill. The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Moods--Experimental Shorts

Last year I wrote a short story to be included in an anthology called The First Time. I hadn't written one of these for the young adult category before, so I had to give it  a little . . . some . . . one heck of  a lot of thought. And my biggest hurdle was getting started.

I only had a maximum of 5, 000 words to tell a whole story. Yikes! How was I going to do that? I much prefer a comfortable 60 to 80K to develop my characters and let them work through their challenges. But I'd signed on to write the story, so I decided I'd better stop worrying about the limited number of words and get on with it.

I went through some of my favorite short story writers and reread James Thurber, Kingsley Amis and William Faulkner. All very different writers, aren't they? Yet their stories grabbed me when I read them the first time years ago and kept me reading when I returned to them this time. 

So why were these old stories still interesting to read?

The answer popped up the minute I asked that question. The Characters. In Thurber's  "The Catbird Seat"  it was Mr. Martin, the mild-mannered, cunning man with murder on his mind.  I never could shake the character of Jim Dixon in "Lucky Jim" or fail to shudder every time I thought of  Emily Grierson, shuttered inside that dark house in "A Rose for Emily." 

Each of the characters in these stories are memorable. First they have a unique voice. Their word choice is theirs. The way they put these words together in dialog or thought is their way of expressing themselves, and the cadence of their language belongs to each of them and can't be confused with any other characters in the story. 

Then they're plunged into a situation--AKA a tight spot--and the reader must find out what they will do to get out of it. Will Mr. Martin kill Ulgine Barrows? Will Jim Dixon overcome his first and very bad impression he made at his school? Will Emily keep Homer . . . forever?  As we read how each of these characters act and react, we have a plot to keep us engaged in the action, action that's all about the character.

With all of this information whirring in my writer's brain I set out to write Premeditated Cat. So far it has been reviewed well, so while I can't hold myself up to Thurber, Amis or Faulkner, I can thank them for their wonderfully written stories and their inspiration. And since I had such a great time writing the first short story I submitted a second one. It will be published this year in Two and Twenty Dark Tales, and I'm really excited. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

The Three Billy Goats Gruff was one of my favorite stories when I was young. There was something very appealing about those three. I guess I admired their determination to cross that bridge and escape being eaten by the Troll. Sort of like me and the writers I know these days. If we can just get across that bridge, we'll reach the side where that lovely grassy hillside lies. In this rather creaky metaphor that would be the world of successful publication. 

I still enjoy the story and so to make it a little longer and extend my enjoyment, I adopted a baby goat--actually my neighbor's baby goat. I couldn't resist. Now I can say there are four Billy Goats Gruff: a baby, a small one, a large one and a very LARGE one. I'm rather partial to this littlest addition. He's only a week old, but he sure gets around.

Do you have a favorite very young book that you remember from childhood? Did it have a message that stuck with you?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Random Acts Of Kindness BLITZ! 3 More Days

I'm amazed at how RAOK keeps escalating. Check out The 

Book Shelf Muse today for 

some very special prizes. If you 

write, you'll want to enter to 

win one of these.

I can't top that generosity, but 

I can pass on an offer to read 

the first three chapters of a

WIP. Just leave me a comment 

and I'll pick one at random, 

starting from this date.

A smile. An encouraging word. A thoughtful gesture. Each day people interact with us, help, and make our day a bit brighter and full. This is especially true in the Writing Community
Take a second to think about writers you know, like the critique partner who works with you to improve your manuscript. The writing friend who listens, supports and keeps you strong when times are tough. The author who generously offers council, advice and inspiration when asked.

So many people take the time to make us feel special, don't they? They comment on our blogs, re-tweet our posts, chat with us on forums and wish us Happy Birthday on Facebook.

Kindness ROCKS!

To commemorate the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus, Becca and Angela at The Bookshelf Muse are hosting a TITANIC Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ. And because I think KINDNESS is contagious, I'm participating too!

I had a darned hard time deciding who to BLITZ, I'll tell you. But I finally settled on Nan Marino, author of Armstrong is My Uncle.  We have a very special connection and she's one of the best story tellers I know. I can't offer to read a chapter for her because I do that already. I can't offer to send her one of my books; she's bought them already. I can't offer to do much except continue to be there if and when she needs a writer who "gets" what she's experiencing. Oh, and I can offer to give her lots of space on my blog when her new book comes out in 2013! I hope all of you who pop into my blog will give her a shout out and pass on more RAOK.

Do you know someone special that you'd like to randomly acknowledge? Don't be shy--come join us and celebrate! Send them an email, give them a shout out, or show your appreciation in another way. Kindness makes the world go round. :)

Becca and Angela have a special RAOK gift waiting for you as well, so hop on over to The Bookshelf Muse to pick it up.

Have you ever participated in or been the recipient of a Random Act Of Kindness?  Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

M Pax and the Backworlds

The Backworlds is here!

The first story in the Backworlds series by M. Pax. A vision of how humanity might colonize the galaxy some day in the distant future.

The Backworlds
After the war with Earth, bioengineered humans scatter across the Backworlds. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to hoard his fortune by destroying his son. Cut off from family and friends, with little money, and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

Available from:   Amazon /  AmazonUK /   Smashwords /   Feedbooks

Other links to more outlets can be found at either Wistful Nebulae or MPax 

The Backworlds is an ebook and a free read. All formats can be found at Smashwords and Feedbooks.

It’ll take a few weeks to work its way down to free on Amazon Kindle. It will also be available on B&N and iTunes. Sign up for M. Pax’s mailing list to be notified the day it does go free on Amazon, and when the book becomes available at other outlets. You’ll also receive coupons for discounts on future publications. NEWSLETTER 

M. Pax’s inspiration comes from the wilds of Oregon, especially the high desert where she shares her home with two cats and a husband unit. Creative sparks also come from Pine Mountain Observatory where she spend her summers working as a star guide. 
The author using the big telescope at the observatory 

She writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, but confesses to an obsession with Jane Austen. She blogs at her WEBSITEand at  Wistful Nebuae. You’ll find links there to connect on Twitter, Goodread, FB and other sites.

The sequel, Stopover at the Backworlds’ Edge, will be released in July 2012. It will be available in all ebook formats and paperback.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A to Z Reflections Post 2012

This was my first A to Z Challenge, so I made some mistakes. But that's how you learn, right? Jump in, take a few bad strokes, sink, and then go the side of the pool and get those water wings.

Here's what I would have done differently.

1) I would have had a theme. I think the blogs I visited with themes were the most interesting AND they stuck in my mind.

2) I would have written more in-depth posts. Some of mine were of the "Okay. Fine, but where's the beef?" variety. When I visited blogs that covered topics of interest and gave value I returned to those blogs the next day.

3) I would have set up a better schedule. I randomly visited blogs, but I think if I'd created a list and kept better track, I would have been able to leave comments at more sites.

Will I do this next year? I hope to. I'd like to. I met so many wonderful bloggers this year.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday Moods

I guess today I'm waxing a bit NOSTALGIC. *She looks into the near distance, hand propped under chin and sighs.

I was reading a blog post several months ago about spinning yarn, not telling stories, either, but really spinning yarn. I know, "Why were you reading about knitting?" you ask. Well, this blogger said something that stuck with me. Here's what Ashling wrote in The Confessions of a Would-Be Mountain Woman:

"[The people in the shop] told me that their local spinning group (Elmendorph Spinning Guild) had 40 people show up for their monthly meeting. What does it say that so many are returning to this ancient art?"

My comment was: "As to why people are returning to ancient art . . . I think it's because we're so isolated in this techi world of internet "love" that we crave a connection of some kind to our past. Just guessing, here."

After reading Ashling's post I dug out my grandmother's quilts and studied the beautiful stitches she'd made my hand and marveled at her art and her skill. Now I do think my comment was right.

I want a connection with things that are tangible and things that give me a feeling of being connected with the people in my life. Even after they've gone from this world, they've left behind the traces of who they were and where I came from. How about you? Have a need for connections to your past?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Insecure Writer's Wednesday

This is my first blog post for May, so 

I went back through my posts from the first year I blogged. That was interesting because I'd forgotten all about them. It was kind of like finding little presents scattered over the years. Here's one that I did back in May of  2010. 

Okay, someone go find April and bring it back. I didn't get anything done I had on my list, the list which I can't find, but know has important stuff waiting to be done.

Some poetry for May:

Clouds over
Tree-dotted hillsides
I lick dust from dry lips
And run on to escape
The whir of defeat

That must have been a day I'd bumped into some rejection and I suffered an INSECURITY attack. I still like the idea of escaping the whir of defeat. I should expand on that.

As I went through those old posts, I discovered that somehow things haven't changed. I'm still trying to keep up with my list. I'm still losing that list. I'm still forgetting what was important enough to take the time to write it down. Hmm. Seems I'm getting OLDER, but I'm not getting any better! Do I have any others out there in the same situation?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Danika Dinsmore

Hi readers, I hope you'll welcome Danika Dinsmore who's here to tell us about herself and give us an idea about her new book, The Ruins of Noe.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Danika. Readers often wonder what writers do besides pull together stories.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, but now live in Vancouver, BC with my husband and our 18-pound (it’s true) feline. We call him J. Fredrick Hoover (cuz he’s a vacuum when it comes to kitty kibble). I didn’t even consider becoming a children’s novelist until my mid-30’s. Before that discovery I was building my career as a screenwriter/filmmaker and before that I was a performance poet and director of two literary non-profits. Through all of that I’ve always been a teacher. I’ve taught in public and alternative schools, as an artist-in-the-schools, for festivals and conferences, and as a contract instructor at the college-level.

Other than writing and teaching I love to travel. I’ve been to twenty different countries besides the U.S. and Canada and it feels like the tip on the iceberg. My goal is to merge these three loves.

Check out the trailer for Brigitta of White Forest, the first in the book Faerie Tales series.

Can you give us quick summary and maybe a brief excerpt of your book, The Ruins of Noe?

The Ruins of Noe picks up several months after the first book ends. Brigitta has just started her apprenticeship with the Elders when a child is born with no destiny: one of many signs that the White Forest faeries have lost touch with the Ethereals, the Ancient Ones. Without their protection, the forest will lose its balance and fall prey to the outside world.

High Priestess Ondelle is convinced by an old proverb that Brigitta is fated to travel to the former home of the Ancients to help her find the answer. But when they get there, they discover that hundreds of years ago, when the faeries were moved north to the protected realm, some faeries were left behind.

Brigitta and Ondelle are caught in a dangerous feud between two factions of feral faeries whose leaders will stop at nothing to access what little sorcery Noe has left.

What triggered the idea for this book?

I originally wrote the first book in the series as a one off, but once I had written my world book (i.e. where I keep track of the history of my imaginary world) I realized there were more stories to tell. And thank goodness, because creating a world is a lot of work. It’d be nice to keep it around for a while.

While writing all the backstory for the faeries, I discovered that there were deeper mysteries to solve, and a chaotic world to unite. That inspired me to see this as an epic quest coming-of-age story. The outline for the series came fairly easily after that.

In this story, I really wanted Ondelle as a major character. She was introduced in the first book, but we don’t know much about her. The third book will reveal how Briggy and she are connected. Her life is more entwined with Brigitta’s than I let on in the first book. But I needed readers to care more about her, so they became traveling companions in book two.

Can you share some of your experience from writing to publication with the readers? What's been the most rewarding part of this? What's been most difficult? Can you share some of your exasperated moments? I'm sure all of us will be able to relate.

Nowadays, if you want to get published, there are so many options. If you persevere, it will happen. If you do what it takes: pay attention, edit, submit, pay attention, edit, submit. It’s everything after publication that zaps your time, energy, and emotional stamina. 

I think the most enlightening thing one learns as a writer is “if you build it, they won’t necessarily come.” No matter how passionate you are about your story, it doesn’t mean anyone else will be. One of my first bookstore readings had 6 people in the audience and one was my publisher and one was the dude who set it up. Ego check.

But the people who did come were attentive and asked great questions and I gave it my all. That’s when I came up with the mantra “one fan at a time” and became grateful for each new reader. (that and I like to repeat Dory’s phrase from Finding Nemo: Just keep swimming.)

The other day I was making a to-do list (I am the list queen). After I was done, I looked it over and realized every item had to do with my children’s writing career in some way, shape, or form. As impatient as I get, I realized I was living the writing life! That THIS - the writing plus everything on that check list, no matter how menial the task - is the writing life. That was an important revelation.

Any other books in the offing? Can you give us a sneak preview?

Right now I’m supposed to be finishing book three for a Fall 2013 release, but I’m actually working on a rewrite of a YA pop space opera called Intergalactic. It’s very different from my White Forest series, which is a nice break for me. It’s a humourous satire about a fading Intergalactic pop star. Sort of Douglas Adams meets Lady Gaga.

Here’s the summary from my website, faerie tales from the white forest.

When 17-year-old fading intergalactic pop star idoLL starts her 12-planet tour, her biggest worries are that rising star 16-year-old Jettison Prix has overtaken her on the T.R.E.N.D. charts and that her manager has booked her some really lame gigs.

But when Princess Tarantella of the planet Rethula stows away on her tour ship, inadvertently igniting an interplanetary war, idoLL finds herself stranded without her bandmates: Monkey, the cultural liaison and synth robot, and Debop, the enigmatic alien sextapus percussion wiz.

Lost without her crew, the high-maintenance diva must take things into her own incapable hands and partner up with her nemesis Jettison Prix in order to save the princess, stop the war, and track down her scumbag manager who has disappeared with all her tour money.

6. Here are some rapid fire questions for you. It's okay to hedge if you have to.

Chocolate or Vanilla - chocolate
Dogs or Cats - cats
Summer or Winter - summer
eBooks or Traditional Books - traditional
Coffee or Tea – coffee (unless one of my choices is spicy style chai tea)

7. Is there any advice you'd like to leave for the readers?

My four P’s: passion, presence, persistence, patience

And just keep swimming!

Thanks, Danika. I hope your blog tour is wildly successful. Appreciated your being here to brighten the Write Game.

Readers, here's where you can find Danika's book on Amazon and on Barnes & Noble. It would be great if you'd give her blog The Accidental Novelist and her fb page a visit.