Friday, December 16, 2011

Inspired by books: Her own personal Narnia

My 10 year old has been reading this book called "Mandy" by Julie Andrews Edwards. (Yes, that's the same as the Mary Poppins actress) It's about an orphan that finds an abandoned cottage and works to fix it up as her own little get-away haven.



We are lucky to have my parents nearby. They only live about 15 minutes away so the kids get to see them often. They have this fabulous yard, the kind that beggs for kids to be as they really are; adventurers, warriors, race car drivers, wizards and creators.

They have this plant in the yard (as seen in the picture) I don't know what it's called but they look like cat tails on steroids.







Since my daughter has been reading MANDY she has been taking care of this patch of vegetation and making it her own "Narnia" as she calls it.





She has woven mats out of blades from the plant.




she has even made some chairs (held together by tape) Don't they look like something straight out of Fairytopia?

The best part is that there is an open circle inside the plant. This is what she has REALLY been working on. It's her own fort. The place where she will put her chairs, mats and other decorations. She has spent hours on it already and she's still going strong.





But this is just the beginning! There are so many great books she has yet to discover. I can't wait to see what she'll come up with next.

It takes me back to my childhood. I loved making my own forts, hiding places and other worldly places.

What about you? Did you have your own world or . . . how were you inspired by books as a kid (or heck, even now?)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Encouragement for Writers: An Agent Success Story With Kathleen M. Reilly

I'm happy to introduce yet another member of my critique group, Kathleen M. Reilly. who recently signed with Marcy Posner of Folio Literary Magangement.

Kate has graciously answered some of my questions about her journey to finding an agent.

But first, a little about Kate. She's one of the most dedicated, focused and hard-working writers that I know.

Kate's features appear in publications such as:
  • Parents
  • Better Homes & Gardens
  • Family Circle
  • American Baby
  • FamilyFun
  • Woman's Day
  • Ladies' Home Journal



She's also the author of eight books (two of which are those award-winners).

Prior to launching a successful freelance career, Kate edited telecommunications and veterinary medical newsletters, website copy, and technical documentation.

Kate develops, writes, edits, and designs a wide range of business materials, both in print and online, including brochures, newsletters, press releases, corporate identity pieces, marketing "give-aways," and website copy.


And now, (drum roll please) Kate's interview about how she found her agent:

What type of writing do you do and how long have you been writing?

I’m a freelancer, so most of my work is writing for magazines. I’ve been doing that for about nine years. A few years ago, I started writing non-fiction children’s books for Nomad Press, an indy publisher in Vermont. I’ve done about seven books for them now.

How long had you worked on the manuscript that landed your agent? How many revisions?
when did you seek an agent for the first time, and how/why did you know it was time to look for one?

At the beginning of 2011, I decided it was well past time for me to do what I’ve always wanted – write fiction! So, in January, I began tossing plot ideas around in my head. I started writing in earnest in February. I finished the first draft a couple months later (I write fast!), and I must have done about three major revisions. I started looking for an agent in August. I knew I was ready because I felt like I’d taken the revisions as far as I could go. I was ready for some input from someone who does fiction day in and day out – someone who really knew this side of the business well.

How did you find your agent and then come to the conclusion that she was “the one?”

I did a lot of research to find an agent. I ran searches on different “find an agent!” sites, putting in my key points – I needed someone who did middle grade, who was interested in “boy books,” and who took submissions via email! When this agent responded to my query, she was very polite, professional, and seemed genuinely excited about my manuscript. And when I found out we’d gone to the same university, I figured it was fate!

What encouragement given to you did you hold onto while you were searching for an agent?

As a freelancer, I’m used to rejection. It’s just part of the business. Nothing personal at all – there are so many variables that come into play. Do they already have something similar in the works? Does that particular editor just not like that particular spin on the idea? Is she just having a plain old bad day? Maybe they already ran a story too close to that topic. In any case, I didn’t take rejection hard when an agent said, “No, not for me.” I liked my story; I have a fantastic writing group who supported me; and I knew I’d eventually place it somewhere. Sometimes you just gotta kiss a lot of frogs!

What encouragement or advice do you have to give to those who are searching for an agent?

I regularly go mountain biking with my tween- and teen-aged sons. Trust me, you’ve gotta work hard to keep up with these guys! But it turns out, it’s actually pretty fun to really push myself. Same goes for the whole writing process and looking for an agent. Just like in mountain biking, you’ve got to expect some setbacks – and possibly even some wipeouts! Yeah, those pitfalls are more emotional than physical in the writing biz, but you’ve still got to pick yourself back up and keep pushing. Old advice, but it’s really the truth!


Thank you, Kate, for sharing your success story with us. You are an inspiration! All of a sudden I have the urge to go mountain biking. . . . .









Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"How to Milk a Dinocow" Book launch!



Do you remember when we sent Critter around the world last year? Critter met all kinds of writers and illustrators and then was auctioned off for St. Jude.


Critter's mega-talented creator, Ian Sands, has his first humorous middle grade book coming out on December 10th.

If you're in the state of NC . . . .“How to Milk a DinoCow” will be released December 10, 2011. The publisher and the Halle Cultural Arts Center, located on Salem Street in downtown Apex, NC will be co-hosting the launch event which is open to the public. The event will take place from 3-5PM. But you can pre-order it here

Don't forget to become a fan on Facebook too!


Go on! Reserve your copy. You know you want to!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NaNo, words flow, go, go, go! How do you get the words out?


I can't believe NaNo is going so well for me this year. I have three youngin's and a busy life. I didn't even know if I should tackle NaNo this year; 1) because my past NaNo stories have turned out to be junk 2) I didn't know if I had the time. I hate to start something and not finish it.

But then I decided to do it; 1) because a friend talked me into it 2) I had an idea to write the back story and character sketches of my book instead of the book itself 3) we all can find time to do the things that we WANT to do. I knew I could find the time if I really tried.

I encourage anyone who is thinking about NaNo to do NaNo on in the way that will best suite you and your goals. Who cares if you don't make it to the full 50K? Who cares if you are writing a book about your book? Who cares if you're just brainstorming nothing in particular? The point is setting your goals and working towards them.

Writing a book about back story and characters seems "weird" but it has been really helpful.
1) I'm gaining a better understanding of what motivates my characters and how they effect each other.
2) I'm seeing my characters in a more well-rounded way. They are becoming real to me and I think that will help my story when I start to really write about them.
3) I'm able to connect the dots with some questions I had in my mind but didn't know how to work them out.
4) My inner editor is completely shut off. None of this is meant to be cut and pasted into my novel, so I can type freely with little to no road blocks.

When I do find that my creative process is slowing down, I know it's time to stop. One of the best ways I find to let the words flow is to visualize the scenes or thoughts that I want to write about, like I'm watching a movie in my head, before I start to type. The clearer movie-like picture I have in my head, the easier it is to let the words pour out.

OK, I'm going to go now and try to plunk out another couple thousand words. That is, if I can keep the cat off my key-board. Shooooo Sammy, shoooooo!

What about you? What helps you get the words out when you're writing?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Encouragement for Writers: An Agent Success Story with Jenny Murray


Visit Jenny Murray at www.jennymurray.net

I'm especially happy to bring you this week's ENCOURAGEMENT FOR WRITERS section because today's guest is one of my critique group buddies. Jenny Murray is a dedicated and talented writer that hasn't let our economy discourage her from writing a great book. Jenny recently signed with Danielle Chiotti at Upstart Crowe Agency. Her dedication to the craft of writing inspires me. Now you can read on and get inspired too!

What type of writing do you do and how long have you been writing?

I write novels for middle grade readers. I have been writing all of my life, though it’s only been since 2003 that I’ve been seriously working toward a goal of publication.

How long had you worked on the manuscript that landed your agent?

I started this project almost four years ago, and I worked on it exclusively for about a year and a half. Then I thought it was ready to go out into the world, and I started the submission process while beginning another project. It wasn’t ready, though. After receiving mixed feedback, I pulled it back out for another full revision. This latest revision took about six months.

How many revisions?

Nineteen and counting!

When did you seek an agent for the first time, and how/why did you know it was time to look for one?

I have to admit that I submitted this book too early. It wasn’t ready. I think I thought it was done because I wasn’t sure what else to do with it or where to get more feedback. Then I received a few personal rejections. They were gifts because they helped me see the hard work that still needed to be done. They gave me direction.

How did you find your agent and then come to the conclusion that she was the one?

My final path to representation did not follow the normal querying process. The first time I queried agents, I received several comments about the characters and setting of the novel. They both needed to be strengthened. I listened and took the comments to heart, working for a solid six months to bring the novel to its current form. I felt good about my work, but didn’t want to make the mistake of querying agents too soon again.

Luckily, the Carolinas SCBWI conference was just around the corner. I signed up for a critique, hoping to get some positive feedback, but also hoping to know if my changes were working. I was assigned an editor from a major publishing house for my individual critique session. She was wonderful, saying that she loved the pages and that I could say she was interested in the project in my queries to agents.

I talked with a few authors at the conference. They were tremendously helpful, and when I returned home I began my query process. While I was researching agents, Danielle Chiotti of Upstart Crow Literary contacted me. One of her clients, whom I had met at the conference, told her about my project. Danielle queried me asking to see my manuscript. Completely flattered, I sent it to her.

Within two weeks, I had two offers for representation. I spoke with both agents on the phone, and I was immediately drawn to Danielle’s professionalism and enthusiasm. I finalized my contract with Danielle one week later.

What encouragement given to you did you hold on to while you were searching for an agent?

I remember reading that even in this tough economic climate, there is, and always will be, a place for great books. This comment stuck with me as I worked on my book. I listened to feedback even when I wanted to ignore it and say I was done. It was a struggle and sometimes discouraging, but I always knew that I had to work to write the very best book I can write.

What encouragement or advice would you give others who are searching for an agent?

Keep writing. Revise, revise, and revise and then revise again. It’ll happen.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m still revising! I’m working on Danielle’s editorial letter (seven, single spaced pages) and I am thrilled because her comments are spot-on and making me ask hard questions about my book. I still struggle with impatience, but I know, in the end, my book will be better for the work. And that’s the goal. I want to write the best book I can because what we do is too important to rush. We’re building the reading lives of young people. They deserve the very best books we can write.


Thank you for joining us and sharing your journey to representation, Jenny.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Making NaNo progress.



I'm off to a good start. I've averaged a little over 2000 words per day. I'm not going to be able to do any typing on Saturday because I'll be out doing family stuff, but I'll be thinking and visualizing what I want to write next. That's one key that I've found to being able to type fast and furiously. If I have a movie-like idea in my head of what I'm going to type next, the words just flow.

I'm having tons of fun with this. I'm unlocking a lot of nuggets in my head and finding out a lot about my story that is falling into place. YaY!

More next week. I have to get ready for the weekend.

Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNo WriMo by Numbers


NaNo is a pretty large monster of a word count to tackle. 50,o00 words in one month. I'm not even writing my actual book. I'm writing a book about my book. The back story and character sketches . . . if I get that far.

It helps me to break down those mongo-freaky numbers into smaller parts. Let's see . . .

There's 5 weeks in November. That = 10,000 words per week.

week 1 has 5 days = 2,000 words per day
Week 2-4 has 7 days =1428.57 words per day
Week 5 has 4 days = 2,500 words per day

OK. I think I can manage the daily word averages. All that will take is discipline to make useless time into writing time. (buh-bye facebook games)

This is what I need, though. I need to get back into a regular writing schedule. Dump my brain-numbing down time and make it productive again.

Let's see . . . what other numbers will this month of NaNo Wrimo hold?

at least . . . .
30+ cups of coffee
29 time of scolding myself for checking facebook
8 pens
7 pencils
26 sticky notes that I misplace
25 late nights
24 more times of scolding myself for checking facebook
3 scones
22 cups of tea
21 new songs on the i pod
10 crumpled pieces of loose leaf paper
50 times pushing my cat off my keyboard

and a partridge in a pear tree. . . . . (squawking at me for checking facebook)

But it's not really about the numbers . . . is it? It's about setting a goal and reaching it. It's about getting your backside nice and comfy in your seat of choice for the long-haul.

Even if you're not doing NaNo this month, what kind of goals do you have and how do you set yourself up to meet them?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Win an ARC


Want to win an ARC of a book, MY VERY UNFAIRYTALE LIFE, that sounds like loads of fun and has an aWesomE cover as well? Of course you do!

go to Anna Staniszewski's blog to enter! Click here!

Monday, October 17, 2011

I'm gonna do it!


OK. I'm in. At first I didn't think I'd do NaNo again. I've done it a couple of times and the novels I wrote ended up being junk. I did learn a lot, but it's a big goal in a short amount of time. I didn't know if it would be worth it.

I just signed up to take the Full Novel Course through the Institute of Children's Literature. I'm just getting started and I wasn't sure if I should put any more work on myself than I already have. I decided to approach this differently, though. This year, instead of writing my actual novel, I'm going to brainstorm the back story of my current book. That way I'm not working against the course that I'm taking. Instead, I'm supplementing it.

Plus, I need to get back into a regular writing routine. My discipline has gone astray over the past couple of years. It's time that I get serious again and get my butt back in the chair. NaNo is a great way to do it.

So, who else is in? I'm CEvers on the Nano web-site if you want to add me as a buddy. :0)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ahoy maties!

In honor of ye ol' Talk LIke a Pirate day, ye best be sheddin' yer land lubbin name and get yerself a name fittin' for a pirate at Ye ol' Pirate Name generator. ARRRRRRRRR!

My new pirate name be Burnin' Juliana Hawkins. What be yers?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stairs to Nowhere

I was recently walking in downtown Raleigh when I came across these stairs that lead to nowhere. I had to take a picture. I love the way a sight like this starts my creative story wheels a-turning. Let me count the possible ways to find a story behind this image . . .

Why was the entrance covered up? What are they hiding? Is it a porthole to another world? Maybe there's a secret code or trigger that opens up an unseen door. . . ..

Or maybe this image is a metaphor for something in your life. I've got to admit, right now I feel like those stairs leading to a brick wall represents my writing efforts. (not to mention other areas in my life.)

What about you? What thoughts or stories are brought to mind by this picture? I'm curious.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Play a game with your Characters

The Best Day/ Worst Day Game

Character development doesn't have to be dull. Try playing a game with your characters. In John Green's "Finding Alaska" his characters play a game of "Best Day, Worst Day" where each character told the others their best and worst day. I found this interesting because the answers each character gave told the reader the experiences that made them tick, gave them their drive and direction in life.

So . . . I thought, that may be a good character development game. Then I started to wonder what other games might be fun to play while getting to know our characters. hmmmmmmmm

Monday, April 11, 2011

Trying someting new: Developing character voice


Since I started this adventure in writing I learned pretty zippity-quick that in order to make it in this business, you have to have a strong voice. It took a while for me to get a grasp on "what" voice is. It's not the easiest to explain. However, KNOWING what voice is doesn't mean that it comes easy. I've finished my first Novel, UNSEEN, but I tried so hard to make sure all the words were perfect that I think the voice came across unnatural. I still love the story and will most likely go back to it one day and try to fix it. For now, I'm starting a new book. I'm aiming for a natural yet unique voice. So . . . before I begin the book, I've decided to get into my main characters head. I am starting a journal as if my main character were writing it. I'm hoping this will give me a good idea of who my character is, how she thinks, talks and even how the story will unfold. Usually I need an outline to write a book. But with this journal thing . . . I can just let the story take on a life of it's own. I'm hoping this journal will give me the structure for my outline. Who knows. It's worth a shot to try. That's part of the fun of writing . . . right?

So . . . what do you do to get to know your characters and develop their unique voice? I'd love to hear more ideas!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Part 2, The Psychology of Change: Developing Authentic Characters

I'm tickled pink w/ purple polka dots over the responses of Part 1 of the Psychology of Change. I hope that this 2nd segment will be just as useful.

Part 1 dealt with how your character experiences a sense of loss in their life when change occurs and how your character responds to it. Even good change produces stress and a sense of loss. (ie: a new baby means a sense of identity loss, loss of territory or turf, loss of sleep etc.) Click here to read to Part 1 (Or you can just scroll down. Whatever. Take your pick.)

Part 2 deals with outside influences and how they help or hurt your character as he/she deals with the change and sense of loss in their life.

Part 2
The Transition Phase


When a person makes a transition from an old way of life to something new there are outside influences as well as inner battles that shape how they respond to stress and move on.

Things that help a person move through the Transition Phase of "change"
1) Ceremony: Studies show that people tend to get over the stress of "change' in their life if they go through a ceremony, ritual or right of passage of some sort. ie: funerals help a person transition from dealing with a death and moving on with life. Weddings help people transition from a single life to married life. Journaling is a ritual that helps people sort out feelings. Burning pictures, throwing out items, writing letters (you know . . .that sort of stuff) are other types of rituals, ceremonies or rights of passage.

2) Venting: Transition is the time when a person just needs to vent, not be fixed. They needs someone to listen rather than someone to solve their problems.

3) Allowed to act out of character: This is a period of time where your character my act in ways that they normally wouldn't act.

4) People in transition need . . .
A. A positive reminder of why they are going through this change
B. A reminder of the big picture; what is at the end of the road of this transition
C. A plan of action
D. A role to play in their transition. They need to feel like they have some control by taking part in the events that will lead to their end fate.
E. Care
F. Concern

Now ask yourself . . .

1) What positive and healthy things, listed above, does your character do to help them through their transition? What areas are they lacking? (ie: Do they take part in a ceremony, ritual or right of passage that will help them move on, or do they try to ignore their feelings and end up feeling stuck? )

2) How do other characters help or hurt your character in their transition? Who gives your character the support they need? Who is a negative influence that makes it difficult for your character to make progress? Remember, even friends and loved ones can be a negative influence in your characters progress. It doesn't have to be the antagonist who creates all the tension. Even well-meaning people can flub-it-up for your character.

3) How do relationships change for your character during this time of transition? Does he/she gain or lose friends because of the change itself or your characters reaction to change? Does your character start to see a side of people that he/she has never noticed before?

4) What does your character realize about him/her self that they never realized about themselves before? Do they like themselves better or worse? How do they view themselves differently than before? (ie: do they find out that they have a deep inner strength than the realized or do they end up finding out that they are really more of a whiner when things get tough?)

5) Does your character feel like they have any control over their situation or feels like everything is out of control? Does he/she try to take control or does he/she feel hopeless?


Part 3 of the Psychology of Change is "Conclusion" This is simply where your character has found resolution in their circumstances and the "change" in their life is now the norm. They have found peace and acceptance of their circumstances. The end of the story is a new beginning for your character.

This is the Psychology of Change in a nutshell. I hope it helps you in your character development! I'd love to hear if it's useful.




Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The psychology of change: Developing authentic characters

Last month I attended a business conference where I heard a session about the psychology of change as it relates to your business and employees. My hubby is the business end of our marriage so normally I take these opportunities to daydream and/or doodle. However, I noticed early on in the session that the psychology of change has three distinct part. I said to myself, "Self, this sounds like it follows the three part story model and can be applied to story/character development. Instead of daydreaming I pulled out my pen and surprised my husband by taking vigorous and detailed notes. (Sorry honey, I'm not going to run the business. My mind is on writing, as usual.)

So . . . I thought I'd share what I learned about the real life psychology of change and how it can be applied to our characters and help shape our stories.

The 3 parts are broken down into
Part 1: The Beginning is the End
Part 2: Transition
Part 3: Conclusion

Today's post is dedicated solely to Part 1: It deals with A. the change in your characters life, B. how it effects them and how they deal with it.

Part 1 The Beginning is the End:

The beginning of your story starts at a point of change for your character. This "change" is the end of "something" for your character. Even if the change is positive, like becoming more popular, moving into a new house, having a new family member or travel. All change produces stress and a sense of loss. Ask yourself, "How does this change effect my character. What have they lost as a result of this change?"

A: AREA'S WHERE CHARACTERS FEEL A SENSE OF LOSS AT THE ONSET OF CHANGE.
1) Territory: Does their change cause a sense of displacement in their turf or environment. (ie: does the new brother or sister make your character feel out of place in their own home? Do they have to move rooms? etc)

2) Relationships: How does this change in their life effect their relationships? ie: does their newfound popularity or starring role in the school play cause tension with your characters best friend?)

3) Meaning and purpose in life: Has this life-change caused your character's belief system or purpose in life to be thrown off kilter? Have they lost, in anyway, what gave them a reason for being?

4) Control: What has your character no longer have a hold on? money? health? safety? sleep? etc.

5) Future: How has this change caused your character uncertainty regarding their future?

6) Identity: How has this change caused your character to no longer be what they were before?

7) Structure: How does this change uproot your characters old routine?


B. Now that you've determined area's where your character is experiencing loss, ask yourself, "How does my character respond to their loss?
Do they . . . . .
1) try to restore what they lost? Are they trying to get back exactly what was lost? (ie: get back the same boyfriend)
2) try to replace what was lost? Are they wanting to gain back something similar in a new way? (ie: replace the old boyfriend with a new one)
3) try to redesign what was lost? (ie: develop a new plan. Do they really need a boyfriend? If not, what is their new pursuit?
4) relinquish what was lost? Your character gives up on replacing, restoring or redesigning and moves on to something new altogether.

The next post will be about Part 2, the Transition and what helps or hinders your characters transition.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Words of encouragement for authors and writers, from one of my favorite authors . . . Kathleen Duey


This interview of Encouragement is especially meaningful to me because one of my favorite authors, Kathleen Duey, has given us her personal insights into handling discouragement as a writer. Kathleen is the author of over 70 b00ks for ages k-YA. This is a gal who has faced the dragons of defeat and fought them head on! She's my hero!!!!

Here, exclusively at Christy's Creative Space, she gives encouragement to writers both published and unpublished based on her years of experience. I hope you get as much out of her words of wisdom as I have. Since I've been researching Unicorns recently, I thought Kathleen would be a great person to interview since she has written a popular series about Unicorns, starting with "Moonsilver" which I will review in the near future.


1. Do you have a favorite saying, quote, or poem that inspires you during times of discouragement?
​Quotes , wise sayings, and favorite poems make me smile, laugh, cry, and often touch me deeply, but they don’t help me write when I am discouraged. I have learned to go outside and do something physically exhausting instead of staring at the screen. I put a digital recorder in my pocket when I pick up my garden shovel because once I get out of my head and into my body, ideas always come, characters always talk, and when the chores are done (or sooner, if the ideas are breathless and urgent) I can always write. On bad weather days, I dance to loud music, indoors.

2. Do you have a story about discouragement in your own writing career?
​It seems to me that discouragement is a common resting state for most writers. If we work hard, don’t quit, and get lucky, it alternates with wild and glorious writing-fever, joy when a book is acquired, praised…then we start over. Do I have a personal story of discouragement? No. I have a gazillion. So let’s talk about a story in progress:
​One of my current works is the third version of something an editor I love is interested in. I was SO sure I had nailed it in both versions one and two. The editor was kind enough to give me some phone time. Talking to her, I finally realized that the parts of the project that tickled her were sidelights for me—and the core inspiration/heart of the thing for me was the “too introspective, less broad-appeal/less commercial” part for her. She wants MUCH more humor. She had said that very clearly, both times. I just wasn’t listening very well. Her last words (via an email) were: “Remember: have fun!”

So.
Start over………????
Day one: Loop tape in my head: Am I capable of writing the kind of humor she wants?
Day two: Loop tape in my head: Seriously. Am I capable of writing anything anyone would want?
Day three: I loved the original version, inspired by immigrant kids I know. That was the heart/mind grounding of the story. The spark. And it had a lot of humor in it. Or so I thought. Can I even TELL what’s funny?
Day four: Maybe the truth is I really can’t write humor very well.
Day five: Maybe the truth is I can’t write humor AT ALL.
Night five: Maybe I didn’t do my homework? Wouldn’t be the first time.
Day six: I reread several very funny books for the age group that have done well in the marketplace. I suddenly saw my revisions as the flimsy compromise/ hybrids/ they were. I had added token humor to please the editor, not the child-reader—or me.
Day seven: The discouragement began to lift because I had identified the problem. It was a HUGE one, but at least I saw it clearly. I used Amazon to read the available pages of a few dozen more best-selling funny books for the age group.
Day eight: I wrote a big, multi colored sticky note that summarized what I had learned: “Self-absorbed characters are usually funnier. If they aren’t inappropriately confident, kind of oblivious, and impervious to real growth, we can’t laugh without guilt.”
Day nine: I began to write down concepts for the next version.
Day ten: I began to hope that I really can nail it this time.
Day eleven onward: I am working on it as much as I can while writing another book. I THINK it is really funny now.


3) What words of encouragement do you have for people who have yet to publish their first manuscript?
​Almost nothing is fun until you get good at it and that takes time. Writing is an art, like painting, like playing the violin. Expect a long learning curve and know that it is typical. We all struggle with the elements of writing. We all wrestle words into place, fight with a tough scene for days. We all stare at blank screens, blank paper, the blank face in the mirror and know, beyond all doubt, that we can’t write, then three days later we give ourselves goose bumps writing a scene that resonates in our hearts. Persistence and Patience are your best friends, talk to them often, stay in touch.


4) What words of encouragement do you have for those who are published yet are seeking further publication?
​Every writer is seeking further publication, I think. I certainly am. Learning to deal with the gaps and occasional failures and the W. A. I. T. I. N. G…… is just part of the job description. I am not saying it’s easy, I’m saying it’s inescapable and that you will get better at it with practice. Try to always be expanding your skills, experimenting, fiddling with ideas and techniques.

​For me, the very best cure for discouragement is to write, to re-discover the exhilaration and of the art and craft itself, to remember how wondrous it is to take thin air and weave a story from it. On my worst days I remind myself that I am part of an ancient, disorganized guild of artists, a scattered and various tribe of people who have always bared their hearts, and by doing so, bared everyone’s hearts. We do something basic, pivotal, essentially human, something that is both loved and needed by everyone. Most days, remembering that is enough to help me nudge discouragement aside and get back to work.


Thank you so much, Kathleen, for taking this time to give us words of encouragement. I love that you find inspiration in living life and dancing. It's also great to know that even the "GREATS" like you, question themselves. It give me hope! :0)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Where Have the Unicorns Gone?


By Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Ruth Sanderson

If you're looking for a Unicorn PB, this is a great one. The words are seamlessly-dreamy and the illustrations . . . Gorgeous! There's a nice little surprise for the kids (and adults) at the end.

In the author's notes Jane quotes Leis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass, the Unicorn says to Alice, "If you believe in me, I'll believe in you. Is that a bargain?"

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

You've gotta check out this contest!


Here's a great opportunity that you should check out. Fabutaunts, PJ Hoover and Jessica Lee Anderson are hosting a Query Critique Contest. You can enter on either of their blogs. Click on their names to go directly to each of their links.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It's a Mythtery! A study of Mythical Creatures and Legends: Unicorn!


It's a Mythery!
UNICORN
A study of mythical creatures and legends.


(P.S. Please excuse the font and coloring below. I've lost some control over how this post looks and I'm having a hard time figuring out how to set it straight.)

It's February. The month of love and all things that make us googly eyed and hopeful. That's why, as a continuation of my study of mythical creatures and legends, I dedicate this month to the unicorn. Why? Because the Unicorn is one of the few creatures that symbolize goodness, purity and faithfulness. (See symbolism section below.)

(The Unicorn and the Lake), "The unicorn is the only fabulous beast that does not seem to have been conceived out of human fears. In even the earliest references he is fierce yet good, selfless yet solitary, but always mysteriously beautiful." ~Marianna Mayer

Contents:
1) Origins
2) Thoughts and Beliefs About Unicorns, Past and Present
3) Symbolism
4) Purposes and Abilities
5) Traits
6) The Unicorn in Midieval Times
7) Unicorns Around the World
8) Sources

Origins:
A unicorn (from the Latin word unus 'one' and cornu 'horn') described as having a long, straight horn extending from its forehead. The popular modern image of the unicorn is usually that of a horse with a horn. The traditional unicorn also has the beard of a billy goat, the tail of a lion, and cloven hooves.



Thoughts and Beliefs About Unicorns, Past and Present:

1) in 1663, at Unicorn Cave in the Harz Mountains in Germany, a large number of bones were found and reconstructed by the mayor of Magdeburg, Otto Von Guericke. This so-called unicorn had only two legs, and was later found to be constructed from the fossil bones of a wooly rinocerous and mammoth, with the horn of a narwhal. The skeleton was examined by Gottfried Leibniz, who had previously doubted the existence of the unicorn, but was convinced by it.

2) In an interview published in Die Ganze Woch magazine in December of 1991, the renowned Austrian naturalist Antal Festetics, a visiting professor at Gottingen University, made a startling claim. He recounted an incident which occurred while he was filming a wildlife documentary in the Harz Mountains. One night, he said, he was out on horseback in the neighborhood of the Einhornhohle with a video camera when, "Suddenly a unicorn came towards me at a gallop. There was a glow of light around the animal. My horse reared and almost threw me. Then, just as quickly, it was gone."The following April (1992) Festetics repeated his claim in a television interview. What is more, he claims he captured the encounter with the unicorn on video. Even though none of this footage was broadcast in his three-part documentary program, it is reportedly available for viewing in Gottingen.

How truthful is his claim? Who knows. Festetics neither staked his reputation on it nor admitted to having exercised poetic license. But who knows, maybe someone will will be inspired and write a great fiction book based on this info! :0)

3) Look up Evidence of Unicorns on You Tube and you'll find some footage claiming a Unicorn sighting. Some video's are apparently just for fun, but there are a few that seem to genuinely believe that they caught the real deal on camera.

4) There is a Face Book Fan Page called "I believe in Unicorns" They have a couple hundred members.

5) Many famous people have claimed to have encountered a Unicorn. Marco Polo (see below under "Unicorns in Midieval Times") Alexander the Great claimed to have ridden a unicorn into battle. Julius Caesar reported seeing a unicorn in the forests of Germany. A unicorn appeared to Confucius's mother, telling of the great Chinese philosopher's birth. It later appeared to Confucius, foretelling his death. A unicorn was supposed to live in the garden of Huang Di, the Yellow Emperor. He believed it meant his reign would be long and peaceful. In China the unicorn is seen as a good omen and will only appear to humans if it has important information. If the world is suffering difficult times, the unicorn will disappear.

Herodotus wrote about the "horned ass" of Africa in the 3rd century BC and around the same time, Ctesias, who was a Greek physician and historian, traveled to Persia where he heard tales of "the wild ass of India." This creature was supposed to as be as large as a horse with a white body, red head, blue eyes and a long white, black and red horn. Stories of this alicorn, as it is known, intrigued Ctesis. As a physician, the idea of an object that cured ills, prolonged life and protected a person from all poisons was remarkable. Aristotle heard of Ctesis's stories, and although he believed the unicorn to be a real animal, he did not believe its horn held any special powers.

6) Many scientists say that while there are one horned creatures that have been spotted and documented, they attribute these animals to be victims of genetic mutation, rather than an undiscovered species. ie: the one horned Italian deer found at a wildlife preserve in the town of Prato, outside of Florence.

7) Because Ctesias spoke of the unicorn in the court of Darius II, the King of Persia in 416 BC. Chinese writings date back to 2800 BC. The men of the ancient world believed in the existence of the unicorn, so the object of their searching was to find it, not to prove it existed. It wasn't until later in history that man began to doubt the unicorn's physical existence. In the ninth century,Margoulies wrote, "It is universally held that the unicorn is a supernatural being and of auspicious omen; so say the odes, the annals, the biographies of worthies, and other texts whose authority is unimpeachable.Even village women and children know the unicorn is a lucky sign. But this animal does not figure among the barnyard animals, it is not always easy to come across, it does not lend itself to zoological classification, nor isit like the horse or bull, the wolf or deer. In such circumstances we may be face to face with a unicorn and not know for sure that we are. We know a certain animal with a mane is a horse and that a certain animal with horns is a bull. We do not know what the unicorn looks like."

8) It is said that Pope Paul III paid 12,000 pieces of gold for the horn of a Unicorn and James I of England paid 10,000 pounds sterling for one. What they most likely had paid for was the tusk of a narwhal

Symbolism:
1) In Midieval lore the unicorn symbolized the incarnation of Christ (as in the Physiologous)
2) Death
3) Beguiled lovers
4) Some writers translate unicorn and virgin lore as allegory of the relationship between Christ Jesus and the Virgin Mary.
5) With the rise of humanism, the unicorn took on more secular meanings, emblematic of chaste love and faithful marriage.
6) Strength
7) Purity
8) Beauty

Traits:
1) Can only be captured by unfair means or by a maiden. In one of his notebooks Leonardo De Vinci wrote:

"The unicorn, through its intemperance and not knowing how to control itself, for the love it bears to fair maidens forgets its ferocity and wildness; and laying aside all fear it will go up to a seated damsel and go to sleep in her lap, and thus the hunters take it."

2) able to converse with humans but in a strange telepathic way that has no need for words. Their audible voice is rarely heard and then only as a cry of rage when driven beyond endurance, a scream so dreadful that often it is enough in itself to destroy the sanity of an aggressor.

3) Unicorns are not easily provoked but they guard their lives and independence fiercely and would sooner die than submit to the indignity of capture. Usually they are of a placid, gently disposition and the natural friend of most other creatures.

4) Although friendly towards other animals, the Unicorn is solitary by inclination, particularly keeping away from its own kind except after mating, when couples live together in tenderness while rearing their young.

5) Jewish legend says they can kill an elephant

6) How can you tell if you have a real unicorn horn or an imposter? Place the horn in a vessel of any sort of material you like, and with it three or four large and live scorpions, keeping the vessel covered. If you find four hours later that the scorpions are dead or almost lifeless, the horn is a good one.

The Unicorn in Midieval Times:
1) The royal throne of Denmark was said to be made of "unicorn horns" – Most likely
narwhal tusks. The same material was used for ceremonial cups because the unicorn's horn continued to be believed to neutralize poison, following classical authors.

The unicorn, tamable only by a virgin woman, was well established in medieval lore by the time Marco Polo described them as:

scarcely smaller than elephants. They have the hair of a buffalo and feet like an elephant's. They have a single large black horn in the middle of the forehead... They have a head like a wild boar's… They spend their time by preference wallowing in mud and slime. They are very ugly brutes to look at. They are not at all such as we describe them when we relate that they let themselves be captured by virgins, but clean contrary to our notions.

It is clear that Marco Polo was describing a rhinoceros. In Germany, since the 16th century, Einhorn ("one-horn") has become a descriptor of the various species of rhinoceros.

2) Ancient Norwegians were said to believe the narwhal to have affirmed the existence of the unicorn. The unicorn horn was believed to stem from the narwhal tooth, which grows outward and projects from its upper jaw.

3) It was popular belief, in the seventeenth century, perpetuated by Sir Thomas Browne in his Pseudodoxia Epidemica, unicorn horns could neutralize poisons. Those who feared poisoning sometimes drank from goblets made of "unicorn horn". "Unicorn" products such as milk and hide were sold at exuberant prices because of their alleged aphrodisiac qualities.

Unicorns Around the World:

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unicorn#Alleged
http://www.universalleonardo.org/work.php?id=438
http://www.unicornlady.net/legends/evidence.html
http://peperonity.com/go/sites/mview/enchanted/12456050
http://www.allaboutunicorns.com/what.php
http://home.swipnet.se/~w-59099/maskrosbarnen/Unicorn/Unicorn.htm
"Giants, Monsters and Dragns, An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend and Myth" by Carol Rose
The Complete Encyclopedia of Mythology


Friday, January 21, 2011

It's a Mythtery! A study of Mythical Creatures and Legends: Genie/Djinni


photo from Download-Free-Pictures.com

IT'S A MYTHTERY!
A Study of Mythological Creatures and Legends
Genie/Djinn

Welcome to another new segment of my blog. I've currently been doing a truck load of research on genies for my current WIP, so I thought it would be fun to share what I know, as well as research other mythical creatures throughout the year. I hate to horde all this genie knowledge and keep it to myself. There's plenty to go around for everyone! Who knows, if it works out well I may keep it as a staple here at Christy's Creative Space. We'll see how it goes. Let me know what you think. Are there any Mythical creatures or Characters that you would like to see researched in the future?

Contents:
1)Modern day thoughts regarding Genies (truth is stranger than fiction)
2)Writers Toolbox; Association and symbolism
3)History
-origins
-traits
4)Six different levels or tribes of Djinni
5)Strengths
6)Weakness
7)Major Legends
8)Books about or containing djinn
9)Sources


Modern day thoughts regarding Genies: (truth is stranger than fiction)
While the majority don't believe in the existence of Genies, there are some who still believe they can be contacted and summoned. Below are some modern day examples:


1) People sell Djinn on e-bay. Most of them come as residents in jewelry and other trinkets.

2) There are You-tube video's claiming to have recorded genies.

3) A Saudi Lawyer wanted to have a Djinn testify in court. http://www.emirates247.com/news/region/lawyer-wants-jinn-to-testify-in-court-2010-10-23-1.307686

4) A college student has a scare when a friend conjures up a Djinn http://paranormal.about.com/od/demonsandexorcism/a/aa112105.htm

5)In 1998, Pakistani nuclear scientist Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood proposed in a Wall Street Journal interview that jinn could be tapped to solve the energy crisis. "I think that if we develop our souls, we can develop communication with them. ... Every new idea has its opponents, but there is no reason for this controversy over Islam and science because there is no conflict between Islam and science." (Wikipedia)

6) When a Djinn dies, its soul infuses the area of its death. If this can be somehow harvested, it can be used to create magic of great curative properties. It is said that such magic can raise the dead, greatly extend life, and bestow great powers. (http://legendsguide.com/793/legend-of-the-different-types-of-djinn/)

7) There are web-sites that sell the secrets to summoning an rituals so that you can have your very own Genie who can give you winning lottery numbers, dig treasure, and aid you in teleportation and grant any wish in the blink of an eye. (for a price, of course) Since I don't personally endorse rituals such as this I'm not going to provide any links. But, as a writer, I find this fact fascinating for its fictional possibilities so I thought I'd mention it anyway.


Writers toolbox: Association/Symbolism
Forms:
-smoke
-fire
-animals (especially birds, dogs, camels, worms, porpoise, horse)
-guide
-preditor
-spirit
-cyclones/dust clouds
-protector

Slavery:
-bonds/shackles
-jars
-lamps
-magicians
-spells/summoning
-jewelry
-dolls
-heirlooms
-traps
-use of intelligence and cunning in order to escape bondage
-Anger (loathes anyone who enslaves them)
-killer (will destroy master if he finds a way to escape from his bond)
-treasure finder
-builder
-wish granter
-transporter
-pain (being summoned is painful)


Power:
-flight
-grants masters bidding
-shape-shifting
-invisibility
-ability to travel to different realms as well as anywhere in the universe
-has free will (ability to choose good or evil)
-Can be summoned and bonded by use of the djinn's giving name along with a summoning spell.


Let's take a look at Genie history:
Djinn, Djinni, Jinn, Genii, Jinniyah. Jinn is the female singular form; Djinni being the male plural and Jinniyah, or Jineeyah, being the female plural form.

Origin: These supernatural beings have been a fundamental element of the magical and popular magnitude of the Islamic religion. Pre-Islamic society thought them to be nature spirits who could drive a man to insanity. Jinniyah that take the shape of a beautiful woman and seduces men are called succubi (sincular: succubus) , especially monks and men of religious stature, and usually kills the men at a later time. The male counterpart to the succubi is the incubus.

-The root of the original root of jinn is said to come from the Semitic root "JNN" which refers to hidden or concealed. The word genie in English is derived from Latin genius, which meant guardian spirit.


Traits:
-Super-human beings made of fire and flames, capable of taking on a variety of forms.
-They are considered to be spirits, but lower in form than an angel.
-They can be good or evil.
-Believed to be made of smokeless fire by The Creator himself.
-Sometimes able to take control of a persons body.
-When the Djinn are not walking the deserts looking for those they can prey on, they are thought to live in mythical mountains that are believed to encircle the earth. In Islam this mythical range is known as the Kaf and here they stay along with other mystical supernatural demons and beings.
-Possesses free will
-Can fly
-Generally despise masters who bind them into slavery and are eager to destroy that master at the first slip up that will release them from their bonds or will seek to use their Master's words against them if possible.
-Sly and cunning
-some said that if a person refused to believe in Islam that they would become a demon or a Djinn.

Different Levels of Djinni: There are believed to be 4-6 different tribes/types of Djinn:
1)the True Djinn: mostly stayed neutral; is the largest, and therefore most influential tribe out of all six of them. They are closely related to the Efreeti tribe. Most of the True Djinn have now taken up sides of the Great War among the tribes, but the neutral ones are feral; attacking everything in sight, and people assume that they are evil. Within the True Djinn tribe, there are Aku Djinn, who were fierce and flesh hungry; Emberwilde Djinn, who ruled the fire plane; Ernham Djinn, the hunters that use their powers to make more of a chase for themselves in the forested areas; Juzam Djinn, the second most powerful Djinn, often rebelling against their masters (Sahirs), making it difficult to own or control one; Kookus Djinn, which the goblins of Jamuraan Mountains took it upon themselves to contain them and give them the unfortunate name that is pronounced "cook-us"; Ravnican Djinn, which were considered too dangerous to exist by the Guildpact, and the ones that were still alive at the decamillenium were forced into labor in the polar regions; and lastly there's the Serendib Djinn, extremely powerful, smart and strong, with the ability to grant wishes.
2)Djann: followed the path of truth, the second most common and second most dangerous of Djinn tribes. Known mostly as Fire Djinn, they embrace light more than any other tribe, but they are not constant friends with man. They normally defend those they find pure. Constant enemies of the Efretis, Nekrataals, and Ghuls. They normally hide in the desert in oasis's, and because of this, they were the first Djinn to make contact with humans. Caravan travelers tend to respect these Djinn since they may reveal or hide an oasis to the ones they deem worthy or unworthy. They often appear as white camels or soldiers, and usually disappear into sand cyclones. Because of their desert dwelling habits and avoiding cities, this puts them into contact with the Ghul Djinn tribe.
3)Efreet (Ifrit): chose to declare war on light. was mainly in charge. inherently evil and declared war on the Djann. Known mostly as Fire Djinn, they have been evil since ancient days and war against the Light tribes. Some of the Djinn in the Efreet tribe are Ifh-biff Efreeti, capricious and not quite as strong as their fellow Efreeti, can still unleash a vicious windstorm on an opponent; Junn Efreeti, the worst of their kind - they incite madness in their victims or control the weak by locking eyes with them; Serendib Efreeti, profane, cunning, and enjoying suffering; and the Wildfire Efreeti, main servants to the Emberwilde Djinn.
4)Nekrataal: chose to declare war on light. The longest living Djinn tribe. Mainly live in marshy regions and bring plague and despair to everything they touch. They are more known to appear as beautiful men and women, although they have been told to show as black camels. As they are the weakest of all Djinn, they resort to manipulation and trickery to reach their goals. Later on, in stories told in books, they became referred to as "human assassin", with a bug on their shoulder being the manifestation of the Nekrataal.
5)Marid: chose to declare war on light. the oldest, wisest, and most powerful tribe were allowed to choose as they saw fit; most of them tended to side with the Djann on their path of truth. The most respected Djinn tribe Perhaps because of their age, they are like ancients compared to the rest. Their numbers are few and scattered, but they are the most powerful of all the Djinn. They master weather, wind, and water, and because of this they tend to live near the coasts and appear in great waterspouts. Many Marids have ascended the mortal plane, choosing not to get involved with the Great War between the Djinn. Marids usually appear in the form of an old man, porpoise, or horse, to lead travelers to safer courses.
6) Ghul: chose to declare war on light. inherently evil and declared war on the Djann.
(three of these types can be found in the book The Arabian Nights). Within in the six tribes, they battle good and evil among themselves, much like humans do. The lowest order of the tribes falls to the Ghuls, who feed off of power from the dead. Despite being intelligent, they follow their feral instincts and act like animals when looking for food. They will commonly disguise themselves as pilgrims, and will attack random people if not shown proper hospitality. It's said that if you offer a Ghul salt, it will refuse to harm the giver and his household. Ghuls will fight each other for food, and it's not unheard of if they dig up a grave to desecrate the dead if food is scarce. Powerful Ghuls can take the form of vultures and follow lesser Ghuls into battlefields with dying and wounded soldiers. To pass through the desert with no trouble from Ghuls, it is suggested that you carry iron with you.

Their strengths:
-Can become invisible or take on the form of any animal or human.
-Some can travel between the human realm and the realm where angels reside.
-Can fly
-Can be invisible to humans

Their weaknesses:
-Sensitive to silver which can burn their flesh and possibly cause death.
-Can be tricked or coerced into having their powers weakened or preventing them from doing harm to a human.
-Can be bound into slavery by humans.
-Some are sensitive to iron.
-Their given birth name allows them to be summoned and

Major legends and Mythys:
1) It is told that King Solomon controlled many Djinn with a special ring. With the power of his ring he used the Djinn to build the Temple of Jerusalem as well as other splendid buildings and gardens.

2) The Djinn's powers were consistently fading away due to the constant warring between the tribes; King Suleiman decided to put an end to it. He took this chance to bind the spirits to his command. As he rose through the ranks of power, it is said he used a serpent staff, a cauldron, and a ring to capture seventy Djinn. The most powerful of all the ones enslaved was the True Djinn Shamir, who eventually took the form of a
meager worm.

3) Aladdin. Need I say more?


Books about or containing genies:
The Bartimaus Trilogy by Johnathan Stroud
The Genie Scheme by Kimberly K. Jones
The Arabian Nights
Delcare by Tim Powers is a spy story mixed with a djinn twist
The Sandman Collection: Fables and Reflections by Neil Gaiman (often refers to djinn)
American Gods by Neil Gaiman has an ifrit taxi driver
The Complete Encyclopedia of Mythology


Sources:
http://www.helium.com/items/1614661-the-history-of-djinn-folklore
http://www.helium.com/items/1303531-history-of-genies
http://www.helium.com/items/1400853-mythology-djinn
http://mythicalbeasties.blogspot.com/2008/09/d-for-djinn.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jinn
http://www.balashon.com/2007/02/genie.html
http://legendsguide.com/793/legend-of-the-different-types-of-djinn/


If any genie loving experts out there are reading this blog and you feel like I'm missing info or have something that needs to be corrected, please send me a message and let me know. I don't presume this to be a perfect document. I'm happy to update.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Review: Undercover by Beth Kephart


UNDERCOVER by Beth Kephart
A review from a writers perspective



Imagine words pirouetting in a perfectly choreographed line straight into the depth of your soul. Along the way their magic softens calluses and sets free the hidden and the buried things that you've justified into darkness yet have managed to take root in your very core. The words breeze by, stir up the muck and set them free. This phenomenon may result in tears, relief, latent therapy or just made you take time to stop and think, but they've done some good none-the-less, in one way or another. That's what lyrical language does for me. That's what this book did. Beautifully written.

Why I picked it up? I went to flashlightworthy.com and looked for reading suggestions. The description and the mention of "lyrical language" caught my eye.

The Story: The story in itself is simple: Girl (Elisa) with low self esteem and a crumbling home life likes boy. Boy dates another girl. What sets this book apart from other books with a similar story line is the materials with which it is woven into an intricate and thoughtful design. Kephart created a modern day, teen Cyrano De Bergerac (Elisa) and adorned her with a unique perspective on life and a love for skating that helps her step out of her shell so she can face her troubles with confidence and realize the beauty within herself.

The Characters: Most of the characters are well-rounded and well-done. The only Character that I think could have been more developed was Lila, the girlfriend of our main characters love interest. Lila's character is flat and since we know so little about what fuels her over-dramatic outbursts towards Elisa, it makes Lila's character and her excessive actions feel a bit forced.

The Voice: The things that make up the voice of this book: The lyrical language (of course) Even though this is a lyrical book Kephart is still able to maintain an authentic teen mindset and thought process, Elisa's unique perspective and contemplation about the world around her, strong use of symbolism with a statue, a lake and the change of seasons.

The Underlying Theme: What is going on beneath this regular girl with regular problems? She is learning to not give into her troubles and let them keep her from having what she wants just because she has always believed that she didn't deserve them.

I believe that the best of the best of the books out there have a sentence or a paragraph (usually found somewhere in the last quarter of the book that states or gives clue to the underlying theme of the book. Since it is written so well, I want to share this paragraph where I found (what I believe to be) the underlying theme.


Part 2 chapter 18
setting: Elisa is contemplating her honors English class study of Cyrano De Bergerac as he cares for Roxanne after the death of Christian, yet he never tells her the truth of his love and his letters, that the words that made her fall in love with Christian were really his words and his sentiments.
". . . . But what does he do, for fourteen years? He attends to Roxanne's fantasy. 'It is written/ that I should build for others and be forgotten . . .' he says. 'I stand below in dark--'tis all my story--/while others climb to snatch the kiss of glory.'
Here's what I think, when I think about it more: beauty is a cruel deception, true. But the greatest tragedy of all is letting invisibility win. It's choosing to give up the thing you want because you think you don't deserve it."

On a scale from 1-5 I give this book a 4. It's a great read and a ton of literary jewels for a writer to uncover and put in their little literary box of treasures.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What you may not know about me . . .



Thanks to Katrina Lantz for giving this blog award to me.

Since I'm a very obedient person and adhere to all rules (a-hem) I will do what all who post this award must do; Post 15 things that you probably don't know about me.

1) I study 2 disciplines of martial arts; Taekwondo and Hapkido

2) I don't mind going to the movies by myself. I actually kind of like it when I feel like a need an "escape"

3) I have broken both of my legs and both of my arms, but not at the same time. This last broken ankle was the clincher. I'd really like to stop breaking bones now.

4) In 7th grade, my English teacher accused me of plagiarizing a poem that I had written for an assignment. (It was called Lead Foot Granny) I was so embarrassed that I didn't keep it. In hindsight, I wish I had.

5) When I was 16 I got to travel through France for a month with my French group.

6) My husband and I only knew each other for one week before we started talking about getting married. I was only 21 when we got married. The odds were against us, but we'll be celebrating year 18 this May.

7) I had some unusual pets as a kid such as; a turtle, an iguana and hermit crabs

8) I love turkey bologna.

9) My favorite Starbucks drink is a skinny vanilla latte.

10) I was hit by a car when I was 5 years old (see #3) with a broken arm, leg and my face split open, I was lucky I survived.

11) I was a gymnast and a figure skater when I was younger

12) I went to the same church with Clay Aiken a year before he went on American Idol. My jaw dropped the first time I heard him sing a solo from the stage.

13) I once went to a hard-core biker wedding. I went dressed in shorts and still felt over dressed.

14) I once had a friend who had a guinea pig that would do back flips after it ate broccoli.

15) I have a tattoo.

Now I'm supposed to tag people. The rules say it should be 15 people, but honestly by this point it's hard to find bloggers who haven't already had this award given to them. I'll just tag some people and not worry about how many it ends up being. I mean, there aren't any blogging award police out there, is there?

I am tagging:

Kelly Pollark, Rena Jones, Angela Ackerman, Bish Denham, MG Higgins, Cynthia Chapman Willis. Also, if I didn't post your name but you want to participate then consider yourself tagged!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Beth Revis Gives Encouragement to Writers


Happy Birthday
Across the Universe!

That's right. Today is the long anticipated birth of Beth Revis' brain child, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

Congratulations Beth! I know the world is going to go gaga over your book.

I also thought this would be a good opportunity to start a new segment on my blog called "Encouragement for Writers from Authors, Editors and Agents." Who better to be my first Encouragement Interview than Beth!

So, Thank you Beth for sharing some words of encouragement for writers on your very special day.

Beth, Do you have a favorite saying, quote or poem that inspires you during times of discouragement?
I love Winston Churchill's quote: "Never never never never never give up."

Do you have a brief story about discouragement in your own writing career that you would like to share with us?
The truth of the matter is that I was rejected for ten years before I got a single acceptance. That sucked. There's no other way to put it. I was ready to give up, and very nearly did, but decided to give it one last shot...and that ended up being ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, the book that changed everything.

What words of encouragement do you have for people who have yet to publish their fist manuscript?
Keep writing. By this, I mean: write each novel like it's The One--revise it, edit it, work on it, and submit it--but if it doesn't work out, write the next novel. Don't let yourself stagnate. Keep writing.

What words of encouragement do you have for those who are published yet are seeking further publication?
Keep writing. The same principle applies to the published author as to the unpublished one. Keep working, keep striving, and never never never never never give up.

Anything else to add?
If you haven't read it, check out Paolo Coelho's novel, THE ALCHEMIST. It's a wonderful book about seeking and striving towards your dreams, and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to try to become something more.

Thanks for your encouraging words, Beth. You are an inspiration! Also, thanks for rec. the Alchemist. I'll have to check that out, but before I do, I HAVE to read Across the Universe first! I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.