Children of Elder Time E-book Available


I’m so excited to announce that my collection of short stories and poems, Children of Elder Time  is available for Kindle download from Amazon.com!  I used my original artwork, Sun and Moon,  for the cover.

The book features 10 short stories, two of which were previously published, and two poems. The entire book clocks in at 128 pages, which I hope is enough (and entertaining enough) to warrant its $2.99 price tag.

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The stories and poems can best be summed up as Speculative Fiction. That’s the best genre I could lump them under considering they feature everything from dragons and vampires to (I’m not kidding) vampire-dragons. You’ll also find tales with folklore, fairy tales and classic mythology re-spun and re-imagined. The stories range from humorous to dark and represent, I hope, the best of my writing to date.

Here’s the link again!

Children of Elder Time

The Sun and Moon and Writing


I have been making more visual art lately than writing. I haven’t given up, but when my writing stalls, art relaxes me and seems to often free up the part of my brain that generates stories. I always keep a notebook and pen handy when I’m working on an art piece and I often stop to jot down a thought or two. Sometimes I abandon the art altogether and crank out 1,300 words in an hour, which happened a few days ago. For me, visual art is just another process to writing.

I found an art piece by beading mosaic artist Brandi Jasmine by doing a quick search on the internet. I love her work. I found an image I wanted to use in my own medium of torn tissue paper.

I don’t have permission to display the original, but I can point you here to take a look. Hers is gorgeous and mine is an imitation, but I hope it is “flattery” all the same.

This is my version on the Sun and Moon:

DSCN0110  For a full-sized version and the rest of the post, please click here

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handwriting

The writer’s group I am privileged to be a part of meets every Wednesday night. The core group of five women (others visit on occasion and all are welcome) are the epitome of encouragement. They encourage me not in a “let’s blow smoke and applaud every little thing everyone does” kind of way, but by sharing their experiences as writers and human beings moving through life without all the answers…

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Knowledge Gaps in Fiction


In the spirit of trying to write more, I am also attempting to blog more as well. It all counts right?

I don’t usually do book reviews on this blog. I’m afraid finishing up my English degree killed all my desire for deep analysis of other writer’s fiction—writing about it at least. It’s more of a “I don’t have to anymore, so I won’t and no one can make me” sentiment.

The Story Book by David Baboulene

The Story Book by David Baboulene

However, I have been reading a wonderful book on writing by David Baboulene called The Story Book—a writer’s guide to story development, principles, problem solving and marketing. That’s quite an ambitious title and book premise.

Rather than focusing on whether the entire book lives up to the promise in the title, I’d like to focus on a particularly interesting section discussing what the author calls “knowledge gaps.”

Knowledge gaps, Baboulene says, “are the only way that your story can live and breathe. Without it, your story will have no soul.” Baboulene believes that knowledge gaps provide the subtext to a story and without subtext, he insists, “there is no story.” I happen to agree.

Text, subtext and theme have been thoroughly discussed, hashed and rehashed and fought over for years and years. Thousands upon thousands of words have been devoted to the subject (Just Google text, subtext, theme) and I’ve read a lot about it, but Babolene is the first I’ve found to tie subtext to knowledge gaps.

Baboulene says that knowledge gaps (when the writer holds back information from the reader) makes stories more absorbing for readers, saying that they, the readers, “project different answers into the gap” and this is how readers “create an underlying story, a subtextual story” all by themselves.
As Baboulene explains:

In a good story there is always, always a difference in the knowledge possessed by at least one participant when compared to the audience.
It is in this knowledge gap that the brain gets busy; flying backwards through the delivered information trying to attain the knowledge that will fill this gap and flying forwards in the story to try and project a justifiable sequence of events that will take us to the desired story outcome…

This really resonated with me. After all if readers or movie goers aren’t working relentlessly to fill in what happens next throughout a work of fiction, then where do surprise endings come from?

Baboulene goes on to discuss types of knowledge gaps and the rule of fair play in fiction, as in don’t leave out too much or the twist or revelation will seem incongruous.

This section of the book has already helped me work out some problems in at least one story of mine that seemed to be going nowhere. I had to think about what was going on behind the scenes, things my protagonist didn’t know about. This gave added depth to the story and even filled in some backstory.

The rest of the book is excellent as well and delves deeply into many aspects of story theory, but does so in a conversational, easy-to-understand way.

Here’s the Amazon link if you’re interested: The Story Book–A writers’ guide to story development, principles, problem solving and marketing

A Shot in the Arm and a Kick in the Pants


It appears that my year-long stretch of writer’s block may finally be ending. Writer’s block, a snit fit, call it what you will, I haven’t been writing much at all for a very long time. I let something that was completely out of my control deeply affect my confidence as a writer.  A story of mine was accepted for publication in a small-press anthology. However, just a few weeks into the process, the publisher cancelled the whole kit and kaboodle due to money problems.  That’s it. That’s what I let turn me away from several stories I’d been working on. A slew of rejections for my other work didn’t help, but I was getting better at handling those. The rejection, which really wasn’t a rejection at all, after an acceptance sort of broke something in me. I had to take a break, a long break.

I have to laugh even now and wonder if my new-found determination to write regularly again will last. Lots of new things are promised or begun in January, you know. However, it was in January of last year that I resolved to quit smoking. My one year smoke-free anniversary is approaching. So, as far as New Year’s resolutions go, I’m one for one. Surely, a resolution to write again won’t be as difficult to keep as breaking a twenty-eight year addiction.
A few things have given me a real “kick in the pants” lately. Keeping in touch with other writers through a Facebook group has really been good for me. Most of the members would probably be shocked to know I consider myself a part of the group, considering I mostly just lurk on the page and have only attended one meeting.  The group is lead by a wonderfully creative woman, who’s strength and committment to writing and encouraging others is astounding.
One other person in the group may be surprised to know she’s inspired me. She’s a busy homeschooling mom of three who recently began a homeschooling blog which can be found here: Mindful Homeschooler: A Homeschooling Magazine for All Families If she can raise three kids, homeschool her school-ager, host writer’s group meetings, write for and edit her church newsletter, plan, lead and host a four-hour writer’s mini-retreat,(and those are just the things I can think of off the top of my head) then I can do more than sit on my sofa pouting and searching the internet for funny cat pictures.
The “shot in the arm” came from an email I recieved yesterday. Even though I haven’t been writing, I haven’t stopped submitting my work for publication. Yesterday I recieved word that my short story “Damsel Apostate” has been short-listed for an anthology of new fairy tales. The editor mentioned that they really liked my story and final decisions on which stories will be going in the anthology should come by February first. Whatever the outcome, it was delightful to hear that my story is at least still in the running.
I have one other story out under consideration at another small press. I think it will soon be time to query about that one.
So there it is. Time to get going. Again, again.

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman


“Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds’ eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on the air, composed of sounds and ideas—abstract, invisible, gone once they’ve been spoken—and what could be more frail than that? But some stories, small simple ones about setting out on adventures or people doing wonders, tales of miracles and monsters, have outlasted all the people who told them, and some of them have outlasted the lands in which they were created.” ~Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things

I just finished Smoke and Mirrors a collection of short stories and poems by Neil Gaiman. The cover art is a perfect illustration of what the reader will find inside, a fun house ride that is surreal, frightening, funny, ridiculous, touching and sad. Gaiman’s “Snow, Glass, Apples” is a chilling  retelling of Snow White, while “Chivalry” is a quirky, amusing tale of an old woman who stumbles across the Holy Grail in a second-hand store.

As a writer, I particularly liked the story summaries (which hold no spoilers) in the introduction, where Gaiman tries to explain where his story ideas come from. Many of them were written for specific anthologies, he explains, while others were written to amuse himself “or, more precisely, to get an idea or an image out of my head and pinned safely down on paper; which is as good a reason for writing as I know…”

I have to agree.

Smoke and Mirrors

Sweeping Up the Cobwebs


  It seems I’ve started over on this blog more times than I can count, but here goes again! With the kids back in school (my daughter is now in 5-day-a- week preschool) I’ve turned back to writing. Over the summer there just wasn’t time for it. Instead I made art alongside my little girl, splashed in the pool and did a million other things except write.

I did find time to send out numerous short story submissions and got prompt rejections for every one. I got rejections by email and snail mail. If editors could figure out how to beam  rejections directly into my brain, I’m sure I would have gottem them that way too. Not that I’m taking any of it personally.  Some of the rejections were quite helpful and even encouraging. One editor asked that I send more. I really like it when they ask for more.

On a positive note, the editor for the Liminality: Tales from the Borders of Speculative Fiction anthology wrote to say he should have the contracts for contributors done soon. That’s something to look forward to.

Now to sweep up the cobwebs and dust off the stories I abandoned when summer started. I’ve made good headway on two of them.  I’ve had two weeks to get back into it and ideas for new stories are bubbling up every day. I’ve missed that feeling.

I guess it’s time to de-cobweb (I just made that word up. Could you tell?) this blog as well.  What should I blog about?  I think I’ll just put up a tiny snippet of the story I spent the morning working on:

   “Malice and Mithras!” said the sorceress as she stepped out of a cloud of green smoke. “That smells like hog-sweat.”

    Edy coughed and flapped her hands. She had not expected that conjuring a sorceress would be quite so aromatic. 

     Resisting the urge to plug her nostrils with her fingers, but unsure of what to do next, Edy dropped a low curtsey before the sorceress, who now glared at Edy from the center of the rope-circle.

    The rope, which Edy had carefully drenched in dog-urine (which was not so easy to collect as one might think), was also draped in snake skins. Four gold coins, placed at critical points around the rope, were each covered by an X of raven feathers.

   When Edy rose and dared look again, she found the sorceress standing with arms folded and foot tapping.

    “Well?”

That’s the beginning. I hope to make it to the end before long. I have the whole thing outlined; I just have to write it. That’s the tricky part.

 

Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk


The author of Eat, Pray, Love talks about nurturing creativity:

Where Have I Been? Writing.


It’s been months (I think) since my last blog entry. In trying to finish some writing projects before the flurry of summer vacation activities took over, soemthing had to give and it was this blog.
     I almost made it. On the last day of school for my kids, I was close to finishing two short stories… Read more

T-Ball FUNdamentals


This is a humor article I wrote for Parentinghumor.com many years ago when my son was playing t-ball. It doesn’t seem to be in the archives any more, so I thought I’d post it here.

T-Ball FUNdamentals

T-ball league play is a little different from regular baseball. There is plenty of hitting and running, but this is not necessarily connected to actual game play.
Read more…

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