Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Just this

I would wear the sky,
pull that cloak of peacock feathers
together and fly

Friday, August 27, 2010

Forever entwined

Sometimes when I'm walking I see things that lead me on strange pathways in my mind.
I came across this root and immediately saw lovers entwined. See the arm and hand on the left? Because I'd been re-reading Books I & II of The Hunger Games in prep for the final novel, I thought of Katniss and Peeta in the arena, covered in mud, hiding in caves, at once tough and tender. And I thought of Katniss and Gale, grabbing the only brief, intense moments their lives allowed.
But forever-embraces can represent so much more--the anguished love of a parent torn from a child, of a sister sacrificing for a sister, of friends left behind or of someone who dies, knowingly, for you. The Hunger Games has delivered all that.
I have refrained from reading reviews of MOCKINGJAY, because I want to experience my own emotional reaction to the conclusion of this story. I expect (for those who've read the books) that I will want to press three fingers to my lips and extend them to author Suzanne Collins for writing a story that means something, that shows the resilience of the human spirit, the immense depth of love.
I also expect when I read it this weekend I will be left with an imprint like this long-gone leaf. Beautiful. Indelible. Haunting.
Some stories do that.
Oh! Now, I add a postscript that changes the mood of this post, but I can't help myself. I just received an honorable mention from agent Mary Kole in Shelli's 140-character pitch contest on Market My Words. *happy dance*

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mystery door

Who knows what this little door is for? It measures about 11x5 inches.
I noticed it recently, which doesn't say a lot about my observational skills. But, in fairness and defensiveness, I will say it's located outside the back door of my apartment, which I rarely use. And that's the neighbor's planter, so it's not like I've been watering a plant and ignoring completely a mystery door. Okay, enough mea culpa.
I live in a gorgeous, Spanish-style building, built in the 1920s, with a courtyard, so I usually go in-and-out along the red-painted path (pictured below).
After I noticed it, I pondered this door and then it came to me what its purpose must have been...

In the early part of the 20th century, people received lots of home deliveries. Since the little door is located off the kitchen, I believe it was so the milkman could put bottles inside and not leave them to the elements. How cool would that be, to get up in the morning and find fresh milk waiting? No trip to the store necessary.
Besides the fun of discovery, this little light-bulb moment made me realize how important the small details are in our stories. We may not be writing historical fiction, but creating environments that come across as authentic is necessary even in fantasy, sci-fi or dystopian fiction.
Perhaps a check list would be a good tool in order to avoid assuming our world is their world. How do our characters get milk? What do they read and in what format? What's on their feet and why? Are there hairdressers? Do they sleep on mattresses or something else? What if their eyesight is poor? Are there musical instruments?
The list could go on and on, but I hope the little door will remind me to be more attentive to the small things that make a world go round.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

We have a winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing for a signed copy of Michelle Davidson Argyle's CINDERS, a dark, intriguing story of Cinderella after the fairy tale ends.

The winner by random draw is:

Stephanie Thornton

Please e-mail me your mailing address, Stephanie. To sleuthwood (at) yahoo (dot) com

And everyone, please check out Michelle's blog for interviews, contests, updates, etc. Hope you're all having a great weekend.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Contest reminder

I'm not going to be around today, but I want to post a reminder that a signed copy of CINDERS, a dark and riveting look into Cinderella's future, is up for grabs. The novella by Michelle Davidson Argyle, one of the Literary Lab hosts, is a gem. Just leave a comment on the last post, not this one. Happy Thursday, everyone.

Monday, August 16, 2010

CINDERS review and signed-book contest

Fairy tales are often about consequences. Wishes granted, chances taken, deeds done. And then something happens, for better or worse.

In CINDERS, Cinderella is married and living in the castle, but she questions how real this life is and whether her prince truly loves her or is just under a spell. After all, her fairy godmother set the whole thing up.

Cinderella is not only harboring doubts, she's having memories of some other love, elusive and strange. Yes, this Cinderella isn't so sure what she wants now that her original wish has been granted.

Michelle Davidson Argyle has taken the ancient story down a dark future path, following a long tradition of altering fairy tales.

Among the earliest written accounts of Cinderella are 17th century works by Charles Perrault and Madame d'Aulnoy, long before the Brothers Grimm jotted it down, although the seed of the story may be thousands of years old.

Michelle explores a not-so-happy future for the princess in this novella. It's full of mysteries--both personal secrets and castle intrigues that kept me turning pages, reading for hours straight. I was surprised by twists in the story, as well as horrified at several consequences.

I don't like to read spoilers myself, so I don't give away much plot when I review. The only thing I would have liked was a bit more development of some plot points, which shows I was invested enough to want more. I was very satisfied with Cinderella's final choice. Sometimes, the only thing to do is rise from the ashes.

Here is a writing sample to whet your appetite:

"What have they done to you?" Cinderella saw two images in her mind: the Eolande she had first met in the shadowy darkness of her room--a tall beautiful woman who seemed to be made more of light than anything else, and then, when actual sunlight broke across the horizon, an old woman with cherry-tinged cheeks and a wink in her eye. Neither of these images represented what Cinderella saw now: a skeleton of a woman so thin and aged she looked as if she belonged to the worn stone walls.

I'm awed by Michelle's creative process in making this book. First, she wrote a fresh, riveting take on an old tale. Then she shot the cover art and self-published it, which had been her intent all along. Now, a gorgeous new book exists in the world, and I hope many people discover it. Check out her blog for contests and events surrounding the release. To purchase, you can go to Amazon.

(P.S. I wrote this review late last night and woke up this morning thinking how much I admire the risk Michelle took in writing a main character who is not always likable. Cinderella does some things that made me cringe, but that's what makes her so real.)

I have a signed copy to give away to one lucky reader. All you have to do is leave a comment that has something to do with fairy tales. Do you have a favorite? Have you ever re-written one or wanted to? The contest will be open through Friday, Aug. 20.

Friday, August 13, 2010

You put a spell on me--the good kind

Anyone who wasn't at least lurking at WriteOnCon missed an amazing experience, but the good news is there are archives so you can read the talks with agents, editors, authors and just plain cool peeps.

I have rarely been so inspired, both by the content and the outstanding energy and quick-thinking of the organizers. If you're a writer or book-lover and don't follow their blogs, do it. You won't be sorry. I'm going to put links at the end of this post should you need them.
There were so many incredible presenters and high points, I don't know what to point out. Among things that inspired me: Give Yourself Permission by editor Molly O'Neill. Agent Joanna Volpe's query critiques. Live query crit with agent Natalie Fischer. An amazing panel with Anica Rissi, Joanna Volpe, Suzie Townsend and Mary Kole. Chat with agent/author Regina Brooks.
Well, I could go on and on, so I hope you do the same and read whatever you missed. (P.S. If you stayed away because it was billed as kidlit, there was a ton of super info for writers of any kind.)

In the midst of this extravaganza, I received a package from New Zealand with this *jumps up and down* dragon spell book. Blogging buddy Wen Baragrey sent it as my prize in a contest, and it couldn't be more perfect. It feels like a spell book, tiny and heavy. And, for those who don't know, I have a YA fantasy currently on the backburner that features a dragon ruby. So, woo-hoo. I just love mysterious signs and portents. Who knows what spells I may cast now?


And then, and then...I had another wonderful prize in the mail. I won a drabble contest on Bish Denham's blog and she tatted a bookmark in the form of a flamingo. She even has a name, Florence, and a little sister on a ribbon. Is she not the most amazing creature? My book reading will take off, for sure.

I guess if there is a theme to this post, it's that we can all be inspired and supported by one another. The social networking community is a community even if we don't meet people face-to-face. And, by the way, the organizers of WriteOnCon have only met online and, yet, they pulled some 11,000 other people to check out the event.
As promised, here are the links to their blogs.
Go make friends. I'm so glad you're mine.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Reflect and reflect some more

Went walking. Found this palm island with its doppelganger (but not the evil kind). This one seems wondrous, magical--another world afloat with possibilities. Or, perhaps, something lurks in the depths?

The lake was still. The light was right. The reflection perfect.

This post is mostly reflection, too. As I'm trying to finish my novel, Sea Daughters, I've been inspired reading other books and I've posted about several good reads lately. Most recently, I consumed John Green's Looking for Alaska. The echoes of that story haunt me. and remind me how important theme is. It's one thing to spin a great yarn, it's another to have its emotional resonance reverberate long after the last page. Read it. This is a teen book that explores what it means to be human.
And, so, I go back to noodling where I want my story to end, what reflection I want to leave shimmering behind, what last note may linger.


On my walks, I stumbled upon two fallen feathers. I don't know who lost them but I loved finding them. I'm sharing two haiku that I wrote about some not-so-frequent hawk behavior I witnessed.


red-tail hawk skimming
a sea of waving grass--
inland pelican

red-tail hawk floating,
suspended in mid-air with
no flick of feather
I hope you're also finding time for reflection. And don't forget that the most awesome free kidlit conference WriteOnCon takes place in just days. See you there!