Monday, May 30, 2011

Kindle Offspring

For Christmas 2007, my husband Tod surprised me with a Kindle purchase order. I had told him I was curious about it so he ordered one for me. Kindle was so new to the ebook scene and the demand was so great, mine didn’t arrive until late January. I wrote about my love for it in Kindle Spirits.

A couple months ago my daughter Ema ordered the new Kindle Wi-Fi, Graphite, 6" Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology. She brought it over right away. We oohed about the slim new look, and ahhed at the faster speed. We swooned over the improvements in e-ink technology. The screen is way easier on the eyes than my First Gen.

But – if I upgraded to a new Kindle what would I do with my First Gen? I couldn’t just sell it to some stranger on eBay. My First Gen means something to me. We had shared our love of ebooks for over three years.

Then on my birthday this month, Tod and Ema interrupted me in my office while I was reading. I set aside my Kindle and opened the presents they handed me. The first one was a new Kindle and the second was a new cover. There they were – my two Kindles side-by-side on my desk. It was a poignant moment.

While Ema reminded me about all the great features on the new Kindle and showed off the nifty little sliding book light on the new cover, I felt mixed emotions. I had to admit the leaner, faster, and easier to read new Kindle was enticing. It has all the improvements I longed for. I caressed it in my hands.

But I felt so guilty about my First Gen. Finally I held it up and asked, “But what do I do with this?”

“Give it to Hailey,” Ema said.

Hailey is my 9-year old granddaughter. She loves to read. She also just “graduated” from elementary school.

“What a great idea!” I said. “A perfect elementary school graduation gift.”

So I wiped and de-registered my First Gen and wrapped it up. Hailey’s face lit up when she opened it. “I can’t believe it. My very own Kindle!”

My first Kindle is now Hailey’s first Kindle. She’s thrilled. I’m happy. I can’t think of a better solution all the way around. Together Hailey and the First Gen will share their joy and love of books.

Ah, spring and the shiny new Kindle. I’m in love all over again. Now please excuse me while I go read an ebook …

Peggy Tibbetts

Letters to Juniper now available in ebook & paperback @ Amazon

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Magic Ponies

When I was young, I went through the phase of reading horse stories and watching horse movies. Black Beauty, The Black Stallion, Misty, Thunderhead, Son of Flicka, Appaloosa... That was why I have the Fleogende, the talking horses in my fantasy series (The Crystal Throne, Talking to Trees, and several short stories in Agents & Adepts).

But perhaps I'm not "through" the phase as much as I had thought, as I have now discovered the overwhelming addictiveness of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. The show is currently being shown on the Hub cable channel, although many of the episodes are also available on YouTube. (Hint to Hub, please release DVDs of the season so I can addict more friends).

Lauren Faust, the creator of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, also worked on The Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends. Friendship Is Magic follows the adventures of Twilight Sparkle, a scholarly magic-using unicorn. Assigned by her mentor, Princess Celestia, to Ponyville, Twilight meets a variety of fillies: Applejack, an apple farmer pony; Rarity, a clothing designer unicorn; Fluttershy, a very shy pegasus who talks to animals; Rainbow Dash, a racing pegasus (who not only has a rainbow colored mane and tail but leaves a trail of rainbows behind her when she flies fast); and Pinky Pie, a baker's apprentice pony who loves to throw parties. Twilight also has an assistant, Spike, a baby dragon who is able to send Twilight's reports to Celestia via his flame breath. As the season goes on, we also meet the little sisters of some of the ponies (who are even cuter than their big sisters, if that is even possible).

It's a fascinating world where not only the buildings and furniture are constructed for pony use but also the language: "everypony" rather than "everyone" and "Fillies and gentlecolts". Attention is even paid to the sound effects, such as Fluttershy's nervous squeaks or the hoof clomping when the ponies stamp to show approval. The writing is clever and fun for both kids and adults and the artwork is amazing. Those ponies are cute. The storylines are about friendship, but there are also ones about workaholics, jealousy and learning to trust.

There's another review of the series at A.V. Club. There is already a growing fandom of this show, with fan videos and fan fiction.

And fans are analyzing the physics of the show, something I'm used to for Star Trek or Doctor Who fans, but not those of a cartoon show.

So if you like horses, or unicorns (with or without glitter) or just good cartoons, you might want to check out My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. But beware - this show is very addictive.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Turning Dreams or Nightmares Into Stories

How many times have you dreamed something so vivid and life-like, you remembered it after waking? Or the dream was so powerful it woke you up? This happens to me quite a bit. Perhaps it comes with the territory of being a writer. I keep a notebook and pen beside my bed for just that reason. I’ve actually had dreams so vivid in detail that with very little tweaking, they became stories.

Here is one of my more recent vivid dreams that could probably become something. I know I was panting when I woke from this one:

I was traveling down river on a smallish boat. I’m sitting on a raised seat on a narrow platform behind the driver and passenger seats—a fishing platform maybe. There are two seats side by side but the other is empty. The boat’s sides are low and this worries me because I think monsters could get into the boat too easily. There is a man steering us down river with a woman seated beside him. A teenaged boy stands beside me, a younger boy is standing on the floor of the boat in front of the passenger seat. There’s a little water in the bottom of the boat.

The murky brown river is about 50 feet across with jungle growth along both banks. We keep dodging drifting fallen trees, stumps, and plants growing into the water from the banks. All around us are Cayman-sized gators which approach the boat and leap into it or try to. One succeeds. I'm screaming at the younger boy to watch out when two more gators leap inside then instantly become small dogs. They come onto my platform, rubbing and acting playful but putting their open mouths on our legs and arms. I tell them if they bite I'll kill them. One rolls his eyes playfully while mouthing my arm. I shove him off and he becomes the gator again and I shoot him.

Next there is a human arm reaching up from the platform trying to grab my leg. I stamp at it until it disappears.

So—what do you make of that one? If you dream analyze, I’m not sure I want to know what this means. But it seems like good fodder for a horror story.

Tell us one of your dreams that would make a good story or one you DID turn into a story.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ghosts Among Us

“Of all ghosts, the ghosts of our old loves are the worst.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

Ghosts are some of my favorite characters. There’s just something about them that’s appealing. Friendly ghosts, evil ghosts, ghosts with an attitude, and ghosts that simply want to rest in peace make for great reading. What is their unfinished business on earth? Why can’t they go to the land beyond?

I became interested in ghosts one summer when we visited our son and daughter-in-law in Charleston, SC, where history and spirits ooze out of almost every house and building in the city. We, of course, took in the sights, plantation houses, the old dungeon, the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen, and Fort Sumter. Our son and daughter also took us on a twilight ghost tour of the historic district. As we and the other tourists in the group strolled down the streets lined with Victorian mansions, some dating back to the 1700s, our guide told stories of ghosts that resided in many of the old houses. I was fascinated and wondered what it would be like to discover you had a resident ghost living in your attic or even in your bedroom. Something to think about.

One story in particular intrigued me. (OK. I admit I’m a hopeless romantic.) Anyway, this one house had a sad story to tell. On the wedding day of the daughter of the family that lived there the bride was descending the stairs, her groom waiting below, when an arrow sailed through the open window, striking her. She died in the arms of the man she was to marry. A jealous suitor had stood outside the window and, rather than let her marry another, he had killed her. It was a sad yet beautiful story, and you know what writers do when they run across something that really touches them.

Inspired, I bought a bunch of books about ghosts and Charleston, and when we got home I did a lot of Internet research, as well as taking notes about places we went to while we were there, so my scenes would be authentic to the city. Then my characters came to life, and I started writing my ghost story. In 2003, Listen to the Ghost was published as a YA novel, first as an eBook and then in 2005 in trade paperback, by Twilight Times Books.

Although Phoebe is my ghost, she isn’t the main character. She informed me in a hurry what she wanted, however, and also that she liked to make mischief. And she does, plenty of it to keep the main character, Jade, and the other teens busy.

I had so much fun with Phoebe I’ve recently finished a MG ghost story that I hope to find a publisher for soon. Three ghosts, oops, make that four though one doesn’t appear until near the end, make for a lively story, also set in Charleston then moving along the coast to North Carolina. I’ve added my love of lighthouses in this one. Haunted lighthouses and phantom ships. And even a ghost cat.

A couple of years ago I attended a convention about paranormal activity. They showed pictures of what appeared to be apparitions or ghosts and we listened to recordings of the ghosts contacting people. The attendees were serious about their ghosts, no make believe for them.

So tell us about your favorite ghost stories. Here are a few if mine:

Crossed Out by our own Kim Baccellia

Linda Joy Singleton’s Don’t Die Dragonfly series

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder

Save the Last Dance for Me, by Dyan Sheldon

Saundra Mitchell’s Shadowed Summer

Uninvited by Amanda Marrone

And others I can’t think of at the moment.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Breaking Dawn is...broken

I'm recycling this post from my own blog, because a) it's pretty good and completely appropriate for this blog, and b) I have nothing else right now. My life is totally boring at the moment. I COULD talk about how excited I am for the new Harry Potter movie, or psyched over the casting for THE HUNGER GAMES movie (and I am unbelievably psyched). But you don't want to read about that, do you.

My book tour is still going on though, and if you'd like to follow along, the tour page is up at :
But in the meanwhile, enjoy and discuss the following...

Okay, look. I'm not a huge TWILIGHT fan. I didn't totally hate the first one; liked it enough to read NEW MOON. I wanted to shove Bella off a cliff myself by the end of that one, but after a pause I went ahead with ECLIPSE. That surprised me in that I liked it best, I think, enough to read BREAKING DAWN. 

And it all fell apart like a wet paper sack.

I'm not a hater. There were things I liked about all of the first three books. She obviously has some talent and is telling a story that people want to read. Her writing is simple and easy to follow, descriptive enough in places that I get a good image. It was entertaining and I've definitely read worse. I really do like the movies, better than the books in some cases. I don't want to bring down the wrath of Twi-hards here. I'm only speaking as a reader and author, and not bashing the story itself, which has merit. My problem with BREAKING DAWN is that it failed to live up to the expectations the author set out for herself and her readers. Let me explain, and I will be spoiling the book, so if you haven't read it and don't want to be spoiled, stop here.

The wedding: Once again, Bella gives in to whatever her family wants to make them happy instead of making herself happy. It's a character flaw that has bugged me since the beginning. I can't really complain, though, because it was in character for her to do that. I guess I  can't fault that too much, but it was annoying.

No real stakes: Okay, so there WERE stakes for Bella and her baby. Bella could have died either by childbirth or the wolves. But we knew she wouldn't, because Edward would save her and then the wolves wussed out (though I did like it when Jacob took over as Alpha. That was cool). She's the POV character, it's not a great leap to think she would live. I really never had any doubt, and I SHOULD have, I think. 

But let's move on to Bella's transformation into a vampire. She knows what it feels like to have the venom inside her, after James bit her in TWILIGHT. It was excruciating and I believed it then. This time? It was glossed over and weak, to be precise. I wanted her to scream, I wanted to feel her blood burning in her veins like fire. But the author took the cheap way out by having her paralyzed with morphine. Really? It's like she didn't want to hurt her characters, a theme in this book.

No consequences: Bella's a vampire. She's ready to be a newborn-- a bloodthirsty, raging monster with unequal strength. The author took a good chunk of ECLIPSE setting this up for us, and then dropped the ball. Our Bella Sue wakes up like a princess in a fairy tale, ready to greet her new life with open arms. UGH! I would have liked to have seen her dive at someone. Give me a reason to CARE, to make her fight for this new life. Bella can resist, like magic, the lure of human blood, even when she's been drinking it for weeks (ugh again). So Bella never has to deal with the consequences of her actions. She's like a decades old vampire as a newborn. Please. Let her bite one human (make up a red shirt!) and let's see how she deals with it. MUCH more interesting. With all that setup beforehand, it's the old "if you show me a gun in Act I, it had better go off in Act III." Words are precious; don't waste them showing me things you have no intention of using later.  It was a twist that fell really short.

Nothing bad happens:  I have done horrible things to characters. I've had them nearly eaten by Minotaurs, Basilisks, and Chinese serpents. Hang by their fingertips from buildings, die and come back to life, set on fire, and stabbed. Think about all the stuff that happens to Kat in THE HUNGER GAMES. You are rooting for her because everyone loves the underdog. NO ONE loves the person who gets everything they ever wanted without trying and without trials. Bella has NO TRIALS. Life is perfect, the end. There are no hurtles, no obstacles to make us pull for her to win. Except the Volturi, and I'll get to that.

Likewise with all the characters. Bella could have-- SHOULD HAVE-- broken one man's heart into powder, and then both would have had to heal. We LIKE THAT. But the author copped out again, creating the imprinting bond between Jacob and Renesmee (*snort*), so that Bella was completely off the hook (!) and Jacob could just *poof* let go of her without any pain whatsoever.  I was not creeped out at all by that relationship, by the way. The author did a nice job of setting that up ahead of time with Quil and Claire, showing us it was not icky. It was a good connection. 

But characters NEED TO SUFFER. It helps us relate to them and makes us cheer when they eventually do win. There was no suffering here. I mean, they did suffer a little, having to choose between lives and duty and love, but it wasn't strong enough and then it was over, tossed away.
Finally, and my biggest problem: What was with that whole Volturi build-up, just to have it turn into a gab fest? Not one drop of blood was spilled, Bella suddenly has control over her 'shield', and the bad guys go back to Italy with a wink and a nod?  


Not that I enjoy character deaths, but come ON! The author could have, SHOULD have, sacrificed a few characters. JK Rowling did this in a superb way; not gratuitous deaths, but deaths that were meaningful, and I cried over them, as I'm sure she did when she wrote them. The epic Battle of Hogwarts is the reward to the reader for sticking with the series, hoping and praying that their favorites made it out alive. This thing?? Huge letdown. There was no cost to them for facing the Volturi, and it came out weak -- with a whimper instead of bang.

I was watching Armageddon the other night, and though it's completely cheesy, it made me think about what it has that BREAKING DAWN did not: challenges. An asteroid is going to destroy the earth. Drillers, untrained, go into space. They stop to refuel and end up blowing up a space station, nearly losing a member of the crew. They DO lose crew when the other shuttle crashes, but amazingly three survive. Broken drill bits, fighting among themselves, reunion, triumph, and then sacrifice when Harry has to stay behind to blow up the bomb. They won and it was hard-fought. And it came with cost.  

For BREAKING DAWN, I agree with the Publisher's Weekly review: All the characters got everything they wanted and gave up nothing to get it. 

Booooo-ring. Three books of buildup for that?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Required Reading

Today in our local paper there was a column wherein the columnist bemoaned the lack of culture forced upon the poor high school students of today as compared to his day. He knows this because he asked his interns if they had read certain books that he recalled having to read in school and they were not familiar with them.

He included Lolita and Lady Chatterly's Lover on this list and I'm not sure that either of them are really considered appropriate required reading for high school, but I digress.

My 14-year-old daughter read the column and scoffed. "What? He doesn't think it's just as good to read books that are more recent? Books have been written in the past 20 years." (or something to that effect)

Keep in mind my daughter reads Shakespeare for fun and is currently reading Oliver Twist, so it's not like she has objections to the classics.

But she has a point. Is it really necessary for teenagers to read the classics in high school? And how many? The list in the paper probably included 25 books, which seemed like it would be more than a full load for four years of high school. If those were all required there would be no chance to explore new literature.

And while it's important to have a grasp on classic literature, it's also important to live in the time and age we inhabit.

Perhaps before someone complains that teens aren't reading Lolita (!?) we should ask that person if they've read any current books for teens. Maybe they're the one more out of step!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Yes, Vampire Diaries

I have a confession. I enjoy watching VAMPIRE DIARIES. Ok, I’ll tell the real truth: I LOVE this CW show. Yes, my husband says it’s just a teen age vampire soap opera. But who cares? It’s really good!

Research, ok? No, seriously at first I thought this TV series was going to be a rip off of TWILIGHT and almost didn’t watch. But once I did, I was hooked big time.

First off, I'm a huge fan of paranormals set during and after the Civil War.  This series is based on the vampire YA books by L.J. Smith.

The books have the brothers living in Italy during the Renassiance where they met Katherine.  The show has them in Mystic Falls in 1864.  I admit, I'm loving the TV series a tad bit more.  Yes, I did read the books and reviewed them.

Ok, now back to the TV show.  What's not to love?

Yes, Damon is a pathological killer but this season he’s been showing some vulnerabilities that make him so hot. He can bite me any time!

Stefan isn’t as innocent as he seems either. When a huge revelation, that he turned Damon into a vampire, was revealed it made him more likeable.

Of course they both love Elena:

**SPOILER ALERT: Now this next part is filled with spoilers on the last episode. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you’ve been warned!

Ok, what’s with the whole Jeremy seeing dead girls now? Is this going to go the whole Sixth sense way or is it a descent to madness? Will Jenna come back from the dead too? I can’t help but think Jeremy’s dead girlfriends, both vampires, albeit dead ones, will put a kink in his bubbling relationship with Bonnie.

Emily did warn Bonnie there would be consequences to her attempt to bring Jeremy back to life. I just don’t think she realized how bad it would be. Note to Bonnie: Don’t piss off the dead.


I like Caroline as a vampire. She’s not so much a frenemy but stronger and more likeable. Now that Matt can’t deal with the ‘truth’, will Tyler step into the picture? I kind of hope so. So what if he’s a werewolf and they’re mortal enemies? Doesn’t love conquer all? Plus now that Damon knows the secret to the cure of a werewolf bite(Elijah’s blood) maybe there’s so hope here after all.

The whole Klaus and Elijah thing. Come on, Klaus, I can’t believe you actually believed your brother when he said he’d take you to the rest of your family. Well, he did kind of tell you the truth in a grisly way.

And poor Stefan. Didn’t you kind of know after seeing Elijah kill his own brother that his plan for you wouldn’t be that sunny? At first you might think that Stefan was selflish by his act in order to ‘save’ Damon’s life but I don’t know. I’m thinking that ripper monster has always been there just waiting for the right moment to come back. At least with Damon you know what he was.

And now that Stefan has taken off, will Elena finally get together with Damon? Personally I think these two have more chemistry. In the last VAMPIRE DIARIES novel something similar kind of happened when Stefan is stuck in Demon Hell and both Elena and Damon go on a cross country trip to release him. The chemistry was sizzling hot between those two and kind of frizzed after they found Stefan.

But that’s just me.

Any thoughts?

Also if you love the TV series as much as me, you have to check out these books:

These books follow the brothers and Katherine where the TV show leaves off.  A real guilty read.
I can’t believe they ended it the way they did. Do we really have to wait till September for season 3?

So unfair! For now I guess I’ll have to watch my DVD set of season one. Can’t wait for season two now!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Mirror of Yu-Huang goes on tour!

I know it's the middle of the month already, but I've been so busy! In fact, I'm not even here, today, but at the Maryland Faerie Festival.

My newest release, The Mirror of Yu-Huang , Book 3 in the Library of Athena series, is on a Virtual Book Tour this month. The tour is sponsored by Pump Up Your Book Promotions, and the Official Tour Page is here: The Mirror of Yu-Huang Virtual Book Tour

If you'd like to catch up with the tour so far, here's what you've missed:

Book Review on YA Books Central
Guest Blog at The Book Bin
Interview at Literarily Speaking
Interview at The Writer's Life
Interview at As The Pages Turn
Interview (and giveaway) at Kim Baccellia' Blog - Si, se puede! Yes, we can!
Interview at Beyond the Books
Guest Blog at The Book Faery Reviews
Guest Participant at Literarily Speaking May 2011 Book Panel
Interview at The Examiner
Interview with author Jenn Dixon
Interview at The Bookworms

Whew, it's only half over and I'm already tired! Good thing this isn't a LIVE Book Tour or I'd be completely spent, lol!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Top 5 Random Things You Should Know That You Won't Want To!

Yes, there's stuff out there that we should know, but which we also won't want to! Let's see how many of these you're aware of. How high is the denial? (Or could it be a conspiracy?! Hah!) The List tells all!

1) Don't make fun of people who snort when they laugh. Why? Because sometime after you cross 40 that could then be you! (Yes, nasal passages change with age, and out of nowhere, something hits your funny bone and instead of a laugh, you SNORT! And LOUDLY! So be kind.) (Oh and if you snort, it's highly likely you also SNORE! Hah!)

2) Authors make a ton of MONEY! Lies! Only about 1% of authors out there make enough cash to be considered well off. Worse, if you write full time (and don't have a significant other), you'll probably have no insurance or pay for it out the nose!

3) Pimple are Forever! Yes, did you too get told by your parents that those pesky bothersome pimple and zits would be gone after the teenage years are over? More lies! Though some people do get lucky enough to hardly ever have them once they hit 20, most peeps still get them on a regular basis. Good news is that as long as you eat healthy and wash often, you can minimize these bothersome pests. But never forget they're there...waiting, waiting to come out and pounce!

4) If there's a food/show/place you love, get ready for pain! Yes, they will be discontinued, cancelled, changed. And you will pine for them. You will pine for them forever! (Sanditos! Sinclair! Ragu Extra Thick and Zesty! I miss YOU guys!)

5) At around the 40+ mark, not only will snorting possibly become part of your future, but so will extra appendages! What am I talking about? Growths! Little flaps of skin that grow and wave at one another from different parts of your body! Not normally harmful in anyway, you will now feel you always have company. And they have no shame! They'll grow wherever they like!

Yes, horrid truths, but being forewarned is forearmed! (Even if you can't stop them! Better than just being surprised, no?) What horrid truths have you come across that people need to know but would rather not? Share. Be not afraid. We do not judge here. :)

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Obstacle Course

Writing is simply the written form of communication, and if we can talk, then we can write. Sounds easy, right?

Well…writing is not that easy. It can be a real challenge—something like completing an obstacle course, but what makes the course even more challenging is that we all have different obstacles in front of us.

To write, we have to endure the false starts of dead-end topics, hurdle over self-doubt, leap over the big writer’s block, climb up the proverbial tower of grammatical rules, take a few wrong turns in a storyline, crawl through the long and tedious tunnel of the editing process, and then we have to sprint toward the end because this, like everything else in life, is being timed.

Right now, I’m trying to get over that second-book hurdle—and wondering how to make it “feel” different from the first novel in the series. So…I’m stuck in revision land with lots of helpful notes from the editor. Now I understand why the second book is so difficult: Writers have a tendency to replicate style, characters, and plots, but readers want something fresh and different every time.

So…do you have any advice for someone trying to jump over that second-book hurdle? And do you have any obstacles standing in your way right now?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's Getting Crowded in Here

There is a group of people that live inside my head and I rather like it. They're mostly in their teens, are both male and female, and they all moved in while I was writing their particular stories. The interesting thing is that many of them do not choose to move out.

I would worry about this if I didn't like it so much. After all, since I am such a slow writer I tend to live with my characters for extended periods of time, so it's no wonder we all get cozy the longer we hang around together. For at least two of them, finishing their story after taking so long to do it almost broke my heart because as soon as it was finished, the nature of our relationship changed a bit. They knew they would take a back seat to whomever was moving in next, and I knew it would never be the same again because I finally had their story in its entirety. But at least they're both still around.

On the other hand, in return for free rent in my synapses, they gift me with different points of view and sometimes that makes life both more bearable and more interesting. When I'm in a situation that is distressful, worrisome, or just downright more annoying than it ought to be, sometimes I will try looking at that situation from the point of view of one or more of my characters. Perhaps some bozo in a huge gas guzzler just cut me off during a lane change on Highway 53. How would my buddy Jake react to that? Or would he even bother? Or maybe a complete stranger was inexplicably rude to me at the grocery store. What would my good friend Finn do in that situation? Actually, I know exactly what he would do and if I did that I would probably get arrested. But just the thought of it can make me feel so much better. Sometimes just that little tweak in perspective will be enough to shift my mood or even make me laugh out loud. For someone like me, who is waaayyy too sensitive, that can be a life saver.

Maybe all of this makes me a bit mad, I'm not sure. My husband would simply say that by definition, fiction writers are mad anyway and maybe he's right. Whatever, it works for me. I don't have multiple personality disorder. I'm just a fiction writer. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Global eBook Awards

I'm happy to announce that my YA Historical Fiction, Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, has been nominated for the Dan Poynter's Global eBook Awards.

While having votes and comments isn't supposed to make a difference in the judging, (they'll base the winners on the book), I would appreciate comments and your votes. If you have a spare minute, please stop by the Contest Site and say "Hi." You'll also see 5 little e letters at the top, on the left side. When you hold your pointer over the e on the right it says: "You gotta read this one." I've been leaving comments on all my friends pages, and I'm discovering some new stories that sound interesting.

Thanks, all. You're the best. If any of you are entered, please let me know, and I'll be there in a flash.

Then, in my mail box this morning, I found more good news. And the way this year has been going, I really needed my spirits lifted. My book has also been named a Finalist in the Novella category of the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. At first I thought it was a mistake because I entered the teen division. However, the letter said they sometimes put a book in the category they feel it's better suited for. It is short, so I'm happy.

Oh, and I'm even invited to attend an awards reception at the Plaza Hotel in New York, (during BEA.) Now that would be a dream. Anyway, I'm sorry to run on so. Will get back to work.

Have a great week. Happy reading and writing.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My DEAR TEEN ME letter

My DEAR TEEN ME letter is now up:

I love this blog.  A number of other YA authors have posted letters to their teen selves.  Mine is a little gritty and raw and I thank Cheryl Rainfield, the author of SCARS, for giving me the courage to write this.  I can't help but think how much a letter like this would have helped me during my darkest moments.

If you could, what would you write to your teen self?

(Mothers) Book Readings for the Naive & Fearless (Mothers)

(Mothers) Book Readings for the Naive and Fearless (Mothers)

Since May 8th is/was Mother’s Day, some of you might be expecting a blog entry that ties into “mothers”. I’m sorry to disappoint you but I could think of nothing I felt I could say on the subject.

The closest I came to a subject was, “The Character of ‘Mother’ & Her Role in YA Lit”.

Sounds like a Ph.D. thesis title, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of anything much to write on the subject. The only interesting mother in YA lit who came to mind was the multitalented and charming chemist/mom in Madeleine l”Engle’s books (A Wrinkle in Time; A Wind Through the Door, etc) She can simultaneously give her kids advice, run an experiment and cook beef stew (in a beaker) in her garage lab for pete’s sake! And never once does she put hydrochloric acid in dinner either. Now she is one supermom!

Perhaps some of you can suggest other literary moms who are as great or quirky as she is--or else a few moms who are, uh, at the other end of the spectrum. Like all those stepmothers who are invariably nasty. I invite you to tell us about memorable mom characters in the Comments!


In the meantime, I’m brazenly changing the subject to:

"Book Readings for the Naive and Fearless"

I participated in a book reading at a local public library back on Saturday the 16th of April. The WRWG reading went off perfectly. In spite of heavy rain, our room was about four fifths full. Some of the people in the audience were people we didn't even know. (!) The only negative in my opinion was that afterwards when we left New Castle, the group in my car tried to drive into the Delaware River.

The reading was mutually sponsored by the New Castle Public Library, by the Delaware Council for the Arts, and by WRWG, i.e. The Written Remains Writers Guild. I've been a member of the latter since 2003. Back in the day (mid-1990's through about 2007), Written Remains was strictly a genre writers critique and mutual support group. Members tended to write mystery, speculative fiction, suspense, etc. I’m the only one who focuses on YA fantasy. Our director, Joanne Reinbold’s long term goal is to transform us into what I guess is partially a professional authors’ PR/marketing consortium. We still read and critique each others’ works. Recently we’ve begun offering membership to literary fic authors.

Justin Tyme (Joanne’s son) set up everything tech for the reading, Carol Maurer was at the book table and Ramona deFelice Long introduced us all. I read first (from “Earthbow” vol.1). Then Greg Smith read, then Weldon Burge, then Kristy Nicholls and finally Joanne. Everyone brought great pieces and everyone read -wonderfully-! My friends, Brandon and Michelle made it to the reading but, alas, a bit late. Pictures were taken. No, you do not get to see them. I was in the middle of a computer crash at home and had to rush to get ready for the reading. I was not at my best, appearance-wise. I had a chance to talk to all sorts of people once the readings were over. All-in-all, I came away with the illusion that I was a professional author.

Several readers sold copies of their books, or magazine issues in which their stories appeared. I sold one copy each of "Seabird", "Earthbow vol.1" and "Earthbow vol.2". All to a lady who is going to hate them. (I trust my “vibes” in these things. ;-P ) She came up afterwards, had me sign the books, and remarked that I had stopped reading at a point that left her wondering what happened next. (Grin. Gee. I hadn't noticed!) I hope she gives the books away to someone who will enjoy them—perhaps a niece or son.

Speaking of which, I have yet to participate in a reading where young adults were present! This isn’t so bad for my fantasy books—which are on the cusp of YA and adult. Still I would love to read to a room full of age appropriate kids.

This was the most "successful" reading in which I've ever participated. WRWG had a similar public reading a couple of years ago, held in the Greenbank Mill Museum meeting room. The audience was much smaller and consisted of virtually no one besides friends & family. The DE Council for the Arts was not involved back then. I sold nothing at that reading nor did others. AND I messed up my second reading—which I had not rehearsed.

I've also been involved in readings hosted by Broad Universe --women writers of speculative fiction-- held at several regional SF/Fantasy cons. In most these, we "Broads" outnumbered our “audience” of friends. In November 2010, the PhilCon conference committee inadvertently locked us out of our meeting room for our reading. We called the con-comm office, waited for a key, gave up, and sat in the hallway outside our room to read. Very close to the elevators, with people dodging us as they came out of the doors. In my experience, when it comes to BU readings at cons, lack of promotion and organization by the local con committees tends to ruin any chances for a good turn-out.

Right after my first book, "Seabird" was published, I tried to get a reading gig at my local Borders. I thought it was a sure thing, because I’m a local author and because a former member of Written Remains worked there. They weren't interested. The same thing happened with the local indie store, where I used to buy most of my books. Their answer? “No room” Those are all my personal experiences with public readings.

The only WRWG member who has ever had huge success with public readings is Greg Smith (adult suspense/murder, “Final Price”). He has managed to get gigs at a variety of bookstores and libraries in the area. Don’t ask me how. And please don’t ask how many books he’s sold. You really don’t want to know.

I bring all of this up for a reason. I'm curious about the experiences of YAAYNHO authors—and of course anyone reading this blog entry. How many of you have participated in public readings? How did you land them? Where were they? Did you read mostly to an age-appropriate audience or to adults?

Did the reading go well, re audience numbers, sales on the spot, or sales bumps directly afterwards? Do you think this is a viable promotional tool for YA adults or just for certain other subsets of authors? Why?


Back to Mothers

Now if you really would like to read a blog entry & comments that have to do with Mother’s Day and real mothers, may I suggest the following very thoughtful entry:

MuseItUp Publishing (blog name)

“Harder Than I Thought” by Terri Main (entry/author)

One thing! Please leave a comment here first, before you go there. And, of course, you’ve long since bookmarked our page. Right?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

ZooZinky Babba Poo

I became fluent in the language nonsense at a young age and I can thank one Theodor Geisel for it. I am not sure why it captured my imagination as it did- but reading "Big Z, little z what begins with z? I do- I am a Zizzerzazzerzuss as you can plainly see!" filled my imagination and heart with joy. 

Why? Well - it goes back- I believe - to the invention of language itself. One sunny morning when Zog and his wife Uga were strolling the African veldt seeking breakfast- Uga spotted a new strange animal scampering through the grass. She searched her memories and came up blank. What was this thing? Her imagination sparked.  Her synapses fired. Her language centers bubbled and her mouth and tongue went to work. Her vocal chords vibrated and the sound Kahawamys sounded. She had named what we know as an ancient, prehistoric rodent. (Well- maybe not that Latin word- but I make my point!) It is what Tolkien called sub-creation. Humans are good at it. Our egos revel in it. It is why I sit hear typing this. It is why Kindles around the world buzz with best sellers and basement dwellers. Our minds create words to mean things. Then link these words to tell tales. And when there is a blank to be filled we simply make it up. 

So are nonsense words really nonsense? Meaningless? I say NO. The Dr. Seuss example I give above defends my case. A Zizzerzazzerzuss make sound silly - but that is the name of the genus of creatures in the zoological records of Teddy G. What else was he going to call it? A Giraffe? Taken.

Try it right now. Just let words fly from your mouth. Nothing from Webster. Be your own Dr. Seuss. I'll start:

Bashinky bippy zoocopa suspinka dabba kanoo.

Its fun. And liberating. An powerful. In fact, there is a practice called glossolalia - speaking in tongues that can- it is said- create altered states of consciousness in the practitioners.  Chanting works on the same principle. 

Babies will babble endlessly- having apparent thoughtful conversations with themselves and others. Again- unfettered dialogue. Words - "nonsense" perhaps - but words nonetheless flowing carefree and ripe with deep meaning from our sub-conscious.  

I love making up words. My writing tends to be fanciful fiction so I get to play god with my universe. 

And he grabbed a handful of frumblestock and formed it into a Garbingo. And it was good.

There is no greater joy than the imagination left to flourish and plant seeds. Water them and watch the seedlings sprout. It is vital to talk to your plants. So let the nonsense flow. 

Chubabab skumaloo partinky!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

TV Tie-ins

How does a book get noticed? I am up to my eyeballs generating word-of-mouse as I promote my new middle grade novel, Letters to Juniper.

Natalie Collins and I often discuss marketing techniques and run promotion ideas by each other. Book reviews. Interviews. Booksignings. School visits. Advertising. Blog tours. You name it. What works? What doesn’t work? Okay, some days we agonize over book promotion.

“If there was some magic bullet, we’d all be doing it,” I always tell her.

When it comes to Natalie Collins’ books there does seem to be a magic bullet that definitely has an impact on sales. Her books get noticed.

Ever since the reality show Sister Wives gained national attention, Natalie’s book Sister Wife has been selling remarkably well. It’s the most amazing thing. Sister Wife is a great story, solidly written by the master of behind-the-Mormon-veil mysteries. But the book has been around a few years.

We had seen this life-imitates-art thing with her book Wives and Sisters. Natalie signed the contract with St. Martin’s after Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped. Wives & Sisters, which was penned long before the famous abduction in Utah, just so happens to be about the disappearance of a young Mormon girl after an encounter with a stranger [cue Twilight Zone theme].

So you see, it was no great leap to make the connection between Sister Wives and Sister Wife. Natalie and I agreed it’s definitely the popularity of the TV show that has captured readers’ interest in Sister Wife – the book.

So what does it mean?

It means I need a TV tie-in for Letters to Juniper. That’s what it means!

One day I pitched Natalie these reality show concepts to tie in with my book:

%*$@ My Fundamentalist Extremist Gun-Dealing Dad Says
I Don’t Know I’ve Got a Secret
My Crib is Surrounded by Big Brother

She ROTFLMAO’d back.

Alas, those reality shows – however clever – do not exist. So my next option is to tie Letters to Juniper to a show that’s already on TV. I decided to build on Natalie’s theme and started with the obvious:

Brothers & Sisters – A show about a dysfunctional family with a lot of dirty secrets. That explains the Smith family in Letters to Juniper all right. Except the kids in my book are a little young to be so cutthroat – and they don’t drink.

Sons of Anarchy – The title is perfect! A tight-knit gun-dealing clan with dark secrets. Now that describes the Smith family to a T. But this show is about a biker club. No motorcycles in my book.

No Ordinary Family – Again, the title says it all. The Smith family is anything but ordinary. However this is a show about a family with super powers. No super powers in my book either.

Fringe – This is my favorite show! FBI agents investigate unexplainable phenomena and an alternate universe. Alas, as much as I’d like to tie in my book with this awesome show, it’s too much of a stretch. The closest I can come is the Smith family as a target of a Fringe Division investigation.

Gossip Girl – Another apt title. Gossip plays a big role in Sarah’s story. Problem is, she’s not a rich Manhattan teen.

The Secret Life of an American Teenager – Even though Sarah’s not quite a teen yet, she is definitely living a secret life. Same glitch as the above though, Sarah’s not a teen living life in the fast lane. She’s a tween living life in the slow lane.

Lie to Me – Adventures of Dr. Lie Detector? Don’t think so.

Smallville – Clark Kent’s boyhood? No way.

Justified – A western? Nope.

Fear not. There are dozens – maybe even hundreds – more TV shows. Like Dog the Bounty Hunter. What a great title – that has absolutely nothing to do with my book. But it’s okay. I am undaunted in my search. I know the secret. The magic bullet. I’ll stumble onto it eventually …

Peggy Tibbetts

Letters to Juniper now available at Amazon.

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