Thursday, June 28, 2012

Standing on the Edge of an Abyss

How do you feel when starting a new WIP?

 I always feel as if I'm standing on the edge of the abyss and am about to take off on a new adventure. I'mm admit to becoming rather obsessed with the idea, the characters and the plot of the new work I'm about to begin. The characters follow me into my dreams and I begin to spin a bedtime story featuring these characters. I always wish I could remember those dreams since I feel they would make putting the words on paper a breeze.

I have just begun a new work. For weeks I spun stories about the characters in my head, bits on pieces of papers. I even wrote out the opening scene. Only it turned out this wasn't the real opening scene. I was creating a new world. This was a fantasy and would be a trilogy. I don't like prologues but this story called for one. My plan was to write one that gave the background of this world. This prologue doesn't. The prologue starts with a young man facing his father's death and promises he makes to him. Death bed promises. Now this is an abyss. And I leaped.

Where did I land. Not in the first scene I had sketched out to begin the book. Somehow the fingers began to write a scene that seemed to come from nowhere but my pen flew across the page. The scene I had envisioned as the first one became the second one in the book.

Sometimes when you're standing on the edge of the abyss, you just have to push off and fly into the depths. The discoveries can astonish you. In another story just completed, a scene written contained a short interlude that made no sense to me when I wrote the words but something told me to keep this scene in the story. As I neared the ending the reason for those perhaps fifty words became clear. I was very glad I flew into that abyss and those words appeared.

How about you? How do you feel when starting a new story? Are you scared? I know I am until I take the plunge and soar into the abyss.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Da Funk

Fellow YAAYNHOian Christine Marciniak recently wrote about loss of muse. I do not knit but I do drink wine and it really hasn't helped. (Sorry Christine!) I have been in a creative funk of late and have been battling to get out. I have tons of ideas, partially started projects, one project that is 98% done. Even reading I cannot focus or stay interested. I  have started a half dozen books and cannot stay excited about any of them.

I just came back from an amazing vacation in the Mediterranean and I had a blast taking photos. It was a fresh creative outlet for me and I ended up with some (if I do say so) stunning shots. I have always enjoyed taking photos and have always treated it as a hobby rather than a career possibility. Writing has  been the art I have always struggled with as trying to be successful artist.

Book 2 of my middle grade fantasy series THE ADVENTURES OF RUPERT STARBRIGHT was just published and sales are, well, ehhhh. Book 1 had better sales and I am trying to boost Book 2 to at least those who enjoyed Book 1. I have Book 3 98% complete but I am not sure I like it. It is hard and frustrating and I think a lack of reward for hard work can take its toll of your motivation to continue.

In my case, I must create. Its my most important nutritional need. I tend to get depressed and unfocused between projects. I recently had an article published in OUR USA Magazine about growing up in a crazy neighborhood in NYC. It has motivated me to get back to one of my unfinished projects: a book filled with the stories of my colorful youth. Trouble is, I have a dozen other ideas poking and prodding me for attention. Also - those dangerous doubts taunt me:

"It won't sell!" "Who is gonna care?" "Make another film!" "Write that guaranteed best seller instead!"

All utter BS. I know. I need to focus. I am enjoying the nostalgic and humorous romp down memory lane. I really need to finish this book no matter what becomes of it. Having these stories - about a lost time and place - has its own intrinsic value. Monetary value? Who knows? One should never write for money. I know. I know.

We live in a time when everybody thinks they are a pro. I blame technology to a large degree. Movie making has become cheap and easy so we get tons of crap films clogging the airwaves and these newbies thing it is all genius. We get dance shows on TV and now every teen wants to be a "celebrity dancer" without the struggle or sweat or failure. Music makers, photographers (who think Instagram makes you a great picture taker) and bloggers have so saturated the world with product it has impacted those who have real talent, who have struggled and worked hard. Maybe this is good?

The cream used to always rise to the top. Not sure if that is the case anymore. The top is now separated out from the "masses" and they are the established names that made their way to the top just prior to the explosion that has hit the internet. So we get stale product on TV and in the movies and Itunes because fresh talent is drowning down below. Few new ideas are invested in or even given a shot.

But I will battle on. What choice do I have? If your were born to create- you create. And once in a while bitch about the struggle. Hey- I earned that right.

Mike is the author of three novels: MILKY WAY MARMALADE, THE DOOR TO FAR-MYST and THE SECRET OF FAR-MYST. He is also a filmmaker and his last feature is called TRIPTOSANE.

Monday, June 25, 2012

2012 Colorado Book Awards

Doerr-Hosier Center - photo courtesy The Aspen Institute

Let me end the suspense right away. The winner of the 2012 Colorado Book Award in the Juvenile Fiction category is – City of Orphans by Avi.

Even though Letters to Juniper didn’t win, the folks at Colorado Humanities and Center for the Book went out their way to make all the finalists feel like winners. The awards event was held on Friday, June 22, at the Doerr-Hosier Center at Aspen Meadows. A few hundred people gathered for an afternoon of celebrating books in a gorgeous mountain setting. What a party! A fabulous time was had by all. 

2012 Colorado Book Awards winners and finalists
My editor/publisher Natalie Collins (Sisterhood Publications) arrived in Aspen Wednesday night. We have known each other for twelve years but this was the first time we met face-to-face. We managed to combine planning sessions with plenty of partying. Natalie and I were honored to win a seat at the table at such a prestigious awards event. We felt so fortunate to be able to share in this achievement. 

Peggy and Natalie enjoying the celebration
I met several authors for the first time, re-connected with a few I had lost touch with, and have a whole new list of books to read. What could be better than that?

Congratulations to all the Winners of the 2012 Colorado Book Awards!

Anthology/Collections:  Monumental Majesty: 100 Years of Colorado National Monument, edited by Laurena Mayne Davis, The Daily Sentinel

Biography:  The Man Who Never Died by William Adler, Bloomsbury

Children's Literature:  Light Up the Night by Jean Reidy, Disney Hyperion

Creative Nonfiction:  Dances in Two Worlds: A Writer-Artist's Backstory by Thordis Simonsen, The Fundamental Note

General Nonfiction:  Math for Life by Jeffrey Bennett, Roberts and Company

Genre Fiction:  The Soul Mirror by Carol Berg, Penguin Group USA

History:  From Jars to the Stars by Todd Neff, Earthview Media

Literary Fiction:  The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown, Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam

Pictorial:  Thomas W. Benton: Artist/Activist by Daniel Joseph Watkins, People's Press

Poetry:  Circle's Apprentice by Dan Beachy-Quick, Tupelo Press

Young Adult Literature:  Lucy Dakota: Adventures of a Modern Explorer Book 1 - Rocky Mountain Beginnings by Carol Sue Shride, My Piece of the Puzzle

Peggy Tibbetts

Now available at Amazon
PFC Liberty Stryker
Letters to Juniper – 2012 Colorado Book Award Finalist

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Town Fairs and Festivals

Steamboat Days for Winona, MN, was last weekend. This takes over most of downtown Winona, with streets blocked off for rides like a merry-go-round or ones with names like Zipper and Orbiter. There were food booths and booths with games of chance as well as a car show. At the lake there was a children's fishing contest, a kiddie parade and boat racing. Sunday had the big parade and fireworks later in the evening closed the celebration. (more pictures here, if anyone is interested).

Small towns in the Midwest often have a 'Day' (or Days) during the summer or fall. Winona's used to be over the Fourth of July weekend, but there was competition with festivities in nearby towns, so the date was changed. It's a good way to celebrate as a community. The state or county fairs are bigger get-togethers, and that's where the more rural side is often honored, with livestock and agriculture competitions.

Whether it's a town fair, a carnival, state fair, Renaissance festival, amusement park or circus, the setting provides a place where people meet and gather together, try different foods, experience rides that make them dizzy or nauseous, and win prizes (or not). There are also celebrity elements, from beauty pageant winners down to marching in the band. All of these festivals have some descriptions in common: the sights - crowds, flashing lights, bright colors; the noise - music and loud sounds of the various rides as well as crowds of people talking; the smells - cotton candy, popcorn, hot dogs and various fried things as well as unsavory smells.

Town fairs and carnivals are good backdrops for a story. Romance at a summer carnival used to be a popular theme of YAs at one time. Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles Finney are examples of fantasy/horror. On television, Phineas and Ferb's town of Danville has already had a Meatloaf Festival as well as a Midsummer Festival and a street fair. It's interesting to explore the festivals from the townspeople's point of view, though the carnival people's perspective can also captivate readers. Gillian Summers has a series (Faire Folk) set at Renaissance festivals but with elves.

Renaissance festivals are good examples of what this type of celebration could look like in a fantasy story (though one would want to do some research to avoid irritating more knowledgeable readers). Gloria Oliver has s well-depicted festival in her Cross-Eyed Dragon Troubles.

For science fiction or futuristic examples, Circus Galacticus by Deva Fagan starts off on present-day Earth, but when her main character runs off to join the circus, she finds herself travelling to the stars. Barry Longyear's Circus World is a collection of short stories of a planet whose population consists of the descendants from a crashed circus ship.

Carnivals can work for all genre - horror, fantasy, romance, mystery, thriller and even science fiction. What are some of your favorite books with a carnival?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Writing Dark Fantasy

            If you never spent a day in bed shivering with chills while burning up with fever at the same time, throat so swollen and sore it hurt to swallow, dry eyes burning and head feeling as though it was a baby's stuffed toy, how would you be able to appreciate a day when you felt as though you could climb a mountain and have energy to spare?
            If you never sat staring at a pile of overdue bills, your heart pounding out of fear your house and car would be taken away by the bank, how could you appreciate looking at a bank account balance of at least a few bucks after all bills had been paid, including a bit into savings?
            If you never laid in bed during the wee hours of the night, startled out of a deep sleep by some noise you couldn’t identify, watching the shadows move across the walls while your skin literally felt as though it was crawling up your back, your heart racing like you’d been running, how could you appreciate a bright sunny day full of laughter and joy or a night filled with pleasant dreams?
            Reading stories that scare us allows us to construct safety nets in our imagination so when something truly horrible occurs in our lives we can better deal with it, having already thought our way through something similar. This is why people watch Reality Shows on television, hoping to see someone get injured or experience hurt feelings. It makes the viewer feel like their own life is more exciting and worthwhile than they might otherwise have thought.
            It’s long been known Middle Graders devour scary stories like candy. Look at popular series like Goosebumps, with hundreds of books each devoured by tweens. Or even the Lemony Snicket series A Series of Unfortunate Events which portrayed a set of siblings experiencing horrendous things no child would ever wish to experience. By reading about ‘the scary’ and seeing how someone experienced and survived it kids discover they can deal with daily life, which is truly frightening at that age.
            Horror explores and probes the shadows when we are afraid to do so in life. Battling demons or ghosts in a book is a lot easier when you know you will survive. Often making it all the way through a truly horrifying book becomes a badge of courage. And the more terrifying the story, the braver you feel.
            This same phenomena happens with teens and slasher films. Teens need to feel courageous and brave after being bullied at school or worrying about the haircut they just got. By ‘surviving’ a slasher film, even though the heroine or hero may not, provides that rush of adrenaline that builds bravery in a viewer’s imagination. Whether they could actually be as courageous as they feel if the real situation occurred is irrelevant.
            As a writer of Dark Fantasy my goal is to reveal through fiction the reality of the horrors which occur daily in our world. After reading any of the books in my Seraphym Wars series, you may research the horrific events depicted and pull up the actual news stories from years back. My fiction is only partly imagination. 

Harpies, Book Two Seraphym Wars Series (out soon)
Transported to a planet he'd never heard of was the least of fifteen-year-old Griffen's problems. Learning to control his suddenly increasing strength and new ability to pull lightning from the sky takes some getting used to.  Angry preteen Seth joins the quest; meanwhile discovering his combusting ability as a fire-starter. Driven to find the last Vigorio, a young girl able to experience others' emotions, they journey together toward their destinies as warriors against Narciss, Ruler of Tartarus and his Legio of demon-dragons. But Belial, a power-hungry demon determined to win Narciss’s approval makes their trip miserable while Narciss’s Harpy henchmen take matters into their own hands.

Odessa Blurb
17-year-old Myrna is drawn into the middle of an epic battle between Seraphym and Demons. An average High School student from Florida, struggling with inner demons resulting from an attack when she was 15, she wakes one morning on the Steampunk planet of Dracwald, home of the demon-dragons responsible for her brother’s recent murder as well as many other atrocities in the news. She meets sweet and sensitive Michael, who explains that according to prophecy, Myrna must gather the remaining six Vigorios (teen warriors with special talents) then train with the Majikals on an enchanted island. He accompanies her on the quest, but harbors a secret past that ironically would destroy all the faith she has placed in him. A handsomely roguish Scientist with suspect motives haunts her dreams and makes sudden appearances in unlikely places, while a sensual dragon warrior defends her against her will.
Will love and lust, jealousy, greed, deceit and distrust break the delicate tie that binds these teen warriors called The Vigorios? Can a troupe of teens help the Seraphym finally defeat the massive empire of evil dominated for eons by the demon-dragons of Dracwald?
Available in eBook formats and as paperback.

Prophecy Blurb
For centuries the residents of Solsyl lived in peace and harmony with the planet. Then the dragon-demons arrived, causing the Great Shuddering. Majikals from everywhere scurried to find shelter from the evil while humans hid. Laud regretted his rash decision of exiling the demons on Solsyl and asked one of his advisors, a member of The Conscientia, to protect his people. Jeremiah Holyfield agreed to leave the peaceful world of Revrum Natura for a life of constant strife and fear on the newly renamed planet of Dracwald. But Narciss, ruler of Tartarus and King of the demons, desperately wants what Jeremiah has sworn to protect—a Prophecy of Narciss’s future doom. And Narciss refuses to take no for an answer. But Jeremiah discovers allies along his path and even true love, which he never dreamed possible.
But forever is a long time to protect something without ever letting down one’s guard.
Available as eBook.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Here's a hint at my mood today. This article previously appeared in the Spring 2005 issue of Once Upon a Time" magazine. Enjoy.


My grandkids call me "Mema." They're so cute when they say it. I even admit to having a great grandkid. That's okay. I married very young.

My sons and their wives call me "Mom." I love it. One of my life's greatest rewards is being a mother.

My husband calls me "Beverly." Mm. That's my name.

I refer to myself as a children's author.

Some people consider me a senior citizen. I know, because at restaurants they automatically give me a senior discount. Now, I have a problem with that.

Perhaps Robert Browning said it best in his poem, "Rabbi Ben Ezra."

Youth ended, I shall try
My gain or loss thereby;
Leave the fire ashes,
What survives is gold;
And I shall weigh the same,
Give life its praise or blame;
Young, all lay in dispute;
I shall know, being old.

I like to think of me as living in my golden years: "The last of life, for which the first was made," according to Browning. When I was younger, I would not have believed him. But he was on to something. Now, I understand what he meant.

Consider me a recycled teenager worrying about a date for Saturday night, or that algebra test on Friday, or puzzled because my best friend has another best friend.

Consider me an adventuresome ten-year-old who still believes in magic and fairy tales, and who loves horses and fishing and decorating a Christmas tree.

Consider me an inquisitive toddler watching a butterfly on a flower, a raindrop racing down the windowpane, or cuddling in my mom's or dad's lap while they open new worlds to me through an enchanting book.

Yes, I treasure each memory of growing older. I enjoy every hour of every day God gives me. Which reminds me. Gotta run. My skateboard awaits, along with my character who is teaching me the basics of an Ollie. What's that, you say? I'm too old! NEVER!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Just Two Pages

Last weekend I went to the Annual NJSCBWI conference. A great GREAT writer's conference every year, this year it was extra-special. First of all our Regional Advisor, Kathy Temean, was stepping down. Next, it was my first year on faculty (teaching a workshop on Worldbuilding in Fantasy. If you missed it, you can access the wiki I made for it on Wikispaces.).

This year we had two awesome keynote speakers. Fabulous illustrator and writer Dan Yaccarino told us about saying 'yes! - basically build your bridges and your ins in this industry wherever they present themselves, and be ready and willing to stretch yourself to get to that next place in your career if you need to. A lot of great opportunities/challenges have come his way, and he's gotten to where he is by always saying YES! (I don't think he said Yes to the Dress, however.)

Then our closing keynote speaker was Kate diCamillo. I brought my hardcover copy of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane from home. It was always one of my favorite books, and now that it's signed it's a real treasure. Anyway, Kate told us about her journey to becoming a writer, how she said for years she was going to do it, but it was always 'later'. That is one thing I think a lot of people do -- always talk about it and come up with a million excuses why they can't do it today. That's been MY problem lately. It's easier to NOT write than write, because there are a million things to do, and with finishing grad school and working full time, I've been doing a lot of  "I'll do it later"- ing myself.

But more importantly, Kate said she writes two pages a day. Just two pages. The woman who wrote Because of Winn-Dixie, and The Tale of Despereaux,  and my beloved Edward Tulane,  writes just two pages a day (apparently much to the chagrin of her agent...). She adheres to this rigidly, stopping at the end of those two pages.

Some people I know have a time limit, like 2 hours. Problem is, you can spend two hours a day staring at the screen and never finish a single manuscript. Two pages may take you 30 minutes, if you're feeling the story, or all day if you're stuck. But there it is, a commitment to just two pages every day.

And I thought, I used to do that. I used to have a goal of a mere 500 words a day, which is about two pages, give or take. But then I got too busy and decided to put writing aside for a few months so I could concentrate on my grad school work. But that's over for the summer -- so what's my excuse now?

So I am going to make a new goal. Just two pages. Some days it may be two pages on three different projects, but there will be two new pages every day this summer. And into the fall. And by the end of the year, that will be a lot of pages.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Oh, those dads!

Father's Day is coming up and, of course, my thoughts are with my father. He is no longer with us physically, but I can still hear his voice, with his funny little asides, and see his quirky little grin.

Remembering him makes me ponder on the father figures in my own writing. I realize how much of my own father is in those characters. One of my dad's favorite things to do was to go fishing. And, without a conscious thought, I made one of my main characters a fisherman.

My dad also liked to hunt. My father characters spend a lot of time tromping about in the woods. Usually, they are hunting someone lost, instead of an animal. But I remember that my dad once, only once, shot a deer. He had such remorse over that, he never attempted to actually hit one again. He still went hunting, but he was out there more for the walk in the woods than anything else.

My dad also liked to instruct - showing us how to do just about anything he knew how to do. All we needed to do was ask, and we were rewarded with the gift of his time. My father characters are the same, guiding and teaching, and, above all, just being there.

My father protected us, just as the fathers in my books protect their offspring. I felt safe in his presence, as if he could hold back all of the dangers and evil and hurt of the world. And I never felt lacking in any need, whether it was basic - food, shelter, clothing - or frivolous - camping, vacations, new toys. We didn't have as much money as the father characters in my books - royalty all - but somehow my dad made me feel as if we were just as rich - maybe even more so.

So, on this Father's Day, I think of my dad and all that he did for me and my siblings, and I thank him. And, I like to believe, that the kids in my books are thanking their respective fathers as well. boop-boop-de-boop, Dad. I love you. JennaKay Francis "More magic than you can imagine."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What to Do When the Muse Goes on Strike

So, I finished up some revisions and started looking at some other projects in various stages of progress with the intent of figuring out all that was wrong with them and making it right.

But it didn't work.

I thought. I brainstormed. I sat with my fingers on the keyboard.


So here are a few things to do while you wait for the muse to get to work.

1. Find a spot to sit and watch the flowers grow.

2. Crochet some juggling balls and learn to juggle.

3. Enjoy a bit of wine.

4. Bake some bread.

You know what. No number five. I'm lying to you. You can't wait for the muse to strike, you have to go and hunt it down and make it work for you. If you wait you'll keep waiting.

(Of course if you do the above you'll be relaxed and well-fed and maybe the muse will creep back in on its own.)

So, what do you do when the thoughts are jumbled and won't come?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Why Paranormal Romance

A few years ago, New York was saying that the paranormal market was dead.  They mentioned the market was gutted.  No one was interested in anymore paranormal books.
Boy, were they wrong!
My first exposure to a paranormal romance had to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer back in the later 1990s:

Yes, the writing is amazing.  So is the dialogue.  What stands out to me is even through Buffy is tough she had one huge weakness: her love interests happen to be vampires. This is all kind of ironic considering she’s a vampire slayer.

It seemed any human love connections she made, failed.  Big time.  What can we say?  The chemistry between Angel and even later Spike, another vampire, is steamy hot.  Now it’s a classic and Joss Whedon, has continued the series in comic book format for a whole new generation to love.
I admit it.  I love a good paranormal romance.
Some great examples of some other paranormal finds:

Vampire Diaries
This TV series is based on the best selling YA series by L. J. Smith.  In this series, Elena, falls for the charms of not one but two brothers who just happen to be vampires. The chemistry between the three crackles with sexual tension not only on the screen but in the books as well.  Watch an episode and tell me you’re not under the spell of Ian Somerhalder’s portrayal of Damon.

The war against fallen angels and humanity has a new heroine. Violet is part Buffy the Vampire Slayer with her kick-ass abilities but also very much human with her feelings towards her hot mentor Lincoln. The chemistry between the two of them is hot. Lincoln happens to be a Grigori and can't have a relationship with her. Then the mysterious Phoenix ups the whole stream factor. He brings intensity when he's around Violet.  I don’t blame Violet in her struggle between the two.
Obsidian: The Lux series
Daemon might be stand-offish and a total jerk but he’s beyond hot.  He’s also an alien.  Katy has just moved next door and her first encounter with Daemon is disastrous.  Then all changes with a touch.   Let’s just say this series is amazing.  I could see why Katy came under Daemon’s spell.

 This is a story where a witch and a warlock meet and fall for each other. Problem is they are sworn enemies. Kling casts her own spell with characters that are real and multi-layered. The tension and chemistry between our heroine and hero sizzles. 
Can you tell I love these stories?

Crossed Out
In my own paranormal, Stephanie falls under the spell of Mark, a mysterious new boy who she finds might finally ‘get’ her.  There’s also chemistry between Dylan, the boy next door but when Mark gets on the scene, well, forget it.  She’s totally under Mark’s spell which might not be the best decision she’s made.
So what do you all think?  Do you think the appeal of YA paranormal romance might be the whole fantasy of the beyond hot boy?  Why the appeal?

Originally posted at:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Top 5 Reasons To Go To Conventions

An awesome resource for fans and those wanting to get published are conventions. There are all types out there and some could be happening right in your own state, perhaps your own city. Some conventions are general in scope but plenty cater to specific genres or topics. But they all offer the same reasons to find them.

1) Belonging - Writing is a lonely thing, but a lot of writers are also social creatures. While social media helps with this, there's still nothing more awesome than being face to face in a room of your peers, being able to compare notes, exchange experiences, and knowing you aren't in this alone.

For readers this goes double, as you've now found a place where there are others that love the same books, the same authors, the same TV shows or movies, and you can gush with them in wild abandon and no one will look at you weird.

2) Networking - For authors, conventions are a great place to connect with others for the long term. You get to see others in the field and get seen by them as well. When sending queries, it helps to be able to say in the letter that you were happy to have met 'so and so' at 'blank' convention - shows there's already a connection between you. And if they remember you, so much the better. (As long as it's in a good way! :P)

For readers, it gives the chance to meet other fans and create long lasting friendships. Even better, you get to meet favorite authors and discover new ones, as well as get the skinny on what they are all up to. You can meet the person behind the things you love and enjoy.

Even if you're a wallflower (Like me!), you'll gain benefit from this. I found two of my publishers by just listening in on conversations. :P

3) Learning - Conventions are an awesome place to learn about the trade. There'll be panels with actual pros on all facets of the business of writing, publishing, and more. What pitfalls to avoid, how they got their start, what agencies or publishers are looking for, how not to put a foot in your mouth when trying to be discovered, and on and on!

As a reader, you can discover what books, shows, and movies authors you like love and why or why not. (They're fans too!) Discover sub genres you may not know about or hear about books you might not have come across and more.

4) Costumes - Almost every convention out there encourages people to wear costumes or has a costume contest. So not only does your mind get fed but so do your eyes. You will be wowed by the work and dedication that goes into many of the costumes you'll see. Amazing! If you'd like a peek at some, here are photos of some of the ones at this year's A-kon - an anime convention in June. I posted a bunch of pics from there at my blog.

5) Buying - If you're a shopper, conventions are also for you! Most have a Dealers' Room and some an Artist Alley, giving you unique gifts to buy for yourself or loved ones. They normally have books, but also toys, jewelry, comics, home made items, clothing, original art, and more. (I abstain from looking as much as possible - there's too much temptation! lol)

Whatever you're into, there's a convention out there for you. Why not give them a try and see if you enjoy what they have to offer? Have fun!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Collecting Ghost Stories

Collecting Ghost Stories

Everyone who knows me, knows I collect ghost stories. I don't just watch the programs on cable, I actually clip news articles about haunted places (the month of October always sees a whole slew of these in the newspaper). And when I do a school visit or a signing, I invariably ask people to share a true ghost story with me. Some of the tales they have me told still make my hair stand on end.
Last week, my husband and I were vacationing up in Door County, Wisconsin for the Memorial Day weekend. We stopped in at Grandma Tommy's Country Store just out of curiosity and were greeted with the customary and wonderful display of cherries (dried, frozen, chocolate covered), cheese, jams, honey, fudge, gift baskets, tee shirts, and the usual sundry items that make tourist shopping so much fun. I wandered back to the book rack that held the cookbooks, local guides, and gift books, and was pleasantly startled to find a copy of my own Ghosts of Lake Michigan sitting on the top of the rack.
Jim, my husband, who is well aware of how much publicizing I need to do and how much I actually don't, literally grabbed the book in one hand, my arm in the other, and propelled me up to the cash register to ask if she wanted me to sign the copy they had. The young girl behind the register introduced us to her mother, the store owner, and that very nice lady, my husband, and I had a terrific conversation about the store, about her choice of books (she's going to order more of mine! Yay!), and best of all, about ghosts.
While we were standing there, she proceeded to tell us two ghost stories, one of them involving Grandma Tommy's Country Store itself. She confided that she doesn't normally talk so openly about this sort of thing so that people won't think she's crazy, but given the subject matter of my book, she had no problem sharing her stories with me.
I not only collect ghost stories, I remember who told me the stories, and where we were at the time. Against the backdrop of all the true experiences I've heard, this one will always be a standout.