Friday, August 30, 2013

New Member of the Family - Mystique

A new bundle of energy has joined the Oliver household this week! Mystique:

Of course since I tried to take pics, she avoided me like the plague....allowing me to only get a few, err, not so satisfying shots

Alien Cat! 

Moving too fast cat.

Camera won't focus that fast cat.

No wait, trying to take your picture cat.

Only decent picture of the lot! lol

Tried to tell the kids she was more a Tygra or Tigress, but they wanted Mystique. Telling them she's not dark blue or have scaly skin so it somewhat negated the name, made no difference. Mystique it is. lol.

She is so CUTE! 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Music as Character

Music is an important part of my life. It's also an important part of my writing life. I grew up in a musical household, although no one was professional. My father, a doctor by profession, schooled all of us in classical music because that was all he listened to in his car while he drove us to to various destinations. Being Asian, we also grew up with music lessons: piano for me and my sister, accordion and organ for my brothers. And most of all, my older siblings were so into rock and roll that some Billboard hits are part and parcel of my childhood memories. I was probably all of seven when I bought my first-ever 45 single.

That said, I found it only natural to include music in my writing life. There were certain albums I always listened to when I wrote, depending on what I was doing. Vivaldi was fantastic for school work as well as fiction, back when I was in high school. The current top 20 was what I needed for writing in my journal. And the Beatles went with just about everything.

The habit followed me into adulthood and I can give you the soundtrack for every novel I have written, up to and including the "anchor song." My anchor songs relate to specific characters and listening to those songs gets me into a mindset at the speed of sound. Maybe even quicker -at the speed of thought. I think what I call a "soundtrack" other writers sometimes refer to as a "playlist." (Unless I'm wrong, which is entirely possible, and the playlist is actually what their characters are listening to during the course of a story.)

The important thing is that it's all about the music. I can write without it, but have a much easier time if my relevant tunes are playing while I'm composing. I know writers who think I am insane -that music would be too much of a distraction from writing and that they could not possibly get anything done with the stereo blasting. Steven King, however, writes to AC/DC so I figure I'm in good company!

Recently, two different musical-type people I know tried to show me that I don't appreciate music the same way they do since I am able to write while listening to it. They told me that it must mean that it doesn't move me or affect me or transport me the way it does them. I must admit I found the observations from both of them, although well-meant, to be hurtful. There are times I feel music so strongly that I'm sure I could climb into its very substance and live the rest of my life in its protection. In Saving Jake, I mentioned that "music saved both his life and his sanity." Since I tell people that Saving Jake is actually my fictionalized biography, I must have been writing about myself.

As I mentioned earlier, every single one of my novels has a soundtrack. I frequently wonder how many writers out there are doing the same thing. I would love to know the background music, the other "character", involved in creating those novels I've read by other music-oriented authors.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Family Photographs and Home Movies

My father had two jobs when I was young. One was the day job that he went to every day, Monday through Friday. His other job was as a freelance photographer. There was a darkroom in the basement, where one did not intrude if the red light was on. My mother helped him in the days before color film; she was the one who handpainted the color on portraits. There were pictures of all our dance recitals, important occasions such as weddings, graduations, confirmations, holidays, etc. My cousins remember him taking pictures of all their events as well.

He was always experimenting with new cameras and equipment. All his children became accustomed to sudden appearances of bright lights along with the commands, "Chin up! Tilt your head this way. Put the other foot out. Hold it! Just one more!"

As a young child, I used to wonder why my older brother and sisters disappeared so quickly whenever the cameras appeared. When I look through the many photo albums, there hits a stage when the two youngest are the only ones in the pictures. My younger sister and I liked being photographed. That is, until we hit our teens and suddenly realized just why our older siblings developed the knack of vanishing. Fortunately by then there were grandchildren to take over being the focus of the camera's attention.

As an early innovator, Dad was the first in his family to make home movies. I hadn't realized how rare this was back in 1950 until I started contacting my cousins to see if they had any home movies of our grandparents. My sister and brother-in-law converted all our family's home movies to videotape back in the 1980s, but I recently decided that perhaps now was the time to convert either the videotapes or the original films to DVD. And, being one of the family members in charge of the family tree, I thought I'd check with my cousins to see if perhaps they had some home movies of the grandparents as well. The answer: no.

This of course means these home movies are of interest to people outside of my immediate family. Both my grandmothers died before I was born. My older siblings knew them, as did my cousins. I find it fascinating to see my grandparents as well as younger versions of my parents, aunts and uncles. Seeing my older siblings as little kids is fun, too. (It's not quite blackmail material when it's in a home movie, but watching my serious oldest sister playing dress-up with her friends or seeing how my next oldest sister used to tag along the way my youngest sister did with me was... interesting).

The first decision was whether to convert the videotape or go back to the original film. VHS always looks grainy to me (yes, I'm a Beta tape snob) and the original process of converting the home movies to videotape added another level of blurriness. I decided to use Walgreens for the conversion and sent in a VHS tape and a Beta tape of the home movies to experiment. Once the tapes were digitally transferred, iMemories at Walgreens allows you to log in and create your own DVDs. I was able to pull out excerpts of holidays with the grandparents and aunts and uncles that would be of interest to the cousins as well as creating straightforward copies of the 1950-52 and 1961 movies for my siblings. I also created accounts so that my cousins could view the excerpts online.

But the images seemed blurred to me, and I found that the company (YesVideo) which handles the conversion of home movies for Walgreens (and Costco and other stores) only does straight transfer to digital with videotapes. For the actual films, though, they will clean and color correct the images. So, I went to visit my youngest sister to see how the original films looked. My memories of watching them as a child were suspect, since I didn't get my glasses until sixth grade. (*Everything* was out of focus until then.)

The original films look great, so they are now being converted to digital. Copies will go out to my siblings so everyone will again have a set, and my surviving aunts and the cousins will get DVDs with excerpts of the appearances of the grandparents and aunts and uncles (mostly during special occasions and holidays).

What are others doing to preserve family photos and movies?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


A couple of weeks ago, I attended a Writer’s Workshop on Left Brain, Right Brain, and how this affects our writing. Honestly, I never thought about my brain. (Maybe that’s the reason I do such silly stuff sometimes.) That’s beside the point, however. The workshop was based on a book by Daniel H. Pink called Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. Pink is the best-selling author of Free Agent Nation (2001) and also former chief speechwriter for former vice-president Al Gore. The author says there are six human abilities that are essential for professional success and personal fulfillment: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. He also explains how to master these skills.

Now, I don’t have a copy of the book; I just took notes. Here are some of my thoughts. Even though my sister is left handed and my husband was left handed, I have given little thought to what our handedness means. Left-handed people are usually right brained and the opposite for right-handed people. We did a fun exercise though that was embarrassing as well. When I tried to write my name with my left hand, it looked like a hen scratching in the dirt. Some of the attendees did quite well. So what does this mean to a writer?

An article from says this:

For example, a person who is "left-brained" is often said to be more logical, analytical and objective, while a person who is "right-brained" is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful and subjective.

The Right Brain

According to the left-brain, right-brain dominance theory, the right side of the brain is best at expressive and creative tasks. Some of the abilities that are popularly associated with the right side of the brain include:
Recognizing faces
Expressing emotions
Reading emotions

The Left Brain

The left-side of the brain is considered to be adept at tasks that involve logic, language and analytical thinking. The left-brain is often described as being better at:
Critical thinking


Here’s a neat article for teachers from Scholastic:

In the workshop, we did some activities to help us determine what we are. My conclusion to the workshop is that it takes the entire brain to be a writer. What do you think?

Which are you? Left brain or right brain?


Monday, August 12, 2013

How to be a Fashionista on a Writer's Budget

I am in love with handbags. Not just handbags, bags in general. I have a closet full of purses and bags, and I always ogle new ones when I'm at the store. I have about a dozen different Thirty-One bags, for different things -- one for the gym, one for the beach, one for football stuff, etc... I love to change purses every season, or use a different bag for going out than every day.

I also love designer bags. Coach and Vera Bradley are my two new favorites. Of course I can't afford either brand new, so I have learned how to carry designer bags on a normal person's budget. If you have some time, you can really get some great deals. Here are some of my tips from most expensive to least:

1. Outlet stores. There are about a half a dozen outlet malls within an hour's drive from me, but the first time I ever went into one was when we were on vacation in the Poconos. I walked into the Coach outlet. Yeah, the regular prices are still WAY high, BUT I happened to be in there on a day when they were having a HUGE sale. 50% off the clearance and on-sale stuff. I got over $1000 of Coach merchandise for just about $400 (don't worry, most of it was Christmas gifts). I bought my first-ever Coach purse--and matching wallet/wristlet:

(not my actual stuff--but this is what they look like)
These were a treat to myself, and will be used with extreme care. They were still not cheap, but affordable. Vera Bradley also has a bunch of outlet stores, but I've not been to one of those. I hear they are awesome, however even better is that VB is sold in local boutiques and even some Hallmark stores near me -- so if I wait until they go on sale there, you can also get amazing deals on new and being retired patterns. 

2. A resale site for high-end fashion. Like Ebay, but no bidding. I haven't used it myself, but have heard good things. They seem to have excellent deals. You can also make a trade if the seller is amenable and you have something good to trade. 

3. Ebay. You can buy ANYTHING on ebay, if you look hard enough. I managed to snag a Vera Bradley mini-zip wallet (which they don't even make anymore) in a retired pattern I was looking for to match a bag I had bought  (more on that later) for a very reasonable price. The great thing about VB is that it's made of cotton and you can hand wash it no problem, so even if it's a little dirty, they clean up beautifully. I think Poshmark and Ebay are about the same, price-wise. You can get good deals on both if you dig around.

4. Facebook. Really. If you search, you will find there are resale groups for just about everything on Facebook. they're like Craigslist, kind of, and you usually have to ask to join the group. In my local area there are no less than 4 'yard sale' sites, and I'm also a member of two different VB, Coach, D&B resale sites. The yard sale sites may require you live nearby so you can do an in-person sale, but I bought TWO VB bags from a site where they shipped them to me. These are gold mines! I bought two retired pattern VB bags (one of which prompted me to search for the wallet I mentioned earlier) and paid just $20 each, plus shipping. Both were in excellent condition, and I will use them a lot. 
I also traded something I had for a retired Coach twistlock wristlet. It was not in the best shape, but I learned how to clean a Coach fabric bag and now it's gorgeous. And because I didn't pay anything for it, I won't mind if I carry it all the time.
5. Thrift stores. This is hit or miss, but the hunt is half the fun! In my area there is one store that is the best for accessories, and it was here that I found my first VB finds. A small cosmetic bag in a retired pattern for $5, and a small ID swipe wallet in a recently retired pattern-- for ONE DOLLAR. It was the cosmetic bag pattern that led me to search for the matching bag and wallet (I still have to get a wallet to match the other bag...). 

There you have it! Now you too can carry a designer bag, and no one will know you didn't pay full retail! 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lights, Camera, Ali!

The second book in my Ali series is going to be available sometime this month. I'm so excited to have another Ali book out there to share with the world. And so I'm going to take this opportunity to tell you all a little about her, and why you want to read these books.

Ali Caldwell is the daughter of millionaire Thomas Caldwell, and movie star Margo Schaefer. Her parents divorced when she was small and she lives with her father, who diligently guards the privacy of Ali and her older brother, Mark. He is so careful of their privacy, that no one even knows that Margo Schaefer has children other than the five-year-old triplets that show up everywhere with her and her second husband.

In the first book, REALITY ALI, Ali is starting boarding school, and decides that now is the time to finally try to be famous just like her mother. Without giving too much away, because if you haven't already read it, you're going to want to, and I don't want to spoil the ending for you, let's just say that things don't really go the way she had hoped.

Now we come to book two, LIGHTS, CAMERA, ALI! It's Thanksgiving break and Ali and her brother are heading to their mother's, in California, for the holiday. Ali is not looking forward to it. She has decided that fame is something she wants to stay far away from, and she knows that where her mother is, media attention is never far behind. Determined to make the most of it, however, she and her brother and friends take the triplets on an outing. Things go horribly wrong, when one of the triplets disappears. Ali needs to find her brother, and even eventually learn how to make the media work for her, instead of against her.

I'm currently working on the third book in the series, tentatively titled HONESTLY, ALI. I won't give anything away on that one, because as a work in progress, pretty much everything is subject to change.

So that is my shameless plug for my Ali books. Meet Ali, read her stories, hopefully you'll like her as much as I do.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Day One of No More Goddesses Blog Tour

Originally posted at:


“Kim Baccellia has mixed Egyptian mythology and romantic elements into a delicious fizzy cocktail that will leave the reader shaken and stirred! Romance and adventure are around every corner, but in the end, it’s friendship that really matters.” –Joyce Sweeney, author of Players, Headlock, and Free Fall

Guest blog

Fun Audrey Hepburn Trivial

When I first came up with the premise of NO MORE GODDESSES, I pictured a teen who loved vintage clothing, romance, and classic movies. I tried to think of a 50/60s icon that would be PERFECT.

Then I thought of Audrey Hepburn.

What’s not to love about this movie star? I threw myself into researching all I could about her which including Netflixing most of her movies and reading her bios.

The more I read about Audrey, the more I totally fell in love with her.

When it came time to query my story, more than a few came back saying that no teen would know who Audrey Hepburn was which is kind of funny as that following year Blair in Gossip Girl favorite fantasies involved her in an AH movie. Then actress Emma Roberts appeared in a magazine dressed from a part in Funny Face.

Plus Balzer + Bray came out with a children’s book about Audrey which introduces a huge new generation to this amazing star:

I thought it would be fun to share some trivia I’d discovered while researching Audrey Hepburn.

What book really touched Audrey’s heart as she said she could relate with the author?
What was her father’s pet name for her?
Which movie was her favorite?
What organization was very important to her?
What was Audrey’s dream as a child?
Who was her favorite designer?
Which 2 smells represented freedom to her? This was during the war.
How many of her movies were set in Paris? What are the names?

Okay, here are the answers!

The Diary of Anne Frank. Audrey lived in the Netherlands during Nazi occupation. The book touched her so much as she was the same age of Anne and had witnessed firsthand the horror of the Nazi occupation. She was 13 when her beloved uncle was executed. She also helped with the Resistance.
MP-‘Monkey Puzzle’.
The Nun’s Story
She wanted to be a prima ballerina but the war and being under Nazi occupation cut that dream short.
Givenchy. They stayed close friends until her death
The smell of English petrol and English cigarettes
Six. Sabrina, Funny Face, Love in the Afternoon, Paris-When It Sizzles, How to Steal a Million, and Bloodline.

**More fun facts can be found in Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn by Donald Spoto.

About Kim Baccellia:

When writing No More Goddesses, Kim Baccellia watched almost all of Audrey Hepburn’s movies and learned to love this famous icon. She went on to watch and read all she could on Audrey. She has always had a secret desire to travel to Egypt and visit the pyramids. The closest she’s come to fulfilling this dream are her younger sister Autumn and Egyptian-national brother-in-law Eihab, who were kind enough to share some things with her, including a Hathor sistrum and some incense.

Kim’s other works include Crossed Out, a YA paranormal, and a YA multicultural urban fantasy, Earrings of Ixtumea.

A member of YALITCHAT and RWA, Kim is writing book two in the Goddesses series. She’s also revising a New Adult multicultural suspense adventure novel. She lives in Southern California with her husband, son, and two parrots.

Twitter / Facebook / Blog / Book on Goodreads / Author on Goodreads / Pinterest


NO MORE GODDESSES giveaway: Kim is giving away a NO MORE GODDESSES themed prize package! It includes:
iTunes $15 gift card (the main character, Jordan, loves Taylor Swift!)
a French tote bag
Audrey Hepburn buttons (Jordan is a fan!)
The contest is open internationally, and runs until September 6, one week after the blog tour ends.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Blatherings of a Blabbing Blabber

Now say that 5 times fast! lol.

Once more my turn has come to dazzle everyone with my amazing insight, foresight, and perhaps even hindsight. Except...I'm pretty much running on empty today. :P

Yes, even authors can run out of things to write about. Hah! But there are still things I can share. So, let's see what's in here... (digs through the brain pan) - aha!

With the high popularity of Harry Potter, the world is getting a lot more exposure to awesome young adult titles as more and more of them are being made into movies. 2013 and 2014 have several YA films coming our way.

Here are previews for a few of them...

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - movie site and there's one for Capital Couture! Check out the background pic there and look at those lashes! WOW. Suzanne Collins site.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 - No movie website yet since this one is coming out in 2014. But Cressida Cowell does!

So there's definitely some cool stuff coming our way. :)

Have an awesome Friday!