Friday, December 30, 2016

Wrapping Up the Old Year, Planning for the New Year

The week in between Christmas and New Years is often a mixture of events, last minute things, and utter chaos.

For some of us, the excitement of the Doctor Who Christmas Special is starting to die down while the expectation of the Sherlock New Years Special is starting to rev up. For others, it's a time to travel, visiting family and friends plus a dash of anxiety about the weather and traffic.

It can also be a good time for introspection.

I've posted in the past that the day after New Years is usually my time to get my records in order for income tax time. It's also my time to update my webpage for what conventions and other appearances (young writers conferences, signings, and such) that I have scheduled so far in the next year, as well as think about what conventions I usually attend that maybe I should skip.

It's probably not news that conventions to small press authors are a means of promotion. (There are posts in this blog about it as well as book signings and other means.) Authors with traditional publishers have many ways of getting the word out about their books, established long ago by those publishing houses. Small presses have their own ways as well, and one of them is counting on their authors to promote themselves. Interviews in local newspapers, in blog posts, on podcasts are all good ways of getting the word about about yourself and your books. So are appearances at conventions. Participating on panels and having your book for sale at a dealer or an author table or a book signing is a plus on your promotion side. But when sales are down at a convention or the programming committee makes odd scheduling decisions, it's time to re-evaluate that convention.

And it's also time to consider which convention would work for a possible book launch party. Yes, the good news is that I've signed contracts with Zumaya Publications to re-release The Crystal Throne, Talking to Trees and a new expanded version of Agents & Adepts (now tentatively Agents, Adepts & Apprentices) with 22 stories (previously 16). Gloria Oliver and Christine Norris are also Zumaya authors so I know I'll be in good company. Expect to see blog posts about the new covers and publication release dates in 2017.

And now back to sorting receipts and rewatching the Sherlock trailer. And preparing for a young writers conference next week.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

BOOKS AND STOCKINGS AND HATS AND CATS

I'm cross posting this from my other blog at https://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com

Now that Thanksgiving is over and we survived the crazy shoppers and we've had our naps, it's time to start thinking about, yes, you got it, Christmas.

How about a hatful of books for the young readers you know.
 
 
 
Or maybe a stocking full for those cold snowy days to keep the kids entertained.
 
 
 
For more
 
 Visit me at AMAZON  BARNES  & NOBLE
 
 
and see what you like. Books make great gifts for older readers too.
 
Or, if you'd like a signed paperback of any of my books email me at Beverlysmcclure (at) aol (dot) com. Free shipping too, my gift to you.
 
Now I'll stop advertising. I think all the ads I read this past weekend have gone to my head.
 
It's taken awhile to write this because Tiger keeps interrupting me to play ball. Then Patches gets jealous and gives him her look that says she's gonna get him when he's not looking. Cats are so sweet.
 
 
Tiger wants to know who that kitty in the mirror is.
 
 
Doesn't Patches look like a terror? She does pick on Tiger.
She pretends like she just wants to sleep.
 
Happy Reading to You All!
 


Friday, November 4, 2016

Sherlock Holmes in High School

A guest post by my friend Tammy Garrison about her new YA book:

***********

As a kid, I picked up a hefty volume called The Boy’s Sherlock Holmes from a grade school that was closing, and was liquidating its library. It looked like something I would be interested in, despite being obviously labeled as being ‘for boys.’ But that was the way of most things I liked; Batman, Star Wars, hockey, you name it. I know now that this was not my experience alone, that girls and women felt alienated from geek culture, and before the Internet, there wasn’t an easy way for a teen of limited means to meet up with like minds.

I didn’t pick up this book just because it was ‘for boys.’ I had a genuine interest. I’d spent my fair share of Sundays watching old Rathbone movies, not to mention various cartoon incarnations of Sherlock Holmes that I had a fair idea of what I was getting myself into. But going back even further, my first and formative introduction to the world of Sherlock Holmes was a CBS movie of the week entitled The Return of Sherlock Holmes that aired when I was seven years old. It took place in the modern day, and Watson was a woman. It was an accessible gateway for a grade schooler who always had to be He-Man when we played after school.

The stories held my fickle attention from cover to cover, but there was really one thing missing from most of those tales: women. I was hardly a child feminist, in fact I had grown up in a confusing era where Barbie could be an astronaut, but women were still continually implied to be lesser than men, and the male experience to be superior to the things women were supposed to like and do and be.

Most girls just accepted that we’d never be Luke Skywalker, that regardless of how cool his lightsaber was, we’d be better off liking Princess Leia with her many hair and costume changes. I just barely managed to hold onto my dream of being Batman, regardless of my youthful crush on Tim Drake’s Robin, and the existence of Batgirl. I didn’t want to be the lesser spin-off character. I wanted to be The Main Guy. Since, y’know. Guys were more important than girls.

Everything comes back around again, and at a low point in my adult life, battling severe and debilitating mental health issues and the crushing self-esteem blow of unemployment, I sat down on a warm and sunny November 1st, at the start of National Novel Writing Month with only one goal in mind: to write the most self-soothing, self-serving thing I could possibly produce. If the world didn’t care about me, then I didn’t care about the world.

I decided to write not the story that I wanted to read, but the story that I had needed growing up, and still needed now: the story of a girl Sherlock Holmes, brilliant but alienated, surviving the ins and outs of high school with her best friend, a Watson who was athletic and smart, but maybe less noticeable than she thought she should be.

Over thirty days, I came up with a story that was exactly what I needed in high school to tell me that I was ok the way I was, that my interests weren’t wrong or weird and that, in fact, there is nothing lesser about girls and that they can do anything, even be self-involved detectives. It became a bit like shojo manga, but without the love interest, since one of my peeves is every young adult story needing to have some sort of romantic plot, preferably the dreaded triangle. It was all of the elements I wanted in a story involving one of my childhood heroes, and I was absolutely certain no one would ever read it.

It took me forever to edit it and get through two more drafts. Years, even. Due to this terrible fear that I was somehow wrong for writing it, and anyway, who would publish an alternate universe Sherlock Holmes story where Sherlock Holmes is a teenage girl in modern America?

Eventually you get sick of looking at a story. You want to murder it, or burn every copy and chastise yourself for ever wanting to write the thing. That is the point where you send it to others. After the usual rounds of reading, typo fixing and comments, I decided to pull the trigger and fire it off to MX Publishing, a house I was familiar with, due to the number of pastiches I had read over the years. Crazily enough, they also decided that shojo teenage Sherlock Holmes was something they wanted to add to their catalog.

And that, my friends, is how the story of an awkward girl who grew into an awkward adult who wrote the book she needed to read.

The Twisted Blackmailer: Watson & Holmes Book 1 is available directly from the publisher: http://www.mxpublishing.com/brand/Tammy+Garrison

Or from Amazon as a paperback and Kindle book: https://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Blackmailer-Watson-Holmes-Book/dp/1787050246

The e-book is available now, and the paperback is available December 9th.

From the back of the book:

Nothing's ever easy when Sherlock Holmes is involved. Joanna Watson needs sports and academic scholarships if she is going to make it all the way to med school. That means keeping out of trouble, and her school record squeaky clean. But upon befriending the mysterious New Girl, Joanna has her perfect record ruined, skips school for the first time in her life, and finds a blackmailer aiming a gun in her direction. All she knows is that she's going to get grounded... if they get out of this alive.

For more information
http://tammygarrison.com/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4050764.Tammy_Garrison

Friday, September 23, 2016

Disney 2016 Sneak Peek!

Greetings!

Life has been...chaotic! Busy! Piling up! Making me way behind! Mostly due to the day job. But just a few weeks ago, hubby and I went on vacation. We departed for the Mediterranean for a week.

It was my first trip ever to Europe. Had been looking forward to it for over a year! With only a week and four ports of call, there wasn't time to see everything. We barely touched the surface. I think we left from vacation more exhausted than when we went! lol.

Where did we go? Let me show you.




I took a jillion pictures. It's how I roll. But due to unexpected circumstances and some bad luck, I lost 600+ of them. *cry* Even now, with how busy life has been, I've only been able to upload some.

But don't worry, I won't flood you with them. :) Figured I'd share just a few to wet your appetite. :P


The sunsets out here were amazing!


Some awesome skies too!


Coming into Livorno.


Doesn't it scream Europe? Taken on our way to the boat for the National Park of Cinque Terre.


Seeing this made me homesick for Puerto Rico. The island's architecture and forts were built and influenced by the Spaniards who came there, so I really shouldn't have been surprised. :)


Isn't this gorgeous? One of my few surviving pics of Rome. *sniff*

 All of them are not up on my site yet, but if you want to see more, come on by and check out what's up my gallery so far. :)

I want to go back!!!!





Friday, September 9, 2016

Still Trekking After Fifty Years

Thursday, September 8, 2016, was the anniversary of the day the first episode of Star Trek aired. I watched that episode ("The Man Trap") with my father, who was the other science fiction fan in my family. I was 12 years old, and my dad was the reason I got into science fiction. I had already been reading his collection of science fiction and fantasy books that I found on the bookshelves in our basement.

Dad had brought home our first color television set just the week before. I don't know if the two events are related (as a twelve-year-old I didn't pay attention to commercials until after Star Trek started), but I did save the TV Guide pages. When I look at those and at the promo commercials for Star Trek in general on Youtube now and see "In Color" as a main mention, I strongly suspect that those might have influenced my dad's buying decision.

Star Trek made a huge impression on me. The multicultural bridge crew, the fact that both men and women were part of the crew, and the overall positive view of the future spoke to me. Imagining ourselves as part of the Star Trek universe joined the spy stories and Western stories my friends and I made up and played in our backyards. One of the early science fiction stories I wrote as a teen has a definite Star Trek influence, as I had abandoned the idea of chemical rockets for engines similar to those in that universe.

I've been a fan of Star Trek for years, loving the books, the animated series (43rd anniversary of that series), the films and the various spin-offs as they came along. Though I did lose interest partway through Star Trek: Enterprise and I decided after the 2009 film that I didn't need to follow that alternate universe.

With that background in mind, I'm excited to announce that I'm part of this collection of new essays about Star Trek. My essay is about first season episode "The Devil In The Dark", which has my favorite alien in the entire series. Outside In Boldly Goes will be 352 pages, paperback, $19.95, available in late October 2016.

Outside In Boldly Goes can be pre-ordered at ATB Publishing and the link can be found on this page with the table of contents.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

INK RIPPLES AND BANNED BOOKS

September, one of my favorite months. The beginning of Autumn. School begins. New sports and activities begin. A busy month. It's also a new Ink Ripples. The topic for this month is Banned Books.




Ink Ripples is a monthly meme created by Kai Strand, Mary Waibel, and Katie L. Carroll. They post on the first Monday of every month with a new topic. They're all authors, but you don't have to be to participate. You can also post whenever is convenient for you, not necessarily on Monday.
 
The idea of InkRipples is to toss a word, idea, image, whatever into the inkwell and see what kind of ripples it makes. You can blog about the topic any day of the month. Or you can share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #InkRipples. Just be sure to link back to Kai, Mary, or Katie.
 
The topic for September is Banned Books. I imagine there are a lot of thoughts about this. Banned books? I've really paid little attention to this idea of banned books, but now I'm finding the subject interesting. Who decides to ban a certain book? Why? So, I went to the ALA Web site to find some answers. If you've never been there, this is a good time to pay a visit. They have lots of information, along with activities for Banned Books Week, September 25-October 1, 2016. Go here.
 
You can also use any of the banners on your post.
 
What do you think about banned books?
 
The topics for the rest of September are:
 
October:    Masks
November: Heritage
December: Cookies
 
Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Young Adult Award (not a Hugo)

During WorldCon (MidAmeriCon II) this year the question of a YA Hugo came up again at the business meeting. The previous year's YA Award Committee as per the 2015 report was due to report on its decisions on the following questions:

Will the award be sponsored like the Campbell’s? Will the award be named for a person? How will the votes be tallied? How will the category be defined? By age, by marketing category, or by general ‘teen’ designation? Will the award be for science fiction/fantasy or speculative fiction? Will the award be called ‘YA’, ‘teen lit’, or some other such thing? Will there be a word length limit, such as 40,000 words? Details of the sunset clause? The issue of dual eligibility?

The Sasquan report has a good breakdown on how various other awards determined what was YA, what was middle grade, and the pros and cons of using marketing categories.

The report of this year's YA Award Committe doesn't have a direct link (yet). It can be found starting on page 37 of the pdf of the WSFS Agenda for the Business Meeting. If you don't want to read through the pdf, the good news is that the YA Award Committee decided that the Award should be treated like the Campbell Award (not a Hugo), so that a strict definition of what constitutes YA wouldn't be needed, nor would a word limit (which is what determines several of the categories of the Hugos).

The bad news is that the Committee couldn't decide on a name for the award. The report goes into their decisions against naming the award after any one particular author. Instead, they recommended, if the award proposal passed, to create a committee to collect and evaluate name ideas. Which means an actual award would be delayed at least another year.

The Facebook page for YA Hugo Proposal posted that the YA Award proposal passed. That page will also put up links to where you can submit suggestions for the name of the award once links or an email is announced.

For those interested in the procedure of the meeting, Rachael Acks Liveblogged from the Business Meeting on August 19, 2016. The section on the YA Award is 1015-1029. The August 20 meeting covered the YA Award from 1144-1201 (there's also a quick summary).

Here's hoping next year's WorldCon in Helsinki will finally see the creation of a Young Adult Award!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY

I suppose that most stories are based on an event in the author's life, or in the life of a family member or friend. Many stories come to mind from a newspaper article or something we've read or heard about somewhere. Like they tell us, stories are everywhere. Have you ever written a book about an incident in your life? I have, perhaps more than one. But today, I'm thinking about the story behind my picture book WEIRD NOISES IN THE NIGHT.

If you've read it, you know what the weird noises are. If not, I'm not telling, but just want to mention why I wrote the book.

 
Several years ago, my husband and I were visiting our son and daughter-in-law in South Carolina. We sat in the living room, talking, as folks do. I kept hearing this weird noise, but couldn't decide what it was. I won't tell you what it sounded like because that would give away the answer. No one else seemed to notice, or if they did, they paid it no attention. Curious me had to know what was going on, so after a while, I decided to find out. I excused myself from the room and went in the direction where I heard the sound. It wasn't a constant noise, just every now and then.

Yep, I discovered what it was. You know I'm a camera bug, so I ran to the bedroom and brought my camera back to get a picture or two. (Of course, my son knew about it but was used to the noise so he didn't notice it.)

I did not write the book for a while, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of turning it into a picture book. So that's what I did.

Blurb:

Weird noises in the night send the imaginations of three young girls soaring. Is it the rain, a dragon, an alien from outer space, or a ghost? As Olivia and her best friends seek the source of the sound, they discover that the truth is not as scary as their imaginations. Suggested age range for readers: 6-9.


Excerpt from WEIRD NOISES IN THE NIGHT:

Outside, lightning lit up the sky like fireworks. Thunder grumbled. And then...

The lamp blinked. The lights went out. The walls creaked.

Olivia gasped and pointed a trembly finger. "Look! In the closet."

Two eyes, as shiny as marbles, sparkled in the dark.

Three girls shrieked and dove under their sleeping bags, like dolphins plunging under a wave.

###

AMAZON          

GUARDIAN ANGEL PUBLISHING



What people are saying:

Beverly Stowe McClure has struck a perfect balance between spooky and fun. When the lights go out, the three friends have to discover what the strange sounds are. Olivia and Emily offer all sorts of crazy possibilities, which Autumn—the practical one of the three—disputes. Finally they go on a quest to find the source of the noise and what they find is sure to leave your child giggling. Nicely illustrated by Eugene Ruble, Weird Noises in the Night is a good story to snuggle up with your child to read again and again. PKSM

Olivia, Autumn, and Emily are together one night working on school projects when there’s an intense storm outside. They hear eerie, horrifying sounds that set their imaginations wild. What could it be? This book had a nice, cozy, slumber party setting and I liked the touch of horror and suspense, although everything isn’t as bad as it seems. MS

How about you? Have you written books based on an event in your life?

Happy Reading. I cross posted this from my personal blog. http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com

 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Friends

Friends and friendship are usually an important part of middle grade and YA books, no matter what genre.

Making friends, keeping friends, helping friends (or being helped by them), singling out a best friend - if these aren't the main focus of the story, they're usually a subtheme.

With most of the middle grade stories I've read recently, the friendships are always centered around school.

How well does that reflect real life? Even keeping in mind the real life changes among generations?

I'm of the generation that was shooed outside to play on our own. Friendships developed around kids in the neighborhood, no matter what age. We didn't all go to the same schools, though, so most kids had a different set of friends at school. And then came home to play with the neighborhood friends.

Nowadays, parents arrange playgroups of kids around the same age, who may or may not live within a few blocks. Next is preschool, so another set of friends, again of the same age. School may separate out some friends and add new friends.

If books are to be believed, once you start school, you leave all your other friends behind and focus only on school friends. Is that the case in real life? Or is this just for the convenience of the story?

At what stage do friends become friends because of shared interests, rather than because of location? When I was in elementary and high school, I was the only one of my friends who read science fiction. I didn't make friends who shared my interests until long after I had graduated.

Some middle grade and YA stories list friends by their characteristics, rather than as a person. One friend is fashion-savvy, another is the sports expert, yet another is bookish while one likes to cook, etc. Just writing that sentence reminded me of the ponies in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Though I guess friends can be friends because they like each other, not for what they can do for each other or what interests they have in common.

What have you noticed about friends and friendships in middle grade and/or YA stories? What ones do you like?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Guest Blog: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Hi! We're Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, authors of the Liaden Universe® (and other things, but for today, we'll stick with Liadens).

First, we want to thank Kathy Sullivan, for inviting us to talk about our work, and particularly about the new book that's coming out on July 5, Alliance of Equals.

Just a little bit about the Liaden Universe®. Steve and I began writing together in 1980, and in 1984 completed our first collaborative novel, Agent of Change, coincidentally the first book written in the universe. It was action-adventure space opera, with a touch of romance, and established two on-going characters in the universe -- Miri Robertson, a Terran soldier, and Val Con yos'Phelium, a Liaden scout-turned-unwilling-spy.

The next two books were also action-adventure, continuing the adventures of Miri and Val Con. . .

And the two books after that -- went back a generation, and were what we've taken to calling Space Regencies -- Regency romances in a space opera setting.

As of this writing, there are nineteen novels in the Liaden Universe®, and we're not going to bore you with a description of each. We only want to make the point that we're working in a universe wide enough and deep enough to accommodate romance, action-adventure, YA, paranormal. . .

And! As if it weren't enough fun, being able to write in a multitude of genres within a universe of our own creation -- the universe is one where Life Moves On.

Loosely, the Liaden novels are (with a couple of exceptions) a family saga, following the doings of Clan Korval, and its various members. Which means that not only do we follow the adventures of the adults, but we get to know their kids, as they grow up.

Alliance of Equals is about one of those kids -- teenager Padi yos'Galan, heir to Master Trader Shan yos'Galan (another on-going character, with his lifemate, Priscilla Delacroix y Mendoza). As her father's heir, Padi is destined to follow in his footsteps, as Korval's master trader -- a destiny she has embraced with enthusiasm.

Padi, though. . .Padi also has a secret. A secret that might kill her, and everyone she cares about.

Now, you might be thinking right about here that you don't want to commit to reading eighteen books in order to catch up with Padi -- and the good news is that you don't have to.

We realize that eighteen books is a commitment, and we occasionally write a portal book -- a story that can be read by those with no previous knowledge of the Liaden Universe®.

As Alliance of Equals begins, Clan Korval has been knocked down a few pegs or more, thrown off their home world, threatened with annihilation, and generally suffered through Interesting Times.

So, too, has Padi. Her comfortable path to her comfortable, and expected, future has been disrupted; she was a key part of a plan that would have either saved the clan or destroyed it. And the return to normalcy -- well, "normal" isn't what it used to be. Not at all.

On the burgeoning edge of adulthood, Padi is determined not to let these unseemly disturbances put her behind. She throws herself into her studies, cramming, and skipping sleep. Also, there's that problem -- the one that she's not admitting to anyone, not even, really, to herself.

In other words, she's doing the best she can to build her future, while building a wall against her past.

* * *

If you'd like to dabble your toes in the Liaden Universe®, but don't think that Alliance is your cuppa, our publisher, Baen Books, is offering Agent of Change -- the little space opera that started it all -- and Fledgling, the beginning of the Theo Waitley story arc -- as free ebooks from Amazon, and direct from the Baen Free Library. Also free at Baen is a new short story, "Wise Child", set in the Liaden Universe®.

More information about the Liaden Universe® (including suggested reading orders) may be found at korval.com, and also at sharonleewriter.com

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A CAT, EDITS, A CRAZY WRITER

Here's what's happening in my life lately.
 
 
First, a Cat

Tiger is looking it over.
Nope, I don't like water.
I know.

If I only had a pillow.
 
Second, edits!
 
Do they ever end?
 
Third, crazy writer.
 
Need I say more?
 
How is your world these days?
 
(I'm not complaining, just happy I have a story to edit and more are being typed on the computer.) Most of all, I'm happy Tiger and Patches adopted me. Her pictures later.
 
Happy Writing!
 
I cross posted this from my blog.
Enjoy!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Book Signings, Book Fairs and Conventions

Long ago, it is said, publishers used to set up book signings for their authors at book stores. You still hear of them out in the wild, usually for authors with one of the large traditional publishers. Book signings for authors with a small press, however, are often hit or miss nowadays. Most times the big chain stores won't consider a signing for authors with a small press or self-published authors. Some independent book stores will, but then there can be other problems. I've heard stories of author tables hidden in the back of the store, lack of publicity before the event, lack of signs promoting the event, even the manager forgetting the event altogether. Some of these I've experienced myself, which makes me hesitant when a convention organizes an author signing at a bookstore the evening before the convention starts.

I know some authors have set up signings at places other than bookstores, usually a type of store or coffee shop mentioned in their book. Some of those nontraditional settings (bait shop, beauty parlor, toy shop) work out well, especially with good publicity beforehand.

Book fairs and author fests appeal to readers and can be a good venue for authors. The biggest I know of is Printers Row in downtown Chicago. In 2002 this was renamed Printers Row Lit Fest and run by the Chicago Tribune. It takes up five city blocks - down the center of Dearborn Street from Congress to Polk - in what used to be Chicago's bookmaking neighborhood. I shared a table there with several other authors from my publisher in 2003. It was fantastic to see all those readers filling the streets looking for books. Another large gathering of readers and authors is the Twin Cities Book Festival on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Smaller author fests I've participated in have been set up at craft fairs, at college campuses, resorts, even in shopping malls. Success in terms of sales can depend on so many factors: publicity, the mix of genres by the authors, table spacing, what events are elsewhere in town that day, and, most importantly, the weather.

Science fiction and fantasy conventions are good places for readers and authors to meet. Some conventions will often offer their participating authors a signing time. If the signing tables are near main programming or the dealers room, signings will go well for the authors. Some conventions, though, have the signings off on another floor, which means only the dedicated fans will go looking. When you're an author with a small press, you need your books to be visible for impulse buyers as well as fans.

How have your book signings gone? Do you have any book fairs to suggest?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

INK RIPPLES AND MEMORIES

#InkRipples is a monthly meme created by Kai Strand, Mary Waibel, and Katie L. Carroll. They post on the first Monday of every month with a new topic. They're all authors, but you don't have to be to participate. (I'm cross posting this from my other blog because the past weeks have  been hectic.)


The idea of #InkRipples is to toss a word, idea, image, whatever into the inkwell and see what kind of ripples it makes. You can spread your own ripples by blogging about the topic any day of the month that fits your schedule, just be sure to include links back to Katie, Kai, and Mary.

Or you can simply share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #InkRipples. You might comment on one of our posts to play along. Tag us and we're happy to share your posts and thoughts to keep those ripples going and intersecting.

There's no wrong way to do #InkRipples (with the exception of following basic human decency!) If this sounds interesting, please participate in whatever way you can. Feel free to use any of the meme's images (created by the wonderful Mary Waibel).

Topics for 2016:

May: Memories
June: Movies
July: Inspiration
August: Guilty Pleasures
September: Banned Books
October: Masks
November: Heritage
December: Cookies


My Memories
 
It's really strange that this month is "Memories." For quite a while now, I've been remembering the past, I mean way back, years ago. I don't know why these memories have been with me lately. I suppose there is a reason.
 
The first one is of my firstborn son who lived for only two days. For years I didn't think about him. I think it was easier not to. It hurt less. Then a few months back I had this urge to do something in his memory. My oldest son made a lovely heart shaped necklace with his name engraved on it. Also with the granddaughter's name, who is in Heaven too. I wear the necklace quite often. And I feel a closeness to them. They lived, if not for long, but I now have their memories in the form of a locket.
 
I wanted to do more. So I wrote a memoir, A Lullaby for David. A lot of things I don't remember, but writing this brought back memories I thought I'd forgotten. I'm glad I wrote it.
 
Then there's my latest book, loosely based on memories of my mother's childhood as an orphan and foster child. I've wanted to write this for years, but I knew so few of the facts. Mom never talked about those years. So parts of my story are true, parts are fiction. It's labeled as historic fiction. And you know what? I understand her better today, after researching the lives of the children that rode the Orphan Trains west.
 
Memories are good. But I think we need them at different times in our lives. When we're ready for them.
 
Do you have memories you love to recall? This meme is a good place to share them.
 
Happy Reading!
 
 

Available at:

AMAZON             BARNESANDNOBLE           4RV PUBLISHING

If you'd like a PDF Review Copy, email me and I'll be happy to send you one.

Monday, May 9, 2016

#MHYALit: Shattered Illusions: Growing up with a Bipolar Father

#MHYALit: Shattered Illusions: Growing up with a Bipolar Father, a guest post by Kim Baccellia

MHYALitlogoofficfial“What’s wrong with Dad?”
No one spoke out loud about my father’s strange behavior, but I knew something wasn’t quite right with him.  My question would be answered with either silence or in a lowered voice, “We don’t discuss that.”

There were days he’d be like a helium balloon, filled with so much air and energy that I swear he’d be floating.  When Dad drank?  He was that funny drunk.  He’d tell these hilarious stories that would have me and my sisters laughing.  Dad could be very charming.  He was very impulsive. He loved animals and Grandma Baccellia once shared how he brought home an injured bird, asking her to help it.

Then there was the other side.  The nights he’d scream for the demons to leave him alone while he’d slam his fist into the drywall.  Our walls resembled Swiss cheese.  He’d stay in his darkened room for days.  My older half-sister told me that she remembered him taking his rifle and shooting out the windows of their house.  Police were called but nothing much came out of it.  When he was down?  He’d put his .57 Magnum to his head and threatened to kill himself.  Even now I can hear that click of his gun.

Other times he’d sleep forever.  There were more than a few times, he wouldn’t pick Mom and us up at the supermarket.  We’d walk home with the grocery cart loaded with groceries.  When we got home?  Dad would be asleep on the couch.

I was embarrassed and didn’t invite anyone over to visit.  You never knew when he’d go off on someone.  Even going to church came with conditions.  Dad didn’t like us going to the local Mormon church. Since Mom refused to drive, we walked everywhere and that included to church.  I still remember him following us in his truck, threatening to shoot and kill the bishop if we continued to the church.  Mom rounded us up and we went back home.

Fear ruled our lives.  It became a way of life and became my master.  I was on hyper alert 24/7 as I never knew what would set Dad off on one of those moods.  It was best to stay out of his way.

I also remember how isolated I felt.  Who could I talk to about what was going on in our home?  I was told that if we said anything?  Social services would come and take us away.  Or we’d end up on the street.  To this day homelessness is still my biggest fear.

What makes this all so tragic is Dad refused help.  I remember him saying, “I’m not crazy.”  The times that he did self-medicate with alcohol did help but even that was frowned on.  Yes, as a teen I purchased his favorite Yukon Jack whiskey.  That was until a bishop told me, “Good Mormon girls don’t buy alcohol.”

When I confided in a close friend?  The next day at the middle school I attended, she informed me that her father said, “No good Mormon girl said such terrible things about her own father.”  She wasn’t to hang with me anymore.  To make matters worse?  She introduced me to her new best friend. Yes, I was that girl who ate in the bathroom stall.

Once again I was the ‘bad’ one for trying to help make an unbearable situation lighter.

After Dad’s death, I asked my mother if he was bipolar.  I took an abnormal psychology class in college that nailed what I’d witnessed in my father’s behavior growing up.  She told me that yes, he was.  With that information, I went to my doctor and read up on this mental illness.  Knowledge is power.  I even attended a mental illness symposium that was held during BYU’s Education Week.  They ended up having to turn people away. Listening to the speaker, I was propelled to share my own story.  Afterwards, more than a few people came up to me and said, “I was your father.  That was me.”

Now I believe it’s important to speak out and not to be afraid.  That’s the only way the stigma against mental illness will lessen.  It’ll also help others to go get help and not end up like my father.

I need to make a disclaimer that not all of those who have bipolar disorder have similar situations.  Each experience is different.  One thing I do want to stress is that bipolar people aren’t all violent.  In my family case though, Dad experienced violence growing up.  Uncle Bud, who also was bipolar, was very violent.  One family member shared that my uncle would throw hammers whenever he was angry. So chances are good that others who witnessed similar violence in their lives might also respond the same way.  An example is my older half-brother who shot out the windows of his mother’s house which was very similar to what Dad did.

I wished that Dad had gotten help or that someone had stepped up and admitted him to the hospital. At that time though, the prevalent thinking was it was best to stay out of other’s lives as that was their ‘business.’ We did try to get him help but I learned that you can’t help someone unless they admit they need that help.

At the end of his life, Dad probably suffered another psychotic break.  He refused to bathe as he felt the government poisoned the water.  Mom told me he said that he was so angry at everything.  They found him dead in front of a restaurant in his Blazer truck with his Boxer dog.

How I wished that there had books for teens that addressed this mental issue.  Maybe then I wouldn’t have felt so alone and to blame.

I’ve been researching more on bipolar disorder and looking for YA books that handle this subject.  Here’s a list of ten books that I felt were authentic and resonated with me.

When we collidedWhen We Collided by Emory Lord
I could totally relate with the descriptions of Vivi’s mania as my older half-brother Ricky used similar descriptions. Lord nails the ups and downs of manic depression.


crazyCrazy by Amy Reed
A very realistic portrayal of a teen with bipolar disorder and a relationship that is at times loving and destructive.


impulseImpulse by Ellen Hopkins
Ellen Hopkins isn’t afraid to tackle sensitive subjects.  One reason why I love her writing so much.  In Impulse, readers visit a psych ward where one of the teens battles her bipolar disorder.


This is howThis is How I Find Her by Sara Polsky
What I love about this novel is how Polsky nails the emotional struggles of a teen with her bipolar mother.  A lot of these emotions I could totally relate with.


Mind gamesMind Race by Patrick E. Jamieson
This is more of a memoir of a teen’s experience dealing with bipolar disorder.  A must read for those who want to educate themselves on this mental issue.


The UnquietThe Unquiet by Jeannie Garsee
A must read for paranormal fans that shows bipolar disorder in a realistic light.


PerksThe Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Loved this coming of age story where bipolar disorder isn’t shown in the usual stereotypical matter.


bleeding violetBleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
Love how Reeves shows a strong bipolar protagonist in this paranormal thriller.


The rules of survivalThe Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
This one really stuck a nerve as my father was also that violent, abusive bipolar. You never knew what to expect in our house. But once again, I have to stress that my experience might not be someone else’s.


the impossible knifeThe Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
This book isn’t about bipolar disorder but shows a very realistic view of a teen that struggles with her father that suffers from PTSD.  Many times I wondered if Dad also had this going on too especially after I found he’d been abused as a child. Haunting and powerful, it resonated with me.

Meet Kim Baccellia

KIMI’m a YA author, Staff reviewer for YA Books Central, and a homeschooling mom.  I’ve been a part of the Cybils-Children’s and Young Adult Blogger’s Literary Awards and I’m very passionate about diversity in YA/children literature.  I graduated from BYU with a degree in elementary education and also attended CSU Fullerton grad program in bilingual/bicultural education.  I love parrots, yoga, poetry, Jaime from the Outlander series, and anything Parisian.  I’m a total bookaholic. A good place to find me is either at the local Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf with a nommy iced tea latte or a Barnes & Noble where I’ll be perusing the YA section.
Originally posted at:
http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2016/04/mhyalit-shattered-illusions-growing-up-with-a-bipolar-father-a-guest-post-by-kim-baccellia/

Friday, April 22, 2016

Occupations

Back when I first learned to read, I noticed that men in the stories had a large variety of jobs, while women had a very limited choice - mother, nurse, teacher, airline stewardess, secretary. Even in science fiction it took awhile before I encountered stories with women who were pilots, doctors, professors, captains, owners of companies, soliders, admirals, or leaders of colonies. Once I did find an author who wrote about women working the same jobs as men (not in a spotlighted manner, but just as if it was perfectly normal in that society), I hunted for more of her or his work.

Representation is important.

I've blogged before about gender roles, mainly in fantasy. But this is a topic that bears repeating.

In the real world, the glass ceiling hasn't been completely broken yet, but the cracks are still spreading. Gendered terms for occupations have slowly dropped out of usage - authoress, stewardess, hostess, actress (still in use but slowly fading). I don't automatically assume a doctor is male. I have worked with nursing students at a university long enough to know that not all nurses are female, either.

So where could someone come up with a list of occupations to use in a science fiction world? I start with what jobs exist in the present and spin off from there. The Occupational Outlook Handbook details numerous jobs in the U.S. Seventh Sanctum has a page of generators. The one under Classes/Professions allows you to choose a category (cyberpunk, fantasy, science fiction, or steampunk) and create a list of occupations for that universe.

Role models don't always have to be the main character. What about secondary or background characters? When I need a walkon character - someone to do something to help the main character (or villain) and not be seen again - someone identified by a occupation, I'll choose the occupation first, and then decide, does this character need to be a man or a woman? Does it matter? And if it doesn't matter to the story, why not a woman?

When you read, do you occasionally check to see how many male characters are mentioned versus how many female? Do you notice their occupations?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Writers of the Future!

Morning!

This weekend is the 32nd Annual Writers of the Future Achievement Awards!


Both authors and artists are celebrated each year at the prestigious event.



This year, you can even watch it live from their website at 6:30pm Pacific Standard Time on Sunday the 10th of April.



I love that you can dress formal or Steampunk formal! How cool is that?

But what is the contest about? Here's the first piece of the contest's history from their website: 


Established and sponsored by L. Ron Hubbard in 1983, the “Writers Award Contest” was a budding competition aimed at discovering, and eventually publishing, deserving amateur and aspiring writers. The field of speculative fiction and fantasy, was chosen not only for Mr. Hubbard’s love of and success within the genre—but for the freedom of imagination and expression it provided as what he described as the “herald of possibility.”


Submissions to the contest are free and happen quarterly and even have cash prizes. The winners also get to see their stories/art published in a print and ebook anthology.

So if you're interested in writing and getting out there, this might be a venue to explore. :)

Have a great day!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Adult/Kid Dichotomy in YA and Middle Grade

The separation between adult and kid's worlds in YA and Middle Grade books can be confusing at times. I mean, they do both live in the same world, but sometimes it doesn't feel like it. The extreme example are the so-called sitcoms on the Disney Channel where adults are so clueless you wonder how they manage to hold a job while the kids are clever but mean and sarcastic to everyone, including their parents.

Part of the dichotomy is due to the way the stories have to be set up. Mysteries that have the kids running around finding clues and solving problems would end rather swiftly if adults listened to what the kids said they saw and acted to shut down the problem right away. Instead, the "meddling kids" have to work under adult radar and solve the mystery themselves, sometimes against well-meaning adult interference. Would Harry Potter have been a shorter series if Harry had been able to get Dumbledore to listen to him right away?

Sometimes the separation is due to the kids feeling that they have to hide things from their parents, whether it's bullying, grades, or a strange alien creature that just landed in their back yard. Sometimes the adults are the ones so caught up in their own lives that they don't notice that their kids are behaving strangely.

This is a standard trope in YA and Middle Grade books. Most times it works (which is why it's a standard trope), and other times you just want to yell at the characters to listen to each other.

In my own Talking to Trees Peter has to hide the fact that the person his mother is driving home with them from the mall is a tree being from another world.

Peter frowned at his sister. "We need to go to the woods later today, Mom. Got a project...for Science. I'll be meeting my study partner there. This is Twyl, Jody's study partner."

Jody stared at Peter in shock. Peter never lied--yet here he was telling their mother these big fibs without a qualm! And he was scowling at her as if ordering her not to say anything about what was really happening! As if she knew.

[snip]

When they got home, she followed her brother into his room and, despite her worries about smells, shut the door. "Peter Robert Burns! You lied to her!"

"Well, what am I supposed to say? 'Hey, Mom, we're off to defeat an evil creature in another world and if we're successful we should be back by dinner?' You think Mom would say, 'yes, dear, go ahead,' to that?"

Mark Reads has started on Diane Duane's Young Wizard series and within the first few pages he was remarking on how great the interaction was between the adults and the kids. The fact that Nita has been bullied is evident right away to a librarian and then later her parents and each tried in their own way to help.

What books have you enjoyed that handled the trope well? Is having the kids hide things from the adults something that bothers you or is it something you accept?

***

A final reminder for anyone interested: my stories The Crystal Throne, Agents and Adepts, Talking to Trees, "Oracle of Cilens", and "Search and Rescue" will only be available through March 30, 2016 at Amber Quill Press (e and paper), Amazon (paper) and B&N. The free short story, "Hiding in Plain Sight", is only available at Amber Quill Press until then, when Amber Quill Press closes. The quick link to these (or a link to keep track of where these might end up), is through my book and short story page.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

ATOZ CHALLENGE THEME REVEAL

Hi, I'm cross posting this from my other blog. Edits, edits, edits are keeping me busy. But that's good.

Well, my brain took a holiday this week and forgot that Monday was the A to Z Theme Reveal Day.
I hope you don't mind if I post mine today. I'm late with a lot of things, so one more shouldn't make a lot of difference. Anyway, here is my theme for 2016.



 
THE FABULOUS FIFTIES
 
This theme will be history for lots of you. For me, it was my life, at least part of it. We'll meet interesting men and women of the era, entertainment (we didn't have iPads, iPhones, computers, and other things we take for granted these days), and I'm still working on ideas. I know, time's running out. One day at a time is my motto. Stop by my other blog, starting April 1, join the fun, and travel back to the past.
 
Happy Reading

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Modern Surprises

This is a guest interview with my friend Joan Marie Verba about her new project on Kindle Scout.

Hi Joan! How would you summarize your book, Modern Surprises?

Madeline Chang and the other women at Modern Surprises, LLC, needed someone to answer the phones. Jay Ecklund was hired. From the very first day, he found this was no ordinary company: the scientists there had secretly developed a portal that would allow them to go to anywhere on Earth. Billionaire industrialist Charles Vance found out about the portal, and was willing to lie, cheat, and steal to get it for himself. But Madeline Chang and the rest of the team were not about to let him have it.

How did you come up with the idea?

I started writing Modern Surprises after I finished my children’s chapter book (Wondry Dragon Finds a Home) and one of the members of my writing workshop said she enjoyed my writing and wished I would start another story. What I had in the beginning was the scene where Charles T. Vance threatens the Modern Surprises team in order to get them to give him Arachne, their portal. (I didn’t even come up with the company name until after I’d been writing chapters for a year.. In fact, I only had a vague idea what Arachne was.) Then I worked from that scene to build the background and first chapters, and after that, continued to the conclusion.

It turned out that the writing process paralleled the process of the development of Arachne. As I wrote, I was finding out the capabilities and limits of Arachne along with the Modern Surprises team. I definitely intended to have fun with the novel, and intended for the characters to have fun, as well--because I believe science is fun (I have a physics degree). Through the novel, I explore the fact that technology needs to be tested, that there are unexpected effects, and that technology doesn’t always work in the way the original design indicated it might (and that can be delightful). When the characters find that Arachne responds to music, it adds yet another dimension to the technology.

Then, when you have this exciting breakthrough technology, what do you do with it? Do you keep it secret, or do you make it public? And if it has a potential to be misused by those with selfish intentions, how do you keep it safe? Even more, how does technology affect your daily activities, and your interactions with others? How does it factor in with one’s ethical decisions and obligations?

I’ve summarized Modern Surprises as “scientists having fun saving the world.” It is my hope that readers will have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

****

You can read the excerpt from Modern Surprises here and decide if you want to nominate it for a publishing contract with Amazon.

Friday, February 12, 2016

ConDFW 2/12-2/14/16 - My Schedule!

Morning, all!

This weekend is ConDFW!


I'd meant to put up my schedule earlier, but life has been pure chaos lately. DOH!

ConDFW


Friday 


PROGRAMMING 2 (MADISON) Friday, 3pm: Google Maps is Your Urban Fantasy Guide Panelists: Gloria Oliver (M), Seanan McGuire, Paul Black, Sue Sinor, Bradley H. Sinor Looking for a good location, and can’t remember clearly where you grew up?  Trying to figure out how long it takes to drive from Houston to Dallas when you’re riding the Great Hunt?  It’s amazing what technology can show you these days, and learning a neighborhood can be a little safer if you browse from the computer (at least at the beginning).  Our writers talk about finding the perfect location for their urban fantasy stories.

Saturday 


READING (ADAMS) Saturday, 12pm: Gloria Oliver, T. M. Hunter


MAIN PROGRAMMING (JEFFERSON) Saturday, 4pm: Magic vs Technology II: Exploring Technology in Urban Fantasy Panelists: Gloria Oliver (M), Seanan McGuire, Carole Nelson Douglas, P.N. Elrod, C. Dean Andersson, Mary Gearhart‐Gray Last year we looked at the effect of technology on magic in Urban Fantasy.  This year we flip the sides and look at how magic effects technology.  A perfect example of this is in the Dresden Files, where magic can actively destroy modern technology by being used nearby.  Does modern technology replace magic?   Can it coexist?  How modern should tech be so it isn’t mistaken as magic itself?  Our authors explore this knotty problem with SCIENCE!


PROGRAMMING 3 (HAMILTON) Saturday, 5pm: Where do Heroes Go to Die? Panelists: Tracy S. Morris (M), Barbara Ann Wright, Patrice Sarath, Gloria Oliver, Michelle Muenzler Last year we heard that Arnold Schwarzenegger is doing Legend of Conan (eventually?  Maybe?  Now it looks like November 2016) as a direct sequel to the first Conan, where it ended with him being King, old and grizzled.  As a concept, the idea is neat, and is something that Howard dealt with in his original stories as well.  Just how do you write old heroes?  Our writers of sword and sorcery discuss these topics and more.

Sunday 


PROGRAMMING 2 (MADISON) Sunday, 1pm: Interstellar Archaeology: Part Two – The Debunking Panelists: Mel White (M), Chris Donahue, Gloria Oliver, Teresa Patterson, David Doub, Stina Leicht The second of two panels where we inflict discover startling artifacts of OBVIOUS alien origin.  Our experts tell us how wrong the previous esteemed panelists were!  Last year, Sunday’s panel thoroughly debunked Friday’s experts.  Help us, they can!  Confuse us, they will not.

Hope you come! I'll also have a table in the Dealers Room. :)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Changes

All good things end eventually. At the beginning of this month, Amber Quill Press announced that it would be closing down March 31, 2016. I have three books and three short stories with this publisher, and after March I will be looking to find a home for them with another publisher.

I've been with Amber Quill since 2003. They've always been a class act - great editors, beautiful cover art, regular quarterly royalty statements and payments, and creative promotional efforts. Their short story line gave me an opportunity with three of my shorts. One of those, "Search and Rescue", is currently a finalist in the EPIC Ebook Awards in the Short Works category. And its cover artist, Trace Edward Zaber, is a finalist for EPIC's Ariana Award in the Fantasy/Paranormal category.

This isn't the first time something publishing-related has ended for me. Over the years I've had a magazine close before an accepted short story of mine was published, and I've also had two other different publishers drop an anthology line, which meant three anthologies that I had short stories in went out of print. But I have short stories in anthologies with other publishers, as well as a picture book, and I'm currently working on a middle grade science fiction book.

In the meantime, though (for anyone interested), The Crystal Throne, Agents and Adepts, Talking to Trees, "Oracle of Cilens", and "Search and Rescue" will still be available through March 30, 2016 at Amber Quill Press, Amazon and B&N. The free short story, "Hiding in Plain Sight", is only available at Amber Quill Press until then. I'll have paper copies of the three books with me at conventions until I run out of stock. But the e-versions will be gone after March. (Amber Quill has the e-versions of the books on sale at their website, btw). If anyone wants a quick link to these (or a link to keep track of where these might end up), my book and short story page will always list them.

Amber Quill Press has been a wonderful publisher and I will greatly miss the creative, encouraging and supportive people who have made it such a great press.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

CHICKEN SOUP AND PODCASTS

I'm so excited today to share my latest news with you. CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL, MY VERY GOOD, VERY BAD CAT will be out February 9, 2016. Look what came to my house last week.

 
Patches is looking them over. I hope she's not disappointed she's not in the book.
 
 
Tiger's not interested in being a star. He'd rather play with the grocery sack.
 
Have you done anything new this year that you weren't sure how it would turn out? If so, how was it?
Are you glad you did it?
 
This year I've been brave and tried something new. I received a phone call asking if I'd be interested in doing a Podcast about my cat that's in the book. I wasn't even sure what a Podcast was (I know, I'm way behind in the technology field) but I thought it might be fun, so I said yes. A few days later, the phone rang and I talked about my cat to the President and CEO of the American Humane Association, who wrote a forward for the book. She was so nice and I really enjoyed talking with her. Now, I'm wondering how I'll sound on the interview. She interviewed a couple other authors in the anthology too. The show will be edited, so maybe I won't sound too bad. 
 
 
When Patches discovered she wasn't in the book, she decided to take a nap.
 
The cats say "Happy Reading!"