writing

Flash Fiction: In the Rain

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The rain brings the rainbow, her grandmother had reminded her. You can’t have one without the other.

She wasn’t really comforted by that thought at the moment. This was one of those days when she wanted the rainbow without suffering through the rain first.

He opened her umbrella for her, and took them down a path that was lit with several streetlights. It was quiet; the birds were hiding, and so were most people.

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“A nice cup of tea after this,” he said. “And a warm blanket.”

“And a warm cat,” she added.

He smiled at her, from under his umbrella, the rain falling around him. It didn’t make him look sad.

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She remembered the day they found the cat. A little bundle of dark fur, wet and alone. He wasn’t sure about having a pet; but she couldn’t leave the poor thing. And he wanted her happy, above all else.

Since then, the cat had become treasured by both of them. They both wanted a cuddle from the kitty after coming home.

But this particular rainy evening, she let him cuddle her more. She let him sit right beside her, and draw them both under the big, comfy blanket. She let him select the television program, the hot beverage, and where the cat sat.

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Fantasy fiction, The Invisible Moth, writing, Young Adult fiction

Announcements on Publishing (Updates, Changes, and Generally Informative Nuggets)

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So, after a great deal of looking-into, inward-mental-over-and-around, silent debating and evaluating, I’ve come to the following decisions:

A) Volume 2 will start out its published life as an ebook (available through me, copyright me, basically all me for now), probably by August, but the release date has yet to be determined. (I shall request a small donation for this service, but every order comes with a free copy of my short story collection if you wish!)

B) In the interest of increasing sales and exposure with less work by myself, starting most likely by winter, I will be switching my choice of printing/distribution companies. This will mean a reprint of Volume 1 (more on that in a minute), as well as then eventually Volume 2 will be in print (and probably new editions of ebooks will one day come to fruition, too).

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C) I will be on the search for an artist to design my new covers. (This will extend to Volumes 3 and 4 as well.) I’m after a volunteer (since I can’t guarantee payment), whether it be a graphic artist, paint illustrator, or photographer (who would absolutely receive full credit for their contribution). Starting soon, I’ll be holding an open contest for my cover person! So keep your eyes peeled for that.

One reason for all of these changes is the cost factor; another is time; another is certainly keeping my stress level down. For those of you who have been around here for a while, it probably won’t be much of a surprise to hear me say that I really don’t need anything else in my life to stress me out. Doing the shipping myself is a bit tricky; I can handle it, but if I don’t absolutely have to, I’d like to take that option. Same goes for marketing; while that’s sort of an inevitable part of being an independent author, having greater exposure on the website of an actual store or company would help a lot in this area.

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When I started this whole endeavor, I knew very little about self-publishing, and being able to find a local company that was so patient and calm about helping me through the learning curve was, in my view, invaluable. I am so very grateful for having that opportunity. But also, now that I know a lot more, I feel more equipped to broaden my horizons.

And of course I wouldn’t have gotten very far at all without all of you. I remain so intensely grateful for and humbled by all the winning reviews, the support on social media and blogs, the encouraging word of mouth that has helped build me a solid base from which to increase my empire — ahem, I mean, to share my work.

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So, when I have the digital version of Volume 2 (Mach 1.0) ready to go, I will let everyone know! I’m aware that several people are very excited for this sequel, and I’m excited to see the initial responses!

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cats, children's fiction, Fantasy fiction, writing

Out of the Wild

Or…my (most likely only) attempt at a Warriors fanfiction…

The woods beyond his housefolk’s garden just seemed intimidating to Toby. For one, he didn’t like to get his paws wet, so he didn’t want to stray too close to the lake. For another, the Twoleg place where his housefolk and their neighbors lived was familiar, comfortable, and safe. At the lake, and in the woods, there were strange animals, and they could be dangerous to kittypets like Toby.

He had heard stories of wild cats living out there, in groups of fierce fighters, not afraid to defend their hunting grounds with tooth and claw. Some of the other kittypets, the brave ones who wandered further than their gardens, and even over the Thunderpath, had seen them. A few had even talked to these wild cats, who called themselves Warriors, and lived in a way most kittypets could never imagine.

But sometimes kittypets went to live with them. When the lake flooded several seasons ago, and some of the Twoleg families had to move away while their nests were being repaired, Frankie and Jessy from down the road had to seek shelter with the Warriors. It was the group called ThunderClan who took them in when their Twolegs had to leave the village. Jessy came back, and then went with her family to a town by the mountains. But Frankie stayed with ThunderClan. He came back to visit every now and again. Except he called himself Stormcloud now.

“Warriors have different kinds of names from kittypets,” he’d explain to anyone who gave him a confused look.

“Can you imagine?” said Rascal, who lived next to Toby. “Having to catch your own food, and sleeping outside in leaf-bare?”

“It’s not so bad,” shrugged Minty, who had stayed with Jessy and Frankie (er, Stormcloud) in the woods after the flood. “The Clans stick together, look out for each other.”

The Warriors hadn’t always lived by the lake. They had come from a forest far away; they had made a Great Journey to reach their new home here, after their forest was mostly cut down to build a new Thunderpath. The thought made Toby sad. He couldn’t imagine having to leave your home in that way, so quickly and against your will.

Because of that, and because some of the wild cats had helped kittypets after the flood, Toby felt sympathy, compassion, and a sort of respect and awe towards the Warriors. He knew Minty felt he wouldn’t be alive without their help.

But still, Toby wondered, if it was him, forced out of his cozy nest, having to hunt for himself, and sleep under the stars, in all kinds of weather, would he be all right? Would he ultimately choose the life of a Warrior, or return to the life he knew?

“One of our greatest leaders was born a kittypet,” Stormcloud told Toby one day. “His name was Firestar. He died before the flood happened, before my time with the Clan. But the stories they tell about him! How he was just like us, living with a Twoleg family and eating their food and wearing a collar. But then he left his housefolk near the old forest, and went to live with ThunderClan, and after many moons he became their leader. He led them through attacks from their enemies, and sickness, and on the Great Journey… He saved them so many times, and they were lucky to have him looking out for them.”

Would he able to do that? Toby wondered. Could he ever be a leader like Firestar?

If the Clans allowed kittypets to become that powerful, maybe they truly weren’t that bad.

writing

Flash Fiction: Last Day

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They sat in a corner booth at their favorite coffee shop. She ordered a chai latte, as she always did. He just got a bottled water. He didn’t want anything to distract him from these last few, precious moments. He wanted to watch her, understand her, know just what she was thinking, feeling.

Last night, at her place, she’d shown him a tattoo on her back — butterfly wings. It was beautiful.

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“Take good care of Rascal,” she said. “I’ll be back for him as soon as I can.”

He would. It was his last promise to her, a promise she’d let him make. To look after her cat until she returned. For her absolute final time in this world.

“I’ll find you, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing,” she’d vowed last night, in between his kisses. “If you decide to come with me, you have to be ready to leave when you see me.”

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He knew he would be ready. Oh, maybe not financially, or in terms of saying goodbye to his family. But he would be ready to go with her. He had known that a long time ago.

Now he just had to wait; wait for her to come back; back for him.

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blogging, writing

Update on Summer Complications, Anticipations, and Howls and Grumblings (Or, Why Do I Feel the Need to Do This?)

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Okay, for some reason (guessing at insecurity and a lack of ability to doubt my genius) I am having some issues with the following:

  • Writing, reading, and processing each well. 
  • Coming up with original content for blog posts.
  • Not feeling like an utter failure at the indie author/social media thing for struggling with the above.

Also, Volume 2 is a bit ticked at me these days. My characters are beginning to wonder why I left them hanging (not being able to finish that chapter for the past week and a half). And the ideas for my additional compendiums are beginning to poke me in the ribs while I sleep.

So, I’ll be giving in to all of this finally, and be proactive about attacking it head on.

Translation: I expect not to be seen very much on social media for a bit. I’ve already scheduled several re-posts for the month of July. I will be around to keep up on comments, and the blogs/authors I subscribe to. But otherwise, I will be invoking a little “radio silence.”

In the meantime, I’d greatly appreciate if you all keep visiting, and sharing your excitement for Volume 1, and have a little patience with my current creative process.

If all goes well, I’ll be back with new posts, and a new finished draft, before summer’s out.

Tulips

humor, writing

Writers’ Occupational Hazards

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Being a writer is the best — we get to go to work in our pajamas, consume too much caffeine, put our playlist on repeat, and if we have a disagreement with someone, it’s usually ourselves.

But this sort of life is not all fun and games. Nor is it easy. There are lots of potential hazards that might befall your average neighborhood writer.

Be aware.

The dangers that we face from paper cuts, grammar nazis, and plot holes are very real.

  • If you write your drafts by hand (as I do, there is always the risk of suffering more paper cuts than the average human. Or of running out of ink in your pen, and needing to constantly replace it. All of this is a serious concern.
  • I believe that teaching the use of proper grammar is necessary — in schools, not in novels. What if incorrect grammar happens to be part of your setting, or characterizations? We writers truly don’t need self-proclaimed “grammar nazis” attacking us in our sleep — ahem, I mean, our work.
  • Every writer knows that one day, he or she will be revising/editing, and come across a gaping plot hole (big enough to drive a truck through), and be mortified. How did this happen?! How could this heinous sin have escaped our attention?! Also, how do we avoid falling into it and becoming part of the problem?!

We are often likely to be defeated by procrastination, block, and distractions.

  • Sometimes we know we should write (like if we have a deadline), but we just don’t want to. Either we’re having one of those days when we’d much rather lounge in front of the TV, or keep scrolling on Instagram and call it “research.” Self-motivation can be very difficult to conjure up.

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  • The dreaded writer’s block — it means that we have ideas of what we want to have happen in our story (for example, we know that Character A needs to purchase that falling-apart house on the edge of town), but we simply aren’t sure of the actual words to write so that we achieve that goal. (Does she need to meet a handsome real estate agent? Inherit the property from a batty old spinster aunt? Narrate paragraphs of, “Today I went to the hardware store to buy blah, blah, and blah for the new old house.”?)
  • How do we break the block? With a karate chop. Or a very big cup of tea? Maybe by flipping a coin?
  • There are also days when we will not feel the pull to our story. There are days when the desire to run around outside in the sunshine will override everything else. Or when we just need to go shopping for new tablecloths and laundry hampers. Or we would simply rather go to Argentina that week. It means that our word count goals will majorly suffer, even if our physical selves don’t.

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Don’t underestimate the threat posed by getting lost in research, real life interruptions, and forgetting your train of thought.

  • You are doing the right thing, researching your topic, or the history of your time period, or what breed of dog your narrator should own. Then, before you know it, it’s 2 days later, and you haven’t added a single word to your manuscript, but you do know just how to build a tandoori oven, prepare a horse for racing in the Kentucky Derby, crochet a matching hat and gloves set, just how many times Paper Fury has featured red books in her Instagram photos, and how to spell Aloysius without looking it up again.
  • The kids were quietly watching a movie, last you knew. But now they seem to be licking each other to death. Or the cat demands food, or a fresh litter box. A package has just been delivered to your door, and it’s not even for you. Your spouse announces they want to go out for the whole day, starting 5 minutes ago. None of this will help you write.
  • Let’s say you hardly slept last night (whoa, so me right now), and although at about 9 p.m. you had a fantastic idea for what your narrator needed to do/say next, at this moment it is out the window, gone frolicking with the butterflies and sparrows. It may take hours, days, weeks to return to you. (Unfortunately, sending out a search party may further distract you, and not successfully hunt down your original plan.)

So, the next time you, dear reader, finish a book that you love the petunias out of, please realize how difficult it was to produce. Pity and love us writers. Mail us care packages.

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blogging, community, writing

The Decision Has Been Made

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There will be no Camp NaNo happening here this July. I have too many plans for Volume 2 to complete it on such a strict time limit as one month.

There will also be no memes or tags or regular themed, er, things for the foreseeable future. I have a short but intense TBR and discussion posts plan to work my way through.

There will probably also be less Twitter. I honestly love my Twitter community, and I will certainly be checking in with them. But the, you know, random sort of feed-reading that occurs all too often, when we’re really supposed to be doing something else (like sleeping, or writing) — that’s getting to me. It’s becoming a bit overwhelming. Not healthy.

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As the true summer approaches (it doesn’t feel like it’s started yet, since we haven’t finished the school year here), there are also other things that will happen — like children’s schedules changing — and the time for new errands begins — hopefully trips to the Farmers’ Market and the park and breaking out different recipes… As I mentioned earlier, I may be around online less in general soon.

But one of my major priorities is completing my Warriors TBR (before the new releases in the fall), and finishing Volume 2.

And I can’t even explain why I feel guilty for having made these choices! Please tell me this is normal blogger/online presence guilt, and it’s not just me?!

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So, expect to see something in this space once or twice a week for the next couple of months.

We shall still discuss bookish topics and fawn over lovely cat pictures.

Snippets from Volume 2 may even appear.

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