Monday, July 30, 2012

July Fireworks: My New Book Comes Out! by Christine Brodien-Jones

This July I'm celebrating summer and the Fourth of July - and best of all the release of my middle-grade adventure/fantasy THE SCORPIONS OF ZAHIR (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, July 2012), illustrated by Kelly Murphy.

Kirkus calls the book "a wild ride indeed... fast-paced, suspenseful plot" and Booklist says: "Brodien-Jones mixes fantasy and adventure in a way that would make Indiana Jones feel right at home."

Here are two book-trailers (done by Madison Meyer of M2 Productions) to give interested readers and would-be adventurers an idea of what they're in for:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Story's Wake Up Call: Jen Cervantes

About two weeks ago I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned with this story idea rolling around in my head. The harder I tried to push it away, the harder it hammered away at me.

The idea: Get up.
Me: Go away—I’m tired!
The idea: Write this down
Me: I DON’T write YA
The idea: Get up NOW.
Me: I CAN’T write YA
The idea: Trust me.
I pulled myself out of bed at 4 a.m. (did I mention I am so not a before dawn riser?) I flicked on my computer and let the story take control while my hands went to work on the keyboard. What happened next was one of those magical moments we experience as writers where everything falls into place and you look at the page and your words and wonder where they came from. I didn’t lift my hands once from the keyboard until I’d written 9 pages! I reread what I was sure would be gibberish and was stunned to find a quiet beauty in the prose, a voice so unlike anything I had ever brought to the page. Sure there was lots of polishing to do, but the bones were there. I leaned into the sofa and sighed, feeling a deep appreciation for the creative spirit we bring to our stories when we are willing to cast aside fear and listen.

I was working on an MG at the time as well and as I shook out my tired hands, I told myself—one of them has to go.  I can’t work on both. It would be crazy to try, right? I was afraid I would leave something behind if I worked on the YA and yet to put it aside felt wrong too. So I ventured into new territory again, pushing my way through another wall of resistance, mostly fear. It has been an exhilarating two weeks, more productive than most months and I am certain it’s because I let go. And let the story take me where it wants to, even if it means a wake up call at 4 a.m.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

July Theme: Fireworks

Fireworks remind me of that awesome moment in life when everything just comes together. It’s a short and sweet moment that you were expecting to happen but it is still pretty awesome when it does.
I know what you’re thinking, “What the grazzle is he talking about?”
I’ll explain with 2 examples...
An old exempli gratia-
When I was younger I was taught to how to take a pen and nib, dip it in ink, and make different kinds of strokes with it on paper. After a lot of practice strokes I was taught how to use them to make letters. Then, after lots of practice letters, I could put them together to make words. I knew that I was working towards the goal of making awesome words (calligraphy style) but there was still something sweet about the first time I looked down and saw what I had made. It was like fireworks...
A recent exempli gratia-
Over the last few weeks I have been working hard towards learning a bunch of new digital art techniques. It has been a slow going and somewhat painful process but a few days ago I sat back and looked at what was on my computer screen... some cool new artwork made by using some cool new art techniques! It was like fireworks...

I will close this brief post with the brilliant words of the magnificent Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith... “I love it when a plan comes together.”

Michael 'Boom' Townsend

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

ARC Giveaway: The Marble Queen

From now until August 1st, there are two ARC's available on Goodreads!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Marble Queen by Stephanie J. Blake

The Marble Queen

by Stephanie J. Blake

Giveaway ends August 01, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fireworks in Foreign Places

For me, living in the city, the Fourth of July is like being in a war zone with bombs falling. And they explode not only on Fourth of July night, but for a week before and a week afterward—often at two a.m. —and often the illegal kind that shakes you whole house and panics your pets. I dread it.

I do like the big fireworks displays put on by cities—especially as they only last twenty minutes. But I loathe the crowds you must fight to get to them. So I wondered what I would write in this blog. Fortunately, I do have one lovely memory—of fireworks I saw in Italy this summer on one of their national holidays.

After an exhausting and unexpectedly difficult day of travelling, I reached Villa Scarpariello Relais on the Amalfi Coast at sunset. Going through the gate was like entering a romantic fairy tale. The rambling villa on the sea had stone stairways, terraces, balconies, lemon trees, flowers, bits of statuary—all lit up for  evening.

The Full Moon over the sea at the Villa Scarpariello Relais

An hour after checking into my room with its columned balcony overlooking the sea, I heard distant booms. Then a gentle voice called, “Claudia, Claudia (my legal name on my passport, beautifully pronounced in Italian as Cloudia). Claudia, do you want to come and see the fireworks?” It was Dominic, the kind night porter who had welcomed me earlier. “But I have no shoes on,” I called. “Come as you are,” he said.

So I ran out into the warm Italian night in my bare feet, and Dominic led me up the stairs to a place where we could see down the coast. There, fountains of light rose over the cliffs, illuminating the old Italian buildings. I watched, enchanted, and chatted with Dominic as the full moon rose over the sea.

That was one of the loveliest moments of my life.

Next year, when the bombs go of in my city, I will close my eyes and remember fireworks in Italy.
Dominic at the Villa Scarpariello Relais 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Best Fireworks (July Theme) by Holly Schindler

I live just south of one of the best fireworks displays in town.  Usually, on the Fourth, I walk a few blocks, pop open a lawn chair, and hang out in a conveniently undeveloped field, watching the incredible professional fireworks from the Twin Oaks Country Club…They completely fill up the sky, rattle through my chest.

This year?  My tried-and-true empty field was a construction zone.  And the heat was absolutely vicious, keeping me from my usual bird’s eye view.  Though my neighbors and I are residents of the county, and can legally shoot our own firecrackers, our worries about the brittle, dry surroundings during this prolonged drought also kept most of us from lighting much more than a few sparklers. 

But we did spend plenty of time in our backyards, hitting grills or backyard pools. 

Some of my younger neighbors—a couple of elementary-school-aged girls—spent the Fourth on a picnic blanket, under a backyard tree, with assorted cold summer snacks and drinks and a pile of books.  I kept watching those girls, as the day lingered on, engrossed in their reads and laughing and enjoying each other.  And it occurred to me that those are perhaps the best fireworks of all—the fireworks of connecting.  To another person.  To the voice in a novel.  There’s nothing like that rattle that echoes through a chest when you find someone—or something—that you can relate to, on a personal level. 

So here’s to all those fireworks of connection—may they be popping and banging all around you, this summer and for many more to come…

Friday, July 20, 2012

July Theme: Baby, You're a Firework! (Lisa Graff)

I love watching fireworks on the 4th of July. Always have, ever since I was a little kid. They are colorful and pretty and a little bit scary, and the best part is, they come just once a year. It's my favorite sort of celebration.

Authors don't always get a lot of chances for Big Celebrations. Even when one of our books is finally published (the most exciting event in any author's career!), we don't get fancy movie premieres, like actors or directors do. We have to make our own fireworks. That's why I'm such a big fan of the book launch party. It's a chance for friends and family to come together, eat yummy food, drink (a little too much?) wine, and simply celebrate the fact that a new book exists in the world and that, yeah, that's a pretty wonderful thing.

This month I* was lucky enough to have a book party of my own--with my co-author, Martin Leicht, that is--for our brand new book, MOTHERSHIP. (Now available at a bookstore near you!) The book is super-goofy and fun, about a 16-year-old girl in the year 2074 who--because she is (whoops!) pregnant--is forced to spend her junior year of high school at the Hanover School for Expecting Teen Mothers . . . which just happens to be in space.

The party took place at Books of Wonder in New York City, which is one of my favorite bookstores ever. And boy, do they know how to throw a party! We went all out with three kinds of cupcakes . . .

. . . with a pregnancy theme to them . . .

We had several friends, both of our agents, and our fabulous editor help us read/act out a scene from the book, and we had a science-fiction and pregnancy-themed trivia contest, where we gave out some awesome prizes. (Who wouldn't want a DVD of Alien or Juno??) And of course there were lots of books involved . . .

Probably the best part, though, was getting to see so many friends and family, and sharing the spotlight with my partner-in-crime, Martin. Here we are signing books together . . .

The night couldn't have gone any better, even if it had ended with actual fireworks. A big thanks to everybody who came!

*Since I typically write middle-grade fiction, I decided to use a pen name, Isla Neal, for this book, which is the first in a young adult sci-fi trilogy. You can find my blog post about the decision here.

P.S. Check out our super-awesome book trailer! (And, if you feel so compelled, "like" the Mothership fan page on Facebook, for updates and giveaways.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July Theme: Fireworks (Sarah Dooley)

Even in the summer, I'm a teacher. Autism doesn't quit for the summer; luckily, neither do my kids.

But in the summer, sometimes our work looks a little bit different than it does during the school year. We work on accepting things that happen during summer. How to tolerate getting your skin wet long enough to figure out swimming is fun. How to withstand warm things touching your feet long enough to remember that you love jumping on the trampoline.

And how to survive the Fourth when you don't like fireworks.

One summer, this meant taping bubble wrap to the floor and stomping on it to simulate the noise. Playing with flashlights, lava lamps, and anything else we could think of to desensitize ourselves to the lights. Some of my kids love the chaos of the Fourth, but others are upset or even frightened by the whole ordeal. Fireworks seem like fun, but when you really think about it, they can be scary. An explosion of noise and color in an otherwise peaceful sky.

This is how book publicity feels to me.

In theory, it sounds pretty cool, right? You get to visit schools and libraries. You get to sit at those special-looking author tables in bookstores. You get to talk to reporters. You get to see your name in the paper. You get to speak at conferences. Teach classes. Stand up and say out loud, "I wrote a book, and I hope you read it."

To me, this is sort of like looking at a perfectly comforting, darkened sky and waiting for it to explode. And I never know what color the lights will be or how loud the sound will be or how my stomach is going to feel about the whole thing, until it's happening.

Luckily, I spend my summer with kids, and they are excellent teachers. They remind me to face things that might seem scary at first. They remind me that you can't jump without getting on the trampoline, and you can't swim without getting wet.

They remind me that most scary stuff turns out to be really, really fun. Like writing books. And becoming a teacher. And going to see the fireworks.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fireworks (July Theme) by Bob Krech

When it comes to watching fireworks, I am not the biggest fan. I can take it or leave it. But I always take it because I really enjoy the surrounding activity. When we go to see fireworks we usually walk over to a local university that hosts the annual event. We walk through the woods with our flashlights. It's only about a half mile down a well worn path. We bring a blanket and food. There is always music before the show and we run into lots of friends from our town that we haven't seen in a while. One of the cool things about this fireworks tailgating is that you get everyone from every part of town and every age group; little kids, families, teenagers, grandparents, and college students. Everyone is hanging out together listening to a local band, dancing, wearing those glow necklaces, eating and talking. It's almost like the fireworks are the excuse everyone needed to get out there and hang out together on a warm summer night. I mean, when the fireworks start I love to watch. It's always amazing, but I'm sad when it's over. Not so much because the spectacular light show is done, but more so because all the people go home. And a lot of them, I won't see again till next year. At the fireworks.

Friday, July 13, 2012

July Theme: Writers' Fireworks

I didn’t go see the fireworks this year. It was just too dang hot to press up against a bunch of strangers and ooh and ahh and slap mosquitoes.

And that’s too bad, because I really love them. I love the surprise each time one explodes into a shower of unnaturally-colored light. I love the concussion you feel in your chest when you’re close, and I love the way our neighborhood gathers on a hill where we can’t really see them very well but we’re far enough away that the little kids don’t get scared, and someone always has a boom-box tuned to the symphony playing the hokey 1812 Overture.

It’s kind of like the fireworks that writers get. When we have success—a great review or a foreign-rights deal or unexpectedly high sales—it’s always a surprise, even if it’s happened before and even if everyone assures us it will happen again. And we feel close to a bunch of strangers (someone who writes to tell us how much a book meant to them, a critic who gets and approves of what we’ve written) and near-strangers (fellow writers who know what we’re going through when a character refuses to do what we need them to do, an agent we’ve never met in person who bucks us up through rejections, an editor who passes on a project but asks to see something more).

We don’t celebrate our personal fireworks often enough. Maybe we’re superstitous—afraid that if we do, the next one will be a dud.
So here’s one for you, writers! Enjoy any fireworks that come your way, be they huge Roman candles or merely a handful of sparklers!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

GUEST POST: The Self-Published Experience by Ethan Coffee

Last December, I readied my first manuscript to be self-published. I had written a story that I was immensely proud of and started work on its sequel. Now I just needed to throw it up online and wait for the sales, right? To be honest, I had no idea what I was in for.

This past year has been a learning experience like none other. Fables of the Flag was published in February and Fables of the Flag: The Surveyor’s Tale in June. Every day since has been filled with learning the ropes of this incredible business. For me, what makes self-publishing difficult is exactly what makes it so rewarding; I have to do everything myself.

Since all my deadlines were self-imposed, I could write as much or little as I wanted each day. If I didn’t want to learn how to format, I was in charge of the search for a formatter. What if I didn’t like my website? Better hire someone to design a new one or else crack open those HTML books. All of this gets either expensive or time consuming VERY quickly. Self-publishing is a full-time job.

The magic here though, is that I wanted to share a story with the world and I did. It’s as simple as that. For those who are considering this, IT IS POSSIBLE. It’s definitely not easy or a goal to be taken lightly. It’s not a business for the faint of heart. Dedication, determination, endurance are just three of the qualities that keep a writer going when the going gets tough, which it often does. The gatekeepers have moved from agents and publishers to the author’s own commitment to detail and professionalism.

To say I was in over my head initially would be a huge understatement. The support activities, such as social media, that go along with self-publishing can be easy to overlook or seem frightening to someone who has yet to dive into them. But, I assure you, they are as essential to success as the writing process itself. Of course you need a first-class story, that’s a given. But the best book in the world never gets read if you leave it under a rock.

So I started to learn how to build a social media platform, get a cover designed, and set up a blog tour. Promotion especially is always a work in progress as technology changes continuously. What works on Twitter won’t work on Pinterest or whatever debuts next week and so, the learning continues.

The result is that there’s no marketing team or publicist to blame if things don’t go well. But when they do, each and every sale feels like a victory. To keep myself grounded, I make sure to remember to have fun. Try new things. If something does not work, switch it up. That’s the beauty of being self-pubbed. Embrace it and it will embrace YOU!

Ethan Coffee left California for a few years to study at Purdue University, but is now back in the Golden State. His series, Fables of the Flag, chronicles Jack Preston’s journey through time as he meets famous figures in American history. The second installment, Fables of the Flag: The Surveyor’s Tale, was released in June. Check out his website, the Fables Facebook Page and follow him on Twitter.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Fireworks Test (Jody Feldman's Take on the July Theme)

I always wanted the fireworks to last longer when I was a kid. It didn’t matter that it was hot or that I was sticky and stinky from bug spray or that I ended up half off the blanket and half on the ticklish grass. I wanted more.

“Close your eyes,” my dad said one year.

I did. And the fireworks reappeared behind my eyelids. I tested that bit of magic on the walk to the car and throughout the ride home. Though the pinpoints grew duller, the memory of both the live show and my personal instant replay kept the fireworks alive for days.

I think of those fireworks when I come to the last lines of some uncommon books – the ones where I want to stay in the story and be friends with the characters and live their adventures or battle their demons or just hear their voices one more time.

But those stories, like the fireworks, end. And commanding more is beyond my control. So I summon pieces of story from time to time for weeks and months, even years, even a lifetime.

I have to be patient to know if a book passes the fireworks test, but when it does ...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Goddess Girls Super Special Book Birthday & Giveaway!

Happy Book Birthday to our first-ever:
Goddess Girls Super Special: The Girl Games
new in bookstores July 10th!
It's the first Goddess Girls book to be told from the viewpoints of all 4 goddessgirls.
The Goddess Girls series, co-authored by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams, is set at Mount Olympus Academy, and puts a modern spin on classic Greek myths. Aladdin paperbacks ages 8 ~ 12.
To celebrate, we're giving away an autographed copy of
autographed bookmarks featuring all 9 Goddess Girls books
and bookmarks featuring Book #1 in our new series for age 7-11:
Heroes in Training: Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom! 
Mention our new release on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog
(maybe something like this):
Goddess Girls: The Girl Games (super special) 
by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams releases July 10th!
Like Goddess Girls on Facebook

Winner will be announced in the comments section of this post July 30th. Be sure to leave contact info in the comments section, so we can contact you directly also if you win.
US/CAN only. Thanks and good luck!

Series scoop:
Follow the ins and outs of divine social life where the most privileged godboys and goddessgirls in the Greek pantheon hone their mythical skills.
“…a clever take on Greek deities…” ~ Booklist
"Readers familiar with Greek myths should get a kick out of this plucky restaging."  ~Publisher's Weekly
 “…an enchanting mythological world with middle-school woes compounded by life as a deity…” ~ School Library Journal
Athena the Brain Finding out she’s a goddess and being sent to Mount Olympus brings Athena new friends, a weird dad, and the meanest girl in mythology—Medusa!
Persephone the Phony Hiding her feelings works fine for Persephone until she meets a guy she can be herself with—Hades, the bad-boy of the Underworld.
Aphrodite the Beauty Sure Aphrodite is beautiful, but it’s not always easy being the goddessgirl of love.
Artemis the Brave She may be the goddess of the hunt, but that doesn’t mean Artemis always feels brave.
Athena the Wise
Zeus says Heracles has to do twelve tasks or he'll get kicked out of MOA! Although she's not sure it's wise, Athena agrees to help out.
Aphrodite the Diva Isis claims she's the goddess of love? Ha! But to keep the title all to herself, Aphrodite has to find the perfect match for Pygmalion, the most annoying boy ever.
Artemis the Loyal  It’s time for the annual Olympic Games, and Artemis and her friends are not happy. It’s boys only.  Not fair! (Dec.6, 2011)
NEW! Medusa the Mean  Medusa wants to be more like her two sisters and the other kids at Mount Olympus Academy -- immortal. Is that too much to ask?  (Apr. 2012)
The Girl Games (Goddess Girls Super Special) The first-ever stand-alone superspecial in the Goddess Girls series—let the games begin! The Goddess Girls get their chance to host the Girl Games! Told in alternating points of view, this superspecial is packed with Olympic spirit! July 2012 
Pandora the Curious (December 2012)
Pheme the Gossip (April 2013)
Persephone the Daring (2013)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

July Theme: What Fireworks Can Teach About Revising by John Claude Bemis

This 4th of July weekend has me naturally thinking about fireworks.  A great fireworks display is not about just shooting a bunch of booming pyrotechnics up in the sky.  There’s an art and a craft to putting on a good show.  It’s not about quantity or volume or size of the rocketing spirals of color.  A memorable fireworks display finds a perfect rhythm.  It begins with some teasing—a few opening shots that catch our attention.  Then it’s about the pace and variety—building into interesting formations, occasionally ebbing before shooting off just the right firework to create “wow” moments.  Finally it crescendos into the grand finale that leaves your mouth open and your heart racing.

A great story should be crafted this way as well.  The best time to focus on creating the most captivating pace for a novel is during the revision stage.  When my editor, the amazing Jim Thomas at Random House, and I were toiling through the revisions for my latest novel THE PRINCE WHO FELL FROM THE SKY, we worked hard to tighten the book into the kind of story you can’t stop reading once you start.  It required a hard look at the structure of the novel and a willingness to “kill your darlings” when necessary.

First we whittled the opening scenes into a captivating teaser.  Casseomae the bear is introduced as a lonely outcast among the forest animals of this future post-apocalyptic world where humans have long ago disappeared.  We wanted to get the story moving as fast as possible, but not at the expense of getting readers emotionally invested in Casseomae.  When a spaceship crashes in the forest and Casseomae makes the difficult choice to protect the lone survivor—a boy who as a human is instinctively feared and hated by the wolves and other forest tribes—the story takes off.

To get the right pace, we had to move entire scenes around.  The dog Pang was introduced a little later in the story to deepen the motivations of the primary characters of the bear Casseomae and her human cub.  A visit to a brood of soothsayer vultures was brought up sooner in the story to develop the growing mystery around why humans have disappeared and whether they are returning.  We charted this all out, moving scenes to just the right spots in order to find a riveting flow to the story and character arcs, and often chopping out scenes that didn’t further the story.

For the grand finale— the end of the story where a showdown occurs with the pack of wolves hunting the heroes and when the human cub must ultimately decide if he will remain with his adopted mother Casseomae or return to his own kind—Jim and I rewrote (yes, my editor took an active role in rewriting some key parts), tweaked, and revised to give the story its climactic punch.  We wanted that “wow” moment that would hopefully leave readers with mouths open and hearts racing.  And from what I’ve heard from readers and reviewers, I think our hard work paid off.

The final aspect to revisions that Jim and I did to get the tightest, most thrilling story we could achieve was to edit out every unnecessary word.  Like I said, a great fireworks show is not about quantity.  It’s not “let’s pack this performance with as many fireworks as possible.”  That can be exhausting—for both fireworks and storytelling—and can ultimately bore the audience by overwhelming them.  I had never line edited a novel to this degree!  It was tedious work, weighing each scene, paragraph, and sentence to take out anything and everything unnecessary.  But it was also worth it.

Writers often are emotionally tired by the time they get to the revision stage of a novel, but this is the time to brew up that coffee and turn up the brutally judgmental side of our brains to rework the entire story.  Only then can you achieve a display of storytelling pyrotechnic wonders that will hopefully leave readers gasping “wow!”

Saturday, July 7, 2012

July Theme: Searching for Fireworks (Naomi Kinsman)

On the fourth of July my husband and I planned to go to a baseball game, mostly because they were shooting off fireworks afterwards. But when we arrived at the stadium the game was sold out. And thus began the adventure of searching for fireworks. Maybe because we live in the Bay Area, where it seems they shoot off fireworks on every other block, or maybe because the fourth of July is one of those days on which we allow ourselves to relax, to not plan everything out to the last detail, we find ourselves in this situation often. This year, though, the search reminded me a lot of my writing.

My first reaction was to be proactive, to google for fireworks locations, to strategize practical ways to be in the right place at the right time. Our timing was off, though, and I kept running into dead ends. So then, desperate, my mind started leaping to dramatic solutions. For instance, maybe we ought to sneak onto the roof of one of the highrises in the city. In the end, we decided to give in. We went home, sat in our darkened bedroom, and watched the sky outside our upstairs window. The fireworks were beautiful, startling as they lit up the sky, here and there and everywhere. We didn't need to buy tickets for a fancy show, nor did we need to desperately steal a view. The fact that we could watch the fireworks in our own home, in such an ordinary way, made the experience all the more magical.

Often, I forget to value the importance of the ordinary in my writing process. I plan for every last contingency, seek practical solutions from other writers, and even dream up desperate measures, trying to solve plot or character challenges. Still, the most startlingly clear ideas--the ones that untangle a plot line or blast through blocks--come in quiet, ordinary moments, such as the half-awake minutes when the alarm goes off in the morning or while I'm shampooing my hair. I know these sudden insights come partially because I'm not forcing them to happen. I think the answers also show up in the ordinary moments, though, because within the context of real life, my fictional world becomes more layered, more authentic. As I learn important things about my character or my story, I'm also learning about myself.

I've been reflecting recently on why I write. I've asked my students too. Their answers range from: "I like the adventure of being the first reader to discover what happens in my story," to "I like being able to control my character's lives, since I can't control my own," and many other answers between. But when I listen closely to what they are saying, and pay attention to my own heart, too, I realize that underneath the desire to slip into a fictional world lies the deep yearning to understand our own real lives. Through the lens of a character's perspective, we discover truth about ourselves, our own challenges and joys, that we might not see otherwise. These sorts of mental fireworks happen at home, in the ordinary spaces of our lives. And they're the most precious ones of all.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July Theme: BOOM! BANG! Be Gone, Evil Spirits! by Trudi Trueit

A few years ago, while researching a children’s book I was writing on the history of gunpowder, I learned a little something about the origin of fireworks. It was the ancient Chinese, who first invented the concept of fireworks. They would toss bamboo onto the fire—it explodes when roasted—so the bang would ward off evil spirits. Eventually, they packed the shoots with sulfur, charcoal, saltpeter, and other goodies to get an even bigger blast. All I could think was, wow, those must have been some mighty nasty spirits! 

Anyway, this month’s theme got me thinking about all of the ‘evil spirits’ that have crept into my writing space over the years. By now, I know them well. There’s the devilish imp that sits on my shoulder as I write and whispers, “What are you doing? That’s not any good.” And the lethal vapor that arrives with each rejection to snort, “See, I told you nobody would want it. Why don't you just quit?” Maybe some of these spirits have haunted you, too. There’s the ‘No Time to Write’ sprite. The confidence-shattering, ‘You Have Nothing of Value to Say,’ demon. And, my personal favorite, the ghoul that shows up to your first book signing to hiss, “Not exactly standing room only in here, is it?”

There are times when these evil spirits win a battle or two. Naturally, I get discouraged when something I write is turned down by an editor or gets poor critical reviews. But I do not let it linger. I don’t give disappointment time to sink into my skin and fester. I allow myself no more than half a day to wallow in self pity. The next morning, I gather my courage and launch my own brand of fireworks to scatter the spirits: I write.

What I write doesn’t have to be great. It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be something. An effort. Even the tiniest forward motion will drain the life from a harassing spirit.

Another way I have found to squelch the writing spirits is by lending support to another writer. Any time I can give a positive word, helpful feedback, or an attentive ear to a creative being, I am reminded that I do not take this journey in solitude. And that gives me peace. Which gives me hope. Which inspires me to - you got it - write. 


I would love to hear what fireworks you send up to keep your evil writing spirits away. Seems to me, that the more we support each other in our artistic endeavors, the brighter we all shine.

Ready? Let’s light this candle . . . 

                               * * * * * * *
Trudi Trueit is the author of the Secrets of a Lab Rat series (Aladdin), as well as more than eighty nonfiction titles. Look for her new tween novel, Stealing Popular (Aladdin MIX) coming this September.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Confession: I am not a huge fan of fireworks. (I'm not even a tiny fan of fireworks.) Perhaps it’s the introvert in me: I am not sure who it was that decided noise=fun. I am more entertained by fireflies.

I do love the names of fireworks: sparklers, rockets, cakes, fountains, candles, whizzlers, poppers, crackers. Words like that make the poet in me kind of giddy.

I also love Katy Perry’s overarching metaphor and the simile “own the night like the Fourth of July” as it appears in her song “Firework.”

The best fireworks I’ve ever seen were at Walt Disney World, right after the Electric Light Parade, the very first time I visited in 1977. Possibly there were factors other than the actual fireworks that make this memory so spectacular. That’s okay.  It still counts.

Fireworks come into play in my new novel DON’T FEED THE BOY. That’s because the story takes place during a severe drought.  And when there’s a drought, many municipalities will ban Fourth of July fireworks due to the fire hazard. What a disappointment for Whit, the hero of my story! But definitely for the best. (Idon’t think they’ll be having fireworks in Colorado this year. My thoughts and prayers to all those affected.)

If you do enjoy fireworks, I hope you get a sky-full! And if you’re more like me, I wish you lots of blinky fireflies. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fireworks and Pets (July theme)

Fourth of July
Lights! Color! Action! Fireworks! They began in 7th century China. Although I love them, my cats are not fans. They hide, certain we're under attack. Same goes for thunderstorms. Their chosen "safe room" is deep in the back of the closet under the stairs. We've put cat beds for them in there, and I slip them a few treats to weather the storm (or the fireworks). If you have scaredy cats or pets of any kind, you might take a look at these Fourth of July pet safety tips from the ASPCA. Have a happy, healthy 4th, everyone!
Scout and Boo, my kitties
~ Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams are co-authors of the Goddess Girls series. Set at Mount Olympus Academy, it puts a modern spin on classic Greek myths. Aladdin paperbacks ages 8 ~ 12.