Friday, December 30, 2011
HybridBooks & Ginger Nuts Junk Food--Zesty!
Read for yourself:
Books That Are Never Done Being Written
By Nicholas Carr
From the New York Times
The Book Beyond the Book by David Streitfeld
Streifeld speaks of Melville House, an innovative publisher that advocates a sort of hybrid between eReaders and traditional books: "On the physical side, the hybrids are attractive, stripped down paperbacks... the electronic element comes in with the ancillary material at the end. The last page directs readers to a website."
These links enable the full experience to go on after the reading is done. For instance, a Melville story leads to a website that shows an 1852 map of lower Manhattan and a recipe for Ginger Nuts, all elements in the actual story. The publisher learned after the fact that Ginger Nuts were considered America's first junk food!
HybridBooks, eReaders, paperbacks, it's all good!
As for me, I'm thrilled with my brand new Kindle Fire.
What's your fave holiday gift?
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Thankful for the blog community, blinking holiday lights and...
It's that holiday time again, Christmas eve, Chanukah, almost the year of the dragon, the winter solstice just past, Kwanza, and, no doubt other festivities too. It's that time to be thankful.
Here's some of what I'm thankful for right now.
This blogging community! I want to personally thank Angel Snyder, Jenny Phresh, PK Hrezo, Sarah Ahiers, Helen Mallon, Kelly Hashway, David Powers King, Lizzy Ford, Susan Kaye Quinn for her tweets and Livia Blackburne, and, in advance, Katja Weinert for doing smashup jobs in helping my book launch. Not to mention all of you other folks who posted kudos. What a cool community!
I'm thankful for family, for blinking Christmas tree lights that mesmerize, for one-eyed snowmen and my jolly, fat egg-king tree decoration, for the pretty red candles that we saw in a temple in China last New Years, for the ability to imagine and create, for friends, colleagues and my students, who inspire me.
For Polish smoked ham, Swiss chard and sweet potatoes; cherry pie and caramel cake. For good DVDs to watch while it snows outside.
What are you thankful for this holiday?
Monday, December 19, 2011
Fireseed One Launch Extended! Kelly joined the party!!
Fireseed One is my new YA futuristic thriller. It's a journey into a tricked-out near-future earth where 18 year-old Varik has just inherited a vast ocean farm, following the suspicious drowning of his Marine biologist father. When Marisa, a beautiful and devious terrorist, destroys the world's food source, Varik is forced to travel down to a lethal hotzone, teeming with dangerous nomads and a strange cult to search for a magical hybrid plant that may not even exist. The catch? He must take Marisa along, the only person who seems to know key information.
Settle in and have a virtual drink. We're serving SeaGrape sodas, Snowflake Cocktails and Polar Ice Caps. Oh, and have some Flyfish puffs and Pastel Agar Pastries, specialty of SnowAngel Island. These delicacies are all served in Fireseed One.
I'm thrilled to have some of my favorite bloggers here
to help celebrate!
Kelly Hashway's YA and Middle Grade Blog
Sarah Ahiers at Falen Formulates Fiction
Angel Snyder at 909 Reviews Never Lies
Jenny Phresh at The Party Pony
PK Hrezo's My Fiction Addiction
David Powers King's Cosmic Laire of Sci Fi and Fantasy
Lizzy Ford's Guerilla Wordfare
Helen Mallon's WritingNurture: WritingNurture: Work. Balance. sAnItY?
They're ALL amazing so check out their launch posts, Fireseed giveaways, and follow them! They are also posting Fireseed excerpts and more about the characters. But first, mingle, and leave a comment. Consider a paperback copy of Fireseed for yourself or for a holiday gift. Indulge in its banquet of art: Jay's wraparound color, Taili's awesome world map, and my quirky pen and airbrush drawings. And of course, enjoy its breakneck twists. To purchase the collectable paperback: click here.
Or an eBook for your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch: click here.
For a little extra effort, want to win a free Fireseed One eBook? Leave me a comment saying why you should win, tweet or post on FB about this launch party, follow me here and please write a review on Amazon or Goodreads when you're done reading. I'll need your email, and let me know whether you want the Nook, iPad or Kindle version, okay?
Great to see you! Please consider "liking" the facebook Fireseed One page on your way out: here. Thanks so much for coming! Catherine
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Launch Party Jitters
My launch party for Fireseed One, is this Tuesday on my blog. And I've got the launch jitters. I feel like I'm waiting for my graduation day, my wedding, a long speech that I had to give in high school in front of the class. You get it, right? In a way, it's silly. I've survived through four solo painting openings, that wedding, and well, not so much that long memorized Shakespeare speech, which I promptly forgot the words to as I stood in front of my entire class.
A note to those who use upstart formatters for their indie projects. I used Bookbaby, a great place with friendly people who actually answer the phone when you have a question. Problem is, that I published the paperback on CS, and apparently, they got confused that I wasn't publishing the eBook version through Kindle direct. I waited, and waited, and waited for the eBook to go live. Finally I asked what was happening. Glad I did. Apparently, amazon needed to get "authority to publish" from Bookbaby, because they are such a new publishing entity. You are forewarned!
So, you see, I have at least one rational reason to be anxious. The eBook is supposedly going to be expedited live by Monday, in order to be available for the launch. Send some positive energy to the good Kindle people.
I hope you'll all stop by on Tuesday, DEC 20th, and that I have all my virtual ducks in a row. Oh, and I'll be serving virtual snacks, all concoctions straight from the pages of Fireseed One!
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Writerly and Artsy Holiday Gift Ideas!
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Fireseed One Color Cover Reveal! Launch Date Soon!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Tight Cover Sketch of my New YA Revealed!
It's happening! I am deep in the process of prepping my YA thriller for indie publishing, to hopefully launch on December 20th! I am very excited, as this is a novel I am truly proud of, and feel that it has unique ideas and inventions. I'm also thrilled that I'll have 9 interior illustrations in it. For years, I have wanted to combine my art and writing. Fireseed One, is the right project at the right place and time.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Cool Sci-fi, Fantasy and Science-related Blogs
Hi all, I've been busy whipping my YA thriller into shape to indie pub it! That's the fun part. The downside is that I haven't been posting quite as often. BUT... I'm determined to catch up! So, let me start by turning you guys onto some of my favorite sci-fi blogs. M'kay? Because I know a lot of you out there are writing fantasy, futuristic stories and sci-fi.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Random Thoughts for a Rainy Day
I've been drawing a lot lately, having fun imaging the futuristic world of my YA thriller for possible use in a book. I dug out a favorite drawing of mine. I had written and illustrated a futuristic story way back when, which turned out to be the skeleton of my current YA. It's amazing how long an author can chew on a theme! I uploaded this black and white line drawing into Photoshop, where I gave it new breath it with airbrush. It's part of an under-border of invasive vines, which provides a barrier against enemies undersea. Think scary/beautiful like a Venus Fly Trap.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Help me decide between two cover sketches ASAP!!!!!!!
Okay, I need your help figuring out SUPER-QUICKLY a decision between one thumbnail sketch for the cover of my YA thriller and another--the dilemma: do I go with scary cult figure on the cover that my main characters run into, or do I go with a more romantic desert scene, where my characters are trying to figure out where they are? I want guys and girls to read this. I don't want to turn off guys by too romancey a cover, but I don't want to scare off girls by a too-scary hooded weirdo (or do they like being scared by a book cover?!). ACK!!!!!!!!
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The Illustrated YA Novel is Coming of Age
I've written a YA futuristic novel that I'm putting final polishes on. I'm also an artist, so I'm experimenting with doing ten illustrations for this novel. No can do, you say? Not for YA? I'm happy to report this is no longer the case! The age of the illustrated YA is coming of age. Pictured here is a peek at my image of a scary cult that my main characters run into in the Great Chihuahua Desert. Yup, these cowled creeps are raising the net on my guys. Oh, and those rock formations that look like... well, stay tuned. In fact, stay tuned in general, as I may post another picture soon.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
A Tiny Story about a Huge Mama Squid
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Brussels Sprouts, Favorite Painters and "From Scroll to Screen" Lev Grossman's article on Pubbing Revolutions
I'm posting random treats!
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Helen Mallon, guest Blogger Discusses Contrasts in Adult & YA Fiction
I've invited over Helen Mallon, author extraordinaire.
Monday, September 5, 2011
Lazy Labor Day and Animal Book Signings
On this last day of lazy summer bliss, I want to post something light and fun that meanders away from the heady world of books and writing. A couple of weeks ago on facebook, Jonathon Maberry posted an incredibly cute photo of a baby Dachshund posing as a hotdog. It's on my
desktop and it cracks me up every time I see it.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Hurricane Irene, Appreciated Followers & Campaigner 2011
- Helen Mallon at WritingNurture
- PK Hrezo at Fiction Addiction
- Candy Lynn Fite's On the Trail to Publication
- Shelley HW at Writ. Written. Wrote.
- Cathy Kozak’s When the Dervish Dances
- Charmaine Clancy's Wagging Tales
A Hurricane Irene Postscript: I was planning on hunkering down in Manhattan during Irene, but my family cajoled me into escaping to the hollers of the Catskill Mountains. We had three downed trees, including a beloved Willow. We lost power, had major
cabin-fever, and impassioned arguments over what movie to watch, what we should cook for dinner and the true meaning of A Clockwork Orange. We were also unable to drive our son to his dorm on Sunday night as the highways were closed. But, we were safe.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
A Collection of Thirst-Quenching Thoughts
I’m still in summer mode so my inspiration is firing at random, and mostly in between summer activities such as croquet, fishing for trout, and general lazing about (I even tried shooting at clay pigeons with my sons! My favorite part was getting to drive the electric golf cart). Otherwise, I'm either on my city deck or my country porch. I’d wager a bet that others are in this mode as well. That’s why I’m posting a shortlist of musings.
First off, I want to thank Julia Hones for granting me a Liebster Blog Award. Julia is a very insightful writer and it’s well worth a hop over to her blog, My Writing Life. In her latest post she discusses three powerful short stories.
Next, I’ve been compiling books and essays and novels about writers, artists, filmmakers and other people involved in the creative process, for a freshmen college lit course. If anyone wants to recommend a book or essay that deals in this realm, I would welcome it! To pass muster with my department head, it has to be written by a well known and well-regarded author. For instance, I’m reading Kurt Vonnegut’s Bluebeard, an unflinching satire of the art world in the sixties and seventies. It is absolutely spot-on, and I’m sure my freshmen art students will get some real belly chuckles out of it (plus helpful insight into the corruption and posturing that goes on).
Have you read a book this summer that has blown your mind, or changed your perspective on the world, yourself or an aspect of something you think about a lot?
Lastly, here’s a cheapo drink that rivals Fizzy Lizzy or Snapple or any summery tall sippa chill. Mix cranberry juice and seltzer, and top it off with a liberal tablespoon of Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice. Add crushed ice. Yum. If you like iced tea but hate all the sugar in mixes, make your own. I add a mix of teabags to a quart of boiling water: usually chai with black tea, again, with a spritz of Rose’s. Or cut up a few slices of an orange and let that steep in the mix. You can drink glass after glass with no calorie worries. Twinings has put out cold-brewed ice-tea bags. Not bad, but never quite as strong as tea that’s been boiled and chilled. Good while on the run, though. You can stash a teabag or two in your pocketbook for travels. What are your favorite summery mixes?
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Deep in Summerland
Catskills where our summer cabin is. I just got back from the Jersey shore—Ocean Grove and Asbury Park, that perennially edgy beach town, clawing its way back to respectability. The creepy old Howard Johnson restaurant, built in the early 60’s and made to look like a hokey spaceship, has been renovated with an open bar and palm trees in elephantine-sized wicker pots. The once-abandoned boardwalk that used to have one lone saltwater taffy store is brimming with surf shops and Cuban restaurants. Stay slightly edgy, is my advice! Things change—except the need to get away from it all in the pit of steamy summer. Attention to television series, classes, the hustle in general, turns to nature, sea breezes, fizzy and cold concoctions that can quickly cool. The photos at Idea Farm show our first peaches and Winesaps. Also, my potbellied pig, Thistle, who is an ancient 15 years old and plucky as ever!
Are you still trying to write through it all? Or do you tend to take a break from that too—in order to regroup and rekindle? I finished a 2nd polish on a manuscript in the first week of August, including a cut of 31 pages—no small feat. And I’m almost finished manuscript evaluation #2 for my clients. And soon, it’ll be time to call a halt for the last two weeks—to everything but reading and conceptualizing (which looks like loafing). So far, I've read two eye-opening books for a course I'm proposing: POINT OMEGA by Don Delillo and THE COLLECTOR by John Fowles (very disturbing but powerful).
How about you? What are your deep Summerland pleasures?
Friday, July 29, 2011
Treasures in my Life
I treasure my writing community—online friends and face-time associates, my longstanding writing group, my zany retreat buddies, my wise agent and the various editors with whom I’ve worked.
I treasure my native imagination. Without it, I’d be lost. I’ve had big fun making up characters like, Johar, a fifteen-year-old Afghan poet and weaver, and futuristic inventions like a credit card skimmer, imbedded in one’s wrist.
My family is a treasure. I’m proud of my sons—one teaching history and geography in a former palace in China, and the other, a fourth-year Arabic student interested in working for a humanitarian organization, who just returned from Cairo. I’m proud of their brave and fearless stance as they traverse the globe. Was it all of our family travels when they were little tykes that inspired them? I’d like to think so. I also treasure the fact that my hubby and I have been friends for so long.
I treasure my years as a painter, and I treasure art, as it has complimented my journey into narrative. For writing, as painting, is about “brushing in” vivid scenes, plot and characters, and layering—a layer of scaffold, a layer of detail, a layer of suspense, a pulling-back layer of compression, a final glossy varnish that pops the story to brilliant highlights and shadowy depth.
I treasure my students, for they inspire and amaze me.
I encourage you to jump over to the blogs below, also in the tour, to read about what others treasure. But first, leave me a note about what you treasure!
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Liebster Awards for Fab Blogs Under 200 Followers Go To...
The Liebster Blog Award was given to me by the awesome Beth Fred, whose blog is magical and has purple sparkles that follow you everywhere you put your cursor! Check it out here.
This award spotlights bloggers who have less than 300 followers (like me, so far). As recipients pay it forward, Liebster love keeps growing. Recipients are also asked to share their 5 top picks, then include the following in their blog:
1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who awarded you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks & let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy & paste the award on your blog. (see award image above!)
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all—have bloggity-blog fun!
Lots of my picks are indie authors to watch. So, here goes:
1. Arthur Slade, a well-published kids' fantasy author, who is turning all of his out of print books into indie gold! Learn how here.
2. Christine Murray, a journalist and author of urban fantasy, who lives in Dublin. Her blog is always thoughtful.
3. Katie Klein, successful indie author of YA fantasy, tells it like it is about her publishing experience. Worth a look!
4. Jenny Phresh's Party Pony blog. OMG, she is the funniest writer alive. I'm not kidding!
5. Angela Carlie, a middle grade & YA author of fantasy. Check her blog here. She's a member of the indie collective, DarkSide Publishing, a very impressive group. And her novel, Land of Corn Chips has the best title and cover everrrrr.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
What Does Your Writing Space Look Like?
I love to write outside in the summer. Witness my sandaled foot, perched on the wooden table at the Cape retreat.On the table are essentials: coffee and my iPhone. In another photo, see my view on the wraparound porch. Then, there’s a pic of one of my writing cohorts, Maggie, who shares the side porch with me. It’s a rare person I can actually share space with when I write. This attests to how comfortable I feel around her.
Oh, and there’s my lovely retreat hostess, Helen, in her monkey PJs. You see, part of the writing process involves lounging on a morning porch in kiddie PJs and drinking about five cups of coffee, while we rant and rave about our stubborn characters,
our meandering plots, and all of the things that intervene in the writing process—kids, jobs, um… life?
What does your writing space look like? Do you like the Spartan or the pack rat approach? Do you post lots of photos of your characters and settings like I do? Or is most everything filed in your head? Do you put up the occasional inspirational saying? My latest favorite is from author Franny Billingsley: “A book is like an elegant and efficient machine. Each cog needs to turn something else and, if it doesn't, it should be taken out.” And what’s your writing playlist? Dish here.
Monday, July 4, 2011
Summer Writing Retreats!
It’s that time again for the writing retreat I attend. I look forward to it for months. And I’m willing to endure crawling highway traffic and power outages for it. We have coffee on the porch in the morning while we talk shop. Then we go to our “writing stations”, at various spots on the wraparound porch. We work pretty much through the afternoon, with a quick lunch break. And then, when we're hot, tired and our brains are on overload, we trek through the woods to the beach. We take turns cooking dinner, and play writing games at night. Not a bad life for a week.
I’ve attended an assortment of writing workshops, conferences and retreats over the years. There are ones where you mostly workshop, and spend lots of time reading other authors’ work and critiquing. This is great when you're jumping in for the first time, and really want feedback on your work. There are conferences, where you listen to seasoned writers talk about their novels and how to best negotiate the writing life. This type of event is perfect when what you want is a shot of inspiration and information. And there are many permutations of the above. Summer retreats are also a chance to spend time in a deluxe location—Lake Tahoe, Southampton, Big Sur, Mendocino—you get the drift.
There are so, so many to choose from! You’ll discover this when you Google retreats. And they occur throughout the year. If you’re considering one, find out who the presenting writers are, and whether they’re a good fit for what you’re working on. You may prefer a smallish one, or perhaps a huge one, like the LA SCBWI summer conference, where you can blend in and pick and choose which breakout groups to attend. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a spa and two swimming pools out there.
So, Happy, Happy July Fourth! Have you ever attended a writing retreat? How was it? If not, what kind of retreat or conference would you look for? How are you celebrating the holiday? Getting any writing done?
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Studying the Anthony Murder Trial for Tips on Writing Suspense
How does this relate to writing, you ask? A lot. I’m interested in analyzing what goes into a good mystery or thriller, or simply how to write great, prolonged suspense.
A complex trial like this one, with so many unexpected twists and turns, and with such rampant lies and weird pathology, by its very nature, is buzzing with suspense.
Will I ever try to tackle writing trial scenes? A very intimidating idea! One would have to speed through the typical minutia of an actual trial to get to the meat, where someone’s sobbing on the stand, or obviously lying, and perjuring themselves. In the Casey Anthony trial, even though spectators have traveled from all over to get in the courtroom, many have fallen asleep from the droning “experts” only to be kicked out for snoring.
Has anyone tried to write a trial scene? To Kill a Mockingbird comes to me. Have you learned how to write suspense from watching a trial, used forensics in a scene, or written a mystery with any of these aspects? Anyone recall a children’s or YA novel that includes some part of a trial? Dish here.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
The Book that Inspires Me Most! For the Blog-A-Licious Tour
I’ve been invited by the amazing Pandora Poikilos to post on “The Book that Most Inspired Me” Blog-A-Licious Blog Tour. Join us in the hop that connects bloggers of all genres, backgrounds and locations and share with us all the book that inspires you the most too! For me, without a doubt it is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
One Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, born in England in 1842, wrote a book for Alice Liddell, the daughter of the head of Christ Church. He'd often told her the story of the girl plunging down the rabbit hole, and she asked him to please, please, please write it down for her.
Who can forget his spectacular characters: the Mad Hatter, the Red Queen, the March Hare, the Rock Lobster, the Caterpillar with his hookah and the sleepy dormouse? Alice’s entry into the eensy, weensy door that gained her entry into a magical world inspired not only my imagination, but seemingly many authors who designed similar magic portals in their novels: the wardrobe of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Magic Treehouse series, and the list goes on. Who can forget Carroll's wondrous inventions such as the “Drink Me” bottle, or events like the Mad Tea Party, where the guests simply moved ‘round the table when their teacups became dirty?
“A bright idea came into Alice's head. `Is that the reason so many tea-things are put out here?' she asked.
`Yes, that's it,' said the Hatter with a sigh: `it's always tea-time, and we've no time to wash the things between whiles.'
`Then you keep moving round, I suppose?' said Alice.
`Exactly so,' said the Hatter: `as the things get used up.'
`But what happens when you come to the beginning again?' Alice ventured to ask.
`Suppose we change the subject!' the March Hare interrupted.”
And who can forget the Gryphon teaching Alice the lines,
“'Tis the voice of the Lobster; I heard him declare,
You have baked me too brown, I must sugar my hair."
As a duck with its eyelids, so he with his nose, trims his belt and his buttons, and turns out his toes.”
Even the great Russian novelist, Nabokov was inspired by the wordplay and logic games of Carroll. Read Nabokov’s Pale Fire and this is quite evident. It is is a fictional 99-line poem being edited and critiqued by an ineffectual, pompous fictional editor. Nabokov's abundance of wordplay and hilarious absurdity is an obvious mirror to Carroll’s work.
The “curiouser and curiouser” Lewis Carroll also gave me the
courage to know that I could do two things at once:
be a serious visual artist and author. The man was
multitalented. Not only the author of brilliant children’s
literature, he was a math professor at Oxford, an author of logic
and math textbooks as well as political essays. He was
also a respected photographer. He even coined
words. Chortle, a nonsense word in his poem Jabberwocky,
which was a combination of snort and chuckle, eventually
made it into the dictionary! He even drew the original
illustrations, which one can see at the
British Museum (see image above).
Whenever and whatever I write, I think of Lewis Carroll;
his unbounded imagination and his joy in playing with
people’s minds in the best sense of the term.
He will forever be my mentor.
And now, dear folks, I encourage you to visit the
Blog-A-Licious blogger who precedes mine,
Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed, and and the awesome
bloggers, Back of the Book Reviews.
Here's the total list: 1. Roy, 2. Sulekha, 3. Dora,
4, Shaeeza, 5. Mari, 6. Paula, 7. Karen, 8. Keiko,
9. Mine--you're here!, 10. Kate & Ashley,
11. Desiree, 12. Sonia, 13. DK Levick,
14. Sarcasm Goddess, 15. Tosh, 16. Lucy,
17. Leo & 18. Dora.
But before you hop off, please let me know
what books influenced you the most!!!