I don’t wanna grow up!

When I saw this month’s topic was on funny books or books with humor incorporated somehow, I immediately forgot all the incredibly humorous books I’ve ever read. So, I’ve been systematically going through the files of my muddled brain trying to find something to write about (that’s actually worth reading).

Then I sat down to do a review of a children’s book with my daughters. I review the Clara's Crazy Curlsbook and they read it for their reading homework—a twofer. So what, right? Well, I’ve been doing this for the past few months. I’ve reviewed around a dozen books and I’ve laughed right along with my girls when we read them. There’s some funny stuff in children’s books!

So my short and sweet point is, stop and smell the little things (flowers, books, cartoons, whatever). I realized while I was agonizing over what to write for this article, that I sometimes overlook the child in me. I get too wrapped up in the “grown-up Michelle” that I forget it’s okay to let go and be silly sometimes.

Yes, I’ve read many, many young adult, new adult and adult books that have been funny and I’ve laughed out loud while reading them. And if I sat here long enough I’d remember some of the titles (maybe, brain cells are dying every day…). But I’ve had an incredible time reading some of the children’s books and letting my inner child come out to play and remembering how to laugh at the silly stuff.

Sometimes we need to slow down and see the world through the eyes of a child again.

Sometimes we need to slow down and see the world through the eyes of a child again.

It's time to read!

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2014, The Year Of Awesome (And The Horse, If You Follow Chinese Astrology)

2013 was quite exciting for me, and 2014 is shaping up to do the same.

First of all, Copper Ravens, the sequel to Copper Girl, will release in June 2014. Check out its GoodReads page here and take a gander at the gorgeous cover created by Scene 13’s own Lisa Amowitz below.

CopperRavencompFINALcorrectedfullcover (2)

’tis purty, no?

My other big project for 2014 is the relaunch of my epic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Parthalan. The series was partially published between 2009 – 2011, then it hit a bump in the road. So, I’ve polished it up, and it has a tentative release date in June 2014. Releasing two books in one month? Sure, I can handle that!

To help defray the costs of this endeavor, I’ve set up an Indiegogo account which you can visit here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-chronicles-of-parthalan. Below is the original cover for the first in the series, Heir to the Sun. (Don’t worry, something much awesomer is in the works.)

ebook cover htts

In addition to two, maybe three releases next year (The Virgin Queen, book two of The Chronicles of Parthalan, might hit the shelves by December – fingers crossed!), I’m still a publicist for Spencer Hill Press, and for the first time in longer than I can remember, I have a day job that I really love. Oh, and my current WIP, Gallowglass, has completely and totally taken over my life – I haven’t loved characters this much in a long time. Add that to my beautiful twins, awesome rock star husband, and dog Rocket, and 2014 is looking pretty good.

So? Tell me, what’s in store for you this year?

Elevators and writing? Sure!

Elevators. I don’t much care for them. Not since I was young and stuck in one. It hovered over ten floors, just a cable held it aloft. A cable—well maybe there was more than one, I didn’t look to check—was all that kept us from meeting the concrete basement floor in a way no one wants to meet it…very quickly.

These thoughts ran through my head as I stood in front of the bank of elevators Elevator1-300x225waiting to board the next available car of doom to transport me to the fourteenth floor. Okay, okay, maybe ‘car of doom’ is a little extreme. But, hey, I was a kid when I was stuck in that elevator and I had just drunk a whole juice box and we were stuck there for two hours. I had to pee. If that combined with the threat of gravity sucking us down to crash land on the basement floor don’t spell doom I don’t know what does.

Finally the little ‘ding’ sounds and informs me the elevator has arrived. I step aboard. My hands are sweaty and the sides of my stomach clench. I seriously rethink the taco I ate from the Taqueria on the corner of the road on my way to my appointment.

It’s then that Abbie speaks. Well, she speaks to me. The rest of the people in the elevator have no idea Abbie is riding with us since she is one of my ‘imaginary friends.’ You know, one of the voices writers hear talking in their heads? Anyway, she informs me that she shares the same fear of elevators I do. She has an interesting story of a time when she was trapped in an elevator. I listen to her tell her tale and by the time the car of doom reaches the fourteenth floor, Abbie has told me the beginning of a great story. And I realize that even in the mundane, we find writing gems.

Since that elevator ride Abbie and I have become great friends. We’ve worked together to put her story on paper…all because of a shared hatred of elevators.

By the way, Abbie also told me there is no official phobia for the fear of elevators, but there is a phobia, Porphyrophobia, for the color purple. Strange but true.

Gah! Free Topic! Are you NUTS?

Free topic for a writer is NOT ZEN. It’s a blank page of possibility and possible disaster. Free topic is how we begin each book: a scene, a character, an ending line, an image, a phrase … Then we develop and marry the idea for a year or two or three … or more. Many of us are already married and know that it’s work … work work work. So diving in, in writing, isn’t diving in, but testing the waters because once we’re in, there’s nothing that will get us to write our way out of it. There’s no such this as Divorce Court for WIPs and writers.

I'm so here!

I’m so here!

Free topic is empty space, our relationship with that space, and how we’ll create a new world out of that space.  It’s like dating, the giddy part, until we realize we’ve spilled mustard on our shirt and forgot to put deodorant on before that crucial first date.

I know. What am i complaining about? Don’t I love this? Yes. Free topic is GREAT when it’s not an imposed free topic. But when we’re “given” a free topic, we’re stuck thinking about all the things we should’ve written about, could’ve written about, didn’t write about … because there was just too much pressure in one white space of blogphere! And I’ve got mustard on my shirt!

marcel.proust

 

Dramatic? Well, yeah. I’m a writer.  Sure, some are the Marcel Prousts of the cyber-world. I’m more of a stutterer. My brain gets cluttered. I don’t know where to begin. I do, however, have a good idea where this should end.

Happy end of August!

 

 

Do I write about zombies…or am I one?

And there it goes down the road. A cheery yellow blob disappearing into the horizon, and with it, my carefully planned, but rarely kept, writing schedule. *Sigh*Evan

It’s May and the end of the school year is here. And that means I can kiss my writing time buh-bye.  At least writing during the day. I’ll find time to write/edit. Usually between the hours of ten p.m. and three a.m. with a few hours of sleep before the twins plop in the middle of my bed at approximately seven a.m. demanding breakfast between sticking their faces so close to mine my eyes cross trying to focus. After I drag myself out of bed and plod downstairs to pour Trix for one girl and Fruity Pebbles for the other (I know, very healthy. I give them fruit, too. Don’t judge me! ha-ha), hand the wrong bowl to each girl, exchange the bowls, pop open a Red Bull (because that’s my coffee), walk by the rec. room and tell my son to turn down the Xbox, because surely there are parental abuse laws somewhere that state those things can’t be played at the volume he plays them that early, I’ll drop on the couch and wonder why I stayed up so late the night before and it’ll hit me.  Oh, yeah. I love writing.

So bring on the obstacles of summer vacation, because I actually love having my kids home. Larry and I tried to get pregnant for ten years before Evan was born and another four years before Aleigha and Alana were born. So, summer vacation isn’t an inconvenience, DSC_4675just a minor bump in my writing schedule that I need to work around. The endless trips to the pool, the park, the play dates, summer camps, day camps, sporting events, water parks, the beach, the zoo, Sea World, and the general taxi service I drive for my kids and my mother (who doesn’t drive), I’ll take it all and smile, enjoying every second of it, even if I’m a little (or a lot) bleary eyed and feeling like a member of the walking dead in one of my novels.

And later, when my family is dreaming in their beds, it’ll be my turn to dream…just me and my laptop.

Michelle 🙂
Author, PODs available June 4th
Milayna available March 11, 2014
The Infected, a PODs novel available November 2014

(photo: Alana on the left and Aleigha on the right)

Spring tears…

Since finding out this month’s topic, I’ve struggled to write this post. I’ve thought of how I could spin it in a way other than where my brain wanted to go. I tried to focus on writing. That should be easy, right? I’m a writer. Just write about what I love. Couldn’t do it. Well, not completely, anyway.

51UJPHYEDwL._SL110_June 4th. That’s the date. The big one. The one I’ve been waiting for since, well, a long time. The day PODs, my debut young adult novel releases. Some people may think of summer when they hear June, but actually summer doesn’t begin until the 20th or 21st of June, depending on your time zone. That puts the 4th, PODs’s book birthday, in the spring.

I have two adult urban fantasies published in e-book, one in print through Createspace, but PODs is my first traditionally published book. It doesn’t make it any more of a “book” than my others, just another first—except, there is one thing that makes PODs something more, something better than my first books and likely any other book I’ll ever publish: My dad. He died January 28th this year. And although he’d been ill, it wasn’t life threatening at the time and his death took me, and my family, completely by surprise. He lived in an apartment on my property. There are still days I expect to walk in the door and see him there. And now that the weather is nice, the yard he loved seems too empty and depressing without him working (he called it playing) in it.

My dad never really understood the difference between my e-books and a traditionally published book. He just wanted to go to a bookstore and buy my book. “We’re gonna go to the bookstore, Mac, and I’m going to buy your book and tell everyone there that you wrote it,” he’d tell me. “I’m going to need enough copies for all the guys I hunt and fish with, too.” I smiled at the thought of him passing out a young adult book about a seventeen year-old girl to his sixty year-old friends, but was secretly doing a happy dance because I knew he was proud of me.

So why am I telling you all this? Well, because I think sometimes spring is for tears, like the ones I’m shedding as I write this article. Not all of them are sad. Many of them are happy tears at the memories my dad left with me. And that leads me to another thought. Maybe not all spring cleaning has to do with cobwebs and dust bunnies. Perhaps it’s a time to clean our minds and spirits of bad memories, those we don’t need, that don’t serve any purpose but to hurt. Spring cleaning is a time to make room for the good memories. That’s what I’ll be doing this year, making room for the good memories. Only the good memories.

Oh, and I’ll be going to the bookstore to buy my dad his book. I won’t tell everyone I wrote it (he really would have). But my heart does ache that I won’t get to see his face the first time he held it or hear him tell the sales clerk that his “Mac” wrote it. I wanted more than anything to be able to give him a copy. So I’ve done the next best thing. I’ve given them all to him…

PODsDad and Me Father's day 2011

In loving memory of my dad,

Michael Lewis Hayes

March 12, 1944 to January 28, 2013

Always Loved.

..

Michelle 🙂
Author, PODs available June 4th
Milayna available March 11, 2014
The Infected, a PODs novel available November 2014
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Luck or Perseverance: A dash of this, a pinch of that.

In the world, in writing specifically, we tend to have varying views on which plays into our success or what we perceive as failures. Did that author with the career we want just get lucky? Or did they persevere for years before becoming an “overnight success?” Which is it? Luck or perseverance? Well, I think it’s both.

I believe there’s a little luck in everything we achieve. We’re at the right place, talking to the right people, pitching the right idea. But there is definitely a lot of perseverance involved, too. If we didn’t continually search out the people to talk to—network—we probably wouldn’t be lucky enough to meet with them.

If we didn’t keep our minds and bodies clear and open for ideas to plant and flourish, well, we wouldn’t be lucky enough to sign that seventeen-hunderd book deal with one of the big six for a seven figure advance (okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea). We have to persevere. In other words, we must work on our craft, even when we feel like we’ve stalled.

The right idea. That one deserves a closer look. I believe that luck probably plays a bigger role in this area than in any other. We can try to follow trends, but the writing world is fickle. What’s hot today might not be by the time our book is signed, edited, marketed and then released. By then, the fad is over—or not. We just don’t know, and neither, by the way, do publishers. They can guess, but they don’t know.

Does that mean we throw out the vampire novel we’re working on because Stephenie Meyer ruined the genre for everyone else? Or that our dystopian belongs in the circular file because Veronica Roth wrote Divergent? Nope. We…persevere. Maybe our project gets shelved for a year or so. Maybe not. Either way, there’s a little green leprechaun running about our feet and a whole lot of strong perseverance in our souls to make that book deal happen.

Before PODs, my upcoming June release, I’d written four books. Not a huge number compared to other writers—in fact, downright puny when you look at some of the greats—but still enough to be discouraging. I have a stack of ‘no thank you’ form letters in a drawer of my desk from agents and publishers. I hate them. Every time I open that dreaded drawer and get a glimpse of them, my stomach does a little flip—and not the swoony kind. When someone mentions their agent, the green-eyed monster rears its ugly head because I still haven’t found mine. I wanted to be that overnight success I’m always hearing about. When it became apparent I wasn’t going to be, I had a decision to make. Give up or persevere. Now, I’m not preaching here. I didn’t just say, “Okay, keep on truckin’ and it’ll work out.” No, I stuck with it because I love writing. Period. There wasn’t a decision. I was going to write whether anyone read my stuff or not, but I really, really wanted to be published. Really.

And then I got lucky. I wrote PODs, my baby. My favorite. I submitted to a small press and heard back the next day with a request for a full. Two days later, I had an offer. And on June 4th (my son’s twelfth birthday!) it’ll be released. Downright luck. Spencer Hill Press was the first and only submission I made. Don’t slap me through your computer screens, like I said—luck. And I’ll be even luckier if readers like it.

So, that brings me back to the original question—Luck or perseverance? I think we have to have both. One doesn’t exist without the other. At least that’s my belief. What’s yours? Do you find yourself persevering more than getting lucky? Have you found a magic formula? (We’d all likely pay to hear it). Or do you believe, like I do, that luck and perseverance go hand-in-hand?