Writer’s Shelf: On Changing Your Story

I’ll be the first to admit my story wasn’t always a happy one, (although most often pretty funny), so I’d been working for a very long time to change it.  And strangely enough, it seemed like on my 37th birthday, my fairy godmother woke up from a very long bender, looked around and said, “I’ve got a *lot* of work to do. Hold my beer.” And somehow, like the breaking of a curse, all my saved up wishes started coming true.
Dickens said, Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.”
And that’s exactly what I finally got: my own home.  A very strange, but charming house, that needed me just as much as I needed it.  I’ve always wanted to buy a home and fix it up, so the avocado carpet, blue toilet and yellow countertops were all screaming out my name.  Hopefully when I’m done it will be more fairy tale cottage and less disco.  I’ll be posting my home renovations over here.

Now like most writers, I have to have a day job because I haven’t yet learned how to live without things like food and electricity.  But I’ve spent the past 15 years of my life filling out government forms in a windowless basement, so I feel like I can only go up from there.  I managed to snag a new job with more money, less stress and its above ground!  My last day at work was the day before my 38th birthday, because there is no better gift than lack of responsibility.  I’ve got a couple weeks to get my house together and catch up on my sub box reviews before I start my new job, so you’ll finally be seeing all that awesome content I’ve been promising you.
And lastly, the wish possibly closest to my heart: getting published. The Ice Maiden’s Tale, a story that started almost a lifetime ago, was released on May 30, 2017, and not only is it up for sale online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but it’s finally in a brick and mortar store!  On my 38th birthday, The Book Garden in Frenchtown, New Jersey, added my book to their shelves.  They’ve also asked me to join them on Small Business Saturday on November 25, 2017, along with some other authors.   So you can catch me at The Book Garden from 11:30 to 3 PM, to chat and sign books.  I’ve added a handy dandy events page to the blog, for easy reference. I’ve also gotten some amazing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, a great interview with Author Julie Whitley, and some awesome blog reviews over at Le Coeur de l’Artiste and Bookworm for Kids, plus a cool BookStop page over at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators site.  It’s been busy and wonderful.
So to say it’s been a crazy year, seems to be an understatement.  But for once, it’s been the good kind of crazy. While I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of work I need to do, I wouldn’t change a thing, and I feel like I learned something very important. What I hadn’t realized in all these years of trying and falling short, or killing myself to *almost* make it, is that somewhere along the way I’d stopped actually believing it would change.  I still kept trying, but I didn’t *really* think it was going to lead anywhere.   But somehow, I did what I never thought I could:  I changed my whole world.  So just because things have always gone the way they’ve always gone, doesn’t mean they will continue that way.  If I can change my story, you can change yours.  So take a minute to dust off those old dreams, and start letting out your saved up wishes.  You’d be surprised where they might take you.


THE BACKSTORY
BUY THE ICE MAIDEN’S TALE!
Visit my Author Page on Amazon!

LATEST NEWS: For the Latest News on The Ice Maiden’s Tale.

EVENTS: For the Latest Book Related Events

INSPIRATION: Some of my Inspiration for The Ice Maiden’s Tale.

GOODREADS: The Ice Maiden’s Tale on Goodreads.

If you review children’s books and are interested in reviewing mine, drop me a line about your blog/vlog/zine.

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Writer’s Shelf: Interview with DIY MFA – Writing a Modern Day Fairy Tale

One of the very best things about joining an MFA program are the amazing writers you get to meet.  Among the many awesome alumni from the New School, is the fabulous Gabriela Pereira.  While our time there didn’t overlap (we just missed each other), we ended up connecting at lots of alumni events afterwards.

Gabriela founded a remarkable site called DIY MFA that gives everyone the opportunity to learn about creative writing and work on their craft – even if they can’t enroll in a traditional MFA program.  There are so many helpful posts and interviews chock full of valuable advice that I was so so psyched when Gabriela offered me an opportunity to be featured.

This was my very first podcast interview and Gabriela was super nice and accommodating of a newb like me.  I don’t often get to discuss the details of how to craft a story so it really was a joy to sit down and speak with her.

If you’re interested in creative writing and want to hear about things like crafting a modern fairy tale, using settings as metaphors and how to handle stories inside of stories, head over to DIY MFA and have a listen.

 

THE BACKSTORY

BUY THE BOOK

LATEST NEWS: For the Latest News on The Ice Maiden’s Tale.

INSPIRATION: Some of my Inspiration for The Ice Maiden’s Tale.

GOODREADS: The Ice Maiden’s Tale on Goodreads.
Author Page on Goodreads

If you review children’s books and are interested in reviewing mine, drop me a line about your blog/vlog/zine.

Writer’s Shelf: Author Interview!

Writing is incredibly familiar to me, what’s not is all the stuff that happens after your book is published.
Publicity, book reviews, and (gasp!) interviews.
It’s all so very new and exciting that I’ve got no choice but to share it with you all.

Today, I’m featuring my author interview with the lovely Mayra Calvani over at blogcritics.org.

We discuss writing, why kids are the perfect audience to write for, and of course my fairy tale, adventure novel, “The Ice Maiden’s Tale”.
IceMaidenTale-cover-final

Head over and check it out!

THE BACKSTORY

LATEST NEWS: For the Latest News on The Ice Maiden’s Tale.

INSPIRATION: Some of my Inspiration for The Ice Maiden’s Tale.

GOODREADS: The Ice Maiden’s Tale on Goodreads.

If you review children’s books and are interested in reviewing mine, drop me a line about your blog/vlog/zine.

Writer’s Shelf: The Ice Maiden’s Tale Launch!

When the impossible suddenly becomes possible, you have no choice but to call it a miracle.  And for a very long time, it seemed impossible that my little book, The Ice Maiden’s Tale, would ever get published, but it turns out today is a day for miracles.
Stacks of Books
You can now buy my middle-grade, fairy tale, adventure novel, “The Ice Maiden’s Tale”, on Amazon! Kindle and print copies are available.

Audrey Hepburn said, “If I’m honest I have to tell you I still read fairy-tales and I like them best of all.”

There is a wonder and magic in fairy tales that no other kind of story can capture.  When you hear the words “Once upon a time…” it’s a promise that there’s an amazing adventure about to come and that whatever monsters you face can be beaten, and no matter how dark the path seems it can still lead you to a happy ending.  Fairy tales aren’t just for children.  Fairy tales are for everyone.

So if you’re with me and Audrey, I think you’ll love “The Ice Maiden’s Tale.”  It’s got adventure, monsters, magic, romance and tons of surprises.
Pick up a copy and tell me what you think!

I’ve also got a swanky author page over at Goodreads.  I’d love to see your reviews and answer any questions.

THE BACKSTORY

LATEST NEWS: For the Latest News on The Ice Maiden’s Tale.

INSPIRATION: Some of my Inspiration for The Ice Maiden’s Tale.

GOODREADS: The Ice Maiden’s Tale on Goodreads.

If you review children’s books and are interested in reviewing mine, drop me a line about your blog/vlog/zine.

Writer’s Shelf: The Ice Maiden’s Tale – Kindle Presale!

Every day this book thing seems to get more and more real.  People say “oh so you’re an author now” and I’m like “yeah, right, I guess?” I really need to get better at this stuff.  Anyways, here’s the big thing….now along with 55 gallon drums of lube and banana slicers, you can order my book from Amazon!

Today the Kindle version of my middle-grade, fairy tale, adventure novel, “The Ice Maiden’s Tale”, is up for presale on Amazon!  Print copies will be available on May 30, 2017.

The Ice Maiden’s Tale on Goodreads

To check out some of my inspiration for the book head over to my Ice Maiden’s Tale Pinterest board.

If you review children’s books and are interested in reviewing mine, drop me a line about your blog/vlog.

Writer’s Shelf: The Ice Maiden’s Tale – Book Release & Cover!

At long last, I can share some more details about my book!
Here is the lovely cover for my middle-grade, fairy tale, adventure novel, “The Ice Maiden’s Tale”, set to be released on May 30, 2017 by Xist Publishing.

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
That was the quote I found, on a long ago night, when I was 19 years old.  It sparked a short story about a little boy listening to the tale of a Sculptor and a Sorcerer, both obsessed with bringing an Ice Maiden to life.

On that cold night in Syracuse, there was no way to know how long I would spend carving.  I had no idea how many years that story would spend with me.  How it would open doors and end up as my very first published novel.  I’ve given up on this story so many times, and yet, magically it has never given up on me.

I always joke that this story is easy to read, but very hard to describe, still I’ll try my best:
Every town has an old lady all the children just know is a witch and the quiet burg of Dunkler Wald is no different.  When Johanna and Casper Sullivan need to be babysat by their neighbor, Mrs. Kinder, the town’s resident “witch”, they have no idea what to expect. 

 Their afternoon begins with Mrs. Kinder telling them two intertwining stories.  The first is about a sculptor named Gabriel who believes he sees an angel trapped inside a block of ice and becomes compelled to carve her.  The second story follows Sebastian, a sorcerer, who finds the statue and becomes obsessed with bringing her to life.  Sebastian and Gabriel’s adventures take them through a magical landscape where they encounter creatures like the Goblin Keeper of Lost Things, the Swamp Witch who speaks in rhyme and even a frozen Dragon. At the heart of this two-sided and intertwining fairy tale is the idea that love and redemption can transcend even death.  This strikes Johanna and Casper close to home as the children search for a way to cope with the crisis unfolding in their own family.

I use Pinterest for story ideas, so for a peek at some of my inspiration for this book, you can check out my Ice Maiden’s Tale board.

If you review children’s books and are interested in reviewing mine, drop me a line about your blog/vlog.

I hope you come along with me on the last part of my journey, and together we’ll finally set the angel free.

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WRITER’S SHELF: The Popsugar Book Challenge, Cary Elwes dishes on The Princess Bride & a Publishing Surprise!

It’s a freezing, rainy October weekend (thank you Hurricane Joaquin) so I’ve spent the day taking photos for the blog, making recipes for the you (prepare yourself for my attempt at food blogging) and realizing it’s been hella long since I’ve done a Writer’s Shelf feature and I’m overdue for some catch up.

Now before I jump into the books for my Popsugar 2015 Book Challenge, I have a big announcement to make. After forever and a day, (roughly), I have finally sold my first book! My middle grade fairy tale adventure novel, “The Ice Maiden’s Tale” will be published by Xist Publishing in 2016!   Prepare yourself for more writing features that will actually feature my own novel.

Because I’m behind, I’ll be grouping books together.

Book #6
Popsugar Slot: “A memoir”
The Princess Bride
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride
by Cary Elwes & Joe Layden
The Princess Bride is my absolute favorite movie, and coincidentally my soon to be published novel was inspired a lot by it. This book is about the making of the movie and it was fun, quick read. The highlights include that Robin Wright (Buttercup) and Cary Elwes (Westley) had a bit of a crush on each other, Cary Elwes actually was knocked unconsciously when he was hit on the head by the 6 fingered man, the swordfight scene took an epic amount of training, and Andre the Giant was the nicest, coolest dude ever.  (He really deserves his own book).  If the movie is one of your faves, add this to your must read list.
QUOTE:
“As you wish” – Could I really choose anything else?
WRITER’S LESSON:
Apparently it took eons before someone could get the Princess Bride made into a movie and it didn’t find its audience until it was released on video after which it became a cult classic. The lesson I’ve learned from this and (my own struggle with publishing) is that eventually your story will find it’s way to the right audience. Sometimes you just have to wait it out.
BOOK SUGGESTION:
I don’t read many memoirs but I was moved and intrigued by Ekaterina Gordeeva’s book, “My Sergei: A Love Story” which detailed her life in skating with her late husband. It’s an oldie, but still good.

Book #7
Popsugar Slot: “A book at the bottom of your to-read list”
Bel Canto
Bel Canto
by Ann Patchett
A classmate of mine in grad school, Morgan Matson, gave me this book to read. I started and for some reason I put it down and didn’t pick it up again. It’s been quite a few years since then and the books in my “to read” basket quickly covered this one up. It was literally at the bottom. It’s a beautiful, lyrical story about how humans behave and treat each other in extreme circumstances, using music as a link between them. As a musician,  that aspect was quite compelling and I found this book to be an inspiring read.
QUOTE:
“She sang as if she was saving the life of every person in the room.”
WRITER’S LESSON:
Sometimes focusing on one sense (like sound or scent) can make compelling descriptions and are interesting ways to link emotions to the scenes unfolding.
BOOK SUGGESTION:
I can’t really suggest something from the bottom of your personal “to-read” list so I’ll suggest a book I loved where music played an important part. “When Venus Fell” by Deborah Smith is one of my favorite romance novels and features heroine Venus Arinelli, a concert pianist.

Book #8
Popsugar Slot: “A book that came out the year you were born”
The Neverending Story
The Neverending Story
by Michael Ende
I was born in 1979 and before I started googling, I was concerned at what I’d have to choose from. Turns out, 1979 was a great year for books and included such gems as “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, “The Dead Zone” and “The Elephant Man”. Because I am obsessed with children’s lit and fantasy adventure, I opted for “The Neverending Story”. This was originally published in German and follows the adventures of the chubby, bullied Bastian as he escapes to and out of Fantasia. I’m not sure if it’s the translation or the Germanic origin, but the book felt almost as though it were written more for an adult audience than for children.  That being said, I do think the world of Fantasia would be enchanting for all ages.
QUOTES:
“”He didn’t like books in which dull, cranky writers describe humdrum events in the very humdrum lives of humdrum people. Reality gave him enough of that kind of thing, why should he read about it? Besides, he couldn’t stand it when a writer tried to convince him of something. And these humdrum books, it seemed to him were always trying to do just that.”
WRITER’S LESSON:
Never try to convince Bastian of anything.
But seriously, you have to be sneaky when you want to teach someone a lesson in your story. Nothing is worse than preachy prose.
BOOK SUGGESTION:
1979 was a great year for literature both the highbrow and of the more sensational variety. “Flowers in the Attic” by V.C. Andrews is my suggestion as it built an entire genre. Even if incestuous romance stories aren’t your thing, you need to read it just for the OMG factor.   (Plus it’s one of the few V.C. Andrews books actually written by her.)

Book #9
Popsugar Slot: “A Pulitzer Prize-winning book”
middlesex
Middlesex
by, Jeffrey Eugenides
Sometimes I think “real” literature is wasted on me and when I don’t love award winning books I’m afraid the Lit police are going to show up at my door and confiscate my writing degrees. I’d been wanting to read Middlesex for a long time and considering all the current discussion about gender and the role it plays in an individual’s life, this seemed a timely choice.   It had some great spots but I really wanted to hear more about our hermaphrodite narrator, Calliope/Cal and how she/he matured through adulthood  rather than hundreds upon hundreds of pages about grandparents and parents and even about sperm. It took me a ridiculous amount of time to finish it and when I finally did it felt like I’d been let out of jail.
I’m sorry. Please don’t take away my MFA.
QUOTES:
“Jerome was sliding and climbing on top of me and it felt like it had the night before, like a crushing weight. So the boys and men announce their intentions. They cover you like a sarcophagus lid. And call it love.”
WRITER’S LESSON:
You can’t tell every story even tangentially related to your main story without losing something. Backstory is important but not at the cost of your main story and lead character.
BOOK SUGGESTION:
I’ll admit I haven’t read tons of Pulitzer winners as a lot of the stories just don’t quite appeal to me. However, To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee is perfection. I’m actually a little afraid to read “Go Set a Watchman” because I don’t want it to mess with my feelings for Lee’s first book.

I’ll be back soon with another bunch of books from my list.
If you’re participating in the challenge I’d love to hear your choices for the various categories and if you’re not, I’d just love to hear your recommendations for books!

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