Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Power of Hidden Gems

Rockstar Jessica Bell has taken over my blog today.  
And I've taken over  HER BLOG!

We're both in and writing about the From Stage Door Shadows anthology.  

The cover is inspired by her short story. 

       When Jodi Cleghorn of eMergent Publishing asked if I would like to write a story for one of their speculative fiction anthologies, From Stage Door Shadows, I jumped at the chance. Not only because it was the first time anyone had ever actually solicited my writing (and I was damn excited), but because it was related to music—my specialty! But, I had never written speculative fiction before, so I was feeling a little angsty about that.

       Once the authors were finalized we were all sent the lyrics to the song the anthology is based on. But I was unlucky. I didn't get the prompt I wanted! And I panicked! Great, I thought. I have to write in a style I'm not familiar with and with a prompt that doesn't inspire me? My story is going to be bollocks ...

Blessing in disguise? Absolutely.

       My lyric prompt, from the song Tiny Dancer, was "LA Lady". So, I asked Jodi if I could be creative with it and give the acronym an alternative meaning, and she was all for it. So LA Lady in my story, entitled MUTED, stands for Lonely A Capella Lady, instead of a lady from Los Angeles.

       Immediately, upon Jodi's approval, I imagined a hearing-impaired and mute singer who became that way through corporal punishment. I saw translucent temperature-controlled bodysuits made from fetus membrane in her wardrobe, her old clothes hanging limp like dismembered joints, a black lace corset with layers of raw blue-grey silk and tulle fanning out into a skirt. I saw her performance before she was tortured and left to take orders in a totalitarian society. A cross between Maria Callas and Madonna, I thought—“the only woman to ever render an audience of 100,000 mute in seconds.”

Holy cow! Computer! Now!

       Within two hours I had an almost perfect draft of a story written in a genre I had never ever written in before. I had never felt so inspired in my life—and all from a prompt I didn't even want!

       What's my point here, you ask? Well, sometimes shitty things really are for the best. Sometimes we need to have faith that there are hidden gems embedded in our path. This was one such case. Since writing this story, eMergent Publishing have decided to re-release String Bridge this December (which went out of print when my publisher closed down), and they have also partnered with me and my Vine Leaves Literary Journal colleague, Dawn Ius, to bring out The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2012. The opportunity to publish my next novel with them is also in the cards.

      MUTED was my hidden gem. And I haven't been the same since. Not only did the opportunity reaffirm the power of hard work (and luck), but it changed the way I view my writing, my world, and my career, for the better.

What events have acted as positive turning points in your life?

Jessica's links:


Jessica has good news for commenters.  
Her novel, now from eMergent Publishing, String Bridge is free today. 
 See Amazon! And help spread the word.  

Happy Halloween!  xo

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Discovering the Gift

Len and I are both in From Stage Door Shadows!  We thought it would be fun to do a blog swap. 
guest posting about speculative fiction, while she’s interviewed her on my blog. 

What’s the name of your story?

Discovering the Gift

What is your short story about?

It’s about a boy with cerebral palsy with a gift of teleportation, telekinesis and mind-reading.

Where did the idea of your story come from?

There aren’t many books available that have characters with a physical or learning disability. I have a son who has Lennox Gastaut syndrome and cerebral palsy and I’ve been looking for books to read to him, something that he can relate to. So I thought perhaps if there’s very limited books out there, I’d like to write one. My son was the inspiration of that story which really is a complete manuscript but there’s a lot of plot holes so I thought I’d turn it into a short story.

What did you learn from going through the editing experience?

It was a learning experience for me. It was fun and also scary. I didn’t want to make a mistake or to lose the opportunity by not being able to meet the standards of the publisher. But I’m lucky because Jodi Cleghorn, the founding partner and editor of eMergent Publishing, is very supportive and helpful. I’m very grateful to her and eMergent. It’s been a very good experience.

Do you have a specific genre you write or do you write in a variety of genres?

I write middle grade and women’s fiction.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on two manuscripts at the moment. I’m in the middle of writing a story about a mother who died in her sleep and found herself still in her house even though she’s passed on. I’ve got a temporary title, “When I close my Eyes”. I’m hoping this will see the light of day (cringe). Another story I’m working on is about a boy who has epilepsy. His condition is similar to “Jarryd”, my character in “Discovering the Gift” but this is more realistic, a family story. I’m not very sure yet if this will be a middle grade novel. I’ve written the manuscript more than five times and each began differently. So I have a set of five different 3 to 10 chapters of the same idea but different story structures!

Quick Writing Questions:

Plotter or panster? A mixture of both.

Quiet or music? Quiet. I can’t concentrate with any music on. I’ve tried many times but really can’t.

Laptop or desktop? Desktop

Coffee or tea? Tea. White tea.

Wine or other?  No wine for me. I love coconut water and freshly extracted fruit juice. If I’m out, I’m pretty boring because I don’t drink. I can drink half a glass of red wine, nothing more than that or my knees start to wobble.

Day or night? Night. And sometimes, very early in the morning, around 3 or 4 a.m. when I can’t or haven’t had any sleep at all – that’s when I write.

From Stage Door Shadows can be found at:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Lessons from Lenny Lee

"It is less painful to learn in youth than to be ignorant in age”
- Proverb

As a children’s writer, I believe youth have more to teach me than I could ever hope to teach them. While I pull from past experiences and feelings in my writing, my everyday life is consumed by adult worries, joys, and obligations.

Most of my on-line writer friends are adults.  Lenny Lee was the first child to follow my blog.  I’ve learned much from the few years I’ve known him.

Lessons from Lenny Lee

1.    Don’t let age stop you.

I think back to my youth. It never would’ve occurred to me to contact an author I admired, let alone start collaborations with other writers.  And since the Internet didn’t exist when I was his age (man, I’m old), writers weren’t as accessible as we are now.  Lenny Lee not only writes, but critiques other writers’ manuscripts. He’s part of the writing community! 

2.    If you want to do it well, learn it.

While I breathed books and liked to write, when I was his age, it also never occurred to me I could be a writer.  I thought people were just brilliant at it. If not, then I had no right to pursue it.  Didn’t know there was a whole craft to learn for everyone.  See, he’s smarter than me.  He actually finds out how this whole writing thing works. And does it!

3.    Use your knowledge to give advice to other writers.

Clearly, I didn’t have a blog when I was his age (since the Internet hadn’t even been invented). When I started a blog 3 years ago, I didn’t think I had much writing advice to offer the world. Lenny not only learns about the craft of writing, but also shares his wisdom with others. He has written excellent posts on writing. I’ve learned from reading his blog. 

4.    Be positive.

I don’t want to admit how often I feel sorry for myself. Actually, read the archives, and you can find out.  I’m sure Lenny Lee has down days too, but his blog is all advice and encouragement. 

5.    Have your own unique voice.

It took me YEARS to figure out how to find my voice as a writer.  Read Lenny Lee’s blog and it’s all VOICE.  His personality shines on his blog.  I bet it’s the same for his fiction.

I can no longer call Lenny Lee a child.  
He’s turning 13 TODAY!  
Please visit this teen’s  BLOG

 and wish him a very  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Happy Birthday, Lenny Lee!
May you have many, many more.
It’s great seeing you grow.


Miss Theresa

“Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire.  It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing.”
- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Monday, October 8, 2012