Magic Mirror

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“Mirror, Mirror, on the wall. Who’s the fairest of them all?” Don’t ask. Especially when you’re looking into a lighted magnified mirror. As a matter of fact, don’t do that either. I beg you. JUST DON’T DO IT.

I asked my mother for a magnified makeup mirror for my birthday. She did ask, “Are you sure you want that?” She knew. I didn’t listen. I should have. I’ll never be the same again.

The problem was the lighting in my bathroom wasn’t good enough for me to see every little thing on my face.(Why did I think I needed to see every little thing on my face? Have I lost my mind completely? Don’t answer that.)  I don’t see as well as I used to in a dimly lit environment. It’s not easy to climb up on the sink, get right against the mirror, and see the ugly little unwanted hairs hanging out on my face.

So, I thought one of those magnified mirrors surrounded by light would be great to have at my house. My mother granted my birthday wish and now I had a mirror of my own. The mirror might even help me blend my makeup better. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Do you know what I saw? Something right out of Stephen King novel, that’s what. I saw lines deep and endless mapping a path along my face and long, uncontrollable hairs reaching out their tentacles to grab me and drag me to the other side of that mirror where the evil stepmother lives. I saw every pore, red spot, and broken blood vessel laying claim to my skin. I jumped back, heart hammering in my chest. When I glanced in the regular mirror, the monster had disappeared, drawn back to its place of hiding just waiting for me to peer into the darkness of its depth.

There I was, staring into the regular mirror, for the time being. The me I recognized, but I knew I had to glance back into the swollen world inside that lighted mirror. I had to rescue my appearance from those hairy tentacles and uneven landscape. I couldn’t let my skin be at the mercy of those monsters. I had to be brave. I looked again.

This time I was prepared. Tweezers securely held between my fingers. Makeup blending brush at the ready. I held my breath and attacked. Searching for things that did not belong, yanking and removing. I focused only on the task at hand and didn’t dare search out anything else until I was done. Allowing my eyes to wander in a magnified mirror only made me nauseous. It’s too much like spinning in the tea cups.

I brushed, covered and applied. The heat from the light brought beads of sweat to my lip making my work slip and slide around my face. Entrenched so deep in facial warfare I was uncertain of when it would end. Had I missed anything? Who would notice? And had they noticed before but were too polite to point out the hairs of my chinny, chin, chin?

Scarred and battered, I was done. The fight was over. The makeup on. It was time to pull out of the magical makeup mirror, bright with light, and glance back into the poorly lit bathroom mirror.

“Not so bad,” I said, but I was blinded by light and exhausted from battle. What did I know? I knew only that horrible mirror would be shoved deeply inside the cabinet and only looked into when the choices were few or before an important event.

 

 

 

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Editing Tip Tuesday

25 buttonRecently I heard an author describe his book to a potential reader. And then I watched the reader’s face glaze over. It happened more than once. No one bought a book. What went wrong?

I’ll tell you. He never told the reader what his book was about, but he went on and on for several minutes. This may not be a traditional editing tip, like how many words you need for a thriller novel, (around 90,000 – 110,000) but once your book is published you have to sell it. No matter which publishing road you take. The author is always selling. And even before you sell it, you might be pitching to an editor or agent. You have to be able to tell others what your book is about.

In 25 words! Okay, I’ll give you one or two more, but it needs to be in one sentence. Have you heard of the elevator pitch? That’s what this is. Thirty seconds to tell someone what your book is about. Not five minutes like my author friend from earlier.

Here’s mine from my first book, Welcome To Kata-Tartaroo: A thirteen year-old boy was catapulted to the scariest place imaginable and has twenty-four hours to collect three mystical objects to save him and his two new friends.

That was twenty-eight words. Now, if I have a chance to explain more to my reader I can, but if I can’t, you get an idea what that book is about. It’s middle grade (thirteen year-olds), probably a fantasy (mystical objects and catapulted to the scariest place imaginable), has thriller like elements (twenty-four hours ticking time bomb), friendship (two new friends) I’ve told you a lot without making your eyes glaze over.

Ask yourself what the core of your book is about. Write it down. Or do you already have back cover copy? Does that truly reflect the essence of your story? Cut that down. But if you’re doing this for the first time write down your core message. Don’t worry about the word count yet. Then you’re going to put your editor hat on and you’re going to cut that message down. Keep the 25 word count in mind. Aim for that. Bounce it off your critique partners. Or other writer friends. You’ll know when you’re ready.

Any questions? I love to hear from you. Drop a line. Twenty-five words or less. 😉

#Sale

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It’s the last day to get Welcome To Bibliotheca for $.99 for Kindle.

A little about the book:

Thirteen year-old Gabriel Hunter survived Kata-Tartaroo and wants to go home, which is surprising for a Lesser like him, but instead he and his friends, Owen and Corinna, are forced into another terrifying world – Bibliotheca – where the sun never shines, the temperatures are freezing and the snow pummels you. To make matters worse, Gabriel and his friends have been taken captive by Yugs.

The Yugs will send these three back home, but only if they agree to help with their mission: Enter the Building of Books, a magical labyrinth filled with dangerous puzzles, locate the Command Center, and outsmart the Wolf before he outwits them.

In this fast-paced follow-up to Welcome to Kata-Tartaroo, Gabriel, Owen, and Corinna must rely on each other to save themselves and save the Yugs. Along the way, secrets will be revealed, friendships will be renewed, and Gabriel will learn leaders come in all shapes and sizes. It’s a race against time to see if Gabriel and his friends will solve the puzzles and destroy the Wolf or be left in Bibliotheca forever.

$.99 Sale For A Limited Time

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Book Two in the Gabriel Hunter Series

Don’t you get a huge charge when you find something on sale? Buying on sale is like getting away with something. Or is that just me who feels that way?

In honor of the release of my third book, Welcome To Skull MountainI’ve put the Kindle version of book two in the series, Welcome To Bibliothecaon sale for $.99 January 9 – 10th. If you haven’t read the second book yet, now’s a great time. It’s too cold to go outside, but the perfect time to make a cup of tea and curl up with a good book.

A little about the book:

Thirteen year-old Gabriel Hunter survived Kata-Tartaroo and wants to go home, which is surprising for a Lesser like him, but instead he and his friends, Owen and Corinna, are forced into another terrifying world – Bibliotheca – where the sun never shines, the temperatures are freezing and the snow pummels you. To make matters worse, Gabriel and his friends have been taken captive by Yugs.

The Yugs will send these three back home, but only if they agree to help with their mission: Enter the Building of Books, a magical labyrinth filled with dangerous puzzles, locate the Command Center, and outsmart the Wolf before he outwits them.

In this fast-paced follow-up to Welcome to Kata-Tartaroo, Gabriel, Owen, and Corinna must rely on each other to save themselves and save the Yugs. Along the way, secrets will be revealed, friendships will be renewed, and Gabriel will learn leaders come in all shapes and sizes. It’s a race against time to see if Gabriel and his friends will solve the puzzles and destroy the Wolf or be left in Bibliotheca forever.

You can get Welcome To Bibliotheca here. Why not get away with something?

 

 

Let’s Try This Again….

This baby will be born in November.
This baby will be born in November.

Welcome To Skull Mountainbook three in the Gabriel Hunter series, will be out in November if it kills me and it just might.

Let me tell you a little about writing a book: it’s hard! And it doesn’t get any easier with each book you write. Sure, there are mechanical elements that have to be in every story, and I’m not talking about comma placement, but it seems the more I know the harder it is to write. I say things to myself like, “that can’t happen,” or “don’t forget on page 59 the character said this.” I won’t bore you with the nonsense that runs around in my head.

I’ve heard this analogy a million times, but it’s worth repeating. Writing a book is the same as birthing a baby. For those of you who have birthed your babies you’ll understand, and for everyone else, trust me. I spend months writing a first draft, just like a pregnancy. There’s research to do, like I did when I was having Noodge 1. “Ooh, what does the baby look like this week???!!” The story has to get on the page, just like the baby must grow in womb.

But the editing process is just like the labor and delivery. And if you were like me and gave birth without the aid of pharmaceuticals (not my choice, believe me) the pain of reworking your novel rivals that of pushing a child into the world. Because when Skull Mountain will finally be done, I’ll be panting, sweating, thinking I’m not going to survive, and wondering why the heck I thought writing this book was a good idea to begin with.

Then when your baby is born, wearing a beautiful new cover with your name printed on it and crisp, clean pages to flip on the inside filled with your magical words that come to life, you’ll want everyone in the world to know about it because you created it. “Look what I made! Me! I did that! Can you believe it??!!” Just like having a baby.

You’re going to want everyone to come over and visit with the baby. You’ll want them to hold it, see how marvelous it is, and then write a great review about it so others will want to pick up your baby and drool over it too.

The difference is your book will never sass you back. It won’t know more than you do, think you’re old no matter how long ago you wrote it, and it won’t go to the therapist some day blaming their failures or bad book rankings on you.

Skull Mountain is in the labor and delivery process now. This has been a very long delivery for me since I decided to trash the original version of this book and start over. But come November, you’ll have a brand-new pretty copy to hold in your hands or download to your Kindle. I hope you’ll come visit us on the maternity floor and ooh and aah over it. I’ll have the cannolis. I’ll need it.

A Writer’s Life

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Hard to believe my desk looks like this on a regular basis. I blame it on the creative side of my brain knocking out the more sensible, organized side. The bitch.

Have you ever wondered how a writer spends her day? She must be sitting at her computer with hands flying over the keys. Her characters jump around in her head to be heard. The whole world outside of her office stays at bay until she pushes herself out of her imagination ready and energized to face the real world.

Now this is what an average day looks like for me. Let’s take today:

  • Delayed opening at school because it won’t stop snowing. (I hate the winter. You will never hear me complain about the dog days of summer, but these days filled with blinding white snow and temperatures that freeze your blood in its veins, I complain about all the time.) The morning is two hours behind even before the alarm goes off.
  • Forgot to pack up my donations to Big Brothers Big Sisters and they were arriving by 7 am so right after feeding the dog, I packed up four garbage bags of clothing, small appliances, and books.
  • After delivering two Noodges to their respective bus stops at the respective times, neither of them the same, slapped on some face paint and went next door to talk to the neighbors about feeding their cat. Needed the face paint not to scare the neighbors and hadn’t had time for any caffeine to shock the look of exhaustion out of my eyes because I forgot to mention the load of laundry I also did before the school buses arrived.
  • Have you noticed I haven’t written one word yet?
  • Received the instructions from the neighbor on how to care for their spoiled rotten cat while they are away, hopefully going some place that never sees snow, and what should have taken fifteen minutes took an hour.
  • Where I am interrupted by several calls from Noodge 1 and the Coffee King. Noodge is sick. Go and pick him up at school.
  • Again, no writing. No, characters jumping out of my head and onto the page. The outside world has parked itself front and center blocking my path like the pile of ice at the end of my driveway the town saw fit to dump there after we shoveled ourselves out.
  • By now, I have to eat lunch because I eat every three hours to keep my sugar level from crashing and you don’t want to be around me when that happens. Trust me.
  • Two more phone calls from the Coffee King.
  • And finally, after checking emails that have piled up from yesterday, I sit before my computer to craft another story, to find a way to meet more readers, to build this business of writing that calls to me like a mental illness.

A writer’s life isn’t glamorous unless of course, you’re Stephen King. I’m certain the outside world stays far away from him until he surfaces for fear of being eaten alive. There are days where the words just don’t come. My characters will do anything but talk to me and I find myself staring at a blank screen hoping that a remnant of an idea will find its way out.  There are constant interruptions especially because I have two Noodges, a big, furry, puppy who wants to play all day long and sheds enough hair on a daily basis to make a king size comforter, a husband and a home.

I choose to allow those interruptions to weave their way in sometimes. How much longer will I be needed by Noodge 1 when he isn’t feeling well? His adulthood is in sight, it might still be in the distance, but I can see it’s ugly little head coming right at me. If I can’t stop and enjoy a conversation with my neighbors, whose door will I knock on when I lock myself out of the house without my cell?

Oh, but I long for uninterrupted writing time too. It’s a constant juggle. One I take on gladly. Now, I have to go make a cup of tea to warm my hands by, put on another pair of socks because I lost the feeling in my toes hours ago, and then, maybe then, I’ll craft the beginnings of my newest book.

 

Don’t forget, coming this spring, book three in the Gabriel Hunter series:

Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series
Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series

The Newsletter Is Here

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I’ve got some exciting stuff happening this month. First up is my brand new author Newsletter! I’ll be sending it out about four times a year filled with info on my books and appearances along with fun activities for my younger readers and giveaways. There’s a gift card giveaway in the November newsletter due to hit the stands (ha, I’m dating myself here) November 10th. All you have to do is find the hidden object. (Sound familiar?)

If you’re interested in receiving the newsletter in your inbox just click on the image above or on the left side of the blog. I promise I won’t sell your name for anything less than $20. Just kidding. $50. Okay, okay. No solicitation. Promise.

Also, on Saturday, November 15th from 1-4 I will be at the Hillsborough Public Library, in Hillsborough, NJ for their Authors’ Day. I’m one of a few children’s book authors in attendance so come and by and say hi. Books make great holiday gifts. I know I have a few on my list.

Happy November!