Do You Speak Cat? by Jessica MudalyAdd a Comment
Do You Speak Cat? by Jessica MudalyAdd a Comment
I’ve had a lot of people tell me lately that life is not a bowl of cherries. I’m not sure what they’re trying to accomplish by the routing of this cliché. Is this supposed to make me feel better?
I was in Florida for a week, and I never wanted to come back to Phoenix. I wanted Jake to move to the beach with the dogs and me. Burn our house down. Forget about our jobs, our belongings. Become perpetual beach bums. I could bartend; he could fix and rent out bicycles. So long as we were near the sand, the water, and the lifestyle.
While there with my brilliant Aunt Susie, we scattered Grandpa Schwind’s ashes into the sea. She reminisced; he never missed a sunset when he was down on Longboat Key. He would wander to the beach at night and say, “Thank you, God.” He planned his whole day around it.Susie and I had an amazing week together. We rode beach cruisers to visit the friendly peacocks down the street. We spent all day at the beach and saw two baby sharks. We drank Kryptonite cocktails at the Daiquiri Deck, and I ate enough oysters to kill a small child. I even took a long walk on the beach in the middle of a torrential rainstorm.
I came back to Phoenix, hoping to keep the “beach mindset,” and I failed immediately. Life got in the way. First, there was the aforementioned “chicken incident.” There was an overburden of work and the stress of trying to sell our house. There was a premenstrual emotional breakdown on Saturday. Finally, yesterday morning, a close friend of mine passed away.
The bowl of cherries comment came about when I admitted to someone I didn’t really want to live in Phoenix anymore. I want to move back east. I want to be near the ocean again, and the longing to do so is a resounding ache in my chest.
Then, David died yesterday, and a friend told me death was just part of life and that life isn’t easy and mortality is a bitch and blah blah blah—I don’t know if this kind of talk helps other people, but it only makes me angry.
People telling me life is hard does not help. People giving advice only makes things worse. I need to channel the girl I was on the beach last week, walking in the rain with the tide on my toes. She was so blissfully happy, filled with joy. She was free.
My Grandpa Schwind would have wanted me to be that girl always, every day. David (who reminded me so much of Papa) would have wanted the same. In the past six months, I’ve said goodbye to both of them—such joyful, peaceful, kind men, who would never, ever say, “Life is not a bowl of cherries.”
I need to find the girl I was on the beach, but I need to remember these two important men I’ve lost, as well. We scattered Papa on the beach because now, he can watch the sunset every night. Every night, he can say “Thank you, God.” I am utterly lost, but I can’t buy into this bullshit about life not being fair, life being hard. The negativity will drown me.
I won’t listen. I won’t hear. I’m done being told to keep a stiff upper lip, to be strong. Another friend recently said I needed “joy and ease.” She wanted me to say it like a mantra: “joy and ease.” Okay, I can get behind that. Life might be hard, but it’s also a lot of fun. Screw anyone who says otherwise.
As I say at the beginning of my review of Korean director Bong Joon-Ho's first English-language film, if you're like me then the first thing you ever heard about Snowpiercer was that it was in danger of being chopped down and dumbed down by its distributors for the sake of English-speaking audiences. And then you were probably incensed, not only because you're fully capable of watching aAdd a Comment
I took this photo of my fat cat.
For an author of a series called “Scary Tales,” it impossible not to feel a little inspired.Add a Comment
Amazing Grace . . . The Ultimate Forgiveness by Karen AyersAdd a Comment
The new flowers are coming up early in my backyard. I usually see them in May, but they are sprouting right up.
The roses are peeking their heads up.
The Rosemary has kicked butt growing like crazy. I must need this essence big time.
What is right in your backyard can help you heal. How cool is that? Want to learn more about these plants and others how they can help you and your animals heal?
Join me FRIDAY in the FLOWER ESSENCE ONLINE CLASS for 6 weeks of fun exploring, experimenting and learning how flowers can heal. We may even meet a few fairies or two in the process! Register and sign up HERE right now. Returning students, get $10 off tuition!
Here Comes the Easter Cat
by Deborah Underwood; illus. by Claudia Rueda
Preschool Dial 80 pp.
1/14 978-0-8037-3939-0 $16.99 g
Cat discovers an advertisement for the Easter Bunny’s arrival on the front endpapers of this witty offering, and from the very first page he is unhappy about it. The text addresses Cat directly throughout the book, and he responds using placards, humorous expressions, and body language to convey his emotions to great effect. When asked what’s wrong, Cat explains that he doesn’t understand why everyone loves the Easter Bunny. To assuage Cat’s jealousy, the text suggests that he become the Easter Cat and “bring the children something nice too.” Intrigued, Cat plans his gift idea (chocolate bunnies with no heads), transportation method (a motorcycle faster than that hopping bunny), and a sparkly outfit (complete with top hat). But multiple naps are an important part of Cat’s daily routine. When he discovers that the Easter Bunny doesn’t take any naps while delivering all his eggs, a forlorn Cat devises an unselfish way he can instead assist the hard-working rabbit. Rueda expertly uses white space, movement, and page turns to focus attention on Cat and the repartee. The combination of Underwood’s knowledgeable authorial voice and Rueda’s loosely sketched, textured ink and colored-pencil illustrations make this an entertaining, well-paced tale for interactive story hours. And if he isn’t going to usurp the Easter Bunny, then clever Cat will just have to take over another ho-ho-holiday.Add a Comment
As I announced earlier this month, I'll be offering a free copy of the eBook edition of Saving the Planet & Stuff for Earth Day, which is next Tuesday, April 22. How do you get a chance to win? Leave a comment on any of my blog posts today through next Tuesday. We'll compile all the names and Computer Guy will use a program he created to randomly select a winner. You're welcome to comment as many days as you like, but we're only going to be counting you once.
The winner will be announced and notified next Wednesday, April 23. That just happens to be World Book Night, so we'll be celebrating two events at once.
Saving the Planet is available for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo.
"Sixteen-year-old Michael agrees to intern for an environmental magazine, The Earth’s Wife, and finds himself in over his head in politics—of both the environmental and the office kind. This eco-comedy contrasts the radical idealism of the 1960s with twenty-first-century “me-ism.”" That's how Saving the Planet is described on a list of science-themed books at the ALA website.
Wondering why I'm asking for comments instead of including one of those Rafflecopter things? Well, I rarely do giveaways here, so I decided that making the effort to learn how to use Rafflecopter wasn't a good use of my time. Besides, am I the only person who finds them less than attractive?
Let the comments begin.
Rings of seahorses that seem to rotate on the page. Butterflies that transform right before your eyes into two warriors with their horses. A mosaic portrait of oceanographer Jacques Cousteau made from seashells. These dazzling and often playful artistic creations manipulate perspective so cleverly that they simply outwit our brains: we can’t just take a quick glance and turn away. They compel us to look once, twice, and over and over again, as we try to figure out exactly how the delightful trickery manages to fool our perceptions so completely. Of course, first and foremost, every piece is beautiful on the surface, but each one offers us so much more. From Escher’s famous and elaborate “Waterfall” to Shigeo Fukuda’s “Mary Poppins,” where a heap of bottles, glasses, shakers, and openers somehow turn into the image of a Belle Epoque woman when the spotlight hits them, these works of genius will provide endless enjoyment.
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Sterling (August 1, 2007)
Get it on Amazon: Masters of Deception: Escher, Dalí & the Artists of Optical Illusion
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Another opportunity for all young ( or old) writers out there.
Originally posted on Writing and Illustrating:
Recognizing that Samuel Clemens (aka: Mark Twain) began writing at an early age and to encourage other young authors, we welcome submissions for two categories:
Celebrity Judges for Adults are: Roy Blount, Jr., Colin McEnroe, and Lucy Ferris.
Celebrity Judges for Young Authors are: Tim Federle, author of Better Nate Than Ever, and Jessica Lawson, author of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher.
Submit your original humorous essays and stories for a chance at a cash prize, the opportunity to meet bestselling authors at our annual “Mark My Words” event, and best of…
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Sunni: The Life and Love of King Tutankhamun’s Wife by Julianna BoyerAdd a Comment
Submissions needed—only a couple left in the queue after this week.
If you’d like a fresh look at your opening chapter or prologue, please email your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.
The Flogometer challenge: can you craft a first page that compels me to turn to the next page? Caveat: Please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective.
Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.
What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below--new: I've added a request to post the rest of the chapter.
A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.
Before you rip into today’s submission, consider this list of 6 vital storytelling ingredients from my book, Flogging the Quill, Crafting a Novel that Sells. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.
Evaluate the submission—and your own first page—in terms of whether or not it includes each of these ingredients, and how well it executes them. The one vital ingredient not listed is professional-caliber writing because that is a must for every page, a given.
Stephanie sends the first chapter of The End. The rest of the chapter continues below the fold.
As I walk down the beach on the last day of the Columbus Day weekend, I wonder if am the only one who feels it. Maybe I’m just crazy, but then I see the fear in the eyes of those I pass. Even if they are smiling, it is there, the fear. We all feel it, every person on this planet, but if we don’t talk about it maybe it will just go away. Who would want to be the first to mention it? People would call you crazy, even if in their hearts they know you are right. So we all just keep working and going on as if nothing is wrong, but waiting for it to begin and wondering what will happen when it does.
We are all preparing in our own ways. Some have built bunkers and gathered supplies, some have a contingency plan on paper or maybe just in their head but nothing concrete. Then there are those of us who are in the middle, we don’t have a well supplied bunker but we have a…..stash of things we might need when that day comes and a sort of plan to go with it. We think about how much we will miss things like chocolate bars, wine and coffee and brainstorm about ways to preserve the things we will miss the most. We decide where to go, if leaving is possible and consider the pros and cons of each possible location and what to take with us and what to leave behind. The more pessimistic at heart are checking things off their bucket lists before it’s too late and maybe even devising an exit strategy.
It’s sad really, this thing that should be uniting us is not. It is driving us more and more (snip)Would you turn Stephanie's first page?
I do like the voice and the writing in this narrative, but I didn’t respond to simply a character musing about two “it”s, the second of which is only implied. The first “it” is the fear that the character says she sees in everyone’s eyes. The second “it” is what they fear—only it is never really defined other than a range of possibilities. This narrative seems more like a prologue to me, and I would like to see, instead, the actual story, the part where something happens to this character that makes her struggle and deal with things. See what you think if you read the rest after the fold.
For what it’s worth.
Submitting to the Flogometer:
Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):
Flogging the Quill © 2014 Ray Rhamey, story © 2014 Stephanie
(continued) inward, making us keep secrets even from those we have rarely kept them before. We tell ourselves that our fear is irrational, but we know it is not. When the lights blink, we wonder has it begun. Every storm, or drought or sinkhole or earthquake could be the tipping point, so we silently go over our plans and gather those we love around us under the guise of movie night or dinner or painting the den. Whatever it takes to have those we want with us near, just in case.
Some days, I am so tired of my job and my life that I wish for it to begin, most Mondays as a matter of fact. Maybe it will be a good thing, a time to hit reset. A chance to make things better. Sometimes out of the rubble something beautiful emerges, something wonderful. But, then again, it could just be a slow painful death.
We can’t stop it. The signs are there to see if we only look, but we don’t like to look. There are too many of us living too well for the Earth to sustain and the Earth seeks balance. It will come one way or another, the Earth will get her way and we are powerless to stop her. She’s done it before and she will do it again, the black plague, the ice age, tsunamis, floods and droughts. Which tool will she choose this time?
Everyone scoffed about the ending of the Mayan calendar and made fun of those who were ready for the end that day, but we were secretly relieved when that day came and went without incident. We patted ourselves on the back for not holing up in a shelter, or stockpiling food, water and ammo while at the same time, we knew we had dodged a bullet.
There will likely be no warning. It will probably begin innocently enough. Some people will get sick and we will think that the epidemic is contained but it won’t be, or a drought will make our already overtaxed water supply insufficient. We will be encouraged to conserve and told it will be okay, but it won’t. Things that we thought we had conquered will return to exact revenge, things like cholera, dysentery, smallpox and the plague. Or maybe it will be a large catastrophic event that will change everything in a moment.
I didn’t realize how long I had been walking, as I turned to head back I saw the sun was just about to set. I stood still and watched until that magical moment when dusk began, then I hurried back up the beach before it got dark. Tomorrow I was going back and it made me sad because I felt more at peace somehow at the beach, more alive.
My clients talk about the editing I do:
"Ray has been the most influential part of my writing process. I don't know what I would have done without him! His advice has taken my writing to a new level and I can't believe the growth I've seen in my own processes! I would recommend Ray to anyone looking for a professional, yet personal editing approach. I can't say enough about how happy I am that I've had him to work with or about the turn my writing has taken because of his help!" Jennifer Bush
Visit my website for more info on services and fees.
We are so proud of our children’s book, The Bee Bully. He is being featured currently on Bookbub.com through April 17th and he is being very well received. He is currently #4 on Amazon’s Movers and Shakers List for kindle and he is #1 in the Children’s Ebook category. He has been reduced to $.99 during this promotion period and has over 80 five-star reviews. Be sure to get a copy today and see what all the buzz is about!
Pushcart Prize-winning author Rick Bass has signed a two book deal with Little, Brown and Company.
Bass will deliver an untitled collection of new and selected stories, as well as Eating My Heroes, a nonfiction book about his meals with those that influenced him. Little, Brown and Company senior editor Ben George will edit both books. “I am keen to work on these two new projects with Little, Brown and Ben George, whose editing is as intense and sharp as I could hope for,” stated George. “Working with Houghton and my gifted editors there over two decades was never anything but fun. Everyone was family, and I will miss them. But I continue to be fortunate, and I look forward to the exciting work ahead with Little, Brown.”
The books are slated for publication in early 2016 and early 2017, respectively.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.Add a Comment
As I write Dreams and Fantasies Untold, I experience the
many spiritual mysteries unveiling. Christian Fantasy is amazing!
Deeper than our deepest longings, fairy tales tell truths about our inner and outer world, truths that are either too obvious for modern men or too truthful. Take, for instance, Little Red Riding Hood. It affirms that the world is dangerous, that there is an evil wolf that will eat us up if given the chance. Yet there is also a huntsman who can slay the wolf and save us. The great themes of sin and redemption are encapsulated in such a story in a clever and deeply symbolic way.
It’s All About the Good News
GK Chesterton said that the deepest truth about fairy tales was not that dragons exist, but that they can be beaten. Who doesn’t see the bad news about dragons? They lurk all around us in our broken world. It’s the good news of their…
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Meet and get to know former Justice League of America superhero and Happiness Engineer extraordinaire, David Cole.Display Comments Add a Comment
Vampires, werepeople, and yetis — oh my! In this month’s Notes from the Horn Book newsletter, I get to ask Cynthia Leitich Smith five questions about her (ahem) tantalizing new series Feral, a spin-off to her Tantalize quartet. Other goodies in this issue:
• more YA fantasy series entries
• picture books about the big city
• recommended reading for National Poetry Month
• intermediate books about wartime
Read the issue online here, or subscribe to receive Notes from the Horn Book newsletter (and its supplement Nonfiction Notes) in your inbox. Find more recommended books and interviews in the newsletter archives.Add a Comment
National Book Award nominated author Dave Eggers has a surprise book coming out June 17th. The new book from Knopf is called Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?
Amazon already has the book available for presale. Check it out:
In a barracks on an abandoned military base, miles from the nearest road, Thomas watches as the man he has brought wakes up. Kev, a NASA astronaut, doesn’t recognize his captor, though Thomas remembers him. Kev cries for help. He pulls at his chain. But the ocean is close by, and nobody can hear him over the waves and wind. Thomas apologizes. He didn’t want to have to resort to this. But they really needed to have a conversation, and Kev didn’t answer his messages. And now, if Kev can just stop yelling, Thomas has a few questions.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.Add a Comment