Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Yes, Virginia! There Is a Santa Claus!

On September 21, 1897, this letter appeared in The Sun's letters to the editor section.  It is arguably the most famous letter that ever appeared in a newspaper:

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

So, do you believe?  I do!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mythology Monday: Up on the Housetop, Sleipner Hooves...

Another title for this blog could have been "Here Comes Odin Right Down Odin Lane!"

That's right. It is that time of year again and time to get ready for Odin coming and giving presents and such. Yes, I have probably lost it long ago, but no I'm not like Linus believing in the Great Pumpkin (well, maybe a little). No, I'm referring to Odin's big Yule hunting party.

During Yule, Odin leads a large hunting party through the sky on his great eight-legged horse Sleipnir (a great story about Sleipnir's birth involves Loki, a randy horse, and the rest can wait for another time).

Now Sleipnir can't fly (silly - only reindeer), but he can leap great distances (like the Hulk). Children would leave their boots near the chimney. They filled it with carrots, straw, and sugar so that Sleipnir would be able to eat. Odin, touched by the children's kindness, would fill up the children's boots with sweets and gifts.

Happy Yule!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Writing Wednesday - The Online Card Challenge

The Hour of Code event for now (until the 15th) is how to code your own Javascript holiday card.  What's a writing blog doing showing a coding site?  Well, since this particular course is about creating a card, you can try your hand at writing a pithy, but clever, message for a holiday card.  Writing in any form has its challenges and greeting card writing is no different.  How can you say something original, yet classic, yet creative, yet ... well, you get the idea, in a few words?

So take the challenge.  Go to Learn Street: Hour of Code.  Write the card.  Share your card message with us and let's see if you have a career with Hallmark waiting for you just around the corner.  Plus, you  learn some javascript while you are at it.  How cool is that?

Amazing Gift Idea - But You Must Act Fast

Story Bird is a website ( that allows you to create a picture book, add in artwork from their stock of some pretty amazing art, and publish it.  You can create a pdf, softback, hardback with dust jacket, or premium hardback.

The price?  Membership is free (you can upgrade for more options).  Softback is fifteen bucks.  Premium hardback is thirty.  This is not the way to be self published; however, it is a great way to publish one book for a child in your family.  If you hop on it now, you can get it printed and shipped before Christmas.  It takes about 3 to 5 days for them to print the book and if shipping is nominal, unless you are overnighting it.

It is pretty easy to use.  I just gave my English students an assignment (to all you creative writing teachers out there, you can set up class accounts) to create a story using some of our vocabulary words.  They were able to navigate the site fairly easily - and this is from kids who struggle to check their school email.

If nothing else, it is a great way to practice your picture book writing skills or to just play around.  Let me know if you have had any experience with this site and especially if you have ventured into the paid services.  I would like to know if you feel it is worth it.

Cool service, good art, class accommodations, and cheap printing services - I rate this an A.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Authors on Twitter R - Sc

I'm very curious to know how many of you use Twitter to either follow authors or as an author yourself to build your online platform.  How effective is it for you?

Here is more of the list of authors on Twitter:

Raabe, Chris @authorofanguish
Rafkin, Andrew J. - @AndrewJRafkin
Ramsay, Julie D.- @juliedramsay

Reagan, Susan - @SueReaganTweets
Reber, Romuald - @Rodarima
Redwine, C.J. - @cjredwine

Reekles, Beth - @Reekles
Rees Brennan, Sarah - @sarahreesbrenna
Reichl, Ruth - @ruthreichl

Reid, Aimee - @AimeeEReid
Renier, Aaron - @acornreindeer
Restrepo, Bettina - @BettinaRestrepo

Revis, Beth - @bethrevis
Reynolds, Peter - @peterhreynolds
Richardson, Will - @willrich45

Ricker, Jeffrey - @rickerje
Riefman, Steve - @stevereifman
Riordan, Rick - @camphalfblood

Roach, Mary - @mary_roach
Robbins, Tony - @tonyrobbins
Robinson, Andrea - @ASMRobinson

Robinson, Michelle - @MicheRobinson
Robinson, Sir Ken - @SirKenRobinson
Rocklin, Joanne - @jrocklin

Roman, Dave - @yaytime
Romano, Tony - @antneyromano
Rose, Caroline Starr - @CStarrRose

Rosenblum, Gregg - @GreggRosenblum
Rosenthal, Amy Krouse - @missamykr
Rosenthal, Lorraine Zago - @lorrainezr

Rosin, Nadine M. - @PetParentAuthor
Ross, Elizabeth - @RossElizabeth
Ross, Orna - @OrnaRoss

Rossi, Veronica - @V_Rossibooks
Roth, Ty - @tyrothauthor
Roth, Veronica - @VeronicaRoth

Routman, Regie - @regieroutman
Rowling, JK - @jk_rowling
Rudetsky, Seth - @SethRudetsky

Rush, Jennifer - @Jenn_Rush
Ryan, Carrie - @carrieryan
Ryan Hyde, Catherine - @cryanhyde
Ryan, Trish - @Trishryan

Sagal, Peter - @petersagal
Saenz, Benjamin Alire - @benjaminaliresa
Salisbury, Graham - @sandysalibury

Salter, Sydney - @Sydney_Salter
Sampson, Jeff - @jeffmsampson
Sanderson, Brandon - @BrandSanderson
Santat, Dan - @dsantat

Santiago, Esmerelda - @Esmo
Sassi, Laura - @LauraSassiTales
Sayres, Brianna - @BriannaSayres
Scaletta, Kurtis - @kurtisscaletta

Scattergood, Augusta - @ARScattergood
Schawbel, Dan - @danschawbel
Scheinmel, Alyssa - @AlyssaSheinmel
Schoon, Christian - @cjschoon

Schrefer, Eliot - @EliotSchrefer
Schreiber, Ellen - @ellenschreiber
Schulman, Richard - @alchemylives
Schusterman, Michelle - @Mi_Schu

Schwab, Victoria - @veschwab
Scieszka, Jon - @Jon_Scieszka
Scillian, Devin - @DevinScillian
Scotch, Alison Winn - @ASWinn

Scott, David Meerman - @dmscott
Scott, Elizabeth - @escottwrites
Scott, Michael - @flamelauthor
Scotton, Rob-@robscotton

Saturday, November 30, 2013

1970s Interview with George Lucas

I got this from the Official Star Wars Youtube page.  It is an interview with George Lucas on his original concept for the Star Wars storyline.  I like seeing what authors had in mind when they started their story.  Anyone who has written anything knows that the story often changes as it goes for a variety of reasons.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mythology Monday - Mythical Creatures Quiz

This Monday, I'm handing the entry over to another web site, one where there are 15 quiz questions about mythical creatures.  I did well for a while, but then missed three.  :(

How many did you get right?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

4 Bits of Clever Writing - Doctor Who Style

You do not need to be a Doctor Who fan to enjoy the cleverness of the writing used to make this show such a success.  I've only been a fan of the Doctor for incarnations 9, 10, and 11, but that's been long enough to notice that it is not the special effects or even the actors that make the show.  It's the writing.  The writers think out of the box, which is something we can all learn from.

Here are four examples of some of the cleverest writing on the show:

1. Weeping Angels
"Don't blink. Blink and you're dead. They are fast. Faster than you can believe. Don't turn your back. Don't look away. And don't blink. Good Luck."

What it is

How scary can a stone statue be?  Watch the "Don't Blink" episode to find out.  These creatures look like stone statues of angels covering their faces, but when you are not looking, they move.  They are super fast, so you'll never see them move.  In fact, they cannot move while anyone is looking.  Their defense mechanism is that they are stone if anyone looks at them, which means killing one is very difficult.

Why it's clever

It takes the whole what-you-can't-see-is-scary idea to a new level.  At first when you see them, they aren't scary at all.  However, after noticing that the statue is in a different place whenever the camera pans back to it, you start to get a little freaked out.  They even made it so that the angels can't move even when the viewer is looking at them.  This increases the suspension and you find yourself getting tense whenever the camera stops looking at them.  Add to this that the Doctor and his companion (Martha, in this case) are hardly even in it.  That's a writing exercise for you.  Try writing a great scene for your character while keeping your character out of the story for the most part.  Perhaps the best episode of Doctor Who ever.

2. Regeneration

If you are not a fan of the show, then you are probably wondering why people say the 10th doctor, the 8th doctor, and so on.  That's because of regeneration.

What it is

Regeneration is the ability for a Time Lord to escape death.  Whenever he is about to die, he undergoes the regeneration process and comes back alive, but as a new person with a new personality.

How it's clever

Whenever the James Bond franchise gets a new actor, fans rate that actor over how close to the James Bond image he is.  Fans had a fit when Daniel Craig was cast because he was blond, and you can't have a blond Bond, can you?  Well, not so with the Doctor.  You can have a blond Doctor, black haired Doctor, or even a ginger Doctor.  When one actor is ready to leave, instead of trying to find some who looks like the previous actor, the writers simply kill the Doctor and have him regenerate into a new body.  On top of that, the new Doctor has a completely different personality, leaving the actor to decide what kind of Doctor he wants to play.  On top of that, fans don't get upset because this actor or that doesn't act like the Doctor.  They just sit back and wait to see how the Doctor's going to act now.  On the plus side, the
first episode of a regenerated Doctor usually revolves around the Doctor trying to figure out what kind of person he is now.

Rose: What's the city called?
The Doctor: New New York.Rose: Oh, come on.The Doctor: It is! It's the city of New New York! Strictly speaking, it's the fifteenth New York since the original, so that makes it New-New-New-New-New-New-New-New-New-New-New-New-New-New-New New York. [Rose laughs.] What?
Rose: You're so different.
The Doctor: [grins] New-New Doctor.

3. Time Travel Explained

"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff."
What it is

Doctor Who is a show about time travel.  The Doctor uses a Tardis to travel in time and space.  It looks small, but it's bigger on the inside.

How it's clever

Well, being able to materialize anywhere in the universe at any time period between The Big Bang and the end of time opens up all sorts of story possibilities.  However, the one problem all time travel movies have is the whole paradox thing and eventually the story line falls apart.

Some stories fall apart harder than others
Not so with Doctor Who.  Time travel is explained in a way eliminates not only the paradox idea but the whole, why-not-just-go-back-five-minutes-and-prevent-it-from-happening solution that would end all stories from getting any good or having any suspense.  First of all, some moments in time are unavoidable no matter what you do.  At one point the Doctor's companion tries to prevent Van Goth from committing suicide.  She thought she had done it, but when they went back to her normal time, nothing had changed.  The other rule of time travel seems to be that once the Doctor has experienced a moment, he cannot go back to undo it or alter it.  This is explored when Rose goes back in time and meets her father, who died when she was a baby.  She witnesses the car accident that kills him, goes back five minutes and stops it from happening.  This unleashes all sorts of demon-like creatures who feed on time problems like this.  So "fixing" things makes them much worse.  The only way to stop these demons from destroying the whole world was to make the original course of events happen like they were supposed to.  The rest of time travel rules are played with loosely, but these two keep the stories interesting and feasible (well, feasible for anyone willing to believe that you can time travel in a small blue police call box, that is).

Plus, the story potential is endless.  You want horror, have the doctor travel to a place that is scary.  You want science fiction, have him travel to the future or off world.  You want comedy, have him travel to a place that puts him in an awkward situation.  You want historical fiction, well, you get the point, right?  Plus you can play with the problems of time travel, such as having him fall in love with another time travel and arrange it so that they meet each other opposite.  In other words, the first time he meets her, it is the last time she sees him.

4. The Sonic Screwdriver

What it is

The Doctor is locked in a room.  No worries, he pulls out the sonic screwdriver and makes it make noise.  The door opens.  The Doctor experiences some goop that he's never encountered before.  No worries.  He aims his sonic screwdriver at it and gets some readings.  Now he knows what to do next.  The Doctor runs into an alien psychopath that wishes to kill him.  Opps.  Worries!  The sonic screwdriver can't do everything.

How it's clever

How strong is Spider-Man's web?   As strong (or weak) as the writer needs it to be.  What's in Batman's utility belt?  Whatever the writer needs to be in it.  What gadget does Q give Bond?  Whatever gadget the writers are going to need to get Bond out of a jam later on.  The sonic screwdriver does that.  It gives the writers a convenient tool to get the Doctor out of trouble.  As the Doctor said, "Oh, yes. Harmless is just THE word, that's why I like it! Doesn't KILL, doesn't wound, doesn't maim. But I'll tell you what it does is very good at opening doors!"

But what makes this a great device is that it only helps to do small things.  It cannot heal, it cannot kill, it cannot do crazy magical things.  Just manipulate small mechanical devices.  As long as the writers keep it to this function, it falls under the viewer's suspension of disbelief.

Well, that four, just like I said.  Those of you who are fans can probably name off a few things that are cleverer (and I invite you to do so in the comments section).  Those of you who are not fans, not only should you be, but you can take this idea of turning an idea on it's side like the Doctor Who writers do for your own device.  What twist can you put on your character today?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Quotable Quotes - Part 4

More great quotes from great writers:

"If you stay true to your characters, the story will take care of itself."   -Eva Byron

"The best was to become a successful writer is to read good writing, remember it, and forget where you remember it from."   -Gene Fowler

"I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms thirty-nine times before I was satisfied."   -Ernest Hemingway

"If you wish to be a writer, write."   -Epictetus

"Less is more."   -Robert Browning

"You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance."  -Ray Bradbury

"You must write for children the same way you write for adults, only better."   -Maxim Gorsky

"Books aren't written - they're rewritten.  Including your own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it."   -Michael Crichton

"I have written a great many stories and I still don't know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances."   -John Steinbeck

"The easiest thing to do on earth is not write."   -William Goldman

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Day of the Doctor

In honor of the upcoming Day of the Doctor (11-23-13 and shame on you if you didn't know), here is the trailer -

So, any Doctor Who fans out there?  If so, which is your favorite Doctor?  I've only been a fan since the ninth Doctor, but I have flipped through the Classic Doctor Who on Netflix to see the others.  I'm a big fan of the 11th, but I must say the tenth is probably my favorite overall.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Art of the Query Letter

The literary agency of Browne and Miller give a list of what needs to be in the query letter.  Since we've just seen a list of why 96% of authors get rejected by agents (with one of those being stinky query letters), it might be useful to see what these agents think should be in the letter.

1. Overall, a query letter must be highly polished – typed, no spelling mistakes, typos or grammatical errors. 1 page long, if possible.

2. It must clearly identify the genre or category the proposed book fits into and also provide some insight on general market positioning – where does it fit in the marketplace and on the shelf? This means an author must do his or her homework – visit a bookstore, be familiar with other works in the genre, etc.

3. It must offer a brief overview of the work that is clear, compelling and makes one want to read more – this part should be somewhat reflective of the author's writing style.

4. We always advise against mentioning other unpublished works in a query – the focus should be on the one book the author is trying to sell. Agents don't necessarily want to know that an author has other unpublished manuscripts sitting on the shelf.

5. For new fiction authors, a novel is almost always sold on a complete manuscript. Author should indicate what material is available to send to the agent for consideration and the manuscript length (i.e. word count). We advise new authors to write a detailed synopsis of the book – 5 pages or so – too, as we usually ask for a synopsis and 3-5 sample chapters before asking to see an entire manuscript. For non-fiction, an author should have a full proposal plus chapters ready to send. We rarely sell non-fiction on manuscript; almost always on proposal. In general, we ask for an exclusive – that we are the only agents reviewing the requested material. We make exceptions in certain circumstances, however.

6. If the author is querying several agents, he should indicate that his is a multiple submission.

7. The letter should also offer information about the writer: writing and publishing background, associations (i.e. RWA, MWA, etc) or writers groups, awards and prizes, published works (even short stories, articles); academic background, anything notable. This would also include info on the author's PLATFORM – speaking engagements, conferences attended, media coverage, etc.

8. Author's contact information, including email address and phone number, should be included.

9. No gimmicks! We have seen our fair share of the bizarre over the years including a query letter filled with glitter (and little specks of glitter remained on our wood floor for months after…grrr), handwritten queries on scented, colored paper in colored ink, queries containing nude photos, queries on candy bar wrappers, etc. These letters are memorable, but we did not pursue a single one of the books presented. Creativity is appreciated, but authors should present themselves professionally overall.

10. Author should always enclose an SASE with a mailed query. This agency, for example, does not respond to snail mail queries without return postage.

It is interesting that Query Shark doesn't seem to agree with #6 and #7.  Then again, the Shark is quick to point out that every agency is different and everyone is looking for pretty much the same thing, just in different ways.

I do like how they end their list: There is an art to writing a great query, but it is an art that can be mastered.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Why Agents Reject 96% of Author Submissions

I found this article while looking through the Zite app on my phone:

Why Agents Reject 96% of Author Submissions

Which, of course, got my attention.  You can read the whole article here:

I'll give the reasons they listed and you can go to the article to read them more in depth and their solution for these.  I don't know the truthfulness of the 96% rejection rate, but it sure seems that way in the whole query process.  Here are the reasons authors get rejected:

1. Failure to follow submission guidelines

2. Genre confusion

3. Your query letter sucks

4. Nonfiction is a different beast than fiction

5. Spelling and grammar

I certainly think #3 and #5 are big causes for agents to reject a query.  They get tons of submissions every day.  Having to make fast decisions causes them to judge your writing only on what they see in that query letter.  If you are bad at writing it or you have mistakes all through it, then that probably means you are bad at your other writing and have mistakes all through those too.  However, I think there needs to be another one.  How about 6. You don't have a personal connection to the agent.  I think that meeting an agent and  having an author who works for that agent recommend you are probably important keys to getting in.  That is not to say that I disagree with this or anything, just it seems that these too things would help you stand above that 96% of authors trying to get in, but not doing so.

So, read the article if you wish to see more information on these, and tell me what you think.  Do you think the agent rejection rate really is 96%?  Do you agree with this list?  Do you have your own #6?

Whatever the case - here's to us being one of the 4%!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Author Spotlight - Joseph Finley

This month's author spotlight is on Joseph Finley.  Now I do not know Joseph and have never communicated with him before this post.  What drew my attention to him was two things - his amazing blog (Fresh-scraped Vellum) and his book (Enoch's Device).

The purpose of the author spotlight is to see how other authors are doing it.  How are they establishing an online platform?  What are they doing that works or doesn't work?  Of course, we want to look at their writing too.

When checking out Mr. Finley's page, we do not get a lot about his personal life.  He lets the visitor know that he is an author, a book reviewer, and a lover of history (especially medieval) and fantasy.  Just a quick look at his page will let you know that medieval history is a passion of his.  So what does he have on his site that really works?

  • Book Reviews - Finley reviews books that catch his attention and that he has time to read.  It is not the focus of the site, but it is a major component.  He is good and fair reviewer, too.
  • Access to his Writing - he has a tab for short stories which leads to a link to a magazine that published one of his stories.  I get the feeling that his plan is to fill that tab with more short stories as they get published.  It is a quick way for an interested agent or publisher to see his previous successes and to get more of a taste for his potential.  I would definitely encourage any aspiring writer to post all of their publishing history.
  • Social Media - He has quick links to share his site on Facebook, Twitter, and two I haven't seen before - an e-mail share link and a ShareThis link.  He also has a Twitter account @joseph_finley which I have added to our ongoing monthly list of authors on Twitter (which is scheduled to end in February).
  • A Blog Roll - A listing of other blogs about writing, history, fantasy, and book reviews that he likes. The list is pretty long and I plan on taking the time to look through them and I'll share with you guys some of them.
  • A Drunken Monk - How many other blogs can you think of that has one of these? 
He also has information about his book, although he has a separate blog for his book.  I'm not quite sure if he did this to provide more concentrated coverage of his book or if Fresh-scraped Vellum is a blog that he started before his book and wanted to keep the two separate. His book blog is Enoch's Device.  

Here is the description of his book:

Nearly a thousand years after the birth of Christ, when all Europe fears that the world will soon end, an Irish monk, Brother Ciarán, discovers an ominous warning hidden in the illuminations of a religious tome. The cryptic prophecy speaks of Enoch’s device, an angelic weapon with the power to prevent the coming apocalypse.

Pursued by Frankish soldiers and supernatural forces, Ciarán and his freethinking mentor, Brother Dónall, journey to the heart of France in search of the device. There, they rescue the Lady Alais from a heretic-hunting bishop who insists mankind must suffer for its sins. Together the trio races across Europe to locate the device, which has left clues of its passage through history. But time is running out, and if they don’t find it soon, all that they love could perish at the End of Days.
Enoch’s Device is a fast-paced medieval adventure steeped in history, mythology, and mysteries from a dark and magical past.

Sounds good, doesn't it?  I'm getting it on Kindle and trying it out.  It sounds like a book right up my alley.  This is also where he does a good job with his online platform.  This blog gives all the updates he needs for the book - Amazon link, testimonials, and links to reviews.

Has anyone here read him before or has followed his blog?  Anything you see that he is doing that you plan on doing in creating your online platform?  Let me know below!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Authors on Twitter N - Q

More authors with Twitter accounts to follow.  If you know anything about these authors, or of one I missed in this alphabet range, let me know!  Are you an author?  Did I miss your Twitter account?  Let me know.

Nall, Gail - @gallecn
Nash, Jennie - @jennienash
Nashar, Ray - @RayNashar

Nelson, Kadir - @KadirNelson
Nesbitt, Kenn - @poetry4kids
Ness, Patrick - @Patrick_Ness

Newman, Leslea - @lesleanewman
Newman, Patricia - @PatriciaNewman
Newton Fusco, Kimberly - @kimberlynewtonf

Nielsen, Jennifer - @nielsenwriter
Nielsen, Susin - @susinnielsen
Norris, Elizabeth - @liz_norris
Numeroff, Laura - @LauraNumeroff

O’Brien, Caragh M. - @CaraghMOBrien
O’Connell, Mary - @thesharptime
O'Connor, George - @george_oconnor

Oates, Joyce Carol - @JoyceCarolOates
Ogle, Maureen - @maureenogle
Oh, Ellen - @elloecho
OHora, Zachariah - @ZachariahOHora

Okey, Shannon - @knitgrrl
Oliver, Lauren - @OliverBooks
O’Reilly, Tim - @timoreilly
Orlean, Susan - @susanorlean

Orman, Suze - @SuzeOrmanShow
Orr, Wendy - @wendyorr
Osborne, Mary Pope - @MaryPopeOsborne
Oxford, Kelly - @kellyoxford

Padian, Maria - @mpadian
Palacio, R.J. - @RJPalacio
Palahniuk, Chuck - @chuckpalahniuk

Paolini, Christopher - @inheritanceCP or @Chris_Paolini
Papademetriou, Lisa - @axyfabulous
Parker, Amy - @amychristinepar

Parker, Rae Ann - @raeannparker
Parry, Rosanne - @RosanneParry
Patrick, Cat - @seecatwrite
Patterson, James - @JP_Books

Paulson, Ingrid - @IngridEPaulson
Pavlina, Steve - @stevepavlina
Payton, Ross - @rosspayton
Peacock, Kathleen - @kathleenpeacock

Pearce, Jackson - @JacksonPearce
Pearson, Mary - @marypearson
Pearson, Ridley - @ridleypearson
Penn, Joanna - @thecreative penn

Perkins, Mitali - @MitaliPerkins
Perkins, Stephanie - @naturallysteph
Perl, Erica S. - @ericaperl
Peterfreund, Diana - @dpeterfreund
Picoult, Jodi - @jodipicoult

Pike, Aprilynne - @AprilynnePike
Pina, Mara - @thewritingblues
Pinfold, Levi - @LeviPinfold
Pink, Daniel - @DanielPink

Piver, Susan - @spiver
Plait, Dr. Philip - @BadAstronomer
Plourde, Lynn - @LynnPlourde
Plum, Amy - @AmyPlumOhLaLa

Polacco, Patricia - @PatriciaPolacco
Polisner, Gae - @gaepol
Pollack, Lindsey - @lindseypollak
Pon, Cindy - @cindypon

Portman, Frank - @frankportman
Potter, Ellen - @ellenpotter
Powell, Laura - @L_R_Powell
Powley, Tammy - @tammypowley

Prendergast, Gabrielle - @GabrielleSaraP
Prensky, Marc - @marcprensky
Prineas, Sarah - @SPrineas
Price, Lissa - @Lissa_Price

Prinz, Yvonne - @Allyougetisme
Pyron, Bobbie - @BobbiePyron

Qualls, Haylee - @hayleeq

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mythology Monday: Treasure #7

A Watched Pot Never Boils

One day, I'm at my mother-in-law's house and she asks me if I would take something to her storage shed. Being the great guy that I am, I say, "Sure thing!" When I get to the shed, lo and behold, there is a huge black witch's cauldron right there in the doorway. Before I thought, I said, "So THAT'S where you keep it!"

You know, I've always had my suspicions...

Anyway, the cauldron story is a lead in on the next Treasure of Britain. The Cauldron of Dyrnwch the Giant (Pair Dyrnwch Gawr) is a large cauldron that only works for the brave. If you are a coward, you can heat the water up all you want, but the meat will never boil. However, if you were a brave man, it would boil almost immediately, even without having to light a fire (very useful if you are in a hurry and have no microwave handy or if fire smoke would give your position away to enemies who would like to kill you).

There is an Irish story that is similar and the two are most certainly connected. In this story the owner is Diwrnach, who is sometimes described as a giant. Just as the British treasure, the cauldron is picky about who cooks it. Along comes this guy, Olwen, who has a quest to gather several treasures together, including this cauldron (much the same as the idea of gathering the 13 treasures together). Arthur, ever the helpful friend to Olwen, had his man persuade Diwrnach to give it up willingly, but Diwrnach's steward refuses to let it go. After trying again, Arthur just takes the thing, fills it with treasure he took from Ireland, and goes home.

Also, the Preiddeu Annwfn, a poem that may have been written by Taliesin, the cauldron is not only mentioned, but described as well. The poem goes on to detail a trip by Arthur into Annwfn (I believe to be a section of the Otherworld). While there, he finds the cauldron and here we learn that it is not some big black witches cauldron (such as you might find in my mother-in-law's storage shed), but it is finished in pearl.

R. S. Loomis suggests that this cauldron was an early Celtic idea that the holy grail evolved from. Bernard Cornwell, in his series about Arthur, has the cauldron also with the ability to restore life (drawing from this connection Loomis makes).By the way, if you have not read Cornwell's books about Arthur, what are you waiting for?

Whatever the case, this cauldron seems to me to be a strange treasure. Maybe a cauldron that turns things to gold or a cauldron that feeds thousands or something. Refusing to boil food for a coward... well, it just doesn't seem, I don't know, all that treasurey* to me.

In Future King, this treasure is not yet found, nor do they look for it.  It will be sought after in the second book, Holy Grail, provided, of course, I ever get Future King off the ground.

*I am an English teacher, so if I say "treasurey" is a word, then it is!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Black Eye Peas and Elephant Poop

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Chapter six of Future King, "Black Eye Peas and Elephant Poop," has Zane Anderson being forced to pick a Halloween costume.  Here's the first part of it:

“A zombie cowboy?”

“No. I’m not dressing up.” I was unsuccessfully trying to eat my French fries in peace. Madison was having none of it.

“Come on. You’re going trick or treating with Raegan and me. Dakota usually does it but I’m giving you the opportunity this year. You’ve got to dress up. It’s only two weeks away.”

Aiden came to my rescue. “You could go as a high school student.”

“No! Normal clothes do NOT count as a costume.” Madison was very adamant.

“Look. It’s time to stop dressing up. You can if you want to. I just don’t feel like it.”

“You just don’t feel like it because you had one workout, you big sissy.” Madison stole one of my fries.

“One work out? Are you kidding me? I can’t count the number of pushups I did yesterday. They don’t have a number for it. Just because you’re the jock of our little group doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t handle a little workout.” Madison is on the school volleyball team and will probably try out for the softball team. She very good. Why she hangs out with wimps like Aiden and me, I’ve never figured out.

Aiden interrupted. “Well, she does have a point. She could have probably handled the pushups. You, on the other hand, are a bit on the weak side. How about Charlie Brown’s ghost?”

“Charlie Brown’s ghost?” asked Madison. “What do you mean?”

“You know, the sheet with all the holes in it? You could even grab a bag and put some rocks in it.” Aiden smiled.

“You’ve outdone yourself genius. But I’m not going as a ghost of any kind. You always end up tripping over your sheet. Why are you guys so interested in my costume? What about yours?” It hurt to talk. Every muscle in my body just ached.

Aiden said, “I’m staying home and handing out candy. My mom’s got a meeting to go to and she’s worried that if no one hands out candy, the kids in our neighborhood will egg the house. I don’t mind. She’s buying me a whole bag of candy that I pick out, plus my dad is getting me something to outdo my mom. Divorce stinks, but it does have a few advantages.”

Madison chimed in. “Well Raegan’s going as Sleeping Beauty, so I thought I’d go as the evil queen. Hey! Maybe you could go as the prince!”

“I’m not going as Prince Charming to your little sister.”

“Prince Philip. Charming’s in Cinderella.”

“It doesn’t matter. I’ve got more important things to think about. Maybe you could help me with that instead.”

“O.K., what is so important that you need our help with this time?” asked Madison.

“A knot. I can control some of my training once I get this knot undone. But the knot is impossible.”

Aiden looked up. “Gordian?”

That was what Robin called it. “How did you know the name of the knot?”

Aiden smiled. “I thought everyone knew that. You know Alexander the Great?”

“Not personally,” said Madison.

“Ha, ha. Now Alexander the Great had plans to conquer the world when he went out of his way to tackle the Gordian Knot. It was known for many years that it was impossible to untie this knot. People would stop at this town and try, but nobody was ever successful. So Alexander was drawn to it to show he could do anything. Plus I think there was some prophecy about whoever could untie the knot would rule all of Asia or something. So you can see why Alexander wanted a try at it.” Aiden paused to take a gulp of his drink.

“You are such a nerd,” said Madison.

“Yeah, but a brilliantly cool one if you can tell me how he untied the knot,” I said.

“Well, it wouldn’t be much of a story and I wouldn’t be worth my official nerd card if I didn’t know the rest, right? Now, where was I? Oh yeah, Alexander went to the monastery where the knot was and he was encouraged to untie the knot, as was everyone who came there. Alexander took one look at the knot, drew his sword and cut it in half. Viola! No more knot. This shows that there is always a way, if you think unconventionally.” He grabbed his drink, but paused before drinking it. “That or might makes right.”

“That sounds good to me. Cut the rope and start learning how to fight. No more pushups. Done.”

Madison said, “But we still haven’t decided what you are going to dress up as when you go with my little sister and me on Halloween.”

“Then behold and stand in even more amazement as I, Aiden the Brilliant, give you the perfect costume. It’s witty. It’s simple. Both of you take a white tee shirt and write a large P on it. Then take a little bit of black face paint and make a circle around one of your eyes.”

“What’s the use of that?” I asked.

“Duh,” Aiden gave one of his wide grins. “You’ll be black eyed peas!”

“Simple,” said Madison.

“Witty,” I said. “I like it.”

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Writing Wednesdays: Fear Part 2

To continue our frightful Writing Wednesday, the challenge this week is to write a scene that would make your readers be afraid of the phobia subject.  Keep it within 10 paragraphs and assume that the characters are already established.  Also, there does not need to be any resolution to the scene.  The focus is only setting a fearful mood.  The actual phobia word can be the title of the piece.

Phobias to choose from:

Paraskavedekatriaphobia- Fear of Friday the 13th.
Pediophobia- Fear of dolls.
Pedophobia- Fear of children.
Peladophobia- Fear of bald people.

Phobophobia- Fear of phobias.
Placophobia- Fear of tombstones.
Pnigophobia -  Fear of choking of being smothered.
Porphyrophobia- Fear of the color purple.
Pteronophobia- Fear of being tickled by feathers (I actually saw this done in a Vegetales cartoon)

Ranidaphobia- Fear of frogs.
Rhabdophobia- Fear of magic.(wand)

Samhainophobia: Fear of Halloween.
Sciaphobia- Fear of shadows.
Scolionophobia- Fear of school.
Selenophobia- Fear of the moon.

Spheksophobia- Fear of wasps.
Staurophobia- Fear of crosses or the crucifix.

Taphephobia - Fear of being buried alive
Tonitrophobia- Fear of thunder.

Venustraphobia- Fear of beautiful women.
Verminophobia- Fear of germs.

Walloonphobia- Fear of the Walloons. (Don't ask me, I don't know what a walloon is)
Wiccaphobia: Fear of witches and witchcraft.

Xanthophobia- Fear of the color yellow.

Zeusophobia- Fear of God or gods.

O.K., if you get a good one, post it in the comments section.  Heck, if you get a bad one, post it in the comments section!

If you wish to see the whole list that I pulled this from:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mythology Monday: Treasure #6

The Knife of Llawfrodedd the Horseman 

This knife would serve 24 men - whatever the heck that means. Does it create food enough for 24, or is the ultimate Ginzu knife and slices 24 slices at once. A commenter on my old blog (Bubo's Blog) suggested the a meaning for the serves 24 men. He said that back in this time they would only have one knife per table and it would be tethered to the table to avoid people using it to stab someone else. Somehow this knife could be used to serve a table of 24, maybe magically teleporting to the next person who needed it.

This treasure plays a small role in Future King as it is one of the treasures obtained by Morgana's crew.

Apparently there is some connection to Excalibur for this knife, but I cannot find out any more than that. Maybe they are cutlery cousins or something like that. The guy who drew the picture below (some chap named Vorp - poor fellow) calls it the Ornate Celtic Cheese Cutter.

There was a contest on the Concept Art web site that challenged artists to design the 13 treasures of Britain. You can see all the designs at:

I cannot find any more about the knife; however, there is more about this Llawfrodded guy. The guy is a Welsh hero. Not only did he own the knife, but he also had Cornillo, one of the Three Prominent Cows of the Island of Britain (say that three times fast). He is mention in the role call of heroes in a few texts dealing with King Arthur. Probably he is one of the Men of the North and lived in the sixth century.

Next treasure ... the Spork of the Lady of the Lake????

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Writing Wednesday: Fear

Well, it's late Wednesday, but still a Wednesday. Today's writing idea comes from fear. Stephen King has been called the Master of Horror and when asked once about how he must not be afraid of anything, he replied, "I'm afraid of everything." That's how he is able to write things that scare people, he just writes about himself. What scares him the most? Just keep reading.

So here is the idea for today. Find a fear and write a scene or short story about it. There are plenty of fears to choose from. Plus, you don't need to have a character that is irrationally afraid, create a scenario that the person has a right to be afraid (and if you are good,  so will your reader)! Here is the first part of a list of some fears that you might be able to write the next It or Pet Cemetery with ( I got this list from - they have a much more extensive list there):

Ablutophobia- Fear of washing or bathing.
Achluophobia- Fear of darkness.
Acrophobia- Fear of heights.
Agateophobia- Fear of insanity. (lots of potential for this one!)
Agliophobia- Fear of pain.
Agoraphobia- Fear of open spaces or of being in crowded, public places like markets. Fear of leaving a safe place.
Algophobia- Fear of pain.
Anablephobia- Fear of looking up.
Angrophobia - Fear of anger or of becoming angry. (I guess the Hulk does a pretty good job of this one already)
Anthrophobia or Anthophobia- Fear of flowers.
Apeirophobia- Fear of infinity.
Aphenphosmphobia- Fear of being touched.
Apiphobia- Fear of bees.
Ataxophobia- Fear of disorder or untidiness.
Athazagoraphobia- Fear of being forgotton or ignored or forgetting.
Autophobia- Fear of being alone or of oneself.

Batrachophobia- Fear of amphibians, such as frogs, newts, salamanders, etc.
Bibliophobia- Fear of books. (tailor made for a writer!)
Brontophobia- Fear of thunder and lightning.
Cacophobia- Fear of ugliness.
Catoptrophobia- Fear of mirrors.
Chionophobia- Fear of snow. (put this person in the middle of a blizzard and watch the fun begin on your keyboard)
Chronomentrophobia- Fear of clocks.
Cometophobia- Fear of comets.
Coimetrophobia- Fear of cemeteries.
Coulrophobia- Fear of clowns.
Decidophobia- Fear of making decisions.
Demonophobia or Daemonophobia- Fear of demons.
Ecclesiophobia- Fear of church.
Entomophobia- Fear of insects.
Ephebiphobia- Fear of teenagers.
Epistemophobia- Fear of knowledge.
Equinophobia- Fear of horses.
Eremophobia- Fear of being oneself or of lonliness.

Gelotophobia- Fear of being laughed at.
Gerontophobia- Fear of old people or of growing old.
Hadephobia- Fear of hell.
Helminthophobia- Fear of being infested with worms.
Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia- Fear of the number 666.
Homichlophobia- Fear of fog.
Hylophobia- Fear of forests.

Katsaridaphobia- Fear of cockroaches.
Kenophobia- Fear of voids or empty spaces.
Koniophobia- Fear of dust.

Lockiophobia- Fear of childbirth.

Musophobia or Muriphobia- Fear of mice.

Necrophobia- Fear of death or dead things.
Noctiphobia- Fear of the night.
Obesophobia- Fear of gaining weight.
Ochlophobia- Fear of crowds or mobs.
Octophobia - Fear of the figure 8. (I imagine someone seeing this figure everywhere and realizing that it means something sinister)
Ophidiophobia- Fear of snakes.
Optophobia- Fear of opening one's eyes.

I'll give you more fears to choose from next week.  Which fear do you think would make a great story?
Oh, and what scares King the most? The same that that scares me. Spiders!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rejection Story: Superman

So I'm watching a PBS documentary (I've become my dad, evidently) called Superheroes: a Never Ending Battle. Aside from all the geeky stuff that I get into, the thing that made me think of this blog was Action Comics # 1, the first appearance of Superman.

As I am sure that you know, Superman is the first hero with super powers.  Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were two teenage boys who created the now iconic hero.  When they tried to get it published, no one wanted anything to do with it.

They tried for one year, two years, three years, and continued to ship their comic around until finally, five years later, the company that would become DC comics took a gamble and published them.  They became overnight successes and soon every comic book company was doing their take on the superhero.  They were paid $130 for their first comic ($10 per page).

FIVE YEARS!  Siegel and Shuster had a lot of faith in their creation to stick with it for that long.  Just imagine if they had given up after a year or two.  While they didn't get rich off of their creation, their legend will live on for quite a while.  

By this time in the writing of this post, the show has moved on to Batman and my three year old girl's dessert is kicking in.  She's running back and forth with a towel around her pretending to be Batman.  I think it's time I put the computer aside and play the Joker.  Keep writing, friends!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lycanthrope Detections

As the weather gets cooler and the leaves blow around us in different colors, our tend to wander towards the things that make fall wonderful -- apples, candy corn, tiny tots learning the fine art of begging, and, of course, people mutating into blood thirsty werewolves.  I am not talking about the take-the-shirt-of-every-time-I-get-a-chance-and-lose-the-girl-to-a-sparkling-vampire variety.  No.   I mean the say-your-prayers-because-nothing-will-save-you-from-the-furry-jaws-of-death kind.

So, just in case one of you dear readers find yourself plagued by a person that may be a lycanthrope (werewolf for you of lesser vocabulary skills), there is no need to fear.  There are ways of telling if that creepy coworker is licking his chops in anticipation of making you into a midnight snack.

1. The unibrow - this is a sure fire way to tell. Look out for those who shave the middle part.

2. Fur on the inside of their skin - a bit harder to tell. A Roman platoon suspected one of their own as a werewolf and used this technique to discover the truth. After they ripped his skin off and found no fur, well, he was forgiven.

3. Forget the whole moon thing - that was added in movies. True werewolves do not have to wait for the moon.

4. The ring finger - is longer than the middle finger.

5. Excessive thirst - maybe coming for the idea that dogs and wolves pant because they are always thirsty.

6. Obsession with walking through graveyards - I bet Poe was one. He even proposed to a woman in the graveyard.  One theory is that he died of rabies perhaps from being bitten by a rabid bat in a graveyard.

7. Foul smell - werewolves have extra seat glands. Be alert for a smell of hay and horse manure.

8. Check the pee pee - yep, werewolves have urine that is a deep purple.  However, scoping out the color of someone's urine in a public bathroom could result in problems other than the wolf kind.  Use this technique with caution.

9. The Mark of the Werewolf - the dead give away. If someone has a pentagon on their palm, break out the silver weapons IMMEDIATELY!

10. Shoot him/her with a silver bullet - if he/she dies, probably a werewolf.

Side note, if you are out of silver weapons and are being chased by a werewolf, always drop things.Werewolves must stop and pick them up before continuing the chase. Can anyone say, OCD?  That's why I always have a pocketful of rice wherever I go.  It works for vampires too.

O.K. people - be safe out there!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Quotable Quotes - Part 3

More good stuff from good writers:

"Writers are made, not born."   -Ayn Rand

"If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."   -Elmore Leonard

"When I was a young boy they called me a liar.  Now that I'm all grown up, they call me a writer."   -Isaac Bashevis Singer

"If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad."   -Lord Byron

"If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing."   -Benjamin Franklin

"Whenever life hands you trauma, stick it in a book."   -Laurie Halse Anderson

"My purpose is to entertain myself first and other people secondly."   -John D. MacDonald

"You can't sit around and wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."   -Jack London

"Well, the first paragraph is done.  Time for a brownie."   -Marge Simpson (from The Simpsons)

"The person who finds the time is the one who is going to become a writer.  The person who doesn't, won't."   -Meg Cabot

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Spider-Man's Birthday!

It's also Columbus Day, but I'd rather read a comic about Spider-Man over Columbus any day.  It's is never mentioned in the comic books that this is his birthday, but Marvel Comics had a big display at a convention a while back and they said it was his birthday to coincide with the event.

If you are not keeping up with the comics, here's a little fill in so that you'll know stuff:  Doctor Octopus was dying and in his last minutes of life with all of his organs failing and the life support systems straining to keep his heart pumping, he cybernetically controlled one of his octobots to inject Spidey in the back of the neck, thus causing a mind swap.  Just as Spider-Man realizes that he is now in Doctor Octopus's body, he goes into cardiac arrest and dies.  So now, the Spider-Man that is in the comics for all to read is really Doctor Octopus trying to reinvent himself as a hero and trying to be a better Spider-Man than Peter Parker ever was.

So go out and celebrate Spidey's birthday in style by reading a comic book!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Authors on Twitter L - M

More authors with Twitter accounts.  Useful for new and aspiring authros to follow those who succeeded in getting published and their attempt to establish a web platform.

If you know anyone who needs to be added or you know the author, are the author, or know anything about the way the author writes, please post that information in the comments section.  Thanks!

LaBan, Elizabeth - @ElizabethLaBan
LaCas, George - @George9Writer
LaFevers, R.L. - @RLLaFevers

Laidlaw, Susan - @SusanLaidlaw1
Lake, Nick - @nicholaslake
Lamott, Anne - @ANNELAMOTT

Lanagan, Margo - @margolanagan
Landis, J.D. - @J_D_Landis
Lane, Janet - @janetlaneauthor

Lang, Ken - @DetKenLang
Larson, Kirby - @KirbyLarson
Latham, Irene - @Irene_Latham

Lawrence, Ian - @iainlawrence
Lawrence, Theo - @tlawrencebooks
Lee, Jennifer 8. - @jenny8lee

Lehman, Christopher - @iChrisLehman
Lehrhaupt, Adam - @Lehrhaupt
Leveen, Tom - @tomleveen

Levithan, David - @loversdiction or @davidlevithan
Levy, Joanne - @JoanneLevy
Lewis, Stewart - @stewartlewis

Lichtenheld, Tom - @tlichtenheld
Lieber, Shelley - @wordywoman
Lily, Shen ?? - @Shen_Lily

Lindsey, Mary - @marylindsey
Linko, Gina - @GinaLinko
Little, Kimberly - @KimberlyGLittl

Littlefield, Sophie - @swlittlefield
Liu, Cynthea - @Cynthea
Livingston, Lesley - @LesLivingston

Lloyd-Jones, Sally - @sallylloydjones
Lockhart, E. - @elockhart
Loftin, Nikki - @nikkiloftin

Logsted, Greg - @GregLogsted
Logsted, Lauren Baratz - @LaurenBaratzL
London, J.A. - @J_A_London

Long, Loren - @lorenlong
Look, Lenore - @lenorelook
Lorenzi, Natalie Dias - @NatalieLorenzi

Lowry, Lois - @LoisLowryWriter
Lu, Marie - @Marie_Lu
Lubar, David - @DavidLubar

Ludwig, Trudy - @TrudyLudwig
Lunetta, Demitria - @DemitriaLunetta
Luper, Eric - @ericluper

Lyga, Barry -@barrylyga
Lynch, Liz - @liz_lynch
Maberry, Jonathan- @JonathanMaberry

Mackall, Dandi Daley - @dandiMackall
Mackenzie, Fiona - @FionaJMackenzie
Mackler, Carolyn - @carolynmackler

MacLeod, Hugh - @gapingvoid
Madison, Bennett - @bennettmadison
Mafi, Tahereh - @TaherehMafi

Magaziner, Lauren - @laurenmagaziner
Maiers, Angela - @AngelaMaiers
Mali, Taylor - @TaylorMali

Mancusi, Mari - @marimancusi
Mandanna, Sangu - @SanguMandanna
Mandel, Emily St. John - @emilymandel

Marcus, Kimberly - @kimberlymarcus
Marentette, Meghan - @MegMarentette
Mariz, Rae - @raemariz

Marks, Daniel - @dannymarksya
Marotta, Jenna - @jennamarotta
Marr, Melissa - @melissa_marr

Martin, C.K. Kelly - @CKKellyMartin
Marzano, Robert - @robertjmarzano
Mason, Maggie - @Maggie

May, Matthew E. - @matthewemay
Mayer, Mercer - @MercerMayer
Mazer, Anne - @Annemazer

McCafferty, Megan - @meganmccafferty
McCormick, Patricia - @McCormickWrites
McCranie, Stephen - @stephenmccranie

McDaniel, Lurlene - @Lurlene_McD
McDougall, Carol - @salmonskyview
McDowell, Beck - @BeckMcDowell

McEntire, Myra - @MyraMcEntire
McGehee, Claudia - @claudiaMcGehee
McGrew, Chandler - @ChandlerMcGrew

McLaughlin, Lauren - @LaurenMcWoof
McMahon, Betty - @bettymom
McMann Lisa - @lisa_mcmann

McNeil, Gretchen - @GretchenMcNeil
McQuein, Josin - @JosinMcQuein
Messenger, Shannon - @SW_Messenger

Messner, Kate - @KateMessner
Metz, Melinda - @MelindaMetz
Meyer, Marissa - @marissa_meyer

Mezrich, Ben - @benmezrich
Miller, Debbie - @millerread
Miller, Donalyn - @donalynbooks

von Minden, Marie - @KKadventures
Mingle, Pamela - @PamMingle
Mitchell, Saundra - @SaundraMitchell

Mlynowski, Sarah - @SarahMlynowski
Moesta, Rebecca - @RebeccaMoesta
Monir, Alexandra - @TimelessAlex

Moore, Ann - @AMooreWriter
Moore, Rosemary Clement - @rclementmoore
Moore, Wes - @WesMoore1

Montessori, Maria - @MariaMontessori
Mora, Pat - patmora_author
Morgan, Page - @PageMorganBooks

Morrell, Ernest - @ernestmorrell
Morrill, Lauren - @LaurenEMorrill
Moss, Marissa - @marissawriter

Moulton, Courtney A. - @CAMoulton
Moyes, Jojo - @jojomoyes
Mullin, Mike - @Mike_Mullin

Murguia, Bethanie - @aquapup
Murray, Diana - @DianaMWrites

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mythology Monday - Treasure #5

The Halter of Clydno Eiddyn

This halter hung on Clydno's bed, hanging by a staple (nail). When he went to bed, he would just wish for a certain type of horse and viola, it would be there for him in the morning. At the start of Future King, Morgana already has it. Outside of this, I am having a hard time finding stuff about this halter. I'm not sure if you could get a particular horse (I wish for Joe's horse) or if you could wish for a type of horse (I wish for an appaloosa). There seems to be no pictures of this thing and nothing else to describe it.

Since I have nothing on this horse halter, why not spend some time with this mythical horse that has nothing to do with the treasures of Britain.

The tikbalang - a demon horse from Philippine folklore. It hangs out in the mountains. It looks very weird - the joints are disproportionate to the rest of the body. When he squats down, his knees come above his head.

They love to lure travellers off the path and get them lost in the woods. Of course, you can easily avoid all their hassle by merely wearing your shirt inside out. That or ask permission softly to pass by their woods, but the wearing the shirt inside out is so in these days. Just to put my money where my mouth is, I wore my shirt inside out today and ta-dah! No tikbalang attacks!

A tikbalang has a spiky mane. If you can obtain one of these tufts, then you can use it as a talisman to tame one and keep it as a servant. However, you need to leap upon the tikbalang from behind and then hold on until it gets tired of trying to knock you off balance.

Where do these guys come from? Aborted fetuses. That's right. If you're pro-life, here's another reason why you shouldn't have abortions. If you are pro-choice, then watch out. You might want to start wearing your shirt inside out...

In my neck of the woods, when the sun is shining and it is raining, we say, "The devil's beating his wife." However, there is another saying to describe this phenomenon - "a tikbalang is getting married."

Friday, October 4, 2013

Author Spotlight - Dani Harper

I'm going to take some time to spotlight authors and aspiring authors (hopefully once a month, but we will see how that goes!) that I think seem to be neat people, have interesting ideas, have great platforms, or all of the above.  This month's spotlight is a writer that I have known on the internet for quite a while - Dani Harper.

While paranormal romance is not my particular thing (or normal romance, either), Dani Harper is a great writer.  I know.  I won one of her books when she was in her early years of writing and it was good.  I absolutely love her internet platform - a good combination of information, blogging, and new author advice.  And talk about connected - she is on You Tube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google +, and LinkedIn.

Her most recent book is the start of her Dark Wolf series, a good jumping on place to get a taste of her writing.


Her internet platform is amazing.  Her web site ( has all you need to find her name, contact information, bio, book series, social media, and where she will be when she is on tour or at conferences.

My favorite aspect of her writing life is her blog, Way Past Normal.  Even before I started writing, I would check her blog for her articles on legendary creatures.  Now it is a good lesson on how to do it right (I'm still learning, obviously).  She has contests, countdowns to the next book release, links to her favorite sites, and of course a link back to her website.  If you check it out now, you might be able to win some Wicked Wolf Coffee.

I encourage you to check out her Resources for Aspiring Authors.  She has gone through the hoops and now has made it into the publishing world (all the way from Alaska).  She shares what she went through and advice that comes from the experience she has had.

So there you go.  All of you paranormal readers out there check it out.  All of you ready to be published writers out there, check it out.  When you do, or if you are already familiar with Dani, post a comment below!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Query Tracker

There are tons of agents out there.  How do you find the right one for you?

Well, one possible way is to use Query Tracker.  There are several features that Query Tracker has.  Most are free.  

The service that made me sign up to be a free member and blog about them is their genre agent search.  When you are looking for agents, you can tell the search filter to only show agents who accept your genre.  That sounds a heck of a lot better than what I tried last time, which was go page by page through the Writer's Market Guide to Literary Agents.

You can also use the service to track your queries, but I haven't set anything up like that.  There is a message board as well that you can use to talk about your experience and help others with theirs.  Again, if any of you try this service out, let me know how you like it.

Their agent reports require you to be a premium member (costs $25).  I have not signed up to be a premium member, so if any of you out there has, I would love a comment on your opinion of their premium services.

So, what is the URL address?

Try it out!    

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Authors on Twitter H - K

More authors with Twitter sites.  Post in the comments if you follow one of these, know something interesting about the author, are the author (that would be cool), or know of someone I missed.

Hainey, Michael - @MichaelHainey
Hainsworth, Emily - @Emily_YA
Halderman, James - @jameshalderman

Hale, Shannon - @haleshannon
Hall, Robin - @robinhallwrites
Halse Anderson, Laurie - @halseanderson

Hand, Cynthia - @CynthiaHand
Hansen, Angelina C. - @AngelinaCHansen
Hardy, Janice - @Janice_Hardy

Haring, Dan - @danharing
Harper, Charise - @ChariseHarper

Harper, Dani - @Dani_Harper
Harris, Carrie - @carrharr

Harris, Joanne - @Joannechocolat
Harrison, Kim - @BurningBunnies
Harrison, Mette Ivie - @metteharrison

Hartinger, Brent - @brenthartinger
Hartman, Rachel - @_rachelhartman
Harvey, Jacqueline - @JacquelineHarve

Harvey, Stephanie - @stephharvey49
Hathaway, Jill - @jillscribbles
Hattemer, Kate - @KateHattemer

Heasley, Gwendolyn - @GwenHeasley
Heiligman, Deborah - @DHeligman
Hemingway, Mariel - @Marielhemingway

Henderson, Jason - @jasonhederson
Hendricks, John - @hendrixart
Herbach, Geoff - @geoffherbach

Hickam, Homer -@HomerHickam
Hicks, Michael R. - @KreelanWarrior
Higgins, Wendy - @Wendy_Higgins

Hills, Tad - @tadhills
Hinton, S.E. - @se4realhinton
Hiranandani, Veera - VeeraHira

Hirsch, Elisabeth - @ECwrites
Hirsch, Jeff - @Jeff_Hirsch
Hobbs, Renee - @reneehobbs

Hodkin, Michelle - @MichelleHodkin
Hoeflich, Christine - @christine22hoef
Hoenig, Lynne Kelly - @LynneKelly

Hoffman, Alice - @AliceHof
Holder, Nancy - @nancyholder
Holloway, Dan - @agnieszkasshoes

Holm, Jenni - @jenniholm
Holm, Matthew - @mattholm
Holt, K.A. - @karianneholt

Holtz, Jr., Thomas R. - @TomHoltzPaleo
Honeyman, Kay - @kayhoneyman
Hoover, Colleen - @colleenhoover

Hopkins, Ellen - @EllenHopkinsYA
Hopkinson, Deborah - @Deborahopkinson
Horowitz, Anthony - @AnthonyHorowitz

Howard, Anita Grace - @aghowardwrites
Hubbard, Jenny - @HubbardWrites
Hubbard, Kirsten - @kirstenhubbard

Hudson, Tara - @thudsonwrites
Huffington, Arianna - @arrianahuff
Hughes, Mark Peter - @MarkPetrHughes

Hughes, Susan - @childbkauthor
Hullinger, L.S. - @lshullinger
Humphrey, Anna - @Anna_Humphrey

Hunt, Lynda - @LynMullalyHunt
Hutchings, Melinda - @M_Hutchings
Hyams, Gina - @ginahyams

Hyde, Catherine Ryan - @cryanhyde
Ireland, Justina - @tehawesomersace
Jacobs, Kate - @KateJacobsBooks

Jantsch, John - @ducttape
Jarvis, Jeff - @jeffjarvis
Jarzab, Anna - @ajarzab

Javaherbin, Mina - @minajuna
Jay, Stacey - @Stacey_Jay
Joel, William J. - @AniProf

Johnson, Anne E. - @AnneEJohnson
Johnson, Maureen - @maureenjohnson
Johnson, Pat - @CatchingReaders

Johnson, Steven Berlin - @stevenbjohnson
Jones, Carrie - @carriejonesbook
Jones, Rob Lloyd - @RLloydJones

Jordan, Sophie - @SoVerySophie
Judge, Lita - @LitaJudge
Jung, Mike - @Mike_Jung

Juster, Norton - @NortonJuster1
Kade, Stacey - @StaceyKade
Kaiser, Ruth - @SpontaneSmiley

Kane, Kim - @Kimkane2
Kaplan, Isabel - @isabelkaplan
Karas, G. Brian - @gBrianKaras

Karger, Jillian - @JillianKarger
Kate, Lauren - @laurenkatebooks
Keier, Katie - @CatchingReaders

Kelly, David A. - @davidakelly
Kennedy, James - @iamjameskennedy
Kerr, Cory - @corykerr

Khatami, Renee - @lilmodus
Kibuishi, Amy - @amykibuishi
Kibuishi, Kazu - @boltcity

Kincaid, SJ - @SJKincaidBooks
King, A.M. - @AMKing_Writes
King, A.S. - @AS_King

Kinney, Jeff - @wimpykid
Kirby, Matthew J. - @writerMattKirby
Kirkpatrick, Karly - @karlkirkpatrick

Kitanidis, Phoebe - @phoebekitanidis
Kittle, Penny - @pennykittle
Kittredge, Caitlin - @caitkitt

Kittscher, Kristen - @KKittscher
Klassen, Jon - @burstofbeaden
Klein, Stephanie - @stephanieklein

Knight, Jim - @jimknight99
Knowles, Jo - @JoKnowles
Kogler, Jennifer Anne - @jenniferkogler

Kohn, Alfie - @alfiekohn
Kohuth, Jane - @janekohuth
Kontis, Alethea - @AletheaKontis

Kraatz, Jeramey - @jerameyKraatz
Kraus, Daniel - @DanielDKraus
Kredensor, Diane - @OllieandMoon

Krokos, Dan - @DanKrokos
Krosoczka, Jarrett J. - @StudioJJK or @lunchladycomics
Krowder, Angela - @AKrowder

Kuipers, Alice - @AliceKuipers
Kunze, Lauren - @laurenkunze

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Saturday Matinee - Hunger Games

To get ready for the release of Catching Fire, here is a spoof on the old Hunger Games trailer:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Slow Computers and Fast Agents

It has taken me 25 minutes just to get to the edit screen to write this post.  Why?  Because my little Toshiba netbook is old and unable to keep up with the information superhighway anymore.  It prefers the backroads.  My school laptop (I'm a teacher and my school system has given every teacher and student a laptop) is not loading the post editor page.  Nobody knows why.  Google forums can't figure it out, I can't figure it out, and my IT person can't figure it out.  However, my IT guy has taken this up as a challenge, even to the point where he called me up Friday night to see if it what he did fixed the problem.  So the posts for the past two weeks have been prescheduled posts as I have not been able to get on to do it.

However, that has not stopped me from submitting queries and hearing back from some agents.  With that in mind, I want to suggest an agent for new authors.  It is not that she is specifically requesting new authors that makes me suggest this.  It is that she is fast.  When you get up enough nerve to submit that first query, then the waiting game begins.  Some agents try to get to you within two weeks and some betwee four and six.  I've seen a few that go for up to three months.  Add to that, some do not send a rejection e-mail (I understand why, it ends up taking a huge chunk of the week when you are receiving one hundred plus queries a day, but it is always nice to have that bit of closure).

That's what sets Laura Langlie apart.  I do not know her personally, but I do know that she responds usually in a day with a request for pages or a nicely written rejection e-mail.  Since I have not seen anyone else move so incredibly fast, I felt like I had to share her name out there to all of you other new, aspiring authors.

So keep sending them, guys - and good luck!