The roots that gave me wings (Alternate title: Hey, do you wanna see the coolest picture ever?)

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My Mom recently moved out of the house that she and Dad moved into more than 45 years ago. It’s amazing how much history surfaces after you have been hunkered down in a place for that many years. So many things get put away in boxes and forgotten about. The picture above is one of those things. I had never, ever seen it before. This is my Dad in front of his printing shop in a small town in northern Minnesota, circa 1950. I knew that Dad owned his own print shop many years ago. After that, he owned a series of small town newspapers and when he retired he went back to his first love: letterpress printing.

I have fallen so totally in love with this photo in the last few days since it surfaced. It’s the wallpaper on my computer and I just can’t stop looking at it. My Dad loved a challenge and he loved to work hard and he loved to bullshit. He and Mom raised eight children, all of whom absolutely adored him. I’ve missed that guy every single day since his death almost 11 years ago.

The reason this picture has resonated so deeply with me, though, is not just the reminder of who my Dad was and what a great human being he was, but the reminder of where I come from. This reminder couldn’t have come at a better time than when I’m about to publish my very first book. Dad was an entrepreneur. Always. He was always a small-town business owner and when things weren’t challenging enough anymore, it was time to move on. His roots? Grandpa was an entrepreneur. He was trained as a lawyer but owned his own small town print shop, too. Both he and Grandma were homesteaders on the high, dusty plains of North Dakota. Grandma, who was also the town’s first postmistress, lied about her age so she could claim her piece of land.

What must it have been like to live back then when such frontiers were still being breached? The beauty of this question is that I’m about to find out. There’s never been a better time to be an artist of any sort – writer, musician, photographer, painter. The incredible connections that the world wide web provides this generation has created its own kind of frontier. The only thing required to join the fray is hard work, the ability to rise up to the challenge and the courage to push the “publish” button.

I read a great quote from Robin Sharma the other day: “Greatness lies just outside your comfort zone.” I sincerely hope that is true. It’s taken me half my life to step outside my comfort zone to publish this book. But looking at this picture wraps me in the knowledge that I come from people who weren’t afraid to step outside their comfort zone. If I work hard, rise to the challenge, and pick myself back up when I fall, I know that Dad will be smiling down on my efforts to carry on the family entrepreneurial spirit.

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Cover Reveal: THE WITCH OF HIGHLAND FALLS

I’ve been sitting on this for a little while and itching to put it out into the world. Here it is, the cover for THE WITCH OF HIGHLAND FALLS!

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Isn’t it purty?! Thank you so much to Phat Puppy Art for the gorgeous cover.

THE WITCH OF HIGHLAND FALLS will be available through Amazon Kindle beginning March 2, 2016. It is available for pre-order here. It will be available in other formats later this year. You can add it on Goodreads here.

Here is the description for the THE WITCH OF HIGHLAND FALLS:

She has powers she can’t control.

He has powers he wishes he didn’t.

Their powers could get them both killed.

Tig has always been a freak but at least her parents were happy about it. The more weird things happened around her, the more obsessed with the paranormal they became. But now her mother is a vegetable. Then when her father dies right in front of her, the coroner says it was internal bleeding. So why does she feel so certain his death has something to do with her?

Alec is firmly under the thumb of the most twisted man on Earth. His life has been a sick nightmare since Foster found him on the streets years ago. His apprenticeship has taught him skills like blood sacrifices and body severances. He wonders if either of them can be considered human anymore.

Now Alec must lure Tig into a deadly trap. Will she come quietly? Or will her unwieldy powers protect her when she needs them the most?

Posted in Fantasy, Paranormal, Reading, The Witch of Highland Falls, Writing, Young Adult | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Nerdcon: Stories 2015 re-cap

I was extremely lucky to be able to attend the inaugural Nerdcon: Stories Oct. 9 and 10. The only reason I had the means to attend was because it was nearby (Minneapolis). As I keep telling people: this is NOT fly-over country! (Okay, that’s a whole different post.)

Anyhow, Hank and John Green were the brains behind this awesome con. I heard about it several months ago and barely hesitated before purchasing the tickets for myself and my daughter. Best. Purchase. Ever. The overarching theme of the two-day event was “Why Stories Matter” and there were so many awesome panels with authors I admire and the best part was discovering a few new writers whose books I’ll be reading, solely based on their awesome personalities on the panels.

I have never been to any kind of “con” before so I have to admit I was totally starstruck when seeing some of my favorite authors walking the halls. For the most part I left them alone because you could tell they were scurrying from one panel to the next or from panel to signing, etc. But I also spent some time just hanging out on a bench people watching and it was so cool to see people like Maureen Johnson, Holly Black, Stephanie Perkins, Mara Wilson, Maggie Stiefvater, Rainbow Rowell… all just stopping to take selfies and say hello to people whenever they could. So many awesome authors.

Some of my favorite parts were the signings. Maureen Johnson not only signed my book but was awesome enough to take silly selfies with lots of folks (I look particularly hideous in this picture – sorry):

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Another signature I was excited to get was Patrick Rothfuss. At his table, there was a volunteer that you could hand your phone to so he could snap a quick pic for you (brilliant!):

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I also got a great signature from Maggie Stiefvater (no photo with her – and I don’t know what I was thinking because she totally would’ve done it – but her signature is my favorite … you can see why, right? She did that drawing in about two seconds. Awesome!)

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The whole crew from the Welcome to Nightvale podcast was there and shenanigans ensued. The New York Neo-Futurists (which includes several of the Nightvale folks) performed “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” which is their “attempt” (their word) to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen. One minute you were laughing, then crying, then learning something, then trying to figure out what in the heck they were trying to say. It was crazy. And awesome.

My daughter got signatures from the whole Nightvale crew, Maggie Stiefvater, Mara Wilson, and John Scalzi (whose books she had never read… she picked one up just prior to the signing, read the first chapter and became an insta-fan!). Sadly, she could not get into either one of the Hank Green signings. It was chaos. John Green was there, but did not do a signing. My daughter thinks it’s because it would’ve been too crazy (she’s probably right).

Other highlights: I almost ran Mara Wilson over as I was heading into the bathroom and she was heading out (smooth, right? sorry Mathilda!). We both said, “Oh sorry, excuse me,” at the exact same time. Is Mara Wilson from the mid-west?! My daughter washed her hands standing next to Holly Black, who was touching up her awesome blue lipstick. I told her she should’ve asked for make-up tips.🙂 And then there’s the story of Jake the Tech Guy. Jake the Tech Guy became a celebrity on Saturday night when he saved the day during Open Mic. The audio stopped working and Jake came to the rescue. Dessa Darling – who was emceeing – gave Jake his props, got the crowd chanting for him and then started a signature line for him. That’s the kind of cool, spontaneous stuff that happened at Nerdcon.

Arguably one of the best parts of the weekend was not an official part of the event: Maggie Stiefvater had challenged John Green to a race on Twitter months before the event and it was ON! They set it up with a nearby race track and on Friday night Maggie and John went off to race – with lots of the Nerdcon attendees following them, it seems. My daughter and I didn’t go but there is video! Which is great because you would probably not believe me when I say that John Green’s car CAUGHT ON FIRE. This video is kind of long – his car lights up at about the 5 minute mark. And I mean, it legitimately lights up. It’s not just smoking! It’s pretty freaky!

As I said, I’ve never been to any kind of con before. This was really an awesome experience and one that I’m particularly happy that I shared with my kiddo! If you ever get the chance to go to something like this – don’t hesitate. According to their Twitter account (@nerdconstories) they are 100% planning to do it again next year. Yay!

 

 

 

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Ready. Set. WRITE! The last update!

Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and RSW2015accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and Katy Upperman.

How have we already come to the end of summer?! And – more importantly – to the end of Ready. Set. WRITE! This has really been a fantastic summer of revising and writing and I thank Alison, Jaime, Erin, Elodie and Katy for hosting RSW. As always, motivation in the form of accountability was a wonderful formula for progress.🙂

My goals for the summer were:

  • Finish this round of revisions for TWoHF by the end of June (I have a beta reader patiently waiting!)  DONE! And I got wonderful notes back from my beta reader and I have made good progress in the last few weeks with her notes in hand. Even though I accidentally added a new character in what was supposed to be the last round of revisions. Oops!
  • While waiting for notes back from my beta reader, write at least an hour a day on another WIP I started on a while ago and am anxious to get back to, tentatively titled FALLING. I didn’t do this but I actually decided to go back, instead, to a trilogy that I started a really long time ago that keeps calling to me. So, this goal really just shifted to a different MS and I made some great headway doing more planning and re-reading of that old MS. So I’m calling this one a success, too.
  • Get back to blogging more and interacting with others on their blogs more often! Thanks to the entire RSW concept and crew, I did do this. Most weeks I had a goal of visiting at least 10 other bloggers and (most weeks) I achieved that goal. It was wonderful to see all the progress being made out there.
  • Spend ZERO time watching TV (okay, maybe at least cut back to a couple hours a week). Well, I did okay on this most weeks out of necessity. It was a busy summer.
  • Spend ONLY one hour a day on the internet! Hahahaha… let’s not talk about this one!

So, I know that for this last post, the theme was supposed to be “Manicures and Manuscripts” but I gotta tell ya… I’m just not a nail polish kind of girl.🙂 I thought about letting my daughter do my nails – she re-paints hers just about every other day. But then I ran out of time. I look forward to seeing all the creative “Manicures and Manuscripts” posts out there and sorry I’m such a party pooper!

I hope all your RSWriters had a wonderfully productive summer. I’ll leave you with this fun picture of my Charlie (and his girlfriend Tinkerbell) that I put together with words this last week. It was National Dog Day, y’know. I hope your summer was full of perfect moments like this one.

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Ready. Set. WRITE! Aug. 24 update

Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and RSW2015accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and Katy Upperman. All the details are HERE.

1.  How I did on last week’s goals: I didn’t do an update last week or set any goals. It’s been a wild and crazy coupla weeks! I had jury duty, a major deadline at work and my kids start school today (see photographic evidence – sort of – below). I’m hoping to get back into some semblance of normalcy this week.

2.  My goals for this week.

  • Edit at least two chapters each day in TWoHF.
  • Walk at least 10k steps each day.
  • Visit the blogs of at least 10 other RSWers.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised: I got nothin’. I really didn’t get anything done this week.😦

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write): Time and stress. As mentioned: jury duty this week. Ultimately, I didn’t get picked for the jury but I was there for an entire day for jury selection. And it was federal jury duty so I had to be in downtown Minneapolis at the crack of dawn on Thursday, which is about two hours away from my home so I stayed overnight the night before at my sisters. Which meant making sure my family was all lined up for everything they needed to get to the next day (my youngest had her very first tennis match!). Jury selection was kind of a fascinating process but I’m really glad I didn’t get picked for the jury. The case is supposed to go through the end of this week.

5.  Something I love about my WiP (TWoHF): Um, I can’t help but think I’ve said this before but I love how much my MC grows over the course of the story.

A photo of my darling daughters who did not want their “first day of school” photo taken…

How did your week of writing and/or revising go?

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Ready. Set. WRITE! Ninth update

Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and RSW2015accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and Katy Upperman. All the details are HERE.

1.  How I did on last week’s goals:

  • Work an hour a night/five nights on revisions for THE WITCH OF HIGHLAND FALLS. Not good. See my excuse below in “biggest challenge.” I think I put in about three hours on revisions this week.😦
  • Walk at least 10k each day. Let’s not even talk about this one…

2.  My goals for this week.

  • Edit at least two chapters each day in TWoHF.
  • Walk at least 10k each day.
  • Visit the blogs of at least 10 other RSWers.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised: As mentioned, it was a bad week so maybe a good summary would be: zippo! Or … nada! Or … goose egg!!

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write): Time! I did the math on all the running I did this week (literally all over the state) and I spent 27 hours on the road. My office is about five blocks from my house – this kind of windshield time is unprecedented for me! Some of it was work-related but mostly kiddo-related (getting them to and from camps). Things will calm down this week.

5.  Something I love about my WiP (TWoHF): My MC takes off on her own at one point in a VW bus. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

How did your week of writing and/or revising go?

Posted in Ready. Set. WRITE, Writing | Tagged | 4 Comments

Ready. Set. WRITE! Eighth update

Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and RSW2015accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and Katy Upperman. All the details are HERE.

1.  How I did on last week’s goals:

  • Continue to tweak the blurb for THE WITCH OF HIGHLAND FALLS. Yep! Now I’m just going to let it sit a good long while.
  • Work an hour a night/five nights on revisions for THE WITCH OF HIGHLAND FALLS. Yes, I accomplished this but there is still a ton of work ahead. I accidentally added a new character. And this was supposed to be my last round of revisions!
  • Walk at least 10k each day. Accomplished five of seven days.

2.  My goals for this week. Busy week ahead = simple goals!

  • Work an hour a night/five nights on revisions for TWoHF.
  • Walk at least 10k each day.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised: A good summary would be: everyone needs a conscience talking to them every once in a while! Especially the bad guys who have such potential to be good guys.🙂

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write): Motivation and concentration. I sent one kiddo off to camp this week so I was thinking I’d have lots more time, which – in a way – I did. But I also find my mind wandering to her a lot this week, wondering how she’s doing (nine days away, including a five-day canoe trip into the wilderness of Canada is a lot for a 12-year-old!). So I found it hard to concentrate. She comes home Wednesday!

5.  Something I love about my WiP (TWoHF): I love the idea of this new character that I accidentally introduced. Even though it’s going to add a bunch more work, I think it is going to be tremendously helpful to the story arc for one of my main characters.

How did your week of writing and/or revising go?

Posted in Ready. Set. WRITE, Writing | Tagged | 5 Comments