Writing Updates: “Hyde Park” Short Story Sold, Publication Expected July 2020

In my last writing update, I mentioned I wrote and finished a short story two days before the Halloween deadline for an anthology. Well that story, “Hyde Park,” is now sold!

Apparently there were over four hundred entries for the Monsters, Movies, & Mayhem anthology and just twenty-two made the final cut! I’m honored to have made it all the way to the end with my story and can’t wait to check out all the other pieces in the finished anthology.

Here’s my original pitch for the story:

Doctor Faustus meets The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde in “Hyde Park”, a story about a young writer-director who’s keeping a monstrous secret about his overnight Hollywood success.

Executive edited by Kevin J. Anderson with an editorial team provided by Western Colorado University’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing, Publishing MA students, the anthology will be published by WordFire Press. Expected publication for Monsters, Movies, & Mayhem is July 2020.

 

Writing Update: Rainbow Bookshelves, Audio Books, and More

I’ve needed to do something about my book shelf situation at home for about two years Problem was, I really liked the bookshelf I had, really liked my living room set up, and didn’t want to just get rid of a perfectly good bookshelf (or perfectly good books). So I kept piling all the new books on the floor near the book shelf, telling myself I’d figure this out once I got a little time. Except that never happened and months became years.

We recently hired someone to come clean our house every three weeks (it’s every bit as worth it as everyone tells you it is) and I realized that I really had to figure out this problem because there’s a whole corner of the house that was super dusty and full of cobwebs that she couldn’t clean because of the precarious book stacks. Not to mention our cats love to sit in the window since the shade broke and they had to jump over the books to get there.

I polled a few friends with all the ideas I’d been kicking around, but it was the Boyfriend who sealed the deal when he suggested we just move the existing book shelf into his room. I loved that idea because it handled my conflicted feelings of getting rid of something that was still great and usable by repurposing it to a different area of the house.

Last weekend, the long-awaited project finally got under way. I forgot to take a true “before” picture, but the books that are on the floor in front of the shelf, are actually the overflow books that have been sitting on the floor forever. So you can kind of imagine how bad this situation had gotten. I had books on those two shelves as well as along the top.

Keep scrolling to see the final product!

Before I started the project, I’d a found a picture of a rainbow book shelf and showed it to my friend, fellow writer, and book worm, Kristin Luna. She suggested I go for it since I was redoing everything anyway. I’ve always loved the look of a rainbow book shelf and wanted to do one “someday.” But I hadn’t thought seriously about doing it this time around. Again, I polled some friends and then asked the Boyfriend if he minded that I created a giant rainbow in our living room. Bless him, he said he didn’t care at all.

I am absolutely in love with how the finished product came out. I want to tweak a few things about the decor, but I love this effect and it makes my heart so happy seeing it every day.

Now on to the writing updates! Cursed Collectibles is now available as an audio book! You can buy it here from Amazon or if you do an Audible trial, it’s actually free! If you want a little preview of the collection, when you join my email list, you get a free download of the recording of my story, “The Garden Party.”

I finished another short story around Halloween for a themed anthology two days before the deadline and sent it in because you miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take. Also YOLO. I heard there were over four hundred submissions to this anthology so I’m not hoping for much as I literally stayed up to midnight writing it, but I’m pretty proud of myself for getting two stories written and submitted to things with actual deadlines this fall.

This month, I haven’t written anything as I’ve been busy with client projects and prepping them for the holiday season/end of the year. I have an outline for one more short story I want to write before I start writing my new book and I’m actually more excited about this short story than the other two I finished. Overall, I’ve been super, super antsy to get back to writing so hopefully I’ll manage to carve out some time in the middle of the holiday madness to get that done.

 

Cursed Collectibles: An Anthology is Available Now

It’s officially Spooktober and what better way to celebrate than with a new collection of spooky stories?!

Cursed Collectibles is officially available through Amazon! The Kindle version is available now, with print and audiobook versions to come in the next couple weeks.

Click here to purchase Cursed Collectibles: An Anthology for Kindle 

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Spend an afternoon antiquing and it’s not hard to figure out why picking has become one of America’s fondest pastimes. It’s treasure hunting while connecting with history. But what if those treasures hunt us back?

From old books, to vinyl records, antique mirrors, vintage figurines, or a Bob’s Big Boy piggy bank, curses have no limits.

Featuring stories from D.J. Butler, Joy Auburn, Martin L. Shoemaker, Jessica Guernsey, John D. Payne, Jen Bair, Karen Pellett, Steve Ruskin, Tanya Hales, Lauren Lang, Frank Morin, Mike Jack Stoumbous, Kelly Lynn Colby, Jace Killan, Jo Schneider, Gama Ray Martinez, Martin Greening, Chris Abela, A.J. Mayall, Heidi A. Wilde, Shannon Fox, Lauryn Christopher, and Mark Leslie.

Edited by Angela Eschler

Cover art by Novae Caelum

And audiobook narrated by Shaun Smith and Hillary Andrus Straga

All proceeds from the sale of this anthology go to benefit the Don Hodge Scholarship fund. This scholarship helps aspiring authors attend Superstars Writing Seminars. Click here to learn more about the scholarship.

 

Cursed Collectibles Anthology to Be Released October 1st

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I’m so excited to share I have a story coming out in the Cursed Collectibles anthology and it’ll be available for purchase on October 1st – just in time for Halloween!

The story I have in this anthology, entitled “The Garden Party” is actually one I wrote way back when I was going to UCSD – and then rewrote and submitted for this! I love the theme, the cover art, and can’t wait to read/hear the rest of the stories. Thanks for all the hard work Jace Killan!

Authors with stories in the Cursed Collectibles anthology are Dave Butler, Mark Leslie Lefebvre, Joy Johnson, Martin L. Shoemaker, Gama Martinez, Mike Jack S, Lyn Worthen, Shannon Fox, Karen Pellett, Jessica Springer Guernsey, Jennifer Blair, Steve Ruskin, Tanya Hales, Frank Morin, Lauren Lang, Jo Ann Schneider Stringer, Kelly Lynn Colby, Heidi Andrus Wilde, Adric Mayall, Chris Abela, Martin E Greening, John David Payne

Edited by Angela Eschler

Cover art by Novae Caelum

And audiobook narrated by Shaun Smith and Hillary Andrus Straga

All profits from the sale of this anthology go to the Don Hodge Scholarship Fund (which is a scholarship that helps people attend Superstars Writing Seminars)

The anthology and audiobook will be available for purchase on Amazon.

 

Writing Updates: Starting the Query Process for Shadow of the Magician

This month I’m starting the agent querying process for Shadow of the Magician. I got feedback from most of my beta readers back and made all my changes to the manuscript from there. I also finished doing the grammar line edits so I feel like this is a solid, clean draft. I’m now at the point where anything else I might do it just feels like picking at it to procrastinate on moving on. I still have a few readers I haven’t heard back from yet, but unless I get some significantly new and different comments, I’m done with this for now.

So next stop: try to find an agent for it! I’m going to the Fallbrook Writer’s Conference on Sunday where I’ll have the opportunity to pitch it to one of the agents there. I also have a few other agents that are my on first round query short list so I’m working on creating all the submission documents I’m going to need.

If you’re not familiar with the agenting process, all agents represent different kinds of projects so it’s important to spend time researching agents so you approach the right people. They also have their own submission criteria of things they want you to send to them which differs from agency to agency. From there, if they like what you see, they can ask you for more pages or the whole book to read. So before you start querying, you need to have a number of things ready to go besides the full manuscript itself. Query letters, summaries, synopses…and all of differing lengths and formats too! Sometimes actually finishing the book feels like the easy part!

I’m also planning to get another short story written for another writing contest this month. Maybe even two. And I have some new edits I want to make to the flash fiction that earned me an Honorable Mention recently. Feeling more encouraged and believing I’ll find a home for it eventually.

Beyond that, I have few more short story ideas I want to write and then I’m planning to start my next book soon. I’ve had the outline done since May and am still feeling really eager to dive in with that one which is a good sign. I’m excited to see how the writing process goes on a new novel now that I can try out all the things I learned from writing Shadow. If I haven’t mentioned this before, Shadow is really special to me because it’s the book that more than anything else I’ve ever written, really taught be how to construct a story, write a book from start to finish, and also how to revise. I learned so much from the process (*cough* hell *cough*) with that one so I’m eager to see what all that learning looks like on a new book!

Writing Updates: Congratulations and Write On

Two rejections.

That’s how my July went.

I could stop here.

But this blog post is, after all, called “Congratulations and Write On.”

Clearly, there’s more.

The first rejection I received was for a short story I submitted to a themed anthology. On the whole, I thought the story was pretty good and one of the better things I’ve written recently. I did get a little feedback about it and I know it had been in the “maybe” pile after all the submissions were initially reviewed.

Still, at the time, this didn’t make me feel any better. I was actually pretty down about this one. I tend to think I’ve desensitized myself to rejection. Small, low-stakes rejections that feel impersonal – like writing rejections. Yes this one made me mopey for three days.

A few weeks after that, I remembered that I’d submitted a flash fiction I’d written last fall to a contest and needed to check and see if there were any updates.

There were.

I didn’t win.

Nor was I a finalist.

This rejection didn’t both me as much. A flash fiction is kind of a weird entity. I’d written the piece originally for a prompt I did with my writing group and after it was surprisingly well-received, I started shopping it around, not really sure if I’d find a home for it.

Still, two rejections in one month is not the best for a person’s confidence in their art.

One night I was sitting at my computer working on something when I saw I had a new email from the contest I’d been rejected from.

The subject line?

“Congratulations and Write On!”

I clicked it open, figuring it was just marketing ploy to get me to open an email about submitting again. That’s the problem with working in marketing. You see all the puppet strings.

But rather than a sales email (okay they did encourage me to submit again, too) I received the following message:

“Congratulations to you on being selected as an Honorable Mention for ‘Uncanny’ in the ___ Writing Awards. We’re so pleased at the chance to read and commend this fine work!

The quality was high, and you should be proud of your accomplishment. Although your piece won’t be published, I hope you’ll be gratified to know that as an Honorable Mention, you placed in approximately the top 8% of our entries (or, as I prefer to look at it, your piece beat out 92% of the competition).”

You can bet I was happy to get that email!

After I got up and told the boyfriend about my bit of exciting news, I started thinking: this one little email had turned my night around. And my month, too, as far as my writing was concerned. But what if I never received it?

.

.

.

I’d still be beating myself about being rejected twice in the same month. I would still be thinking that I’d failed. That my writing showed no promise whatsoever.

I’d still be missing the big picture.

One contest took the time to send me and however many others (or maybe this IS all part of a fantastic marketing ploy, in which case hat’s off to you) this email about being in the top 8% of the entries. Top 8% is not failing friends. That’s coming pretty damn close. That’s the luck of the draw. That’s subjectiveness.

Which made me think back on the other rejection. I knew that in the final anthology selection, only one story out of all the maybes had made the final cut. Mine wasn’t the one. But it didn’t mean my story was terrible. It just wasn’t as strong as some of the other submissions in the eyes of the reviewer.

That’s not failing. That’s coming pretty damn close. That’s the luck of the draw. That’s subjectiveness.

What an incredible, incredible gift perspective can be.

So yes, I got two rejections in July.

I didn’t fail.

I just didn’t win.

But I came pretty damn close.

Congratulations and write on!

10 Things Most People Don’t Know About Me

While this blog has been often neglected in the course of starting my business, I was thinking recently that I’ll be celebrating eight years (!!) of book blogging this December. While my blog has changed a lot over the years, I’ve never fully put it aside and I’ve built a pretty good little following over the years. Besides Facebook, Isle of Books is my longest-running internet home!

As this blog has evolved slightly towards sharing more of my personal life, I thought I’d do a fun little blog post and share ten things most people don’t about me!

 

1) I Decided I Wanted to Write Books About the Same Time I Learned How to Read

My mom read to me a ton as a kid and supplied me with books so even before I knew how to read or knew that creating books was something a normal person could do, I was already deeply in love with stories. But it was mid-way through Kindergarten before I realized I wanted writing and stories to always be part of my life. It was around Christmas and we’d spent the first few months of school learning how to write and read. We were given some assignment, the details of which escape me today, which I dutifully completed. Then, the teacher pulled me aside. I instantly thought I’d done something wrong. But it turns out she just had a note for me to give to my parents about my assignment and how much she liked it/the writing. Something to that effect. But in any case, it was the first time a teacher ever made me feel special and also the first time someone ever complimented me on my writing. It wasn’t too long after that that I learned books were actually written by normal people and well, a destiny was born.

2) I’ve Been Riding Horses for Twenty Years

Not a secret in my regular life, but maybe a secret here on the blog. I’ve been riding horses for a long time – twenty years in fact as I realized recently. And in the last twenty years, I’ve been fortunate enough to keep riding continuously. The longest break I’ve had from horses was only about a month long. Even carpal release surgery, even spraining my hip (or maybe hairline fracturing my pelvis, who knows) wasn’t enough to keep me down for long. After the carpal tunnel release surgery, I actually rode one-handed for a few months. So obsessed with horses might be an understatement. And people are constantly surprised to learn that even with as busy has life has been with launching a business, I still consistently ride at least three days a week. I think it anchors me and keeps me sane and I hope I can keep riding forever as I don’t know who I’d be without horses in my life!

3) There Are Only Two Genres of Books I Generally Won’t Read

I’ll read pretty much anything, especially if I’m in a pinch. I’d rather read a book than sit somewhere, bored. But there are two genres I generally won’t read unless a trusted friend really, really pushes me to read the book and submits to extensive questioning about it beforehand. Those genres are horror and romance. I don’t mind elements of these things, but I typically don’t read books that sit squarely in those genres.

4) When I Write a Book, I Create a Playlist for It

This is actually my favorite part of starting a new project – creating a playlist for it! I usually start with just a few songs that fit the mood or tone of the book I’m working on and add onto it over time. I listen to the playlist on repeat while writing. I think it helps me get back to the space where I want to be for the particular book and helps me focus better. I’ll usually do a mix of songs with and without vocals.

Side note: would anyone be interested in seeing my playlists if I put them up on Spotify? If so, drop me a comment below.

5) I’ve Read Over One Hundred Books in a Year

I think I’ve actually done this twice in my life and let me tell you…one hundred books in a year is A LOT. For me anyway. Some people, maybe one hundred books is easy. But not for me. I really feel like I’m reading SO much when the numbers get that high. I think my sweet spot is about a book a week so fifty or so books a year. Sixty-five is probably a comfortable max. This year though has been abysmal (nobody go look at my Goodreads right now). But one thing I’ve learned through tracking my reading is that I tend to slow down when I’m going through a major life change. So hopefully in a year or so when I’ve fully adjusted to my new life, I’ll get back to reading more. Until then, thank you to all who continue to hang around and be a subscriber to this blog!

6) I Was Nine Years Old the First Time I Was Published

I actually found this publication recently. I had an acrostic poem about whales in a book called, Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans. The 1999 edition kids. But while it was cool that I got published in an actual physical book (that we still have!) I remember not being stoked on this poem. I think I did it as a school assignment during the year my school had a Gifted and Talented program and I think they either submitted it for me or showed me/my family how to do it. I just remember not really liking the poem then and now…well…let’s just say it  has NOT aged like a fine wine.

7) I Studied French for Nine Years

When I started taking French in middle school, I didn’t even remotely imagine it would lead me to taking college classes in the language! I actually picked French just because most people were signing up for Spanish and well, sometimes when people zig, I like to zag. (That’s also how I ended up in my school orchestra, not the band, playing the viola, NOT the violin) Anyway it turned out I liked French and I figured it would look good on those college applications so I kept with it through high school, even taking the AP Test my senior year. The AP Test though, and more correctly studying for the AP Test, kind of burned me out on the language. By the time the test was done, I was also done with the language. Or so I thought. Fast-forward about a year later to the spring of my first year at UCSD when I realized if I wanted to be a writing major (which I did) I needed to achieve secondary language proficiency to graduate. Basically what that amounts to is that a literature department at a school that’s known for science and engineering needs to get butts in seats. So they came up with a plan that if you majored in any of the literature department’s majors, you had to fulfill the secondary language requirement which involved taking a certain amount of upper division language classes. I had taken a year of Spanish in high school for fun and thought briefly of doing Spanish in college, but realized it would mean a lot of extra classes and time since I was much further along with French. So back to French I went. And it was great mainly because I met one of my dearest friends in French class the next fall and she is still one of my best friends today – love you K!

8) I Have Unusual Teeth

I have extra cusps on my top back molars. I think it’s called the cusp of carabelli, though no one has ever used the term with me. I recently went to see my dentist for my cleaning and the first thing he told me when he sat down is that he finally treated another patient who has teeth like me. Lol. Always fun to be one of your doctor’s anomalies…at least he remembers me! And this is very morbid, but I always think if my family ever had to identify my body at least I wouldn’t be lost because I’ve got some great dental records to go off of!

9) I Have Encyclopedic Knowledge of Dog Breeds

Growing up I really, really, REALLY wanted a dog. I watched endless hours of Breed All About It and The Eukanuba Tournament of Champions on Animal Planet,  and spent time scouring the internet to learn even more about the dog breeds I thought would be the perfect fit for our family. I never got my dog (not as a kid anyway), but in the process I gained an encyclopedic knowledge of man’s best friend.

I finally have a dog now. Can you guess what breed of dog I ended up going with after hours and hours of research?

A MUTT!

10) I’ve Never Taken a Formal Grammar Class

This one is maybe the most surprising on the entire list…am I right? Let me know in the comments below!

Everything I know about writing and sentence structure I largely learned from reading and doing. I never took one of those classes where they sat you down and said, “this is a preposition” and “here’s how you create a compound modifier”.

Another bonus fact a lot of people don’t know about me is that for a long time, I must have been an awful test taker because I constantly tested into the wrong classes. If any test was given in order to split a class into smaller groups based on skill level, I invariably found myself assigned to the lowest group only to be moved a few weeks (or months) later when my teachers realized a mistake had been made. On the upside, my self-esteem got a nice boost whenever that happened. On the downside, it created gaps in my education because usually the group I got moved into had already covered the stuff I actually didn’t know.

But I’ve learned a lot about grammar over the years through osmosis, observation, and being corrected by others. And now that I work on a computer all day, it’s easy for me to look up anything I’m not sure about. Still can’t tell you what a conjunction is without looking it up. But hey, there’s something to be said for being industrious!

 

Now it’s your turn…what’s something most people don’t know about you? Leave me a comment below!