Friday, May 22, 2015

Chasing the Muse

I've been in a slump—a writing slump that is. It started back in the dead of winter when New England was buried under ten feet of snow. Fine, I said to myself, I'll read instead. Which I did. I thought my muse would perk up with the arrival of spring, but no, she's still asleep with no sign of waking up, other than an occasional twitch.

I don't like it one bit.

I mean,  I have a WIP to revise, an MS to query, another book to finish, and barrels of ideas to bring to paper. I have been grappling for all sorts of inspiration: reading blogs, more books, revisiting stories I love, watching movies...and commencement addresses. Because the very nature of a commencement speech is to inspire new graduates and launch them into the wide wild world. And right now, I need that push as much as they do. So, I've been spending hours on YouTube, drinking in those commencement addresses.

The one I watched last night really resonated with me (they all do, but this one was spot on for my It was given by Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, at Penn. Her first piece of advice to the class of 2015 (she gave several, but that's the one that made me rear my head): "Act as if." Also known as "fake it til you make it." "Act as if and you will eventually figure it out."

This reminded me of how, when I started writing in earnest 7 years ago, I acted as If I knew what I was doing, knowing nothing about story structure, character development, pacing, etc. But I wrote my first book, got an agent, and received a lot of positive feedback from editors, even though the book didn't sell. So, here I am now, more versed in the art of novel writing (at least I want to think I am) and yet unsure how to keep going. And so, I am going to act as if I knew exactly how to write a bestseller and how to win an A-list agent and how to garner great blurbs from authors I love. "Fake it til you make it." Love that. I feel like I just graduated.

What about you? Have you ever acted as if?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holiday Query Blog Hop

Once again, Michelle Hauck is hosting a Holiday Blog Hop to help authors shine up their queries. Here is mine:

Dear Fabulous Agent,

Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Walsh knew that going to stay with her grandfather in Paris was a mistake. Not the Paris part, but the part where he’ll come up with ridiculous rules and ruin her summer. But that becomes the least of her worries when his house gets ransacked on the night she arrives.

Someone is after the family heirloom—a stone of dubious origin. When pale, clawed men show up at the Opera House and chase Deirdre up to the roof before shifting into birds, Deirdre knows the stone is no ordinary trinket. After she manages to slip out of her aggressors’ grasp, they take her grandfather instead.

Most girls would go straight to the police.

But Deirdre isn’t most girls.

If she wants to ever see her grandfather again, she needs to trick those creatures into thinking she has the stone. As Deirdre sets off to find it, she discovers an alternate Paris where myth meets reality. Good thing she meets some knights-in-(not so)-shining armor in sexy bad boy, Sean, and mild-mannered neighbor, Luc.

The creatures, she learns, are faeries descended upon Paris to reclaim the stone and use it to rekindle their dwindling life force. Then, they plan to take control of the human world. If Deirdre doesn’t find the stone before they do, there may never again be a place to call home. Not for her. Not for anyone.

MIST is a YA urban fantasy and complete at 89,000 words. I believe it would appeal to fans of Maggie Stiefvater’s LAMENT and Cassandra Clare’s THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS. I am an active member of SCBWI. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Laurence King

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Interview with Author Lisa A. Kramer

Today, we are fortunate to have Lisa A. Kramer stop by the blog to answer some questions about her newly-released book, P.O.W.E R


What would happen if women and girls joined their unique abilities to change the world? In a time where access to the written word is reserved to men, Andra BetScrivener's ability to read and write must remain a secret, or she could lose her hands, her eyes or her life. At 17 she discovers that her abilities extend beyond reading: She can write events to life. Despite her efforts to keep her powers hidden, she comes to the attention of both the government and a rebel group, who each desire to use Andra for their own goals. She learns that her words have the power to kill, threatening her father's life and her own freedom. Andra's fight empowers others to stop governmental oppression. But in a society ruled by lies, cruelty and inequality, her journey will not be easy or safe.

1. Welcome, Lisa! Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I always find it difficult to answer a question about myself, despite my love of words. Why? Because my life has been a fascinating journey filled with so many different moments that I can’t really describe who I am. In a nutshell, I am a writer, a theatre artist, an educator, a wife and a mother. I’ve lived in 11 states and two countries (Japan and the US), although I was born and raised in Massachusetts. I have spent my life in both academic and creative pursuits. I hold an MFA in theatre directing and a Ph.D. in theatre for youth, which means I make much of my living teaching as adjunct faculty in various colleges and universities, as well as directing and teaching classes in the community. I am the co-founder of heArtful Theatre Company—a company dedicated to the power of theatre and the arts to bring communities together and provide opportunities for everyone to share the stories of their lives. So, in many ways, everything I do (and have done) is about finding and sharing the stories that connect us as human beings.

2. P.O.W.ER is all about empowering women to embrace their own talents and work together to make a difference in the world. Can you tell us what prompted you to write this particular story?
I’ve spent a lot of my life working with and mentoring young women—most of whom have incredible talents of all types, but are often disparaging of those talents, and more often of each other. I’ve witnessed and experienced women not supporting each other because they are so afraid of giving up the small piece of the pie that they have achieved. I understand it to some extent, because our society doesn’t make it easy for women to achieve in certain fields. But, I also believe that those who have succeeded should be examples and mentors. They should be helping other women achieve their dreams, rather than making it more difficult. Over recent years, I’ve been appalled as images of mean girls and women competing with each other take over the air waves. I watch in frustration as our government continues to try to devalue women by taking away our choice and our ability to support ourselves. I weep over stories about women not being given access to education and thus to opportunity. I look at my own daughter, and I say she needs to live in a better world—one where every individual (male/female/trans) has opportunities to learn and grow based on desire and ability. This story comes from all of this, as well as from a simple question I’ve asked myself over and over again: why are people in power so afraid of educated women?

3. What are you hoping to achieve by spreading this message? I’d love to see a world where people are truly equal, but I doubt my little novel will have much power over that. If I can encourage a few people to embrace whatever talents they have to offer, and to learn to support each other and make their voices heard, then I will feel successful.

4. Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special? Andra BetScrivener is the daughter of the Head Scrivener of New North. Although her father writes for a living, she has been raised in a world where women and girls are not allowed to learn to read or write. However, she has always had the ability to read, even without being taught. When she turns seventeen, she discovers that she also has the power to write some things into reality. While she could take this power and simply write the world different, she realizes the responsibility that comes with having power. She helps bring other women with abilities together, as well as men who support them, to make a difference in the world without abusing their powers.

5. Did you approach P.O.W.ER differently than anything else you've written? Everything I write is different, so my approach is different as well. I began P.O.W.ER. as part of a course through the Long Ridge Writers Group, which meant that I had specific assignments that I had to fulfill. It made me plot and outline a little more than I usually do. However, when it came to writing the whole novel, I let my characters take me where it needed to go.

6. How much research did you do? I didn’t do a lot of research for this one. Part of the inspiration came from reading a book called The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, M.D., but I didn’t really look into the possibilities of brain functioning. This is partially a fantasy, where the powers of the female human brain have developed beyond expectations. I allowed myself to journey into that fantasy.

7. What else have you written? I have written non-fiction articles for children as well as for academic journals (mostly about theatre) I also have three short stories published in the Theme-Thology anthologies put out by HDWP books, and a few published poems.

8. Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I work both ways. As I mentioned, I plotted a little more for P.O.W.ER. However, some feedback I got from an early reader made me change my format somewhat (I was originally writing only in 3rd person, however I shifted to a combination of 1st and 3rd) which affected my outline to some extent. So the plot was just a beginning map, the ideas and the characters took me where I needed to go.

9. What else are you working on at the moment? I am working on two other novels. One is a YA paranormal mystery of sorts, and the other is literary fiction around a storyteller character that has appeared in my blog.

10. Where can we buy P.O.W.ER?
Order the paperback through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Go independent, order the Kobo version.
Coming soon to iTunes and nook.
I am also hoping to get it into independent book stores and libraries. . . request it at your favorite and help me spread the word.

Thank you again, Lisa, and best of luck with P.O.W.ER!

Put this book on your list, dear readers! It is a captivating read with a powerful message, and will make a perfect gift for the readers in your life.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Samhain and All Saints' Day

When I was growing up in France, we used to celebrate All Saints' Day on November 1st (They still do, mind you). Every year on that day—usually a bleak, blustery day—we would get up early to go to church, then go visit every cemetery in a 10-mile radius where relatives were buried. We would then gather at my grandparents' home for a midday feast before returning to church early in the afternoon and closing the day with yet another round of visits to neighboring cemeteries. I hated that day. With a passion.

I never heard of Halloween—and the word Samhain—until I moved to the US. I was struck by the celebratory mood surrounding a holiday that I had known for so long to bring forth sadness and heartache. Indeed, why not celebrate rather than mourn the dead? It didn't take long for that day to become one of my favorite holidays (my kids had a big part to play in that).

I love the spirit of Halloween/Samhain, how the living commune with the dead as the veil between both worlds fades to its thinnest. In all good fun. The way it should be.

Happy All Saints' Day everyone!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Feeding the Muse

Someone recently asked whether I write when I travel. I do not, unless you count my daily Facebook posts. Traveling for me is a time to replenish the stores of my imagination. And so I snap shots. Here are a few little nuggets of gold I snatched a few weeks ago while in France and gave my muse to nibble on....

                                                       Point Zero in front of Notre Dame
                                                       a.k.a. portal to another dimension.

                                                    Evil is rampant on the streets of Paris,
                                  hence the army of gargoyles on the walls of Notre Dame.

                                                              If you look carefully,
                                                         you might glimpse Rapunzel
                                                  about to lower her braid to the ground.

                                             Oh look, a messenger from the Underworld!

                                                            A cauldron at the window?
                                    Move along before the witch turns you into something unnatural.

                                                      Should you pass under that bridge,
                                                   you might well give out your last sigh.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


I have a new friend. I've texted her just about every day this past month (I swear, I wasn't stalking her). Her name is Andra Watkins and on Wednesday, April 3rd she finished walking the 444-mile of the Natchez Trace. It took her 34 days. 15 miles a day. Day after day.

Why would anyone put herself through this, you ask? She was promoting her just released and self-published book To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis—which is beautiful and gripping and a must-read.

Andra is funny, warmhearted and fiercely determined (obviously!). She chronicled her journey with daily posts and videos in which she answered readers' questions. It wasn't easy. She cried, and she threatened to quit, and she cried some more, and when she thought she could no longer put one foot in front of the other, she stumbled across a field of daffodils and lay in it until she found renewed courage to get up and walk. 444 miles! My knees feel weak at the thought, but Andra pushed on, and she finished victorious on April 3rd under the cheers and thunderous applause of faithful supporters who had gathered to welcome her.

She made me cry and she made me laugh, but mostly she reminded me that dreams won't come true unless you give them enough wind to fly.

Thank you, Andra, for the inspiration, for letting me virtually (though I wished many times I had been there in the flesh) accompany you on your journey. You may have done a number on your feet, but you launched your book into the world and you filled our hearts with awe and smiles. 

If you haven't picked up your copy of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, you can purchase it through these outlets. Read it! You won't regret it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

R.R. Martin vs J.K. Rowling

I saw this hilarious post today, courtesy of Quora Daily Digest and had to share it with you (well, it might not make you laugh unless you are a fan of R.R. Martin or of J.K. Rowling or of both.)

How different would the Harry Potter series be, if it was written by George R.R. Martin instead of J.K. Rowling?
  • Draco Malfoy would be sitting on the Magic Throne, with Lucius Malfoy fighting all his wars for him.
  • There would be four Houses to compete for the Throne: House Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Gryffindor and Slytherin.
  • Ron and Ginny would be lovers.
  • Harry would first have to be thrown out of a window before he can learn to use his magic powers.
  • Neville Longbottom would be sent to the Wall to be made fun of.
  • Quidditch would be played with lances and swords, rather than balls.
  • Mail would be delivered by ravens rather than owls.
  • Hagrid would only say the word "Hagrid" all the time.
  • That goblin who works in the Gringotts Wizarding Bank would be the real hero and plotter.
  • Voldemort would be called "The Great Other," rather than "He who must not be named."