BookExpo 2018 Review

BookExpo 2018 Review

BookExpo 2018 was a whirlwind of meeting authors and potential publishers, filling bags with complimentary books, seminars, and being inspired. I enjoyed meeting some of the big authors like Kwame Alexander, who is incredibly personable.

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Kwame Alexander and me with my many bags of books!

But the magic and inspiration for me was in meeting the writers who are putting themselves and their stories out there to give back and share hope. The first person I met was WL Hoffman. A science fiction and fantasy writer, he published through a small press and has sold thousands of copies. He was one of the few authors who sold their books at BookExpo. It’s hard to compete with the major publishing companies who hand out thousands of books during this five-day conference, but he has a mission.

That’s why it’s so important to connect with people. As impressed as I was by his personality and display, I was blown away by the publication of his daughter’s first book. Hannah wrote The Portal to Pyranis when she was 11, and she’s doing very well with it.

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There’s a hatching dragon and friends traveling through a portal to adventure! No wonder I would love it. Hannah’s characters, Talia and Billy, could easily join the quest for Shimmer’s Eggs! Not only is Hannah a young and talented writer, but she and her father donate partial proceeds from their book sales to Special Strides, which is a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with special needs. Using words and our experiences to help others holds a dear place in my heart, so feel free to check out their books and support a great organization and family.

I continued to search out the gems and the enthusiastic smaller presses who feel compelled to get their stories out. I literally ran into one of them! Jamiyl Samuels was heading into his booth, and we collided. He handed me his card, told me his family’s story, and I was hooked! He and his wife, Tracy-Ann dreamed up and wrote the story of their son, Amani, who is on the spectrum for autism. He is very smart, but doesn’t like to talk. However, at night he is Awesome Amani, the superhero, who helps others in need.

Raising awareness and fostering growth is a large part of why Jamiyl and Tracy-Ann wrote this book, which is the first in a series. I recommend checking it out and Jamiyl’s other books.

The last very impressive young author I met was Sophia Elaine Hanson, who I guarantee will be well-known. She already is a best-selling author on Amazon.com where she published The Vinyl Trilogy through CreateSpace. Now she is searching for an agent for her next series, and I believe she will find one. She’s only 21, but she is a powerhouse of talent and full of ideas, especially storylines that I love!

As for connections to publish my journaling workshop, I absolutely loved Sounds True Publishers. They publish a ton of books on yoga, but also provide a space for authors to share their stories that help others.

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Books published by Sounds True

My wish is that something can come from this, but I have a lot of work to do. Going to conferences keeps you updated on what is happening in your industry, and hopefully gets you excited about your own work. That definitely happened for me. Journaling is a hot topic right now, and I want to share my stories on how it helped me. I have a long road ahead, but I’m in the right vehicle!

One last bit from BookExpo. Every year they have a buzz about up and coming middle grade, young adult, and adult books that are being shown at the expo. Ones that are chosen to be buzzed about will be published between August 2018 and January 2019. I went to the Middle grade buzz and listened to the editors pitch the winning books.

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Middle Grade Buzz winners

What I learned is that diversity and social issues are important to editors. But even more so, it’s never to late to share your story and be published. The author of Everlasting Nora is a cancer researcher and decided to write this story later in life. Monstrous Devices’ author also started a little bit later than we usually think of debut authors, but it doesn’t matter! If you have a fantastic or special story to tell, write it, and get it out to readers. Whether you do it yourself through independent publishing or through traditional publishers is up to you.

If you want to make your dream a reality, then you have to do the work. Write the best book you can, go to conferences, network, and connect. And never ever give up!

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Heading to Book Expo!

Even as I work on Saving Atlantis, I dream up other books. My mind is always creating. I’m heading to Jacob Javits Center in NYC for the 2018 Book Expo to share those dreams.

My goals are to network with fellow writers and publishers, get some books autographed, and find a publisher for my Write to be Healed Journaling Memoirs and Guide book.

It’s not uncommon for an independent publisher like myself to search for a traditional publisher for another book. Non-fiction is a bit easier (although there is nothing easy about getting published), because there’s a niche market that can be targeted. I figure it’s worth a try.

Book Expo is the place where book lovers and writers gather to sell their books and ideas, buy new ones, meet hundreds of authors, and pitch their book to editors and publishers.

Even as I painstakingly work to get Saving Atlantis ready for proofreading, Book 3 is percolating, and my journaling book is boiling. It’s time!

I’m excited for the adventures, the possibilities, and discovery. I’ll let everyone know how it goes!

Being Present Gives me Strength

Being Present Gives me Strength

I went into this morning’s yoga class with cranky joints, sore back, and an overall feeling of weakness. My body is laced with multiple injuries, so I am balancing self-care (going easy on myself) with stress care (exercising to keep sane). I was overwhelmed by all the overflowing areas in my life and wasn’t confident I could get through a 90-minute hot and intense class. Instead of teaching class, Jess, who is an inspiring teacher, practiced, while Sheryl, another powerhouse teacher, taught.

I thought about all I have to accomplish today, tomorrow, and the next week at least being in the room. It’s all good stuff, but sprinkled with personal stress. In Sheryl’s meditation, she invited us to leave everything at the door and be completely present in the class. Let my breath keep me here and not out there where life was threatening to pull me under.

I talked myself into agreeing that everything will still be there for me to pick up if I wanted, but for now I would be in each pose and focus on me.

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I don’t even know when it happened, but some time during the asanas, I felt strong. I didn’t ache. There was this sense of internal strength with the breath and external strength with the movements. By eliminating everything else except my practice, my power returned. I remembered I am strong, determined, and capable. Without all the self-limiting mumbo jumbo I sometimes carry around, I knew I could do anything.

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My dreams last night were filled with self-sabotage. People who don’t belong in my space preventing me from writing my book. Getting involved in situations that have nothing to do with me interrupting my ability to help others. Roadblocks and negativity throwing me off my path, so that I woke up with these feelings of weakness and worthlessness.

I dropped all the crap and set boundaries so those thoughts didn’t step onto my mat. Just for 90 minutes. That’s all I asked for. By removing those layers of self-doubt, I reconnected with my purpose. It blossomed. The clarity, the emotion, the connection to my higher self flourished. I took a deep breath and said, “Thank goodness.” I am here again.

Today, I don’t see all that I haven’t done or the mistakes, failures, or negative comments.

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I see the impact I have on others by believing in myself, knowing I am strong, and following my purpose. In this moment, I know in the end it’s all in me, but sometimes I need the space and and my yoga community to realize it.

 

The Ocean’s Heartbreak

The Ocean’s Heartbreak

You think you know me

So safe in my calm demeanor

It elevates your trust

Soothes your overactive mind.

 

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Poem inspired by South Beach, Miami, FL

I lure you with promises

Of warmth and comfort

Come further into my lapping arms

Let down your guard and let me in.

I give and you take

It’s always been that way

You are lulled into this

False send of complacency.

Then when I need

You are not there

You walk away not willing to give

In this one-sided relationship.

So I swell and I ache

I rage within at the unfairness

Until my emotions burst forward

And I am no longer calm.

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I am chaos unleashed

As my anger lifts into waves of despair

My colors reflect my emotion, my disappointment

My unwillingness to remain still and let you have your way.

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So Out! Out with your faking

Your convenient lovemaking

I soar and I flow

I ride the waves of my freedom.

If you stay, I will take you under

and plunder that wretched heart

That never put me first

I will no longer take part in your selfishness.

miamibeach4.18.3I rise. I rise until what I was

Is no longer here

Until I am washed clean

Of all that was you.

Then I calm. I am soothed

I no longer feel battered and abused

And I wait to see

Who may finally love me for me.

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Puzzling Quests

Puzzling Quests

The third draft of book two of The Puzzle Quests is almost complete. Rewriting a book is basically like rearranging  those puzzles where you have to shift one word in order to make a sentence fit. Or slide a paragraph in order to make the whole picture make sense.

This is where I am right now. I have pages printed out and marked up. I have a word document with the actual draft, another with deleted passages (because you never want to permanently delete anything!), another with passages that will go into Mark’s Book Three, and a final one that contains passages based on Peter’s Book Four.

Peter has been a pest with Book Two. Of course he wants to be in the picture, because he has a lot to say about what Rose does. Rose has her moments of jumping into situations, which is why they probably get along so well. It’s more fun when you have someone to get in trouble with!

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Peter and Rose in Cape Cod

For example, Rose doesn’t think about what could happen when she swims off after a monstrous octopus, because he happens to have one of the missing Aegean Sea coins stuck in one of his suckers. Rose knows this coin is one of the five needed to save Atlantis. When the octopus hides between two rocks, Rose doesn’t take no for an answer. We have to applaud Rose for her determination, but sometimes she has to learn to walk away or wait for help.

When the octopus attacks and Rose is caught in its arms, pulling her further and further into the ocean depths, it takes her sea dragon, Sparkle, and the mermaid, Natalia, to save her. She manages to get the coin, but at what expense? Her friends, her life?

For me, writing a magical world is probably the best occupation in the world. I am inpatient like Rose and jump in with both feet. But that’s how I learn what works and doesn’t work. It’s a game of creating, shifting, and puzzling dilemmas. Ones that I hope you will enjoy.

Look for The Puzzle Quests: Saving Atlantis in the Fall of 2018!

 

 

Organizing a Book Series

Organizing a Book Series

When I first started writing books, I thought I would write a single title and then start a totally separate book. When Warriors Within reached 500 pages, I knew I had to break it into a series. I ended where most of the book’s plots were tied up and kept some open for book two. I published it and began the second book, realizing that I limited myself by not seeing the whole series.

I knew my latest book, The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer’s Eggs would be a series, but I wrote the first one somewhat knowing what would happen in the next three. Now that I am writing book two, I have discovered the importance of mapping out the series’ plots, themes, and developing a storyboard. By looking at the series as a whole, I end up writing all three books at the same time.

Shimmer’s Eggs focused on the main character Luke, who has been challenged to fulfill a quest in exchange for a wish. I introduce all four characters, but it focuses on Luke’s personality and how he grows. Book Two, Saving Atlantis is based on Rose’s point of view. I had a hard time adjusting to writing the story from Rose’s frame of mind. I had been so used to knowing what Luke would do in every situation. I needed to understand where Rose was coming from, what she wanted to accomplish, what her struggles would be, and how she would or wouldn’t change from them.

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Rose’s character board

This led me to thinking about what Mark and Peter’s themes would be and what they were looking to do in their books. I knew there would be a quest, so this forced me to ask the question: What are their quests? How will the quests move the books and series along? What is the overall theme of the series and in each book?

This is what I came up with for my current series:

Shimmer’s Eggs: Luke overcoming a health crisis and having a wish not come true the way he would have wanted.

Physical theme: Castles, knights, and dragons

Saving Atlantis: Rose learning patience and that people don’t deal with life struggles in the same way.

Physical theme: water, sea animals, palace of seashells

Book Three (Untitled): Mark building his confidence to try new adventures and not be afraid of failure.

Physical theme: Jungle, meteors, dinosaurs

Book Four (Untitled): Peter learning to let go and be the person he is meant to be.

Physical theme: ships, treasure, pirates

These themes give me an idea of where I’m heading. I update ideas for each of the books as I’m writing the current one. Even though each of the characters is dealing with their own problems and growth, I need to understand the overall theme and goal of these books. What is the end result and theme? Why did they go through all of this? Why were they particularly chosen to bond with these dragons? This is something I’m still working on, but it has to do with giving back and sharing their stories of hope. Through their connections to the dragons, they have been given a tool and inspiration to journey through one of life’s toughest lessons.

The beauty of doing this is that it’s fluid. It can change as my characters grow. Nothing is set in stone until that book is published! So make sure you don’t cut off your nose to spite your face as the saying goes. Or get rid of a storyline that you end up needing in the last book. Look at the big picture first, then break it down into the smaller ones.

Any Day is for Love

Any Day is for Love

I met Luke December 22, 1988 on a blind date at the TGI Friday’s in Stuyvesant Plaza. I was 22, he was 26. As far as I was concerned, it was love at first sight.

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He recently mentioned how he wondered what exactly kept us together for 30 years. We are quite different in personality, viewpoints, and personal beliefs.

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I believe that showing our love to one another every day has helped us endure. We have never doubted what we have. Our life experiences have strengthened that love, and we appreciate it.

Never said it was easy, but I couldn’t imagine sharing my love with anyone else. Valentine’s Day is another day that reminds us to not take those you love for granted. It doesn’t have to be romantic love. It is anyone who lifts you up, makes you smile, and makes your world a brighter place. Today, that’s the perfect reminder to spend time with my man!