2016 is off to a flying start. My friend Sheenah Freitas, who was the heart and soul of Paper Crane Books, has moved on to other occupying endeavors and has closed or greatly transformed the press as we know it. That left my books without a home press for a brief time.
In the last few years I have made a lot of contacts while social networking. One was Ella Medler who has a press currently located in Ireland. We’ve done some multi author projects together both as writers and also with her press: Paper Gold Publications (http://www.papergoldpublishing.com). That is where my books are now and the move means all sorts of exciting little changes.
First off is the re-releasing of Sunstone and Tendrils which will launch on January 29, 2016. That is just the beginning. Tendrils will be available only for a short time so snap it up while it is available.
The Sage Seed Chronicles are undergoing a face lift with new covers and some polishing around the edges. Those will re-launch a little later in the year. These and other informational goodies will be announced and explored in depth on my newsletter. To stay up-to-date you can sign up for it on my website or by going to this link: http://eepurl.com/bM5fYH. By following the latest news you will be able to answer the above equation. 😀
Join me in my exciting updates. It will be a banner year! Hugs
I haven’t written a post in a long while as life pressures have intervened. It’s crazy how stress dries up creative juices. It also translated into writers block for my book writing …but the log jam is breaking. It is January 1, 2016 and I’m ready to mentally drop 2015 into the dust bin and celebrate the dreams and possibilities of a new year.
I really don’t believe in making resolutions as they frequently fail the longevity test within a month. Yes, I intend to keep going on the meal portion control, no sugar and active habits I’ve established. I’d like to increase my toning exercises and my blog writing. That is as close as I’m going to a New Years Resolution list.
On the upbeat side I’m delighted to report two books brewing in my head! (Big YAY!! and a growing pile of research notes). Last year saw my seventh book launched and the twelfth contribution to a multi-author anthology. (A thirteenth multi-author collection is coming out March 1st.) You can see them all here: http://www.amazon.com/Holly-Barbo/e/B0082ZGU7M
Six of my seven books are in the soft science fiction- fantasy genre. But the seventh was a mixed genre collection of short stories. I do enjoy other flavors besides scifi-fantasy and the two books stewing in my brain are more in the contemporary-thriller line. Hope you are ready to explore with me. *GRIN*
The final months of 2015 brought more positive changes: We have a new lovely family member. Misha moved into our home and hearts in late October. She is a 3 year-old siamese/rag-doll mix and a month later I opened my ETSY store: SimplyElegantWoods.
It was something I had contemplated since 2011 and finally got it together. This store will be expanding it’s offerings in the next few months from jewelry…. to wands? *wink*
On the main business front there is a wonderful showroom in the Design Center in Seattle (William & Wayne) who is interested in our custom furniture pieces. We will be taking a few of our beauties down to the big city in the early months of this year.
Another possible exciting event for 2016 involves the steampunk book I wrote: Sunstone. It is modulating into other forms. Right now it is becoming an audio book and… there is a possibility it will take on a bigger exposure. Only time will tell if talks become reality. Stay tuned. *Another big GRIN*
So as you can see I’m ready to ROCK! Coming with me?
SEVEN NEW NOVELLAS!
By Dawn’s Early Light by Kristine Raymond
Monica Russo was more than ready to start a new life and leave her old one behind. The last thing she expected was for her car to break down in the small town of Celebration. Joe Callaghan has never quite recovered from his disastrous marriage. When he happens upon a woman stranded on the side of the road, it doesn’t take long for him to become enamored and when sparks fly, he knows he’s finally found the right woman. Once the fireworks fade, will their destinies be changed by dawn’s early light?
Ignite by Andrea Michelle
Playing with fire was sure to burn, but I couldn’t stop myself. I loved him into insanity. He left a gasoline trail across several states when he walked away from me to become a screenwriter, but I held the match that would ignite us both. Again. I’m Angel Solis and this is the story about how heartbreak, deception and betrayal can lead a person to insanity. I only hope that the madness will ignite a lifetime of love from the ashes left behind.
Moonlight and Music by Grace Augustine
Blake McIntyre was one of the most successful marketing representative in the music world. He’d built a great reputation and even taken a few artists to the top of the charts…that was until he was fired from a job he’d been at for fifteen years. Renee Manelli worked her way up the legal corporate ladder from receptionist to Chief Legal Assistant to the CEO of a prestigious law firm. One of her goals was to retire early and pursue her lifelong dream…her music. The journey that begins at 2 a.m. changes the lives of all involved. Anything’s possible When Sparks Fly.
Fireworks over Fairfield by Maryann Jordan
Welcome back to Fairfield, home of good friends and romance. Brock Sinclair retired from the military, living a solitary life, moved to Fairfield looking for his estranged daughter. Jean Roberts was a widow not looking for another love. When they meet, neither can resist the sparks between them. When an arsonist threatens the town and Jean, Brock will fight to save her. Along the way, both discover that love the second time around is just as sweet.
Something in the Mix by B. Maddox
Ivy Smith is trying to get her life back on track after a failed marriage. Everything in her life seems to be falling in place, especially now after a blast from her past reappears. However, someone else has other plans for Ivy and has been watching her every move. When Drew Evans waltzes into her life again, sparks start flying and her stalker starts making his presence known. Can Drew keep Ivy safe while figuring out who is stalking her and is there something in the mix for the two of them?
Patriotic Rodeo by J.M. Nash
Kennedy’s life would never be the same after the horrific night when her husband was brutally taken from her. She kept her heart protected and vowed to never love again, until a bull rider appeared in town. Tucker. One touch was all it took from him. Kennedy felt the fireworks start and knew that her life would forever be changed. Was she ready to let go of the past and move on or would Tucker end up a distant memory…
Fly Boy by Anne L. Parks
A weekend fling in Tahoe turns into something more for Jordyn and Grant. When tragedy strikes, Grant is left wondering what happened to the girl who stole his heart over the 4th of July weekend. When the two meet again the next 4th of July – sparks fly. Will Grant be able to let go of his pain and let Jordyn back into his life?
WHEN SPARKS FLY
Amazon – U.S. – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010CHDXH2
CA – http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B010CHDXH2
AU – http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B010CHDXH2
UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B010CHDXH2
Barnes & Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/when-sparks-fly…/1056107799…
All Romance Ebooks – https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-whensparksfly-1840…
Today I’d like you to meet a fellow author in Paper Crane Books. I met Morgan when she joined the press a couple of years ago. She is a lovely, creative person, a spinner of tales and a teacher. It is a delightful combination.
She agreed to sit down with me for an interview. Please welcome my friend Morgan. (*applause from the audience*)
#1. Do you plot out your novels in advance or do you write on the fly?
I am an organizer, so I plot an outline for each story with major events, quotes I want to use, and such. However, once I got into being an author for a company, I have learned to write on the fly at times, seeing how my ideas may not be functional to the story like I planned YEARS earlier or having an idea strike me that I can’t ignore. A few chapters I have done have happened this way. So, I suppose I am both now!
#2. What experience do you want for your readers?
I want them to find something they enjoy in the world I created with my imagination, a story meant to be told by its characters; I am merely the note-taker for their amazing adventures. This is why I add so many genres in my book. It is YA, primarily paranormal/romance, but I also weave in mystery, adventure, Christian fiction and ideology, teenage issues, school life, life lessons, comedy, nerd culture, self-discovery and worth and more. I have many events in my books that are from my life, just in a different setting or a character handles it the way I dreamt of if I was brave enough to. I want my readers to know that I am inviting them on this journey with open arms and that I connect with them in some way or another. What a ride we will have!
#3 What inspires you in our writing?
Like stated previously, the events and people in my life inspire me greatly. We are the authors of our own life stories and the world is full of amazing characters; we just have to be open enough to find them. Anime, manga, and other works, be it books, shows, or films, also fuel my writing fire. Music and walking calm my soul, allowing it to translate the ever-going gears in my mind. My imagination is always on, which is good for the creative person that I hope I am, but it can also be a hindrance at times.
#4. What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
Authors are considered sane?! That’s a newsflash to me… o.0 I kid! Mostly…HA!
Like with my teaching, one must be organized, yet at the same time, as flexible as the world’s largest rubber band. There have been times that I plan to write, but life gets in the way, or the iron is not hot. However, I have deadlines that I have to be punctual on (which I am). Time management is also huge and you have to know yourself as a worker. You must expect the unexpected at all times and even then, sometimes you’re hit with something out of left field that rattles you.
Remember that you love writing, sharing the world and characters you have created with the world, whether it be one person or ten million, I think the thrill of experiencing this is the same and keeps you in check, to write more. I know my students and fans, who are just as passionate with my author life as I am, lift me up with I am slipping into the void of creative soul sanity, unbeknownst to them.
#5. Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or a movie?
Well…Stary Moon, the main character of my “Spirit Vision” series, has traits, looks, interests and experiences that I have/had had, except she is braver than I am…and has awesome powers!
When I really enjoyed a manga or anime (especially when I was in middle and high school), I would pretend I was a character from the series or add a character to their world, like a mental fan-fiction. I even wrote some of my ideas in Word documents! I don’t do this anymore…well, as much!
#6. Why do you think what you do matters?
I have inspired my students, by working to obtain my dream, to go after theirs. I get to share my beloved characters with the world and have them loved by others, a surreal feeling. My voice was locked tight inside me due to my shyness and the bullying I went through, but with writing, I was able to be myself and not be myself, expressing my thoughts, my wishes, my goals, my fantasies. I get to connect to people in a way very few do. This is why writing matters.
#7. If you could travel to the past in a time machine, what advice would you give to the 6-year-old you?
If it was the six-year-old me in kindergarten, I would warn her that even though you love dinosaurs, you may want to look for a career pathway that is less sandy and not located in the blistering desert sun! If it was my first grade self, well, that was the year the bullying started, over a misunderstanding on the playground. How shy, how lonely she was. I would pat her shoulder, give her my most gentle smile, and tell her that what happened was not her fault, and one day, she would meet true friends that would love everything in her goody-two-shoes soul. I would direct her to go out and explore the playground, using her imagination to create worlds without shame; they will come in handy to her one day. Maybe if I would have had this outlook back then, the worse attacks on my self-esteem could have been ignored for I would have been stronger.
#8. If you would clone yourself, which of your characteristics you wouldn’t want to be cloned?
I’m weird; I like the traits I have, but since society seems to want to snuff them out, I am timid, guard myself at times. There are traits I wish I had more of, or were lessen. I wish I was a little braver, stronger, healthier, had more self-esteem. I also wish I was less scared of everything. I do desire to stop stuttering, to be better at phonics and math, and wasn’t allergic to oranges.
#9. Are you making some influences on the world or constantly being influenced by the world?
I think it’s a cycle of both. I want to influence people to follow their dreams, see good in everything, know that life is a gift you only get once, and show every single person they shine. Yet, the world has shown me beauty and darkness, changing my outlook on certain ideals, making me grow a backbone and a bigger heart at the same time. The two theories go hand-and-hand.
About Morgan Straughan Comnick
Educator of young minds by day, super nerdy savior of justice and cute things by night, Morgan Straughan Comnick has a love for turning the normal into something special without losing its essence. Morgan draws from real life experiences and her ongoing imagination to spark her writing. In her spare time, she enjoys doing goofy voices, traveling to new worlds by turning pages, humming child-like songs, and forcing people to smile with her “bubbliness.” It is Morgan’s mission in life to spread the amazement of otaku/Japanese culture to the world and to stop bullying; she knows everyone shines brightly.
For more information about Morgan and her works through Paper Crane Books, check out her website, which also have links to all her social medias:
Writer’s use various techniques to form their characters. More times than not they are composites of people we know or of people we have observed. We tend to be observers of human nature thus have ample ideas for our writing. Occasionally we let our inspiration sources know they are in a story.
In Sunstone I built a secondary character loosely based on a writer I know online. The man is very intelligent, has a sharp, sometimes cutting wit and, due to deep extenuating life hardships, a gruff, irascible shield. These personality traits were the basis of the character Thom. In the book Thom stays alive by gleaning. It’s a tough way to endure and he rightfully takes pride in that survival. He has a slightly grumpy way of speaking but his actions are honorable and kind. He befriends a newly hired worker in the area (the main character Kes) and looks out for the young man, advising and rescuing him from certain death. Thom even has the last speaking line in the story. This is Edwin who inspired the character.
Over the weekend I read a blog post from Edwin. It appears that he saw the gruff side of the character but not the wonderful aspects of Thom’s personality. That was an unfortunate oversight in his reading. *sigh*
At first I was upset that this man would see Thom in that limited light. By the end of the day I saw the humor of the situation. The whole thing of: ‘“No, I’m not grumpy,” he said grumpily.’ is a LOL moment. I’m still uncertain if he was upset or if it was an example of his cutting humor. The point is the character shows qualities I believe are admirable. I wouldn’t change a single hair on Thom’s head. (Well…Thom is bald but you get my meaning. LOL)
As I stated earlier, writers are observers. Thom and other characters I write into my stories resonate as believable and contribute to the story line. Why bother making characters that don’t. It’s my job as a writer. I hope you enjoy Sunstone and relate to the people residing on the pages.
My newest book, Sunstone, was scheduled to be released on March 31. This was an exciting moment which my publisher, Sheenah from Paper Crane Books, and I had been working hard toward for at least the past six weeks. There were three rounds of edits, the blurb, dedication and acknowledgement to write. On top of that there was work with a designer for the cover and a table banner. For fun I invented two beverages for the book to fit in the story line and drew some pictures for inclusion at appropriate spots. Right near the end of March a friend of mine, Shirley Hayes, offered to make a book trailer for Sunstone. The trailer is incredible: http://youtu.be/r7hmql-mnZo . This meant I needed to write a script, find free pictures and choose some free music. All of this was done around other work. It was a race to meet our launch date.
Sheenah uploaded the files on the 30th with plenty of time for Amazon’s regular review and posting on their site. The only problem is… Sunstone hasn’t posted. It is now April first. No, this isn’t a hoax but believe me it feels like a cruel trick. Both Sheenah and I watched Amazon for the long awaited birth, checking the bookseller’s site frequently. By late afternoon on the 31st I was contacting Amazon’s live customer service chat in an attempt to find out the reason for the delay. It was unsatisfactory as they preferred to speak with my publisher and not me. I passed on the message to Sheenah and she emailed them. By early morning on the 1st they got back to her with a nonspecific message and alluded to April 8th as a date. WHAT?!?! I wanted more information so back to the live chat I went. This time when they emailed Sheenah they explained that they were having problems in their system and processing for all new books was slow.
Believe me when I tell you Sheenah and I are very unhappy with this delay after all of our work and effort to launch on the promised day. Nothing can be done except frown in Amazon’s direction and try to be philosophical. It will happen. I tell myself Sunstone’s much awaited launch and availability will be sweeter when it finally posts. It doesn’t make me happy …but there it is. Please stand beside me and practice patience. I assure you I will be straining under the effort. Meanwhile I will leave you with a dream graphic that my awesome cover designer, JC Clarke, made me. Imagine this. Hugs everyone!
How many times have we seen adults talking to each other over the heads of their children as if those tiny people are deaf. After all the child is looking around while standing near their parents as if the words being said are of no interest. That parental assumption is a big mistake. Our little ones are sponges with fully functioning ears. They may not be indicating they hear but they do.
So what are these children overhearing? Disparaging comments about themselves or family members? That can be damaging and hurtful. Perhaps they are learning insults or swear words of which they don’t know the meaning but the tone of voice attracts them. What is said can seem innocuous to the adult…but is it?
Let me give you some examples from my own childhood. I recall standing next to my mom as she registered me for first grade. I was looking around the room and appeared to be inattentive. The woman at the table asked her if I should be placed in a slower learning environment or a more accelerated classroom. My mother answered. I was placed in the slower classroom. A week later found me clutching my pencils and crayon box as I was moved to the accelerated classroom. At that moment my mom’s words took on a deeper meaning.
Sometimes the conversation floating above the child has serious notes that won’t be realized for some time. I was very young when Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist hearings were going on. Before WW2 many disenchanted college aged students had joined the communist party in a search for an alternative political system in a time when our country was working though big issues. It was an innocent choice that took on serious connotations when Hitler rose to power.
I remember adults talking about one couple in our community who had joined the Communist party in just that manner. The conversations I heard were about if they were to be trusted– if they were good people. I must have asked my grandmother something about all of this strange talk because she took me to a school play starring one of their sons. I watched that young man on stage and remember thinking that he looked so normal. He didn’t even have horns! At that moment I just shuffled the overhead conversations into the “grown-ups don’t make much sense” file in my head.
Roll forward about twenty-seven years. My son was a toddler and we were going to Grandma’s house for Christmas. As I was getting ready to get in the car I was listening to the TV playing in the background and a news item stopped me in my tracks. It concerned that same family I had heard about as a child. Someone had followed the McCarthy era controversy, had heard the stories and believed the demonization that was floated about them. The nut case had broken into one of the son’s home, tied the family up and bludgeoned them to death.
These examples may seem extreme but the damage–from mild to catastrophic– is real. Please think before you speak and do not disregard who may be listening…even if it is a child.
It’s interesting. I recently saw a sign that said, “Read More Books than Blogs” and here I am writing a blog post. I think I understand what that person is saying but it doesn’t have to be an either/or sort of things. That would be like saying just fiction is worth reading…or only non-fiction books are worthwhile. Actually I’ve found that you can glean information and truth from both kinds! The key is to READ!
I have the interesting pleasure of working with my five-year-old grand niece. She’s in kindergarten and they’re expected to be reading a little by the end of the year. She is a smart child but her learning pattern isn’t the usual audio/visual-wham-bam-I’ve-got-it. The teachers are stretched thin and this little one is slipping between the cracks. She has already learned how to guess and fake it as well as how to wiggle and avoid to give herself thinking time to come up with the right answer. Neither technique works all that well and she is slipping further behind.
There are several things I need to work on simultaneously: Learning strategies and focusing, confidence, phonics and sight words to name a few. If we can get a handle on those elements this child will soar. So-far-so-good but we have a lot of ground to cover before May. Wish us luck!
Reading is so important. There are people who aren’t big readers for a variety of reasons. In some ways that makes it rough as the world is spinning faster everyday. I think it’s extra important for this upcoming generation to be able to read as more and more information is thrown at us and we need to sort through it and analyze. I won’t say that you can’t accurately evaluate information without reading… but it certainly helps. Otherwise you are vulnerable of getting your information from other people’s spin.
When my son was in school he too had a different learning modality and was being lost in the system. Working with him every night did wonders and in one years time he moved up five grade levels in his reading. Woot! Success! The teacher wanted him to read a variety of genres and got a bit nasty because he wasn’t interested in biographies but preferred science fiction or Sherlock Holmes. Good grief! He was reading! Wasn’t that the main idea? Today he’s primarily a non-fiction reader and while it is a trifle sad that he will never read my books I’m delighted that he is proficient. That’s a valuable tool he takes through life.
Books, blogs, newspapers, magazines, internet articles are all wonderful and each have flaws but the more you read and learn the better you are prepared for dealing with life. Yes, read them all! Give your kids comic books and picture books when they are small. Encourage them. Reading is an incredible gift.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”
And education starts with reading.