Saturday, June 24, 2017

Cover of the Crows



Now that I'm done writing my novel, I'm planning my book tour. I'm already booked at the Barnes and Noble on the north pole in September. The shiny new store resembles the ice palace from the movie Dr. Zhivago. It's breathtaking! Of course, I'll have to wear a puffy jacket, bring my hair dryer to thaw out the books and look out for falling icicles. But other than that it should be cool - literally. These days, I'm practicing my signature while wearing mittens. So far, it is only slightly better than the scribbles created at the credit card machine at Rainbow. Nevertheless, its getting better. 

I'm super excited! My appearance has been scheduled for months at the galley sized book isle at Kmart. That's coming up soon. I'll have to ask my assistant to shine a blue light on the details. Well, if I remember right, I'm only signing at the Fargo location. That was an ego fail. Even so, I heard Jaclyn Smith started her collection at that location, so great things could happen to me as well. Just in case, I'm growing out my hair and using Breck shampoo. 

I'm on a waiting list at one of the research stations on Antarctica. (the coldest one) They told me I would have been a shoe in if I would have created a penguin character. That was ill planned on my part. At least Amazon will take me - they take everyone!

Well, I may not be touring quite yet, but a girl can dream. And speaking of dreams, I'm always waking up with editing ideas. Luckily, I keep a notebook under my bed. Besides dreaming, I'm drawing. When I'm not illustrating my current children's book commission, Mrs. Jones' Tea Party, I'm counting and drawing crows. There are 7 on my mock cover. 

I had so much fun creating it. I feel it works on many levels: first, there's a color blocked punch of color; readers won't have a corn kernel of trouble spotting it at Target or the book kiosk at LAX. It would really stand out against the snow and ice of the North pole too - I'm just saying - in case Target doesn't work out. Other than color, the maze of arterial fibers at the center resemble a heart muscle, but are really the roots of a corn stalk. Besides those visuals, if you squeeze your eyes you can almost see a skeletal hand reaching down to twiddle its bony fingers. All of these visuals are shaken out of the pages of Chorus of the Crows

Coming soon! 

Somewhere...

Monday, May 8, 2017

Monsters at the MIA!


If my novel, Chorus of the Crows, is ever made into a film, I want Guillermo del Toro to direct it. I can't think of anyone more qualified to spin my dark and stormy dreams into a surreal reality. Last night, I dreamed I was visiting a deceased loved one from my past. She appeared to be living in a porcelain institution lit by insanely bright florescent lights - I should have headed back to the parking lot right then and there - but I forged ahead, entering her room, gasping. There I witnessed her carbon colored head, shrunken, as if magically turned into a rotten, dehydrated apple. Her skin was like burnt leather and anchoring her face, the pertly blinking eyes of a mannequin. To top things off, her freak face was bobbing like a demonic bobble head doll, glued to a disproportionately large body wearing a trendy black fringe leather jacket. (Well, I do like fringe) Needless to say, my loved one didn't look like that. 

What the heck?  Maybe I'll turn demons into demon-ade and insert this wicked vision into one of my novels someday. Thanks weird brain. 

Now, witness Guillermo del Torro's monster of a collection culled from his home in L.A. It's been on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for months, scaring all comers. The MIA gave future instagramers the green light on photography. Luckily, my husband had his i-phone. I took photos of my favorite monsters - I freaking loved the show!

The first masterpiece theater drama I ever watched was the Charles Dickens classic, Bleak House. That's what Guillermo - we're on a first name basis since he'll be directing my movie someday- named his un-heavenly abode. The first Guillermo directed movie I ever witnessed was Pan's Labyrinth - a masterpiece of horror. 

Dark-lights of his collection...


The wings have eyes. 


I remember this character from American Horror Story/Freak Show. I didn't know it was based on a real life person. 


Franken-head.



Poe and his toes.


I love Fawn.


Dresses from Crimson Peak. 


Hitch and a crow. My muse. 



Talk to the hand!

The freakish exhibit is on display through the end of May at the MIA.
For more click on

For more on Chorus of the Crows buy my book someday!

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Land of Venison and Honey

 I paid a local author to critique the questionable query letter I created for my novel, The Chorus of the Crows. The move prompted me to read her book...





"There's a lot to be said for conserving words," was one of Vac's unintentional witticisms. 

Sarah Stonich, Vacationland

Conserving words. That would be a nice way of describing my query letter critique from the author. My critique was slight - possibly rushed - even so, I loved her book Vacationland. Here are two more great lines from Sarah Stonich...


The sun, too, now hiding behind a cloud with tails of mist that follow, like the farts that trail her father. 


Ha!



She fetches a lawn chair from the porch just as bats start to scallop out from the eaves and dusk begins to suck away the color. 



Nice!



It was a great read: Whimsically poetic with a wile use of words - wonderful. There were so many sentences that pulled me back, prompting me to re-read them. The story takes us to a fictional Minnesota resort called Naledi Lodge - way up north. So far, that some of the cast of characters resemble comedic Fargo characters. But not all of the characters live up north; some are tourists whose paths intersect with Naledi in subtle ways, almost as if dispersed into the wind like cottonwood seeds. At the end of almost every chapter, I thought, "That was my favorite one."



I also laughed more than once about the mention of venison, since my freezer is full of the stuff. I felt like I was a kindred spirit with the venison chow-mein eating cast of characters. Does that sound weird? Well, the meat is healthy and when you have a freezer full, you have to get creative. 



I might not have discovered this book if I wouldn't have hired the author to critique my query letter. I still don't know if I've created a good query. I contemplated hiring another author to critique my revision, but I figured I might end up even more confused. I'm still in awe that The Loft Literary Center offers this opportunity. It is pretty darn amazing to be able to get feedback from a living, breathing writer - even if I felt my critique suffered from temporary asthma - it was worth it. 


The author suggested I change the title of my book to Chorus of the Crows instead of The Chorus of the Crows. 

I think that's a great idea!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Novel Update



In November of 2016 I finished writing my first novel. Hooray! But where was the parade? Not on my street. I expected to exit the computer room to an explosion of fireworks. At the very least, I hoped for a wrap party with balloons, streamers and lots of liquor. There was nothing. Nada. My husband may have given me a hug. I don't remember. It is possible, that my cats looked at me with a whisker twitch of pride and amazement. But it was probably just a sparkly reflection over my shoulder that caught their eyes. Or hunger pains. 

Not only did I finish my novel, but now, I've finished my first revision. As soon as I enter the story line, time flies like a Delorean on plutonium. I become immersed in it. I hope some day soon, readers will feel the same way. Revision is fun when an editor isn't breathing down your neck with a laundry list of shame. Gulp. That could change. 

Soon, I'll be entering a new phase. The phase where people actually read it. I'm not sure when or where that will be. The internet? A self published e-book? A hard cover that wins the Pulitzer prize? Here's where you may find my book in the future...

a) Richard Branson's speedboat. President Obama is reading it, again, while kite surfing.

b) First class. Hillary Clinton forgets her copy in the seat pocket of an airplane. Shesh! What is she going to do while waiting to give her speech at the latest Women Who Whiskey gathering? Meanwhile, the first class flight attendant snags it, taking it with him to Hong Kong on a long layover. Then he passes it on to all his buddies. Score!

c) The airport kiosk of Barnes and Noble. The world awaits!

d) President Trump's golden toilet. 

e) The garbage can at Starbucks. Bummer.


Here's a snippet of story line snagged from my query letter...


Just like stubborn weeds, retired farmer Oren Walton finds himself plagued with nagging hallucinations. The visions start out benign enough. Small. Harmless. But like a prolific summer thistle, they grow, sprouting new leaves with every passing day. If you ask Oren, the things he sees are real. Like his gal. The one he sneaks out to the R.V. to see at night. She’s the best damn thing that has happened to him since his wife Amelie. He has Parkinson’s. That’s true enough. But hallucinations? He doesn’t believe it. Until the visions escalate, darkening the skies like a murder of crows, threatening not only him but the safety of his loved ones.


Loved ones like his wayward daughter Sedona. She doesn’t know what to do. She quit her job in true country music fashion to move home and help out her struggling father. But now what? She wasn’t cut out to witness her father’s slow decent into madness. And then there’s his lady friend. The real one. Her old school teacher Lavinia Swift. The one that spews profanities like, “Education elevates you!” Ugh. If it wasn’t for her mother’s mysterious journal entries, leading her closer and closer to the truth, and Jeb, lanky, glacial eyed Jeb, she’d be high tailing it back to Minneapolis. But then again, Jeb is the new Methodist minister. And there’s no way she’s going to church. Ugh.


Wish me luck!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Game of Followers

My first instagram shot from our 2017 trip to Nicaragua.


I finally joined the instagram party last July. #latetotheparty.  I was delayed at the Phoenix airport, bored and harboring a new digital crop of imagery from Sedona, Arizona. I'd resisted becoming a social media loser on instagram for quite awhile. But photography is my favorite hobby. It just makes sense to share the love with like minded phone carriers. It turns out, however, that like minds don't always think alike.

Don't get me wrong. Insta-users love my photos. But only for one day. Then they say adios, au revoir and good bye. Of course, anyone that uses instagram knows who the real losers are. Them. The idiots that only care about numbers. They mindlessly follow every instagram account they run across, then they turn the hour glass upside down. When the last grain of sand funnels through, they cackle like the green faced witch from the Wizard of Oz. 


Their stats give them away at first swipe. They only follow 400 people, but are followed by 23,000. They must be famous! They must travel the world sharing paparazzi worthy flashes from their fabulous life. Hashtag the Eiffel Tower. Hashtag the Pyramids of Egypt. Hashtag moi and Bobby Flay. Oh wow! They absolutely must be the coolest people on the planet to have so many instagram followers. Right?


Wrong. They're just jerks. There are no pyramids. I lied.


Here's a screen shot from a blog post educating people on how to be assholes. 


So who employs the nasty follow/unfollow method? Almost everyone on instagram. I've been unfollowed by accounts that only have 6 boring photos. Most of the time, their photos are marginal at best. You might see the Tower of Pisa nestled in-between 1,000 selfies. There's lots of food porn. No doubt about that. There's a few tasty beverages. A few hot mamas in bikinis. And maybe their cat. Like I said, they only care about numbers. Not photography. So they follow every page they swipe across like a frazzled tax accountant on February first, hoping to be followed back. They might even like one of your photos. And leave a thumbs up in your comment area. Then, like they heard a blaring smoke alarm accompanied by a river of flames, they run away from your page screaming. They dump your sorry ass.


A few months after I joined instagram, I was about to cancel my account in disgust. I still feel that way every time I have to unfollow another scum bag. Sure, I've accumulated a few real photo fans. Thank goodness for them. Or I'd lose faith in humanity completely. 


So what do you do if you want to stay sane and also stay on instagram? There's an app for that. Now, as soon one of those losers un-follows me, it's adios amigo. It's easy. There are tons of un-follow apps to choose from. The apps compile a list, as often as you choose to refresh, of every last loser that leaves you in the dust. Please people. Don't become a stat. Don't become someone that was only followed to grow another fool's account. Ditch them as soon as they ditch you. 


Don't play into The Game of Followers!


Monday, February 13, 2017

The Phenomenon

Image result for images of busy sidewalks
A busy sidewalk from google. It is located somewhere in the world, somewhere I definitely don't want to walk...


There's a bitter brewed, percolating phenomena underfoot. An insidious, pervasive rudeness is sweeping the land... and the sidewalks. I've grumbled to my husband about it for years. I even walk to his right, hoping to avoid a walking path ker-scuffle. What is it? I'll call it walking while f-ing rude syndrome. Good grief people. Move the F over! 




A few months ago, I was walking on a tepidly busy sidewalk in Naples, Florida. It's a given that the drivers are bad. It is Florida after all. But the walkers? Well, they might be worse. A blond dressed to kill, resembling a well seasoned Prada model, (apparently strutting the sidewalks in front of the pedestrians of fashion) just about made me sit my ass down into a potted palm tree. This so called lady and her oblivious friend would not budge. Then later, two dudes did it twice. One of the times we passed each other, I had to turn sideways, and even so, I was being groped and scratched by the lecherous shrubbery. I'm not kidding. They would not move the F over. 



So finally I googled it. It's a thing. The walking rudeness. The phenomenon. It bugs other people too. 



A few times I've tested the waters. I've tempted fate, by not walking completely off the sidewalk into the safety of the grass, like so many rude groups of so called ladies expect you to do. I put hundreds of miles on my sneakers a year, walking the Minneapolis chain of lakes. There will be groups of women walkers, side by side, hogging the whole trail like leaf cutter ants, deeply entrenched in self important conversation. Well, a couple times, I just moved to the edge of the sidewalk, like I always do anyway. Heck, I'm not rude, right? We collided! The ants would not move the F over! And don't even get me started on the runners who almost plow into me on a regular basis. Maybe I'm invisible...



When I googled this phenomenon, there was a group of women that were mentioned several times as the worst offenders. I've had this happen to me as well. Moms with prams. They will walk together, prams lined up like an offensive line, and God willing, they will not move the over. 



So what gives? I know we're all busy gabbing with our gals, eyes and fingers stroking our beloved phones, brains oblivious to the locations of others. But, please, I have a blog and I'm using it today. For good. For change.



People... please remember...to move the F over!



Thank You

Monday, February 6, 2017

The 37th Parallel


"If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans."

Stephen Hawking



I've been interested in Aliens for as long as I can remember. It just doesn't seem practical to imagine that we are all alone in the Universe. Over the years, T.V. shows like The X Files and Fringe just fueled my curiosity. The truth is out there, somewhere, right? According to Chuck Zukowski, the main character in The 37th Parallel, "There's more physical evidence that UFOs exist than there's physical evidence that Jesus Christ existed."

I wasn't blown over by the evidence in the book. But there's no doubt it is intriguing, sometimes gruesome and curious. Ben Mezrich did a handy writing job, shuffling the deck of information gleaned from Chuck's real life little black book and in turn, dealing out a winning book. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but there were a couple incidents at the end of the book that were pretty darn compelling. Chuck is a self proclaimed UFO nut. He has devoted his life to investigating cow mutilations and other unidentified objects. Flying and otherwise. The unfortunate cows in the story are firmly planted on good ole terra firma. But even so, they are caught up in the whole alien phenomena just as certain as if they had sprouted wings. I was equally shocked at the sheer number of mutilations as I was at the gruesome details of the crimes. It's worse than a Stephen King novel. And the book certainly left me wondering, What in the heck do aliens see in the 37th parallel? They seem to use it like a runway, lighting up the skies above and reeking havoc below. If you're an Ancient Aliens junky like me, you'll love the book. 

"A generation from now, people will look back at us the same way we look back at those who believed the earth was flat; the evidence that we've been visited by extraterrestrials is so overwhelming, it's actually a leap of faith to believe anything else."

Anonymous aerospace executive

"If we ever travel thousands of light years to a planet inhabited with intelligent life, let's just make patterns in their crops and leave."

-words of humor and wisdom from the internet!