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Monday, May 30, 2011

Things That Set My Heart Aflutter, Virtual Likes Edition

In this day and age, there are plenty of external gauges of popularity. No longer do we have to wonder whether they like us: the cold hard numbers will tell us whether it's so. Facebook has the "like" feature, which is becoming more common in other venues, and turning into rating features on a couple of my published flash fictions.

As of this writing, there have been 155 hits on "A Business Venture in Glue," five people have rated "The Writer's Wet Nap Dream" "six-tacular" (though that number seems to fluctuate up and down), and I have 33 "likes" on my Facebook author page (that's not as many as I have friends on my normal user account, but I'm still impressed by people's generosity!) I've also received interesting comments on other pieces floating around out there.

Any feedback fulfills my purpose as an author. Seeing the numbers grow, and especially whenever an actual comment appears, makes my job as a writer truly worthwhile. Yes, it makes my heart leap! Thank you!

Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday, Tenth Century Style II

Burgos in 2005, seen from Castle Hill. The cathedral is about three centuries too
late for our story.
I was so pleased that my snippet from last week seemed interesting to you all. Thanks so much for visiting and for all your constructive comments!

Since I don't have any battle scenes in this book written yet (I'd have liked to celebrate Memorial Day in that way), I'm going to continue with the wedding preparations. The bride, doña Lambra, is sitting with her trusty servant, Justa, in their tent, waiting in dread for the ceremony to begin. Remember, this is a first draft, so any suggestions are welcome.

* * *
They both looked at the tent flap when they heard the women's song. Too soon, a line of twenty singing married women opened the flap and beckoned to Lambra. She felt infinitely small: so small that the women lifted her up on their shoulders and carried her toward the city as if she were a water jug. Lambra looked desperately below in search of Justa's braids. She walked solemnly, far behind all the married women. "Justa, don't leave me alone!"
* * *

Thanks for stopping by. Don't forget to check out all the great excerpts at

Friday, May 27, 2011

Things That Set My Heart Aflutter: Followers Edition

It's been a crazy couple of weeks, for many reasons, one of them being the Mega Author Blog Hop that ended last Monday. I got involved late because I couldn't wrap my head around the concept until I saw an example, so I was scrambling to put it together and make it not seem too bad or lame. Overall, the whole thing, with more than 30 authors, was a giant success.

Here's what sets my heart aflutter: for most of the week, every time I logged on to Blogger, I had at least one new follower here! Wow! Yippee! Without pandering or begging, I now have twice as many followers as when I started the blog hop! I even have more than some of the other authors in the hop. I never really thought I'd have that much of a "popularity" quotient because my writing is so unusual.

So thank you, thank you, to all the truly awesome people who have their picture over there! I promise to keep providing interesting content and make sure you're not sorry that you follow me here. I accept suggestions any time.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

New Format For My Poetry Book

After much nose to the grindstone, I'm happy to announce that the digital version of my poetry volume, Dusk Before Dawn, is looking much better than it did before. It contains all the previously published items listed in the Good Reading page (except "Real") as well as many many gems unavailable elsewhere.

It will be available in Kindle shortly, and is already up for Nook. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Interview Series: Up-and-Coming Author Marie Frankson

JK: Today Famous Writer welcomes our youngest interviewee yet, aspiring social studies teacher Marie Frankson. Marie, what experiences especially qualify you as a writer?

Marie Frankson: I grew up in the small town of Stony Creek, New York located in the Southern Adirondacks with my paternal grandmother (whom I consider my mom because she was the one who raised me), her second husband (who I consider my dad because he was the one who raised me after my grandfather passed away when I was 11 years old), and my younger brother William. I graduated from Hadley-Luzerne Central School in 2009 ranked 18th in my class as a member of National Honor Society and a volunteer firefighter for my hometown. Recently, I finished my sophomore year at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York studying to be a social studies teacher.

JK: I can see the connection between your interest in becoming a teacher and the kind of writing you’ve done so far. How did you get started writing?

MF: I was always writing something since I could pick up a pencil, because I always felt that my voice needed to be heard. My grandmother was a freelance writer for our local newspaper and I remember sitting on the floor of her office and watching her type up her stories; I wanted to be just like her. It wasn't until high school where I actually started to take my writing seriously. I would enter writing contests and made alternate for one; but no matter what, I just see writing as something I love to do. I wrote for my campus newspaper for a little while and I recently got a job as a freelance writer for an online newspaper which also prints their papers and delivers them to college campuses around the Northeastern seaboard who cannot afford to run their own newspapers. I have not yet had a story published for them, but I have several stories lined up when the fall semester starts in September and can write for them.

JK: So you’ve really gotten your career going just in the last couple of years. Congratulations! Tell me about your books. Do you feel you write for a specific audience?

MF: My most recent book, Balancing Act, and its predecessor, The Transfer of Age, are about a teenaged girl trying to find her identity. Along the way, she had some hardships and some triumphs and even managed to fall in love along the way. The book is told through the diary she kept and in first person point of view. In the first book, my character is 16-18 years old and the second book ends about a month before her twentieth birthday, so my intended audience was in the 16-20 range, although I know older people who have read my books and really enjoyed them.

JK: Is your work based on your own life? Where does your inspiration come from?

MF: With the two books I have published, real life has affected my work tremendously. If not for the life I led or having kept a diary, none of this would have been possible. That said, these two novels are my real life, an "autobiography of sorts" as my boyfriend so lovingly described it, and it is my truth, the world as I saw it and experienced it.

In general, my inspiration is life because in the end that's all any book is about, whether it's fiction or non-fiction. My inspiration for my first novel was a friend of mine telling me I should publish my diary when I was a sophomore in high school. I didn't get it published until half-way through my freshman year of college. My English 105 professor read it and said, "I really enjoyed your book, I hope you plan on writing a sequel," so he was inspiration to write my second novel, and he was one of the people I dedicated it to.

JK: That must have been encouraging. What kinds of reactions have you had from other readers, or your family and friends?

MF: The kind of feedback I get seems to be a mixed bag. Either people really like what I write or they don't, there doesn't really seem to be middle ground. With only 130-something Facebook fans, I wouldn't say that I have a definable fan base, especially since they people are from all around the world and are different ages. My family and friends are very supportive of me, although there have been things I wrote which were not good (ha ha). However, one thing everyone seems to like about my writing was that I didn't play the "mean girl" role. I left myself open to ridicule and rejection and you see that I am not perfect and don't pretend to be something I'm not. They know it's been one of my dreams to become a writer and at only 20 years old, I already have two novels under my belt. Without the love and support of my family and friends, I honestly don't believe that I would have had the strength to put myself out there like that.

JK: 130 Facebook fans sounds great to me. It sounds like you have a solid support network. How about fiction? Does reading inspire you?

MF: My favorite book is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, but when it comes to the writing style I would like to imitate, who influences me the most, that would be Candace Bushnell (the author of Sex and the City) and Stephen Elliott (the author of The Adderall Diaries).

JK: How do you balance your personal life with the urge to write?

MF: I don't set a specific amount of time to be devoted to my writing. If an idea comes to me, I just roll with it until I can't anymore, it doesn't matter if it's five minutes or if it's a couple of hours. My work area varies from day to day. Sometimes I'll write in my college classroom if an idea comes to me and I have to get it down before I lose the idea; sometimes I'll work at this beautiful writers' desk that's in my bedroom that belongs to my step-mom; sometimes I'll work in the public library; and sometimes I'll work in a coffee shop. Most of my first book was typed up in Starbucks and most of my second novel was typed up in a little indie coffee shop around the corner from my house. The only real method for my writing is that I carry a pen and a pad of Post-Its everywhere I go because one never knows where or when an amazing idea may strike.
JK: Just like lightning bolts from the blue, right? What comes next for your writing?

MF: I'm currently working on my first ever sci-fi/post-apocalyptic piece. It's called Seeking Utopia and the first half of the book can be read on my blog at:

JK: Thank you for coming and sharing your work with us.

MF: Thank you so much for having me, Jessica!

Get the latest on Marie’s writing at
Find her book through the links above or here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Trip Around The World Mega Blog Hop Winners

Thanks to everyone who entered the Trip Around The World Mega Blog Hop drawing. I really appreciate your comments and I wish there could be more winners!

As a matter of fact, I've decided to award two winners for each book, so four winners total. The winners who have given me permission to post their names are:

Tree/House winner Inga Silberg hosts an informative and entertaining bookish website at

Wonderful commenter Rhonda Helton and ice cream lover Krystal Larson won Sail To Italy and Sail From Italy.

 Congratulations! I hope you enjoy your prizes!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ashes for the Elephant God

Vijaya Schartz, whom I met at the Tucson Festival of Books, has written many exciting "romance with a twist" novels. She signed Ashes for the Elephant God for me and I read it with pleasure.

As part of my misspent youth, I gained significant exposure to Hindu culture, so the exotic setting was easy for me to imagine, but anyone could pick up this book and understand even its highest concepts because the author so clearly (and entertainingly) explains how it all works.

The basic premise is that in the 1800's, four souls -- beautiful, poor Lakshmi/Fabienne, handsome Mukunda, depraved Shankarananda, and evil princess Korana -- entered into deadly conflict, which is told in highly sensory flashbacks that come to the modern-day characters in dreams or visions. Thrown back together in India from all the corners of the globe, the modern characters learn about their past lives together in tantalizing bits and pieces while they try to understand their destiny in this life.

Although I can tell when reading this book that English is not Schartz's first language (she was born in France and took on her first name while living in India), the language was perfect because the book is told from the perspective of the French main character and is filled with the Indian English of the many people she meets. Truly, reading this story is like voyaging across the world with the characters.


This book is inherently optimistic, and the final message is that even if it didn't go so well in the last life, this time around, you have a chance to make good, and improve your karma, and even... be happy! It's an important message, even for people who don't believe in reincarnation, because it implies that it's never too late. It's never too late to change your behavior in the world, it's never too late to start again, and it's never too late to be happy and/or help others to find their happiness. Schartz's characters get to live out their happiness in all its glory at the end of the book. It's a dose of bliss in what can be a dreary world.

It would make a great movie.

* The Trip Around the World Mega Author Blog Hop ends today at midnight Arizona time (which is the same as Pacific at this point). Get your comments in (start here)! And thanks for hopping with us! Winners will selected tomorrow.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday, Tenth Century Style

The Arlanzón River in Burgos in 2005.
I've finally decided to give everyone a sneak peek at my work in progress, so far called The Seven Noble Knights of Lara. The scene takes place on the banks of the Arlanzón River in Burgos, Spain, in the year 974. A proud mother introduces her sons to her soon-to-be sister-in-law and her servants. This is a first draft.

* * *

“My sons are outside with my husband, waiting to meet you!” doña Sancha beamed.
Justa, Gotina, and all the other servants followed Sancha and the count outside to find a concentration of masculinity so intense, Justa felt it wash over her like the waves of the Cantabrian Sea. Nine men, each with at least one sword tied to his belt, and seven with raven-black hair shining in the sunlight, laughed and talked amongst themselves, producing a resonant rumble in the women’s ears.
Count García said playfully, “Hey, Gonzalico, come and meet your future relative, and bring those sons of yours. Ah, there they are! I would never have known, since they’re so quiet.”
Justa looked at doña Sancha and tried to imagine all those well-formed men coming out of her somehow.

* * *
I was thrilled last week with all the wonderful views and comments. Thank you so much! Check out the other fabulous participants in Six Sentence Sunday.

I was strongly influenced to present this excerpt because of the amazing blog hop happening now! Win amazing prizes! Click here to get started!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Interview Series: Speculative Fiction Author Jessica McHugh

JK: Today, Famous Writer welcomes prolific speculative fiction author Jessica McHugh. Her latest release, Rabbits in the Garden, was published by Post Mortem Press in February 2011.
Not one to rest on your laurels, are you, Jessica? I understand you have several other projects going on or coming out soon.

Jessica McHugh: Reliquary Press is publishing my horror/adventure novella Danny Marble & the Application for Non-Scary Things in September 2011. This will be my third collaboration with Reliquary Press. The third book in my "Tales of Dominhydor" fantasy series is also coming out in 2011, and my first play "Fools call it Fate: a story of sex, coincidence, and an electronic cigarette" is being produced for the Mobtown Theatre this July.

Every year, I get better at my craft, and I have a lot more stories to tell. By the end of this year, I will have had eleven books published by small presses in four years, and I don't plan on stopping any time soon.

JK: Congratulations! Those are some amazing accomplishments. How does such a prolific career get started?

JM: I grew up in Hampstead, Maryland, a smallish (at least it was then) town near Baltimore. As a kid, I played a lot of soccer, did ballet, tap, jazz, and spent a lot of time in the theatre. I appeared in a bunch of plays in high school, as well as performed with the award-winning North Carroll Ensemble. I've always had a wild imagination, something that probably worried my parents until I started writing all of these books.

I've been writing all my life, but I really started writing seriously when I was 19 and working at a perfume kiosk in a mall. I wrote so many short stories during that time, but I also started writing my first novel, Maladrid. At the time, I didn't know what Maladrid would become, but as of 2011, it's the first book in a four-book fantasy series called "The Tales of Dominhydor," currently being published by Double Dragon eBooks. In my early twenties I wrote, Maladrid, Yven, and Palaplia, and while the stories stood the test of time, the writing did not. I've had to completely rewrite significant parts of these books, especially Palaplia. Right now, I'm working on rewriting the fourth book, Telinhe. As for all the short stories, I'm working through them slowly, but Abandoned Towers Magazine has published one of the first stories I wrote during that time: "My Caroline, My Love," and they'll be publishing another, "Tyler Returned," in an upcoming online issue as well.

JK: So, readers have a lot to look forward to. Tell us more about your latest release. Is it for adults or teens?

JM: Rabbits in the Garden is a horror/suspense novel about Avery Norton, a 13 year old girl in 1950s Martha's Vineyard whose mother accuses of murder. She is shipped off to Taunton Lunatic Asylum where she endures all of the wonderful "treatments" our 1950s mental hospitals had to offer. It is a coming-of-age story, but it's not really intended for anyone under 15. However, that doesn't mean that someone under 15 couldn't handle it. It's not nearly as graphic as when I read Pet Semetary at 11, but there are some pretty horrific parts.

JK: Yikes! Where do you get your ideas? Does real life play any part?

JM: I definitely use a lot of my own experiences and feelings when constructing plot and characters, but none of my characters are exactly me or anyone I know. I use hints of my life, but I paint the story in embellished colors. Other than that, I really create a lot of my worlds on my own. Little things may pop up here and there, and I definitely insert inside jokes into all of my books. I love it when someone tells me they actually picked up on one of them. For the most part, I like creating twisted worlds that possess only mere shades of reality.

JK: It sounds enchanting. Do you think any particular piece of literature helped to push you in the direction of fantasy/speculative fiction?

JM: My favorite book is The Phantom Tollbooth. I love the way Norman Juster uses language now as much as I did the first time I read it. That book is most likely the reason I use alliteration as much as I do. My favorite word is "cacophony," one I learned from The Phantom Tollbooth oh so many years ago.

JK: I agree, The Phantom Tollbooth never gets old. What else influences you work?

JM: I couldn't really say. As an author, I try not to allow anything to directly influence my work, as I want everything I write to be as original as possible. If something does inspire/influence me, I take it in and forget about it. If it comes out in the writing, so be it.

JK: I can really appreciate that philosophy. So, is your Muse completely untamed, or do you have tricks for taming it?

JM: Honestly, sometimes ideas just pop into my head and I can't pinpoint where they came from. As for Rabbits in the Garden, a huge amount of that story came directly from a dream. It was one of those rare occasions when my dream had a clear beginning, middle, and end. I wrote down everything I remembered and used most of it to create the story, but I also used an old story beginning I wrote several years ago. It was called "The Garden," and was so gruesome that I decided to stop writing it. Luckily, it fit perfectly with the plot I'd gleaned from my dream and I merged them. But most of the time, I just think of a weird scenario, pose some questions, and let the story answer them. Similarly, I don't really plan how I'm going to differentiate between characters because they do it themselves, naturally. When I start writing dialogue, it just pours out as if I were dictating real people. The only problem with this is that I sometimes repeat points made in previous conversations, which is something I catch during editing.

JK: So far, it sounds like writing is a natural, organic process for you. How in the world do you get all the ideas on paper? Is it some dark magic from one of your stories?

JM: I'd say I devote three to five hours (collectively) a day. On weekends, it's a lot more. But I still feel like I don't write enough. I don't have a specific "work area," although I do have a Writing Hut. It's really just a second bedroom, but on the weekends, that's where I go to write. I just chill out on the couch with a DVD or music playing and write write write. However, I will write anywhere, and I believe that's how I get so much done. I write in the bathroom, when I go out to eat, and any time I'm waiting for something. I write on my arms, legs, and scraps of paper towels. I am always thinking about writing and when I think of something good, I'm going to write it down, no matter where I am. One of the reasons I can do that is because while I'm married, I don't have children. In a few years, my ability to write so much will most likely dwindle. That's why I devote so much of my time to it now. I'm hoping to eventually ditch my full-time job and be able to dedicate more time, but we'll see what happens.

JK: So it really is all about discipline. Drat, I was hoping for a potion or magic spell. But discipline seems to be getting you some great results. How about feedback from readers and support from friends and family?

JM: I get really wonderful feedback as far as reviews, and I do feel like my fan base is growing every day. I just wish it would grow a little faster. My friends are definitely supportive. However, some only support the fact that I write and don't support me by actually purchasing and reading my books. Honestly, it hurts my feelings a bit. Some are more than happy to say "I know a published author," but unwilling to actually read my books. Then there are the friends who do read my books and give me honest feedback. My best friend, Jenny, is one of those people. She always wants my books to be longer, for me to elaborate on the smaller stories that hide within the bigger story, so with my current novel, PINS, I'm going to see if I can deliver everything she wants.

As for my family, they came around. I think it took me getting published and getting a "real" job for them to come around, but I'm glad they did. My mother has actually edited many of my books before I sent them out for submission, which is something I never thought would happen several years ago. I thought she'd think I was a major weirdo. Then I realized I am a major weirdo and I'm okay with that. She seems to be okay with it, too.

JK: Family reactions can be the strangest and least predictable in a writer’s experience. How wonderful that they accept your calling now. I guess most people have to be convinced with conventional proof of success. What about you? Do you consider yourself a success?

JM: Bestseller or not, I feel successful as an author. I work extremely hard because I'm extremely passionate, and those things got me here today. But what also got me here was my husband, Dave. Before him, I was just a writer with a bunch of stories under her belt. I never tried to get published because I didn't believe I could. He believed in me. He encouraged me like no one else did. He changed my life, and I while I owe every published work to my diligence, passion, and talent, I also owe every published work to him.

JK: I’m now a lifetime member of the “My Husband is Awesome” Club, too. It’s a great place to belong.

Thanks for stopping by for this interview and inspiring me and my readers!

JM: Thank you so much for having me as a guest on your blog, Jessica. It was an absolute delight.

• Find more delightful things at
• Get Rabbits in the Garden directly from the publisher: Rabbits in the Garden
• Or get it in eBook and print through Amazon here and here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Trip Around the World Mega Author Blog Hop: Ticket to Paradise (Córdoba, Spain)

Interior of the Mezquita (former Mosque, now Cathedral). This part was under
construction during the time The Seven Noble Knights of Lara takes place.
Welcome to Córdoba, Spain! Gonzalo Gustioz, father of the Seven Noble Knights of Lara, travels to Córdoba carrying a very special letter for the de facto caliph of Andalusia, Almanzor, in my work-in-progress, The Seven Noble Knights of Lara. The book takes place in the year 974, and Gonzalo is completely gobsmacked by the beauty, technology, and culture of the capital of Andalusia, also a world capital of learning and science.
Exterior of the Mezquita with Christian Baroque bell tower built on the
site of the minaret.
Córdoba today is a delightful small city having finally regained the population it had in its ninth-century heyday, and the magical atmosphere is the result of being a true crossroads and melting pot more than one thousand years ago. Be sure to visit the Mezquita, an jewel of world architecture, built by Muslim artisans over the site of a Visigothic basilica; one of the very few medieval synagogues that survived the Spanish Middle Ages; the Palace of the Christian Kings, where Columbus first asked Queen Isabel to finance his transatlantic journey, and which is being restored to its former glory; and Medina Azahara, the archeological remains of the caliphs' palace complex, physical reminder of astounding splendor and turbulent politics.
The Roman Bridge links Córdoba's two sides over the Guadalquivir.
Check back at this blog for news about The Seven Noble Knights of Lara.

Leave a comment on this blog for a chance to win a free PDF, epub, or Kindle copy (reader's choice) of my bewilderingly wonderful Tree/House and magnificently silly YA series Sail To Italy and Sail From Italy. There will be two winners! 

This contest runs from May 16 to May 23, midnight to midnight.

Not sunburned enough yet? Are you ready for your next holiday at a super sunny destination? Natural wonders abound in Arizona with author Kim Bowman.

Here are the rules for the Trip Around the World Mega Author blog hop.

1) Have fun!
2) Invite all of your friends! Spread the word!
3) This tour starts Monday, May 16, at midnight (Arizona time) and it ends Monday, May 23, at midnight (Arizona time).
4) Meet and mingle with all the authors! Experience a new destination at every stop! Participate in every blog contest and be entered for chances to win multiple prizes! Every blog visited is another opportunity to win! 
5) Participation at every blog is not required, but is recommended. Remember, the more you hop, the more chances you have to win. Every author is waiting to meet and interact with you, so please be sure to show every author some love!
6) Did I mention to have fun? Whoo hoo! Here we gooooooooo!

How The Dead Dream

I found this book among the abandoned shelves one day when I was trying to cool off at my job at the bookstore. The cover was gone, so I gathered that it had been remaindered. That is probably not the way to find new fiction to read, but I started reading, and the light control of the prose stayed with me long after my stint at the bookstore was done. I finally purchased it on Kindle as a reward to myself. I had found out in the meantime that this novel is about a man who stealthily invades zoos at night in order to get close to endangered animals. There is indeed a very touching passage with a Sumatran rhinoceros!

But the book actually takes the reader through the main character, T.'s, entire life. His love of money and lack of friends. The abandonment by his father. The bliss of finding a true love match and the despair at her sudden and meaningless loss. The consolation of a friendship that looks as if it's turning into romance before it's suddenly yanked out from under him as well. His mother's loss of sanity, memory, and self. The true communion he finds with a dog who suffers a bizarre and cruel injury, but perseveres. The unfailing desire to start again from the ashes on a desert island, which Nature itself takes away from him.

I told my husband about each misfortune as it came, and he wondered if T. was going to commit suicide. While the plot is a relentless slog through a bitter, bitter end, T. never feels that desperate. He makes an assumption that life goes on, no matter what is thrown at him. In the end, I came away with the impression that this metaphor-filled book illustrates the inexorable decline of all species, and especially of the human race, which, even as we reach seven billion this year, feels ever more isolated and alone. A devastating statement by a talented author.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

SSS: Now Published in The Journal of Microliterature

Wow, that was some response last time! I guess it pays to be different, sometimes. Thanks for all the comments! I appreciate them no end! Look at the other Six Sentence Sunday folks.

This week's six are from another piece of flash fiction debuting today. Click on the link after the excerpt to read the whole thing in less than a minute!

* * * 

With Patty looking on in puzzlement, Leona looked into the lion's empty eyes, concentrating. She raised her hand to its mouth and inserted her fingers. Almost as quickly, she withdrew them, to show Patty the slip of paper wedged between her index and middle fingers.

“See there?” she said, reading the printing on the slip. “Oh, this is great! I can start tomorrow, and it's close to my house!”

* * *

"Job Fair" came to me, the first story to do so since before I'd started my PhD, some time after I'd moved in with my wonderful husband to our beautiful, rickety house in Cambridge, Massachusetts (so we're talking early 2009). I've been trying to place it ever since. I thought, "In less than 500 words, this story compresses all the frustration I personally have felt about my already years-long unsuccessful job search in light of the now floundering economy." I knew I wasn't the only one experiencing that frustration, so how could any publisher pass it up? Many, many of them did, though, and so you see that my writing career got off to a slow start. I mentioned the story in an earlier post.

The title, which I've fiddled with to no avail, is trying to be a play on words. The lion head is sort of an automatic job fair, and also Patty feels that the way it assigns jobs isn't especially fair. She's the one who's worked hard and long to find something! So maybe, there's a little message tucked in there about finding what you're looking for only when you're completely relaxed and accepting, i.e., ready for it. That's how it's worked out for me, at least.

Now at last, when I thought it might never happen, "Job Fair" has found a lovely home in the Journal of Microliterature. Hooray! Enjoy!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Early Twentieth-Century Literati Loved Tree/House!

And -- you were waiting for it -- both books in the Sailing Italy series are now available for Nook/epub! Click here

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Things That Set My Heart Aflutter, Review Edition

Every once in a while, I remember to go to Amazon and find out how Tree/House is doing. There seems to be a large element of synchronicity to my checking, because I always seem to do it when there happens to be a new review up! I found this one in April and felt tremendously flattered:

4.0 out of 5 stars Left me wanting more!April 14, 2011
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Tree/House (Kindle Edition)
This is a wonderful short read. The story is written in a unique style with unusual characters. I was drawn into the fast moving plot at once and wanted more even after surprising information surfaces and the novella comes to an end. I feel there's more to the story and wanted more, but the author gives us a reason to pause and consider what we know by concluding the story the way she does. I hope to see more works by this talented author.

Always leave 'em wanting more! I also enjoyed the following review, although I thought that if the reviewer had been American, s/he would have given it at least one more star... (I say that only because I've had more than one British professor/lecturer and they were all stingy with praise, calling you "mostly good" when you were the top of the class.)

3.0 out of 5 stars Odd story but leaves you thinking!!April 25, 2011
This review is from: Tree/House: A Novella (Paperback)
I read this novella with an open mind but others that I know that have read it previously have found it odd. 

The story centres around Emma following the death of her husband Franklin. It borders on fantasy in my opinion and is told in three parts. The story lets you draw your own conclusions and I've got a theory on it but I don't want to divulge it as it might spoil your perception of it. 

If you like a quirky story that will make you think then this is just the book for you.

Call me a hopeless academic, but I'm thrilled to have given the world a book that makes the reader think! Of course, I'm dying to know what this reviewer's "theory" is, and I hope one day that s/he will answer my question on that matter. (If you're seeing this, please write to me!)

I don't know either of these reviewers personally, and they had no stake in promoting my little book, so there's really no more honest source of opinion. This kind of surprise gift from my readers is the number one thing that "sets my heart aflutter." There is no better feeling for a writer. Thank you!

I'm not doing as well, star-rating-wise, on Goodreads. I'm all for freedom of opinion and the expression thereof, but it's sad to see a couple of readers put only two stars on my darling book. If you have a Goodreads account, please be so kind as to stick a few more stars on Tree/House. I'll love you forever for it!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Noah Barleywater Runs Away

At some point during my childhood, an adult looked at the picture book I'd made and asked me if I would like to be a children's author when I grew up. More than a little miffed, I replied, "I think I'll write for whatever level I'm at." I could see it clearly: my writing evolving as I gained better spelling and grammar skills, leaving behind childish things as I slowly became no longer a child. (Was that adult asking if I was going to continue writing for my own pleasure beyond schoolwork and maybe become a famous novelist? If so, he/she should have asked in a less roundabout way.) And so, early on, we see that I grew a disdain for the apparent simplicity of books for children.

Noah Barleywater Runs Away, by the astounding John Boyne, is another book that makes me reconsider the power of children's literature. With beautiful writing and whimsical characters, the author puts together a pretty serious meditation on human mortality. It's a subject I'm sure not many writers could pull off so well.

Although it's a children's book, meant for "the 8 to 12 market," Noah Barleywater uses everyday objects and events, and even world folklore, to make a much grander point about the human experience. It's the same thing I'm doing in books like Tree/House. In that sense, I'm still writing at a children's level, which turns out to be the highest level there is.

I won an advance reader's copy of this wonderful book that releases tomorrow. Preorder it today through the links!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Six Sentence Mother's Day!

Many thanks to everyone who left comments last week! I appreciate it so much! Here's the hub of activity.

In honor of Mother's Day today, I asked my beautiful mother to choose her favorite thing I'd ever written, and I would select six sentences from that. I was surprised that she selected a poem of mine from my long-forgotten poetry volume, Dusk Before Dawn. The poem is based on the painting pictured above, which hangs in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Poetry seems a bit unorthodox for Six Sentence Sunday, but I don't see anything that prohibits it, so, here's to you, Mum!

The Painter’s Honeymoon

Lord Frederick Leighton understood
that loves comes in soft hues of gold;
that its lines are warm and comforting,
smooth and flowing as the folds of an olive-toned gown
which, with its velvet, covers layers of full, bountiful petticoats,
completely hidden.
He recognized that love blooms like golden pears outside the window,
blossoms like the glow in the young bride’s face.

As he tenderly holds his sketching pencil,
so too does he hold her hand
as she inclines toward his smooth face,
her eyes lowered.

The wide drawing desk shades and obscures
the red passion of his stockings. 

Affordable and lovely, Dusk Before Dawn is available from Amazon and by request at most independent booksellers and libraries. Mothers agree, it's great!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Now Popping up in Pittsburgh!

He can't stop reading Tree/House!
Attention, Pittsburgh, PA residents! Today is the opening day of Fleeting Pages, a "pop-up" bookstore housed in a closed Borders. Get down there soon, because, as a pop-up often does, this one will fade fast and close within a month!

Fleeting Pages is a great way to support indie publishers and authors. Look at the "In Stock" section of the website closely and you'll see one Jessica Knauss. In the store, there are two, count 'em, two copies of Tree/House signed by the author. As with any aspect of Fleeting Pages, you can also shop for these online.

I'm especially pleased to get Tree/House involved with Fleeting Pages in Pittsburgh, PA, because the book is set in Pennsylvania and the haunting black and white pictures now in the print edition were taken in the wilds of that great state.

But, this store is a fabulous idea in any state. I only wish I could support them more. Best of luck to you, Fleeting Pages!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Arizona in Spring

Consider the wonder of the delicate beauty of flowers emerging all over southern Arizona, such an unforgiving environment, in Spring.
All photos are mine. Please cite if you plan to reuse them.

This is where prickly pear jelly comes from. 

This tree smells for all the world like honeysuckle.
"The first recognition of beauty was one of the most significant events in the evolution of human consciousness."

I think the ocotillo blooms were the inspiration for International Caution Orange. 

The mighty Saguaro.

"Flowers, more fleeting, more ethereal, and more delicate than the plants out of which they emerged, would become like messengers from another realm, like a bridge between the word of physical forms and the formless." Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

The palo verde is beautifully green all year, but in spring it blooms brilliant yellow.

Joshua trees.
Even the severe organ pipe cactus makes dainty little blossoms. 

Different species of barrel cactus.

Don't let the fuzzy appearance fool you!