Daily Quote: Goals

Spring has sprung dear readers!

I recently finished reading author Kwame Alexander’s Newbery-winning novel in verse The Crossover.  I thought I would share with you one of my favorite quotes from the poem entitled “Basketball Rule #3.”

“Never let anyone lower your goals.  Others’ expectations of you are determined by their limitations of life.  The sky is your limit, sons.  Always shoot for the sun and you will shine.”

Happy Friday 🙂

 

 

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Little Infinity

Over the summer I had a chance to read the popular YA romance novel The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  I’m not usually a fan of YA or romance or death stories, because it is so easy to fall into sappy cliché.  But this story is also literary and very philosophical, which I like, and not in the hum drum ways you might expect.

At the end of chapter 20, the book states that there are infinite numbers between 0 and 1.

The main character goes on to say, “I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

So my question to you is this:  What will you do with your little infinity?

Interview with Author Tim Loge and Giveaway!

Freebooter's Paradise by Tim Loge

Freebooter’s Paradise by Tim Loge

I’m celebrating self-publishing this week and had the pleasure of interviewing author Tim Loge about his book Freebooter’s Paradise.   You can read my review of his book on goodreads, but for now, just imagine a pirate ship coming to town on dust devils!  I first became acquainted with Tim when I interviewed author/illustrator Denise Fleming.  He shared photos of her story park on behalf of the Sanger Branch Library in Toledo, OH where he is a children’s librarian.  I was excited to meet a fellow librarian, especially one who is also a middle grade fantasy writer like me!  Enjoy his interview.  Watch out for pirates 😉     

How long have you been writing?

Back when I was in 3rd Grade, our local newspaper, The Toledo Blade, held a coloring contest. The winners received free tickets to see a marionette show. As luck would have it, I won; I remember my Mom and I thoroughly enjoying the show. Well, for months afterward I had written and performed marionette shows for all of the neighborhood kids. We set up benches in my garage and from the attic a couple of us dangled down homemade marionettes onto a makeshift stage. Of course I needed help, so everyone in the audience usually participated in some way or another, maybe as an usher or a second act puppeteer. Boy, did we have a lot of fun! Back then we thought our shows were spectacular, but I remember the marionettes weren’t. They were a stringy mess of painted cardboard. Honestly though, I think that was when I was bitten by the story bug. As for writing proper stories, that had to wait ‘til I started working on my Agricultural Degree at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. How I found time to study and write I don’t know because I was in class 38 hours every week. That meant I had to spend at least that much time doing homework. Writing stories was a joy while earning my Creative Writing degree from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.

What made you want to become a children’s author?

J. K. Rowling. Her Harry Potter stories have engaged children and adults in a way that makes them want to read more. How many kids read today because of Rowling? The Harry Potter novels are:

  • Fun
  • Adventurous
  • Scary
  • Relaxing

Her characters are friends you miss after you finish reading the series. It almost feels like you have lost some close friends. Now, that’s magic I wish to create!

You self-published your book.  Why did you decide to take this route and would you ever consider traditional publishing?

Unless you’re a celebrity or a darling to someone in the publishing industry, you will never be a shoe-in to get published. In fact, finding someone to seriously look at your work can be very hard. Most of the time it’s college students surfing the slush piles of manuscripts that publishers receive. College students? Yep. So, does that mean anything original and unfamiliar will probably be ignored? Maybe. I’ve heard, and have grown to believe, that attending a writing conference is a good way to get proper exposure for you and your story, and I plan on attending more of those myself. I self-published Freebooter’s Paradise as an eBook first. eBooks are exciting creatures right now. I uploaded my novel to Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Apple, and Smashwords on September 5th, which just happens to be Jessie James’ birthday. How cool is that: being that Jessie James was sort of a pirate in his day? The problem with eBooks for me was that kids knew what eReaders were, but a lot of them didn’t have access to them. So, it looked like I needed to print my novel to get my story out. The way I went about printing it was by creating a project on the crowd sourcing company called Kickstarter. The project is still on their website. Go check it out.

Self-publishing is very trendy these days.  Can you tell us a little bit about the process?  Did you hire your own editor?  Find your own cover artist?  Handle the layout and design?

Ah yes, I had to do everything. I hired an editor, and then another and another. I commissioned an artist, contracted a printer, and secured an ISBN number. I contacted schools and book stores for visits. Would I do it all again? Yes, it was a blast! Do traditionally published authors understand exactly what has happened for their stories to become books? I bet most do, but not many have done it all by themselves. My plan, after getting picked up by a major publisher, is to become the best team player/author a publisher has EVER come across. I KNOW what has to be done to create a book, and I will so much appreciate their help! I also know I still have much more to learn about the whole industry; I have so much more to give. Catch me if you can…

In what ways have you promoted your book?

Like I mentioned earlier, I visit stores and schools. Both are fun adventures, but the school visits are the most fun. I usually sell more books there too. I also meet really awesome librarians and reviewers like you, Angie.  I’m so happy you enjoyed Freebooter’s Paradise!

Now let’s talk about the story itself.  How did you come up with the idea?  Were you always interested in pirates?  Did you do a lot of research on the topic?

Yes, I love pirates! But, let’s start here: I’m also a big fan of Rick Riordan’s novel The Lightning Thief. I loved the fact that reluctant readers enjoyed its quick pace and ton of adventures. So, I decided to write a story in that same style. When I started Freebooter’s Paradise there were only a couple of middle grade novels which took place in the Superstition Mountains or The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. Nothing modern anyway, and no one had considered flying pirates to Arizona, let alone Captain Blackbeard, who has been dead for centuries! Yes, I did research, but after all, it’s a made-up story. I stayed true to what I needed to, and then, I did what authors do best—I made up the rest. Haha!

Some people say my family is related to Captain Kidd 😉  Who is your favorite pirate and why?

I’m thrilled you’re related to Captain Kidd! Apparently his blood line has grown large over the years. You all should hold a family reunion. I bet you would get TV news coverage, if not the History Channel. Personally, I have great sympathy for Captain Kidd. He was an excellent Privateer, a private citizen who hunted ships of the enemy (like you know), but through political maneuvers and King’s favors he ended up an enemy of the King. Ugh. Look for Captain Kidd as a villain in my book two of Dangerous Tandem Adventures. He might finally get what’s his, after being Blackbeard’s lackey in their magical new lives. Where Kidd’s real life story is interesting, Captain Blackbeard is my favorite pirate for a lot of reasons. First, I couldn’t imagine lighting a fuse in my hair just to look menacing. That’s not because I don’t have much hair, ahem, but just because. I mean: Who puts fire near their face? Let alone in their beard/hair? Secondly, according to most pirate historians, Edward Teach (or Thatch) 1680 – 22 November 1718 was the most famous Pirate King of the Caribbean, and only for two years 1716-1718. I use the term ‘Pirate King,’ but he wasn’t called that then. After all these years, he’s remembered to be the fiercest of pirates. Shipping Captains would just give up when they found out Blackbeard’s ship was chasing them. Have you seen Captain Blackbeard’s flag? Talk about creepy. Not only is it a skeleton stabbing a heart ‘til it bleeds, it’s the skeleton of a devil! And it’s holding a time piece in its other hand, sort of saying, “Your time’s up, Matey!”

You chose an interesting setting for your pirates—the desert.  What made you choose Arizona as the location for this story?

I chose that setting because I love Arizona, and at the time there weren’t a lot of middle grade stories set there. I wouldn’t say so now, lots of stories now, but in any case, the American Southwest is an amazing place. Everyone, please go visit it someday; you’ll see. Also, I enjoyed the idea of pirates finding a gold mine. Would they mine it? Or would it be too hard for them? After all, they’re pirates. They enjoy stealing! LOL

I read on your blog that you hiked in Northern Spain.  Tell us about that experience.

I’ve hiked The Way of Saint James three times now. That’s an ancient Christian pilgrimage. One can actually start anywhere in Europe and walk their way to The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Usually most folks start in Southern France and hike across the Pyrenees, through Pamplona, Burgos, and Leon all the way to the Cathedral where the bones of Saint James the Greater are buried. If you do that, you’ll have hiked 500 miles. I never thought I could do such a thing, but what strength I’ve gained from it for my body, mind, and heart. And really, isn’t everything in life about the heart? I made friends from all over the world. Would I do it a fourth time? You bet!

You’re also a librarian.  How has that helped or influenced your writing?

I’m a Children’s Librarian, so I probably read too much middle grade fiction! They’re at least fun stories, and most of the time enlightening, unlike other genres. Maybe I have a leg up in writing because middle graders tell me what they like or don’t like about stories. They share titles they enjoy with me all of the time. From that, I try to build good, fun stories. It’s a challenge, but it has been a fun adventure for me.

What’s up next?  What are you working on now?  A sequel perhaps?

Yes, definitely! I’m working now on book two of the Dangerous Tandem Adventures. I’m also working on a teen and an adult novel. I have lots in the works actually. I’d be thrilled to have you, Angie, be an advance reader for book two! What do you think? Thank you again, for taking a chance on reading Freebooter’s Paradise. Cheers!

***To celebrate, I’m giving away a signed copy of this book!  For a chance to win, leave a comment on this post either about the interview or the blog or both.  Also include your name and email so I can contact you, if you win 🙂  You must reside in the U.S. to be eligible.

Just Zoo It! Sketching at the Toledo Zoo


Early this summer, I asked an illustrator friend, Deborah Marcero, to join me on a trip to the Toledo zoo. But instead of just viewing the animals as typical spectators, our mission was to view them for the purpose of sketching them. We tried to pay attention to their details and isolate their movements. It’s actually a good practice in mindfulness. And certainly easier said than done! Sure, we could draw a sleeping tiger or rhino, but what about a hungry elephant or hippo constantly on the move? Often it turned into an exercise in contour drawing.  We also jotted down field notes for each animal.

The most interesting part to me is how we became specimens in our own habitat.  We were the “roaming sketch artists” on display.  Parents would point us out to their children saying, “See Johnny, wouldn’t you like to do something like that?”  Kids were more subtle in their approach, often sidling up to us shyly with open mouths and wide eyes.  “I like your drawings,” they said.  Even staff members stopped to take a look and offer tidbits of information about each animal like how an elephant walks on its toes and has more than 100,000 muscles in its trunk!

Our adventures reminded me of another sketching duo, Thomas Kinkade (“The Painter of Light”) and James Gurney (Dinotopia author), who “sketched their way across America” and shared their experiences in an illustrated book called The Artist’s Guide to Sketching

tail flick
ear twitch
paw against wall
one eye open
so S-L-E-E-P-Y

flippers flipping
over each other like oars

mouth open to keep cool
or simply awaiting dinner

shuffle, turn, swim
shuffle, turn, swim
life moves
S-L-O-W-L-Y
down here

ears flapping
trunks dancing
walking on toes
like prima ballerinas

horns are like hair
point up, point down
resting without a care
their wrinkles build
character

Holy Moly!
That one’s huge!

hair sticks up
tails hang down
what are YOU
looking at?

Visualizing Your Dreams

“Visualize this thing that you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blue print, and begin to build.” –Robert Collier

Here I am pinpointing two of my dreams: to publish a book and visit Italy.

While in Columbus, I visited the warehouse located at 400 West Rich Street, which houses several art/design studios.  It’s a unique concept in which art is helping to revive an area of the city.  I would love to be part of the same effort in Detroit.

I also visited The Book Loft, a local bookstore in German Village.  There are a total of 32 rooms to wind your way through, but somehow I found the children’s section.  I would love to see my own books here, too 🙂

As you know, I’ve been reading SARK’s book “Making Your Creative Dreams Real.” One of my favorite chapters is “The World of Yes.” Why? Because it’s so positive! She gives new meaning to the word love.

Letting

Our

Visions

Emerge

How can we do that? By visualizing!  When we visualize each step of our dream, we’re more likely to make it a reality.  SARK says, “We visualize our creative dreams and some part of us says YES.  I can do that…  It can happen…  We can build it…”  So start visualizing and say YES! to your dream.

My husband and I spotted another bucket list in Montreal!  It turns out people are dreaming all over the world.  Check it out

MicroMOVEments

Does this scene look familiar?  It should 😉  This landscape art is based on the famous painting by Georges Seurat entitled A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.  James T. Mason is the sculptor and creator of this garden.  I recently visited The Topiary Park in Columbus, OH.  Talk about walking into a painting!

While here, I could have just enjoyed the scenery and posed for photos.  But I also decided to begin my practice of microMOVEments.  What exactly are those?  Think of them as baby steps towards your ultimate goal.  A way of building your dream brick by brick.  The concept was coined by SARK, author of Make Your Creative Dreams Real, which I mentioned in a previous post.  She describes such movements as small bursts of energy or tiny actions that can be completed in as little as 5 minutes.  If you’re one of the millions of busy people in the world or if you have problems with procrastination, you should try this out.

Here I am completing a microMOVEment by sketching at the park while on vacation.

And here is the result of my efforts 🙂

pen and ink

pen and ink

pen and ink

Just remember, Seurat’s painting wasn’t created in a day.  But step by step, your dream will manifest.  Starting now!  What microMOVEment will you complete today?

The Power of Dreaming

Make Your Creative Dreams Real
by SARK

Greetings dreamers!

I found this book serendipitously at the library.  It seemed to be calling out to me 😉  I would venture to say it is calling out to all of you as well.  Anyone who is a dreamer.  And we all are…or at least we should be.  And here is why:

SARK‘s book suggests that the world needs more people dreaming and living out their dreams, even partially.  It doesn’t have to be for money.  It doesn’t have to be big. And your dreams are free to change and adapt constantly!  But we need to dream because dreaming creates more energy, which directly benefits th world around us.

“We are all energized by creative dreams.”  –SARK

So where will you begin?

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