Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Joy of Seeing the Physical Manifestation of a Favorite Book

Can I tell you...I LOVED my trip to Orlando, and the highlight of the trip was visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure. There's something magical about experiencing a favorite book in physical form, and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is truly a magical adventure. The second you walk through the gates to the village, it feels SO real. I found myself looking (and photographing) every detail. I didn't want to miss anything. Yes, I went to Olivanders (and picked a wand - I chose McGonagall's wand, or should I say, it chose me), and order a Butterbeer - yum! My family walked into Honeydukes and our mouth's dropped open (heaven). 

It's not just the atmosphere (you feel like you're transported to what J.K. Rowling saw when she wrote the books, it's also the people who work in this part of the theme park, they are true Potter fans as well. My husband had a ten minute conversation (in Pottereze), discussing wizards and Hogwarts, and all manner of wizarding news as if it were really happening. 

It was the closest thing to having the book series come to life. 

If you are a Harry Potter fan, I truly recommend the trip. And keep in mind that a new section (Diagon Alley) will be opening soon (I tried to sneak a peak but they had it concealed well when I was there). The park is popular and will be even-more-so once Diagon Alley is open. Me, I can't wait to go back. Time to start planning the next trip. In the meantime, here are a few shots from my visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: 




















Thursday, May 15, 2014

Reading & Rating

There are books that are well written, others that are less so, but they all have value if they make me feel something. A book's purpose is to take the reader (me) on a journey, and if it does that, then bravo.

In all my years as an avid reader, there are only two books that I've read for pleasure that I could not finish; only two. I will not name the two, but even those two have value. I keep them both visible on my bookshelf; reminders of where I don't want my own books to be.

Most books are three to four star books - these are the ones that are publicized, read, and talked about. Mostly mainstream of varying genres. They are enjoyable, but often lack a full package to make them great. The three star books are usually less memorable. Four star books, on the other hand, are great reads, and I often refer to sections of them when I'm doing my own writing, but the holy grail of my library are the five-star reads. These are the books that haunt me, the ones that stay with me for days, weeks, and months. These are the ones that I read with an awed perspective, I read these as a writer and admire the talent. These are the books that bring me to tears or evoke a laugh, maybe even make me want to scream while I'm reading.

I'm involved in two books right now. I say involved because sometimes a book can feel like a relationship; reading it is like dating;  the five-star reads become a marriage. Of the two books I'm reading, one is a three-star read and one is a five-star read. The three-star read is cliche in many ways, in it's writing, flat characters, and dialogue, and yet there's still something there that propels me to finish it. I still feel connected and I have to finish the story. I feel something when I'm reading it, so I continue.The five-star read made me cry this morning; I was whimpering and balling like a child. And it felt good. Crazy, right? These are the books I live for. A five-star read is a treasure, and I love it when I uncover one that's fit to where it's label.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Story Treasures

There are so many stories to tell; stories written on scraps of paper, filed for the future. Stories, like treasures hidden and waiting to be excavated, their value immeasurable until they are found, cleaned-up, and polished. Finding the time to flesh out each of those stories is a challenge, balancing writing and life.

When I started writing many years ago, I had the worry that maybe I only had one good idea. Now, I have many more ideas than I could ever develop. I write them down, trying to capture the essence of the idea as it comes to me, hoping it's enough to inspire me when the time comes to explore it further.

On of my goals for 2014 is to finish the two works-in-progress that currently occupy my "writing time", and move on to one of those hidden treasures in my filing cabinet.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Black Friday was Book Friday

Not only was last Friday "Black Friday" but it was also Book Friday, as dubbed by Hawaii Content Marketing (HICM). I was fortunate to be invited to participate in the Non-Fiction portion of the program, where I was able to talk about Non-Fiction writing and my books, "Do You?" and the upcoming disaster preparedness guide, "Ordinary People - Everyday Prep".

HICM created the event as a "Marathon of Author Twitterviews & Book Talk", giving authors a chance to discuss the genres and writing topics we love.

The event ran all day. Here's the 1 hour Non-Fiction chat from Storify, in case you missed it.

And while you're at it, make sure to check out the Cyber-Monday sale of "Do You?" on Amazon - free for two days only (12-2-13 & 12-3-13): http://ow.ly/rmGNk


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Greetings

 

Happy Thanksgiving from my house to yours. 

As you spend time with family and friends, may you realize how blessed you are in this life. Take stock in all you have. Live, love, laugh, and cherish every moment.   

Free Vintage Thanksgiving Clip Art
Credit: Graphics Fairy http://thegraphicsfairy.com/free-vintage-thanksgiving-clip-art/

Monday, August 26, 2013

You Are Already Missed - Felix


It is with a heavy heart that I share this post with you. On Saturday, Felix left this world to be with the angels, and I lost an important part of my life. 

Felix was the most loving, intuitive, and compassionate soul I have ever met - it just so happened that his soul was housed in the body of a cat.

Felix was six months old when we first brought him home. My husband and I had decided on a spontaneous trip to the shelter. We hadn't intended to bring a pet home that day, and had discussed visiting with the dogs to give them some attention. We never made it to the see the dogs.  Felix made sure of that. He was a bundle of love, from the moment I picked him up and out of the cage, he cuddled himself in my arms and purred like a fine car tuned-up and ready to race. He placed his paw gently on the side of my face and leaned in to brush his cheek to mine. I was sold. We adopted him on the spot.

Felix earned his spot as an important member of the family every day since that first day. He comforted my husband when his Dad had a quadruple bypass, somehow knowing that he needed the support. A paw on my husband's leg at just the right moment was all it took. On another ocassion, Felix  rescued one of our fish who had flopped out of the tank and onto the floor. Most cats would have devoured the fish instead of coming to it's rescue, but not Felix. And when my son was born, the fear was that Felix might get jealous. We weren't sure how he would react to a baby in the house. He surprised us again, and after getting over the initial transition of no longer being an "only child", Felix became my son's protector. If the baby cried, Felix came to get us to ensure that he got what he needed - a bottle, diaper change, or what not.

On many occasions, Felix became a contributor to my writing as well. He'd sit beside my laptop as I typed away, the best kind of writing company - quiet and intent as I read my work outloud. There were a few times when he'd walk across the keyboard and add his own touch to my manuscript. He preferred when I wrote in silence, not liking the Loon Wilderness CD I'd often play, shaking his ears as if the sound of it hurt.

In the past few weeks, Felix was feeling his age. He turned 17 this month, and his body was giving out. After injuring his front leg, he just couldn't recover. When he no longer continued his usual routine of putting the family to bed - my son first, then me, and then my husband - we had an inkling that something wasn't right. When he stopped eating, we knew the end was near. And on Saturday, Felix waited for us to return, waited for his family to be by his side, and then he left us very peacefully.

It is hard to write this, and I have tears in my eyes as I do. For those of you who met Felix, you know how special he was. The stories above only bring to life a small portion of what made him so special.

So, I end with a message to Felix: You are already missed. You completed our home, and without you there is an emptiness here. Rest in peace my dear friend, may we meet again some day in the hereafter.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book Review - Memoirs of a Geisha

 

 

Book Review - Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden


This book has claimed the spot as my second all-time favorite book to date. Memoirs of a Geisha is a story about a young girl named Sayuri who is sold by her father to a geisha house, ripped from her home, her dying mother, and her sister. The tale is so intricately woven that the reader feels like a silent observer, watching Sayuri as she traverses the life of a maid, to a geisha apprentice, to a geisha, and finally to her life after WWII, leaving the life of geisha behind.
Arthur Golden is a master at developing the characters he’s created, giving them life on the page, so much so that many people believed this book to be a real-life memoir of a real geisha, when in fact it is a work of fiction. The story is beautifully written, the historical and cultural details are exquisitely interlaced throughout, and still the author keeps the book paced for a fast read. The true work of genius!
 
If you haven’t read this book, I HIGHLY recommend reading it.

Goodreads Review

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cover Reveal for Reaper's Rhythm by Clare Davidson

Cover Reveal Banner Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00100] Blurb When everyone thinks your sister committed suicide, it’s hard to prove she was murdered. Kim is unable to accept Charley’s sudden death. Crippled by an unnatural amnesia, her questions are met with wall after wall. As she doubts her sanity, she realises her investigation is putting those around her in danger. The only person who seems to know anything is Matthew, an elusive stranger who would rather vanish than talk. Despite his friendly smile, Kim isn’t sure she can trust him. But if she wants to protect her family from further danger, Kim must work with Matthew to discover how Charley died – before it’s too late.
Excerpt from Reaper’s Rhythm
The warm light seeps through the closed sitting room curtains when I step into the drive. The muffled thump of dance music grows louder as I approach the familiar front door. I push the key into the lock, but the door swings open on its own. My breath catches in my throat, but I force it into a growl. Not only has my sister, Charley, not bothered to lock the door, she hasn’t latched it. Whatever she rushed home for must have been important. I step over the threshold and a blast of warm air hits me, enveloping me like one of Mum’s overprotective hugs. My wind-chilled face tingles, as I close and lock the door. "Charley, I hope you’ve set the table.” My voice competes with the din of the deep bass of my sister’s music. I toss my keys into the wicker basket on the hall table. As I peel my coat off, I see Charley’s in a crumpled heap on the floor. Rolling my eyes, I scoop it up and hang it, then place her discarded boots in the shoe rack beside my own. Why am I the conscientious sister? I’m only sixteen. Charley will be heading off to university next year. Stomach rumbling, I snatch up the Chinese takeout I’d picked up on the walk home and wander into the kitchen. Frowning, I flick the switch to light up the pristine room. Mum is a clean freak now that Dad doesn’t live here. The table isn't set, even though Charley promised she would do it before she rushed off ahead. "Charley,” I call out and then dump the bag on the kitchen table and stomp across the hall to the sitting room, shoving the door open. The music hits me first, making me jerk my head back, then the smell. An odd odour, metallic and rich, overpowers the air freshener on the mantel. "Charley?" She must be trying to scare me. "Charley, stop messing around.” I grit my teeth, expecting her to jump out at any second. My body shudders and my flesh tingles as if an army of ants is marching beneath my skin. I back out of the empty sitting room and bolt upstairs. The smell is stronger, snaking down my throat, making me want to gag. “Charley?” I shove her door open, hard. Charley’s lying on the bed, her blond hair fanned out over the pillow. Her arms are spread wide, palms up. Crimson blood drips from deep slashes on her wrists. Her blue eyes are open, staring at the ceiling. But they don't see. They're dull, empty. Dead. The room spins. My stomach lurches and bile rises up my throat. I swallow and clap my hand to my mouth. Sagging against the doorframe, I can’t tear my gaze from the single lock of hair resting over Charley’s porcelain cheek. What should I do? Charley would know what to do. As I stumble down the stairs, my mind clicks into gear. A scream rips out of my throat, eclipsing the pounding music. My foot slips on the beige carpet, sending me tumbling down the remaining stairs. My shoulder and back slam against the wall. I scramble to my feet, screaming, sobbing, then stagger into the hallway, colliding into a young man with the darkest eyes I’ve ever seen. My own force knocks me backwards. His strong grip clenches my arm, preventing me from falling. I try to scream again, but the sound is trapped within my constricting chest. My sister is dead. A stranger is in my house. I writhe against his grip, lashing out with my foot. My toes crumple and sting when they hit his shin. I’m thrown off balance, but he holds me fast. He raises his thumb to my forehead and applies gentle pressure, as he sweeps his thumb towards my brow and then hooks it back up. "Sleep." His quiet voice acts like a sedative. My head flops forward until my chin touches my chest. A new scent replaces the sickly metallic tang of Charley’s blood: freshly cut grass. Inhaling it makes my head fuzzy and my heartbeat slow. I want to see his face, memorise every detail. The contours of his cheeks and jaw, the shape of his nose, the colour of his hair. The police want to know those things, don’t they? The only feature I can see for sure is the impossible darkness of his eyes. My own eyelids droop, my limbs turn liquid. A strong arm loops round my back and lowers me to the floor. I fight against sleep. Each time I force my eyelids open, they flutter shut again. "Forget,” he says. The word is nothing more than a whisper at the edge of my hearing. "Sleep."
  Author Bio: Clare Davidson is an independent writer, based in Lancaster. Clare is a high school teacher, mother and character-driven fantasy writer. Clare was born in Northampton and lived in Malaysia for four and a half years as a child, before returning to the UK to settle in Leeds with her family. Whilst attending Lancaster University, Clare met her future husband and never left. They now share their lives with their young daughter, a cranky grey cat and an insane white kitten. She published her first novel, Trinity in July 2012. Trinity is a young adult, fantasy novel, which currently has seventeen five star reviews on Amazon UK. Her second novel, Reaper’s Rhythm, is due to be released on the 26th July 2013. Also aimed at a young adult audience, Reaper’s Rhythm is an urban fantasy with a dash of mystery.   Ways to connect with Clare Davidson: Website Twitter Facebook Goodreads New releases mailing list      

Friday, July 12, 2013

THANK YOU for Your Support

First, let me say Thank You to each and every one of you that supported me and my Kickstarter project, Ordinary People-Everyday Prep. So many of you helped to spread the word through Facebook and Twitter, and backed the project with funding pledges. I am very grateful, and I appreciate your support more than I can ever express to you.

This has been an incredible journey. It was thrilling talking to people about this project, and in the process gauging a better understanding of people’s perception of disaster preparation. Through these conversations, I’ve gained insight into what I need to do to improve Ordinary People-Everyday Prep to make it stronger and more marketable. I plan on adding survival tips from top survival experts, and expanding disaster experience examples throughout the book to illustrate the need for disaster preparation.
Unfortunately, the project failed to gain enough backers to get fully funded, so my  initial plan to release the softcover book in connection with the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy will not be possible, but I still plan to continue with the project by strengthening the contents of the book and working to find ways to bring this project to publication. I am toying with the idea of possibly releasing an e-book version, if I can garner funding for that part of the process. I might also try submitting the book for traditional publishing as well.

Thank you again for all that you’ve done.

-Michelle