Tuesday, October 26, 2010

YIKES! It's vacation week for the girls, and there's a party involved

Sorry to be absent for so long -- my girls are on vacation, and the youngest turns 6 on Thursday! These are both good things, but they involve lots of hands-on mommy time and a birthday party in the making.

Tomorrow (Wednesday), 15 little girls between the ages of 6 and 11 will descend upon my house to play games, knustel (that would be "arts & crafts") crowns and bracelets and eat  . . . something (yes, I'm still working on that detail) in celebration of said birthday. I'm going just a little bit crazy. Tomorrow, the brain should be on total shutdown mode.

It's all good, though, and I'll be back!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Miscellaneous Monday -- Life as an Expat

First things first ...  drum roll please ...  the winner of the Amazon.com $15 gift certificate is Dianne! Huzzah!  (and there is much rejoicing)

Email me at debi faulkner (at) yahoo (dot) com (without the spaces, of course), and I'll send the certificate to you via email.


Okay, now, onto life as an expat. Usually, it's pretty darn good. It's nice to experience other cultures up-close and personal. Of course, there are downfalls, too.

One such downfall is that absolutely everything works differently. Everything. This is not exaggeration, either. Even flushing a toilet can be quite the adventure. In fact, here's a story from a fellow expat. Let's call her Anne.

It was Anne's first day in the Netherlands. She'd been invited to come for a visit by an online friend and stepped out of the taxi excited and just a bit nervous. She rang the doorbell.


Then Anne noticed a small piece of paper tucked into the door jamb. "The door is open. I had an appointment, but will be back within the hour."

Anne pushed on the door, and it was indeed open. The hallway was bright, clean, inviting. Leaving her luggage by the door, she opened the door to the living room and sat down on the modern, leather sofa. The bright white tiled floor gleamed in the light of the huge front windows. There were few knick knacks, and little furniture. The room could have been a photo shoot from IKEA.

After traveling for the past several hours, and being a woman in her mid-50's, a sudden and urgent need pushed her up and off of the couch and back into the hallway. There were several closed doors and the stairway heading up. The first door opened into a kitchen, the second into a pantry lined with canned goods. The third door was the answer to her quickly whispered prayers -- a WC.

Having taken care of her urgent visit, Anne turned to finish the transaction, but ran into a bit of a problem. There was no handle to flush. With the exception of the toilet, the room was totally bare. Surely the Dutch flush their toilets? Then she spied the cord hanging from the wall near the ceiling. A pull-chain flush! How quaint!

Unfortunately, pulling the chain did nothing. Then there was the business of a sink. There wasn't one of those either.

Closing the lid of the toilet (some things would have to be left for later), Anne went in search of a sink and some handsoap. Fortunately, the kitchen had both.

As she rinsed and dried her hands and began the search for a wastepaper basket to dispose of the paper toweling (What are these Dutch people thinking?), a sharp knock came to the door.


Did that man just say he was the police?

And that was it -- the police and the fire department stood at this woman's door, demanding to be let in (speaking Dutch the whole time) while this middle-aged American woman, shaking in her shoes, tried to explain that nothing was wrong and that she was only trying to flush the toilet . . .

Yes, living in a foreign country can be a very eye-opening experience.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

RSC : The Othello Rap

Just take a look at this BRILLIANT version of Shakespeare's Othello!

Dianne, I have just found the answer to Cliff's Notes! Boy, teens today have it so easy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Two Things that Made My Day and One that May Make Yours

The first item on my list of Three on Thursday, and this one really made my day, is a wonderful note I received from a school friend (Thanks, Dianne!) on my Facebook today. It's the first feedback I've had (other than from crit partners, close friends and family) on my novel, Summoning.

OMG, Debi, I just finished "Summoning." Truly amazing! I couldn't stop reading! Every minute I could steal today to read it, I did! That's all I want to say because I don't want to be a "spoiler." Well, except, the acknowledgments...Nadine Dyer, almost brought tears to my eyes. Do you know anything about, well, to be blunt, is she still around? And if so, how is she? I can't wait for your next novel!

This leads into my second thing that made my day. Those of you who did not attend Redford Union High School *mumblemumble* years ago may be wondering who Mrs. Dyer is. She was my English teacher. But she was almost much, much more than that. She was my original inspiration. That woman told me I had the soul of a poet before I even knew what she meant. Mrs. Dyer introduced me to the likes of T. S. Eliot, Dante, Nietzsche, Satre, and so many more. It was because of her that I became a writer in the first place. Thank you, Mrs. Dyer . . .  wherever you are.

Now those are the two things that made my day today. Hearing that someone liked my book and that she also loved Mrs. Dyer like I did, was a great way to start my day.

So, since I'm in such a good mood, I thought I'd try to do something to make someone else's day. And what could possibly be more fun than a contest?

Here are the rules:

1. Comment here about a teacher who changed your life for the better.
2. While you're here, browse around and read through my other posts . . . (okay, that's not a requirement, just a recommendation). 
3. All comments to this post on or before Sunday, October 17th will be eligible to win. On Monday, October 18th, I'll write down all the names on slips of paper and have one of my daughters pull one from a hat. (Or, in the absence of a hat, some other random choosing method.)

And why should you bother with all of this posting nonsense? What's in it for you, you ask?

Well, first prize will be a $15 gift certificate to Amazon.com. Second and third prizes you ask? How about my undying gratitude for playing along?

So what are you waiting for? Tell my about your life-changing teacher!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Available on Amazon, too!

Somehow, Miscellaneous Monday has morphed into Tuesday . . . Sorry about that!

But I do have some very good news. Summoning is now available on Amazon.com. Just follow this link:


And because I haven't really mentioned what this book is all about, I thought you'd like the "blurb":

Seven-year-old Meredith Pennyfather is determined to save her family's home by going to work at Raedwald Castle. Despite her efforts, her parents are evicted a year later. During the years that follow, two thoughts haunt her: the whereabouts of her parents and the safety of her own soul. Meredith learns early on that her employer, the Vicar, once a merciless witch hunter, is not above using the dark art to fulfill his own evil desires when she witnesses him summoning the devil, Legion. The Vicar pays for the demon's help with his tarnished soul and the promise of an innocent: Meredith. Realizing Legion's sinister powers could easily find her parents, Meredith sets about learning the craft, though she is reluctant to use her knowledge - at first.

After fulfilling her seven-year contract with the vicar, fifteen-year-old Meredith leaves Raedwald, penniless and homeless, for a position at Strathclyde Manor. No longer an indentured servant, she is desperate to be reunited with her parents, if only she knew where to find them. She turns to what she sees as her only option: black magic. Caught in the act, Meredith is imprisoned for witchcraft, found guilty and sentenced to death. She has only one remaining ally - Jonas - but his devotion threatens his life, too. Meredith fears seeking Legion's help again - she knows the price will be her soul. But the truth is, there is just one way to save her friend: one last SUMMONING.

The stories of Meredith's life at Raedwald and her attempt to begin again at Strathclyde are woven together in alternating chapters. Mirroring the Vicar's path, she follows a trail of evil, betrayal and pain. But while the Vicar's greed draws him ever closer to darkness, Meredith fights to choose a brighter path.

So, anyone interested?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Confession Time

Okay, here it is: I can't buy Christmas present early (or birthday presents or any other kind of present), because I just can't wait to give them to the people. That's it -- I just can't WAIT!

You know where this is heading, right?

I couldn't wait until Halloween! It's all of three weeks away! Who could possibly wait that long?

So, don you scary clothing

and head over to http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/26425 where you can purchase and download an e-copy of my new book Summoning!

(It will also be available on Amazon.com in a couple of days . . .) 

And don't worry if you don't have an e-reader -- you can download the PC version of the Amazon Kindle (from Amazon.com) for free. You also have the choice of purchasing the book in other formats that you can read from your computer (so if you're reading this blog, you can read my book).

Then, pour yourself a glass of champagne (or any other beverage of choice) and celebrate with me!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Big Reveal

Yes, yes, yes, I know it's Three on a Thursday, but I have just one that is SO BIG! that it's probably worth more than three all on it's own.

And here it is . . . drum roll please . . .

The cover to my new novel, Summoning

So what do you think?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Doin' It Myself -- a Surprise Wednesday Post

I've never been much of a DIY'er -- never had the right tools or the know-how. Whatever. But I'm changing all that.

This is the year I stop waiting for the right time, or enough money, or emotional support from others. I'm going for it. I'm going to practice DIY.

Part of that plan is this wonderful idea of a DIY MFA. I've always wanted to go back to school (in fact, I wanted to go for the MFA before I even managed the BA). Of course, money, time and family have been factors in that decision to wait, but no more. I'm doing it myself.

Well, not entirely by myself. There's a wonderful community over here: http://iggiandgabi.blogspot.com

Gabi had this wonderful idea that writers can study, learn, practice craft and earn a DIY MFA. She provided tips, information, motivation and, most importantly, community. Now there's no reason to wait. No excuse for not taking the next step. And I don't have to do it alone.

Thank you, Gabi!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Following the Dream

Today's Miscellaneous Monday is about Reaching the Dream – the “Dream,” of course, being a published book.

That's my dream. It has been for years. Even back when I wrote poetry, I dreamed of seeing my books of poems alongside Philip Levine, Edward Hirsch and M.L. Leibler as successful Detroit-area poets (granted, a couple of those names are no longer in Detroit). Now that I've transitioned to prose, I dream of seeing my books on shelves with Melissa Marr, Maggie Stiefvater and that other Faulkner.

The problem is this, though. No matter how hard I work and how good my books are, there's no guarantee that I'll ever reach that dream. There are just too many writers, writing too many books. That's just the plain and simple truth. Traditional publishing is just not able to put out every good book they see. Not even every great book they see. There are just too many great manuscripts out there.

Sure, we can look through the stacks at the local bookstores or through the pages of Amazon.com, and see that not everything that is published is great – or even good. But somewhere, someone thought those books were worth the effort. Someone decided those writers would be published authors.

So what happens when a manuscript doesn't get chosen. What if it's good, maybe even great, but for whatever reason, it's not picked up by the traditional system? Maybe it's timing. Maybe it's “not right for us.” Maybe that particular house (or particular agent) just took on another manuscript with a similar theme (despite being very different in every other way)? Does that make the passed-over manuscript bad? Does that mean that writer is doomed to stay unpublished?

My answer is “no.”

I don't believe there is just one path to reaching the dream. I'm choosing one that is less traveled – or at least, less traveled by traditionalists.

To be perfectly honest, though, I am a bit of a literary snob. I've always believed that any book good enough to be read will be picked up by a traditional house. Then I bought my Kindle and started reading some of the independent authors out there. I've been amazed by what I've seen so far. There are some GREAT books, written and published by indy-authors. Why are these books not available at Barnes and Noble or Borders? Why didn't Penguin pick up these books? Why didn't editors at Hyperion snatch up these manuscripts?

Who knows. Maybe the authors tried these routes; maybe they didn't.

I, personally, have been looking for an agent since late 2007. I've had a couple very, very close calls, but in the end, everyone passed. I haven't even tried going directly to publishers, though I've heard that it's sometimes easier to find an editor than an agent.

Instead, I've decided to go the indy-route. I'm making my young-adult novel, Summoning, available for the Kindle through Amazon.com and for other e-readers via Smashmouth.com. My goal is to have an online virtual launch on Halloween. I hope you'll all be there for my big day.

I'm reaching out and grabbing my dream!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Wacky Weekend!

I just love cats, and this is one of my favorite cat characters.

Click on the title to take you to Simon's Cat. Look around while you're there -- lots of funny stuff.