Archive | April, 2018

Middle Grade Fantasy Issues

21 Apr

I stumbled upon this journal entry from March of 2014:

My latest rejection letter concerning the Rowanwick Witches hit a discouraging note. The editor claimed that they’ve published and have been receiving submissions of too many novels in which a relative teaches a young person witchcraft. This got me suspecting that if this one publisher is getting that many manuscripts with the same premise, then presumably this is common in the publishing industry in general right now. (The irony is that I wrote the original version back when I was a teenager in the 1980s, and the novel would have stood out.)

I confided in a friend, who suggested I alter the Rowanwick Witches so that someone other than a relative is the teacher. Perhaps, for instance, a tree could be the teacher—something different and unusual. I don’t want to do anything like that with the Rowanwick Witches, which has been near and dear since I was a teenager, but I got to thinking I could come up with a different Middle Grade series (or one at least one novel) of that ilk and attempt to get it published traditionally (as opposed to self-publishing).

Since writing the above, I haven’t written that other Middle Grade novel or series (though I have a cunning, if somewhat vague, plan for one). Getting published is very hard, and the publishing industry doesn’t care how attached you happen to be to certain fictional characters and how much time and effort you’ve devoted to them. The focus of agents and publishers is what will sell, what readers wish to read and on what they’re willing to spend money. It makes perfect sense intellectually.

However, because I felt compelled to get Rowanwick Witches published, I went ahead and self-published the first book on CreateSpace, the publishing platform for The first book, available on Amazon, is Rowanwick Witches, Lesson 1: Spells and Enchantments. I’m currently working on the next two books in the series.


Random College Party Dream

19 Apr

I had a dream that was from different characters’ perspectives, mostly college kids, maybe a professor.

There was a huge party/concert at a large, modern, glass-doored building that I think was on campus. A straight-laced black male student, probably a senior, was supervising this event, making sure people who arrive had invitations or such.

The end of the dream was entirely from the perspective of a petite blond girl (who looked exactly like a specific British actress, Hannah Murray). She showed up with her skinny black boyfriend. They were both high or became so during the course of the evening. At some point, they were lurking and giggling in the main hallway, and she called her dad and in a cheerful voice asked him to get her birth control (or a condom), “because I don’t want to get pregnant.” Oddly, her father soon briefly showed up in the lobby looking clean-cut, in his thirties, and wearing a navy-blue business suit; he seemed to be in a hurry. Her dad barely noticed her as he kept walking, and they didn’t interact.

At the far end of this lobby, which could also be called a big hallway, an open door on the left led to the huge room where the party/concert was taking place. The lighting was dark and blue, and that room was very loud and packed. At the far end was a stage on which a band was singing and playing. The blond girl hovered near the doorway with her boyfriend but was reluctant to go inside.

They’d apparently been there for a long time. The clean-cut black student suddenly showed up and glared at them. “Are you still here?” he asked sternly. He then said something else, while the half-unconscious boyfriend hid behind the blond, and she got nervous and backed away while hiding her boyfriend, threw on a yellow and black silk robe, covering both of them, and pulled up the hood as she turned and hurried out, with her boyfriend seemingly hidden behind her—at least, she believed he was successfully hidden. He was able to keep up with her despite his half-unconscious state.

They went out the front glass doors with her still in the lead. Outside, dawn had come and mostly gone; it was sunny with a pink tinge. She walked along on pavement and was looking down and seeing various dry autumn leaves scattered on the pavement and bright green grass. A few other students were walking along, coming and going. Still leading the way while they both wore the robe, she decided to head for her boyfriend’s dorm room (or apartment—it seemed more like an apartment in my mind’s eye). The last image I recall from this dream was a grey concrete-looking door surrounded by vines.

This was one of those dreams that just don’t seem to have any interpretation and seem quite…out of the blue. And maybe that’s not entirely true, since college/university has to do with learning, and in the past I’ve had college dreams that were definitely related to how I was, at the time, learning a great deal about Buddhism and about my mother’s side of the family. Additionally, a party suggests that I’m not being sociable enough. The actress still seems random, and I don’t know if there’s anything odd about how I often dream about—and from the perspective of—people I don’t know in this reality.

An Architecture Dream

12 Apr

I dreamed that I was visiting a slender, elegant, blond woman at her apartment and wasn’t the only guest; the other was a friend who arrived with me. We sat down to a long table in her dining room, where the paneled walls were an old and faded mixture of off-white and pale green. They may have been solid green originally, over 200 years ago. I became really fascinated by a particular wall, because matched into the paneling and not quite fitting together were two large, tall rectangles, also paneled like the rest of the wall. It was as though two rectangles had been cut out of the wall and later replaced. Gazing at this wall in fascination, I said, “They used to be windows!” We talked about that for a bit.

The old building belonged to this arrogant white man, youngish and good-looking and blond–he could have been his tenant’s brother. I think it was before I was in her dining room, there was a scene in a very large room with him overseeing and yelling at workers.

An eighteenth-century apartment was on wheels, each room folded up so that they were all these tall, upright, paneled, wooden boxes on casters. The boxes were much larger than coffins. These workers were moving them around. Some of the upright wooden boxes were blue, or white, or paper yellow. The workers were moving them around, lining them up.

While we were in the dining room, we were disturbed by something pushing against a wall. The tenant was annoyed with her landlord and pushed back.

Next, the scene was back to the landlord and workers with the apartment on wheels, and they were perplexed that one of the rooms moved slightly on its own.

It seems that the room we occupied used Time Lord technology (which only just occurred to me–not in the dream), because it was one of the boxes on wheels. It wasn’t a large room, but based on the exteriors of the rooms on wheels, we couldn’t have all fit in there, and the dimensions were off.

Oh, the Dreadful Wind and Rain

7 Apr

The sky is pale grey, almost white, and the Tibetan prayer flags have been dancing in the wind. When I woke, it wasn’t raining yet, and I considered collecting sticks and leaves to put in the yard waste bin, but I figured it’s so windy that dirt would fly into my eyes. After it started pouring outside, I had a better excuse not to do yard work.

I’m more in the mood for writing today, anyway, so I turned on my computer and just finished a round of revising a middle grade fantasy novel. It’s one of those really fun, escapist writing projects, a sequel to my self-published novel Rowanwick Witches, Lesson 1: Spells and Enchantments (which, incidentally, is available on I currently have this sequel as Lesson 3, but I haven’t written more than thirty pages of Lesson 2. I intend to publish them in order and have Lesson 2 come out in October, even if I have to switch the numbers around.


The wind was so blustery and forceful today that it blew open the side door, and the cats got out.

Before I knew this, I looked out the kitchen window and saw my panther Haedrig, who’s supposed to stay indoors, out in the back yard, chewing on grass. I hadn’t seen petite Vita all morning. Wondering if they found a secret tunnel, I searched the house…and soon found the wide-open door. I’m guessing I didn’t lock it last time I took recycling through the door, or at least not the deadbolt.

During a downpour, I checked around the house, and Haedrig was back inside, glaring at me resentfully. Vita jumped inside through the open window, which I promptly closed. Back to writing.

Wacky Vita

6 Apr

After the vet said there should be litter boxes on every floor of the house, I bought a small, domed litter box and put it in the upstairs powder room.

Shortly thereafter, my petite black cat, Vita, reached into the litter box and, using her teeth, she pulled the filter out of the top. She ran off with it, and later I saw her playing with it as though it were a toy mouse. Sometimes I marvel at how cats’ minds work.

Alice Henderson’s Latest Novel

5 Apr

One of my very favorite people in the world, Alice Henderson, whom I met when we were undergraduate writing students at Webster University, has a new novel out! Her stories were always my favorites in our writing workshops.

This novel looks to be pretty dystopian….


Murphy’s Law Monday

2 Apr

My having a cold, which includes congested ears making everything sound muffled and not quite real, has almost certainly contributed to my problems this morning, because it means I was less mindful than usual.

My plans involved stopping at the nearest supermarket for ginger ale, toilet paper (of which I was almost out), and a cup of coffee and, most urgent, cash back at the register so I would have enough quarters for the laundromat. I couldn’t put off the laundromat any longer if I wanted to wear clean underwear.

I made my purchases at the supermarket, and the annoying problems began at the Starbucks counter.

I have the Starbucks app, which allows you to pay using your smartphone. But I recently purchased a new cell phone, so I wasn’t logged into the Starbucks app, as I discovered at the counter. I started attempted to log in but couldn’t recall my password and let another customer go ahead while I attempted to acquire a new password via either email.

The barista must have served five other customers by the time I was typing in a new password… and repeatedly getting it rejected even though it fit the requirements of eight or more characters including one capital letter and one number.

I paid with cash.

To push my grocery cart with both hands, I placed my tall cup of dirty chai in the small grocery cart. Seconds after I started pushing it, the cup tipped sideways and spilled–and I grabbed it and carried it with one hand while pushing the cart with my other hand all the way to the car. I wasn’t going to carry a grocery bag, two four-packs of ginger ale, and a dirty chai.

I drove straight to the laundromat, parked, and realized I’d forgotten to bring my bag of laundry.

When I went home, I grabbed the bag of laundry and didn’t think to take the groceries inside.

I parked at the laundromat a second time and opened the back gate to get the bottle of detergent. A four-pack of Jamaican ginger beer slipped out of the trunk and landed with a loud pop onto the pavement, shattering one bottle and opening another. At first I stop gasping in horror and in sticky socks, but I was quick enough to pick up the open but unbroken bottle and save maybe a third of the bubbling contents.

The Buddha talked about what is typically translated as “suffering,” an inevitable part of life. But a better translation is “discontent.” Nothing catastrophic happened to me today, but it was certainly a series of unpleasant events. Okay, I didn’t mean that to be a reference to A Series of Unfortunate Events.