Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bravery, Feline Style

           Today, I’m inspired by my cats. Less than a week ago, we adopted a new kitten, Pele. She’s been bunking in her daddy’s office while the big girls, Morgana and Luna, get used to the new addition. Tonight, they finally met face to face. Or rather, the baby hung out in the carrier while the other two stalked around to observe (and hiss at) her.
            Do you know what Pele did? She scrambled to the front of the carrier and scratched to be let out so she could play with them. We didn’t name her after a fire goddess for nothing! She’s absolutely fearless, as displayed by this incident as well as this morning’s antics: she climbed all the way to the top of her cat tower for the first time despite being unable to climb back down. Sure, she had to ask for help in returning to the ground, but it won’t deter her from doing it again!

"Daddy, I climbed all the way up here, but how do I get down meow???"

            And let’s not forget Morgana and Luna, who came to check out - then lay down next to - this new alien addition to our home even though they certainly had misgivings. I don’t always deal with inevitable changes in my life nearly as well as these little 6-pound (and tiny 1.8 pound) balls of fluff are doing! You can either rise to the challenge and climb to the top of your tower (even if you don’t know what to do next) or you can hide under the bed… figuratively speaking.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X - Day 24 of the A to Z Challenge

            I’ve been working on the A to Z blogging challenge this month, writing a blog post nearly every day, covering a topic for each letter of the alphabet by the end of the month. Here I am on day 24, the day for my X post. And you know what? I got nothin'! No idea whatsoever of what to write for X.
            So… here’s some adorable pictures of my cats! Enjoy! 



And a bonus picture of my friend, Sam's cat, when she was a baby:

Sheba, about 8 days old

Friday, April 26, 2013

I'm Getting a Whale Shark For My Birthday!

            Warning, this post is totally random, and has nothing at all to do with writing. I’m just so excited…!
            See, my 40th birthday is coming later this year, and my husband has been trying to plan something cool for me. He knows I’m not a huge fan of surprises or surprise parties, so he included me in the planning. We debated having a party, but I felt kind of meh about the whole thing. Then he suggested taking a short trip over my birthday to do something I really loved – going to see aquariums! 
          Yes, I freely admit I’m a huge bio geek. Love science. Love biology. Love love love sea creatues. I can sit in an aquarium for hours staring at the tanks and pretty much making all of the friends or family who came with me absolutely crazy. For my birthday trip, I just had to choose my aquarium candidates. In the end, I settled on ones I’d never visited before: Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg, TN, and, if I have time, Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. All three aquariums are within a few hours of each other, but what really brought me to the region was the Georgia Aquarium. They have whale sharks! I’ve never seen a whale shark before since Atlanta is the only place outside of Asia where they are displayed.

Whale sharks are the largest species of fish, growing up to about 40 feet in length!
Image courtesy of Charlie Balch/stock.xchng.

            Even better is the fact that we have now booked two spots to sleep over in the Georgia Aquarium. I’ve wanted to do this forever, and I finally get the chance. I really wish September could come sooner!
            Who else is an aquarium lover? Which one is your favorite?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Voodoo Movies and Books

            Voodoo has always been fascinating to me ever since I saw a movie about it long ago. I can’t even remember which one, and it was likely not at all accurate – most of them aren’t – but it sparked an interest to learn what it’s really all about.
            Voodoo isn’t evil the way it’s depicted on television. It refers to several related religions, such as Louisiana Voodoo and Haitian Vodou, with roots in West African Vodun. I’m seriously oversimplifying here because it has such a rich culture and tradition, but the point is, it’s not all about voodoo dolls and zombies!
            However, voodoo dolls and zombies make for a really entertaining story! Here are a few of the most famous movies involving voodoo:

  • Angel Heart (1987) – This dark, complex horror film starring DeNiro, Rourke, and Bonet has become a cult classic.
  • The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) – Loosely based on a nonfiction book, Wes Craven makes things downright scary!
  • White Zombie (1932) – I’m putting this one on my Netflix list since I haven’t seen it yet, but you gotta love the classics!
  • Skeleton Key (2005) – Okay, this one is a little bit of a cheat since it’s about hoodoo, not exactly voodoo, but it’s very creepy and awesome all the same.

           Warning – shameless marketing pitch here – if you want a fun fiction book with a touch of voodoo in it, check out my novel, Magick Charm! If you enjoy nonfiction, you'll also want to check out The Serpent and the Rainbow.
            What are your favorite voodoo movies and books?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Why I'm Unagented

            I’ve written on this blog before that I am currently unagented. My philosophy on agents is simple: if you find one who is a good fit with you, go for it; if not, don’t bother. Here’s why.
            Quite some time ago when I began shopping my first book around, I sent out the standard queries for an agent and signed on with the first one who offered me a contract. She worked for a smallish agency out of New York City and that was good enough for me.
            What I found out later was that she did the vast majority of her business with one company – Harlequin – and they eventually passed on my book. At that point I had to check in occasionally to remind my agent of my existence, and she’d dig around to find someone random to send the book to.
           The editors we had heard from seemed to have something in common. They all didn’t like a specific scene which they thought made my main character a little too bloodthirsty, and wished she was softened a bit. I asked my agent if I should do a rewrite. But she said no, just send her something new instead. I didn’t have anything new finished yet, though.
            Around that time, we were out to dinner with an old professor of my husband’s, and he spotted another friend of his in the restaurant – an editor from St. Martin’s Press. He immediately introduced us, and the editor offered to hear a quick minute-long pitch from me, after which she asked me to send her the manuscript to check out. I told her I’d have my agent send it along right away.
            My agent, however, seemed a bit confused by all of this. I reminded her that she had instructed me not to send anything to any editor myself, that everything had to go through her, and to please contact this woman at St. Martin for me.
            A few months or so went by and I heard nothing. I contacted my agent to see if she’d heard anything. She forgot to send my manuscript to SMP. She promised to do so right away.
            Again I waited. Eventually I checked in with her again. “St. Martin’s Press?” she asked. “I don’t have any contacts at St. Martin’s.” She never sent it. She forgot we’d ever had that initial conversation. We ended up parting ways after that.
            Do I blame the agent for what happened? No, not entirely. I think we were a bad fit for each other to begin with. I should have asked more questions. I should have followed up with SMP myself. I didn’t. I was so new to the business, I didn’t think it was appropriate to question my agent too much since she obviously knew what she was doing, right? I didn’t want to insult her. Also, I had very limited internet access at the time (we’re talking ten years ago or so), but if I had thought to do some checking up on her, I would have discovered that agent rating sites had declared her to be honest, but also noted that she made few sales.
            Now, unless you want to approach one of the Big Five publishers, you often don’t need an agent. I still don’t have one. But I’m not opposed to them at all. If I met someone who I had a good rapport with, who could get behind my publishing goals, I would love to work with them. I’m just not rushing into anything this time!
            Writers, do you have any agent horror stories?