Tag: Photos

Horror and Ways to Help

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Oh, has it been a hard weekend.

I’ve been sitting with my family here in America, all of us distraught over what’s happened in Charlottesville this weekend. I am…well. I have so many reactions all at once, it’s hard to unpack all of them. But:

I cannot believe that anyone could grow up in America learning WWII history and somehow come up with the takeaway: “Nazis are cool!” Sorry, what?! I mean, I know I’m somewhat biased in that half of my family ancestry is Jewish, but all the same…really?! How???

I am thinking of Heather Heyer, a woman who died doing what was right, standing up to racism, white nationalism, and Nazism. I hope that we can all be inspired by her courage. Her last Facebook post said, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” We should all be outraged.

I am beyond enraged that the president of our country couldn’t even bring himself to denounce the KKK, Nazis, or other white supremacists by name until two days had passed after Heather Heyer’s death. (No, it’s not a surprise – he’s never been willing to denounce those groups before – but that doesn’t change how wrong and enraging it really is in the president of America.)

I am thinking of all of my friends and readers who aren’t blue-eyed and white and thinking how exponentially worse and scarier this must all feel for them. (I may be lots of things that Nazis hate, but they would never guess it from looking at me, which gives me a lot of privilege in this situation.)

And as always, I’m trying to figure out ways to help. These are the links I’ve come up with so far:

You can donate here to a general fund being raised to support the victims of the terrorist attack and neo-Nazi violence of the so-called “Alt Right” demonstration in Charlottesville.

You can donate here to help with the medical fees for Natalie Romero, one of the people injured (her injuries include skull fractures) in the vehicular attack.

You can also donate here to help Marcus Martin, who pushed his fiancée out of the way of the car but suffered serious injuries himself, leading to scary hospital bills and lost wages.

Sara Benincasa put together a really good list of larger organizations we can donate to to help.

And Celeste Ng wrote a really useful tweet-thread of suggestions for other positive actions we can take.

It’s so easy to sink into despair as we watch all of this happen. I felt that way yesterday. I just wanted to huddle under the covers and not even go out.

But I went and petted baby beavers with my kids instead. I took long, deep breaths, and petted baby Bella (shown in that picture!), whose fur felt very, very soft and whose tail felt hard and plasticky. Baby Bella was friendly, inquisitive and affectionate despite the painful history that had led to her being taken in by the wildlife refuge where we met her. It was impossible not to feel buoyed by spending time petting and playing with her. (You can see more pictures of her here.)

I came out ready to square my shoulders again and face the world.

Every single step we can take to help really counts.

Let’s all try together.

An Interview with the Woman Who Designed My Dream Shoes

- 2 comments - Interviews

My writing has led me to some of the most unexpected and fun connections in my life, and this is definitely one of them!

I still remember the first time I saw someone link to designer Shaherazad Umbreen’s gorgeous 18-Hour Heels (Shoes By Shaherazad). I gasped out loud because they were so gorgeous. I felt overwhelming insta-shoe-lust!

BUT. I have spent sooooo many years of my life wearing high heels that look pretty but absolutely kill my feet. It all came to a head last year, when I made a decision: I was never going to wear high heels again. The pain wasn’t worth it! I was done.

Sure, these particular shoes are called “18-hour heels” because their design is supposed to be so comfortable that you could wear them for 18 hours straight without pain. But I couldn’t spend money on luxury shoes when I was almost certain they would hurt my feet just like every other pair of high heels in my life always had. I couldn’t!

So I didn’t. But I followed them on Twitter and I sighed over each new photo, and I fantasized…

And then something really cool happened. The designer, Shaherazad Umbreen, came across my books and got in touch with me. She thought the themes of girl-empowerment in my MG novels resonated really well with the empowerment projects for girls and women across the world that her 18-Hour Heels support. (I didn’t even realize it at first, but Shaherazad herself isn’t profiting from any of the sales of these gorgeous luxury shoes. She is passionate about her fundraising, and that’s what these shoes were created to do!)

So she asked me a question: would I be interested in trying out a pair of her shoes in exchange for being interviewed on her blog while wearing them (with photos)?

Obviously, because I’m not foolish, I said YES PLEASE. And I desperately hoped but did not at all believe that the shoes wouldn’t hurt my feet TOO much, because ohhh, they were so beautiful…

And guess what? I wore them for seven hours straight at the Hay Festival without a single twinge. They feel SO GOOD. My feet felt great both in them and after them. I LOVE THESE SHOES! I treat them like gold now, because I want to wear them forever.

Shaherazad interviewed me over at her blog (it’s up today!), and that was super-fun for me. (I got to imagine which kinds of shoes Kat and her sisters would wear!) But by the time we finished doing that, I’d gotten to know her a little more on a personal level, and I was really impressed by her passion and dedication to the causes she supports, as well as the sheer artistic talent and skill it took to design these comfortable AND gorgeous shoes.

So I asked her if I could interview her, too. And here she is!

What inspired you to design these shoes?

I’ve always been a feminist and wanted to do something significant which would support women and girls to get an equal footing in the world. I’ve also always had a passion for business and for shoes, so I thought, why not combine all three things and create a shoe business which gives back to women and girls living in poverty. A business which allows women to empower women. So, that’s what I did. I’ve worked in retail for many years and have done very long days on my feet and I can assure you, there were always many achy feet “ouches” throughout the day from all of the activity I did. It was important to me that my product was pain free and allowed women to stand with poise, grace and elegance. A heel that could essentially carry women from boardroom to bar. So, that’s where the passion for comfort and my shoellery (shoe jewellery) concept came in. It took two years for me to develop the product but it’s been a real hit.

The comfort element of the shoes comes from the inspiration of how flamingos stand, often for hours on end, on just one leg. Essentially, it’s all about effective body weight distribution. As to the secret of the maths involved, I’m afraid I can’t give that away! I’ve also ensured that every shoe has an empowering name to keep the theme of feminism and equality running through the collections. Some of the names are: Equally Ever After, Dream then Do, Take My lead, Stand Tall Sister, The Moon is Mine and Time to Bloom.

Can you tell me a bit about the charities that the shoe sales support? What overall percentage of the sales goes to charity?

Saffie – one of the girls being helped in Shaherazad's Peru project which supports girls to lift themselves out of service as child domestic home help.

I have a brilliant partnership in place with GlobalGiving UK who are based in London. GlobalGiving source the right projects for my brand to support and they are all targeted to help women and girls living in poverty to gain an education so that they can then lift themselves and their families out of difficult situations. It’s important to me that the projects choose how they spend the money donated to them so that they can choose the most relevant and sustainable way forward. For example, one of the projects I support in Kenya have decided to use some of their money to build a classroom where girls can come and learn sewing skills so that they can then set up their own tailoring business. The girls come from very challenging backgrounds and some have had little or no access to education at all so the skills they gain become a real lifeline and mean they can support themselves to earn a living. I currently have projects in Kenya, Palestine, Pakistan and Peru. My aim is to be working in every country where there is poverty as the brand grows. Wouldn’t it be great if together, as women, we could eradicate extreme poverty altogether? That’s my dream and my life purpose.

I launched my business online in April 2016 and so have been trading for just over a year. 100% of profits went to my good cause projects last year which meant that my business helped 700 women and girls living in poverty to gain access to educational support. Going forward, 10% from every pair sold will go to good causes via GlobalGiving and the rest will be invested back in to the business to ensure that it continues to grow and that the brand is able to help thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, more women and girls.

I know you still work as a marketing director for the Co-op. How do you balance your energy between your design and your day job?

I love business and I love work so I feel that it’s a real privilege to be able to do such brilliant jobs alongside each other. My day job as Marketing Director is where I spend my full time focus. I normally leave home by 7am and get back home by about 7.30pm. So, I use the weekends to get my designs done – it’s my passion and I actually find it very relaxing. I also use a lot of freelance support and experts to manage the shoe elements of my life so that I can take a balanced approach to life. For example, I have plenty of social media, photography, graphic design, finance and other freelance resources which I use. The work I do on my shoes is also purely philanthropic; it’s my way of doing good deeds in the world in a scalable way. I love my work at The Co-operative (Central England Coop) and I love my shoe business too.

What has been the most satisfying part of creating this business?

There are so many, but if I had to choose one it would be hearing the stories of the girls that the shoes have helped. I love the fact that someone treating themselves to heels means someone else gets a better chance in life. Good deed heels are what make me smile. In fact the bottom of the my shoes has this “to do list” on it for every woman who wears them:

You can find Shaherazad’s gorgeous shoes here and read her interview with me here.

Finding Your Personal “Click”

- 0 comments - writing

There are some places in the world that are just personal magic. Different people find their own in different places, but when you find yours, there’s an internal click of recognition and all the accumulated tension floods away, leaving space for real imagination and creativity to take its place.

Over the years, I’ve visited a lot of really beautiful places, many of which work that magic for many other people, and all of which I’ve deeply enjoyed. But the first time I ever visited Wales’s Gower Peninsula, four years ago, I felt that unmistakable click like a key unlocking a secret door inside me.

Nowadays, we try to go there as a family every year. If we were rich, I’d buy a cottage by the coast and go there as often as possible. As it is, we rent a caravan for one weekend every summer that we can, and it’s the best weekend of my year every time. Whenever I stand out there in the waves looking out across the ocean, I feel all the accumulated stress of the year slip off from my shoulders, carried safely far away by the sea water while I’m there…and I feel that unmistakable “click” of creativity being unlocked inside me and letting my imagination out.

Before we went away this time, I was feeling really stressed and also just tired in every possible way, to the point where I wasn’t even sure that this year’s trip was a good idea; I had no energy to spare, whether physical or emotional. Not only was I physically and mentally exhausted, but I’d hit the point where I felt creatively drained. I could keep on working productively on the stories that I’d already begun, but I was feeling so exhausted that I’d hit that awful (and horribly familiar) stage where it seemed honestly implausible that I’d ever think of any new ideas again. (I knew that wasn’t really true, of course – I have been at that stage before! – but the feeling was still strong and hard to combat while exhausted.)

Then we reached the Gower, I stepped onto the beach…and ohhhhh.

By the time we left, less than 48 hours later, I’d written down two new MG novel openings in my notebook. One of them is just fine; the other one has that unmistakable spark, the feeling of simmering magic and so much potential, that makes it a story I will love; a story that will build a whole new world inside me.

I came up with both of those stories on the beach, looking out across the water. On one of those days I had to wear a raincoat, and thick mist hid the cliffs in the distance; that didn’t matter. Creativity just flooded through the air for me, whether or not it was raining, as the waves swept against the sand.

What makes particular places click for particular people? I don’t know. I grew up visiting much sunnier and equally beautiful beaches on the Pacific, lined by palm trees, and they were wonderful. I’ve swum in deliciously warm ocean water in Florida, and I loved that, too.

But for some reason, it’s the wooded, cool and misty Gower Peninsula in Wales that turns the key in my creative heart and lets my stories out like nowhere else I’ve ever been in my life.

Now I have a new story waiting to be told in a few months, and the magical world behind it is building itself in my subconscious. When I left home on Friday afternoon, I was still worrying at the projected edits for my next book, determined but deeply uncertain about how to handle them; when I came back from the Gower, the uncertainty was gone. I could see the new turns of the story stretching out inside me.

This morning, I woke up to find amazing fan art for The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart waiting in my email inbox: my characters (Aventurine and Silke) looking fierce and fabulous and perfectly captured on the screen. I was filled with recognition and delight at the sight of them.

It’s definitely time to start writing again. Now, after this weekend, I’m ready.

I’d love to hear about the places that feel magical for you guys, too.

Cats and Dragons

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It’s been a tough couple of weeks, between my horror at so much of the recent political news (in both the US and the UK) and my personal grief over losing our sweet old dog, Maya. We will never, ever forget her.

But there are some really wonderful things happening this week for our family…and one of the most important ones happened this weekend. Meet Pebbles! (And as always, if you click on the picture, you can see a larger image.)

Pebbles is about two years old, and we found her through Usk New Start Cat Rescue. She has an amazing purr, she loooooves being petted – and our whole family feels very lucky to have found her.

She was nervous at first but has gotten more and more relaxed and comfortable every day. Unfortunately, tonight will be her first trip with us to the vets, for a vaccination and also treatment for a minor eye infection – I hope it won’t be too much of a shock/betrayal for her! Please cross your fingers for us – and if any of you are cat-owners, I’d love to hear about your favorite cat toys (or see pictures of your pets)! While we were waiting to collect her, I asked friends on Facebook (in a public post, visible to everybody) to share cat pictures and cat stories, and it turned into a really lovely thread – definitely worth checking out if you could do with some adorable cat pictures right now!

Meanwhile, my wonderful local Waterstones is gearing up for my upcoming launch party in the most amazing ways!

Abergavenny Kids just posted an interview with me about both the book and the launch party – which is only five days away now! I hope to see some of you guys there.

The official UK publication date is February 9th (this Thursday!), but it’s already in stock at lots of Waterstones and Foyles branches and online bookstores – and I would love to know whether it’s in stock yet at independent bookstores too! If anyone glimpses it on a shelf in any shop or library, please let me know – or better yet, take a photo and send it to me! I would LOVE to see those pictures.

I’m sorry that North American and Australian readers have longer to wait! It’s coming out in Australia on March 1st and in North America on May 30th. But no matter where you live, you can read Chapter One online now!

I finished the first draft of my first adult romantic fantasy novella (Snowspelled) last Friday, so now I’m working on my new short-short story about Kat’s mother (on commission for the winner of my last charity auction item!), and then I’ll leap back into my next MG novel, which is all about grumpy princesses, goblin girls, and really annoying older sisters who think they rule the world (because they do).

…or at least, I will if I can convince Pebbles that she should let me use my hands for writing instead of typing. (You wouldn’t believe how long it’s taken me just to type this blog entry! Silly kitty…but very, very soft kitties with loud purrs can be very persuasive about things like this, as I’ve discovered in the last few days.)

Happy Monday!

Nerves, Butterflies, and Magic

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It’s three weeks to the day until Congress of Secrets will be published. Yay! And eek! In very good news for calming anticipatory author-nerves, it’s been getting some amazing reviews. Booklist says it “[will] delight her fans and fans of historical fiction in general with its spin on political intrigue, historical romance, dark alchemy, and romance” and RT Book Reviews says:

Below the surface of Burgis’ tale of intrigue, political tension, the dark arts and Vienna’s history lies a multi-layered story that is a perfect combination of romance, historical fiction and fantasy. The lush tapestry includes fictional and historical personages, actual events and surprising elements of magic that capture the imagination and chill the soul. Burgis displays wonderful storytelling and a gift for the imaginative.

You might not be able to believe just how many times I have re-read both of those reviews as publication day approaches. ;)

The funny thing is, Congress of Secrets is going to be my fifth published novel. There was a long time in my life – reaching up until quite recently – when getting five books published seemed like a fantasy too good to ever come true. “Five books” sounded like such a solid number to me – the number that would make me feel like a really established author. Surely an author with five books out wouldn’t ever feel insecure anymore?

Well. Hahaha. Anyway!

The best cure for writer-nerves is always, always to do more writing. Unfortunately, ever since I sent off Draft 1.2 of my MG spies-and-fairies book to my UK editor just under three weeks ago, I’d been feeling a bit lost. I’d spent the last year frantically racing to meet one deadline after another (which was both the up- AND the downside of having 3 books + 1 big freelance project published in less than 12 months!) and once I hit that final deadline, I just FLOPPED. The creative well was empty!

But I hate not writing. I mean, I really hate it. So I wrote an essay for one exciting submissions call; I wrote a few guest blog posts; I played with two or three different random book openings just for practice and to keep my hand in. (That kind of practice-writing feels a lot like playing scales on the piano; it’s never going to be exciting, but if you don’t keep your muscles trained that way, you won’t have much luck playing your next concerto in public!) I’d written the first 1000 words of an adult novella a while back, and that was clicking REALLY hard for me (I love the heroine! I love the voice!), but somehow I couldn’t quite move past its first scene to figure out the rest of the larger plot.

You never know what will be the key to finally escaping one of those creative dry spells…but this time, for me, it was a gift from a friend.

Back when I was powering through my rewrites of my first rough draft of The Storyteller’s Secret (my MG spies-and-fairies novel), I posted on Facebook about my progress for the sake of public accountability. One of my friends cheered me on there and promised she’d send me a reward if I got it done on time.

And look what arrived last week:

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Gorgeous butterfly nail wraps! They were such a perfect gift for my spies-and-fairies novel. I laughed out loud with delight when I saw them! I didn’t end up putting them on until last night. But then…

Ohhhhh, do I love having butterfly nails! I smile every time I look down at my glittery, magical nails. They’re so fun and magical – the perfect cheer-me-up combination!

And this morning, when I was staring at my computer screen at the same opening scene I’d stared at many times before in the last three weeks, uselessly trying to figure out what happened next…I caught sight of my butterfly nails. And I thought: Wait a second. It needs to be more magical! THAT’S it!

I grabbed some headphones. I turned on an album (which is now my soundtrack for the project). I started to scribble notes…

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And then pretty soon I’d typed 699 words of my novella (working title Snowspelled), aided by that perfect visual reminder of just how fun and magical I wanted the story to feel.

I may never stop feeling pre-publication nerves, as a writer…but there’s nothing that feels better than writing and sharing my stories with other people.

And I’m so grateful for friends who help with that! :)

Great Night, Great News, and a New E-Book!

- 0 comments - awards, events, New Publications, Short Fiction

The event at Schuler Books last night went so well – hooray! It was wonderful to get to hang out with Jim and Merrie and Patrick, listen to their (wonderful) readings and chat about our books – and it was also really wonderful to see all the people who had come for the talk! I so appreciated how many people came for the event (even one all the way from Indiana – thank you so much, Maureen!). It was exciting to finally meet in person some of the people I’ve known for years online, and exciting to meet new people, too. And oh, it was lovely to have old friends from home come, too. Thank you guys!

Jim Hines posted an album of photos of the event on Facebook, and Schuler Books also posted this photo of the event as a whole:

schulers-event

Afterwards, we went out to eat with a few friends, and when I checked my email, we got to toast great news together – my novelette The Art of Deception is one of the finalists for the WSFA Small Press Short Fiction Awards! The other writers on that shortlist are amazing, and I am really honored to be part of the list.

ITH-Cover

The Art of Deception is my tribute to The Prisoner of Zenda, The Three Musketeers and every other cloak-and-dagger adventure that includes fabulous swordfights full of style. I wrote it as a gift for my brother Dave one Christmas (when he’d asked for a story with swordfighting, banter and a twisty plot), and it was published in the wonderful Australian anthology Insert Title Here, edited by Tehani Wessely.

Tehani is a fabulous editor, and I was so lucky to get to work with her on this story. She creates beautiful anthologies, and I strongly recommend the whole book! The other authors in the anthology are fantastic, and I was thrilled to be a part of it.

If you’re not in the mood for a full anthology right now, though, you can also now buy my story on its own as an ebook. Check out the beautiful cover by Jenn Reese at Tiger Bright Studios! I love it:

artofdeception-cover-600

Right now you can find it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, and every other branch of Amazon in the world!

(I’m not offering a printable PDF version of this one, but you can absolutely read it in paper by buying the paper version of Insert Title Here. And then you’ll get lots of other great stories, too!)

In other words, it’s been a really great 24 hours! Thank you so much to everyone who’s been a part of it. :)

Friends, Dragons, Happiness

- 4 comments - writing

This has been a week of hanging out with friends, and it’s been lovely. On Monday, it was such a warm, sunny day, a good friend came over (carrying lunch with her! Yum!) and she and MrX and I hung out on a picnic blanket in our sunny garden, eating lunch, chatting, and knitting. (Well, okay, MrX didn’t knit. But he did chat and play with dinosaurs and playmobil!) It was just idyllic.

On Wednesday, our friend and Clarion West classmate Emily Mah Tippetts (who writes fabulously fun books as E.M. Tippetts and creates wonderful jewelry and more as Emily Mah) came to visit with her husband and we all had lunch and chatted about books and more…and look what she’d made and brought for us!

dragonpens

Gorgeous dragon pens! And they came with such perfect timing, because guess what the manuscript underneath is? The hardcopy first-pass pages of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, which also arrived on Wednesday.

Talk about a perfect match of pens to content! ;) So, after spending Monday and Tuesday working on the first draft of my MG spies-and-fairies novel, I spent the next couple of days (dragon pen in hand!) with The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart. At this stage, I’m really just proofreading and trying not to let myself fiddle too much with other changes, so it’s the first time I’ve been able to read the book – laid out beautifully, just like it will be in published form! – mostly for pleasure instead of for revision. It’s a nice feeling!

And then on Friday afternoon, the week wound up with cake and coffee with my weekly coffee group of good friends, a group of fantastic women who’ve saved me multiple times over the last few years, in so many ways. Hanging out with them always feels so good.

Work, family, and friends. Just the right combination. :)

Storyspinning and Smartphones

- 0 comments - writing

For years, I was a cellphone Luddite. It took me forever to get a cellphone in the first place, and even longer to start giving people my number. But even after that, I kept on buying cheap pay-as-you-go cellphones, long after all of my friends had smartphones.

No, I couldn’t go online with my cheap, basic phones, and I couldn’t take pictures with them either, but why would I need to do any of that? I had a camera for taking pictures, and I had a laptop for going online. All I needed a cellphone for was to make and get phone calls when I was out of the house…and since I usually forgot to charge my phones, they often ended up lost for weeks at a time, unusable even for that one basic function.

But a smartphone felt like a totally unnecessary, decadent indulgence. How could I possibly justify spending that kind of money on a tech toy?

Then, a month and a half ago, my parents came to visit, and my dad really generously passed on his old iPhone to me. (Which – thank goodness! – comes with a “Find Your Phone” beeper app which has saved it sooooo many times since then. I am not good at remembering where I set things down!)

I was thrilled by the gift…but honestly, I had no idea just how hard I would fall in love with my smartphone, as a writer who is also a mom.

Here’s the thing:

Before I was a mom, I would often get random short story ideas while I was out of the house, because going out – getting outside stimulation – is so good for creativity.

So I’d be out walking around town (or in a forest or a ruined abbey or wherever) when some vague, tenuous glimmering of a story idea would suddenly start to tease at me…and then I would sit down for as long as it took to daydream my way through that thread, and finally I would write out either a paragraph or so about that idea, or else a few paragraphs of basic description of wherever I was, to help myself recapture that mood and moment later.

That was before I had children.

Now I’m the mom of two young children – two wonderful, creative, lively, curious, adventurous, and frequently squabbling young children – and when I leave the house, 90% of the time, either one or both of my kids is with me. That means that 75% of my attention (at the bare minimum!) is focused on monitoring and responding to my kids, and a bare 25% is left to focus on our surroundings.

For the past several years, whenever I’ve been out and had that familiar tingling of my senses that signals a possible story idea in the air…one of my kids needs something that moment. Or one of my kids starts to do something unsafe, and I leap to stop them. Or they ask me a question, or they want me to look at the very cool thing they’ve just done, or, or, or…

And the moment is gone. That tenuous fragment of possibility has disappeared before I could capture it. There is no way I have time, in that situation, to stop, divorce myself from the rest of the world, and dream my way through that fragment of possibility into a real story idea – let alone sit down and write 2-3 paragraphs of description.

So that was it, for years…until my smartphone arrived!

Guess what? There’s a reason it’s so great to have a camera in my phone…because unlike my regular camera, I carry my phone with me all the time nowadays.

Sometimes (okay, most of the time) I just pull it out to take a quick snap of my kids, because they’re adorable and I want to capture the moment.

Sometimes, too, I pull it out when I’m away from my kids and I see something I want to share with them:

cat

(I can’t even tell you how many times my 2-year-old has asked to look back at that photo of a neighborhood cat that I took almost two months ago! The kids still haven’t met up with the cat themselves, but MrX asks to see the picture of “that cat neighbor” on my phone all the time!)

But then there are moments like the one that happened the other night.

I’d taken the kids around town all afternoon, running errands and eating in cafés and attending clubs. At the end of it all, in the early evening, we wandered down to wait by a nearby stream for Patrick to come pick us up. I’ve been to that stream many times, but this time, as I looked into it with the kids, I felt a sudden tingle – a story possibility, hovering there. I almost had it…

“Mummy! He took my stick!”

I defused the situation, I looked back at the stream, and as my kids raced along the bank of the stream, I realized that there was NO WAY I could take the time to sit down, pull out a notebook and write a description of what I was looking at, to capture that atmosphere and moment for good…

Aha!

I pulled out my phone.

stream-story-pic

It’s not a great or artistic picture – but there it is! My moment, captured. I look at that picture, and I have the story in my head.

And OMG does that make a difference for me!

So in other words, years later than all the rest of my friends, I’ve finally realized: you were all right. Smartphones aren’t just fun tech toys. They’re amazing.

And Dad, thank you so much. That was a really great gift!

Now I’m going to do some more writing before it’s time to take over with the kids again. :)

Reddit AMA today!

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Hi guys!

This is just to let you know that you can Ask Me Anything over at Reddit today between 3-5pm EST (a.k.a. 8-10pm UK-time).

Here’s the link to the AMA.

I’ll be there answering questions from 3-5 EST, but if that time doesn’t work for you, don’t worry! You can post your questions to that forum earlier in the day and I’ll answer them as soon as I get there. (The link should stay up afterwards, so you’ll be able to read the whole AMA at your convenience.)

Meanwhile, I’m spending today playing frogs with my two-year-old, packing for an upcoming family holiday, and sighing happily over more photos of Masks and Shadows in the wild. (This one is from a B&N in New Brunswick, and the placement made me ridiculously happy!) (Lois McMaster Bujold’s book next to mine! Ahhhhhhhhh!) (Oops. Please excuse the squeaking noises over here… ;) )

masksnexttolmb

Please keep those photos coming! They are making me so happy.

And thank you so much to everyone who’s already reviewed Masks and Shadows. I appreciate it SO MUCH!

The Great Unboxing

- 6 comments

Aaaaahhhhhh! My author copies of Masks and Shadows arrived today!

(And can I say just how much I love that my author copies always seem to arrive while my parents are visiting me? Thank you, Universe! That is a really, really nice touch. :) )

Poor Mr D is still sick home from school, but at least that meant that he got to supervise the unpacking of the box, which he did with great authority. He would not be photographed, but he was very involved in the unpacking! :)

And here are the photos I did take:

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So many gorgeous books! As soon as the box was opened, Mr X said: “Your books!” Then he pointed to the author photo on the back of the book. “That’s you, Mama!” And to the next one on the next copy: “Again!”

Then he presented me with a whole book for a picture:

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(Please ignore the bits of play-dough on the floor! The boys were in the middle of a building session when I interrupted them to unpack my books.)

And finally I got to hold one myself:

IMG_4739

There’s lots of work still left for next week’s house move, and the M.E./CFS is being a total pain, but…

Today, I am very, very happy. :)

(And don’t forget that you can read Chapter One of Masks and Shadows now!)

ETA: And Patrick reminded me that I ought to put the pre-order links here, too, for anyone who wants a copy of their own!