Have you noticed how cats have their own personalities?
My cat, Sammie, is very different from my mom’s cat, Maggie. Maggie is a total sweetheart. She loves to sit on our laps. She purrs and purrs, and snuggles into our chests. Sammie sits on me on my lap desk, but she isn’t quite as loving. If I’m lucky, she’ll give me a nose kiss. But it really has to be her idea. She won’t kiss me if I ask.
Maggie is extremely careful about hurting her humans. She doesn’t ever scratch or bite, and when she’s had enough of us rubbing her tummy (something Sammie would never allow!), she gently pushes us away with her paw.
Sammie will sometimes get feisty (it’s her tortitude), and has been known to bite me (not too hard) and swat at me with a claw.
Both Maggie and Sammie like to hunt (sigh). Sammie once brought me her equivalent of a “turducken”–a lizard with a small snake in its mouth. It was a snake inside a lizard inside a cat. I have yet to recover.
As you may already know, several generous writers on Twitter sponsor and mentor contests throughout the year: Pitch Wars, PitMad, Nightmare on Query Street, Query Kombat, DvPit, and PitchMAS to name a few.
I had varying success with contests. I received several agent and publisher requests through PitMad. Nightmare on Query Street led me to agent Claire Anderson-Wheeler. Claire eventually passed on my cozy mystery, but she gave me wonderful suggestions that led to a better manuscript (and she kindly gave me several attempts before passing).
I never made it into Pitch Wars, and Max Wirestone (the author of the delightful Dahlia Moss mystery series) trounced me soundly in the first round of Query Kombat.
My takeaway? Three things:
1: I have mad love for my fellow authors who donate their time to run and mentor these contests. They do a great service for the writing community.
2. Contests are fun. The only drawback I found to finally getting an agent was not being able to enter the contests anymore! I miss them.
3. As fun and as helpful as these contests are, it is possible to get an agent the traditional way; i.e., though the slush pile. It’s how I got my agent, Dawn Dowdle, and how countless other authors got their agents. So please don’t be discouraged if the contests don’t work for you.
Oh, one more point: Everything in the publishing world takes time. Writing a book takes time, getting an agent takes time, getting a publisher takes time, getting your first royalties takes time…you get the picture. Is it all worth it? I definitely think so. Best job in the world.
When my grandmother first took me to Children’s Fairyland in Oakland, California, I was immediately hooked. Here were the stories I loved, brought to life. The Alice in Wonderland Tunnel affected me so deeply that I had dreams of building my own tunnel in our backyard. That was probably too ambitious for a six-year-old!
I loved the animals, the sets, the rides, and the storybook boxes. In addition to Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Snow White, Thumbelina, Three Billy Goats Gruff, and many other nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and works of children’s literature were represented. What a magical place!
Whenever my grandmother took me out, I asked to return to Fairyland. I imagine she got quite sick of it, but she always indulged me.
I worked at Fairyland for several years in my twenties. My first thought when I returned? It was a lot smaller than I remembered. Still, it was a delightful place to be and to work.
These days, in addition to writing a cozy mystery series set at a storybook park, I love learning about storybook parks around the world. Besides several in the U.S., storybook parks may be found in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia.
If you’re ever near a storybook park, I highly recommend you check it out. Be warned, however: Many of the parks require that adults be accompanied by children.
This was my first attempt at a castle cake. It’s meant to be the StoryWorld Castle!
It was really pretty easy to make. The castle door is a miniature chocolate bar, and the turrets are ice cream cones.
Best of all, the cake was delicious! I used layers of both chocolate cake and yellow cake, and I frosted the whole thing with strawberry whipped cream.
I’m not especially good at cake decorating, but I think it’s fun. I might have Ashling take a cake decorating class in a future book.
I’m running another giveaway on Goodreads for “The Princess and the Poison”! It starts on Monday, September 19. It’s open to residents of the US, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
I’m excited for the new Bridget Jones movie. I hope to see it this weekend.
“Bridget Jones’s Diary” by Helen Fielding is one of my go-to books when I need to escape from life and lose myself in a story. I love laughing and crying along with Bridget. “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” by Terry McMillan is another go-to. How cool is it that Stella goes on vacation to Jamaica by herself? I was rather irritated with the movie version, because Stella’s friend joins her on the trip (although I love Whoopi Goldberg!).
If we’re talking favorite books, I have to include Ann Patchett’s “Bel Canto” and “State of Wonder,” as well as “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold. I can’t wait for Patchett’s new book, “Commonwealth,” to come out. It’s been getting good reviews.
In general, I read cozy mysteries more than anything else, since it’s the genre I write in. I love discovering new cozy series. I would have never guessed when I was reading Agatha Christie years ago that I would one day be a mystery writer myself!