Wednesday, April 1, 2015

UPDATED FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS

I'm delighted to share the updated cover and jacket copy for FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS, my latest release. Really. I am. No foolin'. (Sorry. Couldn't help myself.)

While Mable, the main character, is nineteen when the book begins, the book is listed as an adult read.

What are your favorite adult reads featuring younger characters?



Fifth Avenue Fidos
A Modern-Day Fairy Tale with “Bite”


Once upon a time, in a magical metropolitan kingdom…OR: When a mutt from Queens meets a purebred Upper East Side New Yorker, it takes man’s—and woman’s—best friend to convince them what they feel is more than puppy love.

Mable Barker, a hilarious, good-natured sweetheart who is always the pal but never the girlfriend, endures nine horrendous months of bouncing between lackluster jobs in Manhattan (and suffering unrequited love) in her unsuccessful attempt to find her one true talent. So when she meets Innis, the ill-tempered Fifth Avenue Pekingese, she assumes her dog-walking days are numbered, too; soon, she’ll be heading back to Queens brokenhearted, tail tucked between her legs. But Innis belongs to the adorable yet painfully shy young veterinarian, Jason Mead, a man whose awkward ways around women have him dreaming not of finding love for himself but of playing canine matchmaker—breeding Westminster champions.

When Mable and Jason meet, romance is officially unleashed: they find an instant connection and shared goal, as it appears that Mable could very well have what it takes to be a professional handler, soon to be seen holding Innis under a banner labeled, “Best in Show.” As Jason and Mable get closer to putting a new twist on the term “dog lovers,” outside forces—Mable’s overprotective brothers, a successful wedding planner with her eye on Jason, even the theft of purebred pups from Jason’s Fifth Avenue apartment building—all threaten to come between them. Will Mable and Jason simply let their burgeoning love roll over and play dead? Or will they rally to make sure Innis emerges as the leader of the pack?

Brimming with humor and endearing characters, FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS offers more than a simple, sweet romance. Conventions of love stories and fairy tales merge to illustrate that each modern-day princess has her own happily ever after—with a prince, another princess, a four-legged furball, or a brachycephalic dragon…Schindler weaves a heartwarming story about the loves that help us realize our dreams, and, vice versa, about the dreams that bring us to our lives’ most powerful loves.

FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS is available through Amazon. The book can be read for free through Kindle Unlimited. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Weather's Big Brother--by Ellen Jensen Abbott


I’m about to head to Florida for a few days of &R and one of the first questions I will get asked when I return to cold, still-snowy Pennsylvania is “How was the weather?” This question, almost a space filler in conversations, becomes a central question when one sits down to write a fantasy or science fiction novel. 

Okay, weather might not be the right word. Try weather’s big brother, Climate. One of the central jobs of the fantasy writer is world building, and from the early decision you make on climate flows enormous world building elements. For example, in my novels in the Watersmeet Trilogy, I created a world based very loosely on my childhood view of New Hampshire. Think of the White Mountains only bigger and craggier; New Hampshire lakes only colder and bluer; pines trees only taller and needlier. You get the idea. 

New Hampshire also means seasons, particularly winter, so for my pre-industrial society, survival through the winter became a driver of culture. My societies had to be obsessed with food gathering and preserving in order to survive the cold months. Food meant power, and battles were waged over sacks of flour and baskets of dried meat. Festivals were oriented around the seasons: celebrations involving light in December, harvest festivals in the autumn, fertility rituals in the spring. One of their central deities, the Green Man, reflected the society’s obsession with the growth cycles. (Who’s the Green Man? He’s that wild guy with plants coming from his mouth who is the patron of all things green and growing. Think the Jolly Green Giant before General Mills got hold of him. Once you start looking for him, you’ll see him in stone work everywhere.) 
http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/secretsnicholasflamel/images/0/07/Greenman.gif/revision/latest?cb=20131111015028

Climate drove decisions about flora and fauna, too. I wanted my world to be both believable and imaginary so I studied Peterson’s guides, taking trees and flowers and shrubs from northern climates---the reality—then mixing and matching features and changing names—the imaginary. My Seldara trees were based loosely on white birches, but with glowing bark and golden leaves. As I researched edible plants, I found a delicious root that grew in my climate but it was called Solomon’s Seals. “Solomon” was too much of this world so the roots became “blister roots,” a dwarf favorite. 
Even the action of the story was affected by climate decisions. I couldn’t wage wars during the winter months. Long journeys became longer with snow on the ground. Shelter, clothing, cuisine, economy and religion were all driven by climate. 

And perhaps that’s why we’re still obsessed with weather, why people go nuts when snow is predicted and why everyone is relieved when temperatures start to climb in the spring. Despite the insulation of heating and air conditioning, the ubiquity of fresh vegetables and fruits no matter the season, we still recognize at some basic level that our own lives, our survival even, are tied closely to climate. 

Something to think about next time someone asks you, “How’s the weather?”


Sunday, March 29, 2015

School Days, School Days... (Brian Katcher)

As a teacher, I have entire summers off, which comes in handy when I have a book deadline. Actually, I only work 174 days a  year. With the few additional meetings, grading homeworking, working after school, working from home, etc, I only work a mere 70 hours a week. More for my wife, who teaches fourth grade.

It's a pain to miss school. A good rule of thumb is it takes half an hour to prepare an hour of lesson plans. So we're always there, even when we're sick.

But some days, we look outside and see those precious snowflakes and think...maybe. Just maybe. We're worse than kids. Just possibly...just possibly...we won't have to go. We'll get that text message...that call...and we sleep in.

Yes, we have to make it up in the summer. Yes, it throws our entire schedule off. Yes, parents will complain.

But man, sleeping in. Watching daytime TV. And maybe actually getting some writing done.

C'mon, snow.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Weathering the Cold (Margie Gelbwasser)

Thursday was supposed to be sixty degrees, with a little rain in the morning. I was psyched. I'm so over the cold. Actually, to paraphrase Friends, one of my favorite shows ever, I was never under it. The cold and I are not friends, not even close acquaintances. Snow is an exception. I don't love it, but it's pretty, and my kid loves it so it gets a pass. So, yeah, back to Thursday. I was finally going to run again (something I haven't done since January), but the weather had other plans. It rained all day, and I don't think it even hit 50 degrees. So no running for me.

But here's the thing. I've been on this positivity kick lately. I've been reading and doing The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, and it's been pretty life changing. Not that I've become a Pollyanna, but I've been working hard at not giving up on stuff. Even something like running. I could have plopped on my couch and blamed the cold and rain, but running makes me feel good. Moving makes me feel good. And I didn't want to make excuses about why I wasn't feeling good. Earlier that day, I downloaded positive songs onto my phone (my new favorite is Melissa Lawson's What if it All Goes Right?), and while my son and husband were at Scouts, I danced in my living room. It was just twenty minutes, but I was so glad I did it.

And this can all be brought back to writing too. It's so easy to say there's not enough time to write, to feel like if you can't write X number of words a day, then you've failed. But, why set yourself up for failure? So, it's a rough day and you can't get the word count you wanted. Or, maybe you have an idea but it's not translating onto paper the way you want it to so you throw up your hands in frustration. It doesn't have to be like that. Even a little bit of writing or plotting or whatever will get you out of that brain freeze (see what I did there by bringing it back to the cold?).

It's important to cut ourselves some breaks, even if the weather has no intention of doing this. Soon, I'll run again. In the meantime, I'll keep dancing.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Weather Love (Courtney McKinney-Whitaker)



It sounds weird to say, but I love weather. I love seasons. I love watching them change. I just really enjoy different times of year. Fall is my favorite, when it's here, but there are things I love about other seasons, too.

I love watching snow fall when I have nowhere to be. I love holding a hot cup of tea and watching the snow pile up in ways that defy the laws of physics.

I love working in my office on rainy days. The rain makes me feel like it's just me and the words.

I love the way the wind picks up and then falls still right before a storm breaks.

I love the beginnings and the ends of summer days. One of my favorite things to do in summer is to take a shower in the early evening and let my hair dry with the windows open.

I love that first scent of fall in the air in August. I notice it every year, however fleeting it is.

I love the day I first turn on my space heater and the day I first turn on my fan.

I love the flowers of spring: azaleas in South Carolina, tulips in Illinois.

I love the way the leaves change. Of course I love the way the leaves change. Every year, a single leaf on the red maple in my backyard turns fully, brilliantly red before the others budge, and I love how brave it is.

Weather plays its part in all my memories.

My grandparents embodied a battle of elemental forces. At the first sign of frost, Papa had the woodstove running and Grandmama opened the outside door in the same room. (I love the smell of woodsmoke in the fall.)

We buried my great-uncle ahead of a Carolina ice storm, January rain turning to sleet as we stood at the graveside.

The first dog of my adult life, my precious Hildy, sickened and died during the hottest week of June, when all the orange tiger lilies were blooming. One night that week we sat outside to watch the twilight and the sky was divided perfectly between purple and blue and we knew we were saying goodbye.

Despite all my years of Illinois living, when it's 50 degrees with a cold humidity, I think, "This is Christmas weather."

My husband and I were married on a sunny day at the end of November. It was 75 degrees and (accidentally, I swear) the day of the Clemson-Carolina game. (I don't love football, but I love football weather.)

Speaking of, the most miserable football game I ever suffered through was in October in Columbia, SC when I was a junior at USC. It was so hot we all got sunburned and nearly passed out, and afterward we showered and aloe-ed up and went out for shrimp. Because of course we did. I miss you, Columbia.

The leaves changed while I was in the hospital giving birth to my daughter. When I went in on a Sunday night in September they were all green, and when I came out on Wednesday afternoon it was 
fall. It was drizzling rain the Monday morning she was born.

What do you love about weather? What are your weather memories?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Under The Weather: Writing When You're Sick

Spring in Minnesota: a sloppy, exuberant mess in which ALLERGIES hide


I live in a part of the world where winter is just ending. Winter in Minnesota starts around October and ends around...April? May? We often get the most amount of snow in March. But anyway, the grim reality of this is the second things warm up and start to green and come alive...

I GET TERRIBLE ALLERGIES.

This is so horrible, because it's so exciting to get outside and feel sun on your face again after all the dark long cold days. It's also horrible, because in my situation, winter/spring/summer is when I've been slated to draft my books, as I'm on a fall release schedule (that could change, of course; publishing is anything but static). At the moment, I want to walk the dog in puddles and go for runs and sit in on the porch in the sun. So much wanting wanting wanting after holding it all in for so many months! But I have to take Zyrtec and DayQuil to keep my nose from running and my sinuses from clogging and mainly, these medications just make me faceplant into bed.

So. How do you write when you're "under the weather"? How do you write when you just want to be outside on the patio or riding your biking in the fresh air? How do people in tropical balmy climates get anything done?

I can only answer the first question. The second and third remain mysterious. When I studied abroad in the tropical climate of Bogota, Colombia, I got nothing done. I never wanted to do my work; autumn signals school for me and that never came in those latitudes.

Anyway!


Oh, baby. Just stay in your bathrobe & be devastatingly handsome. You'll feel better soon...
WRITING WHILE UNDER THE WEATHER

 1) Expect Less From Yourself. Self-explanatory. Pushing yourself when you're sick just makes your sickness take longer to leave your body. Surrender to the illness and rest. Fighting only prolongs the misery.

2) Edit, Don't Create. Here's a good time to review what you have and go through some low-level copy-editing crap. Or just maybe look at all the character names and decide what you think about them. Creating new material can be very onerous and cause even more stress to you, which is the last thing you need when your body is already under duress. This is also an opportunity to do some fill-in research you've delayed, like "what kind of car should this character drive?" and "how old do you need to be in Minnesota to open a bank account on your own?"

3) Use The Break As If It's On Purpose. Sometimes our drafts just need us to think about them some more. Take your sick time as an enforced immobility break where you don't DO anything, but just THINK about what you've done. What you WANT to do. What you MIGHT do. Solve the problems while you lie in bed or in a hot bath. Sometimes the work has to happen in our brains, not on the page. We live in a Productivity Culture that doesn't value this, which is a bummer. But whatever; you're sick. Take the opportunity as a gift to your work instead of an interruption of it.

4) Conjure Up Some Fresh Metaphors. Enough with the 'frog in my throat' and the 'sick as a dog' and 'my lungs were burning' and my 'stomach was churning.' Sit and meditate on how awful you feel until you come up with something better than worn-out cliches. You're in the midst of feeling gross -embrace that shit! Push your brain for phrases that encompass how wretched you truly feel. Contemplate every twinge and ache! Make these illnesses good for something, you know?


Yes, Carrie. I will stay in bed & rest.  Maybe do my pec-flex for Jody Casella here and there, but that's it, I promise.








Sunday, March 22, 2015

Weather writing block (by Patty Blount)

This month, we Outsiders are blogging about weather and wow, has THAT been a contentious topic these past few months. Pretty sure 49 out of 50 states had snow this winter...

I love my writing craft books. I have dozens of them and every one I read teaches me something. I remember reading somewhere that authors have to be careful to avoid weather cliches. (This amuses me because last month, we blogged about cliches.) Weather cliches like "It was a dark and stormy night" or the gloom that always hangs over a Gothic setting. I'm not entirely sure why but that advice always stuck with me and then I noticed a new issue.

All of my stories had no weather.

None.

Four published novels and counting and weather is still something I need on sticky note on my monitor or I forget.

I live on Long Island and we get pretty much every type of weather there is. Sticky hot and humid. Arctic cold. Blizzards. Relentless rain. Acres of sunshine.

And yet, I forget to mention it.

In one of my favorite Nora Roberts stories, CHESAPEAKE BLUE, main characters Seth and Dru make love just as a storm rolls in. I love this scene with a passion -- for Seth, the approaching storm means 'stay and snuggle' but for Dru, it's turmoil and confusion. It's a great metaphor for both characters' personalities. Seth is very well adjusted and Dru is in the midst of some drastic life changes.

I must have some kind of weather related writing block. I don't know why it's so hard for me to remember to include weather as part of the setting. How do you use weather in your stories?


Thursday, March 19, 2015

GOING INDIE (HOLLY SCHINDLER)

2015 marks the year I become a hybrid author, publishing on both the traditional and independent platforms.With the explosion of hybrid authors, the line between traditionally published and independently published is no longer the line between what's good and what's bad--it's simply that some books don't fit the current traditional agenda.

Case in point: my first indie release, FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS. The book was on sub a few times; initially, editors said that the book was well done—a couple flat-out said, “This needs to be published,” but also indicated they didn’t know what to do with it. Wasn’t YA, wasn’t adult. One editor used the phrase “neither fish nor fowl.” This was before NA emerged, of course…But even after New Adult became a well-read age category, FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS was continuing to break the mold: This is a sweet comedy—not overtly sexy, no graphic erotica, not about college life…Editors were hanging onto it, trying to find a place for it, and were unsuccessful.

But that’s what makes FIDOS perfect for the indie platform. 

I'm also delighted to announce that FIDOS officially releases tomorrow, and can be downloaded through Amazon or Kobo for only $3.99. A sweet, fun, delightful read for less than a cup of fancy coffee...

Fifth Avenue Fidos
A New Adult Rom-Com with "Bite"




When a mutt from Queens meets a purebred New Yorker, it takes man’s—and woman’s—best friend to convince them what they feel is more than puppy love.

Mable Barker, a hilarious, good-natured sweetheart who is always the pal but never the girlfriend, endures nine horrendous months of bouncing between lackluster New York City jobs (and suffering unrequited love) in her unsuccessful attempt to find her one true talent. So when she meets Innis, the ill-tempered Upper East Side Pekingese, she assumes her dog-walking days are numbered, too; soon, she’ll be heading back to Queens brokenhearted, tail tucked between her legs. But Innis belongs to the adorable yet painfully shy young veterinarian, Jason Mead, a man whose awkward ways around women have him dreaming not of finding love for himself but of playing canine matchmaker—breeding Westminster champions.

When Mable and Jason meet, romance is officially unleashed: they find an instant connection and shared goal, as it appears that Mable could very well have what it takes to be a professional handler, soon to be seen holding Innis under a banner labeled, “Best in Show.” As Jason and Mable get closer to putting a new twist on the term “dog lovers,” outside forces—Mable’s overprotective brothers, a successful wedding planner with her eye on Jason, even the theft of purebred pups from Jason’s Fifth Avenue apartment building—all threaten to come between them. Will Mable and Jason simply let their burgeoning love roll over and play dead? Or will they rally to make sure Innis emerges as the leader of the pack?

Brimming with humor and endearing characters, Holly Schindler’s Fifth Avenue Fidos offers a sweet romance and modern-day fairy tale in which dogs, not dragons, rule the land…a story about the loves that help us realize our dreams.