Me. . .

When I noticed today’s date and realized I didn’t have an artist or author lined up for this month. Again.

It’s true. Time really does fly when you are having fun, but also when you are preparing to publish your first novel. That’s right. I said it. I’m close to publishing the first novel in a series, and I’m freaking out.

Sure (beyond the GIF) in real life I look calm, perhaps a tad comatose, slug-like even but appearances aside, I’ve been busy editing (and freaking). Happily so.

My editors are a joy to work with. They’ve put up with me and my weirdness and made my book so much better! Which frankly is a miracle for which they should both achieve sainthood, or at least get a thank you in the acknowledgments and definitely a hug.

That said, I’m just going to beg off on this month’s interview (yes I know, “again”) and get this book business put to bed. Oh and believe me, when it becomes available online you will hear about it. Until then. . .

Stay tuned friends, art lovers, and Urban Fantasy bibliophiles and thanks for sticking with me.

loveya

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Celebrating World Book Day!

Celebrating World Book Day!

In honor of World Book Day I figured I’d post about some of my favorite authors. When I was a kid, Stan Lee ruled my world, with the singular exception of anything Superman related. But one week of staying in bed with a superior case of chicken pox changed my reading habits forever.

I was bored, itchy, and cranky. My mom, God bless her soul, knew that if she didn’t do something soon I might drive her to drink. So with wisdom and kindness she handed me the complete collection of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. I read them all over the course of 36 hours, and a life time love affair with reading blossomed. A book worm was born!

bookworm.jpgMom’s next gift, the Dune series by Frank Herbert, was an attempt to keep me happy a bit longer. It worked long enough to keep her sane until I went back to school and rediscovered the school library. From then on, if I didn’t have a book in my hand, there was one near by.

Piers Anthony was my go to author for the next few months, then Anne McCaffrey. Anthony’s Xanth series full of adventure, crazy creatures, relatable characters, and corny puns soothed my pre-teen angst. McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern with her strong female characters standing up to social injustice as well as facing down many physical dangers helped get me through those difficult years. I went on to read every series both of these authors had to offer, and there are more than a few.

As I matured, I moved into historical fiction with James Michener,  James Clavell, and Victor Hugo. These three authors had a fabulous grasp on both the physical areas they wrote about and the historical details needed to bring their characters to life.

Michener’s books, usually single word titles based on the name of the area he wrote about (i.e. Hawaii, and Chesapeake) built clear pictures in my mind. They allowed me to travel without leaving my room, taught me a bit of the history and gave me a glimpse into the culture of the area while still telling a great story.

Clavell’s novel ‘Shogun’ was a made-for-TV mini-series before I discovered it. I watched it with my mom. I was young enough to be embarrassed by some of the steamier scenes but not so embarrassed that I didn’t want to read the book. I borrowed it from a friend the next week. My mom borrowed it from me after that. I remember being fascinated by Clavell’s take on Japanese culture, the Samurai, and the idea of ‘face’ or honor.

Victor Hugo’s  Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame transported me through time. They made me more socially aware, helped me reexamine my own motives, and the motives of those in power. Life changing? Yes, and I recommend them highly. These books all prompted me to write, and eventually become an English major in college. I learned about British and American Literature mostly, but later took some classes in Literature from around the world.

Now, many years later and battling chronic illness, I’ve settled into more entertaining reading. Books that take my mind off of the bad days full of aches, pains, and foggy brain. Authors such as Patricia Briggs , Lynsay Sands, and Molly Harper have made me laugh, cry, spit coffee, choke, and occasionally be super grateful for panty liners. Vampires, werewolves, & fae monsters, OH MY! Seriously, their worlds are just too fun.

Finally, there are a group of local authors to whom I owe so much, I’ll never be able to repay them adequately. They helped me get through the process of writing my own book. (The first in a series. It’ll be published soon but I’ll post about that later.) I’ve been honored to be in writers groups with them, and to have interviewed three of them for this blog: D. Andrew McChesney author of the Stone Island Sea Stories , Kate Poitevin  author of the Tir Gaeltacht series, and Sue Eller author of the Emily Trace Mysteries. These three, as well as all those in the Tin Pencil writers group, have helped me get to this point. It’s exciting, unnerving, and amazing to be in such great company. If you get a chance, and want to support these terrific authors, check out their interviews or Google them and pick up a copy of their books. You won’t be sorry.

Happy World Book Day everyone!

 

 

Fizzle or Sizzle, blogging is therapeutic.

Hello Gentlereaders, (yes I squashed those words together, leave hate comments below) I am posting this to let you know that I have not given up. Despite missing a post here and there recently, I’m still kicking this pig.

Explain

When I started this blog, I wasn’t certain which direction to take it in. I mean, I LOVE to write, but I couldn’t make an instant decision. Should I write book reviews? I certainly read enough, and I definitely have opinions about what I read. Should I review films? That idea was short-lived as I can’t afford to hit our new and improved theaters every day at $12.00 a pop + whatever insane amount they charge for a bottle of water. I still have kids living at home. Kids who enjoy eating occasionally. 😉

Dickens

So here I was, stewing over what I wanted to blog about when it hit me. My town is having somewhat of an Art renaissance right now, and I seem to be surrounded by both Artists and Authors. Aha! A stroke of genius, right? It’s a good thing I didn’t *facepalm* when that lightbulb lit over my head. I might still have scars. With my blog focus finally set, I gassed this vehicle up, took it for a spin, and enjoyed every minute of it. **There’s the SIZZLE!**

Recently though, someone (very kindly) told me that even though they enjoy TheSquidandSquirrel, they wonder why – as I’m also working on a novel and doing a bit of freelancing – I bother to blog at all. That question took me aback for a moment. I mean, I know why I like (LOVE) to write, but why saddle myself with a blog that requires monthly maintenance? I told them I’d have to get back to them on that one. After pondering for a bit, I’d like to finally answer that question. **I hope they read this!**

fingerscrossed

I write this blog because it helps me to be accountable to the blessings I’ve been handed. Unable to work the average full or part-time gig due to disability **That’s the FIZZLE**, this endeavor (despite missing a few posts) helps keep me moving. It keeps me focused on staying connected with people. It allows me to get out of my house, work at my own pace, and meet new and interesting people. People with incredible talent that needs to be shared with the world.

It also (hopefully) brightens somebodies day occasionally. Maybe lifts a spirit of someone out there – either by the gorgeous art, or by learning that they are not so unlike some of the amazing folks I’ve interviewed. At it’s heart it is a labor of love. Love of writing, love or art, love of books and authors and people in general.

Hugsloth

It is also a kind of social therapy for me. Many folks with chronic conditions like mine, tend to become social hermits. As their condition progresses, their world becomes smaller. I’ve seen it happen, and I refuse to go down without a fight. My blog and the people it allows me to meet, learn from, and befriend, helps me not to disappear beneath the lead blanket of health issues. It helps me to hone my skills as a writer, and as a person. It has helped broaden my mind, and open my heart. This little experiment of a blog, has been a complete blessing to me, and I hope at least a small one to you all.

That said, if you’ve read this far, congratulations on your tenacity. And thank you for sticking with me. I won’t go into the gory details of what’s derailed this month’s post, but suffice it to say I am back on the trail of yet another fun and interesting interview. So check back next month and thanks again!

Live long and prosper! (No, that isn’t a *hint*)

Livelongspock   MJ

Zombie-mode! Uhnngghhh

zombiemode Hello friendly readers!  Well, this months interview went down with the ship. The ship being me.

To say that I’ve been in zombie-mode is an understatement. Between chronic illness, change of season, working on the final edit of my novel, and the demands of everyday life I’ve been pretty out of it. Sorry to drop the ball.

Please hang in there with me. I have a wonderful artist lined up for November. Her work is whimsical, humorous, and filled with child-like delight and wonder. Want to know who she is? Wait for my “Coming Soon” announcement next month.

Until then, have a safe and happy Halloween!!

Your friendly neighborhood blogger,  MJ

001 - Copy

 

In case you missed it. . .

Hello everyone! Because I’ve been blessed to meet so many wonderful artists and authors this year I thought I’d do a quick retrospective, in case you missed it.

Whether a sci-fi or fantasy writer, intuitive, abstract, impressionist, or illustration artist, all of my interviewees have one (maybe two) thing(s) in common: they are all wonderfully kind and talented people. Learning about these fantastic folks – artists and authors – was such a pleasure I’d like to thank them once again for interviewing with me. You all have broadened my world view and enriched my life. Much love and appreciation to my SquidandSquirrel friends and readers!

First up, our excellent authors:

D. Andrew McChesney – author of Stone Island Sea Stories.  Click here for his interview, ‘I Love It When You’re Nautical!

 

Kate Poitevin – author of Saving Tir Gaeltacht . Click here to read her interview, ‘Kate Poitevin Talks Nerdy With Me.

 

Sue Eller – author of the Emily Trace Mysteries. Click here  to read her interview, Sue Eller Is One Rare Bird.

Now for our amazing artists!

Check out fur suit maker and Multimedia artist Allison J. Wier

A co-op of potters, they started their own business and have expanded nicely. Consider taking a class at Urban Art Coop

Take a gander at pet portraitist Grace Fairchild, an artist with an eye for eyes.

Here is A Glimpse into the Mystical Inner Space of artist Mitchell Pluto

Enjoy The Intricate, Imaginative Illustrations of Kim Long

and Clancie Pleasants – Telling Life’s Stories With Paintings. 

Next, Meet Tom Norton, People’s Choice winner at “Origins of Fear” exhibit.

Spend a moment Catching up with artist Kelly Loder’s “Emotion in Motion!”

Learn about The Universe According To Fantasy Illustrator Shannon Potratz

And finally, enjoy The Many Layers Of Artist, Linnea Tobias

Thanks, once again, to all of the artists and authors who’ve interviewed with me, and kept in touch. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you all, and sharing your talents with the world. Blessings to you all. 

~Mj (a.k.a. host of TheSquidandSquirrel)

‘Emily Trace Mysteries’ author, Sue Eller is one rare bird.

‘Emily Trace Mysteries’ author, Sue Eller is one rare bird.

Author of one novella, a gluten-free cookbook, and two installations of the Emily Trace mysteries, Sue Eller is everything you’d ever want an author to be: quirky, kind, creative, accomplished, and coffee dependent. A self-proclaimed nerd and Star Trek fan, she is fun-loving, intelligent, and a genuinely nice person.

I met Sue at a Spokane Authors & Self Publishers (S.A.S.P.) meeting where she is the current Vice President. Warm and welcoming to this newbie, we struck up a conversation and spoke of our various writing adventures. Of course this eventually lead to my picking up two of her books: ‘Meadowlark Madness’ and ‘Taming of the T-Bird’ – the Emily Trace Mysteries.  20170515_182546

Set in the Pacific Northwest city of Spokane, young widow and newly licensed P.I. Emily Trace has many mysteries to solve. She’d like to find out who killed her husband, and why. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) her small business, E.T. Investigations seems to keep her a bit too busy, drawing strange clients dealing with even stranger circumstances.

Full of interesting characters, nerdy humor, pop culture references, action, adventure, and even a touch of romance, these books are fun to read. Almost as fun as interviewing this amazing author!

Keep reading to learn more about Sue Eller.

SnS: Sue, please give us a little background on yourself. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Sue: Well, my mom wrote short stories, and even sold a few. So writing was always in my life. As was reading. I grew up on a farm, the eldest of six kids, and the only entertainment besides each other was a black and white TV, or books. My dad loved westerns, and I thought the Mickey Mouse Club was okay, but mostly I read. My mom would take us all to the local library and I would come home with dozens of books at a time. I would devour them and go back for more. 

To be honest, I’ve had delusions most of my life about being the next Arthur Conan Doyle, or Carolyn Keene, or Agatha Christie – without the whole murdering the husband thing, of course – but I actually went to school hoping to be a band instructor. I learned multiple instruments: guitar, keyboards, clarinet, saxophone, and violin, but I was told by an adviser that my dream of being a band teacher wouldn’t happen. He told me, “Women just don’t do that.” So I transferred to Whitworth College and switched my major to Chemistry. I minored in Math and French, and took an interest in computer science.

SnS: Wow, so when did you become serious about writing?

Sue: In 1994 I began writing short stories and articles for a weekly newspaper. After a while I purchased the paper and ran it for four years. It was a good education for me. It was fun, and I learned a lot. After that I wrote my first novella ‘Return From Armageddon‘ in 1991. It was published in 1992 as an audio-book by Books In Motion. In 2012 I released the hard copy and Kindle editions. It was later that same year that I published my first Emily Trace book, ‘Meadowlark Madness‘.

SnS: Okay, now I have to ask. Where did you get the idea for the plot of ‘Meadowlark Madness‘? It’s very unique. 

Sue: Growing up on the Palouse, my grandmother would drive us kids to and from Spokane to shop. Every time, she would point out the meadowlarks singing in the fields. After a few times, I let my imagination wander and thought, “What if. . . What if those bird songs are fake? What if they are some sort of triggered sensor?” Somewhere between those thoughts and my love of Star Trek and aliens I dreamed up E.T. Investigations.

I wanted the hero of my book to have a name that coincided with E.T. for the pun factor, therefore Emily Trace was born. Emily Trace is very much like me, an alter ego of sorts. She is quirky, flawed, and totally addicted to coffee.

SnS: *LOL* There is nothing wrong with loving the java. 😉    So, did the plot for ‘Taming of the T-Bird‘ also come from a real life happening?

Sue: *Laughing* Yes, my husband Ray owned a T-Bird many years ago. He drove it to work and home every day, and every day it would die at the same spot. After a while of this, I began teasing him, saying that aliens must be to blame. The story evolved from that.

I wrote both books with two goals in mind. First, I purposely kept them clean. There is no graphic violence, explicit sex, or harsh language. I wanted it to be something pre-teens could read and enjoy. Second, I wanted to bring in themes that dealt with real life issues such as greed, family dysfunction, forgiveness, friendship, and the difficulties brought on by Autism. I have an autistic grandson, whom I love very much. I wanted my books to shed light on these issues, and one of my favorite moments was when a fan wrote to tell me that my book helped her to better understand an autistic family member.

SnS: That’s wonderful! Now, I’ve heard it said that some authors hear their characters voices in their heads, as if they are real. Are your characters real to you?

Sue: My characters are very real to me. Some of them were inspired by friends or family members. One, Emily’s first client, Archie ‘The Keeper of the Paints’ was inspired by Wile E. Coyote painting a tunnel that the Road Runner ran through. My Darla character, Emily’s temp. was a complete surprise. I imagined her as a typical teenager looking for a job, but she turned out to be a bit of a wise-goth. She’s a good foil for my nerdy main character Emily.

SnS: It seems that you and Emily have a lot in common. You both share a nerdy love of Star Trek. How long have you been a fan and who is your favorite character?

Sue: I’ve been hooked on Star Trek since September of 1966 when the first episode aired. Scotty and Bones were fun characters, but I thought Kirk was a sleaze. My sister loved Chekov, and I loved Spock. To me, Spock was the hero because no matter what, he was always intelligent, always in control. Plus, like me, he was a science nerd.

SnS: We’ve established your nerd credits for science and Star Trek, but I have it on good authority that you are nerdy in many ways. Can you tell me more about that?

Sue: Well, I enjoy Dr. Who, LOTR, and Harry Potter too. In fact I believe that the first page of “The Sorcerer’s Stone” is quite possibly the best first page ever written.

Because of my various fandoms, I’ve attended a few conventions like InCon and WorldCon. I dressed up with a Tom Baker (Dr. Who) scarf and hat for one of them. The other I dressed up as Professor Trelawny. That costume garnered a lot of attention, and a lot of people took pictures with me. It was fun. If you really want to understand the extent of my nerdiness though, you will have to come in and see my office. 

**There is only one way to describe Sue’s office. Super cool & nerdy chaos. The space is filled with file cabinets, book shelves, and tables. Every surface is covered by computer tech., books, papers, action figures from many iconic films, and even a life-size sorting hat! The walls sport a large map of Middle Earth, a sepia print of Spock, a lovely painting done by her niece, a paper version of Emily Trace’s infamous bird clock, and a massive story board.

SnS: Wow, you weren’t kidding about being a nerd! How do you get any work done in here?

Sue: I don’t. I mostly work from my kitchen table. I’ve always been a busy person, being raised on the farm, going to school, then work and motherhood. It’s hard for me to sit still for any length of time so I get my best work done outside of my office.

SnS: When you say work, you aren’t kidding. Not only do you write, but you and your friend Kate Poitevin (previously interviewed by SnS) work together as editors, and you are Vice President of the S.A.S.P.  Please tell us about editing, and how you got involved in the Spokane Authors and Self Publishers group. 

Sue: My friend Kate and I began our adventure as editors 3 years ago, to fill a need by other authors. We offered a less expensive way to get their books a preliminary edit. We felt confident we could do this as we’d helped Kate’s dad edit his autobiography years earlier, and because of my experience editing for my newspaper.

I got involved with the S.A.S.P. in 2013 after taking part in a multi-author book signing at our local Hastings store. I met some local authors involved with the S.A.S.P. (one being Dave McChesney, also previously interviewed by SnS.) and they invited me to a meeting. At first I wasn’t certain I wanted to join the group, but I went again. After hearing more speakers, and making some friends, I decided to stay and have been there ever since. 

SnS: Sounds like you have an extremely full schedule. When can we expect a new Emily Trace mystery?

Sue: I’m pleased to say that I plan on having my third Emily Trace mystery out later this year. The cover art is nearly complete, and I’ve been working on refining the story line.

SnS: Well, after reading your first two, I can’t wait to see your next installment! So where can fans find you on-line?

Sue: I can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Smashwords and EmilyTraceMysteries.com