Monday, January 31, 2011

J - Jeff Herman's Guide

If you're a writer who is serious about getting published--and don't already have the most recent edition--you need to add "Jeff Herman's 2010 Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents" to your shopping cart at Or pick it up at your local bookstore this week. The book provides a wealth of information about the publishing industry. The website includes countless authors' testimonials attributing their success in acquiring an agent or editor with the information they gleaned from this valuable reference book. As an agency they handle mostly nonfiction. Check out their long list of impressive titles.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I - I Believe Imagination is Innate

A few days ago I had the unique opportunity to present a speech at an event in support of the "This I Believe" organization. A group of individuals from our community were asked to write their beliefs and then share them with the audience...all part of a high school student's senior project. Check out this awesome international organization at Here is what I believe:

"I believe one of the greatest treasures within each human being is the gift to create, and that our ability to do so is only limited by our imagination. I believe children innately possess the quality of mind and soul which allows them to tap into their own creative imaginations. They instinctively live in their own reality—in the now—which is created by their imaginations. This is why they are so joyful, honest, and determined. Often, somewhere between childhood and adolescence, humans become disillusioned by the imprinting of their circumstances, by other individuals, and even by entire societies of people who have forgotten how to live with creative imagination.

In the mid 1950’s, Dr. Allen A. Stockdale gave a unique perspective on imagination: “When God made the earth, he could have finished it, but He didn’t. Instead, he left it as raw material to tease us and tantalize us and set us thinking and experimenting and risking and adventuring, and therein we find the supreme interest in living. God gave us a world unfinished so that we might share in the joys and satisfaction of creation. He left the electricity in the clouds. He left the rivers unbridged and the mountains untrailed. He left the cities unbuilt. He left the laboratories opened. He left the diamonds uncut. He gave us a challenge of raw materials, not the satisfaction of perfect, finished things. He left the music unsung, the dramas unplanned. He left the poetry undreamed in order that men and women might not become bored with life, but engage in stimulating, exciting, creative activities to keep them thinking, working, experimenting, and experiencing all the joys and durable satisfactions of achievement. Work, thought, creation—these give life its stimulus.”

In November 2008, at a worldwide conference for women, former international airline pilot, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, said this about the process of creative imagination: “The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before. Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty. Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before.”

As an author, I explore and create a story that didn’t exist before. In my most recent work, a young adult new age fiction titled, The Stelladaur: Book One, Finding Tir Na Nog the main character makes personal connections between imagination and reality, inviting the reader to do the same. Here is a brief synopsis:

Reilly McNamara is an unusual sixteen year old boy with multi sensory abilities. His best friend, Eilam, is an ageless guru who most consider to be crazy. His worst enemy, Travis Jackson, is a billionaire scientist who owns the marina near Reilly's island home. After his father dies in a tragic accident, Reilly is led to a magical stone called a Stelladaur which was used by his great-grandfather to travel back and forth to Tir Na Nog--a magical place of endless wealth in all forms. Once Reilly discovers that a Stelladaur can bring to its rightful owner their greatest desire, he also begins a series of mystical journeys through various unexpected portals in search of his father. Each time, Reilly returns to the real world with enlightenment which guides him in his assigned task to help others find their own Stelladaur and innate gifts. But Reilly must also prevent Travis from discovering the power of the Stelladaur and destroying the imagination of others with his latest invention of a time travel device called The ROCK--drug-laced-laboratory-fabricated-stones. When a beautiful girl enters his life, will Reilly continue to trust his heart without questioning what he wants most? The Stelladaur Series is about realizing your greatest desire by understanding the universal connection between imagination and following your own heart.

In one scene, Reilly goes through a vortex in the violet stream of a rainbow to a place called Jolka where he meets Fiala. She tells him that his desires must be "educated with imagination" which "gives great power to envision and believe".

"Each colored vortex provides specific education for one's greatest desire. One perspective, and then another, and then another," Fiala explained.

A comfortable silence that reminded Reilly of quiet moments with Eilam now settled upon him. They inched along the moving sidewalk for a while without talking, as he continued to digest what Fiala had told him. Still trying to absorb everything he was experiencing, Reilly was, nevertheless, certain that it was all very real. He broke the silence between them.

"Can a person have everything they want, or only if it is a greatest desire?"

"Every desire is for receiving and enjoying,” Fiala began. “One must only be in alignment with the law which manifests the desire. Most beings from the place of habitation where the One called Reilly resides, do not allow such understanding," she smiled.

"Then what’s the purpose of a greatest desire?" Reilly questioned again.

"To reveal the endless potential within every One being."

Like Reilly, I believe every dream, goal, or desire we imagine is a seed of endless possibilities. These seeds of creativity are given to cultivate our greatest potential as human beings. This I believe."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

H - The Hook

I just finished reading a post by literary agent, Kathleen Ortiz, who stated her agency received over 580 queries in December! From those, only 24 hopeful writers were asked to submit portions of their manuscripts. (Read more about it at Obviously there are many factors involved here. However, if the hook you've been using in your query hasn't caught the attention of an agent yet, you may need to get a new hook. Although an agent did request an exclusive read of my manuscript (and even a second read after I completed a few minor edits she recommended), she nevertheless, could not find the right fit for the novel. Did the hook work? I don't know. I don't have an agent yet. After careful research to determine who might be looking for a YA New Age Fantasy, I queried a few other agents. I sharpened my hook and hope it does the trick!

Monday, January 3, 2011

(i) (i) (i) = I i (C)

Although I'm no mathematician, numbers and equations do fascinate me. A different form of language which, for the most part, seems quite foreign. Yet I know hidden in the formulas are answers to complex problems which impact real life scenarios. (i)(i)(i) = Ii (C) is my formula for character development. Multiplying (i)magination by (i)ntrospection by (i)ntrigue equals (I)nviting (i)nteresting (C)haracters. Okay, I'll simplify.

Without imagination fiction would cease to exist. It's the foundation for all elements of a compelling story with interesting characters. With imagination, anything is possible! The writer's challenge is to make possibilities believable. (A topic for another post.) Once imagination is tapped into, it must be multiplied by introspection. How does what you've imagined apply to another person? Who will care about what you've imagined? Why will they care? What benefit is it to the reader to go to the place you've imagined and with the characters you've imagined? What emotions will they experience as a result of your imagination and introspection? Blending imagination with introspection creates a synergism of intrigue. Intrigue is essential to draw the reader in and not only capture but also keep their attention. The product of these three elements--imagination, introspection and intrigue--is an Invitation for interesting Characters. The formula works but you have to work it. It's up to the writer to accept the invitation and make it happen. Using this equation will result in characters that evolve, come alive, and are interesting enough to care about.

Here's an exerpt from a scene in The Stelladaur: Book One, Finding Tir Na Nog. Reilly is in his precalculus class, bored and daydreaming, as usual.

For a few minutes he zoned back in to what Ms. Lamar was saying. Something about coeffecients and plugging constants into the quadratic equation. Oh yeah, that was covered in the last chapter. Got it. No need for review there. When is she going to get on with the next chapter?

Math had always been easy for Reilly. He was fascinated that numbers were so precise, always anxious to learn something new about how they worked.

Like when Eilam showed Reilly how to take one times nine, plus two, to get 11. Then to make the one a 12, multiply it by nine, and add three to get 111, and so forth.

Reilly drew it out on the back of his test paper. Soon the final equation was clear in his mind: Take the number 123456789, multiply it by 9, add ten, and the answer is...

(Grab a calculator and draw it out yourself!)

He looked at the pyramid of numbers for a few minutes, remembering the exact moment Eilam had explained it to him. They were sitting on a dock at the kayak hut, feet dangling over the water, on a hot summer day. A tiny crab scurried up the piling near their feet.

"Some may think that little creature is useless," Eilam had said. "But even the very smallest of all creations is essential to our existence. Every single one adds to the whole." It was the way he emphasized one that caught Reilly's attention.

He had watched Eilam carve something beside them on the dock with his pocket knife. It had a similar pattern to the mathematical picture Reilly had just scribbled on his paper, but it fascinated him even more.

Reilly lifted his head now and stared blankly out the side window while he drew it out in his mind. Every number started with only ones. One times one equals one. Then he began again with 11 times 11 to get 121. He kept adding ones to both sides of the equation until multiplying nine ones by nine ones revealed...

(Get out your calculator and pen again!)

It was just as Eilam had told him. Perfect. No disputing its authenticity. It was a fact: "Everyone is vital to the whole. And everyone has a purpose and place in this world," Eilam had told him as he folded up his pocket knife.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

"G" - Give Yourself Permission

Today is the day to celebrate a new year and welcome new opportunities. For the most part, we are the creators of those opportunities. As writers we must give ourselves permission to do what we love to do. Write! When I wrote my first novel, "The Stelladaur: Book One, Finding Tir Na Nog", I wrote 5-6 hours every day. It was intense but pure bliss! I miss that. That wonderful groove when I gave myself permission to put everything else on hold. I let the dishes, laundry and my inbox just pile up; and I exerted my right to say 'no' to an endless list of other demands, both self imposed and otherwise. If you're currently in that realm of euphoric oneness with transferring the words in your head to your computer, then simply give yourself permission to write for a certain number of minutes longer each day. Fifteen to thirty minutes more may be just the boost you need to finish a thought or complete a scene.

Over the holidays I performed the role of a Who in Whoville in the play "The Grinch". The Whos did not let the Grinch steal from them what they loved to do the most. Feast, feast, feast, feast. And sing, sing, sing sing. Nor can you let any "grinchiness" (distractions disguised in endless varieties and emotions) keep you from doing what you love to do the most. Write, write, write, write! This day, this week, this year, give yourself permission to write until your heart grows ten times larger. You may even find yourself bursting into song: Wah-who for-aze...Dah-who dor-aze! (I've attached a photo of me as a Who, sitting on my son's bed before leaving to the play.)