Showing posts from 2011

A Year in Review

I like to scrapbook. It's one of the things I like to do in my copious amounts of free time. Every time I finish an album I like to write a review of the year. It used to be several years in one book, but since I had a child it's more likely to be only one year in a book. Good thing she's a photogenic little devil!

I'm getting closer to finishing up another album. How do I summarize this year? I've got a strange perspective on the year. There's the normal January to December year, but that's not what I first think of when I think of a year. I'm a teacher, so I frequently confuse people because I also think of years as running from August to June! That'll confuse you.

However, this year . . . I thought the hard part was getting published. It took me years not only to finish the book and to get published. I can wallpaper my office with the rejection letters I've gotten not only for RIBBONS, but also for a couple of other projects I've had. Thi…

Around the Kitchen Table

I was cleaning the kitchen for the third time this evening when I wondered how much of my life have I spent in a kitchen? Cooking, cleaning, organizing, baking, remodeling . . .you name it! My mom and grandma started teaching me how to cook when I was little. Beyond that, though, so many of my memories are around the kitchen table. It was so much more than food, though admittedly, being from an Italian/Bohemian family there was a lot of food as well!

Grandma and Grandpa would come over a lot and they would sit at the kitchen table, the tiny TV on the counter giving the latest news or tuned to "Jeopardy" or "Opry" as Gramps called Oprah. Rain or shine, any season, there they'd be smoke curling up in the air and dust motes dancing in the sunlight. My brother bouncing a quarter off Gram's beehive and Grandpa and his crazy jokes, calling me "Princess."

Then there was the summer kitchen in my great grandmother's basement--three generations around t…

Here There Be Dragons

By the time I'd reached high school I'd ripped through most of my dad's fantasy collection. I'd read Terry Brooks' Magic Kingdom series, tried his Shanarra series until I was bored to tears by Flick walking down the road. From there I moved into Feist's Riftwar and Aspirin's Myth books. I laughed with Craig Shaw Gardener's Wuntvor and delved into The Crystal Cave. After the Belgariad and the Mallorean I was looking for something else to read. By that time too I had met a few people in high school who had read the same books!

Clare and Michelle and I would chatter about our books. Clare showed me the wonders of Earthsea and Michelle introduced me to Herald Vanyel. About twenty or so books later I'm not sure if I should thank her or smack her for the addictions. Clare then mentioned a writer I had never heard of before Anne McCaffrey. She was a science fiction writer. I didn't like science fiction. I liked to read fantasy and whoever heard of drag…

Ribbons of Moonlight by Rebecca L. Frencl

Well, my partner teacher and I had the great idea to have the students create book trailers based on science fiction and fantasy books they'd read. After discussing it with the local librarians (librarians are wonderful resources:) we decided on Animoto. Of course, we needed to become experts on these before we shared them with our students. Soooo, to make a long story short here's one I put together for my own book. Check it out. Let me know what you think. 

Ribbons of Moonlight by Rebecca L. Frencl

Thanksgiving 2011

A year ago I was giddy with the knowledge that my book was going to be published. Nothing had happened yet other than I'd signed the contract and done a happy dance around the living room. I hadn't yet started the rather arduous process of editing. Or the agonizing wait to actually see my baby in print--either the e-version or even longer the print version. I think when the print version came out I grinned for a full week.

It's been a surreal year. Part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop, to wake up and realize it was all a dream. I think that's the Catholic Midwestern upbringing speaking there. We never seem happy to just take good fortune and the results of hard work as is, we need to expect something to go wrong. Wonder what Sister Patrick Mary wold have had to say about that?

So, I suppose it's fitting to take a few moments to reflect and give thanks for all the good things that have come my way this past year. I'm thankful not only for the journey…

Getting in Touch with my Inner Geek

I spent a great weekend getting in touch with my inner geek. I was at WindyCon this weekend. I try and hit at least one sci-fi con a year, as many as three. I think that I have to save my pennies for ChiCon in the summer--the world con is coming to Chicago over Labor Day weekend and I am bound and determined to get on a panel.

What is a WindyCon? Well, how to describe fandom . . .  Many year ago, when I was a sophomore in high school I was killing time and flipping through Dad's Analog. In the back they had advertisements. One of them was for a convention in the area called WindyCon. What a remarkable thing! A place where people who loved science fiction and fantasy got together to celebrate the books, movies and television shows we loved? I was so there! Dad and I ventured into the ranks of fandom for the first time that year. We've been going almost every year since then. I won't tell you how long it's been, but let's just say that I've seen several young fen…

Things that Go Bump in the Night Contest!

I love Halloween. It's my favorite time of the year. The weather's turning cooler, the leaves are changing, and crunch underfoot when you walk. The sharp scents of mums and wood smoke linger in the air. It puts me in mind of Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" or anything by Poe.

We study Poe every October, my students and I. He confuses the heck out of the 8th graders at first. When they start to get it, I love seeing their eyes widen in joy at understanding, then at horror when they fully comprehend. Eventually, the conversation always turns to ghosties and the things that go bump in the night.

Now, I also admit I'm a chicken. I love Halloween, but I love cutesy Halloween more than "the veil is thinnest" Halloween. I love ghost stories. One of my students once gave me a book called Haunted Heartland a book of "true" ghost stories from Illinois and the surrounding states. I honestly don't know what happened to it. My h…

Getting Back Into the Swing

Life interferes, doesn't it?

Life though is when ultimately is our inspiration, though. It's messy, it's complicated, and some people work better with a full plate than an empty one. My life just got a little more complicated. I spent the summer wallowing in words. I read words, I wrote words and I taught words to my three year old. However, the summer has to end and this school teacher goes back into the classroom come the end of August. Another year stretching before me as I try and instill some measure of my love of words onto the students who fill my classroom.

I have a tough audience. Anyone who's dealt with one fourteen year old can tell you that they are a tough sell. I have very small classes, I'm fortunate in that, but fifteen to twenty fourteen year olds are an even tougher sell. I spend a lot of time prepping and grading and just recuperating, so life interferes with my writing.

I was on a roll. This summer a story flew from my fingers nearly lighting…

Did you know . . .?

Solstice Publishing is the fastest growing mid-market publisher in the USA.  With almost 80 authors covering every category of fiction and rapidly expanding into nonfiction, Solstice is quickly gaining a reputation for fast paced suspense thrillers, sizzling romance, action adventure, science fiction, and a spooky collection of horror and paranormal reads.  Critically acclaimed authors have achieved top spots on best seller lists, become screenplays, and won movie deals with top Hollywood studios.
Solstice books are available in every available eBook format including ePub, MobiPocket, PDF, DjVu for every electronic reading device - Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad, Android tablet PC, Android phones, iPhone, Barnes & Noble Nook Reader, Sony eReader, Windows Mobile Phones, Onyx Book, iRex, WISEreader, and many more.
Traditional print versions can be found in major bookstores throughout the United States and online at  Both print and ebooks are available right here on the Solsti…

Review of Time Witch by Jacqueline Corcoran

Waking Brick and Mortar

I was out of town for a week. A day or so after I got home, I had to go into work, but did I ever get a shock on the road. A huge "Going out of Business Sale" banner was stretched across our Borders. I knew they were in trouble. I knew they had declared bankruptcy in order to reorganize. To be honest, I didn't think all that much about it. I knew the same thing had happened to Barnes and Noble a few years back and they were still around. I figured the same thing would happen to Borders.

I remember the demise of Crown and Waldenbooks. I remember Barbara's Bookstore is Oak Park closing. I felt a little pang when these stores shut down. I remembered meeting Clare at Barbara's, haunting Waldenbooks waiting for mom to be finally finished in Penney's and waiting for a ride home from the movies in Crown. The closing of Borders is a little more. I don't know how many hours I spent in that store. Rhea and I would go there all the time on our girl's nights. We&…

Review of Death of Innocence: The Foxworth Coven book one by Kayden MacLeod

Things I Learned on Vacation

It's been years since I've gone on an old fashioned road trip. The last one was to visit Clare nine hours away in Northern Wisconsin. My daughter was only two years old or so, so she was pretty good in the car. Taking a three and a half year old, though . . .I was a little worried. She did great, though. I really should stop worrying about how she travels. I stuffed her on a plane at 18 months old. Of course, now she'll have to prove me a liar.

We spent a week in the mountains of Virginia--the Blue Ridge and Allegeheny Mountains. I'm quite certain, even after a week there I spelled that wrong. It's beautiful. So many deer my brother would have been having seizures reaching for his compound bow. Woodchucks and groundhogs foraging right on the other side of the balcony. Little bright yellow birds, falcons, one eagle, and an owl I heard, but couldn't see.

You learn things when you travel. I know I did. Here's a few of my lessons, some are personal and others …

Wandering in the Heart of Inspiration

Like I said last week, I've been gone for the last several days. Not too far away--approximately 20 miles in the heart of the city of Chicago. I've always lived in this area. I grew up with the skyline always in my sight. I used to run tame in the Field Museum (my favorite) and Clare almost got squished when we crossed the street to the Art Institute. It's been a long time, though since I spent a lot of time downtown. We took the time to play tourist in our own backyard and I have to say I learned some interesting things about my city. I also took tons of pictures. I'll have to post a few so I can share them with you.

My newest work in progress is set in the heart of the city. So, it was wonderful to be able to wander around, snapping pictures and really absorb the feel of the city. The rumble in the chest as the EL train bullets above Wabash, the glitter of diamonds in the windows of Jeweler's Row, the rainbows cast by the shooting sprays of Buckingham Fountain. I…

Needing to Walk Away

I'm about 10,000 words away from the end of my novella FALLEN. The original working title was INKED and who knows what it will wind up being at the end. The problem is that I have to walk away from it for the next week. I'm heading out to the National Education Association Representative Assembly over the fourth of July weekend and I'm not bringing my computer. So, I'll have a week or so to think about everything I've written so far and make sure that it's going in the direction I want it to.

Sometimes time away from a project is really helpful. If you're too much on a story it sometimes starts to twist away from you. The longer you try and force into the story the more it won't go that direction. However the story's been hopping and I don't want to walk away from it.

Oh well, time to crack out the yellow legal pad. I'm sure I'll have time to scribble in between New Business Items.

Pretty Darn Cool

I signed up to participate in The Romance Review's Sizzling Summer Reads event this summer. (See my earlier post for more details.) I'd never done anything like this before so I was understandably nervous. The part that made me the most worried was the chat I'd blithely signed up for. What would I say? What if no one said anything back to me? What if the only thing you hear were the virtual crickets out there? I stalked the chat the day before to see what the previous author's ideas were. She asked questions. That was good. I admit I swiped that idea. I asked when would you go if you could go any when in time? There were people out there ready to play!

Later on I decided to throw out a a blurb from RIBBONS--that was what the whole idea was supposed to be, after all. Sell the book that was published. However, I also decided to give the readers who dropped by a taste of the story I'm currently writing. It's a neat story, if I do say so myself. It's a contempo…

Avoiding Reality

I have bills to pay, dinner to figure out, a three year old in need of a bath today and what I am I doing? Idly flipping through my recommendations on Amazon looking for more books to read. I just got a Kindle in May and it has only about six books on it. Definitely not enough. It's way too easy to spend money on that toy, though it doesn't take over my house the way the paper books do . . . Anyway, isn't writing and reading just another way to avoid reality?

I have a niece who reads probably about as much, if not more, that I did at her age. We talk books all the time. I've gotten her hooked on a few writers--that's a rather fun feeling, I admit. However, I remember one conversation we had. Like most teenagers she wishes at times that she was anywhere but where she is. Remember that time? I do. It's when I spent most of my time in other worlds--ones I created or the worlds of the writers I loved. I remember back then thinking about how cool would it be to be a…

The Demise of Print?

I was just reading Piers Anthony's website. For those of you who don't know who he is, Piers Anthony is one of the biggest names in fantasy. He's written the Immortals series, and the punnish Xanth series for years. I think Xanth may be on book forty-something. He said something interesting in his notes that made me think  . . . 

Publishing is at a crossroads. I remember when I first started getting my first rejection letters. You'd look up the information in THE WRITER'S MARKET, write up your query letter, include your SASE (Self-addressed, stamped envelope) kiss it good luck and send it off. Months later you'd receive a standard, "Dear Author:" letter. The big publishers in New York still work that way. Though more often than not, they're talking only to agents. So, you send your letter to the agent now and get your rejection. An agent once spoke at a convention I went to. He said you can get an agent if you have a contract in hand. However, you…

Sizzling Summer Reads (Romance)

Great news! RIBBONS OF MOONLIGHT will be featured on The Romance Reviews Sizzling Summer Reads extravaganza. RIBBONS will be the book of the week from June 6th-June 10th. I will be hosting a chat in the Lounge on the 21st of June. Come celebrate the Solstice with me at 8am EST. We'll talk romance, young adult books, how to keep the muse motivated, or about how to balance work, writing and munchkin. We'll toss a couple of topics out there to bat around.

Check out TRR on the 22nd and answer my question to win your choice of a print or ecopy of RIBBONS OF MOONLIGHT. A hint is in this blog, so look around and see if you can find it!

I'm really excited about being a part of this. Part of me is still mildly freaking out over being a part of a society of writers, but school's almost out and I'm ready and willing to dive into writing, editing and marketing. Stop by TRR. I hope to see everyone there!

Stalking the Muse

You know, when my students have writer's block I laughingly tell them to kill someone off. Apparently, they need to ratchet up the tension and a body hitting the floor does that. However, when I have writer's block . . . it's a different story. I think my muse is playing hide and seek right now. Last week, the words were flying. I couldn't get them down on the screen fast enough. This week the blinking cursor is mocking me. I know it's laughing and there's nothing I can do about it right now.

I'd like to say that it's everything going on at work right now that's driven the ideas clean out of my head. It would sound valid enough--I teach 8th grade and 8th graders in May at the start of a heat wave here in Chicago can definitely drive the blood pressure sky high. I actually don't go to the doctor on purpose at this time of year. Last time I did I got yelled at. Came back three weeks later and I was fine. Add to that the pension fiasco and attacks …

Review of Heavenly Pleasure by V. Mark Covington

I recently read Heavenly Pleasure by fellow Solstice author V. Mark Covington. HP was not published by Solstice, rather by Aspen Mountain Press. Mark's next book,  is being published by Solstice.

Like I said before, I like books with twists. This book had twists and turns. It was funny, irreverent and sweet all at the same time. Heavenly Pleasure is available at