Reflections on 2013 and Remembering Kitty

2013 was a different year, a better year. It was the year I became a published author. In June Rocking Horse published my book P.A.W.S. Later in the year I was published two more times, in Flash It! and Fauxpocalypse. But it was not just that I was published, it was that I became part of a community of writers.

In November 2012 when I attempted NaNoWriMo for the first time I was alone. Sure I read the pep talks that NaNo sent me and logged on each day to record my word count, but my Facebook friends and real life friends were on the whole not writers. They cheered me on if I posted a word count, but didn’t quite get what I was trying to do. Maybe I didn’t get it myself.

I wrote P.A.W.S. because I had to, because the story burned inside me. I had few thoughts that it would be published or that I would even share it with anyone. After all I’d been writing my whole life, but never finished or shared anything.

So it was with a huge amount of trepidation that I took the prologue of P.A.W.S. to the writer’s group at All On The Same Page and read it aloud. The response and support of the other writers blew me away and I can honestly say that without their support I wouldn’t be a published writer today.

Yesterday I heard the sad news that a friend of mother’s in Karmiel, Kitty Kolker passed away. Kitty was a wonderful woman and also had a story inside her that the world needed to hear and in 2007, she self-published a book “Freda”, a fictional war memoir, that she dedicated to her husband Lipman.

Lipman and Kitty, Kitty and Lipman – whenever I visited Karmiel they were always together. My heart goes out to Lipman Kolker today. RIP Kitty.

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An Interview with Schevus Osborne

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Today at Paws4Thought I welcome Fauxpocalypse author Schevus Osbourne. Tell us a little bit about yourself Schevus.

I am a 28 year old software developer by day. I served in the Air Force for four years, which gave me an easy springboard into my career field, even though I wasn’t (and still am not) finished with my four year degree. Given my recent interest and moderate levels of success with fiction writing, I don’t know if that degree is ever going to get finished. I would love to be able to transition into writing as my career, even if some of it has to be more mundane work than fiction writing.

I like reading, traveling, board games, backpacking/hiking, and scuba diving to name a few things. I have been to all 50 US states and several countries so far, with a near infinite list of destinations I want to visit.

Tell us about your story in Fauxpocalypse. How did you come up with the idea?

I was very interested in the idea of Fauxpocalypse for a long time before I got around to submitting a story for it, which had Misha grinding his teeth I am sure. Some prompts hit me right in my creative soft spot, and some stories have to be drug out kicking and screaming. “No Good Deed” was more the latter, but not as bad as some. I decided to grease the wheels for this story by leaning heavily on my own family for the characters and setting. How would we handle the near end, I wondered.

How realistic do you think the future you predicted in your story is?

I think it’s fairly realistic. Slow decline and eventually total collapse of basic services and amenities. Diminishing supplies. Closing up of extra-familial social circles. I think all of these are likely to happen given the scope of events depicted in Fauxpocalypse.

If you thought that the world was really going to end, what would you do?

That depends on the timeline I’m afforded. In Fauxpocalypse, the people on Earth (some at least) have two years warning. If I had that kind of time, I would probably travel to the top destinations on my list. I love to travel, and I don’t think that would change much given a shorter expiration date on my life.

I would probably finance these trips by racking up credit card debt. Obviously, given the setting in Fauxpocalypse, that could come back to bite me, but who’s working at the banks then anyway? Hopefully it all gets lost in the shuffle.

If the end was going to come suddenly, I would just enjoy quality time with friends and family. There’s little in my life that I feel I have been denied, so my final days would no doubt be disappointingly mundane from other people’s perspectives.

What inspires you to write?

Writing is just about the only creative pursuit for which I show any talent. I love to read, and I want people to enjoy my stories as much as I’ve enjoyed the countless stories I’ve read.

There’s also a bit of a challenge factor to writing that appeals to me. Composing a story that works is a little like being presented with a blank jigsaw puzzle, all mixed up, and drawing the picture on the pieces as you assemble them. It’s not always easy to get the pieces to fit together right, and even if they do, the picture can still be wrong, since you’re making it up as you go along.

Who are your favorite authors? What are currently reading?

My favorite authors tend to be more obscure than most people are familiar with. I am a big fan of niche British science fiction, so my two favorites are Dan Abnett and Aaron Dembski-Bowden. I am embarrassed to say I’m under-read on what are conventionally considered the “must read” books. I am working on remedying that now that I’m taking writing more seriously.

I always have multiple books I am reading simultaneously. Currently, I am reading The Stand by Stephen King, which is on hold so I can finish Misha Burnett’s Cannibal Hearts in time for our next writer’s group meeting. I am also reading an anthology of military time travel called Marching Time, and a book of poetry by Shane Koyczan called Our Deathbeds Will be Thirsty.

Tell us about the other stories you’ve had published?

So far I have had three short stories accepted and published in print, including my story in Fauxpocalypse. My first was “After Hours” in Spirits of St. Louis: Missouri Ghost Stories. I’ve always really enjoyed ghost stories, and being an open call from a local publisher, it was a natural fit to submit for that anthology. I was very excited to be accepted so early into my writing pursuits.

Shortly after learning that was accepted, I got word that my drabble “Shattered Dreams” would be included in 100 Worlds: Lightning Quick SF & Fantasy Tales. The idea of a 100 word science fiction story was too interesting of a challenge to pass up, even though that was a non-paying market, which I tend to avoid.

I have also recently had another flash fiction story accepted, called “Agent of Good.” The story is biblical speculative fiction set in the Garden of Eden, and should be released in January.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on something of a thriller short story for an open call for a Facebook group’s anthology. I am afraid I’m not going to make the deadline on that, unfortunately, though I plan to finish the story as it should be easy to pitch to other markets.

After that I’ll be moving on to a horror story set in colonial South Carolina for another Facebook group project.

During and after those, I hope to focus again on my novel project that I flailed at some for NaNoWriMo.

How can readers connect with you?

Readers can follow and interact with me through several outlets:

My blog: http://schevusosborne.com

Twitter: @SchevusOsborne

Facebook: http://facebook.com/SchevusOsborne

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“50 Years of Blood, Sweat, and Tears”

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In P.A.W.S. birthdays have significance. Both Miri and her omama, Celia share the same birthday in October, and Cecilia passes on her silver cat charm and dies on her birthday in the opening chapter of P.A.W.S.

In reality it’s never quite as neat as that. My own omama, Sophie died on Yom Kippur four days before her 70th birthday. I was ten years old. The December before I’d had my “last” birthday party. Double digits were a big deal for a kid, and I felt that after that I would be too old for children’s parties with pass the parcel and musical chairs.

The next party I had was when I was 16 – my first teen party. It was a disaster! At that stage of my life I had two separate groups of friends, my school friends from Barking and my Habonim friends from the Jewish youth group I was active in. I was naïve enough to believe that the two groups would mix. They did not. The only thing that brought everyone together was the awful burnt pizza I produced about half-way through the evening. I decided once more that birthday parties were not a good idea.

Three years later I was in Jerusalem for my birthday at the Machon L’Madrichei Chutz La’Aretz. A couple of my Habonim friends took me out for my birthday to Chocolate Soup and when I came back to the Machon they had prepared a surprise party for me and this card.

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That year on my birthday I was happy!

At 30 a lot of my friends were starting to feel their age, but I had recently met the man who would become my husband and he was 42 (the meaning of life), so 30 didn’t seem such a big deal to me.

At 40 I had another less than successful birthday party, with a new collection of friends who didn’t really mix well together – you think I’d have learnt my lesson after so many years.

So now I’m 50 and I truly don’t know what I feel about it. So I did what any self-respecting blogger would do and asked my friends. Exactly 42 friends on my friend list on Facebook are turning 50 this year. So I wonder what does half a century mean to everyone?

Tarquin named the conversation “50 years of Blood Sweat and Tears” – and it seemed apt. No one’s lives are perfect, and often it’s those difficult times that leave the biggest marks, but also make us stronger.

Here is a selection of the responses I received:

“Another year older for me. Boring I know, but it is just a number. But if I plan to celebrate mine, I’d like to go on a one in a lifetime holiday.” (Tarquin, UK)

“Just one word – Ugh.” (Robin, USA)

“Half a century. Or half a telegram from the Queen.” (Wayne, UK)

“I am the same age as Dr. Who, James Bond, and Elric of Melnibone. That makes me the perfect age, as far as I’m concerned.” (Misha, USA)

“My brain tells me that I am not 50 but body says differently. Is 50 middle age, or the new 40?” (Anita, UK)

“The first half century is just for practice–it doesn’t count.” (Misha, USA)

“What does being fifty mean? The realisation that I really have grown up, and being young again is not so much a non-option as a non-reality.  (Ray, Canada)

“It’s taken all these years and I still don’t know where I’m at.” (Lorraine, UK)

“I think when you truly know where you are you stop looking, and it is the looking that keeps us going forward, what happens when you get where you are going?” (Ray, Canada)

“I think I’m at the point in my life when I have stopped looking for anything specific and just being open to all the strange and wonderful things that I run across.” (Misha, UK)

“I have no idea what it means. I turned 50 myself a few days ago as does my brother in law tomorrow. When contemplating what I could get for him I realized the best present would be another 50 years. This, unfortunately, is out of my budget.” (Martyn, USA)

“It’s a great milestone. I have clear memories of some periods of my Habo days and school days as if it were yesterday but can’t remember what I did last month! Living my life away from my birthplace somehow makes me feel younger than 50. Living in Oz and it’s outdoor lifestyle allows me to breathe.” (Howard, Australia)

“Still enjoying the last few months of my first half century. Living in blissful denial.” (Yael, Israel)

“Having hit the half century 3 months ago it really makes no difference, it’s just a number. I live in the same street as I did as a child. My own family has grown and I now have an amazing granddaughter as well as my 2 own children, who I am extremely proud of. I am still as crazy as when I was young and surprisingly, 50 now seems the new 25!!!!”  (Mary, UK)

“I turned 50 last month and realised that in the last couple of years I’ve actually started doing all the things I wanted to do before I had a family. I’ve achieved my degree, trained to be a primary school teacher and am now finally learning to drive. Having said that I am immensely proud of my 5 children and their achievements. Here’s to the next 50 for us all.” (Leigh, UK)

“Well I turned 50 last month and I made the most of it. It was an excuse to party . I also found it was a time that I started thinking about all my friends, old and new. The other milestones in my life and my kids. The 40s were very tough so I hope to make the most of the 50s.”  (Liz, UK)

“My idea of being 50 is to reap the benefits of the work, hardships, and tough times we all go through with bringing up families, living costs etc. But the hardest is to say goodbye to people – parents, relatives, friends. God willing I am looking forward to the children settling down and being ‘Granny M’” – (Manjit, UK)

So once more I’ve done what I tried to do several times when I was younger. I’ve brought together a group of folk from different parts of my life, but this time it seems to have worked, because we all have a half-century in common.

I’ll end here with a comment from Leigh:

“50 is a very good age to be. I can’t remember feeling better about my age than I do now.”

Happy Birthday to everyone who turns 50 this year or next – and if you have reached or are about to reach the half-century milestone please share your thoughts on what it means to you. I’d love to hear from you.

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Meet Kate I. Foley

“As the comet comes closer to Earth, we bid everyone farewell and a pleasant afterlife.” (Kate I. Foley, The End of the World as We Know It)

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Today I’m happy to welcome Fauxpocalypse contributor Kate I. Foley. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

 Well, I’m a homeschooled thirteen-year-old, I love to write and read, I’m obsessed with all things mystical (most of which includes Harry Potter somehow), I sometimes overuse emoticons, and I love chocolate and peanut butter. Seriously, whoever invented the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is a genius. A little fun fact: the “I” in Kate I. Foley stands for Isabel, which actually isn’t my legal middle name. Yet. 😉

Tell us about your story in Fauxpocalypse. How did you come up with the idea?

My story is about a girl named Natalie who firmly believes (well, for the most part) that the world is not going to end, despite what all the scientists have to say about it. I think I came up with the idea not long after I discovered the project, which my mom actually found and sent to me (thanks, Mom!). As soon as I read what the project what about, I had that R.E.M. song stuck in my head, “It’s the End of the World As We Know It.” And something just clicked, so I started writing.

Other folk in this anthology have predicted a future far darker than you. How realistic do you think the future you predicted in your story is?

I actually laughed when I read this question. I don’t think that this is very realistic at all, even though there most likely will be people like Natalie who think that everything’s a bunch of baloney, but I like writing fiction because you can create stuff that isn’t realistic. We spend so much time in the real world, day after day after day, so writing something that doesn’t exist or is never going to happen is a nice escape. It’s like writing a dream that you can experience while you’re awake.

If you thought that the world was really going to end, what would you do?

 Ooh, that’s a hard one. Even if I didn’t think it was real, I’d definitely have some doubts, like Natalie does, but I’d probably stay home with my family and dog. We’d play games, eat good food, and continue living life to its fullest while we could. If it’s going to happen, why spend time worrying about it while you can savor what’s left?

You call yourself the Magic Violinist. It’s a very cool name. How did you come up with it? Do you play violin?

Thank you! I’m glad you like it! Actually, my friend Ronald came up with the name when I was seven or eight. I was trying to think of a name for my blog, so I asked my friends for ideas. Ronald came up with it because I loved fantasy and I played the violin (and still do!). And so, the Magic Violinist was born.

The title of your story comes from an REM song – are you often inspired by music? Who are your favorite bands and artists?

Oh, yes. Music inspires me in my writing almost as much as reading does. Something about listening to all of the instruments and the lyrics and singers all connecting helps to make my writing click. I often imagine my books as movies, complete with actors and actresses cast as the characters, and then I create a soundtrack for it on my iPod. I’ll listen to that soundtrack while writing whatever I’m writing and it helps me to focus on creating something magical.

Favorite bands and artists include every from Taylor Swift (my absolute favorite) to The Civil Wars to Imagine Dragons, though at the moment I’m obsessed with Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire” and OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars”. I also love all of the soundtracks from “The Hunger Games” movies. “Safe and Sound” by Taylor Swift is haunting.

What are you currently reading? Who are your favorite authors?

 Currently reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. After the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Rainbow Rowell is my absolute favorite author. Eleanor & Park was one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. I think it even tops John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, though that book is amazing too. I’m also rereading the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, since the movie is fast approaching (!!!). That ending in Allegiant made me turn a little green with envy at Roth’s writing skills.

What do you imagine yourself doing ten years from now?

Hopefully writing full time! By that time I’ll be twenty-three, so I’ll have finished college. I might have met a guy, but that sort of stuff is impossible to predict. Right now my goal is to find an agent before I’m twenty so I can say I got an agent when I was a teenager.

What do you most enjoy writing?

I write about everything under the sun. I’ve written contemporaries, fantasy, science fiction, dystopians, short stories, poetry, and much, much more. But I also write about different topics with different characters and themes, so I’m hoping that if I write a little bit of everything, there will always be a little something for anybody who reads my work. I hate it when people say to only write what you know, because if that’s all you write, that’s all you’ll ever write, and you’ll only get the same kinds of readers. Plus, if you only write what you know, how will you ever grow as a writer?

Thanks so much for having me, Debbie! J

Connect with Kate on her blog and follow her on Twitter.

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7 Different Types of Readers: Which Do You Write For?

Creative Writing with the Crimson League

S1207951_woman_reading_at_homeometimes it feels like there are as many ways to read, and as many reading preference, as there are readers. We can read with a focus on learning or on entertainment. We can actively engage and question the text, or we can be more passive. We can read to challenge and push ourselves, or we can read as a form as escapism.

When it comes to fiction, of course, “learning” as a underlying purpose for reading is much more rare than for a nonfiction text. That doesn’t mean there aren’t multiple ways, or reasons, to read a novel.

Readers come in all shapes and sizes. Here are just a handful of types we writers should be aware of:

1. READERS WHO FOCUS ON CHARACTER.

These are readers who delve into literary fiction, and don’t understand how other people can call a character study “boring” or say that “nothing happens.”

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Introducing Matt Blashill

matticus

Today we welcome Matt Blashill. Tell us a little bit about yourself Matt.

I live in Southern California.  Next question…

What?  You asked for “a little bit.”  Okay, okay, so I’m silly.  I blame my dad for that.  Or, is it that I have him to thank for it?

I studied psychology in college. I thought I was going to study ecology, behavior, and evolution, but then found out it was going to take a lot of work and a lot of memorization to be anything like Steve Irwin.  And for some reason, studying people was a lot less work.  Or, maybe it just came to me more naturally.  Perhaps it was simply because all the psych tests were essays and I’ve never had a problem putting words together.

After college I got lost in my 9 – 5 job for a while. Then I remembered a story I had started writing in junior high.  Once I got that down on paper I just kept writing.

I started blogging about a year ago, and that has provided a platform for me to branch out into multiple genres, test my limits, and learn so much more about writing than I ever learned in school.  Because blogging, for me, is about writing just to write, while in school it was writing for a specific purpose.

I think I’ll stop there because the “little bit” has turned into far more than you probably wanted to know.

Tell us about your story in Fauxpocalypse. How did you come up with the idea?

I had never written something about real people before working on my Fauxpocalypse piece.  All my stories had a touch of fantasy to them, where I could use magic, or a special skill to get my characters out of trouble.  But, with Fauxpocalypse I wasn’t going to be able to do that.  They needed to be real.  So, I asked myself what I would do if I found out tomorrow the world was going to end in a few months, and I just started writing around the basic idea that I wouldn’t have ever fully trusted that information.  I would have held out hope, and done something to ensure that if somehow my family survived initially, I could help them survive long term as well.

How realistic do you think the future you predicted in Returning Home is?

Very realistic, which is both sad and uplifting at the same time.  I often see both sides of humanity, that which tears itself apart, and that which chooses to stand tall and do the right thing against all odds.  If the world were going to end, I can definitely see factions of it fighting over scraps, fighting for their own futile gains, while others would continue to help those around them and try and build up a community that would fight for one another.

If you thought that the world was going to end, what would you do?

Prepare for it.  I’d try and make peace with it, continue to live as best I can, but I’d also make sure I had back up plans and provisions in case the world didn’t end.

Are you a prepper like Jake or a partier like Alicia?

I’ve been both.  I’m currently more like Jake.

What inspires you to write?

Yes.  Is that not a good enough answer?

Reading and seeing the worlds created by others through their words inspires me to write.  Watching the sun rise and set on my way to and from work inspires me to write.  Standing by the side of the river my family has camped near for over 50 years (now four generations), thinking about the stories that have come from that river already, and the ones that haven’t happened yet, inspires me to write.  Movies, music, comic books, work, comedians, memories, day dreams…

Who are your favorite authors?

In no particular order: Stephen King, Margaret Weiss, Dean Koontz, Mary Stewart, William Shakespeare, CS Lewis, George RR Martin.

What are you currently reading?

Stephen King’s “Doctor Sleep”

What new stories and anthologies are in your future?

I’m in the middle of finishing my NaNo project from this year.  It’s about a failed magician who finds himself caught in the middle of a battle between sorcerers and a faction that is trying to wipe out magic altogether.  His allegiance is initially to the magicians, because despite the fact that he can’t cast spells himself he still loves that world.  But, as the story progresses he begins to question the motives and tactics of the sorcerers and has to figure out not only where he stands in regards to the ongoing battle, but what he wants to make of himself.

That sounds awesome. I really look forward to reading it!

How can readers connect with you?

My main blogging outlet is http://thematticuskingdom.wordpress.com.  While I do tend to pop up several other places across the blogosphere I always link back to the kingdom so it’s good place to keep track of all my words.  And, I’m also on twitter: @matticusdj.

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Christmas Kitten

Another kitty I thank in my dedication of P.A.W.S. is Pinky. In this story from Twas the Night Before, my husband talks about how he first met Pinky – the Christmas Kitten.

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Christmas Kitten

It was a sad fall when my long time kitty

companion left me. I missed having a cat around

the house. I called everyone who advertised free

kittens, but was always too late. All gone, too

close to Christmas. Then I saw an ad: “Christmas

Kittens – Just two left”. I rushed to the address

and as I walked to the door someone came out

carrying a kitten. “Don’t worry,” she said, seeing

my dismay, “there’s one left.” Inside I found the

cutest little kitten. He looked almost exactly like

my last cat. Except for the nose. His nose was

pink. So I called my new companion Pinky.

Ian Kupfer

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