Guest Post: Seasons of Story

Today, I welcome to the blog a good friend who has been here a number of times—the great Lyn Miller-Lachmann. You have the floor now, Lyn!

Spring is my favorite season. I appreciate the buds and blossoms, the longer days, the fresh smell of grass after a rain shower. Yet I don’t feel the urgency to get outside with each warm day, the way I do in the fall. I know there will be many more warm, sunny days. I can afford to waste a few of them.

Writing fiction, though, I have to break the habit of wasting days. I don’t mean procrastinating in my daily word count. As a fan of spring and its endless possibilities, I tend to let my characters dilly-dally, smelling the roses, spending an afternoon on a winery tour in southern Moravia while the bad guys hunt them down.

A tight timeline is a writer’s friend. While many successful novels take place over the course of a calendar year, or in books for kids and teens, a school year (or four), tension rises when events occur within a short period of time. In some cases, there’s a ticking clock—something bad that will happen within a week if the protagonist doesn’t stop it. Long timelines tend to defuse tension, though they’re better suited to quieter novels that prioritize the emotional growth of the protagonist over a triumph over an evil adversary. As any critic of insta-love will tell you, genuine relationships and emotional transformation need time to develop.

I’ve found that my most successful novels take place over the course of one season. Of the middle grade and YA manuscripts I’ve completed—three published, two unpublished, and two due to be published in 2022—two take place in spring, two in fall, one in the northern hemisphere summer but the southern hemisphere winter, one in a six-month period between February and August cutting across three seasons, and one over the course of an entire year. The weakest manuscript, now shelved, takes place over the entire year, and much of it feels like vignettes rather than a story that builds tension to a climax. The other unpublished story awaiting revisions is a YA historical romance that takes place over a few weeks, and I’m coming to realize that I need a longer timeframe for the romance, one that balances the ups and downs of their relationship while taking into account the outside threats that the new couple faces. I will need the entire season, not just a month within it.

Given that I tend to keep the timeframe within a single season, how do I choose the season for each story? In general, I let the school calendar define my window, as school is such an important part of life for children and teenagers. My forthcoming middle grade verse novel Moonwalking, which I’m writing with Zetta Elliott [below], takes place in fall because it’s the start of the school year and my protagonist, JJ, is a newcomer to his neighborhood and school. Faced with the foreclosure of their home on Long Island and JJ’s inability to secure a scholarship at his Catholic school due to poor grades and behavioral issues, his parents move to his grandmother’s basement apartment in Brooklyn just before the school year starts. The novel explores JJ’s adjustment to attending a public school for the first time, one in which there are few white kids like him.

In contrast, my 2015 YA historical novel, Surviving Santiago, is a summer vacation story. While her newly remarried mother goes on honeymoon, Tina journeys to visit her father in Santiago, Chile, where it’s the middle of winter—though a much milder winter than it would be in her Wisconsin home. In Chile she counts down the days until she returns to her friends and her daily routines. Her father’s home is a disorienting and dangerous place on the cusp of transition from dictatorship to democracy, a time of settling scores with people who upheld a violent regime and people like her father who helped bring it down. The countdown in this “upside-down” situation means returning to safety, at least until Tina meets a mysterious boy her ago with so much in common, and then she doesn’t want to leave at all. In Surviving Santiago, the season of the year works on multiple levels, including as a metaphor for the situation in which Tina finds herself.

Other factors can determine a choice of seasons. What sports are in season at the time? That had a lot to do with my choice for Rogue, set in a northeastern US spring with opportunities for mountain biking through muddy trails and swollen creeks. With historical fiction, reality often determines when the story begins. The inciting incident for my forthcoming YA novel, Torch, involves a teenage political activist motivated by actual events that occurred one and two months earlier, in January and February of that year; in March, he would be the third to carry out the same act.

Choosing the season for your setting, and using it as a ticking clock or metaphor can help you structure your story. Your details specific to that season root your story in a time and place and help your setting become a character in itself. If you don’t like that season (and I’m not a fan of either summer or winter), you can give your book a dystopian feel, as I did with Surviving Santiago. Or you can imbue it with the kind of possibility that you feel when the calendar, and the weather, turns to your favorite time of the year.

Lyn Miller-Lachmann writes fiction and nonfiction for teens and translates children’s books from Portuguese and Spanish to English. She debuted with the award-winning historical novel, Gringolandia, followed by its companion Surviving Santiago, and  has two more historical novels forthcoming in 2022: Moonwalking (co-authored with Zetta Elliott) and Torch. She also wrote the pioneering #ownvoices middle grade novel, Rogue, based on her experience of growing up autistic but not yet diagnosed.

L. Marie here. I just learned of another book project that Lyn is working on—a nonfiction book. Check it out here: https://www.lynmillerlachmann.com/i-get-to-write-another-book/

Author photos courtesy of Lyn Miller-Lachmann. Photo of Lyn by Joan Heffler. Daffodil photo by L. Marie.

I’m Tired of the Line

I was thinking today of how I miss the days of neighbors being neighbors, instead of human fence posts divided over a vote (or a nonvote).

I’m tired of the line that says, “Do not cross unless you agree.” Tired of sides. Tired of suspicious looks or decisions to keep a war going without thought of the cost. Because war always has a cost. If you don’t believe that, take a gander at all of the crosses at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.

I’m tired of us and them being wielded like blades. Whatever happened to our and we? Whatever happened to together?

I remember, back in 2005, when Hurricane Rita hit Texas, where my parents live. Their neighborhood (outside of Houston) was without electricity for over a week. Since many had electric stoves, they were forced to cook on a grill. Neighbors cooked for other neighbors, gladly sharing what they had.

In geometry we’re told that a line is the shortest distance between two points (though some dispute the type of line). Maybe we could draw a line of connection between each other instead of a line that separates.

Neighbors being neighborly: https://laurabrunolilly.com/neighborly-meals/

Line image from imwithlee.com. Normandy crosses from duffelblog.

This Is Fall

These days, when I think of fall, I think of falling into bed onto my mass of pillows, because of long workdays. And because of said workdays, I think of these:

  

😄 😁 The chocolate came from a friend who sent a care package of goodies. The apple cider donuts are a fall favorite.

But on a day like today, with the weather so lovely, I headed out to snap tree photos (though some were taken on a different day when the weather was equally gorgeous).

 

And I couldn’t help noticing that the squirrels, the usual suspects around here, have partaken of another fall fave. Thanks, guys. ’Preciate it. 😐 😑So glad you don’t have access to my apple cider donuts.

Fall is my favorite season, because of the beautiful colors of the leaves and the cooler weather. Sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit—that’s ideal to me. But I also enjoy the snap of a forty-five degree day.

Today, however, the temperature shot up to 72 degrees. Woooooo—summer is back! (You might be thinking I’ve lost it, if you’re someone who thinks the perfect summer day means an 80-degree day.) Several people were out in T-shirts, enjoying the breeze.

What’s your favorite season? What do you like or love about fall? While you think of that, as promised, I will announce the winner of the preorder of Saint Ivy by the fabulous Laurie Morrison.

 

And that winner is Marian Beaman! Marian, please comment below to confirm.

Author photo and book cover courtesy of Laurie Morrison. Author Photo Credit: Laura Billingham. Other photos by L. Marie.

Cover Reveal—Saint Ivy: Kind at All Costs

Today on the blog I’m delighted to have with me the always fabulous Laurie Morrison, another of my splendid Secret Gardener classmates. Laurie is here to talk about the cover of her upcoming middle grade novel, Saint Ivy: Kind at All Costs (Abrams/Amulet Books). Laurie is represented by Sara Crowe.

Feast your eyes!

Here is the synopsis:

A thoughtful middle-grade novel about caring for others and for yourself—and what it truly means to be kind and vulnerable

Thirteen-year-old Ivy Campbell has always been a good kid: She supports her soccer-star brother, bakes with her nana, and puts her friends’ needs before her own. So of course, Ivy is 100 percent supportive when her mom decides to be a gestational surrogate. But when Ivy finds out the surrogacy treatment worked and her mom is pregnant—and has been for weeks—she’s shocked that she’s jealous and worried about what others will think. And most of all, she’s ashamed that she isn’t reacting to this news in the right way. The Ivy way. Ivy is determined to prove to herself that she’s just as unselfish as she’s always believed, and she gets the chance to do that when she receives an anonymous email from someone who needs her help. But the more Ivy dives into helping this anonymous person, the further she gets from the people she loves—and from the person who she wants to be.

El Space: When Saint Ivy was accepted for publication, what thoughts, if any, did you have about what the cover might look like? How involved were you in the cover process?
Laurie: I didn’t have a concrete vision for the cover, but I figured my publishing team would want it to pair well with the cover for my last novel, Up for Air. So I thought this cover would also have bold, bright colors, and I assumed it would be illustrated, rather than using a photo as some MG covers do. I was right about those things! But I also thought it might have more than one character on it. I was vaguely picturing Ivy in the middle with other characters around her. A lot of the plot is centered around some anonymous emails Ivy receives, and at different points in the book, she thinks different people might be the mystery emailer. So I thought maybe the characters she thinks could be emailing her would be surrounding her in the middle or something like that. But I love what they went with instead!

I wasn’t involved in coming up with the concept, but I was asked to provide a list of character descriptions back at the beginning of 2020, before the book had gone through edits, so that the team knew what all the characters looked like when they began cover discussions. And then I saw a few different versions once they’d settled on the concept, and my agent and I gave some feedback about Ivy’s appearance and the color scheme. The designer and illustrator made some great tweaks to accommodate our feedback, and it came together really well!

El Space: I love the cover! Who designed it? Who illustrated it?
Laurie: Thank you, me too! Jason Ford did the illustrations and Marcie Lawrence is the designer.

El Space: What was your reaction to the cover?
Laurie: From the first time I saw an early version, I loved the concept. I thought it was so smart, fun, and fresh. My editor and I had gone back and forth a lot about whether Saint Ivy was the right title for the book, because it’s not a book about religion. It fits the book well in a lot of ways, but we wanted to make sure the title wouldn’t give the wrong idea about the story. I’m so happy with the way the cover leans into the “saint” idea and plays around with it. The inspiration was to create a “lives of the saints” style fresco, but with fun modern objects that relate to Ivy’s story instead of religious iconography. I love the illustration style, which reminds me of the style for Up for Air even though it’s a different illustrator, and I think it’s really intriguing to have all those objects around Ivy because it raises questions about how they all fit together. As a reader, I would look at the cover and be eager to find out what all the items mean—if I hadn’t already read the book 500 thousand times, that is 😊. I also love Ivy’s hair—which is a lot like mine!—and her outfit. The first version I saw wasn’t yellow, and when I saw the final version with the color change, I was excited. It’s so vibrant!

El Space: When can we expect to see Saint Ivy out in the world?
Laurie: It’s coming out on May 18, 2021! And the paperback of Up for Air will release the month before, on April 13, with a sneak peek at the beginning of Saint Ivy inside.

El Space: Yay! I understand you have some other great book news. Please share!
Laurie: Yes, thank you! I’ve been working on an upper middle grade softball book called Coming Up Short, and it sold to my wonderful editor, Maggie Lehrman, and is slated to come out in spring 2022. Here’s the short pitch: After her father’s very public fall from grace, thirteen-year-old Bea self-destructs during the biggest game of her life. She doesn’t know how to connect with her dad if she isn’t a star shortstop, so she sets off on a summer trip to stay with her estranged aunt and attend a softball camp where she’s determined to fix her throw to first base and, hopefully, her family.

It partly takes place in a fictionalized New Jersey town that’s a lot like where I grew up, and it partly takes place in Gray Island, the setting from Up for Air! I’m very excited and grateful to get to keep working with Maggie and the whole team at Abrams, and this story is especially personal and important to me. Plus, I just love writing about girls playing sports!

El Space: Thank you for being my guest, Laurie!
Laurie: Thanks so much for having me and for your awesome questions!

Looking for Laurie? Check out her website, Instagram, and Twitter.

And while you wait for Saint Ivy to debut, check out Laurie’s other books.

  

Comment below to be entered into a drawing for a preorder of Saint Ivy! Winner to be announced some time next week (once I make my deadline).

Author photo and book covers courtesy of Laurie Morrison. Author photo credit: Laura Billingham.

Adaptations

I recently watched and loved Enola Holmes, a Netflix original movie starring Millie Bobby Brown in the title role.

What’s unusual about this, at least for me, is that I hadn’t read even one of the books by Nancy Springer prior to watching it. (Not sure how I missed reading the first book at least when it debuted.) So I can’t say if the movie is a faithful adaptation or not. But watching it made me want to read the books. It had a great cast, an exciting plot, and decent production values.

  

Usually, if a film is adapted from on a MG or YA book or series, more than likely, I would have read the book first. Twilight? Check. The Fault in Our Stars? Check. Harry Potter? Duh. Hunger Games? C’mon. You’re not even trying.

  

One of my pet peeves is when the movie adaptation is so far removed from the source material that I wind up questioning why the film company optioned the rights in the first place. Why bother if you plan to completely change it? And I know: sometimes changes are made because the producers think new fans won’t care, since they probably didn’t read the book in the first place. If that’s the case, at least make it good.

When I think of my favorite adaptations, my go-tos are LoTR and the Harry Potter franchise. I also love Howl’s Moving Castle, though it is very different from Diana Wynne Jones’s classic novel. But since it is a Miyazaki film, I couldn’t help loving it.

  

I won’t go into my least favorites, because that would I don’t want to add a negative rant to this post. I’ll say this much: both begin with the letter E. I shudder every time I think of them.

What’s your favorite adaptation? While you think of that, I’ll move on to the winner of A Home for Her Daughter by Jill Weatherholt.

    

The winner is Ginger!

Ginger, please comment to confirm! Expect a signed copy of A Home for Her Daughter to be sent to you.

Thank you so much to everyone who commented!

Enola Holmes poster from vitalthrills.com. Deathly Hallows Part 1 poster from collider.com. Return of the King poster from goldposter.com. TFIOS poster from WordPress.com. Enola Holmes series covers from Goodreads. Other photo by L. Marie.

Check This Out: A Home for Her Daughter

I’m so pleased to welcome to the blog today the fabulous Jill Weatherholt. Many of you know her and love her. She’s here to talk about her latest Love Inspired novel, A Home for Her Daughter, which was published on August 25.

 

      Here’s the synopsis:

One little girl could change her mom’s mind about love…To give her daughter a brighter future…she must leave the past behind. Inheriting a house, money and a camp is the fresh start Janie Edmiston has been praying for. But the will stipulates Janie must work with her childhood friend—and crush—Drew Brenner, to get the camp running…or lose it all. The newly divorced mother and the widower aren’t looking for love, but sometimes it takes a child to show two broken hearts the way forward…together.

Since Jill is known for her Would you rather . . .? interviews, I decided to use the same format with her.

El Space: Would you rather research and write your next book in Paris or Hawaii?
Jill: Definitely Hawaii. I’m not a city person at all. The ocean is my happy place. The sound of the waves, the smell of the salty air, the gentle breeze, the feel of the sand on my bare feet. I’m ready to go now! I could walk for miles and miles. For me, it’s the perfect place to be still.

El Space: Would you rather have to write a novel next to a room in which a baboon will screech for three minutes every hour for nine hours or write with the knowledge that at some point in the day, an unknown animal will suddenly appear (no advance warning) and brush you with its tail feathers for fifteen minutes?
Jill: I’ll take the baboon. I’m not a fan of surprises, so the idea of something suddenly appearing without notice, would scare me to death. Plus, I’m very ticklish. I could prepare for the baboon’s visits. I like to be prepared.

El Space: Would you rather have coffee or tea for deadline days?
Jill: Coffee for sure! I do enjoy tea, and I drink a lot of it in the winter months to stay warm, but I’ve yet to find one strong enough. I need that jolt. I drink my coffee black and extra strong. Derek has often referred to my cup of joe as “motor oil.”

El Space: You’re celebrating the release of your novel. Would you rather have a slice of cake, a cupcake, or the world’s finest granola bar?
Jill: Granola bar? Seriously? No way! I’m celebrating. Give me the slice of cake and cupcake, but only if it’s chocolate. Anything else is wasted calories.

Thanks, Jill, for putting up with my strange questions!
Looking for Jill? You can find her at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Looking for A Home for Her Daughter? (I couldn’t help chuckling at how that question sounded if taken out of context.) Head to Jill’s website for places to purchase. But one of you will find this lovely book in your very own mailbox. Winner to be announced on October 15.

Author photo courtesy of the author. Baboon image from blogspot.com. Hawaii image from Wallpaper Cave. Coffee image from Cup of coffee from clker.com. Granola bar image from the Food Network.

Editing Phases

Not that you asked for this, but because someone I know had nooooooo idea what I’m currently doing to put bread on the table (“Um, writing?” was the guess), I thought I’d share what I do before I announce the winner of John Howell’s scrumptious novel, Eternal Road. Feel free to mentally check out if you’re not interested. Or, find yourself some coffee/tea and a doughnut/muffin/cookie/peanuts/whatever if you are.

 

I mentioned in a previous post that I wear many hats. These days, I am a freelance book editor/writer. Some people think editing is glorified proofreading—that all I do is check for typos and maybe correct a few mistakes in grammar.

Usually, when I’m hired by a publisher to edit a novel, I have to do what’s called a revision pass on the book. During that phase, I read the book and make notes on what the author needs to revise before the line edit occurs. This is the big picture phase. I have to say what works and what doesn’t. This is the place to address issues of character/perspective, setting, timeline, etc. Some big picture issues, however, don’t rear their heads until the line edit begins.

At this point, I’m not yet communicating with the author—just the in-house executive editor, publisher, or managing editor (whoever hired me to do the work). But this is the phase where I might say, “This character is not doing anything for this book. I suggest you cut him/her” or “Maybe this scene should come from this character’s perspective.” I often have to make hard calls like that. Another hard call is to say, “This scene that you’ve probably worked on for two weeks has to go, because it’s not advancing the plot one iota.” Believe me, I’ve been there in regard to cutting cherished scenes. (I’m the one who worked on a scene for two weeks only to have someone tell me to cut it.) So having to say that to someone is hard.

Some of you might be getting mad right about now, wondering how dare I tell an author to cut a cherished scene. But I do it, because that’s my job. I don’t work for the author. I work for the publisher. My job is make sure that whatever book I work on is acceptable to the publisher. So I can’t be a pushover in this regard. After all, would anyone want a dentist to tell you to keep the cavity you worked on for a year? If it’s hurting you, it has to go. But I will do my best to be fair. After all, editing choices are not a spur-of-the-moment choices. They come through a careful analysis of the book.

If the deadline is tight (and I don’t know too many publishing deadlines that aren’t these days), I’ll get a head start on the style sheet while the author revises the manuscript. The style sheet is a list of every character, place, and animal in the book, as well as other important proper nouns (wars, inventions, festivals, setting details), and issues the copy editor or proofreader might run up against. If the author spells a word a certain way (good-bye versus goodbye), that has to be noted as well. Terms that could be spelled a certain way have to be verified via the dictionary to avoid any confusion for the copy editor, proofreader, or anyone else who works on the book. Terms and grammar issues also have to be verified through The Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition) and the publisher’s style manual. I have to turn in the style sheet when I turn in the edited manuscript.

It’s a challenging job! Though as I mentioned I don’t work for the author, I am the author’s advocate. Everything is done to help that person’s book to shine.

Reinforcements I sometimes need when the going gets tough

I’ll stop here and get to the winner of John’s book. And that person is Laura Bruno Lilly. Congrats, Laura! Please comment below to confirm.

Edit image from clker.com. Proofread image from dreamstime.com. Other photos by L. Marie.

Check This Out: Eternal Road

Today on the blog I’m happy to have the one and only John Howell here to talk about his latest novel, Eternal Road. It was published on August 23. Go here to read a synopsis of the book. Now, give it up for John!

  

John: Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Linda. I certainly appreciate being here with you.

El Space: My pleasure, John. Four quick facts about yourself?
John: 1. I write every day.
2. I’ll be 80 years old in the spring.
3. I am a pantster and do not outline my work.
4. When I begin a novel, I write the last three lines and then go back and write to that conclusion.

El Space: Groovy! What inspired you to write this book? I can’t help thinking of a film from 1978 called Heaven Can Wait. The premise of that film is nothing like your book. But the life-after-death aspect of your book made me think of it.
John: I wanted to do a historical fiction novel. While I was doing the research, I wrote a short story that started with a couple hitchhiking, and then as the characters came alive, it went in a different direction. Sam, the female protagonist, is reminiscent of a childhood friend who moved away. James, the male protagonist, exhibits the feelings I had as a boy when I lost my childhood friend. She did eventually die when we were both 30. The story is pretty much a way of coming to grips with that double loss so many years ago.

El Space: I have to ask if there is a story behind the use of a 1956 Oldsmobile. Please shed light on that.
John: When I was in high school, a neighbor had a 1656 Oldsmobile identical to the car on the cover. I used to wash and wax that car and fell in love with it. I wanted to honor those memories somehow, so the vehicle is in the story as a tool for Sam and James.

El Space: Time travel also is an aspect of the story. What are some of your favorite time travel stories?
John: I’ve read and seen so many, but I have to say The Time Machine by H.G. Wells is my favorite. Another one was on The Twilight Zone, where a successful guy went back in time to start over for the thrill of building an empire all over again. He went back to the time before the automobile and tried to get people to help him make one. Of course, no one had the skills, so his trip (and deal with the devil) is a waste.

    

El Space: C. S. Lewis once mentioned,

All my seven Narnian books . . . began with seeing pictures in my head. At first, they were not a story, just pictures. The Lion [The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe] all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood.

When you think of developing a story, which comes first for you—images in your head? The characters? The plot?
John: This is like asking a golfer if they inhale or exhale before their swing. Let me think a moment. I think my stories come about as a result of the images in my head first. These images can be relatively sparse and only a partial picture of what will become the full story. After the images, I then concentrate on the characters. The characters guide the story, and as they develop, they have a hand in developing the plot. Many times, the characters will create plot points by merely acting the way they usually would behave. In Eternal Road, a massive scene develops in the basement of a house due to following the instincts of the two characters. They are in the place and want to look in the basement. I had not planned to have them discover something there until one character all of a sudden said, “I wonder what we will find in the basement.”

El Space: What genre would you love to tackle that you haven’t yet?
John: I would love to write a pure Science Fiction book. I think it would be fun to create a futuristic world complete with political and social infrastructure. At this point, I’m not sure if it would be a thriller type of Sci-fi story or not. I do think the characters would have to be from Earth and on a mission of some sort. I would hope the mission would be one that, if accomplished, the Earth would be better off. Maybe something like word has been received that the inhabitants of a nearby system have discovered the cure for Cancer. The mission would be to go to a planet and bring back the cure. Of course, it would not be all that easy. Maybe the therapy only works on those who carry the DNA of ancient space travelers who visited the Earth many centuries ago. Everyone else who gets vaccinated for the disease dies. Well, I guess it would be a thriller after all.

El Space: Wow that sounds great! Hope you write that book someday. In the meantime, what will you work on next?
John: I had not intended to extend Eternal Road into a series. There have been a couple of reviewers who flatly state that it should be a series. I was going to get to work on a long-awaited story of one of the characters in my John Cannon Trilogy. His name is Ned Tranes, and he is the police chief of Port Aransas, Texas. Now I think Ned’s story is going to wait another year. He is very patient since he has been waiting for three years already. The last encounter we had, Ned’s wife, was taken hostage by a band working for the drug cartel. You know nothing good can come from that. Well, let’s hope they treat his wife nicely until we can get back to set her free.

 

El Space: Oh dear.
John: So I think I will jump in and write book two of Eternal Road.

Good idea! Thank you, John, for hanging out with me.

Looking for John? Check his blog, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon.

Looking for Eternal Road? Click here!

One of you will find a copy of Eternal Road on your device or in your mailbox. Comment below to be entered in the drawing. Winner to be announced on September 30.

Other books by John:

 

Author photo and Eternal Road book cover courtesy of John Howell. Eternal Road book cover by Roseanna White Designs. Other book covers from Goodreads. Twilight Zone logo from Bloody Disgusting. Heaven Can Wait movie poster from RogerEbert.com.Sci-fi image from wallpaperup.com.

The Care and Feeding of a Freelancer

I have been a freelance writer/book editor/developmental editor/manuscript reviewer/indexer/copy editor/proofreader/several other hats for many years. I won’t say how many. Suffice it to say that when I started, cuneiform was the hot new mode of communication.

Being the kind and considerate person that you are, you probably have questions about freelancers. Perhaps a stray freelancer followed you home and you’re wondering how to take care of him or her. So glad you asked me to provide tips.

Handy Tips
• Always brush with the fur and not against.

• Be quick to offer chocolate, doughnuts, cake, cookies, other kinds of candy, and salted snacks of all varieties. The freelancer undoubtedly is house trained and won’t make a mess.

 

• Keep your freelancer hydrated with coffee, tea, and especially water during work hours.

 

• Homecooked meals are appreciated, especially during weeks when deadlines keep your freelancer chained to a computer. But don’t be surprised if your freelancer tells you, “I only have eight minutes to eat, so I’ll have to eat and run.”

• Encouragement/affirmations of any kind are welcome. Here are a few if you can’t think of any right off the bat: “You are the most interesting person on Planet Earth.” “Pajamas are a good look for you.” “That book should win a Pulitzer simply because you edited it.” “Don’t worry. I’m sure your client didn’t notice your bedhead in the last Zoom meeting.”

Things to Avoid
• Calling in the middle of the day to ask, “What are you doing?” with the assumption that “Nothing, because I’ve been waiting for your phone call” is the answer. The middle of the day (and sometimes the middle of the night) is prime working time. If your freelancer is anything like me, he or she probably works around the clock and doesn’t get weekends or paid holidays off. (If you don’t work, you don’t get paid.) Also, freelancers often are hired to take on fast-track jobs that regular staff members don’t have time for, hence the tight deadlines necessitating long work hours.)

• Saying things like, “You must get paid a fortune since you are freelance.” Freelancers have things like self-employment tax, equipment replacement, and other worries. Though many freelancers may have a number of projects to work on, the income is not often steady. I waited three months one time to get paid.

• Telling a freelancer, “Get a job with a steady income.” You might think that sounds logical. But have you checked the unemployment statistics lately? Need I say more? This piece of advice is about as welcome as “Snap out of it” is to someone depressed.

And there you have it! Just keep chucking chocolate and affirmations at your freelancer and before long, his or her coat will be glossy, and he or she will continue to thrive.

Now onto the winner of War of Nytefall: Ravenous by Charles Yallowitz. (See this post for more information.) That winner is Jill Weatherholt!

  

Jill, please comment below to confirm. Thank you to all who commented.

P.S. Thoughts and prayers are with the people on the West Coast in the wake of the terrible fires.

Freelancer image from PHXNews.com. Peace dove from clipart-library.com. No cell phone from firstoaktm.wordpress.com. No money sign from crazzzytravel.com. Other photos by L. Marie.

Check This Out—War of Nytefall: Ravenous

The world of the Dawn Fangs is about to explode into chaos thanks to Desirae Duvall.

Cover Art by Alison Hunt

In the shadows of Windemere, fangs are sprouting from the least likely of maws.

News is spreading that wild beasts with vampiric natures have been attacking mortals and carrying off random victims. With the Dawn Fangs still a secret from mortal society, Clyde fears that these strange creatures will reveal his peoples’ existence before they are ready. Old enemies and trusted friends begin to disappear as the investigation goes deeper into a business that has been lurking in the shadows of Windemere for decades. Those who return are beholden to a new master whose cunning is matched only by her primal desires. As his allies disappear, Clyde is left with the one he trusts the most in all of the world to help him solve this mystery. Too bad Mab has her own secret that can cause more damage to Nytefall than any vampiric beast.

Is this how the Dawn Fangs will be revealed to Windemere?

Still need more to wet your appetite? Then enjoy this excerpt:

Titus shrugs the girl off his shoulders and grips his blades, but refuses to draw them to avoid causing a scene. The warriors around him are on edge from overhearing Lost’s words and seeing his reaction, but they follow his example and keep their weapons sheathed. The Vengeance Hounds know that it is only a matter of time before the mortals with weaker wills lose control and drive the others into panic. They can hear the rumors of a deadly beast stalking the hunting party ripple through the crowd, each telling more gruesome and bone-chilling than the previous version. Several warriors ignore the warnings of their companions and draw their weapons, but keep them out of sight. Two of the casters begin to chant, which is revealed by the sparkle of magic on their lips. One by one, the lines of warriors stop walking and assume various defensive formations. Frustrated by the collapse of her army, the priestess turns around and tries to assure everyone that they are safe. Standing in the middle of the blossoming chaos, the Vengeance Hounds can only watch as the woman loses her temper and shouts at the archers who were supposed to maintain control.

The warriors go silent when a booming roar erupts from above and a large shadow passes over the area. With a gurgling scream, the priestess collapses in a heap and stares unblinking at the sky. The archers move away from the drooling woman, whose breathing has stopped as if she has been instantly turned off. Landing in front of the hunting party, a crimson-scaled Verenstone Dragon unfurls its muscular tails with one to each side and the other arching over its reptilian head. The thick ridge of black hair going down its back rustles and shivers in the breeze, which heats up as the monster bellows once more. Curled against its side are wings composed entirely of blue flame that licks at the trampled grass, but they are not hot enough to ignite the emerald blades. Leaning forward, the terrifying predator sniffs at the braindead priestess and chuckles before swallowing the body whole. In the brief moment that its mouth is open wide, the Vengeance Hounds notice that two of its teeth are changing as if they are stretching out of the gums. The plaque-covered ivory is curved in a way that makes it clear that they are fangs and the beast is in desperate need of a fresh meal. Its eyes scan the mortals and stop on the three Dawn Fangs for a moment, but it is enough to tell them that the cunning creature recognizes their true nature.

“A vampiric dragon,” Titus mutters under his breath.

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*****

Need to catch up? Then, check out Volumes 1-4 of War of Nytefall!

Cover Art by Alison Hunt

Interested in more Windemere? Then don’t forget to check out Charles E. Yallowitz’s first series: Legends of Windemere

All Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

About the Author:

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After spending many years fiddling with his thoughts and notebooks, he decided that it was time to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house with only pizza and seltzer to sustain him, Charles brings you tales from the world of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and drawing you into a world of magic.

Blog: www.legendsofwindemere.com
Twitter: @cyallowitz
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cyallowitz/

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