Archive for September, 2010

I Am Done!

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Done like dinner. Done like dirt. Done like a rusted doorknob that’s fallen off and smacked the floorboards.

I’ve finished the revisions on my single title.

I am so happy, I could spit. There, I did. Now I have to clean up the computer screen.

If I weren’t sicker than the proverbial dog right now, I would do a Snoopy dance. But my headache would just get worse. I’ll leave the dancing to my beagle.

This summer, I suffered a fair bit of writerly anxiety about EVER finishing this book. I love this book. But it’s been my “between projects” book. You know, the book you want to work on, the one you want to give priority, but every time you begin working on it, you get a request for another work you’ve stupidly queried (and you manage to sell it, so then you have publisher-stuff to do—I know, cry me a river, right?). Or you have to do page proofs, or some insane person got ahold of your brain and made you decide to take on three outside painting projects in one summer. Plus, you suffered through some really bad Empty Nest Syndrome and had to deal with the accompanying motherhood tasks that led to the ENS.

I should mention that these are self-induced revisions. I queried agents on the manuscript in question several months ago and received partial requests that unfortunately did not proceed to full manuscript requests. I sat there and pondered, do I keep going down the list of agents to query or do I figure out what’s wrong with the damn manuscript and get back to work?

I chose the latter route. Got some fine writers to critique the partial/full, realized what was missing and realized that the market had changed since I began writing the book and putting it aside, and working on it, and putting it aside. So what might have worked for the market back then no longer did. Then I did a whole lot of brainstorming with a former critique partner, based on the commonality I discovered in the critiques. Then I got back to work.

All in the life of a writer.

What comes next? I’m setting aside the manuscript for a couple of weeks. I’ve worked on the query letter pitch and am now revamping the synopsis. I need to update both this website and Penny’s (my nickname for my erotic romance pen name). I need to finish the damn outdoor painting (please, sun, that appeared this week, stay!!). And I want to edit an erotic romance single title for Penny and begin marketing it. THEN I’ll polish up the cindypk ST and begin the (usually) loooooooooooong process of querying agents.

Wish me luck.

Peru, Day 20: Taquille Island, Lake Titicaca

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Only two more posts of my travels in Peru! Those bored to tears can clap loudly. Those who have been enjoying the series can look forward to posts and piccies of Ecuador in a couple of years. At least, that’s the plan for now.

We left Amantani Island on Lake Titicaca on my dad’s birthday. We hadn’t slept well, because of the small bed, how cold it was, and me worrying whether I would have to get up to use the chamberpot (I didn’t have to, yay!). We met the other members of our tour group back at the boat and enjoyed a slow ride to Taquille Island.

Taquille Island has a very interesting culture. We didn’t get to see a lot of it, because there just didn’t happen to be a lot of people in the village square that day. But when you have a guide, well, they’re full of information.

The cool thing about Taquille Island is that the women make all the clothes that the men wear, they name the baby boys, and they dress the boys. The men make the women’s clothes, they name the baby girls, and they dress the girls. So every once in a while you’d see a guy walking by in traditional dress with a weaving thimble thingie hanging from his hand. They cart them around everywhere.

The women wear pom-poms on their skirts. If the woman has a problem, the pom-pom is worn on a certain side. We saw such a woman when a couple of women entered the square, and one group member asked about her. Because Tito the guide had told us that the community met in the square every Sunday to air out problems. Problems are not allowed to be discussed or resolved at any other time. So when our group asked about this woman wearing her pom-pom on the “I’ve Got a Problem” side of her skirt, Tito said her problem, whatever it was, would not be addressed or fixed until Sunday. It was Thursday. She still had half a week to go!

The men wear different styles of hats depending on if they’re single, or if they’re ready to start looking (some might start at a younger age). They flip bits of the hat about like body language. It was really interesting!

Halfway up the loooooooooooong walking path to the Taquille Island square. Steve and I had to stop several times to catch our breath. The only people behind us from our group were the mid-sixties couple from New Zealand along with Tito, our guide. They were birdwatching. We had no excuse other than everyone else in the group was under 40, and most were in their late twenties or early thirties. We managed nicely considering (and as long as we didn't compare ourselves to the Islanders!)

If you look way, way off in the distance of the above photo, you can glimpse a hint of Bolivia. The view of the Bolivian mountains was breathtaking, but don’t really show up in my photos. The view of Peru from the Island was ho-hum compared to the view of Bolivia.

Taquille Island was pretty upscale compared to Amantani Island, where we'd spent the night, or Uros (the floating islands). A typical hillside view as we hiked to the square.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sky as blue as I did when I was on Lake Titicaca. It was so beautiful! In the foreground of the above picture, you can see a woman carrying a load down the path.

The homes on Taquille, like on Amantani Island and other islands on Lake Titicaca, are built of adobe bricks (compiled of sand, clay, water, maybe even some straw or manure, depending what you have on hand and where you live). On our way up the very, very steep island, we happened to pass a man making adobe bricks. The pathway passed right by his yard. I jumped up on a rock to get the two following photos:

Taquille Island resident digging mud for adobe bricks.

Now they just have to bake in the sun, and he can continue building his house. Note the boy having a break up top!

I don’t know if those wooden frames beside the boy help to form the bricks or what. They look like the right size but they seem a lot bigger than the bricks to me. The man was so busy at work I wasn’t about to stop him and ask (also, I didn’t know the right Quechua words).

View of Peru from Taquille Island, a few steps from the restaurant where we had lunch (outside).

After lunch, we headed back down to the boat. A very loooooooooooong walk down huge stone steps. It was harder on the knees going down than it was going up, because the steps were so big. Don't ask me why people so short in stature build such huge steps!

Having reached the boat, we were pretty proud of ourselves. Then Steve noticed this old fellow, an Islander, carrying two FULL propane tanks UP the steps! I tell you, it's like visiting Switzerland and seeing signs that tell you how long it will take you to hike a mountain trail...depending if you're Swiss or North American (hint, we're much slower).

The boat ride back to Puno was very pleasant. We spent a lot of time talking to the older couple from New Zealand (of course, I remember where they’re from but not their names—isn’t that typical?). A girl from Taquille Island in traditional dress hitched a ride back with us on the boat to Puno. She sat in the same spot in a hot part of the boat (outside) the entire ride, and her skirt was heavy and dark. I felt sorry for her, because she must have felt a bit out of place with all these tourists. But I have an idea her ride didn’t cost her anything.

I would have loved to take her picture, but it felt intrusive at the time to ask and taking pictures of Islanders without their permission isn’t exactly known as the height of politeness.

Back in Puno, we attempted to settle into The Balsa Inn for the night (again, I would not recommend this little hotel, at least not based on our experience!). It was quite comical. We said we didn’t want the same room as the first night we stayed there, because 80% of the light bulbs were out, the toilet didn’t flush, and the showers were frigid. Plus, it had 3 beds, and we only needed one. So they put us in a room on a different floor with only one bed. There was a TV with a cord and cable dangling from it, but no place to plug it in. We let the shower run for 20 minutes and it didn’t warm up one iota. I don’t mind “camping”-style accommodations (no hot water, no showers or baths, etc.) when I’m doing something like the Amantani Homestay, but when I’m paying decent money for a hotel room that HAS a shower, yeah, I kinda want to be able to TAKE a shower without zapping myself back to the Ice Age.

We were tired and dirty and hungry. So we put our nasty pants on, called the front desk, and told them that this room would not do, and gave the reasons why. Within a few minutes, two fellows arrived, first one and then the other. The first attempted to get the shower to provide hot water, but it was still as cold as when they’d put us in the room. So they admitted they would have to change our room. And guess where they tried to put us? In the same room we’d stayed in our first night in Puno! The one without the light bulbs, the toilet that was iffy about flushing, and water only one degree warmer than the room with no hot water at all.

We pulled on a second pair of nasty pants, and I do believe My Liege muttered the word, “upgrade.” This seemed to work, because we were escorted to a room on the 5th floor with a shower that had—ta-da!—plenty of hot water! It had two beds, and it had a curtained off area with a desk. We were in the junior suite or somesuch. Lots of room to spread out our stuff and repack in anticipation of our trip back to Canada the next day, which would consist of four different flights.

Trip Tip! If you want hot water for one precious night, ask for the top floor of your Puno hotel. Apparently, the top floor gets it all.

You can imagine how much we were looking forward to flying four different planes in 24 hours! But it was time to go home. First, though, we had one more stop—on our way to the airport! Being as this is me we’re talking about, of course more snafus occurred.

I ask you, what fun is life without a few snafus?

My Dog Likes Cantaloupe

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

What’s up with that?

I had to create a fruit dish and a vegetable platter for my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday recently. Her twin brother visited from Australia, and we had a wonderful time. So I did something I rarely do—I bought a cantaloupe.

I hate cantaloupe. I just don’t get the taste. It bothers me. In fact, as I think about it, the only melon I really, really like is of the water variety. Yum.

So I had leftover cantaloupe, and then My Liege and I had to go out of town to move Youngest Son into residence at his university in another province (he won’t be home until Christmas, sob). I thought Eldest Son and his GF would eat up all the leftover fruit and vegetable platters while I was gone. Alas, they did not. I made short work of the vegetable platter as soon as I got home. But no way was I touching that cantaloupe.

E.S. went through a cantaloupe stage in high school. I was buying them every week, and he’d gobble them up. However, he hasn’t requested a cantaloupe purchase in a couple of years now. I thought I’d rubbed off on him.

But he started eating the leftover cantaloupe. And then he discovered that Allie McBeagle loves it, too! She not only loves it, she adores it. She’d ravish an entire cantaloupe in one licking, I do believe. She just would not leave him alone while he enjoyed his slice.

The next morning, we discovered this weird note on the kitchen table. From the dog. Don’t ask me how it got there. But she was begging for cantaloupe. She was simply beside herself with wanting more. E.S. obliged. Since then, she made her life’s mission to leave these odd notes about cantaloupe all over the house—until she and E.S. had consumed every last slice.

Right now she’s looking up at me communicating with her eyes, “Buy more cantaloupe!” But I will not. Maybe next week.

What weird thing (to you) does your dog (or other pet) like to consume? I’ve tried feeding Allie grapes and bananas, and she turns up her beagle nose. But whisper “cantaloupe” to her, and she’s goes crazy.

Peru, Day 19: Amantani Homestay on Lake Titicaca

Monday, September 20th, 2010

After our visit to the floating islands, our group motored toward Amantani Island, where we broke into smaller groups for an overnight stay in the village of Colquecachi. Our “smaller group” was my husband and me. We stayed with a woman named Aurelia and her teenage son, Evan. They were wonderful hosts. Aurelia didn’t speak any English, and neither did Evan. Aurelia spoke Quechua and a handful of Spanish words (like amigo), while Evan spoke Quechua and some Spanish. My Liege had his trusty Latin American Spanish phrasebook out all the time, and we also had a cheat sheet of Quechua words that our guide Tito had taught us during the motorboat ride. Without this cheat sheet, we would have been lost.

I was nervous going into the homestay. We didn’t know if we would be assigned to a family that had done this hundreds of times or a first-time family. Later, we learned that some families had several members, whereas ours had just the two (Aurelia’s husband works in Puno). Some families have mosaic stonework in their courtyards, and we even heard of a family with a guestbook for the guests to sign. Some might have a little propane stove in the kitchen, which is essentially housed in a separate building. Others just cook over a fire. Aurelia cooked over a fire.

We walked uphill from the boat to the meeting point for the village, where we would be assigned to our hosting family. Passing by sheep on the way to the meeting point.

Aurelia's house, which was a short walk from the meeting point. The big building on the right forms the right side of the house. Our bedroom was the top floor of that building. It had three beds, so Aurelia could host up to six people if she wanted to. Three beds, a chamberpot, a table and a couple of small windows, and a candle. The candle was our only electricity.

We asked and were told that the room under our bedroom contained “nothing.” Which meant it might have been used for storage or was inhospitable. Our room had a steel door that separated it from Aurelia’s room, which was on the top floor of the little bit of blue you can see sticking out to the left of the rectangular building.

Evan lived on the ground floor underneath Aurelia’s room. He had roots and vegetables drying in his room. Vegetables were also drying in the courtyard.

The little building in the front, by the bush, was the kitchen. A gate contained the house and courtyard. Water came from a pump outside the courtyard. That was where we washed up. No showers, no hot water—unless you boil it.

The stairway to our room. Aurelia kept the door locked with a padlock if we weren't there. The little balcony extended to the entrance to her room, on the left.

You can see that at one time the adobe (mud) walls were covered with stucco. Most of the stucco and paint had chipped and worn off our host house. The courtyard had about 90% earth floor.

Two outhouses, but the green one was locked. They used some kind of gravity system for their plumbing. You used the toilet (which didn't have a lid or seat), then scooped water from a bucket inside the outhouse that would then "flush" the waste down the toilet. The more water you scooped into the toilet, the greater the "flush."

Aurelia cooking our lunch. Steve and I peeled small potatoes for this wonderful soup she made. The walls were adobe, with one open door and a little window. The roof was corrugated tin with multiple holes poked into it. The noon sun shone through the pinprick holes, and was very beautiful.

Aurelia’s “cupboards” were a pile of pots and dishes to the left of this picture. At one point, Steve examined the platter you can see on the floor beside Aurelia. But he didn’t put it back in the right place! He sure heard about that. Everything had its place. With such a confined space, it had to.

Inside the kitchen. I'm about four feet away from Aurelia.

Our guide Tito had warned us that the doorways to the kitchens were very short and likely used the corrugated iron. Such was the case at Aurelia’s house. We were warned not to forget to duck! Well, Steve went outside with Evan at some point to try and figure out some point of language, forgot to duck, and gashed his head on the doorway. For some reason, Evan, Aurelia and myself all thought this was hilarious. Meanwhile, Steve had blood rolling down his head. That’s what you get, gringo! Listen to instructions!

After our hearty lunch we began the loooooooooong hike up to the community hall. There were a couple of buildings and a soccer or basketball court (I can't remember!). The school itself was a walk downhill from Aurelia's. We were cautioned that at any time hiking the path up to the community center, we might come across sheep getting herded. And so we did. They didn't care how many humans were hiking up. They were coming down!

When Steve and I were first assigned to Aurelia’s house and realized it was about level with the meeting spot, we considered ourselves lucky. We didn’t have to hike up to our house! But we had to hike up to the community center, and, let me tell you, it was exhausting. We stopped to catch our breath on Lake Titicaca more than at any other place in Peru. And we weren’t the only ones. We met a mid-sixties couple from New Zealand who had hiked the Inca Trail with less effort than they expended on Lake Titicaca. They hiked to the community center but opted out of hiking to the top of the island to watch the sunset.

When we left Cusco for Puno and Lake Titicaca, I mistakenly thought my hiking days were behind me. Amantani Island is all uphill. There were two peaks we could hike to to catch the sunset, Pachutata (Father Earth) or Pachamama (Mother Earth). We chose Pachutata.

It was a long hike! At this point, M.L. and I were easily the oldest people in our group hiking to the top. That was our excuse for all our rest stops.

Sunset over Lake Titicaca.

More sunset. As soon as the sun went down, we had to skedaddle back to Aurelia's house. We knew she was making us dinner, and we didn't have a flashlight. Night fell very fast.

The hosting families had a set menu to offer. Steve and I basically ate what everyone else in our group was eating. Which was, essentially, a rehash of what we had at lunch. Not much time had passed between lunch and dinner, so we weren’t very hungry. Our hosts wanted to make sure we were full, so Aurelia made way too much. We ate as much as we could, but our little North American stomachs weren’t used to the starch-heavy meals.

Aurelia, Evan, and Steve.

After dinner, we were allowed time to rest. Then Aurelia showed up with some of her clothes for me to put on and some of her husband’s clothes for Steve to wear. Dressed in traditional clothing, we hiked up to the community center again! This time for a party. Dancing and drinking ensued. The villagers really get into the dancing, and at some point if you’re not finding yourself dragged around the floor in a huge group that feels like a twisting, twining snake, you’re missing all the fun.

Me at the community hall with our guide, Tito Castro.

Between all the hiking and dancing, we were once more exhausted. I’m convinced it’s impossible to rest in Peru. At least not during a Lake Titicaca homestay. They kept us running.

Eventually we made our way back down to Aurelia’s house. We knew the community hall was a fair hike when she wanted to stop to catch her breath almost as often as we did.

We went to bed early and rose to watch the sunrise. It was very cold. Remember I said no electricity. We brushed our teeth by the water pump outside the courtyard and went to bed wearing clothes and topped with 4 or 5 blankets.

The next morning, Day 20, Aurelia made us thin, crepe-like pancakes, then Evan accompanied us (downhill this time) to the boat and stayed with us until Tito arrived. We were the first guests back to the boat!

Meeting Aurelia and Evan was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Evan and Steve hit it off, Steve, as you know by now, not being afraid to make a fool of himself trying to communicate.

Eventually, the rest of our group arrived and we set off for our last stop on Lake Titicaca, Taquile Island. Our 25th anniversary journey to Peru was rapidly coming to an end, which filled us with joy in some aspsects (we couldn’t wait to taste American food again—and salad!!) and with sadness in others. Soon, we wouldn’t have experiences, only memories. But memories that will last us the rest of our lives. Which is the joy of travel.

Peru, Days 18-19: Puno, Lake Titicaca, and Uros Island

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Three weeks in Peru was perfect, considering this was the first major trip My Liege and I had taken without the kids in…ever. Two weeks would have been too short. Four weeks, and I fear I would have become too homesick. We might try four weeks next time, but three weeks for this trip was bang on the nose. Don’t tell my kids, but at this point I was worried more about the dog than them! I missed the dog more than them! I know that sounds awful. But the kids are 22 and 20 (19 for the youngest when we were in Peru), they have a great support network, and both have nice girlfriends. But were they looking after my baby dog’s needs? (well, she’s 8, but to me she’s a baby). And what about the channeling? Allie McBeagle, I discovered, couldn’t channel through me to express herself while I was in Peru. She tried once, and it came out sounding like a drunk Martian playing with a voice-changer. Allie was simply too far away for proper channeling to occur. If that doesn’t depress a channeler, no matter how amazing the spot she’s visiting, I don’t know what will.

Day 18 was a travel day. We spent the morning in the Cusco Plaza de Armas, practicing our “no, thanks” skills with the vendors. When who should we meet but the young woman named Nikki from Scotland who had done a Lima City Tour with us. My Liege recognized her accent when she tried enticing us to the restaurant run by the orphanage where she was volunteering. Yes, now people we actually knew were also hawking to us! We didn’t have time to visit the restaurant, or we would have. For Nikki, who had a funny fear of birds that endeared her to us. But we had to catch a shuttle to the airport and fly to Juliaca, the nearest town to Lake Titicaca with an airport.

I’m pretty sure the only reason anyone, or any tourist, I should say, goes to Juliaca is to get to Puno and therefore to Lake Titicaca. Large vans/small buses are waiting at the Juliaca airport to get you out of there as quickly as possible. Most guidebooks will tell you it’s not a place to hang around.

The bus dropped us off at The Balsa Inn. (By the way, I have no idea how old that picture is, but the Inn looked pretty dreary when we were there). We had booked our Lake Titicaca Homestay through GAP, the same company that put us in the 5-star hotels for Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Aguas Calientes, and the same company that booked us into a decent 3-star hotel in Nasca. Maybe it was just us (I’m pretty sure not), but The Balsa Inn sucked. I would not recommend it. My Liege and I ate that evening in a restaurant of another hotel just off the main square that would have done us much better. The Balsa Inn felt very 2-star to me. The next morning, we met another Canadian who had used the same tour company to book the place, and she felt the same way. We only had one night there before going onto Lake Titicaca, so we thought we’d just tough it out. After all, we’d stayed in worse places as students backpacking through Europe. But at this time of our lives, we expected more than to have 80% of the lightbulbs burned out in our room, that the toilet would have flushing problems, that there was zero hot water.

What the heck, we suffered through.

The next morning, we were picked up and taken to the harbor along with the Canadian girl from Toronto. The van picked up a lot of other people, and everyone but us and the Canadian girl had booked through various agencies. The commonality was a local company called Edgar Tours. Or maybe it was Edgar Adventures. Whoever it was, they did a good job. We had a great, knowledgeable guide named Tito Castro. And we quickly realized something.

Trip Tip! If you want to tour Lake Titicaca, don’t bother thinking you’re saving yourself time and aggravation by booking before you leave North America. The N.A. company will usually subcontract to a local firm like Edgar Adventures, and E.A. does such a decent job, why not hire them from the get-go? And for the nights you have to stay in Puno before and after Lake Titicaca? Do yourself a favor and avoid “three star” hotels. “Three stars,” in my experience, does not mean the same thing in Puno as it does in Cusco and Lima. See if you can find a four-star hotel instead. Or be prepared for more of a “hostel”-like stay.

Lake Titicaca sits between Peru and Bolivia and is the highest-elevation, navigable lake in the world. It is gorgeous! We had about 15-20 in our group and were motoring very slowly toward Uros, the Floating Islands.

The Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca are now a part of “Peruvian Disneyland.” Everyone I spoke to who visited Uros, either with our group or not, enjoyed visiting the Floating Islands but felt it was “too commercial.” Well, tourists caused the commercialization. The fact remains that people really still live on the floating islands, except now they depend on tourism for a large portion of their income.

Our approach to Uros.

The islands are “floating,” because they are constructed of huge pieces of sod and reeds that are anchored to the lake bottom. Wikipedia has a good write-up. There are about 42 islands. The small houses are constructed of reeds, and the boats are made of reeds, as well (although they now use motorized boats if they wish). Some residents might never leave the islands, while others go to make a living in Puno and return now and again.

This isn't one big island. It's a number of islands hooked together. You can tie your island up to your neighbor's, or you can cut your island in half if you no longer wish to live on the same island as you mother-in-law (or so Tito told us!)

The reed boats last about 18 months. We took a ride in one, along with a bunch of other tourists (Peruvian Disneyland!).

When our tour boat stopped at one of the floating islands, gaily dressed women were there to show us how the islands were constructed, to entice us to buy their wares (I bought an embroidered pillowcase cover and a replica of a tiny reed boat), and to welcome us with open arms. They were extremely friendly.

When you walk onto the island, it feels a little like walking on a waterbed. Your foot sinks, and it takes a while to get the knack of it. Almost as soon as I stepped out of the area where the construction of the islands was explained to us, a Uros woman encouraged me to enter her “casa.” There, she dressed me in some of her clothes. My husband ducked in to find out what was going on, and he got dressed up like a little doll, too!

Our hostess's system of getting you into her house and dressing you up like dolls worked very well, because once you realized the women were selling their weaving, well, let's just say I felt indebted to buy off "my friend." It's not like I needed a pillow cover, either. I still haven't found a pillow to fit it.

We met more Canadians on our overnight tour of Lake Titicaca than anywhere else in Peru we visited. There were several, most from the Toronto area, in our tour group. Also, Americans, a friendly Colombian fellow named Daniel, some New Zealanders, and a girl with an English accent (where in England I could not tell you). Some were traveling together, having hooked up as traveling partners along the way. They’d stay together for a few days and then go on their separate ways again.

Why, it's a floating guinea pig! It's a little floating island of guinea pigs in the middle of the floating island. Isn't that cute? How sweet to build the guinea pigs their own shelter....

Make no doubt about it, these guinea pigs are fattening themselves up in preparation for...dinner. They are the main course. Mwahahaha.

A Uros woman. The women in the Puno area are more rotund than anywhere else we visited in Peru. It's pleasing to be round. In the city, the girls aspire to a Western idea of beauty. Not on the islands. This also explains why they wear so many skirts. The more skirts, the rounder the effect.

After Uros, we settled back into our Edgar Adventures tour boat and motored to Amatani Island, where we would stay overnight. We enjoyed sitting on top of the boat visiting with our compadres, and also Tito taught us several words in Quechua, the native Peruvian language. We needed to learn some Quechua on top of what little Spanish we’d acquired, because our homestay hosts weren’t guaranteed to know ANY Spanish. They definitely weren’t guaranteed to know any English. Thus began one of the most interesting and event-filled days and nights of my life!

(Sorry, for some reason, I can’t get the Comments function to work for this post).

Publishing Is No Fairy Tale

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

By Maureen McGowan

If you watch movies that feature characters who are authors, nothing seems more exciting or glamorous than being a published author. And occasionally there is a real life publishing fairy tale, like Stephanie Myers’, where an author’s first book gets published relatively easily and then goes on to make a huge amount of money and launch a highly successful movie franchise. Or even the J.K. Rowling story where getting published was not such an easy path, but once published, the books took off, making her one of the richest women in the world.

Those outlier stories perpetuate the myth of the glamorous, hit-the-jackpot world of publishing.

But alas, for the vast, vast, vast, (vast, vast, vast), majority of authors, the publishing experience is nothing like that. We spend hours and hours (years and years) toiling away on our books, learning our craft, pouring our very hearts and souls into our stories, only to be met with slaps of rejection, bad luck and disappointment.

But the combination of the lure of that rare fairy tale happy ending, and/or the satisfaction of the journey, keep us going.

My first two published novels, CINDERELLA: NINJA WARRIOR and SLEEPING BEAUTY: VAMPIRE SLAYER, are launching a new series TWISTED TALES aimed at girls aged 11 and up. They’ll be released in Spring 2011 by Baker & Taylor Publishing Group. Yippee!!!

While this particular publishing journey started off like a fairy tale—a two book deal based on a short proposal done on a whim—it quickly developed into a story with obstacles worthy of the scariest fairy tale witch.

Oh, that sounds so dramatic. LOL. It wasn’t that bad. But to sum things up, just as I was putting the finishing touches on these two stories, admiring the covers, and basking in the glow of seeing them up for pre-order at all the major book retailers, the publisher shut down. Bang. Closed. Publishing dream dead.

The happy ending is that the books quickly found another home, and from what I’ve seen so far, a home worthy of any fairy tale princess’s dreams.

When Cindy first invited me to guest blog, I’d hoped to be offering copies of these books as a giveaway, but alas, they won’t be available for several months, yet. I haven’t even seen the new covers, yet, but based on the mock ups, I am very excited.

And fret not. This blog giveaway story has a happy ending, too! In fact, the winner of this giveaway will win stories by twenty different authors. I’m giving away a copy of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF TIME TRAVEL ROMANCE, an anthology of short stories that was released last December. It’s full of great stories and I hope it will tide you over until my YA novels are released.

When you were young, what was your favorite fairy tale? Do you look at the story differently now?


Please leave a comment to enter to win THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF TIME TRAVEL ROMANCE. If you’re reading this blog through a feed at Facebook, Goodreads or another social network, please note you need to leave your comment at to enter.

To read the back cover blurb for THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF TIME TRAVEL ROMANCE or to read Maureen’s bio, see yesterday’s post. Visit Maureen’s website to learn more about her upcoming Young Adult novels.