Friday, July 8, 2016

Anger is All Around Us.

How will we cope? 

In The Unmoving Sky, brothers Artie and Jackson have to deal with their father’s abuse of alcohol to forget their mother’s death and hide his guilt. While their father, a lieutenant, is busy forgetting he neglects his children. Something that had been going on for years. It takes a heck of a lot of earth shattering misfortune to bring him back to a place where he remembers what’s important, and his boys now 17 and 15, are the most important people in his life. His tether to the one woman he loved more than anything in the world. But he neglects them, why? 

Anger is all around us. Our society is hacking away at foundations of peace and cooperation and tolerance. Police are killing black men EVERY DAY. #BlackLivesMatter  They’re being systematically hunted down!!

It’s insane, and more insane that those in a position of power and MORAL DUTY do NOTHING!  

I moved to NYC from Florida because NYC was the melting pot of culture (here in the US) I grew up with a Greek mother and her belly dancing parties. It was often like the United Nations at our house. I love it. I love diversity in ALL its colors and ways. Diversity is healthy. It is Life. (Just like in the plant world diversity keeps the crop healthy) The USA was founded on immigrants. What the hell is going on in this country?

Why such intolerance?  

F  E   A   R   +  I G N O A N C E    = a mess 
and/or hatred, anger, feelings of unworthiness, self-pity.   Not healthy.

I’d wondered about a book I read years ago about the school system: Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (2002) by John Taylor Gatto, who’d spent years in the NYC public school system. A great book! I read this when my boys were younger. Our family had quite the ride dealing with the DOE in NYC, especially with my eldest son having dyslexia and struggling every day in the system. (A post for another day.)

I can’t help feeling that education is key. I wonder how much of our government wants peace at all, or want people to move out of poverty and ignorance? They strip the schools of funds, making poverty stricken teachers pick up the tab for needed school supplies. Making it harder and harder for kids to learn when the ARTS are taking out. I couldn’t believe that gym was being removed from my kids’ elementary school, only to wind up with an excess of hyper kids—who the school officials wanted to drug!!! OMG. I know when I go for a run or exercise I am fully ready to absorb information and settle down. Why do they shoot themselves in the foot like this?

My dyslexic brother struggled through school, didn’t graduate, and has now fallen into a pit of darkness: ignorance. He supports Trump, antagonizes those who support other candidates or tolerance of others. This country has gone mad.

Ignorance is leading us to darkness, and knowledge is one key for undoing the damage of hatred. We need to expand the minds of others. Ignorance creates fear.

Between the major media outlets supplying excessive fodder to aggrandize the unwitting public, shock and awe of war every hour of the day, whether from overseas or our backyards. It HAS TO STOP. If you or someone you love, needs help managing their anger, or finding the tools to cope. There are hotlines. Here's a previous post about anger hotlines with links. 

And there are books! Read outside your circle of influence. Read others’ perspectives. Reading is just about the easiest way to learn and it’s affordable. You can always check out books from your awesome local library. I’ve begun downloading ebooks from Overdrive and 3M and I'm ecstatic! An entire universe has opened to me and it won't cost me a dime.

Here's a little help for those of us with white privilege can do. A very informative post.

Friday, July 1, 2016

When Your Book is Cancelled.

So I lived through every writer’s nightmare. Hooray, glad that’s over!
I’d hardly realized this until another writer pointed it out. I suppose my rose-colored glasses were tainted pretty heavily.

After a year, nearly to the date, of deep revisions, my middle-grade book, GLITCH and its option book, were canceled by Month9Books/Tantrum. In a statement from Publisher’s Weekly about the company reverting rights to 50 authors across the board due to health problems, lost counsel, and a death within the company. (The perfect storm) I’m devastated, to say the least. 

Last year, I had to tango with writing/revising three books. (While helping my senior with dyslexia prepare for acting conservatory). It was grueling. I stayed in evenings to work on the books, took weekends to write, and woke earlier. All I did all year was work on those three books. Thank the heavens I have a young adult novella out with Leap Books/Shine imprint (May 16, 2016), getting favorable reviews.The bad news about my rights being reverted came two days its release. I had to attend its book party with a heavy heart, forcing myself out there when I was nauseous, sleep deprived, and ill with sadness. I really don’t know how, but I keep reminding myself to get through it, one task at a time. Playing mind games, that this is for the better. It will work out. The next deal will be even better as fellow writers said.

The sighs and heartbreak have lightened up, a little. But today I was reminded at 4am when everything is magnified and strangles me with doubt. I’m reminded of the newest agent rejection on a partial submission, after being so close. I’d joined a debut group, became an administrator, (this is actually the silver lining: meeting The Swanky 17s --friends for life!) They are a most awesome and supportive group.

Nothing is really wasted. I know, the writing is writing.

But this will take some time. And it was time to write about my experience. Way back, during #Pitmad, many were excited for CTRL+ALT+DELETE, the title before it became GLITCH. I had so much enthusiasm and support for this book to be out there for KIDS to read, for it to stimulate their imaginations. My editor at Tantrum Books was lovely and encouraging. I had no idea the bottom would collapse the way it did.

If you’d like to read about what happened to Month9Books and their imprints, the link is here. After I read the article I decided I should be glad, overjoyed to have my rights back, which have yet to arrive since the email announcement on June 8th.   I'm not.  

So, I’m searching once again for an agent; my YA thriller (THE UNMOVING SKY) is getting great reviews. I’m busy rewriting the beginning of a YA historical and writing a fresh draft for July Camp Nano. Taking this one-day at a time, keeping occupied with the writing and trying not to think too much about what was. If there's one thing I've learned, its that I need/want/deserve to have an agent. If not for GLITCH then for the next.  


Friday, June 24, 2016

Books that represent our lives.

Isn’t this what most of us want? 
Children need to be represented in books so they don’t feel alone. What if there’s no one around in a young person’s life to comfort or heal their insecurities, confusion, or abuse. What if they cry for help and no one hears? Maybe a child or teen won’t know they need help until they see themselves in a book. It makes them question, or seek answers, and maybe finally reach out to someone. Victims can suffer alone believing they had something to do with a parent’s addiction or an abuser’s abuse. Lonely with feelings of worthlessness while your self-confidence diminishes. It’s a very poor way to begin life when characterizations are beginning to settle in your personality.

Photo credit, dear friend, Pat Sweeny (2011) My son is 2nd from the left. 
Books are one of the tools we have to help!

In Kate Messenger’s outcry, “A Blog Post I Never Thought I’d Be Writing On Book Release Day”, about her book THE SEVENTH WISH, (Bloomsbury), when a school librarian disinvited her to speak 24 hours before she was scheduled to. Why? Because the book’s theme is about the impact drugs have on families. (Yay, Kate Messenger, for standing up to this!) 
THE SEVENTH WISH is a book that uses magic to explore something many families are afraid to talk about with kids – addiction. …”  And from Publishers Weekly: Authors Respond to Disinvites from Schools.

WTH? Isn’t our public education dwindling enough, kids NEED resources!
Books are one of the few tools that can help children harness this volatile world. I do not understand. Whom does it protect to withhold books?

Books open our minds, open up communication, if not out-loud at least internally. It’s a first step. Books can mirror our environment, or set our sights farther than we could have seen before. Our children need difficult books. Books about addiction, depression, mental health, are of paramount importance. For if you cannot speak it, how can you move through it?

My father was an alcoholic. My mother left him to raise us own her own when I was seven-year-old. But no one talked to me about what was going on. All I saw was his anger and their volatile fights. (He now has a farm and enjoys gardening to drinking, thank goodness.)

I want children and teens to have a something to navigate this crazy world, and complex emotions, help them see another’s perspectives, lend understanding to difficult situations. What an eye opener. Conversation and communication are the beginning steps. Books on subjects kids can most benefit from are essential to their physical and mental heath and happiness.

I wrote THE UNMOVING SKY, with much of this in mind. Alcoholic father, an unwanted pregnancy, domestic terrorism, these things happen every day in our world.
We do a huge disservice to our children withholding difficult subjects for them to read about. How will they learn? Grow? And not feel responsible for the perils they’re put in? 

This is why I became a writer of children’s books. Because our children our greatest resource, and our future. 

*I stumbled across this today from Neil Gaiman on Brain Pickingsif you are protected from dark things then you have no protection of, knowledge of, or understanding of dark things when they show up.”  

Friday, June 17, 2016

Happy Friday!

Just something I made on Canva today, playing around. I paid $1.00 for this image. Not a bad deal. It's a great tool for promotion. I've only just begun, but I think I'm going to enjoy myself too much with the images and possibilities of creation.  Here's a link to Canva.

Do you have other go-to sites for designing your promotions?  Let me know. I'm gathering resources.  Thanks!  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Book Review: Beyond Your Touch by Pat Esden

Beyond Your Touch (The Dark Heart, #2)Beyond Your Touch by Pat Esden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an ARC for an honest review.

Beyond Your Touch (The Dark Heart, #2), leaves off where Annie Freemont did, in Chase’s arms, the Freemont family employee from their Maine estate. Her father’s illness and the mysterious disappearance of her long-lost mother holds her to this place. She’s determined to help in her mother’s rescue, no matter what. But a mysterious, and beautiful stranger, with a magical flute, has Annie questioning her intentions for helping Chase and her family rescue her mother from the djinn realm.

Annie questions everything and everyone, and slips into doubts, doubts that could ruin the plan to rescue her mother. Surrounded by women who have certain magical powers, while Annie has, maybe her intuition, but it’s been failing her. She questions her allies. Before long she decides to change things, takes charge. Will it be enough to save Chase, help her mother, and the mysterious stranger she was sure had something going on with Chase?

I finished this book pretty quickly, once I dug in. The creativity the author weaves is quite magical. The djinn realm, the carpets, secret passageways with mixed messages, fun stuff and vividly drawn. The quotes above each chapter are “clues and hints about the characters motives and connections, and things to come,” adding to the mystery. “A glimpse behind the magical curtain.”

Open, Close. Warp and weave.
Who, what, where, and when.
Open the door. Close the door.
Wool into yarn into magic charm.
Warp, woof, and weave.

“The Carpet Weaver’s Song”

Beyond Your Touch, is a (NA) supernatural, mystery, forthcoming from Kensington Press, August 30, 2016.

View all my reviews

Monday, May 16, 2016

It's My Book Birthday!

Contest is Over 
Winner of the Amazon Gift Card: Sherry S. 
Two Winners for the Tote with Swag:
Sue G  & Dianna H. 

Look for my email! 

Everyone have a safe and fun-filled weekend -- or quiet reading time! <3 font="" nbsp="">
The Unmoving Sky is loose in this glorious world! 

There is nothing darker than the woods until you meet your worst fear.
Seventeen-year-old, Jackson Bower has a lot on his mind lately. His younger brother hasn’t been the same since his mother’s death. His father’s drinking is out of control. Then there’s Jackson’s girlfriend and the grief that ties them together even as it threatens to drive them apart.
He distances himself, hoping for a little perspective at the family lodge. But when their father gets drunk and dangerous, he and his brother escape into the woods.
Night creeps in, and the rains come fast. Artie slips down a ravine. He’s wounded and the brothers seek shelter in a cave, only to find someone else already taking refuge there.
A desperate man with plans to destroy their town.
Jackson must get him and his wounded brother out of the cave and over the mountain to warn everyone in time. Without getting them both killed first.

 ... And it can be yours to read.   $1.99   Novella.
Two winners will receive
 one of each shown. 

On Amazon 



coming to iTunes.

Leap Books, Shine Website.

I'm so excited. This is my first book publication. Hope you like it.

And if you like SCHWAG 
... I have some for you!

#Giveaway for this AWESOME swag (Plus $10 Amazon gift card) is happening on several blogs. Today, on Jessica Bayliss' blog, where she interviews me about writing motivation. Sign up to WIN!!! #rafflecopter

And today on Writer's Alley
And fellow, Swanky 17's author, TE Cater's blog.   
Bookish Youth Blog Tour     
Rafflecopter on Rick Starkey's Blog
Friday: Manga Maniac Cafe

An Interview with ARTIFACTS author, Pete Catalano

I’ve read your fun fast-paced ride of a book, ARTIFACTS, and think it’s a superb read for the middle-grade reader, and adults who want to reminisce about their own adventurous childhood. 
What a caper! A Gooniesque adventure with kids getting to the bottom of a mystery that brings characters from Neverland into the fold. I’ll read anything reminiscent of the Goonies, so I can enjoy the rush of childhood again.

How did you come up with the idea for your novel?

I’ve always loved fairy tales and every version of them. (Books, Movies, the Fractured Fairy Tale cartoons. My daughter and I went to see The Little Mermaid 17 weekends in a row when it first came out. LOL) The stories I write that seem to work best are always of several friends together facing some type of a life and death adventure but no matter how dire the circumstances may be, never missing a chance to make fun of their friends. One day I thought of how cool it would be if there was something that could rewrite fairy tales. Make the bad guys good or the good guys bad. And if there was which one of the fairy tale villains would be sent to find it and once the fairy tale heroes found out, who would they send to help the kids battle against them.

What was your revision process like?

Lots of rewriting! LOL! The story itself had a lot of good things going for it but it wasn’t until it got into the capable hands of Tara Creel, my editor at Month9Books, did it start to take on real life. She laughed when it was funny and she made me make some tough decisions when it wasn’t. I really can’t thank her enough. We went through it page by page, keeping what was good and either changing or taking out what wasn’t. I made a great many changes, and then we went through it page by page again before the final draft was ready.

How much of ARTIFACTS came from your own childhood?

I think I relied heavily on my interactions with my friends for the way the Jax, Korie, Crunch, Mouth, and Tank interacted. The dialogue always felt like it was spot on and yes I did grow up with kids that were as goofy as Crunch and as wise-guy-erly (yes, I can invent that word) as Mouth. We were always going on treasure hunts “(spending time in junkyards and helping neighbors clean out there basements and garages so we could see what they had and were throwing away) and trying to find something that we were able to create a really great story behind.

Kori's the only girl in the group. Was she modeled after anyone in particular?

Korie is smart, funny, a good friend, and is willing to be as independent and as adventurous as any of the boys. Middle Grade didn’t used to have a lot of that and over the last several years it’s come to the forefront. I tend to write and like “girls that are one of the guys” which makes those passages where they aren’t just that much more special. She is modeled after my wife and my daughters, strong, independent women who have a great sense of humor, great sense of justice, are the biggest fans of the underdog, and show no fear when it comes to friends and family.

Oddest job you ever had? 

I with a friend of mine in a van dropping off freshly baked bread to stores and restaurants early in the morning. Our job was usually done by 8 a.m.

      Big brother, little sister, in the middle, or one and only?

I am a big brother who was waaaaay to overprotective when we were growing up. We lived in a neighborhood where everyone knew each other and much to her dismay everyone knew she was my sister. I was six foot, two hundred pounds in the sixth grade so I guess I made an impression. J She turned okay so I guess my job was done! J

      Robot revolution or zombie apocalypse?

Robot Revolution, and I can’t wait for it!
      Favorite writing snack?

Popcorn! My wife just got me hooked on G. H. Cretors caramel popcorn and it is amazing! It makes you write with one hand so you can eat with the other.

What were you reading when you were in middle school?

Mostly Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

The most trouble you got into with your friends at this age? Come on fess up. 

Most of the trouble I got into I can’t bring up at the moment as there might still be warrants out! J  I grew up in Queens, NY and it was probably very different than most other writers except for people like Gay Talese and Mario Puzo. J Probably the most trouble we got into was on Halloween when we would fill our socks with a variety of colored chalk and leave our marks on our friends, enemies, and the neighborhood. (The egging and toilet papering didn’t come until after middle school. We couldn’t afford it.) J

Thank you, Pete.  
Great work with ARTIFACTS!

Where you can find out more about Pete and his books: 

Goodreads        Facebook          Twitter 


I started writing Middle Grade a little more than three years ago. ARTIFACTS is the first book I have published. My wife and I live in Charlotte, NC with two very needy one hundred pound sheep dogs. I am always working on a new story because there are a multitude of characters living inside my head -- battling to get out.