Being Your Own Audience

I recently did a full read-through of The Adventures of the Flying Furniture: The Return of the Great Flyer.  The Kickstarter is almost over and it will be time to send the manuscript through another round of editing, begin formatting and get all of the visual components (illlustrations, fonts, inserts, book cover, etc…) ready for print and digital download.  As I read the manuscript, I tried to remove myself as the author.

I wanted to be as objective as possible.  If I had picked up this book off of the front table at Waterstone’s, Barnes and Noble, or an amazingly quirky local bookshop, would I come away satisfied, inspired or let down? I will admit, there are parts of the novel that I totally forgot about.  I worked on the manuscript over a period of nearly FIVE years- through a move back to the US, pregnancy, new motherhood, covered in spaghetti motherhood and a host of other business; I was bound to forget something.  I want to make sure that what was in my head, made it onto paper.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that it did.  I want cohesion and a seamless flow into the second novel but I want some suspense.  The best and most painful aspects of a series are the cliffhangers… the waiting.  There will be questions left unanswered from The Great Flyer and lingering assumptions.  Some will be satisfied in The Search for the Sacred Heart, some will require the reader to stick it out to the very end.  Those are the bits I loved about the Harry Potter novels, the works of Lemony Snicket, The Mortal Instruments and other great literary series.  I want more than just one book.  I don’t crave neat and clean.  I need an ever-winding plot, with richness, intrigue, sadness and surprise with a sense of fulfillment in the end.

I am excited for the first novel.  I was excited reading it. I am excited to see where the second novel takes my heroes and villains and then…beyond.

We have ONE more day for our Kickstarter Campaign.  DO NOT miss out on your chance to get yourself a limited edition, Kickstarter-only copy of the first novel!  Check it out! $25 is all it takes. FLYING FURNITURE KICKSTARTER

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This is for the Dreamers…

I have been a dreamer for as long as I can remember. Trees in the backyard came to life with magical fruits and unicorns lived in mom and dad’s azaleas.  Aside from drafting grant and project proposals for my husband’s growing art production company, I stopped writing for awhile and focused more on visual creativity.  BUT… I am a storyteller; like my grandmother, like my dad…it’s just in my bones.  Each illustration and painting I have done has a back story that remains largely untold.  It occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, those stories are worth telling.  I sat, one warm, almost-summer morning in far-south London’s Richmond Park in a little noon called the Poet’s Corner and wrote a few short blurbs about the various balloons my husband and I had created over the past few years. They were Templar Knights, pirates, and a cranky Scotsman.  They were freedom fighters against slavery.  Some were posh and flashy aristocrats.  But I noticed that each of their stories wove into the next one.  As I walked along the path toward the pond in the distance, followed closely by a noisy goose after my dried strawberry snacks, I decided that these characters deserved something much grander than a simple character description and rough sketch in a tattered notebook from the Cass Art clearance bin. They deserved something epic.  That is the day that I decided I was an author.

Where do we go from here?

Sometimes works can stand alone.  Their emotional and creative weight is enough to open and close a brief interlude into a world other than our own.  Some stories seem to great to condense into one novel.  Imagine if JK Rowling would have stopped at The Sorcerer’s Stone.  Alright, Voldemort left that dude’s head and ran off… as my two-year-old son says, “ALL Done!”  I might not be here on the cusp of finishing my first Kickstarter campaign to legitimately publish a for-real novel. Sometimes, the FIN comes much later.

With Henry and Jack, their journey is long and chocked full of self-discovery, danger, redemption and love.  Two hundred and five pages is not enough.  The second novel in the Flying Furniture Adventures installment, The Search for the Sacred Heart has been in planning since before the conclusion of The Return of the Great Flyer.  There were bits, particularly of the explanatory kind, that I knew would take more time to develop.  I am not certain of the penultimate conclusion.  I know that the lives of my heroes, my flyers and my villains will evolve with each novel, seemingly taking on lives of their own.  I want them to move throughout the thousands of pages of the series naturally; live and die as if it were meant to be. I wonder if writers of these successful series of novels knew the ending at the beginning and just worked on the parts in between. We start here at A and end there at Z; let’s just figure out which roads to take to get there.  OR…do they let the events unfold, allowing their imagination and emotions carry their pen, laptop, typewriter keys to an unknown conclusion?

There is always the fear of being cliche or sugar-coating a story.  Sure, Snape could have lived and Dumbledore could have risen from the dead.  Everyone is happy.  No dead Weasleys or Hedwig.  Voldemort is gone.  Predictable?  Yes. And slightly emotionless.  My goal is to create characters that are rich, with depth and substance.  I want readers to love them, to hate them, to cheer for them.  I want a robust storyline with twists and turns.  I want readers to feel something and want to come back for more.  I guess that is the goal of each writer.  The question I still need to answer is how to move to each piece of my puzzle; each novel in the series, creating a seamless flow from A to Z.  The Return of the Great Flyer ends in a great place (NO SPOILERS) but there are loose ends that may remain loose until the last possible second before – FIN.

I am happy to say that I am 86% funded in my current Kickstarter Campaign for The Return of the Great Flyer with 12 days left to go.  The goal is SO close.  Help Henry and Jack get published and pledge and share our Kickstarter with friends and family.  Only $25 gets you a limited-edition, Kickstarter-only paperback copy of The Adventures of the Flying Furniture: The Return of the Great Flyer. Check is out at FLYING FURNITURE Kickstarter .

Writing vs. Life

First disclaimer, there isn’t an image with this blog because the hotel wifi won’t upload anything other than text.  Today’s events have brought me to a serious realization; sometimes writing and life don’t gel.

The backstory:

I have the day off.  I am prepared to write, update my Kickstarter campaign, do some work on social media and cook a great dinner for my family…with laundry and dishes done.   My apartment starts to smell like I mopped the floor with acetone, particularly in my son’s room as I am laying him down for his nap.  I see workers leaving my neighbor’s apartment wearing respirators… well, poop.  I decide to head with my son to Circle (known to the rest of the world as Target) and kill some time, hoping the noxious fumes will dissipate and I can resume my daily tasks.

After 2 hours at Circle (spending an undisclosed amount of money on things I don’t need) and 45 minutes at Donald’s (known to the rest of the world as McDonald’s), I return home to find the smell worse than before to the point my son starts complaining that his head and stomach both hurt.  Yay!  My neighbor has apparently decided to have her bathtub refinished and walls painted with oil-based paint without proper ventilation.  I could A. stay home and start hallucinating about purple donkeys and listening to my refrigerator sing Smiths songs or B. Get my son out of a potentially dangerous situation and get a hotel room.   I chose B.  We have a large retail buyer’s market going on this week, meaning there are virtually ZERO hotel rooms available near home.  After a bit of travel and four chocolate chip cookies, I am here in our noxious fume-free hotel room.  My son is currently rolling on the floor, refusing to sleep.

Writing is a very complex action. It comes to some quite naturally but still requires a modicum of effort.  Life always seems to insert itself right in the middle of the creative flow.  I applaud writers who can work while being stay-at-home parents, who write after working a full or part-time job all day or while attending school.  All the dishes, extra shifts, trips to the grocery store, or inconsiderate neighbors can be taxing and most definitely be stifling.  On the upside, having completed a novel despite relocating back to the US from England, having a difficult pregnancy, postpartum depression, a full-time job with opposite hours than my husband, and a fear of rejection, makes me all the prouder of it.  The Adventures of the Flying Furniture: The Return of the Great Flyer was no modest feat and I am truly, truly excited to be on the cusp of publishing.  No re-enameled bathtubs or slow hotel wifi can take that away.

The Kickstarter campaign for the first novel reached it’s goal of 20% funding in the first week.  There are three weeks left and I want to keep the momentum going.  Feel free to share the campaign with friends and it you have not, take a look at the campaign yourself.  It’s definitely worth a look.  FLYING FURNITURE ON KICKSTARTER

Character Profile- Peter

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One character I have neglected to mention in most descriptions and character development essays is Peter.  Peter is a ten year old orphan who relocated from France when he was only four years old.  He has been raised by his older sister Molly who is a laborer in one of Roman Hatfield’s textile mills near Battersea.  Peter and Molly live a modest lifestyle but in the first novel, much about Peter remains a mystery.  He is precocious, perceptive and extremely sarcastic.  He has a knack for solving puzzles and helps Henry quite a bit when it comes to solving mysteries on their quest for the Golden Pin.

Henry and Peter have a special relationship.  Henry is an only child with the exception of his wretched stepbrother, August Turlington.  Their dynamic is much like a big brother-little brother relationship.  They bicker a bit but rely on each other for support.  Peter does not attend school but is very well-read and possesses a maturity level beyond that of an average ten year old.  He is a lover of adventure and, on the surface, appears quite fearless.  He rarely lets his guard down but within his interactions with Henry, we see moments of honesty and vulnerability.  Peter also helps to quell Henry’s insecurities and places him in the role of “responsible adult.”  Responsibility is something Henry must grapple with as The Great Flyer. He has, in the absence of his father, created a new family with Peter, Finn, Dorian, Lucy and the other members of the Order. Tangent aside- that is a whole separate character profile.

Peter is the youngest of the characters, therefore, has the most room for growth.  The Great Flyer treats Peter very superficially but as the series progresses, so will our understanding of who he is and what role he has to play in The Order of Flyer’s battle against Roman Hatfield and other villains who have yet to surface.  His and Henry’s meeting seems random but was it?  Why is it that Peter can see Jack when others cannot?  Who is Peter and what happened to his family?  Is he just a tagalong kid or is he part of some larger plan?  There are a host of questions.

It pains me to have to hold back but nobody likes spoilers.  The Search for the Sacred Heart, the second novel in the Flying Furniture Adventures series, is in preliminary stages of development and within its chapters, we will see much more of Peter and perhaps a few of those questions above will be answered.

I truly look forward to seeing how everything plays out.  I strive to create characters that are robust and honest.  I want readers to feel real emotions toward them; love, disgust, sympathy, etc…  Are these characters thrown together by chance or is everyone of them connected somehow; cogs in a much larger machine?

Want a chance to find out?  Become a backer for my Kickstarter campaign to publish The Adventures of the Flying Furniture: The Return of the Great Flyer.  For only a $25 pledge, you can get your hands on a limited edition, Kickstarter only copy of the novel with bonus content like maps, clues, (Henry’s Father) Captain Jack Worthen’s journal entries and more!  Help support the Flying Furniture and share our Kickstarter with friends.  Follow the link below to view the campaign in full.

FLYING FURNITURE Kickstarter Campaign

Inspiration in Spades…

FF kickstarter pledge FB cover

I’ve gotten the same question over and over again… what inspired the Flying Furniture.  In the beginning, Ryan and I had the sketches.  The artwork was representative of two things that just don’t seem to belong together but they work.  There were a lot of “what if’s.” What if furniture could fly?”  “What if the ordinary, could become extraordinary?”  “What if there was truly magic in this world?”

Through random doodles, dreaming, traveling, etc… The Union Jack was born.  I know Ryan used the British Flag as inspiration because our recent trip to London had changed so much for us.  For him, it was the kick in the pants to stop working for the man and start his own business that would grow from small graphic design accounts to fabricating 10 foot lighted pineapples (he’s a prop-builder and fabricator).

10649689_744899228940257_3309784065984524387_n     I LOVE London and had the pleasure of living there for a little over a year while I attended graduate school.  It has this aged beauty and an energy that I have never felt anywhere else.  I love all the Victorian infusion in the architecture and remaining elements in the tube stations.  I learned quite a bit about the city’s history during the Industrial Revolution.  While I appreciate the “modern,” I cling to romanticism ( and YES, I do realize that Victorian London was dirty, people had loads of STD’s, and child labor was pretty standard ) but there was this element of beauty in the stone masonry, ironwork, parties, furniture, fashion…they were artistic, fantastic, unique and very inspiring. I am also intrigued by the Steampunk movement.  Fans and followers create magic through machinery.  The brass cogs and gears are almost otherworldly but also echo the mechanisms of the Industrial Revolution.  I love how folks can put on their quirky top hats, goggles and corsets and escape reality for just a bit.  Steampunk fans are passionate, creative and welcoming.  I have enjoyed adding those elements to the first novel, The Return of the Great Flyer and look forward to learning more about the Steampunk movement so that I may add more elements to future novels.

I am also a ridiculously HUGE Harry Potter fan.  I love the idea that magic might exist in the world in some form or another.  During our time in London, my husband and I had the chance to visit the Warner Brother’s Harry Potter Studio Tour.  It was AMAZING!  To see how JK Rowling’s words on a page could be transformed into something so fantastic and real.  I crave that for the Flying Furniture; to create stories that are rich and robust; to create characters that are loved and feel real to readers.  The Flying Furniture has continued to evolve and will continue to evolve.  I remember telling Ryan, in an alleyway next to Selfridge’s amist that beautiful Christmas lights along Regent’s Street and Oxford Street, that I wanted to write a novel.  He told me to go for it… and so I did.

I have launched a second Kickstarter Campaign for the first novel in the series.  It took quite a bit to revamp and launch another campaign after the first one fell a bit short on funding.  It is exciting and daunting.  Kickstarter gives me the advantage to have my book published sooner.  I invite everyone to take a look at the new campaign and give feedback.  Share the campaign with friends and family and on social media.  It’s tough to ask for support but I am truly proud of the novel and am ready to be able to share it with readers.   The Adventures of the Flying Furniture on Kickstarter