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.

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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…

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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

Character Development…

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Each character in The Return of the Great Flyer is an amalgam of attributes from people I know or have met at some point in my existence.  There are bits of myself swirled in there as well.  I was thinking recently about what character of mine I identify with the strongest.  I thought about it for a few hours and went back to writing the last chapter of the book.  It took me a bit to figure it out; Henry is who I need to be but is mostly a patchwork of people I have loved very deeply.  Lucy is who I want to be.  Kind, understanding, nurturing and talented.  People can’t help but like her.  Her warm light and gentle nature is infecting.  She is the best of people with an old soul and enormous open heart.  I am definitely not Roman Hatfield; not too many sociopathic tendencies and I have no desire to overthrow anything or anyone.  I would, however, like to hypnotize a few people and trick them into doing all my housework.  I finally, after hours of analyzing, realized which character I identify with the most.  It was surprising and may be difficult to articulate to those who haven’t read the book and don’t know me very well.  Of all the characters… I am Myra.

Myra Hatfield just wants to belong somewhere.  She has nothing in common with the debutantes in her high society social circle.  Money is their only commonality.  She is a pariah because she isn’t strikingly beautiful and has different interests than those she is forced to associate with.  Myra is clever, funny and sweet.  She is also painfully awkward.  She spends most of her life in love with Henry who sees her as a nuisance.  She is the character who will surprise readers the most.  Myra has an untapped reservoir of strength and courage.  Her heart is true and she longs to do what is right and good.  The unfortunate dilemma Myra faces, is a shaky and questionable loyalty to her father.  She knows what he is planning is terribly wrong.  She loves her father as he is her only remaining relative.  He has cared for her to the best of his abilities and provided her with a quality education and a plethra of cultural experiences.  Who does she choose? Henry or her father, Roman?  One lesson to learn here is to NEVER count out Myra Hatfield!

I may not have the same issues Myra faces but I think we are kindred spirits in the way that I know what it is to feel differently than everyone else.  I occasionally have different interests in everything from films to music to my intense need to get one of those giant domestic cats.  I have odd views on religion and politics and way too often, give people the benefit of the doubt.  There are many, many Myra’s out there, searching for their tribe.  Best of luck to them all.  I am living proof that occasionally, weird pays off…

Don’t forget to check out our Flying Furniture Adventures Facebook Page  and get in on our Kickstarter Campaign ending October 24th.  Kickstarter pledges will earn you fantastic rewards like signed first edition copies of the novel, eBooks, artwork, illustrations and more.  Thank you for your support and we will keep everyone updated on the release of the first novel on paperback and digital download.

Lucy, meet Jack…Jack, meet Lucy…

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Here is another excerpt from the book where Lucy Martin meets the Union Jack for the first time.  She is surprised but quickly warms to the idea of magical flying furniture.  After all, who wouldn’t?

“Lucy! Give me your hand!” Henry shouted, grabbing her as they both jumped onto Jack’s seat.

Lucy stared wide-eyed at Henry. “What!? What in the devil is this going to do?” she pointed down toward the chair, puzzled.  Darnell was holding his jaw, struggling to get onto his feet.  Henry knew they did not have long. He straightened his hat and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose.  “Jack! Let’s fly!” he shouted. The great chair’s balloon exploded into the alleyway and lifted the pair upward above the adjacent buildings. Darnell stumbled backwards and cursed the pair as they flew out of his reach and over the rooftops of the high street, toward the river. Lucy clung tightly to Henry as Jack struggled a bit to lift his two passengers and the bulky load of fabric for the Scotsman.

Noticeably frightened, Lucy turned to Henry, still holding tightly to his waist.  “What’s happening?” she cried. “We’re flying,” Henry replied with a chuckle.  Lucy blinked and shook her blonde head. “I know that but what is the meaning of all this?” she asked shakily as Jack hit a small pocket of wind over the Thames.

Henry smiled and patted Jack on the back. “Lucy, meet Jack.  Jack, meet Lucy,” he said nearly out of breath. He paused for moment, then placed his hand on Lucy’s shoulder.  He felt the tension in her subside. “I was in as much disbelief the first time Jack and I met.  All I have to say is that there is magic in this world, Lucy.  This is magic.  Jack found me and that changed everything,” he said holding her tightly.  He was pleased beyond measure to share this with her.  He did not like keeping secrets from those he cared for. She shivered a bit, so he opened the front of his overcoat and wrapped it around her narrow shoulders.  She smiled up at him, the skirt of her blue striped dress waving in the wind as they flew.

Lucy closed her eyes for a moment and drew a deep breath.  She opened them again and looked out over the horizon.  She could see all of London and it was marvelous.  She looked again at Henry who gave her a sweet smile. “I always knew there was magic.  I just never thought I would experience it.  Thank you, Henry, for rescuing me.  I knew you were special from the first moment we met,” she said softly then buried her head in Henry’s chest.

Follow us here on WordPress for more on Lucy’s character development and for excerpts from the first novel, The Adventures of the Flying Furniture: The Return of the Great Flyer. Don’t forget, our Kickstarter Campaign runs through October 24th.  Get GREAT rewards for your pledges like signed first edition copies of the novel, eBooks, your own Great Flyer golden pin, and original illustrations of scenes from the novel.

Henry Worthen & The Union Jack

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My husband, Ryan, created the Flying Furniture images several years ago.  They began as sketches which he refined as digital art pieces.  Everywhere we took them, people were intrigued.  With each new sketch, I grew more and more eager to give them a story.  The first of them was The Union Jack, a quirky but wise Queen Anne chair with a worn gilded finish and a large balloon of crimson and gold.  He proudly flies his namesake, the Union Jack flag, as his banner.  He is a proud sort of fellow but loyal and steadfast.  Jack enters Henry’s life at a pivotal moment.

Henry Worthen has always been without an identity.  His father was a Captain in the Royal Navy but always somewhat of a joke amongst those in London’s high society and the ranks of the British military.  Henry’s mother married a wealthy aristocrat and inserted herself into elite society, something she had coveted since being married to Henry’s father.  Henry has no desire to be a part of his mother and stepfather’s world.  He cares nothing for debutantes, fancy dress or titles.  He is a dreamer and inventor, much like his father.  He knows, in the back of his mind, that he might possibly be meant to do something extraordinary but a childhood accident left him with a slight physical handicap.  His rather progressive views on politics and social welfare make him even more of an outcast.

Enter Jack…  when a mysterious crate arrives at Henry’s dusty old clock loft, he is curious and completely caught off-guard by its contents.  Jack brings with him such magic and a connection that Henry has been desperately seeking for as long as he could remember.  Jack leads him on a quest for lost artifacts and introduces Henry to a secret world, hidden just out of sight of the normal folks that carry on with their day-to-day affairs.

In creating Henry Worthen, I did not want a traditional hero or protagonist.  He is not without flaws.  He is riddled with self-doubt, a weakness Jack must help him overcome.  He has allowed a physical handicap to make him feel unworthy of positive attention, of being proud, and of love, especially Lucy Martin’s. Henry is reminiscent of Adam Ewing in David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas; the reluctant hero.  He is not particularly strong, more cute,fellow-next-door looking than smolderingly handsome and is a bit of a nerd.  In subsequent novels, readers can expect to see a darker side of Henry as certain secrets about his past are revealed.  I gave him life, constructing his character from bits and pieces of people I have known but also from bits and pieces of myself and my husband. He is very dear to me and felt as warm and alive as the person sitting next to me on the tube as I wrote.  He and Jack had to compliment one another but not always agree.  Jack pushes Henry’s boundaries as far as what is safe and comfortable.  He forces him to grow into a man with honor and integrity who is willing to fight for what is good and just instead of a wandering spirit, searching for some meaning behind his existence.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a storyteller.  Much like my late grandmother, I enjoy a good story; tales of mystery and intrigue.  I am also bad about tangents!  My husband stays irritated at me about my ability to get from point A to point B in a conversation without taking a side trip to a whole other alphabet.  I did not want straightforward relationships between the novel’s characters.  I like the tangents, the web where everyone is connected in some way to the other, whether directly or round the block three times and back again.  I am beyond excited to finally share them all with the world.  Please consider pledging to the novel’s Kickstarter Campaign through October 24th and follow Flying Furniture Adventures for more character profiles and excerpts from the first and second novels.