Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Voice of Possibility

Jennifer Paros is a writer and artist, author of the children’s book Violet Bing and the Grand House, and monthly contributor to Author Magazine. She wrote her first children's novel in college and started studying visual arts in order to illustrate her stories.  Jennifer enjoys writing both fiction and nonfiction and strives for all of her work to communicate our intrinsic value and power.  She lives in Seattle with her husband and two sons and hopes you'll visit her, her pictures, articles, and blog at . Welcome back to Book Blather, Jen.

I read an article about an Australian woman who gave birth to twins prematurely; they were born at 27 weeks.  The girl was fine but the boy was declared dead by the doctor after twenty minutes of attempted resuscitation.  The mother unwrapped the baby and laid him against her skin, held him and talked to him for two hours until he began showing signs of life.  He seemed to gasp for air; the doctor dismissed it as a reflex action, but when the mother fed the baby breast milk from her finger his breathing normalized.  Soon he opened his eyes.   And what seemed to be The Impossible became Possible.

Each of us has dreams, thoughts, and ideas – some of which are shared and some of which remain purely our own.  And part of that stream of thought is one that flies in the face of realism, common sense, or proof.  It is the thought of pure possibility that can help determine and define our path, and help us find the opportunity to offer our greatest good to others.           
In the case of the Australian woman, she wasn’t consciously standing up for the voice of possibility, yet her instinctive actions of holding and nurturing the baby, speaking to him of his life, his sister, and what would be coming for him all did.  Aware or not, she was affirming the possibility of his hearing her words and receiving her touch. 
We applaud those who fly in the face of collective agreement, challenging the status quo: the spontaneous remissions, the scientific breakthroughs, the breaking of world records.  We speak of these as wondrous and applaud the audacity of those who redefine what is possible.  But when it comes time to claim that voice of challenge within ourselves − the voice that accepts no limitation other than as defined by our interest − we waver.  Yet it is this voice and the act of bringing it forward in full expression that makes us cheer.  It is bearing witness to the affirmation of the Voice of Possibility that touches us when Susan Boyle sings or Michael Phelps wins his eighth gold medal. 

Perhaps the feeling within us that something is possible even though denied by popular opinion (or even ourselves) is the key to us sharing our most valuable asset with the world.Description:

In 1976 a book entitled Son-Rise by Barry Kaufman documented the author’s severely autistic son’s journey. Raun, who was eighteen months old at the time, was diagnosed as autistic and retarded and it was recommended he be institutionalized.  But instead, the author and his wife developed an at-home, intensive model for working with him. By the age of five, Raun was no longer considered autistic and was attending kindergarten. 

There was no reason for the Kaufmans to believe it was possible for their son to speak, make eye contact, and rejoin the world.  There were no case studies reflecting evidence of the possibility at that time.  Yet, they allowed themselves to act from their heart’s desire and disregard the “impossible”.  And it was this action that led them to contribute the best of what they had to offer both to Raun and to the greater community. 

Seeking evidence is a sure way to become untethered from our dreams and desires.  Evidence only reflects what has been done or witnessed, not all of what can be.

And in the arts – writing specifically—it is easy to become burdened by statistics that do not speak to the ongoing possibilities.  But part of being human means experiencing what was once perceived as impossible becoming possible.  And the desire for this kind of expansion is built into each of us in our own unique way.  

We are meant to witness these breakthroughs in perception, these changing ideas of what is possible.  It is how we roll.  “Impossible” has already been revealed as a changing status.  So, let us deliberately create the expansion ourselves, by allowing our heart’s desire to override impossible every time, redefining possible in the best way we can.            

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Meet Sparkle Abbey

Two Authors for the Price of One!

Hi Marilee                                                 
Thanks for inviting us to your blog.

We are Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter and we write the Pampered Pets mystery series together as Sparkle Abbey. The first two titles in the series are Desperate Housedogs and Get Fluffy which are out now. The next book: Kitty Kitty Bang Bang is coming in the fall, followed by Yip Tuck in 2013.          
When we were asked by Bell Bridge Books to write under a pen name we decided to use the names of our two rescue pets. Sparkle (ML’s cat) and Abby (Anita’s dog.) We're friends and neighbors so you'll often find us writing at ML's dining room table or at our local coffee shop. 

As you might have guessed from the titles these are not dark serious sorts of mysteries. What we hope is that we bring readers a cozy, light-hearted mystery with a few fun bits about pets.

Sparkle Abbey (AKA Mary Lee Woods & Anita Carter)

The Pampered Pets series is set in Laguna Beach, California and alternates between the perspectives of two cousins: Caro Lamont who is a pet therapist and Melinda Langston who owns a pet boutique.  We alternate books with one of us (ML) writing the books starring Caro, and the other (Anita) writing the books starring Melinda.  What we share is the overall story line of the series, and other details such as setting, secondary characters, and a sub-plot with some conflict between the two cousins over a family heirloom.  
It’s been a very exciting journey for us and it continues to be exciting.  Desperate Housedogs just came out on audio through Audible, and both Desperate Housedogs and Get Fluffy were just picked up by Thorndike Press (Large-Print) for their Clean Reads program.
You can find more about us and our upcoming books at  There’s also a video of the real “Sparkle” doing some editing work on Desperate Housedogs.   

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lost? Enjoy the Journey!

I have DD. Directional Disability. Before I was gifted with a GPS by my overly concerned loved ones, I always built in "lost time" when I travelled from Point A to Point B. And, guess what? I managed to get to my destination. Every time. Getting lost was my norm so it never bothered me. I considered it one of life’s little adventures. Along the way, I experienced new and interesting territory and met beautiful people who helped me along the way. Getting lost turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
My writing journey has been much the same. In writing circles, writers are known as “plotters” or “pantsers.” Plotters often outline their books, chapter by chapter and try not to deviate from the plan. Pantsers—those who fly by the seat of their pants—sit in front of the keyboard and create their books as the spirit moves them.

What am I? (Remember I have DD) When I start writing a book, I have a clear picture of the beginning and end. What lies between is a bit murky. But, I’m not afraid of getting lost. In fact, I welcome it. If I hadn’t lost my way in Moon Rise, I’d have never met half-demon twins, Beck and Nicole Bradford. In Moon Spun, I struggled to explain the unique powers possessed by Allie Emerson and suddenly, the faery kingdom of Boundless appeared. In Shadow Moon, Kizzy’s daughter, Carmel, popped up on the page and demanded an encore.

So, as a writer, as a person, don’t be afraid to get lost. Step off the well-worn path and open your mind and heart to new possibilities. It just might lead you to places you never dreamed of. Safe journeys and keep on writing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Help! I'm Trapped in a Closet!

In Unbidden Magic, I narrate the story through my main character, Allie Emerson. My thoughts fill her head. My words come out of her mouth. She feels what I feel. I’m currently writing Midnight Moon, book 5 in the series and, as usual, Allie is frequently in peril. I know, because I put her there. Consequently, I feel an overwhelming need to rescue her.

Here’s my dilemma: Like most writers, I have a life beyond writing. When I travel out of town for soccer games, weddings, graduations and the occasional vacation, my work in progress is put on hold.

Why is this a problem? Because if I abandon Allie in the midst of a predicament, she nags me until I write her out of it. Remember what I said about my thoughts and feelings becoming her thoughts and feelings? It works the other way too.

 In book 2, Moon Rise, Allie is kidnapped and locked in a closet in the dead of winter with no heat in the house. I’d just finished writing that scene when my husband and I left on a golf outing with three other couples. Fortunately, my friends know me well and didn’t have me committed when I kept muttering, “Poor Allie. I’ve got to get her out of that closet.”

In the book I’m writing now, one of Allie’s friends is snatched by a Trimark and chained up in a creepy basement. Guess what? She started nagging me. “Get me out of here! Spiders! Yuck!”

This brings us to the next question. Exactly how many people do I have to be responsible for? Two? Four? Fifteen? Oh please, I already have too many voices in my head.

Gotta go. Allie just climbed into a cistern, the portal to Boundless, and is being harassed by a malevolent faery named Clyde. No time to waste!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Poetry of Everyday Life

Many thanks to Book Blather staff member, Cheryl Dale, for the following post.

I recently strayed from my faith based blog platform ( and posted a humorous story at the request of a friend.  I received a surprising number of responses to that post.  People love to laugh, and people love to discover they aren’t the only ones who do dumb things.
Here’s the main part of the post:
My husband and I make quite a few extended trips on our Harley Davidson.  We have a favorite couple we like to travel with, the friend mentioned above and her husband.  They had been married just five days and this was our very first trip with them.  My husband and I were celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary and they were marking one week as we left home for ten days on the open road.

It is no secret that guys love their bikes.  They talk about them, show them off, polish them, compare them, and talk about them some more.  Every time we stopped for a break, the guys would stand around admiring the bikes while she (let’s call her Bev) and I busied ourselves with more important things like finding an espresso stand or poking around gift shops or catching up on all that had gone on since the last stop two hundred miles ago.

This particular stop was for gas and a short break.  Bev and I went inside the mini-market to grab a cup of that questionable push-a-button- shazaam-it’s-espresso.  Of course we got the extra large size.  We wandered back out to where the guys were doing what guys do – admiring their bikes.  The sun was shining, the weather was perfect and the camaraderie was perfect.

I leaned against a pole and took a big sip of my drink.  Bev decided she needed something out of the saddlebags so she set her drink on the front seat of the bike. The memory of what followed will forever be frozen in time.
Bev opened the saddlebag, her extra large, hot, sticky drink tipped over, the shiny chrome of the Harley disappeared under a sheet of mocha – and the only sound was the sharp gasp of breath from every man within viewing distance.
No one moved for several seconds.  All of the guys looked at the husband.  Bev and I looked at each other.  Somehow we knew this would be the ultimate test of the week old marriage.  She would either be flattened, forgiven, or forced to find her own ride home.

Have you ever known someone who reacts to a crisis by laughing?  Yeah? Well, that’s my friend Bev.  So let me give you some advice right here and now.  Dousing a Harley Davidson showroom polished motorcycle with a sticky chocolate drink is not a laughing matter.  Take my word for it. 
You might also appreciate knowing that pulling a cheap, carboardy napkin out of your pocket and attacking the flawless chrome is not a good idea regardless of your intentions.  There are special chamois cloths for that.

And one more bit of knowledge gleaned from that experience.  Men love their wives.  Men love their motorcycles.  Do not let yourself get in a situation where one is pitted against the other.  My friends are still married – but it was a close call.

The response to the post was a good lesson for me when applied to my fiction-writing journey.  Even though it’s called fiction, it still has to be real. Whether you write contemporary, fantasy, paranormal or sci fi, your characters have to be believable.  The reader must be able to bond enough to say, “In another life that could be me” or “That sounds impossible but it’s happened to me.”
Real life experiences, therefore, make great fiction details.  We love to laugh at other people’s trips and falls not because we’re mean and unfeeling, but because we are relieved we aren’t the only clumsy ones on the planet.  We love to hear about unbelievable incidents that were incredibly embarrassing because – we’ve been there. 
When I fell off three short steps at church, broke both feet and did major soft tissue damage I didn’t think anyone would believe you could get hurt that badly in such a simple way.  What I found out was people responded with stories way crazier than mine!

Characterization is all about getting the reader to engage.  What better way to engage than to put something on the page that makes them sit back and say, “I love her.  She’s just like me.” Or “Hey, I got in the same mess when I was in high school.”
I’m not just talking about humor.  Heart wrenching, tear jerking, life changing experiences work the same way.  When something about your character touches the scarred soul of your reader, you’ve made a friend for life. 

Books and stories take us away from everyday life and let us live in another time and place for a while.  But the things that happen in those books and stories are really just a skilled writer’s poetry of everyday life.

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Summer Reads

Like many of you, I’m never without a book to read. One might say I'm a book addict. To keep withdrawal symptoms at bay, I have unread books stashed all over the house plus two Kindles and an iPad ready to roll. Here are a few of the books I’ve been reading this summer:

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown   

Written in plural first person—all three sisters are telling the story—the book was initially a challenge for me. Darn it, I wanted to know precisely who was telling the story! But once I became accustomed to the plural point of view, I was drawn up in the story of the three adult sisters, each with a unique problem, descending upon the family home when their mother is diagnosed with breast cancer. The eccentric father of Bianca, Roselyn and Cordelia is a professor of Shakespeare in a small college town and speaks to his family in obscure Shakespearean couplets, open to interpretation. Back home, the three sisters struggle to escape from their old familiar roles and resolve their problems. Although I didn’t read the book in one sitting, I was glad I persevered. It had a satisfying, hopeful ending.

The Roadside Crosses by Jeffrey Deaver    

I discovered mystery writer Jeffrey Deaver last winter and have been gobbling up his books ever since. This book features one of my favorite characters, Kathryn Dance. Dance is an agent for the California Bureau of Investigation and known as “the human lie detector.” She’s a kinesics expert, trained in the art of reading people’s body language and facial expressions. Set on the Monterrey Peninsula, this case involves a killer who leaves roadside crosses before the murder takes place. The main suspect is teenager Travis Brigham, a young man who prefers the synthetic world of gaming to the real world in which he is the victim of ridicule and bullying. But, like all of Deaver’s books, there are many twists and turns before the mystery is solved. Deaver handles the story with skill, intricately weaving together Dance’s professional and private life. If you like a good mystery, this one’s for you.

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore (spoiler alert)

Okay, if you’re bubbling over with joy and happiness and would like to dial it down a notch, this book will do the job. In fact, it might send you spiraling into depression. Not much of a recommendation, is it? The main character, Tassie Keltjin, tells the story and, I swear, she made me crazy. It’s like she didn’t know which thread to pick up and see through until the end. The book received rave reviews so maybe I just didn’t get it. First, we have college student Tassie hiring on as a nanny for a dysfunctional couple who adopt a bi-racial two-year-old. Tassie and the child bond. Big time. It’s beautiful. It’s touching. Then, the child is removed from the home. Does Tassie mourn? Who knows? We don’t hear about the kid from that point on. She also has a relationship with a guy who turns out to be a Jihadist. The third plot element involves herer younger brother, Robert, who desperately needs her advice. She ignores his email. He joins the military and is killed by a roadside bomb. At his funeral, she climbs in the coffin with him. Oh, please! So, if you’re into a meandering plot with bizarre twists, go for it. That said, Moore does write lovely, lyrical prose. It may be worth reading for that alone.

Friday, June 1, 2012

My Vampire Rant

I have a severe vamp cramp. Granted, many of you adore the critters and who am I to argue with success? Call me crazy. Call me out of step. But, look below. That's how I remember vampires.
Creepy, right? Okay, I admit, that was years before Edward Cullen arrived on the scene. Edward’s a good-looking guy. He’s kind (kills animals, not people, for sustenance). He loves and protects Bella. He has high moral standards (vampire-wise). Bella begs him to bite her, turn her into a vampire so they can spend eternity together. Gentleman that he is, he resists as long as possible. So what’s not to like about Edward, other than the blood-sucking bit? Not much. As vampires go, Edward’s pretty cool.
I don’t have a problem with the Twilight series. To each his/her own. No, my problem is what the Twilight series spawned. Vampire books by the bazillions. Sexy vampires. Baby vampires. Vampire/werewolf mongrels. Vampire/demon hybrids. Funny vampires. Sad vampires. Vampire couples. And just when I thought I was out of the woods, the vampire hunters made an appearance.

What’s next? Fifty Shades of Vampires? The Vampire Hunger Games? Vampire Heaven is For Real? Diary of a Wimpy Blood-Sucking Kid?    
Okay, all better now. My rant is officially over. What about you? Is there a genre you’d like to see fade into the sunset? If so, leave a comment. Inquiring minds want to know.