Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I Come from the Land of Stories

I cannot believe how quickly this year’s summer break came to an end. At least for me. I have to go back to work tomorrow. [sigh] But I have to admit I’ve accomplished a lot during my time off. As promised, I’ve worked on my summer project of fairy tales although it didn’t turn out as planned—what does anyway? Instead of writing a book of fairy tales, I realized that the project is going to be several books, with one fairy tale by Yours Truly and illustrations by my talented cousin Cecelia Bowen, in each. I feel like concentrating on one tale at a time is better because the characters always order me around. And who am I to say “no”? I’m merely a vessel, so I just go with the flow. The first book, The Mysterious Mandolin, is in its final stages and since it was received very well by my beta readers, it will be available in print soon. You and your children have something awesome to look forward to. I promise.

Another over-the-summer accomplishment of which I’m proud is the The Guardian’s journey. From my head, onto the pages, through a rigorous editing process, and on to be my MFA Thesis, this baby is now resting on the shelves of National University’s library in Los Angeles, so please go visit. It will also be available for the world in print and as an ebook thanks to Black Opal Books, with whom I signed a publishing contract.

I’ve also been working with a certain literary agent of a certain literary agency, whose name I cannot disclose, as a reader of manuscripts that made it from the slush pile and realized that most aspiring authors are so caught up in word count and trying too hard to impress by over the top language that they completely miss the point of writing. 

Dear Aspiring Writer, 
We (as in Readers) don’t care if your book has one hundred or one thousand pages. We want a good story. We want conflict right off the bat, not halfway through the novel. We want immediacy. We want characters we can love or love to hate; we want to know them intimately. We want a voice that pulls us in. We do not want to have a dictionary on hand while we are reading your words. We do not want a story that describes actions on pages and pages to come, yet nothing ever happens. We want a plot that twists and turns and surprises. We want a story we wish would never end, and when it does, we want to be exhausted yet exhilarated, sad yet satisfied, fulfilled yet empty like the page after the words "The End". 

Hmmm. Now I’m thinking I should start a Writer’s 101 in my future blogs. :o) 
So, if this certain literary agency didn’t pick up your novel for representation, it’s most likely because something listed above was missing, and I pointed it out.

And lastly. Those darn signs about which I wrote in I’m a Graniac and so Are You blog are following me again. This is what happened. I flew home this summer--home to the Czech Republic, that is. On the first day I found the missing page from the book of fairy tales I had brought back with me six years ago and for which I’ve been desperately looking this whole time! My hometown hasn’t changed drastically, well, except for a few new malls and Downtown which is my Heaven now. There is a book store on every corner! No, I’m not kidding. I mean it literally. And what did I find there? Old comic books from my childhood, which I used to take to Pioneer Camp (during the Communist days) with me every summer. That was a sweet find as these became a collectors’ item during the decades. 

I got back to California last week, with a suitcase filled to brim with books and some necessary European delicacies. As I battled jet lag and tried to get my taste buds used to the bland flavor of American food, I realized that I was already homesick. Just then, a commercial for my country and its sightseeing spots began playing on TV. Not only did my homesickness (if that’s even a word) intensified, but I also felt some sort of knowing pulse through my body. I knew that I'm exactly who I’m supposed to be because of where I come from. I’m a Storyteller. I come from the Land of Stories.

Click below to see something breathtaking.

P.S. On 8/27 I will have the lovely and talented storyteller, Nana Prah, here as my guest. She’s promoting her novel, Love Through Time, available here. So, show some love and order it now.