Thursday, April 28, 2016

Magic Wands and Fairy Wings

Last week, I promised you a piece of flash fiction, and now I’ve totally flaked out on that promise. More than that, I completely forgot about writing the story. We were halfway through today (Thursday) before I remembered that I was supposed to write something and post it. I’ve been distracted this week…but let me go back and start at the beginning.
Last Saturday, My mom and I went to check out Juneau’s very first Mini Comic-Con. It was pretty darn cool. I met a few Alaskan artists, handed out some of my bookmarks, and gave away ten copies of my flyer. I also saw a group of very young Star Wars characters, two Jokers, Galadriel, Maleficent, a hobbit, two Wonder Women, a Lolita, and Elsa. It was delightful to see so many folks dressed up, and there was a terrific family atmosphere. I was happy to look around and see a bunch of folks who fall into my target audience. If the organizers make this an annual event, I’ll be waiting in line to be a vendor next year!
The whole scene got my mom so excited, she suggested we vend at Juneau’s annual Public Market this year. Wheee! It sounds fun, but there’s an expensive fee for vendors and I didn’t sell many books two winters ago when I tried that, so all of this set my brain in motion.

What can I do to increase my sales enough to merit spending that much money?

I don’t multi-task very well. Heck, I just don’t multi-task. And this question, ladies and gentlemen, is why I flaked out on writing today’s story. I got so caught up in trying to answer this question, that I didn’t think about anything else all week. The good news is, I have some preliminary goals.
1   1-      I need to diversify. Right now, I have all of my eggs in one basket (a basket made out of books!) and that’s just not bringing in any grocery money.
2   2-      I need to put my eggs in baskets that complement my book basket. I need to see if I can make and sell additional products that A- sell better than my books, and B- fit into my current brand and have the potential to funnel people towards my books.
3   3-      I need to learn more about the market for any products I decide to make and sell LONG before going to Public Market. Hugs and thanks to my wonderful friends on Facebook who have already provided a lot of terrific input and information about this step!

The plan, then, is to try several different products, and vend at a variety of spring and summer craft fairs and events in order to test the market for those products. I have a slew of ideas, but right now, my focus is on hand crafted magic wands, fairy wings, and baked goods. With a side of maybe some tie-dyes. 

Here’s a picture of the wands I’ve made so far. Each one is made with fallen sticks or driftwood, and includes real crystals and rocks, as well as colored sculpting clay, and various beads and charms.
Doesn't everyone need a magic wand? Seriously, though, if you're interested in purchasing one of these , let me know. I'd also be happy to create the custom wand of your dreams!

And here is an iridescent fairy wing prototype that I’m working on. It’s incomplete, but I'm getting there. The wingspan is, as you can see, over a yard.
Instead of promising you a story for next week, I’m going to promise you a photo. Next week, expect a photo of me in a set of completed fairy wings! the bonus is that you'll get to see the green, blue, and purple hair that I've been sporting since March. ;) Considering my current level of distraction (obsession?) with this project, the flake-out odds are very, very low.

At craft fairs, farmer’s markets, and other similar events, I've observed that highly processed carbohydrates sell very well. So…though I feel like I’ve gone over to the dark side, I’ll be selling three of my most delicious high-carb desserts at our May 14th Community Day on Campus. Even if I say so myself, my Curried Brownies, Dutch Butter Cake, and Whole Lemon Bars are spectacularly delicious, so…my questions for you are,
   1-Shall I sell them in 2x2 inch servings, 3x3 inch servings, or a combination?
   2-How much would you pay for something like this at a craft fair?
   3- If the baked good was prettily wrapped in wax paper and had decorative raffia, ribbon, or twine tied around it, would you pay more than if it was wrapped in plastic wrap, or would the cost/fussiness be a turn-off?

Happy Friday, and I hope you have a fantastic week!

P.S. Never fear, flash fiction will return. And, yes, Magic Together (aka Book Three) is still in the works.

P.P.S. This blog just rolled over 18,000 views for its total life span!!! I am so very grateful to everyone who comes here to read my short stories, my ramblings, and the series of interviews I did a few years ago. I'm also grateful to everyone who has purchased my books, and to all of you who keep coming back, and keep clamoring for another book. I may be fussing about my writing not earning grocery money, but money isn't the reason I write. YOU are the reason I write. Thank you for reading my words.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Near Miss

We had a scare this week. Day before yesterday, I looked across the house and saw smoke curling up towards the ceiling! As you can see from this photo, the crystal ball served as a nice big magnifying glass, and left a trail of scorch marks across the window sill. I was spooked, and, being the rain country girl that I am, my mind was blown. The moral of the story is, don't place clear glass containers, mirrors, or even crystal balls in windows (or outdoor locations) that ever get direct sunlight.
I have a partially written story for you, inspired by our crystal ball debacle, but I've had something come up at the last minute and won't be able to finish the story in time for this Friday. This afternoon, I learned that Juneau is having a mini comic convention this Saturday. Unfortunately, the vender slots have already been filled, (I'm very late to the ball, so to speak)
 but if someone cancels, the organizers said they'd contact me. Meanwhile, I'm going to take myself downtown to this event, along with a box of books, a bunch of bookmarks, and printed copies of one of my short stories (does anyone remember Accident-Prone about the djinn who "accidentally" started the fire at Alexandria, as well as the Great Fire of London?) on a flyer-sort-of-thing. I'm hoping to just wander around and see if I can find people who'll take bookmarks and flyers. Who knows, maybe a couple people will even follow me back to my car to buy a book or two! At any rate, all of my creative energy for the evening is going into this flyer.
My genuine apologies for delaying this story, and I hope you'll bear with me until next week!  
Meanwhile, if any of you have ever been to a comic-con (I haven't) and have any tips or advice about how an indie author aught to conduct herself at such an event, your input would be tremendously welcome. I'm winging it, at this point, and am seriously considering wearing a set of homemade wings to illustrate that! ;-)
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Bed Socks and Broomsticks

Hi folks! A quick reminder that I’m currently welcoming guest authors of short-short fiction. I am still seeking guests, so please read this if you’d like to submit one or more of your flash fiction stories and be my next guest!
Today, please welcome Val Portelli A.K.A. as Voinks, with a story of fun and mischief!

A few years ago a freak accident left me housebound and stir-crazy after leading an active life. Reviving my writing, which I’d always loved but never had time for, saved my sanity.
I remember the euphoria of that first response ‘We want to see more,’ and the icing on the cake was when my first book Changes was published.
A second book followed with another publisher, then a steep learning curve for Facebook, blogs, marketing, book signings and the myriad of other things involved in my new career.

I’m currently regularly writing short stories in between proof reading my latest and longest novel, tentatively entitled A Murder of Changes.    
Inspiration comes from all sorts of everyday things. This story came about after a discussion on how one sock always goes missing. Then a friend posted some photos of her day trip to a National Trust property. It seemed natural to put the two together.
Well, I am an author so weirdness should be forgiven. 
Thanks to Marcy for inviting me onto her blog, and featuring one of my short stories.
I hope you enjoy it.

Thank you, Val, for being my guest and…I’m a huge fan of weirdness!
Folks, if you’d like to read more by Val check out her novels Changes and ABC Destiny, follow her blog, or Follow her on Facebook. You can also reach Val by email at or

Photos by Paula Harmon

Bed Socks and Broomsticks
 By Val Portelli

Lacey was excited. Grandma had gone away for the day and left her second best broomstick unattended. Although the girl had been forbidden to touch it, she was finding it hard to resist.
Surely it wouldn’t hurt to just go for a quick spin around the yard. No one would know, and after all she was sixteen and would be finishing her witching apprenticeship soon. How was she to learn the practicalities if she wasn’t allowed to try?

Tentatively Lacey edged towards the broomstick and stretched out one hand. As her fingers lightly touched the handle she jumped back in alarm. It felt slimy as if hundreds of snails had crawled along its surface; not only that, it would be slippery to ride and she could fall off.

She should have realised that the old witch would have left some sort of spell on it. Not to be defeated she browsed her textbooks to find some way to overcome the problem. Nothing there.
In a huff she wandered into the kitchen to make a cup of tea when suddenly the hanging clothes rack caught her eye.  

If magic wouldn’t help perhaps plain inventiveness would? She managed to pull down one of the black and white socks and wrapped it firmly round the handle. Perfect. It seemed the stripes had confused the spell. Returning to fetch the matching sock she hit another barrier. It kept jumping out of her reach and just the one on its own was not enough. Snatching at the pink sock she managed to hold onto it, and soon had that too wrapped round the broomstick handle.

Climbing aboard she made herself comfortable, adopted the correct position, took a deep breath and whispered the starting words. Whoosh! The broom took off like a rocket and for a while she struggled to keep her balance. She hadn’t expected it to be quite so fast, but soon got the hang of things and even tried some gentle drops, lifts and turns.  This was fun.

As her confidence grew she decided to make the most of the opportunity, and pulling back hard flew over the garden gate and into the open fields beyond.  Swooping and weaving she forgot the time until in the distance she noticed Grandma returning. 

In a panic she steered for home but had forgotten the words to stop.  Nearly crashing into the garden fence she just managed to haul up high enough to avoid it, although one of the socks snagged on a protruding nail. As she flew back into the space of the fields it began to unravel, and before long there were streamers of black, white and pink trailing behind her.

Why hadn’t she done as she was told? Maybe if she’d asked Granny properly she wouldn’t be in this fix now, slipping and sliding on the gooey mess of the now naked broomstick handle. Just as she managed to turn back into the kitchen she fell off and landed with a bump, bruising her knees on the rough stone floor.   

At least the broom had stopped and returned to its usual place in the corner. With a bit of luck Grandma wouldn’t even notice and she could get away with it. Just as she got to her feet the door opened and the old witch entered.

‘Everything been OK?’ she asked. ‘Be a good girl and make me a cup of tea. All that flying this afternoon has plumb worn me out.  What on earth have you done to your knees?’

‘Fine Grandma. Oh that, I slipped and grazed them on some rough stones when I was walking through the woods. I’ll go and put the kettle on.’

Phew. She had got away with it. Maybe she would even have another go next time the old witch went out for the day.

‘Lacey. When you come in could you bring my black socks from the kitchen?  They should be dry by now and my feet are cold.’

Perhaps she wasn’t in the clear after all. She couldn’t even blame losing the odd socks on the washing machine. It hadn't been invented yet.

Friday, April 8, 2016

A Chance Meeting

If you’re subscribed to this blog by e-mail, you may notice that you’re reading this on Saturday instead of Friday. My apologies for being tardy. I usually post on Thursdays so that the e-mail goes out on Flash Fiction Friday, but this week, I forgot it was Thursday and didn’t remember until I awoke Friday morning, at which point it wasn’t Thursday anymore. Oops!
I am still eagerly (desperately?) seeking guest authors of flash fiction  If you would like to share your short-short story on my blog, please read this.

Now, without further ado, please welcome this week’s guest author Nav Logan!

Many years ago, when I was just a small boy gazing in wonder at his first chest hair, I decided that I was going to become a tramp. I was going to drop out and go to Strathclyde. Why Strathclyde? God only knows, but every man must have a goal in life. Being an engineer or a pilot didn’t cut it for me. My soul was filled with wanderlust and the need for adventure.
So, after leaving home, I dropped out. I even went to Strathclyde, passing through it in a sleepy haze while being rocked gently to slumber in the passenger seat of an unknown truck.
Since then, I have done many things and seen many places, always following my instincts and trusting in my destiny. I am self-taught in many things; a jack of all trades and a master at none, but I’ve always got by. A strong self-belief has brought me through many adversities. I try to be the best I can be and often fail, but I continue, nevertheless.
I’ve been writing since I was that small boy, mainly poems and an occasional short story. Maerlin’s Storm was first written over a decade ago. It wasn’t something I planned to do. I didn’t wake up and say, I’m going to be an author. Far from it. Like many things in my life, it all started with a dream. The next morning, I wrote a poem Later, it became a story, and this small seed became my beanstalk. People read it and enjoyed it, but then life became busy again. For many years the story sat, collecting dust. It would have stayed on the shelf, forgotten, but fate had other plans.
I now have five published novels. Three are part of the Storm-Bringer Saga, an Epic Fantasy series. I also published a collection of drabbles and poems: Little Words ... Full of Big Worlds, a collection of short stories and drabbles: Bananas in My Shorts, and a collaboration short story: Happy Halloween.

A Chance Meeting
Avigail pulled her thin cardigan tighter around her body, trying to ward off the biting wind that blew down the platform. Her sister stood a short distance away, wrapped up protectively in their mother’s arms. Mother was talking to the other women on the platform.
It was dawn, and they were waiting for their train to arrive.
She didn’t notice the young man approach until he touched her gently on the elbow. “You look cold, miss. Here, take my coat.”
She’d been warned not to talk to strangers, but the young man had kind eyes. “Thank you, but I’m fine.”
“Rubbish! You’re shivering,” he pointed out, removing his jacket and placing it around her shoulders.
The coat was large on her small frame, but it felt warm. She smiled gratefully. “Perhaps just for a minute. Thank you. I’m Avigail, by the way; Avigail Weiner.”
They talked briefly. She learned that he was called David. He was a music teacher. He had recently moved into the area and taken up a job at the university, which is why they had not yet met.
David’s smile made her feel special. It was like it had been saved just for her.
Too soon, they heard the sounds of an approaching train and David stepped away, heading back to the group of men from which he had emerged.
“Wait! You’ve forgotten your coat!” Avigail shouted.      
“Keep it for me,” he replied, turning to smile at her again. “You can return it to me when we meet again.”
The train stopped with a hiss of steam, blocking out the wind. The doors rattled open, and Avigail was sucked into the forward carriage carried along by the other women. They were pressed together like sardines in a can, and Avigail had to use all of her strength to make her way through to where her mother and sister were waiting anxiously.
“Where have you been?” demanded her mother.
Avigail ignored the question. She pressed her face to the side of the carriage, peering through a gap in the wood, hoping to catch another glimpse of David. She missed his smile already.
Outside, the men were making their way down the platform to an empty carriage, and she could not see the music teacher amongst them. He was lost within the crowd.
They had been told that upon arrival, they would have a shower, be issued clean clothes and then receive a hot meal.
Avigail smiled at that.
The next time she met David, she might look a little more presentable. She wouldn’t look as if she had been dragged out of her bed in the middle of the night and marched through the town to catch a train.
She wondered what their new home would be like, and if she would really meet David again.
It was cramped in the cattle truck, but at least they were in out of the wind.
A whistle blew outside and the doors slammed shut, leaving the women in near darkness. Tiny beams of light broke the darkness; cracks in the boarding of the carriage.
The train shuddered and started to move, taking Avigail to her new home.