Thoughts About Thanksgiving: The Good, the Bad, the Beautiful

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it! May you find time to be with and appreciate those you love today, and take time to be thankful for all the good things you have in your life!

I have to admit, I am not a fan of Thanksgiving. As a conscientious vegetarian, I cringe at the word “Turkey Day” and sort of despise the fact that when Americans are the fattest people on the planet, that we celebrate food and overstuffing ourselves as a national tradition. But, I do love seeing family, connecting with people, and remembering “Thanksgivings Past” at the dinner table, so I usually keep my personal Thanksgiving politics to myself. I know that this has been a very challenging year for many, with diverse issues from politics to civil protest, to personal issues. I have been challenged by an ongoing phone and computer hacking situation that may or may not be associated with some recent personal attacks on my property, namely my vehicles, starting with huge crowbar-induced scratches on my classic car, to smashed car windows and everything being stolen from another vehicle,  someone messing with my tires and letting the air out, leaving me stranded at night while waiting for a tow truck, to our schoolbus RV being totaled when it was rammed from behind by a rented semi-truck. Whether it is all one thing or a few coincidences spread in between ‘mean people actions’, I don’t know.  But it has brought new challenges into my life as I deal with a mountain of paperwork, a sense of anger I can’t do anything about, and a realization that humans can really suck sometimes.

That being said, this year has been full of amazing moments. The schoolbus painting party was a highlight: what a fun cooperative effort to transform the scraggly graffiti-covered Sunshine the Schoolbus into a lovely RV, complete with her peacock mural of Rad the Peacock, her big painted sun on the front, and her special “Jerry” Garcia panel, the only art we were able to save off of her before she goes to the scrap yard. I am so grateful for the people who have come into my life who make it better, whether to create music and art, to share words of wisdom and support… and all who participated in the Sunshine the Bus transformation certainly did that!  I am also incredibly grateful for those who chipped in on our “Go Fund Me” Sunshine the Schoobus campaign. Because of the financial help, we were able to make five trips to see Sunshine in the tow yard a couple hours away and rescue our belongings, that were buried deep in the interior wreckage. The Sunshine campaign saved us thousands in  having to replace everything. An example of how people can be stellar and generous!

I also have ongoing gratitude for the amazing animals that have come into my life. Rad the Peacock just got his new ‘real’ adult peacock feathers. He is like walking performance art, and watching him preen and show them off gives me such a feeling of thankfulness. Rad nearly died on more than one occasion while he was growing into the adult bird he has become in the past 2 ½ years. I am happy to have such an unusual animal companion in my life, and am grateful that he has an easy going enough personality to go on road trips and bounce around with our wacky critter/human family. I adore each animal at our animal rescue, Pixie Dust Ranch, and feel eternally blessed for the time on this planet that I have with them all.

I love that our ranch’s pygmy goat, Buttercup, was involved with the antic high above Dodger stadium during a Cub’s game to break the Cub’s Curse. That was some major epicness right there, involving a group of rabid hippie Cub’s fans, a DeLorean, and… Buttercup. Fun times! These are the kinds of wacky moments that make up a life that while challenged in some areas, can be described as “magical” also. I am a firm believer in discovering the beauty in all things, in seeing the silver lining, in allowing Spirit to intervene and create magic. Sometimes, if we step out of our own way, we can just ALLOW and that is when life slips from mundane to amazing.

This Thanksgiving I feel blessed to spend the holiday with my immediate family: My mom, my kids, my brother and his lovely family, including his wonderful wife and two children whom I love like my own. Last night I drove my boyfriend downtown so he could take a bus to visit his family in Arizona. He just discovered on his way there that his nephew, his sister’s son, passed away yesterday morning, at the home we stay in when we visit Phoenix. His nephew was 21. This is the kind of devastation that life can just inflict on a person, sight unseen, no warning. I know of another family dear to me who lost their son in a similar fashion this year, as well as a couple of others in the past few years who I hold a constant lit candle for in my heart. Life can be so cruel.

But it can also be beautiful. That is why I feel that even though Thanksgiving has its downside, including a fakey-history lesson about the way it all began in America, there is much to be gleaned from an annual event that makes you stop the daily grind, hop on a plane or bus, traverse the holiday crowds, and fight to be with those you love. THAT is where the magic happens. THAT is what life is about. So today, as you gather with family and friends, take a moment. Appreciate your life and all that is in it. Remember, it does not matter if the turkey is a bit dry, your gluten free diet is being tested, your sister said something snide, or that your aunt is late (yet again). That is not what this day is about. It is about gratitude, a sense of being a part of a world that many are taken from too soon, and about love. Ultimately, love is the common denominator for us all, the way we connect and feel in this crazy existence called life. So live it. Be present. Hug someone you love tightly. You never know when these opportunities can end because someone will die or move on from your life. Today, at the dinner table, tell someone you care about how you feel. Express love. That is the way to celebrate a holiday, regardless of how you feel about the day itself. Truly, love is the answer. Be grateful to have someone to love, and let love permeate your senses today as our nation celebrates in unity, the idea of gratitude for what we have.

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The Fairies of Feyllan novel available for .99 cents for a limited time!

My novel The Fairies of Feyllan is only .99 cents for a limited time!

fairyfantasies

Supermoon Special: For a limited time only, my book The Fairies of Feyllan is available as a Kindle purchase for only .99 cents! That’s a $7 savings…get it quick before the price goes back up!

This is an unprecedented price break!  Link below: 

http://www.amazon.com/Fairies-Feyllan-Cat-Spydell-ebook/dp/B00G4TSW3I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410225012&sr=8-1&keywords=the+fairies+of+feyllan

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Penguin’s Solution for Authors: One Racket To Rule Them All

The pitfalls of being an author in this day and age!

David Gaughran

author_solutions-penguin Regular readers of this blog will know all about Penguin’s purchase last July of the universally reviled Author Solutions – a company infamous for overcharging writers, doing a terrible job of publishing their books, and forcing ineffective and expensive marketing services upon those authors when their books (inevitably) fail to sell.

My posts on the topic have been leaning heavily on the tireless work of Emily Suess – a writer and blogger who has been documenting this racket for some years now.

At the time of the purchase, many in the publishing community expressed a hope that Penguin would clean up Author Solutions, or at least tone down some of their scammier tactics.

I was more than a little skeptical, and invited Emily Suess to give us an update. Here’s Emily:

One Racket to Rule Them All

Did you notice that skeevy self-pub racket, Author Solutions, is accumulating brands as…

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HOW TO GET COVETED BOOK REVIEWS USING THIS ONE SIMPLE GOOGLE TOOL

Literary Craft Works

Lighting the way for New Authors

GOOGLE TOOL PROVIDES CONNECTION TO THE RIGHT BOOK REVIEWERS FOR YOUR GENRE

Chances are, if you have been at this for a while, you already know how to use Google Alerts to receive articles and posts that have been written about you and/or your topic. If not, learn more here: https://support.google.com/alerts/answer/175925?hl=en

But did you know you can utilize this important tool to get noticed by journalists who may review your book? The process is extremely simple and will take minimal time and effort (compared to other methods).

• Go to http://www.Google.com/alerts and create a Google Alert for your genre (fiction) or your area of expertise (non-fiction). If your book is already published, we recommend you also create an alert with your book title so that Google will send you a prompt (with a link) every time your book is reviewed or mentioned on the net.

• Google Alerts then sends you related articles, blog posts and…

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A Writer Denied Her Right to Write

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I have had my hands tied for several weeks now, or so it has seemed. My computer, which I thought just needed a bit of CPR, went into a coma on December 21. Right before the holidays, so it took me until the 6th of January to contact Dell and ask them to send someone out to repair it under the warranty. As someone who works in the publishing business online from a home office, I was cut off. I was desperately using my Droid cell phone and later a Kindle Fire to keep connected on Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, and other social media sites, but I had no keyboard, a tiny little screen, no Word program, and no way of remembering all my passwords to access sites such as WordPress. I was alone but not alone; connected halfway to friends but cut off from work. I said often during that time period that if I weren’t my own boss I would be fired for taking a self-imposed 48 day hiatus from my job. My business partner held down the office fort while I wandered about aimlessly through my days, contacting my new friend Dylan in Oklahoma at Dell often to inquire about “the next step” to fix, and ultimately replace, my computer. It took a month that included a service call, me installing my own second hard drive by myself, and much griping, squeaky-wheel implementing, and patience before I found the FedEx guy on my doorstep yesterday delivering my replacement equipment, a new Dell M6800 Workstation/laptop convertible computer.

I missed many marketing opportunities during my “time off”, but strived to survive being offline. An author wanted to interview me for her blog so I had to go to my friend Donna’s house to borrow her computer about a month into my exile. I was astounded by how much I needed a computer to provide the blogger, Kasper Beaumont, with information about myself: I needed all of my links, a synopsis of my book The Fairies of Feyllan, an author bio, an author photo, a book cover photo. I couldn’t do the interview without the internet! It made me realize how none of my personal information is actually mine, or is anything I can just ramble off the top of my head: My publisher created and “owns” my synopsis of my book, my bio is written in stone because it is posted in other places as well, my bio photos are all online, and just to email the information to Kasper I needed the internet and a Word program and other photo programs to do it. It was eye opening. Authors in this day and age must be connected online with their arsenal of marketing materials on hand to make a dent in the daunting task of creating “social proof” (I will talk more about that subject another time).

During my hiatus from my online life, I had an interesting thing happen. The sequel to The Fairies of Feyllan began writing itself in my head. Characters began “talking” to me, telling me their stories from where I left off with them. I was surprised at some of the turns of events; dark fairies are flying on the horizon! But I had no place but my phone to take electronic notes. I made a few handwritten ones too, a practice that seemed quaint and archaic all at once. The fairies will not be ignored! They apparently do not care that my Word program had vanished with the last gasping breath of my M6600.

Though trying, and not very relaxing, this experience has really given me some insight into how important social media and marketing is to the modern day author. Our forebears didn’t have to do this sort of self-promotion to get their books read, but we do, and without the internet, we would fail to get any recognition whatsoever. The internet is the instrument for the voice of the author to be heard.

In the meantime, in a shameless promotional plug, here is the interview with Kasper. I was most pleased to get a photo of my beloved dog Drinian in there, and Kasper was lovely to work with and talk to. Us fantasy writers must stick together!

http://huntersofreloria.weebly.com/interview-with-cat-spydell.html

Here is my book link on Amazon too. Why? Because I CAN. Because I have a computer again and can continue the happy art of cutting and pasting links wherever I want!

http://www.amazon.com/The-Fairies-Feyllan-Cat-Spydell/dp/1938208137/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391803713&sr=8-1&keywords=the+fairies+of+feyllan

Book Reviewers: Gems in the Lives of Authors

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Here is a book review of my fantasy novel The Fairies of Feyllan (see link at bottom of page). I know first hand how hard it is to find time to not only read a book (even one that you like!) and then take the time to review it. As an editor, I read books every day, but not in that relaxed, I’m-really-enjoying-a-good-read way, but in an, I’m-looking-for-grammatical-trouble-and-examining-commas-and-spaces kind of way. So for me to reciprocate and read the reviewer Kasper Beaumont’s Hunters of Reloria series would take months for me to get to (I have four reading/editing side projects, on top of my editing duties at work, to complete right now). I think that authors who DO have time to read are amazing to read other people’s books and give reviews. I admire that.

Reviews can make or break a book. I was once signed up in a Facebook group that swapped reviews. I thought it would be an easy way to get some reviews for my own books. Of course, that fantasy was short lived after the first swap I attempted to make: I couldn’t even get to the book for ten days after I had made the swap, a full five days after the other author had already posted MY book’s review. I finally did read and swap reviews, but it took me three weeks, and a lot of stress while trying to find the time to do it.

Right now, I have a newbie author friend who wants “no less than a Nebula” for the book he asked me to peruse. He gave it to me three weeks ago, and he checks in every weekend to see if I’ve read it.  I apparently haven’t explained clearly enough that it’s on the backburner behind a paid editing project (that I work on only on weekends) and the last-minute editing job last week on my son’s college paper on the effect of Christianity on mid-Byzantine architecture in Thessalonike (no lie). As an editor, there is always an editing project awaiting my attention. As a publisher, there is a mounting slush pile that pouts in the corner of my mind. As a mom, the college kid occasionally needs help on his complex papers. My writer friends like to ask me for an opinion. I guess reading IS my life, although the last “real book” I read I was very disappointed in, and I haven’t read a fiction bestseller since, but have busied my mind with company projects and wannabe author stories.

It’s a blessed thing to spend my life around books, as an author, publisher, editor. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, especially since one of the places I sit to edit is a hammock chair overlooking the canyon behind our house. The definition of the perfect office. But I still wish I could just randomly read something that everyone is talking about.

Oh yeah….you may be wondering what the book is that I read that I was disappointed in. It was the bestseller The Help.  I would tell you exactly why I didn’t like such a popular book, but that would be like writing a review, and I really don’t have time for that.

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 This is my “outdoor office” view.  See below for the book review of The Fairies of Feyllan

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Cat Spydell is the author of fantasy novel The Fairies of Feyllan and Young Adult novel The Time Traveler’s Apprentice at Hollywood High. She owns World Nouveau Publishing and is chief editor at the company. 

 

Book Review for The Fairies of Feyllan: 

http://huntersofreloria.weebly.com/kaspers-book-reviews.html