Guest Post: MeLeesa Swann

After all the blog hopping I did last month, I’m returning the favor by inviting a few of my writer friends to stop by and share a bit about their stories.
Please welcome MeLeesa Swann, author of the middle grade fantasy series
Legendary Lex.

I Live with Evil Geniuses

With four kids, I frequently just want to run away. Go on a cruise or take some type of luxurious vacation. The endless “I’m hungry”, “He’s being mean”, and “Can we buy this?” is enough to drive even the most patient person insane!

But I owe my career, my dream, to the monsters.

I couldn’t create half the things I do without my little evil geniuses. I once asked my youngest boy to bring me an ice cream sandwich and he brought me a scoop of vanilla between two pieces of bread. My youngest girl recently had a conversation with a dragonfly and declared it the protector of her college campus. My oldest boy never seems to get sarcasm and takes everything so literally. (I’ve never had to be more careful about the things I say.) And my oldest girl is probably one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. (I didn’t think people like that really existed. She’s always smiling!)

Through the four of my little demons (and yes, they all have their mischievous streak) and my loving hubby (who is the king of horrible puns), I am blessed with a large variety of inspirations for the tales I weave.

So, even though I frequently fantasize about escaping to Scotland for a few weeks, I totally love living with my my evil geniuses.

MeLeesa Swann lives with her husband and four children in the lavish land of Imagica. She spends her time teaching her children the ways of the mortal world while showing them the beauty of her homeland. She also burns mystical designs on wooden boxes that allow people to store their secret items while on their journeys. Her hope for all who are touched by her works is that they find a piece of their own magic in their lives. MeLeesa recently published her first book, Legendary Lex: An ODD Beginning. It’s sequel is soon to follow. She is also the local liaison for the Mobile branch of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

www.meleesaswann.com

https://www.facebook.com/MeLeesaSwann/

https://twitter.com/MeLeesaSwann

Blog Hopping

I’ve been all over different websites lately and posting/sharing the links on my social media pages, but in case you’ve missed them, here’s the latest.

 

Book Review:

This post is a review of my historical novel, Fortitude, by MeLeesa Swann, a newcomer in the world of Middle Grade fantasy.

 

Guest Blog Spots:

This one is about seeking inspiration in the world around you, on MeLeesa’s site, including examples I find of Fortitude and Corroded in the world around me.

Then newest is a feature on some of my favorite books featuring Autism Spectrum Disorders on Stephanie Lawton’s blog. (Enjoy contemporary upper YA and New Adult novels, she’s your lady!)

 

Q&A Posts:

Steven Moore hosted me last weekend with some great questions. Check out his website while you’re there. He’s a fantastic artist (“Mr. Illustrator” from The Inscribables, who drew my “Word Rocker” avatar.) If you love fantasy books, games, etc. be sure to browse his offerings.

And I had another stop with MeLeesa Swann (she’s been great to me) to answer her burning questions.

 

Thanks for following my  blog journey and  checking out my literary friends.

P.S.

Be sure to signup for my newsletter because BIG NEWS is coming soon!

Expand Your Horizons

Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month is past the halfway mark. Have you seen an increase of understanding around you? My blue hair has provided more opportunities to discuss autism with others, so I’m glad I was brave enough to try it this time.

Me, on World Autism Day.

Me, on World Autism Day.

I scrolled through some old posts and came across this one from two years ago—the then nameless Fernando has been making an appearance on the blog for that long. This is a timely find, because it talks about my two manuscripts that are now under contract for publishing in 2016, and it explains where I got my line, “Don’t let your fortitude get corroded.” It doesn’t seem like Fernando has grown much, but it’s more than doubled in size.

Fernando, before it was Fernando, April 2013.

Fernando, before it was Fernando, April 2013.

Fernando today, April 2015.

Fernando today, April 2015.


Seeing these photos today reminded me of my teen on the spectrum. Just like my son, Fernando is always responding to his environment. Outside stresses, like weather, can cause disturbances to growth and adaptability, while appropriate nutrients and habitat can promote expansion. Sometimes, the rate of my son’s maturing seems laboriously slow, but if I think back to how he was two (or more) years ago, I can see how far he’s come.

Fernando can be used as a personification of my writing, as well as a symbol of human needs and growth. What can your fern do?

If you don’t have a Fernando of your own, go find one and nurture your creativity.

Ain’t No Cure but Hard Work

If you know me or have been reading this blog for more than a season, you know that summer is my least favorite time of the year. Yes, I know that it isn’t technically summer, but it’s in full swing on the Gulf Coast. The thermostat has reached ninety degrees and the humidity is at sauna conditions.

Fortunately, I think I reached my yearly low last month (notice there were only two blog posts in the past thirty-one days.) But, never fear, I’ve slowly been on the upswing. The final shove came gently from my critique buddies at our meeting this weekend. Thanks, MeLeesa and Joyce! For me it’s now baby steps to the blog. Baby steps to the Scrivener file. But at least I’m moving.

May was rough, though. The month started with adding another year to my life chart, but ended with a great concert at the Hard Rock in Biloxi. Power metal, country, classical, world, folk, pop, oldies, classic rock, opera, R&B, rap… my music knows no genre boundaries, but I’m very selective about music groups/singers.

Last week, Diamond Rio played at the Hard Rock. They’re my favorite country group—I’ve been listening to them since I first heard “Meet in the Middle” during my freshman year in high school. (Of course, I was also listening to Firehouse, J.S. Bach, and Enya. Like I said, no musical borders in Wonderland.)

Besides the great show, all six band members did a meet and greet next to the merchandise table after the show. Naturally, I bought the band’s autobiography and gushed over the twenty-three years of music fandom while they all signed the book. (Here’s another bunch to add to the Fantabutius roster.) The experience of participating in the creating (composing music), sharing (concert), and spending time with fans (autographing) reminded me of my own goals as a writer. I need to work on my craft to have something for people to read, so I can hopefully inspire others to do the same. 100_5591

The Diamond Rio concert was a great way to end the moody month and start me thinking about creativity and positive vibes. This past week I finally started a mood music file for my current project and started thinking more about characters and less about the literary rejections. Here’s to a summer of magic and memories in the making. What do you have in mind?

Bonus, I’m going back to the venue for a BOSTON concert on Friday. Rock on!

Music for the Wait Time

It’s been two weeks since I finished the first major round of revisions (there were several edits along the journey) on FORTITUDE. While waiting to hear back from beta readers, I’m working on the synopsis and query letter for it. Plus, a lot of knitting and watching movies have happened—it’s not all work here. Also, I’ve been reading a couple of my friends’ manuscripts. Finished with one from MeLeesa Swann and now I’m on to Israel Parker’s latest epic.

The good news, among all this waiting, is that I can work on the official soundtrack for FORTITUDE. As noted in this post, I like the music to match the arc of the novel. With this being a historical journey, I’m trying to make sure the lyrics fit the times. (Think Bid Time Return—that’s Somewhere in Time to the movie buffs—so the listener/reader isn’t jarred out of the story. Yeah, I’m a geek.) So, out of over thirteen hours of FORTITUDE mood music, I’ve got to arrange a manageable list of timeless songs to share with others. But I’ve stumbled across a few gems in my regular playlist mixes that weren’t in my collection, including this one, which works perfectly during the lowest point for main character Claire O’Farrell, “Reason” by Europe.

Now for a dozen more.

New Orleans Revival

I finished the first draft of FORTITUDE last Tuesday, September 10, 2013. Cue the party horns!

It felt great and I immediately took a few days off from serious writing because I busted my fingers and brain the previous two weeks to get it done. Yes, even though it’s Laurie Halse Anderson’s annual WFMAD challenge this month, I played hooky. I’d planned on keeping away from FORTITUDE for a couple weeks to get the whole distance and perspective break most professionals suggest writers take before diving into revisions, but that didn’t happen.

What did happen was something like this:

DAY OUT WITH FRIENDS IN NEW ORLEANS

Last Thursday I drove Joyce, Lee Ann, and MeLeesa to the big sleazy for dinner and a concert at House of Blues. We bought tickets for the Hanson show at the beginning of summer but it happened to fall in place that we all had literary milestones to celebrate last week: fishing drafts, multi-book contracts, and waiting to hear back from NYC editors. It was—is—an exciting time and we all needed the change of pace to escape the writing cave and chill with those who understand.

(Yes, I did say Hanson and I’m not ashamed. My musical interests span genres and centuries and there’s a special place in my music library for the guys of Hanson. They rock, with a little Motown jive here and there, plus they’ve matured nicely.



Just to show a sampling of what I listen to, on the drive back I switched from Hanson to Mitch Malloy to Boston before settling on Helloween. The guitar chords got heavier as the night grew later because this driver needed to stay alert.)

What happened the day after was constant music playing in my head. Music inspires me—always has, always will—and by late afternoon I had to get back to FORTITUDE. Four days later I’ve finished a complete round of editing plus several scene rewrites/additions to the praises of my first beta reader. I think I’ve got something good here and I can’t wait to share it.

Nourish Your Goals

Did you catch my post earlier this month about ferns? I didn’t have to wait for the summer heat to test me or the fern.
This past Sunday I had a minor freak-out about my writing goal—finishing the first draft of FORTITUDE—while I’m in my seventh month of waiting to hear back from publishers about CORRODED.
First draft goals can be hair-pulling. Waiting to hear back from the publishing industry, also nerve-racking. The two together equals fighting for sanity on at least a weekly basis.
Enter mini-meltdown.
While venting my concerns to MeLeesea Swann via chat room, she gave me the little “you can do it” and “don’t stress the numbers” and “it will happen” friendly feedback that can be easy to dismiss during epic stress moments. But then she hit me with something that made me laugh so loud I scared my kids.

DON’T LET YOUR FORTITUDE GET CORRODED.

Personalized prospective was all I needed. I shared the quote with family and our other writing friends. I even printed out copies of it on purple paper and hung them up around the house to remind me.
Then Monday morning happened.
I went outside to finish up some weeding. When I passed my little fern on the water oak, it looked like this:

100_2561

ARGH! My little plant of hope, though surrounded in soft, green moss was withering away. If the fern couldn’t make it, then I might be able to keep my goals. Then I thought of fortitude being corroded and grabbed the hose. I soaked that thing and went on with my other yard work.
An hour later, no change.
Two hours, nothing.
Three hours, it looked slightly better.
About five hours later, it was back to this.

100_2565

What can you do to keep your dreams alive? Be sure to involve a support system.