On February 2, 2018, I had the honor of spending the day with the students of Christ's Church Academy at their Author Extravaganza day. I visited with the 5th graders and participated in an author panel, along with Jane R. Wood, Renee Garrison and Evelyne Holingue, where we talked about writing, research and finding ideas for stories with the 6th, 7th and 8th graders. It was so much fun discussing books with, and getting to know the students of, CCA. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of your 2018 Author Extravaganza!
The Florida Authors and Publishers Association has announced their 2017 Medalists for Fiction: Young Adult Paranormal/Sci-Fi/Fantasy -- and Inland has been chosen! I'm excited and honored to have my book chosen as a medalist in this category.
I am very excited to announce that the first book in my new series is now available -- The Elixir Vitae Adventures: ORTUS.
This is Book One of a new middle-grade adventure series involving mysteries, riddles, travel, family secrets...and a bit of magic. It is available in paperback and ebook from Amazon.
Pick up a copy today. I hope you enjoy it -- and I wish you many happy adventures!
As I’ve mentioned, my husband and I used to live outside NYC in Westchester. Most of our trips into Manhattan began with a train ride into Grand Central Terminal. They ended the same way – with a train ride home. When I was writing the ending for Inland, I thought it was only fitting that the story end the same way it began – at Grand Central. I spent a lot of time at that station, taking notes and photos and choreographing movements for the story. I can’t step into Grand Central now without seeing my characters running through the halls. It makes me smile.
All train stations have moments of madness followed by moments of peace. The trains arrive and depart; the crowds come and go. The periods of calm are punctuated by storms of chaos. In the case of Grand Central, the storms are large and frantic, while the calm periods can be a bit eerie. Grand Central is vast and imposing and humbling. Maybe it’s the celestial ceiling, but one can’t help but feel small there – a single person out of hundreds of thousands to pass through the station on any given day, one star out of all those in the galaxy.
In Inland, the main character, Cat, begins her adventure in Grand Central. When the time comes, she decides that it must end there as well. In that station, Cat’s story plays out surrounded by strangers, all travelling through their own stories, and most of them never even take notice of Cat. This, to me, is the essence of Grand Central. In fact, it’s the essence of NYC. There are millions of people, millions of stories, all carrying on at the same time. Too many to count. Too many on which to focus your attention. Every once in a while, however, we see one – one person, one story – and it captures our attention.
I enjoyed writing Inland and learning about NYC, and I love the story’s characters (who still wander through my mind every once in a while). I realize my book, Inland, is one of millions in print, but I hope you’ll notice it, read it, share it. Most of all, I hope you enjoy the ride.
One of the craziest things I ever experienced in New York was watching the giant balloons being inflated the night before the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I had heard it was a fun thing to do. I researched it online. It seemed like one of those New York-only type of events that I shouldn’t miss out on. So, my husband and I ventured into NYC on Thanksgiving Eve and made out way up to the Upper West Side…and found bedlam.
We arrived in the vicinity of the American Museum of Natural History, which serves as the staging area for the giant balloons, in the late afternoon. We were still a couple of blocks away when we ran into a wall of people. I’ve never seen so many people shoved into such a small space. Everyone was trying to inch their way forward, but no one was moving. We joined the crowd – and once we were in, we were in. There was no getting out. It was a sea of humanity, barely flowing in any direction. It took us hours, but we finally made it into the main line and around the Museum to see the balloons. By then, all the balloons were inflated and pinned down on the ground under heavy rope nets to keep them from flying away.
I can’t say it was enjoyable. I would definitely not characterize it as fun. And unless your idea of a good time is to spend several hours standing shoulder to shoulder with complete strangers who are jostling for every inch of ground they can gain, then I would probably recommend that you not add it to your bucket list.
There was one bright spot, however. Most of the balloons were posed in rather indecent positions. By that, I mean that a couple of superheroes, some cartoon characters and an elf were all packed tightly together, one in front of the other, and arranged with faces down, butts in the air. You couldn’t help but giggle. No one could. So, I shared a laugh with several thousand people in line with me. And when the humor of balloons’ unfortunate poses wore off, we were all left to shuffle towards the exit, one inch at a time.
I was writing Inland when my husband and I made that unpleasant trip to see the parade balloons. I knew, as I stood there staring at Charlie Brown’s head shoved up against Kermit the Frog’s backside, that this scene would have to make it into the book. Full disclosure: I wrote about the chaos of the crowd -- not the lewd balloon positions. Sorry!
As I mentioned in a previous post, Central Park is my favorite place in all of New York City. I grew to love Central Park by running around it…literally. My husband and I spent most weekends training for and running in races in Central Park. We joined the New York Road Runners shortly after moving to Westchester, and signed up for as many races as we could.
Now, don’t get the wrong impression. I’m a runner because I run. But that’s like saying I’m a golfer because I’ve played golf. I’m not very good at either one. I can complete the activity, but no one is throwing sponsorship or prize money at me. I didn’t run any of those races in Central Park to compete, except maybe with myself. I ran them just to complete them.
Running around Central Park is a great way to experience it. The park is vast and varied. Its roads twist and turn. There are hills (which seemed like mountains when I first started running them) and woods and small hidden pathways. You can easily lose yourself inside Central Park, either by accident or on purpose. And you’re not alone. On any given day, rain or shine (or snow), runners of all shapes, sizes and skill levels take to the roads and paths…sometimes to race, more often to train, and mostly just to enjoy running in the park.
When I wrote Inland, I knew the main character would be a runner -- and I wrote her to be a much better runner than me! Cat is a competitive runner, and Central Park is her home turf. I saw of plenty of runners like Cat when I was training in the park, all of them flying past me as if I was standing still. I will never be a runner like Cat, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy the activity in my own way...and at my own pace.
The next time you're in Central Park, lace up your shoes and go for a run. Short or long, it doesn’t matter. Central Park and your fellow runners will be happy for the company.
Central Park – it’s my favorite place in all of New York City. Hands down. No contest. It is a refuge from the storm, a splash of green on a vast grey canvas, a moment of quiet in the unceasing symphony that is NYC. I am drawn to it – its trees, ponds, and open fields. And I’m not the only one. Visit Central Park on a nice day, and you’d swear all of Manhattan had the same idea. It is full of life, full of green things growing, full of locals and tourists alike. To me it represents the essence of NYC: it is vast, it is varied, it is always changing, and it is welcomes everyone.
My husband and I spent a lot of time in Central Park, and we visit it every time we are back in NYC. Regardless of the season, Central Park is lovely. It is both manicured and wild, both open and secluded. It is communal by its very essence, and yet you can’t help feel that it was put there just for you. Many of the story ideas in Inland were created during my visits to Central Park. It is the best place to think – and just to be – in the entire city, in my humble opinion.
Central Park plays a key role in Inland. It is a safe haven for the main character, Cat. When she is there, she feels free, at home, herself. It gives her courage when she needs it; it provides protection when she is in danger. She knows every inch of it. She belongs to it, and it to her. Central Park is an important part of Cat’s story, and it holds a special place in my heart.
New York City is a place of landmarks aplenty – famous buildings, monuments, facades and locations that people recognize at a glance, even if they’ve never visited in person. The landscape of NYC is familiar to us from decades of movies and television shows, whether filmed on location or on the sound stages of Hollywood. Some of these landmarks are as famous as NYC itself. They have become shrines, brand icons and institutional ambassadors (of sorts).
When writing Inland, I had to include at least a few of NYC’s well-known landmarks. Frankly, it was too hard not to. How do you write a story set in NYC and never discuss any famous aspects of NYC? I worked hard not to overload the book with references to such landmarks. Inland is not a travel guide, nor is it a sightseeing cheat sheet. I chose to feature only a few sites prominently (such as Grand Central), while others are mentioned merely in passing as points of reference (such as Rockefeller Center). The ones I did include are among my favorites. If I left out your favorite(s), I apologize. NYC has something famous for everyone, but there is way too much to include in any one story.