Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Teddy Bear #StoryAdvent Calendar

The Teddy Bear 
by Rebecca Fyfe

Tina Diggle and her husband James Diggle had always wanted a baby of their own, but they were unable to have one. All of the children on their street adored them, because the two of them were especially kind to children. Sometimes, Mrs. Diggle made gooey chocolate chip cookies for the neighbourhood's kids, and she would often find small toys to give to the children which she knew each one would love. She knew each child on her street by name.

But, no matter how much the children on the street loved her, she still felt a hole in her heart because she couldn't have a child of her own to raise and love. Mr. Diggle knew how sad this made her. A few days before Christmas one year, he bought his wife a cute little tan teddy bear. It was soft and chubby and had a pacifier in its mouth. He knew it was nowhere near the same as having a real baby, but he just wanted to bring something home that might cheer her up, even a tiny bit.

Mrs. Diggle thought the teddy bear was adorable. She decided to name it Connor. She set it under her Christmas tree with some of the Christmas teddy bears and presents.

"I wish you were a real baby," Tina Diggle said to the teddy bear, before leaving to get ready for bed that night.

Connor the teddy bear felt very sad upon hearing her words. He wanted only to be loved by someone and to love that person back. But he couldn't change what he was. He had been a teddy bear all of his life. If he could change himself into the baby that Mrs. Diggle so badly wanted, he would. He sighed as he sat under the tree.

"Why so sad?" asked the Christmas teddy bear beside him.

"I wish I was a real baby, instead of a teddy bear, so that Mrs. Diggle would be happy." The teddy bear sighed again.

"Well then, what are you worrying about? Tonight is Christmas Eve. Santa Claus will be coming, and he always lets us teddy bears have one wish."

"Really? What do you usually wish for?" asked Connor.

"Last year, I wished for a name, and the Diggles gave me one first thing in the morning. They named me Chris. This year, I think I'll wish for my vest to get washed. It's looking a little bit dirty lately."

"Those are very small wishes," Connor said. "What if Santa can only give small wishes? What if my wish is too big?"

"Well, you won't know unless you ask," said Chris matter-of-factly.

Connor tried very hard to stay awake long enough to ask Santa to turn him into a real boy, but, long before Santa ever arrived, Connor fell asleep.

In the morning, Mr. and Mrs. Diggle entered the living room to open their presents. Connor the teddy bear was gone and, in his place, a tiny baby wearing a teddy bear costume slept in a special red Christmas sack.

Mr. and Mrs. Diggle were over-joyed to finally have a baby of their own, and Connor got all the love any former teddy bear could ever hope for and then more.


This story is part of the Story Advent Calendar Blog Hop. Every day from December 1st through December 25th, a variety of authors are providing you with one story to read to your child on the lead-up to Christmas. Check out the posts below to see which one to read to your child tomorrow!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fairy Christmas Bauble #StoryAdvent Calendar

Fairy Christmas Bauble
by Rebecca Fyfe

"Mommy, how does this Christmas ornament light up?" asked Cameron. He held the pretty red bauble and watched the glowing light that flitted around inside the ornament. "Is there a lightning bug inside?" Cameron had never seen a lightning bug, but he had heard that they lit up at night time.

Cameron's mom smiled. "No, honey. It's not a lightning bug. I think it probably has some sort of light bulb inside and runs on batteries."

"You think? Does that mean you aren't sure?" Cameron asked. "But how does it move around inside the bauble? Wouldn't a light bulb break?"

His mom frowned a little. "Hmm, you have a good point there. Now I'm wondering how it lights up too." She gently took the bauble from his hand. She had bought the bauble from the craft fair just the other day from a fortune teller who had some trinkets for sale to go along with her fortune-telling business.

"Maybe if I see the fortune teller again," his mom said, "I'll ask her about it." She gently hung the ornament on the Christmas tree, and then she and Cameron continued decorating the rest of the tree.

That night, just as his mom was about to tell him it was time for bed, their new kitten raced across the living room floor and jumped into the Christmas tree, knocking over several of the ornaments.

Crash! The pretty red bauble lay broken in pieces on the floor. Cameron walked over to it. His mom told him not to get too close, but he saw something sitting amongst the broken pieces of the ornament.

"Mommy, I think you need to see this."

His mom walked over to join him, already holding the dust pan and broom, ready to sweep up the mess.

The two of them stood transfixed at what they saw amongst the shiny, broken pieces of the red bauble.

A tiny fairy with glowing wings sat amongst the broken pieces. As they watched, she stood and dusted some loose fragments from the ornament off her clothes and flew away, straight out their window.

"Wow," Cameron said. "I never would have guessed that was how they got the light inside the ornament."

"Well, the British call those little lights that decorate houses for Christmas 'fairy lights,' but I don't think even the British would have expected this," Cameron's mom said.

"Do you think the fortune teller has trapped more fairies inside ornaments?" Cameron asked his mom.

"We'll go buy the rest of them tomorrow and free them," his mom assured him.

Cameron went to sleep that night dreaming about fairies and Christmas magic.


This story is part of the Story Advent Calendar Blog Hop. Every day from December 1st through December 25th, a variety of authors are providing you with one story to read to your child on the lead-up to Christmas. Check out the posts below to see which one to read to your child tomorrow!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas Kitten #StoryAdventCalendar

Christmas Kitten
by Rebecca Fyfe

The tiny kitten shivered in the cold snow as he huddled under a wooden porch. His mother had been picked up by a white van two days ago. The people in the van had been kind to his mother; he'd watched from his hiding spot and seen that they stroked her fur and gave her food.

But it was so cold out here and his stomach was rumbling. He hadn't eaten in so long.

A little girl and boy came out of the house and sprinted down the porch stairs, giggling and laughing. They were bundled up in layers of clothes to keep them warm outside, and they were making balls of the white, cold snow to throw at each other.

The kitten felt warmth coming from above him and he crept out of his hiding place to see what was so warm. The kids had left the door slightly ajar. It looked so warm and dry inside. The kitten decided to sneak into the house and find a nice, warm hiding place.

The kitten saw a large tree decorated with lots of pretty baubles, but he chose to hide under a large couch. It was so warm in here. He settled down to a nice nap, trying to ignore the fact that he was still hungry.

When he woke up, he peered out from under the couch. There was a fat man in a red suit placing gifts under a tree in the living room. The man looked the kitten's way and he was sure the man had seen him. He didn't want to be sent back out into the cold, so he needed to find a different place to hide before the man came over to look closer.

The kitten spotted a large, red sock on the floor. It was too large for anyone to actually wear as a sock and it had a few bits and bobs inside it, but there was enough room for him to slip inside. It was extra warm inside the sock and he knew it was a good hiding place so the man in red wouldn't see him. When nothing happened for a while, the kitten drifted off to sleep again. He didn't even notice when the sock he was resting in was lifted and placed hanging from the fireplace.

In the morning, the kitten heard children's voices. He peeked out of his hiding place and the two children squealed in delight.

"Mommy, look what Santa brought us! I've always wanted a kitten," said the girl.

Her mom looked surprised at first, but when she looked at the tiny, hungry kitten peeking out of the stocking, her heart melted.

"I'll go get some of the chicken left over from last night's dinner to feed him while you two choose a name."

The little girl picked up the kitten and held him in her hands. He couldn't believe his ears. He was going to get food and he was going to get to stay here in this nice, warm place.

"I already love you, little kitten," said the girl to him, stoking his fur gently.


This story is part of the Story Advent Calendar Blog Hop. Every day from December 1st through December 25th, a variety of authors are providing you with one story to read to your child on the lead-up to Christmas. Check out the posts below to see which one to read to your child tomorrow!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

But We're Not Sleepy by Robert Fyfe #StoryAdventCalendar

illustration by Robert Fyfe

But We're Not Sleepy
by Robert Fyfe

“But we’re not sleepy!”

Jenny sat scowling at her mother, arms folded tight across her chest. Tommy was not really an active part of the conversation as what could a three year old add that would be important?

“Santa won’t come until you’re asleep, ” Mommy warned in a kindly voice.

‘How will Santa know? I don’t believe you, ” Jenny said. She was determined to stay up and see Santa tonight.

Mommy swept Tommy up in her arms from the floor, and gently placed him in his cot. She sang him a lullaby and kissed him while tucking his blanket snuggly around him.

“Good night, my cuddle bug. Mommy loves you lots.”

Tommy’s eyes shone brightly and warmly. Then he blinked once, twice and on the third time his eyes stayed closed. Mommy smiled. Funny how he and his sister were so different when it came to bedtime.

She turned to Jenny who had kicked her blanket off the bed and was now doing handstands against the wall.

“Santa has his friends, and they tell him when the children are asleep,” she said.

illustration by Robert Fyfe
“Santa has a spy in the house? I don’t believe you.” Jenny was now trying to stuff her pillow into her pyjamas.

“Oh, it’s true. I think that, in this house, it's Waggs or Ginger. I’m not sure which but one of them I am sure is watching.”

Mommy smiled at Jenny who was now looking questioningly at the big ginger cat that was at that moment sitting on the chest of drawers, pushing her hairbrush closer and closer to the edge until it fell off.

“Can’t be Waggs. He can’t see us from downstairs,” Jenny said while still looking doubtfully at the cat.

Mommy had now carefully removed the pillow and plumped it back up as she placed it back on the bed. She picked the blanket up from the floor and shook the folds and dust from it. Then she slid it over Jenny. She kissed Jenny and then moved to the door.

“He can hear you talking though.”

Jenny lay on her bed and thought about that, and decided that she would stay awake and see Santa. But she wouldn't make a noise, in case her dog ‘snitched’ on her.

Ginger dropped down off the drawers and jumped up on the bed next to Jenny who stroked him.

“You wouldn't snitch on me, would you, Ginge’? You’re my friend.”

Ginger just grinned at Jenny, his deep purr hypnotic and calming as he curled up at her side. Jenny’s stroking began slowing, slowing until her hand slipped down onto the bed covers.

illustration by Robert Fyfe
As the house grew quiet and Mommy and Daddy had gone to bed, Ginger quietly stretched, jumped down onto the floor and then up onto the drawers. He checked on Tommy and then jumped back down onto the floor, walked out the bedroom and to the top of the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, Waggs, the dog, looked up, his tail waving quietly. Ginger blinked twice and then went back to the children’s room.

Waggs listened to the sounds from outside. A gentle breeze carried the sounds of the night: the sound of bells and the sound of hooves on the air. Waggs gave a quiet bark and, there, by his side, a large man dressed in red with a big white beard popped into view.

”Ho, Waggs. Thank you and Ginger for keeping an eye out for me,” he said.


This story is part of the Story Advent Calendar Blog Hop. Every day from December 1st through December 25th, a variety of authors are providing you with one story to read to your child on the lead-up to Christmas. Check out the posts below to see which one to read to your child tomorrow!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Santa Gets Stuck #StoryAdventCalendar

The reindeer landed smoothly along the rooftop, hardly jarring the sleigh at all. This was Santa's 500,000th Christmas delivery. He grabbed his sack full of gifts for the children living inside the house. Santa walked around the tiny chimney stack.

"I'll never fit in there," he said. "I'd better use the pixie dust." Santa always kept a supply of pixie dust on hand for his Christmas eve deliveries. The magic of the pixie dust helped him create chimneys on houses that didn't have them and make chimneys larger when they were too narrow for him to fit through. He had to limit how much pixie dust he used on each house to make sure he wouldn't run out before the night's deliveries were completed.

Santa took a small pinch of pixie dust out of his pocket. He kept the small amount clasped between his finger and thumb, just a pinch. As he reached towards the chimney to throw the pixie dust in, a few sprinkles of it fell from his fingers and landed on the roof top, nowhere near the chimney. Santa didn't notice.

The chimney rumbled and groaned, though the sound it made was not too loud because it would never work to wake the family inside the house. It expanded to a much larger size.

"Does it look smaller than the last one?" Santa asked Blitzen, peering closely at the chimney.

Blitzen didn't answer. Reindeer understand humans, but they can't speak like humans. Santa hadn't expected an answer anyway.

"Well, I'd better get inside," Santa said. "I hope they have some more cookies and milk for me. My stomach is rumbling again." Santa had a very big appetite.

When Santa jumped into the chimney, he found that something was very wrong. He didn't fit! He fell down the chimney but got stuck inside before he could come out from it inside the house.

Oh no! Santa had no time to be stuck! He had other houses needing his deliveries and he couldn't let the children in this house see him.

Santa hit a button on the watch on his wrist. It signalled the elves back at the North Pole that Santa needed help.

The Emergency Response Elf Team got to work right away, loading up their backpacks with things that Santa might need and going through a magic portal which always took them straight to wherever Santa was at the time.

They emerged from the portal in the living room of the house. Once there, they noticed Santa's legs dangling from inside the fireplace.

"I've got just the thing for this," said the lead elf, Tonks. Tonks took out a pinch of the extra pixie dust he had brought along with him in his backpaack and sprinkled it over the entrance to the fireplace.

With a quiet groan and rumble, the fireplace widened and Santa emerged. They quickly set out the gifts under the Christmas tree and then leapt back into the fireplace, where they were magically whisked back to the roof. One last pinch of pixie dust returned the chimney back to its normal size.

"Thanks, Tonks! That was close," Santa said, sending the Emergency Response Elf Team on its way back to the North Pole and returning to his deliveries.

Inside the house, two children were waking up, hearing the jingling of the sleigh bells as Santa's reindeer and sleigh travelled off into the night.


This story is part of the Story Advent Calendar Blog Hop. Every day from December 1st through December 25th, a variety of authors are providing you with one story to read to your child on the lead-up to Christmas. Check out the posts below to see which one to read to your child tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hope - a story by Sharon Giltrow #StoryAdventCalendar

by Sharon Giltrow

In a little village not far from here nor there, lived a young girl named Hope. She lived in a rose covered cottage, nestled at the edge of a woods. Every morning she woke to the sounds of the chirping blue jays, and twittering red robins. Life for Hope was good, peaceful and tranquil. Hope was good, peaceful and tranquil and this beautiful young girl had a special gift, she made everyone around her smile. Her smile bought joy to the lives of all the villagers.

But sadly Hope was unable to return the smile of the villagers. Hope was cursed. When she was a baby her mother took her berry picking. She placed Hope’s cradle next to a brook and then went to pick berries. A cloaked figure stepped out of the woods and up to the cradle. Hope, who had only ever known kindness, smiled up at the stranger.

“Oh, my little one, your smile, could light up the darkest corners of the world,” said the cloaked figure as she picked Hope up and stole away into the dark woods.

Hope’s mother returned to find the cradle empty. She cried out and fainted. Later that day, Hope’s father went searching for his wife and daughter. He found his wife sobbing on the bank of the brook.
He began searching the crystal clear water of the brook, where he saw his daughter’s bootie, he feared that his daughter had been stolen and he thought he knew by whom. The locals spoke of a young woman who fled into these woods grief stricken at the loss of her infant daughter and her husband in a tragic carriage accident.

Hope’s father wasted no time. He splashed across the brook and raced into the woods. He had not gone far when he came to a tumbled down cottage where he heard a lullaby.

“Lullaby, and good night, you're your mother's delight. Shining angels beside my darling abide. Soft and warm is your bed, close your eyes and rest your head.”

He rushed into the cottage and snatched Hope from the woman, who let out an ear piercing scream and collapsed to the ground shouting, “Take her, take her, but from this day forth, she will be cursed. She will never know or be able to see how beautiful she is and none will see her smile ever again.” Hope began to cry in her father’s arms.

Time passed and life for the family continued, the curse forgotten. All who met Hope saw a beautiful, gentle, young lady who spread happiness and joy wherever she went.

One day, a travelling artist came to the village. He sketched people from village to village, for bed and board. He was blind and he asked his subjects to describe themselves.

The first cottage he came to was Hope’s. He asked if he could sketch someone. Hope’s parents, believing her to be the most beautiful person in all of the land, suggested her.

“Tell me about your hair,” the artist asked Hope.
“Tell me about your face, what is its shape?” He continued.

“Your jaw, your chin, your nose – describe these?”

“Now your eyes – the colour, the shape, the light that shines from them.”

“What would be your most enduring feature?” he finally asked her.

Hope answered each of his questions truthfully and honestly, but the artist was not happy with her description. He asked for a villager to come and describe her.

The villager said, 
“Her hair is the colour of gold. Her face is the shape of love. Her jaw is strong, her chin is soft and her nose is as cute as a button. Her lips are full, and a ghost of a smile lies beneath them. Her eyes are as blue as the cobalt sky. It is a face that makes you want to smile even on the darkest days.”

The artist now had two sketches of Hope, her description and the villagers. He showed them both to Hope and for the first time in sixteen years she smiled and the curse was broken.


This story is part of the Story Advent Calendar Blog Hop. Every day from December 1st through December 25th, a variety of authors are providing you with one story to read to your child on the lead-up to Christmas. Check out the posts below to see which one to read to your child tomorrow!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Girl Who Danced in the Snow #StoryAdventCalendar

art by Rebecca Fyfe
The Girl Who Danced in the Snow
by Rebecca Fyfe

Isabella twirled and spun as icy white snowflakes fell around her. A giggle escaped her as she threw her arms up while she rotated.

“Isabella, we need to get you to school now,” said her mother. “Come on. There isn’t time for dancing.”

Isabella stopped spinning and followed her mother down the road to her school. When school let out for recess, Isabella threw her arms up in the air and started twirling and spinning, making herself dizzy. She laughed and squealed with joy.

Some of the kids laughed at her, but a few joined her and leaped and danced in the falling snow right alongside her. I love to dance, thought Isabella.

She danced and twirled all the way home, and her mother didn’t once complain once about how much longer it took to get home because of her dancing.

While sitting at the dinner table that night, she ate her food and watched out the window at the drifting snowflakes. Snowflakes know how to dance, she thought. Look at how they spin and leap, twisting and gliding through the air like little sparkly ballerinas. I wish I was snowflake.

That night, while she was in bed trying to get to sleep, something tapped at her window. Isabella slipped out of bed and went to the window, but she couldn’t see anyone out there. She opened it a tiny bit and a little snowflake drifted in.

The snowflake giggled. In her surprise, Isabella almost missed the tiny little face on the snowflake. It had eyes and a mouth, and its giggle had been light and soft, almost like the memory of laughter.

“You like to dance. We’ve seen you,” said the snowflake. “Would you like to come and dance with us tonight?”

Isabella loved the idea, but she didn’t know how she could go outside in the middle of the night and dance with the snowflakes.

The snowflake jumped up into the air and drifted on invisible currents over to land gently on Isabella’s shoulder. “I just have to take care of one thing before you come with me,” the snowflake said, and that’s when Isabella noticed she was shrinking. Her nightgown was changing too. It turned into a beautiful, sparkling and shimmering frosty white ball gown. When she was as small as the snowflake, the snowflake stood beside her and Isabella noticed that the snowflake looked like a beautiful girl in a similar pretty white ball gown.

“All snowflakes look like me. People just can’t see us as we are, because they are so very big and they don’t know how to see through winter magic.” The snowflake answered Isabella’s unspoken question.

The two of them jumped into the air and let a slight breeze carry them outside where they spent the night dancing with other snowflakes, spinning and twirling, gliding and leaping all night long until the morning sun peaked through the clouds.

“Time for you to go home,” said the snowflake.

“Thank you,” said Isabella. “I will never forget this night.”

“You will eventually. People always forget about the magic when they grow up,” said the snowflake with sorrow in her voice. “But promise me you will never stop dancing, especially when it’s snowing.”

“I promise,” Isabella said.

Isabella climbed back into her bed and she began growing until she was her normal size again. Her pretty white ball gown changed back into her nightgown, and, as she started to fall asleep for the few moments she had left before her mother would come in to wake her, she promised herself, “I will never forget about the magic. And when the snow starts to fall, I will always dance in the snow.”


This story is part of the Story Advent Calendar Blog Hop. Every day from December 1st through December 25th, a variety of authors are providing you with one story to read to your child on the lead-up to Christmas. Check out the posts below to see which one to read to your child tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sale on Custom Book Covers

Some of you know I make custom covers for myself or others. I use stock photos, and sometimes I use photos I photographed myself for stock photos. (I have a large family and many props, so there is a lot of variety for models.) I also take scenic photos wherever I go.

Having a custom cover made can be costly. That's why I learned to do most of the work myself. When I have difficulty with something or don't have the skill to crate exactly what I want, I turn to my husband who has been doing photo-manipulations longer than I have.

Well, we've had a minor, but expensive family emergency this past month. Our kitten, new to the family, somehow managed to break a bone in his paw. We don't know how he broke it. One minute he was fine and speeding around the house, as kittens do, and the next, he was favoring his right front paw and unable to put any weight on it. We took him straight to the vet where he had an x-ray and we found out he had broken the middle bone (metacarpal?) in his paw.  The poor thing has had to remain in a crate for the past three weeks.

He just had his follow-up x-ray at the vet's, and his bone is healing but not completely healed. The vet understands that, even being in a crate had not kept the kitten from leaping and running, despite his broken paw, so she has given him permission to be on room-rest, as long as we keep an eye on him so that he doesn't jump too much.

All of this was very expensive, which, under normal circumstances, would have caused us a bit of a financial strain, but we would have been okay. But this time of year could hardly be considered normal circumstances. Our 5 year old turns 6 in two days' time. My eldest daughter turns 23 on the 26th of December, and, of course, Christmas is nearly here.

My children do not NEED anything. They have more than they could ever need, and we have decided that this year, presents will be small and simple, and most likely hand-crafted. But it will still be a stretch to pay all of the bills this month after paying all of Loki's vet bills.

That was very long-winded, wasn't it? Well, I am explaining all of this in order to explain why I am running a huge sale on my custom book covers. (They are made using photos, not illustrations.) If you would like a custom book cover made for you, as long as it is not immensely difficult and complicated, I will make it for you for $25. You contact me and tell me what you want, what vision you have for it. If it's do-able, I will agree and you will pay the money through PayPal. I will then make your custom book cover, and you may have up to three revisions after the orginal. I will make you an ebook cover, and, for an additional $15, you can also have a print cover version of it. Your book cover will be sent as png, jpg and psd files.

Here are some examples of previous custom book covers:

I also create fairy photo-manipulations (and occasionally mermaid photo-manipulations for people to print as gifts. (sent to you as png and jpeg files). Check out Fairy Magic Photos on Facebook and go into the folder with the photos "by Rebecca" to see examples. I am having a similar sale on these.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A New Way to Illustrate a Picture Book

I want to illustrate a picture book entirely through photo-manipulations. This might not be an entirely new way to illustrate a picture book; I'm sure someone somewhere had already done this, but it's a new idea for me. If anyone knows of a quality picture book that uses photo-manipulation for its illustrations, I'd love for you to let me know the title so I can have a look at it.

I often write picture book manuscripts. I rarely submit them to agents or publishers, but I know that, when I do, the publisher who takes on one of my picture books will choose an artist to illustrate my book, and I won't get much say over the choice or the illustrator's style. I would love to have the control over my picture books that self-publishing gives, but I cannot really afford the cost of an illustrator to illustrate the book.

Here's how the idea started percolating in my mind. My husband is great at sketching, but he's not quite at the level of an illustrator and I am far behind him in ability when it comes to drawing. However, he is incredibly skilled when it comes to photo-manipulations, often seeing and thinking of little details that would escape most of us. I am also learning quite a bit about photo-manipulations and how to create some stunning work.

So the idea is to choose one of my picture book manuscripts to illustrate entirely through photo-manipulations. It would have to be one that would be well-suited for this type of art. But the idea intrigues me, and of course, my mind is now running a million miles a minute with ideas for the art.

The main question is: Can I convince my husband to take the time away from his limited relaxation time to work with me on this project? (He works a lot of hours at the day job and spends hours a day commuting.) And, following on that question is: If he can't make the time to help, am I far enough along in my abilities to create the photo-manipulation illustrations myself?

Here are just a few examples of my husband's photo-manipulations (below):

Saturday, November 15, 2014

NaNoWriMo, anthologies and my novels "Ink" and "Call of the Siren"

I feel as though I have been neglecting this blog recently. So here is an update on my recent activities to help explain a little bit of why this blog has been slightly more neglected than usual.

Sand Scorpion by Michael Norwiz
Volume One
First of all, I am putting together two anthologies, one to be published through my indie publishing company Melusine Muse Press and the other to be published through it's subsidiary publishing division Your Kids' Creations. Melusine Muse Press will be publishing a second volume of SuperHERo Tales called "SuperHERo Tales: Volume Two: A Second Collection of Female Superhero Stories," hopefully within a week from now. This one will be very much like the first volume, except that, along with some brand new female superheroes, some of the stories will be new scenes from some of the superheroes you got to meet in the first volume, plus this volume will have more sketches of the superheroes to go with the stories. As per the first volume, the proceeds form the second volume will go towards the Because I am a Girl organization.

not the actual cover
The anthology that will be published through Your Kids' Creations is also an anthology of superhero stories - this one written and illustrated entirely by children. This one is more complicated to put together as some of the children are having to do major revisions of their stories and the scanned drawings from children require a lot of work to make them show up better in print (they tend to be drawn in colored pencil or, sometimes, crayon). I was hoping to also have this one completed by today, but it is delayed. If I work really, really hard on it, it will be available for purchase by December 1st. That's my current goal for it. you'll have to wait and see if I can manage it. I think one of the things that made this one more difficult to compile is that it was a more difficult topic for kids to cover, so some kids needed a lot of extra time to prepare their stories. The next kids one we do will be another "pick your own topic per story" kind of anthology like the stories in "The Talisman Chronicles."

While trying to put these together, I am also working on writing a brand new novel for this year's National Novel Writing Month. I was undecided between writing the first novel in my Daughters of Poseidon series, "Call of the Siren," or writing a new idea for a novel called "Ink" about a girl who lives in a world where the existence of paranormal creatures has been discovered and they live out in the open. Werewolves, vampires, witches and ghosts are known to live among humans but other paranormals have not yet been discovered and some of the known creatures are a threat to humans. This girl develops some paranormal powers of her own, namely the power to control ink. She gets tattoos which she can use by making them become solid and living for as long as she needs them. She uses her power to help others and becomes a sort-of superhero. I decided in the end to write "Ink," and I am really loving the story so far. I have been posting snippets from my daily writing of it on my author page on Facebook. I have also written about 3,000 words of the Daughters of Poseidon novel, which is not counted in my overall NaNoWriMo word count.

I'm also creating pre-made book covers for sale over on Melusine Muse Press. I offer custom-made book covers too. I recently made a book cover for my daughter Isabella's story which she is writing for NaNoWriMo's Young Writers Program. I am offering my services (on sale right now) for making fairy photos for people too.

To top off the work I am doing with everything mentioned above, I am also posting a weekly Story Starter over on Story Starters, and editing my collection of mermaid stories, Mermaid's Muse, for publication in December.

not the actual cover

And I am hoping to get my non-fiction book the "28 Day Fitness Challenge," and its companion food journal, ready for publication in December as well, although it might need to be pushed back until January.

There are other anthologies which I will have to begin work on soon, but stories are still coming in for them at the moment. From Paw Prints, an anthology of cat stories with proceeds going towards the Swindon Cats Protection League, to four anthologies for the four courts of the Fae World. There is also a call for letters from fathers to daughters for another anthology.

I have also recently acquired a new kitten, and this adorable little kitten named Loki has somehow managed to break a bone in his right paw, so he has required a crate to keep him from using it too much (which hasn't really stopped him), daily medication and a ton of money which I don't really have at this time for X-rays and treatments and veterinary visits.

And there you have it. These are the things that have been keeping me too busy to write on here recently.

What have you been up to lately? I'd love to hear about the things you've been working on. Please share in the comments!