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!