Monday, July 27, 2015


As my new school year kicks off, I can't help but wander back to our last day in London, sitting under the Eye, listening to street performers. This mental image is my new happy place.

Monday, July 20, 2015

July 2015 Critique Blog Hop

The ever-generous Michelle has set up a blog-hop for those of us poor souls who did not make it into #NewAgent. Sigh. Always the bridesmaid. And that one time literally, which was embarrassing. But anyway, here we go! My query and first 250 words. Critique away! Carve me a new one, hopefully a better one.

Dear ____________,

I saw __________________, and I hoped you might consider THE MARVELOUS ADVENTURES OF GWENDOLYN GRAY, an Upper MG Fantasy.

Twelve-year-old misfit Gwendolyn Gray has an overactive imagination. It causes her no end of trouble in The City, where creativity is simply not allowed. Trouble turns to catastrophe when her ideas won’t stay inside of her head and: forests spring up in the middle of the road, furry orange creatures run amok in her bedroom, and she certainly didn't mean to make that girl in class grow a pair of rabbit ears.

When the popular kids chase her all the way to the edge of The City, Gwendolyn runs afoul of the Faceless Gentlemen, The City's wayward-thought police. They want to erase Gwendolyn and her fantasies before they become infectious. With the help of two otherworldly children, Gwendolyn escapes the men and her joyless world and travels inside her favorite books. Unfortunately, her carelessness unleashes the Faceless Gentlemen on all the realms of literature, putting whole worlds in danger of being erased.

Gwendolyn and her friends travel through a steampunk adventure novel and enlist the help of a dashing young airship captain to stay one step ahead of The Faceless Gentlemen. Together, they find an ancient weapon that will harness the power of her hyperactive mind. If she can’t learn to control her impulsive imagination and save the home that never wanted her, then every world will become as grey and bleak as her own.

I'm a writer and middle-school English teacher from the United States with classrooms full of captive market researchers.
THE MARVELOUS ADVENTURES OF GWENDOLYN GRAY is complete at 78,000 words and would likely appeal to fans of THE GIVER, THE NEVERENDING STORY, and THE PAGEMASTER. It is the first in a series of books, with each book taking Gwendolyn into different genres of fiction.

Thank you for your consideration.

FIRST 250:
Once upon a time, in The City of No Stories, Gwendolyn Gray was running away. Her mother yelled, “Gwendolyn, wait! Stop!” But as usual, she didn’t listen. Her too-tight shoes pinched her feet as they slapped the pavement between the identical boxy skyscrapers.
Now, Gwendolyn herself had never heard any “once upon a times,” nor any “dark and stormy nights” for that matter, and as for this “best of times, worst of times” business, this morning was certainly one of the latter. As a little girl, she had always asked for stories at bedtime.
“Of course, dear,” her mother would say. “Which would you like? I could tell you of the results of the last census, or the year we had entirely too much rain, or the time your father and I went to the wrong dinner party by mistake-”
“Those are all fine…” little Gwendolyn would interrupt, “But what about a new story? Something that’s never happened before!”
Her mother would smile a mother’s smile and brush away an unruly lock of Gwendolyn’s hair. “There aren’t any new stories. You can’t make something out of nothing, love.” Then she’d tuck her in and go back to watching The Lambent, and that’s just the way it was.
Gwendolyn didn’t know where she was running to. Not far, probably. She never ran far, and usually went home as soon as she got hungry. But this morning was different. This morning was awful. This morning… well, it really wasn’t all that different, then.

COVER REVEAL: The Drowning Game

Here is the cover for the new book, THE DROWNING GAME by L.S. Hawker, sent me by my friends over at Inklings Literary! It looks great. It is now on my to-read list.

The Drowning Game by LS Hawker
Release date 9/22/15
Available for pre-order now

They said she was armed.
They said she was dangerous.
They were right.

Petty Moshen spent eighteen years of her life as a prisoner in her own home, training with military precision for everything, ready for anything. She can disarm, dismember, and kill—and now, for the first time ever, she is free.

Her paranoid father is dead, his extreme dominance and rules a thing of the past, but his influence remains as strong as ever. When his final will reveals a future more terrible than her captive past, Petty knows she must escape—by whatever means necessary.

But when Petty learns the truth behind her father’s madness—and her own family—the reality is worse than anything she could have imagined. On the road and in over her head, the fight for Petty’s life has just begun.

Fans of female-powered thrillers will love debut author LS Hawker and her suspenseful tale of a young woman on the run for her future…and from the nightmares of her past.

Author Biography

LS Hawker grew up in suburban Denver, indulging her worrisome obsession with true-crime books, and writing stories about anthropomorphic fruit and juvenile delinquents. She wrote her first novel at 14.
Armed with a B.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas, she had a radio show called “People Are So Stupid,” edited a trade magazine and worked as a traveling Kmart portrait photographer, but never lost her passion for fiction writing.
She’s got a hilarious, supportive husband, two brilliant daughters and a massive music collection. She lives in Colorado but considers Kansas her spiritual homeland. Visit her website at
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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

ENGLAND: Day 7+8-Last Call!

For our last day and a half, we had some more literature inspired spots to hit! First off, The London Zoo, home of Winnie the Bear, inspiration for Winnie the Pooh. A.A.Milne took his soon Christopher Robin here all the time.
Born in Captivity


Otterly Adorable

After the zoo, we booked it over to Westminster Abbey for our tour.

The cathedral is amazing. I'll give some pics, but they aren't mine, since no photography is allowed.

How does this connect to literature, you ask? Well, lets take a look at some of the graves and monuments in the Abbey. Some are buried here, some just commemorated. 

Though you can't see it well, this is Chaucer's grave. This is the centerpiece of what is now called Poet's corner, full of graves and monuments to famous creative individuals.

Also, some other notables...

One of the most notable is the grave and monument of Isaac Newton:

But pride of place goes to these two, just inside the main west doors.

These are the doors everyone enters through for mass each day, not tourists. Also the doors used for every coronation for hundreds of years, and the recent royal wedding. The coronation chair is through those black gates. The first plaque on the floor is this one:

He's not actually buried there. When they showed him this spot as a planned burial place, he refused, saying he didn't want everyone walking all over him. So they buried him elsewhere, and left this plaque. 

The other is the tomb of the unknown warrior, famously and humorously known as the only place in England no one walks on. Even the coronation procession must veer to the side.

We were lucky enough to get to pray at the shrine of Edward the Confessor, nearly a thousand years old. They described it as our chance to make our journey from tourist to pilgrim. It was very moving.

This area is not open to tourists. We were in the right place at the right time.
After our tour, we got to attend mass and take communion from the Dean of Westminster himself. Sunlight and rainbows streamed through the windows. It was amazing. Afterward, we rounded out our last full day with a bit of wandering around Westminster, lounging in a park by the London Eye, enjoying some street performers. A good guitarist was there, and a knife juggling-unicycle rider.


Then we went home and slept. Our flight left at noon the next morning, so of course we had to leave four hours before that. Heathrow reccomends a three-hour buffer for your flight, and we needed it. But we had to jump off the tube at Earl's Court for one last picture...

Too bad the door was locked, or our trip home would have been a lot quicker.

So long, England!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

ENGLAND: Day 6-London Adventuring

Ah, Day 6: Full of fun, random, literature-related tour stops. The first day we actually had some rain! Our first stop: Foyle's Bookshop. 

This place is fantastic.

 Our book purchases. I finally got the fourth Fairyland book! I convinced Kori to read El Deafo on the plane (she only brought ONE book. Silly goose. After she finished it, she didn't have much choice.) This is the first comic I've ever successfully gotten her to read! And then, much to my surprise (but not without a little prompting) she decides to actually BUY a comic! For herself! I was so proud.

Now, I think The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray would look splendid right... here. In the W's.

So we leave Foyles and venture off through the rainy streets to find the Great Ormand Street Hospital. This is a children's hospital that J.M.Barrie was particularly attached to, so much so that when he died, he left them the U.K. copyright to Peter Pan. The copyright has a special exemption from Parliament so that it won't expire.

Just outside the front entrance

Not a ton to see here, since it is a working hospital, but they had a really cool Disney inspired (and probably Disney funded) play area.

Time for the Big One: The British Library. More books!

Isaac Newton, looking all Mason-y

So the big thing we came to see here was the Magna Carta exhibit celebrating its 800th birthday. (signed in 1215, natch.) OUTSIDE the exhibit was something really cool:
This is a 30-foot EMBROIDERY that exactly replicates the Magna Carta wikipedia page, as it looked exactly one year ago. 

It was a joint project, with lots of different people contributing. The bulk of the work was done by convicts in a program designed to give them trade skills to use when their sentence is over. Other pieces were done by judges, barristers, lords, barons, politicians. In the end, it formed a beautiful tapestry that truly represents the rights of everyone, from lowly prisoners to landed gentry. Edward Snowden stitched the word "Freedom."

Then we got to go in the exhibit. No photos allowed. But inside, we got to see the oldest and b est surviving copy of the Magna Carta, from 1215, with the King's seal still attached (equivalent to his signature.)
It's a one page document, most of the text isn't even legible, and the seal is a shapeless ball of wax. Next to it were an original Bill of Rights, the copy sent to Delaware for ratification;

And Thomas Jefferson's hand-written copy of the Declaration of Independence.

By this point, our heads were well and truly spinning with the weight of history. We breezed through the rest of the rare books in the library without much thought, though they did have some original Beatles lyrics scribbled on napkins and birthday cards. That was cool.

Just a short hop next door to King's Cross Station!

The St. Pancras Hotel is cool 

King's Cross!
And in King's Cross is the infamous Platform 9 and 3/4! As well as the Harry Potter shop.

Then a lovely surf'n'turf dinner in Kensington, and an early bedtime. We were pretty well exhausted by this point.