Deborah Koren talks about her passion for opera

I’m delighted to have writer Deborah Koren guest posting here today. She’ll be talking about her passion for opera–an art form that I have little familiarity with. Deb blogs over at Sidewalk Crossings, a fantastic blog where she shares her love for old movies. Welcome, Deb!

Rabia asked me to write a bit regarding my passion for opera.  It is a deep and long-seated passion.  I’ve been listening to opera since I was a baby, as both my parents are opera lovers.  Well, my dad was (as was his dad), and, after he married my Beatles-loving mother, she quickly became as big a fan of opera as he was!  So, I do have a lifelong history with opera.  My parents would play records growing up, we’d listen to the Met matinee broadcasts every Saturday (still ongoing, and still a part of my Saturday routine), and we would go to see live operas whenever we could.  I met Luciano Pavarotti backstage when I was in single-digits.  I remember my arms were not big enough to go around him when he gave me a hug!

Opera is one of those things in life I never get enough of.  Why?  Part of it, of course, is that I was raised on it.  But beyond that, my dad taught us to value and appreciate beauty, and the music in opera can be so beautiful that it gives me chills and goosebumps just thinking about it.  It is also music that thrills me and revs me up.  It is music that makes me cry.  Or laugh.  Or simply sing or hum along.

Everyone looks at music differently, depending on what type of music you enjoy, and most importantly:  depending on why you listen to music.  For me, music is an emotional, passionate thing, and nothing evokes emotions quite like an opera.

Opera is like taking a movie and magnifying all the passions of it a hundred fold.  Take a tragic romance story (ie:  Puccini’s La Boheme).  Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl is dying of Tuberculosis, boy loses girl.  Very sad, but rather straightforward…  but when you add in Puccini’s musical component, it is no longer ordinary.  It becomes something amazing.  You’re not just watching the story unfold, you’re hearing it too, with music that is so beautiful, so emotional, that it grabs your heart and squeezes.  And when those last few measures of the opera hit, when the music swells, and Rodolfo cries out Mimi’s name, it is utterly devastating.  I admit, I cry at a lot of movies, but I don’t know a single sad movie that touches the sheer emotional power of an opera like La Boheme.

Opera is like a movie on steroids.  And given how much I love movies… yeah, of course I love opera.

Opera also combines many other art forms into one.  You need a writer, a composer, singer/actors, set designers, costumers and all those needed to create a staged performance, dancers (many operas include ballet), an orchestra.  And there are all kinds of operas.  Some of the best music ever written is opera.  Some of the worst music ever written is opera.  Even the best opera can be ruined by bad singers.  I personally love Italian and French opera.  The lyrical, beautiful stuff.  Wagner, Strauss, Berg, Britten, modern stuff… I can’t deal with that.  Wagner has some of the coolest stories ever, particularly with his Ring Cycle, but I cannot sit through his kind of music.  It’s like torture to me.  On the other hand, I used to work for a lady back in college whose primary opera love was Wagner.  She didn’t like Italian opera.  We were pretty much polar opposites in the opera world.  Which just goes to show you, there’s something for everyone!

The good thing is, nowadays, opera productions have evolved.  In the older days, there was a lot of “park and bark.”  You can guess what that means.  Lots of standing around on stage singing, not much movement.  Oh sure, there were some good actors out there, but there are even more nowadays.  Now you have singers who are great actors.  They don’t stand around and sing, they become their characters and engage the audience throughout the performance.  There is also a whole crop of young, fit, good-looking opera singers these days.  There’s even a blog dedicated to the good-looking opera baritones and basses of today, called barihunks!

opera guys

Pavol Breslik, Simon Keenlyside, and Mariusz Kwiecien

What makes a good opera?  For me, it’s watching/listening to singers I love, singing music I love, with a story and characters I love.  Just like I’ll watch movies solely to see my favorite actors, there are certain singers I adore, and I’ll watch and listen to nearly anything they’re in.  From the older generation that is now mostly retired:  Sherill Milnes, Mirella Freni, Placido Domingo (who is not remotely retired and he still sounds amazing) are my favorites.  From the singers active today:  Simon Keenlyside, Matthew Polenzani, Pavol Breslik, Mariusz Kwiecien, Marcelo Alvarez, Carmela Remigio.  My top five favorite operas are Tosca, Don Giovanni, Rigoletto, The Elixir of Love, Turandot.  I love both the music and the stories/characters of those.

If you’re interested in experiencing opera, I’ve introduced quite a few friends to opera via filmed movie versions.  There you get exciting visuals to go with the music, in a more familiar format.  It’s hard to go wrong with Puccini, and I would recommend Madame Butterfly.  La Traviata is another opera with a brilliant movie version.  Those are both tragedies, but there are also plenty of lighter operas (Barber of Seville, Elixir of Love, Daughter of the Regiment) where no one dies and there’s a happy ending.  The Metropolitan Opera also currently runs HD broadcasts throughout their season at movie theaters across the country.  I’ve gone to a few of these and have really enjoyed the experience of seeing an opera up close-and-personal on the big screen.  I’ll be attending several HD performances in the upcoming season.

However, there is nothing quite like experiencing a live opera, nothing like the sheer power of a live orchestra and live singers in an opera house.  There are almost always supertitles projected so you get the translations of the language they’re singing in.

Two samples:

From my favorite opera, Tosca, by Puccini, the first 1:30 of this is one of my favorite tenor arias of all time.  It’s very short.  The tenor is reassuring his jealous girlfriend that there is no one else in the world for him, just her (singers: Jose Carreras/Montserrat Caballe).



“Ô vin, dissipe la tristesse,” from Hamlet, a lesser known opera by Ambroise Thomas.  Yep, based on Shakespeare.  There’s quite a lot of Shakespeare in opera!  Not a bad thing… In this version from the Met, Hamlet is sung by baritone Simon Keenlyside.

Quartz serial is coming soon!

As in, next Tuesday, April 2nd.

*gulp!*

We’ve set up a separate page and mailing list for it, which you can find here.

Aaaand, here’s the revised blurb (I can NOT stop tinkering with it, apparently!)

In order to save their world, the mages of long ago plunged it into eternal night.

Now rare veins of quartz provide light, heat, and food to a dying world. And Rafael Grenfeld has just learned that the biggest quartz pillar of them all, the legendary Tower of Light, exists. Unfortunately, his informer died before revealing its location and he’s stuck in the hostile totalitarian state of Blackstone.

Desperate to find the Tower of Light for his people, Rafe forms an uneasy alliance with the mysterious and maddening Isabella. They’re not the only ones interested in the quartz. The Shadow, chief of the Blackstone secret police, is also hunting for it. As darkness-loving demons devour souls and dangerous magical artifacts resurface, Rafe must tap into the lost powers of the mages in order to find and secure the quartz—before his world is destroyed by famine and war.

If you’re interested in receiving Quartz episodes in your Inbox, sign up here. (If you’re reading this in your feed reader or Inbox, visit the site to sign up).

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Also, Sean over at Adventures of a Bookonaut interviewed on his podcast. So if you want to hear me talk about my year of trying new things, the books that influenced me, self-publishing and slow build, click on the link!

 

Tia Nevitt on writing novellas

Tia Nevitt is the author of Accidental Enchantments, a series of novella-length fairy tale retellings. Her latest release, the Snow White-inspired The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf, features an unusual protagonist in one of the seven dwarves–a young woman looking for her own happy ending. Today, Tia is here to share her biggest novella-writing tip.

Welcome, Tia!

Novellas are hot in eBooks right now. Now that bookbinding is no longer an issue, it is no longer cost-prohibitive to produce novellas outside of a serial publication. ePublishers love them.

A novella is considered a story that is between 15,000 and 50,000 words. Here’s a rough guideline on manuscript length classifications:

  • Up to 1000 words – Flash Fiction
  • 1000 to 8000 words – Short Story
  • 8000 to 15000 words – Novelette
  • 15000-50000 words – Novella
  • 50000 to 100000 words – Novel
  • 100000 and higher – Epic

Shorter works are often harder to write than longer works. Plenty of authors love writing novels but wince at the thought of writing short stories. They might say something like, “I meant to write a short story but it kept wanting to turn into a novel.”

Here is my number one tip on writing novella-length works.

Limit the Number of Characters

When I was writing The Sevenfold Spell, I learned that each new secondary character brought with it at least a thousand words. At the time, I was expanding it from short story to novella, so I cut a bunch of really minor characters and added two major secondary characters–Talia’s best friend (Widow Harla) and the third man in her life (Prince Andrew). Each came with a story and a purpose. The Sevenfold Spell is a tight little story, and so it ended up with a very small cast of characters.

With The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf, I faced a new problem. I wanted to write a novella from the start, but I knew right away I would have to have seven dwarfs. Hmm. Seven dwarfs plus the prince, the princess and the evil queen. And I had better not make any of those dwarfs stereotypical. No one like Sneezy or Grumpy in any way.

So I ended up with ten characters, but an eleventh one wrestled his way in—the minstrel.

My characters ended up fitting the following classifications:

Protagonists – Gretchen and Prince Richard. I knew I would have parallel love stories, so I made one person from each love story the principal POV. Otherwise, I felt the story would be overwhelmed in POV changes.

Love interests – Lars and Princess Angelika – They have fewer POV scenes, but each plays a principal part.

Principal Secondary – Marta,  Johann and Rudolph – Marta is Gretchen’s mentor and matron of the dwarf farm. Johann is the minstrel and has key interactions with both Gretchen and Richard. Rudolph is a minor villain, a bully who inadvertently helps bring Gretchen and Lars together.

Minor Secondary – Gunther, Klaus, and Dieter – Gunther is the supervisor of the farm; Klaus is the youngest of the dwarfs and is often bullied by Rudolph, and Dieter is the confrontation-adverse owner of the dwarf farm.

How much of the story did each take up? Here’s a pie chart.

The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf

Character Prevelance Chart

Tia's Pie Chart

Of course, there’s a lot of overlap. All of the green and purple slices include at least one protagonist or love interest.

Since this was just a guess, I tested it. So considering that the story is about 44,000 words, I generated approximate totals for each group. It looks about right, with the possible exception of the Minor Secondary characters having a smaller portion of the pie.

Another tip I might have is to limit the number of plot twists, but I think if you concentrate on limiting the number characters, that will help more than anything else. This will give you the room that you need to develop the characters and grow it into a fulfilling story without making your readers feel short-changed.

Not even a stint in the military as an aircraft mechanic could erase Tia Nevitt’s love of fairy tales. To this day, she loves to read (and write) books that take her to another place, or another time, or both. She also dabbles in calligraphy, violin, piano and songwriting. Tia has worked on an assembly line, as a computer programmer, a technical writer and a business analyst. She lives in the southeast with her husband and daughter.

Tia’s novella, The Sevenfold Spell, won the 2012 EPIC ebook award for Fantasy.

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 Check out The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf at the following retailers:

Carina PressAmazonBarnes and NobleGoogle PlayOmni Lit

Audiobook Version

Magic_Mirror_Tia_Nevitt

Prince Richard is cursed. He is enslaved to the magic mirror, and must truthfully answer the evil Queen when she uses the mirror to call on  him. To keep from betraying innocents, Richard wanders the countryside and avoids people.

Gretchen has been teased all her life for being small. When she hears a tale of a hidden farm full of little people like her, she sets out to find it – and is welcomed by the mostly male inhabitants. One in particular, Lars, woos her with his gentle kindness and quiet strength.

But danger looms when Gretchen meets a runaway Princess and offers her shelter at the Little Farm. Wandering nearby, Richard instantly falls in love with the young beauty, and is compelled to tell the queen that she is NOT the fairest of  them all. Enraged, the queen vows to find the Farm and destroy it.

If either Gretchen or Richard are to have any hope of a happy ending, they must team up to break the mirror’s spell before the Queen kills them all…

cover artist: Ravven

Today I’m thrilled to have Ravven, the cover artist behind Rainbird and Mourning Cloak, on my blog, answering questions about her work and process. I first saw her art on DeviantArt, and fell in love with its gorgeous colors, details, and textures:

architeuthis_regina_ravvenSea_Fae_ravven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome, Ravven!

1. Can you tell us a little bit about your artistic journey? How did you get into book cover design?

I’ve always drawn and painted, but never expected to make a career out of it. In the spirit of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face I resisted art classes, as I wanted to be a writer and not the artist that everyone assumed I would be. As a consequence my drawing skills are quite subpar, which is a shame. Learn the basics of your craft, kids – then you can do the fun stuff!

In terms of technical knowledge, my years as a web designer helped me greatly. I also worked in the art department of a large Los Angeles portrait studio where I was allowed to shoot on weekends – since my work is mainly digital paint with a Wacom tablet on top of photos, being able to light and shoot my own stock was wonderful. Since we moved to England I’m lacking a studio to shoot in, but it’s on my list. Working in digital marketing and web design teaches simplicity of concept, and how to lead the eye for greatest impact. Since I came from a largely untrained traditional art background, that was invaluable to me as a designer.

2. What are some of the influences on your art?

Hmm, that’s a tough one. There are artists that I love, such as Dave McKean and John Jude Palencar, but they’re so far beyond my art that it’s like looking up at the stars. :) I keep files of covers that I really like, which I have here. I like lush covers with good use of shadow and light, very dramatic.

Angel of Fire

3. People do judge a book by its cover. What are some common cover design mistakes you see?

I always pick books by their covers. There is a fantasy writer whom I absolutely love (no names) who recently came out with a new book that had a horrible, cheap-looking cover. I normally buy all of his books in hardcover and I just… can’t… buy this one.

My number one cover design mistakes would have to be not having a professional cover done. I know that sounds really self-serving, but it makes me cry when people are trying so hard to publicise their book and the cover is horrible – everything is stacked against them from the start. Other mistakes would be not having the text pop and be clear even at small sizes, and having a cliché cover. Styles in cover art go in and out, and if you’ve seen something too often (pretty girls in big dresses, drowning girls, Big Face covers) it becomes boring.

4. What’s the best part about your job? The worst?

The best part is the collaboration between myself as artist and the author in bringing their vision to life on a cover – it’s such an exciting experience and I feel as proud as a parent when I see my covers out in the world. I love it! Collaboration can actually be the best AND the worst, depending on how much freedom is involved. The best covers come from an open collaboration, trading ideas, throwing out what doesn’t work and having the freedom to experiment with wild-ass ideas. The flip side to that is when the author has an
extremely literal idea of what the cover needs to look like, especially when they wish to exactly re-create a scene from the book. Literal covers quite often end up being so constrained that the end result is lifeless and muddy. I think a cover image should reflect the theme of a book, and how it feels, while still being true to the characters and world.

Mortality

5. When I first worked with you on the cover for Rainbird, I had a hard time picking stock images because I didn’t know what’s easy to do and what’s not when it comes to photomanipulation. Can you talk about the limitations of photomanipulation?

There is an amazing amount that can actually be done with photomanipulation on covers as long as you can paint – that is the most important thing. On Rainbird, for example, the original model was wearing a short denim jacket and denim cutoffs. Pants were added, which thank goodness were mostly in shadow, and then two versions were created, one with bare arms and one with a duster. Both were painted (the duster used some of the detail from the original jacket). You can change or replace hair entirely, change the color of hair and eyes and skin, and add clothing – but generally it all has to be painted to blend it and fit cloth to bent arms, etc.

6. What’s the most challenging cover you’ve worked on?

One of the most challenging covers was a science fiction cover for Kala Wade Media – since I don’t do 3D work or paint things from scratch, coming up with the open space ship bay behind the characters was tough. Another challenging cover was one of the Westerns I worked on, simply because it was impossible to find the right stock. Just try doing a search for “handsome cowboy” or “young ranch hand” or whatever and see what you get…lots and lots of musclebound guys wearing cowboy hats and not much else. :)

Born in Flames

7. What are three of your favorite covers (not your own)? What makes them stand out?

Seed by Rob Ziegler, for it’s use of stunning image-as-typography. I can’t do this kind of work, but I admire those who can.

Wither by Lauren DeStefano – a “pretty girl in a dress” cover that transcends all the others. One of my all-time favourites.

The Drowning City by Amanda Downum. Deep shadows, bright highlights, extreme drama in the way that the character is almost silhouetted. Lovely.

8. Is there a genre or sub-genre that you haven’t done a cover in and wish that you could?

I’d like to do more horror and suspense. I love those scary, even gory, covers and haven’t had the chance to do many of these.

Reaper's Novice

Thanks for stopping by, Ravven!

Check out Ravven’s website, or her Pinterest board for more of her lovely covers.

saturday, with links

mourning cloak tour banner

A couple last links from the Mourning Cloak blog tour:

A review and a guest post–Making Genre Soup–at Kaidan’s Seduction

An extract at Feeling Fictional

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Thank you to all the bloggers, reviewers, writers, and readers who helped spread the word about Mourning Cloak’s release. You made my launch week the best ever!

And now, we will return to our regularly-scheduled blogging here, with links to pretty covers, discussions about movies and books, updates on my other creative endeavors, and–oh, why not?–some thoughts about the educamation of children.

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Tabs open on browser:

The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar

The 100 best movies challenge, at Catherine, Caffeinated

Journey North starts its 2013 Mystery Class! (This is a GREAT geography project for upper elementary/middle school).

And there’s a recipe for halwa, as well, but I won’t link to it since I ended up modifying it (plus it forgets to tell one when to add the sugar, a rather important step! and I had to use vegetable oil instead of clarified butter, which might’ve also affected the taste–it was close to what I’m used to, but not quite)

Siri Paulson recommends children’s historical fiction

Please give a big welcome to fellow WANA blogger Siri Paulson, who’s joining us here today to talk about some of her favorite historical fiction books from her childhood.

Siri Paulson author photo 2011

Thanks for having me, Rabia!

I’m here to talk about books, which thrills me to no end because I’m a book lover from way back. Growing up, I read all sorts of things, but one of my favorite genres was historical fiction. Other times and places held an endless fascination for me. It didn’t really matter when or where a book was set, as long as the setting was as unlike my Canadian suburban existence as possible.

But, of course, I had favorite periods. Here are a few of them, along with the books that inspired me most…

The Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Another of my preferred genres was fantasy, so anything with castles was automatically a hit. Wandering bards, artists’ guilds, and apprentices? Yes please!

  • Adam of the Road (1943) by Elizabeth Janet Gray. Set in the thirteenth century. A young boy who idolizes his minstrel father is thrilled to have the chance to travel with him. But when he loses his dog and is separated from his father, he ends up crossing England to find them again. Along the way, he meets other traveling performers, makes new friends, and of course, has many adventures.
  • The Door in the Wall (1949) by Marguerite de Angeli. Set in the fourteenth century. An English boy’s dreams of being a knight are dashed when he loses the use of his legs. With the help of a friar and a minstrel, he sets out for the castle where he was originally slated to become a page. There he discovers that one doesn’t have to be a knight to be brave, and sometimes a boy on crutches is the best-suited to save the castle. De Angeli also wrote Black Fox of Lorne, a thrilling tale about a pair of Viking twins in Scotland.
  • Master Cornhill (1987) by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. Set in the seventeenth century. A boy orphaned in the Great Plague becomes an apprentice to a Dutch mapmaker living on London Bridge, but his new home is jeopardized in the Great Fire of London. Full of wonderful details about mixing paints in the studio and selling printed songs in the market. I also loved  The Golden Goblet by the same author, about a servant boy in Ancient Egypt.

The Second World War

At some point I developed a strange fascination with the experiences of Jewish children during the war. I read The Diary of Anne Frank, of course, but also…

  • Number the Stars (1989) by Lois Lowry. Lowry is probably more famous for The Giver, but this was how I discovered her. A Danish girl and her family take in her Jewish best friend and try to keep her safe while still working with the Danish Resistance. The girls don’t know everything the adults are doing – secrets are kept from them for safety – but there’s enough for the events to be quite exciting while still realistic.
  • When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (1971) by Judith Kerr. A German Jewish girl and her family become refugees in the early 1930s, living in Switzerland and Paris before finally reaching England. She and her brother are young enough to be a little confused about the whole thing; they think it’s a big adventure, even though they know there’s danger…which keeps the book mostly lighthearted.
  • From Anna (1972) by Jean Little. The family here isn’t Jewish, but they do flee Germany in the 1930s. Anna, the youngest in the family, is klutzy and slow in school, so she’s terrified of moving to a new country where she doesn’t speak the language. But in Canada she discovers she’s not dumb after all, but visually impaired. Getting glasses is easy; learning to come out of her shell is harder. There’s also a sequel, Listen for the Singing.

Honorable mentions: ancient Egypt and Israel, pioneer-era North America, and nineteenth-century Britain. I also have to mention Lucy Fitch Perkins, who wrote a long series of books about twins in various countries and time periods – The Cave Twins, The Spartan Twins, The Puritan Twins, The Dutch Twins, and so on – though I wouldn’t be surprised if they read as very dated now.

Over to you! Which times and places are (or were) your favorite to read about? Any favorite historical novels or authors to share? Let us know in the comments!

 

seasons eternal ebook 200x300Siri Paulson is a science fiction and fantasy writer and an editor of both fiction (at Turtleduck Press) and non-fiction. She recently moved into a big old house in Toronto and is still wondering what she got herself into. In her spare time (when she has any) she dances, knits, and dissects movies.

Her short fiction can be found most recently in the anthology Seasons Eternal: Stories of a World Frozen in Time. You can read more about it at Turtleduck Press. Seasons Eternal is available in print, Kindle, or your ebook format of choice.

saturday, with links

 mourning cloak tour banner

The Mourning Cloak blog tour goes on!

Here’s a lovely review by Ivana and an interview with yours truly at Willing to See Less. And another nice review at Tammy’s Tea Time.

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Also, this is TOTALLY Kato’s music. I revised the last scenes of Mourning Cloak to this:

Guardians at the Gate by Audiomachine

 

homeschool highlights

On Wednesday, the kids put on a series of short historical plays for David, as an end-of-term project. Much hilarity ensued, but this snippet from Henry VIII and His Six Wives was my favorite bit.

Sir I (as Henry VIII): Wife Number 4!
Miss M: I’m Anne of Cleves.
Sir I: You look like a horse! I divorce you.
Miss M: Well, you’re no looker yourself! *flounces off*

The Baron got bit parts, as a codfish, a Protestant prisoner, an executioner, a messenger, a builder and a captain in the Spanish Armada.

Eggnog was served after the show.

All in all, a wonderful end to the school term.

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The fabulous Lisa Ahn invited me to be part of her Be Inspired blog series. Click here to find out how I came to break fairy tales.

saturday notes

At Linda Adams’ blog, I’m talking about  The Lone Woman: gender imbalance in the action/adventure genre.

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Kris Rusch’s post on writing like it’s 2009 talks about what it takes to build a writing career today. My takeaway: focus on production and quality, get my stories in front of readers, and be in it for the long haul.

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My books are now on Kobo!

Rainbird | Shattered | Unseen | Wired

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Rainbird is now on sale for $1.99–up till the end of January! And look, I even made a graphic:

Rainbird Winter Sale

Yes, I’m ludicrously excited about making this all by my lonesome. I have a tendency to go all deer-in-the-headlights when confronted by any sort of graphics program ever since a horrendous experience with Photoshop in college. Photoshop Elements is a LOT easier to deal with.

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Do you have any sales or new/upcoming releases? Tell us about them in the comments!

giving thanks

(American) Thanksgiving is almost upon us. I usually like this time of year, because it’s a good reminder to reflect on one’s blessings. This year, however, I’m having a hard time getting into the Thanksgiving spirit (and the season of commercialism it ushers in doesn’t help, either).

Mainly, though, my meh-ness has to do with the scraping-bottom, wringing-water-from-a-stone experience I’ve been having. It’s not that I’m not grateful, it’s more that I’ve run out of ways to express it. The words aren’t there.

Which makes this post a bit harder to write than it otherwise might have been. Actually, all my posts in the last few weeks have been hard to write.

But I’ll take a stab at it, because thankfulness is worth practicing.

I’m thankful for good health, good finances, my husband’s job, the roof over our heads, the food on our table, and the extras my family is able to enjoy (from the occasional eating out to my kids’ activities to visits to fun places). I know that these things are not a given for many many people all over the world. In fact, someone close to me is in a tough situation involving a job loss right now.

I’m thankful for the people in our lives who help, support, and pray for us–from church members to long-time friends to relatives. I’m thankful for the small kindnesses of strangers and the goodwill of neighbors–people who will run an extension cord to your house when you’re out of power or buy batteries from your nervous, fundraising Cub Scout or just hold the door open for you.

I’m thankful for my husband, who works hard, is very involved in our children’s lives, volunteers, gives me time and space to write, formats my e-books–and who just signed up for a book design class so he can do print layout for my books. (Yes, he really is that awesome!)

I’m thankful for my children. Sir I. with his quick math brain, his high energy, his zest for science, his enthusiasm for life. For Miss M., who, like me, makes up stories and stays up way too late thinking about them, who is a strong and beautiful gymnast, who puts together wildly colorful outfits. For the Baron, with his smile that chases the shadows away, for his determination to keep up, for his kid logic and sideways thinking.

I’m thankful for all the people who’ve helped me along my writing and publishing journey, from editors who bought stories or sent encouraging rejections, to betas and proofreaders, to cover designers and book reviewers. I’m thankful for my blogging friends who’ve given me space on their own sites to talk about writing, books, my genre, and my work. Thank you thank you thank you!

I’m thankful for my readers. I’m thankful for every review, every blog comment (er… except the spam, though Akismet usually takes care of those for me), every tweet or like, every time someone recommends a book of mine.

And I’m thankful to God for these blessings.

How about you? What are you thankful for today?

Side note: Today, I’m at Candace’s Book Blog, where I discuss self-publishing and cover art, and recommend some fun indie reads.