Starting the engine on the second Chimera story

Hey Robine,
I’m getting started on the next installment of the Chimera series. This one will be told from Chloe’s point of view.

I envision the series as fantasy adventures that take place in the context of everyday life in a small city in the Berkshires. Chloe, the Chimera, and a few of their close associates are the recurring characters.

As a jumping off point, I’m trying to imagine in some detail what Chloe’s life is like as she starts school in a new town, with a new family, after her mother’s death. She’s got a lot of good things going on, but she also has to deal with her grief and the weirdness of her mother’s transformation into the Chimera.

massmocaChloe pursues her interest in art by volunteering at MassMoca, the contemporary art museum in North Adams, and taking a sculpture class there. Chloe, the Chimera, and their friends are drawn into a mythic adventure through an art work in the museum.

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Tom, CreateSpace, and the Best Ice Cream Ever

ice_cream_sundaeI arrive early at Nona’s Homemade for our meeting. When Tom strides in—tall, confident, two copies of his self-published book in hand—I ready my questions. “Tell me your self-publishing story,” I say.

Tom Donahue, a correction officer, co-owner with his wife of the ice cream shop Nona’s Homemade, and father of four, has somehow had time to write and publish Fraternal Bonds. And he did it without any special “in” or prior knowledge about, or experience with, the publishing process.

Listening to someone’s experience live is different from reading about it. As the minutes fly by, Tom talks book and Kindle sales, brick-and-mortar bookstore visits, reviews, book signings, Facebook, and other marketing avenues he is pursuing. He is revved up. His enthusiasm is contagious.

I am especially intrigued by his use of Facebook to pinpoint his audience. Who knew you could use this social media tool to search for groups and organization—in his case, correction facilities nationwide that might be interested in his crime novel?

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Self-Publishing Step1

Checking “self-publishing” online is a little like starting a research paper by reading about your topic in an encyclopedia. You get a lot of compressed generic information. Different companies, bloggers, and experts pull you in ten different directions until you don’t know whom to believe or what to focus on. Clicking through links sends you wandering down strange paths until you end up on Confusion Lane.

What I wish for as I stroll online through the thicket of information is a magic detector. In my fantasy, sweeping this detector with its attached magnet over the document would cause it to beep rapidly when in the presence of useful information. The magnet would then extract the prized nugget and deposit it in my saved self-publishing info folder, neatly filed in some step-by-step order.


Until such a wonderful instrument is invented, I guess I’ll have to slog along and read andsave as many documents as I think might be helpful. With technology changing every minute and self-publishing models and companies popping up like mushrooms after a soaking summer rain, I’ve decided to focus on information provided in 2011 or 2012. What was cutting edge earlier—say, in 2008 or 2009—may well be outdated by now.

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Chloe, the Chimera, and Me


Earliest known image of a Chimera

Hey Robine,

I just wrote a short story that might serve as a kind of creation myth or back story for a fantasy series. I’d love to know what you think of it after you read it.

In the story, a single mom, Caroline, learns she is dying. At the same time she discovers that she has a mythic connection to the Chimera, a creature with a lion’s body, a snake tail, and wings.

Caroline is all alone in the world except for her 14 year old daughter Chloe. Chloe is desperately unhappy because she doesn’t fit in at school, and she’s being bullied.

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Driving the Self-Publishing Bus

Last night I drove a bus. OK it was in my dream, but the anxiety I felt was one hundred percent real. Sitting up there in the driver’s seat, my left foot barely able to reach and depress the clutch, the loose four-on-the-floor gearshift dancing around as I tried to downshift, I felt wildly out of control.
I failed to make the right turn cleanly at the intersection and ran over the grass strip. I sweated at the thought of stalling it at the next stop sign. And all the while my sister was making unhelpful critical comments behind me. I didn’t see her volunteering to take over. Oh how I wanted to be anywhere but there. Please, I prayed, let me be a passenger and not the driver, not the one in charge.

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