Saturday, November 9, 2019

Readers' characters come alive

While it may look like I've been inattentive and neglecting my Omni duties, just the opposite has been going on beneath the surface. In order for us to launch the behemoth that is Omni, I need to complete the first draft of all novels in Pete Drake's 7-novel series. That's in excess of 1.1 million words of writing—that's the length of nearly 14 standard novels when all is said and done. The good news is, I've only got an estimated 250K words to go, so the home stretch is nearly in sight.

What this post highlights is the collaborative nature of the Omni project. A couple years back, a darling gal named Genevieve (part of the Fiddleheads Unite core team on Facebook) submitted a character for inclusion in the primary novel series. Tallulah Marin, or Tali as Genevieve calls her, is a naiad, a mythological fresh water nymph who featured prominently in book #2. Now in book #6 Tali returns!

Including the characters created both those in the Omni circle is incredibly rewarding, not to mention fun. Better yet, when I informed Genevieve that Tali was coming back, it inspired her to get back to her own writing, and she's going to pen a short story that goes with the novel scene I told her about.

If you'd like a character of your creating to be included in the final novel, drop me a line. Omni's all about inclusion, in the most magical and whimsical of ways. See you all soon. I have 4K more words to get down on paper today xo

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

When life gets lemony

 Now available in Kindle & Paperback formats
The day before yesterday looked to be an awful amalgamation of icky goings-on. One untoward situation after another reared its mocking hideous head, and I quickly saw my week derailing. I decided to fight back. Specifically, I decided to fight fire as it should be fought—not with more fire, but with a hose! With cool clear cleansing soothing water ... at least metaphorically.

I cleared my schedule and postponed all the things I'd planned 'to do,' and sat down to think about what I could do that would be festive and positive. I was on special-needs-puppy-sitting duty, so getting out of the house was not an option. Instead, I brought some of the All Hallows season fun and spookiness into the space where I was by writing a little rhyming story about witches.

I started out with a premise, a title, and the artwork for the cover. Then things took an unexpected turn of the broom and I ended up with a whole different tale. (Ever the repurposer, the other story will come out next year.) Before I knew it, the new little story was written. New cover art was created. Pages were designed and formatted. And now it's up and available on Amazon... in both e-book and paperback no less!

The moral of the story? Don't let the blue meanies get you down. Either kick them out, or tickle them into submission. And then enjoy your success over a cuppa or glass of that lemonade! Cheers!

P.S. All proceeds go to Whimsicalidocious' Lyle Dagnen author scholarship fund.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Tap Creativity testimonial

The other day I was asked to "share my story" with a group of female entrepreneurs in a Facebook group. The following is what I submitted:

Our darling fearless leader, Jennafer, sweetly asked me to share a bit of what I've experienced as an entrepreneur. When I started out in the mid-nineties, I was full of enthusiasm, wide-eyed, ready to dive in and work hard. Some things I tried worked. Others didn't. Still others were incredibly well received but sapped my resources to an untenable degree. I ended up opening a retail eatery, fine dining restaurant, catering company, and a theater company, running 3 of them at once. I'm single, and at the time, I owned a million dollar home, 5 cars (including a Jag convertible and Bentley prototype limo - all vehicles purchased in cash), went on trips on a whim and thought I was on top of the world.

Years prior, I'd made spirituality a priority, but looking around one day at all my "stuff," I decided to get rid of everything and live "without a net." Everyone in my family had passed, and the time seemed right to take a risk. I got rid of it all. Fast forward several years, and as I was in the throes of starting a new venture, I found myself battling with stage 4 lung cancer--the kind that involves the doctor telling you to get your affairs in order. I needed to dig in and deal with that to the exclusion of nearly everything else.

After having had many successes in business, I found it odd that none of the work projects I started seemed to bear fruit. I couldn't understand it. For the last nine years, no matter what I tried, things bombed. Then the lightbulb went on. Had the business activities I was working on while dealing with cancer been successful, I would not have been able to fulfill those commitments. I was too busy dealing with health stuff. Additionally, everything I did and learned during those years of "failure" is now being incorporated into my opus project that launches in February. Because I was down in the trenches, I didn't have the perspective to realize everything was falling into place exactly as it should, in its own time.

Business activities that I've viewed as "philanthropic hobbies" have not only paid the bills throughout this time, but I'm now seeing how they fit into the big picture going forward. There is absolutely not one single thing I've worked on in the last 10 years that was wasted effort. All of it is being incorporated into that big picture I was not able to see clearly because I was too close to it. The mega project that launches next year already has a number of programs in place because they were just waiting in the wings for their time in the sun. There is already interest, I'm finding my "tribe," folks are already participating and feeling blessed, funds are coming in, and with some of the projects I'm seeing my most cherished dreams come true.

The point of this long-winded homily is that you never how or when the seeds you sow will bear fruit. My situation has been akin to the growth of bamboo. I kept working and working and it looked like nothing was happening. Then all of a sudden, the growth has shot up to the sky. I can't wait to report back a year hence with an update, but for now, I couldn't be more grateful for my decade of struggle, as it's been the best of my life.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Tears fall like Aquis

23 August 2019 - I was talking to a friend about all the trials and missteps I've mentioned in this blog—about how it looked like I'd faced one failure after another and that for nearly a decade I couldn't figure out why that was the case. As we chatted, I became verklempt as I mentioned the myriad projects I'd started that appeared at the time to be random one-offs, but that I now realize are part and parcel of all Omni is meant to be about. On Patreon, the Academy's tagline is "cultivating community by creating a whole new world," and that is one hundred percent what all of this 'stuff' has been about.

La Vie Sirene magazine paved the way for Writing on a Whim, the upcoming Cynosurae newspaper, and Omni's anthologies, the 3rd of which publishes next month with Besties & Beasties.

The retail spot I did not open with my cohort necessitated the creation of Whimsicalidocious, my dream of starting an arts nonprofit coming true.

Fantasy Fitness is now part of the Omni curriculum and I've already taught a few classes—woohoo! The Wellemental elements-based retreat I planned long before knowing about the academy and its element structure will be held next year.

Siren School was revealed to be the academy's all-female affiliate, and its long-forgotten newscasts were the dress rehearsal for Omni's Station AOAS newscasts starting in Spring, in keeping with academy activity written about in Pete's Omni Tale.

Shared Treasure Hunt will finally leave port from Omni in July 2020, the academy having deep connections with all things piratical.

The original language Naturim is taught at the academy and features in the first OmniQuest escapish-room game that launches 1 February 2020.

Pete's story will at last be published ... more like 'churned out' ... on an oh so regular basis, with chapters released every few days on Patreon, and novellas (about a dozen chapters in length) released every 6 weeks for the next 6-7 years.

The few 'fiddleheads' who have supported this project have seen their original characters come to life in Pete's story.

Even Platen, the stepchild element at the academy, has come into its own with the running of Dim Q's Tea Travellers Societea.

All the intense work and seemingly disparate projects are all unexpectedly converging, and where they all meet is at Omni. I could not be more delighted.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Author's Journey

Click here to visit the shiny new Author's Journey site :)
A couple weeks back, while writing book #5 it Peyton Drake's saga, I was listening to the Lord of the Rings soundtracks. I have different playlists for each of my projects, and thanks to the number of movies set in Middle Earth (along with their length) I had hours upon hours of Howard Shore to inspire and mollify me. The concept of the Hero's Journey flitted through my mind—not just because that is part and parcel of each of the adventure novels in the series, but because I first understood the depth of the idea when I saw the Fellowship of the Ring, the first film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

It was then I decided to offer a writing intensive that would take people from the very beginning of the writing process all the way through publication. I'm waiting until after all the end-of-summer, back-to-school, settle-into-fall mania calms down before announcing it, and look forward to seeing what sort of folk inquire. For now, it's back to work on a detailed mystery event I unwisely thought up and am now wondering what I've gotten us into.

Hoping to see you in Middle Earth next February!

Monday, May 28, 2018


25-28 May 2018

In October 2017, A friend of a friend on Facebook caught wind of Pete's revamped story, entitled Mind the Portal, and very kindly invited me to be a panelist and presenter at Baycon - a science fiction and fantasy convention in the Bay area then in its 30somethingth year. I was bowled over, humbled, grateful, and determined to make a big splash for all things Omni. I dove into the project with gusto, completing more collateral materials and making more goodies than imaginable for the four-day Memorial weekend extravaganza.

The whole affair ended up being a mammoth bust for me. Zero book sales. I mean zero. Meanwhile, other writers with far less experience and far simpler booth setups sold out of their stock, and they brought plenty! To say I was disheartened would be a mega understatement. I spent thousands on the event and was prepared to the last annoying detail.

I came home feeling more defeated than I could say, especially after so many seeming failures over the last few years. I couldn't understand it. I used to be "successful" when I took on a new project. But in recent years, everything I put my hand to tanked! I did some soul searching, and one idea after another came as to how to go about the Omni project differently. Had Pete's story taken off during that convention, I would not have been able to do what I am now doing.

In short, I've been writing all 7 books (the most recent, book #5, is 192K in length) with the idea of getting the first draft of the entire series done before publishing (in this case, re-publishing) any of it so I can insert foreshadowing into the earlier parts of the story. That's something I wouldn't be able to do if I wrote and published each of the seven books one at a time.

Additionally, a million new ideas have surfaced that relate to how to repurpose the unfulfilled (yet somehow all affiliated) projects written about in previous posts on this blog. I realized none of them were truly a bust. They were all just waiting for the right time and conditions. I am going the route of Thomas Edison who was famously quoted as saying, "I haven't failed -- I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work" and “Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

That said, I'm not giving up. In fact, I'm just getting started. The Omni machine is now fully in gear and on track. If you're brave enough to see all it will entail, click here to go to the page that shows the Omni product rollouts.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Mind the pothole

30 July 2017 - I embellished Pete's story and decided to go with the 7-book series. Since I was unable to fully erase all vestiges of Peter Swift from Dimension Q from the internet, I changed a few of the names in the story, and gave Pete a last name that better fit his character.

I then began querying agents who by and large wrote sent back an identical email, encouraging me to make the story "darker and edgier like the Hunger Games or Divergent." This was disheartening. Not only would that style of writing not be authentic on my part, but if I were to rewrite all 120K pages, then resubmit to agents, and if amazingly someone wanted to represent it and starting approaching publishers, that process could realistically take another 2- 3 years. By then, chances were the style of writing requested would be hackneyed and readers would be on to something new.

Foolishly, I self-published the darn thing; it really was not ready for prime time. Given that about seventy percent of the work I do for others is done pro bono, I no longer have expendable funds to devote to hiring editors, cover designers et al. There is a reason I don't think of myself as an author, and this book is a good example of why. Although it was better than the first iteration, it still needed a lot of work.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The nonprofit formerly known as Whimsicalitea

22 April 2017 - Whimsicalitea has its first fundraiser, with big changes on the horizon.

I'd been a contributor to arts organizations since I was in college. I can't tell you how much Top Ramen and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese I consumed because I'd donated my meager funds to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Huntington Library, and Orange County Performing Arts Center.  Over the years, as I watched arts funding being cut in schools, I increasingly cherished the idea of starting an arts nonprofit with an emphasis on supporting arts in peril of being 'lost'.

A friend and I teamed up to open a brick and mortar spot, having both had experience owning retail eateries. She was going to have a tearoom there 3 days a week. The rest of the week would be dedicated to theme events and arts classes: acting, singing, harp, piano, Fantasy Fitness, you name it. For a variety of reasons, it seemed natural to finally set up an arts nonprofit. Because of our dual interests, we combined them into Whimsicalitea.

By the time of our last fundraiser at the end of the year, she was forced to back out of the project and I was left holding the bag. It wasn't possible for me to man a place 7 days a week, so I switched gears and took over the nonprofit and starting devoting time to the Omni project—something I could not have done if the shop had come to pass. It was at this point I finally got the hint that greater forces were at work moving me toward Omni. I still didn't know what it was all about, but felt irresistibly compelled to keep going. While on the surface it appeared that one thing after another had fallen apart, I secretly sensed things were actually falling together. They just weren't the things I expected.

Since the time of Whimsicalitea's incorporation as a federally recognized 501c3, I've been bombarded with emails selling or seeking tea paraphernalia. It became apparent, the nonprofit's name needed to change. As the nonprofit is now officially affiliated with the Academy, it seemed natural for the charitable organization to have a name as equally ridiculous as the reset of Omni's projects. Hence, we are now Whimsicalidocious, and couldn't be more pleased. Things are truly gelling, and it's a marvel to watch.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Challenge accepted

I had a ball cranking out Pete Swift's 100K-word story in a month, then spent a month self-editing, and followed it up with a party shortly thereafter to celebrate the achievement of cranking out the story in a month. I really didn't plan to become an author (and still don't view myself as one), and merely wanted to celebrate what I viewed as an accomplishment -- something akin to when one runs their first 10K. The 2016 story was nearly as bad as the original one written back in 2001, the addition of elements notwithstanding.

I went back to my "regular life" and thought nothing more about the Omni stuff ... at first. A few kind and supportive people suggested the world of the academy was worth exploring further. I scoffed, fully aware how poorly written Pete's story was. Yet, I also agreed with those kind folks. I gave it a good think, and decided Pete's story deserved better.

I pulled Peter Swift from Dimension Q off the internet sales shelves -- at least as best as possible. It's hard to remove all traces from the web. I then set to doing the story right. Unfortunately, the third time was not the charm, as subsequent posts will reveal.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Killing time before camp

In 2014 I was battling an insidious illness and on a lark, decided to participate in the fantastic National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) challenge whereby folks endeavor to write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November. Being I was housebound, it was a great way to spend the boring hours when I was in bed. The book had a great promise, but lousy execution, and I intend to return to it one day. More than anything I've done, it's a story that could make for solid Hollywood fare. Perhaps I'll adapt it at some point and send it through the mill.

In late July 2015, I was given a clean bill of health (yahoooo) and set to reentering the land of the living. That November I wrote the first installment of a mystery series I'd been prodded to write since 1998. (It's published under a pen name, so you won't find it if you Google me.) I decided to write the second in the five-part mystery series as part of CampNaNoWriMo during the April and July camp sessions. I dutifully did so in April 2016, intending to finish the story during July camp.

On 28 June 2016, two days before camp, I changed my mind. I remembered the idea of the kid going to an interdimensional academy. I thought it would be fun to revisit the concept. Thus, the mystery sequel was shelved. The Omniocademy was in.

I couldn't in good conscience start writing for another two days (camp started on 1 July), but I was so excited about the project I just had to do something! I remembered the water sport of Squallix I'd dreamed up for the heretofore unwritten Ray of Hope trilogy. Without any intention of doing so, I sat down and wrote Sheffield's Irrefutable Rules of Squallix ~ Open Water Edition that day. I was insatiable. I couldn't wait to start in on the story proper.

That's when I got the idea to incorporate the elements. The university I went to was a small one, and most students lived in dorms on campus. Each dorm had its own personality. That's what I was going for with Omni's element domains. I took some notes, and realized it was to be a much bigger project than I anticipated (Pfft! I had no clue.) I came up with 7 total elements, and thought it would be fun to focus on 1 element in a series of 7 installments. The only problem was, I had no intention of writing more than Pete's initial story.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Rah rah for Writers

1 January 2015 - I sought to support writers during the non-Nano months and came up with an online month-long writing challenge that has since blossomed into Writing on a Whim and (more recently) the weekly author meetup hosted by the ocademy's nonprofit Whimsicalidocious.