Guest Post: Hannah Blatter – Dreams of a writer/illustrator

Hannah Blatter is beginning her journey as an author of children’s books. I was enamored with her personal story and hope it warms your heart too. Over to Hannah:

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Hannah Blatter

In early 2019, I was diagnosed with panic disorder. It took me 10 years to make that step to seek help and receive an official diagnosis. When this happened, I felt like I was inferior, as a mother, as a wife, as a human being. I had these moments, hours, weeks, when I didn’t think I would ever reach my goals. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. Like other people can handle this, but I can’t.

My son was 6 years old at the time, and I did not want to feel like I failed him. I didn’t want him to have high hopes and dreams and not go after them if he ever had a mental or physical illness. I never wanted him to feel like he was not good enough no matter what diagnoses he carried.

“In Colorado, you can ride a dinosaur with a saddle”

 

“You could also raft the Zambezi river with a paddle”

I have always had a background in art, working with design and illustrations. I wanted to give my son something, to show him that if there is something he wants to do, it’s possible. I had this idea stirring in my head from working with young children in my job.

When you ask them what they want to do when they grow up, they always say “a firefighter, doctor, mermaid!” and so on. Well, it’s wonderful that they have headway on their careers, however, what about what they want to see? Where do they want to go? There is so much in this world, why not open up their little minds to how much more there is.

I want my son to get the message that if you want to write a book or direct a movie, you can find resources to help you do that. If you want to drive on the longest bridge on earth, there are things you can do to make it happen. It’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to be scared to do these things. It’s okay to say you’re scared to do these things. And most importantly, it’s okay to ask for help.

“You can go sing on Broadway and learn how to dance”

 

“Or, you can feel like royalty when you stay at a castle in France.”

We all have our limitations, mentally, emotionally, physically. We have limitations in our knowledge, in our relationships, and in our environments. If we all gave in to our limitations, nobody would ever get anything done. It’s okay to accept these things and ask for help to work with them and around them.

So I am asking, graciously, for help to gain access to tools that will give me the ability to show my son that these things I say to him are true. I want to walk into a bookstore with him and see our book. I can say “Look, I get scared, I get upset. I am different. But, I can still do this, and so can you.”

“You could just watch the stars from a Cappadocia hot air balloon”

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A question from Hannah for any children’s authors and illustrators:

What was the most difficult roadblock you overcame in publishing your first children’s book?
I’d love to hear your tips or advice.
Thank you!

Connect with Hannah on Instagram: @blatterhannah

And Merry Christmas!

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At the Mirror: Missed Perception

I read this post on Pam’s Roughwriting blog almost a year ago and saved it for the return of the Halloween. It’s THAT GOOD, and I couldn’t wait to share it with you. Pay attention to the costumes in the short video. It will fill up your heart. Happy Halloween.

Missed Perception

by Pamela Wright

On one of my hold-my-breath-until-we-land flights a few months ago, I was the last passenger to enter the plane (my normal routine) and sat next to a nice-looking man who barely looked up.

But I looked him up and down, gauging how well the flight would go. Not garrulous, check. Not nervous, check. Not a drinker, check. All good to go.

But as I placed my purse under my seat and opened my book, I took offense. Perhaps this man – mid-30s – dismissed me already for being one of those things: a talker or a nervous flier or worse, just an “older woman” who was – dismissible. 

I shrugged my shoulders and sank into my book. Almost two hours into the flight, after I’d been reading without a stop and my seatmate had been clicking on his laptop nonstop (yup, harried businessman, I told myself), the flight attendant made an announcement that caused me to laugh out loud and the businessman laughed too and then…we looked at each other.

Has that happened to you before? You think you know someone from their outside appearance (old, young, teenager, academic, businessperson, clergy, European, African, mid-Western, male, female) and then suddenly, eyes focus on each other, and you think: ohhhhhhhh….

(Continue Reading: Missed Perception)

#Tanka Tuesday Challenge: Inspiration and Plan

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When I was eleven years old, I somehow got the idea that my family (and my best friend) should homestead on one of the uninhabited Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska.

Committed to my inspiration, I perched behind my dad’s old typewriter and with one finger, tapped out a list of everything we would need from 7 chisels and 50 hinges to 100 lbs of tuna fish and 30 sheep. Yes… sheep.

The four-page list is pretty funny. Apparently, I thought 15 rolls of toilet paper were sufficient for this adventure but wanted 200 bars of soap!

A few other items from the list (with conversions):
2 big bells
6000 packs of seeds
20 hair brushes
4 dog sleds
2 dogs
52 lbs of instant chocolate  (23 kg)
400 lbs of chicken noodle soup (181 kg)
1000 lbs of tea (453 kg!)
140 books

The plan never got off the ground, but I saved the list all these years. You never know…

Colleen’s #Tanka Tuesday challenge was to create a poem using synonyms of inspiration and plan.

~*~

Childhood’s fantasies
rewrote a commonplace life
plotting a passage
my sails filled with misspellings
my dreams charting windswept isles

Author Spotlight: Magical Writing, D. Wallace Peach

Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of guest posting on Colleen Chesebro’s site. If you don’t recall, she’s the fairy whisperer who advised me when my husband accidentally squashed a fairy.  I decided to share my experience of using magic to write my first book. Comments are closed here, so click over if you want to say hi.

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Hello, and welcome to my Spotlight Author Guest posts where you can meet independently published authors and sample some of their work. My inspiration was to give independent authors another place where they could connect with readers.

I asked for posts dedicated to the themes of fairies, myths, and magic where authors could show off their writing skills by stretching their wings and stepping out of their genre comfort zones if need be. I also wanted them to tell you about their books and to share the magic it took to create them.

fairy dust wand

This week, I am pleased to introduce you to author D. Wallace Peach. I’ve just recently started reading The Rose Shield series also written by Diana. I’ve reviewed the first book, “Catling’s Bane,” and you can read that review HERE. If you LOVE fantasy, this is an author whose writing will speak to you in ways you didn’t think possible. I am enthralled by her writing, her world-building, and the magical stories she weaves.

So, grab a cup of coffee or tea and take a few minutes to meet and read the magic behind D. Wallace Peach’s first book, Myths of the Mirror.

Continue Reading: #Fairies, #Myths, & #Magic 2018 Author Spotlight Guest Posts, “Myths of the Mirror,” by Author, D. Wallace Peach

Write and Change the World

Sally Cronin has a wonderful new feature:
Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives.
I’m honored that she shared my old post on the power of kindness.

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Today Diana shares her thoughts on random acts of kindness and explores if they can make a difference in this world that is struggling with so many disenfranchised and poverty stricken people. Is there a ripple effect of our efforts closer to home?  Read on…..

Write and Change the World by D. Wallace Peach

Most of us have days filled with small acts of kindness. We smile, kiss hurt elbows, throw tennis balls for our dogs. We pay for a coworker’s coffee and leave a big tip. We call a friend in need, chauffeur teenagers, cook a favorite meal, or pick up ice cream on the way home. These small invisible acts often go unacknowledged, but they travel around in overlapping circles, keep our lives balanced and relationships healthy. We see the results in strengthened bonds, deeper commitment, and abiding love.

But what about those times when we don’t see the ripples? When we toss acts of kindness and compassion into a seemingly bottomless well of suffering and despair? When we perceive no reward for our efforts? When we don’t know if we’re making any lasting difference in our world at all? Some strangers we’ll meet face to face, but most we’ll never know. The poignant tales of their lives will play out in other neighborhoods, other cities, and other lands, unseen and unheard….

Continue reading: Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Write and Change the World by D. Wallace Peach

Jumping Genres

I’m delighted to be over at Julie’s today with a short and somewhat silly post about “Jumping Genres”… what possessed me, after years of writing for adults, to write a book for children. I hope it brings a smile. 😀

Facets of a Muse

Please welcome my good blogging friend, D. Wallace Peach. Besides having a wonderful blog where she shares poetry, short prose from writing prompts, and peeks into visits with her grandson, she’s a prolific fantasy/sci-fi author. Since she writes for the adult market, I wondered why she chose to write a children’s book, so I invited her to stop by and shed some light on the subject. Take it away, Diana!

Available in Print: USA, UK, Canada, India

Julie asked me what possessed a writer of adult fantasy and sci-fi books to suddenly write and illustrate a children’s book.

The answer isn’t quite straight-forward, but it’s not that complicated either. I never set out with a children’s book in mind, but sometimes the ingredients come together and it’s a matter of timing more than intent.

The main reason is Tornado Boy.

Tornado Boy is 4 years old…

View original post 411 more words

I am Worldmaker

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I am Worldmaker. You know naught of me, yet behold me in the very fibers of the air, in the devices of my creation. My realm spans the chaos of stars, beyond time expanding, worlds shaped and dying. I am elemental, secretive, the spark that sets mystery in motion, the wielder of birth and destruction. Some name me God, but possess not a wisp of understanding. I am vaster than the reaches of imagination. Can you conceive, truly, of eternity?

My fingers roll as I breathe being into this gaseous inferno. I fling my fireball to the cold reaches of the void to cool and crack, to change the very complexion of space. There is a pattern in anarchy, a sublime collection of chance that in each moment transforms existence. Do you understand? That you are a miracle? Wondrous and infinitesimal, that you matter not at all?

Am I cruel, heartless? Do you find in my tale the fear of annihilation? Or in the infinite act of creation, am I the mother of life, an embodiment of love? Do I care for your ephemeral souls? I am none of your human imaginings. I am.

I am.

Curious.

I have contemplated myself in your corporeal image. You, the mere whimsy of happenstance. What is it that compels me to peer through the veil of stars to your blue orb with its wind-blown seas? You are nothing. In a sweep of my hand, I might hurl your planet into extinction, and in the dance of time, none would know or care. What is it that draws my gaze your way?

Hidden among you there is one who knows me, who has the power to read the runes burned in my countenance. He is the wyrd, Worldshifter, wandering in self-accepted ignorance while possessed unwittingly of truth. For to live without knowing is the doorway to wisdom.

He is a man grown now, rummaging through the hours you call time, hurrying over the surface of your mechanical planet, wasting breath and questioning why. I wonder at his constant seeking and inquisitiveness, his desire to part the veil and step into the mystery, even at the risk of his fleeting life. He might be foolish, yet I think he is, in fact, oddly courageous.

My latest world spins free with a turn of my wrist. It soars, whirling into other planets, colliding in a blaze of agonized destruction. In its debris new worlds will birth, new life that would not have breathed if not for death.

My gaze returns to him.

I gather stardust unto myself, shaping my vision of being into solid form as I plummet downward. The heat of your atmosphere burns me, peels away my identity in black cinders and powdery ash. Fear flares like a brand through white bones and scarlet blood. A shooting star, I plunge into your cool, gray sea.

Forgetting who I am.

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Note: So who is this mysterious World-Shifter she’s so intrigued by? Click here for the companion piece written by Nick (Babbitman). I love the direction he took!

Eye of the Beholder

pixabay - natureworks

pixabay – natureworks

I don’t know why the science of light and color caught my attention. Perhaps it’s the fantastical element of how this intricate world works that intrigues me. The initial leap sent my imagination cartwheeling. Another perceptual shift in reality and possibility. More inspiration.

My first memory of the nature of color is the moment I learned that when we interpret something as being “red,” the object is actually all the colors except “red.” Red is the merely the wavelength of light the object reflects. This rule applies to every person and thing entering our vision – we see reflected light, not what is absorbed, not the “color” they are, not the solid objects at all.

Well, in my little pea-brain, that’s mind-blowing.

pixabay public domain pictures

pixabay public domain pictures

Waves of light are received by the unique cones and rods in our retinas and interpreted by our one-of-a-kind brains. Each eye has about 6-7 million cones that receive intense levels of light and create the sensation of color. Each eye also has about 120 million peripheral rods, which are more sensitive to dim light and transmit black and white information to the brain. This is why nightfall drains the color of the day. It’s not magic after all.

Biologically, what I see is different from what you see. Red to me is different from red to you. It’s all interpretation, perception, not of solid objects and entities but of waves of light. As I look around my living room this morning, I shift my perception, aware that I see only light beams.

It’s all light, all perception, beauty in the eye of the beholder.

So where does this science take me? Straight into fantasy, of course.

pixabaystevebidmead

pixabay – stevebidmead

When writing The Melding of Aeris, I researched the visual perception of animals. In the book, humans have developed the ability to graft animal skin, scale, horns, other stuff, and eyes to their bodies. (I know, weird, but that’s me). I learned that although humans discern a broader spectrum of colors than most mammals, many animals perceive color better than we, see sharper and farther or have vision highly attuned to movement. A variety of birds, fish and insects see the shorter wavelengths of ultraviolet light invisible to the human eye.

Well that’s cool. What else can’t we “see?”

pixabay geralt

pixabay geralt

Centuries after Newton first observed that color is not inherent in objects, our scientists experiment with bending waves of light. Since all we see is reflected light, it makes sense that if we bend it around something, we render that thing invisible. In The Bone Wall, a few characters have developed the ability to manipulate light waves. Of course, to my thinking, if we have the skill to bend light, why not waves of sound and heat as well? I travel that path without a second thought.

I’ve always liked musing about perception, chipping away at the borders of what I imagine is real. I like watching science “discover” what ancient wisdom has been teaching for thousands of years. We all experience those laughable moments when science proves a truth we already know. At the same time, I relish my eye-opening moments when science flints a spark of creativity and leaves me with the question, “What if?”

 

 

I am what I read.

image from pixaby.com

image from pixaby.com

By the close of summer, I’m often tired of my fair-weather pace. I tend to catch colds this time of year…my body nudging me toward rest when I disregard its subtler cues. One more hurdle, one more commitment, one more task, one more…cough cough.

I’m ready to surrender to the slowness of fall. My characters are stretching and yawning – a sure sign of my approaching hibernation. Autumn suits me. It’s a time of tethering those parts of me that I’ve flung wide while venturing from my cozy burrow to bathe in some overdue sunshine.

Sometimes I feel like a sponge, sucking feelings out of the air as if they’re spilled water. Is this a writer thing? A plague of empathy? An inability to separate oneself from the pathos of life? Do all humans do this?

I am what I read. I am what I write – a torch of outrage at injustice, a soggy heart at tales of loss, grinning like a lovestruck moon. I’m tickled into laughter, sailing with beauty, and slogging through the morass of political hell. Every choice, every action, every motivation is sparked by emotion. I’m not a rational being. My feelings wear me out.

Books tend to infuse and reflect my state of mind. Do your books do that for you? To you?

If I read an inspiring story, my words are sweeter, hopeful, and I believe that love will prevail over fear. Blogging is honey for my soul as I am blown away by the generosity of spirit that scrolls across my screen. All over the globe there are people who restore/restory my faith in humanity, sharing poignant tales of love and loss, of sacrifice and courage. Your words bring laughter and tears, draw the world’s vast human landscape within reach of my chair. You remind me of the myriad ways we are brothers and sisters, and I reap the needed faith to pour love and hope onto the pages I write.

If I’m troubled by the brutality of mankind, as I often am, that too bleeds into my work. My mother complains that my books are violent, and all I can say in response is “look around you.” I can’t pretend that what rends my heart and fires my blood doesn’t exist. I can’t erase it from the slate of my memory. I can’t unfeel it.

Lately, I sense my mood darkening, so it’s time for a boost of inspiration and infusion of peace. It happens that I recently received a 3 day, 3 quote challenge. To prepare, I’ve picked up one of my favorite books for a reread – something I rarely do, but who am I to argue with synchronicity.

Anam Cara, by Irish poet and theologian John O’Donohue, rests at the top of my heart’s list.  I’ll be revisiting the dog-eared pages, my old highlights and underlines promising gems of faith and ancient magic. I’ll choose a few – okay, more like 9 – favorite quotes to share with you.

Happy writing and peace.

image from flickr.com

image from flickr.com

Writer as Witness

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As storytellers, we create settings and characters with enough authenticity to entrap readers in our imaginations. The goal is to elicit feelings somewhere in the broad spectrum of human experience, to personally invest the reader in the outcome of our tales.

Frontyard1.dianapeach.jpgA sense of reality and plausibility in our stories aids us in that task. External intricacy adds texture as it paints pictures in a reader’s mind. Our own emotional landscape is fodder for our characters’ souls.

I love the idea of writers as witnesses. We are observers of details, the ones with personal knowledge of hidden imagery and feelings, which we attest to through our words.

In her book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron encourages artists to become witnesses, to take time out of each day to observe our outer and inner worlds with curiosity, as a way of enriching our store of experience and ultimately our art. She suggests occasional artist’s vacations, to gather experiences foreign to our daily routines.

Frontyard3.dianapeach.jpgI frequently wander about in zombie-like unconsciousness. My familiarity with my routine and surroundings allows my brain to dally elsewhere, usually embroiled in developing scenes, prodding characters, and plugging up plot holes.

Unless I make a mindful choice to engage, I don’t.

I wrote a post back in October called Emotional Writing about a necessary willingness to explore painful feelings. This is tough work: witnessing our own agony and blindness, picking through our hearts with an observer’s impartial eye. And how far are we willing to delve into someone else’s experience, to embrace it as our own?

Frontyard5.dianapeach.jpgToday I’m another kind of witness. If I sit still and pay attention, I see cloudy light reflected on rain-slick leaves, the diamond patterns of stained glass at the end of a dark hallway. Gossamer cobwebs thread the air around the old chandelier. The dog snores on the couch and rain drips from sagging gutters to patter on the metal roof. It’s chilly this morning, and Pinky the cat has commandeered my sweater. If my nose weren’t stuffy, I might smell coffee brewing.

Any one of these details may end up in my writing today.

I share a few photos of moss growing in my yard. I would have never witnesses the beauty if I hadn’t taken the time to look.