Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My New Children's Fantasy Novel, The Hundred, Is Published!

I'm excited to announce the publication of my new YA/MG fantasy novel, The Hundred: Fall of the Wents! 

Best for ages 10 and up, the book takes readers on an epic journey into a future where humans no longer exist. Evolution has produced a host of wondrous and intelligent beings: shape-shifting Fantastic Grouts with globes of light atop their skulls; creatures descended from flowers; and massive swarms of bees that can bore perfect holes through metal or bone. 

But some seek a way to bring the humans back into the world—a world filled with creatures like twelve-year-old Tully, a young, amphibious Eft who imagines humans as nothing more than old bones and fairy stories. When his beloved guardian is stolen by a menacing black shadow, Tully must embark on a journey to a cruel, northern land to save her and his entire species. In an adventure that blends time travel, magic, and science, Tully learns whom he can trust, and who will betray him—for the price of reawakening the Hundred.

It's already received a positive response on Amazon, but the most amazing reward for me are the early and personal notes from parents. Among them:

"In the future please consider publishing your books during school vacation. I had to wrestle the Kindle from my daughter's grasp 1 hour and 5 reminders past her bedtime. If her grades suffer it is on your head!"

"My daughter and I just read the first chapter of your book...hooked! It's brilliant!"

"Your descriptive writing made the book SO GOOD! The plot really held her attention, and that is something that is sometimes lacking in YA fantasy books!"

You can find the book here on Amazon:

Print version

Kindle version

Add it to your Goodreads "to read" list!

(Are you a blogger who is interested in reviewing a copy? Email me at jennyphresh (at) yahoo (dot) com.)

Please let me know what you think, and spread the word to any young (and old) readers you know. Thank you for all your support. My next blog post will tell the story of how this book came to be. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Kinsman Pond

Be here now with the softest breath of wind, the flur and buzz of the dragonflies circumnavigating the pond. The light skims south over the water with the myriad insects nicking its surface and purling strange shapes and spirals. Absolute silence but for the beating of some heavy thing down the mountain way, and the droves of wings.

Know that you are contoured to fit all that you can hold, like this pond, like the palm of God cupping the world. If you watched long enough you could see the slow turning of the mountain in its deliberate arc eastward, bringing that sun to earth. Do you think you are not blessed, a wild and bright thing of skin and substance? You try too hard to find miracles when you alone are the holiest of happenstance, a living thing upon a rock. You have come here to be alone in the swimming, earthen sea, and something trembles on your shoulder and kisses you awake for an instant. You will never be forsaken. You understand now that you will never die. Cease looking for signs when every instant breathes one up and drops it heavy and warm into your waiting and ever-present body.

--Written at Kinsman Pond, White Mountain National Forest, July 31, 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

YA Book Giveaway: Cassandra Clare Collector's First Edition

Dear friends old and new,

It's been a wee bit silent here at the home o' the pony, and for that I apologize. I've decided to devote my evenings to completing my current work-in-progress, querying a second, and readying a third novel for publication. In the process, I am learning all about the power of self-publishing. If you're considering it, an excellent resource is Guy Kawasaki's Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, which I discovered at Social Media Marketing World 2013 in San Diego. It's a very empowering read that demonstrates the advantages of controlling one's own destiny as an author, and that sometimes the grass is browner on the other (traditional publishing) side.

There's a quote in the Kawasaki book that I particularly liked, by G.K. Chesterton: "I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."

In the spirit of feeling deep gratitude for my fellow writer friends (online and off), I'm giving away this hardcover Cassandra Clare collector's first edition of Clockwork Princess (Book Three of The Infernal Devices), published in March of 2013. (Value: $19.99)

It's easy to enter: Just follow my blog, add a comment below (make sure I know how to contact you), and Tweet about and/or link to the giveaway (shouting from your rooftop is also encouraged!) I'm @feralpony so be sure to @ me if you're on Twitter.

The giveaway will end next Friday, May 3, 2013, at 8 p.m. EST. Good luck! I'll plan on more exciting giveaways soon, so stay tuned. I have a teetering pile of YA books including some juicy-looking ARCs.

While you're here, linger over some of my older posts. (Warning: Other followers have suggested that you must not eat rice pilaf or drink milk whilst reading.) The posts under MANY DREADFUL THINGS HAVE OCCURRED HERE are particularly dangerous.

And let me know what YOU'D like to see here on this blog. What can I share that might change your day or make you laugh? You just might inspire me to reinvigorate the least a little bit.

Have a thoroughly wonderful week!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

5 Ways to Stop Panic Attacks While Driving

Conquering a panic attack is tough to begin with, but dealing with one while driving seems impossible. Any clever techniques one might have found in ordinary circumstances, such as doing "the plank," tossing ice cubes down one's pants, standing on one's head, and indulging in distractions like knitting and piano-playing, simply don't work while moving at 60 mph on the highway. 

As my faithful readers know, I've struggled with panic attacks for years, and the very worst of them have happened on the highway. Until recently, even the thought of driving on the highway could send me into a nervous agitation for days in advance. 

But today—suddenly, weirdly—I'm not scared. Does that mean I'm cured? Not likely, but I'm onto something. Here are my five pieces of advice for those whose panic seems to strike behind the wheel of a fast-moving vehicle.

1. Don't ask for help, ever. For a long time I would allow others to chauffeur me around, remarking that "I just didn't like to drive" and "it's easier to carpool." I let my husband drive whenever we went on a trip, which suited him just fine. When I simply had to drive, I'd beg a friend to ride shotgun to talk me through it. All this avoidance solidified a message in my mind: "You are weak. You can't drive." Every time you ask for help, that message gets stronger. Instead, try this mantra: "I don't need any stinking help, because I am a leader among men, defender of the weak. I AM the help, damn it. So gimme the keys and stay out of my way."

2. Find the worst stretch of highway you can, and drive it. Do it now, and stop hesitating. It is this very stretch of highway that keeps you in thrall to your fears. Head into NYC or Austin, TX, at rush hour, and then go back to the same stretch when cars are streaming through it at a rapid clip. Take it slow and then take it fast. Drive until it becomes boring. Drive it again. Nothing else will ever seem as bad, and your fear of future drives will start to collapse. 

3. If an attack comes on, welcome it. The worst thing you can do is to be afraid when a panic attack strikes. Your fear will spawn further fears and fears of those fears until your fear is a layered as a teetering, malevolent sandwich. Understand that you are controlling the panic, not something else. Yours is the hand that turns the screw. So crank it up! Try to bring on the panic as fast and fierce as you possibly can. Pretend you are an actor in a play experiencing a panic attack. You want to win an Oscar for this performance. Really chew the scenery! Start screaming and cursing if you must, and use words like "doo doo" and "poo poo." Your kids will forgive you and will be amused. By riding into the eye of the panic attack and whooping as you beat your steed, you are owning it.

4. Stop taking bears on as passengers. I'm just saying, it's a stupid idea to ride around with assholes or bears. They will make you nervous and will probably gnaw on your arms while you drive. Your own personal "bear" might be that asinine baggage you're dragging around—you know, that mantra of yours that goes: "I am a weakling and a fool, and will always be such. I deserve to be eaten by a large animal." Ditch that, sister. Toss that bear out at the next rest stop.

5. If all else fails, stop the car and do jumping jacks. Pull over to a safe spot at the side of the road and do jumping jacks until the attack passes. You will look like an outright fool and will probably begin laughing at yourself, at which point you can get back in your car and drive. If you don't like jumping jacks, try the Charleston, the Macarena, or the horsie dance from Gangnam Style. I can almost guarantee that a panic attack will wither in the face of your extreme public shame at dancing to "hey, sexy lady"on the side of the road. N.B. Your kids may not forgive you if you need to use this technique. 

What about you? Do you have any tips for managing panic attacks while behind the wheel or elsewhere?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Terrifying and Dismal Valentine's Day Gifts

Valentine's Day approaches! And once again, my local drugstore has offered up a myriad of beautiful and touching ways to tell my loved ones that I mean them grievous bodily harm but can only communicate that sentiment through something plush. Here, a selection of products and the meaning behind them.

I wish to murder you.

I love you theeeeeiiiissss much...ughghgh. Damn stubby little arms!  
My winker has now deflated to the size of a vienna sausage.  

My nethers are in a state of surprised and oily arousal at the thought of your arrival in my pants.

Owl Luv U 4 Eva, as you can tell by the heartfelt expression in the doleful and buggy eyes of this Lesser Saw-Whit Owl, caught and stuffed for your pleasure.

Is it okay if I snurfle at your crotch in public gatherings?

My boyfriend sniffs at my pubic area in public places and I am seriously skeeved out.  If I come live with you will you ignore my incessant weeping?

Hey, HEY, where you going? I just had me 18 liters of Night Train Express and slathered myself in choco pudding and I am ready for some ACK-she-oh-nee! What? When did I last bathe? I dunno. 

Nothing says "I love you" like 2 1/2 pounds of chocolate stapled to your thighs. This isn't a sampler, it's the entire product line.

Seriously, we have to break here and ask: If you got this grotesque purple elephant for Valentine's Day wouldn't you just punch the stuffing out of whomever gave it to you? And why is there an elephant theme in 2013? Is this something sexual or something? Gross.

I am planning to rape you in a parking lot in a few days.

This tiger is more animated than my penis.
So what's the worst Valentine's Day gift you ever received?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Bushmaster AR-15 Assault Rifle in Every Lunchbox, a Sig Sauer M400 in Every Pot

In the face of scalding criticism for their proposal to install an armed gunman at every school in America, the NRA today finally caved to pressure and announced their next initiative: "A Bushmaster AR-15 Assault Rifle in Every Lunchbox, a Sig Sauer M400 in Every Pot."

Blammo! You is dead!
"Kids just love guns!" said Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association (NRA). "So why not arm the bloodthirsty little savages and let them defend themselves, by God, against...other people who have turned out to be bloodthirsty savages."

"So true," concurred Sadie Dewgrit, mother of five near a town where numerous school shootings have taken place. "If my lil' monkeys had been packing heat at those schools, the gunmen would've be deader 'en a doornail. My kids are a fine shot with them Nerf pistols 'en shit, and they'd do even better with real guns."

"We can buy 'em at the local Walmart and it's real easy," added Dewgrit. "My kids keep asking and I say, 'Yore birthday is coming up, don't be a greedy little thing!'"

The initiative proposes that, by Kindergarten, children will be taught to assemble, oil, and load an AK-47 and take down some poor motherfucking deer with gimpy legs. This will prep them, claims the NRA, for a future in on-site law enforcement during "Circle Time" and "Snack Break."

Common Core State Standards will be re-aligned to included the following strands: Lock and Load 101, Grooming Your Gun Collection for Maximum Shininess and Death-Dealing Power, and The Coming Apocalypse of Rabid Animals, Zombie Mutants, and Government Operatives.

Teachers, also, will be able to order their own guns along with other school supplies such as pencils, paper, and crayons. Teachers are often forced to spend their own dollars on supplies for the classroom, and the guns will be no exception; however, the NRA will give any teacher who purchases a gun and fills out a rebate form a special "smiley face" sticker with the NRA logo.

Guns Are Not Toys

"Children need to understand at a very young age," said LaPierre, "that guns are not toys. Guns are real! And we want to put them in the hands of children so that they understand that. It's all about education."

The NRA has faced much backlash in recent weeks for their "misguided" and "clown-assed" response to the tragic events in Newtown, CT, during which 28 people died including the gunman and his mother. Their "A Bushmaster AR-15 Assault Rifle in Every Lunchbox, a Sig Sauer M400 in Every Pot" proposal is intended to mitigate the unpleasant response from people with a modicum of reason and to ensure a safe, viable solution to the problem of gun violence.

"As we have all said about 9, 895,789 times, guns do not kill people," said LaPierre. "But little children armed with guns? They'll kill people, all right! Have you ever tried to slow a child down or put one in a time out? Naw, they get really excited. They're not gonna stop shooting until all the bad guys are dead! Especially when you give them a lotta sugar."

Having every single child in a school armed would prevent any instance in which an armed guard were, for example, visiting the restroom during a violent attack.

"It's like backup times 22," said LaPierre. "Except for the schools that have to teach like 40-plus kids per class because they have no resources. Whoo-ee, that's better!"

Guns for You, Too

The second half of the initiative proposes that every household be required to own at least one gun.

"Mah wife's cookin' a pot a stew," said Bub Keewak, a gun owner. "Say some bad guy comes to the door. I like to know that when she is occupied, the children can go grab the guns to defend our home against the government. Because the government is clearly made up of zombie mutants born in foreign soils."

Guns, say the NRA, should be left unlocked for easy access.

"It's kinda like a girl's dress in high school," said Jesse Goons, NRA member. "If you gotta fumble with all sorts of clips you're gonna miss your objective. Get in, get 'er primed, shoot that sucker!"

Debbie Goons, 28, concurred while trying to nurse an infant and balance a Sig Sauer M400 on her lap so she could caress it and oil it.

Walmart, which also sells things like baby formula, dolls, and diapers, is offering a special coupon on their Colt LE 6920 rifle, which will blow a squirrel and its entire family of 485 squirrel-lings off your trees in the space it takes to say "motherfuckin' squirrels." If you want to give the squirrels a chance, you can also  purchase Walmart's "Lil' Boy Scout Slingshot" (not on sale).

The NRA suggests that families buy their guns now, even stocking up for next Christmas.

"If our initiative gains hold, every kids in America is gonna be wanting that shiny new gun come Christmas morning. The government is coming to clear the shelves. Stock up! Stock up!" said LaPierre. "Do you want your child to be the only child on the block without a gun when 'Billy Lardass' the local bully comes sauntering up with his new Smith & Wesson 811030?"

We asked: What if one of the children decided to "go naughty" and use his or her gun as a "Bad Guy"?

"Well," said LaPierre. "The other lil' mites would just have to take that fucker down. That's what guns are made for."