Blog Posts

Giving Tuesday is a Chance to Give Back

To celebrate Giving Tuesday this year I’m donating 50% of my proceeds for sales during the month of December to the ASPCA and K9 for Warriors on behalf of Sydney Porter and her friends Fred and Lea and the US Space and Rocket Center on behalf of Cassie Casserole. You can do your part and receive a 20% discount on these two books by purchasing direct from Keyes Canyon Press (links below) and help animals and kids thrive. Thanks for helping out!


Fred teaches Sydney his philosophy of kindness, about the Star Path, and how to survive on the streets. Good thing, too, since she’s been magically transformed into a small brown dog. Sydney isn’t sure if it’s because a bully made her eat dog food, or because she’d wished she could talk to Dad like he did with Fred, the German Shepherd he brought back from Afghanistan with him. This touching, action adventure, humorous fantasy, Teen and YA family fiction, follows Syd’s journey from kid to dog and back with a strong female lead character.  Along the way she meets other stray retired war dogs and forges a canine family that helps her understand her human parents.

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11 YO Cassie loves movies and dreams of becoming a film director in space. Step one is to go to Space Camp. She learns of a scholarship for Academic Achievement. A tall order for a kid who is smart but doesn’t pay attention in class and hates science. Her teacher assigns her a science fair project. Cassie selects the four forces of flight and uses paper airplanes to test her thesis. The night before the fair her brother breaks her presentation boards. She takes what’s left to the fair, props her phone containing the movie she made and runs it on a loop. Her will to succeed pays off in the end.

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Sydney’s Thanksgiving Magic

Sydney woke to the tantalizing aroma of a fresh baked apple pie. Thanksgiving at last! She didn’t think the past week would ever end. Now the celebration was here, and she had so much to be thankful for. After years of no contact with her grandparents they were now a part of her life. Her friend Rachael had moved but they kept in touch through the Internet. Her dad was better, and Mom wasn’t working as much.

Nana and PopPop arrived yesterday afternoon and Sydney could hear her mother’s laugh and Grandma’s deep chuckle in the kitchen.  Bright sunlight streamed in the window.

“Hey, sleepyhead,” Mom said when Sydney walked into the kitchen. A huge turkey rested in a large, oval roasting pan. She pushed a handful of stuffing into the turkey. Grandma sat at the table drinking coffee. Her pencil made a scratchy sound as she filled in little boxes of a crossword puzzle. “What’s a five letter word for unexpected?” she asked.

Mom shoved another handful of stuffing that smelled like onions and chestnut into the bird. Syd’s mouth watered.

“Surprise?” her mom said.

“No, too many letters,” Nana said. “Starts with the letter M.”

Sydney pulled a bowl and a box of cereal from the cupboard then sat down across from her grandmother.

“Magic, maybe?” Nana said.

Sydney tensed. “Magic?” Her voice rose at the end of the word, making it sound like she’d never heard of such a thing. Did her mom or Nana know about magic? That she, Sydney Porter, had that ability?

“Well, it’s certainly unexpected, assuming it exists,” her mom said.

“Of course, it exists,” Nana said and wrote the letters into the five squares. “It fits.”

“You mean like Christmas magic? Or a “magical moment”?” Mom flipped the bird over and tied the legs together.

Nana tucked the pencil behind her ear. “Don’t you remember Naomi? When you were little, you could make flowers bloom and talk with the cat?”

Sydney felt a tingle run up her spine. She could understand all animals and carry on long conversations with them in their own language. “You could do those things, Mom?”

Mom brushed a few strands of hair out of her face. “No. I don’t remember being able to do that” Her voice hesitated, like she was trying to convince herself it hadn’t happened.

“Nonsense. My mother could do things too, magic runs in the family,” Nana said. Sydney’s heart pounded so hard the blood rushing past her ears made it hard to hear. Should she tell them she had magic too? Was now the best time to reveal her secret? Then a thought hit her. Nana said her mom had powers when she was young, but Mom didn’t remember. Did that mean her abilities would disappear too?

“Mother,” her mom said. “You’re exaggerating. Don’t give Sydney ideas.”

Nana lifted her gaze from the puzzle and squinted at Sydney, then smiled. “I haven’t told her anything she doesn’t already know.”

“Did you have magic, Nana?” Sydney asked.

“I can read minds.” The corners of Nana’s lips curled up before she went back to her crossword.

Sydney’s eyes widened despite her effort to show no emotion. If her Nana knew her thoughts, then she’d already know what Syd could do. The metal roasting pan screeched as her mom slid the turkey into the oven. Sydney couldn’t tear her gaze away from her Grandmother. She leaned across the table toward her.

“You know?” Sydney whispered.

Nana nodded, so slight only she and Sydney saw.

“Your secret is safe,” Nana whispered back, never looking up. Sydney sat back and breathed out a long, slow breath.

“El Paso de …., six letters,” Nana read out.

Sydney stood and walked her dishes to the sink. Someday she’d tell her mother. But not today. Today she was thankful for her family and her magic.

Dear readers,

I want to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. As difficult as this year has been, there are always things I’m grateful for. My family, friends, readers, dogs, the beautiful Central Coast, wine, cheese, camping, fresh tomatoes off the vine and my health. Take some time this holiday season to make a list of the things you are grateful for.

You can read Sydney’s entire adventure with magic in Sydney Porter: Dog Girl. Available this holiday season at a 20% discount. CLICK HERE to buy NOW!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Linda

Shigamitsuku to You Too

A friend of mine posted on Facebook about her book addiction. She buys more than she could possibly read. There is, of course, a term for this. Tsundoku. The article she linked to went on to say that the word in Japan comes from doku, or reading, and tsun, to pile up. A pile up of books. However, Google translate came up with poison for doku and tsun for tsun. Not helpful. The whole word translated to Loading.

Now, I don’t speak Japanese and don’t pretend to understand the nuance of their language, and these might be Google translation errors, but it got me thinking about my own addiction – to glass.

I have two bottles, one a rich cobalt blue that I am incapable of getting rid of. Oh, how I have tried. The color of cobalt blue and the smooth surface of the glass entices me to pull them from whatever donation pile they make their way too. The thought of tossing them in the recycling bin gives me shivers.

Why is this? I’m not a hoarder, and for the most part have no trouble tossing worn items or things I haven’t touched in years into the bin. But these two glass bottles defy me. I have not used them for anything but décor for decades. Literally decades. Yes, I could fall back on Marie Kondo and say they spark joy, but not enough to have them displayed. I don’t fear that the minute they are gone I’ll need them. The color and material just click for me. I have other blue glass and perhaps I don’t agonize over those because they were gifts from special people, and I have no intention of getting rid of them.

Of course, this needs a Japanese name. Using Google translate again, I came up with Shigamitsuku – or holding onto. It works for anything you hold onto.

As I write, the glass bottles have moved into the garage into the “extra jar” storage. We’ll see if I can get rid of them after they’ve aged out there for a summer. Or better yet – anyone want them?

Who Was Sydney Porter?

Ever since Sydney Porter: Dog Girl came out people have asked me where the name came from. I started with my love of the name Sydney. Some names just resonate with us. As a writer I read the obituaries (I know, weird uh?) looking for unusual names. The name of the character can communicate thematic elements, foreshadow the story plot or just be fun to say.

In this case, I started with the name Sydney and researched famous people in history. Of course every internet search turns up lots of extras. In this case, there are a number of living people who sport the moniker Sydney Porter.

The Sydney Porter that sealed the deal for me though, was William Sydney Porter. While that name might not ring any bells, the name O. Henry might. The American short story writer was born William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910). His stories often had twists and surprise endings. In addition he was known for his witty narration. Who better to aspire to? Given that the story Dog Girl is about a girl that turned into a dog and part of the story is written from the perspective of a dog, witty narration seemed appropriate.

So that’s the story. I hope O. Henry’s ghost would approve.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wow! This year has whizzed by and here it is Thanksgiving Week. With the world topsy-turvy as it is, I am thankful that I have family and friends who are normal. I know, I know, Normal is subjective. To ME, they are polite, kind, thoughtful, caring and supportive. I happen to think that is normal, even if we don’t see it on the news each night.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

I’m grateful for everyone who bought a book this year. Sydney Porter: Dog Girl came out at the end of October and it has been fun to share the story. I’m especially grateful that the book reached Amazon Best Seller status and #1 New Release.

I attended the Society of Women Engineers conference sWE19, which was a blast in addition to a traipse down memory lane. I reconnected with so many engineering buddies and heard the latest in technology and science. Folks, there are some AMAZING things happening in our world, and some equally AMAZING women engineers doing them. I am grateful that so many young people are choosing engineering as a career – we need them and we need diverse engineers designing the products we use.

And I’m grateful for you. If you’ve made it this far you are a reader, follower, friend. Thanks for sticking with me. Fingers crossed that next year will yield several more book releases and a few sneak previews of chapters from the book I’m writing through National Novel Month (which is in November). Its a dystopian sci/fi thriller. At least that’s the plan…. 🙂

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Linda

SWE WE19 – November 7

I’m embarrassed to admit that the last time I came to a SWE conference was the Long Beach conference in 2009. Ten years ago. Then, I was amazed to see around 7000 attendees. This year, in Anaheim, the unofficial tally is over 16,000. I’ve heard there are around 600 employers here looking for new hires. It is a good time to be an engineer. Alas, that phase of my life is past me. My goal of finding tips on making STEM fields appealing to middle-grade and higher school aged kids in fiction took me to a few sessions today.

Standing Room Only at 8:30 AM. These chairs filled quickly

The Keynote address by Carol Malnati (VP of R&D at Medtronic) netted a few inspirational thoughts. “Don’t let adversity harden your heart. Let it harden your determination.” She encouraged listeners to focus on what’s in front of you, not the entirety of the challenge/problem and to love the journey you are on. These are fitting words for anyone. She closed with, “Enjoy losing your way, finding yourself, as we live, we learn, we lead.”

Next up was a session on Reaching Out to Over 1000 Middle School Girls. Sarah Gilmore, Strategic Account Manager at Keysight Technologies in the Denver area spoke about a program I’d never heard of. GESTEM. Girls Experience STEM. She is the chair of a group that runs an impressive program for middle school girls. Their goal is to expose girls to STEM who wouldn’t be exposed in their day to day life. It strikes me that as an author that is a wonderful goal for myself.

My next session was Human Space Flight: Is the Technology Ready? The short answer is – don’t go buying a ticket to stay on the International Space Station (ISS) or a hotel in low-earth orbit any time soon. While things are moving steadily forward, you should invest the $28 million it will cost you in todays dollars until it is safer and more common. The technologies that will enable your higher than anyone view of earth are the Delta Heavy IV rocket, the crew capsule (Orian and SpaceX) and BEAM Bigelow Expandable Activity Module. These technologies are at Technology Readiness Levels of 7 and 8. You don’t want to don a space suit and climb into one of these systems until they hit 9.

The last session, Do After School Robotics Programs Help Keep Girls in STEM, reviewed data from a five-year, national study. The short answer is yes. Though I think that was what we all thought intuitively, it is nice to have data to back it up. I learned two new ideas in this session that I think have applicability in many fields. “Gracious Professionalism” and “Cooperatition.” We can compete with grace, courtesy and cooperation. We don’t have to nuke the competition. Interesting thought in today’s nuclear melt-down political environment.

#WE19 #STEM

Travel to SWE 19

Weird to be back in Long Beach, California. I lived here between 1984 and 1991, under the private plane path to the landing strips. Now I’m deplaning at that very airport – though it has changed. Originally built in 1920, the art deco building I remembered is still here, it’s blue and white coloring reminiscent of the Pacific Ocean and the fog that cleared just as we landed. A new, modern terminal was built to the west with shops and an outdoor eating area. Baggage claim is still a carousel outside, but at least it’s covered.

The ride to Anaheim and WE19 conference was a cruise down memory lane, though not all of it fond. Mostly I remember that the LA area freeways are – overall – ugly and crowded. Nothing has changed.  

I’m here to attend the Society of Women Engineers 2019 National Convention. Might even be international by now. I’ll have stats later, but besides being a lifetime member and Fellow, I’m here to pickup tips on how to encourage kids, and especially girls, to consider a STE< career.

Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) is all the rage these days, mainly because companies have figured out that a workforce lush with female voices is more profitable. See this article for more.

I’ll be posting as I go with interesting facts and ideas for middle grade and YA authors to mine for topics and approaches to write science-based fiction. If you have questions you’d like answered, I want to know! Comment here or on my FB page.

#WE19 #STEM

Catching Up

I’ve been meaning to write an article about what I’ve been up to, but you know the saying…life got in the way. The end of the year seems a good time to push aside the things I’ve been focused on and reflect. Not push away as in never touch again, just pause. To breathe.

“Take a rest. A field that has rested yields a beautiful crop.” – Ovid

First – a bit of news, my partner Ken and I have launched our own publishing company. Yes, I know, lots of people are doing that, which is something I find exhilarating. Authors are taking the power of publishing into their own hands, leveraging the technological advances of the internet and the burgeoning freelance community of resources to get their words out to the public. So, without further ado – introducing KEYES CANYON PRESS. Named after the canyon that runs down at the bottom of the hill behind our home, it signifies the freedom of a canyon and the stability of a key. As in, the key to success is within each of us to grab.

Keyes Canyon Press has released its first novel; Sydney Porter: Dog Girl by L.G. Reed. This fantasy novel for 9-12-year-old kids (and adults with young spirits) has received amazing reviews. Check out the links below for all the ways you can purchase this delightful book.

Part of the charm of Sydney Porter: Dog Girl is that large portions of the story are narrated by a dog. There aren’t many books out there narrated by non-human characters and the switch in perspective is amusing and interesting. Have you ever thought about what your dog was thinking as they walked down a street, sniffing at bushes, ears cocked to hear the squirrel in the tree above them chatter? Well this book puts you there. The author has started a Pinterest page of books narrated by dogs. Do you know of any that aren’t included? Let us know and we’ll add them.

What else do we have going on? Glad you asked. Our next book, THE SCIENCE OF DEFYING GRAVITY, will come out in late spring 2020. Cover design is underway, and the next step will be getting review copies out there for blurbs and reviews. This STEM fiction shares the story of an ambitious girl who dreams of directing movies in space. She’s creative and resourceful and doesn’t like science. Getting to Space Camp and a career as an astronaut will be a challenge until she faces that hurdle.

Photo by Ekrulila on Pexels.com

As we careen into the holiday seasons ahead, please take time to enjoy family and friends. Turn off the phone and curl up with a good book. Splurge on cookies and coco. Life is precious. Tell your loved ones that you care for them. Sappy, I know, but all those things that prevented me from keeping in touch with you, dear reader, have reminded me how important these actions are.  Happy Holidays!

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