ARTICLE: Vacation Hot Spots within Michigan’s Borders

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The Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes line the coast of Lake Michigan. Tourists come from all over to climb them.

Summer is finally here and vacations are in full swing. Most people travel far away from home to find relaxation. Florida tends to be a popular choice for those who want to really escape the land of lakes and potholes.

It might seem strange, but Michigan is actually a beautiful place to explore! It just takes a bit of researching and planning to find the special spots the “mitten state” has for a vacation hot spot. I’m going to make it easier on you and tell you some of the places I’ve been to on vacation and why you should visit them too!

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LIFE: Shuto Con 2017

After submitting our portfolio, my good friend, Kaiden, and I were accepted to host a table at Shuto Con 2017 in Lansing, MI this upcoming March!

This past year was such a success, and we had so much fun, we knew we had to do it again! This time, instead of being just my table assistant, Kaiden will be joining me as a fellow artist!

Our table, Cojo & Dunn, will sell a variety of works such as commissions, digital prints, watercolor prints, buttons, cloth monsters, and (hopefully) printed copies of The Art of Falling! 

I’ll keep you all posted when it gets closer to the week of the con. Until then, buy your badges so you can see us!

REVIEW: Sihastrul

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Plantus said that she wrote “Sihastrul” on the premise that if someone found it in a cave somewhere in the future, and they treated like something that was ancient, what would they have to say about it?

“It’s cosmic,” she said with wonder.

Cosmic is the best way to describe her novella.

The meaning of the book changes each time it is read. It’s about the search for meaning in the very first word, a quest to discover identity, a tale about the beginning of the world. This small novella has big ideas, strong language, and mystical elements packed within it. She mixes prose and poetry to create several small books that are linked together to form the story of “Sihastrul, the Hermit.” The books are written by a variety of narrators, each an important character in the story. Some include the Hermit, his Mother, the Old Angel, God, and the Butterfly. Each one has a well-developed personality that brings them alive on the page.

The reader has the choice to read the books in any order if they’d like, because all of the books are interconnected and jump around in space and time. There is no right or wrong way to read. I read it from front to back, which I believe would be the best way to read it (it was organized in that way for a reason.) The clues, or breadcrumbs as I like to say, that lead you down the story’s path is much more rewarding that way.

One of the biggest mysteries of the novella is the identity of the Hermit. Do not expect an answer by the end. It is left entirely up to the reader to try and use the breadcrumbs, as I said earlier, to discover his identity. After all, not even the Hermit is entirely sure who he is either.

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ARTICLE: All it takes is one word

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Friends, family, and past students came to support Plantus’ new book. Even her priest came to congratulate her.

As one can expect from a senior who is on the verge of graduating with her B.A. in Creative Writing, I have taken many English classes over the years. My most recent was Bible as Literature with Professor Doris Plantus. When I first took her class, it was to fulfill three reasons: to get the credits I needed to graduate, to learn more about my own religion, and to get more material for my own creative writing.

Plantus is a fabulous teacher who did an amazing job at keeping her own beliefs out of the classroom to teach students – all of whom had a wide variety of beliefs – the importance of the Bible as a work of literary fiction, as well as the importance of translation and language.

She just recently published her first novella, entitled “Sihastrul,” which translates to “The Hermit.” It was originally written in Romanian and is now translated into English. When I learned that she was holding a book reading and signing I thought it’d be a great opportunity to interview her about her book.

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LIFE: Searching for Agents (still)

Hey, who said that finding an agent was going to be easy? I’ve probably sent out about….well, a lot of query letters with the hopes that an agent might get interested in The Art of Falling. 

As you can see from the header image, I’ve had a lot of rejections and no-replies. I did get one very kind rejection letter from one agent (highlights in yellow) where they were interested but thought it would be too hard to sell. I can certainly appreciate that!

So, we’ll see in a few months if anything comes my way. If not, I’ll start looking into small publishing houses. I would love to have The Art of Falling published by one of the Sister 5, but small houses are just as good!

HOWEVER, I do have a warning to any young author like myself that is considering small publishers. Be careful who you sign with. Two of my fellow authors warned me about Vanity Publishers, which are publishing houses that ask for a fee to read over the manuscript.

A while back when I was first starting my search for agents, I had been contacted by a small publishing house (which I won’t name to be polite). It was after joining a Facebook writers group and posted information about The Art of Falling. Within the hour, the owner of the publishing house contacted me and was interested in having me sign up with them!

I was more than eager to jump on board at first, but I know better than running into things without research. Unfortunately saw some red flags. The first is that it’s rare for a publishing houses of any league seek our authors and contact them first. Another was that this was a new publisher, only a year or so old. That isn’t always a bad thing, but it means it hasn’t faced the test of time. The biggest red flag I saw was that they ask for $1,300 to have the book reviewed, marketed, and polished to absolute perfection.

 

In the end, I decided not to take the leap of faith and continue my search. I know that I will eventually find an agent or publishing house that will be a better fit for me. Until then, wish me luck!