The official blog of Susan Landis-Steward, writer of whatever she likes, and co-founder of Puddletown Publishing Group

Archive for April, 2011

WordPress is Crazy

So, I put in lots of white space in my post. WordPress takes it out. I’ve tried rebooting WordPress. I’ve fixed it four times. It’s still messed up. My apologies. Tomorrow I will try to make repairs.

Book Blogger Hop – QotW

“Summer is coming quickly – what 2011 summer release are you are most looking forward to?”
Yup, that’s the question of the week. And I have to tell you, right now I’m most excited about a book I’m publishing. No, not a book I wrote. I used to write books, before I became a publisher. Now all I do is read, edit, polish, and publish other people’s books. But back to the book.
So, about seven years ago I’m sitting in writer’s group at the local college and this young, I mean really young, woman comes in and joins us. She reads her book. She’s young. It’s about vampires. We’re cool with that. We are, after all, mature about these things. But we are not mature about things like really young, well, girl-young, women writing better than us seasoned pros. And she did. She made us freaking care about vampires. And believe me, I NEVER cared about vampires. My oldest daughter is STILL trying to get me to read Twilight so I can “relate” to my granddaughter. Isn’t it enough that she has my genes? How much more relating must I do?
Anyway, somebody had to ask. So I did. “How old are you?” This KID, this vampire-writing KID, says, “You have to promise not to tell.” Always a good sign. She’s friggin’ 15! She LIED to get into college early and doesn’t want the college to find out. She’s one stupid year, almost to the day, older than my youngest who is still busy being a mall rat, a high school freshman, a cheerleader, and annoying at 14. (She has vastly improved with age). But boy, can this homeschooled-by-herself-at-her-own-request kid write. (So can my youngest but she prefers to be a circus performer. We all have our gifts).
So, fast forward. This kid is now graduating from college at 22 with a dual or triple major in Russian and some other stuff. She wants to be a diplomat. She has a blog on animal behaviors.  She spends a great portion of the day talking Russian and even Facebooks in Russian. But she’s still writing odd little books. Which I am now publishing. So I start to pester her. Where are the vampires? Well, they’re on a brief hiatus while she finishes her degree. BUT, she has a tasty little fantasy she’ll give me.
After months of playing good mom/bad mom (Your school work is most important/Where the hell is my book?!?) she sent it to me last Sunday. I stayed up two nights in a row reading it. With bronchitis. Maybe pneumonia. I might even be dying. Taking all sorts of drugs that should knock me out, but, no, the thing that’s knocking me out is this book.
It’s a retelling of a Norwegian fairy tale, with a lot of British Isles stuff tossed in for good measure, and it’s incredible. Think about a current best-selling young author, you know who I mean, only make her literate as all get out. This thing is cross-over YA/adult magic. Toss in some magical realism, a talking animal, some faeries, and a strong dirty-hands princess. A wicked stepmother, some odd creatures, and a whole herd of cows. Yes, I said cows.
So that is The Black Bull by Aubra Penner, age 22. She’s promised me the Civil War era vampire piece by August. It’s going to be a great summer in Puddletown.
(And there are also rumors of werewolves coming in January)

If you want to follow Aubra, here’s her blog:

You can also follow her on Twitter: @aubrapenner

And here’s the link for her Facebook author page. Go like her:  Aubra Penner

Word of the Day: Pumeism

No, it’s not a real word. It’s actually one of those stupid alphabet salad things you have to type to prove that you’re a human. But sometimes those things make me laugh. Especially when I’m sick and my brain isn’t too sharp. So, given that I have bronchitis and am drinking cough syrup right out of the bottle, I thought pumeism seemed like a good word.

I think it has to do with pumas. As in the religion in which one worships a puma. Sort of like proof that cats were right all along and they really ARE gods.

Which brings me to this. I know, it’s bad. But the good ones wouldn’t embed. For the Garrison Keillor fans out there, you know the translation. Join me as we sing along:


I’m a cat and

You are not

And cannot be

And I don’t care.

M is for Manuscript

Okay, it’s getting late and I’m getting tired so I think this will be the last catch-up post for the day.

I love  illustrated manuscripts. This is an illustration from an old Arabic manuscript. I love Arab script. I used to be able to write it, but not calligraphically. The calligraphers spend a lifetime learning to do that. But look at that angel, with the head at the tip of his wing. Beautiful.

This illustration reminds me of three diverse books. One is My Name is Red by Orham Pamuk. Pamuk is Turkish and I read the book after returning from several weeks in Turkey. The book is about the calligraphers who do this amazing art.

The second book is A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. A classic of science fiction, this book was written in 1960 about a post-apocalyptic world where a group of monks set out to preserve knowledge and solve the mystery of an ancient grocery list. Okay, it’s much more than that. But I’ll never forget the grocery list. I think of it often.

The third is Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose, a book set in a library. And what a library. Manuscripts! An embarrassment of manuscripts. Another great read. In fact, I think I have to head for Barnes and Noble right now and put some of these books on my Nook.

This post brought to you by the words magpie, mandible, manilla, and mandrake, and by the number million.

L is for Lichen

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. That there to the left is a lichen. Our book, Kidnapping the Lorax, is written by a woman named Patricia K. Lichen. She was not born a lichen. She wasn’t even born a fungus. She was born something perfectly mundane, like Harrison or Hardware or some such. That’s her pirate name, and the name Greenpeace folks would know her by.

But at some point, she decided to take on the name of a lichen. It takes all kinds. Then she had a kid, and the kid has the last name Lichen, and now they’re both stuck with it. Well, I guess they could change it. But it scares me to think of what she might change it to this time.

This post brought to you by the words land, licentious, loopy, and lamp. Also by the Roman numeral L.

PS. You can buy her book at Amazon, B&N, or Smashwords. It’s a great book. Written by a lichen. About treating the earth the way it should be treated.

K is for Kidnapping

I did not write this book. But I’ve been there since it was conceived and this year I had the privilege of publishing it.

This is an amazing book about three idealistic environmentalists who kidnap the Secretary of the Interior, code named Lorax, to teach her to love the forests as much as she does.

The author, Patricia Lichen, is a long-time friend, and a real-life pirate. When my partner and I headed off to Peru to meet Wonder Babe’s other grandparents, Pat took me aside and told me that if I needed a good criminal attorney in Lima, she knew one. Not something I’d ever considered when traveling  before.

Seems Pat did a stint with Greenpeace back  in the day, and was arrested twice for chaining herself to the harpoons on whaling vessels. Hence the charges of piracy on the high seas. And the criminal lawyer in Peru.

Pat is a naturalist and writes a great blog at where she will tell you weird things about opossum penises and dandelions and other such things. She also wrote some other books which Puddletown will be publishing in e-book form. You can find out more at her blog.

This week, in honor of Earth Day, we will be dropping the price of Pat’s book to $.99. Please buy a copy. You’ll be glad you did. It’s a great read and you’ll learn to REAL way to poop in the woods.

This post brought to you by kitchens, kitch, kittens, and killjoys everwhere. And by the numerical concept, kilo.

J is for Justice

Justice may seems like an odd topic for a post on writing, but I firmly believe that writers have a responsibility to always work for justice in their writing. Writing is more than just scribbling some words on paper, or selling those words to pay the electricity bill. Writing is a larger calling, a call to produce something that is true, that is good, that is beautiful.

As writers, I believe we have several obligations to the larger community:

  1. To bear in mind that among those reading our words there will be some who are hurting, some who are filled with joy, some who are searching, and some who are devastated. We have a responsibility to be aware of all of them.
  2. The language we use must be just. That doesn’t mean we can’t swear if it’s appropriate, or talk about difficult subjects. But we need to remember that not every person reading our work is white, middle class, educated, Christian, or anything else that fits the hypothetical American norm. Is it just to hurt our readers by inappropriate and archaic language used to describe ethnic, religious, sexual minorities, or any other group that is still smarting from decades or centuries of abuse.
  3. I believe that we should make our words strive toward justice. Does our story work for the greater good? Are we stretching ourselves to learn new ways of being in the world and new ways to learn with our neighbors? And are we incorporating that in our work?

There’s probably more, but I’m tired. More later. Maybe.

This post brought to you by the words jam, junko, joy, and jambalaya. And by the author James Joyce. And the month January.

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