Tag Archives: Strange Sweet Song

Meet our magical wish-granting space cats!

Writers have always loved cats. Is it their mercurial natures? Their ability to take care of themselves (mostly)? The fact that a cat in a lap guarantees a butt in a chair? Perhaps we’ll never know.

Hemingway had a cat (or hundreds). Twain had one, and so did Poe, Bradbuy, Huxley, T.S. Eliot, Plath, Yeats, Dickens, Neil Gaiman, and this poor guy.

Not to be outdone, many of us here at EMu’s Debuts have a cat (or two). In honor of the Felix in Adi Rule’s STRANGE SWEET SONG, we re-imagined our furry feline companions as magical wish-granting cats from space. What would we wish for if they happened to be in the mood to grant us anything? Keep reading…

Josh's cat, Mouko

Josh’s cat, Mouko

Sadly, Mouko is no longer with us in the flesh. He now resides in a lovely urn. If Mouko granted wishes, Josh says, “I would wish to the Mouko Urn that he stop sending dopplegangers to lurk in our bushes and torment our dogs.”


Penny's cat, Otis

Penny’s cat, Otis

Penny would ask her magical cat, Otis, “Please grant me (or all the EMUs) pawsitive reviews for my (our) debut book(s).”


Megan's cat Lola

Megan’s cat Lola

Megan says, “I wish them many rapt contemplations of their ineffable, effable, effanineffable, deep and inscrutable singular names. (T.S. Eliot, The Naming of Cats)”
Megan's cat Ari

Megan’s cat Ari



Tara's cat, Quincy

Tara’s cat, Quincy

Tara says, “I thank Quincy for guarding my book contact so carefully, and wish that he would send me (and all of my fellow Emus!) many more!” (Ed. note: Before I GIMPed him into outer space, he was very adorably curled up on top of Tara’s contract!)


Donna's cat, Mittens

Donna’s cat, Mittens

Donna would tell Mittens, “I’d like to have nine lives and a remote re-do button for life’s little snafus.”


Jennifer's cat Remy

Jennifer’s cat Remy

Jennifer would wish for self-cleaning litterboxes. And self-cleaning bathrooms too, while she’s at it.

Jennifer's cat Coco

Jennifer’s cat Coco


Lindsey's cat, Trouble

Lindsey’s cat, Trouble

Lindsey guessed what Trouble would tell her, “I will bless your manuscript by sleeping on it. Now hurry up and write it. I’m getting sleepy.”


Laurie's cat, Angel

My cat, Angel

If Angel could suddenly grant me a wish, I’d wish for more time: per moment, per day (and definitely per night), per year, and per lifetime.


We’d love to hear about your own furry feline companion(s) and what wish you’d like them to grant you! And remember, if you leave a comment below (or on any other post from this week), you’ll be entered to win a copy of STRANGE SWEET SONG of your very own.
Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule


Filed under Book Promotion, Celebrations

Strange Sweet Song Launch: When Cats (and Other Dangerous Animals) Attack!

Strange Sweet Song by Adi RuleOutside Dunhammond Conservatory, there lies a dark forest. And in the forest, they say, lives a great beast called the Felix.

One of the most delicious aspects of Adi Rule‘s magnificent debut novel, Strange Sweet Songis the mysterious, murderous Felix–who may or may not really exist. But in honor of her legendary throat-ripping capabilities, we Emus have banded together to share stories of dangerous animal encounters that really did happen. We swear. (Some of us have even provided photographic evidence.)

Enjoy our tales, and please feel free to share some of your own in the comments!

Tara Dairman‘s Ape Escape:

My husband and I were hiking with a group near an orangutan preserve in Sumatra when an enormous orangutan with a baby on her back lumbered into our path. Our guide immediately recognized her as “Mina,” an orang so notoriously violent that she has her own warning box in the Indonesia Lonely Planet guide. He knew that she was after food, and threw her our fruit scraps to try to placate her. She ate them up…and then attacked him anyway. One moment he was standing there, and the next he was rolling around on the forest floor in a clench with an orangutan! He managed to get away with just a couple of bites, and we all tore down the trail as quickly as we possibly could. We’d already been hiking for hours and I had been exhausted just a minute before, but let me tell you: Adrenaline works wonders. I have never run so fast in my life.

Penny Parker Klostermann‘s Inception-worthy Insects:

In high school, I shared a room with my older sister. We had twin beds. One night she dreamed there were ants in her bed  . . . crawling everywhere. She woke me up and asked to join me in my bed only to wake me up about an hour later because she dreamed the ants were now crawling in my bed. She insisted I move to the living room couch with her. And, yes, she woke me AGAIN because now the ants in her dream were crawling all over the couch. She must have been pretty convincing because we got little sleep that night and I agreed to sleep on every bed, piece of furniture, floor, etc. in our house. I don’t have a picture of these ants to share, of course, but let’s just say they were scary and not to be deterred from following us from place to place in the wee hours of the night.

Lindsey Lane‘s Rat Restaurant Closure:

I heard it when I was writing. About 10 am. Rustle. Rustle. Scratch. Scratch. I knew it where it was. In the dog food cabinet. I knew it because I’d noticed a hole in the bottom of the dog food bag and little nuggets of grain-free goodness trickled out the bottom of the bag every time I pulled it out to feed the hound. I ignored the creature in the back of cabinet. We could co-exist, I thought. But every morning as I wrote, I imagined it growing bigger and bigger. Every evening, when I pulled out the dog food bag with a bigger and bigger hole, I imagined a gargantuan rat lolling in the cabinet with a belly only outsized by its teeth. I called a manly man friend. We went to the hardware store. He told me not to pussyfoot around with have-a-heart traps (they will always come back to their favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant, so to speak) or sticky-feet traps (ick…imagine listening to them gnaw their feet to escape). No, the best trap snaps its neck just as it is creeping toward the hole-in-the-wall special: a delicious bite of dog food slathered in peanut butter. A cruel twist of anticipation. So we set the trap. I sat down to write. I heard the rustle, the scratch, the SNAP. Silence. I wish I could say I gave it a decent burial. I didn’t. I did leave an empty, un-set trap in back of the cabinet. I think of it as a “closed for business” sign in the window of my hole-in-the-wall restaurant. So far, the restaurant remains empty.

Joshua McCune‘s Cheezy Tale:

Okay, not so much dangerous, unless you count possible exposure to rabies. Was at the Devil’s Punchbowl on the Oregon coast a few years back when several of the local residents scurried from the brush to surround me. They’re normally halfway hesitant around human folk, but not when you’ve got the scent of food on you. The chirped and chittered and finally I succumbed to their cuteness and sat among them, playing C-3P0 to their Ewok cuteness. The suckers swarmed me. I was no God to them, merely a hindrance on their quest to attain the delicious, almighty Cheez-It.

Squirrel in Box

Parker Peevyhouse‘s Adventures in Babymonkeysitting:

I once babysat a baby monkey. Here’s what it was like:

oh man oh man — a baby monkey I’m babysitting a baby monkey — this is the most adorable thing that has ever happened to me — how is this legal — it has its own baby blanket– so to recap, a baby monkey with a baby blanket — and a baby bottle!!! — it is so cute — so cute how it shows its pointy little teeth when it’s hungry — and makes that terrifying screech like it’s going to eat my face if i don’t feed it — is this at all legal — this is the most terrible thing that has ever happened to me

Christine Hayes‘s Husband’s Paper Route Rout:

When my husband was 11, his mom drove him around on the back of a moped to help him with his paper route. One fateful morning, an angry dog chased them down the street and actually bit my poor, defenseless husband-to-be on the uh…posterior. There were shots involved. Surprisingly, he is not afraid of dogs, but paper routes are another story!

Laurie Ann Thompson‘s Scream-Inducing Skull:

One of my earliest memories from childhood involved an animal encounter in the woods, not with a live animal, mind you, but with a dead one. It was an experience I’ll never forget, and remains one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I must’ve been around four years old, and had wandered past the edge of our lawn into the woods behind. Our beagle, Chipper, was on the scent of something interesting, and I tagged along behind him, secure in the knowledge that he would protect me as well as lead me back home again (obviously wrong on both counts, if you know anything about beagles). Anyway, he soon started baying and digging in the leaf litter. I expected to see a cute little bunny or something hiding there, but when I looked down into the hole I saw… a SKULL. And not just any skull, either, but one from a rather large carnivore, with strong jaws and very, very sharp teeth. The skull terrified me. The teeth terrified me. And now the darn dog had disturbed its resting place. I was sure it would exact revenge. I ran through the woods and across the yard as fast as I could, out of breath but somehow screaming the whole way. I was sure the skull was right behind me all the way, and the relief I felt when I finally slammed the house door shut behind me was immense. Somehow, all Chipper got out of the incident was a dirty nose, but it would be quite some time before I forgave his betrayal, and even longer before I would step into those woods again.


Amy Finnegan‘s Tropical Terrors:

I’ve had many dangerous animal encounters, mostly because there is a large number of animals—and insects—that scare the crap out of me. But allow me to summarize a recent trip to Costa Rica (no offense to this beautiful country, it just wasn’t a dream vacation this particular time). Within one hour of arriving, my 10-year-old was stung by an unknown insect that left a large welt on her back for about two months. The first night in our room, we were swarmed by giant red hornets that had made a nest in a ceiling light. The next night, a crazy bunch of enormous raccoons tried desperately to break through our sliding glass door. Then we discovered that, despite what the brochure said, monkeys are more likely to smear their feces on your shirt than cuddle with you. The next day, our lovely guided, two-hour tour on horseback had barely begun when I was bucked off and landed just inches from a sharp protruding rock that could’ve split my head in two. (“Sorry, Senorita! Your horse is muy loco!”) When moving my toddler’s blow up mattress, I found a shiny black scorpion under it. And then . . . and THEN . . . when driving our rental car the night before we returned home, I ran over a huge freaking PYTHON. Oh, but don’t worry, it scrunched up like an accordion right as I passed over it, and was just fine. I was not. But, my dear amigos, the iguanas were AWESOME!


Megan Morrison‘s Fearsome Felines:

They were small and black, breathing together, curled like one creature in the cage.  Eight legs.  Two heads.  One of them yawned, exposing sharp teeth and a ridged palate.  Against my better judgment, I brought the beasts home and set them free, unleashing a reign of terror. They urinated on my clothes.  They turned my wood furniture to sawdust with their claws.  They vomited in my bed and deposited hair in my ice cream.  Eight years later, I remain in their thrall, taking them to the vet and buying them Friskies pate. Their hold on me knows no end.

Giveaway reminder: Just leave a comment below (or on any other post from this week) to be entered to win a copy of STRANGE SWEET SONG. Feel free to share a dangerous animal encounter in your comment!


Filed under Book Promotion, Celebrations

Strange Sweet Song: The Opera!

Happy birthday to you… happy birthday to you…  happy birthday STRANGE SWEET SONG – screw this, we’re shoving aside cakes and candles to venture into a dark forest, where something stranger, something sweeter, something furrier lurks. And we’re singing something different. An opera. With costumes and interpretive dance and one cute killer kitty! Behold!

The Strange Sweet Song party will continue all week. Check back every day! Don’t miss a moment of the fun!

Comment on any post this week to be entered in the giveaway!


Filed under Launch

Strange Sweet Song-Launch Week and Giveaway

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

Reality or dreams?

Nothing’s as it seems.

The forest deep and dark.

Felix makes its mark.





. . . Strange Sweet Song

~a novel by Adi Rule~
Available 3-11-14

The music starts tomorrow, March 11, 2014. Don’t miss the debut performance of the EMUs Debuts in an unforgettable opera.

The Strange Sweet Song party will continue all week. Check back every day! Don’t miss a moment of the fun!

Comment on any post this week to be entered in the giveaway!

Synopsis: Music flows in Sing Da Navelli’s blood. When she enrolls at a prestigious conservatory, her first opera audition is for the role of her dreams. But this leading role is the last Sing’s mother ever sang, before her controversial career, and her life, were cut tragically short.

As Sing struggles to escape her mother’s shadow and prove her own worth, she is drawn to the conservatory’s icy forest, a place steeped in history, magic, and danger. She soon realizes there is more to her new school than the artistry and politics of classical music.

With the help of a dark-eyed apprentice who has secrets of his own, Sing must unravel the story of the conservatory’s dark forest and the strange creature who lives there — and find her own voice.


Filed under Launch, Synopsis

Making a Book Trailer

A couple months back, I made my first book trailer. This was a lot of fun, in part because it tapped the artistic side of my brain that wasn’t dealing with editing. For some, creating a book trailer can be intimidating. Some are worried about the expense, others are worried about the tech side of things.  As TALKER 25 nears its glowing birth into the world, I thought I’d show you how I created mine and provide tips to hopefully make it easier to create yours.

STEP 1: Script

You gotta plot your trailer before anything else. It’s a query in A/V form. You want to give a sense of your book without giving too much away. You don’t want to make your trailer too long because unless you’ve got some great connections, your trailer’s gonna rely on visuals and sounds that just don’t compare to movie trailers.

What you have that movie trailers don’t (or at least don’t usually have well) are your words. Your words are your weapons. Employ them. Sparingly though. Like in a query, you can’t explore everything. KISS it. Keep It Short & Stimulating.

My script:

15 years ago dragons came to our world. Reds. Greens. And the wingless Blues.

They attacked without warning… Entire cities were wiped off the map.

Millions were buried beneath the rubble… or incinerated.

The end of humanity seemed imminent.

But then humans discovered the dragons’ weakness and it was the dragons’ turn to die.

The war between monster and man finally seems over. Most of the dragons have been killed or imprisoned on reservations and there hasn’t been a major attack in North America in three years [Note: this particular line is almost word for word the one I used in my query]

But the real war is just about to begin.

And at the center of it… is a girl they call…


Choose a Side. April 22, 2014

STEP 2: Make it more exciting

The words above are not words I’d write in a book. They may or may not be interesting alone. Thankfully, we’re not just limited to words. We can frame them with pictures, sounds, etc. We can add pauses and beats for effect. Yay!

But, oh shit, now we’ve actually gotta figure out how to make that razzle-dazzle of media make sense with our words. Do we want lots of pictures? Do we want just a few, where we fade in or out on them to create mood/texture? Are we illustrators who have the time to create our own imagery? What about sounds? Do we want ambient noises? Music?…

This is where most of the work usually comes. It’s storyboarding on a micro-level with additional aspects.

If you want pictures, there are plenty of websites to get them. I got mine from Shutterstock. But that costs money (since I needed pics for my T25 tie-in website www.kissing-dragons.com, I decided to shell out the coin). If you don’t want to spend money and you’re not a digital artist or brilliant photographer, I’d recommend creativecommons.org. 

When using media, make sure that you don't infringe on copyright, and attribute it if necessary.

When using media, make sure that you don’t infringe on copyright, and attribute it if necessary.

If you want to spruce up your trailer with sound, Creative Commons is a great place to start as well. I also found a ton of great clips at http://freesound.org/. The caveat here is that there are different licenses for these sounds, some which require attribution, and some which are noncommercial (which you should not use).

For my trailer, I wanted to add in some music tracks… sci-fi type/war-type stuff to help further generate the mood I wanted (mystery with a dark edge). An excellent website I found for this is https://www.pond5.com/, where you can pay for individual clips (most run from $1 – $5).

Odds are, until you actually start creating your trailer, you’re not gonna know exactly which sounds/pics/media are gonna fit best. You’re drafting here, so give yourself some wiggle room.


Now we’ve got to put it all together. If you’ve got a tech background, this can be kind of fun. If not, this can be quite paralyzing. There’s plenty of free editing software out there. The easier ones to use (e.g., Windows Movie Maker, iMovie) are somewhat limited, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing (particularly if you’re not too fond of computers). Others are pretty powerful, but require lots of pre-learning, which in my mind isn’t worth it.

I wanted something that was somewhat easy to use, but also pretty powerful. And since I like to do video-editing on the side for myself, I purchased and downloaded CyberLink PowerDirector12.

Given my kitchen sink tendencies, I wanted to get a little fancy with my sounds (layering, fading, etc.) so I downloaded Audacity, an impressive and fairly easy to use audio mixing program. Best of all, it’s free. I also did some image manipulation using GIMP, kind of like Photoshop, but free.

STEP 4: Putting it together.

Once you’ve figured out your software, figured out which pics, sounds, etc, you’re gonna use, you’ve got to put your puzzle together. Getting all the pieces to line up usually isn’t too hard, but making them fit just so can be tricky. You’ve got to play around with timing, leading-in and leading-out, transitions, etc. A different form of revision.

To me, this looks like fun! It's not everybody's cup o' Joe though.

To me, this looks like fun! It’s not everybody’s cup o’ Joe though.

NOTE: If the software side of things is beyond the pale for you, you can always skip steps 2 – 4 and outsource your trailer to professionals, like those at WaveCloud.

A trio of book trailers:

  • Adi purchased one image, but otherwise made her amazing trailer entirely for free.
  • The second trailer was one made via WaveCloud (and cost at least $299 to make according to current pricing).
  • Not including the cost of a month’s subscription to Shutterstock, the overall cost of making my trailer (software+sounds) was roughly $100. I’m going to make a trailer for my Kissing Dragons website, too, at some point, but that won’t cost me anything since I’ve already got the pics, software, and sounds I need.

Ultimately, before making a book trailer, you should ask yourself: Is it worth it? If you don’t have a big platform (e.g., high-profile author, lots of twitter followers, etc.), the answer could very well be no. A few people might see your trailer on your website, YouTube, Goodreads, etc., but will that translate to sales? Is the time expenditure and potential cost worth an extra book or two sold?

For me, the answer was yes. I enjoy the visual medium. It was a nice break from the written one. Also, along with my tie-in website, my trailer allowed me to provide some backstory that was either not included in my book or was nixed from it. This makes a kitchen-sinker like me very happy.


JM AP Close_Straight

Joshua McCune is the author of the Talker 25 trilogy (Greenwillow). Dragons, war, romance (though not with  dragons – I don’t do bestiality). First one drops April 22, 2014. For more info, visit www.joshua-mccune.com or www.kissing-dragons.com


Filed under Uncategorized

Other People’s ARCs

Well, this is fun and unexpected.

The Emus have a tradition of sending their ARCs around to each other before the release date. So every once in a while, I’ll go out to the mailbox and there will be a package with a shiny, brand, brand new book. The fun element of that needs no explanation.


The unexpected part may require a bit. For me, learning to write has meant reading. Stacks and stacks of books. But it’s a different kind of reading—a take-this-apart-in-my-head-and-figure-out-how-they’re-doing-this kind of reading. An if-this-doesn’t-grab-me-in-the-first-few-pages-I’m-ditching-it-and-moving-to-the-next-one-in-the-pile kind of reading. Necessary, maybe, but a far cry from how I used to snuggle up with a book when I was a kid.

Reading these books is different. It’s not research. I know the person who wrote it. I’m reading it because I’m curious. Because I’m wondering what story she’s managed to tell. Which is really a whole lot better way to read a book.

There are some writers in this group. They can write a book about squash and make it interesting. And funny.

Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller

They can get you interested in a little kid who has a thing for Vietnamese cinnamon and whisks.


They can combine freshmen and a conservatory in a mysterious forest and opera and this mythic cat which may or may not kill you and this guy who is the only guy in literature who looks good in green sweat pants and it all works. Really.

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

It’s been a lot of fun to be along for the ride and to be reminded of what it feels like to read a book for fun. To, in a way, be reminded of who we’re writing for. The kid who makes her dad read that picture book to her every night for two months. That ten year old who sneaks the flashlight up to his room and then is so pumped when he finishes the book that he has to come down and talk to someone about it even though it will mean ratting himself out about that whole flashlight thing. The sixteen year old girl on the bus that almost misses her stop because she’s gotten to a really good part.

I need to do more of this kind of reading.


mylisa_email_2-2Mylisa Larsen has been telling stories for a long time. This has caused her to get gimlet-eyed looks from her parents, her siblings and, later, her own children when they felt that certain stories had been embellished beyond acceptable limits. She now writes children’s books where her talents for hyperbole are actually rewarded.

She is the author of the picture books, How to Put Your Parents to Bed coming out February 9, 2016 (Katherine Tegen Books) and If I Were A Kangaroo (Viking.)


Filed under ARCs