home‎ > ‎

writers log

Inventing ZORGOS!

posted Jun 9, 2013, 10:11 AM by Kristen Caven   [ updated Jun 14, 2013, 11:09 AM ]

When our editor at Hazelden announced their decision for new title for our book on bullying (originally titled "From Risk to Resilience: Raising Bully-Free Kids in a Bully-Filled World"), my mother and co-author, Dr. Louise Hart and I were thrilled... and a bit stymied. The Bullying Antidote was the most brilliant title we could imagine, but... we felt it would cause our readers to want to find a simple solution when they opened the pages. 

We had to stop and re-evaluate our manuscript, asking our selves if bullying actually has an antidote. Of course everything we were already writing in our book could cure bullying, but could we challenge ourselves to sum it up in one sentence? How about one word? We decided to use our imaginations and be inspired by the wonderful book cover design: a child playing superhero, feeling power from the inside. I love superheros! (Have you seen Renaissance Woman?)

Excited by the challenge, I pulled out my thesaurus, my rhyming dictionary, and my Greek lexicon. I went to freetranslation.com and typed in a bunch of words like personal power, assertiveness, tolerance, structure, self-esteem, resect, love, kindness and all the other ingredients that can stop bullying in its tracks. And somewhere out of the blue, the mythical-sounding word Zorgos came to me, as if on its own accord.

I teach Zumba®, and love the energy of the big 'Z' in their logo. I love the words zoom and zig zag and so many other 'Z' words because they are full of such positive power and fun and remind me of what it's like to be a kid. And yet there is some danger in the big 'Z' too, like Zorro with his slashing blade.

Zorgos is very close to the names of some pretty bad bullies. In the movie Zathura, the Zorgons are giant lizards who eat people. In The Fifth Element, Gary Oldman played the hilarious supervillain Zorg... (and who could forget Emperor Zurg?) But when I did my research on this word that was speaking to me, I found out what zorgos really means: it's the first-persion future sense of the esperanto word for care. And where care is... bullying is not. 

Fortunately, mom loved the word, too, and hopes that it is something children can relate to in finding their own power to stand up for themselves, stand up for one another, and get what they want without being mean. We mention it just a few times in The Bullying Antidote, which provides parents with dozens of ways to understand and diffuse the bullying dynamic — and to teach their kids to do the same. We hope that the word will strike the imaginations of parents and teachers, and for all of the heavy issues surrounding bullying and violence and abuse, give them a humorous, light-hearted, positive "hook" to hold on to that will help them start talking and solving the problems.

p.s. Zorgos is such a special word that it should always be set in italics or bold or caps, to indicate its super-power-ness.
p.p.s. Zorgos is also a beautiful beach in Greece. Maybe we will get there someday.

Passing the Hat

posted May 10, 2013, 6:49 PM by Kristen Caven

With a week to go before my fundraiser ends, I figure I'd better holler about it. My composer and I are raising $2500 worth of "bread for the journey" to help us finalize the score and make some demos for the musical we've been working on for 8 years.

The Souls of Her Feet is about a teenage Cinderella-type who needs a kick in the pants go get her life going... and she gets one with a pretty fancy pair of shoes.  It's spawned an empire - books, ebooks, blogs, tshirts, blooks, and so much more. Watch the movies, listen to the songs, and toss a few pennies in the kitty to help us get it to the stage!

And by all means, come to my next reading on Sunday, May 19th at the California Writer's Club

On Mothers and Mothering and Birthing a Book

posted Apr 24, 2013, 5:57 PM by Kristen Caven

I feel decidedly post-partum this week. I always get a little depressed after big events and book launches. I miss the creative process, and the transition from one phase to another is exhausting. I loved writing The Souls of Her Feet, but selling it feels weird and forced. I'm crying because all my friends haven't read it yet...and it's only been out for three days! 

Thank goodness I have a party planned for this weekend to celebrate! Writing is a very lonely process, even though, when successful, our minds will touch the minds of others in such deeply intimate ways—and getting friends together to celebrate completion will be a great reward.

Here's the good news: my mom loved it. She went on and on and said things like, "How did I raise someone with such an imagination? I don't have that." It made me feel wonderful to hear that she couldn't put the book down—and I hope others have the same experience. But part of me thinks, "Only a mother could love it. Or else someone would have written a review."

But let me dry my dramatic tears and talk for a second about mothers in fairytales: there aren't a lot of them. As a matter of fact, most of them seem to be dead. Ashley's mother died of a tragic cleaning accident. (Hey, it's not funny!) She's probably the most important character in Souls, even though we never meet her. Ashley's journey is about getting close to the person she misses most of all. 

There are a lot of stepmothers, and they're not the nicest people in fairytales. Souls provides a lot of extra insight into step-parents, for those young readers I haven't met yet who find themselves living with strangers. I'm waiting for reviews to come in from some cool my stepmoms I know. And I'm even hoping my own stepmother will enjoy the story. (Note: it's not about her.) 

But mothers in general, whether bio or step or even adoptive like a certain other interesting character in the book, will have to let me know what they think of the story. Should it be rated PG because of the bitch thing, and the Brazillian thing, and the drag queen thing and the seatbelts thing?  Would you give it to your daughter? These are things the world needs to know! Please read the book. See how my mom liked it? You might, too.

The first three to comment get a free book. Cheers!

The Souls of Her Feet is stepping out!

posted Apr 18, 2013, 3:24 PM by Kristen Caven   [ updated Apr 18, 2013, 3:33 PM ]

What's behind the curtain?
A much more interesting ebook than you may have ever read. 

The story is simple, and fun, and engaging: a twist on Cinderella for the times. But drill down and you'll find more than meets the eye. The book is based on a musical; the musical is the first in a series; and the story engages the community. Furthermore, the book will be published in two versions, one of which takes advantage of all of the bells and whistles available to storytellers today.

Launch Month festivities for The Souls of Her Feet

            • Sunday, April 21: the curtain opens! The book cover (or is it covers plural?)  will be revealed. The book will be posted on the author's website, the project website, Redroom, Facebook, and in The Cobbler, my newsletter. Emails will be sent to friends of the musical, friends of the author, and reviewers.
            • Daily: I'll be talking about the details, taking readers on a guided tour of the story, introducing the characters, and highlighting different aspects of the project in a series of daily blogs starting next week. Book giveaways every day! Tune in on Redroom, Facebook (either Kristen Caven's Imagination or Shoes, a Mirror, and a Big Pink Rose), or Twitter (@krs10bc and @shoesmirrorrose) to get the scoop! 
            • Saturday, April 27: Launch Party of Luxury at The Foot Spa and Oakland Library (Lakeview Branch). Need not be present to attend! Click here to see flyer.  Click here to rsvp on Facebook.
            • Sunday, May 19th: Reading selections from the novella at California Writers Club meeting, featuring New York Times Bestselling author Julia Flynn Siler, speaking about her new book, Lost Kingdom.
Please join me in welcoming Ashley St. Helens, Harry/Carrie, and all their friends and enemies to the world of literature by reading, sharing, re-tweeting, and commenting. 

tiny steps to the big stage

posted Feb 22, 2013, 4:44 AM by Kristen Caven

introducing the souls of her feet
"We searched high and low," the legend will go, "for someone who had lived a fairytale life." 

Sometimes turning a creative problem on its head is the only thing that will get it unstuck. To finally get the story of my musical to flow, I let my muses convince me, a year ago, to fictionalize myself and my composer, and let our characters become real.

In our crowdfunding video (yes, please donate!) we create a contest to find someone to write a musical about. "And WOW," says Michael, "wait until you meet our winners!"

This new backstory (the real story is much more of a slog) sets the stage for the novel (released as a blook over the last year; soon to be an ebook), a down-the-rabbit-hole story that intertwines the winner's Cinderella-like story with the maddening process of collaborating on a musical. This format gave us a chance to showcase a patchwork of music, some of which worked and most of which didn't, in an uneven struggle that eventually grew into a cohesive whole.

Last year's stroke of inspiration, which hit me on the BART ride home from an exhausting musical workshop (here's a clip of it that got woven into the storyline), turned our "objects insurmountable" (a favorite lyrical phrase from the first song we wrote—also featured in the novel—which was written out of the final draft) into a curious kaleidoscope of creative adventure. 

Thank you, muses!

have you ever read a blook?

posted Mar 6, 2012, 9:34 PM by Kristen Caven   [ updated Nov 26, 2012, 12:23 PM ]

Would you like to read my new novel as it unfurls? I'll soon be blogging  The Souls of Her Feet, the "back story" of my musical, in a daring act of literary performance art!

How does it work? You subscribe to the blook (blog-book), and I'll publish a few pages a week, right to your e-mail inbox!

My Cinderella-inspired story is about a house full of prom-queens; it's about a hairy godmother; it's about toxic parenting and non-toxic cleaners; it's about finding your voice (even when it's a little naughty); it's about helping your dreams shake off the earth and flap their wings, and it's about SHOES, of course!

Plus, once in a while you'll get a special treat when there's a new song for your sing-along. If you liked Wicked (the book OR the musical), Once Upon a Mattress, or Into The Woods, you'll love The Souls of Her Feet!


i shake my booty, too...

posted Feb 9, 2012, 2:32 PM by Kristen Caven   [ updated Feb 9, 2012, 2:33 PM ]

This has nothing to do with my writing career except that it keeps the blood moving through my veins... but I have recently added "Zumba teacher" to my hat collection.

I realized, last year, after trying to pry my shoulders down from around my ears on a daily basis, that I needed  to add a sideline career that would actually take me away from my computer.

Not that Zumba doesn't feel like a literary pursuit to me; on the contrary, I feel like I've finally discovered Tom Robbins' secret to life from Jitterbug Perfume... Zumba reminds me of nothing more than the Bandaloop!

After exposing corruption and chicanery in two governing bodies and three major industries, the program focused on a new dance craze that was sweeping Argentina.

They call it the Bandaloop, said the announcer, and everyone is doing it.

Priscilla sat up in bed.

On the screen, the dancers were skipping and bounding about the floor in a kind of exaggerated polka. Every once in a while, they would stop, execute a little backward and forward jitterbug stop, then, yelling 
Bandaloop! they would jump straight in the air, up and down, five times.

Priscilla sat more erect. 
Morgenstern, she whispered. But the bandalpop is more than just another dance fad, the announcer said. It is a health fad, as well. Supposedly, it can add years, even decades, to your life.”

—from Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins

Plus, I really had fun writing my dance bio... it was so much more fun than writing a writer's bio....

mom and me...

posted Oct 24, 2011, 8:13 PM by Kristen Caven   [ updated Oct 24, 2011, 8:17 PM ]

A nice article in the Montclarion (and all the Hills papers!) this week about me and my mother, Dr. Louise Hart, about the work she does teaching parents better skills, and the work we've done publishing books together.

The photo was actually in black and white, but I put it in color since it's so darn colorful. Check out the byline. Yes, the photographer's kid was sick so we had to come up with one ourselves...this was taken with the use of a timer, a tripod, and a mirror, and is actually a composite of the three best shots. (I respect photographers a lot more now!)

Mother, Daughter, take on Bullying by Janet Levaux in The Montclarion, Piedmonter,  Contra Costa Times, etc.

...and the other shoe drops!

posted Oct 5, 2011, 8:33 PM by Kristen Caven   [ updated Apr 7, 2016, 9:34 AM ]

Over 4000 people came to my October first book launch of The Reason She Left! There was dancing, face painting, tons of great food, and even an alpine horn player. 

Okay, very few people actually KNEW they were at my book launch...they were enjoying Oaktoberfest... but I did sell my first book, right in front of the beer tent!

In the evening, I spoke to an intimate audience of brilliant colleagues as a "Local Literary Light" at a fundrasier for the MacArthur Metro. Then I jetted off to the APE Aftermath party in San Francisco, dreaming of winning an amazing prize for one of my mini-comics.

A smiling yellow moon laughed at me all the way across the bridge. A beautiful warm night. Only in my mind was the party all about me—but I was just excited to be there.

It's a lot of work writing a book! A lot of love, a lot of time, a lot of responsibilities ignored... I'm glad to be done. Now the annoying part starts—trying to sell a few copies! (Buy one, please?)

The four cool hipsters who actually knew it was my book launch >>

A few more highlights of the Big Pretend Launch/Party Day:
  • a free acupuncture treatment at the festival
  • I made it all the way to the big red button at the top of the climbing wall
  • An awesome intro to my presentation by Metro Man (my favorite local superhero)
  • hanging out in what might be the world's most loving minicomic library (see photo, above)
  • support from my two favorite  book stores: Laurel Books and Isotope Comics Lounge
  • seeing all three (yes, 3...) of my new publications on the new releases shelves... together!

you are beautiful.

posted Sep 23, 2011, 9:24 PM by Kristen Caven   [ updated Mar 12, 2012, 8:30 AM ]

natsol cover
Don't believe me? Ask anyone who loves you. That's how I started out my first national article

See? There it is! Right under the magazine title! Right in the soft spot of Jill Kargman's right wrist! Do you KNOW how many words she's typed with that wrist? How many novels?

If you click on her website to find out, you'll learn that, as natural a beauty as she is, she worships Nine Inch Nails and Audioslave and is as hip as can be.

But I digress. I looooved writing this article, which came out this summer in Natural Solutions magazine . I had to interview two experts. So I asked the two doctors who have influenced me most in my lifetime: Dr. Louise Hart Ed.D. ("Don't compare your insides to everyone else’s outsides,”) and Dr. Jan Baumgardner MD ("Never eat, drink, or apply to your body anything you see advertised on television or in the national mainstream media.”) — my paradocs, my parents.

I didn't know if I'd get away with it! They fact-checked my document and called both doctors to see if they'd actually said those wacky things. (Can you belieeeve they printed my dad's quote? What will their advertisers think! NatSol was called Alternative Medicine until just a few years ago, so maybe they didn't take it personally.) I thought for sure they'd click through all the links on my web page and figure out my last name, figure out I wrote books with my mom... ha ha, like they had time... but even if they did, they didn't care!

It's a pretty funny article, if I say so myself. Go ahead and read it. And comment. Thanks, you're beautiful!

Update to this article: The glory of being nationally published faded slightly after they spelled my name wrong in the byline. It faded even more so after a year of invoicing, calling, begging (but never bullying) to be paid. Trying not to take it personally.

1-10 of 39