Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dwelling on Dreams at Christmas?

I’m watching the Harry Potter movies with my kids this week. In The Sorcerer’s Stone, Dumbledore tells Harry, “It does not do to dwell on dreams, Harry, and forget to live.”

This line really resonates with me. Writing is a bit like looking into the Magic Mirror. Dumbledore tells us that “it shows us nothing more than the deepest and most desperate desires of our hearts”. When I write, I’m diving into a fantasy world of my own creation and if that isn’t a desperate desire, I don’t know what is!

When I’m in this fantasy world, the real world fades away. I know it’s hard for people who love me, especially during the holidays. I get a lot of “what’s wrong, Mom?” Nothing’s wrong. I’m just not really present. I’m in my fantasy world, building characters or pulling at plot threads, trying to make a novel work.

I’d hoped to submit my YA novel before the end of 2013, but I’m feeling that this month, it doesn’t do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. My kids are growing up faster than I want them to. My husband has some time off. It’s the holidays. I guess it’s time to stay in the real world for a couple of days!

Yes, I’ll probably sneak a bit of writing in at night, but during the day I want to dwell on those around me and revel in the joy that is Christmas! I hope you all do the same!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Strike Out Against 'Nearly'

I’m reading a book right now and the author has a penchant for the word ‘nearly’. It’s nearly driving me crazy! It bugs me so much that I’ve nearly gone and checked four of my manuscripts to search for the word ‘nearly’!  I won’t quote directly from the book because I don’t believe in bashing authors and I like the story. It’s a decent book. I’m also grateful to the author because it reminds me that there is a difference between a character who hesitates and a writer who hesitates.

Here’s an extreme example of why you should strike the word ‘nearly’ from your work:

The killer nearly pulled a gun.

See what I mean? It doesn’t work. The killer pulled a gun is always going to be the better sentence.

Here’s another example:

I was crouched down low, nearly breathless…

I don’t think you can be ‘nearly breathless’. Instead try something like:
I was crouched down low, my breath coming in short, shallow bursts…

Even if you’re using it to indicate location, there will be better word choices.

We were nearly to the church when the tire blew out.

Nope.  We were less than a mile from the church when the tire blew out sounds much better.
What do you think? Do you use the word 'nearly' effectively?


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Yay! Exciting news tonight.
My novella, Valkyrie's Kiss, will be released by Evernight Publishing in January 2014! More details coming soon!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Zombie Blogfest!

Hi guys,
Halloween is just around the corner so here's something fun to help celebrate! 

Here's how it works:
Post about your favorite zombie movie, zombie book, zombie TV series, or share some cool zombie pics. As long as it's zombies, you're good. 

What's in it for you?
How about a FREE story. Plus, US residents can also be entered for a chance to win some zombie limb candy and a signed copy of Touch of Death. (Sorry but international mailing is expensive and mailing candy internationally isn't always allowed.)

Everyone will get a copy of my FREE short story prequel to the Touch of Death series, Curse of Death.

In fact, go grab it now here!!

So what's my favorite zombie thing? That's a tough one, but I'd have to say it's the split dogs. Remember those? The Return of the Living Dead? It's a totally cheesy movie and I love it! The split dogs crack me up every time!

Click here to buy the movie.

And if you want a chance to win a signed copy of Touch of Death and some zombie candy to satisfy your after Halloween sugar craving, simply fill out the rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Nano Crazy!

Ah, Nanowrimo. It’s that time of year again.

I wasn’t going to do Nano this year. After fifteen years of writing, I've realized that I don't do my best work when I try to hurry. In fact, every Nano novel I've written is a complete mess. In theory, I could go back and try to fashion a cohesive story out that mess. But I've tried and it always feels like I'm writing the novel all over again.

So this year, I’m going to try something different. First, I’m going to write at my own pace. We all know that the key to writing is to write.  So I'll use Nano as an extra incentive to sit down and just do it. If I write twenty-five thousand decent words, I'll be happy.

Second, I’m doing a lot of pre-plotting.  I’m not a pantster, but I wouldn’t call myself a plotter either. If I plot out a whole novel, I lose interest in writing it. If I jump in with both feet and no net, I soon find myself meandering all over the place and end up with a story that isn’t cohesive. So I usually start a new project with a general plot in mind and get to know my main character as I go. For Nano, I’m going to take that a step further. This week I’m going to spend some time learning a bit more about my protagonist. I want to know enough about her personality to get a sense of her direction without losing the mystery of what she will do when I place her in challenging situations. We’ll see how it goes.

Third, and most challenging, I’m going to confront my inner critic. She’s a loud mouth bitch. Sorry for the profanity, but it is what it is. She’s horrible and in the past I’ve tried to ignore her, reason with her and cry pitifully to get sympathy from her. She is never swayed. So this month, I’m going to yell right back. I’m going to fight her every step of the way. I might even make mistakes, do the things I know she hates, just to piss her off!

Because Nano is my month! It’s the month we writers take back our right to be crazy creative, crazy disorganized and just downright crazy!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Playing Around with PicMonkey!

I had a great weekend playing around with PicMonkey, a fun, free online photo editing site. I've decided to post one of my 'trunk' novels on Wattpad and thought I'd play around with making my own cover. Here is my first attempt:

It's not really what I was going for, but the 'radiance' feature was a lot of fun!

Next I went for something more ethereal:
I love this one! Except for the grass in the background. :/ But my son pointed out that this picture really has nothing to do with the story! Ha!

So, I took some more pictures and came up with this:

I decided this was the winner. And even though I'd already spent more time on it than I'd planned, I pitched in the money to upgrade PicMonkey so I could do this....
This was tons of fun, but it also gave me a greater appreciation for some of the amazing cover art out there! Cover artists, I bow down before you! If you don't have the money to invest in an experienced cover artist, you can get some decent results with PicMonkey. It's free, it's easy and it really is a whole bunch of fun. You can also turn yourself into a zombie!

And thank you, beautiful young cover model, for being so patient with me!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: The Howling Heart by April Bostic

When Paige Donovan returns to her childhood vacation home in Black River, Colorado she soon learns that the town is inhabited by Valulv’s – werewolves. These werewolves can take human form at will and one of them, a sexy young he-wolf named Riley, falls in love with Paige. Riley wants to claim Paige as his mate. Paige, being a modern girl, has understandable concerns about signing on with a pack of wolves living in the country.

This book was an easy read. I liked the two main characters, Riley and Paige. The author has done a good job of world building here and introduces some fresh and interesting twists to the werewolf trope. Bostic’s patriarchal wolf society creates some interesting tension between old world ideas and modern sensibilities. There are some great secondary characters in The Howling Heart, dealing with their own struggles of living within a rigid society.

Overall, The Howling Heart was a fun read. It’s definitely for mature audiences only and I think that is where the book fell a little flat for me. Bostic has a great story here, a likeable main character in Paige, some interesting secondary characters who bring a richness to the story, and a lovable hero. There is plenty of tension between Riley and Paige. I think I would have preferred following that tension through to the end, and letting my imagination do the rest.  I’m not one to shy away from a sexy story, but in this case, I don’t think it adds to the story. The author did such a great job with the build up that, for me, it was much more interesting than the explicit act. However, and this is a big however, if you’re looking for something steamy that also has a great plot, this is the book for you! 

PROMO EVENT: The Howling Heart by April Bostic

Author: April Bostic

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Length:  244 approx

Publisher: Eternal Press (August 1, 2013)

Welcome April Bostic!

Paige Donovan is an ambitious college graduate who aspires to reach the top of the corporate ladder. She’s climbing fast when given the promotion of a lifetime at a prestigious fashion magazine in New York City. Her bright future comes to an unexpected halt after news of her father’s death. She inherits his old cabin in the Colorado Rockies, and just when she thinks her luck couldn’t get any worse, she has a car accident in the mountains and awakens in the small, remote community of Black River.

Soon, she’s engulfed in the mystical world of Varulv---wolves descended from 13th century Scandinavia and blessed by Norse gods with the ability to appear human. Paige is desperate to return home, but never expects to fall for her rescuer, Riley Gray, a charming young werewolf from England who offers her an alternate future with his pack.

Now, she must choose between the career she’s always wanted and the love she’s always dreamed.


Author Bio:
April Bostic is a New Jersey-based, Adult Romance author who enjoys unleashing her creativity and letting her imagination run wild. Her love of romance books inspired her to become not just a reader, but also a writer. In December 2008, she self-published her first novel, a contemporary romance with a supernatural twist entitled "A Rose to the Fallen".

Her first short story, "Right Here, Right Now", released in January 2012, is an erotic romance with a dash of S&M. The following year, she released two more short stories: a romantic urban fantasy inspired by the Greek myth of Eros and Psyche entitled "Eros, My Love", and a sexy romantic comedy entitled "Love Addiction".

After five years, she released her second novel, "The Howling Heart" in August 2013, a paranormal romance that delves into the mystical world of werewolves and Norse gods. To end her busiest year in publishing, April will release her fourth short story in December 2013, an 18th century paranormal romance entitled "A Dark Scandal".

Author links:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Writing and Productivity

This past year has been a dud for me, writing wise.  Since the release of my first (published) novel, I’ve struggled with writer’s block. There are lots of reasons for this, but lately I’ve been more productive and more excited about writing than I have for a long time. Why? What changed?  I’d like to say that I made a plan and stuck to it. That I’ve been sitting in my writing room, avoiding my husband, my kids, the phone, Facebook, television and all social events. But I’d be lying. The truth is, I’ve been having a good time. I’ve been enjoying life.

But that’s not the reason for my writing bliss.  Sitting alone at Freebirds today, I thought about it and realized that I have been making subtle changes in my routine over the last few weeks that are giving me better writing results.

Early Birding It

My son started high school this year. High school starts before dawn. Well, my son gets up before dawn, so I get up. By the time the kids are gone, I’m dressed and ready for the day. I’ve had my coffee. I’ve already looked at the news, the weather, checked email, and wasted some time on YouTube. Eight o’clock rolls around and I’m ready to head to the library or bookstore to write.  Which leads me to my second change…

Avoiding Home Sweet Home

I’ve stopped writing at home.  Being all dressed up, I need somewhere to go, so I get in the car and…go. I used to write in coffee shops all the time, but somewhere along the way, I stopped. I think I was trying to save money. I also had this crazy idea that I could write and get the laundry done at the same time. I wrote and put in a load of dishes. I wrote a little more and then vacuumed the living room. You can see how this would be a productivity killer, but somehow I missed it. I thought  was being efficient. Now that I’ve started going out to write, I’m getting so much more done. What’s more, I feel great every day. I write until lunchtime – with no distractions! It’s a beautiful thing.


*Photo by Alan Light

Okay, don’t laugh! I stumbled on the Oprah channel on Sirius Radio. While I’m driving to the bookstore or the library, I hear all these uplifting stories about people overcoming adversity.  What can I say? It’s inspiring. I arrive at my destination all pumped up. Funny thing is, I never watched Oprah. I don’t listen to or watch inspirational  -- well – anything.

But the world can be a negative place. Doing something creative, anything creative, takes such a leap of faith. I never considered that an ‘inspirational’ mindset would be an asset. It probably sounds ridiculous, but I think I have to listen to Oprah and all her cronies from now on.

Just Good Enough

I’m a perfectionist. This is not an asset when trying to create art. Art is messy and fun and daring. You can’t be daring and be a perfectionist. (Maybe being a perfectionist is helpful during revision, but I have my doubts about that too.)

Lately, when I face a difficult problem in writing, instead of asking myself how I can make this scene, this character, this plot line perfect, I ask myself, “How can I make this good enough?”  This question might just change my life.  It’s very freeing. When I think about making something just good enough, all kinds of ideas suddenly present themselves. I can pick one, play with it and see if it will work. This question has gotten me through 300 pages of work in about 2 weeks. Writer’s block be damned!

Well, that's it. Those are the changes I've accidentally made. I'm not superstitious, but I think I'll stick to this routine and see where it takes me! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

My Trusted Reader

Today I'm feeling grateful to my Trusted Reader. Some writers use the term Beta Reader or First Reader. I think every writer needs one of these, but they're hard to find.

Here's why I love my Trusted Reader:

She gets down to it
She reads fast. I recently gave her a three hundred page manuscript and she was emailing me that same day, asking if we could meet for lunch to discuss the book! There is nothing more frustrating than giving someone a piece of writing and having to wait for months and months to get a response. We get enough of that from agents and publishers!

She isn't hung up on the trees
My Trusted Reader always starts a critique with the forest or the 'long view'. We talk about story. We talk about feelings and where a plot line falls short. She doesn't get so hung up on the little stuff that she can't help me out with the big stuff. 

She gives me what I want
If I ask for a line by line edit, my Trusted Reader will give it to me. If I give her a first draft and ask her what she thinks about a certain character or an overall impression of the plot, she'll give it to me. She doesn't digress. I know I'm not a perfect writer. I make mistakes. But there is a time and a place for the grammar police! I'm not stupid enough to think I don't need the grammar police, but if I need some feedback on a story arc and don't want to waste time policing my grammar on sections I know will need to change, my Trusted Reader understands this.

 She is precise and specific
If she tells me something doesn't work, she goes on to tell me why it doesn't work. This is the most valuable asset a Trusted Reader can give a writer. I really don't think there is anything worse than being told, "I don't like this chapter/character/book, etc." and then not being told why. We can't fix it if we don't know why. Sadly, this kind of feedback is the most common kind.

She keeps personal stuff out of it
My Trusted Reader is a reader and like all readers, she brings her own prejudices and preferences to the page. However, she doesn't let those things get in the way of her critique. She'll even tell me, "There's nothing wrong with this, but it bothers me because...", and then lets me decide whether it's an issue or not. I'm always surprised by comments like, "Can you change this character's name? Because I had a friend named ___ and I didn't like her." Or, "This character's Dad did this and my Dad never did this...."
It's a small thing and sometimes (rarely) these comments will lead me to question a character's motivation or my portrayal of the character, but most of the time they're entirely personal decisions and as the creator, I reserve the right to create my characters and my story my way.

 She has no agenda
My Trusted Reader doesn't read my stuff to measure it against her own. She doesn't read it so she can get on her soapbox and play teacher for a day. She knows we've read all the same books on writing and that we're both trying to improve our craft, one story at a time.

She doesn't insult me
I had a professional editor once comment on something that was 'stupid'. Some readers are incredibly callous in their critiques. I've developed a pretty thick skin over the years, but sometimes words like, "stupid", "boring", "pointless", still hurt. They come in like scud missiles - loud, explosive, unexpected and painful.  My Trusted Reader is trying to help me make my work better. She knows that throwing darts isn't going to do that. It's just as easy to say, "This doesn't work for me because..." as it is to say, "This is stupid." And the words that come after because are the only words I really need and want to hear. The because will help me get my point across. The because will help me to become a better writer.

So, Trusted Reader - you know who you are! Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are my icon of constructive criticism and your feedback makes me a better writer! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

PROMO EVENT: Unreap My Heart (The Reaper Series, #2) by Kate Evangelista!

Title: Unreap My Heart (The Reaper Series, #2)
Author: Kate Evangelista
Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Paranormal Young Adult

When Death is stabbed with a dagger that sucks out his powers, Balthazar is roped into helping him find the Redeemer, the only one who can remove the dagger. But nothing is free in the Underverse. For travelling to the most dangerous places in the Underverse, Balthazar asks Death for control of the Crossroads.

Arianne was ready to pay Death’s price to save Niko. She was ready to be blind with no memory of the boy she loves. Instead, she wakes up in a strange room, still able to see and with Niko in a deep sleep. She agrees to work with Balthazar on the condition: Death needs to wake Niko. But Arianne soon finds out that helping the bad guy means having to do lots of bad things.


1. “Did I really try to kiss you?”
He almost missed a step at the sudden change of topic. “We’re back to that?”
“I thought I was with Niko,” she said.
“I take it the experience wasn’t pleasant? Nikolas can do that to people.”
“It sounds like you hate him for some reason. Why?”
If it weren’t for the real curiosity in her eyes, Balthazar wouldn’t have answered her question. “We do things we’re not proud of. Nikolas more than most.”
“You know him.”
A statement with more truth in it than anything he could say. Everyone knew Nickolas. A little too well for more than most. There lay the problem. Arianne knew Nikolas as the teenage high school boy. Balthazar knew Nikolas as the take no prisoners Reaper who occasionally did D’s dirty work. Nikolas could have easily been third in the rankings, maybe even D’s right hand, but he maintained his Reaper of Georgia status to keep under the radar for the side missions he would be given. It baffled Balthazar that Arianne didn’t seem to know this about Nikolas.
“You’re in love with him,” he responded.
“Since I started high school.”
Nikolas? Entertaining love? From a human, no less. “And how’s that going for you?”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 6, 2013

Indie Reads

Indie Read of the Week

Happy Friday!
Today I got a wild hair to read more Indie books. For my purposes, an Indie book is either self-published or published with a small e-publisher (like me). I’m looking for diamonds in the haystack, so to speak. This week’s Indie Read is Locked In (Zombie Bedtime Stories, #1) by Thea Gregory.
I’ll try to read one each week and give a short review. My reviews will be honest, but not brutal. My goal here is to find some new favorite writers, not to tear down ‘bad’ writers or ‘bad’ stories. Only someone who has tackled a novel really knows how hard it is to do. I respect every writer. What we do is damn hard and often misunderstood. If I find problems, I’ll point them out. Gently. 
I’m not receiving or soliciting requests from authors. Generally I'll be looking for books with few ratings and reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I’m choosing things that interest me and so I won’t be sticking to one specific genre.  I found this week’s Indie Reads from the Indie Book Lounge
Have a fantastic weekend!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The New Serial Novels

I just finished a decent YA book called No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz.
I liked the book, the characters were interesting, but in my opinion this book is not a novel. There is no resolution. The story just cuts off. There is an intro to the sequel at the end of the book. It’s a serial.
Now, I don’t have a problem with serials. I like books. I know serials were popular in the Victorian era and that they’ve made a comeback with e-publishing. I’ve read some serial e-books and really enjoyed them, but I paid a ‘serial price’. I bought No Safety in Numbers from a bricks and mortar bookstore and paid the bricks and mortar price. Shouldn’t I get a whole novel for that price?
I’m not criticizing the author here. Unless they self-publish, authors have little to no say in the pricing of their work.
And I’m not trashing series (as opposed to serials). I love hanging out with the same characters from one story to another. But that’s the difference. With a series, I get a full novel and then another awesome full novel with the same characters doing different things.
I wouldn’t complain, except that this trend toward serials seems to be picking up steam. I know publishers are scrambling to make a profit in this changing industry, but as a consumer, I’d appreciate a heads up when I’m buying a serial. I did notice that Penguin put a picture of the cover of book two for No Safety in Numbers on the back of the book with the caveat, The Suspense Continues in the Sequel: So why not move this to the front of the book? Better yet, why not slap a big red SERIAL across the top right-hand corner? If publishers want to drive readers like me to the Big 6 publishers, a little honesty will go a long way.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Joys of Scrivener

Last week I started playing around with Scrivener. For those of you who don't know, Scrivener is a word processing program "designed for authors." While there is a definite learning curve, I think it might be a great program. I'll have to continue playing around with it and learn it before I can say for sure.

Here are some things I already love about the program:
  • The index cards - these are virtual index cards and Scrivener gives you so many different ways to use them. You can create character cards, scene cards, research notes. Really, the possibilities are endless.
  • The media option - you can use the index cards to store media information. For example, for character cards and setting cards, you can import inspiration photos! Even better....
  • The split screen - you can split your screen. I love the option of having a photo on one screen and the 'editor' or writing screen on another. You can look at the setting you're trying to create or look at the character you're describing and write away. After you input all the information on these cards, you can use...
  • The corkboard - Scrivener gives you three ways to look at the information you enter. One of these is the corkboard. This little tool is amazing! I'm in the early stages of learning this program and I haven't quite figured out how to do it, but once you enter all your scene cards, you can move them around on the corkboard. When you have them where you want them, click a little button that stores those scenes in that order in the text document. I can't think of an easier way to work out plot bunnies!
So, that's what I've learned so far! If you're an author and you struggle with organizing your novel, check it out. Go through the tutorial and check out the how-to videos on YouTube. Let me know what you think!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Welcome, Sylah Sloan!

Welcome to Evernight Teen’s Summer Kick-off Blog Hop!

It’s a great opportunity to get to know Evernight Teen: Gritty Fiction for Today’s Young Adult. Our stories include fresh teen fiction that’s raw, gritty and real.

My spotlight is on Sylah Sloan’s Elysium


Meadow Caldwell is about to learn a very dark secret about herself.
When she is taken away from the only family she has ever known and thrust into the world of the paranormal, she learns not everything or everyone is what it seems.
Arcane Manor, a school for creatures of myth and lore, is all Meadow knows now. The only person she can rely on is herself in this strange, new world, especially with the secret of her true identity.
When Dr. Cadeon Frost, an enigmatic vampire, helps her unravel her past, Meadow finds herself falling for the quiet, intelligent doctor.
When she is thrust out of reality and into the arms of a mysterious man, she is trapped between the world she knows and one that nightmares are made of. It is up to her to stop not only an evil that threatens her, but everyone she cares for.
14+ for brief sexuality
“I’ve never been kissed.” I wasn’t looking for sympathy, not in the least, and I was probably embarrassing myself with my admission, but I wanted him to know. I wanted him to be the first guy I kissed. I wanted to share that experience with him. He didn’t speak, and I worried I had screwed up anything which might have been created between us. He almost had a troubled look on his face, but then he let out a deep breath, his hand going back to my face and his fingers trailing along my jaw.
“You’re so special, Meadow.” He whispered the words.
I didn’t feel special, not in the least, but I would have been lying if I didn’t admit that hearing him say those things about me had butterflies in my stomach. My eyes widened when I noticed his head coming closer. Oh my. This is it. He’s going to kiss me. I didn’t move and held my breath as he stopped an inch from my lips. It was torture, pure and simple. 
“Just a small kiss.”
I nodded and braced myself, as his lips pressed against mine. The setting was perfect, the kiss magical. He smelled so good, and I was being kissed for the first time in a romantic place. The beautiful flowers blooming all around me, their intoxicating scents surrounding us, just made the experience that much more incredible.
Soon that small kiss became more heated, and he cupped my cheeks with his hands. Whatever I had imagined it to be like to kiss, it had never compared to this. His lips on mine were demanding, yet soft, like he wanted to show me all the passion he had, but didn’t dare let loose. He pulled away and looked at me, his breathing as fast as my own. I was glad he had the same reaction to me, as I did to him.
He cleared his throat and sat back, running his hand through his hair and looking around. “We should get back.”
In a few short hours it would be dawn and even though I didn’t know if I would fry out in the sun, I wasn’t ready to test my luck. I nodded, letting him take my hand and getting tingles all over my body when our skin touched. We slowly made our way back to the Manor, my mind a whirlwind of emotions. He seemed more aloof, more distant, and I wondered if I had done something wrong. Had I pushed him into kissing me? Made him feel sorry for me and now he regretted doing it? He was older and maybe he feared he would get in trouble. I certainly considered the kiss innocent, but now felt shame for what we had done. I didn’t want him angry at me and worried about it.
He stopped before we reached the front doors, the wind blowing by us and ruffling his dark hair. “I’m sorry.” I tightened my coat, suddenly feeling embarrassed.
He knitted his brows and took a step towards me. “For what?”
“For the kiss. I didn’t tell you to make you feel sorry for me. I just, I don’t know, wanted you to know.” He didn’t say anything, his attention on the greenhouse.
“You have nothing to be sorry about. I’m just frustrated with myself. I find it difficult to keep my control around you, but I should. I need to stay strong and levelheaded because it won’t do anyone any good if I let my emotions control me. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
I didn’t, but I nodded anyway. I kind of thought he was telling me he cared for me, which was what I deciphered back in the greenhouse. I was happy to know he couldn’t keep his control around me, but not so happy that he wanted to keep it. When he kissed me, he showed me a side of him that was wilder, more intense. It was another part of his life, a part more exciting. The kiss showed me what it could be like, what I had been missing this whole time. It sounded silly, even as I thought about it, but it was true. We stared at each other for another suspended moment and then he smiled.
“Goodnight, Meadow.” He turned, and I watched him walk away. I didn’t close my door until he was gone.
Elysium is available here!

What’s up for grabs?

              One lucky hopper will win a KINDLE PAPERWHITE eREADER sponsored by Evernight Teen.
              Every book blogger/reviewer site is giving away one free eBook from Evernight Teen (winner’s choice of any eBook from Evernight Teen’s website).
              Plus, each author offers their own unique prize! So visit each blog hop stop for a host of fabulous prizes to win.

How to enter? Leave a comment and your email address in the comments section below to be eligible to win a prize.

Continue hopping to the next stop!  Click here to HOP on over to the next blog!! Have fun and good luck!
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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Switching Gears

This morning I woke up two hours before my alarm was set to go off. I've been playing around with a new writing project that combines two of my favorite things - history and murder! Initially I was a little anxious to delve too deeply into this new novel idea because I've never tried to write a murder mystery before, but it's so much fun I just can't stop!

My main character, Dottie Lincoln, is a WAAC. What's a WAAC? She's a member of the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps.

The bill to create an American women's army was presented to Congress by Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts in May 1941, but it wasn't until after the attack on Pearl Harbor that the bill garnered support. With some help from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the bill passed on May 14, 1942. The idea was for women  to fill non-combat positions, thus releasing men to the fighting front.  But these pioneering women were much more than 'glorified secretaries'. They bravely paved the way for a new kind of women's liberation.

My book is not a treatise on women in the American military, but I can't help sharing some of the fascinating facts I'm discovering about these first female American soldiers. I'll also be posting some cool information about Texas POW camps during World War II while I create my own fictional camp for my new novel!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for...Zigzag

It's the last day of the A to Z Challenge! Wow, that went by fast!
I've really enjoyed visiting all the blogs participating in this challenge. That being said, I'm so glad it's over! LOL! I'm an author and authors are told to blog, so I created a blog. I've been zigzagging all over the place for almost a year, not entirely sure what I want to blog about or even if I want to blog at all. The biggest thing I've learned from blogging every day is that I can't blog every day. I write every day. I write fiction. Blogging is something else. Will I keep doing it? Yes, I think I will. But right now, I'm ready to settle down with a chocolate martini and dive into my favorite place - the unpostable fictional world of my dreams! Tomorrow I might do some blogging, just to see how it feels to blog without the restrictions of A to Z! :)
And I will happily enjoy your future posts, A to Zers...I'm addicted to quite a few of your blogs and I'll be watching you to see which way you zag!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for...Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone: A Novel

I recently read Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone: A Novel by Stefan Kiesbye. I didn't like it, and yet, I'm surprised by some of the negative reviews I read on Amazon. I didn't like it, but I want to read it again. It's that kind of book. It leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth and a desire to run away from what it's telling you.

It's a book about evil and what it means to be human, to be part of a group, to be a child, a parent. It brings up questions of love, of greed, of sacrifice and the answers aren't pretty. The problem is, the answers are also very real and plausible.

Kiesbye's writing is enchanting. It's simple and straightforward, yet I found myself re-reading passages after realizing I missed a deeper meaning. The story details the relationship of four residents of Hemmersmoor, a small village in Germany. The setting is post-war Germany and it calls up some uncomfortable issues facing the generation of Germans growing up in a post-Nazi world. I liked this part of the book, having gone to school myself in Germany during the 1970s and catching a glimpse of these things. I found Kiesbye's references to the supernatural unique, complex and refreshing. This is not a fun read, but it's also not a book I can ignore. I'll read it again before I decide what I really think of it. Maybe this time I'll enjoy it.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

X is for....X words and Words With Friends

Once again, I'm late getting my post up. I've discovered that weekends are not a good time for blogging! I'm just too busy having fun!

Anyway, X is obviously a tough letter, so I headed for Google to see what x words were available. Lo and behold, at the very top of the search are all these sites for scrabble words! I have been playing Words With Friends for quite a while now and I had no idea these helpful sites existed! No wonder I never win. :)

So I'm that cheating? I know there are cheats available for Words with Friends because I have teenagers and they know how to get cheats for everything! I'm 'too bloody sporting' to download cheats, but is it cheating to look up X words? What do you think?

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for...Write a Novel in a Week?

I was going through some tweets this morning and came upon an interesting article by Kathryn Kane about ugly duckling first drafts and writing a novel in a week. Okay, I've done Nanowrimo, which involves writing a novel in a month, and that's crazy enough. Writing a novel in a week? You know what? I like it!

I've been stuck in a writing wasteland for the past few months and this idea appeals to me. I think I can write an "ugly duckling draft" in a week. I have a novel that's been spinning around in my head for more than a year. Certainly I can get the bulk of it down on paper if I'm not worrying about perfection, right? And this is the perfect time to do it. The A to Z Challenge is almost over. The kids are still in school. We have no birthdays or other family events on the immediate horizon. The planets are aligned and I'm ready to write.

There is an official Book in a Week group, but they aren't accepting new members at the moment. So I'll go for it on my own...unless you'd like to join me? I'm going to begin this insane challenge on Wednesday, May 1st. The A to Z Challenge will be over and I like the idea of starting on the first day of the month. Post a comment or visit my contact page if you want to join me in one crazy week of writing! And yes, I just made this decision about ten minutes ago! That's the way I roll! :)

V is for...Vacation

Whew! The A to Z Blog Challenge is almost over and I guess that's a good thing, since I'm having trouble keeping up!

With all this unusually cold weather we've been having down here in south Texas, I'm thinking about the summer and our vacation to St. George Island, Florida. This is my favorite beach, mostly because it's so isolated. :) Last year we were there the week that Tropical Storm Debbie arrived...
Here it is rolling in! The kids and I were collecting shells, thinking we had some time before the storm hit. Then towels and beach chairs started flying and by the time we got back to the house, we were drenched, our skin stinging from the sand. So hopefully this year we won't get a tropical storm or hurricane! And now I guess I'd better get my head out of the clouds...time to go back to work. A-ha! W is for work?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for...Undecided: What to Read Next?

I've been on a reading binge lately, doing a little research for my next book. The Monster at Water Castle (tentative title) is going to be a Gothic historical suspense, so I've been delving into lots of old Gothic novels and a few more recent books like Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger and Wendy Webb's The Tale of Halcyon Crane.

Any suggestions? I'm looking for something published within the last five years, a little dark, possibly historical.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for...Texas Book Awards 2013

The 2013 Writers' League of Texas Book Awards Contest is underway. The contest is open to Texas authors of books published in 2011 or 2012. The deadline is April 30th and you must submit two copies of your book. The contest is also open to self-published books.
Click here for more information!

Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for...Synopsis Tip

I don’t know one author who enjoys writing a synopsis, but it’s a necessary evil if you’re going to submit your work. Even if you’re planning to self publish, I recommend writing a synopsis because it’s the best way to package your novel. This can be packaged for an agent, an editor, a website, a book blurb and for media kits.
There are plenty of great websites out there with overviews on how to write a synopsis. I’m not going to teach a class in one blog post, but for those of you who struggle with these things, I thought you might like to hear how I break the whole thing down into something bearable.

Use 12 index cards. Twelve index cards only, Vasili. (Yes, I love The Hunt for Red October) On the first card, write down your hook. This is your elevator pitch or the first line from your query letter. Write the ending on the last card, if you know it. If you’re still plotting, write down possible endings. All of them. Now use a card to write down what your main character wants and why she or he can’t have it.  If you’re writing a romance, use one card for the hero and one for the heroine. Detail on each card why they can’t be together.  Take two or three cards and write down scenes where your protagonist attempts to achieve what she wants. Use the rest of the cards to write down the climax, your main character’s darkest moment, her first big challenge, etc. Remember, stick to the story of your protagonist only at this point. (You can add a few secondary characters later, but only if necessary).
That’s it. When you’re finished, you will have a very rough initial synopsis outline. You should have a good idea of your protagonist’s character arc and the high points of your story. Good luck!


R is for...Reflections

So when Friday came along, I threw all my notes into the air, shut down my computer and ran off for some family time - forgetting that I was supposed to blog on Saturday! With my S post looming ahead, I thought I'd take this time to reflect on the A to Z Challenge and the concept of blogging every day.

I joined this challenge because I am a blogging rookie and I have no idea what I want to do with this blog. There, I said it. I like to write fiction, I like to talk about books, but I don't really read a lot of blogs. But, when your publisher suggests you start a blog, what is a new writer to do? You start a blog, of course! We're in the home stretch of this challenge and I can honestly say that I will continue to blog. I won't be blogging every day because it takes too much time away from writing and because I don't have that much to say, but I have enjoyed reading some of the other blogs participating in the challenge and I've learned that your blog is what you make it.

I want to thank my new followers and say that I've so enjoyed meeting you all and visiting your blogs. I've discovered a favorite new photographer, learned a little bit more about great Americans, picked up some useful writing tips and most importantly, I've seen that I'm not the only writer/artist/creative thinker in the blogosphere still trying to find a voice. We've got eight days left and I'm still clicking, still exploring, still making new blogging friends!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Ps & Qs


Yesterday got away from me and I didn't get a chance to post, so today I'm combining P & Q. There is some debate about the origins of the phrase, minding your Ps & Qs, and today I'm going to use the interpretation of Please and Thank You. Fellow bloggers! We're on the home stretch of the A to Z Blog Challenge and I'm going to check out some more of your wonderful blogs and follow. Please do the same and thank you for following me back!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Writing Tip #1

O is for....Overused Words

Today I thought I'd start a thread called 'Writing Tips'. I'll try to post at least one tip per month. Since I'm doing the A to Z Blog Challenge, I'll start with....

Overused words!

Yes, it's annoying to read a piece of fiction and be bombarded with the same words over and over again, so we should all try to identify the words we lean on and overuse. There are plenty of websites with lists of these words and if you keep writing, you'll start to notice your own 'crutch words'. Some of mine are oh, so, just, see, look, and very - just to name a few.

We don't want to annoy readers with the same word choices, but I've learned that looking for overused words also helps me identify other problems with a scene. Here are some examples....

I tend to use this word in dialogue and I almost always mean to imply some kind of physical action or reaction from a character. During revision, I look at each oh and if it implies action, I replace the word with some kind of physical activity.

There are five sense we can draw from, but I tend to lean on the visual. I always find way too many looks and eyes in my work. Look for these and see if you can replace the visual with a touch, an odor, a sound. Mix it up and let your characters experience events with all five senses. Watch out for words like gazed and glanced.

When you find these words in your manuscript, ask yourself if the character is really trying to do the action or actually doing it!
Sabrina tried to pull the door open is only accurate if she ultimately fails. Sabrina wrapped her hands around the heavy iron ring and pulled. The door was locked tight or Sabrina pulled with all her strength. The heavy door opened with a loud creak is more descriptive and more accurate.

I have a real problem with 'walking the dog'. Sometimes it seems impossible to move my characters from one side of the room to the other without explaining every detail of their journey. So I have characters turning, backing away, walking forward and yes, turning this way and that. Look for these words while revising and see how much of this direction your reader really needs. You can usually cut most of this prop movement.

When you're writing your first draft, I think you should ignore all rules and just get your story down on paper. I'm sure there are writers out there cringing as they read this, but if I try to remember every writing tip and rule, I'll never finish the story. Overused words are definitely something you should look for during revision and replacing them with more thoughtful choices can add depth to your story.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for....

Nothing else is on my mind today.
Like most Americans, my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Boston. I feel a great sense of pride in our country and in humanity to see people running into the jaws of danger, hoping to help. 9/11, the shootings in Colorado and Newtown, these events have changed us. They have changed me. I no longer feel shock at these evil acts, just sadness and the conviction that the good really is greater.

My daughter and her friends wore purple today, in honor of the victims in Boston. They wore green in the days following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I was initially disturbed. I worried that she was being flippant about a serious crime and I worried that she knew too much for her twelve years. Last night, while she was texting friends and discussing the tragedy, I realized that wearing special colors is her way of paying respect, of marking the event and saying that it matters. It is also part of the greater good. In her desire, her need to pay tribute, is her need to say that the good is greater and that she is part of that good.

So today I will wear purple. Like my daughter, I will pay tribute to the victims, the first responders, the bystanders who helped, the doctors and nurses, to the runners and the spirit of the Boston Marathon -  and to the good in all of us. It doesn't mean that I don't see the evil. We all see it, but we can also pull together and overwhelm the evil, each in our own way.