Wednesday, December 3, 2014

IWSG--How Long Have You Gone?

I began a job over five weeks ago. It's only part time, at a new grocery store (Wegmans, if anyone is in the mid-Atlantic area, they may know it) and in the Customer Service Department. I work between 20-30 hours a week and honestly, I haven't worked that much since before child #2 was born over 15 years ago. I have not written in almost two months. How long have you gone between writing one word, then another? I have a story I am writing with a friend, "Sticks & Stones", and my goal was to have a rough draft by August when I was going to visit her. However, I got maybe 60% of it done and that is where I ended.

Looking for a job took up a lot of time, then training, then opening this brand new store and now working. I love my job, I love the people, I love writing but between work, my kids, housework, making meals etc. something had to give.

When do you find time to work writing into your schedule? How long did it take you, if you recently began working again, to get back to doing the things you love?

Just seeking advice. This isn't a huge blog post. I just didn't want another month to go by where I forgot to post!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

IWSG -- Future of Publishing

(A few days late!)

By now, many of you may have tried sending out the query to publishers/agents and have heard back a "no, thanks" or nothing at all.  Some of you may be ready to do this but don't want the rejection that you know will happen from at least one publisher.

One question to ask yourself is, is the future of publishing really with the big named publishers like Scholastic or Harlequin?

Take a look at "50 Shades of Grey". It may not be the best written book, but it sure had subject matter that people wanted to read about and it was published by a firm many of us have never heard of: The Writer’s Coffee Shop, the Australia-based e-book and print-on-demand establishment.1 

John Grisham's "A Time To Kill" only had a printing of 5,000 and they didn't sell out. So, he bought 1,000 himself and, "Only briefly thwarted, he decided to make similar stops all over the state. Places such as Starkville, Coffeeville and Calhoun City. Friends of the library would make punch and cookies; Grisham would answer questions. About three months and 30 libraries later, he finally sold all of his copies."2

Fast forward to 2014 and do a quick search on the internet for "publishers" and thousands of small, self-starting publishers will pop up. Some may be shady, asking you to pay for certain things up front, which you should NEVER do when trying to publish your book. Others may publish books that can only be bought in e-book format or print-on-demand. You have to look deep inside yourself and figure out how far and how much stress are you willing to go through in order to get your story out there into the hands of people you don't know?

I know when my short story for the anthology "Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal"
was picked up by Robot Playground, I was excited! It didn't matter to me that they were a start up and this was their first major venture into publishing. The process was exciting and not very stressful. They did all the marketing, told us what things we should be doing and when, and even asked our advice on the cover (which many big publishers will not ask you about).  Now, I'm thinking of publishing with them again in the next year or so. The owner is currently in classes on marketing and will be hiring a staff in the near future. This is a business she is proud of and trying to get off the ground. I would love to be a part of this.

There are so many options out there for your story, so please do not give up. The future of publishing may be e-books, self publishing to Amazon.com and other sites. Those of us who have amazing stories to tell, but will never (or were never) picked up by Scholastic or will not have the overnight success of Stephenie Meyer or JK Rowling can still get our stories told. That's what we want, right? To touch one other person with our words? You can do that, you just have to carefully research the publishers that are out there, the correct way to put your book on Amazon yourself or you can do it 'the old fashioned' way...you can send out those query letters to Harper Collins or the agent who helped publish your favorite series. 

However, know that the chances of your story being the next "Twilight" or "The Lightning Thief" is slim. There is so much competition out there, you may have to pick the path less traveled if you are ready to publish. But don't relax on the editing, the beta readers and proofreading! This has to be done with any book even if a big name didn't pick it up. Put your best work out there and keep writing. Plug your work at your local library, bookstore, on line, with family and friends, with your online blogging friends, give a signed copy of your book as gifts or prizes. Eventually, you'll get the fan base that will give you the energy and love to keep writing.

Good luck!












1) Peterson, Valerie, "Fifty Shades of Book Publishing Success." About.com. September 25, 2014. http://publishing.about.com/od/Books/a/Fifty-Shades-Of-Book-Publishing-Success.htm 

2) Moore, Dennis. June 22, 2009. "John Grisham Marks 20th Anniversary of A Time To Kill". USA Today. September 25, 2014. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2009-06-21-john-grisham-a-time-to-kill_N.htm

 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Writing, Writing...Just Keep Writing

Why? Because it is good for you. Really. Please read this interesting article here: http://m.mic.com/articles/98348/science-shows-writers-have-a-serious-advantage-over-the-rest-of-us

If you have had a bad day, are pissed at someone or just feel blah....write. Let me know if you feel better. I know I always do!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

IWSG: ...and that's how Wacky Wednesday began...

I am a bit behind. It's all my fault. I never thought that someone would leave comments in my "About Me Section". Imagine my surprise when I saw I was nominated for the "Very Inspiriting Blogger Award" more than a month ago by Sabrina at: Books and Bark. I thank her for this and am happy that we connected. Her blog is fun to read and even more fun to look at! I think I may want to hire her to do mine :-) I will tag other bloggers who have inspired me at the end of this blog! 15 is a large number so I may just put up a few.**


Also, today is the first Wednesday of the month. You know what that is:

I was trying to think of something to write about, something that I'm insecure about with writing. I covered a few in previous Wednesday IWSG posts. But now, I want to flip this and let's write about something we are proud of...and it doesn't have to be about you. It can be something amazing your child did, a teacher did for you, something a coworker said.

What good things have happened to you in the last month? What has made you happy? I'll start:

1) the kids started school which means we'll be back to more of a schedule. It also means long marching band practices but I love watching their competitions so I'm okay with that (and my son knows it all pays off in the end.)
2) I was offered a job by a major book chain. I will know more when they schedule the orientation. I never thought, though, I would have to decline...see #3:
3) The next day I received a phone call about a job I applied for as a personal assistant to a writer. I am meeting with them soon to see if we 'mesh'. A dream job, it sounds like! Fingers crossed...
4) I discovered "Game of Thrones" and thank Netflix for having them all on DVD.
5) I made French Bread from scratch and it is good. All because my youngest asked me to make the Basil Olive Oil I made (with basil from our garden) because it was "awesome". I'll take that compliment from a 12 year old!

Now take these positive thoughts, happenings and vibes and put them into your writing energy. Enjoy the last few weeks of summer, wherever you are!

**Bloggers who have inspired me are the same ones from a previous post "Wonderful Team Member Readership Award" which you can read here: Inspiring Bloggers (Elizabeth Mueller, Jody Hedlund, Donna K. Weaver).

I would also like to add Rita Webb at "A Fantasy Fiction" blog  here. I don't know how she writes everything she does with a family and job, but she makes it happen. She is constantly engaged with her audience via Facebook or her blog and her craft gets better and better. Hop on over and check out her blog when you get a chance!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review of "Stronger" by Lani Woodland

I had the pleasure of beta reading this for Lani Woodland months ago and when I finished, I immediately called her and asked if she was sending this into an agent or publisher. It was engaging, action packed, unique and I could not put it down. Instead, she chose to put it on Amazon herself and let readers into the 268 page world of Lexie and Bryant much sooner than an agent could. If you aren't a big Sci Fi reader, it doesn't matter. I'm not either but this was a great read and I'm hoping that there will be more of Lexie's story!

You can download a copy here: STRONGER by Lani Woodland

REVIEW:

I am not a person who usually reads Sci Fi, but from the first few pages, I was sucked into this world that Woodland created. The story line is unique and engaging, but has just enough of "Earth" left that you are able to connect with the characters and location without trying to figure out what world is where. From the first few pages, you get a glimpse into Lexie's life and are rooting for her to find a way out of her fragile existence. The story moves fast with many twists, turns, smiles and even tears; I found I had a hard time putting it down, and at the end I was left with wanting more of Lexie, Bryant and their friends.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Self-Publishing News

We all have seen how self-publishing has exploded like a shaken can of soda when opened. I never even heard of this growing up and was first made aware of it when I heard how John Grisham got his first novel out and into the hands of readers.

And now, they are in a league of their own. There are numerous groups/people/sites that offer to publish your book or print it for you. This is great if you are distributing it yourself or getting it online to Amazon or other sites.

But getting it into the stores is much harder. Looks like this may change. Here's a link to an article in "Digital Book World" that talks about how getting your self-published book into the store will be easier!

Digital Book World Article

For those of you who have written a full length novel before...have you queried agents/publishers or are you going straight to self-publishing? Another option: are you looking for a smaller publisher to help get your book out there?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Wonderful Team Member Readership Award


  ReadershipAward_08092014

Today while I had a chunk of free time, I was visiting some of my favorite bloggers sites and reading their recent posts. I was surprised and excited when I saw Lori MacLaughlin had nominated me for the "Wonderful Team Member Readership Award!" The Readership Award salutes bloggers who regularly visit and leave thoughtful comments on other blogs in support of the blogosphere community. I truly appreciate Lori thinking of me and encourage you to visit her blog "Writing, Reading and the Pursuit of Dreams" here.

This nomination came at a crossroads for me. I was feeling guilty I hadn't visited blogs in awhile so when the ISWG post happened last Wednesday, I made sure I read and commented on blogs that interested me. I truly believe that this network of readers and writers will be a web of support to anyone who wants to be published, is published or is trying to advocate for someone or something that pertains to the writing community. I am also working with someone on getting "Lane Changes" published and I know that once it happens, blogging will be very important to me and potential readers. So, thank you Lori for thinking of me!

One of the rules for accepting this award is to finish the sentence: A great reader is… To me, a great reader is someone who will share their love of books, whether through recommendations or conversing about what they've just read. Also, I think it's important to try reading something in every genre so you can make an informed choice on what you like and don't like. Being honest in your review or feedback is important, too. There is no need to attack the author, but to give a well thought out critique of the book you've just read. I have also learned the more you read, the better writer you become so to all the writers or fledgling writers out there...read, read, read!

***

I would like to nominate for the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award the following great readers who have made my blogging life so much fun:

Donna K. Weaver: I recently began following her posts and found her through ISWG (I have found so many through that blog)! Her posts are unique, true and entertaining; she has posted on things from plagiarism to embracing your inner hotness.  I enjoy how she posts random videos that represent whatever she may be thinking about that day, which keeps her page fresh. Please congratulate her on the publishing of "Torn Canvas" and visit her blog here.

Elizabeth Mueller: I met Elizabeth at an LDS Storymakers Conference years ago and have stayed connected with her since! She regularly posts on Facebook and her blog and even introduced me to a "Blog Hop" which was great fun!  She always has a positive word or message to keep you writing, even if you've hit a wall. You can find her blog "Elizabeth Mueller, Author" here.

Sabrina Wolfheart: I met Sabrina via the Blog Hop I mentioned above. And while she says she is a teenager, don't let that cloud your view on what teens really think. Her posts are mature, insightful and fun. In addition to being a dog lover, she is a book reviewer as well. You can read her blog, "Books and Bark" here.

Jody Hedlund: I don't know her personally but I found her blog and have been hooked. She has insightful information that seems to be exactly what I need at this point in my writing. Currently, she writes about "Pet Peeves" and I urge you to visit her website/blog and her published works here.

Books Make Me Happy Reviews: Jennifer founded this website and once she established herself as a knowledgeable book person, she has had a backlog of writers asking her and her staff to review their works. Most of the books she and her staff review are Fantasy/Magic related but you can tell Jennifer puts a lot of thought into her site, works closely with her reviewers and also manages to run the Coastal Magic Convention in Florida as well. Visit her website here and you may find a whole new list of books you would like to read! (Disclaimer: I review for this site, but through her I have found some new authors that I love and am giving my Kindle a workout!)

                                                                               ***
Here are the original rules if you wish to accept this award. You can follow them as they are, or follow them in your own way. :)
  1. The Nominee of the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award shall display the logo on his/her post/page and/or sidebar.
  2. The Nominee shall nominate up to 14 readers they appreciate over a period of 7 days (1 week) – this can be done at any rate during the week. It can be ALL on one day or a few on one day and a few on another day, etc.
  3. The Nominee shall name his or her Wonderful Team Member Readership Award nominees on a post or on posts during the 7 day (1 week) period.
  4. The Nominee shall make these rules, or amended rules keeping to the spirit of the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award, known to each reader s/he nominates.
  5. The Nominee must finish this sentence and post: “A great reader is…

Writing in Airports



I traveled to Nashville and Huntsville, AL this weekend. On my way to my destinations I had a layover in Kansas City. Since I flew Southwest, I had my laptop and Kindle with me knowing that the two hour plus flight would give me time to read or write. 

However, as I pulled out my laptop on the plane and began to type, I realized that the guy next to me may be able to see what I was writing. The guy behind me could probably see, too, as I was in an exit row and there was quite a bit of space for him to look over my shoulder. I began to feel self-conscious so I closed down my laptop and read for the remainder of the trip.

Once I was in TN and AL (with Cindy who is co-writing "Sticks & Stones" with me) I was fine. She was reading/editing the story and making her suggestions the four days I was there. She lives in Huntsville, so we made sure we left early enough to get me back to Nashville for my 7pm flight. I arrived at 4pm, was lucky enough to have TSA Preflight Check-in and found a nice private corner near my gate, with an outlet.

So, I wrote and worked on my sequel to "Lane Changes".

I was by myself for about 45 minutes until someone came to charge their phone in the outlet…that was below a payphone (irony…or something?). Okay, I could still write as he was on the floor, on the other side of the payphone, and I was in a chair.

Then another person came and sat at the end of the row of chairs (only four chairs) and even though he was talking on his Bluetooth, I felt self-conscious enough not to be able to finish. So, I saved the document and figured this would be a good story post, kind of hinging on the ISWG post from last week.

So, the moral of this post? Maybe airports should have those old-fashion study carrels that the libraries have; their own power supply, softer chairs, and privacy. Maybe some of us writers would get a lot more written, in an airport, if there was some semblance of privacy!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How Much Do You Talk About Your Writing? #IWSG




Another post for #IWSG Wednesday! Please check out Alex's website about it here: IWSG Blog.

A few years ago, a group like-minded friends and I were talking about our writing. One of my friends, I'll call her Jane, had a bite from an agent on her story. When we asked her what her new story was about she only said, "I'm superstitious about giving too much away. I'll tell you when/if it gets published." Years later, I saw that a story of hers is going to be published, but because she remains mum about what it is about I don't know if it is the one from years ago or a new one. I respect her wishes and we find that there are still things to talk about: our writing process, editing, blogging/advertising your work, our characters antics and so on.

On the flip side, I have a friend who will tell you what she is writing and is very good about leading you into her social media, getting you hooked, then once her story is self published/on an e-reading site you are invested. It could be months of her talking about it. She may call me up and asked me to beta-read, or ask what I think of a cover she designed. I am in awe at how comfortable (she seems) in putting her work out there before it's really out there. She has always had the ability to put herself out there and is not shy about asking someone for help.

I fall somewhere in the middle. Writing is personal to me and I have a core group of writing/blogging friends I am comfortable talking about my work in progress (WIP) with other writers. I will tell others the summary of what I am writing, the title, how long I've been working on it, but only if they ask. Sometimes, I'll even ask my kids for a synonym or good fantasy name for something. However, neither them nor my husband has read anything that is currently a WIP. I only have one short story out there and while I have the book on my shelf, I don't know if they have read it. I don't need their approval but am afraid of what I'd feel like if they say "it's okay" or "I didn't really get it." (Hm, so maybe I do need their approval?)  So, I operate under the radar, they know I'm writing, they may know the genre but that is about it. I have a Facebook page where I will write posts within the subject area of writing, and obviously this blog page, but this is as public as I get with a work in progress.  I am working on it. I know in order for people to become invested in your work and WANT to read it, once it's available, you need to hook them. And you can't do it too early; you can't say, "I have a wonderful story about ____ coming, but not until next May!"

I'd like to know how much you talk about your writing/current WIP? While you are creating your story, do you share with a select few, like my friend "Jane"? Would you love to gather everyone around and discuss your characters endlessly? Are you comfortable advertising your work and characters AS you are writing the story, like my other friend?



Friday, August 1, 2014

Deadlines, Schmedlines!

Posts ago I bragged how I was going to get a rough draft of my current WIP "Sticks & Stones" finished by my trip next week. I was going to give it to the co-writer, Cindy, so she could add and edit. Alas, I'm only half way done. Life and vacation got in the way.

However, half done is not so bad! I just sent her what I had and hopefully when I arrive in Alabama next week she will have her thoughts and edits. Luckily, we are staying in a hotel, giving us time to  hash out the edits and maybe even write the next upcoming chapters--in between me playing tourist and visiting her family. I'm very pleased the way it's progressing and have reached that stage where I think of the characters half of the day. I put them in different situations, in my head, and if it doesn't feel natural I push it away. I even wrote a scene that is chapters ahead and saved it in a different folder. This usually means I am on a roll...fingers crossed it stays that way!

On a different note, I am every excited to see the "Outlander" series on STARZ. This is one of my favorite books and seeing real life actors portraying Jamie and Claire are a bit unnerving. They are nothing like what I had in my head. Claire was taller, bigger and had dark blond curly hair. Jamie was taller, bigger, broader and had longer straighter hair. However, the trailer and interviews I have seen lead me to believe that this could be a smash hit. Fingers crossed on this one, too!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Back from vacation and boy did I...

....read! I did not do any writing. Zip. Zilch. Unless you count the grocery list.
Instead, I read.
You need to read to be a better writer. That much is 100% true. I read Garden Spells, The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden, The Redemption of Callie and Kayden, A Dog's Journey (sequel to A Dog's Purpose), Second Glance by Jodi Piccoult and a book that I am reviewing for a site, here.

The upside to not writing, and being at the beach and not doing ANYTHING--except figuring out what is for dinner, watching dolphins and debating which Old Pro mini golf course we are going to play--is your brain is relaxed and accepting of new ideas.

For Lane Changes, my YA/New Adult novel, I came to the realization I am going to try to market it to an agent again. I had a few nibbles years ago and even after 20 rejection letters and two 'give me more' and one request for a 'full MS' that is enough to carry me through the last few years. I knew I could make it better. So, I tightened it up, added the advice an agent gave me, had another person beta/edit it and after one more read through, I'm going to prepare those query letters. Scary.

For Sticks & Stones, the YA Fantasy I am working on with my friend Cindy, I had about a bajillion ideas come to me. A few I tossed away like a shell into the ocean. The others I let percolate and two were so intense, I dreamt about them. After a day back at home grocery shopping, cleaning, picking up the dog from the kennel, I am hoping I will have time tomorrow to play with these ideas. It's time to get working on Sticks & Stones if I am going to have it to Cindy by mid-August.

Fingers crossed everything falls into place!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Need some crazy stories...




In talking to the publisher who has "Lane Changes" she has decided to wait a year in publishing my book in order to get her business more established, and work on the two projects she has right now, which is fine. This gives me a chance to take the sequel that is written and divide it into another book...the college years. I would love some real-life college stories from anyone out there that can be incorporated into the book. I have some from my own four years at college, but any others would be appreciated. I would not use real names, of course, or even the real college.

Thanks in advance! You can submit the story in the reply here or contact me directly.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

#amwriting #amediting #amreading

Good ol' hashtags for Twitter. I found I did all of these over the 4th of July weekend. We were hit by the remnants of Hurricane Arthur yesterday and there was nothing to do but sit inside on that rainy day and edit. And write. And read.

"Lane Changes", my YA light mystery and romance book, is being reviewed at a small, start up publisher right now. It is 77K words. The publisher knows that there is a book 2, but it was in VERY rough shape. I wrote these two stories back in 2006 to 2008 and for some innane reason, I thought it'd be a good idea to have each chapter be an individual document. There are 30 chapters in the second book and according to the Word Count...it's over 111K words long. Me thinks that may be a bit too much for a second book? The second book spans six years; the first four are glossed over because there wasn't much happening pertinent to the main storyline. So, I'm toying with the idea of writing more scenes for the first four years and making this a trilogy. There is a natural stopping point, so it can be done, but it'll be a lot of work. I already have some ideas that are popping into my head that will make the storyline of Lane much richer.

So, this leads me to the question...how many words is TOO many? I know, upon researching for agent submissions, 60K is a good minimum amount of words to have for a novel. I feel 111K is too many, and it's not even fully edited yet. To give you an idea of how much I was writing and editing yesterday for Book 2, when I first opened the file on my laptop and combined all the Chapters into one document, there were 99K words. From July 4-5th, I wrote in 12K more.

Ugh, the Math is what is going to kill me here.

So, yeah. There we go. What do you readers and writers prefer? A three book series where you have to wait three years to finish reading it or a standalone book with a Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3? I guess I will have to wait and see what the publisher would like from me if "Lane Changes" gets picked up!

Picture below stolen from The Waiting is the Hardest Part Blog




Wednesday, July 2, 2014

IWSG--Encouragment via Reviews in Writing



It's the first Wednesday of the month and that means...IWSG time! Today, I'm talking about my thoughts on reviews and how they can encourage you, if done tactfully!

I know there are authors out there who have said they never Google themselves or read reviews about their newest book. I'm not sure I'd have that kind of self control, especially nowadays where most authors have numerous social media sites. You have to maintain them, so you will eventually come across a reader who tells you their thoughts on your work. So, unless you have the money and can hire someone to manage your website/blog/Facebook/Twitter etc accounts for you, you are bound to come across negative and, hopefully, positive reviews/comments.

I wrote FanFiction (Harry Potter) for two years or so. I read FF for longer and I saw some of the "flamers" and what they can write about a person's hard work. I could tell most of those "flamers" were just trying to get a reaction; probably bored teens or even adults who have nothing better to do than start an argument with someone they can't see. On the flip side, there are the gushing positive reviews. You can tell how excited they are to be reading something they connect with. They use numerous exclamation points, caps, or just tell you "I LOVE IT!!!!" Sometimes, you get some detailed feedback about specific scenes, characters or ideas that they liked. I've also seen this with reviews for published works on sites like Amazon, Goodreads and personal Blogs.

Personally, I like the positive feedback (who doesn't?) that comes with "why" they liked it. If they said YA Romance is their favorite genre and they identify with character "A"...why is that? If you loved a specific dialogue scene, "why" did it stick out to you? Negative feedback has it's uses, too. If more than a handful of readers tell you they think that <insert scene here> is "unreal" or "fell flat" it may just have done that, but getting a "why" is helpful. I find it encouraging to hear this kind of feedback as it helps me refine and chisel away at my story, trying to make it better and more appealing.

Knowing what works and what doesn't is encouraging in the long run. You will find that handful of people who just don't like what you wrote, but I chalk that up to the fact this story just isn't their cup of tea. If you can back up your positive and negative reviews with "why", it means alot more to the author than just "This was great" or "I couldn't get into it."

What kind of encouragement helps you as a writer? What do you think of some reviews that you have stumbled across?

Monday, June 23, 2014

My Writing Process and How to Meet Other Authors!


Elizabeth Mueller, a fellow author that I met at a conference years ago,  emailed me one day and asked if I wanted to do a Blog Hop. I had never heard of one and after a flurry of emails, with many questions from my end, I finally figured it out. I was to introduce a few authors on my blog, maybe write how I met them, and then have a link to their blogs in a list to the right. I set out to find some of my favorite bloggers and authors and that's who you will see down below. It's a great way to discover new talent, new friends and enjoyable blogging. Elizabeth told me I was to write about my "Writing Process" in this blog so here you go. You can see her thoughts on this over at her blog

I write like I think: free-flowing, brainstorming, different thoughts coming out at the same time but eventually weave together to tell the whole story. Sometimes, I write the end first then backtrack to the beginning. Other times I will cut an entire scene I wrote and place it in a different "file" knowing it'll never fit back into the story but since I created it, I don't feel right deleting all those words! There really is not set way, no outline or notes that I follow. Occasionally, I will do research because I don't know enough about the subject. This can range on anything from the military to fairies.

I am not one of those people who always have a pen and paper at the ready, either in my purse, in my car or on my nightstand. I can only remember one time that I had such a vivid dream I wrote it down and made note that it would make a great story...at some point. Usually, plot structure or scenes come to me as I'm writing--my characters lead me to certain points--or as I'm doing something fairly relaxing like driving or watching TV.

So, there really isn't any structure to my writing process except to write almost every day wether it's one sentence or a few thousand words. I find I do this better when I'm in a place where nothing is expected of me: son's instrument lesson, babysitting, waiting in the car for pick up at school etc. 

Do you have a writing process or rules that you follow? I think everyone has their own way of doing it, just like everyone has a unique blog quite different from yours! You will meet three authors below. Feel free to click the links at the right and find their blog. See what they have written, ask a question or just read their blog and see if you connect to anyone. You may just find someone who would be a great writing partner or even beta reader for your Work in Progress (WIP).


Sabrina is a blogger I found just recently. Admittedly, her picture and title of her blog drew me in. Her posts are witty, mature and intelligent. You can tell she is passionate about her writing craft and dogs! I'm so happy I stumbled onto her.


Sabrina Wolfheart  is a teenage writer and blogger, who has loved to write ever since she can remember. She has been published in several short story and poetry anthologies, including Lekha's Young Wordsmiths anthology, and Poetic Power's A Celebration of Poets Anthology in Spring 2013. She is a NaNoWriMo enthusiast, and finished her first novel-length manuscript, a YA science fiction, in April 2014. She's currently working on her first YA realistic fiction novel, and hopes to get both of her manuscripts published once she revises and finishes them. She has been blogging about writing since August 2013,  and is thrilled with the positive and supportive community she has met.
Other than writing, she enjoys reading any type of science fiction, watching science fiction TV shows, and volunteering with dogs. She also enjoys science, and, strangely, school (when it's interesting). She also started a campaign for pit bull advocacy, called Pits4PEACE. When she is facing Writer's Block, Sabrina spends her time identifying every font in Microsoft Word.

She lives with a soon-to-be-six-year-old Border Collie/Pitbull mix, and spends the majority of her time waiting for the hours in which she can write.



Lani is a personal friend of mine. We met in 2007 on a Twilight Fan Club Board. She was planning an "I Love Edward Cullen Party" and I offered to help. From the moment we talked on the phone, we licked! I flew out to Utah, from the east coast, and met her in person and we immediately greeted each other like old friends! She writes like a madwoman and can go all day; I envy the amount of concentration she has and her creative mind. She has numerous books you can read, listed below.

Lani Woodland: I've been an avid reader since elementary school. In sixth grade I began writing stories and recruiting (with force when necessary) my friends to act them out.
I've always loved scary stories, and have a hard time enjoying any book without at least a little romance in it.
I live in Southern California with my husband, our two children and a large collection of board games.
I have worked as a spot-welder, babysitter, janitor, photographer, gymnastics coach, and movie extra. I enjoy bonfires at the beach, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, speed talking, chocolate as a cure-all, and the word "precisely". I have written: The Yara Silva Trilogy: Intrinsical, Indelible, Inevitable. Pirates of Orea, Pieces of Jade, The Pom Pom Periodicals: That’s The Spirit (The Pom Pom Periodicals, Book 1) Give Me A C (The Pom Pom Periodicals, Book 2). Short Stories include Enchanted: Love Stories of the Paranormal (Kiss of Death and The Kiss of the Siren). These two short stories originally appeared in Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal.
Please visit my website & blog


I stumbled upon Lori's blog from the "Insecure Writer's Group" Blog that Elizabeth Mueller pointed out to me. Lori mentioned swords, kids (not kids running with swords), had a castle on her blog and talked about self-publishing--she had me hooked! Her posts are informative, consistent and there is always something you can learn from reading them!

Lori L. MacLaughlin traces her love of fantasy adventure to Tolkien and Terry Brooks, finding The Lord of the Rings and The Sword of Shannara particularly inspirational. She's been writing stories in her head since she was old enough to run wild through the forests on the farm on which she grew up.
She has been many things over the years – tree climber, dairy farmer, clothing salesperson, kids' shoe fitter, retail manager, medical transcriptionist, journalist, private pilot, traveler, wife and mother, Red Sox and New York Giants fan, muscle car enthusiast and NASCAR fan, and a lover of all things Scottish and Irish.
When she's not writing (or doing chores), she can be found curled up somewhere dreaming up more story ideas, taking long walks in the countryside, or spending time with her kids. She lives with her family in northern Vermont.
Lori will soon be publishing her first novel, a romantic fantasy adventure entitled Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Stuck like glue...

Have you ever had a book that sticks with you days, weeks or longer after you've read it?

As a child and teenager I remember re-reading the same books (and this may give away my age) but books like: Stranger With My Face, Sweet Valley High, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Meet the Austins, A Wrinkle in Time, Dicey's Song.  Honestly, I haven't picked them up since early high school, but I do have all but the SVH on my shelf. I loved them; they were comforting, familiar and well used like your favorite blanket or toy as a young child.

Nowadays, I find books that stick with me for other reasons. An example are two books written from a dog's POV: A Dog's Purpose and Racing In the Rain. If you have a dog, love a dog or just work with them, these books will definitely change how you relate and view them. I tend to give my cat and dog voices (think Doug in the Pixar movie "Up") and notice other animal lovers do this, too. When reading them you can't help but think of your own dog. Or, even cats! I read Dewey, The Library Cat years ago and couldn't help but think of mine in some of those chapters. As an adult, we have seen and heard more about animal abuse or neglect than many children so these kinds of book can strike you at your deepest, emotional level.

Some of my other favorites like: Outlander, The Language of Flowers, A Certain Slant of Light, Harry Potter and The Fever series I love because of a 'lighter' side. These books were different enough to catch my interest and had characters that were real and vivid to me.  The storyline was unique and I hadn't read anything like it before which is why they are on my bookshelf and will be some of the first books I recommend to people if I am asked.

Sometimes, though, especially when on vacation I just want what I call a "beach read"--you sit back, read and don't have to think or feel sad. My go to books for this occasion are Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series or some Nora Roberts books (I recently read Chasing Fire by her and thought it was very well researched and less romantic than her others.) I did read Stephen King's Under the Dome while on a cruise two years ago but it was so riveting and different I didn't mind that it made me think at the end!

So, what are your go to books? Do you have favorites on your shelf that are the first ones you'd recommend to a friend? Are there books that you've read and you could not stand for whatever reason?


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Can you take a compliment?


On Mondays I babysit/nanny a wonderful little girl (we'll call her S) who is almost four months old. This past Monday, we took a walk up to a new bakery as I am on the search for the best croissants around! I ran into a mom with an even younger baby and she began asking me questions about S and I answered politely. Eventually, she told me, "Congratulations" and I said, "Thank You", even though S is not mine; she was getting hungry and I needed to place my order and then walk back to her house, so I didn't bother correcting the other mom.

However, as I walked back, I realized it was a compliment that she assumed S was mine. I'm in my 40s and I must still look natural taking care of a baby even though it's been awhile. This exchange made me realize how hard it is to accept a regular compliment these days. We always seem to shake it off; if someone likes your hair many of us say, "I just had it done" instead of, "Thank you." "I like your shirt/shoes/pants," may have a response similar of, "Thanks, but they are my sister's" or "they were the only clean ones I had." Can we just say "Thank You" and mean it?

When it comes to our writing, I think many of us view it as personal --or as Anna Nalick says in her song, "Breathe": "These words are my diary speaking out loud." 

It may be hard for some people to accept that the inner workings of their mind has affected someone in a good way. As writers we have chosen to walk this path and enjoy the positive and endure the negative. Has someone complimented you on your writing; a story you wrote, an essay in school or even a funny one liner? Were you able to just say "thank you" and did the other person offer "you're welcome?"

On the flip side, have you done the complimenting and didn't receive the answer you were expecting? Why do you think it's hard for us to accept and embrace compliments?

I look forward to reading your comments. Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Title Reveal for WIP...

When this story began, as a dream of Cindy's (my co-writer), she wrote it out as a short story. When I read it, I realized there was just too much of a story to be confined to just a few pages and offered to write, if she kept the storyline coming.

Up until a few months ago, this Work In Progress (WIP) was labeled as "Cindy's Story". I was trying to think of a good working title that encompasses the feel of this book. Because I am only slightly superstitious, I don't feel comfortable revealing the plot...yet.

I will say it is a Young Adult book, the characters are in their last year of high school and some are beyond it. There is a younger brother who hasn't spoken a word in his 14 years of life and no one knows why. There are three boys dressed up around Halloween time in demon costumes, or so our main character, Nicole, thinks. While navigating through her world she begins to realize there is a group of ancient beings who protect her. She has no idea who or why at first. As she learns new names, overcomes almost-insurmountable objects and navigates love and loss, she become stronger;  physically, emotionally and with the powers that lay dormant...until she turned 18.

"Sticks & Stones" seemed to be the perfect title to work with.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Hump Day! Productive Day!




Edited on 6/5: Late last night, I found the group you see above. Thanks to Elizabeth Mueller, I found out there are so many people like me out there it is a bit scary. The original post from early yesterday seems to fit the rules of IWSG, which are: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time.


So, I figured I'd go back in time and offer Wednesday's post as my first IWSG post:

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I've been fighting a cold and sore throat my children so lovingly shared with me and today, I am worn out. It's gray outside and only 56 up here near Boston. I have nothing going on until this evening and realized that all the ideas I have in my head, for the current WIP, needed to get down on paper...laptop.

After talking to Cindy about an underlying theme we needed for our story, I got to work this morning on writing. I am up to 21K words. 60K is my goal, then I will edit/spell check and send it to Cindy. I'm hoping to coincide with her summer break so she can read it, add her flair, then we'll combine her notes into the story and find some beta readers. I am keeping my fingers crossed the first draft of this story will be ready to go out to a beta reader(s) by the end of August.

I do not see any YA or Adult books of this genre on the shelf. I find limited information in the library on what we are writing about. My instincts are telling me to try and get this out there soon because someone will beat us to it. We can make up whatever we want in this genre and as there really isn't any guideline out there now, I feel we have more freedom. (Think "Twilight" and how Meyer introduced us to the non-human killing Vampires who sparkle.) Now that I have given myself a deadline...and have a job...I should be able to do this.

My job consists of watching a lovely 3 month old little girl who takes two naps in the time span that I watch her, early in the week. This gives me time to write and since I am not in my own house and do limited housework, I have more free time there than I do in my own home; I have to utilize it!

We have the end of this book all worked out. We have a working title, finally, which I will reveal in the next post! I am beginning to form scenes in my head (I think in movie scenes and then try to get it down into words) and I'm slowly filling in the gaps between those scenes. We are also making a concerted effort to make this a 'clean' book. No, or very limited, swearing, no drug use...things like that. Cindy and I both have preteens and are more than conscious of what they are reading and can get their hands on. There are many good stories out there that don't have numerous four letter words or graphic sex scenes in them. Of course, since we are writing about 18 year olds-ish, we have to be realistic in their language, which is a fine line to try and balance upon.

Now that my break is over, off to work towards 22K words before the kiddos come home from school. Stay tuned for the working title reveal...




Sunday, April 6, 2014

Favorite Book Quotes

This article came across my Facebook news feed; it is about 10 profound Children's Book Quotes. You can read the article here. They mention Dr. Seuss, The Giving Tree, Harry Potter...but the first  two which came to my mind were not in that article and are quite different from each other.

#1: "Goodnight moon...Goodnight noises, everywhere".



"Goodnight Moon" was read to me when I was a baby in the early 1970s. I have vague memories of looking at the book with my little sister, helping her find certain things in the pictures. I was maybe four and she was close to one at the time and I still have my copy from the 1970s.
When my first child was born in '97, I bought him a board book copy and read it while pregnant and when he was a baby. Now, I buy "Goodnight Moon" as a gift for every baby shower I go to. I think it's a great way to teach children that sleep is not something to be afraid of when you are little. The drawings are simplistic, colorful and full of emotion. It also has a bit of fun within the pages as your child tries to find the little mouse that appears on every colored page.

#2: from Dumbledore to Harry Potter, "It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." This was even written on our local library's wall when I lived back in Maryland. To be honest, when I read the series it didn't stand out until I was in the Children's Room at the library and saw it written up there. As a parent (I read the series before and right after I had my kids) it hit me more than when I originally read it on how true that quote is.




So, this begs the question: what book quotes have stuck with you through the years? Do your kids have a favorite one?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

20344 and counting!

What felt like a few minutes ago, I pulled up the previous post and looked at what my word count was before I sliced out a section. Next thing I know, I'm beyond that number and into the 20Ks. Amazing how fast time flies, and your story, when you find the thread that will weave everything together and start pushing you towards the crux of the story.

I don't worry about being perfect when first writing out my story. It's a brainstorm of ideas, thoughts, sentences, conversations. I stop and start like a 16 year old learning how to alternate between the gas and brake pedal. I go back, read what I have written and add or take out a few things then move on. Once the whole story is completed, then I go back and do a full edit, which can take weeks, as I delete those pesky words I use too much, like "that", or flush out an idea. I spell check and use the thesaurus.  Working on "showing" versus "telling" is one of the hardest things for me, so that's when I send out my first edited copy to a beta reader. I am hoping I'll hit this stage sometime in May, but we'll see.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

19171 words...

I'm getting there. After deleting half a chapter, I am scratching my way back and it's going in a great direction. Our ideas for this book are so many, I'm having to pick and choose which ones we want to represent in this book and what we could possibly use in any subsequent ones. My goal is 60K words for "Sticks & Stones", then numerous edits. If all goes well, I hope to have this finished in two months so Cindy can have something to do after she is done her classes for the spring semester :-)

Off to research diamond dust/powder as it will play an important role...

Monday, March 24, 2014

19983-18079=eureka!

Today I had a thought about my WIP. Months ago, I ran into a wall and after getting frustrated, I ignored writing.

I've done everything else BUT write: foster a pregnant cat (see my blog: www.batting-at-strings.blogspot.com) search for a job, clean the house, volunteer, take the dog on a walk, college visits with my oldest, read. Then today as I was walking from one room to another I thought, "I need to call Cindy. I wonder if we should cut the last scene I wrote. Make the readers wonder about "something" throughout the entire book rather than having it solved up front." I knew the answer before I even finished voicing the thought to myself!

I didn't call her because she has been studying for mid-terms. Then around lunch time she calls, mainly for some reassurance she'll do wonderful on a nursing assessment test. She will. We chat about that but I then ask her the question I thought of and she doesn't hesitate when she says, "Yes. Love that." So, I let the idea percolate a bit.

Fast forward 4 hours-"now"-and a friend of mine just posted she has a literary agent. I realize, I have to get moving on this story. It's a great idea, unique, one of a kind from what we can tell. I don't want someone else to snatch it up before it ever gets "that" good (and finished) where we can begin to market it.

So, I opened up my story folder, found the one we are working on and deleted the last scene. I went from 19,983 words down to 18,079. Not a HUGE cut; not starting over; nothing I can't surmount. However, it has given me a whole new direction to go in and I'm excited to once again begin working on this story we have dubbed, "Sticks & Stones." The original title, when Cindy wrote it as a short story, was "Shades of Grey". Umm, yeah. That won't work anymore. Even though our title came out years before "50 Shades of Grey" hit the shelves, we knew we couldn't have anything that close. Especially since it is not anywhere NEAR the genre of "50 Shades."

So, in between dinner and running my son to a meeting tonight, I'll pick at it. We have the last scene plotted out so maybe I'll work on that and then fill in the "blanks."

Tomorrow is wide open until dinner. I should be able to get a couple thousand words down by then, right?


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Kittens!

I've been busy blogging our experience with the kittens, who are now 2 weeks old and require a bit less hovering, but still a lot of handling to get them used to us!

Feel free to follow me: http://batting-at-strings.blogspot.com/2014/03/drunk-kittens.html


Friday, March 7, 2014

I'm writing, but not a book at the moment...

Our foster cat had kittens, and it wasn't an easy birth. I've been blogging about it here: Batting At Strings.
Please take some time and follow me on a journey with these adorable kittens! Once we have them fully settled in, I will try to get back on schedule and continue writing the story I am doing with my friend, Cindy.

Thanks!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

...Speaking of e-Books and more...

One of my friends, Lani Woodland has published an e-book; the last in the Yara Silva Trilogy. It is aptly entitled "Inevitable" and currently is $3.99 on Amazon. Beginning with "Intrinsical" and then "Indelible" this last book wraps up what has proved to be a very difficult few years for Yara. If you are looking for a great series that has ghosts, romance and family ties then this series has it.  Buy "Intrinsical" here. Not only did Lani Woodland work on these books, she managed to co-write "Pieces of Jade"--exclusively an e-book.  Honestly, when I read the blurb I thought it wasn't for me but since she is a great friend and I didn't know much about this story, I downloaded it and found I could not put it down! It was fast paced, had twists, pirates and leaves you wanting more...which Woodland is going to do. Book Two will be out but not fast enough! Download "Pieces of Jade" from here.


Speaking of new books...Erica Cameron only has five days to wait until her debut novel "Sing Sweet Nightingale"! This book is available in paperback or e-reader beginning March 4th! Feel free to pre order her book in paperback from here.

I'm very excited that two friends are so successful in their writing careers!

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A few notable books I have read over the past few weeks, which I gave 4-5 stars on Goodreads:

"Bird" by Crystal Chan. I foresee this being a book that middle schoolers will be required to read for their Language Arts class. So much can be discussed: family beliefs and values, differences/fitting in, friendship and love...loss of a sibling.

"More Than This" by Patrick Ness. I picked this up on a whim in the library and while I wouldn't give it to my 11 year old to read, I think it's appropriate for 14 and up as there are a few sexual comments here and there she's not ready for. I heard the movie rights have been picked up and can't wait to see what comes of it. This books deals with the question, "What is life? What is death? What is reality?" the theme of this book is a bit like "The Matrix".

"The Local News" by Miriam Gershow is an emotional journey of a sister trying to understand what happend to her brother. Did he go missing on his own? Was he kidnapped? You are taken in and tossed about in this story but it is very well written and as a parent, will strike you to your core.

"Because of Mr. Terupt" by Rob Buyea. My daughter read this in 5th grade and it couldn't stop talking about it. She lamented how she'd love to have a teacher like Mr. Terupt and told me facts she learned then ran out to get the sequel when it was in the bookstore. I read it on my Kindle while traveling and realized, as a teacher, this book was full of wonderful ideas and shows you the difference in children and how their background influences how they learn. A very enjoyable book for upper elementary school and adults alike!

And now, for something completely different:
My family has recently begun to foster pregnant cats and kittens. We began early last summer and have continued since then. I will be putting together a blog about them as I'm finding more and more interest when I post about the pregnant mama cats on my Facebook page. I will post the link on here when the blog is up and running!

Enjoy the last few days of February and I hope you are warm, wherever you are.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

One of the best e-books I have read!

There is a group on Goodreads that work together and help writers' stories get out into the world. I have read a few and found that these people really do want feedback and do work hard to write the best story they can.

I came across "Breaking Ties" by Jo Grafford and the synopsis had me hooked. I emailed her, asking if I could read it and in return I'd leave reviews.

I was so happy that I contacted her.

The story is rich in detail from the late 1500's, as a group of English men and women set sail for the New World. You can tell this area of history is a passion of Jo's and that she researched her you-know-what off to get the facts and details right. From the first paragraph, I had a vivid scene building in my head of what was happening. The writing was rich and vibrant and even though there were alot of characters to keep track of, I enjoyed almost every one of them.

If you like colonial American History, strong-willed women, clean romance, action and sailors then I recommend downloading her story Breaking Ties.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Flowers, Thorns, Seeds...Oh, My!

Who remembers "Flowers in the Attic" by V.C. Andrews? Who remembers taking that book and devouring it in just a few days while you were in middle school or junior high? Whispering about it to girlfriends? I remember, somehow, finding the book and reading it when I was about 13. I read all subsequent books in the Dollanganger series and then moving on to a few of Andrews other books, but not being able to quite get into those as much as the Dollanganer series.

I remember when the movie came out in 1987 and begging my mother to let me go. If my memory serves me correctly, a friend of mine and her mother took me. I had to look up the year on IMDB, and next to the year it says it was PG-13; luckily we were 14 so we didn't feel like we were being "bad" by going to see it. Although, you know THAT scene with Christoper and Cathy was a bit embarrassing with a friend's mother sitting behind you.

 Anyway... 2014. Lifetime Movies. I saw an ad that they had made another "Flowers in the Attic" movie, so I recorded it. When the kids were at school, I turned it on and found I had to fast forward through many of the scenes. The ones I did watch? The acting was, well, mediocre. Except for the evil Grandmother, played by Ellen Burstyn. She was a force to be reckoned with! The twins were cute and had some great lines/emotions. However, as I watched bits and pieces, I felt the need to reread the book. The first place I looked was our local library. They didn't have any of them. It wasn't that they were checked out, they didn't have them at all in their library and I'd have to place a hold on one from another library. I thought to myself, "Well, I think I want to own them. Again." Naturally, that led me to the used bookstore up the street. I had to ask where the V.C. Andrews books were and the cashier mentioned there was a huge run on them in the last few days and all she had were other series. I didn't want any of them.

Now, I was able to justify playing full price and went to Barnes and Noble. (It seems to me, every time I want a book from there and I look on their computer it says, "ORDER ONLINE".) They only had Andrews' other series as well. Sigh. Now what? I wanted them now (instant gratification!) so I could begin reading while I had the time waiting for my son at a trombone lesson. I used my smartphone to find other "Used Book Stores" and I found a small one in the town next to mine, so I checked it out. They had the third one and when I asked about the others, the cashier laughed and said in the last five days, there has been a run on the "Flowers in the Attic" series. But, would I like Andrews' newest book? (Andrews is dead, but I guess her estate is still publishing them.) Nope, I didn't want any other series, so I paid $2 for the used copy of "If There Be Thorns" and came home.

My last ditch effort was to look on Amazon. I didn't need anything fancy, just the paperback copy. But, guess what? TEMPORARILY SOLD OUT. The only other avenue I had was to buy used copies--for the same price, or just a bit less than the mass-market paperback copy. Which is what I did. So, the other four books that I do not own will be arriving in drabs and droves over the next 7-14 days.

Still in the zone of being 13 and 14 years old, I went into my Goodreads account to make sure I added these books to my shelf "Books-I-Loved-As-A-Teen" and then I read some of the reviews of "Flowers in the Attic" just for fun. It seems many others had the same idea as me, to reread what they loved back in the 80s when they were a teen. The reviews now, written as adults, are hilarious. If you have a chance, go over to the GOODREADS site and type in "Flowers in the Attic" and if you've read the book, read some of the reviews and see if you agree with the comments.

Why oh why did I get rid of the series when I had it back in the 1980s?