Thursday, December 3, 2015

IWSG: Book Club, Begin!


Post is one day late due to work!

Do you have any insecurities about writing? Share them with us! You are not alone! Join us!


While I am editing and writing new stories, I decided to start a book club. When I tossed the idea around on Facebook, friends mentioned they would love to take part, so I put that to the test and started the wheels turning. I have nine people who say they are coming, we chose our book ("The Light Between Oceans") and I even set up a Facebook Group.

I just hope I don't disappoint. I am not a leader; I have never done one of these before. When I did an internet search, so many themes, ideas, recipes people cooked popped up and I don't plan on doing any of those things! I am doing a Yankee Swap since it is the holiday season and may be a good ice breaker, but besides regular food, there will be no decorations (except Christmas) nor favors for readers to take home.

Has anyone been in or run a book club before? Any thoughts or suggestions? This book doesn't have Book Club Questions in the back, so I'll have to think of some on my own or hit the internet for help.

Thanks and Happy Holidays everyone!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Child Learns To Read

I like the shoes.
I like the coat.
I like the socks.
I like the shirt.
I like the pants.

I teach preschool; I have a class of 14 students ranging in from 'just turned 4' to 'just turned 5'. Yesterday, a little girl that I sat down with learned to write the word "the" and put it into five blank spaces on the paper. Before we wrote it I told her, "This is one of the most common words in the English language. That means, when you read a book you will see this word more than any other word." I couldn't tell what she thought of that so we worked on writing the word.

At the end of each sentence, on the paper, was a picture of the item being talked about. Once she wrote "the" in the first sentence and heard me (and saw me point to each word and read it) she saw the pattern and read through all of them. At the end I was so happy, my heart was bursting. I gave her a high five and said, "You now just read your first sentence. This is the biggest step in learning to read a book." The look on her face, the wide eyes, the proud smile is THE reason I love teaching. It clicked, the words make up a sentence and describe something. When I told her to put it in her bag and read to her mom and new baby brother, she was so excited.

I then pulled a little boy in and had him do the same thing, except he kept saying the word "love" for "like". So, we did a quick lesson on how the two words are spelled differently. He cocked his head, looked at the words and went "Hmm" and the wheels were turning. You could see he was looking at the difference, how two letters can change the meaning and sound of the word. He finally understood we were reading the word "like" and breezed through the sentences.

Earlier that day, two students who reflexively answer "I can't", when asked to write their names, did. Granted if you didn't know their names and looked at the paper, you'd see letters that weren't in a line and were backwards but it was their name. And I almost cried, I was so proud. High fives, huge smiles and me practically yelling in excitement about how happy I was for them made for a fantastic day in preschool.

We do so much writing and reading and looking at words, making up rhyming words. I love reading and try to instill it in the children as well. I even have the children bring in their favorite books and we read them to the class. Even if it's a Power Rangers book I didn't like, I couldn't follow, it's that child's favorite book and we read it together.

I can't wait to see what the next few months bring with these kids. They are just sponges wanting to learn so much but they don't know yet what they want to learn...and I'm honored to show them what they need and want.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

IWSG: My First Real Live, Professional Editing Experience

An Insecure Writers Support Group Post about the insecurities of writing, or in this case, editing!



About a month ago I reached out to three editors for my story, Lane Changes. One didn't write me back, another wasn't personable at all and the third was polite, warm and did the first few pages for free to get an idea of what she was working with.

I went with her, Mickey Reed.

I was scared when I first sent the 75k book to her, but she quickly put me at ease. Now, I am working my way through the edits--a bit overwhelmed but am taking it one step at a time--and I also have a beta reader involved.

She charged me the going rate, read in the time frame she promised, gave me specific and general feedback about the story, content, timeline etc. She even looked over notes I received from a publisher over the summer and worked those into her comments as well. She responded to my questions and made it seem as if I was the only story she was reading at the time.

It is slowly coming together and I HOPE I can get this book out in early 2016. I guess the next step is marketing, which I am not strong at so any advice would be appreciated!

Thanks for listening and supporting and thanks to Mickey for being a wonderful editor!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

IWSG: Publishing On My Own...I Think

A few days late. I always remember IWSG is coming up on a Tuesday or the week prior, then I work on Wednesday and...yeah...so...here it is better late than never :-)





The publisher who was going to take my three books in LANE CHANGES is not able due to work and other unsforseen circumstances. I have put 10+ years of work into my character and her life so I have to get it out there to share.

I did send it to a few agents and publishers back in July. When I was on Twitter last week, I noticed a post by Entangled Publishing and realized they hadn't responded about LANE CHANGES. I went into SPAM and there was a response. It was a no, however, they gave me some valuable feedback.

I then sent the first few pages to an editor to get a quote and got some feedback from them as well.

I am overwhelmed. I don't know what to fix first, so I'm backing up and finding beta readers and having one friend who is great with grammar to read it as money is tight with as my kids say "colleging"!

Then, I may ask the editor to just do a content edit which is half the price of a full on edit.

I guess after that, it's time to put it on Amazon or try, send it to Entangled or another agent/publisher... again? I'm a bit at a loss. The originial publisher gave me a ton of links to books and blogs on how to self publish but I need to carve out the time to go through them and take notes, much like a class.

On the plus side, a friend of mine recently got back into digital art and his pictures are absolutely amazing. He offered his help with a book cover, as that is what he wants to delve in to, so I may have that "covered". 

Anyone self publish? Do you have any words of advice or caution?

Thanks!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Stick a Fork In Me..I'm Done!

I did it! <insert happy dance>

I finished the series, Lane Changes, that I have been writing for over ten years.

It started as one, standalone, 80K word book. I then divided into two and like cell division, it multiplied.
I stopped, took a break, started...worked on it occasionally but only over the last three years did I dedicate so much time as the stories of my characters wouldn't leave me alone.
Today, I typed the FINAL words in the FINAL book of the series.

There are approximately eleven books, some can be combined, and 898,942 words. Only the first book, titled "Lane Changes", is complete and as edited as I can get it. I am looking into finding an editor as I think I may be self publishing the first three rather than go the publisher route.

So, I am excited! Sad. Happy. Bittersweet. I wanted to tell someone but many of my friends don't know how much time and effort I put into this world but I know other writers do.

Hopefully, the first book in the series will be up by next year and, fingers crossed, people will love Lane and her friends as much as I do.

Thanks for reading my post :-)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

IWSG--Run On Series



How much is too much? Not to bash an author, but I recently found two Robyn Carr series while on vacation in August. About four books into each series, I realized that some of the material and relationships felt forced and found myself reading more to find out about what the original main characters were doing as she'd talk about them from time to time. Some of her series are over 20 books long! If you go back to YA: Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High and back even further to children's like Magic Tree House, they are all "series". However, for some reason I could read more of them than I can of adult series books. I'm still trying to figure out why.

I say this while I am writing and doing almost the same thing as Carr. I have a three book series being published (all the same characters) and the series includes two more after that which the publisher hasn't read yet. Then, I realized a sister in this book has a great story to tell, so I wrote a book about her, then her brother...and it's fun. I love it. But, those may be more for ME than anyone else.

Sometimes I wonder what publishers see in other peoples writing when I can't make it through a book. I see 4 out of 5 stars for some books and I couldn't make it past page 60. It's so interesting to see how writing really is an art and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I'm a bit nervous because when the first of the three books come out, are the readers going to be attached enough to the MC to want to read the second and third?

Do you have a series or an idea for one? How long is too long?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Hide N Seek---IWSG



Hi there! I am a few days late but we went on vacation to the beach and I chose a condo without internet/WIFI, so it was very hard to blog from my phone!

I found a new author (to me): Robyn Carr. There was an amazing used bookstore at the beach and I saw her Thunder Point Series there and bought the first two. Two days later, I went back and bought two more and just ordered the rest via Amazon (there are more than three if you are interested!)


I didn't even notice they were published by Harlequin until the second book. I remember reading a few Harlequin's as a very old teen/early twenty something and all the covers were the same to me back then. At least this series doesn't have the bodice ripping cover or the half naked man on the front, which I appreciate. I'm insecure, I think, when it comes to what people think of me when I'm reading. Are they judging me by the book cover?

I have never read this book. I'm just using it as an example for a bodice ripping cover!


This got me thinking: has there ever been a book you were embarrassed to say or show that you were reading? I remember loaning out the print copy of "Fifty Shades of Grey" that I actually owned (when it first came out) and the friend returned it to me wrapped in a paper bag. For those of you over 30, remember how we used to cover our school books with paper bags?


That's how my friend covered the book. Now, I didn't take "Fifty Shades..." and read it on the beach or in an airport because I was slightly embarrassed. However, I think that may be the ONLY book I made an effort to hide. Have there been any for you?




Wednesday, July 1, 2015

IWSG: "And I Would Walk 500 Miles...and I Would Walk 500 More..."



Now that I have that song in your head...

We are moving (driving, not walking) 500 miles back to where we moved from three years ago.

Back to Maryland, where I was born and raised and when I enter The Valley where I grew up, my heart swells and my nerves tingle as my mind and soul realize that THIS is home.

Don't get me wrong; living outside of Boston has been an eye opening experience. Snow. Rabid sports fans. The different kinds of drivers. Amazing summer. Sports fans. And ice cream!

Given that we moved from outside of Washington DC to The Valley when I was five, I never knew of any other place to call home until 2012. Now that we are moving back I realized it helped me in the sense of writing and being able to get my characters into different places and instill some more culture in them. I can talk about Lobster Rolls and know exactly what they are and how they taste. I can comment first hand, or rather my characters can, about the way people vacation and the kinds of sports fans that are here versus the mid-Atlantic. I can say, without a doubt, the number of Lobster places in Maine outnumber the amount of Crab places in Maryland.

So, while we are dumping money into a move back south and going back to the same town we moved from I can say it was a great experience. I don't like change, I don't like doing things I'm not good at and neither do two of my three children. This helped us overcome that weird fear and in turn we met some amazing people and I got more fodder for my writing and characters. I've always felt insecure up in MA, maybe because if you are an outsider people notice. Maybe because we aren't as outdoorsy as 90% of the people I know here. Maybe because our vacation is one week in a different place, not at a house we own or inherited in the mountains or "down The Cape."

I can't wait to get back to where I belong but I know this experience helped me grow...and I'm in my 40s (so it can still be done)!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

I Predict...

Is a predictable ending a good or bad thing?

This question comes from a 2011 rejection letter where the agent requested my full manuscript of "Lane Changes" and then wrote back a nice letter saying what she loved about it then added, "the ending was a bit too predictable for me." We are in the process of making a 500 mile move and this rejection letter fell out of a file folder as I was going through our filing cabinet. I kept it because she was the first person to ask for my full MS and I'm still so proud and happy that someone liked it enough and thought of my voice as unique and fresh to want to read the whole thing. So, it wasn't 100% for her: in the end, you are entitled to your own opinion :-)

I have since changed this story drastically, adding in some mystery and more tense moments and while the ending may still be predictable, there are more in the series. I'm also working on other books branching off of LC with some very unpredictable endings--culminating in book that will be the end of the series...but that is WAAAAAY down the road.

Yes, the first book has a predictable ending because the character is predictable, she is 17, doesn't like change but she HAS to change in order to meet her goals as obstacles keep getting in her way. Why is this a bad thing?

The books "One Day" and "Elegance of a Hedgehog" come to mind as very UNpredictable endings. I was so pissed off when I read those endings. "One Day" practically went sailing across the room and I never reread it or saw the movie because I was so angry. "Hedgehog" I sat stunned then wondered why in the world this French author would write a story like this only to have it end "like that"? In the end, if you strip it down, the author did a magnificent job coaxing out these emotions from me or any other reader and that's the sign of a good writer.

I believe another sign of a good writer is to give the reader a sense of closure, satisfaction. Many of us crave that Happily Ever After (HEA)/predictable ending. Why? It could be the genre we prefer, or we had a horrible life and want to live vicariously through someone else for a bit, or it's just because we want to see something happy in this chaotic, crazy world.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

IWSG: #pitMad? Yeah, I Didn't Know What It Was Either!

The IWSG is a great way to talk about your insecurities within a net of nonjudgementalness. I happen to "like" the IWSG on Facebook and this popped up today:

"Are You Ready for #PitMad"?

(Click here to see what it is and join us on Twitter from 8am-8pm on June 4! Are You Ready for #PitMad?)

I was like, "Umm, what in the world? Does it have to to with being mad about pit bulls?"

So, I clicked on the link and as soon as I read the article I was hooked. What a great idea. Yes, it'll be crazy on Twitter for agents and writers alike. Yes, it'll require WORK from me, and any other writer, to narrow down your blurb to 140 characters that have to include "#pitmad" and "#<insert genre here>" and finally make sure to include the ever-important TITLE of your work.

Over the last few hours of working on my tweets, I came up with a system and I can't wait to get it out there. Even though I am so insecure about my writing. Even though only a handful of people have read the first in the series of "Lane Changes". Even though I have only one short story published a few years ago...I could go on and on but at some point I have to pull up my big girl panties and get "Lane Changes" out there and get it noticed. Anything I can do before it is published, by me or a publisher, will help the name stick in readers' minds.

So, if you have a finished, polished manuscript and want a safe way to try and get an agent hooked, try #pitMad.

Good luck!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

To Spell Or Not To Spell..It Should Not Even Be A Question!

We moved to this town outside of Boston three years ago. The town is known for great public schools, has a high standard of living etc etc (which is why we are moving back to MD next month. A bit too expensive up here and our family is down in MD anyway.)

So, when we went to our very first high school program back in 2012, and picked up the ever present flyer which tells you who is who and what is what we noticed spelling errors. In children's names, the year was wrong and even the section of band the kids were in was wrong.

Over the years, it has become a tradition for my daughter and I to look for these misspellings and mistakes. The programs have never disappointed us.

Last night was one of many Senior award nights. They were giving away school awards: a few $500 scholarships to kids in sports, certificates to kids in the top 10% of their class, departmental awards for highest GPA and acknowledging the West Point Appointee and National Merit Scholar finalist as well. In the program not only was the word "Wednesday" spelled wrong (no S), there were some grammar mistakes as well.

I don't understand. Doesn't anyone at least use spell check? Or ask a fellow employee to look over something that will be handed out to HUNDREDS of people and probably put in a kids schoolwork box to be looked at decades later?

Although, the program misspellings are not as amazing as going to Red Robin in Nashua, NH (a year and a half ago) and in front of the curb, against the sidewalk, was this:
You know how they fixed this? They painted over the "G" with the "N" then added the "G" at the end. ("Live Free or Die" is NH motto, by the way.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Blood, Boobs and Carnage

I am a few days late with this post as I was working, quite a bit. I am almost done working as a Customer Service rep with a huge, new grocery store in the area (can I share the name on here? I don't even know the protocol...)


Around 9:20pm on Sudnay, I came home from work and my 18 year old was watching Game of Thrones. Now, I binge watched the first three seasons on Netflix when season 4 was on HBO. I didn't purchase HBO---after all, I already bought STARZ for Outlander! I found the longer I went without watching GoT 4, the more I forgot the characters' names and when my kids talked about the books (as my younger teens are allowed to read the books, not see the show) I fell off the wagon. I didn't mind the nudity, the violence...I just am not a huge fantasy person. I watched the last half our of the most recent GoT episode and got an update from my son and realized it was like a very violent soap opera. You can watch an episode, get a quick update from a friend and be all caught up in just a few minutes! Especially when just about everyone dies.

I watch Outlander, too. "Outlander" is my favorite book and one I can read and reread without getting bored. I remember getting a copy of it back in 2002 from a friend and have read all but the last two. I bought STARZ to watch the miniseries. This show has the BBC as well, but definitely not as prevalent as GoT.

Thanks for reading! Any other "Outlander" fans out there?


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Our Children Are Not Perfect (except on Facebook)...and Neither Are My Characters

My oldest turned 18 yesterday! He is basically an adult and it blows my mind that he is this old. Didn't I just drop him off for preschool and hope he didn't cry the whole time? By the time child #3 went, she was begging to go to school and I was happy to take her so she'd be more stimulated and with a group of kids her own age.

I have three teenagers and love all of them. They are all my favorites, they are all good students, two play musical instruments and they aren't assholes (which was my main role as a parent...raise a kid to not be an asshole) but they aren't perfect. So, why do people in their status messages on Facebook make their children seem faultless and saintlike? Are they afraid people will judge them? Are they trying to prove something to someone else who may be in their FB circle?

My kids argue. One son is in Mock Trial and will argue until you give in, so I have learned to pick my battles with him, when to be quiet and when to tell him *enough* he crossed the line. He loves to leave his wet towels on the floor, he curses even after a lecture about it being a lazy language. Brushing teeth? What is that? Another son doesn't see the mess in his room, doesn't think a brush is needed for his hair and has the tendency to be OCD about the time. It's not "almost 2pm, it's 1:58." My daughter can find the loophole in just about anything and should be a lawyer. She arranges her bookshelves 'just so' and will tell me to ask her to do something directly (not to say "it'd be nice if you walked the dog") but when I do I get excuses as to why she always does it so can't one of her brother's walk the dog? Also, is it a genetic trait that the boys don't think to change their sheets?

Why do we paint our children as perfect? Part of me thinks it is because they will be able to see your post on FB (or a friend's mom will tell someone and it'll get back to said child) and we don't want to ruin their self esteem. Guess what? They know the things I listed above! We talk about it, argue about it and I nag about it on a daily basis. I'm not perfect either and they let me know that; we are only human.

I want my characters in my books to be perfect as they are kind of like my children. Yet, I give them each a fault that carries through the book. It may be insecurity, a messy room, foul language...something that whomever may read the book, when it comes out, can identify with themselves or for someone else.

Any thoughts on why people portray their children, or even their lives, as perfect on Facebook? (I have had two friends cancel their FB accounts because they felt bad about their own lives. They were getting jealous others had more money and were bragging about their latest expensive trip or purchase. )

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

IWSG--I'm Going Through Withdraw--Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Is anyone else going through withdraw that participated in April's Blogging from A to Z Challenge? I certainly am! I loved posting every day, trying to figure out how I can bring everything back to writing with a certain letter of the alphabet. I loved visiting and commenting on other people's blogs. I loved watching comments pop up on my blog and see my "Followers" increase.

I wonder now if anyone will be reading this. Will people keep up the momentum in visiting blogs? Will they go to the A to Z Blog list here and peruse it, looking for like minded people?

Herein lies my insecurities. And maybe some others can relate. We felt loved when people came to our blog whether they HAD to because they were a moderator or helper (like I was with Lisa's Live Wires) or because they stumbled upon us. Isn't that how you find a great book or other piece of literature or even art? You 'stumble' upon it? I'm hoping that is what everyone out there who blogged in April managed to do. Stumble upon a great blog; one they visited every day. I wonder if I am that person for someone?

Some that I really liked are in my info page. One I loved reading every day was Keith's Ramblings You can find others that I visited under my Profile.

I hope everyone had a great time in April and I look forward to seeing many of you next year in that challenge. Until then, keep visiting and commenting.

Thanks!

Friday, May 1, 2015

{WR} Reflections On The A To Z Blogging Challenge

I woke up this morning and realized there weren't any more letters for the Challenge. I felt like something was missing. Even in this cyber world there was a sense of community as we all easily (or struggled) to post the 'letter of the day'.

We visited pages of the guests who commented on our page. We went to the A to Z Challenge List and scrolled through it looking for like minded blogs and made new friends. I enjoyed reading other peoples trials and tribulations, poems, pictures, stories...anything writing related.

I can't think of anything to make this challenge better. I have no idea how long it has been going on as this was my first year participating, but it seemed to be a well oiled machine. I was part of Lisa's Live Wires and helped weed out the blogs who stopped a bit early. I didn't come across anything offensive. The only issue I had was how people 'hid' their A to Z Blog within a Google+ page or in their webpage...or it was a maze I didn't have time to follow to get to it. But, that isn't the A to Z Committees fault.

Congratulations to everyone who completed!
Thank you for everyone to commented!
Until 2016...keep on blogging!

You can find me here:

Twitter
Facebook

Thursday, April 30, 2015

{WR} Zealous: Which Is What We Writers Are! {Blogging from A to Z}

We made it. 26 posts. One month. This was my first A to Z Challenge and I loved it! I will be back next year but until then I will be zealous in my writing and blogging!

Zealous: avid, enthusiastic. I came across so many amazing blogs and some that were just confusing or even dull. I could tell who was avidly doing the Challenge because they loved the writing part and the challenge of sticking with a theme (if they chose to do so).

I am going to miss the community; the checking of my mail to see if anyone commented. To see my "Followers" slowly rise. To read a blog and know there are other like minds out there! I know the A to Z list will always be on the site and I will visit it, finding other zealous writers :-)

Is there anything else that you have a passion for besides writing? I love reading and working with children, coffee and chocolate and sarcasm. What are yours? Please share!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my blog! I truly appreciate all of you and look foward to following many of you in your journey!






Wednesday, April 29, 2015

{WR} Yours Truly. Sincerely. Love. Does Anyone Write Letters Anymore? {Blogging from A to Z}

I grew up in the 70's and 80's where I had to hand write Thank You notes. I wrote letters to penpals all over the world and still have one in Rome, Italy today. As the INTRAnet became popular in college, then AOL mass marketed their CDs of thousands of free Internet hours, quality handwritten letters have gone by the wayside.

I remember decorating envelopes, making my own stationary, writing lines in different colors, dotting "i's with similes or hearts. I remember trying to figure out: how do I sign certain friend's cards or letters to penpals? "Love"? "Sincerely"? "Take Care?"

Do they even teach letter writing in school anymore? I have two high schoolers and a middle schooler and I think my oldest learned how in elementary school but not his younger siblings. I had to teach them how to address an envelope, where to put the stamp. They don't even write Thank You's anymore because they text or email it sooner than I can even ask them to write a letter. (And don't get me started on cursive disappearing!)

When I moved here three years ago, I sent some of my friends handwritten letters just to be different, to show how much I loved them and to see what their response would be. One was very surprised, the others loved it and told me it was nice to get something other than bills or junk mail.



Have you sent a handwritten letter to anyone recently? I still send paper Birthday and Christmas cards but since my handwritten letter binge three years ago, I haven't sent any letters. It's just easier and quicker to do it via email. However, the feeling of writing and receiving a letter is not something that can be replaced. To know a person spent time sitting and writing and making an effort to spell things correctly is something that can't be given via a computer.

This being said, I wonder how many authors till use pen and paper to write their stories?


Yours Truly,
Heather McCubbin

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

{WR} Xerox/Copies, Tissues/Kleenex, iPod/MP3...what is the right word? {Blogging from A to Z}

I am going to xerox that paper. I use kleenex. I drink Coke. I listen to my iPod (even when I had a non-Apple product I called it this.) I Google answers.

It's amazing how some brand names have become an 'everyday' word for an 'everyday' item. I am not brand loyal when it comes to buying a facial tissue, but I still call it a Kleenex. I am not from the midwest so I don't say pop, I say soda, but when I talk about ordering a drink I will order I say, "I'm going to order a Coke...I'll have a Diet Coke and my daughter a Sprite."I also am going to xerox this contract and pass it out," whether it's on an HP or Xerox copy machine.

I find that my characters may be adopting this lingo as well. I try not to in many instances (see the brand name post Brand Names in Writing) but sometimes, my character REALLY wants a Diet Coke. Or, they are on the search for the newest iPod because they have to have it for a gift to give someone in the book.

Can you think of any other examples of a brand name being substituted for other items? Do you use any specific ones in your writing with your characters?

Monday, April 27, 2015

{WR} Writing Brands/Local Places Into Your Stories: Is It The "Write" Way? {Blogging from A to Z}

I have been told, and I have read often, to not use brand names in your stories.
What about local names of places/businesses/restaurants etc?

I can understand brand names as they may date the book. (I mentioned this in a post before). Will iPods (or Apple) be around in 40 years? Does AOL even have the same punch as it did 15 years ago if you talk about it in a book? Should we say a character is going to "Google" something? I try to stay away from using brand names when I can, but sometimes I have to use it or the sentence may sound awkward and 'made up'.

 As for local names...what are your feelings on using them?

"Jill had to run to the Publix to get milk so her Oreo cookies wouldn't be lonely."
"We all went to In-n-Out after the basketball game for burgers."
"Wegmans was the largest grocery store that Jane had ever been in and it took her hours to shop."

Do you think using these names will make the reader feel a little more removed from the storyline? Do you seclude someone in New York who is reading the book where "Publix" is mentioned since it's a southern grocery store? Is someone in Florida going to search for "Wegmans" to see what kind of store it is since they hadn't heard of it? People in CA will nod their head at the"In-n-Out" reference whereas people in Virginia may be thinking it's a strange name for a burger place.

Where do you draw the line on mentioning local places...if any lines need to be drawn? I personally don't mind reading funny names of bars or restaurants and would have no idea if it's a real place or not. I know about the three places I mentioned above and only one is in my geographical area (Wegmans). I am conflicted about this and will try to keep to the "vibe" of my story and if the word fits in, great. If not, then I'll use the generic "grocery store" or say "her favorite Italian restaurant" instead.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

{WR} Visting Other Authors Blogs {Blogging from A to Z Challenge}

Here's a chance for you to tell us some of your favorite authors/writing blogs. I have found so many interesting ones doing this challenge (and being a moderator for Lisa's Live Wires I see other non-writing ones as well).

Please take a moment to share, in the comments section, a blog you love to visit...and don't forget to include your own as well!

My list:

Donna Weaver
Books and Bark 
Lori Maclaughlin
Lani Woodland
Alex Cavanaugh--host of the Insecure Writers Support Group

Thanks, everyone! I look forward to visiting some of your suggestions. Have a wonderful weekend.

Friday, April 24, 2015

{WR} Understanding Your Characters {Blogging from A to Z Challenge}

Yesterday, I read a post on the Insecure Writers Support Group Facebook page about a writer whose villain was writing his own story. His line was going in a direction she didn't originally want so she wasn't sure if she should keep writing or not. She reached out and asked us our thoughts and almost everyone advised to roll with it, see where it takes her.

I find this veering off happens to me to the point where I have to rewrite some scenes (that I skipped ahead to write) just because they don't fit within the story anymore.

You think you understand your characters, but I think if you are writing fiction, sometimes they will surprise you and take you on a journey you didn't expect.

Has this happened to you? In what way?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

{WR} The End...How Do You End Your Work? {Blogging from A to Z}

THE END

What every author strives for after toiling at the computer, or paper, for months...years. Maybe decades.  Or, as one of my friend's wrote in her Word Doc, to her sequel of  Sing Sweet Nightingale, and posted it to Facebook: "The F*&^ing End" (I have a post about the "F" word in this challenge).

When you write "The End" are you done? Or do you like to have an epilogue? While we are at it, what are your thoughts on Prologues?

I like having an epilogue, usually. I didn't like the epilogue in Scott Westerfield's "Midnighters" series...and I was warned by the said friend above to NOT READ IT. But, I did...I should have listened to her.

Usually, I find that I want to know what the characters did after the story has ended and I do have epilogues in my stories. Prologues annoy me sometimes because I feel like it's almost the same as the blurb on the cover of the book. It gives you a hint as to what the story is going to be like. I can't really think of an epilogue that stands out in my head as being beneficial to the storyline of the book.

What are your thoughts, if any? I find the stories I write are never really 'ended' in my mind. I can think of dozens more scenes I could put my characters in, but know they aren't quality enough to be included in the story.

THE END

Blogging from A to Z

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

{WR} Stymied For Writing Ideas? How Do You Find Your Muse? {A to Z Blogging Challenge}

If you have written, or are writing, books or stories how did those ideas come to you? I have a few full stories written and saved on my computer. I have let them sit for months, almost a year at one point, because I had hit a wall. I didn't know where to go...until a song came on the radio (Imagine Dragons "Demons") and the flood gates opened...see #3 below!

--One came when I couldn't find anyone to go to a football game with me and my mother said I should sell my one ticket on EBAY and see who buys it.

--Another one came when a friend said my "Draco" in my Harry Potter fanfic was so far removed from canon, I needed to write an original fiction...thus "Lane Changes" was born.

--A third when a friend had a dream and I thought it'd make a great story, but I couldn't figure out the personality of the main character, until I heard a song. Now,  my friend and I are working on it together.

--A fourth just brewed in my head for NaNoWriMo a few years ago and I just wrote it out/brainstormed and came out with a 30K story that still isn't finished.

How do you find your muse if you lost it/or how do your story lines come to you?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

{WR}, Ready? Read...What Are Your Must Reads? {Blogging from A to Z Challenge}

Reading...a great way to pass the time. To live vicariously through others. To take a break from reality, to learn, to experience.

What books do you tell people they must read? What books do you have multiple copies of so you can loan them out to your friends and family?

I read a wide variety of books, from Children's to Romance, from Fiction to New Adult. I recently discovered Penelope Ward in the 17+ series. I've loaned a few of hers out via my Kindle.

In my previous post I mentioned the Stephanie Plum series, plus "Outlander" but I also like "The Burned" series by Karen Moning, "A Certain Slant of Light"...I loved Harry Potter, also.

I cried when I read "A Dogs Purpose" and "Racing in the Rain." I am not a fantasy or sci fi fan but my children are; I don't really read biographies or non-fiction (except Malcolm Gladwell) but as my children were growing up I skimmed different books on child rearing just to see what theories were out there. I read "A Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy" and cracked up through the entire thing. I'm sure I am missing a million more great reads out there.

So many books...so little time!

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Monday, April 20, 2015

{WR} Quality, Not Quantity: How Many Books In A Series Is Too Much? {A to Z Blogging Challenge}

Climb into my time machine, or the Delorean I don't have, and type in the date Summer 1985. "Sweet Valley High" series. I LOVED THEM! I was in middle and high school when I read these. I used my allowance on the newest book and waited anxiously for it to come out. When I grew up, I wanted twins. Jessica and Elizabeth were now my favorite girl names. Then either I matured, or the storyline got old (or both) and I stopped reading them. And, I don't have twins...

Currently: I love the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. The books before #12 were "Laugh aloud on the plane and have people stare at you funny." I looked forward to seeing how Stephanie's car was going to blow up this time, what trouble and shenanigans Grandma was going to pull...then the books went on. And on. And Stephanie hasn't made a decision between two men, she still has her hamster from book #1 and even though she has upgraded from a pager to a cell phone there hasn't been any movement towards a finale in the life of The Plums. I feel about this series as I feel about the tv show The Simpsons. It's time. I know it's not a chronological book, but it's time for her to make a decision and move on.

"Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon is one of my favorite books. I watch the STARZ tv series. I read the first four over and over again. Then, when the characters' children grew up and had children of their own and their stories came into play, I gave it one more book...and then I gave up. I got tired of being bounced back and forth from country to country, time period to time period. Lord John seems to be one of Diana's favorite character's and he begins to trickle in and out. He even has his own series which soldified the fact to me the "Outlander" series is done and it was time to move on.

My series "Lane Changes" will have two books published, the third is written and the fourth and fifth (final one with the main character) are done but not edited. For fun, I began writing from Lane's oldest's POV moving forward and it's fun to write. Will it ever get published? I don't know. I just know writing it brings me enjoyment; I'm not ready for Lane's saga to end. So, I can see why Diana did it...and it does keep me out of trouble. But I'm not a world famous author.

And these are just my opinions. How about you? Have you come across a series of books that you think should just end because the author has exhausted the storyline?


Friday, April 17, 2015

{WR} Pants, Jeans, Khakis-Synonyms! {A to Z Blogging Challenge}

I ran an elementary school spelling bee years ago and one of the words for the third grade was "dungarees" and I wondered how many kids knew what they were? Answer was zero. I ended up taking it out as I had to cut the list down.

In writing the thesaurus is my best friend. One can only wear "jeans" so often and I can only use/type the word "said" a few times in a conversation. It is so easy to use in Word. Put the cursor next to the word, hit TOOLS then THESAURUS and Bam! Synonym and Antonym are listed. I feel it is one of my most valuable assets for writing that is on my computer. Besides the SAVE AS :-)


{WR} O is for Orioles and Other Sports Teams {Blogging From A to Z}

I was born and raised in Maryland and am an Orioles (baseball):

 Redskins (football):


and Capitals (hockey) fan.


I currently live outside of Boston so I am in the minority.

To bring a bit of home to me, when I write, I always talk about one of those three sports teams. I may mention them only once, while the main character may really be a fan of a different team, but it's my homage to Maryland and my teams. In "Lane Changes" she mentions the Redskins in passing as she isn't really into any professional sports. However, her boyfriend is a Pittsburgh Pirates (baseball) and Steelers (football) fan as that is where he was born. I am neither but since the characters are not me, I don't really have a problem with them liking these teams.

When you write, do you use real names of teams or places or even gadgets?

 I read awhile ago that you shouldn't reference things like music groups, certain fads or movies as that will date the book. Though, I dont't think you can really get around it anymore. I remember reading the original "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" by Judy Blume to my children and Peter in the book had a tape player. Fast forward a bit and I'm reading the book to a 3rd grade class, a different version that I didn't know was updated until Peter suddenly had a CD player. But, how was Blume SUPPOSED to reference the music Peter was listening to back in the 80s? How am I supposed to reference the music that my characters listen to without using the words MP3 player or even iPod? I can only be so vague.

Just wondering what your thoughts on using brand names etc are in your writing and if you do it at all!

Have a fantastic weekend!

Blogging from A to Z

Thursday, April 16, 2015

{WR} Nine Things That Scare Me About Writing {Blogging From A to Z}

1) That the characters I write, who are so very alive and dimensional to me, will fall flat with readers.

2) That certain scenes in the story: sex scenes, a wedding, difficult to write ones like abuse, death, drinking etc, readers will think is a reflection on my life when it 99% is not.


3) That I get so involved I think about the story when I am not writing it. Driving, working, a lull in conversation with friends. I wonder if I am a bit obsessed and the only one?

4) My story will become published and people will begin reading it and the reviews will come in...and they'll be negative.

5) The flipside: my story will become published and people will begin reading it and the reviews will come in...and they'll be positive and I won't know how to react.

6) My family will read it and hate it.

7) That my computer will shut down in the middle of working on the story and I will not be able to recover it. Even though, every couple of days I back up onto an external hard drive, I can't imagine the pain of people who have dealt with computers crashing!

8) That some random published author out there will read my story and find something so similar to their story, they will think I plagiarized them and I will have to prove I didn't.

9) One day I won't be able to write, meaning something drastic happens and I can't see, can't use an arm, I think my writing is awful. Any number of things...


What are your fears?

Blogging From A to Z

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

{WR} Marketing Your Manuscript/Book {Blogging From A to Z}

I started my current series in 2006. When I finished the first book and edited the hell out of it myself and with help, I formatted it to the Manuscript (MS) settings and sent it to at least 20 different agencies.

70% were rejections.
20% didn't answer at all.
8% wanted a few more pages.
2% wanted the whole thing...

...and it still didn't get taken. I was okay with that because I was so happy I was asked to print off the entire MS, send it off and get some valuable feedback. After I edited it and decided to do a sequel, then another, then make it a series that brings us to...today. (I also took a two year break in there to work a 'real, paying' job!)

Nowadays, I feel so much has changed in the way we market our MS or our books. Back in 2006, I don't think there were e-readers, or if so it was a clunky device that I didn't want in my hands. I hadn't really heard of 'self publishing' back then either and now it's all the rage. You can write anything and have anyone in the world read it if you put it up on certain sites. It's an amazing concept.

For "Lane Changes" I have a friend who told me she thinks I should self publish it, and not use the small publisher that currently has it. I told her I don't know anything about marketing a book besides talking about it on Facebook, Twitter, other social media, this Blog and by word of mouth. I don't know enough to build a website (though in this day and age it seems simple enough) and I don't know what blogs or authors to contact in order to read and review it. That's why I want this company to do the first few books.

I don't mind the concept of self publishing, Indie publishing or small starts-ups publishing books. I have come across so many great stories that way and I have come across pieces of crap that make me cringe. I could probably teach a whole class off those books: "What NOT to do!"

What are your thoughts on marketing your MS or book and is there one particular avenue you would take or have taken?

Blogging From A to Z Challenge

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

{WR} Let's Take A Look At Our Bookshelves {Blogging from A to Z}

Chances are, if you have lived in your house for awhile, your bookshelf is overflowing. Or you need to go out and buy one.

Luckily, we have moved twice in the last three years and I have purged, stored and handed down many books. For staging purposes in our house, we had to get rid of seven bookshelves that were around the house. We are down to three and one is mine, with about 1/4 of the books I own. As I moved, I was forced to really think about the books I wanted to keep. I noticed I had books that were never read on my shelf and when I read the blurb, I wondered why I even had it...so I donated those. All the preschool and early elementary school ones I used in teaching went into storage and hopefully will come back out when I get back to teaching this fall.

From an early age, I organized my books alphabetically by author. Here is a photo of my one bookshelf in my office...until we move at the end of June. Then, I can put up my other four bookshelves and fill them back up again. What do you have on your shelf? (I wish we could put a photo in the comments section so I could see...feel free to add a link if you have a picture of your shelf/shelves).

For the stories I write, I always have a character who likes to read. I may mention certain classics in the story but rarely do I mention books by name. Maybe, one day, when I become famous (ha!) and my character is reading a book in a scene and a reader asks what was she reading I will tell them what was in my head at that moment :-)

Monday, April 13, 2015

{WR} Killing Off A Main Character--Yes? No? Maybe So? {Blogging from A to Z Challenge}

I was hopping around the blog verse on Saturday and came across someone who talked about Harry Potter and asked what our favorite scenes were. I couldn't pick just one, but the quote and scene she talked about was when Snape showed Dumbledore his patronus.

SPOILER ALERT for Harry Potter and the book "One Day" by David Nicholls.

This got me thinking about when Dumbledore died. How I cried at that scene but knew it had to happen. However, in my opinion,  JK Rowling did what she had to do and I could see the value in it especially when everything was revealed at the very end.

Now, we are to the letter "K" and I was thinking about the books where killing off a main character has worked and where it hasn't. One book in particular had me so pissed off if I didn't revere books, I would have hauled it across the room at the wall. "One Day" by David Nicholls was a pretty good read until the very end where Em, the main female character, gets hit by a car and dies. I could not believe it...what was he thinking? I couldn't see past the fog of my own sadness and anger as to why Nicholls chose to do end the book that way.  I will not be able to read it again and I didn't see the movie.

Another book, that I admittedly didn't read but my kids did, was the third book in the "Divergent"series. They told me who died in that one and all three of my kids were pretty angry and upset; I have no idea if it fit into the story line or not as I only read the first two.

"The Elegance of the Hedgehog" has a similar theme as well and I'm still trying to make up my mind about a main character dying in that book. And I read it over five years ago!

In my series, "Lane Changes", I was hit one day with the thought: "I have to kill off a character" and I tried to avoid it. I really did but in the end it had to happen. For three days I wrote this person's death scene to certain songs and I cried. I was slightly depressed I had to do this...so after I got the scene down I stopped writing for a few days to recover. Then I went back and each time I read that scene, the ones before and after it I realized..this is what has to happen! I don't cry, but I do tear up, when I read/edit it now. I wonder what my publisher will think when she gets to that part?

Have you ever come across a book where a major character was killed off? Do you think it worked? Why or why not?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

{WR} Just In Case You Missed It...I Changed The Background Of The Blog...Why? (Blogging from A to Z Challenge}

I have thought about "J" for two days and kept coming up empty. And I can usually pull anything out and make it work (like the seven degrees of Kevin Bacon) but not this time.

So, I decided to see how many of you chose a background for your Blog that represents your current Work In Progress (WIP). Or, bring your WIP to life in other ways.

For over a year, I had a Gargoyle on my background. It represented the story I am working on with a friend entitled "Sticks and Stones". It's been on hold since said friend is in Nursing School and "Lane Changes" is actually going somewhere so I need to work on it more than the other one.

Finding a background that represented "Lane Changes" was hard. It's about teens, friendship, romance, heartache, tough decisions and that'd be weird to have a bunch of teenagers on my background. I couldn't even find good street signs that had the words LANE CHANGES on it to use. Then, I remembered the three main characters swim in high school and two swim in college. I went to a high school with an indoor pool; the only one in the county if I remember correctly. So, I looked under the images section of GOOGLE for "indoor high school pools" and really liked this photo mainly because of the reflection in the water itself.

Do you do anything to put you in a mood to write about your story? I talked about music in the last post. Do you change the theme of your Blog? Put up or draw pictures of your characters so you can refer to them when needed?

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Friday, April 10, 2015

{WR} iPods, iPhones, iLove Them (Blogging from A to Z}

Can you listen to music when you write? I used to when I wrote Fan Fiction and found that certain songs worked better with some scenes. With my iPod I could put that song on repeat and work out the scene with the music until it went the way I wanted.

Fast forward to now, leaving Harry Potter Fan Fiction behind, and I find I can only write certain scenes to music. Then it has to be quiet but when Verizon Fios had The Weather Channel, I could use that as background noise and write. I'm not sure why TV worked and my iPod didn't...now I can't even watch TWC so my tv is off when I write. For now. I know many people can just sit back, plug in their headphones and write away. I envy them.

One thing I have figured out is I can listen to a group/song and write a scene in my head to go with the music. Then I will write it out and see if it'll fit somewhere in the story. I did this to Vega 4's entire album:

 and to Angel and Airwaves as well:
 The Fray, One Republic are also represented in my first Lane Changes book.

I have a new car, one that has Bluetooth and a month ago I finally uploaded some iTunes music to my iPhone and got it to work in my car. I. Love. It. I can listen to an album on repeat when driving, I can flick it on when I'm tired of Sirius or a favorite radio station fades in and out. I wish I had discovered this sooner!

Music is an art form as is writing and if you can merge the two together, you can get a fantastic piece of work! Fingers crossed I am able to do that with my writing.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

{WR} How True is the quote: "Be Careful Or You'll End Up In My Novel" ? {Blogging from A to Z Challenge}

"Heather the Feather that can tell the Weather" was something a friend's older brother said to me all the time when I was little (like 7 or 8 years old). I tried to be mad when he said it but I found I couldn't. There was a book called "Heather's Feathers" that I liked and I loved weather so...what he was saying was essentially true.

Fast forward to late elementary school and I became known as "Mommy Longlegs" and kids would make fun of my high-waist (pants that settled above the belly button on whatever hips I had then). I was the second tallest girl in my grade until middle school.

Middle School, it was mostly boys making fun of every girls body, guys coming up and shoving books out of your arms. Girls taunting that you "liked" so and so...and I would admit it by blushing if they found out the guys name that I did have a crush on. I was on the basketball team and the coach had her favorites, I was not one of them, and began to be ostracized by 3/4 of the team...and the coach. Yet, I liked the game and continued playing for some reason.

High School I was on the 9th grade and JV basketball team and there were a group of about four girls who made my life hell. I'm not sure why you would push, jab, shove and make fun of a teammate but that happened. I was ostracized for some reason even when on the court for practice. By 10th grade I said, "Enough" and joined the Marching Band/ Color Guard and loved it. In 11th, I joined the track team and had a great junior and senior year and solidified numerous friendships. One of the bullies was convinced to run one season and I found, much to my satisfaction, she didn't fit in; she never returned to track after that year.

But those girls never left my head (one ended up at my college and ignored me). They were bullies and at the time I remember desperately trying to figure out what in the world I did to piss them off? I never heard the quote "Be Careful or You'll End Up In My Novel" even though I was writing at the time and just used the guys I liked in my stories but with different names.

Now, I'm writing. For real. I have a short story published in an anthology and a series of books that will be published in the next year; we are working on the marketing right now. Since this series begins in high school, yes there are mean students. And yes, these girls (and some boys) shaped the characters. However, as I go back and edit and edit some more I realize that the nice students, the teachers, the secondary supporting characters are based more upon my friends and the nice students/staff I knew in school.

I bet my friends will recognize those characters. The bullies? Probably not so much. I'm fairly sure they don't follow me at all in social media and they aren't on my Facebook page. They may have changed, married, had families of their own and may not recognize themselves in the book. But know this, anyone a writer comes across in their lives is fodder for their novel. And I get to see them at my 25th high school reunion in a few months; but I also get to see my friends and the people that were always nice, pleasant, supportive and that makes it worth all the crap I went through in middle and high school.

Remember: Be Careful Or You'll End Up In My Novel!

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

{WR} Going to find new authors {Blogging from A to Z}

How do you find new books to read? Lately, many adult fiction books are written poorly, are too chick-lit like or just don't interest me. I read a lot of YA and New Adult. Someone recommended Penelope Ward, who writes for the over 18 crowd. I fell in love with her books and told her so...amazing who you can reach with Twitter! (Of course, I had to download these to my own Kindle account given their nature and the fact the rest of my family shares an Amazon account.)
I am finding Amazon's recommendations to be pretty spot on. I just finished "Archer's Voice" by Mia Sheridan and have to say it may be one of my favorite books. 
Sometimes, I have to step away from these intense books and will find another one to read via Goodreads or end up just writing and working on my own series.
Who and what do you like to read and how do you find new authors or genres?



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

{WR} The "F" Word as in F*&K {Blogging from A to Z}

The "F" word. It can be made into any part of speech and was viewed as vulgar when I was little. It was the word I shouted at a child, when I was maybe 7, because I had heard it somewhere. I was mad, a fellow neighbor wouldn't let me ride her bike! The nerve!;-)  When I shouted it my mom heard me and I was hauled inside and had a talking to by her and my father.

I don't use the word and am amazed at how easily it can drop off people's mouths like using the word "Hey". I hear it in the work place, when middle-schoolers walk by my house, by adults on the phone in almost any public place. I am not even comfortable writing the word. Maybe my parents 'talking to' set deep within my subconscious.

Now I am in my 40s, I still don't use it unless I am repeating what someone else said or maybe in a rare situation where it warrants it (which, really, should be never) and around people I know I won't offend. But in writing?

I have used it sparsely in the series of books I am writing. It adds a punch to something that otherwise may seem ordinary, but only if you use it very rarely. If someone says it all the time, it may be a part of their character and personality. However, when used over and over again I don't think it can pack a punch when used in certain situations like sex, describing a situation, or demeaning someone. The main character in my series, her name is Lane, doesn't curse much. It's one of the things that she thinks is lazy and knows there has to be a word she can use in place of "a four letter word".

However, once in awhile she lets it drop and the person she is around is surprised, calls her out on it, or asks what is wrong. And when she curses, you know she is angry. I don't have to add, "she said in a terse voice" or "she yelled, angrily" after she says whatever curse words fits the mood.

I think the "F word"or any other 'four letter word' can be a way to get across an emotion, a feeling, in just one word but only if used rarely and in the right situation.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Monday, April 6, 2015

{WR} Eating in Real Life and in Fiction {Blogging from A to Z}

I am a sucker for going out to eat. I love to do it, try new restaurants and revisit favorites. Since I am on Weight Watchers, I am more concious of where I go and what I eat...but when I write about my characters they always eat. And sometimes, it's not the healthy meal they should be eating.

(I am writing this blog as I eat an apple and some almonds for my breakfast!)

Years ago, when "Twilight" and "Breaking Dawn" were huge I remember reading an interview with Stephenie Meyer. She said that Bella was like a daughter to her (and was the name she would have given one of her children if she had a girl) so she needed to make sure Bella ate. When I reread the series, I noticed she had indeed fed Bella! That stuck in my head and with my own writing, I make sure my characters eat. Since I like to write YA/New Adult--and at least one character is in high school--there are the typical cafeteria scenes. I have them snack at home, eat a dinner or pop in a frozen pizza. When they go out to dinner with friends, I always have a specific restaurant in my head (even though I don't mention it by name in the story) and the characters order my favorite dishes from there.

Great conversations, personal stories, secrets and revelations happen when friends get together to eat and I find it's a great way for a long conversation to happen in a book. There aren't a lot of distractions, they are focused on each other and there is minimal movement to describe. It's also an easy way to talk about the time of day or mark the passage of a specific span of time.

When "Lane Changes" is finally published (no date yet) you'll see the typical cafeteria scene, friends ordering pizza, best friends eating pasta, snacking on bowls of grapes and having a soda. Americans love their food and so do my characters!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

{WR} Debt...What is too much in regards to college? (Blogging from A to Z Challenge}

(I always try to bring the post back to writing, so please stay with me!)

My oldest just committed to a college after months of agonizing. He had an existential crisis (his words), having been accepted everywhere he applied. Even his #1, favorite school accepted him and gave him a scholarship. However, American University is VERY expensive and even with what he received he'd graduate with $40,000 in debt.

That's not an acceptable number to him when he wants to be a teacher. He managed to eliminate the Massachusettes state school he applied to because he didn't get into the Honors program there (but did at American, so we were a bit confused there...) so he had to decide between three schools (two in PA and one in MD) in the end. He chose the one in the middle, kind of like Goldilocks did. This one was not the cheapest nor the most expensive. It wasn't the preppy one nor the more laid back one. It was "just right"; the campus he felt at home in when we took two tours, the one that catered to him and sent him numerous flyers, phone calls and wooed him in. He got accepted to their honors program and was impressed with their education program as well. On the debt side he will graduate with less than $10,000 in debt which is very managaeble on a teacher's salary.

We were impressed he'd think this way, and actually listened to us when we said that a large amount of debt for certain majors doesn't make much sense. Put your money into Grad School, which is definitely on his radar as he wants to teach secondary and maybe college history.

I'm writing a series of books and right now, the child my main character has is college age. No, he's not becoming a teacher but an architect/designer. I tried to make subtle hints in the story about how he chose his school. The character thought about debt, where he felt comfortable and I introduced real life situations in the scenes with him in college, knowing my son will face similar ones as well.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Friday, April 3, 2015

{WR} Cougar Town! {Blogging from A to Z}

Cougar Town! A show that, when it orginially aired, I honestly thought it was about a group of women in their 40s who dated young men. Which did not interest me at all.

Fast foward to two weeks ago when my sister forced me to watch the first episode because she is convinced Travis, the son, is the twin to my son in looks and attitude. I had to agree and found myself laughing so hard and identifying with so much of what the friends on the show went through, I have watched the first season in two weeks.

I find the writing hilarious, the quick jokes, wit and barbs always entertaining; the way the lines are delivered with the perfect facial expression or body language. I could never be an actor as I just don't have that talent. However, I think that when you get the trifecta (good writing, good acting, the perfect person to play said character=chemistry!) then you have an amazing show. I only hope the rest of the seasons keep me laughing, and crying, as much as the first.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Thursday, April 2, 2015

{WR} Blasted Laptop! {Blogging from A to Z Challenge}

Four years ago, I thought I wanted the best laptop, I wanted the newest, fanciest one so I got a MacBookPro.

Four years later I am like, "What the hell did I buy? I can't figure out half of this computer and I can't even change the freaking file name if I misspell something! I have to "Save As" again then trash the original document!"

I was complaining to my husband about it this morning and realized, I am a simple person. I want a simple laptop that I am not cursing everyday. I had a Dell for ten years until I got this one and I am ready to go back. I save all my stories/books on this (and copy over to an external hard drive) but can easily do that same on a Windows based laptop. On a Windows based laptop, I could EVEN CHANGE THE FILE NAME WITH A CLICK OF THE MOUSE!

Can you tell I am frustrated? BLASTED LAPTOP!

So, do I go back to a Dell or is there a laptop that you have found which is better for writing? I use MS Word for writing everything. I don't play games, I surf the internet, I watch "Cougar Town" (only on season one so no spoilers), I look at photos--which I can't do anymore on my MacBook because an update ruined the iPhoto ap so...I can't edit or anything so that ap is useless to me now!

In addition to moving this summer, I will be in the market for a new laptop as well. Any advice would be appreciated or I will just get the Dells I was used to years ago.

Thanks for listening!


UPDATE: The hubby figured out how to rename the file. Four years and it took me that long to figure it out. Even the internet didn't help me. I think I am in over my head with a Mac :-)
Blogging from A to Z Link

{WR} Apples, Berries, Carrots... {Blogging from A to Z Challenge} and IWSG!



I was gone all day yesterday and didn't have a chance to post for the first day, the letter A or for IWSG! I guess I could make a comment about it being April Fools...Anywho...I will post every day and try to mention writing (or anything that has to do with it) within the post and why I chose to write about what I did...

APPLES, BERRIES, CARROTS

I chose this as I am on Weight Watchers, and have been since mid February. My work is very health conscious and for only $4 a week I can attend a meeting at work, get weighed, have access to their ap (which is amazing) and sit with like minded individuals that I work with day in and day out. So far, I have lost 16 pounds and with that comes more energy, a better attitude and I even feel more creative when I write. I am also in that zone, in writing, where I will sit for two hours and pound out a scene then realize I wrote instead of ate. So, writing can also help with weight loss if you can lose yourself in your characters. I think a lot of overeating stems from being bored and when I get into a scene that takes every ounce of concentration I have, the urge to snack goes away. So, I signed up for another WW session and my goal of losing 40lbs total is almost half way there...off to eat more fruit and veggies!
Blogging from A to Z Link

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Blogging from A to Z Challenge in April

During the month of April, there is a blogging challenge. Blog every day, beginning with the first letter of the alphabet, but give yourselves Sunday off. Interested in participating in this challenge? See the link below. I am helping one of the moderators and look forward to reading and participating in this during the month of April!
A to Z Challenge

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

IWSG: Pen Names...yes or no?



I have often wondered, when Stephenie Meyer's series took off and fans were screaming at her every time she made an appearance, did she wish she used a pen name? This was before Facebook, Twitter or Instagram became really popular but now with Social Media out there, I think it's harder to remain anonymous.

I've pondered numerous times should I use my real name for my books or a pen name? You already have a 'fan' base (your friends and family) if you use your real name or at least begin a blog or Author page with it. But, if you switch to a pen name, is it harder to get people to follow you? If you change your mind after you've begun your blog or Author page, is it difficult to rebuild that base?

Just something I was wondering while bored at work the other day. I have a ton of different pen names I would love to use, but wonder what my friends and family would think about it. What are your thoughts?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Music and Writing

So, for this latest story I am writing, the one with four books in it, I have been playing one song over and over. In the car (thank goodness for Bluetooth capabilities) on my laptop, iPod etc. it embodies the entire series and I thank Vega4 for their song "Life is Beautiful" in the album YOU AND OTHERS. Is there a song that can sum up your book or story?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

IWSG: I wrote the "happily ever after"ending and I cried...



I began a story over eight years ago--born from a Harry Potter Draco/Ginny fan fiction gone severely out of canon (no, not 50 Shades of Grey style)-- on the advice of a friend. As I wrote, revised, took breaks, obsessed, raised my kids, moved to a different part of the US, it evolved from a standalone novel of a teen discovering love, friendship, and dealing with the crap that high school dishes out into a three (maybe four) book series that takes place over a ten year period.

This book, "Lane Changes", was one I sent to numerous publishers. I had a few bites, but it wasn't edgy enough for them. I wasn't looking to be edgy; I just had to tell Lane's story so I kept writing. The second book came pouring out and her life took a u-turn. Then, a small publisher (who published Transcendence) became interested in it and said a three book series would work better. I got to work on that and today, I typed the very last scene. Of course, it ended happily, I found THE PERFECT song to write to and I cried. I'm not sure if I was emotional because the last almost-nine years Lane's story was being told and now I had to let her go? I am still trying to figure it out.

"Lane Changes" is at the small publisher's now. It's being edited. Book 2 was just sent to them so they could see where I was going with the story.  I just emailed her and said a very rough copy of Book 3 was finished, and is over 104K words...it may have to be split.

So, what I'm trying to ask is have you become so immersed in your story or characters that you became so emotional for whatever reason? Have you ever not wanted to stop writing about your characters? It's going to be very hard to switch gears and work on the new slightly-fantasy-like story "Sticks & Stones" I'm writing with a friend. I may have to take a long break, regroup, then come back to that one so I can make Nicole in "Sticks & Stoned" her own person, quite different from Lane.

Thanks for listening!

Friday, January 16, 2015

IWSG--a week late, however, I do have a funny video in here!



Hello everyone and thanks so much for your comments from my December post. I love them (it's like getting snail mail that isn't a bill) and it helps to hear about others going over the same speed bumps!

I knew it was time to post last week but could not, for the life of me, think of what to write about. Then, I heard about someone from my hometown (where we moved from three years ago) who is a finalist in the Superbowl Dorito ad. I watched the video and thought, this is writing. He had to figure out a script, what words would portray everything he needed in such a short amount of time.
I watched all the other finalist videos and, maybe I am biased, but I think his is the best. You can see it here (and feel free to vote): "What Could Go Wrong?"

I have a new book I am working on (I mentioned it before: "Sticks & Stones") and for some reason, in my head it's a movie. I can see every scene much quicker, and clearer than when I write it. However, I have never written a script, I have no idea how and to be honest I don't really want to figure out how to do it. But then there is that small part of you that thinks, "Maybe this would be worth figuring out how to write as a script?" So, I think once I get the story vomited out into my laptop, I will do some research on writing a script. Although, it sounds like it'd be more difficult to do that than to just write a story.  Has anyone every tried writing a script or done so in the past?