Wednesday, January 8, 2020

IWSG: January2020!

2020!!! Wow! Ready or not, it's a new decade. Will we be blogging still in the next decade? Who knows. But for 2020, IWSG group is still the best there is. Started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, this group offers support and assistance to new and veteran writers. Find the entire list here and don't forget to check out the guidelines for next week's Twitter pitch opportunity.

This month's optional question: What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story, or series? Was it a teacher/coach/spouse/friend/parent? Did you just "know" suddenly you wanted to write?

My 9th grade English teacher had us read The Hobbit. Then she lent me her own copies of Lord of the Rings. I was hooked on fantasy, but I wasn't really thinking about being a writer at all. I'd always loved reading and continued into adulthood and parenthood though there were years I was so busy I barely opened a book for pleasure. Almost thirty years after that dedicated and inspiring teacher turned me onto Tolkien, I created my own fantasy novel. Once I started writing, I knew I would never quit. As a busy mother, teacher, and coach, knowing I would be a writer didn't suddenly come to me. It was a plan. A plan for me to have some time for what I wanted. Usually that time was 10 PM to midnight, but it was mine.

Writing Business
I've been stuck. The space opera romance I've been working on just isn't flowing. I like my characters and know where the story is going, but I can't seem to sit down and write it. I brooded on it for most of the last four months and then decided I needed to set it aside for now. Instead of writing new stuff, I pulled out the manuscript of First Dragon, the first book in my second fantasy series that was previously published by a small press that went out of business. I'm determined to get that book back in print this year as well as the second book which has been through two rounds of editing by the now defunct publisher. Only a few independent publishers will consider a book that has been previously published. I'm making a list and checking it twice.

Entertainment
How good is The Witcher? Really, really good. I've watched it three times. The first one left me confused until near the last two episodes. The story is told along multiple timelines and it took me two viewings to totally figure it out. Then I watched the third time just to enjoy the Witcher's interactions with others. So much humor I missed at first though it is a dark, violent show.  I wasn't over-the-moon thrilled with the fourth season of The Expanse but it was okay. Hoping season 5 is better. The Bone Collector is a new show premiering on Friday. I'm going to check it out. Criminal Minds returns tonight for its last season. It's a creepy how, I'm going to watch anyway.

Happy New Year to you all. Our holidays were fun and stress-free. I'm grateful everyday that our children all get along with each other and us. They love spending time together. As they get older and busier, those times become more precious and appreciated. 

"May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamp, and peace in your heart." Inuit proverb

I'm a long time member of RWA. If you've heard about anything going on with that largest of writers' organization, you'll understand how incredible it all is. Members like me who have only casually paid attention to the leadership don't even know what to think. It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion. That's all I have to say about it.

We've had our first real snow and I'll be taking my daughter sled riding today. And she wants to build a snowman just like Olaf. Yes, we're there already. Frozen has entered her understanding of the world. LOL

Have you watched The Witcher? Were your holidays pleasant? Are you enjoying any snow? Participating in the Twitter pitch?




Wednesday, December 4, 2019

IWSG: December 2019

Welcome to the last post for IWSG for 2019. I hope you're joining this amazing group of writers led by Alex J. Cavanaugh and his team of hardworking administrators. Find the entire list of participants at the IWSG site.

This month's optional question:

How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream? Or if you are already there, what does it look and feel like? Tell the rest of us. What would you change or improve?

I think we all change our dream a little bit or maybe a lot as we learn the true nature and difficulty of this business. I've achieved my dream of being multi-published (23 romance novels and 4 fantasy novels) but it didn't make me rich or famous. All my published books are with a small press but I do still dream of TOR taking on my next fantasy series. My feelings are up and down about if I'm living my dream or not. I feel like I could work harder, do more, but I'm also happy and content with my life. 

"A contented mind is a continual feast."  Old Farmer's Almanac

Hope your Thanksgiving was great. I did more traveling than I intended and took up too much of time. But the entire family got together. They all get along so well, it's a joy to have that time. I have more than most to be thankful for and it's wonderful to witness how thankful my children are.

"Gratitude is the sign of noble souls." Aesop

My granddaughter is done with the stitches. Still a little mark but hopefully over time it will fade. She's become very verbal and tells entire stories over and over again. She's so happy and cooperative all the time. We're doing Christmas decorating today. We cleaned yesterday and she helped with everything.

"Allow children to be happy in their own way, for what better way will they ever find?" 
Dr. Samuel Johnson

Later this week, V-Wars is coming to Netflix.  I'm so excited for this. Jonathan Maberry, the author of the books V-Wars is based on, is someone I know personally. He is a member of
Pennwriters, the Pennsylvania writers group I belong to and which I serve on the board. And best of all, he's going to be our keynote speaker at our conference in May, 2020. He's such a nice guy and very supportive of other writers. I wish I had his work ethic. He writes 5,000 words per day!

Then The Expanse returns to Amazon next week. The Witcher come to Netflix the week before Christmas. Christmas Eve will have the second season of Lost In Space on Netflix. I really enjoyed the first season of that remake though lots of critics didn't like it.

Are you living your dream? Are you excited about anything coming to Netflix or Amazon in this last month of 2019? Was Thanksgiving good for you? Are you ready for Christmas?




Wednesday, November 6, 2019

IWSG: November 2019 Edition

Oops! Where did October go? Time again, already, for the Insecure Writer's Support Group monthly blog hop. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for starting and leading the group along with his wonderful cast of administrators. Find the entire list of those participating in the blog hop here.

This month's optional question: What is the strangest thing you've ever googled when researching for your writing?

Nothing really strange for me. One of the more recent things I googled was how marrow samples are taken. For my fantasy writing, I've googled mythology and for my science fiction, I've looked up information on Rare Earth Elements. I am very interested in reading the answer to this question from my fellow IWSGers.

I'm enjoying a few new and old things as TV shows kick off their new seasons. Supernatural has been very dark and a bit heartbreaking. Bracing for more of that before it's over. Poldark, as usual, has some many intertwining threads that I wonder how they'll wrap it all up before the series finale. I'll really miss that show. Three new shows have caught my interest: Evil, Prodigal Son, and Emergence. Evil manages the right blend of doubt between explainable events and possible supernatural things. And it's very suspenseful.  I reserving judgment on HBO's Watchmen. I never read the comics so maybe that's why it's so confusing so far.

Writing is going okay, but I'd still writing slower than my usual pace. I know why, but I can't fix it at this time.

My granddaughter received her first stitches this past weekend. A little scary because she hit her head on a bench corner and it bled a lot. But it only required two stitches and some skin glue right above her left eye. I'm only glad it happened when she was with her father and not me. It did occur at our beloved library but I'm sure she'll still want to go there a few times per week. The emergency room doctors gave her two coloring books and said she was their best toddler patient ever. They expected they would have to knock her out, but she sat on her dad's lap and held her mom's hand and let them stitch her without moving.

A couple of hard frosts mean I'm finally done mowing the grass for the year. I have one more day of raking and cleaning out flowerbeds. Just in time for possible snow flurries by this weekend. Long sigh.  That means that shortly I can start my annual whining about winter.

Do you google weird things? Enjoying any new TV? Have you ever had stitches? Any snow in your forecast?

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Not Guilty by C. Lee McKenzie


A warm welcome to C. Lee McKenzie. What makes her protagonist in her latest release, Not Guilty, so special? 

Your question about what qualities my protagonist has that allow him to survive and thrive is an excellent one.  I had a chance to go back into the story and look at what my kid was all about.


Let me give you a quick profile sketch of Devon Carlyle. His name should be a dead give away. I hope so anyway because I really worked to find the right one. He’s a white middle class kid, his dad owns a small business, and his mom works at a non-profit. He has an irritating nerdy sister and one splendid golden retriever. He’s never missed a meal, he has nice, not designer, clothes, and his big goal is a basketball scholarship to a major university. He’s talented on the court, he’s popular at school, and he has a girlfriend who’s perfect. His one character flaw is that he’s quick to anger, and this will  cause him trouble—serious trouble.

When he’s accused of a crime, all of what Devon once took for granted vanishes. He’s shocked when his network of friends, some he’s known since childhood, shun him. This would be difficult for anyone, but for a teen still struggling with all of those adolescent “growing pains”  it’s devastating. Devon’s response is fear and, unfortunately, anger. While he has a fundamental code of conduct to guide him, even that isn’t going to get him through the ordeal of juvenile hall, and it most certainly isn’t going to help him prove his innocence because he doesn’t have a clue about where to start.

Enter Tats, Chewy, and Ice. While the main theme of this story is justice, friendship is one also. And these three characters helped me develop this second theme. They enhance Devon’s code of conduct, and at the same time, give Devon what he doesn’t have to survive and thrive in his new and totally strange environment—some street smarts and the true meaning of friendship.

When Devon sets out to rebuild his life, he finds out that he doesn’t want that old life with the so-called friends back. He’s discovered a lot about managing his anger, sticking by people when times are rotten, and developing compassion for kids very different from himself.

Thanks so much Susan for this chance to “talk” about my MC and Not Guilty. I’ve enjoyed being here.



For more information on Lee and her writing, connect with her on Facebook 




The author’s other young adult books include: 




NOT GUILTY is available at:








Do you know young people Devon's age? How do you think they would react in a similar situation? Have you ever been thrown into a completely strange environment like Devon?








Monday, October 21, 2019

Wielder's Prize: Debut Novel by Elle Cardy


Warm welcome today to Elle Cardy.

Thanks, Susan, for letting me take over your blog for the day.

While Wielder’s Prize is my debut novel, it’s not the first novel I wrote. In my teens and early twenties I wrote two massively-epic length fantasies. I didn’t finish them. After a long break from writing fiction, I wanted to dive in again with something new. It takes time to build a world from scratch, so I decided to base Wielder’s Prize in my pre-made world, set a thousand years later. Place names on a detail map and the world’s history were already done. I have a deep love of the eighteenth century tall ships, so I decided to build the story from there. At the time, I didn’t write any outlines so the adventure was as much a surprise for me as it was for Jasmine, my main character.

Confession time: Getting no further than its first draft state, I set the story aside. I foolishly thought it wasn’t good enough. Years later—yes, years—I read through it. Even though it had missing sections, mainly descriptions, it was good. Way better than I had thought. I felt like such a goose because of all that wasted time. I quickly polished it into a little gem. And I learned an important lesson: Don’t let doubts hold you back. If there is something you want to do, stop comparing yourself to others, stop listening to your fears. Get off your proverbial and get it done! If you hit roadblocks, then find a way around. Time is short. Don’t waste it.
Wielder’s Prize by Elle Cardy
A young adult fantasy adventure
To survive the outside forces, she must first control the inside forces.
Snatched from the only home she’s ever known aboard the Wielder’s Prize, Jasmine is forced to work as a crew member of a different ship. To survive, Jasmine must dodge her captor who has a personal vendetta against her, outsmart a fearsome magic wielder who has taken a dangerous interest in her, and get back to her ship. Somehow.
Just when she thinks things couldn’t get worse, she learns she too is a wielder—an untrained wielder who is a threat to everyone on board if she can’t control her magic. And she’s not the only out-of-control wielder on the high seas. The secret of that wielder could shatter everything Jasmine thought she knew.
Time and hope is running out. At any cost, she must get back to her ship and discover the truth behind all the secrets before everything is lost.

The ebook and paperback are now available on Amazon

A tense adventure that will keep you guessing with all of its wicked twists and turns. – Alex J. Cavanaugh, best-selling author

Jasmine is one of the most fully realized fantasy characters I've read in a long, long time.—Tyrean Martinson, author of Champion in the Darkness

About the author:
Elle Cardy is the pen name of Lynda R Young. She is an author, editor, game developer, 3D artist, graphic designer, photographer, gamer and so much more. Wielder’s Prize is her debut novel, a YA fantasy adventure. She also has a number of speculative short stories published in print and online. Having lived in Sydney most of her life, she is now living in Brisbane with her sweetheart of a husband.






 Have you ever taken out a manuscript that you've set aside and found a gem that only needed some polish? Don't you love those tall ships and adventure on the high seas? Add some magic and you have an epic tale.


Monday, October 14, 2019

Happy Columbus Day and Thanksgiving in Canada

Columbus Day to me means a day off from babysitting which I can always use. And Happy Thanksgiving to my friends in Canada.

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." Anne of Green Gables by Lucky Maud Montgomery (Canadian writer)

Last week, I bought a bagful of books from my local library's annual book sale. I'm very happy to support the library. As I've said many times, I love the library. Our local branch is located right beside the railroad and sometimes 2 or 3 trains will go by when I'm there with my granddaughter. It's cool because all the little kids run to windows to watch. Since there's a crossing right there, the train always whistles. The children's special reading lounge and play are has a train theme and it's perfect. My granddaughter loves it.

I realized a few weeks ago that I forgot about my blog anniversary in August. Susan Says has been around since 2008! Time flies.

I'm still cleaning house since my last adult child moved out. I'm not a collector of things but my children apparently are. I have a roomful of large Rubbermaid containers with their stuff still here. I told them they can leave it until I downsize which is happening soon. We've seen huge savings in our electric costs since the kiddies moved out. Fewer showers, laundry, computers, and TV time have made a big difference.

The house is very quiet, but I really like it. I'm busy with my writing, the outside fall work, great books to read, and taking care of my granddaughter.

"Rules for happiness: something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for!" Immanuel Kant

What traditional foods do Canadians have for Thanksgiving? Anything special about your local library? How long have you been part of the blogging scene?

Monday, October 7, 2019

Good Fall Things

Some exciting things happen in October. The leaves change and depending on where you live, it may have already started. My backyard is already getting colorful. My granddaughter had discovered the fun of jumping in piles of leaves. So now it takes even longer to rake with her assistance. But it's worth it.

The Draconid Meteor Shower will hopefully give us some delightful viewing tomorrow night. Unlike some of the meteor showers, the Draconid can be viewed after sunset instead of after midnight. I hope the rain goes away by then. Read more about them here.

I threw out almost 20K words on my WIP because it wasn't any good. LOL. That's a totally unbiased opinion. I hated it and what I'm replacing it with is better. So far.

"Ideas should be clear and chocolate thick." Spanish proverb

I haven't shared wisdom from The Old Farmer's Almanac recently. So here it is. When buying pumpkins to use as your fall or Halloween decorations, only pick ones with stems on them. The stem slows decay.

Our family has a lot of birthdays in the all. Both of my stepsons, my birthday, and my oldest sister. Not that any of us want to celebrate getting older. Getting older does encourage one to appreciate the small things. Cool fall nights. Fall scents like hot cider, burning leaves, and apple pie. I love to watch the geese fly south. Living in the country, sometimes there are half of a dozen flocks in the sky at one time.

"Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart." Erma Bombeck

That new show, Evil, is very scary. I'm enjoying it immensely. So many unanswered questions and the characters are complex and interesting. Stumptown and Prodigal Son have caught my interest but I don't know if they'll keep it. I'm going to give Watchmen a try on HBO. Supernatural is back this week. Yippee.

I'm always excited to find a new author and a new book series to read. The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter is one that has me excited. The world Winter created is unique and the protagonist is complex. The question of who the good guys are will keep you turning the pages. I loved this book and can't wait for the next one.

Will you try to see the meteor showers? What do you like best about fall? Have you discovered any new fantasy series you could recommend to me?