Wednesday, March 4, 2020

IWSG: March 2020

I can't believe it's been a month since my last post, but it's the first Wednesday of a new month and that means IWSG blog hop. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh, this vibrant group on this list support each other not just once a month but whenever called upon.

I'm skipping this month's question since I only had the simple answer of 'no.' Instead, I'm going to whine about a major distraction interfering with my work on my newest project. Except I can't yet. It's too secret. LOL  I'll fill you in next month.

In the meantime, I'm working on the outline for the last book in my fantasy series and ready to search out a publisher willing to take on a series that has already had the first book published and then unpublished when the small press closed. I've decided if I don't find a publisher by the time I complete the last book, I will self-publish. Something I didn't want to do, but will.

"Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th." Julie Andrews

In the meantime, a special shout-out to my friend, Jo, for help she's been giving me. And not just advice from my Insta Pot.

My granddaughter turned 3 yesterday. It goes so fast. She is so much fun and exhausting for her old grandmother. The best use of my time is spending it with her.

TV is so boring.... But Supernatural is back on soon. What else is there to watch. I tried a few shows on Netflix and Amazon. Couldn't get into any of them. This is giving me lots of time to read and work on that distraction. I'm rewatching Stargate Atlantis on Amazon for now. I loved that show when it was on. More than the original.

The unusually warm weather is making me anxious for spring. The bulbs are all sprouting already so I guess it's well on its way. I don't miss the snow and cold, but I did think I would get to sled ride and build snowmen with my granddaughter a little. She did learn the joy of throwing snowballs at me this season.

"The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money." Thomas Jefferson

Have you had a warm winter? Any thing good on Netflix or Amazon? How is the writing going? Are you going to any conferences or other traveling or is the coronavirus interfering? I've heard of things being canceled or put on hold.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

IWSG: February 2020

Welcome to another month's addition of Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. Thanks to all the great administrators for IWSG and Alex J. Cavanaugh for starting this amazing group. Find the entire list of participants here.

I'm going to skip this month's optional question and get right to some insecurities. And there are a few.

First, I haven't been very good at visiting my blogging friends the past few months. I promise to do better.

Second, I've been preparing my second fantasy series to send out to publishers I've identified who might take on a previously published book. As I've mentioned the first book in the series was published for a about a year by a small press and then they folded a few weeks before the second book was due to be released. Both books have been through extensive edits so I'm mostly refreshing my connection to my characters before I write the third book. The first book sold well while available. I sold out of every copy of every book signing I did for it. Now, I hope to get it back out there while I'm writing the third book. No matter how many books I've had published, the submission process is stressful.

Third, I'm so busy with the Pennwriters state-wide writing group where I serve on the board. So much goes on behind the scenes which I'm sure the masterminds behind IWSG will empathize with. It's been very time and emotionally consuming for a few months now, but I think I see a light at the end. If you're not too far from PA, I hope you'll consider our conference being held in Lancaster this May.

All this really makes me feel spread a little thin. A few concerns with the extended family including my baby sister finally leaving an abusive husband has added to a stressful end of 2019 and start of 2020. 

LOL. Thanks for the therapy session, IWSG. Really, I've very lucky and surrounded by a loving family and friends. My problems are small compared to so many.

Good things going on! My granddaughter is such a delight. She's is like my shadow for 8 or more hours per day. She is so well behaved and easy to take care of. Another blessing on my plate. My daughter is doing great in Boston and has been asked by one of her professors to serve as a editor for his academic book. This is the second time she's been asked to do this kind of work. The last book was in Arabic. Not sure about this one.

TV is in a blah period. How many times can I re-watch The Witcher? Supernatural is on break. Evil finished its season as did Emergence. Sometime in the next year, my husband and I are cutting the cable. I'm taking notes from those who have already. I already have Prime and Netflix. I'll need Hulu to get local programming. What else would you recommend?

What are your insecurities this month? Do you still pay for cable? Anything good I should check out on Netflix or Prime. You guys always give me the best recommendations.

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.

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.