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?


Wednesday, October 2, 2019

IWSG: October 2019

It seems like it was September IWSG day just last week. Obviously not. Welcome to this amazing blog hop and the IWSG group started by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Join us in supporting and helping each other in what can be a lonely business. Find the other participants here.

This month's optional question: How can you expect other people to want your writing, if you don't enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?

I can't imagine not enjoying reading. I could read every spare minute I have. There are so many great books out there, including ones written by members of this group. If a person doesn't enjoy reading, I don't believe they can be a writer. 

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut.” 
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft


Book News
New Concepts Publishing has released my latest space opera romance, Starship Refugees IV: The Alien and the Slave. A ship of Earth's refugees lands on a planet and find themselves forced into slavery along with the native humans. A great escape is planned but only if the two races of humans learn to trust each other.

Personal News
For the first time since I married, I have an empty nest. My husband had two wonderful sons when we met, and then we had three boys and one girl together. This past weekend, the last child, now an adult, moved out. My husband thinks the house is too quiet, but I love it. My children are wonderful, but it was time for them and us to be on our own. And the bathroom is so much cleaner. Except for my daughter, the kids all live close enough that we're not alone for long.

TV Time
I watched the first episode of the new CBS thriller, Evil. It was so scary! I loved it. I also enjoyed the first episode of Poldark's last season on Masterpiece Theater. Really good, as usual. Killjoys ended on a good note. Fun and hopeful. No bittersweet stuff there. Only one more week to wait for Supernatural to return. Too many final seasons for my favorite shows this year.

Do you read a lot? Should writers be readers? Do you enjoy a quiet house or the chaos of family? Did you watch Evil or another new show you could recommend?






Monday, September 30, 2019

Special Risk by Sandy Nork


It's my pleasure to introduce a fellow Pennwriter, Sandy Nork, and her first in a series novel, Special Risk. She weaves facts in with her fiction as she introduces a fascinating new investigator

For Readers:

Special Risk is Book 1 of 3 planned for the Risk Series starring protagonist Valerie Sloan, a Japanese-American insurance investigator from Philadelphia. The book is a mystery centered around the search for a missing guitar and the involvement of an Asian crime family.

Special Risk took form when I read Tokyo Vice by journalist Jake Adelstein about his life in Japan as a reporter working among the Yakuza. I was intrigued by the idea that Yakuza members were able to come and go in the United States without much interference.

In addition, my husband is a musician who can play pretty much anything with strings. He knows a lot about guitars. He took me to the Great American Guitar Show, which I mention in Special Risk. At one of those shows, he took photos of the Gibson Les Paul guitar that I use as the missing guitar in the book. The “real” one was for sale and the asking price was $250,000.

You might also want to know that “special risk” refers to an insurance clause that covers a musician’s instruments when they take them out of their home to play at a gig.

For Writers:

I’m a plotter, not a pantser.  At one point during the writing of this book, I tore it apart and restructured it completely. That was a terrible mistake and cost me a lot of time and momentum to discover that my initial plan of how the book should flow was correct. From that frustrating experience I’d like to think that I learned the lesson of listening to my own instincts when it comes to building a book.

Blurb:

In the mystery Special Risk, Japanese-American insurance investigator Valerie Sloan searches for a missing guitar in Philadelphia. During her investigation, she confronts an Asian crime family and discovers a connection to her past.

Amazon link:



Bio:

Sandy Nork is a writer, librarian, and musical tourist who lives in New Cumberland, PA, with her musician husband and his collection of guitars. Recently she vacationed in Nashville, the home of country music. While there, she researched at the Nashville Public Library, several museums, and – of course – the local restaurants. She plans to include anecdotal souvenirs from that trip in her next book, Flood Risk.

You can find Sandy’s website at www.sandynork.com. She is also on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter as @novelgal.

Did you know musical instruments could be worth so much money? Have you ever heard of 'special risk' insurance? Are you a plotter like Sandy or a pantser?