Friday, November 30, 2012

I Wanna Be a Movie Quote

If your family is like mine, they have an entire repertoire of movie quotes they spout when the situation calls for a clever come back. They seem to have entire movies memorized. A Few Good Men contributes a few the most common, "You can't handle the truth!"

Many of my personal favorites are gleaned from The Princess Bride. I won't insult my audience by reminding them since I know so many of you use them also. Well except for one I must mention. I have three sons, two stepsons and an active husband, I seem to constantly be telling them to enjoy themselves as they go off to play golf together or watch a sporting event. But I can't just say have fun, I usually tell them, "Have fun storming the castle, boys."

Independence Day produces lost of favorites. "Welcome to Earth." "Do your stuff, take them out, take them down...." "We will not go quietly into the night...."

My oldest son's teaching job during his first few years included being in charge of the In-School suspension room. He added a quote to his signature when he sent email around to other teachers. "I am the Law!" Judge Dredd.

What quotes fit into your family or your workplace? Do the people around you recognize them when you use them? Any you've picked up from recent movies?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Full Moon Madness

Is it over yet? I noticed on my desk calendar that today is the full moon. So will the werewolves come out tonight? Will there be more than last year? Will they be joined by vampires?

My real question is, when will the current popularity of vampires, werewolves and other shapechangers be over anytime soon? Demons, angels, and all manner of supernatural heroes, heroines and villains have filled the shelves of genre fiction for a while now. Will the trend continue?

The super commercially successful Twilight series has given the world its last movie but TV still has many shows soldiering on against traditional comedies and dramas. Superhero movies and TV shows have and still are entertaining millions. You can bet I'll be buying my copy of the new Batman movie next week. The fantasy genre is going strong with shows like Game of Thrones and fans are eagerly awaiting The Hobbit.

Justin Cronin's newest book, The Twelve, is calling to me from my towering TBR pile. If you're not familiar with the first book in that series, The Passage, you should give it a try. That is if you like an entirely new, scarier version of the post-apocalyptic vampire.

One of the first things I was told at my very first writing conference was not to try and guess where trends were going. Write what you loved to write. At the time I was writing fantasy romance, not a popular subgenre. I kept going and eventually sold that book to a small press. The only publisher willing to take on such a nontraditional book at the time. Look where we are now?

So do you see the recent popularity of vampires and werewolves waining? Are you looking forward to The Hobbit? Have you read Justin Cronin?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Shopping Haze Daze

I haven't ventured into the black Friday shopping zoo since my children were very small. Even then I think I only tried it once or twice. I may have missed out on a sweet deal or two, but how much money is my time worth? I was quite happy on Friday to stay at home and catch up with some blogging friends and prepare some posts for this week.

I find blogging often slows down for many people this time of year as family and holiday responsibilities soak up so much time. I certainly understand that. Now that my youngest is 18 and my oldest living in his own home, shopping for Christmas gifts is different for me. There are few of those super bargains on my family's wish lists.

Probably they would all like the newest gadgets, iPads, smartphones, and money to buy all the extras that go with them. Perhaps some new Xbox360 game or a computer version of the same. Toys for older kids are certainly more expensive than the GI Joe figures my boys used to ask for. But they probably won't be receiving them. The entire family understands that all economic considerations are given first to college tuition. What greater gift to give my children than a head start into a career?

But that's not to say there aren't things we all want including me. I really need, okay, really, really want a new, better camera. Many times I've seen things I thought would be great additions to a blog post, but my little camera doesn't have the pixels or magnification to take much of a picture. And I do want a tablet of some sort. IPad would be great, but I would settle for a Kindle Fire. Our local newspaper is going mostly digital starting in 2013, so my husband would also get some use out of a nice tablet.

I also need a new printer. The one I have has served faithfully over the years, but it's having some trouble with the paper feed. The better the paper, the more difficulty it has gripping it to feed it through. And I could do some rearranging in my office if I had a wireless printer.

And I need so new tunes on my iPod to keep my workout inspiring. So what new gadgets are on your wish list or your shopping list? Anything you must have or just really, really want? Is your blogging going to slow down between now and the new year?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thank you all.

It's time to be thankful for the good things in life. Where to start? I have a wonderful day job. A terrific husband, four terrific children plus two great stepsons, a daughter in law I love and a super granddaughter and they'll all be at my house for Thanksgiving.

I'm grateful we have lots of food and the means to purchase it and prepare it. Our house will be warm and cozy, the football games playing on TV and probably a family basketball game in the driveway at some point.

If I could, I would gift everyone with the same joys I'm having this holiday.

But not all it perfection. I have to offer my apologies to those of you I haven't visited as often as usual in the blogging world. One of the pillars in my world has started to crumble. I only usually share general personal news on this blog but I have to explain my recent absences. My mother is very ill. It takes up a lot of my time as I try to squeeze in as many visits with her as I can. She's not in pain or unhappy, so I'm grateful for that. I'm also thankful for the 87 years she's enjoyed, maintaining her independence until a few weeks ago. She's one tough lady, fighting the good fight.

But all this means I will not be as active on my blog as I have been the last few months. I'll catch up as I can.

And I'll leave you with a few questions. Is it a good thing when Amazon recommends my own book, Beneath the Mountain, to me like they did last week?
What are you thankful for this time of year? Staying at home, traveling to relatives? Any special family tradition like our basketball game?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Oh, How I Miss You Blogfest

Thanks to the ever wonderful, Alex Cavanaugh, for creating and hosting another great blogfest. If you know Alex, you know he's very generous with helping other authors with promotion. You can always find links to some wonderful people, articles and so much more on his blog.

Oh, How I Miss You is another example of the many ways he helps out so many people and also a subtle reminder to all us to pay it forward and backward. So who do I miss?

When I first started blogging, I reached out to the few writers I knew who were blogging. I remember when I had three friends. And one of those first three, Ava Quinn, was the first to friend me back. Back in those days, she usually talked about writing on many of her posts. But it wasn't dry discourse.

Nearly every sentence Ava writes will make you smile. The year she was reigning Possum Queen and shared all those great recipes was especially memorable. And if you want to enjoy some off the hit charts music, Tongue in Cheek is the place to visit.

Ava, like many of us, is a very busy woman. In one word, she has young children. But she still managed to visit my blog quite often and shares new entertaining posts on her blog. So why did I pick her for the one I miss? She's not gone, but her life has been hectic over the last few years and her writing often is pushed to the background.

Ava is a strong woman in many ways and quite a juggler of all the aspects of her life. I want to make sure she's always one of my writing buddies. I want to always know she's there. When I rejoin RWA next summer, I want to sit beside her at our local meetings. I want to see her drive in on her awesome cycle wearing her cool leather jacket. So here's my post to offer her lost of encouragement (I owe her some) and let her know how much I would miss her if she gets too busy for us in the blogosphere. I hope you go visit Ava and meet this terrific, funny lady.

So do you know Ava? Are you going to check out some more people who would be sorely missed if they disappeared from blogdom?  Does your community have a Possum Queen?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Looking Ahead

I need a little vacation. One more week until Thanksgiving Break from School. I'll be spending some of my time off picking children up from college, hours of driving, and lots of hours of cooking, but that's all more fun than the old day job. But between now and next Thursday, I have some things I'm looking forward to.

This Saturday, two author friends of mine with be having a booksigning at the Camp Hill Barnes and Noble near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Megan Hart is a multi published author in numerous genres of fiction. Like romance, she writes it and does it very well. Like suspense, she does that too. Like erotic romance, she pens some very hot, hot novels. Check out her website and very entertaining blog. Megan was my very first critique partner and I owe her tons. She'll always have a special place in my heart.

Natalie Damschroder is also a writer who has been integral in helping my career along. I call her my 'go to' girl. If I need to know something about the writing business, Natalie knows. Her career writing romance is spiraling every upward. Check out her blog and see what I mean. Check out all the books she has had published over the course of the last two years or so.

I expect at big crowd at this booksigning for these two terrific writers.

Don't forget this Friday, Alex Cavanaugh's latest blogfest, I Miss You Blogfest, is happening. You can still join and give some due to a blogger you've missed seeing around the sphere. A great way to find renew some links to old friends.

What are you looking forward the rest of the week? Are you joining the blogfest? Do you know Natalie or Megan?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Welcome Nutschell!

I'm thrilled to feature an exclusive interview with Nutschell Windsor on my blog today. Nutschell is one of the kindest, most generous bloggers I've had the privilege to meet in this wonderful online community. She has lots of interesting stuff to share with you. First alittle about her:

Nutschell (pronounced new-shell and not nut-shell) is a middle grade/ young adult fantasy writer who
hails from the Philippines and now lives in sunny Los Angeles. When she’s not masquerading as an
accounting clerk, or busy with her SCBWI or CBW-LA duties, she pursues her many curiosities. A Jane-of-all-Trades, Nutschell’s interests include traveling, taking pictures, sketching, playing the guitar and drums, playing basketball, badminton, billiards, and singing in the shower. She also practices the Filipino Martial Art of Escrima, and bakes yummy marshmallow cloud cookies.

Nutschell haunts twitter@nutschell and blogs at

You started a writing group, CBWLA. Can you tell us something about that and
what do the letters stand for?

CBWLA stands for Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles. We aim to provide
education and inspiration for published writers and writers on the road to publication.
On my website, I have a tab that tells the story of how CBW-LA got started, and gives a
links to our meetup summaries. I’ll share a few excerpts here:

In June of 2010 (partly because I was missing our SCBWI Westside Schmooze and
partly because I wanted to join a writing group close to home), I went on
and looked for writing groups near where I lived. I found a couple of groups that seemed
interesting and helpful, but I wanted something more focused on writing for children.
Toni Morrison said: “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written
yet, then you must write it.” I thought the same idea would apply to a writing group.
Since I couldn’t find writing groups for children’s books writers close to home, I decided
to organize one, and the Torrance Children’s Books Writing Group was born.
Now we’re known as the Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles, and are officially a
nonprofit group.

Writing is a solitary affair, and sometimes our doubts and fears get to us. Being part of
a writing group, means we have people to reach out to for support and guidance—other
writers who understand exactly what we’re going through, and who can give us the help
we need.

Writing groups can help us improve our writing skills through creative writing sessions,
give us important feedback for our manuscripts through critiques, and expand our
knowledge of the craft through various writing workshops and conferences.
Networking is also a big benefit of belonging to a writing group. We can make new
friends who might eventually become wonderful critique partners or writing buddies. And
writer friends are valuable. They brainstorm story ideas with us, help us iron out plot
problems, share information about upcoming writing events or contests we might enter,
even give tips about which agent to query. More importantly, they give us that extra
push and encouragement we often need to keep us focused on our writing dreams.
Being part of a writing group means we won’t have to trek the long and sometimes
lonely road to publication alone.

What things should a writer look for when searching for a group to be part of?

Location is one thing to consider. Having a writing group close to home will encourage
us to attend sessions often.

We should also make sure that the writing group we choose is the perfect fit for our
needs. Looking up a list of the group’s past or upcoming events gives us clues as to the
kind of services they provide. Do they facilitate social events that help us network with
other writers? Do they provide workshops, conferences, or classes and other mentoring
opportunities? Do they have critique sessions so we can get some feedback for our

Attending a session or two also helps us get a feel for the writing group. We have to
make sure we’re comfortable not only with the group’s organizational format, but also
with fellow members.

How about some quick facts about you:
What do you write?

Middle Grade and Young Adult Fantasy.

Morning/night/or anytime writer?


Favorite baked good?


Holiday movie favorite?

Miracle on 34th Street.

First book you owned?

I remember reading a lot of Little Golden Books when I was younger. My first ever
favorite book was Richard Scarry’s book of 365 poems.

Where you buy your reading material?

Everywhere I can buy books—whether it’s online or in store. I also like to support local
indie bookstores whenever I can.

A magazine you subscribe to?

I subscribe to Writer’s Digest and The Writer. SCBWI also has a quarterly magazine
free for members.

Thanks for having me on your blog, Susan! I enjoyed the interview a lot.

Thanks so much for sharing some professional advice and some personal fun facts with us, Nutschell.
Please remember to check out Nutschell's site and say hello.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday News

Finally we're expecting some nice weather for a weekend. I'm going to take the opportunity to run outside for the next two days after being a wimp and running on the treadmill all weak. I don't mind the cold so much, but running when it's cold and windy is not my style.

There are a few things I'd like to share with you going into the weekend and in anticipation of next week. Michael Offutt is celebrating the release of the second book in his A Crisis of Two Worlds series. Oculus has a super cover just the like the first book, Slipstream does. Go check it out on his blog. I know he'll appreciate the visit.

On this blog on Monday, I'll be featuring an interview with Nutschell Windsor. You're going to really enjoy. Nutschell is so generous on her blog with interviews of writers that many of you already know her. Well, stop by Monday and get to know her a little bit better.

And some news about myself, after being available on Kindle, Smashwords and other retailers for two months, Barnes and Noble finally as the third book in my fantasy series, Beneath the Mountain available for Nook. I just know thousands of faithful Nook users have been waiting. I'm not sure why it took B&N so long to have it available, but it's finally here.

Are you familiar with Michael or Nutschell? Are you Nook, Kindle, iPad or other? Plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group

I hope I have a chance to visit lots of blogs today. I've become much more efficient in my visiting and commenting. Today is the November installment of The Insecure Writer's Support Group, a monthly blogfest started and hosted by Alex Cavanaugh. Visit his blog and find an entire list of wonderful writers sharing their woes, worries and best of all, giving encouragement and advice.

Time for me to share something that I'm not worried about but do have a growing concern about. As I remind you nearly every week, I'm retiring from teaching in June of next year. From that date on, I'm going to call myself not a retired teacher, but a full time writer. But will I have the will power to sit for hours and tap on the old keyboard? Can I avoid all the temptations of a zillion other things I like to do? Will I be able to increase my production of one or two books per year to four or five? Can I do that? Will the ideas keep coming? Will I still love it? I imagine it, daydream about it, but will the reality be too much less than the fantasy?

What challenges do you think I might face in trying to become a full time writer? What is your biggest distraction during your writing time? Are you visiting other insecure writers today and sharing your own concerns?

Monday, November 5, 2012


I want to lead off today with a big thank you to Duffy Brown, author of the Consignment Shop Mysteries for the bling she sent me a few days ago. A really cool little bag along with some bookmarkers I can give out at my next booksigning and to some friends. I love mysteries and hope you'll check out her site also.

In Pennsylvania, most public high schools divide the school year into quarters. Last Thursday, I was officially one quarter of the way done with my last year of teaching. I could say it went by quickly, but it wasn't fast enough for me.

This week I also finished the first quarter of my third draft of The Heir of Futhark, which is the last of four books in The Futhark Chronicles. The last quarter of the story if you will.

I'm out of quarter stories, but I'm not out of stories. I wish I could write faster  as the next novel I have planned is starting to push itself forward in my thoughts. I need to get The Heir done so I  can move onto the next one. I need to get The Heir done before I have to get to work on First Dragon, the lead novel in my next epic fantasy series for Crescent Moon Press.

Do you ever have a difficult time thinking about what to write next? Anything you're a quarter of the way finished with? Do you know Duffy?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Promote Me by Me

I guess my greatest weakness as an author is in the promotion of my work. I really have a difficult time pushing my work, spreading the news and talking about my books. Some writers manage to promote their work in non-offensive but effective ways on their blogs, on facebook and other social media venues.

The Heir of Futhark, book #4 and the final novel in The Futhark Chronicles, is still in the major edits stage, but I have plans to do a better job with this release. I've been watching and learning. I hope.
The first three books in the series.

Timing can be important for books this time of year. My former publisher, the one I reclaimed my rights from for this series, had scheduled each book to be released January first for four years in a row. Is that a good time? Are people pretty busy on that first day of the year. Hangovers? Bowl games? Parties? Resting before returning to work the next day?

How about right after Christmas? All those new eReaders, tablets and other personal electronic devices are yearning for something to download. Why not one of my books? So is the Christmas season a good time to have a book released?

Or are people too busy from Thanksgiving until after the new year? Are potential readers spending their money on gifts for others and not buying books? Or can some good promotion convince them to spend a little on themselves?

Do you think a particular time of year is a good time to have a book released? What do you think of a holiday release? A New Year's Day release?

Oh yeah, I meant to say in this post, buy my books. See, I'm getting better at it.