Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Whole Shebang!!

Isn't that a great name for website. I've said it before, but I'll say it again. If you want to promote your art, literary, music, craft or physical art, please contact these generous ladies.

Today I'm promoting my latest release, The Marine's Queen at The Whole Shebang. Join me if you have a moment but I understand if those of you in A to Z are taking some time off before Monday starts. Enjoy Easter. I'll be enjoying it by sitting down and reading a book.

Friday, March 29, 2013

A to Z Theme and New Release

The days are counting down to April. I hope the month brings some warm weather with it but as long as the rain and cold keep us inside we may as well have fun with A to Z.

This will be my third year. The first one was very difficult for me and became serious work instead of fun. There was still a lot of work the second year but I prepared better and had a lot more fun. I intend to do better this year, continuing on the road to improvement. The first two years I had an unofficial writing theme behind my posts. This year I have a more specific theme, again related to writing. But I'm going to tie the writing into the theme I've been using in a lot of posts this past year. Retirement. I'm going to use each letter to talk about all the things I'm going to start doing or improve how I do them once I become a full time writer. Oh, I have some big plans. I've been taking notes and making lists. I'm looking forward to all the things commenters will add that will help me and others.

I had planned this for tomorrow but my romance publisher, New Concepts Publishing, surprised me by releasing my newest futuristic romance, The Marine's Queen, yesterday. Here's a short blurb:

Queen Callie Adell’s enemies want her for the secret elixir only her bloodline can produce. She flees an abduction attempt and lands in the arms of the most feared military man in the universe. Recon Marine Captain Joe, a genetically enhanced soldier, knows little of civilian life or of women. But his body knows what it wants from Callie even if his mind suffers mostly confusion in her presence.

Joe’s sense of honor and duty demands he protect the queen even if she can never overlook his unnatural origins and love him as a man. But neither of them can ever be safe if Callie doesn’t protect Joe from those who want to destroy him as much as her enemies wish to capture her. Only if she can civilize her marine will the world accept him as more than a living weapon. But can Callie convince Joe that he’s a man first, her man, and a marine second?

You can purchase the ebook at this location.

The paperback version is available at Amazon.

I'll be on The Whole Shebang again tomorrow promoting The Marine's Queen. Hope you'll stop by there.

So are you doing A to Z? Do you have a theme? Is spring coming to your town soon or did it already arrive?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Words

Like most readers, I read many different genres of books. Most because I simply enjoy them. But sometimes I come across a book that just dazzles me with the way the author uses words. I never want the book to end and not just because the plot is intriguing. Some writers can pull me into their world so deeply I can smell the freshly plowed field. I hear the clop of approaching hooves. I feel the icy breeze on my face. Those are the writers I want to be like.

Finding the perfect words is a challenge. I've been working on a scene in the sequel to First Dragon where a massive storm drives the decisions of every character in the story. Not all of them will live through the tempest and a few may fall from positions of power to groveling in wet sand. I searching for the right words in every sentence to make the storm come alive for my readers.

Pat Rothfuss in his two fantasy novels, The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear, keeps me clued to his prose. I want to write like that.

What writer have you read who pulls you in with their use of language? Have you ever written a scene where you knew you hit it just right? Are you ready for A to Z in April?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Book Costs

After a great mini vacation from blogging and writing while my sister visited, I'm back with some questions I just need the answers to. When I get together with my Picayune, MS sister we spend time in bookstores. Even though she buys nearly all her books on her Kindle, we both enjoy the book atmosphere.

We had lots of time to discuss the advantages of ebooks from price, to access to not needing the shelf space. Though we both love the feel of traditional books, we're comfortable with where things are going right now.

When we discuss books, we cover all kinds of discussions and this time we got around to discussing the cost of college textbooks. My sister is a nurse. All you medical professionals out there know where this is going. Textbooks for students in the medical fields are some of the most expensive. I've heard tales of a single text costing more than $200. One book. At my daughter's school, her classes often require multiple books. Many of these textbooks, perhaps most of them, are not yet available in ebook or the students are encouraged to buy them in traditional form. Those books take a chunk out of a college student's  meager horde of dollars.

Why do these books cost so much? A medical book can become outdated quickly. How great would it be if you owned the ebook and could receive updated versions as they became available for a small cost or even free if you paid tons for the first edition?

Fiction ebooks have a wide range of prices and so do many nonfiction books. Why is the cost of college texts so high? Do you think they'll ever come down or turn to mainly ebooks? What is the most you've ever paid for a book?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Made Up Words

We had some laughs around our house when we got four inches of snow two days ago because some weather forecasters had declared last week 'meterological spring' for our part of the country. Now we're not getting into the skills or lack thereof when it comes to predict the weather. But staying in the joking mood, two of my son noticed our cat was doing a lot of shedding and they declared it cateological spring. You get the meaning which is really helpful when it comes to a made up word.

Spell check doesn't smile much at those made up words when we use them but when you write fantasy or scifi, chances are you've made up some words. Maybe the words are for a type of magic or a futuristic spaceship engine or propulsion method.

In my upcoming epic fantasy, First Dragon, there are two opposing religious and political beliefs. Umbron is the spiritual leader of one sect and Bellam is the leader of the other. Yes, I think I made those up. I'm using more made up words and names but I'll talk about those someday when I can actually announce the release of that book.

Many authors use made up names. I prefer those words make some sense so I can remember what they mean. I also like them to be pronounceable.

Do you use made up words? Do you mind seeing them when you're reading? Are there cases when it bothers you?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Top Ten Movie Blogfest

What a challenge issued by Alex Cavanaugh. Today in his latest blogfest, we're all going to list our top ten movies.  Check in on Alex's blog and find lots more links to great movie lists. You may find some you want on your Netflix Que.

1) I'm going to list these in no particular order. Let me start with an older movie, The Outlaw Josie Wales. This movie is classic Clint Eastwood. I grew up on westerns but this one is more than that. It takes place in the aftermath of the Civil War and the lingering resentments that dogged the people of that time. The book was great too.

2) Going with my cowboy love, I have to add a John Wayne. Big Jake takes place at the turn of the century when the eastern part of the country was becoming civilized and the west was still wild.

3) The Count of Monte Cristo is on my watch once a month list. I love it even though it's nothing like the book.

4) Staying with historical, I also rewatch The Last of the Mohicans on a regular basis. So what if it veers from the book. I still love it.

5) Pirates of the Caribbean, Curse of the Black Pearl, is the best of that bunch. The others never quite lived up to it.

6) I'm going to lump all three movies from the Lord of the Rings into one selection. About nine hours of video to enjoy.

7) A more recent pick is The Avengers. Tony snarky Stark is too fun to skip. Can't wait for the next Iron Man.

8) Probably cheating again, but I'm putting all three Batman movies here though I liked the second and third better than the first.

9) My favorite musical is The Sound of Music. It has everything, action, adventure, love and great voices.

10) And to round out my list of ten, I'm adding Megamind as my favorite animated movie.

Did I hit any of your favorites? Hop over to Alex's and see what lots of other bloggers picked. Thanks again to Alex.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

National Wormhole Day

Thanks to Stephen Tremp and Laura and Luanne at Bards and Prophets for putting together this neat little fantasy jaunt. Each post is a short plan of what you would do if you could step through that wormhole to any place and time. Would you go forward or backward? Would you try to change something?

I guess I've watched too much Doctor Who, but I would be afraid to go back and time to change something. You know changing one little thing in the past could have big repercussions for our present despite how tempting it might be. So I would go to the future.

First of all, I really, really have always wanted to go through the Stargate. I really believe there is life on other worlds and I want to see them. So for my Wormhole day trek, I want to go one thousand years in the future where I can experience some travel to other worlds or at least learn about them. I want to know. And if I pick up the cure for some diseases while I'm there, I'll bring that back too. Perhaps the answer to the world energy needs and a way to end poverty and have world peace. The only way mankind will survive that long is if we've overcome those issues.

So where would you go? Want some ideas? Visit other bloggers for Wormhole Day.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Indie Life

It's the second Wednesday which means it's time for Indie Life blogfest. Thanks to the Indelibles for starting and running this group. Once a month we reach out to each other to give and receive support. There are many more writers publishing by themselves or working with a small, independent press than there are traditionally published authors.

Don Helin at BAM
If you've been in this field for long, you'll either experience for yourself or know someone who has worked with a publisher who either goes belly up or that changes their course. Changing course is publisher speak for dumping an author. I've experienced both. Having a publisher you've signed a contact with go bankrupt is a long, drawn out headache as you try to get your rights back. It can take years. It took me nearly a year to get my two books back, neither had made it as far a being released, and I did find a home for that series with another publisher. I've also had the misfortune to have a publisher 'change course' to concentrate on celebrity books and books written by celebrities. It was infuriating but that's another story. I self-published that series after I had my rights returned. But an author friend of mine for the same company rewrote the second book in his series and started a brand new thriller series with a new publisher.

Don Helin, author of Devil's Den, is a perfect example of an author who had a setback but instead of giving up, he reached out and took control. Don found an independent press who he was comfortable working with and who had the professional reputation he sought to bring his work to the world. I recently attended one of Don's booksigning at the local BAM. He's a happy writer, doing what he loves.

I also found a new publisher for my newest fantasy series not too long after Don found his. We had talked many times about what we should do after that first publisher kicked us to the curb. What we both agreed on was not to give up. There are lots of wonderful indie presses out there run by talented publishing professionals. If you are looking for a publisher, talk to other writers, investigate your options and never, ever give up.  Don didn't and he's smiling with success.

Today is also Movie quote day at Alex Cavanaugh's fun blog. The focus today is computer-animated movies. I'm without an idea. I'll probably see lots of good candidates when I check out others' offerings but I seldom watch any animation since my kids are grown. But you can check it out or give me some suggestions.

Have you ever had a publisher go bankrupt or drop your line or genre? What animation are you watching?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Speak of the Devil by Shawna Romkey

It is with pleasure I introduce YA author, Shawna Romkey as she tours to promote her new release, Speak of the Devil.  She's giving away lots of great prizes.

Here's a little about Shawna.

Shawna grew up in around farms in the heart of Missouri but went to the University of Kansas, was raised in the US but now lives on the ocean in Nova Scotia with her husband, two sons, two rescue dogs and one overgrown puppy from hell. She’s a non-conformist who follows her heart.
She has her BA in creative writing from the University of Kansas where one of her plays was chosen by her creative writing professor to be produced locally, and two of her short stories were published in a university creative arts handbook.  She earned her MA in English from Central Missouri State University where she wrote a novel as her thesis.
She’s taught English at the university and secondary levels for close to twenty years and can’t quite fathom how all of her students have grown up, yet she’s managed to stay the same.  She’s a huge geek and fan of Xena, Buffy and all kick ass women, and loves to write stories that have strong female characters.

And how about a blurb from Speak of the Devil:

What happens when falling in love and falling from grace collide?
After dying in a car accident with her two best friends, Lily miraculously awakens to grief and guilt. She escapes to her dad’s to come to terms with the event and meets some people at her new school who seem all too eager to help her heal. Sliding deeper into sorrow and trying to fight her feelings for two of them, she finds out who…what they really are and that they are falling too.
Can she find the strength to move on from the past, reconcile her feelings for Luc, find a way to stop a divine war with fallen angels, and still pass the eleventh grade?

And an Excerpt:

Rain fell, not uncommon for late spring in Missouri. “If you don’t like the weather here,” my grandfather would say, “wait five minutes.” Of course, I’d visited distant relatives in Maine once before, and they said the same thing.

Julie fumbled with the wipers while I pulled the sun visor down to check my face in its little rectangular mirror, even though I’d only left my vanity like five minutes ago. The lights on either side lit up the interior of the car. I reached into my tiny party purse to find my lip gloss, which was easy to locate since I’d only packed the essentials in my bag: phone, some cash, and make-up. As I glanced at myself, I saw Mike in the reflection, smiling at me from the back seat. I stuck my tongue out at him, making him laugh, and put on the lip-gloss, fully aware of how flirty I acted.

The windshield wipers couldn’t keep up with the sudden downpour. The pitter-patter turned to thumping. Hail came down in gumball-sized pellets. “Damn.” Julie jerked the steering wheel to keep The Whale off the curb.

“Slow down, Jules.” Mike gripped Julie’s headrest. “We can pull over until it passes.”

“Yeah.” She squinted to see the road before her.

I pressed my lips together to smooth out the gloss. “Damn is right. I didn’t bring a jacket.”

The Whale swerved to the right crunching along the gravel on the side of the road. I braced myself in my seat. Julie leaned up to the steering wheel and peered over it as my grandmother sometimes did when she drove. I squinted because of the stupid light up visor mirror. I slammed it shut, but Julie panicked and over corrected, pulling The Whale to the left and careening over the yellow dotted line in the middle of the street.

“Julie!” Mike shouted.
Time slowed and ticked out in heartbeats.
Ba bum.
Julie cringed, her hands moving up to shield her face. Her head turned away from the highway.
Ba bum.
Mike reached protectively from the back seat.
Ba bum.
The headlights illuminated the rail of the overpass.
Ba bum.
The car hit the rail on the opposite side of the road with a hard thud.
Ba bum.
Crap. We’re going over the bridge.
Ba bum.
The Whale’s nose pointed down toward the water.
Ba bum.
A jolt forward and my forehead slammed into the dashboard.
Ba bum.
The Whale flipped in the air. I’m upside down.
Ba bum.
Ba bum.
Did my mom say good-bye when I left?
Ba bum.
Cold water rushed into the car.
Ba bum.
Is this it?
Ba bum.
I can’t breathe. Oh my God, I can’t breathe. I can’t see or breathe!

My heart quickened. It pounded. The Whale leaned on its side under the surface of the water which rushed in fast, and I couldn’t see a damn thing.

Calm, stay calm. Don’t panic. They say when you’re drowning not to panic because you use up your air faster.
Dammit, am I drowning?

I tried to get myself upright and jerked out of my seatbelt. Luckily, it gave way. I fought the latch to open the door facing up, but the pressure of the water from Black Water River held it closed, trapping me inside.
Jesus. I know this river. It’s more of a creek. It can’t be more than fifteen feet across and ten feet deep.
I pushed at the door. Opening my mouth to scream, I swallowed water.

I couldn’t see or hear Julie or Mike. My watch ticked. Or was it my heart beating?
Ba bum. Ba bum. Ba bum.
Defying gravity.
The dreams came. Like a good sleep you don’t want to wake up from. I felt heavy and floaty. I wore this long white gauzy gown and the wind blew my dress and my hair like in some feminine hygiene commercial. I could breathe slowly and deeply. Completely relaxed and at peace, but I was alone.

I floated along in a white space for a while. Drifting. Breathing. Relaxing. Had I gone to a spa? After an immeasurable amount of time, others appeared. They wore white clothing, too, and they floated like me, reaching out. They opened their arms as if to welcome me to them.

I stopped and frowned. I heard no sound, and I didn’t know who these white floaty people were or why they welcomed me. They smiled, genuinely happy, and held their arms out to me. I panicked.

Where’s my mom? My family? Wait, Mike and Julie were just with me, where are they? Are those wings?
I noticed the others floating with me had white feathery wings.

“Lily,” one of them called out.
Holy hell. I’m dead.

I hope you'll check out Shawna's links. You is one of those gifts writers who can write in first person.

Friday, March 8, 2013

No Count Down Yet

I haven't mentioned this for at least a week, but I'm retiring at the end of this school year. After our faculty meeting today where we learned about the testing schedule for the rest of the year, I'm the envy of all my peers who have to keep working. What genius figured out that kids learn by endless rounds of standardized testing? I won't go into my educational philosophies except to say I'm glad my children are all out of high school and that I will soon be done with public education too.

That said, let me climb down off the soapbox, some of my blogger friends have suggested I put a countdown gadget on my blog. I am counting down the days but I'm not adding that counter yet. If you live in the Middle Atlantic States you will understand after this week. All the weather forecasters on TV, online, on the radio, predicted we would have a big snow storm on Wednesday. Maybe as much as ten inches. So our school along with dozens of others, canceled classes for the day. Now we have to make that day up later. And March isn't over yet. We could have another storm or pseudo storm.

So I'm going wait before I put that countdown on my blog. I'd probably have to adjust it if I did it now. I'm fortunate enough that our school superintendent is a friend. She told me once making the call for snow delays and cancellations was one of the most difficult parts of her job and one impossible to get right. You can't please everyone. I wasn't pleased we had school off but I understood why our leader made the call she did.

Knowing you can't please everyone is an important part of life. You'll only suffer stress and unhappiness if you're sacrificing your goals and desires to try and please everyone else. There will be bad reviews, unfair criticism, and disgruntled readers. When you put your baby, your book, out there you have to be ready to roll with the punches. You can't please everyone all the time.

So who didn't you please this week? Did you get a big snowstorm this week? Ready for spring yet?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Insecure Writer

Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh for starting this first Wednesday Blog Hop called The Insecure Writer's Support Group, where lots of bloggers share their worries, victories and advice. It's a great place to spent a few minutes away from the solitary life of being a writer.

Rolling, rolling, rolling, keep those doggies rolling. I guess I'm showing my age by remembering the theme for Rawhide. I loved that theme song and cowboy shows were huge when I was a little girl. We all wanted to be cowboys. And if you ever saw that show, there was a new plot every week, but the show nearly aways started with the cowboys getting the herd moving and the show ended that way too. No matter what other trouble or responsibility distracted them, they kept those doggies moving.

Writing when you're working another job is like that. Writing when you're raising a family is like that. Writing when you have lots of chores around the house is like that. Writing when you have family responsibilities is like that. Writing when you want to read a new book, bake a new bread, or watching a new movie is like that. Despite everything else, you have to keep those doggies rolling, I mean you have to keep writing.

All distractions aside, keep writing, keep working. Take care of all those subplots in your life, but keep those words rolling. I've found a new ability to keep my focus on my writing this year. With my youngest child now away at college, there are less subplots in my life. Those pages are rolling better and faster than ever.

Are you keeping your doggies rolling? Do you remember Rawhide? What subplots are you dealing with?

Monday, March 4, 2013

First Monday Health Tip

It's time for my health tip for the month but first I have to ask a question. Can anyone believe it's March already? Maybe I wouldn't be having so much trouble believing it if it would ever get warm out. We're supposed to get snow again this week. Yuch!

In the last few weeks, one of my sons has been dealing with a health issue. Without going into a lot of detail, he had a terribly itchy skin rash which didn't respond to any of the treatments prescribed by his college health service. Finally, I brought him home and my wonderful dermatologist fit him into his schedule. Much to our shock and complete surprise, he didn't have some horrible antibiotic resistant skin infection. The dermatologist if 90% sure the rash is a rare side effect of gluten intolerance.

Now this son is the one who runs everyday. He takes a glass at school called bootcamp. He weighs in at 150 on a good day and eats more than the rest of the family combined. All I could think about was that he would starve on a gluten free diet. My head was spinning. His reaction? He hoped they didn't give him the biopsy report until after the weekend because he and his friends were going on. He said he was going to 'wheat it up' one more time with beer and pizza. And he did. Then for the last week, while we await results, he and his girlfriend cooked gluten free all week. They found a gluten free bakery and pizza shop at Penn State. He lost two pounds without his visits to Subway, but he took it all in stride. Just like he did when he was twelve and we learned he had a heart condition that would prevent him from playing football. As we left the cardiologists office that day he said if he couldn't play football, then he would run cross-country. His outlook is always sunny.

This health tip isn't about eating gluten free, it's about taking the right attitude when disappointments come your way. It's about reducing the stress in your life. According to Web MD, stress contributes to and perhaps even causes just about every lifestyle health problem modern humans face. Their web article claims 75 to 90% of all doctor office visits are for stress-related issues. Nearly half of adults suffer from some stress related issue.

So exercise, eat right and try to worry less. Don't let stress get you down. Learn how to recognize it and find ways to deal with it. Find your happy place and relax.

Back to my son. His resting heartrate hovers in the low 50's. His blood pressure around 100/60 and his BMI is below 13%. Even being around his sunny attitude lowers the stress level of the rest of the family. We're lucky to have him and according to his kinesiology prof, maybe we should all be on gluten free diets.

How do you deal with stress? Ever hear of such a bizzare reaction to gluten intolerance? Could you give up your wheat, barley and rye?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Skip to the Next

Just a quick Sunday post to let you know I'm talking about writing in series over at The Whole Shebang Site.  I seldom keep a count of my books, but when I actually wrote a post with them all listed and then took a moment to think about the ones I intend to write, I realize I've typed a lot or words since I first started.

The Whole Shebang is a site dedicated to promoting lots of things besides and beyond writing. If you would like to guest on their site, I'm sure they'll be open to it. If you have something to talk about like say photography, music or art in any of its wonderful forms, consider checking out The Whole Shebang.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Weekend Warrior

For me weekend warrior doesn't mean I'm going out and play sports that I'm too old for so I can't get out of bed on Monday. On weekends I try to get a few steps ahead of my writing goals.

This weekend I'll prepare my usual First Monday Health Tip blog and Wednesday's blog for Insecure Writers. I'll also prepare a post for next Friday. I might even get some work done for the next week if I really do my 'warrior thing.'

Then I'll get a few extra hours in on my new WIP. That's the most enjoyable part of the weekend in the writing department.

Weekends are also when I catch up on household chores and a little shopping. Yuch! But someone has to do it.

I'm also catching up on some movies on NetFlix that I wanted to see but not enough to pay at the theater. Sounds like big plans but I shouldn't be too sore when Monday arrives.

Are you a weekend warrior? What do you tackle on weekends that you don't have time for during the week?