Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I'm Rich

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate. I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday. I know lots of people take some blogging time off during this week or so of busy, wonderful days. I'm posting now during a little down time in the afternoon. My boys are busy playing their new video games. My husband is grabbing  a nap as is my daughter. My stepsons will stop by later to share a little more Christmas joy with us.

My husband and children showered me with many gifts. That new camera I'm trying to get the hang off, new warm slippers, and gift cards for some clothing, books and iTunes. Enough to keep me busy for many days to come. But that isn't why I feel rich today.

Yesterday and this morning, I had the pleasure of watching my children open their gifts. Each of them found a surprise of something they wished for but would never have asked for because of the price. Their delight continues even now, hours later. Then they urged me to open my gifts from them. Beneath the wrapping paper, I found exactly what I would have wished for. They were thoughtful and knowledgable in their selections for me and my husband. I'm not sure I have ever felt so proud of them as I realized they were enjoying the giving more than the receiving. Yes, today I am rich in having my family around and knowing they've grown into compassionate, mature adults.

As they enjoy their gifts, they make many trips to the kitchen where the leftovers from yesterday's feast are waiting. I'm grateful for the abundance of healthy food, the warm house to enjoy it in and the comforts of living in a free society.

My husband and I have worked for many years, long hours, and been thrifty when considering any luxury items. Today, I feel rich for what we've achieved, the children we've raised and the comforts we have. I wish the same things for all my friends.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Gang's All Here

My children are all home for the holidays. My youngest son took his last final at Penn State yesterday and arrived home in the afternoon. My daughter arrived home from Boston on Wednesday. We put up our tree yesterday and decorated it last night. My children are funny with their traditions about who puts on which part of the decorations. They don't want things to change even a little bit. There really is no place like home. There's nothing like Mom's cookies, mom's Christmas brunch and Mom's help with everything. At least, I think they feel that way.

I know many of my fellow bloggers are taking breaks over the holidays and I am only going to post two or three more times before 2013. That is if the world doesn't end today. I bought the Christmas ham just in case we're still here.

On this last day of school before the holiday, we'll be having a blood donation drive. I'll be giving as usual and so will most of our faculty and many students. It's a great way to start the holidays, by giving something that could save someone's life. It's one of many upcoming feel good moments.

I wish all my blog readers the very best health and cheer for the end of 2012. I hope you spend many hours surrounded by family and friends. I know many of you will find ways to share your good fortune with others.

On the writer's side of my holiday hopes, I wish everyone to receive lots of new electronic devices. Tablets, ereaders, laptops and smartphones. I expect to have three new books published in 2013, maybe even more and I hope there are lots of people eager to purchase some reading material for their new toys. I mean their new necessities.

Are you home for the holidays? Are going home for the holidays? Are you 'giving' in some special way this year? Expecting some new personal electronic devices?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Spirits and Cover Reveal

It's a world of ups and downs this holiday. Those of you who have children know how fun Christmas is when your kids are little. It's different when they're older. My lovely children are even more appreciative as they get older, knowing the college education we're paying for is a year long gift, but I miss having those surprises under the tree. I miss seeing their faces light up on Christmas morning. Now they ask for things they need for Christmas. Not so much fun.

But as I wrapped gifts a few night ago, looking at the sad little piles, I realized how surprised and happy they're going to be when they unwrap those few packages this year. Beyond getting them a few things they need, I found something for each child I know they want but would never ask for. I'm excited to see their faces light up Christmas morning.

But the past week has dampened my holiday spirit. Sadness hovers at the edges of every thought and activity. As a parent, I'm horrified and angry. As a teacher, I'm depressed at the ease with which this terrible thing happened. As a teacher, I know we can't protect our children in schools without making them into prisons. As a writer, I can't find any words to express my feelings. This shadow will darken many holiday celebrations.

My mother's health is another yo-yo of emotions. I intend to help her escape the long term care unit she's in and go on a field trip. Don't know where we're going or how we'll get there, but I'm breaking her out of there for a few hours. She's pretty excited, so I hope the snow holds off until after next Saturday.

And finally some writing news. Toni DePalma, a fellow author with Crescent Moon Press, is revealing her cover today for her paranormal YA, Devil's Triangle. Pretty terrific. I can't wait to see what they come up with for my book. Check out Toni's website here.

Also join in Michael Offutt's super blog tour with lots of cool giveaways here to celebrate and promote Oculus.

Do you have some faces you hope to see light up on Christmas morning? Are you giving people things they need or things they want? Done shopping? Please visit Michael and Toni.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hobbit Fest

Like so many fantasy fans, I'm really hoping the new Hobbit movies live up to our high expectations. I'm not as excited as I was for the grand adventure of The Lord of the Rings, but it is still going to be great.

Helping us celebrate the movie premiere, M. Pax and Tyrean Martinson are hosting a very interesting blog hop to get us all in the right mind set. Visit either of their blogs to sign up and find more wonderful blogs to share fond thoughts of those lovely little furry footed hobbits, those gentle and courageous heroes.

As part of the blog hop, I must answer a few questions.
1.What is my favorite hobbit characteristic/or the one that resembles me.

The thing I find most lovable about these little people is how they don't think of themselves as heroic or adventuresome, yet they step forward when it's really important. They're everyday heroes, not kings or knights, but farmers and villagers.

2.If I could choose between a scrumptious second breakfast or a perilous unexpected journey which would I take?

Second breakfast sounds pretty good, but because I don't want to tend toward roundness like a hobbit, I better go on the unexpected journey. I do like to travel and see new places.

3. Have I ever left something behind on a journey and then wished I'd brought it over and over again?

I didn't but one of my sons when he was about eight years old forgot to pack all his tee shirts after we laid all his things out the night before we left for a week at the beach. We went into a souvenir store and bought him ten $3 shirts, all with the same picture of a shark on the front. It was pretty funny. We still laugh about it and he claims he loved those shirts.

4. What is my favorite quote from the book I hope will be in the movie?

I don't have a favorite quote but I'm really looking forward to seeing Bilbo trick the trolls. He's so clever.

Remember this is a blog hop so go find some more stories to get you pumped for The Hobbit. What part of the movie are you looking forward to? Every have second breakfast?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cheers, Cavanaugh Blogfest

It happens. You can famous and people want to take some shots at you. In my little world of blogging, there's no one more famous than Alex Cavanaugh. And thanks to Stephen Tremp, David King, Morgan Shamy and Mark Koopmans, today is the massive blogging roast of Alex Cavanaugh.

1. In twenty words or less, describe what Alex looks like.

2.In twenty words or less, who would play Alex in a documentary?
I'm going to cheat and combine my words to answer both these questions. Alex not only looks like Wesley, but Gary Elwes, in his youth will play Alex in the docu-drama. Oh, and there's Mrs. Alex. It is trueeeeee love.

3. In twenty words or less, who does Alex remind you of?
When it comes to blogging, Alex is Tony Stark, a generous genius, making everything look easy compared to us regular folks.

4. In a 100 word flash fiction, use these words: Cavanaugh, Ninja, IWSG, Cosbolt, Guitar For.
The word spread round the cyber kingdom, December 21st marked the end of the world. Nothing could save us except support of the Ninja Cavanaugh and his gang known as IWSG. Using a guitar for inspiration, the captain traveled like a Cosbolt and wove a power through the space time continuum some refer to as the internet. And the world survived, living to write another day.

5. In +/- 40 words, thank Mrs. Cavanaugh for loaning Alex to us.
Thank you, Mrs. C., for allowing us some quality time with dear Alex. We adore him nearly as much as he does you.

Thanks for joining. This is a blogfest and remember to visit the rest of the participants.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


I thought and thought about it. Should I join another blogfest or bloghop. I figured I shouldn't with all the balls I'm juggling right now.

But Writers4Writers is too great an opportunity to pass up. In today's publishing realities, the best way to make sure readers find your books is through word of mouth or in this case, word of social media. Some very generous people have taken the time to organize this and help out with book exposure.

The kick off star is Nancy S. Thompson promoting her book, The Mistaken. Take a moment to check out this thriller. Love the cover.

Take a moment to like the Writers4Writers facebook page and see if it might be something you want to be part of.  Want to join, go to Stephen Tremp's blog and check out the linky list. I hope you'll take the time to tweet or post on facebook about Nancy's book. Let's make this work.

What do you think about Writers4Writers? Joining? Have your own promotional efforts going? What's working for you?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Insecure Writer: Likes and Reviews

Thanks again, as I say every month on the first Wednesday, to Alex Cavanaugh for starting this monthly get together where writers can encourage each other and ask for help. Every month I meet a few bloggers who are new to me and learn something from nearly everyone I visit. I'm always jotting notes down, buying a few new books, and finding some interesting blogs to follow.

This month I collecting opinions on 'likes' as well as reviews and those little golden rating stars. Many authors I know ask, politely, for their friends on facebook or readers of their blogs to 'like' their books on Amazon. And of course, hoping and requesting your friends to write a review, no matter how short is not too much to ask. Is it?

I have never done anything like this. I hope readers of my books would feel motivated to 'like' or review my books but I never specifically asked them to take the moment needed to click on a button. I 'like' other people's books all the time and about once a month I take the time to write some reviews. I'm pretty far behind on that but I have hopes to catch up on it over the holiday break.

So, I'm wondering, do you ask this of your readers and friends? Do you do it? Is it acceptable? Should I request it? Would you go to this link and click 'like' if I asked it of you? Does it help book sales?

Monday, December 3, 2012

First for Mondays

I read somewhere that this is a special December with five weekends though that also means five Mondays. The good news is that I will have two of them off from the day job. The bad news is the other three. At the least, I have lots to talk about on this first Monday.

With the holiday season comes lots of gatherings with friends, families and coworkers. It also means lots of food, delicious, fun, fattening food. It's very difficult to avoid and refuse all the wonderfulness. So my first Monday health tip is to not refuse it. Instead of being strict about what you eat, try policing your portion size. You can even help yourself with your own baking. Make your cookies smaller. Cut those holiday marshmallow treats into tiny squares. Use smaller plates and even smaller cups for your sweet holiday drinks. And then cut yourself off early in the evening. Eating late can really ruin your weight management goals.

Onto other great things about this first Monday. Today, Lynda R. Young, announces her release of the anthology, Make Believe. Lynda's book can be purchased at this link. And read this short blurb:

Birthright by Lynda R. Young
Christa can mask the pain and hide the scars, but running from a birthright is impossible.

She’s tried to escape her grief by fleeing to a small town in Florida. Much to her frustration, the locals think they recognize her even though she's never been there before. To make things worse, a man named Jack spouts outrageous theories about her.

Both spur Christa to bolt, to start fresh yet again, but there’s something about Jack that intrigues her enough to stay. The only problem? Someone else wants her to leave, and they won’t stop until she’s dead.

Blurbs from all the stories included in Make Believe can be found on the J. Taylor Publishing website HERE.

Read an excerpt here. You can also read the excerpts from all the stories in this series here.

So, how are you going to watch your caloric intake this holiday? Or do you throw caution to the wind and enjoy the feasting and work it off after? Did you go check out Lynda's book?

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 www.thewritingnut.com.

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 meetup.com
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.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monstrous Monday

Thank you, Tim Brannan, for giving me a topic for Halloween with this idea for the Monstrous Monday Blog Fest. The purpose is to name your favorite monster. My least favorite real monster is this monster storm predicted for the east coast for the next few days. But I think Tim meant fantasy monsters not weather beasts.

I wasn't sure what to select for this with so many things to pick from. The Chupacabra is a mythical creature that has its origins in the Americas. What makes this creature especially creepy is the occasional sightings and photos that might or might not be faked. The Chupacabra is usually described as a flying creature that drinks the blood of its victims, earning it the nickname of 'goat sucker.' Size varies to rodent-sized(and who doesn't hate a rat) to something bigger than a man. It certainly seems like a demon on earth, doesn't it?

So what monster is your favorite? Ever use one in your writing? Still check under your bed? Visit The Other Side, Tim's blog, for a list of lots more bloggers having fun with Monstrous Monday. I can wait to learn about some new creatures and may learn new facts about others.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Puzzle Buddy

I might not be around much this weekend. It's a special mini stay-cation. My sister from Picayune, Mississippi is coming to visit me for the weekend. She's arriving today and staying through Sunday. I come from a big family, five girls and two boys. Of all my siblings, this sister is the most like me.

She loves to read the same kind of books as I do. She likes sports. We're pretty physically alike. We each have four kids. We do crafty type things and are good at home fix-it projects. We love our pets. We're both comfortable being alone and tend to be a bit quiet in a crowd though neither of us is shy.

One other big thing we share is our love of puzzles. For over twenty years, we've been exchanging jigsaw puzzles on our birthdays. We each search out something we hope will challenge the other. No puzzle has ever defeated one of us. My birthday is coming up in a few weeks and I can't wait to see what she comes up with.
I want to do this one.

So if you don't hear from me this weekend, I'll be browsing through the bookstore with my sister. We'll probably have lunch out somewhere. We'll watch some movies on TV. We'll probably go watch my son coaching his high school football team. Stay up late and sleep in.  Great fun. I'll visit you all on Monday.

Weekend plans for you? Have a sibling you have fun with? Love those jigsaws?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Overused Words

Amanda Rose at Flowering Fiction recently tagged me in the "Look" challenge. This little exercise does numerous things. It's a fun way to put some excerpts out there and inspire some interest in my work, but it's also a way to check for overused words. The rules are to count the numbers of times you use the word 'look' in your WIP and then share three interesting excerpts.

First, I'll share my numbers. 36 'looks' in the first 17,000 words of The Heir of Futhark. I already changed a few of them.

Second, three excerpts.
#1 Zomelak looked each of them in the eye. Was there courage still in their race, or were they the cowards Cage had named them? “What will he do if we disobey him? Kill us?”

#2 The lessening of the ash fall allowed a clear look at the sharp rents in the land where red molten rock surged and bubbled. Not so much as a single wall of the smallest hovel or great mansion still stood in the ugly, steaming cauldron.

#3 Bayard pranced nearby, still agitated by either the scent of blood or his master’s condition. Sabell couldn’t look at the victims of the horse’s attack. His large hooves had minced the villains into bloody, broken pieces, none of the mess recognizable as people. In his frenzy of killing rage, the warhorse had trampled the robbers Cage had already killed. Gore covered Bayard hooves and halfway up his legs. Each time his movements brought him near one of the bodies, he stomped it again.

Thanks to Amanda for inviting me to join this. I'm not very good at passing these type of things on but I invite anyone to take the challenge.

What word do you tend to overuse? Do you search it out and change words when you're done with your manuscript? Did you go 'look' at Amanda's blog?

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Thanks to David Powers King who passed on The Next Big Thing to me. I've put it off for a few weeks because of the super duper blog fests I've been enjoying as a participant and a visitor lately. Time to catch up with this before next week's Monstrous Monday Blogfest sponsered by Tim Brannan at The Other Side.

Now to anwer the questions about The Next Big Thing

1. What is the title of the book I'm working on?
The Heir of Futhark, Book #4  and the final installment of The Futhark Chronicles.

2. Where did the idea come from?
This ending for this series has been in the plan since I wrote the first book four years ago.

3. What genre does it fall under?
This is classic epic fiction where the hero and heroine must save mankind from an evil entity with magical abilities.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your main characters in a movie adaptation?
I want Henry Cavill as Cage Stone. I'm sure it will be a bigger role for him than Superman. And Amanda Righetti from The Mentalist will be a perfect Sabelline Shelton. She's tall and built like an athlete.

5. What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?
Cage and Sabelline search desperately for a means to defeat the god-like being they're released into the world before all mankind falls under its evil spell.

6. Will it be self-published or represented by an agent?
This is the series I reclaimed from a publisher who decided to take their business in the direction of celebrity books after they published the first two books in the series. I'll be self-publishing it.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft?
About seven months, which is about normal for me.

8. What other books within the same genre would you compare it to?
I would compare it to Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn in that the fantasy world isn't huge and sprawling though there is more magic in his story.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I've always loved fantasy. Like most fantasy lovers, at some point I read Tolkien and the rest is history.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
If you read the first books in the Futhark saga, all the mysteries and questions will be answered in this final book. By the last page, you'll understand the history of Futhark and the direction the world is going. There's action, love and death. There's sadness and triumph though the final victory comes with great cost. I hope you all want to know how it turns out.

Thanks, David, for passing this on to me. Talking about it helps get me motivated to get those edits done.  Part of this if for me to pass this on.

Let me introduce by friends to a writer who is a newly published author. Gerry Trust has been a friend of mine for many years and I'm so happy for her success and never say quit attitude.

Stop over and see what David is up to. He's a very busy blogger and has something new up almost every day. I'm glad I found him through some blog hop or other.  Check out Gerry Trust and wish her luck.

Friday, October 19, 2012


I'm almost an empty nester. My 23 year old son is living at home, but he makes no demands beyond watching really dumb shows on TV. We won't go into that.

I expected I would have lots of writing time this school year since my youngest two are away at college. And I have found more than previous years, but not as much as I expected. I am finding more time to spend on blogging and what fun it was this past week with the Did I Notice Your Book Blogfest. Between the participants and the other blogs I visit nearly every day, I commented on over 100 blogs on Wednesday. That's a record for me. But I also received a record number of comments on my own blog and found some new followers. Thank you to everyone who stopped by.

I learned something about the blogs of writers that I follow. Almost all my bloggy friends write SF or fantasy. There's a lot of variety within those two genres like YA, romance and middle grade. Some of the blogs I visited were suspense or mystery authors and one does some poetry. I wonder, how did we all 'find' each other in the sprawling universe of the blogosphere? Heck, if I know. And I wonder how I'll ever find the time to read all those wonderful books I discovered on the blog hop.

This weekend I'm back at my WIP right after I pick my son up at Penn State and bring him home for a weekend.  I'll also get my blogposts ready for next week. I'm involved in one more blogging event this month, the Monstrous Monday on October 29th. Thanks to Tim Brannan for organizing that. You can still sign up.

What are your plans this weekend? Any blog events on your horizon?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Did I Notice Your Book Blogfest?

Here I am, enjoying the crazy fun of another blogfest inspired by Alex Cavanaugh and Ciara Knight. The purpose of this blogfest is to call attention to some great books that are currently flying under the radar of the usual bestseller lists like USA Today or the New York Times.

I never thought about how difficult this might be. I have so many books by authors I've met online on my eReader, on my computer, and even on my phone.  How to pick!

After much  thought, I have selected Lynn Rush, a fellow author at Crescent Moon Press. Lynn's latest release, Prelude to Darkness, is gaining lots of rave reviews. Read a blurb:

For a slave, hope is a dangerous thing.
Margaret Rousseau dreams of freedom from a life of servitude. When a mysterious woman saunters into the servants’ tavern promising the impossible, Margaret dares to hope she could win the heart of the one man she has secretly coveted since she first wore a corset...
The Prince.
Margaret desperately grasps for the opportunity to change her bleak destiny by placing faith in a woman who is not as forthcoming as she seems. Blinded to the stranger’s dark motives, Margaret surrenders herself to gain her heart’s desires.
But her choice may bring forth a darkness that could destroy all she holds dear.
Lynn has gathered six 5star reviews on Amazon for Prelude to Darkness which is part of her Wasteland Series.
Lynn also has a new book released just this week, Violet Midnight. I haven't read it yet.
Here's her website where you can find directions to a great release party and a chance to win a Kindle Fire. Who doesn't want one of those. Please follow some of these links and meet Lynn. She has no idea I'm talking about her today.
Also please visit Alex or Ciara to check out the links to all the bloggers participating in this blogfest. Did you find some books you plan to read? Do you already know Lynn?

Monday, October 15, 2012

I'm thrilled to welcome Hildie McQueen, one of my fellow Crescent Moon Press authors, as a guest poster on my blog today. I'm trading places with her and posting on her blog about selecting names for fantasy characters and places. Hope you stop over at her blog.
But for your reading pleasure here, Hildie will share her advice on attending conferences. I'm very envious of the fun she's had and all the networking she managed. Please welcome Hildie McQueen!
The Conference Junkie
Conference whirlwind girl reporting from Newark, NJ Airport.  Let me tell you, it's been a wild ride that although I am glad to finally get off, would not have missed for the world.  After each conference, I leave excited and refreshed, fully charged after being surrounded by amazing uber talented authors.

My conference advice to future conference attendees (It's worth at least two cents)

#1 Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone, introduce yourself, make it a goal to meet new people. This is a hard one for introverts, but it's the only way, you'll meet fellow authors and make life long friends.  If you are a shy person, pair up with an outgoing writer and ride her coattails. 

Those being said, if you are one of those life-of-the-party types, reach out to those hanging on the fringes.

#2  Be Flexible -- Don't expect everything to go as planned and do not have a strict schedule that you feel you have to stick to.  Like life, conferences have a way of taking on a life of their own.  A 50 minute session at the Georgia Romance Writers M&M conference ended up lasting over two hours when we decided to take our group to the lobby, sit on the floor and continue a super interesting exchange.  Guess what?  We ended up hanging out for the rest of the conference, made some awesome new gal pals!

#3 Be Proactive - - Carry the following with you at all times:  Business Cards, Tissues, Gum, Pens and safety pins.  Business cards (Self explanatory), Tissues, (well you'll need them, trust me on this).  Gum (in case you get sleepy or after meals/coffee), Favorite pen (to take notes, get numbers) and Safety pins (because if I'm at the conference I'm always falling apart and will yell, "anyone got a safety pin?!"  You will be my immediate hero if you do).

#4 Go to lunch or dinner away from the conference with your new group of pals.  It's where friendships are cemented, some 'ah ha' moments happen and y'all can promote outside the conference.

Lastly, one of the things I love to do is collect extra swag and when I get back home I make small bags of swag as prizes for my book club, and for my blog and Facebook giveaways!  It's a great way to pay it forward by helping fellow authors reach new readers!


Hildie McQueen's goal is to bring the unexpected into people's lives, one reader at a time.  Using sense of humor, coupled with her love of the unusual, she writes across romance genres, from paranormal to western historical, contemporary to erotic.  The recurring theme in her writing is the search and discovery between two people to find true love.

Hildie enjoys traveling, shopping, wine tasting and relaxes by scrapbooking when possible. She lives in a small town in Georgia with her super hero husband Kurt and two unruly Chihuahuas Pancho and Pepito.

Keep up with Hildie on her blog, Facebook or Twitter @HildieMcQueen


Author of The Protector Novels.  Latest Release Desperate Surrender

Wendy O'Sullivan’s life drastically changes upon discovering she is not human, and is charged with guarding the Key of Peace. To make matters more complicated, she reunites with the Protector she's dreamed of since the day he rescued her from a demon attack.

Kieran Frasier, hasn’t kissed, much less loved a woman in over three hundred years, his heart firmly encased behind thick walls. The fierce immortal defends innocents from powerful demons, but can he defend himself from diminutive Wendy, who manages to get past all his barricades?


Faced with arranged marriages to others and battling demons that will stop at nothing to capture Wendy, will they be forced to surrender their chance at true love for the greater good?


Sometimes your biggest obstacle is not who you are, but who you love.

 Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Hildie. Please, wonderful readers, take a moment to check out Hildie's work and visit me on her blog. Thanks for stopping by.



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Busy Week Ahead

Time is flying by. I have some fun bloggy plans for this week.

Tomorrow Hildie McQueen and I will be guesting on each others blogs. Join me on hers to read my take on how to name characters in fantasy. I'll be using examples for my epic fantasy series, The Futhark Chronicles. Do you know the origin of the word, Futhark?

 You can check out her blog now to hear about her experience on the recent Moonlight and Magnolias Conference in Georgia.

Hildie will be sharing even more about her recent conference experiences on my blog on Monday. I'm very envious of my writer friends who are busy with fall conferences. Next year.

On Wednesday of this week, I'll be joining around 90 other bloggers in the Did I Notice Your Book blogfest, another great idea for Alex Cavanaugh. You can still sign up and join us. Even if you don't join us, hop around and read about some books and authors you may not have heard of but that maybe you should check out.

So lots to do besides working on my current WIP, The Heir of Futhark, fourth and final book in my series. Work, work, work, but the fun kind. Hope to see you around this week.

Are you joining Wednesday's blogfest? Have you heard of Hilde McQueen?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Time Line

I can't believe we're almost halfway through October. Where has 2012 gone? Hopefully everything doesn't end in December because I have plans for 2013.

I read a short article in a writer magazine written by an author who had left the big six publishing company she wrote for to take the self-publishing route. She had many reasons for changing the course of her career and with a lot of hard work, she made pretty good money. I'm not sure I could ever spend 10 hours per day promoting online, but it was inspiring. One of her reasons for abandoning the 'big boys' publishing game struck a cord with me.

It's not unusual with a large publisher for the actual date of putting your book on the market to be two years in the future from the time you sign their contract. Two years. That's a long time from getting an advance check until you start to earn any royalties. In that time, most authors will write two or more additional books without every know how that first book will be received.

Most indie publishers get your contracted book to market much quicker, three to twelve months at most. And of course, if you self publish, your book is for sale as quick as you can do the preparation. The time line you make is your own.

I think more writers are getting impatient with the slow machine of the traditional publishing houses. Authors are more determined than ever to take control of their careers and the products of their hard work.

Is your career following your timeline? Have you felt 2012 flew by? Plans for 2013?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Writing Nut

I am a lucky writer today. I'm guesting at The Writing Nut. Nutschell is graciously allowing me to post over on her blog. You can see a picture of my knee after surgery. It's mostly better now though jogging downhill is  somewhat uncomfortable. Check out my writing space.

Thank you, NutschellPlease hop over and join me.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Writing Process

I'm busy on the fourth book of my epic fantasy series, The Futhark Chronicles. The Heir of Futhark will wrap up the series. Someday I might revisit the world I've created there with a series about the next generation of characters, but I have to finish this book long before that can happen. Before I talk about writing, I wanted to let you know I'll be a guest at The Writing Nut this week. So hop over there now and meet Nutschell, a very special generous person.

Writers develop their own unique ways to go about writing a book. I generally write a really rough first draft, hopefully rather quickly. Quickly for me currently is five to six months. Then I print it out and read it, making huge changes, pulling and adding scenes, writing all over it in red and blue pen until there's more colored ink than there is black. After that, I use that rough draft as an outline to write the book I intend to send to my beta readers. That's where I am right now with Heir of Futhark.

Using the outline, I can write a couple of thousand words a day. Not every sentence gets changed so some chapters go pretty quickly. When I have to add or do a lot of clean up on scenes, it slows me down. Sometimes a single sentence slows me down. I want to keep it because it says something important, but it just isn't saying it quite right.

Here's a rule I use during this rewrite. If I have to read a sentence twice to know for sure what it means, I have to change it. I don't want my reader to have to pause to understand what I meant to convey. I want the reader caught up in the story, not taken out by my confusing prose or poor sentence construction. I'm lucky in that my beta reader, Gina, is excellent at catching things that might be a bit foggy.

I'm sure that as a reader, we've all encountered a complicated part in a book that we have to slow down and reread. Perhaps a part where you're not sure which character is speaking or which head you're inside of.

Do you catch this in your own writing? Do you notice it when you're reading? Do you know Nutschell?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group

Can't believe it's the first Wednesday of a new month already. Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh, I always know what to write about on this day. Alex started The Insecure Writers Support Group and you can find all the links on his blog. You can always join or you can just take advantage of all those links to wonderful blogs. You're sure to meet interesting people and probably learn something.

I'd like to bring up an issue that every person using a blog or publishing a book or doing any kind of writing they intend to make public has to face. How much personal stuff do I share with everyone? My email? My picture? Pictures of my family? News about my family? Do I talk about where I live?

Will my blog be about personal issues, writing issues or a combination? Are my friends on Facebook really people I have a personal connection to, or are they a community of writing professionals? Do we share personal news or only promote our writing?

Each of us has to make our own decisions about how much of ourselves we put out there. Some people maintain more than one blog, one professional and one more personal. I've made my blog mostly about my writing, but some personal issues sneak their way into my posts. My day job, my family and my daily activities are sometimes tied into my writing news and views.

I never bring up politics on my blog and seldom ever comment on someone's blog who does. It's not the kind of debate you can host without angering someone.

So how personal is your social networking? Do you give a lot of your personal info out or keep most of it private? Do you dip your toe in the boiling water of politics or avoid it?