Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sign Up and Fantasy Quote

An exiting mid week day. Wednesday means the week is half over. Not that I'm counting down the weeks until retirement. I think from now on, I'm going to write that word in all caps. RETIREMENT! Yes, I'm counting days and weeks. But I'm also counting down to April and 2013's A to Z challenge. I might be doing a theme this year. Other years I did post on general writing thingies. Something more specific this year.

Go over to the A to Z blog and sign up or visit the blog of any of the many wonderful, energetic hosts and sign up. Sign up. It's a great way to grow your followers, meet some very clever bloggers and gain a wonderful feeling of personal accomplishment. When you're finished, you also find yourself more efficient at posting and visiting other bloggers.

Another thingy going on today is Alex Cavanaugh's newest brainstorm, Wednesday Movie Quotes. Today the quote is supposed to come from light fantasy. I'm sure I won't be the only one quoting this movie and this character.

You keep using that word. I do not think it mean what you think it means.
Inigo Montoya
(The Princess Pride)
Did you visit Alex Cavanaugh for more fantasy quotes? Have you signed up for the A to Z yet? Are you glad it's Wednesday?

Monday, January 28, 2013

I'm Susan

Thanks to Stephen Tremp, Elis Fallson, Mark Koopmans and C.M. Brown, today is the day to reintroduce myself to my blog readers and followers. The idea behind this bloghop is very sensible. Not many followers have been with a blog since the very first day. When one starts a blog, usually that first post is an introduction. Any introduction only a few people see so followers generally get to know a blogger in bits and pieces thereafter. So here's a quick roundup of who I am.

I am published in epic fantasy and fantasy romance. I write romance under the pen name Susan Kelley and fantasy under my real name, Susan Gourley. My day job is as a high school health and PE teacher and as I remind everyone at every opportunity, this is my last year before retirement. I have two wonderful stepsons, three sons and a daughter. One son attends Penn State and my daughter is at Boston University. I love writing, reading, running, baking, needlework, jigsaw puzzles and family time most of all. I grew up in a large family on a dairy farm. If I write something about cows or baling hay, you can bet I know what I'm talking about. I'm pretty sure I can do the whole survival thing if that TV show, Revolution, come true. Enough about me. Go visit more blogs.

In staying with my hopes to give something back to people who have helped me along the way, I would like to mention my friend, Misty Simon, has a new book out, What's Life Without Sprinkles? If you like some laughs while you're reading, read one of Misty's books. Check out the great reviews she received on Amazon. I'll be telling you more about Misty and a blog project she's starting later this month. Some of you will be interested :)

Don't forget about A to Z sign up starting this Wednesday. I'll be on there the first day.

Do you need to reintroduce yourself? Signing up for A to Z? Like some laughter with your reading?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Welcome, Mel Chelsey and Adversarius

Please enjoy this little intro to Mel Chesley, a fellow fantasy author. Her first fantasy novel, Adversarius is now available. I'm so thrilled to be able to support a new author, especially one as entthusiastic and hardworking as Mel. Please read about her book, the first in The Shadow of the Rose series.


Two kingdoms, two goals.
The king of Relavia is determined to wipe out his warring neighbors in Paridzule, a worthy adversary for over five hundred years. News of an arranged marriage between his son and the daughter of his lifelong enemy has fueled the temper of Relavia's tyrannical king. What he doesn't realize is the true measure of his son's honor and how far he is willing to go to gain peace.

Author Bio:

M. L. Chesley is an Alaska based author, online blogger and MMORPG junkie. She has been writing fantasy for several years. Between writing, work and family she barely has time for much gaming, but some days, raids take precedence over all. If you would like to learn more about her world, created in this book, go to You can also follow her blog at

Twitter: @MLChesley

Purchase Links:

Amazon: Adversarius


Excerpt 1: Captain Sorcha Lilanthroe pushed her spyglass back in upon itself and leaned on the railing of the quarterdeck. She chewed the inside of her cheek, trying to make a decision.

“Fromas,” she finally beckoned her bosun and brother-in-law to her. She passed him the spyglass and lifted her chin in the direction she had been studying. “What does that look like to you? Two points off the port bow,” she directed.

Fromas lifted the contraption to his eye and surveyed the horizon. The suns shone onto his bald head. After a moment, he lowered the spyglass. He tilted his head slightly as he looked at his captain.

“Looks tae be the remains of a ship,” he confirmed her suspicions. “Hard tae tell, but by the color of the sails, might be a warship. Possibly from Paridzule.” Smoke billowed up over the wreckage and as they sailed closer, flotsam appeared in the water. The wake of her ship, the Blue Drake, pushed it easily aside. Sorcha lifted her chin again, indicating another point off the opposite railing for him to inspect.

“And what do you make of that? Four points starboard.” He lifted the glass to his eye once more and whistled softly.

“That looks tae be a survivor,” he passed the spyglass back to Sorcha.
“Indeed it does.”

“What be your orders, Cap'n?”

“Prepare to bring them aboard.”
“Man overboard!” Fromas bellowed, and the crew below them on the main deck relayed the order and prepared to pull the person from the water. One of the crewmen grabbed the gaff, leaning over the railing with the long pole. He made sure to hook the wreckage the person floated on—not flesh. Some of Sorcha's crew pulled on a rope attached to a pulley, sending a man sitting on a plank with a rope tied to each end like a swing, high into the air. Another pull of the rope and he swung beyond the railing as they lowered him into the water. As the man wrapped his arms around the unconscious form, he gave a shout and the men on deck pulled again, lifting both people out of the water and on to the deck, water spraying everyone in a wide arc.

Sorcha left the quarterdeck, going down the stairs to where her crew gathered around the still figure. She jabbed them with her elbows, shoving them roughly aside.

“Someone go fetch Percy. Move!” She shoved several more of her men out of the way and knelt down, pressing two fingers to the cool skin of the girl's neck. Life pulsed there, weak, but life nonetheless. She grabbed first one hand, then the other, looking for something specific. Sorcha found it on the right hand, slipped it off of the unconscious girl's finger and deftly stuck it in her pocket. “All of ye get back to yer stations!” she hollered. Most of the men frowned down at the girl lying on the deck but knew better than to disobey their captain.
Isn't that a cool cover? Do you have any questions for Mel? Can you leave a like for her on Amazon? Please check out her blog.





Monday, January 21, 2013

January Black by Wendy Russo

I'm very pleased to feature a new release by fellow Crescent Moon Press author, Wendy Russo. Here's a little about her.

Wendy S. Russo got her start writing in the sixth grade. That story involved a talisman with crystals that had to be found and assembled before bad things happened, and dialog that read like classroom roll call. Since then, she’s majored in journalism (for one semester), published poetry, taken a course on short novels, and watched most everything ever filmed by Quentin Tarantino. A Wyoming native transplanted in Baton Rouge, Wendy works for Louisiana State University as an IT analyst. She’s a wife, a mom, a Tiger, a Who Dat, and she falls asleep on her couch at 8:30 on weeknights.

January Black is a YA.  You can check out her blog and website here. She's running a terrific giveaway and Wendy is just an interesting person to meet.

Here's a short blurb for January Black:
Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn has never fit in on The Hill, an ordered place seriously lacking a sense of humor. After his school’s headmaster expels him for a small act of mischief, Matty’s future looks grim until King Hadrian comes to his rescue with a challenge: answer a question for a master’s diploma.
More than a second chance, this means freedom. Masters can choose where they work, a rarity among Regents, and the question is simple.
What was January Black?
It’s a ship. Everyone knows that. Hadrian rejects that answer, though, and Matty becomes compelled by curiosity and pride to solve the puzzle. When his search for an answer turns up long-buried state secrets, Matty’s journey becomes a collision course with a deadly royal decree. He’s been set up to fail, which forces him to choose. Run for his life with the challenge lost…or call the king’s bluff.
Does Wendy's book have a cool title or what? What do you think January Black was? Have you visited Wendy's site?

Friday, January 18, 2013

This Time of Year

I hate the cold. I hate getting out of a warm bed in the morning. Like many of you, I'm sure, I keep my house in general on the cool side to save energy costs and the bedroom is a little frosty in the mornings.  But...there's always on of those...I do get a lot of writing done in the winter because I stay indoors as much as possible.

My editor at New Concepts Publishing shocked me yesterday with the return of my manuscript with all the first edits done and ready for me to go through again. I wasn't expecting it until next month. Guess that makes my plans for this weekend pretty solid. And the temperatures are going to dip again so it's inside for me.

But next year at this time, I hope to take a mini vacation/writing retreat of sorts to a warm weather location and do some writing in the sunshine. Did I mention I hate the cold? I'm  not a huge fan of the beach because the ocean is so durn noisy and so are the people lounging about there. But early morning walks and digging my toes into the sand sound pretty good right now.

We had a little snow for Christmas and that's enough for me. I'm ready for a little warm weather and outdoor exercise.

So this weekend, I'll be watching some Dr. Who and editing a manuscript for what feels like the 1000th time. I'll also be wishing for warmer weather.

What are your plans for the weekend? Is winter dragging on for you or you one of those cold weather fiends? Are you keeping your house cooler than you used to?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Goal Setting

As a health teacher, I do a lot with students about setting goals. I know this audience doesn't need to read any of my lectures on the importance of working toward something. Many of my fellow bloggers have already publicly shared their goals for 2013. Putting it out there is a great motivator to help one strive to meet those goals. My turn.

First my excuse for not doing this right at the start of the year. I was too busy with a deadline. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I really did have an artwork questionnaire and other work hanging over my head for one of my contracted books. The fact that my children were home from college and I wanted to spend every possible minute with them is only incidental to the lag time in my goal setting.

Goal #1  Finish my last read through on The Heir of Futhark and send it to my editor. Get the artwork ready. Make changes suggested by my editor. Publish this last book in The Futhark Chronicles on Kindle and Smashwords. My self-imposed deadline is February 28th.

Goal #2 Complete editor suggested changes for my newest futuristic romance novel, The Marine's Queen. New Concepts Publishing has set a tentative publication date as March 29th.

Goal #3 Complete editor suggested changes for First Dragon, the first book in The Morbunda Saga. Crescent Moon Press has contracted this, my second epic fantasy series. I've  very excited about it though I don't know the publication date yet.

Goal #4 Set up blog tours and do mega promotion for all three books above. My biggest challenge.

Goal #5 Use my new camera to take more pictures I can use on my blog.

Goal #6 Complete two more futuristic romances for New Concepts Publishing.

Goal #7 Complete the second book in The Morbunda Sage. It's about half finished now though untitled.

Goal #8 Do some traveling. With my son doing an internship in Colorado Springs from May to November, I'm heading west. Then my daughter is at Boston University. Seeing her every two or three months isn't often enough for me so I'll be heading north on occasion. I have a sister in Washington State. I've always wanted to see those mountains. I have a sister in Mississippi, a very warm place to visit in the winter. I have a sister in New York State, pretty much on my way to Boston.

In case these goals seems ambitious, remember this is the year of retirement for me. I'm going to try and be a full time writer starting in June. I hope it works.

Did you all set your goals? Any place you're intending to visit this year? Is your family spread out like mine?

Friday, January 11, 2013

To Do List

I've spent the last ten days working on a to do list. Every time I check something off, I seem to add three more things to replace it. Lots of these things are like a housekeeping list for my writing life and not so much setting goals. I'm getting around to the goal thing, but not yet.

Housekeeping involves some things such as:

* Adding up tax info for my husband to do the taxes. Not that I'm making big money or taking big deductions, but it still has to be done.

* I spent an entire afternoon changing all my email addresses I use to sign in at various sites, personal and professional, to my gmail address. I had been using the gmail and two different verizon addresses. All gmail now. You never know when you might change internet providers and then I'll want to be rid of those Verizon accounts.

* I schedule a number of guests on this blog for the next few months. I want to help them with their promotion and hopefully they'll return the favor.

* I've been investigating security programs for my computers. I need to renew my Norton or buy something else today. Haven't decided yet.

* I'm working with my niece, my intrepid cover artist for the fourth and final book in The Futhark Chronicles series. It's with my editor now. Love that Gina.

* I'm catching up on some writing articles and magazines I have stacked on my desk. I'm always looking for something that will make me a better writer.

* I'm also getting back into the swing of blogging three times per week and visiting more blogs everyday.

So my desk looks a little neater. Now if only blogger would fix itself so I can upload pictures. I have my new camera and all these pictures I took to use here, and blogger is being difficult.

So what housecleaning chores did you have to do lately for your writing business? Any security program you recommend over the others? Do you use numerous email addresses?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Indie Life

Welcome to my first post in the Indie Life blogfest. To join, go here, where The Indelibles Writers have started this second Wednesday group where indie writers can share, comfort, encourage and basically, help each other manage the sometimes lonely life of being a writer.

Though this group is small, I believe it will grow and thrive because there is a need for it. Most writers get the answers they need from other writers. Need to know how to promote, how to use social media, how to self publish, how to find an agent, how to investigate the reputation of a small press, ask another writer. If they don't know, they know how to find out or someone who does know.

This brings to my point for this first post. When you become published, you'll find yourself checking your sales numbers, your reviews, and your ranks against other books in your genre. What you find might be encouraging or quite the opposite. It might discourage your from trying again. You might feel hopeless. But ... remember you're not competing against those numbers you obsess over.

If your book isn't doing well, do a better job or promotion. If your book isn't getting good reviews, try to learn something from them. And then make your next book better. You're competing against yourself. You must try to make every book better than the last one your wrote. You must improve your voice, make it unique and memorable. Create characters who readers will care about. Challenge your characters more than you did in all your previous works. The competition is your past work.

Do you see improvement in your work from one project to the next? Do you have other indie authors who have helped you along in your career?  Am I the only one that blogger won't let upload a picture?

Monday, January 7, 2013

First Monday Health Tip

Life is about balance, getting right amounts of what you need. Offsetting the good with the bad can help keep you in balance.

Writing, sitting at a desk, can be bad for your health. Hours and hours on your behind not only may add pounds, but it isn't so good for your heart and all those other health issues associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Add to the mix all the hours that writers spend reading, and you have more time on the tush and fewer working those big calorie burning, heart pumping tools found in the big muscles in your thighs and buttocks.

Winter joins in the conspiracy to keep you inside, sipping some hot chocolate and reading by the fireplace. But movement is required for good health so how does a busy writer get that done? Here's something on my wish list though not necessarily this model. There are lots of choices.

Can you see yourself getting some work done while walking on your treadmill. Check out this TrekDesk. At this point, since I don't have a desk on my treadmill, I usually watch a movie or listen to my iPod. But a few days ago, I played some games on my phone and found it very entertaining for 50 sweaty minutes. Couldn't I also do some promotion on social media while walking on the treadmill. Could I type and walk at the same time? I think I'd like to try it out before I purchased it just to see if I could.

I don't own an elliptical but I've read while on one at work. Didn't really like. My brother recommends his stationary recumbent bike. Here's some good prices on Hayneedle.  I know I could get work down while on one of those.

So do you have ideas of how you can work out and write or work on promotion while you exercise? Or would you rather just completely separate the two? If you can't workout outside, what is your favorite cardio workout indoors?

Friday, January 4, 2013


I'm waiting to receive my manuscript back from my new editor at Crescent Moon Press. First Dragon is the first book in my latest epic fantasy series. The book has three main characters sharing the danger, battles and ... well ... difficulties of epic proportions. I know I have a good plot but I'm a little worried if I've made things difficult enough for those three people. Have I tortured my protagonists enough?

I think of all the books I love, the movies I enjoy, and I know the best ones are the ones where the main characters suffer greatly and then overcome it all. 2012's offering of hero movies certainly followed the formula from Dark Night Rising and The Avengers.

Besides my epic fantasy novels, I also write fantasy romance under the pen name, Susan Kelley. I have a contract for another novel with my publisher coming out later this year. Romance usually requires a 'happily ever after,' but that doesn't mean the characters shouldn't be tortured before they get there.  I know I've done a pretty good job of it in some of my previous novels. One Good Woman might be the one with my most tortured characters who finally find happiness. I love those characters because they react to the adversary in their lives in complete opposite ways yet somehow both come to the same point of healing and redemption.

Have I tortured my characters in First Dragon enough? I guess my new editor will let me know. Do you torture your characters? Do you ever worry you're too nice to your protagonists?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Insecure Year

Happy New Year to all. I've been looking forward to the start of the 2013. As I've reminded you again and again, and will again and again over the next few months, this is the year of my retirement from teaching.  I'm looking forward to the being a full time writer and that leads me to my first post of the year for The Insecure Writers Support Group. This wonderful group was started by Alex Cavanaugh and one only has to post the first Wednesday of every month to be part of the terrific network of like-minded bloggers.

I know many of my blogger buddies took some time off over the holidays from their usual blogging schedule. Today if my first post in some time, as I busied myself with family obligations and worked on a manuscript that has needed my attention for a few weeks now. And guess what.

My blog didn't disappear. I didn't lose any followers. Blogger didn't shut down because I didn't have three new posts per week. My friends didn't abandon me because I didn't visit their blogs everyday. The blogosphere went on without me. It was the least amount of time I spent reading blogs in the last two years. And it was okay.

What I learned is that it's okay to take some time off. It's all right to concentrate on one project at a time or spend extra hours with your family. I've worked hard on my blogging over the past year, but it didn't all fall apart because I took some time off. I didn't even feel guilty. And I got so much other writing done. And I have two publishers sending me edits for rewrites sometime in the next two months so I might have to take some more time off. And it's okay.

Don't be afraid to relax and focus on the immediate demands of your life, personal or professional, and slack off on others. That's my advice for today.

Did you take some time off over the holidays from writing or blogging? What's the longest break you ever took? Did you feel guilty?