Monday, January 28, 2013

Re-Introduction and La Luna!

First, I"m re-introducing myself and sharing something I never have with you before, thanks to Stephen Tremp's Re-introduction blogfest. Plus, Mina Lobo is hosting the Lunar Lovin' blogfest with moon pictures posted from around the world.

Cool, eh? Yep, my thoughts exactly.


So obviously I'm a writer. Duh. :) I've been dedicated to studying the craft for the last five years now. I write YA, experimented with an upper MG, and last November signed with my agent for my latest story, The Desiree, a YA romance with a twist. Full story here.

I have a son and daughter in elementary school, I'm married to a hardworking firefighter who doubles as a handyman, and my BFF is a 70lb cream-colored labradoodle named Ripley. I also work for the largest airline in the U.S. and handle European bookings.

BUT ... something you may not know, is that I've always dabbled in arts and crafts, and I've always had a thing for fantasy creatures. The first novel I tried writing was centered around fairy folk and I just loved imagining that story. But that was before all the Tinkerbell movies and books came out and I felt it killed my story. :(

However, lo and behold, an idea came to me a few weeks ago that allowed me to revisit that very first story, and I went with it. My fairy folk didn't have to stay buried away in an overwritten manuscript! I could bring my vision to life in a different way. And that's what I've done.

Introducing my line of handcrafted fairy folk! (Please forgive the shameless self-promotion here.)
Each come with their own special power and purpose, each one crafted with love and precision. Hang them over your writing desk or art table for inspiration. For example, here's one that may be fitting for you:


Meet HARRIET PLOTTER.


Bringing inspiration to plotter and pantsters alike, Harriet wardens off the dark arts of writer’s block and flat characters with a wave of her wand. When in doubt, talk it out, because Harriet’s listening. Place her wherever you hope to stimulate chronic creative vibes for your masterpiece, and get writing!

Since this endeavor is so brand new, I'd love all the support I can get. If you'd "like" my Facebook page by clicking here, I'd be grateful. I'll introduce the entire line on my page, as well as new pixies that are created. 

Actual orders can be made from my website, or from my Etsy Shop page. You can also custom design your own with hair and skin color and/or fashion. 

So anyway, thanks for checking out my latest endeavor. Your support is SO much appreciated!


Wish my moon picture came out better, but it was the best I could do. Could be a lightbulb for all you know, right? lol


This was 3am Monday January 28. Beautiful full and yellow. A cool jeweled moon, as I like to say. (a la Jim Morrison). See more moon pictures on Mina's blog. (linked from above.) 

Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by and learning more about me. I love learning more about my readers too. Tell me something I didn't know about you in the comments! Can be anything from your fave story or film, to how many siblings you have. Or any hidden talents? Would love to hear about those! So many creative folks in the blogosphere! Please share ...

Monday, January 21, 2013

18 Things, My Bucket List, & Your Final Clue

Greetings! Happy MLK Day! We are celebrating here in the States with a long weekend and some fun family time. But today's also special because Jamie Ayers is celebrating the upcoming release of her new YA, 18 Things!

In honor of her release, she's having an 18 Things Bucket List blogfest, and wants to know what's on our list. You can still enter and do your own post, just click on the picture below to get to Jamie's blog. But first, keep reading for more on mine.



Before I get to my list, it's also the last day of clues for my own contest, in which I'm offering the winner an Out of Print tee shirt of their choice.

In order to win, you must collect all five clues from previous posts. But I won't make it that hard. You can find the other three clues by going here and here, and here. Simply find the clue words next to the asterisk and use them to figure out the answer. (Take a gander at the awesome new releases while you're at it. ) Email me with all five clues and your answer. If there's more than one winning entry, I'll have random.org select a winner. But you'll also have a chance to win one of the eBooks that have been featured.

Have you seen how cool the Out of Print tees are?? I have a couple myself and they are high quality and one of a kind. I've seen they have a brand new Pride & Prejudice print that is tres chic. Think I'll be grabbing one of those myself along with the winning entry. ;)

And here's your final feature and clue:

                                                           
                                                             *Zihuatanejo


Now back to my Bucket List ...

Actually, if you've seen the movie, I've been privileged to do a lot of what's featured there already. I've mentioned before in previous posts, that working for an international airline for over fifteen years has afforded me a LOT of travel opportunities. Things like the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, riding an elephant through the jungles of Thailand, gondola riding in Venice, etc...

Honestly if I died today, I'd have seen more places than a lot of 80 year olds. Becoming a mom was number one on my list, and God blessed me with two amazing children. Selling my book with success would be nice, but since that's not really in my control, I'll simply keep striving toward it.

BUT as my fortieth birthday quickly approaches (not til November) I really want to accomplish something else from my bucket list. And here's where you come in.

I don't have 18 things here, but there's plenty to choose from. I'm taking your suggestions, and whatever I end up doing, I'll have mega pictures and blog posts documenting the journey so I can share it with you.

* Skydiving in New Zealand
* Tour of the Holy Lands in Israel
* Trek up to Macchu Picchu in Peru
* Visit to Nepal to see Mt. Everest (not climb it lol)
* Dive the Great Barrier reef of Australia
* Dive trip to Palau in the South Pacific
* Round-the-world trip with brief stops in select cities in a full globe trot
* Shopping in Prague
* Great White shark expedition off coast of South Africa
* Dive trip to Greece

Those are the main contenders, but I just can't decide. What would YOU do? Any suggestions?? Don't forget to hop over and visit Jamie and congratulate her new release. :)




Sunday, January 13, 2013

Confessions of a Blogaholic

Last Friday was a special day. My son (and first born) turned 8 years old. Wow, still can't believe it. We don't do big parties for every birthday--we skip a year and stick to immediate family celebrations. But Hubby and I still wanted to do something special, so we planned a trip to our local theme park.

Our son and daughter didn't know about it. This would be a total surprise. We'd pick them both up from school a little early and then head to the park. But first! Being the super cool parents that we are, we wanted to make the pick-up even more exciting. Not only would they get out of school early to go have fun, they'd get into a minivan filled with balloons!

Hubby spent the morning blowing up about fifty balloons and stuffing them in the van. He buried a gift at the bottom so our son would have to dig through the balloons to get to it, plus he made both our kids a poker so they could pop the balloons and get them out of the way. 

We drove up to school with balloons fluttering about the front seat and me stuffing them back. You really couldn't see out the back windows--the van was filled from floor to ceiling with multi-colored latex balloons of all sizes. Hubby had used an air compressor to fill them, so they were air tight and robust.

At the elementary school, we parked in the teachers' parking lot in the front so the front office wouldn't see our kids getting into a van filled with balloons after being picked up early from school. Plus, we knew balloons would be falling out and the kids would have to pop balloons just to get to their seats. There was literally no room for them to sit without losing balloons.

Once the kids were with us--and eyes filled with wonder as to why they were being picked up early--Hubby handed them a poker. They had no idea what it was for. Until they saw through the van windows and let out a squeal of excitement.

Now, just so you know, my son has had an affinity for balloons since before he could walk. Most kids like balloons, but he REALLY loved them. They were his most favorite thing ever at one time, so a balloon-filled van just tickled him.

We opened the side door and balloons tumbled out into the breeze. A couple lifted up into the sky. (More giggles from my son) but some fell to the ground. *Here's where I remind you about the compressed air Hubby used to fill them.* You know what happens when latex-stretched airtight balloons hit the ground?? 

POP!

Not just any pop. Ear shattering pops with a faint ring that hangs in the aftermath. Coincidentally, it's so loud, it sounds very much like gun shots. 

*Here's where I remind you of a recent elementary school shooting, and the fact that police officers are currently posted at all public schools as an added safety measure*

My kids were uber excited at this point, and popping balloons with their pokers, climbing into the van while more balloons tumbled onto the ground and 

POP! POP! POP!

Ear shattering loud.

I look at my Hubby with frantic eyes and say, "This is bad. Really really bad."

"It's so loud," he says.

"It sounds like gun shots!" I say.

POP! POP! POP!

"Holy smokes! Let's get out of here now, before the SWAT team arrives!!"

We tear open the doors and more balloons tumble out with loud pops. We're freaking out now, and our kids have no idea why. We didn't tell them about the tragedy in CT--they were too young to go into details on that unspeakable event. So they're super confused as Mom and Dad close the side door and clamber into the front seats, tossing them into my lap in the passenger seat.

With balloons still taking up every inch of the back, the kids couldn't even get into their child-safety (and law enforced) seats. I hugged them both to me in my lap, all of us stuffed in the front seat with balloons flying up in our faces, while Hubby starts the car and pulls out.

"Hurry," I tell him.

"I'm trying! I can't speed through the lot, that'll look even more suspicious!"

At this point, visions of a SWAT team surrounding us and forcing us onto our bellies on the pavement, while the kids watch in horror, are swirling through my head. A news clip on the local TV station would air of the untimely and ill-planned birthday flop by air-headed family who caused a school evacuation and lockdown with helicopter rescues and law enforcers employed for hours to ensure school safety ... all because of some balloons.

We only live a couple blocks from the school, and by the time we got to out street, Hubby and I were laughing hysterically at the irony. The kids were just having fun being crammed in the front seat with balloons everywhere and they're laughing too.

We unload in our driveway with more balloon spilling out and popping as soon as they hit the ground. POP! POP! Still as loud as ever and sounding just like gunfire. But hey, we're at our house now, so we don't care. Let'em pop!

A few minutes later, a cop drives right down our circle, past our house slowly. Hubby and I exchange glances and expect the mayhem to start. But the cop keeps on driving--probably shaking his head at our lunacy. The fact he didn't stop was a very good sign that all was well. We didn't stick around to find out if the school went on lockdown. We headed to the theme park after the balloons were popped and present opened.

And since no phone messages were left from the school, we're pretty sure nothing major happened. LOL. (Let me just note, I'm in no way laughing at the tragedy of school shootings, but merely the irony of our situation and how very badly it could've ended up.)

Okay, so in retrospect, maybe we shouldn't have fled the scene. But the balloons would NOT stop popping and there were many more waiting to explode, so our first reaction was to get out of there before more "gunfire" could freak out the entire neighborhood, in case for some reason, the other pops hadn't been heard yet.

Needless to say, the "birthday flop" will be remembered for quite sometime. And luckily, turned out okay. Actually, it wasn't a flop at all. We had an amazing fun-filled day with our 8 year old and he said repeatedly, "This is the best birthday ever!"

Makes it all worthwhile.

How about you? Find yourself in any unwise situations lately? What would you have done in this situation? Please share ...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mrs. Peacock in the Conservatory with a Rope

That's right! It's time for another clue. But the title of the post won't help you. If you've been following my clues in hopes of winning an Out of Print tee shirt of your choice, as well as eBooks from each featured release, then today's the day to collect another.

Need all the deets and clues? No problem. Check out the posts here and here to find out how you can win. (Sheesh I sound like the back of a cereal box)

Today's release comes from Elizabeth Seckman on her Healing Summer tour. Elizabeth is hosting her own contest so be sure to check out her blog for another chance to win a $25 gift card. Just click on her name and head over for more info. And click on the book cover below to find out how you can purchase Healing Summer. But first! Read on ...


Maybe Love, Not Time, Heals All Wounds
Ditched at the altar…biopsied for cancer…Mollie Hinkle is having a bona fide bitch of a summer. When life sucks so hard it takes your breath away, what's a girl to do? Pack a bag, grab a few friends, and leave the past and the worry in the rear view mirror. What wounds can’t be healed by a drive across the Heartland, where quarter flips at cross roads determine the route and the future? All roads lead to Craig, the second son and bad boy of the haughty Coulter line. Has fate brought her to the miniscule Montana town to find happily ever after or will it just break her heart?
“Healing Summer” is the second book in the Coulter Men Series.



                                                                    * Escape

I thought we could get to know Elizabeth a little better so I asked her to share her bucket list with us, and how she started writing. Take it away, Elizabeth ....


Hmm…my bucket list.

Ever since I was a kid, I have had two dreams.
#1 I wanted to be a mom.
#2 I wanted to write.

In 1994, I had my first son and my bucket over-flowethed. I was on cloud nine. Nothing else mattered. Not even the writing. I loved the mom gig. I was so crazy about it that I had three more boys and was game for a few more when my husband drew the line in the sand with the mandate: NO MORE KIDS!

Then in 2006, my last baby went off to kindergarten. And my father-in-law was diagnosed with leukemia. A few months later my dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer…and within weeks, my brother was diagnosed with angiosarcoma…a rare, fast growing cancer that ended his life within months of diagnosis.

You know how you mull over things as you wait for the sandman? Well, my thoughts stunk and their stench was affecting my spirit, and it had to stop…because  I don’t roll like that. God didn’t put me on this earth to roll over. I had to find a purpose. But I couldn’t think of what could penetrate my gloom.

Then one day, I sat with my brother in the hospital, I was reading “Gone with the Wind”. A nurse asked me about it (shockingly…she’d NEVER read it!) Of course, I told her all about it…and about Margaret Mitchell and the history that influenced the story. The nurse probably regretted she made small talk. My brother excused my behavior with a snicker and, “My little sister always wanted to be a writer.”  *Insert epiphany here.*

From that moment on, in the time I usually spent dwelling over the bad things going on in my life…I plotted happy endings and fantasies far rosier than my reality. Stories came to life in spiral notebooks and on scrap pieces of paper. It was a distraction. Nothing more. I had zero plans of pursuing publication. Other people do that, not boring chicks from New Martinsville, West Virginia. Then I sent a letter to Dixie Browning (marvelous writer! She’s retired now, but has over two hundred books to her credit!) to request an autograph for my sister. After a few back and forth messages, Dixie offered to read a few pages. She sent me a letter, told me to watch my head hopping and mind reading. She said I had talent and if I studied and stuck with it, she had no doubt I could get published.

Every time I got a rejection, I’d think, “What do they know? Dixie said I could!”

That’s my bucket PK…it’s filled with boys and books and I couldn’t ask for more!

So awesome! Thanks, Elizabeth! Love hearing how writers find that nugget of encouragement to make it happen. And congrats on achieving your bucket list! 

Find Elizabeth on GoodReads, Facebook, and her blog

Thanks so much for stopping by! So what's on your bucket list? And how did you get started writing?


Monday, January 7, 2013

Priorities

When I first started writing a novel length story, all I did was write, take care of family, work the day job. Then once I realized there was such thing as actual craft, I began intensively researching the markets, publishing, and the physics of putting together a story. I got a submission to Writer's Digest magazine and learned about the online community. Once I joined, I met many writers of whom I still connect with today, and learned I needed to start a blog.

I didn't even know what a blog was. LOL

Now, three years later, I can hardly imagine life without blogging, but with so many writerly duties on the agenda, how do we keep up with it all? In addition to writing a near perfect story, there's conferences, workshops, clever Facebook posts and tweets, blogs to read and posts to entertain, not to mention all the social media I haven't even made a dent in yet--like LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc.

Sheesh! When I first discovered the blogosphere I signed up for everything and followed everyone that had to do with writing. After awhile, I was inundated with craft emails and contests and book reviews. I could NOT keep up. I was drowning in information, and trying to comment actively on everyone's blogs?? Forgeddabout it!

It wasn't happening. And trying to make it happen while still maintaining a halfway normal life was as far fetched as Britney Spears winning the Nobel Peace Prize. So prioritizing became a must.

I unsuscribed from all emails except for the top 5 from blogs/newsletters I liked to read. I ignored contests unless I was actively querying. I only commented on blogs of those who commented on mine, unless I stumbled onto a link that caught my attention.

Obviously, this meant I'd lose some interest in my own blog because I couldn't get around to all the ones I used to, but that was the sacrifice I had to make. Heck, I'm a mom and telling my kids to wait so I can visit more blogs just ain't cool. (not to mention impossible)

My priorities in order, I was able to breathe again. Family first, then church, work, writing. Emails and blog posts could be read from my phone, and my actual blogging was limited to downtime during my job. I only use Facebook for group forums, and I hop in and out of Twitter from my phone when it's convenient. Sure, I've missed a lot of stuff, but the reality is, we can't do it all. So why try?

As for the wealth of information the internet offers, I love it, but there comes a point when too much of a good thing becomes contaminating. By understanding my limits and prioritizing, I've put myself in a much happier place. And in terms of blogging and social media, I've found that cultivating meaningful relationships is worth way more than a gazillion followers who never interact.

Ever wonder how your priorities would change if you found out you had a life threatening disease or ailment? It's a lot to consider, and I'm certain many things important to us now, would drastically change. Speaking of which, I have a friend, Nancy, who is new to the blogosphere, and who is chronicling her journey and fight against cancer. It'd be such an encouragement if you'd pop over and tell her hello, and follow her blog. It's a tough road, and wow I just admire her courage so much to put herself out here and share what she's going through. Please click over and welcome her to the blogosphere.

And don't forget the contest I'm holding this month. Collect the clues and send them in with your answer for a chance to win a super cool and hip Out of Print tee shirt or a newly released eBook!

So tell me, how do you prioritize? What comes first for you? What have you sacrificed?    

Friday, January 4, 2013

Prof. Plum in the Library with the Knife

Well, that is one clue, but it's not the clues you'll want today. ;)

Today I'm sharing with you two upcoming releases, and with each, another clue for the contest. What contest, you ask? The one I'm holding that can win you a tee shirt of your choice from Out of Print Clothing, as well as an eBook from each of the featured stories. Want to get all the deets in how to collect clues and win? Read this post for more info. You'll need all the clues, along with your final answer, in order to enter and win.

First up, is Jessica McKendry's young adult action adventure romance:

                                                         
                                                             * banker


I'm not sure how it all went wrong.
The concept was simple.
The Trials were made to test us. They were made to challenge our strengths; our bravery.
We were supposed to come out better.
Winning the Trials would make us Superior citizens.
It would bring us honor and demonstrate our loyalty to the Imperial Alliance. I knew exactly what I wanted.
Until I met him.
There was something about him. Something dark. If only I had known the danger it would put us in.
I thought I knew the risks.
But I never imagined the price we'd pay.

***

An insightful look at the good and bad that exist within us, McKendry's debut is a high-octane adventure that pushes the imagination to the limit as it lays bare the nature of self-reliance, self-confidence, and teamwork. Playing with the concepts of dark and light and how they affect our lives in multiple forms, her novel is a complex coming of age story that encapsulates the heroine's journey from student to leader. A dark tale of love and revenge, From the Ashes is a powerful reminder to think for yourself instead of blindly following what you've been taught to believe.

Sounds great, right? I've beta read this one and it's awesome. Super excited for Jessica! Learn more about her and her debut at her blog.


Next up, is Tressa Messenger's third release in her young adult paranormal romance series:


                                                                  * prison


Anna-Marie and Alessandro work hard to provide a stable life for their only child, Gemma.  The child that was bestowed to them by their goddess Ameretat for reasons still unknown.  Like Alessandro’s mother did to him, Anna-Marie works diligently to protect her special daughter and lead her away from following in her father’s footsteps in becoming a Protector.  Weeks before Gemma’s eighteenth birthday Gemma has a magical night with a boy, Ford Chase, who just may have been “the one”.  They laughed and danced and kissed under the moon light.  That is before he was forcefully taken away from her by a Rogue.  Gemma desperately chases after them, but to no avail.  Heartbroken and angry Gemma vows right then and there, despite her parents pleading, she will join the Protector order on her eighteenth birthday and avenge Ford’s death.  No one could foresee the events that would ensue thereafter and little by little the gifts that Ameretat blessed Gemma with become apparent and are far more than anyone could ever imagine.

Tressa's official blog tour and contest deets can be found by clicking on the picture below. She's new to the blogosphere and it wouldn't it be cool if everyone headed over to offer her a  warm welcome and congratulations??


So there you have it. Two new books. Two new clues. And more to come next week.

Thanks so much for stopping by! I just finished reading Ender's Game and now starting Code Name Verity--off to a very good reading start to 2013. How about you? Have you read either of those books? Are you familiar with either of these authors I'm featuring today? Any luck with guessing at the clues? Please share! 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

IWSG - Reflections of 2012


Welcome, 2013! We made it. Another writerly/readerly year notch in the belt. Feels good.

Tomorrow is also the first Wednesday of the month when writers around the blogosphere post for Insecure Writers Support Group. I"m getting ahead of the game with a post a day early (and cuz I don't know what day it is. lol) Click on the picture below to get to HDQ and learn more.


Whatever our goals for 2013, let's not forget to reflect on how far we've come since January 2012. Maybe we're still not where we'd like to be, but if we're "moving toward the mountain" (to quote Neil Gaiman) then we have accomplished something.

For me, reflection is important because it marks growth. With writing, sometimes our growth is so gradual, it's hard to recognize. But it's there. Makes me wonder if there's ever a point when a writer feels satisfied with themselves. I'm guessing not. If you're like me, you're always striving to be better.

So with reflection in mind, I ask you, what have you learned? (I know, sounds like a John Lennon song, right?) But I  think it's important to consider. For me, 2012 has reminded me that creating a work of art takes time. Sometimes years to perfect a novel, film, or even a painting.

The good news, is that there's no hurry. We get excited about our craft, which leads to euphoria and sometimes premature submissions and/or releases, but when we take the time to truly labor over every scene and every word, our product is the better for it.

Reminds me of a quote I heard once: "Get your ego out of the product, and into the process."

That's what I'm taking away from 2012.

How about you? What are you reflecting on? What have you learned? 

Here's to a very productive 2013! Filled with creativity, perseverance, and genius. And on this day in 2014, may we reflect again, and let out a collective sigh of accomplishment. 

Thanks for being on this journey with me. Don't forget to check out the contest I'm holding. Read here for more details.