Tag Archives: Blog

Open Call for Reviewers- FREE E-Book!

I received wonderful news from my publisher last week, announcing they are giving their authors more free e-copies of their novels to share with reviewers and bloggers!

Guess what that means?FreeEBook

OPEN CALL FOR REVIEWERS!

I’m asking for anyone who is willing to read AUDREY’S PROMISE, and write a review (at least 150 words) to post onto Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Good Reads, and any review sites they belong to (blogs included). I will email a .pdf file copy of the novel to you (completely FREE!), and you can download it to any device you prefer (Kindle, Nook,  Kobo, etc).

WriteAReviewMy request is that the review be posted within 6 weeks of receiving the novel. If you don’t like the book, that’s ok. I will not be offended. But please keep your reviews PG rated (no swearing or personal attacks). Keep it strictly on the book and characters. :)

Here’s the book blurb:

Audrey Allen is poised to become the youngest Texas senator, a position that fits her nickname, The Peacemaker. But she’s unable to make peace with many in her hometown, where memories and grudges run deep from a decade-old tragedy. 
Ethan Tanner, an ambitious and tantalizing journalist, joins her at Thanksgiving for an in-depth look at the promising candidate. But he has an agenda of his own that’s not entirely honorable.
Ethan could stir up trouble for her budding career, or awaken the deep passions she’s buried for so long. Will Ethan find that he values love more than getting the story?

Thank you in advance! Either comment on this posting or send me an email through my CONTACT PAGE.

Now: KeepCalmReadOn

Time Flies and Priorities Change

Time is flying by, even more so that I have a definitive timeline to get this BlurredClockmanuscript finished. My deadline is BBDD. Before Baby Due Date.

With that comes a massive priority struggle. Between my son’s schedule, gearing up for the baby (and picking out a name!), as well as finishing this manuscript and critiquing a friend’s manuscript, blogging has fallen off of my priority list. Not a great first posting for 2014, I know.

But that doesn’t bode well for an author trying to market a recent release. I can’t devote that much time to social media or blogging, because I selfishly would rather focus any free time on writing/critiquing. Come mid-March, free-time will be a fond and distant memory (much like sleep). Writing will become ‘that thing I love, but I need to take a shower and 2hr nap today.’ So the stories in my head will be stuck on the rear-burner. Along with my blog.

BabyandStorkBut I want you all to know that I won’t be going away completely. I promise I’ll still be here. Albeit, a much more tired, ragged version of myself. It will take me longer to respond to emails and hop onto Facebook/Twitter. But I WILL respond. Priorities will shift (they kinda have to!) but I know this blog will still be here when I’m ready.

More importantly, I’ll still try to market AUDREY’S PROMISE as much as possible and attend those treasured conferences and events (between feedings!). RWA National is a major one for me, particularly since it’s in Texas this year. At some point, I’ll have my first book signing!

In the meantime, I follow several blogs that will more than make up for my lack of presence. Feel free to follow these folks and fill your brain with inspiring knowledge and entertainment!

Greater Ft Worth Writers 

Author CA Szarek

Author Kimberly Packard

Author Scot Morgan

The Creative Penn

Nathan Bransford 

Halloween BlogFest for Audrey’s Promise!

Halloween 2013 standard banner copy[1]

I’m blogging over at Long & Short Reviews today about Autumn and favorite pastimes. Click on the banner above and check it out (post will be published at 3pm central)! Awesome prizes and raffles too! Visit the Blog Review site to enter to win a free e-book of AUDREY’S PROMISE!Halloween 2013 Participant[2]

Checking My Goals and Cringe

I checked on my goals that I created earlier this year, knowing the progress wasn’t going to be pretty. Then why did I do it? Several reasons came to mind.

Self-punishment addict? 

Clicked on the file by mistake?

Needed to change them entirely to make myself feel less of a failure?

Reinvigorate my motivation?

Maybe a little bit of all the above. Over the last 3 weeks, I’ve hardly reached any word count goals per day or per week. Blogging has fallen off the radar. I threw the calorie-counting out the window. And my exercise goals? Ha!

But I need to cut myself some slack. I’ve been sick. A LOT. 2012 has started off much the same as 2011 ended.  And will probably remain so as long as my son remains in preschool, thereby bringing home every ailment known to toddlers. And giving it to both his exhausted mother and over-worked father. It’s hard to go to the gym carrying an entire box of tissues and toting along my coughing, pink-eye infested son into their daycare while I hack out a lung in the middle of Zumba. Hardly health-conscious. Or attractive. (Not that women go to the gym to look attractive WHILE they’re there. Unless you’re in college.)

Which means I haven’t had much time to write. Or plot. Or think about writing. Or blog. But I’ve been able to read a bit. So here’s what I’ve been reading over the last several weeks (other than books and medication directions):

As We Were Saying…

Babbles from Scott Eagan

I Make Stuff Up from Kim Packard

Short Stories from CA Szarek

A Lucid Reality

Miss Snark’s First Victim

The Artist’s Road

The Creative Penn

Janet Reid Literary Agent

Jeff Goins

And a ga-gillion other writer/publisher/agent websites. I can’t list them all here, or you’d be stuck on my blog for hours (*wink*). Not that you’d want to go anywhere else.

Writing Delay… *pop a cough drop*

Having a toddler in preschool means I’m constantly sick. Whatever the ‘flavor of the month’ is, I get it. Most recently, it’s a full tri fecta. A mixture of sinus infection, ear infection, and pink eye.

This unpleasant combination means I don’t get to write much. Nor blog.

Nor attend my critique group meetings. Which really kills me. I love those meetings. Almost as much as I love writing. It’s one of the few adult times, just to myself, to focus on my writing and be around people who love writing, too.

But instead, I’m focusing on wiping snot bubbles from my son’s face, force-feeding medication (which involves a minimum of two adults to keep him still, infinite patience, and half a roll of paper towels), changing my goop-covered clothes every four-to-six hours, and inhaling cough drops.

And because I value the members of my critique group, I’m not attending the latest meeting to prevent spreading the germs. (Your welcome, guys!)

Meanwhile, my manuscript has remained open on my laptop, untouched, staring at me every time I lift the lid. Beckoning, whispering “only 2 chapters left.”

TWO CHAPTERS LEFT, people!!

Between my husband, myself, and our son, on average someone has been sick in our house every week the last four months. Before that, it was about one week per month. I should have bought stock in the manufacturers of tissues, cough drops, paper towels, and children’s antibiotics. With as much money as we’ve spent purchasing the products, we may have made our money back. Until we purchase the decontamination bomb to sanitize our house every week.

Hopefully, when I get 1 semi-healthy day to myself, I can finish this manuscript. It will still be the fastest I’ve completed the rough draft of any story in my life: just over 4 months. And I’ve had at least a total of a month delay due to sickness.

Now, back to snot-swiping duty. *popping another cough drop*

Writer’s Goals for New Year

New Year’s Resolutions can be double-edged swords, if you let them. The typical resolutions to lose weight, earn more, quit smoking, drinking, or whatever other vice (Diet Coke for me) seems daunting and casts negative air over what resolutions are supposed to be about.

Improvement. By either pledging to do something positive or remove something negative from your life.

Resolutions aren’t a reset, but a re-check. Make sure your headed in the right direction.

For many people, 2011 was uncharacteristically harsh. Judging by the Facebook and Twitter posts I’ve seen recently, most are happy to close the door on last year and usher in 2012 with the promise of something better. At least more hopeful.

I learned a lot from 2011. Mostly learned a lot about myself, my limitations, discovered new strengths, and new ‘areas of improvement.’ I met new people that have become invaluable to my writing endeavors- my ‘specialized supporters.’

Most importantly, I think I discovered how to let go of this illusion of control that I tried desperately to keep a grip on last year.

Things happen despite my best abilities to prevent them, other things don’t happen no matter how hard I tried to make them flourish. And other sideswipers come out of no where to make life even more chaotic.

This illusion of control stems from my ever-consistent behavior to internalize everything. And God love my husband and family for helping me to let that go.

So this year, my resolutions are aggressive, but much more forgiving if I lose track along the way. Just as I know my family and friends are. Supportive. Always trying to help me be my best, and forgiving when I lose track.

In addition to a few personal goals regarding family, and overall health and wellness (no New Year’s resolutions would be complete without them), here are my targets:

~Reduce my Diet Coke intake to 1/week (gradual, to prevent nasty withdrawals).

~Gym twice a week.

~Blog twice a week.

~Submit to other blogs I partake in at least once a month.

~Read 1 Book/month.

And for the daunting writing goals:

~Finish rough draft of WIP (Audrey’s Promise) by March. Specifically, write 5K words /week.

~Finish Audrey’s Promise revisions by November. Meaning, 15 pages/week.

~Finish my previous manuscript’s revisions (Rip It) by May. 20 pages/week.

~Submit either of these manuscripts to Golden Heart contest in December.

~Query Rip It to agencies/publishers starting in June. Specifically, 4 queries a week.

~Finally, plot my next novel (middle grade) by December.

These goals are evenly spaced out over the year, so I’m constantly busy with writing, but not overloaded. I think that’s my husband’s Project Management job rubbing off on me. Leave it to him to create a timeline spreadsheet for me, to help track my goals every week down to the individual word and page count. Goal tracking on steroids!

As always, love more, laugh more, and keep writing forward.

Researching Villains

Disney Villain Swap

Part of my revisions for my manuscript involve doing more research on villains. Yes, apparently the villain in my novel isn’t developed enough, according to my critique partners, and they’re right.

So I’ve dug around on the internet to find info on the inner minds and psyche’s of our nation’s more recent sicko’s, including reading their personal blogs and websites. (I will leave the specific names of my research subjects out so I don’t get myself into too much trouble on here, but they’ve been plastered all over the national news).

Let me tell ya, if you ever need to do some research to find out how these villains’ minds work, just read their blogs or bio pages. Extremely warped!

Most of them try to excuse their ‘not that bad’ behavior on child hood nightmares, such as bad parents, abusive siblings, traumatic toddler stories, and even violent spouses, and on, and on, and on. There’s always an excuse, never accepting responsibility for their actions and blaming the entire scenario on someone else. And on every single page, they always show how great they are and how much people love them (and so should you, why don’t you love them? You must be crazy, because everyone else does). And the entire situation isn’t as bad as you think.

Really enlightening and scary at the same time!

These aren’t your serial killers, rapists, or sociopaths that you see depicted on old Law & Order episodes. These were supposedly normal, everyday people who ‘snapped.’ Some of them were parents, some of them were spouses, most of them were well-educated. Yet they were able to perform the most heinous acts, and still (to this very day) think there was nothing wrong with how they reacted. If their scenarios were played out again, they wouldn’t have changed their actions. The entire thing is freakin’ scary!

Be careful with your research, because you may not want to leave the house afterwards!

 

Thick Skin For Hire

Every writer, particularly published authors, know that the publishing industry requires a thick skin for anyone who dares enter their dominion.

I thought I had a fairly thick skin before I even started querying my first manuscript.

*insert cackle laughter here*

Now, I know I don’t have nearly as thick of skin as I should, but I definitely have grown a few dragon scales to protect my vulnerable side over the last two years.

I think joining a kick-as* critique group has definitely helped. Also following editors and agents blogs/twitter/facebook and reading their responses to people’s queries also has helped.

I received my first round of major revision suggestions from my critique partners this past weekend and have let their thoughts percolate in my brain. I’m so glad I’ve grown thicker skin. Because now, I actually want that kind of advice. I need to know where they got lost in the story, what didn’t work for them, and realize its not that I suck and should give up writing. They are not flaws in my personality and I’ve dared exposed the weak points in my inner psyche. It’s areas of the story and characters in which I need to fix.

Or perhaps we’re thinking of it backwards. It’s not that people need to grow thicker skin, or regenerate thicker bone. It’s that we need to shed the vulnerable self-conscious layer of invisible shields we humans use as a self-defense mechanisms.

Get rid of your insecurities. Get rid of ridiculous thoughts that whatever suggestions others say is a ding in your personality, or interpretation of ‘they don’t like me.’

Shed everything down the most base level, where we can actually improve on the inconsistencies in our writing. That’s when we’ll notice the biggest difference on our writing style/skills.

So throw your skin out the window and let the air rejuvenate your writing. Completely open yourself up to improvement.

All right, manuscript. Get ready for rejuvenation. Dive in!

Critique Groups are Supposed to Help, Not Hurt

I recently read another author’s blog that made me think about critique groups.

First of all, I love my writers group. And I’m not just saying that because I’m the President. My writers group and the fabulous other writers who’ve critiqued my work have been one of the best assets of my entire experience.

But the author’s blog I read claimed that her writers group ‘critiqued the voice out of her novel.’ I can only imagine session after session of sitting with her critique members and them offering suggestions of how to improve her language, grammar, and characterization efforts backfired. So when she finally read the ‘revised’ version of her manuscript, she couldn’t even recognize it as her own. Maybe it felt flat to her because she didn’t recognize her words. But her voice was gone.

How frustrating!

But then I thought about it further. She had the right to refuse those suggestions. They were just there to help, not to be vicious and purposely make her spicy work become vanilla. Why didn’t she speak up for her own writing? Why did she cave?

Perhaps she thought the other members were more experienced than she. Therefore, her opinions (while mattered) weren’t as crucial as the others.

Perhaps she believed her fellow writers were experts in the genre she wrote. Or if not experts, at least liked the genre and had read a lot of books to be knowledgeable of it.

Very possible. Even plausible.

But bottom line, its her writing. At some point in every writer’s career, they will receive critiques and ‘friendly suggestions’ from friends, other writers, editors, and agents that may not be in the best interest of the story.  I’ve had several. But I at least recognize it’s meant to help. Everyone’s critique is his or her own opinion. It’s up to the writer to determine what they’re comfortable with accepting. To determine how open minded they want to be. To find out what kind of suggestions they are getting and how credible the sources are.

I know that’s a tremendous hodge-podge of what-ifs, and can scare the crap out of any aspiring author. It still scares me from time to time.

I think it all comes down to 3 things.

First, the writers group you belong to. What kind of people are involved? Are you comfortable reading in front of them and sharing your thoughts? Are they supportive, open, and constructive? Do you feel comfortable not accepting a crit?

Second, how open-minded are you? Meaning, do you defend every tiny detail of your manuscript when someone tries to make a suggestion on a character, setting, or plot line? Or do you cave at every suggestion without getting second opinions or really thinking it through?

Lastly, and most importantly, you gotta love to keep writing. Even after all the crits, suggestions, revisions, rewrites, and gut wrenching rejections from agents or editors (if you’ve submitted), you have to love the story. The characters. Everything about it. Because if you don’t, there’s no way anyone else will. You are your story’s greatest fan and biggest cheerleader. If you don’t love it, go back and ask yourself why. Don’t let someone else talk you out of your own voice.

All that being said, I feel very lucky. I’ve found a writers group I’m comfortable with.  They’ve made fabulous suggestions for me that I’ve loved and have only made my writing stronger. But I also don’t feel threatened when I don’t take one of their suggestions. If you don’t have the same feeling about your ‘helpers,’ find new ones. Stand up for your voice.

 

On a Roll…

The last three days have been exactly that- on a roll. And I’m lovin’ it!

Vacations really do work wonders. Before my vacation I averaged about 500 words a week on my WIP. In two days I wrote 1700 words. The following day I wrote another 3000. The story just flows from my fingertips, I can see my characters so clearly, it feels great. For months I struggled through scenes because I couldn’t see my characters, couldn’t follow which themes were most prevalent and back tracked time and time again.

Now my WIP is at over 75,000 words, and I’m expecting to end around 85,000 (first draft).

Now I feel like an Olympic runner, or swimmer (yes, let’s keep this water-based since my WIP is based on a water sport) in the middle of the Individual Medley, in the zone, and surpassing their best personal record.

I’m all giddy when I get to update the word count meter on my blog page, even if there’s only a 100 word difference since my last update. Seeing that bluish-purple bar approach the end is fantabulous and self-affirming.

Now I’m off to take a break and go swimming with my son, hubby, and parents. It’s a great way to relax my brain, beat the record heat wave hitting Texas and share my accomplishments with the main supporters in my life.

I hope everyone has such an awesome cheering section as I do because it makes all the difference.

Take it easy, stay cool, and keep writing forward!