Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Monday, December 8, 2014

Possibilities

My wise calendar told me this month:

Possibilities are the buttons of the spirit...they hold together our dreams.

Well, that really struck me. I need something to hold together my dreams right now. So I made myself a jar full of buttons to remind me of the possibilities.


Here's to 2015 and a world full of possibilities! What are your dreams for next year?


P.S. There is still time to enter my big giveaway. Four signed books, a $10 Amazon card, and homemade toffee!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Spirits Bright Christmas Giveaway!

Hi all! To celebrate the release of Spirits Bright and the most wonderful time of the year, I'm holding a giveaway on my website. Grand prize is a signed copy of all my books, a $10 Amazon gift card, and homemade Christmas candy. Mmmmm.


Here's a little excerpt from "Spirits Bright," the title story:

 Right in the middle of her best-ever game of X-treme Tic-Tac Cubed, GlobalVillage vanished. “What?” Jacey almost dropped her controller in surprise. No Input marched in multi-colored letters across the faintly glowing holo-wall.
That wasn’t possible. She hit every button on the controller half a dozen times with no effect. GlobalVillage was gone. She pressed her hand to her chest in an attempt to quell the panic rising there. She could handle this. Right?
She glanced at the half-eaten nutribar. She had no other food in the house. Trembling, she ran a hand through her tangled hair. It was Christmas for crying out loud! What was she supposed to do now?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Get Spirits Bright for Free!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today and tomorrow, download my new Christmas collection, Spirits Bright free for your Kindle. A little early Christmas gift for all of you.



A different kind of Christmas on a faraway planet. A starship lost on the wrong side of the galaxy. A woman disconnected from everyone she knows. Combining family, traditions, and faith with the wonder and excitement of science fiction, this collection is sure to delight and inspire you this holiday season.

Hope you all have an amazing holiday.

Monday, November 24, 2014

New book release: Paladin Pawn by Michael Young

Today, I want to let you know about a new middle grade fantasy by my friend Michael Young coming November 28. Congrats, Michael! I hope you'll give it a look.

Introducing Paladin Pawn


When nerdy Rich Witz unwittingly becomes a Paladin, a white knight, in training, he is thrust into a world where flunking a test can change the course of history and a mysterious bully is playing for keeps with his life.
 Rich’s grandmother leaves him with one thing before disappearing for good: a white chess pawn with his initials engraved on it. The pawn marks him as the next in an ancient line of white knights. He must prove himself in a life or death contest against his Nemesis, a dark knight in training, all while dealing with math homework and English projects.  With the ghost of an ancestor for his guide, he has seven days to complete four tasks of valor before his Nemesis does, or join his guide in the realm of the dead.
 As Rich rushes to complete the tasks, he realizes the chilling truth: his Nemesis is masquerading as someone at school and will stop at nothing to make him fail. As the tasks grow ever harder, the other knights reveal to him that his failure will break a centuries-old chain and bring the Paladin order to ruin. If he fails, the dark knights win the right to control the fate of the world, a world without hope or the possibility of a new dawn.  So this is one exam Rich has to ace, with no curve and no extra credit.


Michael is a graduate of Brigham Young University and Western Governor’s University with degrees in German Teaching, Music, and Instructional Design. He puts his German to good use teaching online German courses for High School students. Though he grew up traveling the world with his military father, he now lives in Utah with his wife, Jen, and his two sons. Michael enjoys acting in community theater, playing and writing music and spending time with his family. He played for several years with the handbell choir Bells on Temple Square and is now a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
 He is the author of the novels The Canticle Kingdom Series, The Last Archangel Series, and the Chess Quest Series.  His also authors several web serials through BigWorldNetwork.com. He publishes anthologies for charity in his Advent Anthologies series. He has also had work featured in various online and print magazines such as Bards and Sages Quarterly, Mindflights, Meridian, The New Era, Allegory, and Ensign.

Follow Michael . . .
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authormichaelyoung
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mdybyu
Blog: http://www.writermike.com
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mdybyu

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Letting Go~Moving On~Starting Over

I have two calendars. One in my bedroom and one in my writing room. They both have pretty artwork and inspirational sayings each month.

This month my bedroom calendar told me to Trust My Heart.

My writing room calendar taught Live then or now. It's impossible to be in two places at once.

As soon as I saw those, I knew this month would be a meaningful one. (As opposed to September's really lame sayings which told me nothing...) I started the month trying to write a steampunk space opera Christmas story. Sounds fun, huh? I thought it would be, but about 5 pages into it, it just wasn't speaking to me. I trusted my heart and let it go. I was feeling a little bad, because I have given a Christmas story to my family and friends for Christmas for 19 years, and it looked like it wasn't going to happen this year.

The next day I was broadsided with a new idea. Rarely have I been hit so hard with an idea that I just couldn't wait to write. I was (and still am) a bit nervous because this is a much more character driven story than what I usually write. Also, it's coming out in a much more literary style. And it's not technically a Christmas story. But I am trusting my heart and writing it.

Or at least, I want to. I am having the hardest time actually sitting down to write! This is writer's block like I have never experienced before. The story is ready. I know what happens all the way through. I'm excited about it. But when I sit down to write, I just...can't. I have made a little progress. I am probably half-way through it. That's great, but I still can't find it in me to give more than a minimal effort to writing each day. It frustrates me.

But this weekend my heart told me something else. Remember the second bit of calendar wisdom? Yes. It has become clear that I must stop dwelling on the past. It's time to let go of the dream that didn't come to pass. It's time to move on. It's time to start over.

So.

I unpublished my books. All but the one I don't hold the rights to.

Was it hard? Yes.
Does it hurt? Yes.
Am I sad? Yes I am.

But I learned reading this post yesterday, that sometimes you have to let go of things you love in order to move forward.

So, I am. I am letting go. I am trusting my heart. I am living now and not then. I am starting over fresh. And I hope that someday, when the grief fades a little, I'll find out I've been living my dreams all along.

I still have a lot of stories left to tell, and I hope by letting go of what wasn't working, I'll be better able to tell them.



Monday, October 13, 2014

A Legitimate Author

Three things happened this weekend. (Well, a lot more happened than that, but three writing related things.)

First, I got a royalty check from my publisher! My first one, believe it or not. It was for less than $10. (I took a picture of the check, but I'm not going to post that online.)

Second, I went to a book signing, had a ton of fun, and didn't sell a single book.



Third, I got a dreadful two-star review on Amazon.

Surprisingly, these three things lifted my spirits instead of bringing me down. I guess they made me feel like an honest-to-goodness legitimate author. Weird how that works.

Anyway, book news!

Spirits Bright, a collection of four inspirational sci-fi Christmas stories is coming soon!

I will be down in Kanab, UT on the 24-25 of this month presenting at the Kanab Writers Conference. It's beautiful down there, and they have some great classes lined up. If you're anywhere nearby, check it out!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Vulnerable



One cool perk of having my husband in a rock band is that I am getting to know all sorts of truly awesome local bands and musicians. Here is one of my new favorites, My Fair Fiend. This one, "Just A Song" hits me right in the chest with that breathtaking vulnerability of being an artist of any kind. Here are some of the lyrics (written by Callie Crofts):

But I'm so guilty of wearing my heart like a scarlet gown
Sparkling in the lights for everyone to see
And this undivided audience
You know too much, you know too much
This guitar's gone and got the best of me

And who can I tell it to?
Not you, love
Not anyone
No, some things are better left
Just bottled in the bottom of my soul
Or I could write it in a song
And all the crowd will sing along
And they might wonder if its written from experience or not


It's the same with books. We bare our hearts and souls out there for everyone to see, whether the audience realizes it or not. And, really, that's the way it should be. All truly great creative works must come from the heart.

But it sure is scary sometimes.

Go ahead and watch the video and let me know what you think. And if you like it, check out more of My Fair Fiend's stuff!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Salt Lake Comic Con!

Stan Lee called Salt Lake Comic Con the best comic con in the world. High praise. I had a blast. I sat on three panels: Geek Parenting, Shakespeare and Fantasy, and Monster Songwriting. I even sold a few books. I didn't take as many pictures as I should have, but here are a few.

Our "Table of Awesome"

Friends and fellow authors JoAnn Schneider and Berin Stephens at their own table of awesome

Dave Butler and Jayrod Garrett. So fun to see friends!

A few of the authors at the Table of Awesome

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dark Dancer Release!

Congratulations to my friend and one of my favorite authors, Jaleta Clegg on the release of her magical steampunk fantasy, Dark Dancer. I can't wait to read it!

Here's an excerpt:


Katie held her arms out, twirling inside the ring of mushrooms like a small child. She laughed, lifting her face to the sun. Lavender mist crept around her feet, rising in the center. Flowers dropped to the grass under her bare feet. The mist swirled and spun with each step of her dance. A round window formed in the center, hanging in the air. Katie danced closer.
 

"Don't touch it!" Vague images of a dancing rabbits and a man with pointed ears teased Sabrina's memories. Cold sweat trickled down her spine.
 

Katie brushed the edges of the window, her dance growing more frenzied. The air reeked of ozone and lay heavy as if a thunderstorm brewed in the clear skies. Power crackled through the lavender mist.
 

Katie stretched into the window. Her scream shattered the peace of the quiet meadow. She fragmented like stained glass shattering. Wind blasted across the flowers, tossing the shards of Katie through the window. 

The mist dissipated, thin tendrils falling back to the grasses inside the mushrooms.
 

Sabrina stared in shock. Voices echoed in her head, whispers of warning from her mother, from a strange older man with slanted green eyes and gray-streaked hair. She shook herself free of the memories.
 

"Katie?" She crossed the meadow, breaking into a loping run.
 

She stopped at the edge of the mushrooms. She remembered her mother crushing the mushrooms under her foot. Strange words echoed in her mind, a language she'd never spoken. She watched a last streamer of lavender mist fade into the fairy circle.
 

She sank to her knees. She had to get help, but what would she say? My cousin vanished inside a fairy ring. What would Aunt Dianna say? She couldn't go home, not without Katie. She gathered Katie's sneakers in her arms, rocking back and forth.
 

She had to get Katie back.

Dark Dancer is now available in ebook and print!
Smashwords (all ebook formats)
Kindle 

A strange prophecy haunts the Seligh lords, rulers of the Fey and controllers of all magic in the Summerlands, a prophecy that foretells their fall.


A banished Seligh lord rules the Winterlands with an iron fist while his pets, the balmorae, patrol the borders against all intruders, guarding the secrets hidden beneath his icy lair.



A young woman rediscovers her heritage, a gift of magic and dancing that opens portals between worlds. She holds the fate of their world in her hands. All who live within the lands of the Fey must choose where they standbeside the Dancer or opposed to her.
 

Jaleta Clegg loves to tell stories ranging from deep space to magical worlds and everywhere in between. You can find a complete listing of her work at www.jaletac.com







a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 25, 2014

Good Advice

Now here's some writing advice I can get behind!




It's only 4.5 minutes and well worth your time. (And, hey, that's my book on his desk! Heehee)

Do you have any great advice for writers?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bad Advice

I mentioned before that I am sort of between writing processes right now. I feel that I have lost touch with my writer's intuition, and the organic process of creating that used to guide me. This problem started, I believe, about six years ago when I started attending writing conferences again after many years away.

Now, I love writing conferences and other conventions. I love seeing old friends and meeting new ones. I love visiting, commiserating, and networking. I love attending classes and workshops. But, I think that along they way, I been given some bad advice at these conferences. (Bad for ME, mind you. This advice might be great for other writers.) Outlines, structure, character arcs, etc., etc. are all great things. They are also hampering my creativity. Big time. I feel almost paralyzed when I sit down to write for fear that I'm going about it all wrong.


Something's got to change, and fast.

So, I'm very sorry, but I am ditching story structure. I am ignoring character arc. I'm not outlining. I'm going to sit down and tell stories the way they unfold in my head. The way that feels natural and right to me. Yeah, maybe I am doing it wrong. I don't care anymore. I just want to feel creative again.

We'll see how it goes.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A New Writing Chair

My old beanbag writing chair was nice, but it wasn't comfortable for long periods of writing. (Watching TV, maybe, but not writing.) So I got myself this lovely little recliner. It's so comfy and nice! I just love it. I like the brown, but I felt it needed a little splash of color too. I also picked up this picture.


It inspires me. My office (though I really don't like to call it that) is quickly becoming my favorite room in the house!

What does your writing space look like?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Apocalypse Panel: Defining the Apocalypse

It's time for the Apocalypse Panel again! This month's question:

What defines an apocalyptic story?

The easy answer for me is

The End of the World as We Know It



I think it's the "as we know it" part that is most important. Apocalyptic stories start from a point of the world that we know, that we are familiar with. I think it would be pretty hard to appreciate an apocalypse in a world utterly unfamiliar to us, since we'd have no "before" to compare to.

Also, the apocalyptic event affects the whole of society. After all, we all go through experiences that change our personal world as we know it. Marriage, children, school, jobs, divorce, death, etc. But those don't make an apocalyptic story. Still, as I think about it, maybe it is our own personal apocalypses that make world-changing apocalyptic stories so appealing to us.

Be sure to check out the responses from the other panelists!

Monday, June 30, 2014

#MyWritingProcess

I was tagged in this fun blog hop by two talented authors, Danyelle Leafty, who writes delightful fairy tales that you must read. Find and follow her on Twitter @DanyelleLeafty. She's awesome! And S.A. Butler, author of the Sonia Fletcher books. Vampire hunter novels with a twist. She tweets @S_A_Butler. Look her up. She's awesome too.

Thank you so much ladies!

Here is a bit about my writing process.

1. What am I working on?

Right now, I am revising my third Defenders of the Covenant novel, Shrouded Skies, looking forward to a September 2, release date! I have a Pony Express fantasy short story, Zeke vs. the Dust Devil that needs to go to beta readers. I have also started on the first draft of a new novel, The Glory of the Stars. Another LDS science fiction novel, though very different from Defenders of the Covenant.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Hahahahahahaha! Most science fiction is not about Mormons. Most LDS fiction is not sci-fi. 'Nuff said.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Why does anyone write what they do? These are the stories that live in my heart and soul. The stories that insist I tell them to the world. I want to add goodness to the world.

4. How does my writing process work?

Umm... I'm kind of in
between processes right now. What has worked for me up until now is just no longer working. I'll keep you posted as to when I find something that does.

Anyway, thanks so much for tagging me Danyelle and Sara!

Feel free to share in the comments how your own writing process works. Maybe something will strike a chord with me. :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Guest Post: Characters of Faith in Fiction by Terry W. Ervin II


Today we welcome back my good friend Terry W. Ervin II back to the writing chair in celebration of his newest release Soul Forge! (I am so excited to read this book!) Soul Forge is the third book in his First Civilization's Legacy series.

Terry is here to discuss a subject quite near to my heart. Writing characters of faith.
****************************************************

Characters of Faith in Fiction

While several of my short stories could be identified as ‘inspirational’ with faith-based overtones, the majority of my writing, especially my novels, are fantasy and science fiction aimed at a more mainstream audience.

That doesn’t mean aspects of religious faith are absent from my novels. A great variety of characters populate my stories and some of them have faith, in varying measures. I find this to be appropriate, being just one possible aspect of a character’s make up.

That being said, there are conventions and potential pitfalls to consider when including aspects of faith in a work of fiction.

The most obvious convention when writing fiction is that an author shouldn’t ‘preach’ to the readers. This can be said of concerns other than religion. Consider political topics such as gun control, socialism, capitalism, drug laws, and more. All of these areas are ripe for espousing one point of view to the detriment of the story being told, including plot and character development. Heavy-handedly ‘telling’ readers how they should think or behave, even if they tend to agree, is certain to turn them off.

Another convention with respect to including faith in a work of fiction is that it should be organic, in that it’s a natural part of the character and story, and not simply inserted. Yes, there are stock characters, such as a strict, ruler-wielding nun in the classroom, or a humble, caring priest working as a hospital chaplain, and they have a place inserted in a story, but they should be used to play their part, after which the story moves on.

As indicated, faith being a part of a character’s make up is both reasonable and realistic. Prayer, moral beliefs, conversation, and actions within that context are all fine. How much depends not only on the character, but also on the plot and theme, and how integral the character(s) of faith are to the storyline. Most readers are comfortable with that. Most agnostics and atheists have friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and even family that believe in God, so having such characters in a work of fiction makes sense. The more important or central a character’s religious faith becomes to the storyline, the more the audience would shift away from ‘mainstream.’

It was probably noted that I said in the paragraph above: Most readers are fine with that.

Most does not equate to all, which leads to a potential pitfall.

If faith plays a significant part in the motivations and resulting actions of one or more major characters in a novel, there will be readers that are turned off. Those readers may be near the extreme end when it comes to intolerance toward religion, or even a particular religion. It should be pointed out that similar reactions occur among some readers with strong faith being turned off by characters that are expressively ambivalent toward God, or vocal in their atheism.

Potentially losing or dissatisfying some readers simply by including characters with faith as a part of their make-up doesn’t sound like much of a pitfall. Usually that’s true.

My experience in this arena is mainly through my novels Flank Hawk and Relic Tech. The main area where faith plays a role in Flank Hawk centers is the Crusader, Paul Jedidiah Roos. While a character important to the plot, Roos isn’t the POV character, and first appears in the 2nd half of the novel.

Even so, I’ve received emails from readers, indicating they returned the novel because of Roos. One reader thought it was wrong for Christianity to exist in my fantasy novel, and was tempted to throw his Kindle across the room because he was really enjoying the novel up until that point, when ‘Crusaders’ first appeared.

The First Civilization’s Legacy Series is a post-apocalyptic fantasy series. Why wouldn’t there be an outpost of Christianity? While those were my thoughts, it’s my ‘policy’ to not debate or attempt to alter the views of readers expressing an opinion, unless they specifically ask about some particular point. I prefer to thank them for giving my story a try and express my disappointment that they didn’t find the read satisfying.

With Relic Tech, the main character, Security Specialist Krakista Keesay is one with a measure of religious faith. It’s not overly strong and isn’t prevalent in the storyline. For example, he says prayers, based on Scripture memorized as a youth, for dead or dying characters. Also, there is a priest that plays a very minor role while the POV character is serving as a security specialist aboard the Civil Transport Kalavar.

Still, some of the most critical reviews, and emails sent to me, have focused on the religious aspects to the novel. The main character was called a TSA Thug and Religious Fanatic. I’ve had readers email me that they quit reading when a Bible was mentioned, saying they don’t like religion in their science fiction. The TSA/Religious Fanatic review was challenged by other readers, and eventually the reviewer agreed that he was off target. A week or two later, the review disappeared. Still, while the review was up, it appeared to negatively affect sales.

There are some pitfalls to having characters of religious faith in a story. But those pitfalls are okay with me. A writer cannot please everybody, and it’s part of the business of being an author—accepting, or at least acknowledging reader opinions and reviews that express disappointment, sometimes based on the content of a character’s make up. Because, on the other hand, there are readers out there that really enjoy reading about Roos and Keesay, and are glad I wrote them as I did, believing they add to the storylines and worlds created.

I guess I’ll see what happens with Soul Forge where, just as in Blood Sword, echoes of Roos’ faith can be found in some of the characters, especially Lilly.

*************************************************************************

Thank you so much, Terry! I personally love your characters who display their faith. :)

Be sure to take a look at Terry's books. You can buy Soul Forge here:



Terry W. Ervin II is an English teacher who enjoys writing fantasy and science fiction.

His First Civilization’s Legacy Series includes FLANK HAWK, BLOOD SWORD and SOUL FORGE, his newest release from Gryphonwood Press. Terry’s debut science fiction novel RELIC TECH is the first in the Crax War Chronicles and his short stories have appeared in over a dozen anthologies and magazines. The genres range from SF and mystery to horror and inspirational. GENRE SHOTGUN is a collection containing all of his previously published short stories.

To contact Terry or learn more about his writing endeavors, visit his website at www.ervin-author.com or his blog, Up Around the Corner at
http://uparoundthecorner.blogspot.com



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Apocalypse Panel: The Most Important Element

Oh, hello there. It's been a while, hasn't it? The end of the school year, followed by two weeks of being sick in bed sort of derailed blogging for a while. But I am back! With another question for the Apocalypse Panel. This month's question is:

What is the most important element in an apocalyptic story?

I could talk about important elements of story all day, but they would apply to any story, not just an apocalyptic one. So, I'm going to throw out what I think is at the heart of apocalypse fiction.

Hope.


I think at their heart, apocalyptic stories are stories of hope. No matter what the universe dishes out, we can overcome. We will survive. That to me is the truly essential element for writing about the apocalypse.

What do you think?

Be sure to check out the responses of the other panelists.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The New Writing Plan: I will offer my creations to the world

Step 4 of the new writing plan is

I will offer my creations to the world in the best way I can find.

This is another tricky one. It brings up the whole self vs. traditional publishing issue, and like most people, I don't know which way is best. It is different for every author, and probably for every book or story.

I will publish "Roomies" on my website. (Done! This is a Defenders of the Covenant short story. Go check it out!)

I will publish my Christmas stories myself. (Look for that this holiday season.)

I will publish Shattered Skies (Defenders #3) myself. (By the end of the summer!)

I will seek professional markets for new short stories. (I just finished one today called Zeke vs. the Dust Devil. A western fantasy. I'm kind of excited about it. Submitting to short fiction markets again kind of feels like going back to the beginning of my writing career. And I'm okay with that.)

I will decide on publishing options for each future project separately.

I will NOT sign a bad contract. (I hate to say it, but I think this means I will not go with any LDS publishers again.)

Overall, I think I will probably stick with self-pubbing. It suits my personality a lot more. But I am not going to ignore the traditional publisher option either. As I said, I'll take it one project at a time.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Apocalypse Panel: The best apocalyptic books and movies

It's time to start thinking about the end of the world again! This month's apocalypse panel question is:

Other than the stories you have written which is the best apocalypse movie or novel?

I don't know about the best, but I can tell you which are my favorites.

My favorite apocalyptic book is one Randy mentioned in his original post. Folk of the Fringe by Orson Scott Card. It's not a novel, really, but a collection of short stories. Stories that moved me in a profound way. Here were my own people dealing with a world-ending situation. I had never seen anything like that before, and obviously, it had a huge influence on my own writing. If you've never read Folk of the Fringe, I highly recommend it!

As far as movies go, I'm kind of embarrassed to admit it, but I really liked 2012. Despite it's cheesiness and obvious flaws, I really cared about those characters and what happened to them. Somebody did something right in the writing there. Still, I'm glad I didn't fork over money to see it in the theater.

(Please do not confuse this film with 2012: Ice Age. That is another matter entirely!)
If you need a good laugh...











 
Don't forget to check out the answers from the other panelists. Maybe you'll discover some new books to read!





Thursday, May 1, 2014

New Writing Plan: I will create wonderful things, joyfully, courageously, and with reckless abandon

 I will create wonderful things, joyfully, courageously, and with reckless abandon.

Well, now we come to the hard part. The part I have been failing at for months on end. The part I'm not sure I can ever achieve again. The part that all the other pieces are trying to lead me to.


I will write stories I would want to read. Stories I feel excited about.

I will let go of my need for worldly rewards. (Where have I heard that before?)

I will set reasonable goals.

I will focus on daily writing, preferably for at least two hours a day.

I will practice believing that it matters. (See this list from Mette Harrison)

I work on knowledge-time-enthusiasm and relaxed-focused-prepared. (See these posts to find out what I mean here.)

I am still not having much success in actually creating anything. But I am trying. Honestly whenever I sit down to write, I am overwhelmed with fear and doubt. I know these things take time, so I will continue to work and to pray so I can get where I want to be.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The New Writing Plan: I will nurture and protect my creativity

This is pretty much the crux of the whole plan.

I will nurture and protect my creativity. 

Both letting go of certain things and surrounding myself with beauty are important parts of this step.

I will excerise often and get enough sleep.

I will have daily scripture study, prayer, and meditation.

I will attend the temple monthly.

I will communicate and connect with friends and family.

I will use social media properly.

I will sing with the Musettes.

I will practice my guitar daily.

I will have fun.

I will dance in public. Ha!

How do you nurture your creativity?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The New Writing Plan: I will surround myself with beauty

I will surround myself with beauty.

I added an antique hutch and chair
This is probably the easiest part of the plan to implement, since that is my natural tendency anyway. And look at where I live. (See the blog header.) Easy-peasy, right? I am also focusing on less visible forms of beauty. 

I will create beauty in my home and my writing room. 

 I will listen to beautiful music. (Another easy-peasy step.)

I will notice and appreciate the beautiful things around me. 

I will surround myself with good people.

I will do random acts of kindness.

I will be beautiful outside and inside.

I will only use beautiful words. (No gossiping, complaining, yelling, etc.)

How do you create beauty in your life?
My new bulletin board of inspiration


Saturday, April 12, 2014

The New Writing Plan: I will let go of my need for wordly rewards

So a couple of weeks ago, I told you about my New Writing Plan. I took some time off writing for Spring Break, because I was feeling creatively empty. Now I'm back and ready to put this plan into action.

Though the plan isn't in any particular order, the first thing that came to my mind when I thought about my future in the writing business was this:



I will let go of my need for worldly rewards.





This, I think, is one of the most important steps for me. Here are my thoughts on how to achieve that.


I will only check book sales on the last day of each month.

I will not ask for reviews, award nominations, or popularity votes.

I will not post "brag" posts about my books.

I will not look at any rankings of any kind.

I will not read reviews.

I will do only minimal marketing, such as maintaining my social networks, blogging, and taking advantage of opportunities that come my way. 

Yes, I basically decided to stop marketing my books. I'm afraid that's just shooting myself in the foot, but I feel it is necessary, at least for now, if I am to regain any joy in writing. So. We'll see how this goes.



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Apocalypse Panel Question #2: Why draws me to write apocalyptic stories?

It's time for the Apocalypse Panel again! This month's question is a little less nightmare inducing. :)

What draws you to write apocalyptic stories?

To be completely honest, I'm not sure I am drawn to write apocalyptic stories. But I can tell you why I felt drawn to write Defenders of the Covenant, which features apocalypse-by-alien-invasion. This is from my website:

I first came up with the idea for Defenders of the Covenant while pondering the question of how far I would go to keep the covenants I have made. I take those covenants very seriously. What might I be asked to sacrifice? My life? Something harder? My mind churned up a worst case scenario of an alien invasion and a mother asked to give up her child to save the human race. That led to the short story which eventually became the novella, Consecrated.

I was fascinated with the "what if" behind that story. What if aliens invaded Earth? How would my church react? That was the basic grain of the novel.


For me, I wasn't thinking so much about the end of the world as I was about faith. Writing about the end of the world is an excellent way to delve into concepts of faith and loyalty and all sorts of things. Will I write any more apocalyptic stories? Hard to say. I don't have any in the works right now, but I never what sort of ideas are going to rear up and take hold of me.

What do you feel drawn to write?

Be sure to check out the responses of the other panelists!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A New Plan (or One Day at a Time)

Thank you! 

Thank you all so very much for your love, support, kindness, and good advice last week. I really needed it.

I have spent a lot of time thinking and praying and soul-searching about this whole thing. On Monday, I started to make a plan. It had things like write 100 pages a month, create a schedule and stick with it, and publish 2-3 books a year. All good things. But I started to feel stressed and depressed again.

More soul-searching commenced.

Then yesterday while walking at the pond, I had an epiphany. I knew what I needed to do. And it starts with letting go of the things I can't control. (Surprise, surprise. You'd think I would have learned that through all my years of addiction recovery, but sometimes my knowledge doesn't transfer well to other areas of my life.)

To make a long story short, here is my new plan:

I will let go of my need for worldly rewards.

I will surround myself with beauty.

I will nurture and protect my creativity.

I will create wonderful things, joyfully, courageously, and with reckless abandon.

I will offer my creations to the world in the best way I can find.

I will not worry about the size of my audience.

I will allow creating to be its own reward.

I will not worry about the opinions of others.

I will let go of guilt.

I will praise my efforts each day.

I will try new things.

I will do stuff that makes me happy.

I will remember that changing old habits and false beliefs takes time. I will be patient with the process.

I said that I would have to find a way to hope and dream again, and I think this is the way.

Most of these will need a specific plan for how I will accomplish it. That will come. But this is a great start. As soon as I committed myself to this plan, I churned out five pages on my novel yesterday!

So, again, thanks to you all! I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Doubt, Decisions, and Broken Dreams

Please forgive me for this long and painfully honest blog post. I have a personal policy of being only positive on the internet, but there are some things I need to get off my chest. Feelings I need to acknowledge so I can work through them. So please bear with me. (Or if you don't want to read it, that's fine too.)

Two years ago, my first novel was published. Hooray! I cried and jumped for joy. I celebrated, and I was right do so.

But...

My gradually that dream come true turned into a soul-crushing defeat. I won't go into all the reasons. Maybe my expectations were too high. I don't know. The fact of the matter is that I have no more hopes or dreams.* I can't bring myself to hope or to dream. It hurts too much.

I have spent months telling myself I shouldn't feel this way. I shouldn't be discouraged. I should persevere and be positive. And I really believe that. But the fact remains that my heart is broken. I am grieving and I need to allow myself to do so.

I am just beginning to realize that I want two different things.

I want to write books.

To be specific, I want to write the books that speak to my soul. I want to write books about my own people and my own worldview and everything I find exciting and wonderful.

I also want to sell books.

A story does not live until it is shared with someone else. I don't need to make a lot of money. I don't need to be a best seller. But I need something. I need enough to feel I am not just wasting my time. And right now, I don't have that.

You might think these two things are compatible, but in my case they are not.

I feel I must make a choice.

I can keep writing what I long to write and give up on the hope of selling many books or being profitable. 

Or

I can write different books that I know will sell better.

Or

I can retire.** (That sounds so much better than giving up, doesn't it.)

I have loads of reasons, both good and bad, for making any one of these decisions. I'm honestly not sure which way I will go. I do know one thing, though. Retiring is the only option if I can't find a way to hope and dream again. Believe me, I am trying. I am plodding forward without hope, in the hopes that hope will return. :)

*This pertains only to writing. I have many hopes and dreams in other aspects of my life that bring me great joy.

**For the record, I intend to finish the Defenders of the Covenant series. The last book is out with beta readers, so I will definitely carry that through to the end.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

One Word Interview with Lisa Swinton

Today, we welcome Lisa Swinton, author of Fallen Angel to the writing chair. Let's get to it!

Stranded on a desert island. What's your must have item?
Satellite phone so I can call for help wherever the island is in the world and get rescued ASAP!

You are a wise woman.

What historical figure would you most like to have lunch with?
Jane Austen

That would be a fun lunch. I'll bet she's very entertaining.

Ideal romantic getaway spot?
Just so long as it has a beach, warm water and my husband, I'm good.

Sounds perfect to me.

What trait do you share in common with your main character?
With Antonio - I'm a planner. With Renatta - I love music.

I love music too. Planner, not so much.

You're performing on Broadway. What show are you in?
This changes hourly as I love musicals and have loads of roles I'd love to play. At this moment - Glinda in Wicked.

Awesome. Such fun music in that one. 

Thanks so much for being with us today, Lisa! 

Fallen Angel
Antonio does not believe in love at first sight until he sees her fall into a street in Milan and get hit by a motorcycle. Compelled to know if she can return his affection, he becomes Renatta’s hospital volunteer only to learn that the accident erased her memory. Together they must discover her past, present and future. In the way of happily ever after stand her opera career, tyrannical mother, and fiancĂ©.  Antonio must win Renatta’s heart before she bends to the will of her mother and marries Marcello.  Failure means a lifetime of loneliness, for love at first sight never happens twice.  

Lisa Swinton caught the romance bug early by way of fairy tales and hasn’t been able to cure it since. Instead, she feeds her addiction with romance novels and films. In between being a doctor’s wife and mother of two, she occasionally puts her B.A. in Musical Theater to good use via community theater, church choir and teaching the art of singing. In her elusive spare time she enjoys researching her family tree and baking (especially with chocolate). She loves to travel, Jane Austen, and all things Italian. In her next life, she plans to be a professional organizer 

Social Media Links:

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Apocalypse Panel

So, here's a new thing I'm doing. The Apocalypse Panel. I and six other authors who like to write about end of the world type stuff (alien invasions totally count!), are getting together once a month to answer a question related to the apocalypse.You can meet the rest of the panel here. Links to all of our responses will be posted on Randy Lindsay's blog each month, so we can all discuss ideas together.

This months question is:

Which situation or event that is currently happening do you think most easily could result in the apocalypse?

Alien invasion, of course!

Not really. Despite what I like to write, I believe there is a 0% chance of alien's actually invading earth. There are plenty of ways to end the world that are more realistic (and keep me up at night if I think too hard about them). I'm going to go with an oldie but goodie (or baddie):

Global Thermonuclear Warfare.




Did you know there are more than 17,000 nuclear weapons on the planet right now? That's just insane. And it's not like world governments are all that stable. *shudder* I'm sure I don't have to outline all the effects a nuclear war would have on the planet. We've seen enough movies, TV shows, etc. to already know.

I don't really think nuclear war is imminent or anything, but I do think it is the most likely way to trigger the apocalypse.

Go check out the rest of the apocalypse authors answers over on Randy's blog!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Combining my passions

As you may know, my other passion in life is music, especially singing and guitar. So just for fun, here's a little video of me combining my two passions. This song is one that is sung by one of the main characters in The Ransomed Returning, and is important to the plot. Here's a snippet from the book, so you'll understand:

The watcher turned to face the door, but he didn't leave.
 

"Isn't that why you're here?" Hannah asked. "To find out about this freedom I can offer you?"
 

"Of course not. You are a renegade. You don't have anything to offer me."
 

"I see."
 

The watcher did not move. He tipped his head back a little and a shudder ran through him. Hannah wondered if his master was speaking to him. The thought made her shudder as well.
 

A song popped into her head, and the Spirit stirred her heart. She spread her hands flat against the slab and closed her eyes and quietly began to sing. "Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling, from glen to glen and down the mountain side. The summer's gone and all the roses falling—"
 

He struck her, and her head cracked against the wall. "Do not sing in my presence," he said.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ooooh! Check this out.

I'm so excited that Karen E. Hoover has a new book coming out soon! Here's the fantastic cover and blurb for Newtimber: Fractured. I can't wait!




Introducing Newtimber: Fractured, an exciting YA urban fantasy novel by Karen E. Hoover, author of The Wolfchild Saga and others.

There was absolutely no way a black dragon hovered outside of Newtimber. Sianna rubbed her eyes, but the dragon was still there, clutching a round object that looked like a spotted egg. And then the egg fell, hitting the ground like an atomic bomb, sending out waves of a slow-moving fog that distorted everything it touched.

The citizens of Newtimber change. The old man down the street stretches into a screaming tree. Sianna’s skateboarding friend, Matt, transforms into a giant green dragon. Pegasus. Sirens. Griffins. Vampires. Zombies. Creatures from the myths of every culture come to life through the people.

Even Sianna changes, her skin becoming stone hard, and she gains the ability to travel from the human realm into the dimension of the fae, using it to free her father from prison and enlist his aid in battling the evil bent on taking over the world.

One person to heal a family, a town, and save the world. It seems an impossible task, but with the help of her new friends, it could happen.

Right?

Newtimber: Fractured will be released early summer 2014 by Trifecta Books. Visit www.trifectabooks.com for exciting updates about this great new series!
 

Congratulations, Karen!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

One Word Interview with Crystal Collier

Today we welcome Crystal Collier, author of Moonless, to the writing chair. Thanks for coming today, Crystal!

Zombie apocalypse! What fictional character do you most want by your side?
Thor

Oh, yeah. He'd be a good choice!
 
What trait do you share in common with your MC.
Facing my fears

An excellent quality to possess.
 
What historical figure would you most like to have lunch with?
Benjamin Franklin 

I'll bet he would be quite entertaining. Great choice!
 
You’re having your favorite author over for dinner. What are you serving?
Cheese soufflé

That sounds delicious.
 
You've been set down in the middle of your latest book. Weapon of choice?
Kiren’s pendant

A pendant, huh? Sounds intriguing.

Thanks so much for being with us, Crystal!

Crystal Collier is a former composer/writer for Black Diamond Productions. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her blog and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

MOONLESS: Jane Eyre meets Supernatural.

Alexia’s nightmares become reality: a dead baron, red-eyed wraiths, and forbidden love with a man hunted by these creatures. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with her beloved and risk becoming one of the Soulless.

Add to Goodreads!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bloodlust Cover Reveal!

Today is the cover reveal for Nicole Zoltack's latest, Bloodlust. (You can read her One Word Interview here.) Take it away Nicole!


Hi, everyone! Nicole Zoltack here and I'm so happy to share with you the cover for my upcoming release.


Isn't it just beautiful? And it's perfect for the story.

Here's the blurb for BLOODLUST, a NA epic fantasy romance.

In a world torn by prejudice and hatred, six races struggled for supremacy.

Desperation…

Barbarian-Princess Ivy is unwilling to allow her father to provoke the other races into war and forms an unlikely alliance with Lukor the goliath to save her people from utter destruction.

Betrayal…

Unbeknownst to her, Lukor blames the barbarians for murdering his sister and plans on sabotaging her goal.

Bloodlust…

Almost despite each other, they grow to respect each other on their journey to decode secret messages from the trolls. But nothing Ivy can do will prevent the war as her father is blinded by Bloodlust and incites it himself. Not even killing him and becoming Barbaroness can stop the tide. And when Bloodlust claims Ivy, forcing her to kill everyone in her path, she must make a choice to destroy even Lukor, who she may have started to fall for and him in return.

The cover is so fitting, am I right?

The story will be released on February 24th. Ack! So excited. I'd love for you to share this and I'd even kiss you if you add it on Goodreads.

What do you think about the cover? The blurb? Does it sound like something you'd like to read?

Bio:
Nicole Zoltack loves to write in many genres, especially fantasy romance. When she's not writing about knights, superheroes, or zombies, she loves to spend time with her loving husband and three energetic boys. She enjoys riding horses (pretending they're unicorns!) and going to the PA Renaissance Faire, dress in garb. She'll also read anything she can get her hands on. To learn more about Nicole and her writing, visit her blog.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

One Word Interview with Annalisa Crawford

Today, we welcome Annalisa Crawford, author of Cat and the Dreamer, and That Sadie Thing, to the writing chair! Take it away, Annalisa

The house is on fire! Aside from your children, what would you grab first?
My fountain pen.

You are a wise woman.

You're performing on Broadway. What show are you in?
Evita.
 
(Imagine me singing) Don't cry for me Argentiiiiiina!

What's your dream romantic getaway spot?
Florence.

Oh, yes. Anywhere in Italy is good for me.
 
What historical figure would you most like to have lunch with?
Jane Austen

Fun! I want to come to.

We're holding a banquet in honor of your awesomeness. What are we serving for dessert?
Chocolate cheesecake!

Now, there's a type of cheesecake I can live with!

I live in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of beaches and moorland right on my doorstep. I live with my husband, two boys, a dog and a cat. Despite my location. I neither surf nor sail, and have never had any inclination to try. I much prefer walking along a deserted beach and listening to the waves crashing over rocks. For this reason, I really love the beach in the winter!
 
 
 


Cat and the Dreamer:
As a teenager, Julia survived a suicide pact, while her best friend Rachel died. Julia’s only escape from her
guilt, and her mother’s over-protection, is her imagination. When Adam arrives in the office, Julia’s world takes a startling turn as she realises reality can be much more fun than fantasy. Finally she has someone who can help her make the most of her life. But can she allow herself to be truly happy?


That Sadie Thing:
That Sadie Thing and other stories is an intense and emotional journey through the relationships that define our lives: a couple breaking up on a rainy night; a woman finding comfort from eating lunch as her best friend lies in hospital; a runaway longing to go home; a teenager oppressed by her father, and many more. All of the characters in this collection are struggling to find their place in the world, attempting to find connections that matter with the people around them, however fleeting. This is a dark, unsettling yet memorable collection.