Finding Balance

I have to hand it to my husband and my kids.  They have learned to live ‘without’ me for several years while I secluded myself in front of my computer typing out words that may or may not ever see the light of day.  They have sacrificed so much for me so I can follow my dream.

Of course, they have delusions of grandeur:  a mansion by the sea, millions of readers, multi-million dollar movie contracts and let’s not forget the action figure series.  And they think it will all happen within the next year.  Ha ha ha ha ha…

Well, I guess it could happen.  I mean, why not, right?

But even if it doesn’t, we all must not lose touch with what is really important in all this writing frenzy I’ve created.  For me, it’s God, family and friends.  Those are the three forces that drive me and keep me grounded, which means there are times I have to pull myself out of Chapter 1,900,084,000,002 (well, sometimes it feels like that many), and spend some time with God and my family.  Every once in awhile, I have to talk to my better half and my youngins, go to the movies (HP final chapter was amazing), or the bowling alley, or the park.

Don’t get me wrong. The writer is always writing within me.  I’ll watch some kids or other parents play at the park, or eavesdrop on a group of teenagers and listen to the way they talk and what they talk about.  I’m always listening, watching.  Sometimes, I even step back and look at my own family and marvel at how lucky I am to have them.  Even in the bad times, we still stick together and I have to say, all of my four kids are simply amazing and wonderful and I couldn’t ask for better, more spectacular, different, challenging human beings to call my own.

My hubby is the best.  I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve crept into bed at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning after writing my heart out for seven hours, so careful not to wake him.  He has been more than patient with me and my imaginary friends.  We’ve had our moments where it didn’t seem we were going to make it, but here we are, 20 years later and we haven’t abandoned each other yet so I doubt we ever will.

This weekend I’m taking off to Orlando to see a friend of mine that is flying in from NY.  My mother-in-law, whom I love like a second mom, is going with.  It will be a perfect girls weekend.  I’ll get away from my book and the pressures of finding a job, and take a moment of time to relax, recuperate and get a new hold on life and start back fresh on Monday.  Balancing the seesaw of life.

I love my family, my friends and especially God for giving them, and my talent as a writer, to me.  I think, some day, I’ll have to write a story about it all.  Right now, I’m just going to sit back and think about how great my life is right now.  *sigh*  It doesn’t get much better than this.

Well, until I get that publishing contract…

Power to the kids!

I love it when I find talented kids doing what God gave them to do.  I mean, I’m just floored when I see young people sing or dance or play music better than many of their older counterparts.  It’s no wonder why I had to post this when I found it.  I’m not a big fan of bluegrass, but these kids just rip it up!  I am so proud of them.  I think the oldest in the bunch is 13.  Amazing!

Kids and teens are just phenomenal individuals to me, and when I see talent like this, it just makes me beam from ear to ear.  I applaud the parents, the family unit, God and these talented little carbon units.  It is refreshing to see young people doing positive things with their lives.  I wish them all the best and I hope all of you enjoy their performance.

Auntie B’s Book Club Contest July 17 -20

Brenda Drake is at it again.

On July 17 participants in the contest must post a 35-word pitch (logline) and the first 250 words of their manuscript on their blog. Then they need to get feedback from as many followers as possible while critiquing other participants; entries.  Then, when you’re ready to post your entry, come back here and post it to the entry post. It will be up on July 17, and you’ll have until 11:59 PM EST on July 20th to enter it.  The winner will receive a 10 page plus a synopsis critique, and two runners up will receive either a 10 page or a synopsis critique from the fabulous Cassandra Marshall agent intern/editor/cover art designer/writer extraordinaire.

So, with that said, here is my logline:

A millionaire teen and his ‘girl’ friend are thrust into a magical world poised on the brink of war, and must battle a vengeful dragon and a murdering sorcerer if they are to return home.

And here are the first 250 words of my novel, In the Shadow of the Dragon King:

“Hey, David, check it out.  You made the headlines again.”   Charlotte leapt into the middle of her best friend’s four-poster bed.

“Like that’s a surprise.” David finished the charcoal shading on the dragon’s nose and held up the picture to look at it.  “What did I do this time?”

“What else?  Listen to this:

Money can do many things. It can furnish the luxurious plantation home on Chestnut Circle with French antiques and marble statuary, put fountains in the yard and a classic ice blue 1967 Shelby GT500 in the drive. Now, it even seems to be able to buy the love of a good dog. 

The Paxton Road Animal Shelter was praying for pennies from heaven to build a new puppy wing, but was showered instead with an unexpected gift of twenty thousand dollars from fifteen-year-old millionaire, David Heiland.

“Are you kidding me?”  David scrambled to his knees and reached for the paper.  “They promised they wouldn’t snitch!”

Charlotte snatched the paper and laughed.  “Shh.  Keep your voice down.  You’ll wake Lily.”

“Ooo, what’s she going to do, ground me?”  He sat on the bed opposite Charlotte.  “Let me see the paper.”

“Stop being a royal prat.”

“I’m not being a prat.  Now let me see the paper.”

“No,” Charlotte teased and pushed up the sleeves of her sweater.  “It’s too much fun watching you twitch when I read it aloud.”  The pages crinkled as she turned them.  “Now where is that other article?  Oh, here it is.”

Get out your kitchen timer – It’s Freewriting Prompts!

So you want to write something but you don’t know how or where to start?  I’m a big proponent of freewriting:  pick out a person, place and thing, and then set and start your timer for five minutes and write.  Don’t worry about typos, verb tense, just writing.  The peeps in my writer’s group love this exercise as it gets the mind working in flash time.  It is always fun to read back the shorts we all wrote in such a short time, too.

So, it’s no wonder when I came across Stacey O’Neil’s site, I jumped up and down when I saw she posted a freewriting prompt article she found on Writer’s Digest.  I liked the ideas so much, I thought I’d post them here.

Grab a kitchen timer and kick-start your creativity with these 10-minute freewriting prompts.

  1. Turn on the TV or radio – the station doesn’t matter – and listen for just a few seconds. Write down the first phrase you hear, and let that serve as your prompt. How you use it is up to you: It can be the first line of your story, a bit of dialogue for a character, or whatever you wish.
  2. You discover a loose floorboard in the corner of your attic or the back of your closet. Without too much effort you’re able to pry the board loose. What do you find underneath? Something frightening? Something nostalgic? Let you imagination delve into the details – what it looks or smells like, reasons you think it might be there, emotions it stirs in you, etc.
  3. Imagine the best (or worst) possible thing you could receive as a gift from someone. Write about opening the package and discovering what’s inside.
  4. Think of a favorite accessory or piece of clothing from your past – a hat, scarf, glove, belt buckle, or anything else that evokes vivid memories. Freewrite based on images that come to mind.
  5.  Recall a place from your childhood that intrigued or frightened you. Describe the details you remember about that location – were there things about it that you always wondered about? An unopened door, an untaken path or darkened patch of woods? Write about what might have awaited you there.
  6. Your phone rings in the middle of the night. Reveal what happens in the next ten minutes.
  7. Pick a minor character from a favorite movie or TV show, and explore the main plot from that character’s point of view. Write about the aspects of the story that only he/she would’ve known.
  8. Plan the perfect crime. You have ten minutes.
  9. Describe the first time you drove a car (or the first time you remember riding in one). What kind of car was it? Who was with you? Include sights, smells and sensations.
  10. You find a bomb in an unlikely place. The timer says – you guessed it – ten minutes. Now what?

Absolute Write’s July Blog Chain: Write the worst possible first line of a book or story

For July’s blog chain, the members at Absolute Write chose to have their own version of the the Mini Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.  This means that participants must try to write the worst possible first line of a book or story in the spirit of “It was a dark and stormy night…”  Bulwer-Lytton.  In this case, ‘worse’ is subjective, but florid and ridiculous purple prose is probably closest to the spirit of the thing. Here is a page of examples if you need ’em.

So, here is my debacle.  Believe it or not, I actually wrote this many years ago when my novel was in its infancy.  Thank heavens I’ve grown as a writer since then.

A bitter wind navigated southward over the dismal highlands of the North Country, sailing briskly across the fertile landscape while dark, billowing clouds sheathed the sickle moon; a thickly woven mist wormed its milky flesh over the moorlands, and high atop the wooded summit, the resplendent Gyllen Castle, with its delicate ivory spires and majestic towers, materialized within the fog as a formidable apparition, its hundreds of arched stone eyes staring out onto the pitch-black lands below.

Also stop by the websites of others who are participating in the chain.

dolores haze
Ralph Pines
Diana Rajchel)
Alpha Echo

Dinner and a movie and a . . . contest?

So, in just a few days, the end of an era will occur. The final installment of the Harry Potter films, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II, will release in theaters on July 15, 2011.

I already have my tickets. After all, how could I miss it?

I have been invested in the Harry Potter stories ever since I bought my daughter a paperback copy of the 1st book at her elementary school book fair all those years ago. My daughter is now in college getting her Master’s degree, if that speaks for the longevity of these novels.

The Order of the Phoenix is my favorite book by far and have read it at least six times if not more. I don’t have a favorite film because I think they strayed too much from the books. I am looking forward to this last installment, however, because I want to see how they pull off the fighting scenes and sequences. I mean, other than the ending of the Order of the Phoenix, this will be the most action-packed intense ending of all the Harry Potter films. Those who haven’t read the books will find out if Harry lives or dies. I hope the producers leave it at that part . . . that ending . . . because the actual final ending is just too sappy for me. Not what I wanted to read at the end of this book. I would have been perfectly content reaching the end instead of reading about what happens to certain folks later in life. Oh, whatever. I supposed the movie will have to end the same way. It would only be the fair thing to do for J.K. Rowling.

It will be the typical ‘dinner and a movie’ on July 15, probably eating pizza or hamburgers before we go. We’ll be glued to our seats for 2 ½ hours and of course it will be the talk of the town for the next umpteen weeks. I couldn’t ask for more a week before setting foot into Hogsmeade at Harry Potter World at Universal Studios on July 23. I’ve been craving some butter beer. And, for some lucky Harry Potter fan of my website, I’ll even send you a postcard postmarked from Hogsmeade. All you have to do is sign up for an e-mail subscription to my blog and then answer the following question about my hopefully soon-to-be-published novel, In the Shadow of the Dragon King:

What does David find that upset him so much he almost passed out?

You can find the answer here.

The winner will be randomly selected and announced on July 20th!

So, between now and July 15, I will re-read the Deathly Hallows just to make sure the book is fresh in my mind. I will, of course, watch the 1st ½ of the DH again on the 15th so I’ll be in ‘continuation’ mode, and I’ll share my thoughts with all of you on the 16th. I hope it ends as well as I’m expecting. After all, it is the end of an era. What better way than to go out with a bang!

Sweaty palms, heart palpitations, butterflies in tummy, oh my!

Why is it I always have these panic attacks when I submit any one of my works to an agent or publisher? Do I doubt my writing ability? Nooo. Do I think the agent or publisher is going to show up at my door and yell at me? Nooo. Do I fear my computer will explode if the editor or publisher doesn’t like it? Nooo. So what gives?

Let’s face it. It’s all about rejection. No one likes rejection. We as sensitive humans tend to take it too personally. I mean, these are our literary babies we’re talking about. What do you mean you don’t want it? Who couldn’t want this nice little bundle of perfectly placed dialogue and narrative? And yet, when our babies leave the confines of our computers and land on the desk of those with the power to nurture or kill them, we freak out.

I guess it all comes down to understanding the business (a rejection of your MS is not a rejection of you), and having faith in your novel. So what if an agent or publisher rejects your story. If you keep trying, someone, somewhere will gobble it up. You just have to keep trying and believing and never take no for an answer.

That’s what I did tonight. My palms broke out into a cold sweat as I hit that submit button but I figured, what’s the worst thing that could happen. Better yet, what’s the best thing that could happen? I think I’ll ride on the positive for a while, and hope for the best. After all, my baby is worth it.

Two Debut Novels Released Today!

If you love paranormal stories, you’re going to LOVE these two debut novels, Darkness and Light by J.A. Belfield and Little White Lies, by Aimee Laine. Both were released today!

Stop on over at Aimee’s site to read all about her novel  Little White Lies

J.A. Belfield is also running a contest on her blog site Darkness and Light for a giveaway of Darkness and Light.