#MakeBelieve Blog Tour and other Goodies!


December 3 kicks off the official #MakeBelieve blog tour.  I’m so excited.  When I found out 6 months ago that my short story, The Amulet of Ormisez, would be published in the anthology, December seemed so far away.  Now, it’s here and I can hardly contain my excitement.

In celebration, every day between December 1 and January 3, I’m going to give away to one lucky person who comments on my blog either an autographed Make Believe bookmark or a digital copy of the Make Believe cover signed by all the authors.  Then, on December 23, I will pick one random name from everyone who commented on my blog between December 1 thru December 22 and that person will win their very own e-copy of the Make Believe anthology, delivered to your Kindle or Nook in time for  Christmas (I hope).  🙂  It’s my way of saying Thank You for being there for me on this incredible journey to publication.  So mark your calendars and come back every day to increase your chances of winning.  Please feel free to check out all my blog tour dates here and stop by and say hi to my lovely hosts.

Also, please make sure you stop by the other author’s websites and blogs to see what they’re doing to promote the Make Believe Blog Tour.  They all have giveaways and contests going on, so make sure you visit often to increase your chances of winning something fantastic.  You can find their links below.

Jennifer M. Eaton

J.A. Belfield

Kelly Said

Lynda R. Young

Terri Rochenski

Once again, thank you so much for staying with me and reading my ramblings.  I appreciate every single one of you.  Big hugs to all of you.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays…and may the odds be ever in your favor to win a Make Believe goody!

Passing on the artistic gene

We all have a talent.  Some of us can sing, some can write, some can dance, others can play a musical instrument.  I know I personally marvel at someone who can draw, paint or sculpt.  It boggles my mind to see someone turn a blank canvas into a spectacular work of art.

All of my kids have inherited some sort of talent.  My oldest daughter is a writer. She’s had several poems published as well as a children’s picture book.  She is currently a teacher in Seattle, Washington and has an uncanny ability to pick up on other languages.  She is currently learning to speak, write and converse in Nepali and Hindi.

my daughter’s book

My middle daughter sings like an angel and loves the theater.  She won several awards in high school for her singing.  She’s also an amazing artist and designer.  She is currently going for her Master’s degree in theater Costume Design and will graduate in May 2013.  Her internships include the Santa Fe Opera, Tibbets Opera House in Coldwater, Michigan, and the famous Maltz Theater in Jupiter, Florida.  The Winston-Salem Journal even featured her in one of their news articles you can read here.

My oldest son possesses many talents.  He can play several musical instruments including saxophone, contra-base clarinet and guitar.  He is also a fantastic artist, inheriting his father’s gene to be able to look at a piece of wood and create something beautiful from it.  This morning he completed (except for some small touch-ups and a few coats of polyurethane) his most recent project and largest undertaking to date.  He drew the design of the queen trigger fish by hand, then carved and wood-burned the design.  Isn’t it spectacular?  And he did all from  memory.

My youngest son is musically inclined, playing saxophone and alto, tenor and base clarinets.  His passion though is computers, video games and weapons.  He can tell you anything you want to know about military arsenal back to medieval days.  He’s still in high school and is weighing his options for the future.  Ever since he was little he’s show a propensity for the military, so I wouldn’t be surprised that’s where he ends up.  It’s second nature to him.  He still loves to pick up a clarinet now and then and belt out a tune.  I hope he never loses his passion for music.

Yes, my kids are amazing.  I always wanted another writer in the family.  I got more than that.  I got a variety of artists in my family, and I am in awe and so proud of every one of them.

What talents do you have?  What others run in your family?

Exciting Announcement!

On December 3, my short story, The Amulet of Ormisez, will be published in Make Believe and released into the big wide world.  My words, no longer mine but everyone’s.  It is every author’s dream.  No matter how many times you sign that contract, a glow happens inside knowing a publisher believed in your hard work and it will be read by hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions.  How very exciting!

A few early reviews have already trickled in and I’m thrilled to say they are all positive.  Have a look below:

Rachel Morgan at Goodreads writes:  “MAKE BELIEVE is a magical collection of short stories. Just the right size for someone like me who falls into bed too late every night and doesn’t have much time (or energy) left to read!…Fantasy-lovers should definitely check this one out.”

Jen – At Random says:  “…With mystery, deceit, fate, grief, greed, romance, and action each story has its own engaging elements but all are sprinkled with a morsel of magic. Definitely a great read!”

And, an overall 5 star review on Amazon.com had this to say about my story in particular:  “There’s lots happening in this story but to say much more would reveal too much of the tale. I also enjoyed this tale…as I have not read a great deal about selkies. I would look out for other books by the author and dependent on blurb seriously consider reading them…”  She gave the story 4/5 stars!!  You can read the full review here.

There is so much more I have to share with your about the anthology.  The official Blog Tour kicks off on December 3 and all the authors appearing in Make Believe are promoting tons of giveaways and contests, so make sure you visit each of their blogs/websites to see what’s going on. On Sunday, I will post information about my blog tour, AND share a little secret about what I’ll be doing the whole month of December to celebrate the release of Make Believe.  It’ll be pretty cool.

Also, if you want to participate in launch day celebrations and enter for your chance to win an e-copy of the Make Believe anthology, make sure you leave your website/blog information in the comments section of my blog between now and November 30.

Oh, and if you can’t wait until December 3 to get your own e-copy of Make Believe, a little bird told me Amazon.com and Barnes and  Noble just might have a little treat for your Kindle or Nook at this very moment.  You should head over and check it out.  Go on. You know you want to.  Take some friends with you.  Grab some coffee while you’re at it.  Kick your shoes off.  Relax.  Who needs to work today when you can Make Believe.

What would you die for?

A family member was recently overheard saying there was nothing or no one in this world he would die for.  I found this proclamation disturbing.  The man’s a father, a husband.  Is his family not worth dying for?  Is his home, his morals, his way of life, his principles not worth dying for?

I cannot comprehend such a thought.  I would fight, lie and die to protect those I love, no questions asked. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do, especially for my kids and grand-daughter, including giving my life, if it meant they had a chance at a better one.  That’s how much I love them.

Unconditional, heart-wrenching love is the substance of all the great romances.  We saw it in Romeo and Juliette; Jim and Della in “The Gift of the Magi”, Heathcliff and Catherine in  “Wuthering Heights”.  Undying love.  Ultimate sacrifices.  If you are a romantic like me, you know it’s what drives us, binds us to something beyond ourselves.  The passion, the gut-churning pain of true love.  The type of love that makes your heart feel like it’s going to pop because you just can’t hold anymore inside.  The insatiable need, the desire to be with another, to be a part of another, to love with such conviction your soul feels as if it will explode, and the only thing keeping it from doing so is your own skin.  The sort of love that brings you to your knees. The sort of love that leaves pools of tears on your very being.  We all long for it.  We all desire to feel it just once in our lives.  And when we do, we cling to it, protect it.  Shelter it.  Die for it.

My heart grieves for those who feel there is no one or nothing to die for.  I even give my characters someone or something to believe in so much that they would die for it.  How very sad to go through life an empty shell, to never know what it truly means to love someone or something so strongly, it changes your entire life forever.

What about you?  Is there anything you love so much you would die for?

NaNoWriMo Winner

Well, it’s official.  I finished NaNoWriMo with over 78,000 words.  Here’s the proof:

Now, those of you who know me have seen the title before.  I’ve only been working on this novel for forever.   I even had a couple of people tell me I cheated because the novel was already complete.  I disagree and here’s why.

I finished the novel last year and sent it off to a publisher who came back and said, “We like it but we’d like for you to consider making changes X, Y and Z.” I considered the ideas and thought, “You know what, I can make those changes.”  So I began. The thing is, the more I wrote what the publisher wanted as far as “Z”, the more I strayed away from the story I wanted to tell.  The very crux of the story, the core, the glue that held the trilogy together was rapidly disappearing.  As I wrote, my gut told me I was going in the wrong direction.  Eight months into the re-write, I tossed it aside.  It wasn’t my story.  I was writing for someone else.  Something had to change.

I revisited what the publisher said about X, and Y and they were right.  Spot on, actually, and I decided to keep those changes.  The changes worked well and did make the story better, but I had to re-write once more to put back in what I removed.  It was harder than I thought.  I actually had to put the novel aside for a while, write some short stories, and let the ideas percolate on Dragon King.  Occasionally I would revisit it but couldn’t get in the right frame of mind to finish it.  That is until November 1, 2012.

I had no plans to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but the time presented itself so I went for it.  I knew in my gut I had to finish Dragon King or at least make some significant headway in its completion.  The first week or so started off really slow in the rewrite/revision…only 4,000 words in 5 days.  Not too good.  I had to give myself a pep talk and put my mind to work.  Today, I completed 78,266 words – rewritten, revised – from two manuscripts that didn’t work on their own, but together?  Well, let’s just say I hope people will like it when I’m done.  I don’t have that much more to complete and I hope to get it back out to beta readers after the first of the year and the holidays are over.

So, in my opinion, I didn’t cheat.  I like to think of it as having two elaborate outlines that I merged together into what hopefully will be something worth reading.  During this time, I also have been diligently writing on two short stories and another one that turned into a novella I titled SUMMERFIRTH.    Hopefully that one will go to betas soon, too.

So what about you?  Did you participate and finish NaNo?  Do you have plans to finish?  I would love to hear your struggles and successes.

Six-ish Random Sentences

Even though I don’t officially participate in Six Sentence Sunday, I do occasionally like to post six-ish sentences from whatever W.I.P. I’m working on at the moment.  This one is currently from my revised YA/NA novel, IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING, slated for beta reads January 1.  What are 6 sentences from your W.I.P.?  Post them, link them and let me know.  I’d love to read them.


The surgeon pulled another vial from the line, unstopping it with his teeth.  He spit the cork to one side and dribbled the liquid over the wound.  Trog’s flesh hissed as the drops ran into the bloody cut.  Like a hot brand it seared the edges of the wound, consuming him in screaming agony as it cauterized the deepest parts of the lesion.  Trog braced against the pain as the needle, threaded with fine strands of sun-bleached horse hairs, passed through his skin.  Eighty times the needle pierced the edges of the wound.  Trog bit down on the leather strap.  A single tear escaped and he turned his head to let it fall, unseen.

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7 Tips for writers to work through the self-doubt

Once upon a time, I had really, really thin skin when it came to reviews of my writings.  I would rejoice in the “I loved it” comments and break down in tears over the “I hate it” comments.  Quite frankly, if I’d never received the “I loved it” comments, I may have given up writing all together.  Let’s face it.  Some of the “I hate it” comments can be ruthless and cruel.

They were also the best reviews I ever received.

If you’re a writer like I am, you know we put our hearts and souls into our manuscripts.  They are pieces of us exposed to the world. When someone comes back with a not-so-glowing review or comment, it resonates deep within us.  We doubt ourselves and our abilities to write.  We realize just how vulnerable we are to the opinions of others.  With reviews of the Make Believe anthology coming in, (my short story THE AMULET OF ORMISEZ appears alongside 5 others), I fear my skin may not be as thick as I’d like.  While none of the reviews have been bad, I’m sure there will be some to come.  So how do I prepare for the self-doubt I’m sure will come?  Here are a few tips I’m incorporating, thanks to my fabulous beta readers and a fantastic article:  Tim Ferriss:  7 Great Principles For Dealing with Haters:

1.  Ignore the haters.  Realize not everyone is going to like what you write.  It’s inevitable.  You can’t please everyone.  Don’t try.  My story is unique. The publisher liked it and chose it out of a sea of others to publish.  That speaks volumes.

2.  Some people just won’t ‘get it’.  You may have written an amazing story with a superb plot line, but somewhere, someone is not going to understand it.  They’ll find the story confusing or lacking.  That’s okay.  There’ll be others that do ‘get it’.  They are the ones that matter.

3.  Don’t react to negativity.  Expect it and embrace it.  Ferriss states in his article that 10% of people will find a way to take anything personally.  He says “People are least productive in reactive mode.”   He recommends to expect negativity and choose your response (or lack of one) in advance, as opposed to reacting inappropriately.  Don’t commit social media suicide by reacting to negativity.  Be better than that.  Hold your head up high and remember tips 1 and 2.  Don’t make a spectacle of yourself.

4.  Remember, not everyone is out to pounce on you.  This is a big one for aspiring authors to overcome.  People aren’t waiting to destroy you.  In fact, they, themselves, are afraid of being destroyed.  You must put your work out there to gain confidence.  My suggestion:  find some great beta readers you can trust, who can be honest but kind, unafraid to point out what doesn’t work and praise you for what does.  They’ll also be a great cheering section when  1, 2 and 3 above happen.

5.  Be prolific.  Don’t fall in love with your manuscript.  Write, write, write.  Love what you write but don’t become so enamored with it you don’t let others see it, critique it, blast holes in it, or drool on it.  Shatter your ego.  It’s not about you.  It’s about the stories.  Don’t focus on one huge project. Blog. Write short stories.  Spread yourself around.  It’s amazing how quick your self-confidence goes up.

6. Write in other genres.  Yep. Step outside your comfort zone.  Explore the unknown.  How do you know if you don’t like roller coasters if you never ride them?  How do you know if you don’t like carrots if you never eat one.  Try something unknown.  You may discover you’re better at it than you thought.

7.  Submit.  Don’t be afraid to submit your stories.  Are you going to get accepted all the time?  No.  Are you going to get rejected all the time?  No, though sometimes it may feel like it.  All you need to remember is that rejection isn’t bad.  It just means your work wasn’t suited for that particular publisher.  Keep submitting.  Someone will eventually love what you wrote, believe in it, and publish it, but you have to believe in it enough to submit.

So how do you deal with fear and self-doubt?  I would love to hear your comments.

Music for your Thanksgiving Day

Turkey day is here everyone!  Time to loosen those belt buckles and prepare to feast.  Smokers and ovens are working overtime today in American households to produce the perfect golden-brown turkey.  Millions of red and gold potatoes will be cooked, smashed and whipped. Sweet potatoes will be casseroled and garnished with melted marshmallows.  Green beans will be infused with cream of mushroom soup and dried onions.  There will be squash, corn, cranberry sauce, gravy, dressing/stuffing, copious amounts of wine and alcohol, pickles, olives, celery sticks, tomatoes, deviled eggs.  And when the times comes, we will all gather around the table and give thanks for all the friends, family, bounties and blessings we have in our lives, including the music that makes this day so joyful.

What?  Thanksgiving Day has its own music?  Yeppers, it does, and the proof is below.  Celebrate and enjoy.  All I ask is that in your rejoicing, you also take a moment to pray for those less fortunate than you.  There are many tonight in our country who will not eat, who will not be warm, who have lost a family member.  Some recently lost their homes to a horrible storm.   Many Americans are living in shelters or on the streets.  Pray for the ill in hospitals and the families that never leave their bedsides.  And if the opportunity presents itself, help someone less fortunate than you, for there, but before the grace of God, go you and I.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Don’t forget to write

Authors and writers hear it every day:  if you are to succeed as an author, you must market, research, critique, tweet, Facebook, create a brand, gain a following, attend seminars, learn how to write synopsis, pitch a book, query and edit.  You are also supposed to do all of this while attending to those little things in life like working, taking care of kids, going to school, exercising, etc.  Is it any wonder after taking care of all the above, you actually forget to write?

Here are a few tips that may be able to help fit some time in to actually put words to paper (or computer):

1.  Schedule a time to write.  If you work or go to school full-time, it may help to establish a regular time each day to write. Make an appointment with your writer self and treat it the same way you would any other appointment.

2.  Don’t be afraid to say No.  Time is a commodity writers can’t waste.  Don’t be afraid to tell your family, friends and neighbors you have to write.  That’s not to say writing should be the most important thing in your life, but you may want to consider, especially in the beginning, giving up that time for the most important things in your life.  Tell everyone, including friends and family, you’re writing a novel.  They’ll usually take an interest, AND give you the space you need to finish it.

3.  Don’t burn yourself out.  Many writers get the idea in their head they’re going to write the next Great American Novel in 30-days, and they go at it night and day for 2 weeks and give up because they’ve burned themselves from both ends. Don’t forget to sleep and eat right.  Exercise regularly (it does wonders to help sort out plots and shake the cobwebs from the head).  Indulge in a bubble bath.  Take a break and read.  Relax.

4.  Don’t over-think it.  Too many writers (me included) start out writing their novel and at the end of chapter 1, they go back and revise and revise again to the point chapter 2 is never written.  Stop with the editing.  Just write.  Always keep moving forward.  Don’t lose the momentum.  The novel will never be perfect so stop striving for it.  Concentrate on writing a great story you love.  Your authenticity will shine through and your readers will thank you.

5.  Identify your fear.  Is there a reason you are not writing on a regular basis?  Are you afraid to finish?  Are you afraid people won’t like your story?  Are you afraid of success?  Do you feel cramped?  Do you not have a good ‘writing space’?  Identify what prohibits you from writing and figure out ways to overcome it.  It may be as simple as having a few friends in your corner you can talk to and vent.  As soon as you can identify the reason(s) why you can’t write, the sooner you can figure out ways to overcome it/them.

6.  Lack of tools.  You may not have a laptop you can take with you wherever you go.  You may not be able to write as fast as your brain thinks.  You may not be able to read what you write, even if your hands can keep up with your thoughts.  Try getting a digital recorder.  If it’s your writing space that’s hindering your creative thoughts, look into changing up where you write.  Not enough peace and quiet?  Try going to a library or coffee-house.  Explore all avenues to find what works and is productive for you.

Whatever you do, set your mind and thoughts free, enjoy yourself, and don’t forget to write.

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Dear Teen Me: What six words would you tell your teen self?

I stopped by Katy Upperman’s blog this morning and read a great post about what we would all like to tell our teen selves if we could turn back time.  It seems a group of YA authors got together and did just that…they compiled letters to their teen selves and those letters are now published in a book titled, DEAR TEEN ME.

Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen SelvesFrom Goodreads:  DEAR TEEN ME includes advice from over 70 YA authors (Lauren Oliver, Ellen Hopkins, and Nancy Holder, to name a few) to their teenage selves. The letters cover a wide range of topics, including physical abuse, body issues, bullying, friendship, love, and enough insecurities to fill an auditorium. So pick a page, and find out which of your favorite authors had a really bad first kiss? Who found true love at 18? Who wishes he’d had more fun in high school instead of studying so hard? Some authors write diary entries, some write letters, and a few graphic novelists turn their stories into visual art. And whether you hang out with the theater kids, the band geeks, the bad boys, the loners, the class presidents, the delinquents, the jocks, or the nerds, you’ll find friends—and a lot of familiar faces—in the course of Dear Teen Me.

Y.A. Author E. L. Schneider put together a video staring a few people who contributed letters to their teen selves.  She also shared a wonderful “Dear Teen Me” letter that had me smiling, remembering and relating.  You should check it out here.

What six words would I tell my teen self?

“Don’t believe them.  Believe in you.”

What six words would you tell your teen self?