Monday, December 15, 2014

When Everything Went Wrong

Oh, welcome brave new world! Where women think for themselves and children no longer are seen and not heard!

Baby boomers (along with previous generations) longingly reminisce the good old days where their "lessers" sat in mute silence and did what they were told without question. Those days are done. Gone. Dead! To wish otherwise is a death sentence to the uprising generation.

It was yesterday afternoon my family happily visited my in-laws. Don't touch! Don't fight. Talk in a low voice. Don't be obnoxious. Chase, chase, chase. Well, while visiting the grandparents is a nice once-in-a-while event for us, it can be stressful. Especially when you have kids like mine.

I am raising my kids to be thinkers. To fight for their beliefs. To be unafraid to speak their minds. To love and obey their Heavenly Father. To know and love delayed gratification. To succeed in life. To act honorably and honestly. Every one of them has a headstrong leader within wanting to shine! And this creates many a conflict in the Mueller household. While this happens, I teach them the importance of teamwork and charity.

So, back to the death sentence of the uprising generation. There's no doubt. Look around you. Things are fast paced. In every way. Sex. Communication. Drugs. Jobs. Home life. Everything. If we raised our kids to run and hide when company arrives, what kind of adults will they become?

Our nice evening led to an explosive argument between the generations at the grandparents. You see, we have a soon-to-be 2 year old active little boy, and I stress ACTIVE. Grandparents had a beautiful china Nativity Scene on a table in the middle of their living room. I had politely asked if we could please remove this set so that Babykins would not hurt it. Grandma hesitated. She consented. I felt her hesitance. Boy, did I. So, I hired myself some teenagers to help me take it to another room. Grandpa saw us and said in so many words, "What are you doing? No. You put it back and just teach your little boy to not touch."

Taken aback, I said to my kids as I grabbed up my portion for its return, "Okay, kids, you heard him, let's put it back because we're going to do our super best to keep Babykins to keep from touching it."

Grandma heard that. And that's when it all exploded. Grandpa says that in his days, children did NOT touch. They obeyed. He pointed fault in the way we're raising our children. Doesn't he know the pressures they're facing? I am not going to go down quietly into the night and let my kids flail and fail and sink and fall. They will know who they are. They will NOT sit to be looked at, to be shut away, to bow their heads and say meekly, "yes, sir" because those days of quiet subservience is over.

I remember as a child, being afraid of adults. It wasn't until high school that I realized that teachers were human. Silly as that sounds, it was true. My dad taught me through example to be scared of adults. To shut up when he entered. To hide when he was angry.

I've had to reinvent my parenting skills because the example I have is not a happy or good one. While I had a broken childhood, I do not raise my children lightly. I think about their emotional well-being, their happiness and comfort. Their self-confidence, their desires, their needs. Everything comes with a price and that is the honor system. To honor is to live wisely.They are the world to me. I love them and want to stay a part of their lives as they search out for their own for when the time comes. What parent wants their children to never come back? What parent wants to badger their children with tradition that hurt them as children themselves to begin with?

I call this the the Generational Miscommunication Gap Crisis.

There is a fine line to raising children and I can say with a clear conscious that I am not raising hoodlums.

Thoughts?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

When a Hiatus goes Wrong

What a wonderful way to share your support with fellow writers! Click on the badge above to START!


Just a little something to keep going if you ever find yourself stuck in any way. Yep, bouncing back from the netherworld is proving a big challenge. One day, I will reclaim my throne. Until then ...




Thoughts?



Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Personal Internal Conflict

"Do you think your value to Him (Heavenly Father) changes based on how many followers you have on Instagram or Pinterest? Do you think He wants you to worry or get depressed if some un-friend or un-follow you on Facebook or Twitter?"


I loved President Uchtdorf's Conference address. As an author, I get caught up in appearances (as in showing up) and worry about numbers rising or dropping. I am so tired of that. It's the constant nagging of having to show presence so that my fans won't forget me.

My publisher had once said that I've already built my fanbase and the true ones will be there as time moves on. It's constant work on having to maintain as well as garner them--remember all successful relationships require nurturing. Human nature.

I have a lot of work ahead of me, but feeling pushed and pulled; plus, not having the means to back me up makes it even more frustrating and I almost feel at a loss. As of now, I feel it necessary to decide what is more important and go with that.


If keeping up doesn't feel like this, how do you manage to work in your favor without all the anxiety? Don't get me wrong, I enjoy networking, making friends and everything authorly, but it's been overwhelming lately. I'd love to hear your thoughts either way!

Monday, November 10, 2014

You Are Invited!




M.M. Roethig has invited me to be a part of a WoNdErFuL celebration of her book baby, Raine.

I will be hosting Monday, November 11th at 6:15-6:30. Join the fun for a chance to win cool stuff like Darkspell's ebook & to be turned into an Elemental (illustrations done by moi!)



See you there!



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

#NaNoWriMo Luck and Luvs!


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So it's that time of year when we gather around the fire in our cozy fuzzy warm socks staring listlessly into a pulsating screen. Does it mock the words that crowd our brains (or lack of) as we scramble to hit our 50k before our writing buddy does? Or maybe a past record?

Remember to take a well-deserved day off to refresh the voices in your head!

What is your NaNo project this year?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

We all need Validation

I know we all say one time or another that we don't care what others think. Deep down in the recesses of our darkest corner, I feel we all care. We are validated whether by action, word, or deed--even with ourselves. I've found, lately, all work and no play makes Liz a dull girl! Dull inside and out. I need to balance my life with validation--reward myself in one way or another.

My child showed me this hypnotic video entitled "Validation". It's refreshing. :)

After viewing this, please watch this next one, because, as our hero in "Validation", we never know how we affect others...



 How do you reward yourself after hard work?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

#IWSG My Breaking Point



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What do you do when the Book Distributor tells you you're book is NOT marketable?

Yep, that was me 3 years ago. I was thrilled when Darkspell released back in 2011. It is a YA Paranormal Romance and here is the blurb:



Winter Sky believes she is everything ordinary . . . until she is kissed by Alex Stormhold.
As seer of Stormhold Coven, Alex is sworn to be Winter’s protector against the darkness that hunts her. Violently thrust into a magickal realm she always thought impossible, she stumbles upon a disturbing secret of her own.

It had been doing very well! I broke well over even with the books I had ordered for signings and so forth, but I thought how much better it would be if I ran it over to the local distributor and get him to distribute my books throughout the state? Yes, I came from a very small publisher and I was left to my own devices as any indie author is.

So I dropped my book off and when I returned a few weeks later, he told me that my book was NOT marketable. What? Oh, I held myself up by a sheer will of power and smiled and nodded as he spoke while trembling and screaming and crying inside.

He told me the market is saturated with fantasy and I need to get realistic fiction out and to change Darkspell's cover.

Dread clutched me and I thought, "write realistic fiction?" I'm a fantasy writer! I write about elves, witches, vampires, magic and dwarves and talking falcons and Greek gods! How in the world will I ever come up with something that has nothing to do with any of these things?

Needless to say, I lost my writerly soul for a loooong time. I cried and cried, wondering how I would do what he said and how in the world my book wouldn't be marketable.

After about a week of mulling over my options (though it took years to put myself back together)--and since writing is my first love, I'd never give up. I had seriously questioned if I should even keep up with my writing career because of the devastation, but after taking it to the Lord and being told to keep on going, I tried my hand in realistic fiction

Guess what? I am quite surprised that I have the ability to write outside of fantasy!

I've written 3 realistic fiction books and have been inspired to write even more--though I have written several  fantasy as well. It was one of the harshest ways to change, I am grateful to him because if he hadn't had broken me down, I would not have written the great books I have now.

Have you had any broken moments that changed your direction?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How I Almost Killed Us

Once upon a time, we were planning to move. I had just had a baby and my hubby was an over the road driver. Every weekend, we'd head down south 2 hours to spend time with him in the new apartment we were slowing moving into. Having just had a baby, my bio clock was waaaay off and sleep was a coveted thing for me.

It was on the drive home that my body was wrung dry of sleep and my hubby suggested that I stay and let the kids miss school that Monday; it was Sunday evening. Not wanting them to miss, I decided to drive anyway.

I fought Mr. Sandman throwing grit into my eyes from the time I left, and about an hour and a half into the drive, I started nodding! My 14 year old son, sitting shotgun, had the strongest impression to look at me. Strange that a teenager would even care to look at me when he could be playing on my cell, right?

Well, as it turns out, he caught me with my eyes closed.

"Mom!" he said, clutching my arm. I opened my eyes and saw that we were heading into the V where the exit ramp splits from the highway and it was buffered by a bunch of orange construction barrels. I gasped (I only had about 3 seconds to make a choice), and swerved into the exit ramp and safely got off.

How lucky we were that no one was behind us. How idiotic it was for me to *not* listen to my hubby and kids to stay one more night.

As I write this, I feel shame that I didn't listen to everyone when they urged me to stay, but my drive to get my kids home for school the next day overwrote it all. I will never again feel bad to miss school if it comes right down to it because my family comes first!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Help keep Babies out of the Dumpster

Did you know that one of Project Cuddle's many rescued babies had been adopted by its Founder and CEO, Debbe Magnusen? Yes, Emily Magnusen was a rescue baby, here is her heartfelt story. I had asked for her permission to share her story because of how poignant and important this is, and she would love for anyone to do so as well.

"My birthmother was a drug addict and prostitute ... she wanted to abort me because she thought I would be a vegetable"

"Most, if not all of my friends, should know that I am adopted. Not all of you know my story.

My birthmother was a drug addict and prostitute. She told my adoptive mom, Debbe Magnusen, that she wanted to abort me because she thought I would be a vegetable. My mom told her not to that there [are] alternatives to her situation and here I am today, healthy and alive, thanks to her.

But my point that I want to get across is not everyone knows that there are options out there, that is why with this tragic event* that has struck so close to home, we need to get the word out there that there are options and and safer alternatives to baby abandonment--I'm living proof.

Go to www.projectcuddle.org to learn about these alternatives and get the word out there. My mom is the founder and CEO and she has helped girls in every situation. There is no judgement and she can help. She has rescued over 600 babies and counting ... Instead of spreading mean and hateful words, let's step above that and spread knowledge ... If you have any questions about volunteering ... you can go to the link I shared above."

*Tuesday morning, an infant was discovered in a garbage receptacle outside the birthmother's home. The birthmother and Emily are friends.


400,000 women in the US alone hide their pregnancies every year because of fear of a violent partner, rejection, disappointing others, religion, financial, cultural, shame of rape, etc.

Out of these pregnancies and according to reported incidences, over 20,000 babies are abandoned  each year--and those are the ones who have been found; because of the nature of the secret pregnancy, many babies go on unreported and die.

Because of organizations such as PROJECT CUDDLE, fewer babies die in trash bins, rest rooms, out in the weather and women no longer suffer in silence as well as with unassisted deliveries in homes throughout the country. The Safe Haven Laws allows women to give up their babies without judgment, without name.

Project Cuddle has saved over 750 babies from abandonment in the US and into Canada since 1996.


Because of my passion for babies and protecting them, I have written a book first person of a girl who unwittingly became pregnant and is terrified of what she will do. I wrote Baby's Breath so as to help spread this knowledge Emily is referring to.

Hi, my name is Jessica and I am 16. I had sex with Joshua. I never thought I'd end up pregnant and now I am terrified. I've heard of babies found in dumpsters. I am better than that. I will make sure someone finds him first before the cold does.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

If You Found a Diamond as BIG as Your 2 Hands ...



In the dark of the night, a mysterious light streaks across the black sky and hits the ground with a glowing impact. A lone peasant and his dog investigate and are stunned to see a gift from Heaven. Because of this object’s very nature, this man delivers it in good faith to the Abbey where the monks are restless and poor from lack of donations. This is when the abbot is inspired to use the celestial rock’s beauty to gain control, but soon, it spins out of control and turns into something ugly.

As I read Mirror of the Soul, I easily became lost in the pages as the many characters endure faith-testing trials. Some fail miserably, some hang by the proverbial thread while for others, it’s not a question of if neither when.

My favorite part is each time Morgan mentions the trio of best friends who are bored teenagers as they roam the village, getting into things they shouldn’t. Unbeknownst to them, they accidentally unravel the deep secret of the abbey.


J. Lloyd Morgan is one of my favorite authors! He has the knack, the ability to get into the hearts and minds of the characters and breathes into them as they jump to life on the pages right before my eyes. He never fails to weave a complicated line of excitement with intrigue and romance along with injustice and justice locking head-to-head as he does in The Mirror of the Soul. I love the way his mind works.

NOTE: The author provided a free copy of this book which has had no sway in my review.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Remember Tina Downey #LifeisGood

In memory of Tina Downey, hosted by the A to Z Team


please click on badge for list of participants (bottom of post)


In honors to the dear Tina Downey, here is my tribute, my sunflower.
Because Tina loved flowers...




update: As Susan Gourley had said, replying to a stream of wonderful posts sharing the same heart can be difficult to comment on! Like Susan, I would love if you could share with me, and in Tina's honor, how life is good! Thank you!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

#IWSG Are you Afraid?

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Welcome back, my favorite IWSG palz! I am a bit nervous about posting anything about this because I'm not sure if it's in bad taste, but here it goes...

Once upon a time, before Darkspell released and while I was still working on it, I was suddenly hit with a severe case of writers block. So I decided to focus on others and reached out and started helping more than usual during my downtime. I reviewed, beta read, alpha read, critiqued, blogged, guest posted, helped spotlight others, etc. Finally, after a few months, my Muse awoke from his hibernation and I finally finished off my book. Yay!

I then submitted my book and my publisher advised me to find myself some endorsers. So I backtracked and asked those whom I helped and many of them were willing! There was one author in particular who felt it necessary to lecture me. He said that I don't just ask people to endorse my book, but there needs to be a history between us of helping out. I thought, "That's what I'd been doing these past few months, was helping out others like crazy." Needless to say, he made me feel bad.

I noticed over the years people are hesitant at endorsing books (I understand you need to feel comfortable endorsing any book and that's something any author should allow), and since there is never a workshop at Writers Conferences on how to gain an endorser, I am somewhat at a loss on how to actually obtain them.

update:
Author Deirdra Eden feels the same. She says "IT is SOOOO hard to get endorsements. Authors for the most part are really hard on each other and act like they are competition. The thing is, books are a consumable. Think about that. I talked to a kid who read my book in half a day and I was like ...'Okay it took me 16 years to write.' If authors got this, they would rally around each other as allies and not enemies. I sent out like 100 requests to authors and only 5 came back and said yes and some wanted strings attached. pathetic. 

So I decided I was going to get moms and dads and kids and teachers to endorse my book. I found those endorsements to be WAY more powerful than endorsements from famous authors."


What is your process in requesting endorsements? Are you afraid to endorse another author? Do you feel threatened?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Aw, Do I *Have* to KILL my Darlings?

I've read many articles on killing your darlings. If you can successfully do this, then editing is a breeze. But not all darlings must be eradicated! Sometimes they must stay behind to make your story solid--even if it's your editor's wish to, uh, remove them.

I've written an article for the Au Courant Press Journal on my personal experience with two different editors with two different books from the same publisher. What. An. Adventure!

I would love if you would drop by and see just what it was like for me, click >here< to read article.

By the way, I illustrated the silly comic--what do you think?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Digging into *this* Writer's Brain

I’m not going to talk to you today about quick secrets of success, or how to write the perfect book. I’m going to share with how believing in myself changed my life as a writer.

It all started in 4th grade with poetry assignments. I was terrified to come up with words that rhymed, much less read them aloud in class! I honestly thought that would be the end of writing assignments. In 6th, we were given a bound book with blank pages to fill up with a short story. The mountains suddenly stretched tall into the vast skies in my little brain, and the world of novel-writing was born.

I fell in love with fantasy in high school as most young kids do, though reading was something I did not like. The reason for that was my mind would wonder as I read; I failed most required reading tests. At 17, I started my first book, a high fantasy novel about an elf who had lost her sense of self through the evil sorcerer who destroyed an entire nation. I completed that 700 paged novel by hand 8 years later.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

An Author's Failure ... or is it?

I wish I had excellent words of wisdom oozing from my brain to share with you regarding my writing journey. Though my love is found in writing fiction, I often feel inadequate when it comes to my experiences with my career though I have experienced quite a bit!


I started out with a small publisher who simply extended her service under CreateSpace, though she is an excellent cover artist and formatter. I crashed and burned when I tried to get my books to book stores and though CreatSpace's distributors could get your books directly into brick and mortar stores, I learned the hard way that my books were NOT set up that way.

I had to bring my own box in and sell it differently than other authors at book signings. I have been taken advantage by these stores (not all, most have integrity). What's sad, is that this is a race of one as an author.

I understand that we are networked and support one another, but realistically, we are so busy surviving life with a regular job that writing is a side thing though it does NOT feel that way. How can we make more time for flailing writers who need our expertise? Oh, yes, there are many writers out there who are willing to mentor and share secrets, but those are very rare to find!

Needless to say, I lost all confidence in my career when my old publisher decided to restructure her company and everyone became Indie: we would utilize one another's expertise and help get our individual books published that way.

Though Darkspell was my first published, it was not my first written. I have been writing for over twenty years and decided to push that one the hardest. I became lost and eventually orphaned from my publisher, but I kept writing and writing.


Though I have stumbled much thereafter, I have not given up on my love of writing and have come across second chances that feel like a slow take-off, but I have been led where I am at for a divine purpose that only the future will tell.

As Emily Mah had mentioned, Cinderella stories are far and few and success is dependent upon the view of the beholder. For some, success is simply getting that book published. After all, that is a significant goal accomplished!


What valuable lessons have you learned as a writer?  (Every step is important, even if you're not published!)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

#IWSG The Glory of Being a Writer!

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They say that being a writer is a lonely occupation. I agree. We hole ourselves in our writing cave and create vast worlds filled with colorful characters. We research and study hours and hours of material. 

There are many times I feel forlorn as I meet with others who share the same obsession through a 12 inch screen and type away my conversations. Then I move on to my writing cave and I am alone again.

But there are those moments when we shake off those quill feathers of ours and dare to venture into the sunshine, to venture into the world where other writers convene and share our love of our common craft!

Of course there are other aspects of the writer's life like family, a 9 to 5 job, illnesses, rain, walks around the neighborhood! Let me liken a writer's life to Harry Potter: my writing world is witches and wizards, with Voldemort and Buckbeak--my creativity has no limit while my real life is with Muggles (nonwriters) who scurry about their lives never knowing any better of the thoughts that churn in my head that create worlds of every kind. Muahahahah! >:D

How I love being a writer! How I love other writers! No matter where I am, I love being surrounded by others who are as crazy as I am! We are a magical folk.

What are your thoughts on being a writer?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Exclusive Character Interview with Parker Bennett from the Dream Keeper Series!



So I asked my 14 year old son, Levi--who absolutely LOVES all the adventures you star in and is a proud fan (who debuted in Book Two, and will make a major appearance in Book Three--wheeeee!), to whip up a set of interview questions for you in which he was thrilled to! He's a devoted stalker of your mastermind, Mikey Brooks!

Welcome Parker Bennett from the Dream Keeper Series! ! 


Levi: What did you think when you discovered your dreams were taking place in another dimension?

Parker: At first I didn’t know what to believe. Magic and stuff is cool when it’s in video games but something else when it’s really happening. Now that I get it and know what’s going on—it’s amazing! I mean I get to see Dreams how it really is, not to mention all the awesome dreamlings I’ve met like Gladamyr, Cerulean, Captain Bootie and Felix. Sure there are some total creepers too, like Mab, Minion, and Fyren, but Dreams is still pretty sweet. Did I mention I have superpowers there too? Yeah. That alone makes visiting Dreams worth it. 


Levi: What made you sure that Gladamyr would stay good after going into the Draig three times? 

Parker: If you ever get a chance to meet the guy he is nothing like the other nightmares. Gladamyr can be scary looking sometimes. In fact he looked pretty gnarly when he came out of the Draig the last time. But I knew he’d be okay because I knew he loved me and Kaelyn. I don’t want to sound all mushy and stuff, but Gladamyr is a pretty cool guy and I love him too. Maybe it’s the bond we share. Or maybe just the trust I have in him. I just knew he’d survive the Draig.

Levi: What did you think when Kaelyn let you hold her hand in front of the Plastics?

Parker: Gosh, man, I really don’t know. Half of me wanted to give Tiffany and her band of snobs a show. You know something to talk about. The other half of me wanted to hold Kaelyn’s hand because . . . well, I like holding it. Let move onto the next question before it become too awkward a conversation.


Levi: Do you think that if you had enough time you could have kept Mab's tower from collapsing?

Parker: I’d like to think so. My powers are growing the more I visit Dreams. I like to think that if Mab would have just gotten her proud butt of the throne we could have fixed everything. That dreamling drives me crazy. It was just so chaotic and I didn’t get the time to figure out what I did. Man, you should have seen my mom’s face. I could tell she was about to ground me . . . again.


Levi: What was your first thought when Jason said he and Mab were trying to save Dreams when Mab was using him to destroy it?

Parker: To be honest, I’m still kind of angry. You’d think Jason would have been a little smarter than that. Hello?! Mab is like the most evil dreamling I have met. I sometimes think she’s worse than Fyren. Both her and Jason make me so made I want to start throwing stones at them. To be honest, it also makes me kind of sad. Jason has been my best friend since kindergarten. I can’t believe he would do something like this to hurt me. Just because I became friends with Kaelyn.


Levi: Do you think Jason was jealous of you for having a cute girl as a closer friend than himself?

Parker: I think Jason’s problem is that he doesn’t like to come in second to anyone, let alone a cute girl like Kaelyn. (Don’t tell Kae I said she was cute. I’ll never hear the end of it.) When I think about it, Jason treats my other friends the same way. He’s always making fun of Connor and Levi, as if he could make me not like them. I think Dr. gates would say Jason is insecure. 

Dude, these have been awesome questions. And this is my first official interview. You’d think I’d have more after saving the world the first time. Just wait until you read what happens in the last book. Mares is not an easy guy to shut down. To be honest, I don’t know if we can defeat him. I hope we can. Kaelyn says, ‘in dark times, hope is all that will get you to the light.’ Man, I hope she’s right.
~Parker Ryan Bennett




Whoa, that was way fun, Mikey, thanks for letting Parker out to play with Levi--I know they will have more fun together in your upcoming book!


**scroll down for a chance to win The DreamKeeper and The DreamStone audio books!**




About Mikey Brooks:
Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of the best-selling middle-grade series The Dream Keeper Chronicles, The Stone of Valhalla, and The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures and Bean’s Dragons. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (www.emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com




Author, Freelance Illustrator, and Cover Designer.
I am the author of the middle-grade fantasy adventures: The Stone of ValhallaThe Dream Keeper, and The Dreamstone.
My picture books include: ABC Adventures: Magical CreaturesBean's Dragon, and Trouble with Bernie.

To find more magic and to see my portfolio visit: insidemikeysworld.com



Enter for a chance to win Mikey Brooks' The DreamKeeper audio books!

Rafflecoptor code:



Monday, July 14, 2014

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder!

Or does it?

I have to apologize for missing out on blogging comments as of last week and up to I'm not sure when.
My editors have gotten back to me and I have been working nonstop on a few books with a 2 week deadline! I successfully finished editing Rock Star in 5 1/2 days with a word count of over 100k and sent it back to the editor! I was so proud of myself, I cried.

It's been one grueling week so far what with the kids fighting and picking up all the slack from me! Just one more week, babies!

I will get back to you guys as soon as I am done with my Baby's Breath, promise!

What projects have you been working on?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Not Using "Was"

Okay, really quick! Go to your WiP and do a search for the word WAS. How many do you come up with? Musketeer's Daughter, my YA historical novel, has 943 out 102,748 words. Thank goodness it's only a first draft!

All of my writerly life I have heard to not use was because it is a passive voice and passive voice makes for a passive read and readers like powerful stories that stick to their ribs. I cam across J. Timothy King's post on 7 ways to eradicate the copulative [word was]. After reading it, that was when I suddenly became obsessed with its abolition.

Here are some examples from another WiP that had me busting my brains to remove the offending word:

This was not home, nor was it anywhere near.
TO
It’s very strangeness declared he had entered a realm far-removed from home. ...


There was no doubt where the Princesses headed, a cobblestone lane led the way through the thick forest.
TO
A cobblestone lane led the way through the thick forest, leaving no doubt where the Princesses headed. ...

A minute ago, I happened across another post from Meljean, declaring the mistake writers do by advising newbie counterparts NOT to using was. WAS isn't as bad as we think. Okay, conflicting time! Click here to read her post.

Now my obsession to destroying WAS has slowed, but I am not sure anymore which is true. However, I did some more research and asked a friend I trust, my editor, on what he thinks about WAS. This is what *Clay Gilbert has to say about the infamous word:

"The main trick of avoiding the passive is to make sure you don't have a lot of sentence constructions where PEOPLE are having things done to them. You don't want your PEOPLE consistently being acted upon, but objects--well, that's what they're for."

Brilliant, Clay! It's so much clearer now.

What are your thoughts on WAS?


*Clay has a fabulous work of art in his Trilogy. Drop by and say hi!




Wednesday, July 2, 2014

#IWSG Feeling Like a Buffoon

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There's something dorky in the word Buffoon, wouldn't you agree? I think of a clown with balloony pants who can't hold things as it slips through his fingers.

While I don't wear balloony pants, things do slip through my fingers. Time doesn't like me right now and I'm overwhelmed with projects begging for attention as well as family. Ever since I had this wonderful baby, I've been forgetful! On top of that, when I have a bit of time--during babykins' nap times, I scramble about wondering what project needs my attention. I create a checklist and check off the squares.

Okay, babykins is asleep--get set, go!

So every project fights with each other, vying for my attention. Pick me, no, pick me! Soon, I succumb to the sinking feeling of ... Do I write a post about my writing process for an upcoming bloghop along with finding 3 friends who are willing to participate (a huge project for my little buffoon brain), or do I write the book that needs to be done by October, or edit a book I've been promising to for the past year?

Also, I am at a seeming impasse: though I have signed a few contracts with my publisher and have yet to hear from the editors, I wonder how I would carry on with my time scarcity and babykins once the books release; I let it slide and not worry. They'll get it to me when they get it to me. I'll worry when the time comes. Meanwhile, how do I market myself with only a single book over 2 years old? I feel so squashed as it is with my Buffoonness that I don't know where to start or when to end.


How do you handle all your projects, time, and self without the expense of insanity?

Monday, June 30, 2014

School Shooting, what would you do? a mock shooting training

I screamed, wrestled, and wailed and they arrested me

The school is on lock-down, there has been a shooting. I received the text from the school where my kids attend. With pounding heart in my mouth, trembling and legs like weakened noodles (I had a hard time running!), I pulled in behind the cop after seeing a father with a bat approach him. I searched my car for a formidable weapon, but came up empty.

After wedging my car behind the officer who blocked the road, I jumped out and dashed past him, but he caught me. The school seemed abandoned and eerily quiet--so quiet I could only think of one thing: To. Get. In!

I was the crazed parent, my time of arrival at 10:17, June 28th. My four kids were participants with given assignments at different parts of the school building. As we lined up for the authorities to give us our designated roles, I noticed the makeup artists dabbing kids with blood-red paint and black and dark brown--the color of wounds that killed.

My 17 year old (yo) needed to act out as a panicked student, and my 14 yo to hide quietly in a corner. I watched the group of kids follow the leaders into the school along with my two younger children for them to set the stage.

Excitement literally hung in the air and my wild mind recalled the many shootings I have broken over these past several years. It would not be difficult to act the assigned part of a crazed parent. It was so easy to act the exact role they wanted from me ...


Monday, June 23, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things #bloghop! #CTST

Welcome to VikLit and Celebrating the Small Things! I am loving the hoppers' posts so far, so full of breathtaking joy. It's refreshing! I have included the list below this post.
Enjoy. :D


Here's mine:

In a world full of fast paced craziness, I find that stopping once in a while is really important to catch my breath! As I write this, my mind is frantically combing what I have done! Yikes, I am bad. I know I love to listen to my 15 month old baby laugh and play. I love to hear my kids chattering, their sounds filling the air. I enjoy sitting on my porch as I stare off into the mountains.

One thing that I remember that I have been doing is going for walks. A few times I have actually stopped by the old elementary school where they have swings--yes, swings! Such a rarity these days--and swing facing the mountains. It's so stunningly green and I love to stare at the clouds changing color as the sun sets.

Another thing is writing! Oh, writing is my first love of simple things.

Writing this article has made me realize that I need to enjoy the simple things a bit more often. I am too busy. :(


What simple joys do you find yourself doing?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Method to My Madness in Writing--er, I mean, My Writing Process BLOG HOP!

Victoria Adams, for some crazy reason, has chosen me to share my writing process as part of her bloghop, isn't she awesome? She is a wonderful friend and  I love her writing process, you should drop by and say hi!

To be honest with you, I've been dreading to write about my writing process. I'm not a procrastinator, but I have squandered these past two weeks wondering how I would begin such a task. And now, here I am!

As with anything great, my writing starts with thought. I keep my imagination well-oiled and pay attention to details that are all around. If I'm going for a walk and happen by a burnt down building, I imagine dark creatures living there. A breathtaking sunset could inspire a high fantasy plot involving dragons or unicorns. A phrase from the scriptures or a book, even someone speaking could strike up wonders. (I never dismiss dreams, either!)

Once my brain gathers information--or I just refer to my book of ideas, I jot down a rough summary. Even a first chapter idea to get the juices flowing. More often than not, I am a pantser writer. My characters jump to life, or, I love the cliche, they hit the ground running! On rare occasions, I get stumped and suffer writers block. Oh, I hate writers block! Once that happens, I put my story aside and try to figure out what it is that is stumping me. Many times it's because I am not giving myself permission to accept an idea. It is a mental conflict that I must work though. Prayer is one of my biggest sources of my writing process and it helps me sort through all the bugs!

Sometimes my blocks derive from plot problems. I love bouncing ideas around with writing palz--even my teen-aged kids. They are ripe with ideas. Once I detangle myself from these things, I tackle my book with every whit of passion I possess. How my husband gets lost in his favorite television show, or my son in his epic book, so it is with me in my writing! Unfortunately, my time is so sparse, I must be ready to write when it spontaneously arrives! Yep, having a 14 month old babykins will easily do that to me. I once pushed myself very hard and wrote a 50K novel in two weeks! As you can tell, babykins was not around at that time.

I just love how the characters sprout choices of their own, how the story unfolds. I do my very best to keep from editing as I write. My mantra is: You have permission to have inconsistencies, misspellings, editing flaws, whatever, for the first draft. Okay, if something really bothers me, I will go back and fix it!Once I'm done writing, I go back and edit it -or- put it aside to let it fester as I move on to my next book. After some time has gone by--maybe a few weeks or months--I will get back to that book and edit.

The IMPORTANT thing about that is many times I lose the "feel" of that book and even what I need to edit, so I create an "editing notes" file with my thoughts as to what I think needs fixing.

For example, in my Musketeer's Daughter I have finished about a month ago, my notes say this:
>king or KING (proper grammar usage)
>His Majesty the King (again, proper name usage)
>make home consistent with *wealthy* Gabriel--remember he's not genteel poverty like I 1st started out
>character & costume consistency
>look up French words every time you see this: (f)

If I don't have notes like that to jog my memory, I'd have to reread my story straight through just to remember what exactly it was I needed to do! Yikes!

Once I have gone through it a few times, I hope (ha! More like pray) that I could find willing victims to beta read my stuff. << that part is the most challenging ever! Because we are naturally hermatoids living in our writerly caves, it's not easy, at least for me.

Viola! Welcome to my condensed version to my Method of Madness in Writing!


Is there stuff you do differently? What shortcuts help you? I'd love to hear your thoughts!



Welcome my next victims for the fantastical BLOGHOP! They will dare to share their Writing Process as well next week!



Heather McCubbin began writing stories on the back of scrap of paper at the age of 13, then filing them away, while also resisting peer pressure to avoid death defying stunts off her swing-set. Now that she is an adult and owns a laptop, there are many MS Word folders filled with stories. And she has retired  from jumping off swing-sets.

Her first story "Shadows of Promise," published 2011, was included in the anthology "Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal'. Currently, she has a YA Mystery?Romance story being reviewed for publishing and is working on a fantasy novel with a long-time friend all while beginning a new job of reviewing for "Books Make Me Happy Reviews".

In addition to writing, editing, reviewing and  reading, she enjoys traveling, board games, volunteering in school PTA and Marching Band all while fostering cats/kittens. A native Marylander, she supports Redskins, Capitals and Orioles. She now resides outside of Boston with her family, her dog and a 20-pound cat.





Megan Elizabeth Morales is a female who love Star Trek, is a Netflix Junkie and loves Comic-Con. She's a bit of a dreamer, isn't she? One day when she was eight years old, she just started writing, and she's never stopped since.









Willow Scot: As a young girl I wrote my first Novel, "The Snow Monster". Although it never was read by another living soul, I was hooked. Ever since I have written in just about every Genre. I am currently looking for representation for my picture book "Ooey, Gooey, Stinky, Muck!". My current project is a Historical Romance Novel, "My Enemy, My Love".

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

#IWSG Bigger Than Life ...

What a wonderful way to share your support with fellow writers! Click on the badge above to START!


We all know as authors we must make our characters bigger than life, otherwise, the story is bland. A person's real life would be considered boring if you shadowed him/her all the time. I noticed that I have been trying to make myself bigger than life as a public figure. You know, to create interest? Aren't authors supposed to be exciting, interesting, fun? Just like celebrities.

Ha.

Ever since I was first published a few years ago, I have always worked hard to keep up a certain image. To please. But it becomes burdensome, having to think of the world as a whole in perspective of an author. This applies to my blog, my facebook, twitter, everything social network. Even at writers conferences when I present.

This is a state of being, you know? You can't let your guard down as you walk down the aisle of the grocery store as you might have a few of your signed books in your satchel in the event you strike up a conversation with a to-be fan.

I am just who I am, I just want to be myself without having to sound like a self-proclaimed person who is constantly wearing down the public hawking their wares with over exaggerated enthusiasm. *Shiver*

What about you, what do you think an author should be? Am I over-thinking this?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Research A-ha Moments

Have you ever spent hours upon hours of research for a book you're writing? Maybe even begrudgingly? I just want to write! Why do I need to stop and research? Even for just a single sentence?

I spoke with a library friend of mine and she said how beautiful my book will be for it. I am careful not to write in gross detail in the work as it is background knowledge, but shines through the dialogue, mentioned casually in setting as well as description.

For Musketeer's Daughter, I have spent over 10 hours on research during King Henri IV of France's reign from his favorite castle of residence to fashion, food, and weather. Castles undergo lots of construction and rebuilding as well as tearing down and sometimes it's difficult to find out just how and what and when!

Here are some discoveries I have made:

Below is the famous horse shoe staircase of Chateau de Fontainebleau during Henri IV of France's reign. The drawing was done before 1610, while the photograph of the same castle happens to be of the staircase after his son, Louis XIII, had them reconstructed (how they are today).





Something that I learned during my studies is that King Henri (reigned 1553-1610) commissioned a floating garden in the castle's fishing lake. Can you see it below in the the illustration? There are only a few illustrations of this garden via bird's eye view like the one below. But somehow, it mysteriously vanished in a few years' later illustration (Jacques Androuet de Cerceau in 1570--not too long after).




So where did it go in such a few short years?

In the modern illustrations as well as photographs, the garden is not there. I was disappointed to see it missing and wondered what had happened to it. I spent several hours more trying to unearth a record on where it went. Well, I never found such information, but a closer look via satellite showed much to my shock!



Do you see it right there (below), beneath the Lake? Yes, it sank!




Still, after discovering where it went and how, I could not find anything about it. Surely the people were scared that something so solid and well-used had sunk right before their eyes? Maybe someone had it destroyed because it was too dangerous or was just spiteful, and thought it not worth recording? Who knows... There is more out there and wish I could find the records.

What sort of interesting facts have you found while researching?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Knowing What to Write in a Blogpost part 2

Last week I shared with you how daunting it has been for me. As I read the post title and viewed the number of impressive hits, I realized something...everyone is hungry for knowledge; you were hoping to find some helpful advice but maybe were disappointed when my post mentioned just how lost over it I was!

Another thing I realized is that I've been searching for "See a need, fill a need." What about, "See a want, fill a want"? Aren't wants just as powerful as needs? People are constantly seeking comfort and joy, right? Plus, if I follow my drive to obey what I want to post rather than what I need to post, it will reflect honesty and not feel forced.

Writing a blog post is very much like writing a book: always keep your eyes open for inspiration: One day I was driving down the street and saw a car with a right-seated driver. I have never seen a right-seated car before and it stuck with me. Another was when the wind blew so hard, it tossed my tent from my yard. We searched the neighborhood and couldn't find it. Guess what? It was in my backdoor neighbor's yard!

How do I weave this into a blog post? The thought regarding the right-seated driver brings to mind that being different takes courage and can impact others to the point that they realize it isn't so bad. For the tent, the answer is simpler than you'd believe if you just stopped and breathed...

Writing your post short and snappy (like the bikini method--small enough to keep it interesting, but cover the important details) makes for a great post!

I enjoyed the helpful comments left on my other post, if you're interested in reading them!

How do you find your inspiration for your blog posts? What tips do you have that work great for you? 



Friday, May 23, 2014

First Fell in Love with

Writing.

Though I have always enjoyed writing, words became deeper and more meaningful the day my Language Arts Instructor (high school) had us read this classic: A Worn Path by Eudora Welty. I was instantly impressed by her enigmatic way of unraveling the tale as well as the rich sensory detail and the implied history! My!

For your benefit, I have posted the story below the break. I hope you love it as much as I do.

Do you love her style? Hate it? Why?





Monday, May 19, 2014

A Walk With a Princess ...

Congrats, Shanna M. Tull! I loved this book back when I critiqued it, and I love it even more now. Woohooo!!!


Fortuna, a determined young lady, wants nothing more than to prove to everyone that a middle princess is just as special as the firstborn and last daughter. She has the perfect quest too. Shortly before her eldest sister’s wedding all of the princes disappeared. If she finds the seven missing men she’ll not only be a hero, but she will have saved her sister’s love lives and exonerated her kingdom from blame.

Forced to run away to go on her quest, Fortuna has to accept the company of Aaron, a handsome young man who has sworn to protect her, a crazy old lady who thinks Fortuna is her daughter, and a traveling troupe who want nothing more than to hide her away and keep her safe.

As she and her companions confront camping out at night, music-loving ogres, and fairies who aren’t telling Fortuna everything she is faced with decisions that could alter her entire world as she realizes that Aaron might be someone more important to her than any prince could ever be.

Will Fortuna follow her heart and doom not only the missing princes and her sisters, but her kingdom as well? Or will she be a true princess and prove to everyone, for once and for all, that a middle princess is special too?

 Get your paperback now! xD
http://www.amazon.com/The-Middle-Princess-Shanna-Tull/dp/1495932168/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1400179889&sr=8-1

Friday, May 16, 2014

Knowing What to Write in a Blog Post

I think it should be whatever comes to your heart.

I know when I started several years ago, I wanted to sweep you off your feet with interesting topics. So I wrote every single day of the week--Sundays included--with patterned specific themes. That became tiresome. I held blog tours as well as guest posts and threw bloghops and other innovative events. It was fun! But maybe I tried too hard? I can't compete with that now! Ha.

Now I scratch my head in wonder with what interesting topics I can come up with for you. With audience in mind, I become paralyzed and then I lose myself in the 'rules' of what should please you (I have gone to writers conferences where they share with us on how to make your blog work for you). Oh boy... On top of that, I am bloggified out after more than a year when babykins has been born.


Have you lost yourself in topics that would lure readers to your blog? Or do you just write whatever comes naturally?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Who I Am Yesterday: A Path to Coping With a Loved One's Dimentia by Victoria Adams


This book is my personal journey through the first year of learning to manage the day to day joys and tribulations of living with a loved one's dementia. It is a personal story which provides the foundation of the relationship that I have with my husband. It is also a journey of observation; a tale of learning and discovery, and a sharing of the coping mechanisms that worked for me. Join me as I follow the incredible workings of the human mind and learn how to find humor in the midst of heartbreak.

VICTORIA ADAMS is an accountant and financial analyst by profession. Over the years she has been involved in pottery, needlepoint, gardening and other activities that enable her to create or discover. She has been a teacher and occasional speaker. She is also a voracious reader with her most loved books being in the areas of philosophy, religion, history, archeology and anthropology. It is in these areas her husband most wanted her to publish. Perhaps now it is time.

Publisher: PDMI
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1475152183
ISBN-13: 978-1475152180
Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.3 inches 


Reviews:

Who I am Yesterday: A Path to Coping with a Loved One’s Dementia by Victoria Adams is a touching account of her efforts to care for her husband through the advance of his confused mental stage. Victoria gives detailed information about practicalities of living with someone who has vascular dementia and gives realistic advice without getting bogged down in complicated medical and legal details. 
~Cindy Koepp, author and teacher

An engaging and unique viewpoint on dementia care-giving. Victoria captures the reader with her capacity to communicate and relate with her loved one's changing needs. To say this is a "must read" for care-givers would be an understatement.
~ Connie Pierce, author of Letting go of the Rice

This is a must read for anyone who is affected by dementia- especially their care givers. The author makes a case for dementia and how it affects the lives of those it touches in both the good times and the difficult times. For anyone who has been a care giver, family member, friend or loved one of one with dementia he or she will relate to the stories in this book which will make you laugh and cry. The author takes you on a journey of love, of hope, and of courage.
~ Kirkland Visiting Angels


Find Victoria Adams here!