Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thursday TAG! - Lori Sjoberg

I'm so very excited for this TAG! and it's for a few reasons. Today's TAG! features Lori Sjoberg. She's one helluva writer and critiquer. How do I know that? She's a member of my critique group at my favorite time sucking place site. Even if we weren't in a critique group, I'd know she is awesome. When she posted her query for critique in the forum on AQC, it didn't even need work. It was what every query hopes to be some day. It also got her a book deal and not just for one book, but two. (though I'm sure that has something to do with the fact that her writing in general is awesome and so is the concept of her book.) Her book is due Dec 2012/Jan 2012 and everyone should keep an eye out for it. You can find Lori demonstrating her awesomeness at AQC and on Facebook. Now...On to the TAG!

1. When did you start writing?
My job requires a fair amount of technical writing, but I started writing for pleasure around 2004.

2. What made you want to write?
Stephanie Plum.  Sounds silly, but a dear friend badgered me into reading One For the Money.  I got hooked on the series, and the wait between books led me to the wonders of fan fiction.  Before long, I started writing short stories to satisfy my Cupcake craving and things went from there.

3. When did you decide you wanted to write to be published? (As opposed to writing just to write)
Afer writing fan fiction for a year or two, I started to wonder if I could write something with my own characters and storyline.  About halfway through that first manuscript a friend told me about a local writing group.  I joined a month later, and the dream of publication came to life.

4. What genre(s) do you write?
I started out writing Contemporary Romance, but at the moment I'm fully entrenched in the realm of Paranormal Romance.

5. Why that(those) genre(s)?
Probably because I grew up on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy.  As the youngest of three, I never had control of the remote, (Not that I'm bitter about it.  Really!  Okay, maybe a little.) which meant I spent a lot of time watching Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Twilight Zone, Tales From the Dark Side, etc.  Mix that with my love for a happy ending, and you have all of the ingredients for a paranormal romance.

6. Do you have any particular ritual when you write? (A specific way things are done during the process)
Not really.

7. Do you use an outline, or do you just start writing?
Usually, I begin with a few key scenes that are the most vivid in my mind.  I branch out from there, writing in no specific chronological order.  Once I reach a certain point, I start stitching the scenes together until they form a coherent story, and then start fillling in the gaps.

8. Is there something you MUST have when you're writing? (Aside from the typical writer tools-computer, pen, paper, etc)
Diet Coke/Pepsi (whichever's on sale).  I prefer a quiet room, because I get distracted easily.

9. Do you write out your story on paper and then transfer to a computer, or straight to the computer?
Straight to the computer.  I keep notes on paper, so I can tinker with ideas when I'm not on the computer.

10. How many books/short stories have you written? (Published or not, even those you wrote and then thought-what the hell?)
So far I've written three novels and about a half dozen short stories.

11. Is there, or has there been, anyone in your life (real or online) who thought you being a writer is/was just another hobby? Or that you are/were wasting your time as a writer?
I've kept my writing fairly close to the vest until recently.  My husband's always known about my writing, and is incredibly supportive.  He teaches comparitive anatomy at the local university, so he serves as my consultant for most things medical/biological.  In the past year, I've told a few friends and family, and they've all been very encouraging.

12. Do you do Social Media sites? If so, which ones? If not, why don't you?
I'm on Facebook.

13. Any advice for writers that makes you cringe every time you hear it? (I know there is some cringe-worthy advice still worth following, so only advice you don't follow.)
The idea that ANY use of "to be" verbs is weak/passive writing. "Was" does not always equal passive.  It's an integral part of our language.  Don't get me wrong - there are many instances where the writing can be much stronger with a more active verb choice, but that doesn't mean you have to eliminate any and all forms of "to be" in your prose.

14. Why do you write about reapers?
I wanted to write about something outside the normal paranormal box.  Vamps and shapeshifters are the superstars of the supernatural world, and I wanted to write about something that existed on the fringes, where the canvas was relatively blank and I could establish my own brand of worldbuilding.

15. What would you do (how would you react) if you came in contact with a reaper? (One that was not coming to collect your soul)
Well, after the initial freak out, I'd want to ask a ton of questions.  I'd probably sound like a little kid when they hit that stage where they question everything.

16. What would you do if you fell in love with a reaper?
Not sure what I'd do, but I know hubby wouldn't be a happy camper.  LOL.

17. If you were a reaper, how would you cope with all the death, pain, and sadness that comes along with it?
Probably the same way I deal with the stresses of my everyday life.  I'd turn to my loved ones for comfort and support.  And if that doesn't work, there's always chocolate, mead, and heavy metal.

18. Do you believe in things like fate and reapers, or are you a sciency (everything has a 'logical' explanation) kinda girl?
To be honest, I'm more Scully than Mulder.  But I love exploring the possibilities that spring to mind when I wander down the road of What If.  Make it plausible enough for me to suspend disbelief, and I'll happily go down the rabbit hole.

19. What do you do when you aren't writing?
Aside from work, I usually spend time with my husband, friends, and children of the four-legged variety.  Hit the gym, do a little biking, take the pups out for a good, long walk - all recharge my creative batteries.  And like most writers, I enjoy curling up on the couch with a good book.

20. Any words of wisdom for anyone who is thinking of becoming a writer, or just something you think all writers should know?
Write what you love, and don't go chasing trends.  Submitting your work to agents and editors can be a long, tedious process that involves a fair amount of rejection.  Please try to remember it isn't personal.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Weigh In Wednesday - Review: Grasping At Eternity by Karen Hooper

FIVE Stars to Grasping At Eternity by Karen Amanda Hooper

O.M.G. Yes, this book is THAT good. When I first saw this book cover, I loved it. When I read Tangled Tides, I could not wait to read another book written by Karen Hooper. When I first got this book, I was torn between waiting to read it (because I just KNEW it would be awesome) and reading it (because I just KNEW it would be awesome). Then when I started reading it, I read as slow as possible. I read every word. I wanted to cherish every chapter. I kept stopping while I was reading because I didn't want it to end. But I went right back to reading because I HAD to know what was going to happen. I stayed up all night reading it because it was so so so good.

A book about love, soulmates, death, war (within self and an actual war of sorts that's going on), and remembering. It's about so much more than that, but I'm at a loss for what all to say. If you've ever read any of my reviews then you know, I really hate to spoil a book and I REALLY hate to spoil an AWESOME book. I know there are people who will review this book and tell you more. You will read that the MC is Maryah, a seventeen year old girl who's thrown into a situation that's hard to handle. You'll probably read about reincarnation and possibly even Elements. There will even be people who talk about Nathaniel and traverse. Maybe even astral travel.

The point is, yes I know that other places are going to say more about the book. That's fine, I'm not one to do that. I'm not even going to pretend to put spoilers because I just can't spoil any part of this book. The supernatural aspects are far from the 'typical,' The writing is good, the concept unique, and the plot fantastic.

This book is now my number one favorite of any book I've read in at least the past three or more years. I don't even know which awesome aspect made it number one, probably all of them put together. This book is fantastically fabulously awesome and you should go read it if you haven't. GREAT JOB Karen Hooper, can't wait for more books to come. :)

Happy Reading Everyone :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thoughtful Tuesday

Unfortunately I don't have any random thoughts or poetry for today. I've been busting my ass with revisions and it's taking up all of my creativity and time. I can't think about anything but revising. I manage to squeeze in a little reading here and there, and critiques too.

The only thoughts I have are revise, revise, revise. Then when I'm stuck on that I can't help thinking...I need to get to my blog comments, I need to visit blogs, I need to critique and interact. I'm sorry that I don't have any real thoughts for you today. This is why you don't make a schedule when you have your mind on other things that need to get done.

The book I'm revising right now has been in the revision stage for far too long. And my revisions have ended up being a lot of rewriting. I wanted to be done with the MS in March. When that didn't happen, I set the finish goal for April. Then that didn't happen so I set it for May. Here we are nearing the end of May and I'm nowhere near done. I still have so much work to put into this MS and I want to get it completed, no I will get it completed by the end of June.

In order to do that, I'll have to mess up a little of my blog schedule. I'll still post MWT for sure, but there will be some Tuesdays and probably some Saturdays that I just can't. Hopefully I'll get on schedule soon, but until then...

Happy Tuesday :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mention Monday

So I had several things that came to mind for my shout out today. I was ready to mention this one blog. Then I thought of a couple sites. Then there were a few books. And then it was one book that made me KNOW what today's post should be about.

Karen Amanda Hooper

I read Grasping At Eternity by Karen Hooper this past weekend and it was OH SO GOOD! As soon as I finished it, I knew I had to shout out Karen in this post. I have a review coming Wednesday, so I'm not going to get into the awesomeness that is Grasping At Eternity. What I will say is this:

Karen is one of the best authors I've read in a LONG time. I'm not sure that she realizes her awesomeness, but she is very awesome. Not just as a writer either. She's an awesome, genuinely sweet person. She's humble and down to earth. She gives without thought and she listens, talks, connects. I don't know her know her, but every interaction I've had with her has been wonderful.

Not only does she take the time to interact with her readers, fans, other writers, friends; she does it all while being a fabulous writer. She stays humble through it all. All the positive feedback and all of the five and four star ratings of her books and she still graciously takes the compliment. She takes them to heart, cherishes them, appreciates them, and never lets it get to her head. It's rare to find someone who's books are so fantastic, who writes so well, and still manages to take compliments without their ego becoming inflated.

I could keep going on about how wonderful she is, but it would possibly get repetitive and even if I didn't repeat myself I think what I've said tells enough for you to see how great she is.

Here's some places and things to check out Karen Hooper:

Tangled Tides
Grasping At Eternity
In His Eyes Anthology

Like Karen on Facebook
Follow Karen on Twitter
Find Karen on Goodreads
Karen's Website
Karen's Blog
The Indelibles
Thursday TAG! with Karen (Q&A w/ me )

Please take a moment to 'meet' this AWESOME woman/writer/author.

Happy Monday Everyone! :)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Winning :D

Okay, I never, ever, ever say that, but that's actually kind of how I've felt (for the most part) all week. I don't know what it is exactly, but I had a pretty awesome week. (BTW-I fell behind on some replies to comments and visiting blogs, I'm sorry. You're not forgotten, I just needed to put my focus into my MS. I will be getting back to replying/commenting/visiting this week.)

I met awesome people.
I tweeted with several awesome people-some new some not.
I revised the shit out of my MS. I made it my beyotch and damn does it feel good. I haven't had so much success in revisions in a while. It was long overdue.
I read, a lot. I even checked out a ton of books from the library, something I haven't really had time to do in a while.
I got to announce the winners of my giveaway AND give some BONUS prizes.
My kids were wild, but they had more good moments than usual.
I'm critiquing a new book for one of my CPs and it's AWESOME!!!
I don't talk much about it, but I've been on a calorie counting diet and it's going great. Plus it's actually easy. I mean, I was worried it would be hard, or that I would give up. But it's easy and I'm feeling really good about it.
I'm pretty sure I could list so many more things, but I also think you get the point.

I felt AWESOME this week. And everyone is AWESOME. I've met so many new people lately (even before this week) and y'all are amazingly awesome!

Um, I usually try to impart something in my wrap ups, hmmm....

How about something I learned from my awesome week? You'll have days/weeks/months that suck. They will make you feel like crap. Revisions will go slow, writer's block will happen, kids will run wild, life will stress you out, etc etc. Point is shit will happen. But don't stop fighting for a week that doesn't suck. Don't get down about the things that are going wrong for you at that moment. If you start to get down then remember: It WILL pass, good days/weeks/months WILL come. It may not happen when you want it. It may suck that you have to wait for it. Just know that you're time is coming. Wait out the bad knowing that the good will soon come.

That's my week wrapped up. Happy Saturday Everyone! :D

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thursday TAG! - Terri Bruce

Today's TAG! features the lovely, Terri Bruce. She's full of AWESOME and such a wonderful woman. Terri's first novel, HEREAFTER, will be published on August 1, 2012 from Eternal Press. She's the brain behind the Blog Ring of Power,  find their author interviews here. She blogs at her site, Tweets, is on Facebook(Friend)('Like'), and Goodreads.

1. When did you start writing?
I started writing when I was in grade school. We had these competitions where we wrote stories and then turned them into books, completed with covers made of cardboard covered with wallpaper. The best one from the school went to a district competition, the district winner went to regionals, regional winners went to state, etc. The one wrote in fifth grade was the regional winner and from then I had the bug. In high school I wrote serialized novels by the dozens. But I never considered writing as a career, because everyone told me I couldn’t make any money. In college I wrote fan-fiction. Then one night in 2001 I came home from work, sat down at the computer, and started writing what eventually became the novel SAY IT THREE TIMES. I worked on that novel off and on for several years and somewhere in there the desire to “real” writer and to be published took root. I joined a local writing group in 2005 and have been working steadily toward publication ever since then.

2. What made you want to write?
All the usual reasons—the stories in my head were so much more exciting than anything happening in the “real world” and to pacify the voices in my head.

3. When did you decide you wanted to write to be published? (As opposed to writing just to write)
I’ve always wanted to write to be read—the whole point of a story is to be read, to be shared, to be enjoyed by others (otherwise, why go through the work of writing it down? If it was just for myself, I could just keep it in my head). The urge to be a “real” author grew and grew, though, until I joined a writing group in 2005 to find out if I had any talent—friends and family had told me I was a great writer, I had anonymous fans on the internet for my fan-fiction, but did I have what it took to write a novel that would sell? I joined the writing group and found out I had some rough talent, but also had a lot to learn. In 2010 I tried to get SAY IT THREE TIMES published, but quickly found out that it was too different, too strange for the commercial market. I kept writing and then set out to get published in earnest with my second novel, HEREAFTER, which was much more commercial/mainstream.

4. What genre(s) do you write?
Good question, when someone figures that out I will let you know! I’m not a genre writer; my stories tend to be cross-genre/not easily categorized. Mainly I write stories about what makes people tick. I find human beings totally fascinating. 

5. Why that(those) genre(s)?
I’ve written adventure, sci-fi/future noir, fantasy, women’s literature, chick lit, youth adult, you name it. And the reason each story was in the genre it was in was because that happened to be the framework that was the best vehicle for the story. I never pick a genre, I just write the story and then someone sticks a label on it afterwards.

6. Do you have any particular ritual when you write? (A specific way things are done during the process)
No, not really. But as I become more experienced, I am getting at better at creating a routine. Weekdays I write story chunks—just whatever scenes are in my head—and on Sundays I integrate the chunks into the manuscript/story and do the smoothing between scenes as well as editing of what I’ve already written.

7. Do you use an outline, or do you just start writing?
Both. When I start a new story I just start writing. Once I get about a third to halfway in, I generally know what the entire story is going to be (which I don’t know when I start) and I usually outline it at that point, right in the body of the manuscript. I sort of create placeholders for the remaining scenes, to be filled in later. It’s the only way I can keep up with the flood of ideas that usually comes at that point. 

8. Is there something you MUST have when you're writing? (Aside from the typical writer tools-computer, pen, paper, etc)
I write better without shoes on (barefoot is absolutely best) and I generally listen to music. I need the background noise to occupy the part of my brain that isn’t involved in writing, otherwise it starts day dreaming and pulls the writing brain with it.

9. Do you write out your story on paper and then transfer to a computer, or straight to the computer?
Both. I mostly write at the computer. But I get a lot of ideas in the shower, while driving, right before I fall asleep or just as I’m waking up, so I keep notebooks. I jot down ideas in the notebooks—and this can be a general thematic sentence, just as a note to myself, or it can be pages and pages of a scene—and then I transfer that to the computer next time I’m in front of it.

10. How many books/short stories have you written? (Published or not, even those you wrote and then thought-what the hell?)
I can’t even count! I’ve been writing since I was ten and I’m thirty-eight now and I’m ALWAYS writing. But I’ve kept very little of what I’ve written over the years, which I really regret.

11. Is there, or has there been, anyone in your life (real or online) who thought you being a writer is/was just another hobby? Or that you are/were wasting your time as a writer?
No, just the opposite. Everyone has always told me I should be a writer, though many people discouraged me from focusing on that as a career because they didn’t think I’d make any money at it. 

12. Do you do Social Media sites? If so, which ones? If not, why don't you?
I’m on Facebook, Agent Query Connect, and Goodreads. I try to limit my social media—I’m not that interesting and I’m mostly a private person. 

13. Any advice for writers that makes you cringe every time you hear it? (I know there is some cringe-worthy advice still worth following, so only advice you don't follow.)
Write what you know. If that was true, there wouldn’t be any fantasy, science fiction, or horror stories! Write what fascinates you, moves you, or entertains you—that’s better advice.

14. I hear that Chick Lit is hard to sell, why do you think that is? Or do you disagree with this view?
I’ve never tried to sell a Chick Lit story, so I don’t have an answer for this (the first novel I tried to get published is sci-fi/future noir and the second one is contemporary fantasy (or possibly fantasy lit)/paranormal.

15. What are your Sci-Fi and Fantasy worlds like? (What makes them those genres, basically)
I tend to write about our world, with a slight twist. My sci-fi novel, SAY IT THREE TIMES, is set just slightly in the future, when we have developed the ability to switch bodies with other people. My fantasy novel, HEREAFTER, is set in the contemporary world and is about the afterlife—life on Earth as a ghost. I’m fascinated by people, in general, and also by themes of magic and wonder in the ordinary world. I love stories like Neverwhere and Harry Potter that are about a whole different or hidden side to the ordinary world, and that’s what I tend to focus on in my stories.

16. Are there any genres that you will not read?
I don’t tend to judge books based on genre, though there are a few genres I do prefer (as a reader) – romance (especially historical romance), Young Adult fantasy, Asian Fiction (which I think is a category I totally made up, but, basically, books like those by Lisa See and Amy Tan), and genre-crossing adult fantasy (like Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett). I have a hard time reading mysteries – I’m too impatient and tend to skip to the end. :)

17. What makes/breaks a book for you?
This can vary by genre. In a romance novel I want it to move quickly, I want it light-hearted, I don’t want a lot of moping of self-pity, and I want the obstacles separating the MCs to be believable. In a fantasy story I look for engaging characters and a fun, imaginative world. In serious fiction I look for beautiful prose and captivating reflections of the human condition. If a serious fiction book makes me cry it’s a keeper!

I tend to be a patient reader—meaning I give an author many chances to hook me. When browsing for a book I flip it open to a random page somewhere in the middle and read. If the story hooks me, I buy it. When I start reading, even if the beginning doesn’t capture me, I’ll know that it’s building to something good and I’ll keep going. There are very few books I never finish, but I can tell you that more and more I see poor editing (typos, grammar, poor writing craft) coming out of the traditional publishing houses and it’s very frustrating as a reader; it always throws me out of the story. It’s especially frustrating because it’s an editing problem, not an authorial problem, per se, but the author takes the hit for it.

18. Which way are you planning to go with publishing-the Traditional, Indie, or Self-published route? Why?
I have an offer from a small press/independent publisher. I think small presses offer the best of everything and am THRILLED to be picked up by one—they offer the production support (editing, lay out, cover design), marketing support, and industry knowledge of a traditional publisher and the authorial control/input (to a greater extent than a traditional publisher), better royalty structure, and interest in non-traditional/unique stories of the self-publishing world. To this mix they then add a love and passion and commitment to what they do that leads to high quality and beautiful products and more individualized attention for their authors. I would definitely encourage more writers to consider small presses and more readers to support the work of small presses (shop indie press!).

19. What do you do when you aren't writing?
Work. Lots and lots of work (I’m a grant writer for a non-profit). And general life stuff—I cook, I crochet, I garden, etc.

20. Any words of wisdom for anyone who is thinking of becoming a writer, or just something you think all writers should know?
I couldn’t presume to add to the already great body of advice that is out there. Except maybe “pay attention to the advice that is out there” and the advice people give you. Especially the advice that makes you chafe, because that’s usually the true stuff we don’t want to hear.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Weigh In Wednesday - Review: Hard Bitten by Chloe Neill

Three Stars to Hard Bitten by Chloe Neill

This is book four in the Chicagoland Vampires series. I've read this series and enjoy it. If you haven't read the series and are interested, I suggest starting with book one (Some Girls Bite). It's a good vampire series that has unique aspects that don't apply to the typical vampire scene. No matter my star rating for this book, I love the series and will continue with it.

The reason for it only getting three stars is the fact that there were things that happened that really pissed me off. It's mainly because I've followed the series from the beginning and am attached to the world and how it works. When things that I'm used to are ruined/taken away/ irks me.

Merit is a vampire in the Codogan House (in this book the vampires have 'houses' that they belong to. This would be another reason you should read it from book one.). This book is about someone extra vamping the vamps. There are vampires turning up all raged and pumped up to do some evil vampire things. Merit plans to stop them. And that is what this book is all about. Raged vamps causing chaos in Chicago and Merit being the one who needs to end it.

It's time for the spoilers and I know I didn't give you much to go on about this one, but feel free to click read more and I'll explain. BUT I warn you, my spoilers are going to give it ALL away, so if you think you may read the book, please do not read my spoilers.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Thoughtful Tuesday


I love you
You inspire me to be
So much more
Than I ever imagined
You bring out everything
In me that makes me great

I hate you
What have you done
Why do you despise me so
You bring me down
Cut me up into pieces
Now it's too late

I'm sorry
I shouldn't have said that
Forgive me
Don't leave
Everything I am
Is what you've made

Balance is key
To our existence
We are nothing apart
Empty shells of what
Could be, equals
Perfect mates.

This poem was inspired by weeks of ups and downs with my revisions. My MS and I have struggled with one another back and forth, good and bad, for a while. This poem has probably been a long time coming. :p

Happy Tuesday :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mention Monday - WINNERS!

So, today my shout out is for the winners of my first giveaway!!!

Congrats to E.M. LaBonte! She was my top enterer (yes, sure that is a word :D  ). And so she wins: Grasping At Eternity by Karen Amanda Hooper, Zombie Whisperer by Caterina Torres, AND a critique from me. WOOT! :D

Second winner is Sweety. She wins both books as well. Congrats Sweety! :D

Thank you for all your entries, Em and Sweety. Y'all are awesome! :)

And there's a SURPRISE BONUS for the other six critique winners. Not only have they been offered the critique from me, but also an ebook of Zombie Whisperer by Caterina Torres. WOOT! (What can I say, I love to give. Who knows what surprises may happen with my next giveaway ;)  )

Congratulations to:

Tia Bach
Jean Oram
E.F. Jace

A huge thank you to Karen Amanda Hooper for offering her book as a prize. You're so awesome!

And a huge thank you to everyone who entered, tweeted, mentioned, etc the giveaway: You are all awesome!

Stay tuned because there will be another giveaway coming up soon and it's going to be AWESOME! Yes, I realize I'm saying that word a lot. But it's because I'm feeling like it's an awesome day and besides you all ARE awesome! :D

Happy Monday Everyone!!! :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Thank Yous, The End, & An Award

This past week has been crazy busy, which is part of the reason I'm late with my week wrap up. Blog and critique catch up, revisions, writing, and everything else.

Thank YOU

To so many people. All the awesome people who visit my blog regularly, everyone who is new to my blog, for EVERYONE who commented on my First Loves post-I got more comments on that than any other post (THANKS AGAIN for the blogfest, Alex! :D  ), another thanks to Alex for being such an AWESOME guy, to everyone who entered my giveaway &/or spread the word about it, and to Karen Hooper for offering such an awesome prize. YOU are ALL AWESOME!!! :D

The End

My first giveaway has ended and I'll be announcing the winners on Monday, along with a special surprise for a few people who entered. Stay tuned :)

An Award

I won my second blog award. :) On Thursday, Gossip_Girl over at Just You Wait!! One Day I Will... gave me the Kreativ Blogger award. Thank you GG, and if anyone hasn't yet, make sure you check her out.

Here's the deal:

1. Thank and link back to who gave you the award
2. Answer 10 questions
3. Give 10 random facts about yourself
4. Pass it on to 7 other people

1. Fave song?
Well, at the moment I don't have a absolute favorite song, but I've been listening to a lot of Florence + the Machine & a song by Sleeping At Last called Turning Page
2. Favorite desert?
This is a tie between Cherry Cheesecake (Not NY style, but a no-bake recipe that my mom has always used) & Dump Cake (If you don't know what this is, don't judge by the name, it's really yummy and so easy to make).
3. What ticks you off?
Rude/hateful/bullying/mean/etc kind of people.
4. When you're upset, what do you do?
This is a hard one, lol, not really...I cry.
5. Favorite pet?
From the time I was born, I had a miniature dachsund whom I loved dearly. When she got ran over (when I was 2), my parents got me a toy poodle to ease the pain. It worked, I loved him so much. He had to be put to sleep from old age when I was in middle school and it wasn't until I became an adult that I found another pet that I loved as much as those two. He was a pomeranian and I loved him more than anything (this was before I had my kids). He died because his intestines became tied in a knot (apparently this is something that tends to happen to poms) and although I got my kids a mini dachsund (whom I love)'s not the same and when I seek out a dog of my own it will be a Pom.
6. Black or White?
Well, I like black, it has so many different uses. Plus, most of my shirts are either black or blue. White is too clean for me.
7. Biggest fear?
I've had this question before (I think) and my biggest fear is losing my kids in any way. I'd be lost without them.
8. What is your attitude?
Take life for what it is and find the enjoyment in it. Like my blog says: Live, laugh, love and don't be afraid to cry sometimes :) (Perhaps not exactly what this question means, but ah well.)
9. What is perfection?
The sun as it's just beginning to come over the horizon. My kids, even with all their madness. Love, not bs 'oh yeah, I love you' but real love (of any sort as long as it's real). Things in life that taken for granted. The imperfections that make a person who they are. I could keep going. And I know many people say 'perfection' doesn't exist (and it doesn't in the way most people define it), but really, it can, depending on how you look at life.
10. What is your guilty pleasure?
I have no answer for this. I try not to feel guilty over anything I enjoy. If I enjoy it, who cares? I don't do much that's 'bad' for me, and even if someone may think it is, oh well. So, I really don't have anything to put here.

Random Facts:

Okay, sorry, but I'm not doing the random facts thing because I really don't have time and also this post is already long enough.


(BTW-if anyone is listed and you either don't do awards, or you already have this one then it's fine if you pass it up :)  )

E.M. LaBonte
Jemi Fraser
Donna B McNicol
Rachel Morgan
And my seventh is a cop out-if you're reading this, then I'm giving you the award too :D

Happy Sunday! :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thursday TAG! - T.K.Richardson

Today's TAG features the fantastic T.K. Richardson. She's a fabulous writer and such a sweetie. You can find her on her website, her blog, at the Writers Resource Directory, Twitter, and Goodreads. Her list of books can be found here 

1. When did you start writing?
I started writing several years ago when a story idea and character sparked my imagination. Prior to this I did write poetry and short stories when I was young. I can still recite one of my first poems. (I still think it’s good. J)

2. What made you want to write?
Well, when the idea for the character and the story came to mind and I sat down to write it out, I did so with the thought of my children. I wanted them to have a story written just for them. I wrote the first draft in 6 weeks and was so excited to let them read it.

3. When did you decide you wanted to write to be published? (As opposed to writing just to write)
Well, naturally, I wanted other people to read my story, too, so I decided to learn more about that. What ensued was typical: rewriting, editing, rewriting again, editing 10 more rounds of the manuscript, and finally querying agents. Like I said… typical. But during that time I learned so much about publishing, skilled writing, and I met some other wonderful writers in the process. Even though those years were some of the very hardest, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I learned so much!

4. What genre(s) do you write?
I mainly write for the young adult audience, but I do have a poetry book aimed at mothers and grandmothers out, too. It’s titled Imagine: Short Stories and Poems.

5. Why that(those) genre(s)?
Well, since I originally started writing for my own children, it just seemed natural to continue writing in this genre. In addition, I feel like a huge part of me never fully grew up. J So writing for the YA audience is what I really enjoy doing.

6. Do you have any particular ritual when you write? (A specific way things are done during the process)
Not really, I just sit down to write when a saying or a scene comes to me. I’d like to be more organized about it, but I feel like if I did try to structure my creative time, I’d lose that creative spark. After all, I can’t turn it on or turn it off at will. And, yes, I’ve tried. It just didn’t work for me.

7. Do you use an outline, or do you just start writing?
No, I’m definitely a ‘panster’ and just write by the seat of my pants. Again, it goes back to that ‘structure’ issue I have.

8. Is there something you MUST have when you're writing? (Aside from the typical writer tools-computer, pen, paper, etc)
Not really. Ideally, I’d like it to be quiet, but that’s a rarity, so I just try to go with it.

9. Do you write out your story on paper and then transfer to a computer, or straight to the computer?
Oh, definitely not on paper first - I go straight to the computer. I did, however, write my cookbook, Simmer: Recipes for the Teen Palate, on paper first, but that was not by choice. My daughter had events every night for quite some time, and I would go over to the nearby McDonalds and write out my recipes, edit the book, etc. So, looking back I think it’s rather funny that a cookbook for teens was actually written at a McDonalds.

10. How many books/short stories have you written? (Published or not, even those you wrote and then thought-what the hell?)
I think it totals around 15. They range from full length novels, novellas, novelettes, a poetry book, an anthology, and several other pieces that have yet to be released.

11. Is there, or has there been, anyone in your life (real or online) who thought you being a writer is/was just another hobby? Or that you are/were wasting your time as a writer?
Yes, of course. Before 2 of my books hit the bestseller’s list, there were some people who called it a hobby. They probably still do. I don’t mind though. I know writing is an art, a creative process, so whether it is a hobby to some people’s definition or not – I avoid labels. I simply write books. Period. No label needed.

12. Do you do Social Media sites? If so, which ones? If not, why don't you?
Yes, I’m on twitter, facebook, a blog, the Writers Resource Directory, Partners In Print, Goodreads,  Compass eBooks on Facebook, and a few writers forums. I’d love for more company, so if you want to friend, like, or follow me please do!

13. Any advice for writers that makes you cringe every time you hear it? (I know there is some cringe-worthy advice still worth following, so only advice you don't follow.)
Yes, in fact there is. I know there are many strong opinions on every aspect of publishing. And it just makes me cringe when people make blanket statements that they think should apply to each of us. I feel we each have our own paths in life and in writing/publishing. There is not one size fits all in anything. So I think we all need to follow our hearts, research what’s out there, and be bold – do what’s right for you.

14. Where did you get the idea to write about a girl who has the power to see people’s deepest secrets? 
That is such a good question. But the truth is I have no idea.  The character just ‘appeared’ one day and the plot followed close behind. The rest is history.

15. Would you want to have that power? 
No, if I could have a special power I’d love to be invisible. I know it sounds funny, but think about all you’d be able to do if no one could actually see you! (Yes, I’ve actually thought long and hard about this!)

16. When and why did you get interested in Russian History and Literature?
It was maybe 14 years ago, or more. I was reading tons of history books and I happened to pick up War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy one day while I was at Barnes and Noble. After reading it I was hooked. I do like a variety of other subjects, though. In fact, prior to Russian Lit I really enjoyed learning about Italy, their history, and culture. And even before that it was China. So I guess I’m all over the map in my interests. But my love of Russian lit sparked the idea for my trilogy.

17. What inspired you to get involved with charities and other helpful organizations for children?
Well, my husband and I have always been involved with helping children. We were foster parents for many years and cared for over 100 children. I am the Director for Children’s Ministries at my church, and we have many other organizations we are fond of and help out, too. For us, it just comes naturally. Giving back and helping those who are less fortunate is just how we live.

18. When (and why) did you get the idea for the Writers Resource Directory?
This came about a few years ago. I love staying up to date on everything publishing, writing, and book related and I had tons of bookmarked pages in my browser. In fact, I had bookmarked so many interesting or helpful articles that I could no longer find what I was looking for. So The Writer’s Resource Directory was born. I figured if I had a hard to finding the information I needed or wanted, than other writers probably did, too. I started the site over a year ago, and it has become quite useful for writers in all phases of the writing and publishing process. I’m pleased to do it, and I’m so glad others are finding it helpful, too.

19. What do you do when you aren't writing?
I love to cook, garden, travel, read, research, and I’m continually adding new places to see on my ‘bucket list’. I’d love to travel the world someday!

20. Any words of wisdom for anyone who is thinking of becoming a writer, or just something you think all writers should know?
Yes, I think there is such a demand for writers to perform and to continually produce new works. My advice would be to write what’s in your heart. We all have these little ideas and thoughts that continually float around in our writer’s brains - the muse strikes at any time. But the stories that should be written – that need to be written – are the ones that travel from your head to your heart. Write those stories. They’re the ones that mean something.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Weigh In Wednesday- Review: Tangled Tides by Karen A Hooper

FIVE stars to Tangled Tides by Karen Amanda Hooper

And that's five in all caps because this book is AWESOME!!! It's the best book I've read this year and last. It was one hell of a page turner and I HATED when I had to put it down. I was pretty sure it'd be good when I read it, but it surpassed any feelings I could've come up with. I bow, humbly, to Karen Hooper for this book. She did an excellent job.

Yara is a seventeen, almost eighteen, year old girl who lives semi on her own and semi with her Uncle. In the midst of a Hurricane she's rescued and then thrown into a world she never imagined was real.

Here's the deal, and you all know what's up, it's time for SPOILERS. This is another one of those books that I SOOOOO don't want to spoil for anyone who hasn't read it. I should just leave it here and be done. However, I know some people like spoilers so if you MUST, then go ahead and click read more...but you really shouldn't.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thoughtful Tuesday

(Before I get started with my thoughts today, I want to remind/let you know that I'm having my first GIVEAWAY!!! If you haven't had a chance to go check it out, HERE'S THE LINK. :D  )

I have been working out a new schedule for my blog and I'm still not sure what I want to do.

Originally, M/W were when I pick one topic and break into a series of sorts. Tues was my Thoughtful Tuesday posts. Thursday for my TAGs, Sat for the week wrapped up, and Sunday for book reviews or shout outs/promotions/recommendations of people/books/sites or blogs.

Now, I want to move a few things around. I'm getting more reading time in because my TBR is so huge, I need to read more. By doing that, I have more book reviews which takes away from my shout outs. I don't like not recommending or recognizing people, so I want to have a day just for that.

The set plan is Thoughtful Tuesdays, Thursday TAG!s, and the Saturday week wrapped up will stay. Something Sunday will now be literally Something Sundays. What I mean by that is, if 'something' comes up (like how I did Mother's Day this past Sunday), then I'll talk about it. Other than something specific croping up, Sunday's will be nothing. I love posting everyday except Friday, but I want to make sure my posts are interesting and are being read.

So, here is my new schedule:

Monday: Mention Mondays, where I shout out/recommend/promote a person/blog or site/book.
Tuesday: Thoughtful Tuesdays, which will still be the same-random thoughts &/or a poem.
Wednesday: Weigh In Wednesday, which will be a book review.
Thursday: Thursday TAG!, which is still a Q & A with a writer. (Although, I've been thinking of branching out to do Q&As with interesting people in general (at least interesting people who do something you can follow).
Friday: (No posts on Fridays)
Saturday: Week Wrapped Up and this is still the same. I wrap up my week and throw some thoughts out there about a topic of my week.
Sunday: Something Sunday, but only when there is 'something' I want to talk about that specific day.

(Yeah, the weigh in Wednesday is a little stretch, but all my other titles (aside from Saturday), worked with the letter.)

Anyway, so that's my new schedule. I hope it works out well.

And I'm leaving off with a question, so I can see if I want to rearrange a little more before I set this schedule for sure...

Which day or days do you read blogs? Do you have a specific day or days that you prefer to go around blogs and read/comment on them? Or do you just read a blog when there's a new comment, period?

Happy Tuesday :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

First Loves Blogfest!!!

(Make sure you check out THIS PAGE for an AWESOME GIVEAWAY I've got happening right now :D  )

This is a blogfest by the AWESOME Alex J Cavanaugh.

How fitting that my first blogfest is a 'firsts' :)

I'm supposed to talk about my first loves: Song/Band, Book, Movie, and Person. This is exciting...


I almost did song, but I loved a variety of songs, so I went with band.


Now, I've loved Aerosmith since I was very, very little. My dad would play their tapes all the time. Funny thing is that my favorite song of theirs was never one of his tops. Here's a video of my first song I absolutely loved by Aerosmith and really, I have no idea why I loved (and still do) this song so much, but ah well.

Of course, after Janie's Got A Gun-Cryin', Crazy, and Dude Looks Like A Lady are some of my other favorites. But in general, Aerosmith had/have some of my top favorite songs. Which is why they're my first band I loved.


There is a tie between three for this one:

A Nightmare On Elm Street



Disney's Fantasia
(The original, not Fantasia 2000)

I mentioned it in a past post, but anyone who didn't see, I watched my first horror film (A Nightmare On Elm Street) when I was 2 with my dad (yeah, dad put me up on some great stuff, lol). I know it's funny to have Freddy and a scary ass clown in the mix with a Disney movie, but what can I say, I'm very versatile :)


Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I've always been a reader. My mom taught me to read as soon as I could talk and I've been reading ever since. While I had many favorites, Little Women is one that I read a many times and loved it every time.


I met my first love when I was 13. We dated and were broke up by the time I was almost 16. Over the time between then and now, I've talked to him (even sparked a teeny bit of a relationship again sometimes), and over all the time (even though I've been with and loved others) he still has my heart. It's sad really, but it's true. He's the first person I truly gave my whole heart to and he's the only one who has ever had it. He could call me up right now and it'd be like he was never gone.

And that's it. I linked to the list when I linked to Alex's name, so check it out.

Thanks Alex for the blogfest and thanks to anyone who is stopping by :)

Are you participating in the fest? If not, what are your first loves? Did you have a good weekend? Have you entered my giveaway? If you haven't checked it out yet, do it. I've got some awesome prizes up for grabs. 

Happy Monday :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

(If you're here because my Goodreads review of Tangled Tides by Karen A Hooper said that I was going to review it, sorry. When I said that, I forgot it was Mother's Day. So, come back on Wednesday, May 16 and check out the review. :D  ) (AND everyone visiting, my awesome giveaway is going on-now until Friday-check it out here.)

Okay, moving on...

To all the mom's out there- HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!!! I hope you have/are having a fantastic day. My kids may drive me crazy. Like PLEASE put me in a padded room, far far away from them, crazy. But I really don't mean that. I love my babies and I would be nothing without them. I'm a mom, and proud of it.

But I'm not going to talk about me, because there are moms who are so much more important than me. I say that because for one, I don't like to focus in on myself too much and for two, today is MotherS day, plural. It's a day for everyone in this world who is or has ever been a mom. It's for that woman with six kids, busting her ass at two jobs and still finding time to love all six of them with every bit of her heart. It's for that mom who knows what it feels to carry a life inside of her body. For the woman who was pregnant but unfortunately lost her baby. Or even the woman who gave birth to a baby, only to lose them after a few months. For the moms who play BOTH roles (mother and father). For the moms who get pregnant and then give their baby away (or have them taken by the state/a family member) because they don't want to be moms....guess what? You're still a mom, whether you like it or not.

My mom works hard every day, and when my sister and I were little, she busted her ass to be the best mom she could. And she's AWESOME. My sister and I are moms who play both roles. It's hard, but we manage. We make mistakes, but we do things right too. I've watched my niece and nephew turn into awesome teenagers (with minimal issues) and it was my sister who raised them that way. She's AWESOME. My Grandma on my dad's side raised 3 boys and 2 girls, mostly alone, and while working 2-3 jobs. Yet, she did it. My dad is the best man I've ever known. And it's thanks to his mom for raising him to be that way. She's AWESOME. My Grandma on my mom's side past away in 2008, but she raised 4 wonderful children. She was AWESOME, all three women she raised are AWESOME moms and the one boy is the second best man I know.

If you're a mom who is a loving, giving, caring, hard working, etc. kind of mom-HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, you're AWESOME!

If you're a mom who hates her kids for ever being born, TOO BAD, you did it, you brought them here, get over it and love them. You are a mother, no matter how you feel about it. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

And to every mom in-between, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

Oh and I know there are dads out there who have to play both roles, so HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to you as well.

Moms are AWESOME, take a moment to thank all the moms in your life and wish them a HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

Happy Sunday to everyone reading this who is not a mom and Happy Mother's Day to everyone who is :D

Thursday, May 10, 2012

And The Moment...

...we've all been waiting for...because my followers are AWESOME!!!

I bring you the first ever....GIVEAWAY!

Okay, so maybe I'm the one who is EXTRA excited, but hey-oh well. It is exciting. :D

Yesterday's TAG! featured the super nice, super awesome, Karen Amanda Hooper. Along with being an awesome person, she's an awesome author.

EDIT: The awesome publisher of TANGLED TIDES (Rhemalda Publishing), has just put this book on Amazon for FREE! So, go to THIS LINK to download your FREE copy.

SO, now what can you win?

The amazingly awesome Karen Hooper is offering her newest book (out on May 25, 2012) in place of Tangled Tides. 

An ebook of GRASPING AT ETERNITY by Karen Amanda Hooper!!!

(Here's a description from Karen's website)

Before entering this life, Maryah did the unthinkable—she erased. Now, at seventeen years old, she’s clueless that her new adoptive family has known her for centuries, that they are perpetually reincarnated souls, and that they have supernatural abilities. Oh, and she’s supposed to love (not despise) Nathan, the green-eyed daredevil who saved her life.

X-MEN meets MY NAME IS MEMORY in Karen’s latest young adult release.

So, remember, go to the link I provided above and download Tangled Tides for FREE and when you enter the Rafflecopter, the first prize is Grasping At Eternity instead of Tangled Tides.

And of course, there's still more...


I'm also giving away an ebook of Zombie Whisperer by Caterina Torres

and five people will win a query critique or story critique (up to 20K words). I felt like only awarding one follower wasn't good enough. Those are some pretty awesome prizes too. Well, Zombie Whisperer is awesome, I'm not going to say how awesome my critiques are :p but I can say I know they're beneficial. :)

All you have to do is use the Rafflecopter entry form at the end of this post. This giveaway is open beginning now, Friday, May 11, 2012 @ 1201 AM Eastern Time and it will end Saturday, May 19, 2012 @ 1201 AM Eastern Time. There are several ways to earn entries, so have at it.

(Small sidenote because I want to make sure there's full disclosure....If you win Grasping At Eternity, your copy will not be sent until after it's published (May 25, 2012) since it isn't available yet. The winner will have to wait a very small amount of time, but they're getting first dibs on it and for free, so YAY ;)  )

I apologize for the last minute change and thanks again to all of my followers and anyone else stopping by :)

Happy Entering :D

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday TAG! - Karen Amanda Hooper

EEEEP! I'm so excited about this TAG! And for more than one reason. One, she's SO AWESOME! I've only met her recently when I asked to feature her and she's so nice, sweet, and genuine. I'm very honored and excited to have her on my blog. Two, I just finished her book on Tuesday and it's SO AWESOME! It's one of THE BEST books I've read this year, and last year. Three, this TAG! is coming at you the day before my first giveaway and it's...yep you guessed, SO AWESOME! Check back tomorrow for the full announcement of what I'm giving away :D

On to the TAG!

Author Karen Amanda Hooper, as I said above, is a sweet and genuine person. She's a member of The Indelible Writers. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog. Her book, Tangled Tides, is awesome and I'll be reviewing it on the blog, so check for that. Also, I mention it in the TAG, but Karen did a letter to her teen self and it's so touching, find it here.

1. When did you start writing?
I wrote A LOT in middle and high school, but then I took a hiatus until my late twenties. I wish I had never stopped.

2. What made you want to write?
My mind never shuts up. I have to write down (or type out) some of my ideas, musings and stories or I'd go crazy.

3. When did you decide you wanted to write to be published? (As opposed to writing just to write)
When I figured out that I didn't need a Masters degree in English to get a novel published. Most of my life I believed book deals were only offered to people with lots of education and credentials.

4. What genre(s) do you write?
Young adult fantasy and paranormal, but so far most of my stories are crossover for adults.

5. Why that(those) genre(s)?
I write what I love to read, and I've always loved magic, fairy tales, and supernatural--with some romance mixed in, of course.

6. Do you have any particular ritual when you write? (A specific way things are done during the process)
Not really. I write best in the mornings. And having my dogs napping nearby always helps.

7. Do you use an outline, or do you just start writing?
I just write. Most of the time I write random scenes and figure out how they'll tie in later. Luckily, they always fit together somehow.

8. Is there something you MUST have when you're writing? (Aside from the typical writer tools-computer, pen, paper, etc)
A yummy cup of coffee.

9. Do you write out your story on paper and then transfer to a computer, or straight to the computer?
I make notes in notebooks and will jot down lines or ideas for scenes that come to me, but mostly I create on my computer.

10. How many books/short stories have you written? (Published or not, even those you wrote and then thought-what the hell?)
Three books, started three others, and maybe 6-7 short stories. However, I have countless journals, poems, letters-never-sent, etc.

11. Is there, or has there been, anyone in your life (real or online) who thought you being a writer is/was just another hobby? Or that you are/were wasting your time as a writer?
Of course. Many people have thought that, and I think a few still do. Coincidentally, I don't talk to those people very much. ;)

12. Do you do Social Media sites? If so, which ones? If not, why don't you?
Yes, I'm on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. I dabble on Pintrest but there aren't enough hours in the day to keep up with all of the social media sites out there.

13. Any advice for writers that makes you cringe every time you hear it? (I know there is some cringe-worthy advice still worth following, so only advice you don't follow.)
The whole "you're not ready" thing. (Ready to query, publish, etc.) You might be ready. People irk me when they publicly give that advice to everyone. Some of the people listening to that advice could very well be ready.

14. If you could be a mermaid, would you be one?
Heck yes. Especially if it was a mermaid from the world I created in Tangled Tides because I'd have some very cool abilities.

15. Is there a specific magical power you would love to have?
I'd love to be able to read minds, but only when I wanted to. And teleport. And control weather. Can you tell I like magical powers?

16. I read your letter to teen was touching and it made me cry a little. Was it hard for you to write it?
It was very hard to write, and my original letter was A LOT longer, but it was a little cathartic. I started writing a book that's inspired by that experience (The Second Chance Society) but I'm sure it will take my years and years to finish it because it's so close to my heart.

17. How did you become a member of The Indelibles?
S.R. Johannes sent me an invitation to be part of the original group of authors and I happily accepted.

18. Did you always want to go Indie, or was it something you went to after attempts at querying agents/big publishers?
I tried the traditional route and queried a couple manuscripts over a three year period, but nothing ever came of it. I had actually shelved Tangled Tides, but an author friend suggested I submit it to her publisher, Rhemalda, and a few weeks later I had a book deal.

19. What do you do when you aren't writing?
Hang with my dogs, family and friends. I go to Disney World like every other weekend (it's my happy place), and I love to read and travel.

20. Any words of wisdom for anyone who is thinking of becoming a writer, or just something you think all writers should know?
Don't expect to get rich at it, write what you love, and grow thick skin.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thoughtful Tuesday

First off, I want to say...YAY! As I write this post (because it's in advance of course) I have 99 followers. That's AWESOME thanks everyone. :)

Okay, now on to my post...

I spent yesterday visiting blogs on the A-Z Reflections Linky List. And spent is the perfect word because I am definitely that. I visited over 60 blogs yesterday and commented on each one. I found that I missed SOOOO many blogs during the challenge. I will still be visiting today and tomorrow.

Which brings me post for Wed or Sat. I've got a TAG! on Thursday and then something very special on Friday (make sure you come back and visit both days, it'll be fun :)  )

I'm currently working out what I will do on Mondays and Wednesdays since my 'To Do' series is over. On Monday I'll announce my new schedule...see you Thursday :)

A big thanks and hello/welcome again to all my new followers and a hello/thanks to all my old ones. I appreciate you all.

Happy Thoughtful Tuesday! :D

Monday, May 7, 2012

A To Z Reflections

(I've decided to post this earlier than usual so I can put it in the Linky list before I forget ;)

I'm not exactly sure what to reflect on. I enjoyed the challenge, even when I had challenges in my personal life to push through.

I signed up for the A to Z Challenge because I wanted to meet new people and have fun, I did both. I don't have any recommendations for things that could have been done differently by the A to Z team.

Each team member:

Arlee Bird
Damyanti Biswas
Alex J Cavanaugh
Tina Downey
DL Hammons
Jeremy Hawkins
Shannon Lawrence
Matthew MacNish
Elizabeth Mueller
Jenny Pearson
Konstanz Silverbow
Stephen Tremp
Karen Jones Gowen

ALL did an excellent job with promoting, posting, and visiting blogs that were signed up. Thanks team :)

Some people that came by my blog and commented, many of which come back even though the challenge is over. These are awesome people and anyone who has not had a chance to visit them, please do.

  • Alex J Cavanaugh was not only my A post, but visited often and always visits me. He's my most loyal follower, thanks Alex for being such an AWESOME Ninja Captain and person. You rock!
  • Anna Smith visited during the challenge and she visit other days as well. Thanks for being a great follower :)
  • John Teal visited a few times and I've been to his blog (make sure to check it out). Thanks!
  • Jeremy visited during the challenge but he's also been around before the challenge. Thanks for following Jeremy, you are AWESOME :)
  • Sarah Pearson is someone else who stopped by during the challenge but also came by before that. Thanks Sarah :)
  • Tia Bach came by and I know I stopped by her blog a bit. Thanks Tia!
  • Cassie Mae, someone who is absolutely AWESOME and so FUN. I'm linking to her blogger profile because she posts on three different blogs and you should check them all out. Thanks Cassie :)
  • Jeremy H, one of the hosts of the challenge stopped by a bit, thanks Jeremy :)
  • Sabrina came by my blog on challenge posts and non. Thanks Sabrina!
  • Heather M Gardner with her awesome blog, btw, came by. Thanks :)
  • Jemi came by during the challenge and she comes by other days. I linked to her profile because along with her personal awesome blog, she posts on the awesome From The Write Angle blog. Thanks Jemi!
  • Cherie follows my blog, with or without the challenge. Thanks Cherie :)
  • Michael Offutt came by and he's awesome too. Check him out. And Thanks Michael!
  • Tyrean Martinson stopped by quite a bit. Thanks! :)
  • Donna B McNicol came by a lot and commented a lot. Thanks so much Donna, you're awesome! :)
  • sjp stopped by frequently and her blog is awesome (especially the challenge posts) check it out. And Thanks for visiting me sjp :)

Okay, I may have missed some people, in fact I know I did. I'm so sorry, you're not really forgotten, there's just so many.

A couple more people I want to talk about specifically:

Alex, who I've already mentioned-Donna B as well. Plus, Coach Teresa O'NeillTracyKaren WalkerChristy. All of these people came by my blog and wished me well when I was sick. Thanks so much for the support. Y'all are AWESOME!!! :D

While I enjoyed many of the A to Z posts, pretty much all that I visited were great. I had two that still stick in my mind...

Heather's 'Stormy the Weather Gnome' was freaking fantastic, I loved it!
Cassie's 'Fears' were AWESOME, hilarious, as well as for real-some of that stuff is on my list.

Heather and Cassie-Y'all are AWESOME!!! :D

(I visited many blogs, so if you're not mentioned, please don't feel left out. I follow quite a few blogs and read posts on my Google Reader, but I'm not always good with clicking to comment. No comment or mention doesn't mean I didn't enjoy your blog or that I don't appreciate you stopping by mine.)

My own posts: I liked them, they were fun, but I had one day when I posted about something that really means a lot to me. Thanks for everyone who came by and read my U post. Anyone who didn't, please if you can take a moment to, I would really appreciate it.

Anyone visiting my blog for the first time, thank you, it's nice to meet you :) And if someone is here and I haven't been to your blog (or even if you aren't sure if I have or not) leave a comment and I'll stop by yours.

I'll participate in the challenge next year and I'll encourage others to as well. It was a fun experience and I look forward to the next one. I think I will work out a theme next year, as long as it doesn't interfere with my schedule ;)

Thanks again to the A to Z team and thanks again to all of my visitors.

Happy Reflecting :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Review: Zombie Whisperer by Caterina Torres

Four Starts to Zombie Whisperer by Caterina Torres

I've been reading the short stories on Caterina Torres' blog and I like them, so I expected to like this story. Aside from some typos here and there, it was a good read. There were times when the details bored me, but that's personal preference. (Anyone who knows me, knows I don't care for details at all.) It held my interest throughout and made me want to read and read. I hated when I had to stop reading to do other stuff. And that is what earned Zombie Whisperer four stars from me, it pulled me through to the end and I liked it.

Jane Smith wakes from a week of being sick with the flu to a world full of zombies. She finds her boyfriend and  they start to travel from the West coast to the East-heading for Jane's mother's house. As they drive, Jane realizes she can hear zombies in her head. As if that's not messed up enough, Jane and her boyfriend stop at a gas station and are captured by people who appear to be military. Things go from weird to weirder and plans begin to unfold.

Like usual, if you'd like spoilers (though I think you should just read it), click the read more button. And I really mean SPOILERS!!! So please, make sure that's really what you want before clicking to read more.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thursday TAG! - Mike Mullin

Today's TAG! features the amazing Mike Mullin. I met Mike at NiNoCon (the online writers conference hosted by Ali Cross @ Ninjas Write). Okay, I didn't exactly 'meet' him. He was one of the guests and was there to talk and answer questions about Marketing and Promoting and what not (you can find his talk on the Ninja website OR you can go to his blog). NiNoCon is also where I won his fabulous book, which I reviewed here. You can find Mike in several places: he blogs, Tweets, Facebooks, and is on Goodreads.

And make sure you check out his book-it's AWESOME :) (BTW- Mike says this: The first two chapters are available on my website: You may reprint the first two chapters in whole or in part on your website so long as you do not charge anyone anything to access them.)

1.      When did you start writing?
Until I was eleven, I attended a brick box of a school, antiseptically clean and emotionally sterile. The children marched in files down the halls, mumbled math facts in unison, and occasionally did a craft project about a book.

When I turned twelve, I escaped from that intellectual prison camp and went to a noisy, dirty, chaotic school where I was—gasp—expected to write. Every day. And—double gasp—read. I wrote my first novel in sixth grade—Captain Poopy’s Sewer Adventures. Sadly, Dav Pilkey beat me to publication with Captain Underpants, although I still spell better than him. (You don’t see me typing Mik Mullin, do you?) I’ve been writing ever since.

2. What made you want to write?
I had to in middle school, and discovered that I (usually) enjoy it.

3. When did you decide you wanted to write to be published? (As opposed to writing just to write)
2008. I’d tried and failed at every other career I could imagine, so I figured it was time to try writing.

4. What genre(s) do you write?
Young adult science fiction.

5. Why that(those) genre(s)?
I grew up reading Cormier, Blume, Heinlein, Asimov and Peck and I never quit. I’ve been reading young adult novels for more than 30 years.

6. Do you have any particular ritual when you write? (A specific way things are done during the process)
Nope. I open my laptop wherever I happen to be sitting and start typing. I do set word count goals. After each 500 words I get some kind of reward—often a walk to the library. Then I sit down and try to get another 500 words.

7. Do you use an outline, or do you just start writing?
In 2008 I wrote a young adult horror novel without outlining first. It was such a hot mess that two out of the three literary agents who saw it quit the business forever. I used a rough outline to write ASHFALL.

8. Is there something you MUST have when you're writing? (Aside from the typical writer tools-computer, pen, paper, etc)

9. Do you write out your story on paper and then transfer to a computer, or straight to the computer?
I type it straight onto my laptop. I dislike handwriting anything, let alone a novel.

10. How many books/short stories have you written? (Published or not, even those you wrote and then thought-what the hell?)
Four novels: Captain Poopy’s Sewer Adventures in middle school, a YA horror novel that was, well, a horror, ASHFALL, and its sequel ASHEN WINTER, which will release on October 8, 2012. (Read it quick before the world ends! Ha!)

11. Is there, or has there been, anyone in your life (real or online) who thought you being a writer is/was just another hobby? Or that you are/were wasting your time as a writer?
Nope. Thank goodness.

12. Do you do Social Media sites? If so, which ones? If not, why don't you?
Yes. All of them. Sigh. Here are some links:

13. Any advice for writers that makes you cringe every time you hear it? (I know there is some cringe-worthy advice still worth following, so only advice you don't follow.)
Any advice that’s phrased as an absolute makes me cringe. Never use adverbs. Never use the verb ‘to be.’ Don’t self-publish. Don’t sell your work to a traditional publisher. There’s probably a nugget of truth behind all these. Certainly some writers overuse adverbs and passive voice (which is not the same thing as the verb ‘to be,’ grr.) Some people who traditionally publish might do better self-publishing and vice versa. To be helpful, writing advice has to take account of where you are in your writing journey.





47 flamingoes

Volcanic ash

(Okay-not really, here are the real ones)

14. What made you want to write about a super volcanic post-apocalyptic type of novel?

I grew up reading dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels. Some of my early favorites included Z is for Zachariah, The Postman, The Day of the Triffids, and Alas, Babylon. So when I started writing for publication four years ago, it was natural that I’d choose to write in that milieu. (I’ve been writing more or less non-stop since sixth grade. But I didn’t decide to try to write a publishable novel until 2008.)

Unfortunately, the first idea that called to me was a young adult horror concept. While I was working on that, I happened across a display in my local library that included the lavish, illustrated edition of Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. It’s an impressively-sized book, but, I thought, nowhere near big enough to merit the title. So I checked it out, and learned about the Yellowstone supervolcano in its pages.

A few weeks later, I woke in the middle of the night with a scene from ASHFALL bubbling in my brain. (I know it’s a cliché—the writer dreaming his book—but evidently my subconscious doesn’t care.) I wrote 5,500 words before dawn. When I returned to ASHFALL eight months later, after finishing my YA horror novel and researching supervolcanoes further, I realized that the scene I’d written in the middle of the night was junk. Only three words survive from the 5,500 I wrote that night: ASHFALL, Alex and Darla.

15. Did you base any of your characters in Ashfall or the sequel Ashen Winter on anyone you know personally?
Almost everyone in ASHFALL is loosely based on someone I know. The original inspiration for Alex, for example, was Ben Alexander. He was sixteen when I first met him, a third-degree black belt and instructor at my taekwondo school. I chuckle every time I read a review that questions whether a teen could be as good at taekwondo as Alex is. I want to see those reviewers spar with Ben Alexander. He can kick my butt and make it look easy, and I’ve got almost a foot in height and 80 lbs. of mass on him.

Uncle Paul, Aunt Caroline, Max, and Anna are named for my brother’s real family. They’re far nicer in person than their characters are in the book, of course. My brother, Paul, was a huge help in figuring out Darla’s MacGyver moments. I also learned about goats, ducks, and greenhouse farming from them.

16. Did you query agents for Ashfall or was Indie Pubbing always the plan?
ASHFALL was rejected at some stage—query, partial, or full—by 24 literary agents. (If you’re struggling with getting published, take heart from this. Yes, your work might not be ready. But it might also be great work that simply hasn’t found a champion. Take a look at the list of awards and blurbs at, including a starred review from Kirkus and a listing among NPR’s top 5 YA novels of 2011. I’m pretty confident that ASHFALL wasn’t garnering rejections due to its quality.)

Two editors requested ASHFALL after hearing about it from my mother. (She owns Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore in Indianapolis) I haven’t heard back from one of them yet. The other was Peggy Tierney of Tanglewood Press.

17. When did you become interested in Taekwondo and how long did it take you to get a black belt?
I started taekwondo in 2008 at about the same time I began working on ASHFALL. I enrolled in taekwondo classes in part because I knew the protagonist of ASHFALL would need to be special to survive, and I decided he should be a martial artist.

I found I enjoyed taekwondo and stuck with it, earning my black belt in April of 2011, after about three years of training.

18. How many times did you hurt yourself before you mastered breaking bricks with your hand? 
I hit upon the idea of doing a taekwondo demo at all my author presentations back in August of 2011, before ASHFALL was released. I’d been practicing with rebreakable plastic boards, working up from the easier boards (yellow, green, and blue) to the hardest (brown and black). To challenge myself further, I started sandwiching two boards together: yellow and black, blue and black, brown and black, etc. When I tried breaking two black boards simultaneously with a palm-heel strike, I bruised my hand. But since I could break a brown and black board simultaneously, I figured I was ready to try concrete patio pavers.

I bought a two-inch thick paver from Home Depot and bruised my hand badly attempting to break it. A couple weeks later, I was in Menards and found a slightly thinner type of paver. I bought a few, took them to my dojang (martial arts studio) and broke them easily.

I still hurt myself occasionally while attempting break at my author talks. If I don’t hit the paver squarely with the correct part of my palm, I wind up bruising my hand. Once the bruises migrated down into my wrist, and a chunk of my arm was swollen for about a week. Generally though, I execute the strike correctly and the only ill effect I notice is that my hand stings for a minute or two.

19. What do you do when you aren't writing?
I like to hike, cook, bicycle, try new restaurants and foods, travel, canoe, and play computer games.

20. Any words of wisdom for anyone who is thinking of becoming a writer, or just something you think all writers should know?
The most important part of being a writer is reading. You have to read to experience the despair of prose so lovely you know you can never match it and the vicious little satisfaction of whispering “I can do better” to yourself after reading a particularly bad piece. If you don’t read widely in whatever genre you choose to write in, how will you know if your work is original or not? That great idea for a post-apocalyptic reality show in which children battle to the death? Yeah, it’s been done.

I read more slowly now that I’m writing professionally. I often reread sections and puzzle over word and plot choices, trying to answer the question: how did the author do that? But although my pace has slowed, if anything, the volume of reading I do has increased. And that’s one of my greatest satisfactions in writing—I can curl up on the couch with a good book and a cat in my lap and honestly say, “I’m working.”