Monday, April 14, 2014

Quirky Writer's Habits - Writer's Reveal April



Here is this month's question from the Writer's Reveal group, supplied by Ashley Howland:

Quirky Writer’s Habits: We’ve all got them so it’s time to share. There must be something you do that you know is strange or your friends think is strange? Let’s have a laugh and see where this takes us.


This post is going to be a bit shorter than my usual because I am currently writing posts for the Blog Your Book in 30 Days challenge and writing a short mermaid story every day for Mermaid's Muse this month, and those two projects are keeping me very busy right now.

I have two edible things I like to have on hand when I am about to jump into an epic writing session: Red Vine licorice (the red ones) and Diet Mug Root Beer. Neither of these are easily found in the UK though. I do know how to get them here, but the price is high, so I don't do it often. I usually have to settle for coffee, and the caffeine kick I get from coffee goes a long way in helping me continue with those major writing sessions.

The other quirk is that I set myself frequent deadlines. Without them, I procrastinate and get nothing done, so I need those deadlines, even if they are self-imposed, to keep me writing.

What quirks do you have?

To read about some other quirky habits, read the other Writer’s Reveal posts below:

Friday, February 28, 2014

Bloodlust book blast and guest post by author Nicole Zoltack

Today, we have a guest post by my good friend Nicole Zoltack, author of the newly-released Bloodlust (along with a host of other novels). Nicole has offered to tell us a little about creating conflict between the heroine and hero of the story. And she's even offered to share an excerpt from her new novel.

By the way, how amazingly wonderful is this cover? I love the fact that is shows a woman who looks as though she has just come from battle.





When writing a romance, regardless of whether it’s contemporary or historical, fantasy or paranormal or not, there is always going to be conflict between the heroine and hero. And when the heroine and hero are different races that hate each other, talk about conflict!
Barbarian-Princess Ivy hates that she needs goliath Lukor’s help to find an interpreter for trollish coded messages. Plenty of back and forth and arguments and tension, even battles between them. How can these two ever get together? You’ll have to read Bloodlust to find out! 
Excerpt:
   Grinning, he peered over his shoulder at her. "Enjoying the view from back there?"
   Her tanned cheeks burned. "Your backside leaves a lot to be desired." She quickened her pace to be only an inch behind him.
   She was used to leading. That she needed him must irk her something fierce. He smiled again. Irking her was quickly becoming a favorite pastime.
   As they walked around the base of the mountains, the teal grass melted away to blue bushes and sand. Her strides were just as long as his, but she moved quicker, and soon was a step ahead. Her shield bounced on her back. So tantalizing. He could reach out and snatch it.
   But she'd hunt him down. Probably could outrun him. He'd never make it back to   Ordisium in one piece.
   The shield though. He never thought barbarians used a defensive weapon. True, it did have a spike in the center, but it still struck him as against everything he knew about barbarians. Regardless, if it should be sent back to Barbadia without its owner, war was all but assured.
   Once they bypassed the last of the mountains, he halted. "Time for a meal."
   "Let's press on."
   "The Spirit Realm is not a location to traverse during the dark hours."
   Her small eyebrows rose in perfect arches. "Why would we bother to go that route? The    Smog is a desolate place, yes, but it will be quicker—"
   "Not if you know a certain route through the Realm." He was asking her to trust him.     When he didn't trust her either. And had given her no reason to trust him.
   After a tense moment, her hand resting on her hilt, she nodded. "I'm hungry anyhow." She sniffed. "I think I smell your cousin nearby."
   A pig was not far from them. Snorting, cowardly creatures, how could she compare a warrior to such a timid animal? The insult had him unleashing his axe before conscious thought.
   Her sword met his weapon, a spark flying from the joint metal. With a shrug, she scampered off into the small spattering of nearby trees.

Fun giveaway: 
Oh, and the first ten people who email (Nicole.Zoltack@gmail.com) proof of purchase of BLOODLUST will be gifted another one of Nicole's stories. Spread the word about this and you might win another novel!


Desperation…

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

Betrayal…

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

Bloodlust…

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

Add it on Goodreads. Buy it at Amazon, B&N, and Kobo.

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



Monday, February 24, 2014

My Writing Process - Blog Tour #mywritingprocess

I was asked to join in with this blog tour by Lizzie Koch, so here are my answers to the questions given.

1)     What am I working on?

This question could take me some time to answer, but I will try and be brief.

I am writing the 28 Day Challenge as blog posts currently. The posts will be done in about 4 or 5 days and then I will need to start editing it and shaping into a book for publication. It's a non-fiction book about health and fitness.

I am also working on some children's picture books. I have several written that I am still fine-tuning, and I've recently been bombarded with ideas for several more. My muse has been very active lately.

I am running the Chapter Book Challenge in March, which begins tomorrow, so I will be writing more of my chapter book called "The Day My Shadow Tried to Kill Me." It's a busy month for me, but I am usually able to fit my writing in at the same time as I coordinate all of the author guest posts and prize give-aways during the challenge.

I have written several novels during NaNoWriMo, but during NaNoWriMo 2012, I wrote a novel that was over 100,000 words. It's called "Prophecy Girl" but that is just a working title and will change by the time my editing and revising is complete. It's the novel I plan on focusing my editing on in the near future.

I will be writing another non-fiction book on the month of April during the challenge I am running called Blog Your Book in 30 Days. It's still being researched so I don't want to go into too much about it yet.

There are other writing projects I am working on at the moment, but the above writing projects are the ones I will be focusing most of my energy on in the near future.

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Gah! Awful question for me! I am not sure how it differs! At the moment, it differs because it isn't published yet.

I think I tend to write stories full of hope. It is very difficult for me to put my characters in seemingly desperate situations, but I am working on changing that about my writing, not getting rid of the hope, but making it appear as if the hope is lost, at some point, when it is really there all along.

3)     Why do I write what I do?

This is a little bit complicated to explain because I write so many different types of books, and I have a different reason for writing each type.

For my health and fitness books, it comes down to the fact that, having been morbidly obese once upon a time and overcoming it, I know what it is like to be struggling to live a healthy lifestyle and to be struggling with weight issues, health issues, self-esteem issues and the like. I know what it is like to feel weak and unhealthy. I guess, having overcome it, I just want to help others do the same. 

The 28 Day Fitness Challenge was designed to make fitting fitness into your daily schedule easy to do, and it also helps increase your daily fitness so that, at the end of the challenge, you will find yourself stronger and more fit than you were when you first started. At the time I started the challenge on my Skinny Dreaming site, I also had fallen into not-so-great fitness habits, so it was also a way to get myself back into a daily fitness routine. It's freely available on the website for anyone to use, but I know that sometimes people find having the whole challenge in their hands where they don't have to go searching for it easier, so I'm turning into a book.

For my children's books, from the picture books to the chapter books and middle grade books, I write them because I love children. (I'd have to love children to have had seven of my own, right?) I love the sense of fun that children have and the fact that they are so easy to convince that magic is real.

For the record, magic IS real. I don't care that science can explain most things. For example,the miracle of birth: If you have ever seen the birth of a newborn infant, you'd feel the magic too and know it was real. Nothing will convince me otherwise.

For my novels, it just simply comes down to my love for stories. When I read stories, I sink into them and experience them through the words on the page, and I always feel the urge to create my own stories, to create my own worlds and characters to share with others. There is never a time when I am not feeling the pull to write, as if the stories in my mind are really floating in the air around me with whispy fingers that are constantly reaching out and tugging at me.

4)     How does your writing process work?

I would really, really love to say that I have an outline and a firm plot in mind when I write, but sadly, it wouldn't be the truth. I write best when I am winging it. I start with an idea, sometimes not even a fully formed one, and I start writing. There are times when I am just as surprised by where the story takes me as anyone reading it would be. 

I would also really like to say that I have a set schedule for when I write and some sort of plan for how I go about my editing and revising, but I don't, which is why I have many finished first drafts and very little writing that is ready to submit anywhere.


Here are threeof my friends who will be posting the "My Writing Process" blog tour posts on the 24th. Please go and visit their blogs.  Their posts will go up on March 3rd.

Melissa Gijsbers KhalinskyMelissa Gijsbers is an Australian author and blogger. She has had flash fiction stories feature in a number of anthologies, including Teapot Tales: a collection of unique fairy tales.  When she’s not writing or coming up with ideas for stories, she’s running around after 2 active boys and working in the family business. You can find her online at www.melissagijbers.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/melissagijsbers

Ashley Howland - 
Ashley Howland lives in Adelaide, South Australia with her husband Ross, two daughters, Maddy and Aijay, her spoilt Labrador, Stitch. Her girls inspire her every day to write children’s books and the dogs often provide the material. Ashley also works as the curriculum manager for Labs ‘n Life. This requires random extra Labradors to appear in their lives and of course in Ashley’s stories. You can find more information about Ashley and her books here: http://ahowland.org/
Cecilia ClarkCecilia Clark’s short stories have featured in several publications including The Book of The Tribes, a tribute to Clive Barker’s Cabal/Nightbreed, Steve Dillon Producer (August 9 2013) Teapot Tales; a Collection of Unique Fairy Tales, Melusine Muse Press (August 10, 2013) and ezine AntipodeanSF at http://www.antisf.com.au. She writes flash fiction for competitions and is a winner in the 2013 NaNoWriMo April Camp. Cecilia Clark is a member of the Federation of Australian Writers and Romance Writer’s Australia. Her author page can be found at Amazon.co.uk author central. She currently resides in Warrnambool Victoria Australia. Her "My Writing Challenge" post will found here: http://ceciliaaclark.blogspot.com.au

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Advertising - Writer's Reveal February 2014


This month's Writer's Reveal topic is "advertising."

I'm really not a fan of advertising. I don't like watching advertisements on the television. I don't like getting advertisements in my e-mail inbox. I don't like those advertisements that show up on Facebook. I really, really hate SPAM.

How then, am I supposed to "sell" my books? If I don't like advertising, then what am I supposed to do in order to insure that people hear about my books or find out about my blog posts?

Honestly, I have no idea. I post about them on my blogs, but,as they are my blogs, my readers expect to read about my books from time to time. I have links to my books or my blogs in my e-mail signature.

I might mention my books and blogs to my friends sometimes, on Facebook, Twitter and in real life, but I make sure not to mention them too often. After all, I have the friends that I have because I LIKE them, and, I hope, they like me. The only way for this mutual like to happen is for us to know a lot about one another and to share things with each other. I share about my interests, about my family and about the things that make me ME. I share about my life more than I share about my books.

I share my friends' books and blog posts, because I know that they probably encounter the same difficulties with this whole "advertising" thing that I do. And sometimes, they share my books with their friends, or they share my blog posts.

But this "advertising" thing? It's not really for me.

What's your answer to the subject of advertising and how to get the word out about your writing?

*****

And now, with that topic dealt with above, I am going to "advertise" two writing challenges that I run, one in March and one in April.



Write a first draft of an early reader, chapter book, middle grade book or YA novel in the month of March, from March 1st through March 31st. Learn from guest posts by prominent authors and agents in the KidLit industry and get the chance to win a variety of each week.



Write the first draft of your book by blogging each chapter. (Actually posting it to your blog is voluntary). Write a chapter a day and finish your book in the month of April. Learn from daily blog posts on the topic and get the chance to win one of several prizes offered during the challenge. The challenge runs from April 1st through April 30th.




28 days of fitness challenges for you to follow. You can choose either beginner, intermediate or advanced level. The fitness challenges increase in intensity every day. Officially, the challenge started on February 5th, 2014, but you can join at any time, and, until March 5th, you will be eligible to win prizes. You can start at the beginning level and, after the first 28 days, you can start over again at the intermediate level and so on. The challenge will be available in book form sometime in the near future.


*****

And while I am "advertising" my challenges, I would also like to share my friend Melissa's new project, Writing Prompts (for writers).



Weekly prompts for blog posts to share on your author blog.

 ***** 

Find the Writer's Reveal topic covered in other Writer's Reveal blog posts at these blogs:



Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Suddenly Sorceress" by Erica Lucke Dean - REVIEW



If you remember when I shared a bit about Erica Lucke Dean's new book, "Suddenly Sorceress" in an earlier post, I promised a review once I got around to reading the book. I'm all for keeping my promises, so here is the review.

Suddenly Sorceress is written in a genre I love reading. I've already read Erica's book that was released previous to this one, To Katie, With Love. It didn't have the paranormal aspect that I enjoy in my stories, but I loved it anyway. It was funny and charming and not easy to put down once I started reading. I knew that Suddenly Sorceress would be equally charming.

And I was right!

I picked up the book to take with me on the bus journey to take the kids to school. I didn't manage to start reading it on the way, but I finally found the time to read it on the way home from the school drop-off. I sat on the bus reading the story and became so engrossed in it, I almost missed my bus stop!


When I got home, I fully intended to set the book aside for a while and get some of my writing and blogging done, things I had been planning to work on for the day. But I was enjoying the story so much that I was reluctant to put the book down. I kept telling myself that I would read "just one more chapter" and then set it aside to get some work done. Yah, well, I kept telling myself that until I finished the book!

All in all, it took me about 3 1/2 hours to finish the book, and that with pauses to make myself coffee and lunch. I only get stuck into a book like that when it's really, really good.

Ivie is a funny and relatable character, and I did not see the cute twist at the end of the book coming at all! The story is full of humor and shares some very steamy sex scenes. Erica has brought her characters to life on the pages of her book and given them some crazy circumstances to surmount. I loved every minute of reading Suddenly Sorceress.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Love Bites -the Anti-Valentine Blog hop - Hungry



This is a quickly-written flash fiction piece I have written for the Love Bites: The Anti-Valentine Blog Hop.

Read the other entries here: http://40somethingundomesticateddevil.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/love-bites-anti-valentine-blog-hop-2014.html

Hungry
700 words


Joni checked her lipstick one more time in the mirror just before leaving. It was bright red, a colour that she rarely wore, but tonight was special and she wanted to look her most glamorous.

Jenny and Clara hadn't believed it when Dustin walked over to their table and asked her out. They were the ones who always got the attention from hot guys. Joni was always the one being left out. But the guy they'd all been making surreptitious glances at, hoping he'd look their way had wanted Joni, not model-perfect Jenny and not exotically beautiful Clara, but Joni.

She straightened her cherry red dress, grabbed her keys and left for the restaurant. She didn't really know much about him, other than that the intense look he'd given her as he asked her out had made a warm feeling spread through her.

Arriving at the restaurant, Joni hesitated. This place wasn't the classy restaurant she had expected. She'd followed the directions and found it was fairly far outside of town. It looked a little dim and dingy to her eyes. Maybe he'd chosen this place because of the food.

Shaking off her misgivings, Joni entered the restaurant, looking forward to seeing Dustin. This was one Valentine's Day that she wouldn't have to spend alone. She spotted him as soon as she entered. He was sitting at a table near the door and he stood up when he noticed her.

"Please, take a seat," he put his arm on the small of her back, gently guiding her to her seat at the table across from him. "I'm so glad you could make it." His voice was husky and deep and it sent little excited shivers through her.

Joni noticed other girls like her in the room at various tables with their dates. They all seemed a little on the plain side. Many of them were as petite or even tinier than Joni. Their dates were all as attractive and virile looking as Dustin. That's when she felt the first flutter in her stomach that suggested something wasn't right. The men all looked at their dates in a way that brought to Jodi's mind her neighbor's dog when the neighbor went out overnight and forgot to feed it. Their look was hungry.
"Umm, I think, I think I need to go use the ladies’ room," Jodi hesitated over her words. Surely her gut feeling couldn't be right. There wasn't anything sinister going on here, but her instincts were screaming at her to get out, and she intended to follow her instincts.

"Don't be too long," Dustin crooned. "I'd like to order. I'm really hungry."

"You go ahead and order for both of us," she smiled. "I'll be right back." She speed-walked to the restroom. Yes! The window was large enough to climb out.

As she wriggled herself out the bathroom window, she chided herself internally for being paranoid. This wasn't the first time she'd left a date this way because of a sense of unease. There was the time she'd ditched the basketball player and he'd later been brought up on rape charges by another girl. There was the time she'd run out on a date with that guy she met at work; he'd been fired for sexual harassment of one of her other co-workers. And, of course, there was the time she'd declined a date with a guy who just creeped her out for no apparent reason. He was currently in jail for murdering his family.

The next morning, after a good night's sleep, Joni was watching the news. It didn't surprise her at all to find out that the restaurant she'd ditched Dustin at was in the news. It did surprise her to find out that the women at the restaurant were found half-eaten. The whole scene had been a massacre. No men were among the victims. The authorities were saying it appeared as though a pack of wolves had attacked.


Joni's mind turned back to the sight of the men in the restaurant, looking hungrily at the women who sat at the tables with them. She shuddered. It really wasn't so bad spending Valentine's Day alone after all.



Monday, February 10, 2014

Winter Nights Scavenger Hunt (hosted by Glitterary Girl media)


Glitterary Girl is hosting an on-line scavenger hunt. you have to visit the blogs that are taking part in this scavenger hunt in order to find the things on the list and gain extra entries for the prizes. the details are below, including the participating blogs. Use the Rafflecopter link  below to enter.

SCAVENGER LIST
Cute White Puppy in a Cup
Leaves with the word LOVE cut into them
Dish of Colorful Candies
A Pencil with a note that says "You Make My Heart Glow"
Heart shaped pocket watch hanging in the trees.

TO SEE PHOTOS OF WHAT THESE IMAGES LOOK LIKE, GO TO THE MAIN PAGE FOUND HERE: Gliterary Girl

  a Rafflecopter giveaway



I am also hosting a give-away for this scavenger hunt. Comment on this blog post and you will be entered to win a copy of Teapot Tales: A Collection of Unique Fairy Tales. (winner will be chosen by a random number generator on February 15th.)

Every blog that is taking part in this scavenger hunt is also offering a prize to give away, so go visit them all. Click on the "link-up" link below and you will be shown the other participating blogs.



Update on February 15th, 2014: winner Announcement: 


bn100 has won the copy of Teapot Tales. 
CONGRATULATIONS!  

Expect an e-mail within the day.


Friday, February 7, 2014

"Minstrel" by Marissa Ames



Marissa Ames is a friend of mine and a while back, she asked me to beta-read her book for her. I absolutely loved the book and read through the night so I wouldn't have to put it down and walk away from the fascinating world and characters that she had created. That book was "Minstrel." Minstrel was released in Kindle format last October and was soon followed by the release of its print edition in November.

I was relieved, if I'm honest, to find out that her book was so enjoyable and well-written. There have been times when I'm asked to beta read for someone and their book is far from ready for publication. It was a great pleasure to be able to tell Missy how much I adored her book.

Here's the official review I posted on Amazon:

"Minstrel is an epic story in a medieval setting from a world that exists only in the unlimited imagination of Marissa ames. Her world-weaving abilities are powerful. Liam is believable and likeable, and it is easy to find yourself rooting for him from early on in the story. This story is full of twists and turns and suspense that will have you biting your nails. So many times, the story finds Liam in situations that seem impossible to escape, and yet Marissa scribes the story in such a way that his survival is completely plausible and believable. Once I started reading Minstrel, I stayed up all night to finish it because I wasn't ready to leave the world that Marissa so expertly created."
Here's the official book description for Minstrel:

"Arriving in the royal city of Cynegil just after the good king’s death, Liam and his traveling troupe face arrest for entertaining during a time of mourning. The new king, Riordan, offers them a choice: play for the court as he demands or be punished for the crime. With little recourse, they acquiesce. While the troupe entertains within the hall, Liam witnesses the dissension between the king and his twin brother, Shamus. When Shamus enlists Liam to record the kingdom’s history from his own viewpoint, the king becomes suspicious. And when Liam becomes involved with Molly, the mysterious redheaded washerwoman, and Tristan, the royal soldier with a deadly secret and a skill for causing unfortunate accidents, his life becomes even more complicated. As the kingdom staggers beneath drought, famine, and conflict, Liam and Shamus must flee Cynegil with prices on their heads. Will they survive their journey or will they become just another ballad to be sung?"
And here's a bit about the author:
"Crossing genres, Marissa Ames writes fantasy fiction and blogs for multiple venues, including a national poultry magazine. Her debut novel, Minstrel, begins the medieval-based fantasy series of Tir Athair. She is currently working on Vassal, the second novel in the Tir Athair series, and collaborates with many worthy writers on diverse anthologies. Marissa has written stories since age 8, instilling her lifelong fascination with medieval history into her work. In her real life, she manages a day job, a husband and two teenage children, and an entire urban farm just a mile south of downtown Reno, Nevada, in the United States. You can follow her blog."

And the really great news is that Missy has penned a short story set in the same world as Minstrel. You can purchase Darrion today in Kindle format.


Even more good news is that Marissa Ames is one of the contributing authors to the anthology "Jingle Bells: Tales of Holiday Spirit from Around the World," contributing her short story "Thomas's New Coat." Proceeds from this anthology go towards funding the Chapter Book Challenge.


*****

The Grammarly link at the top of this post is a paid advertisement. I only allow advertising of things that I like or am interested in.





Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Suddenly Sorceress by Erica Lucke Dean - Book Blast!



Erica Lucke Dean has been an on-line friend of mine for quite some time now. She has hilarious escapades with the pigs on her farm, who, apparently, are out to get her. And even more intriguing than her killer pigs is the fact that she lives in a HAUNTED farmhouse. (How cool is that?) But, on to the reason for this post: I am really happy to announce the release of her new book Suddenly Sorceress

I had every intention of reading the book so I could give you my thoughts on the book at the time of this post, but I'm afraid life has gotten in the way and I haven't managed to set aside the time for reading her book. This makes me sad not only because I am unable to tell you what I thought of her book, but it also makes me sad because I am really looking forward to reading her book. It's a genre I love reading, and, after reading other writing of Erica's on her blog and elsewhere for so long, I already know that I like her writing style. Did I mention that she has another book that was released previous to this one. To Katie, With Love is one of her books that I have read already and I really, really loved it. It was funny and charming and not easy to put down once I started reading. I expect that Suddenly Sorceress is equally charming.

So here's the deal: I will review her book sometime within the two weeks of February, for those of you who want to wait and read my thoughts on the book before you buy. For the rest of you, there are other bloggers involved in this book blast and many of them have reviews going up about the book. Also, Erica has kindly provided an excerpt from her book so that you can see for yourself what an awesome and talented writer she is. 

What do you think of this cover? I love it! Of course, I'm a little partial to it because I have a friend who had a skunk, in the wild, do the exact same thing that the skunk on the cover is doing. Fortunately for my friend, she stood very, very still and the skunk eventually went away without feeling the need to spray her in stink. She thought it was a cat when it first rubbed up against her legs. I think it was pretending to be a cat in the hopes that she would share some of the breakfast that she was preparing at the time. Skunks are smelly, but not stupid.




Book Exerpt
Prologue
 “You’re too sexy, my ass!” I tried to tune out the Right Said Fred ringtone as I fished my fiancé’s cell phone from the pocket of his discarded Dockers. I glared at the flashing caller ID. “You just don’t give up, do you?” 
That was lucky number thirteen. Thirteen missed calls in the span of an hour. Thirteen calls he was unable to answer. 
Because of me. 
After pressing ignore one more time, I shoved the phone back into the pocket where it belonged, hoping it would muffle the sound somewhat. I didn’t know why I didn’t just turn off the damn thing. I’d endured his ridiculous ring tone more times than anyone should have to, obviously determined to punish myself. Between the maddening song and the horrible smell, I certainly felt punished. Even if it wasn’t nearly enough. 
Way down deep in my bones, I knew my life had been forever changed. Even if I could somehow fix things—put them back to normal—nothing would be the same again. Not ever. 
Swallowing against the crystal ball-sized lump in my throat, I dropped Matt’s pants where I’d found them, along with his shirt, his boxers, and his shoes, and I collapsed onto the rumpled blankets on the bed. 
That sort of thing didn’t happen in the real world. Only small children or crazy people believed in… no, I refused to even think the word, let alone say it. It’s impossible. But I’d seen it with my own eyes, and whatever it was, it definitely wasn’t normal. 
My scruffy housecat made another frantic orbit around my  feet as the phone sounded again, the self-centered lyrics looping, making me cringe. Apparently, he’d also grown weary of the tune. 
If only I could say the choice of ring tone was ironic, a product of his wry sense of humor. But he didn’t have much of a sense of humor. Matthew Green was exactly that arrogant. Despite every despicable thing he’d done to me, every insult, lie, and betrayal that had led us there, I truly wished Matt could answer his stupid phone himself. Unfortunately, wishing didn’t seem to be on my side that morning. 
Stifling a groan, I pulled myself from the warmth of the bed to dig the phone out of Matt’s pocket again. Geez, persistent much? With a deep, cleansing breath, I mashed down the button to accept the call. 
“Matt! Where are you?” Matt’s receptionist, Ginger, snapped before I had a chance to say hello. “Friday’s your busiest day. Do you have any idea what time it is? You’ve already missed two appointments.” 
Even without caller ID, I would have recognized her breathy Betty Boop voice. She  
sounded as though she’d been sucking helium all morning. I didn’t know her well, but I  suspected she was banging my fiancé.
“We’ll be lucky if there’s enough time for a quickie before the next patient arrives,” she continued in a whisper. 
Yep… definitely banging him. 
“And another thing.” Her sweet baby voice morphed into a feral growl. “Candy’s been standing outside your office all morning. I thought you said you were done with her? I’m not kidding, Matt, if I find out you’re still screwing her, I’m going to cut off your balls.” 
Apparently, I was engaged to a pathological cheater. Of course, I hadn’t known that when I agreed to marry him. There were a lot of things I didn’t know about Matt. Then again, there was a lot I didn’t know about me. 
“Well? Aren’t you going to say anything?” 
“Uh… hi, Ginger.” I cleared my throat and resisted the urge to “say anything.” “This is Ivie. Matt can’t come to the phone. I… uh... don’t think he’s going to be able to… uh… make it into work today.” I managed to stammer through the basics without my voice cracking. 
“Oh, hi, Ivie.” Her voice changed again; she sounded as if sshe’d been sucking lemons. She didn’t even have the decency to be embarrassed. “What’s wrong with Matt? He hasn’t missed a day in… Actually, I don’t think he’s ever called in sick.” 
My eyes darted to the closed bathroom door, and I shuddered. “He’s really not feeling like himself today.” Understatement of the century. 
“Is he sick?” 
“Um… I definitely don’t think anyone wants what he has.” I tiptoed around the answer. I wasn’t good at coy, but I gave it my best shot. 
“Oh… Well, in that case, maybe it’s best if he stays home.” I could almost see her coiling a lock of her thick red hair around her finger as she spoke. “Just tell him I hope he feels better, and not to worry. I’ll reschedule his appointments for him. Do you think he’ll be well enough to come in Monday?” 
I tamped down a flicker of panic. “I really hope so.” But I seriously doubt it. 
After listening to Ginger rant for a minute about missed appointments and the difficult 
task of rescheduling, I ended the call, staring at the bathroom door as if I expected a silent command to open it. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine the door swinging wide and my fiancé sauntering out. I popped open one eye. The door hadn’t moved—not even a crack. 
For far too long, I’d avoided that room. With three tentative steps, I closed the distance between myself and the master bathroom, covering my mouth and nose with one hand as I cracked the door. I’d almost gotten used to the foul odor in the bedroom. It was bad but not unbearable. The stench in the bathroom was overwhelming. The fumes poured out, bringing tears to my eyes. The small space reeked worse than when I’d locked him in there last night. It smelled as if someone had cooked up a potion of burning tires and rotten eggs in a boiling vat of sour ammonia, and even that comparison wasn’t quite bad enough.
Blinking back the sting of tears, I scanned the room. I didn’t see him anywhere, just a puddle that looked suspiciously like urine in one corner and in the other, a makeshift bed fashioned out of—were those my good bath towels? 
No Matt. 
A quick rush of adrenaline kick-started my heart. What’s happened to him now? This is bad. Very, very bad. As if things weren’t bad enough already. What sort of person was I? What I’d done was unspeakable, so horrible even I didn’t know what I’d done.
Just as I was about to have a full-blown panic attack, he slinked out from behind the hamper. I should have been relieved he was still alive, but I wasn’t sure if his current state was much better. He stared up at me—his beady little black eyes blinking in the harsh fluorescent light—so much smaller than he used to be and covered in a thick pelt of black and white fur. My fiancé. 
The skunk. 
Here are some places where you can buy the book:

Amazon   

(Do I have to mention again how much I love her writing style, and how much I know you will love it it too? Go buy her book!)

Also, add it to your "want to read" list in Goodreads



Like prizes?

Well, go to a Rafflecopter giveaway and enter for some prizes!



Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Year's Resolutions - Love 'em or Hate 'em? - Writers Reveal January 2014


The topic given to me for Writer's Reveal this month is "New Year's Resolutions - Love 'em or Hate 'em?" This topic has been provided to me by Emily at Have a :Laugh on Me.

Most of you who have been reading my blogs for a while know already that I am a fan of making resolutions. I don't call them resolutions though, because I think the more fitting word for them is "goals."

I regularly make lists of goals I want to achieve, whether those goals are fitness related, career related or personal goals. I have different lists for my different blogs too; my goals on my Skinny Dreaming blog will be different than my goals on my Imagine! Create! Write! blog, and both will be different than my goals listed on my Mommies of More blog.

I have to admit though, that, this year, I didn't make lists of goals. Well, actually, I did make lists, but the lists are still in my head and not written down yet. As you can see from my earlier post, I joined a lot of writing-related challenges this year though, in order to help keep on track with my writing goals. In a way, that's a form of making lists of my goals.

I also believe that there is no need to plan the larger, dream-come-true goals if you aren't willing to make some smaller goals that will help you reach the bigger goals. Dreams are great but they won't get you anywhere unless you are willing to put in the work to make them come true.

Do you make resolutions? Why or why not? What are your dreams for 2014? Are you willing to work to make them become a reality?

*****

Check out the other authors joining in with Writer's Reveal this month:


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Challenge - Insecure Writer's Support Group for January 2014 #IWSG

This is my tenth monthly Insecure Writer's Support Group post. The IWSG is hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. The purpose of the IWSG is: 
"to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!" 

This is my post for Insecure Writer's Support Group for January 2014. The topic I chose for this one 
is "challenge."

Yesterday, I posted a list of challenges I will be joining I want to make some of those achievements be personal ones. I will be taking submissions for a variety of anthologies throughout the year, but I want to do some major revisions on my 2012 NaNoWriMo novel and get it ready for publication. I am planning on completing the writing for my three non-fiction books, and I also intend to finish writing AND revising my most recent chapter book.

So this year is all about challenging myself to complete these tasks, as well as the more formal challenges I have joined, and alongside creating new anthologies.

Wish me luck!


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 - Looking forward #newyearsday #writingchallenges #anthologies

Yesterday, I posted about looking back at 2013 and what I had managed to achieve during the year. Well, today, being the first day of 2014, is a day for looking forward. What does 2014 have in store for me (and others)?

Well, first off, I have to mention some of the challenges I am running or have joined.

2014 Writing Challenges

I need to create a new badge for 2014.
1. First up is the Chapter Book Challenge, also known as ChaBooCha. ChaBooCha is a challenge that runs from March 1st through March 31st. The goal of the challenge is to write the first draft of an early reader, chapter book, Hi-Lo book, middle grade book or YA novel during that month.

It's a very relaxed challenge in that some people join up for its designed purpose of writing their first draft, and others decide to be ChaBooCha rebels by deciding instead to finish a book that they have already begun or to revise and edit a book that they have already finished the first draft on. And that's allowed. You're not an official winner unless you've written a completed first draft, from day one to day 31, but the prize is only a really neat winner's badge for your blog or website.

And there are prizes, lots of prizes, which have nothing to do with whether or not you are succeeding at writing your story and everything to do with you being a signed-up member of the challenge and commenting on the author guest posts.

During the challenge, there are guest posts by published authors and agents with useful tips and helpful information. There's a Facebook page, to keep you informed throughout the challenge, and even a Twitter account for the challenge. (Use #ChaBooCha for posts related to the challenge.) The best part of the challenge though, is the Facebook group. It remains active all year and the members are helpful and insightful.

The challenge first ran in March of 2012 with a total in sign-ups of 23 members. In 2013, that total was 89 members. this year, we are already at 116 members and those numbers are still growing. I have a goal of us reaching 200 members before March 1st, so please spread the word!

Another benefit to joining the challenge is that signed-up members of the challenge get to contribute up to three stories to the Teapot Tales anthology. Our first Teapot Tales anthology of fractured fairy tales was created in 2013. The 2014 Teapot Tales has the theme of "Pirates, Mermaids and Monsters of the Sea." I am already taking submissions for it from ChaBooCha members. (Details about the 2014 Teapot Tales anthology submissions can be found here.)

Proceeds from the anthology go towards the Chapter Book Challenge, currently to help pay for prizes and shipping of prizes, but hopefully someday to pay for advertising, a revamped website and more. (I have so many ideas for the challenge in the future, including a ChaBooCha convention with kid-lit agents in attendance.)

As always, the Chapter Book Challenge remains free to join.

I haven't made a badge for this one yet, so this will stand in place of a badge until I make one.
2. Second up is another challenge I am running. This challenge is completely new and this will be its first year. The Blog Your Book in 30 Days is exactly what its name implies. Blog Your Book in 30 Days is a challenge to write the first draft of your book by posting one chapter a day for an entire month. During the month of the challenge, helpful blog posts will be shared on the website.

The challenge has been created to help you write the book you have always wanted to write but have never written. Whether you want to write a memoir, a fiction novel, a comic book, a children's chapter book or middle grade novel or a non-fiction book, this challenge is going to help you get it done. 

Every day, you are going to do any research that is needed for the day's writing and your are going to post a blog post of one chapter of your book. By the end of the month, you should have 30 chapters and a completed first draft.

This way of writing your books works best if you are planning to self-publish your book, but there are some instances where blogs have garnered the attention of agents and publishers and resulted in book deals. Those instances are the exception though, not the rule.


For those of you worried about making your chapters public, you can enter without actually posting your chapters as long as you continue to write them as if you were going to post them. 

The Blog Your Book in 30 Days challenge has a Facebook page and a Facebook group. At this time, it does not have its own Twitter account, but you can use #BYBin30 for Twitter posts about it. You can find out more details about the challenge on the Blog Your Book in 30 Days blog.

Again, this is a completely new challenge, so I would really appreciate any help in spreading the word about it.

And now for the challenges that are not run by me, but which I am participating in:



3. Julie Hedlund's 12 x 12 - This is a challenge to write and revise 12 picture books in 2014, one picture book a month. Julie posts on many useful topics concerning picture book writing and illustrating. There are three levels to joining the challenge, with the top tier costing the most but giving the most value. I am a 12x12 "elf," which means I get to help out during the challenge. I have participated in this challenge for two years so far and this will be my third year.

As it says on the site: "In 12 x 12, you’ll get the motivation and accountability you need to get those drafts finished, all with the support of the friendliest writing community on earth."



4. PiBoIdMo - PiBoIdMo is Picture Book Idea Month and is run by Tara Lazar. PiBoIdMo runs in November and is a challenge for picture book writers. The challenge is to "create 30 picture book concepts in 30 days. You don’t have to write a manuscript (but you can if the mood strikes). You don’t need potential best-seller ideas."




5. Start the Year Off Write - start the Year Off Write is run by Shannon Abercrombie. The challenge is "21 days and 21 writing exercises to start the year off write." It's free to join and there are prizes!

6. WIP500 - WIP500 is run byCara Micheals at Defiantly Literate. The challenge is to write 500 words per day for all 365 days of 2014, totalling 182,500 words for the year. It is free to join!

7. NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month occurs in the month of November. The challenge is to write a 50,000-word novel (or 50,000 words of a novel), first draft, in the 30 days of November, from start to finish. I have participated for four or five years now and won every year. One year, I even hit over 100,000 words written. I am also the Municipal Liaison for my region. The challenge is free to join.


8. ReviMo - This is a challenge hosted by Meg Miller to revise your completed picture book drafts between January 12th and January 18th.

9. 52inaYear - The idea is to write 52 stories in a year. YOU set your rules. Working on a novel? Fine! Set a chapter or a scene as your goal. Rewriting an old trunk story? Also fine! The idea is to get work completed and (if it is your desire) out the door.

10. Doodle Day - This is a challenge hosted by Alison Kipnis Hertz. The challenge is to draw one doodle a day for a month, and you can draw whatever you want or you can follow the prompts. It runs year-round, and I haven't decided yet which month I will do this in yet.

I'm probably missing one or two of the challenges I participate in, but I'm sleepy today, so, if I remember it later, I will add it here.

2014 Anthology Projects

1. "Teapot Tales: Pirates, Mermaids and Monsters of the Sea" - Submissions for this anthology are only open to signed-up Chapter Book Challenge members. Stories are flash fiction and are not to go over 800 words. The stories do not have to be written for children, but they should not have anything in them that would horrify a parent to find out their child had read. Aim for PG-13. This is the second book in the Teapot Tales series. The first book was "Teapot Tales: A Collection of Unique Fairy Tales" and was released in August of 2013. Proceeds go towards the Chapter Book challenge.

2. "Halloween Echoes: Spooky Tales from Around the World" - Submissions are open to everyone. Your stories should have a word count between 300 and 1,200 words. These stories are aimed at children of all ages. Aim for G or PG. This is the second book in the holiday series. The first book is "Jingle Bells: Tales of Holiday Spirit from Around the World" and was released in November 2013.) Proceeds go towards the Chapter Book Challenge.

3. "SuperHERo Tales 2: A Second Collection of Female Superhero Stories" - This is the second in the SuperHERo Tales series. The first book, "SuperHERo Tales: A Collection of Female SuperHERo Tales," was such a hit that I have been asked to do a second one. The rules are the same as in the first one. As with the first one, proceeds will go towards Because I am a Girl, a foundation that helps girls in third world countries.

4. "Paw Prints: Cat Stories to Warm the Heart" - (This is a working title and might be changed between now and publication.) This is an anthology of cat stories. Each story must have a GOOD photo of the cat written about to go with it, and the author must have permission to use the photo. This anthology is a great way to remember those cats who have left paw prints on your heart. Stories must be either moving, funny or cute. the word count should be between 300 words and 1,000 words. This is a new anthology series. Proceeds from this anthology will be going to the Cat's Protection League in the UK.

5. "The Superhero Chronicles" - (working title) The original anthology, "The Talisman Chronicles: A Collection of Stories Written and Illustrated by Children," is an anthology of stories written and illustrated by children. It has been requested by my kids that we create another anthology and the topic requested is superheroes. This is a direct result of the adoration they have for "SuperHERo Tales: A Collection of Female Superhero Stories" and for the incredible cover artwork for it done by Julia Lela Stilchen. Whatever the reason, this is the new topic for children to write about for a new anthology in 2014. I think the world needs to read more stories written by children. Don 't you?

6. (possibly 6 through 9) "World of the Fae" - (working title) This is the anthology that I am super excited about. This one will either be one large anthology or four smaller ones. The four themes are Autumn Court, Winter Court, Spring Court and Summer Court and may include both dark and light Fae (Seelie and Unseelie). The word count should be between 300 and 3,000 words. Not all submissions will be accepted. These are adult stories, but gratuitous sex, gratuitous foul language and gratuitous violence will earn a rejection. Depending on the quality of the stories sent in, there will either be a one volume, 50-story anthology or four volumes with 25 to 35 stories in each (depending on average length of stories). At this moment, I cannot afford to pay for stories that are accepted, but there will be a $10 Amazon gift certificate awarded to the best story in each category ("court") and a $25 gift certificate for the best story overall. At the moment, the closing date remains open. Submissions will remain open until the correct number of acceptable stories is reached. Once all stories have been chosen for the anthology, winners will be chosen. winners will get winner badges for their blogs or websites. I am hoping to be able to begin work on the anthology during 2014.

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All anthologies will be published through Melusine Muse Press and will be made available on Amazon in print and for kindle.

Go look at guidelines for formatting your submissions here before submitting your stories.

Please be professional with submissions. Include no more than one space at the end of a sentence, not two. Make sure typos are corrected and that there are no punctuation or grammar mistakes to distract from the story.

Details for each of the upcoming anthologies, along with submission guidelines, will be posted on Melusine Muse Press's anthology submission page tomorrow.

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My own challenge for the year ahead is going to be keeping up with all of the challenges I am joining or running while also putting together, and editing, the anthologies, while still managing to finish writing, editing and revising my own novels and stories.

Wish me luck?

And I wish you all a successful, magical and fabulous 2014!