Saturday, June 30, 2012

The 12 x 12 in 2012 Halfway Blog Party!

12 x 12 x 12 halfway blog party 

(I don't know how to embed a link in a picture, so, just in case it didn't work, here is where the above picture should lead.)

I joined the 12 x 12 in 2012 picture book writing challenge way back in December of 2011. It started last January, and the goal is to write one rough draft of a new picture book every month. So far, I have not only managed to do so for the first half of this challenge, but I have written more than one a month because, in the month of February, I joined the Picture Book Marathon and wrote 26 picture book drafts.

This has been a major learning experience for me. I have had the ideas running around my head for these picture books for many years, and this year, at the start of this challenge, is the first time I actually tried to write them down. I joined a critique group formed through the 12 x 12 in 2012 Facebook group, and through them have learned that, pretty much, I am nowhere near done learning about this process of writing picture books.

Julie Hedlund organized this challenge, and she has been amazing. Also amazing is that, with this being the first year this challenge has run, Julie had over 400 people sign up for it! (For the month-long Chapter Book Challenge I organized, there were only 23 of us signed up, but that may grow by next year's challenge.) I honestly don't know how she finds the time to keep everything running smoothly with so many participants and with all of the author guest blog posts, prizes and even aspiring author guest blog posts that she has been posting, as well as keeping up with the Facebook group.

I must admit that, as helpful as all of this has been, I continue to be a bit envious of those picture book authors/aspiring authors who are also illustrators. I would love to be able to illustrate my own picture books and ensure that the pictures portrayed my ideas exactly as I intend them to be portrayed, but alas, my skills do not run in that direction. (You can see examples of my pitiful attempts to teach myself to draw here and here.)

I know that several of the members of the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge have already been published or have become published during the course of this challenge, and, as we are only half-way through the challenge, I am looking forward to seeing many more of my talented colleagues join the ranks of the published before this challenge completes.

*raises champagne glass* Here's to halfway there already and to another 6 months and 6 more picture books written! Woohoo!!!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Blog Awards

One Lovely Blog Award

Reader Appreciation Award

I have been awarded these two awards, the One Lovely Blog Award and the Reader Appreciation Award, by my lovely friend Beth Stilborn. You may remember Beth from my interview of her. Thanks so much, Beth for the award!

Seven things about myself:

1. Since moving from California to the UK, I have learned that I crave the sunshine. I can't spend much time in it because I am fair-skinned, but a sunny day lifts my mood.

2. I feel as close to my online friends as I do to the friends I see in person every day.

3. I have 15 nephews and nieces (including some grand-nephews), counting my side of the family and my husband's.

4. I miss the family get-togethers I used to have when I lived in the US. I am sometimes saddened that my children are not growing up around their cousins, aunts and uncles the way that I did.

5. Diet Mug Root Beer is my favorite drink, but it is not easy to get over here and the places that do sell it charge a lot for it.

6. I would love to learn to belly dance, but I think my belly would jiggle way more than would be attractive.

7. Although I am friendly and outwardly appear outgoing, inside I often feel insecure and shy.

Just as Beth did, I’ve combined the rules of the two awards, so here are the rules for recipients:

  • Thank the person/people who nominated you and link back to them in your post
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Nominate six to ten blogs you admire
  • Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know
And the lovely badges are the ones above.

Here are the seven people with blogs that I am awarding these two awards to:

Jo Michaels

Melissa Khalinsky

Tonya Cannariato

Kriss Morton

Erica Lucke Dean

Justin Bogdanovitch

Sandi Tuttle

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Writing: Blogging Momentum

This is my post for Day 28 of the Author Blog Challenge. (This is the final day of the challenge.)


What are you going to do to keep the blogging momentum going? What plans do you have to continue your connection with other Author Blog Challenge participants?

I am making plans to keep my blog momentum going, mainly, by continuing to post. I won't be posting every day, as I was doing for this challenge, but I intend to be posting once or twice a week, every week. Posting every day has eaten into my novel-writing time, so I don't want to be posting every day, but once or twice a week should be manageable.

Before doing the challenge, I was neglecting my blog and letting weeks go by without posting. That won't be happening any more. There are two blogs in my writing life that I intend to continue keeping updated and current, and those are this blog and my Skinny Dreaming blog. (I have over 20 blogs but not all of them are kept current.) The reason I want these two blogs to be kept current is that they are both about important aspects of my life: my writing and my fitness/healthy lifestyle. (My children are also super-important to me, and I have to admit that I have neglected my family blog for way too long.)

I have been building a list of topics for future blog posts to keep me posting more regularly. Having prompts has helped keep me posting, so I decided to create a bunch of "prompts" for myself to keep me full of ideas for posts for this blog.

I have joined a critique group with others from the Author Blog Challenge, and have connected with several members of the challenge on Facebook and Twitter as well. I'm really glad to have made these new friends who share my love of writing, and I hope we all can help one another.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Writing: Author Blog Challenge

This is my post for Day 27 of the Author Blog Challenge.


What has been the best part of participating in the Author Blog Challenge? What are your suggestions for improving the next Author Blog Challenge?

I think the best part of participating in the Author Blog Challenge has been all of the really great people I have met who are participating in the challenge too. So many of the other participants have commented on my posts and everyone is so supportive of one another in this group of writers.

The next best thing about participating in the Author Blog Challenge is the fact that it got me writing regularly on my blog. I maintain several blogs and sometimes I let my posting on them slow to less than a trickle. This challenge kept me from neglecting this blog, and I know I will continue writing for this blog more frequently now. I won't be writing on it every day, as I have been doing for this challenge, but I know I can make sure that I post at least once or twice a week.

The prompts during the challenge have given me some terrific ideas for future blog posts, and I have been inspired to write more as a result of this challenge.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Writing: Book Subjects

This is my post for Day 26 of the Author Blog Challenge.


What is/will be the subject of your next book?

I am still writing several books, so I will list them, giving you a brief insight into the stories/themes of the ones I am working on the most right now. (The rest will just be listed.) The titles are all just working titles at the moment. I must admit that my synopsis of these stories will not be very good right now. I am writing this late at night and not putting as much thought into them as I should. I will try and come back at a later date and spend more time getting these written in a more attractive way.

Follow the Moon - This one is a werewolf story. The main character finds herself waking up, injured, in an alley with no recollection of what happened. She is rescued by a stranger who has a good idea of what happened to her. But can she trust this man who claims to be a werewolf? And can she accept her new existence while trying to find out what happened to her on the night that changed everything?

Walking With the Dead - This is about a girl who starts seeing ghosts. The ghosts she sees are malevolent and creepy, but there is a reason; there is a sickness plaguing the ghost realm, and it is up to Janie to find a cure before it crosses into her own realm. While she tries to find a cure, the ghosts try to make her a permanent part of their realm.

The Thinning of the Veil - This is a story about the veil between dimensions growing thinner. One girl can see the creatures that come through the dimension and fight them. Together with her vision-seeing friend and twin friends with gifts of their own, she has to fight to save her world before anything else gets through and before anyone else finds themselves crossing into the wrong dimension.

The Magic Necklace - This is a children's chapter book. A young girl finds a necklace in her attic and starts hearing the thoughts of others. But is that the extent of her powers? And why is the man she overhears plotting a burglary following her?

Skinny Dreaming - This is my non-fiction book about healthy living. It's a diet and fitness guide that is also full of inspiration and even some healthy recipes.

Come Dance With Us - This started off as a flash fiction story, but I enjoyed the story so much that I have continued the story and intend for it to be a full length novel. A young woman finds herself dancing with the fairies, caught in their spell for three nights. But when she gets home, she finds out that the fairies are not so eaily left behind.

Just listing the rest:

Dream Walker -

Extraordinary Magic -

Creating Magic -

Enchanting Rose -

Story Magic -

Fire Starter -

Lady of Shadows -

Ordinary Magic -

Keisha & the Flight of Dragons -

Cat's Eye -

The Guardian -

McKay's Might -

Monday, June 25, 2012


This is my post for Day 15 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers challenge.

15 Habits of Great Writers Day 15 Serve

"The challenge

Ready to be generous and serve your audience? Here are a few ideas (pick one):

  1. Do a giveaway of a product or service. Find authors or organizations wanting to partner with people like you, and ask them for donations. Do this to build trust with your readers, and make sure whatever you give away clearly adds value to their lives.
  2. Conduct a survey. Find out what readers (or perfect strangers) want, what they struggle with, and create something for them. This can be a blog series or an eBook or a whatever. Just make sure there’s a need for it before you make it.
  3. Write something important and give it away. Publish an eBook to Amazon and distribute it through the KDP Select Program. Or offer it in exchange for people subscribing to your blog.
  4. Answer all correspondence. Respond to every single email, phone call, tweet, etc. until you can’t possibly keep up. This is how tribes are formed — through accessibility."
Okay, just reading this today, I reaize that I am going to need more time to complete this part of the challenge. 

1. First of all, I need time to find someone willing to partner with me to do a donation. However, like other challenges posed within this Great Writers challenge, I have already done this by getting authors to guest post on my Chapter Book Challenge blog during the challenge and one of them gave away a free critique. I also ran a flash fiction story writing competition where the prize was a book on writing flash fiction (donated by me).

2. I will also need time to get people to fill in a survey and to fulfill the need that they wish me to fill. I have no idea what kind of questions to ask for the survey or even what need I am capable of fulfilling for others. If anyone has any ideas, I am open to suggestions!

3. This makes it sound like it is so easy to write something worth publishing as an eBook! I would love to do this and have considered it many times, but I keep failing on what, exactly, to write. Writing of any kind takes time, and I haven't even finished the books I am already working on, so I am not sure how quickly I can just whip something else out to share with others.  But I will try.

4. I do answer correspondence. I do respond to every single email, tweet (to me) and question asked on Facebook. I constantly run out of time for these things, but I do my best to keep up with it all. I try to be as accessible as possible.

As I reflect on these, I see that I am already doing some of them and working on doing others of them.  I will try and update on how I do as I get through them.

Writing: Acknowledgement Pages

This is my post for Day 25 of the Author Blog Challenge.

Time for some shout-outs. This may mimic your acknowledgement page, but whom would you like to publicly thank for their help in creating your book or completing it to the point where it is presently?

My books aren't finished yet, so this will be a more detailed list when they are complete. Also, my acknowledgements page will be different for my different books.

I will be thanking my husband for putting up with all of the itme I spend writing and for his help brainstorming during our walks at night. I will be thanking my children for constantly being sources of inpsiration for me. I will be thanking my friend Barbara Mack for believing in me and giving me that push to believe in myself. I will be thanking my writing critique group, the Swindon Free Writers, for their helpful adivce and critiques of my writing. I will be thanking all of my on-line friends on Facebook, Twitter and Triberr for their support, and I will be thanking my blog followers as well. When it comes to my children's chapter book, I will have to thank all of the members of my Chapter Book Challenge Facebook group for their support and encouragement.

As I mentioned previously, this list will be longer and more detailed once my book sare actually finished and ready for publication.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Writing: Treating Your Book As a Business

This is my post for day 24 of the Author Blog Challenge.

Rebecca Fyfe Slimming World photo shoot
photo copyright Slimming World/PAUL BULLER

If your goal is to sell books, you must view your book as a business. In what ways do you treat your book as a business? Where could you improve? What resources could you leverage to improve your book business?

The main way that I treat my book(s) as a business is by spending a certain amount of hours dedicated to my writing every day. Well, I intend for it to be hours, but really it ends up being one hour if I'm lucky. I spend enough time for it to be equivalent to a part-time business. Ideally, I would be able to sit down each morning at 9:00am and spend that time focusing on my book(s) until lunch time and then again after lunch time, so that I would be spending a proper work day writing and marketing my book(s).

What really happens is that I get up in the morning and get my kids ready for school. I then spend two hours of my morning taking my kids to school and getting home again. Is that when I sit down to write? No. That's when I spend the 90 minutes on my elliptical crosstrainer that my body requires to maintain the weight I am at, and then spend another 20 minutes showering. Is that when I sit down to write? No, that's when I start a load of laundry and wipe down the kitchen table from the mess the children left while having breakfast that morning. I make myself lunch and a coffee. Then I sit and get about 30 minutes of writing done and answer a few e-mails before I have to get ready to spend the next 2 hours picking my children up from school and getting home again. Then I am busy making dinner, serving dinner, eating dinner and getting the kids ready for bed.  Once the children go to bed, if things are going my way, I can sit down to write for an hour or two. (It's getting to the point where my husband is starting to feel as though we have no time together.)

photo copyright Worldwide Media

I have found a sort-of compromise by carrying a small notebook with me on the bus each morning and afternoon during the school runs and getting some writing done during the bus trips. Typing up what I have already written takes less time than typing while thinking up what to write, so typing it up later actually saves me some time. And I even get a brief bit of editing done while I type my handwritten stories into the computer.

I do spend some of my writing time on social media. This is a necessary part of "treating my book as a business", because if no one on-line knows who I am, my book is starting out at a deficit when it comes to getting people to find out about it.  I have many friends who will plug my book when it is completed, and I have plenty of Facebook friends and Twitter followers to help me get the word out about it when the time comes.

The resource that I have to leverage and that I am finding the hardest time with is time. I am having to make time that I wouldn't otherwise have by prioritizing my writing. The other resources I have are my many on-line friends who are amazing and giving and always willing to help one another. The other resources I have in regards to my health and fitness non-fiction book are that I have a following on my Skinny Dreaming blog and it's Facebook page, I have the experience of losing over 145 lbs, I have been featured for my weight loss in several magazines and national newspapers and I have been on TV twice to discuss aspects of my weight loss.

I just wish I had written my book before all of the media exposure, so I could have plugged my book at the time!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Writing: The Hollywood Version of My Book

This is my post for Day 23 of the Author Blog Challenge.

Star Pen & Ink

If a Hollywood agent were to come knocking on your door with an offer to turn your book into a movie and told you that you could call all the shots, who would you have direct and star in it? Write the first paragraph of Roger Ebert’s review of your film.

I'm not sure I can do this challenge properly. First of all, it has been too many years since I have heard Roger Ebert review a film, so I have no idea what he would say if he liked a film. Maybe that's because I live in the UK now and have for the past 11 years.

The only person I would want directing a film based on of my books would be Joss Whedon. I'm a massive fan of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. I enjoyed the Angel series. And I have recently discovered the Firefly series and found that I adore the show (and liked the film Serenity too). One of the newest films out right now that my husband and I went to see was The Avengers and we LOVED it. It had so much humor mixed in with the more serious moments of the film, all combined with adventure and action, so that we had more fun watching it than any movie we have seen in a very long time.  Another reason I would want Joss Whedon to direct it would be the fact that my books, both the YA and the adult, are based in the paranormal genre.

I don't know who I would have star in my film, but I don't think I would want it to be the big name actors and actresses that everyone knows, even if well-known names create a bigger draw. I would want them to be actors and actresses who were amazing at portraying the emotions of their characters. But I would want some new faces. I'd want my story to give someone new and talented their chance to shine.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Writing: Book Signings

This is my post for Day 22 of the Author Blog Challenge.
Pen & Ink

Describe your first book signing – real or imagined.

For me, this book signing will have to be imagined. I have to have a completed book before I get a book signing set up. What kind of book signing it would be would depend on which of my books it was focused on. I have novels that are aimed at adult women, YA and books aimed at children of various ages. I also have a non-fiction book being worked on. So which one would it be?

A part of me thinks that doing a book signing for one of my children's picture books, because of the props, would be more fun, especially because I love children. Children, unlike most adults, can usually be counted on to come up with something to say that will make me laugh, said in a way that only children could say it. Adults tend to be way more circumspect about their conversation.

Ideally, whether a book signing for children or adults, there would be a lot of interest in it and a nice crowd of people (although I somehow doubt that is likely for most book signings). While I'm talking about a dream book signing, I guess I would also need a Hollywoood movie producer to arrive in the store to implore me to let them buy the rights to make a movie of my book. *wink*

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Writing: Advice for Writers

This is my post for Day 21 of the Author Blog Challenge.

Swansea Sunset daydreamer

What is the single best piece of advice you’ve ever received about the publishing process and/or would advice would you offer to a first-time author?

I'm not really sure how to answer this one. I suppose the best piece of advice would be from all of the authors out there who have repeated the phrase, "Don't give up." I've heard many published authors say that their writing was rejected many times before finding a publisher who loved it. And other authors have mentioned not being able to find a traditional publisher who would take their story on but later becoming quite successful at self-publishing, despite the lack of interest from traditional publishers.

If I was going to give advice to a first time author, here are the three things I would say:

1. Believe in yourself and in your writing. Even when you are struggling to find the words, even when no one else seems to appreciate what you are writing, believe in yourself. You can write the story you have in your head if you are willing to work at it and willing to believe in yourself.

2. Learn everything you can about the craft of writing and be patient with yourself while you learn. No one creates a masterpiece without some missteps. No one finds perfection without first practicing their art. Read everything you can get your hands on within your genre. Write daily, even if you need a break from your story and end up writing something completely different for an evening. Go to writers' conferences. Talk to other authors. Read about the craft of writing and practice what you are learning.

3. Be willing to work for your dream. Writing, editing, marketing our books, it can all be a lot of hard work. But dreaming about writing a book isn't going to get your book written. Thinking about your story isn't going to get it typed for you. Talking to others about your novel isn't going to get the novel finished. Sure, you can come up with fresh ideas by dreaming, thinking and talking about your story. But if you want to have something publishable, you are going to have to sit your butt in a chair and start writing your story.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Writing: Social Media

This is my post for Day 20 of the Author Blog Challenge.

Stacked Book on grey background

How are you using social media to promote your book? What aspect of social media would you like to learn more about? What are your next steps?

None of my books are at the publishing stage yet. While I am writing them, I am using social media and learning everything I can about promotion. I started out with social media promoting my on-line stores many years ago, and so I believe I have a step up from an author who is just starting out with it right now.

I've already learned about having an on-line presence, using Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Triberr and various other social media outlets. I learned about SEO (search engine optimization), and I learned many of the tricks of the trade with blogging back when I started my first blog, Skinny Dreaming. (Many have suggested I switch my blog platform to a Wordpress one rather than using Blogger, but I'm content with Blogger for now.)

I own several of my own domains. The only thing I have yet to do is build my own website (or have it built for me). Because buying hosting and paying someone to help me build my website is something that costs quite a bit of money, having my own website is something I have left for last.


This is my post for Day 14 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers challenge.

15 Habits of Great Writers Day 14 Brand

"The challenge

Brand yourself. There are three elements of every brand that you need to pay attention to — spend some time today tightening up each of these:

  • Name. This is what you call yourself (e.g. Copyblogger or Anne Lamott). It may be your given name or a pseudonym or something else, but you need to be consistent. Make sure your website, business cards, and social media properties all say the same thing.
  • Image. This can be a logo or a headshot. It’s whatever you want to use to make people recognize you and your work. If it’s a photo of you, make sure people would recognize you in real life if they’re seeing it on the Internet. Also, make sure it’s on your blog, Twitter profile, etc. Don’t use different images; make them all the same.
  • Voice. This is how you sound. It’s your style and personal flair as a communicator.

I have several blogs, and I have tried to create a brand for each one of them. There is my most successful one, Skinny Dreaming.  There is this blog, Imagine! Create! Write! There is Princess Parade, both the blog and the shop. As an author, I intend to use my name, Rebecca Fyfe though, so I have started changing my user name on various sites to reflect that.

I must admit that I do use various different photos of myself, but they are all recognizable as me. It helps that I had some professional shots done by Slimming World magazine and it's photographer Paul Buller when I had a photo shoot for the magazine spread about my weight losss story. I had some great photos taken such as these:
Rebecca Fyfe Slimming World photo shoot

Rebecca Fyfe Slimming World photo shoot2
Rebecca Fyfe Slimming World photo shoot1
As for my personal voice, I hope I am achieving that just by being honest as I write. As long as I am true to who I am, then my voice should show through. Also, I have been writing fiction for so long that I hope my voice for it has developed over time. Would I recognize my own writing if I were to read it years later? Probably.  Would someone else? I hope so.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Writing: Growing Your Platform

This is my post for Day 19 of the Author Blog Challenge.

Books can hold the moon

What are the three most important things you are doing to grow your platform?

I have been blogging for years now, and it does help grow my platform. However, when I first started out, my blogs weren't getting very many views. I just wasn't getting enough people to read my blogs. That's when I found Twitter, and eventually, through my Twitter contacts, I found Facebook.

Blogging, Facebook, Twitter and other social media are great ways to grow your platform. But there are a few things that are even more important.

1. Interact with your readers. If someone comments on your blog, respond to them, even if it's just to say "Thank you." Don't ignore your "friends" on your Facebook profile or your "likers" on your Facebook page. Interact with them, ask them questions and care about what's going on with them.

2. Care about your readers and offer them quality content. If you talk down to your readers, they will lose respect for you, and if you don't offer them quality content to read, they will not bother to continue reading what you write. You have to care about them for real, not just see your readers as a potential revenue source. The people who connect with you through social media are not stupid and they can tell if you don't care about them.

3. Be honest with your readers. Be polite and respectful at all times, but within those parameters, you need to be honest with your readers. Your readers can be uncannily intuitive, so don't underestimate them by hiding yourself. They need to be able to sense your voice in your writing, and that isn't going to happen unless you are honest with them and with yourself.


This is my post for Day 13 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers challenge.

15 Habits of Great Writers Day 13 Publish

"The challenge

Today, we’re going to publish something. Anything, really. Whatever you do, don’t play it safe. Go for broke. Stop hiding and start writing for real:

  • The manuscript in your dresser drawer? Send it off.
  • That article you’ve been thinking about writing for an A-list blog? Submit it. Let go of control; you’re ready.
  • That eBook you’ve been stalling to finish? It’s good enough. Put it out there."
Okay, I understand that, for this particular challenge, the command is to do the challnge today, but I have, in some ways, been already doing this particular part of the challenge anyway, and I have nothing available that is ready to be published, and if I stupidly tried to publish something today or sent something off to a publisher today, when it wasn't ready, then I would just be harming my overall writing career.

How have I already been doing this challenge? I started writing articles for a monthly magazine publication. Because of my magazine writing job, I am already a published author. I am also having one of my flash fiction stories published in an anthology this year. But more than that, this year, I have started sending off other short stories into competitions and submitting them to anthologies for publication. I have even started writing some short stories and publishing them to my blog.

Here are links to some of my short and flash fiction stories:

Lise & Nat: A Story of Forbidden Love Between a Fairy of the Sun and a Creature of the Night

A Siren's Tears

Wood Sprite

Mother Lioness

Call of the Siren

The Guardian

Modern Day Warrior Princess

The Faeries' Dance

Thinning of the Veil: The Escape

If I get enough of these flash fiction and short fiction stories written, I may just publish them all in an anthology of my own someday.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Writing: Your Book's Blurb

This is my post for Day 18 of the Author Blog Challenge.

Author Blog Challenge

Who did/could you ask to write a blurb for your book? Why that person/people? How did/will you go about reaching them?

I haven't put that much thought into who I could or will ask to write a blurb for my books. I have some friends who are published authors who I could ask. I would only ask them if they were published within the same genre as my book.

It would be a dream come true to get a well-known author to write a blurb for my book. I have some well-known authors as "friends" on Facebook and as "followers" on Twitter, but some are not as interactive as others.

Ideally, I would love to get to go to some writing conferences in the future and meet some of these authors in person. Right now, my budget just can't afford a trip and conference. Also, my children are still too young for me to leave them. (My husband can handle them, but he'd have to take time off from work.)

It is important to find the right person/people for the blurb. It has to be someone within the same genre in order for them to have a better chance of being recognized by your readers. Also, if they write in the same genre, they will have a better grasp of what is expected from your book.


This is my post for Day 12 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers challenge.

15 Habits of Great Writers Day 12 Provoke

"The challenge

You already know what you need to do. Take a risk. Write something provocative and stand by it. Yes, you may make a few people mad, but you’ll also liberate those locked in self-doubt and fear.

Write something bold, something that moves us. Then share it."

I would gladly take on this challenge, but I really cannot think of anything "bold" to write right now. I mostly write fiction novels, so I am not sure why I would want to write something that would make people mad anyway.

Or maybe I am not really understanding this challenge. It's totally possible that, having been awakened hours earlier than necessary this morning by my two youngest children, my brain has been muddled enough through sleep deprivation that I am unable to wrap my mind around even simple concepts.

I have two posts in the planning stages for my Mommies of More blog and my Princess Parade blog on two topics that mean a lot to me. One is about bullying; its main point is that while a bully is attempting to make people respect him or her, they only manage to make people fear him or her and fear will never translate to respect. The other one is about raising boys to respect women. The main point being that while it's great that we want to raise our girls to respect themselves and to expect respect from the men in their lives, that isn't enough to change things; we have to raise boys to respect women too.

Maybe those two posts would have been thought-provoking enough and would move people enough to be in line with this challenge, but those posts are still in the idea and development stage. And I am not writing on those blogs for this challenge anyway. I can't really think of any topic on the subject of writing (the subject of this blog) that would seem provocative to me.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Writing: Targeting Your Market

This is my post for Day 17 of the Author Blog Challenge. (I have been following each day's prompts, but the past two or three prompts started to get mixed up. I would read one day's prompt only to see it being referred to as a different day's prompt in the next e-mail, so I'm a little confused on what days I am supposed to use which prompts. I have just been doing each one in order and hoping that it is on the correct day.)

reading picture book

Describe the market for your book – to the tiniest detail (e.g., childless divorced women past age 50 who want to remarry). Why that demographic? How do you connect with them to market to them?

For my fiction novels, I am targeting the Young Adult market. Several of them are written for the older age group within that audience, older teens and 20-somethings. They are aimed at girls; all of my main characters are girls. Of course, as many have noticed with recent YA books, these books often appeal to married women with children and 30-something single women and others. The Young Adult market is becoming wide open and appealing to a much wider variety of audiences. My first 5 children were all girls, so I spent decades raising all girls before I gave birth to my boys. I think this is a big reason why writing for female markets has always come so easily to me.

Some of my fiction novels are marketed to younger teens, and that is the very specific audience they are aimed at. They will hopefully appeal to 12 to 16 year olds. This is different from the children's chapter books that I am writing. Those books are aimed at 8 to 12 year olds. My children's chapter books are aimed towards girls, so far, in that all of my main characters are female.  My children who are of the age to read these books are girls and that is why female characters have come so easily to me.

I have also written some children's picture books. Some of them are aimed at very young children, from 2 to 4 years old and some of them are aimed at slightly older children, from 4 to 6 years old. I am still working on honing my craft when it comes to writing picture books. There is a lot more to the genre than one might notice at first glance. The ideas for the picture books came to me through inspiration from my children. As a mother of 7, I have been given loads of inspiration from my children over the years. I used to read my children stories at bedtime (when they were young) and still do. Sometimes, I would make up a story to tell them instead of reading them a book. They loved these "made-up stories" best of all and frequently asked me for them instead.

I do have an idea for a children's chapter book for boys, but as I am working on so many other writing projects at the moment, I have set this idea to the side for now and will re-visit it later, when more of my other projects are complete. The idea came from my 5 year old son. He asked me to create a superhero to write about. In a few years, he will be reading chapter books, so I came up with a superhero to write a story about for a chapter book.

My non-fiction books is aimed at anyone who wants to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle. There is no specific age group, as I know from experience that there are people from all walks of life who need to change their eating and exercise habits.


This is my post for Day 11 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers challenge.

15 habits of great writers Day 11 declutter

The challenge

So let’s declutter today, shall we? In every sense of the word. I want you to do two things:

  1. Clean up your space. Spend some time (at least five minutes, but no more than 30) doing the following: clear off the desk, sharpen your pencils, put your files in order, take out the trash, wash the dishes, whatever. Do what you need to do to feel better about the place where you do your work.
  2. Cut your writing down to its purest essence. Turn a 500-word article into 250 words. If you’re brave, convert 1000 words into 300. Take away everything but exactly what you want to say. Eliminate weak, lazy words like “that” and “things” and anything you don’t absolutely need. Then say what you have to say and be done with it.

I would love to clean up my writing space, but I don't have a writing space. I use my laptop, in my lap, while sitting on the couch. That's where I write. Most of my house, I will admit, is very cluttered. But my couch isn't. I keep most of my notes on the computer, and I have already "cleaned" those notes up into folders. I am debating using a program like Scrivener to keep my notes for each writing project in a more easily searchable place. If anyone reading this uses Scrivener (or another program), I would love to hear what you think of it and in what ways it has helped you organize, if it has helped.

Cutting my writing down to its purest essence was something I used to really struggle with in the past. But then I started entering flash fiction contests. Believe me, when you have to write a story, with a beginning, middle and end, within 300 words, you learn very quickly how to clean up any unnecessary clutter from your writing! Finding a way to write a complete story in 300 words or 500 words while still making it something gripping and magical to the reader is not easy but well worth the time, as it is an invaluable means for practice in writing clean.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


This is my post for Day 10 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers challenge.

15 Habits of Great Writers Day 10 Share

The challenge

Find someone whose message we need to hear and share it on your blog or via Twitter or Facebook. Wherever people are listening to you (even just a few), use that opportunity to talk about someone else.

This is another challenge that I already do regularly. When I find a blog post with a strong message that I feel should be shared, or when one of my friends writes and publishes another book, I share it on Facebook and Twitter and sometimes blog about it too.

One of those friends is Barbara Mack (also known as Barbara Rose).  I met Barbara many years ago when we were both on-line shopkeepers and designers with a print-on-demand company. (We both still are on-line shopkeepers and designers.) She has been a faithful friend and I am constantly amazed by her intelligence, her writing ability and her generous heart. She has cookbooks, historical romance novels, a vampire novel and a YA novel available on Amazon.

A newer friend of mine is Jo Michaels. Jo and I met through the Author Blog Challenge. She is one of those giving people who has been commenting on not just all of my blog posts during the challenge, but other blog posts by me not related to the challenge and others' blog posts for the challenge as well. She has written a children's chapter book called The Abigale Chronicles. She has also written a historical fiction novel called Yassa.

I have several friends who have recently seen their way into publication. Justin Bogdonovitch (aka Justin Bog) has published his collection of short stories called Sandcastle and Other Stories.  Not only is he a terrific writer, but he is also a generous soul who always has kind things to say about everyone. He has the most gorgeous dogs, and you can see more of them and other posts by Justin on his blog.

Tonya Cannariato recently published her book Dust to Blood. She is also a blogger and I love reading her posts. She reviews books and she has a really funny sense of humor. I recommend having a read through her blog. She's also a generous soul who is willing to help out her friends and never ask for anything in return. (There's a theme to my friends in that way; they are all clever, talented and kind-hearted.)

I know this is getting a little long-winded for a blog post. I have so many friends who are talented, creative, clever and sweet. (Lucky me, right?) So I will just briefly name a few more. There's Jane Isaac and her book An Unfamiliar Murder. There's Nicole Cook who is constantly tantalizing me with delicious recipes on her blog The Daily Dish Recipes. There's Erica Lucke Dean who is blogging her book Tales of the DayWalkers. There's Kelly Stone Gamble who is writing her historical novels, The Hoover Dam Trilogy. There's Dionne Lister and her novel Shadows of the Realm. There's Kriss Morton who has recently had her short story published in an anthology, and shares awesome recipes (usually involving bacon), Alaskan photography and book reviews. There's also Jeff Bennington who does Kindle Book Reviews and has many books to his name already.

Believe it or not, I could go on with even more friends to list who are just as talented, intelligent and wonderful as the ones I have already listed, but I know this blog post is already getting too long. So I may just have to share the rest at a later date. Please do go and check out all of these people and their books and blogs. They are all so talented that I promise it will be worth your time.

Writing: Traditional or Indie Publishing?

This is my post for Day 16 of the Author Blog Challenge.

Bookshelves and reader

Did you publish your book as a traditionally printed book, an eBook, or both? How did you come to your decision? Which company(ies) did you use for printing and distribution? How did you select them?

I haven't published my books yet. I have some calendars for sale on and my children have books for sale as both ebooks and print books in the book shop there.

I am planning on using Amazon for my books which will be available as traditionally printed books and Kindle books. Amazon has the widest distribution of all of the different self-publishing firms I have checke dout so far, and the cost is minimal. However, I will only use them if I decide to go the self-publishing route. I haven't decided yet whether I want to go the traditional publishing route or not yet.

I may have to when it comes to my children's picture books, but that is because I have no skill at all when it comes to drawing and am not capable of illustrating my own books. I tried to teach myself to draw, but the best I was able to do just wasn't good enough for the way I want my picture books represented. You can see my attempts at drawing on Designing Doodles. I still have fun trying to draw though.

Friday, June 15, 2012


This is my post for Day 9 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers challenge.

15 Habits of Great Writers Day 9 Connect

"The challenge

Find a potential fan, friend, and patron (one of each) and reach out to them. Today. Don’t ask for anything but this person’s time. Don’t say no for them or apologize. Just ask. Make it an invitation to coffee (if a local connection) or to Skype. Do it and do it now before you lose the desire.

Then tell us how it went."

I am finding that sometimes these challenges are difficult for me, not because they are outside of the norm for me but because they are things I am already doing. I already make an effort to connect with others through Twitter, Facebook, within my community and in other ways. I have "fans" (although Facebook has now changed those to "likes." I have friends who share their thoughts with me and spend time with me, who listen to me and who I listen to. I also have friends who are not only successful authors, but generous authors willing to help with beta reading, with advice and just generally with their time. (Does that qualify them as patrons, since Jeff Goins described patrons as "These people — leaders and influencers in your industry — will help you grow your platform and get your message heard.") 

I am a member of two groups of writers on Triberr; most of my colleagues on Triberr are published authors. All of them are willing to help out with growing my platform and getting my message heard; that's kind of what Triberr is all about. Through those groups, my on-line reach has expanded by tens of thousands of people.

I've even reached out to writers in my locality by starting a Facebook group for writers in my county. It started by an idea formed when I became a minicipal liaison for my region on NaNoWriMo. Since then, my co-ML started a critique group for those of us in our region, and we meet once a month.

So I can safely say that I am already doing this challenge, and I don't feel the need to go do it extra just for the challenge. Seriously, I think I do pretty well at getting myself known, at socializing and meeting the right people. I find it easy as people, both on-line and off-line, are usually easy to like and more than helpful to a friend. I naturally help my friends out too, sometimes taking on more than I should, because I care about them. It's a mutual exchange and it works.

I find this whole concept of "connecting" to be a fairly simple and natural thing to do. The biggest challenge, for me, is to complete my books and get them published. I still haven't decided whether the traditional publishing method appeals to me or the indie publishing route appeals more to me. I guess (and hope) I'll figure it out by the time I have completed my manuscripts.

Writing: Barbara Mack - my bibliophile friend

This is my post for Day 15 of the Author Blog Challenge.

Find someone you know, either online or in the real world, who is a true bibliophile and interview them about their reading habits. Ask questions such as:

  • How many books do they buy per month?
  • How many do they actually read?
  • What do they read?
  • Where do they buy their books?
  • Who is their favorite author (do not take offense if it is not you – that’s not the point here).
  • What do they like about the author?
  • How often do they attend signings/readings? What do they enjoy about them?
  • If they could ask their favorite author any question, what would it be?
  • Which book has most recently surprised or delighted them?
  • Of everything they’ve read so far this year, what would they most recommend?

Barbara Mack
photo by PS Dooley Photography

Barbara Mack, a personal friend of mine and godmother to my youngest son has offered to answer my questions. Barbara is also a published author and you can find her books under the names Barbara Mack and Barbara Rose (YA) on Amazon. She also happens to run a blog and forum of which the focus is primarily based on her love of books. It's called Barb's Bookshelf.

•How many books do you buy per month?Approximately 10, though it has gone as high as 30 before (when I was sick and could do nothing more strenuous than read).

•How many do you actually read?Everything I buy - occasionally I forget one or someone moves one and I can't find it, but if I buy it, I read it.

•What do you read?Absolutely everything. If it's well written and interesting, I read and enjoy, regardless of the genre.

•Where do you buy your books?Used book stores, Amazon (kindle and paper), and regular price bookstores.

•Who is your favorite author?Some of my favorites are James Lee Burke - a poet disguised as a mystery novelist - Mary Balogh, historical romance, and Joe Hill is one of my most recent faves.

•What do you like about the author?Their style and the way their words make me feel.

•How often do you attend signings/readings? What do you enjoy about them?Very occasionally - we don't get a lot of authors here.

•If you could ask your favorite author any question, what would it be?Well, it wouldn't be 'where do you get your ideas' or 'will you write my story for me'. ;)

•Which book has most recently surprised or delighted you?

Joe Hill's Heart Shaped Box.

 •Of everything you’ve read so far this year, what would you most recommend?
I don't think I could answer that, really. I could give you a list, but it would take too long to write out...

Thursday, June 14, 2012


This is my post for Day 8 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers challenge.

15 Habits of Great Writers Day 8 Build

"The challenge:

So let’s build something. You don’t need to start another project you’ll never finish. You already probably have enough of those. Instead, I want you to do something truly creative:

I want you to finish something. Anything, really. Just pick a project — an essay, a blog post, maybe even a book — and finish it. Not tomorrow. Today.

It should never take longer than 30 minutes to finish anything. If it does, you’re not breaking the project up into enough chunks. Which will lead to stalling, your worst enemy."

I just completed a blog post for the Author Blog Challenge, so I started and finished something today already. I start and finish writing goals every day, really. I blog frequently. I write short stories. I write chapters of my books. If I set out to write three chapters of whichever book I am currently working on, I will manage to finish those three chapters.

If I set my mind to do something, I get it done. I just need to be setting my mind towards writing more frequently when it come to my novels and my non-fiction book. Between this challenge and the Author Blog Challenge, along with the occasional short story I write, I am writing between 500 to 2,000 words a day. When these challenges are over, I am going to set my writing goal to write a minimum of 500 words a day and see where that takes me,

Writing: Surprise and Memories

This is my post for Day 14 of the Author Blog Challenge.

Author Blog Challenge

"What has been the biggest surprise about writing/publishing your book? What has been the most enjoyable or most memorable aspect?"

I love the stories I am creating. While the writing of them, at times, can feel like work, it is usually, instead, very fun. I never know what idea will come out next. I start my stories by sitting and writing whatever story pops into my mind at the time and it is always enjoyable to see what comes out of it.

I'm surprised by how many ideas are swimming around in my head. When I write one story, another story idea will arrive while I'm still writing. It's both frustrating and wonderful at the same time.

The most enjoyable is when I bring a chapter to my critique group and they can't find anything wrong with it. It doesn't happen often, mind you, but when it does, it feels terrific!

The most memorable would be when I wrote 50,000 words in 14 days. I never knew I could achieve that high of a word count in such a short amount of time; never knew it, that is, until I did it. Now I try and believe that I can achieve anything I want to achieve through my writing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


This is my post for Day 7 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers challenge.

15 habits of great writers day 7 start

"The challenge

Everything starts ugly. You have to start. Make something ugly. And leave it ugly (temporarily). Be okay with it. Then share it with a few people you trust (feel free to use the comments here, if you like) and look for feedback. Find stuff you can improve and slowly move it towards beautiful."

Starting with something ugly. Hmmm. Yah, I'm already pretty good at this part of the challenge.

I started a new werewolf story. It's only about 3,000 words long so far and it's very, very rough. It needs a lot more detail and mood spun into it, as, right now, it is still very basic. It's almost like a slightly-more-detailed-than-average outline.

Despite this, I have shared it with some select friends and family members. I know it's far from perfect right now. But I wanted to let them get a feel for the type of story it will be, the type of story it is becoming.

Even in the ugliest sight, one can find traces of beauty.

Writing: The Challenges

This is my post for Day 13 of the Author Blog Challenge.

Squirrel 9th Jan 2011

What has been the most challenging part of your book process: writing, building the book, printing, distributing, marketing, etc.? What do you wish you’d known before you began?

My books are not at the printing and distributing stages yet, so I cannot accurately discuss how difficult or easy those stages might be. However, I can discuss other aspects of the book process.

Writing the book is not the most difficult part. I can say this even though I have not finished any of my books yet, because I love the writing part of the process. I enjoy creating something from nothing. I enjoy letting my imagination run free and creating people, creatures and entire worlds that have never before existed yet come to life as I write them.

"Building the book" is a process I associate more with non-fiction books. With my nonfiction book, I feel more like I am buiulding it and putting it together than imagining it into being. And I am finding it very difficult. But maybe, in the context of the question for the writing prompt above, building the book has more to do with having it bound and creating the Kindle and epub versions of it. I admit that I have not yet created a Kindle file and don't know anything about the process yet.

This post is a bit rambling, but I am not finding any of the processes mentioned in the question difficult, not really. I think the hardest thing about writing a book is believing in yourself enough to know that you can do it.

P.S. Yes, I already know that the above picture has nothing to do with this post topic, but it's cute, isn't it?


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Writing: Book Covers

This is my post for Day 12 of the Author Blog Challenge.

Describe your process for choosing and designing your book cover. Who created your cover? How did you find him/her? What do you love about your cover? What might you do differently next time?

The Faeries' Dance cover sm

This doesn't really apply to me as I don't have a cover for any of my books yet. Just for fun though, I took a photo from one of my husband's Fairy Magic photo manipulations and gave it the title of one of my short stories. (No, I do not intend to create my own book covers, but my books aren't finished yet, so it doesn't hurt for me to play.)

I do not know yet who I will have creating my book cover and, to be honest, I haven't even started looking for someone yet. My main goal right now is to get my books finished, edited and ready. Organizing a book cover for each of them will come later.

(P.S. The fairy above is one of my daughters, Angelica.)


This is my post for Day 6 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers challenge.

15 habits of great writers day 6 steal

"The challenge

Find a quote or a painting or some form of inspiration — and steal it. Make it your own. Attribute it — give credit where it’s due — but don’t be afraid to use it. Let someone else’s work springboard you into your own.

Give up on your pursuit of originality and genius and just find something that inspires you. Borrow from your friends and heroes and mash it all up into something that looks, feels, and sounds like you.

So let’s hear from you: What’s something you’ve stolen recently? Where did you find the inspiration?"

I don't know if this is what is intended by today's challenge, but I often use art to inspire the stories I write. For example, a beautiful drawing of a sad mermaid inspired me to write a sad mermaid story to match the picture (picture not shown).  And a sculpture of a wood sprite inspired a story about one.

I also read a lot of vampire, fairy and werewolf fiction which is why vampires, fairies and werewolves (along with other mythical and paranormal creatures) turn up so frequently in my writing. I'm sure that I draw on knowledge gleaned while reading these stories in order to write my own. It's impossible not to.

It was only after I wrote most of a YA novel of mine about a girl who can see through dimensions and has to fight creatures that come through to her dimension that I started to notice the similarities in the story to the show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." In no way is it the same story; however, my main character is a girl who fights all sorts of creatures and demons, she has a group of friends who help her and she frequently has to save the world, even though she is just a youthful teenager. (That's pretty much where the similarities end though.)

I think it is virtually impossible to not have the things we read and watch on tv or at the movies influence our imaginaton when we write. And that isn't a bad thing. As long as our stories are still our own and are written in our own voices, as long as we don't take too much from what we read and watch, then we can let our imaginations play with the inspiration we gather from it all.