Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Erik! - Ask the Castle Guard

To start at the beginning of the story go HERE.

Ask the castle guard:

The most likely guard to ask would be the one guarding the drawbridge. He would have seen anyone who had entered or left the castle.

Erik headed for the huge wooden door and the drawbridge. As he approached, the guard drew his sword. It was uncomfortably long and pointy-looking. “Halt! Who goes there? Friend or foe?”

“Friend. You know I live here. Don’t you remember me?”

The guard squinted at him.  "Well, now you mention it, you do look vaguely familiar.  Lucky for you I have a mind like a steel trap. I remember everyone who comes in and everyone who goes out, and everyone who lands in the moat.”

“I’m looking for someone who came in, and may have gone out as well,” Erik said.

“Ask me anything. I know everything that goes on in this castle and then some,” said the guard, puffing out his chest to make him seem more important than ever.

“Good. My birthday present box was empty, and I need to find the person that took the present. Have you seen any suspicious characters around?” Erik crossed his fingers behind his back, hoping the guard could tell him right away where his present was.

“I see suspicious characters every day of my life. You look a little suspicious, yourself. Are you sure you didn’t just hide your present in hopes of getting another one as well?” The guard looked at him through narrowed eyes.

Erik rolled his eyes. “Of course I didn’t! I just want to find my one real present! It’s missing, I tell you.”

“Well, if you say so. But I haven’t seen any loose presents walk by. You need to ask the cook. She has a finger in every pot that goes in or out. She cooks things up in all sorts of ways. She will know what you need to know.” The guard turned from Erik and began to march back and forth in front of the big wooden door.

If Erik heads for the castle kitchen to ask the cook, go HERE.

If Erik asks a different guard, go HERE. 

(organized by Susanna Leonard Hill)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Eve Hallows Blog Tour Stop & Author Interview

 I've been invited to be a part of the Eve Hallows Blog Tour Stop, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.
 Eve Hallows and the Book of Shrieks and the other books in the Nightmare series are written by Robert Gray. He kindly offered to answer a few questions for me to share with you.

What made you decide to be a writer?

I've always been the type that when I like something I need to understand how that something works. I love books, and I love the connection between the mind and the written word. In order to understand that connection better, I started writing.  And the deeper I dug around, the more I wanted to write. 
Where did the idea for the Eve Hallows books come from?

The basic premise, that of a human girl raised by monsters and living in a monster world, came from my childhood love of monsters.   
Are there plans for more books in the series?

Yes, I'm currently working on the third book in the Nightmare Series, which is called Eve Hallows and the Book of Shivers.  It'll be available summer 2013.  
What is your favorite part about being a published author?

The writing. It's what matters to me most. Everything else, the good and the bad, is secondary.

I must admit that I haven't read this book yet so I can't tell you what I think of it yet. It sounds great though and I am looking forward to reading it! If you haven't already, pop on over to the Eve Hallows Book Blast and 450 Giveaway post.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Family Christmas

My friend Susanna Hill is running the 2nd Annual Holiday Contest.

The rules are:
Write a children's holiday story beginning with any version of "Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh."  You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version "[Verb of your choice]ing through the [any substance you choose] in a [conveyance of any kind]."  For example, "Dashing through the sand in a two-wheeled donkey cart" or "Sloshing through the swamp in a green and white canoe" or "Flying through the air in a striped hot air balloon..."  You get the idea, I'm sure :)  But "Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh" is completely acceptable too - whatever works for you :)  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet,  religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words.
 Here is my entry (to the tune of "Jingle Bells"). (My beginning was about someone on foot.)

A Family Christmas

Sliding through the ice, as I try and run so fast,
Slipping to and fro', like a real blast from the past.
Because when I was a child, I loved to play in ice and snow
But in California, mostly sun would show.

Now I'm in England, with snow and frequent rain.
And my search for sun, is usually in vain.
But right now I have to go, to fetch my kids from school.
We're off to the town center,shopping for Yule.

We may stop for a while, to visit Santa Claus.
And give to the Giving Tree, which is a real great cause.
Then we'll catch a very big bus, to travel back to our home.
Where it's warm and safe to be; no more will we roam.

We'll decorate the house, with tinsel and Christmas lights.
Those twinkling colored lights, look really great during nights.
We'll cuddle with our cat, and he'll knead us with his paws.
We'll watch "It's a wonderful Life," and end it with applause.

We'll set out cookies and milk, to give to St. Nicholas,
We'll sing Christmas songs, feeling felicitous.
Then the kids will go to bed, so Santa Claus can come
Sliding down the chimney, and landing on his bum.

On Christmas morning, all will wake and rise
To see what Santa brought, with their very own eyes.
We'll spend the day together, as a loving family,
Because that's the important bit, of how Christmas ought to be.


Christmas comes, once a year
And brings us lots of love
Kindness, giving and good cheer
And other gifts from above.

268 words

"Blood Will Flow Today" by Robert Fyfe

My friend Susanna Hill is running her 2nd Annual Holiday Contest. The rules are:
"Write a children's holiday story beginning with any version of "Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh."  You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version "[Verb of your choice]ing through the [any substance you choose] in a [conveyance of any kind]."  For example, "Dashing through the sand in a two-wheeled donkey cart" or "Sloshing through the swamp in a green and white canoe" or "Flying through the air in a striped hot air balloon..."  You get the idea, I'm sure :)  But "Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh" is completely acceptable too - whatever works for you :)  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet,  religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words."
My husband Robert Fyfe, creator of Fairy Magic Photos and Family Harmony Comics, created this entry. It is to the tune of "Jingle Bells," but he wrote it tongue-in-cheek, not really intending to win anything. He just thought it was funny to write a horror version of the song. And yes, I know that he sometimes has a sick sense of humor, and I'm okay with that.

Blood Will Flow Today

Dashing through the snow
it's late in to the day
fearful of the night
this isn’t time to play
Sparkle light sparkle bright
sparkle all the way
wings are stretched and teeth are bared
for blood will flow today
Watching the moon rise
listening for a sound
fear strikes every one
as hearts begin to pound
Sparkle light sparkle bright
sparkle all the way
wings are stretched and teeth are bared
for blood will flow today
From up above a shape
flutters into view
then shoots like a rocket
your numbers growing few
Sparkle light sparkle bright
sparkle all the way
wings are stretched and teeth are bared
for blood will flow today
Your standing now alone
no one now left to share
they're standing motion less
with a hypnotic cold dead stare
Sparkle light sparkle bright
sparkle all the way
wings are stretched and teeth are bared
for blood will flow today

153 words

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"Oblivion Storm" Book Launch & Review

I've been given a copy of Oblivion Storm for review. Take a look at this cover! Isn't it gorgeous?

Oblivion Storm is written by author R.A. Smith and published with Xchyler Publishing.

It launches TODAY! This book is now available for purchase. 

I don't normally review a book I haven't finished reading, but I was unusually busy this past week and didn't get around to starting the book until this morning. I have the book in pdf format, and I have only read about 100 pages into it so far, but I will give you my impressions of the novel as far as I have read.

I am loving the story. I am noticing a few errors though, such as the main character's name changing a couple of times (from Rose to Mary) on pages 45 and 49, but I have an ARC copy and am assuming that little errors like that have been changed in the finalized version. When I first began the story, I found it a little bit hard to follow but before long, it all made sense, and I couldn't put the book down. The story really dragged me in and hung on to me. In fact, I didn't really want to put it down to come and write this review, but I wanted to have my review up in time for the book's launch, so here it is.

The first character we are introduced to is Iris who changes her name to Tally when her life changes. I think the change of her name is really not something that needed to be in the book, but it doesn't detract from it. I began to like Tally so much that I was disappointed when we moved to present time and a new character, but, fortunately, that isn't the last we read of Tally's story as Rose, the modern day character and Tally's stories are intertwined. The same evil that Tally fights to protect her family in her time period stalks rose in her own era. Rose dies and returns stronger, with powers over the living and the dead, and Tally gives her a task to perform in order to save everyone.

The story has all of the elements I love in a good paranormal fantasy: magic, supernatural gifts, creatures that are more than human, dark forces, suspense and an element of the epic battle between good verses evil.

SO, while I may not be done reading the book yet, I can already recommend it as a fun read for anyone who likes these kinds of stories.

Here's a shot of the book's cover and the blurb on the back.

12 x 12 in 2012 Blog Party!

 It's time for the 12 x 12 in 2012 blog party! I can't think of anything fun and witty to write the way that my fellow 12 x 12 blog party compatriots have, but I still wanted to have my say about what a great time I've had participating in the 12 x 12 challenge this year.

If you didn't take part in the challenge, you have missed out. I have gained so many benefits from participating.

1. I learned a ton of things about writing picture books that I didn't know before.  I'm putting this as number one because I really did learn so much, and it has all really helped me to progress on my journey to become a published picture book author.

2. I gained a picture book critique group and had some critiques done on a couple of my picture book manuscripts.

3. I gained contacts with people in the picture book industry: agents, publishers and editors.

4. I met other picture book authors, both published and aspiring, who are willing to cheer me on (while I cheer them on). I ca not stress enough how wonderful and helpful everyone in the 12 x 12 community is with each other.

5. I started the Chapter Book Challenge. Yes, the challenge came to me partially as a result of my doing the 12 x 12 challenge. I love doing the month-long challenge of NaNoWriMo and I really enjoyed doing the year-long challenge of 12 x 12, so I decided that I would like to do something that fit somewhere as a middle-road to the two challenges, and I came up with the Chapter Book Challenge. (It was also a result of my having some ideas for chapter books to write with my children in mind.)

6. I gained helpful links for writers of picture books.

7. I won a free book trailer design by Carter Higgins. And it will last for as long as it takes me to get my book ready. (And she has created some wonderful book trailers for other authors.)

8. I've gained the belief that I can succeed at writing picture books and the courage to keep trying until my book is published.

If you feel the burning need to write picture books and want to learn more about how and what to do with them once you've written them, I highly recommend joining the 12 x 12 challenge in 2013.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Become a Character in the Last Dulcie O'Neil Book by H. P. Mallory

Some of you will remember when I posted a review and contest for A Tale of Two Goblins by H. P. Mallory. Well, it was my first instance of reading an H. P. Mallory book and I became an instant fan! You can read my brief review of Malice in Wonderland, if your interested.

H. P. Mallory is having a contest on her blog right now! You could possibly win the chance to become a character in the last Dulcie O'Neil book in the series in the book called "For Whom the Spell Tolls." I don't know about you, but I think this is a really fun prize!

You just need to go to her blog and follow the instructions to win entries in the contest.

If you haven't read the previous books in the series, the first one is called To Kill a Warlock.

Review of "Blood Worship" by Barbara Mack

I recently had the chance to read my good friend Barbara Mack's book Blood Worship. I have not been paid for this review in any way.

Blood Worship is a dark horror that will grip you from beginning to end. The vampires of this Chasing Vampires series are not the kind of vampires that are all the craze right now. You won't find sparkly vampires or vampires to fall in love with in this book. The vampires in this book are the epitome of evil and darkness. They represent the monsters that we used to see them portrayed as years ago, with no humanity or compassion. People are nothing more than food to the vampires in this series.

Jessie is a teenager who starts to have visions and visits from her dead mother. People in her town are dying and she wants to know why. As she tries to unravel the mystery of the deaths of her friends, Jessie becomes a target of one of these vile creatures in Blood Worship. Jessie is a believable character as a teenager who has suffered a tragedy and isn't willing to give up on finding out what is happening.

I enjoyed reading the book. It's an easy read and I finished it on the same day I started reading it. When you think about a story after you've put it down and can't wait to start reading more, you know it's a good book!

The second book in the Chasing Vampires series is due out soon.

Barbara Mack has a long list of book credits to her name, from YA to historical romance to horror to cookbooks. Follow Barb's Bookshelf for more updates on book releases.

Eve Hallows Book Blast


For fourteen-year-old Eve Hallows, life can be summed up in one word—horrible.  She has the most horrible friends.  She lives in a horrible old castle.  Even her family is a bunch of horrible monsters.

However, in the monster-inhabited world of Gravesville—a world where messages are sent through Ouija boards, jack-o’-lanterns get facials to suit their moods, and the worst thing Eve has to deal with are those annoying zombie tourists who overrun her favorite graveyard during the Halloween season—horrible means wonderful.  And everything for Eve is perfectly horrible.

But her life is about to go head over heels when a mysterious group known as The Source starts terrorizing Gravesville.  Now she must move to the human world—where everything is opposite ... and for Eve, that's absolutely adorable!

Praise for Eve Hallows and the Book of Shrieks:

"Move over, Neil Gaiman’s CORALINE and THE GRAVEYARD BOOK … make room, Lemony Snicket’s A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS … you’ve got company and competition for shelf space!" -- THE HORROR FICTION REVIEW

"WOW! What an absolutely horrible book (horrible meaning fantastic!) ... This book was laugh out loud funny.  I loved when Mom accidentally turned people to stone.  Dad's crazy attempts at running a pizza store were just hysterical." -- KIDS 'N' BOOKS

"This is the perfect book to be read aloud, read at night under the covers or simply devoured in one sitting. Robert Gray’s Eve Hallows and the Book of Shrieks simply shines with all of its fun creepiness, compelling characters and stellar writing. A MUST read for any MG fan!" -- WORD SPELUNKING

 "Eve Hallows is highly imaginative without being too complex for its target audience. Fall in love with Eve, her friends and her family of adorable monsters. Lose yourself in a light read that will remind you of those days when your English teacher just want you to read something, anything. This book is it. The one that you wish you read when you were in grade school." -- JOYOUS READS

"Overall, this book was fantastic. It presents an admirable role model as well as a strong family unit which will benefit young readers. When so many books right now have presented teens in a not-so-flattering light, it is so wonderful to find a book like this one." -- BOOK COVER JUSTICE



Ever since encountering The Source and its minions on Halloween, Eve Hallows has found life surprisingly quiet … not to mention adorably boring!  So when Dad receives a Ouija message that she must return to Gravesville, Eve couldn't be happier—at least until she discovers the Director of URNS, also known as the Grim Reaper, has a special job for Eve … one that will lead her to New York City and to the true identity of The Source.

With The Book of Shrieks offering zero help and a new URNS agent driving the school boys—and Eve!—crazy, Eve's beginning to realize this whole saving-the-world nonsense isn't what it's cracked up to be.

All this and she still has to find The Book of Shadows....

Praise for Eve Hallows and the Book of Shadows:

"This book was perfectly horrible! Horrible meaning amazingly awesome, of course. Eve's world once again sucked me in and would not let go until this part of Eve's story was finished" -- LILI LOST IN A BOOK

"This is a perfect combination of YA, Horror, Paranormal and Fun!" -- BOOK LOVERS PARADISE


Blog Tour: December 10th to 23rd

Tour Schedule

Author Robert Gray

Robert Gray is a writer.  If that job description doesn't impress you, how about fantasy writer? Too general? Well, he doesn't get insulted if you call him a horror writer. If horror's not your thing, then scratch out horror and replace it with suspense. And for the kiddies, you can slap on a YA or MG in front of that title.

Gray lives in Bushkill, Pennsylvania with his wife and two children.

Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads

Book Blast $50 Giveaway
Ends 12/23/12

*You need not enter your twitter name for each entry. Simply enter it when you follow Robert and leave the others blank.

Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group Post #IWSG - December 2012

I just joined the Insecure Writer's Support Group hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh for the first time. 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!"
I think a monthly post about my doubts and fears might be helpful to me. After all, it is my fear of my writing not being good enough that kept me from pursuing my dream of being a writer for many years. Most of my life was spent wanting to be a writer but being afraid to try, afraid I didn't have enough talent.

I've realized, over time, that most writers don't have the talent to write something superb with their first drafts. It takes a lot of time and effort and revision to get the words just right. My problem is twofold. I worry that my writing won't be good enough even if I revise and edit a million times, and I worry that I am too lazy to actually do all of the revision and editing that my novel needs. Yes, I said that I am scared of being too lazy.

I know, it sounds strange. Surely laziness is a choice and something I have complete control over, right? Ah, but therein lies the true problem; any act of laziness in regards to my writing is truly an act of fear. If I'm too lazy to do the work, then it's not that my writing isn't good enough, it's that I am not good enough. I'd rather be lazy than a bad writer. I didn't say the rationale was a good one, just one of those crazy subconscious things I've been trying hard to recognize within myself so that I can circumvent it or ignore it.

I've recently finished National Novel Writing Month, and this time, I wrote a full manuscript, all 100,169 words of my urban fantasy/paranormal romance story. It's very rough and probably not very good. But I love the story. And I hate the idea of reading through it again and possibly finding out I hate the writing when I read it through for the edits. I want to continue to love my story, and I want anyone who reads it for critique to love it too. I know that the whole point of a critique is to help me improve the story, but I worry that they will read it through and think "she shouldn't even bother with it because it's too poorly written to save."

I guess I just wish I was one of those rare people who can write a masterpiece,a well-written and immediately gripping story, on my first write-through. But I'm not one of those people, so I just have to bite the bullet and put my work out there for others to see. Eventually. After I've had time to edit. And edit some more. And more...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

30 Days of NaNoWriMo Novel Snippets

When I was writing for NaNoWriMo 2012 last November, I started posting my daily word count on my personal Facebook page as status update. After a week or so of this, I realized that those updates were probably pretty boring. That's when I started posting short snippets from each day's writing along with my word count for the day.

Just for fun, I have decided to put those snippets together here so they can be read together. And since I know how many words I typed each day every day of the month, I will be able to go back and find some snippets for the earlier-in-the-month days when I didn't post one. (Did I mention that I finished on November 30th with a completed manuscript and 100,169 words written?)

Keep in mind that these snippets are part of a very rough first draft and, as such, are subject to changes, some small and some drastic, and even subject to deletion from the final novel. Also, they will not tell you the whole story, only give you pieces of it.

To make the story a little easier to understand, I will start by posting the working title ("working" meaning I will most likely be changing it - and I am open to suggestions) and the (rough) synopsis.

Title: Paranormal

Marie is a single mom of four who finds herself helping a couple of guys who fight demons and spirits. She's blown away by meeting these guys and some of the creatures they hunt because it changes how she views her world and how safe she feels she can keep her children. She's not a demon hunter and has never before had any dealings with the paranormal; she's completely ordinary, or so she thinks until strange things start happening, suggesting she might have some inhuman powers of her own.


Day 1:
Two men were out there, and so was that thing, the thing that had made the night feel so wrong. One of the men was swinging at the dark creature with a sword, a sword that glowed fiercely, pushing back the shadows.

Day 2:
“You’re in no condition to fight another one of those beasts tonight,” I reminded Jake.
“It doesn’t matter,” he answered. “Someone else might get hurt if we don’t get it off the streets.”

Day 3:
They discussed different strategies for protecting the house, and when it sounded like they had come up with everything they could think of, I spoke up. “I want to learn to fight.”

Day 4:
No choice now. I raced headlong at the beast, swiping my dagger against its throat and dashing to the right before its claws connected with me.

Day 5:

The kids were all still asleep. Watching them sleep, I couldn’t help but wonder what I had been thinking when I ran out there to face down the giant werewolf. I mean, I could have so easily been killed. In fact, by all reasoning, I should have been killed. My children would have been left here with no mommy. And no one would know they were here. They would have woken up and not known what happened to me. That is, if the monster hadn’t come and attacked them in their sleep after killing me. How could I have taken such a risk?

Day 6:
I was freaking out inside about this news, but I didn’t show any sign of my inner turmoil. If they knew I was freaking out, they might not tell me the rest.

Day 7:
“Our life – it sucks. And although Jake feels responsible for fighting evil, he feels as though he has to do it, he’s never really wanted this life."

Day 8:
"I think - I think maybe we just found you too late. I think maybe we should just find a way to help you get on with your life and leave our life behind you."

Day 9:
“But what about the necklace?” Jake asked. “Can dream walkers bring things from their dreams into the physical world?”

Day 10:
When the glow faded, the beast no longer stood before me. Instead a man stood before me. He was dressed as a knight, and he fell to one knee at my feet.

Day 11:
I looked between them, still not sure what the right thing to do was. I had decided that Sir Rowland was telling the truth and my instincts told me he wasn’t dangerous, so I invited him inside. Jake’s scowl grew deeper.

Day 12:
He looked into my eyes, as though trying to make sure I was listening. “And you saved one of them! You released her from captivity. I have never seen it done so quickly before. An exorcism usually takes days, sometimes weeks, and even then, the vessel, once released from the demon’s hold, often dies. You saved her with a touch.”

I got dressed in the leather catsuit and Jake and Sean helped me strap on different weapons. There were straps for daggers and knives on my legs and ankles, one for holding a short sword on my back and the guys affixed a belt around my waist with holsters for two guns. I hadn’t trained much with guns, but I knew the basics.

Day 14:
I threw a pillow at him, but it missed him as he ducked out the door. I smiled. We had survived, all of us. I could barely believe it. After facing my certain death and accepting it, after facing down those insurmountable odds, I was still here. And everyone I cared about was still unharmed. I sobered suddenly. It was all too good to be true. I suddenly knew that something really bad would be coming for us. Would I be ready?

Day 15:
If only it were that easy to stay safe. The shadow dragon man was dangerous. I could feel it in my bones, and what’s more, I could sense that he was here, close. I knew he would be coming for me. And I had the sinking feeling that none of us were ready for him.

Day 16:
I moved just in time, as seconds later, the window shattered and the huge werewolf I had faced once before, the first time my powers appeared, crashed into my living room. I felt tiny stings as pieces of glass scraped my face. I dove to the side, barely out of range of the werewolf, and rolled easily back to my feet.

Day 17:
“He said the same thing. He said I wouldn’t be able to resist him. But what choice do I have? I’m going to have to face him eventually. Isn’t it better that I face him without risking the safety of my children when it happens?” I looked Jake in the eyes, trying to convey my seriousness. “I have to go.”

Day 18:
I was glad he had confidence in me. If only I could find confidence in myself. Even after using my gift time and again, I had no real idea of how it worked or how to control it. I didn’t know why it drained me, so how was I supposed to figure out how to stop it from happening? Before my power had been awakened, I was a normal woman, a mother. Now suddenly I was powerful and supposed to know what to do with that power. So much was being asked of me, and, for the sake of the people I loved and, in fact, even people I’d never met, I would have to figure out how to access my power and control it. I would have to learn to become a weapon against darkness. It is what I was supposed to become and what I was meant to be.

Day 19:
Imps were small, about the size of a toddler. They were the color of a snail with skin that was similar to a slug’s. Their eyes were red and bulbous. They were bald, and every tooth in their mouths was sharp and pointed, made for ripping through flesh. Their food of choice was small babies, but, since it was difficult for them to get babies, they often satisfied themselves by eating family pets. They were capable of cloaking themselves for short periods of time and of moving very quickly.

Day 20:
“But unicorns aren’t real,” I whispered aloud to myself.

Jake heard me. “What makes you say that? Surely if all of the evil creatures of legend and myth exist, then so do the good creatures, the ones of magic and light.”

Day 21:
“Whoa! Are you telling us that you got possessed?” Jake asked.

“No. Well, yes. Sort of. It wasn’t a demon. At least, it didn’t feel like a demon.” I was rambling.

“Then what was it?”

“Not a demon?” I know. I’d already said that, but I didn't know what else to say. I really didn’t know what had taken me over. But I was certain that it was something less evil and way more powerful than a demon.

Day 22:
I knew I needed a shower. I briefly entertained inviting Jake to join me. I’d already been considering allowing this thing between us to go to the next step, and this would be the perfect opportunity to take that step. But naturally, I chickened out.

Day 23:
“I am not an angel,” I glared at Rowland. “And I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty sure there is no angel inside me. Whatever it was that took me over, I don’t feel its presence anymore.”

“Maybe this new ability to heal yourself and the extra energy are just the after-effects of being possessed by an angel or whatever that thing was,” Jake said. “If it’s just the after-effects, it’ll wear off eventually, so don’t get too used to it.”

Day 24:
The sand blew in my face, stinging my eyes. It began to coat my throat, making it hard to breath. I shut my eyes, and started coughing as I could feel it filling my ears and muffling sound. I struggled to breath, slowly suffocating to death.

I whispered one word. I don’t even know why I said it as I lay there in the sand, being buried in more sand. My thoughts just turned in that direction and I whispered, “Jake.”

And then he was there. He was grabbing me and shaking me, yelling at me and starting to cough too. He is going to suffocate with me, I thought weakly, knowing I was about to die. He leaned in close to my ear and continued yelling. And that’s when I heard what he was shouting.

“Marie, wake up! Marie! WAKE UP!”

And I woke.
Day 25:
She stopped in front of the statue of an angel that stood just a few yards outside the cemetery grounds in the field. I noticed more graves, most of them with smaller, less noticeable headstones. They just had small plaques lain in the ground over the graves rather than large headstones. I looked at the plaques but didn’t recognize any names. When I looked back up at the stone cemetery angel, I noticed that she appeared to be presiding over, or watching over, these less noticeable graves. Her stone fa├žade was crumbled and cracked, the signs of time passing showing in each smoothed over line and each split in her surface.

Day 26:
“No, there’s been no sign of him, just his compulsion spell,” Roland said. “Marie, I wanted to kill you. He made me actually enjoy the thought of wrapping my hands around your throat and watching you strangle to death. How can he do that? Compulsions aren’t supposed to make you feel what he wants you to feel, just to do what he wants.”
Day 27:
“What do you mean she looks like me?” I asked David.
“She has your hair and your face, Mommy,” he told me matter-of-factly. “Can’t you see her?”
“Not as well as you can, baby,” I said. “Can you hear her?”
“She’s not talking right now,” David said. “She’s too busy trying to hide her wings.”
“Her wings?” My voice was startled.
“Yah. She doesn’t want me to see them, but I can.”
Day 28:
Why did I keep seeing these references to me, or someone who looked like me, with wings? While wings would be kind of cool because I would love to be able to fly, I was allergic to down, so growing feathers would probably not be a good thing for me to do. I could just see me now, battling demons while sneezing violently into their faces.
Day 29:
Oh, wow. Jake was the one feeling insecure. I hadn’t even thought of how my sneaking away this morning might have looked.

“I didn’t sneak out on you, Jake,” I told him, my voice gentle, all traces of my earlier sarcasm and

anger gone. “I didn’t want to wake you; you were sleeping so peacefully. But I didn’t want the kids to wake up and find me not there, so I needed to get back before they woke up.”

He looked at me, the hope in his eyes melting my heart completely. I moved closer to him and grabbed both of his hands in mine. “Last night was incredible for me too. I can’t stop thinking about it, about you.” I let go of his hands and cupped his cheeks in my hands, looking directly into his eyes. “I was hoping that we could have a night like that again sometime.”

And just like that his lips were on mine and his arms wrapped around me, pulling my body up tight against his.

Day 30:
I dreamed.

I was standing on a giant book, and, as I walked along its pages, my story slowly wrote itself. There weren’t that many pages in the book that had writing on them; most of the book was still blank. My life was still, mostly, unwritten.

To my right was a second book. Jake walked along its pages, but, as I stopped along the pages of my book to look at him, he stopped to look at me. And we stood there, our story still unwritten and so many words still unsaid.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NaNowriMo 2012: Week 4 Update & The Joy of Getting Comments


National Novel Writing Month has just completed its 4th week. Today is the 28th and we now only have two day left until we are supposed to be done with our 50,000 words.

For me, 50,000 words is not a complete novel. It's more of a novella. I have never completed a full-length novel, despite having successfully completed NaNoWriMo three times previously. This year, I decided I was going to write a full novel in the month of November, rather than just 50,000 words. I write over 75,000 last year, so I knew it was possible.

My goal was to write a minimum of 85,000 words. I've already done that, so I revised my goal to reach 90,000 words. Then I decided that I might even try for 95,000 words. I've still got two days of writing to go and only a little under 10,000 words left to get there, so it's possible. And I like stretching myself by setting these personal goals that push the boundaries of what I can do each time.

I don't just want to reach 95,000 words; I want to have a completed first draft to my novel. Every previous year, whether I wrote 52,000 words or 75,000 words, I stopped at the end of NaNoWriMo and never picked up the story to continue with it afterward. This year, my goal is to get to a first draft and then I am giving myself three months to finish the first round of edits on it.

Once I've gone through the first round of edits on it, I will start having writing friends do some critiquing for me. And then I will go from there. This story is going to make it to publication eventually, just not until I know it is ready.

As a blogger, comments on the writing I do on my blog mean a lot to me. It's rewarding to know that people are reading what I write and if it helps them or interests them or gives them something to say, it is extra rewarding. I don't know if anyone is reading what I write unless they comment.

As a writer, when I share bits of my creative writing, it is even more important to get comments. I suffer from a common writer-disease called self-doubt. It is more prominent when it comes to my fiction writing. When someone reads some small story or snippet of writing I have shared and tells me they enjoyed it, it literally gives me a happiness boost.

I started out, in the beginning of this year's NaNoWriMo, just posting my daily word count and total word count, at the end of each day's writing, on Facebook. A little ways through the month, I decided that it was a rather boring way to let people know about what I was doing, so I started sharing snippets from each day's writing along with my post about my day's word count.

Today, one of the people on my Facebook friends list, (someone I have known since she was a child who played with my own kids) gave me this comment when I wrote about my goal to finish the novel.

"Do It Becky I LOVE reading your snippet of the got me hooked and I've only been reading little bits!!"
She has never before commented on one of my word count posts, so I had no idea she was even reading them. And her comment has really brightened my day and given me a slight confidence boost for the story I am writing. It's also made me wonder how many others are reading my daily snippets without commenting.

So please, if you enjoy someone's writing, let them know!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012 - Week 3 Update & Excuses


Week three is over now and we should all be getting much further along in our stories. How is it going? Are you learning more about your characters and how they would react in the different situations you throw them into? (Please, let me know in the comments below.)

I hit the 50,000 word mark on the 15th, and, for me, that was just a little over half-way through my novel. My goal is to complete the first draft of my novel by November 30th. My novel should be somewhere between 85,000 and 95,000 words long when it's complete.

But there's a problem. My writing is slowing down. I'm not bored with my story. I still love the story and the characters, and I'm still excited about where the story is going. But I am bored of writing the story.

In order to fit writing time into my day, I have started writing in a notebook while I am on the two buses I take to get my children to their schools and again on those two buses on my way home. This "school run" happens twice a day. Add in some time walking between schools and walking to and from the bus stops and these trips take me two hours each time. So I spend two hours in the morning taking my kids to school and then going home again, and then I spend another two hours picking them up from school and going home again. If you take out the walking times, I spend about 3 hours a day on buses. And now I spend that time writing.

Not only am I starting to get pain in my hand because it's starting to cramp up from all the writing I am doing, but I miss chatting with the people I have gotten to know on the bus journeys. Add to that the fact that typing up, in the evening, everything I write in notebooks during the day, and my evening becomes mind-numbingly boring.

So I am finding myself making excuses to not write as much. I've already reached the 50,000 NaNoWriMo goal, so it has become one excuse I use, despite the fact that I know it's not enough to complete my book. "I'm tired" is frequent excuse I use, which, though true, is not a good enough reason to write less. The other excuse I use is that I don't have time. I've decided to only allow myself that excuse for the typing part of my writing and not the notebook writing and only if I don't then spend any time watching television or on Facebook, etc. It's only a valid excuse if I really am busy doing doing other necessary things all day.

So what excuses have you come up with during NaNoWriMo for not spending enough time writing? Are they legitimate? I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Half Way! #NaNoWriMo


We are halfway through National Novel Writing Month! We are already 15 days into the month with only 15 days to go! Some of you may be less than halfway there with your writing. Some of you may have already reached 25,000 words and are halfway to the goal of 50,000 words and some of you may have already finished. Wherever you are on your NaNoWriMo journey, be proud of yourself for making it this far!

Not everyone is going to win. Not everyone will reach 50,000 words. Although the goal is to reach 50,000 words, reaching 50,000 words is not the point of NaNoWriMo. The truth about why NaNoWriMo is important is that it gets you writing, no matter how much you actually manage to write. It gets you to make an effort to sit your butt down and write more than you were doing before attempting NaNoWriMo. So if you are writing more than you would during a non-NaNo month, take a moment to congratulate yourself.

Let me know in the comments how you are doing and how you feel about NaNoWriMo so far?

I reached over 50,000 words today, but I'm going to continue writing until I finish the story. I'm enjoying the story too much to leave it hanging. I want to know how it ends!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

NaNoWriMo: The Second Week Check-In


It is the end of the second week for those of us participating in National Novel Writing Month. Many writers say that the second week is more difficult than the first. In the first, the writer is excited about the story and full of creative ideas, and by the second week, the writer gets closer to the middle of the story and all of the minutiae of getting from one point in the story to the next. For some, this is when the fire of excitement dims and the writing becomes more of a struggle. All of the advice I have heard to give to writers who are at this point in their writing is to not give up; it will get exciting again if you keep going.

Fortunately, I have not reached a point where I feel a lack of excitement for my story yet. Let's face it, I have been pantsing it (as in "flying by the seat of my pants") from the beginning, so every step in my story is new to me. I didn't create an outline; I didn't even have this story idea until I started writing it on Day 1 of NaNoWriMo.

I am absolutely loving my story so far though, and I have decided to save an interesting snippet of writing from each day during the month of November, so that, when I reach November 30th, I will have a collection of 30 snippets to share with you by December 1st.

Check in:

As of today, I have written 41,677 words in total, which is an average of 2,976 words a day. My expected date to reach 50,000 words is November 16th. If I continue at this pace, by November 30th, I will have written 89,293 words.

How are you doing? Please let me know in the comments how your NaNoWriMo efforts are going. What's your favorite part of NaNoWriMo? What's your least favorite part of NaNoWriMo?