Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Suddenly Sorceress by Erica Lucke Dean - Book Blast!

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Like prizes?

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

Thursday, January 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Thursday, January 2, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 - Looking forward #newyearsday #writingchallenges #anthologies

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

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

2014 Writing Challenges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014 Anthology Projects

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Wish me luck?

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