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Monday, December 31, 2012

Kiss This Year Goodbye

Here we are at the end of yet another year. While this past year had more ups and downs than 2011, I'm actually a bit sad that it's over. Maybe because it flew by so fast, I didn't get half the things done I wanted to. Maybe because the things I did accomplish, I'd like to be able to do all over again.

Here's a quick rundown on my 2012:

*For anyone who knows me personally, you know what an emotional rollercoast ride this past year has been right from the start. My grandparents' house burnt down in January, resulting in my grandmother being in the hospital roughly half the year. She gave us lots of scares during that time, but she's home now and doing great. They've rebuilt and moved in just in time for Christmas. Small miracles that mean a lot. Sure they lost 50+ years of accumulated memories, but we didn't lose either of them. In fact, it made us all appreciate them much more.

*During this time, I managed to publish my first book. My goal for the New Year was met, although it officially came out after my birthday. The shift from writing, editing and querying to marketing was a bit tougher than I expected. I'm slogging away at marketing, with one of my New Year goals to get the book into a lot more bookstores as well as do some serious work on my second children's book. Don't worry, my more 'adult' writing will still be getting some attention.

*Which brings me to the next highlight of the year: first drafts finished on two mss and substantial work done on two others. Because of all my readers, WHAT THE WHOLE TOWN KNEW got the push it needed to get finished. I also have GENERATION GAP waiting in the wings for editing and PROMETHEUS' LANTERN is a third of the way done. Without support from all of you, I wouldn't have gotten half of this done. Now, WHAT THE WHOLE TOWN KNEW is going through a second edit & revision before heading off to Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I'll keep everyone updated on how it goes.

*Hard to tell if this is a highlight of the year or not, but this past September I turned 30. It went by with very little ado; family gathering with cake and presents. I'm still finding it hard to believe I'm not still in my twenties. I think I'll pretend that part of the past year just didn't happen and continue to give my age as 29.

*I attended my first Con! Ok, so it wasn't *THE* Comic Con, but it was still cool. I'm hooked and looking forward to next year. With a better hotel this time around.

*Lost Smeagol, my cat of 8 years in May, on his 8th birthday. He had a bad heart that went undetected. That had to be one of the worst days of this past year. It's only hit my kids in the last few weeks that he's gone for good. Delayed grieving isn't any better than immediate grief.

*Because of us losing Smeagol, we adopted another cat a few months after. Mouth is a gray tiger and a bully. We took her in to be a companion for our other cat who was also grieving Smeagol's loss. Too bad Mouth, while friendly, doesn't like other cats and dogs. We've worked out an...arrangement.

*My GoodReads goal was not met, which is surprising given how much I read. Then again, I do a lot of online MS reading/critiquing and none of that counts. Next year, I shall try to do better.

I think that sums up 2012 for me. Not a totally terrific year, but not as bad as 2011. Here's to making 2013 even better.

How was everyone else's year? Are any of you ready to show 2012 the door or are you going to be sad to see it go?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's Beginning to Get Close to Christmas...

Christmas is less than a week away. How it snuck up on me this year, I don't know. My Christmas cards never were made, forget about being sent. Tree still isn't up and presents aren't wrapped. I haven't baked anything or candied any orange peels.

For those of you who don't know me well, this is bad. Usually I have the majority of my shopping done before Halloween and wrapped by Thanksgiving. Our Tree Decorating Party has evolved over the years to a full out celebration involving most of our family. Cards have always been something I look forward to since we do photos with the kids so relatives across the country can get updates at least once a year. Baked goods and candies get piled on platters and given to neighbors, friends and family. Somehow, none of that happened this year.

I could say we got busy, but it seems like a convenient excuse. I could say we got lazy, which is closer to the truth. But really, I haven't felt very Christmas-y this year. From talks with other friends and family, it seems to be a common complaint this year. Maybe we're all waiting for the world to end in two days.

Whatever the reason for the holiday blues this season, I hope we can all shake it off over the next couple of days. Santa is depending on us!

To all my friends, family and readers - Merry Christmas, Happy (Belated) Hannukkah, Happy Kawanza: Whatever you happen to celebrate, Happy Holidays!!!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

If You're Looking for Something to do...

Just a quick reminder that I'll be reading and signing books at Jesse M. Smith Library tomorrow at 11. Bring the kids. I have it on good authority that there will be snacks. ;-)

Hope to see you all there!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Next Big Thing - Blog Hop

Sorry this week's post is late. It's been busy in my household with Christmas Caroling, (yes, actual door-to-door caroling) decorating, school events and trying to get some writing/editing done. With Christmas and ABNA right around the corner, breathing down my neck, spare time isn't something I've had a lot of lately. But, I was tagged for THE NEXT BIG THING Blog Hop by Veronica Bartles yesterday and thought it would be fun. So, here it goes.

What is the working title of your book?

Oooo, um...the unfinished draft I'm working on is PROMETHEUS' LANTERN, a sequel to MOTHER OF MONSTERS. Editing and revision-wise, I'm working on WHAT THE WHOLE TOWN KNEW and MOTHER OF MONSTERS. I'll stick with PROMETHEUS to answer the rest of the questions. ;-)

Where did the idea come from for your book?
Woke up with 'By the light of Prometheus' Lantern' bouncing around in my head and needed to figure out what the heck it could mean. A sequel MoM seemed like the best course of action, although I hadn't planned on doing any sequels until I could sell Book 1.

What genre does your book fall under?

Greek mythology/fantasy

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Tough one since I don't have all the characters fully present yet and I rarely write with actors in mind. I'll give it a go.

*Maya* - Jennifer Lawrence might be the best pick I can think of.
*Hera* - Michelle Pfeiffer comes to mind. I think she could pull it off well.
*Hades* - my image of him is dark and sad, but not evil. I'd like to say Johnny Depp, just so I could cast myself as Persephone, but Sean Bean or possible David Tennent are closer.
*Persephone* - Hmm...I'm thinking someone along the lines of America Ferrera.

There are lots more players, but as you can see, I'm really bad at this game.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Hera's back with a vengeance, this time her target doesn't stop at the world of the living.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Hoping to get representation. Doing the self-publish thing with my children's book proved to be more time consuming and harder than I thought. Having industry know-how behind me would make things a lot easier.
How long did it take for you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Still working on it. Started it at the end of NaNo and put it aside to work on edits for WHAT THE WHOLE TOWN KNEW.

What other books would you compare this to within your genre?

Ugh. I hate comparing my work to others. Mainly because it's never *really* like whoever I compare it to. I can tell you that my work is heavily influenced by the likes of Jasper Fforde, Piers Anthony, Terry Pratchett and whoever I happen to be reading at the time I'm writing. Some of my work has more influence in it than others.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

This is a follow-up to my NaNo project from last year, MOTHER OF MONSTERS. MoM was inspired by an agent on Twitter stating there aren't enough centaur MCs in books and my brain taking on the challenge of how to put a centaur in a more primary role.

What else about your book might pique a reader's interest? 
ZOMBIES! I mean, Hera is taking over the Underworld this time around. What would you expect there to be?

Now I get to tag. If I tag you and you've already played or don't want to play, that's fine. If you do want to play, than, TAG! You're IT!
John Lucas Hargis , Kay Kauffman & Katrina Jack
Go! Check them out. :-). 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Break on Through

It's official! They finally announced it. Amazon will be hosting their annual Breakthrough Novel Awards (ABNA) again this year. But, they've made some big changes.

First of all, Penguin is not part of this year's contest. Instead, Amazon Publishing will be in charge of the winning manuscripts. This means a more streamlined process with a faster timeline. It may also lead to more aggressive marketing of the winners, given that Amazon stands to gain more from the published books than when Penguin was the publisher. This is, of course, speculation. We'll see how it all plays out once we get there.

Second, the categories have been shaken up. Where there once was two categories to chose from (General Fiction or Young Adult) there are now five (GF, Mystery/Thriller, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror, Romance and YA). The hope is that by dividing them up this way, all entries will get a fair shot at the top prize. It also means that all categories will be represented in the winning entries.

Which brings me to the third change. MORE PRIZES!!! Previously, only two entries were guaranteed a publishing contract, one GF and one YA. This year, five entries will have that chance. Amazon will award one overall winner with a $50,000 advance, and four first place prizes with an advance of $15,000. For those who haven't followed along in the past, $15,000 advance was the top prize. This is a huge change for us writers.

Fourth is the competition will be tougher. More countries are being allowed to enter and with the change up in the categories, fewer entries for YA will be taken.

Most of the other rules are still in place. Word count MUST be between 50,000 and 150,000. Excerpt is between 3,000 and 5,000. Pitch is 300 or less. Elimination rounds are run the same way with Amazon
Publishing going through the semi-finalists instead of Penguin.

With all the changes, I've decided to jump ship on Young Adult and enter the Mystery/Thriller category with WHAT THE WHOLE TOWN KNEW. So, you can all stop voting on it now. At least until it makes it into the final 5. Then you can all vote like crazy.

Interested in entering with me? Check out the rules and important dates here. Read through the discussions and meet some interesting people. Then, prepare for the opening of submissions on January 14th.

Good luck and happy writing! ;-)

Monday, December 3, 2012

And Suddenly it was December

This year has flown by. I can't even remember it starting in the first place, and now we're at the end. Christmas is around the corner (Yikes!) unless we hit the End of the World first. Since it's better to be safe than sorry, I thought I'd help you all with your Christmas shopping.

Usually I don't do book recommendations on here since you can always check out my Goodreads to see what I like, but I've read a lot of awesome books this year, so I thought a bit of a recap and organization was in order. I read all over the spectrum, so I'm going to pull only a few for each age group. These will only be books I've read this year. I was going to do only ones published this year, but several of my picks were published at the end of last year and didn't find their way into my hands until this year. So, we'll call them all 'Recently Published.' Ready? Here we go.

Middle Grade (MG)

Liesl & Po (Lauren Oliver)
Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice,until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.
That same night, an alchemist's apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable.
Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey
From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous and magnificent novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places. (Goodreads.com)

Great book for kids almost into YA but not there yet. Fast paced to keep their attention with just enough magic and supernatural elements to make it fun. Be prepared for teary eyes.

Breadcrumbs (Anne Ursa)
Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. They had been best friends since they were six, spending hot Minneapolis summers and cold Minneapolis winters together, dreaming of Hogwarts and Oz, superheroes and baseball. Now that they were eleven, it was weird for a boy and a girl to be best friends. But they couldn't help it - Hazel and Jack fit, in that way you only read about in books. And they didn't fit anywhere else. And then, one day, it was over. Jack just stopped talking to Hazel. And while her mom tried to tell her that this sometimes happens to boys and girls at this age, Hazel had read enough stories to know that it's never that simple. And it turns out, she was right. Jack's heart had been frozen, and he was taken into the woods by a woman dressed in white to live in a palace made of ice. Now, it's up to Hazel to venture into the woods after him. Hazel finds, however, that these woods are nothing like what she's read about, and the Jack that Hazel went in to save isn't the same Jack that will emerge. Or even the same Hazel.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," Breadcrumbsis a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind. (Goodreads.com)
A fairy tale retelling of a lesser known story. A strong female MC and an underlying message that people do change, no matter how much we want them to stay exactly the same.

A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness)
The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...
This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth. (Goodreads.com)

A very quick read about overcoming fears and letting go when can't hang on anymore, even if it means losing the ones we love. Another book bound to make you tear up. It's powerful and identifiable for many pre-teens.
Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.
With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful. (Goodreads.com)

Don't let the overly long (and slightly complicated) title fool you. This book gets my vote for 'Favorite MG Book of...Ever.' Think 'Alice in Wonderland' with a bit of a darker tone. I loved this and am waiting to get my hands on the second book in the series.

Young Adult (YA)

This category is hard to chose, since I read a LOT of YA. Narrowing it down to four and trying to give you all a variety to choose from. If none of these picks grabs your interest, check out my Goodreads page. I have many others I enjoyed that someone on your list might like, too.

Code Name Verity (Elizabeth Wein)

I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.  That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmf├╝hrer von Linden interrogating me again.
He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.
We are a sensational team. (Goodreads.com)
Starting with my favorite one because I don't want to accidentally leave it out. This is one I have been raving about to anyone who sits still long enough to listen to me. For those who know me, that's saying something about the awesomeness of this book. I'm not huge on war stories or histories in general, but this book is so well done, I couldn't not read it. For parents with teenage daughters, if you're tired of them reading about how girls need to find love and can't do things for themselves, do yourselves, and your daughters, a favor and get this for them. You'll thank me later.

Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else. 

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin? (Goodreads.com)
I did one for the girls, now here's one for the boys. It's funny, fun and a bit creepy. It had me laughing out loud more than once. The second book in the series, Necromancing the Stone, is also out, but I haven't gotten my hands on it yet. Maybe it will make next year's list.

Cinder (Marissa Meyer)

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. (Goodreads.com)

Another retelling of, you guessed it, Cinderella. But I'm going to go ahead and make a bet that even the guys wouldn't mind reading this one. Cinder is, after all, a cyborg and a mechanic. Not a whole lot of lovey-dovey going on in this story. Reading it made me hate (and completely love) Marissa Meyer for coming up with this unique concept on an old favorite. I only wish I could have thought of something equally as cool.

Lucky Linderman didn't ask for his life. He didn't ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn't ask for a father who never got over it. He didn't ask for a mother who keeps pretending their dysfunctional family is fine. And he didn't ask to be the target of Nader McMillan's relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.But Lucky has a secret--one that helps him wade through the daily mundane torture of his life. In his dreams, Lucky escapes to the war-ridden jungles of Laos--the prison his grandfather couldn't escape--where Lucky can be a real man, an adventurer, and a hero. It's dangerous and wild, and it's a place where his life just might be worth living. But how long can Lucky keep hiding in his dreams before reality forces its way inside?
Michael L. Printz Honor recipient A.S. King's smart, funny and boldly original writing shines in this powerful novel about learning to cope with the shrapnel life throws at you and taking a stand against it. (Goodreads.com)

Picking the last one was hard, but I wanted one that was good for both boys and girls and didn't center on anything supernatural. This is another great coming of age and learning to let go. 

Again, I have many others that I could recommend, but I don't want to overwhelm anyone. If you have a teen or a YA reader that you need to buy for and want more ideas, email or leave me a comment. I'd be more than happy to point you in the right direction.


The Dovekeepers (Alice Hoffman)

Blends mythology, magic, archaeology and women. Traces four women, their path to the Masada massacre. In 70 CE, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on a mountain in the Judean desert, Masada. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Four bold, resourceful, and sensuous women come to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the horrifically brutal murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her twin grandsons, rendered mute by their own witness. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and expert marksman, who finds passion with another soldier. Shirah is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power. The four lives intersect in the desperate days of the siege, as the Romans draw near. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets — about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love. (Goodreads.com)

Again, I'm not much of a historical fiction reader, but this one was well done. Strong women MCs with intertwining stories. 

The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des R├¬ves, and it is only open at night. 

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. 

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. 

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart. (Goodreads.com)

A former NaNoWriMo novel that became something more. This is beautiful and the writing is lovely. Try not to get lost in the magic of it.

Well, that's about it for me. Hope some of my recommendations help. If any of you have read something unforgettable this year, let me know in the comments. I'm always on the lookout for new and different authors and books!

And don't forget to vote on WHAT THE WHOLE TOWN KNEW. Be honest. You won't hurt my feelings. Much. ;-)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Another November, Another NaNo

Sorry I didn't post anything on Monday. With the story done, trying to frantically finish NaNo for this year and a turkey hangover, I had nothing for a blog post. Now that I've had some recovery time (although I'm still working away at NaNo), I thought it was a good time to check in. So, hello!

First, and most importantly, first draft of WHAT THE WHOLE TOWN KNEW is obviously finished. Love it or hate it? Maybe you're indifferent. I'd love to hear opinions; all the Good, Bad and Ugly. I had stated when I first started posting the story that it was an experiment. During the last few months, I learned a lot from trying to get those posts done in a somewhat timely manner and balancing everything else (home, work, family, child-taxiing, and a book launch) to the difficulty in writing an extended piece all in second person. Needless to say, this was not an easy story to write.

I posted the story here so it would get read, and as "encouragement" to finish it. Both of these goals have been accomplished. Never did I consider publishing it or sending it on submission. As many of my fellow writers know, writing in second person is generally frowned upon in the publishing industry. Not to say there aren't books written this way, but it's extremely hard to get anyone to take you seriously if you're unpublished and approaching them with something like this. WHAT THE WHOLE TOWN KNEW was more of a fun thing, to see if I could do it and if people would read it. Again, both proved somewhat viable.

At this point, I should move on. I have several other pieces that need my attention. Finished manuscripts waiting to go out and see if they can land a deal. A few that I've received feedback on and want to revise again. But, I'm not quite ready to shelve Lizzy and the Bordens yet. I have story elements I want to add and a few lines of thought I want to expand upon. It looks like revisions are in my future.

It won't be right away. I'm finishing my project for NaNo first. A sequel to MOTHER OF MONSTER - YA Dystopian/Greek Mythology with *zombies*. Don't worry, they're not gratuitous zombies, thrown in there just for fun. I don't even like zombies, but this story couldn't be told without them. And I'm super excited about it. Unfortunately, I won't be posting it up here as I'm hoping to get a deal for it at some point. (I will need beta-readers once I get to that point, so if you're as excited about a mash-up like this as I am, what this space for reader requests.)

Going back to WHAT THE WHOLE TOWN KNEW and the upcoming revisions. What I need to know from you, the readers, is whether or not you would buy this in book or ebook form, should I decide to pursue publication for it? Would you recommend it to friends and family? I have not yet decided whether or not this is a direction I want to go with it, and your responses will help. It will be significantly revised and edited by someone other than myself.

So, what are your thoughts? Yea or Nay for publishing it? Something else you'd like to say about it? Leave me a comment and let me know what you're thinking. Or, just click your answer on the poll.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Day of Thanks and Reflection

With Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow and the end of WHAT THE WHOLE TOWN KNEW coming up on Friday, I wanted to take a day to thank all my readers and followers. Without you, I would be doing little besides talking to myself. So, thank you to all of you.

I would like to remind all of you who have been following the story that the final chapter will post on Friday morning. Again, this has been an experiment for me and is only a first draft. When I go through to revise and edit, many story lines will have more added to them and some may get dropped. Such is the life of a novel.

What would make me a very happy writer is if all my readers left me a comment. Did you like it? Were you upset with the ending? Would you recommend it to your friends and family? More than anything, I would appreciate it if you did the last thing on the list. Word of mouth is the best publicity I can get.

Speaking of publicity, I know many of you don't wander over to my children & YA blog, but my book has officially been launched. If you're looking for presents for preschoolers, I'd love for my book to find its way under your tree.

Thank you all! Have a fantastic Thanksgiving and I'll see you all on Friday.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Look What I Have!

The proof for my children's book, WHO WILL DANCE WITH ME? came in the mail yesterday. Check out the pictures. Sorry they're a bit blurry. My camera doesn't like the lighting in my apartment.
Cover Work.

Interior Spread

Interior Art
My daughter making
Bunny read.
Bunny making an appearance

Want to win a copy for your little princess or prince? Check out the contest on my children's blog!

And, yes, this means I'll have more time to focus on WHAT THE WHOLE TOWN KNEW. Lizzie will be returning tomorrow.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New York Comic Con 2012 - For Fun and Profit

As you all know, I attended NYCC last weekend. I went not only for the entertainment, but also for learning. Yes, believe it or not, there were panels presented to make me a better writer. Crazy, I know. My husband laughed the whole time I was making notes, dubbing me 'The Geekiest of the Geeks.' Don't care; learned a lot.

Anyway, since there was so much to share from the trip, I decided to do this in two separate posts. First up will be links to the fun stuff. Pictures, videos and brief recaps of the panels I attended for enjoyment. Next week I'll post what I learned with links for anyone looking to improve their own writing.

Without further ado, my NYCC Experience, Part 1:
  • Top of the list is cos-play. There were so many fantastic costumes, it was hard to take pictures of them all. Here are the ones I took. Hubby did a much better job of taking pictures.
We also ran into costumed characters not from the Con.

  • Sir Terry Pratchett: He is the cutest old man EVER. Sadly I did not make it into the actual Meet & Greet as people lined up hours ahead of time and I got in line 1/2 an hour before it started. I did get to attend his DODGER panel, which was a lot of fun. A few take-a-ways from that panel:
  1. NARRATIVIA is Mr. Pratchett's new production company. He has taken back all the rights for TV, Movies, etc. on his books and will be releasing his own. To start with, THE WATCH, a TV series based on Sam Vimes. He describes is at 'CSI: Anhk-Morpork.' Also on the list is GOOD OMENS. 
  2. When asked how to write good humor into a story, Pratchett responded with, "Be me."
  3. Which character is he most like? Sam Vimes because 'when you're born poor it sticks to you. Even when you have money.'
  4. Who would he most like to have tea with? The Patrician. (Draw your own reasons.)
  5. Pratchett also revealed plans for a DODGER sequel. If he ever went into retirement, he'd spend his free time doing what else? Writing!
  • Crime Scenes, Horror Anthologies and Steampunk Dracula: Genres leaping to Transmedia

So the idea of all our entertainment, whether it be books, movies, TV or comics, becoming more multimedia friendly was a recurring theme for the whole weekend. One company leading the charge with Webisodes tying in cell phone use, text messaging and any other media they can use to their advantage, is Fourth Wall Studios. Take a look at what they have to offer.

  • Movies and TV shows making their way into the world that I got to see trailers of:
Grimm Fairytales - currently a graphic novel, but animated version is in the works.
Haven - in it's third season, Haven is based on Stephen King's novel The Colorado Kid.
Batman Lego: DC Heroes United - my kids will love this!
The Conjuring - yes, the house this movie is based on is next door to my parents. Yes, the house is strange. No, I have never set foot inside nor do I ever want to.
Beautiful Creatures - movie based on the fantastic novel by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. Check out the trailer.
Carrie - remake of the Stephen King classic. 

Walking Dead & Firefly Panel Pictures

Random & Fun Pictures

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Going Away

That's right. I'm going away. Far, far away. To a distant galaxy, time and culture. As of tomorrow, I will be immersing myself in the world of Comic Con.

For the whole weekend I will be in New York, celebrating my geekiness. Camera in hand, I'll be attending as many panels and screenings as possible, including FIREFLY and WALKING DEAD. When I return on Monday, I will be sharing my adventures with you, along with finalizing my proof for WHO WILL DANCE WITH ME? I know you're all excited about this weekend as I am.

Why am I telling you all about this now? Why not wait until after I return and post the pictures and stories? Because as of tomorrow afternoon, I will be offline. Incommunicado. Not that many of you converse frequently with me.


I will not be available to post on Friday and Monday. I'm going to try to schedule posts before I leave tomorrow morning, but there is no promise. I'm currently getting the 'Look' from hubby whose birthday we are celebrating. (Happy Birthday, Sweetie!)

So, with this said, I will be back next week. If for some reason I don't get posts scheduled, please don't get upset. I promise to share some awesome adventures with you all soon!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I'm delightful, I'm delicious, I'm...I'm de-LOVELY!

That's right. Someone thinks I'm lovely. Or at least they think my blog is, and really, isn't that the same thing?

The Absentee Blogger blog has been nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by the equally lovely Kay Kauffman. Thank you!

Now, as with any award, there are rules and etiquette to follow. What kind of rules? you might be asking. Well, I'm glad you did. Here they are:

  • Include the blog award logo in your post 
  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Provide seven random facts about yourself 
  • Nominate seven other blogs and let them know
Now we know how to play, let's get started, shall we?

  1. I play clarinet in two separate bands. One band I get paid to play with, so I guess that make me a professional musician, even if it only covers new reeds, gas money and repairs.
  2. By day I'm a personal care assistant. This means I take care of a severely autistic woman while her parents work. It gives me some flexibility to occasionally do other things like writing and...
  3. Homeschooling. Many of you know I have two children, a 5, I mean, 6-year-old (sigh) boy and a 4-year-old girl. My daughter is enrolled in preschool, but my son is being homeschooled. Yes, by me. So far, so good.
  4. While we're on the subject of work, my first job when I was in high school was a karate instructor. I know it's hard to believe, but I have the bad joints from hyper-extensions and broken toe to prove it.
  5. My husband and I met while performing at the Connecticut Renaissance Faire. I was returning in my role of Lady Margaret, wife to Sir Bedivere, but my former 'husband' couldn't return that year. My now real husband had auditioned and cast in the role. We were told to spend time together to make our onstage relationship believable. (I was also assistant costumer at the time, so spent more time sewing than rehearsing.) We had lunch and the rest is now history.
  6. So, I performed at the CT Ren Faire in the capacity of a lady-of-the-court and worked as an assistant costumer. To add to that, I'm a member of The Great Unwashed. I play Rosie Cheeks, a former serving wench who got too friendly with some of the customers and lost her job.
My first mud show.
 Couldn't figure out how to eat, so my hubby fed me.
After a few years and two kids,
eating dirt was less disturbing.

7. My final random fact - I'm a Virgo.

Now, for the nominations! *Drum roll*

Trinity's Love
Kate Jack
Always to the Unknown Friend
Indie Day in the Sun
Lisa Wiedmeier
Talking to Myself
The Alliance Of Worldbuilders

Please check out some of these other great blogs. Who knows, you might find a new favorite.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Come One, Come All!!

Details are in for WHO WILL DANCE WITH ME? book launch! Come visit me on Saturday, November 17th at 2pm to take part in its debut! Books on the Square in Providence is hosting.

Tell all your friends & family! We're going to have fun.

Check out the flyer and feel free to print some out.

This also means I can add more appearances to my schedule. If you would like to have a book signing at your library or local bookstore, have them send me an email! I'd love to set up a date.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Help Wanted: Must Like Books

As some of you already know, I've been getting the illustration proofs for my children's book to approve. Along with those, proofs for promotional material have been turning up in my email. To say I'm excited would be an understatement. For the last couple of months I've spent a good deal of time figuring out what products I want to use for promotions. Now it's all starting to feel real.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be ordering bookmarks, postcards and stickers graced with artwork from my book. These items will need to be distributed to schools, libraries and bookstores. Here's where the 'Help Wanted' part comes in. I'm looking for people who are willing to help distribute these things in their communities and help spread the word about my upcoming release.

If you know of places where my book would catch peoples' eyes (particularly small children), I want you. If you regularly visit your public library, local bookstore or are friendly with teachers, I want you. If you just love people and want to hand out bookmarks or stickers willy-nilly, I want you!

Anyone who is willing to help me out, please raise your hand. Or, at the very least, send me an email with your address. As soon as the materials are in, I will mail you a packet to distribute to the best of your abilities, along with my eternal gratitude.

I thank you all in advance for your time and effort to help make this work.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I was sick earlier this week and now I'm playing catch-up with everything else. With this in mind, What the Whole Town Knew is on hold until next Monday.

Thank you everyone for reading and sharing. See you all in a few days.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Serious Consideration

I know, it's Monday and some of you have traversed scorching sands and stormy seas to get here and read the next chapter of What the Whole Town Knew. Sorry to disappoint, but I have had a serious consideration thrown my way. It concerns my blog, naturally, or else you'd all be reading Chapter 17, biting your nails down in anticipation of what will befall Lizzie. And is Officer Chambers making a pass at her? You'll have to wait until Wednesday to find out. Maybe.

What I have noticed since starting my Experiment is how much my blog stats jump on Mondays and Fridays. It became even more apparent when I neglected to post last Friday's chapter until the evening. Once it was posted and I let the whole world - or at least those who friend/follow me on various social media - know, my views doubled within half-an-hour. There were people waiting for my post announcement. Not going to lie, it completely made my night.

Now comes my slight dilemma. While my blog is getting lots of traffic, my bank account, sadly, is not. Before anyone clicks off, thinking I have suddenly turned into a Public Radio fund drive, rest assure that is not the case. Rather, I have come up with what I hope is a solution that will allow me to make something off what I put up here and for you all to let me know how much you love me, uh, my work.

Flattr.com  is a company I have recently discovered. It allows users to set an amount they wish to spend over the course of a month. They then can go about the internet, happily clicking on any web content with the 'Flattr' button. At the end of the month, Flattr tallies your clicks and divides your preset spending limit between them.

An small, unobtrusive button on my blog. Seems like a better solution than paid ads or subscription fees. If you like it, you click. Don't like it, no clicky. What I want to know is how you, my loving readers, feel about it. Would anyone use it? Or will you run in hordes away from me, never to discover what happens to Lizzie? Let me know in the comments.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

When Society Dictates the Norms

Brace yourselves - another 'Mommy' post. This one concerns my five-year-old son.

For those who don't know me or my family, I have a four-year-old daughter and the aforementioned son. Both have taken dance lessons for years. Both are friendly, attention-loving goofballs. We encourage creativity and letting them do things they enjoy. It should come as no surprise that they have dress-up trunks with girl and boy appropriate costuming in them and occasionally they'll wear stuff from each other's stash. Innocent playtime; they think they're being silly and making everyone laugh.

A few days ago, I was visiting my grandmother with my son. She had picked up a tutu for my daughter. While she was showing it to us, she turned to my son and said, 'Gee, you'd look cute in it.' My son took the challenge, getting into it and doing some spins, making both me and my grandmother laugh. I snapped a picture on my phone and posted it to Facebook.

My son - and daughter - always want to look at pictures of themselves when I take them. He looked at the one of him in the tutu and laughed. 'I look so silly, Mommy.' I agreed with him, as did many of my friends and family who posted comments on the picture. A picture of a five-year-old, being goofy and having fun.

Unfortunately, not everyone sees a picture that way. There were a few negative comments left and finally I was asked to take the picture down. The person who requested that it come down did so because they feared bullying. If someone my son goes to soccer or plays with in any social setting sees it, they might make fun of him. They argued it was going to be hard enough with him being a dancer without adding to it. Eventually I relented and made the picture private.

While I changed the settings, it made me think about my son and what kind of message it would send to him if he knew what I was doing. Would he think it wasn't ok to be himself because of what others might think? That what everyone else thought was more important? Aren't those who can overcome society norms the very people we look up to as extraordinary? Why would I want to stifle that in my own son?

As of now, he doesn't know his picture is no longer up on my Facebook page. He hasn't asked to see it again and I haven't mentioned it. I'm afraid of what will happen when he finds out. What will I tell him? That some people are so close-minded they can't understand the joy he brought to his great-grandmother? That there are people who are afraid of being themselves, so they hide in the safe confines of what society tells us is normal and dislike anyone who ventures outside those comfort levels? Or maybe I'll tell him the world just isn't ready quite yet for his brand of extraordinaire.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Drum Roll, Please!

I know I've been teasing some of you for the last week or so, telling you I have good news but not telling you what it was. I've been waiting for something a little more substantial before breaking the news, but I can't hold out much longer.

After much debate, being in talks and researching my options, I've decided to self-publish my children's book 'Who Will Dance with Me?' I'm teaming up with the fabulous Linda Clearwater to bring my book to life.

At this point I don't have a release date or much else to share. I will be keeping you all updated as things are finalized. For now, I can share a preliminary sketch of Princess Grace.

Are you all excited as I am? 

For the record, I will be publishing under a pen name TBD once we get closer to the publication date.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo, We Hold You in Our Hearts...

Okay, it doesn't have the same ring, but you get the idea. Summer is here and with it, the time honored tradition of summer camps. Apparently some adults became nostalgic for the good old days and started Camp NaNoWriMo for us adults.

For those of you who have been around for a while, you've seen my posts about NaNoWriMo. For those new to the blog or have never heard the term 'NaNo' before, you can acquaint yourself here.

Now we're all familiar with the strange word, I'm announcing that I will be joining the ranks of campers this year. I know, it's a huge deal, but before you rush out to alert the press I ask that you all respect my privacy on the matter. Besides, if all the press shows up at my door how am I going to make my word limits each day?

The month of June will see me as a truly 'Absentee Blogger.' (You didn't think I picked the name by accident, did you?) I will schedule posts to automatically go up each Monday and Friday, but it will be only chapters from What the Whole Town Knew and very little of my own personal charm. I hope you all can survive our time apart.

For those of you also participating, I would ask you to add me to your friends list, but Camp NaNo has cabins and I already have been assigned my cabin-mates (the lucky dogs) so we will have to communicate our joys and frustrations elsewhere. Feel free to friend me on my Facebook page or on Twitter and we can try to get through the ritual that is (Writing) Summer Camp together.

If you're interested in trying out Camp NaNo, you can sign up here. Happy writing!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Voting Time!

Check out the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award finalists! Take a peek and vote on your favorite.

Congratulations to you all.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Four Years Ago...

Four years ago today, I was sitting at my desk, feeling slightly uncomfortable. My boss sent me home and a few hours later I was in the hospital, giving birth to my beautiful little girl.

Happy 4th Birthday, Bridget!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Alienating Yourself Using Social Media 101

Step One: Pick a user name. Using obscene words adds to your score.
Step Two: Sign into the social media of your choice and begin making connections. The more people whose views you disagree with, the better.
Step Three: Wait until someone says something completely opposite of how you feel. Argue publicly with this individual. Resorting to childish behavior such as name calling is encouraged.
Step Four: Run back to your like-minded friends and virtual high-five each other for 'stirring up the wasps' nest.'

Congratulations! You have reached Level One. People are talking about you.

It amazes me, and I know it shouldn't, how nasty people can be over the internet. With the internet  to provide a safety wall, so many think their online actions won't have any consequences. They say things online they'd never dream of saying to the same person face-to-face. They attack others for no reason other than getting a laugh or two. It makes them feel empowered to upset and frazzle everyone they meet.

While Internet Trolls have become a normal occurrence, there are others who follow in the Trolls' footsteps, thinking they, too, are immune to retribution. Sadly, they are mistaken.

Yesterday on Twitter, a conversation caught my eye. The part I saw was between an agent and an editor. I noticed it because the agent had been called a 'bad apple'. Being the nosy, uh, researcher that I am, I backtracked to find out what had happened. 

Seems like someone attempted to pitch to the agent on Twitter (a big no-no if anyone's wondering) and became upset over the agent's response that the author should follow submission guidelines on the agency website. Instead of saying, "Ok, sorry. Thank you for the information," the writer became angry over the agent's tweets about her query in-box. Others jumped in with personal remarks, namely the 'bad apple' comment and suggesting the agent in question was drunk.

Now, many agents on social network sites will host things like #10queriesin10tweets or #pubtip where they will randomly go through their slush pile and give tips based on what they're looking at in that moment. They never reveal who the MS belongs to and most writers will take what is said and see if it applies to their own queries. This agent was doing something similar, venting about what drives her crazy in her in-box. Up until she told the writer to check the website guidelines, this person had no problem with these tweets. Afterward, she thought they were 'unethical'.

Here's the problem with how the writer handled this situation. She did it on a public forum where anyone can see it. She called out an agent who had not personally attacked her, then rallied with others to 'stir up the hornets' nest' as one person said. They decried the publishing industry and how indie and self-publishing was the way to go. That people like this agent were the reason traditional publishing's days were numbered.

All of these attacks are now public knowledge and easily accessible. Agents and publishers tend to follow each other on Twitter. Anyone who follows this agent knows about the incident and will most likely let others know. The publishing world is small and one comment can burn many bridges. You may think Indie or Self-publishing is the way to go now, but can you be sure in ten years you won't be tired of doing it all yourself and want to focus on the writing? Maybe you'll be happy doing it all, but do you want to take that chance? Even if you are content with untraditional publishing, why alienate industry professionals who you can learn from? Take a deep breath and think before responding to anyone.

Be careful what you write and post. Words have power to help you along or destroy all your work before even get started.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Trying an Experiment

I'm going to try something new over here. Once a week, I'll post a chapter of my WIP. Either people can read it and comment or skip it and wait for my normal weekly postings. Hoping it'll be the latter. ;-)

The current WIP up for comments is "What the Whole Town Knew."

Advance warning - this had very adult material in it. If you are easily offended, please skip these. I will put up more family-friendly reading for next month's - if this goes well.

If you're still here - Enjoy!

Chapter One
Dale was dead, that much was obvious.  He was motionless, lying in the bright red blood that had gushed at first, but now just trickled a bit, from the hole in his neck. The hole where you plunged the kitchen knife when he came at you in a drunken rage. The last time he would ever come at anyone in a drunken rage.
                As you sat there on the floor next to him, knees to your chest and staring at him over your bruised and bloody arms, a sense of relief washed over you. The beatings and abuse would stop now. No longer would it be necessary to wear long sleeves in the summer to hide the rainbow of bruises. The sunglasses could be saved for when it was actually sunny out.
                A knock at the door startled you, sounding unnaturally loud in the silence. Standing was difficult after sitting for so long. Bruises from the broomstick he had swung were red and angry, turning purple against the whiteness of your legs. Each and every one of them was a reminder of him.
                Grabbing a dishtowel on your way to the door, you scrub at the blood on your arms.  Some of it is yours, but most of it is his. You frantically start to think of excuses for the bruises and blood. Maybe whoever was at the door wouldn’t notice.
                Another knock.
                “Just a minute,” you yell. Whoever it was certainly didn’t have much patience. Peeking out the window in the door reveals Miranda Withers from across the street. What could that nosy busybody want?
                “Miranda.” You force a smile and civil tone as you open the door just enough to carry out a conversation.
                “Lizzie. Hi. Is everything all right?”
                “Yeah. Everything is fine. How are you and Eric?” Keep her out on the front step but don’t raise her suspicions.
                “Oh fine, fine. Listen, we were wondering if you and Dale would like to join us for dinner Saturday night.  Nothing fancy, just a neighborhood get-together. It’s been so nice that we thought a barbeque was in order. What do you say?”
                “Sounds lovely, but I think Dale might have plans. Saturday is his bowling night after all.” 
                “Is he home now? I can talk to him if you like.”
                “No, he’s out right now.” Miranda’s eyes glance beyond the doorway. What did she see? Did she suspect something? You move to block the doorway and she glances down at your arms. There are smears of blood where the dishrag, still clutched in your right hand, wasn’t able to wipe away the traces of guilt. Miranda’s eyes grow wide.
                “Oh, Lizzie! What happened, honey?” You try to remember some of the excuses you came up with, but nothing comes to mind.
                “Uh, oh. Just a little accident. I was, uh, lugging some glassware up stairs to the attic for storage and slipped and fell. Just a few cuts from a plate that shattered and some bumps when I fell down the stairs. Nothing to worry about.” You bite at your bottom lip, wondering if she believes the lies.
                “Do you need some help? I can have Eric come over and put things in storage for you if you’d like since Dale’s not here.”
                “No, no. I got them up there after a while. You caught me while I was cleaning up is all.” It came out a bit rushed and it’s doubtful she believes it. Her mouth turns into a tight smile but her bright blue eyes don’t look convinced.
                “If you’re sure. Let me know about Saturday. We’d love to have you over, even if Dale can’t make it. No reason why you shouldn’t get out and have some fun.”
                “I’ll let you know.”
                “And Lizzie, if you ever need anything, if you ever need to talk, I’m right across the street. Don’t be shy.”  She turned and walked back to her house, her bleach-blonde hair barely moving as she bounced slightly in her platform sandals. On her porch, Eric waits as she makes her way across the road. When she reaches him, he leans down and hugs her. They talk for a minute and laugh. Eric looks over toward your house and sees you still in the doorway. He smiles and waves. You wave back and close the door on the sickenly happy scene.
                Dale is still laying on the kitchen floor. The blood had begun to congeal and turn brownish as it dried.  Walking around towards his head you can see the look of surprise on his face. He didn’t believe you had it in you to fight back. Not you, not little Lizzie Mosher.
                “Lizzie Mouser,” Dale use to say. He would tease you about your name because you refused to change it when he married you. He always thought women should be subservient to men, especially wives to their husbands.  His mother had always done what his father wanted and his grandmother would always bow to his grandfather’s wishes. Then you came along and broke with the whole family tradition. 
                He didn’t know how to deal with a woman who wouldn’t bend to his will. It was probably what drew him to you in the first place. You were different from any he had ever known and he wanted to break you. And break you he did, on all accounts except your name. Your name was the only thing that was yours, that you alone owned, and you refused to give that little scrap of identity to him. It irritated him and he would try to use it against you, belittling the one thing you could call yours.
                “Lizzie Mouser. Mousy little Lizzie,” he’d call when he came home from the bar after work, drunk and stumbling about. You would lock yourself in the bathroom, listening as he bumped into walls and furniture, looking for you. Yelling for you. 
                It always ended the same way. He’d find the bathroom door and pound away on it, rattle the handle and yell obscenities at you on the other side.
                “Lizzie, I know you’re in there. Come on out.” Silence fueled his anger. “Get out here, you little bitch. I am your husband and you will do what I tell you to.” The banging and rattling would get more insistent. In the early days of his abuse he would break the cheap lock on the door and drag you out. He would beat you with his fists, relishing the sound of flesh hitting flesh.
                “You little bitch. You little fucking bitch. You think you’re better than me? Don’t you ever try to hide from me again, do you understand? I am your fucking husband and you better not forget.” The abuse was mingled and rained down all the same. 
For a short time there was a deadbolt on the bathroom door. It was a short reprieve from the violence. Dale could still scream through the door, but his fists were useless. A few days later, during a sober moment, he remembered and removed it. The next time he came home drunk your defense was short lived. You ran to the bathroom, but the bolt was no longer there. In your moment of surprise and horror you never put up any form of a barricade. Dale was through the door and upon you within moments.
“Stupid bitch. Thought you were smarter than me? Think again. I own you, do you understand? You are mine, as my wife, to do what I want with.” The hitting had stopped for a second and you risked a look at him, uncovering your head with your arms. He was smiling a very chilling smile. His brown eyes that once generated warmth now could chill the stoutest heart.
“That’s right, Sweetheart. Nothing to be afraid of.” You made an attempt to scoot backwards, away from this madman, but the grin left his face and he grabbed you by your hair, kept long under his orders.
“I don’t think so, my little mouse.” He dragged you down the hall to your bedroom. He threw you on the bed and tore off your clothes with no regard to buttons or zippers. He forced himself on you again and again and the sobs caught in your throat. His big calloused hands groping every inch, pressing harder at the bruises, trying to cause more shouts of pain.
  You tried to fight him off, but he was too strong. He worked in the town foundry, pumping iron in a much more literal sense. He was far too strong for such a little mouse.
That was the night, wasn’t it? The night you knew it all had to end. Dale had become possessed by something far more evil than anything you had ever seen and it had consumed him entirely. It had to stop. And it had to stop soon.
Kneeling next to his body, you reach out and close his brown eyes, frozen in their state of sightless surprise. What to do now, now you don’t have Dale to make all the decisions. Everything was yours to decide now.  A shower seems most logical, but sleep is trying to take over. It has been a long day. A very long day.
You grab a sponge from the sink and dampen it. Gently, you wipe away the blood and the grime from Dale’s face and arms. His lank, blonde hair had fallen across his face when he had collapsed, making him look peaceful, almost angelic. He had been such a good looking guy.
Sleep soon claims you and you snuggle up next to Dale’s body. It’s cold, but for the first time in over a year it doesn’t cause fear. It’s just a shell and shells can’t cause any harm. You wrap his arm around you and kiss him goodnight on the cheek. In the morning the body would have to be taken care of, dumped where no one would find it. Tonight was for the final goodbye.