December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Difficult as it is to believe, we have reached the final day of 2013! I hope this year brought you further along your path, whether in writing or your life in general.  Even for those who have felt stuck, the shift into the New Year is a wonderful opportunity to seize upon refreshing momentum and get yourself going again!

I don't quite believe in New Year's resolutions, as they seem to imply we've been doing something wrong all year, but I'd love to know what goals you hope to reach in 2014!  Personally, I hope to finish writing my NaNo 2013 novel, finish editing my Muse story, and of course, continue writing and seeking publication.

Here's to a healthy, productive, prolific, and love-filled year!!

December 27, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #2-3

This is the last Flash! Friday prompt of the year, which is crazy to think about: 5 days until the New Year!

This week's mandatory element is hope, in a story based on the prompt below:

December 23, 2013

Authors Give It Away

It's astounding how intrinsic a part of the online community giveaways are, particularly, though not exclusively, among writers.  Cover reveal? Giveaway.  Blog anniversary? Giveaway.  Book release? Major giveaway.  At any given point in time, hundreds if not thousands of dollars' worth of gift cards, books, e-books, and book-related "swag" is being freely offered.

In the last few months, I've heard of three giveaway "hops" – in which literally hundreds of authors / bloggers participate in a themed giveaway.  These were a Spooky hop leading up to Halloween; a Dystopian hop the first week of November, just because; and a Best of 2013 hop which recently ended.  These of course don't take into account all the independent giveaways scheduled by authors, bloggers, and reviewers.  

December 20, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #2-2

So that we all remember, the rules require a 150 word story (+/- 10) on the photo prompt below.  This week's story must also incorporate the required element: duty.

To be honest, the addition of a required element seems to really affect my approach to the prompt, and a few different ideas went through my mind this week, including a snowman army, bravely performing their duty.  What does this combination make you think?

December 16, 2013

Guest Post: Karen Lopp

The two questions I have been asked the most since becoming a published author have been about why I chose to write what I write about, and how I edit my books. I was drawn to write Historical Western Romance by a number of factors. I could identify with the spirit of the Old West since I grew up on a farm. While we had a lot more conveniences than people did in the 1800’s, some things never change. The livestock must be fed and watered every day, no matter what the weather or what you had planned. For example, my sister-­in-­law grew up in North Dakota on a dairy farm. When there was a wedding they partied hard, until it was time to go milk the cows; then everyone would go home, change into their work clothes, milk the cows, then change back into their tuxes and go back to partying! It was just something you did, without complaint, without being asked, and not expecting anyone else to come over and help. That type of rugged individualism was epitomized with the pioneers, ranchers, and business owners of the Old West. I applaud the courage and strength it took to make a life in the untamed wilderness.

Reading is also a huge part of why I write and why I write Westerns. I have read every single one of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour’s books – multiple times! Their descriptions were so accurate that when I took my first trip to New Mexico, it felt like going home, the scenery and sights were so familiar to me. I also found fascinating tidbits of information from researching my family tree, I discovered most of my ancestors migrated West. My roots are out here, so it was a natural choice to write about the West.

December 13, 2013

Flash! Friday: Year Two

It's week 53 for Flash! Friday, which means it's the start of year two, and in addition to a new visual theme, we have some new rules!
  • Going forward, every prompt will stick to the same word count: 150 +/- 10.
  • Each photo prompt will also be accompanied by a new mandatory element that must be included in the story. 
This week's mandatory element is laughter, in a story based on this prompt: 

December 9, 2013

When Life Interferes

As writers, we are pressured, both by ourselves and well-intentioned family members / friends / critique partners / blog posts / articles / etc. to absolutely always, without fail, prioritize our writing.  Though I don't disagree with the intention, as we do in fact have to make time to write if we ever hope to make it in this intense business, the outside world reminded me recently that this isn't always possible – and the remorse I felt was disproportionate to my so-called "crime."

Here's what happened: 

December 2, 2013

After NaNo

Somehow, in the midst of NaNo and the desire to have made it through that crazy, 30-day challenge, we (or at least I) forget that coming out the other side leaves us in December.  Unfortunately, this is just a fact of life – another year is coming to a close.  Still, in these last few weeks of 2013, much can be accomplished.  

Then again, much already has.  Despite my struggle this year, I did manage to reach 50,000 words in my latest book, with about 25 minutes to spare.  In the world of NaNoWriMo, that alone marks me as a "winner," though of course there is a lot of work yet to be done in this book (and I actually still have to edit my previous one).

That being said, I am not yet (maybe not ever?) going to offer any reflections on NaNo's powers, mostly because all I want to do after the craziness of the last month is sleep.  However, much is happening this week!

First, tomorrow is #GivingTuesday, which is an initiative started to encourage people to take time to support community and nonprofit efforts.  While I think lending your support behind any responsible cause is wonderful, I'm taking this opportunity to remind you about Scripting Change, and the easy way to help – buy their book, Seeing Past Sickness! (Click on the cover image in the side bar for a list of places to buy.)  There are 2 of my pieces in this collection, but I do think it is a wonderful, worthwhile cause that could genuinely benefit from your support – which will directly benefit those in need!

Also this week, the Flash! Friday anniversary bash: 5 days to write a flash fiction story, based on the photo prompt, for honest-to-goodness prizes, including publication!  Stories must be 350 words exactly, and I hope to participate myself, but more importantly, encourage you to do the same! Let's see what happens.

November 29, 2013

Friday & Giveaway Results

I will admit it: NaNoWriMo ends tomorrow and I have over 5000 words that still need to be written for me to meet this challenge.  Of course, making it to 45,000 is no small matter – that's about half a completed draft.

Still, it has meant that I, once again, had to forego participating in this week's Flash! Friday competition.  On the plus side, I will be taking part in their anniversary extravaganza next week – and you should, too!

Meanwhile, I am excited to share the winners from my latest giveaway! 

November 25, 2013

Fairy in the Flesh Excerpt & Giveaway!

With NaNo in full swing, November is the perfect time to host a touring author!  Read on to learn about Katalina Leon's erotic romance, Fairy in the Flesh (Ellora's Cave).

Katalina will also be giving a surprise e-book to one lucky commenter from each stop, so comment below (with contact info please) for a chance to win!

Maya Rousseau’s fantasy vacation in Avignon France heats up when an eccentric enchantress tricks her into drinking mojo-laced absinthe.

An unexpected encounter with the green fairy causes Maya’s reality to have a serious melt down. She travels back in time and wakes up naked in the bed of her favorite bad boy Bohemian artist: the tall, dark and mysterious André Bosco. There’s nothing wrong with that except it’s 1903.

For André it’s love at first sight. He begs Maya to become his cherished model, muse and lover. The chemistry and shared passion between them is overwhelming. André’s a generous-hearted dream man, but there’s a catch. Every hour they spend together bonds them tighter, and time is running out. The same powers that flung Maya back to 1903 are preparing to snatch her back.

With a hundred and ten years separating these soul-bound lovers, it’s uncertain if they can find a happy ending without the help of a little magic and La Fée Verte.

Note: Story contains super hot sex with an unattainable man, enchanted hallucinatory beverages, mischievous time-twisters and green fairies.

November 22, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #51

Believe it or not, I actually did write a Flash! Friday story this week! (Though, woefully, I have yet to have any time to work on my NaNo project…)  This week's prompt offered a 150-word (+/- 5) moment of contemplation, or perhaps not – what do you see?

Monk (Thailand). Photo courtesy of Shuco

November 18, 2013

Fun Tidbits

I had considered revisiting an important topic affecting my current book (those dreaded intimate scenes), and while I know you will be disappointed, I have decided instead to spotlight some things that, I hope, will be of interest! 

First off, take a look at a brand new interview, hosted by Nada of Nadaness In Motion. (Edit: & here's part two!)

As I mentioned in that interview, the only way to get a print copy of my (award-winning!) collection, Life Under Examination, is to win one in a giveaway – such as the one I have going on now!

Seeing Past Sickness continues to be available for your reading pleasure, and as always, 100% of proceeds will be donated. Snag your copy before the holiday craziness begins!

And to leave you with some food for thought, check out this guest post discussing where to focus while writing bedroom scenes, if your book requires them.  As always, I'd be thrilled to hear your feedback.

I'm up to ~27,700 words in my NaNo project.  How is yours going?

November 16, 2013

Not Quite Friday

NaNoWriMo has been kicking my butt this time around. I am currently a full day behind, and expect to be two days behind after today, and was actually, rather participating in this week's Flash! Friday contest, trying to catch up on my faltering word count.  

However, there are plenty of fabulous Flash! Friday stories available for your reading pleasure on the contest's site!

How's your November going? Do you have goals you're trying to meet by the end of the month (other than the mass consumption of turkey)? How are they coming along?

November 11, 2013

1000-Followers Giveaway!

I still can't really believe it, but I've reached one more exciting milestone: 1000 Twitter followers!  To celebrate, I'm giving away, well, lots of things!  

Following me on Twitter is not required to enter this giveaway, but because this is to celebrate my awesome Twitter followers, it is required for access to most of the entries.  Full terms are available through the Rafflecopter form below.

Prizes:

  • 2 winners will each receive a professionally hand-bound, autographed copy of Life Under Examination along with a keychain! 
  • 1 winner will receive a gift e-copy of Seeing Past Sickness (through Smashwords)
  • 5 winners will each receive an e-copy of Life Under Examination (mobi, epub, or PDF file or Smashwords coupon code)
  • A surprise prize will be added if we reach 1000 entries!




November 8, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #49

Hi folks! How's your November going? Mine has already been absolutely insane, and I'm unfortunately somewhat behind on my NaNo word count.  I hope my fellow writers' efforts have been progressing more smoothly.

Friday is upon us yet again (they do seem to come around quite frequently at this point), which of course means it's time for some Flash! Friday Fiction! This week's prompt requires exactly 150 words on this photo:
Fairy walking bridge, Huangshang, China.
Photo by Jesse Varner.

November 4, 2013

Scripting Change Cover Reveal & Release-day Blast!

The community writing project, Scripting Change, is incredibly excited to announce the release of their inaugural project: Seeing Past Sickness!

Absolutely every piece of this e-book, from the coordination, to the contents, to the beautiful cover art, was volunteered, and 100% of proceeds will be donated to the MSTR Scholarship Foundation.  In case that isn't motivation enough to purchase a copy, the fabulous Donna L. Sadd and I both have pieces included!

About the Project:

Scripting Change is a new writing initiative that aims to bring together the vast community of writers and readers in support of responsible nonprofit organizations. 

The project accepts submissions from writers, relating to a theme that reflects the mission of a chosen nonprofit.  The selected pieces are combined in an anthology, which is published as an e-book, in this case: Seeing Past Sickness.  Proceeds from this and any future e-books' sales will be donated to the related organization.  Ideally, the project will be repeated, with each e-book supporting a unique nonprofit organization.

By focusing on the compelling words of writers, Scripting Change is able to raise not only funds but also awareness for the causes of the organizations they support.  The time and talents of everyone involved are offered freely, so the project has absolutely no overhead costs, which means every dollar raised is donated to positively impact our society!


About the Nonprofit:

Chronic illness doesn't disappear at age 18, but aid and understanding for those affected often do, despite the exorbitant and crippling costs of perpetual healthcare. In additional to the emotional and physical toll of chronic illness, those affected face significant challenges in seeking the personal and intellectual development afforded by continuing education.

The recipient organization for Seeing Past Sickness is the MSTR Scholarship Foundation, which aims to help those students affected by chronic illness, who nevertheless have the passion, drive, and determination to seek or continue their educations, by providing financial scholarships in recognition and support of their perseverance.  This decision was based on the impressive mission, fiscal responsibility, and enthusiasm for the project of the MSTR Foundation.


Now It's Your Turn!

Scripting Change depends entirely upon the support of the community as a whole.  The writers, and our cover designer, have done their part; the coordinators have brought it all together; the bloggers have graciously helped us spread the word – now it's up to the readers.  We hope you will enjoy the anthology!

Seeing Past Sickness is available through: 


Smashwords ~*~ Amazon: US / UK ~*~ Barnes & Noble


Learn more about this project at: ScriptingChange.blogspot.com 
Find them on Facebook or Tweet using: #ScriptingChange


November 1, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #48

Happy November 1st! NaNo has officially started, and I even managed to write an entire 500 words last night (after midnight), which is no where near enough, but is a start of sorts! With so much happening this year, I knew in the back of my mind that NaNo was starting, but I haven't yet immersed myself in the minds of these characters, so it's a rough start to say the least.

Despite NaNo's intensity, I do plan / hope to continue writing Flash! Friday stories throughout the month! This week's prompt asks for 250 words +/- 10 on this photo:

Old Car. Photo by Brigitte Werner.

October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

November and NaNo are almost upon us, but first it's time for tricks, treats, scary props, & costumes!  I wanted to take this chance to remind you of a very special Trick or Treat combo that's in your hands: 

I'm somewhat amazed, but Scripting Change has somehow managed to find an even easier way to support their project!   

The Treat:  It takes less than 30 seconds to join this Thunderclap campaign, and yet those 30 seconds and 3ish clicks will still help them positively impact the world.  Joining means one single tweet and/or Facebook post will go up from your account on their behalf on November 4th. 

The Trick: If the campaign doesn't reach its goal of 100 supporters, none of the pledged posts happen.

So please consider treating Scripting Change to your support!

October 28, 2013

9 Tips for #NaNoWriMo

So, I'll be honest, the title for this post preceded the post itself. In writing it, I had no idea whether I'll make it to 9 tips, but it seemed like a fun number to go with, so when I reached 9, I stopped.  Please feel free to contribute your own tips in the comments!

  • Tip #1: Get some sleep!
    • Okay, granted, I'm sorely lacking in this department lately, which is probably the reason this is my first tip. At the same time, NaNo word count goals will either keep you up late or have you setting an extra early alarm, so it's a good idea to rest up before November starts.  It's also important to take advantage of days when your writing miraculously flow from your fingers, both to get ahead on your word count and to rest up for bouts of writer's block.
  • Tip #2: Get involved in your region
    • Many writers are solitary creatures, true, but networking is important, both for encouragement along the NaNo path and in the future, when we try to break into the publishing world.  So make sure to look up your region and attend at least one write-in (virtual or not).
    • If none are scheduled at convenient times for you, offer to organize one yourself! All that means is that you choose a time & place, commit to being there for a couple hours, and get some writing done, surrounded by some other local writers trying this crazy thing.

October 25, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #47

It's Friday! It's also almost the end of October which is absolutely crazy. November 1st, aka the start of NaNoWriMo, is only a week away!

While that craziness hasn't yet caught up with us, there's still time for this week's Flash! Friday prompt: 200 words +/- 5 on the photo below.  So, folks, let's write!


October 22, 2013

Why Twitter Is a Must for Aspiring Authors

Okay, I admit, back when I started this blog, and my Facebook page, I was not planning on getting a Twitter account.  I thought it was a self-serving, largely vapid (I just had a delicious sandwich! Tell me how lucky I am!), inconsequential waste of time, or something along those lines.  Luckily for me, a friend who himself isn't even on Twitter suggested that I sign up specifically for the sake of my writing.  Little did he know how right he was!

Though Twitter can be overwhelming to start, especially if we feel the need to amass followers quickly or to read every Tweet in our feed, it offers us as aspiring authors membership in a widespread, supportive, active, and engaged community that simply isn't as present on other social media sites.  The benefits of participating in this community are immense.

October 18, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #46

My goodness, it has been quite a whirlwind week, with #AdPit, preparing for Trick or Treat with Agents, and starting to gear up for this year's NaNoWriMo! I did, however, make time for a Flash! Friday post, getting it in just under the wire.  As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Rules: 250 words, +/- 10, on this photo: 

Ice Cube Aurora. Photo by Carlos Pobes

October 14, 2013

Scripting Change Seeks Bloggers!

Scripting Change has set a publication date! Both Donna L. Sadd and I will have pieces included, which is incredibly exciting.  Now, Scripting Change is asking for the blogger community as a whole to lend a hand in sharing the news by participating in a release-day blast on November 4th!

I've written about this project before, because I think it is such a wonderful cause – bringing together writers in support of nonprofits.  We contribute our words, the organizers contribute their time, and 100% of the proceeds go to the nonprofit associated with each specific collection.  This year's nonprofit is the MSTR Scholarship Foundation.  From Scripting Change's website: 
"The MSTR Scholarship Foundation aims to help those students affected by chronic illness, who nevertheless have the passion, drive, and determination to seek or continue their educations, by providing financial scholarships in recognition and support of their perseverance."
So please consider donating space on your blog or website to spread the word about this wonderful project!  Email the project (Scripting.Change AT gmail) or get in touch through their website to lend your support.

October 11, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #45

Some intriguing news accompanies this week's Flash! Friday prompt: the opportunity to judge is being opened to everyone! (Even you!)  Anyone who feels comfortable evaluating others' writing is encouraged to fill out the application, which includes a sample judging of 5 stories.  So what do you say, will you go for it? Should I? 

Meanwhile, here is this week's prompt: 200 words (+/- 10) on the photo below.

October 7, 2013

The Ripple Effect Romance Novella Series

Check out this exciting new series of clean novellas by six critically acclaimed authors.
"Like a pebble tossed into calm water, a simple act can ripple outward and have a far-reaching effect on those we meet, perhaps setting a life on a different course—one filled with excitement, adventure, and sometimes even love."
Book 1: Home Matters by Julie N. Ford

Book 2: Silver Linings by Kaylee Baldwin

Book 3: Righting A Wrong by Rachael Anderson

Book 4: Lost and Found by Karey White

Book 5: Second Chances 101 by Donna K. Weaver

Book 6: Immersed in Love by Jennifer Griffith

October 6, 2013

Drafted!

When I began writing the re-envisioned version of Muse, I expected it to be at least as long as my first novel, perhaps even longer, given the paranormal element.  I realized as I approached the resolution that I couldn't have been more wrong. So, I altered my word count goal, from 75,000 to only 60,000.  The first draft hasn't even reached that mark.  On the plus side, however, it is done!


Despite being significantly shorter than expected and with everything else that has been doing on, this draft still took longer than I had hoped to write.  Particularly in the face of the recent rejections of my first novel, finishing the draft of this one is exhilarating, even knowing the inevitable revisions (and rejections) that await it.  

On a side note, through this process I am now more convinced than ever that it is the story that should define its word count, rather than the attempts of the author to match any kinds of standards. Technically, as it stands, this book is a novella.  And that's okay.

October 4, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #44

In case you missed it, check out my 60 Seconds Interview from last week's Flash! Friday win.  I must say, wonderful as winning is, there is a certain amount of additional pressure this week after the reception of last week's story.  I have yet to write this week's, and yet I urge readers not to judge it too harshly, as each prompt inevitably inspires in its own way.  

That being said, here is this week's prompt: 150 words exactly on the photo below.

September 30, 2013

Wrapping Up September

October will be upon us in less than ten hours – eep!  

Truthfully, I had intended to be further along in my WIP.  I had hoped, at the very least, to be finished with the first draft.  Unfortunately, that hasn't quite happened, partially because of unforeseen opportunities, such as Pitch Madness and Secret Agent, which suffused September.  Though these opportunities did draw me away from writing my WIP, they were a wonderful experience, and I cannot regret participating.  For that matter, I am hoping to submit to another pitch contest in October: Trick or Treat with Agents!

Despite not meeting my writing goal, September has ended on a high note, as I found out yesterday that my final Flash! Friday piece of the month actually won!  I received some generous feedback which was truly encouraging, and I want to thank everyone who took the time both to read and to share their impressions!

This past week's Flash! Friday judge, Kinza Carpenter Shores, wrote:
This piece really caught me within the very first line. For hooks, the first paragraph was one of the most intriguing I’ve read. I loved the sardonic humor and how I was kept guessing about where the story was going until the very end. The imagery and diction in this piece were excellent without being superfluous.

It is quite gratifying to end this month at this invigorating point.  Though October will inevitably be filled with its own ups and downs (hopefully more ups than downs!), I am excited to see what it will bring!

September 27, 2013

September 23, 2013

Contest Critiques

September has so far been saturated with all manner of contests, and several more results are still forthcoming.  The contests I have entered can be split into two categories: brief, online contests, such as Pitch Madness, and those hosted by chapters of the Romance Writers of America.  

One of the benefits of online contests is quite frankly the speed of the turnaround.  On the one hand, because these contests include live teasers through Twitter or comments from blog readers, the amount of stress is exponentially higher.  On the other hand, such contests are an ideal example of the strength and support of the writing community.  People get together beforehand, with some offering their sites as forums, to perfect their submissions; words of encouragement are generously exchanged throughout; and new connections are forged.  In my case, these contests really pushed me to focus on my pitch and first page (which has been revised many times this month).

Though RWA chapter contests tend to have a turnaround time between 6 and 10 weeks, they deal with larger portions of text and, unlike other contests of which I know, many provide detailed judges' feedback on each entry.

The juxtaposition of these many contests in such a short period of time has crystalized for me the importance of evaluating the source of a critique as much as its content.  Not all criticisms are created equal.  Same goes for judges, and even for the contests themselves.

September 20, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #42

In a much-needed break from rewriting K&S's first page for the thousandth time this week, it is time for Flash! Friday!  300 words, +/- 10 on this photo: 

Odd Fellows Home for for Orphans, Indigent, and Aged

September 17, 2013

Back in the Game

My apologies as it has been much too long since I have written! It has been an incredibly hectic several weeks, filled with contests (Pitch Madness, PitMad, & Secret Agent), results from 2 RWA chapter contests, rewrites, a brief vacation, holidays, and so much more.  But now I'm back and ready to jump back into a more regular posting schedule, finish my second novel, and of course rejoin the virtual writing community.  

Much as I love posting as frequently as I have something on my mind, I am thinking now about sticking to a more regular posting schedule.  So, from here on out, I will try to post on Mondays and for the Flash! Friday contests. I will of course continue to welcome guest posts, host touring authors, and share exceptional news as it arises! 

Up next: a reflection on the role of contests and how to value & use judges' feedback.

September 9, 2013

Review: Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour

A while back, I hosted Donna Huber on my blog as part of her own book tour promoting her recent release, Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.  Donna was gracious enough to offer me a review copy, in exchange for my honest review.  Here goes: 

I have first-hand experience as a host for authors who used Girl Who Reads' blog tour services, so I was not at all surprised that this book laid out a clear, effective, and organized method for planning a blog tour.  It also advocates a professional and courteous approach to bloggers, which is unsurprising but invaluable advice for those questioning whether their communication should be casually friendly (we are a friendly community, after all!) or more formal.

September 6, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #40

The craziness has been unprecedented around here, lately! Today was filled with unpredictable disruptions of all kinds, but despite it all, I did finally manage to write a Flash! Friday story – and I even submitted it before the deadline! 

This week's prompt swung in the opposite direction of last week's, with this black-and-white photo.  The word count, however, remained almost the same, with a limit of 300 +/- 5.  Your comments are, as always, quite welcome! 

Bridge girl. Photo by Scott Liddell.

September 1, 2013

Muse Word Count

With everything else going on, progress has been slow, but it has in fact been happening! 

I'm currently a bit concerned as to the point I have reached in the story arc vs. the current word count.  I am not sure this story will reach even 60,000 words.  Then again, I felt that way when I was writing K&S, and I still maintain the most important factor with word count is serving the story.  

So, I am making every attempt not to worry about it until the plot is finished.  I did see a tweet recently from an author who added 13,000 words to her manuscript in the editing stage – so everything could still change.  With that in mind, I'm not changing my target word count in this widget, at least for now.


August 30, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #39

It's tough to believe that it's been almost a week since I submitted to Pitch Madness.  Many writers have banned together to read, nearly obsessively, the intentionally vague notes of slush readers on our entries, posted publicly on Twitter.  As far as we know, 185 (out of 487) entries made it into round two.  Unfortunately, we shall never know which. We do know that after round three (yep, two more sessions of whittling down those 185 pitches), there will be 60 entries chosen. 

Besides the usual fun of diving into the photo prompts, Flash! Friday has actually provided a welcome, if brief, distraction from stressing over Pitch Madness.  This week's prompt (below) allowed us 300 words (+/- 10) with which to explore and play.  As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Unicornio, by Salvador Nunez, shared as part of the Peru Arte Valor effort.

August 27, 2013

Political Agendas in Romance Novels

During the Blogger Book Fair, I asked readers which topics they would like to see addressed on my blog.  One asked me to discuss "advancing political agendas in romance novels."  Here goes!

In one way or another, everything we write hints at our political stances.  In the case of romance novels, the politics of sexuality are an obvious example: an author who includes homosexual couples automatically touches on modern politics.  That is not, however, unequivocally a sign of pushing a political agenda.  Neither is, for instance, addressing the issues associated with an unwanted pregnancy.

August 23, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #38

It's Friday, and despite my trepidation over tomorrow's Pitch Madness, I am determined to write something.  Here goes! 250 words, +/- 10 on this photo: 

“Where Next,” painting by Edward Frederick Brewtnall (1846 – 1902). Public domain.

August 22, 2013

Query Shark

I've been busy.  So busy that lately I've been horribly remiss in updating my blog or socializing on those networks we all love (or hate, depending on our mood).  Just when I began slowly resurfacing, I came across Query Shark, a blog on which an agent comments on submitted queries [submitted to the blog, not to her as an agent].  

I have now fallen into the trap of reading all of the posted queries, starting with the oldest.  While with research, it is fairly easy to avoid some of the most common pitfalls appearing in what I've read so far, it is invaluable to see inline reactions to a selection of queries spanning many genres and styles.  Between this discovery and continually revising my submission for Pitch Madness, it's likely I will not truly resurface for at least a few more days.  But Query Shark should certainly give you plenty to read!

August 17, 2013

Friday Flashed By

Unfortunately, the unavoidable busy-ness of my day meant I had to skip this week's Flash! Friday prompt.  I'm told this weeks entries are hilarious, so do go check them out!

In other news, Life Under Examination is now officially available for sale through Barnes & Noble!  I have to say, from the author perspective, I found the ability to edit an uploaded manuscript directly through the Nook Press interface to be invaluable. As opposed to other online distributors, which would require an author to correct and re-upload in a trial-and-error method, Nook Press provides the options to both preview and modify the file which will be on sale, ultimately allowing for a better quality product and a less frustrating process for the author. 

This weekend is filled with birthday parties for me, which means fun with family but unfortunately less time to write.  What about you? How are your weekends going?

August 14, 2013

Plugging Away

I'm deep in the thick of this novel, and things are getting pretty heated between my characters, so they're demanding all of my attention!  As of last night, I'm about halfway to my arbitrarily set goal:

The need to set a word count goal is interesting.  On the one hand, I know that I will tell the story in however many words it needs – whether that's 50,000 or 90,000.  On the other, having a specific goal allows me to measure my progress in a more quantifiable way, for instance via the graphic above, and I've found that helps me appreciate and strive for that progress.  So how did I choose my goal of 75,000 words? It's approximately the length of my previous novel, and I know where it fits in the industry standards, having researched them a while back.  For more on word counts and setting a reasonable yet marketable goal, check out this post.

As I mentioned, I'm also in the midst of some steamy scenes.  I know this can be a point of weakness, anxiety, or even contention for some writers and readers, which is something I recently addressed in a guest post, Shifting the Spotlight on the Deed.

I hope those provide some food for thought as I plug away on the muddled middle of this manuscript.

August 11, 2013

Creating a Media Sheet

by Donna Huber


I'm often hired by authors to assist in contacting reviewers. If all they've hired me for is blogger outreach, I put together a media sheet for the book I'm pitching. Basically, it's a pared down media kit. For the busy author (and what author isn't busy?), I highly recommend having a media sheet specific to the book you are promoting. It allows for the quick and easy dissemination of information to bloggers. Also, it looks professional and is a great resource to have on hand.

Most bloggers, when accepting your request for a review or to host you, will ask for some basic information. By having this media sheet done, you won't have to worry about finding all the pieces, or leaving anything out by accident. It can also provide information to the blogger about your book without making your pitch long-winded. If you don't already have a media kit, it can also serve as the basis for one.

August 9, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #36

This week, Rebekah has limited our stories with an exact word count of 99!  In case you think that's too short, don't forget to pop over to these two posts, published today:
The Desperate Dating Game of Self-Publishing, on the Writer Diaries
& Shifting the Spotlight on the Deed, on Into Another World
And now for this week's prompt:

August 6, 2013

Looking Back & Moving Forward

Right around when I began this blog,  I wrote a general plan for the upcoming months. Incredibly, that plan, with some unexpected additions, has actually been fulfilled! It seems like time, then, to lay out a new plan for the upcoming months:
  • Finish my 2nd manuscript.  Though my Camp NaNoWriMo goal has been met, there is still quite a ways to go before this draft is finished (as illustrated by the fun graphic below.)  
    • And then that draft will need to be edited.
  • Participate in Pitch Madness, a contest hosted by Brenda Drake:
    • A 24-hour window to submit a 35-word (max) log line and the first 250 words of a completed manuscript for a chance to make it into the final round, judged by a slew of agents.
  • Anxiously await results of the preliminary rounds of the RWA chapter contests in which I've entered K&S.
  • Begin book #3 for November's NaNoWriMo.

What are your goals for the upcoming months? Share them in the comments!

August 5, 2013

Celebrating 6 Months!

It has officially been 6 months since the start of this blog!  It has been quite the whirlwind adventure, with March's Flash Blogging Challenge, the weekly Flash! Friday contests, guest posts, giveaways, the Blogger Book Fair, and so much more.  To thank all of you who have been along for the ride so far, I've decided to give my poetry collection, Life Under Examination, away FREE!!

To get your free copy: 

Honest reviews would of course be greatly appreciated. Reviews can be posted on Amazon, Goodreads, or directly on Smashwords.  This offer will only be good for the next two weeks, so snag your copy today!  

August 3, 2013

I'm Not a Real Writer

Everywhere I look, there seems to be a new rule for "what writers do" and "how to be a writer." Don't believe me?  Click here.  To be clear, I don't mean grammar or technical guidelines.  I do follow those, or break them conscientiously.

What have I learned from countless tweets and articles?  Apparently I'm not a writer; I really don't follow any of the rules. 
  • I don't write every day. 
  • I do go back and edit before I finish a draft.
  • I don't write whatever comes out and then worry about whether it makes sense only when working on the second draft. 
  • I don't outline beforehand to know where I'm going, but I also don't write hundreds of pages of nonsense that need to be rewritten or deleted.
  • I don't post on this blog based on a preset schedule. 
    • Would you rather I did?
  • I don't read books every day either.
  • I'm sure there are more . . .
To be honest, most of these rules I learned after I had finished my completed manuscript, and long after I had first been published, so it's not like I purposefully attempted to break them.  Still, I'm not about to change what works for me because someone else says it's wrong.  I'd rather skip a day of writing than throw away the resulting pages, and I'd rather skip a day (or week) of reading if what I really want to do is spend hours writing the scenes in my mind.  (Of course, reading some kind of text is inevitable, but I mean honest-to-goodness books, digital or otherwise.)

August 2, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #35

Apparently Rebekah wasn't thrilled with the slaughter last week.  This week's prompt is even more innocent, in theory anyway.  Let's see what comes of it! Anywhere between 100 & 200 words plays, on this photo:

Photo by Bild Bundesarchiv, WikiCommons

July 31, 2013

Mid-summer Recap

Somewhat unbelievably and much too quickly, July has come to an end.  For me, this month has been filled with chaos and many ups & downs. 

Some of the highlights include successfully meeting my Camp NaNoWriMo goal for my next manuscript, and Life Under Examination winning the Blogger Book Fair Reader's Choice Award!  Moments like those help keep me going in the face of my growing agent rejection count.  I have also entered my first manuscript in 5 RWA chapter contests, so I am anxiously awaiting the preliminary results. Unfortunately it'll be a long wait as those are 6-10 weeks away.

In case you missed them, I have also had two guest posts published in July. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts! 
Of course, though the conclusion of July means the conclusion of Camp NaNo, a writer's work is never done.  This manuscript still needs to be finished, more guest posts need to be written, and other fun events are constantly coming up, not to mention daily life, both on this blog and in the non-virtual world.  

Welcome to my whirlwind! Let's see what August brings...

July 29, 2013

Continuing Down the Path

A new reader to my blog asked recently what those sporadic stats at the top of some of my posts were (for instance, "words written in new manuscript").  So, I'd like to take a step back today and refocus.  This blog is about writing, and more specifically, taking my writing from its starting point all the way through to publication, traditional or otherwise.  It's about my pitfalls, successes, and every step in between.  

While I cannot say that 100% of my actions are strategic motions down that path – I am not a robot after all – that journey is my primary focus. That means: 
  • Writing new material
  • Regularly updating this blog, hopefully with interesting and useful information
  • Participating in the larger writing community as a whole, for instance through:
    • Twitter, Facebook, & Goodreads
    • Virtual events such as the Blogger Book Fair and Pitch Madness
    • Supporting other writers' journeys
  • Contributing to other writers' and readers' blogs, via guest posts, comments, and more
  • Querying agents and editors
    • Dealing with rejections, responding to requests, and generally vacillating among excitement, depression, and determination
  • Submitting to writing contests
  • Seeking out networking and exposure opportunities

This list is probably not all-inclusive, but it should give you an idea of my primary, writing-related activity, which will be detailed on this blog.  There are also offshoots to this journey, in which I participate for fun or practice, or to support the community as a whole, beyond the writers' world.  These include, for instance: 

It may seem, perhaps, that this blog has recently lost focus from its original purpose.  The fact is, I am new to many of these steps and pieces.  I am sorting it all out, and, if you're willing, taking you along for the ride.  My posts will continue to cover the range of my experiences, though I make no claims as to their similarity to others' experiences.  This blog will also continue to welcome the input of guest posters from within the writing world. 

Are there topics you would like to see addressed? Let me know!

July 27, 2013

BBF Giveaway Winners!

Thank you to everyone who made the Blogger Book Fair as exciting as it was!  All of us authors and bloggers know we would be nowhere without our readers, and I'm grateful to each one of you who took the time to stop by my blog, read the guest posts, and enter my giveaway.  Results were powered through the Rafflecopter widget, which uses Random.org.  That being said, the winners are:
  • Jackie R. (Autographed copy and keychain)
  • Cindy B. C. (E-book copy and keychain)
  • Laura F. G. (Keychain)
  • Brigette S. (Keychain)
Winners should expect to see an email from me soon and will have 72 hours to respond.  If a winner does not respond, an alternate winner will be selected.

July 26, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #34

You may think that I've been extraordinarily busy with both the Blogger Book Fair and Camp NaNoWriMo (which is true), but that doesn't mean that I've forgotten that it's Friday!

This week's Flash! Friday prompt limits us to 75 words (+/- 5) on the photo below:
Photo by Wolfgang Moroder, WikiCommons

BBF: Coming to a Close

It's the last day of the Blogger Book Fair!  While one of the benefits of a virtual event such as this one is the fact that you can continue to read all of the fantastic guest posts, excerpts, etc., it is the last day to take advantage of some promotions such as discounted books and giveaways – so don't forget to check those out.

In this fast-paced week, writers and bloggers have come together, demonstrating our strength and reach as a community (despite the relatively small percentage of community members actively participating in this particular event).  The purpose of this event was promotion, and fun, but the implications of our community's potential shouldn't be ignored. 

Given the opportunity, we can have an immense impact simply by doing what we do best.  So, I would like to use this final BBF post on my site to remind everyone about a project organized specifically to provide that opportunity: Scripting Change.  This community effort depends on writers, and bloggers, to contribute to their efforts for the sake of raising money to support fiscally responsible nonprofit organizations.  This year's recipient is the MSTR Scholarship Foundation, which offers financial assistance to students affected by chronic illness. 

Each and every one of us can help, whether by liking the project's Facebook page, submitting a piece of poetry or short fiction (guidelines here), or spreading the word.

Our Words Can Change the World

July 25, 2013

Blogger Book Fair: Day 4

The Blogger Book Fair is soon coming to an end, but it's still going at full speed! Guest appearances continue to be posted, giveaways are still open, and even the Reader's Choice Award voting doesn't end until later tonight.  So what are you waiting for? Check out the Fair's Directory to join in on the fun while you still can!

While you're here, don't forget to stop by my Blogger Book Fair posts: 
And of course, check out their guest appearances here and enter my dedicated giveaway!

Guest Post by Emma Calin

This should be a guest post for the Blogger Book Fair to tempt you to read my books. However, since I am on the blog of a lovely poet, I wanted to share some poetry with you from a collection by a good friend, Oscar Sparrow.

I had the honour of writing the foreword for this anthology, so it feels like one of my books in any case!

The collection is called “I threw a stone” and is an eclectic selection of poems about life, love and nature. Some of the poems are serious, some are funny, some are raw and brutal. All exhibit Oscar's unique talent of distilling the essence of a subject into poetic form. The book is unusual in that the digital version includes a link to a FREE audio recording of all the poetry, recorded by Oscar himself with a specially composed musical introduction written by a local young musician. What better than to hear a poem read aloud by the poet?

July 24, 2013

Tips to Find Inspiration Every Day

By A. J. Hayes


Last year, on my 30th birthday, I took the challenge to write a poem a day for a year and post it on my Tumblr blog. I completed the task earlier this year, and compiled all 365 poems into a collection, 30th Year Poetry. Inspiration for these poems came in many forms. I talk about the specific inspiration for the poems in the book. In order to “get inspired” on a daily basis, I recommend doing the following:

July 23, 2013

Blogger Book Fair: Day 2

Unfortunately, one of the authors with whom I was scheduled to exchange posts for the Blogger Book Fair had to drop out at the last minute.  Rather than deprive all of you of the post I wrote for her site (and we all know it'd be an unacceptable loss) I am publishing it here.  I look forward to reading your thoughts in the comments!

Agent Adventure

Finding the Gatekeepers of the Walled City of Publishing


Having chosen the traditional route, a writer begins a quest not unlike that of medieval heroes. We’ve packed our bags with the necessary supplies (our finished manuscript, a polished query letter, determination, and as a bonus – internet access) and now set out to make it past the gatekeepers (aka agents). At least one must be convinced of our worth before we are allowed to enter the walled city of publishing and fight for a place in its perpetual tournament. First, of course, we have to seek out the gatekeeper most likely to appreciate our potential.

July 22, 2013

Reader's Choice Awards!

As we kick off the Blogger Book Fair, in an extremely fortunate twist of fate, the Author Alliance 5-star review (by Nada Adel Sobhi) of Life Under Examination was posted today!  With lovely comments such as:
"I loved it. And that’s all I’m going to say about it. I will leave it for the rest of the world to read and see for themselves. *thumbs up Ms. Glazki*" 
and: " Life Under Examination deserves more than a 5-star rating for it is a collection that can, and will, touch each and every one."
Ms. Sobhi has certainly warmed my heart and reddened my cheeks!  

The timing is in part fortuitous because the polls for the Reader's Choice Awards have opened!  So please check out this thoughtful review, and then go vote!! (Life Under Examination is listed under "Poetry")

Blogger Book Fair Kickoff & Giveaway

The 2013 Summer Blogger Book Fair has officially begun!  This is my first time participating in a virtual book fair, but it's certainly shaping up to be quite the experience.  Authors and bloggers from around the world have come together to bring you a week saturated with wonderful guest posts, book reviews, giveaways, free & discounted books, and so much more!  Check everything out through the BBF directory.

All books participating in the Blogger Book Fair have been entered into the Reader's Choice Awards, including mine! Head on over to Shut Up & Read blog to cast your vote. Votes for my collection would of course be greatly appreciated, but don't forget to check out the many other categories!

July 20, 2013

Guest Post Etiquette

This isn't my first post relating to virtual etiquette, and while I certainly do not aim to become the Emily Post of the blogging world, there are nevertheless some dos and don'ts I'd like to share, based on both my experiences and common sense. I hope you will find them useful!

July 19, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #33

It's Friday, and by now readers familiar with my blog know that that means it's time for Flash! Friday Fiction! The prompt is the lovely photo below, but this week we're challenged with an exact word count of 200.  Here goes!
Photo taken by Florian Fuchs (from Flash! Friday site)