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This Week in Writing

Oh, thank goodness it's finally Friday!  This week has been so very long.  I'm definitely looking forward to an extended weekend and being lazy.  The week has improved slightly, I didn't injure myself again, but it would be best if I can just put it behind me.

I've made pretty good progress on my latest novel.  I'm on chapter 11.  I think this baby is going to turn into a huge book.  I'm telling the story from three different perspectives, and each character needs their own story arc.  It's been an interesting challenge, and my biggest to date, so I'm interested to see how it will turn out.  I have no idea how long it will take me to get done or how long it will be when I'm finished.  It'll get there when it gets there.  Don't worry, though, I'll keep you informed of my progress.

The other night, the boys were telling stories about dinosaurs and informing me about how they became extinct.  I heard all about a volcano and how lava destroyed the plants so the dinosaurs didn't have any food, then they explained how a meteor from space came down and that's what caused the volcano to explode and the lava to flow and then the dinosaurs couldn't breathe the air. 

From there, the conversation changed to how the boys have never seen a dinosaur, and I pointed out that they've been to the Geological Museum on campus, so they've seen dinosaur bones.

"Yeah," the 5 year old says, "but I've never seen a real dinosaur."

"Um," I responded.  "I don't think you'd want to see a real one."

"If a T Rex was right there," the 3 year old pointed behind him in the living room, "I would feed it some meat."

The 5 year old chuckled and said, "If a T Rex was right there, I don't think it would eat the meat.  It would set its sights on you.  You're meat."  He looked at me and nodded.  "People are meat.  Dinosaurs would like us."

"And chicken?" the 3 year old asked.

Both the 5 year old and I burst out laughing.  Of course they'd like chicken!  After humans, it's the other white meat! 

Hope your weekend is fabulous and you learn something new!

Self-promotion Thursday

Hmmmm, which of my books do I want to bombard you with today?  How about my YA zombie book, Life After the Undead.  With a little luck, the sequel will be coming out in the next few months, so you'll need to read this one so you can enjoy the second!

You can order from it Amazon or eTreasures.

The world has come to an end. It doesn’t go out with a bang, or even a whimper. It goes out in an orgy of blood and the dead rising from their graves to feast on living flesh. As democracy crumples and the world melts into anarchy, five families in the U.S. rise to protect the survivors. The undead hate a humid environment, so they are migrating westward to escape its deteriorating effects. The survivors are constructing a wall in North Platte to keep the zombie threat to the west, while tyranny rules among the humans to the east. Capable but na├»ve Krista is 15 when the first attacks occur, and she loses her family and barely escapes with her life. She makes her way to the wall and begins a new life. But, as the undead threat grows and dictators brainwash those she cares about, Krista must fight not only to survive but also to defend everything she holds dear—her country, her freedom, and ultimately those she loves.

Meet an Author

Today's guest is Patricia Bates.  She will tell you about herself.

Reading has been such a large part of my life. I cut my literary teeth on such author’s as Louis L’Amour, Nora Roberts and Janet Dailey. For me it wasn’t such a jump from reading the wonderful tales these author’s spun to imagining my own.

Soon I was writing poetry, short stories and by junior high I’d written my first full length romance novel. Since then I’ve taken my love of history and my passion for writing and combined them into what I hope will continue to prove a successful career.
With six books contracted, four of which are currently available in print. All are available in electronic format with the last two ebooks due for a release in May and the other in the summer. I’m currently working on three projects, an erotic paranormal romance featuring a witch who loves Christmas, another Ancient Ireland novel, rich in the history of the Irish Celtic peoples, and plotting out a Cowboy Series tentatively titled “The James Gang”.

Of course I’ve got a lot more on the go. I’m developing and growing my editing company with some amazing authors, working on getting the books that Blade had revamped to fit the submission guidelines for some other publishers and keeping up on my writing and being a full time mom, working outside of the house…its amazing what I can manage in a 16 hour day.

Q) What inspired you to write this story?
Preacher's Outlaw was a story I was invited to write for Decadent Publishing. A former editor asked me to participate and I jumped at it since historicals are one of my favs to write and read. However the inspiration came from a song playing on my computer - Waylon Jennings Ladies love Outlaws - and instantly my mind went to what if it wasn't a bad boy story but one of a bad girl? And the story was born.

Q) How long did it take you to write?
It didn't take long to write it less than a month actually. But I wrote it in bits and pieces because some characters I had to wait for permission to use, and then of course Abigail and Daniel weren't always so eager to participate. So I had to wrangle the characters a bit but it was still fun.

Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
Getting to go where I've never been. When writing historicals I can take a tour of a place I couldn't go to - even if I managed to get there today lol.

Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
Writer's Block - or in my case a muse whose too pushy and has way too many ideas for stories for me to keep track of.

Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
Its a toss up between Boudicca and Cleopatra. Both were women of power, but that isn't what they're attraction is for me. They were willing to risk everything for love and family and there's nothing better than that.

Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
Crushed Garlic and its about six months old.

Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
Oh I have a whole list of books I'm working on both as myself and under my pen name. I will definitely be having writing more historical romances, a few contemporaries, working on my paranormal series, working on my Cowboys Series and more. Stop by my website or blog for an updated list - it changes frequently so you may want to sign up for the newsletter which goes out monthly.

Readers can find me on my websites


Buy Link for Preacher's Outlaw

Need to Start Over

Meet an Author Tuesday will resume tomorrow.  It seems the blog post has gotten lost somewhere in cyberspace.

I need to start today over.  It hasn't been very nice to me so far.  It started at 5:00 a.m., when my husband's alarm went off.  For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why he was getting up.  He never works out on Wednesday.  Then, it hit me.  It wasn't Wednesday, it was only Tuesday.  That was my first let down.

I woke up with a huge headache because smoke from wildfires had drifted across our air space.  That put me in a bad mood.  I had to wake the boys up, and as I bent down to kiss the 5 year old, I don't know if he moved or I misjudged the distance, but I whacked my mouth on his head and cut the inside of my lip with my teeth.  That didn't help the headache or my mood.

Parking at the University is practically nonexistent.  Finding a place is like looking for the Holy Grail, so they have satellite parking lots with buses that take people to campus.  In the summer, it's fantastic because sometimes I would be the only person on the bus.  Yesterday, classes started again.  I'm no longer the only person on the bus.  I'm crammed in there with tons of students.  This morning, I had to wait in line to get on the bus.  I went from being cranky to downright irritated.  Then, when I was on the bus, I had to stand because they cram as many people in as they can.  It wouldn't be that bad if the people around me didn't have ginormous backpacks that slammed into me every time the bus driver braked.

When I finally got to work, I went to fill my coffee cup, only to find no one had made coffee yet.  Are you kidding me?  I don't mind making coffee, I know how, but I don't like being surprised like that. 

It's 8:30 on Tuesday and it's already been a long week.  I guess the one saving grace is that my day can only get better.  And it better!

Movie Review Monday

The Dictator (2012)

To be honest, I forgot this movie existed until I saw postings of it on Facebook and my spouse came across it on pay-per-view.  Since I'm not normally picky about what I watch, I said what the heck?

The film is the story of Admiral General Aladeen, who is the dictator of Wadiya.  He is the scourge of humanity and a caricature of every dictator that has ever existed in the world.  He's secretly building nuclear weapons to destroy his enemies, and, as you can imagine, people want to assassinate him.  While in New York, an attempt to kill him goes awry, and he has to figure out how to get his power back.

Parts of the film made me laugh.  It had its moments of hilarity, but it also had its moments of immaturity.  Its possible I didn't get some of it because I'm not a guy.  Either way, if you're a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen and not easily offended (and trust me, this film will offend you on some level), check it out.  If you are easily offended, then I don't recommend this film at all.  It will almost certainly p*ss you off.

This Week in Writing

Edits. Edits. Edits.  The publisher sent me "pre-edits" to do for Wucaii, so I've been working on those.  It's been a bit tedious, and the story has lost all meaning to me since I've read it so many times.   Plus, when I edit, my brain is in a different frame.  I'm sure the story is fine, but reading it in chunks and with a discerning eye, it seems a little boring.  I'll have to wait and see what the content editor says.

Other than that, I haven't been doing anything.  It's been a crazy busy week, and I'm looking forward to some down time.  I have nothing planned for this weekend, and I'm going to enjoy it!

Monday night, the boys had a play date with some of their friends from daycare.  I didn't tell them where we were going, just in case something happened and we couldn't make it.  On the way to the park, I had to stop at the bank.  As usual, they got stickers.  Cool ones.  Matchbox ones.  The boys picked out the ones they liked, then the 5 year old says, "I'm going to give this to my friend."

The 3 year old parroted.  "Me too.  I'm going to give it to my friend."

"That's very nice of both of you," I said.

"Yeah," the 5 year old stated, "I think my friend is really going to like it."

It amazes me how generous and thoughtful my boys can be.  Hope you find yourself in the same situation this weekend!  Have a great one!

Self-promotion Thursday

Once again, I thought I would promote my very first novel, Coming from Nowhere.  You can purchase it here and here.

Here are some things people had to say about it:

Thriller Scifi! July 7, 2009

By tlinse

What a great ride! The plot of Coming from Nowhere really pulls you along, but you have to pay attention because it twists and turns, and there are two major surprises in the last half of the book. The alien cariensis are magnificently nasty, and I'd love to see more of the intelligent alien Xyphons in future books. Also, the heroes and villains in this book are wonderfully complicated, with complex motives and long difficult pasts. I'd highly recommend this book.

- Tamara

Amazing read! June 29, 2012

By Sweis

This is a wonderful tale with interesting twists. JD is an endearing heroine who stands on her own. I particularly enjoyed the fact that JD did not have a romantic interest in order to be a complete character, as so many stories require of female leads. The only thing it left me wanting was a second installment. I cannot wait to find out what happens next!

Changes on traditional theme, January 21, 2010

By B. Wills "malfan"

Coming from Nowhere has an amnesiac protagonist, but she is not your average amnesiac and she's not easily pigeonholed. Complex characters in this book do not do what you expect and there are twists that I didn't see coming. It is a dark, yet entertaining sci fi take on revolution and individual meaning.

For more reviews, check out Amazon.  While you're there, order a copy of the book.  If you get the Kindle edition, don't forget I'm on Kindlegraph and can sign it for you!

I've Been Exposed!

I have two more radio interviews to share with you.  The first one is here.  Once you get to the link, find the 08-20-2012 Daybreak USA Hour 4 08/20/2012 and click on the play button on the right. The interview starts at about 18:23. The second is here.  You can't miss this link, my book cover is there.  Enjoy! 

I have two more shows to do tomorrow, and then two next week.  It's been fun.  I've enjoyed it.  I just wish I could get some kind of stats that would let me see if the promotion is translating into sales.  However, I don't think this exposure is hurting.  Even if it doesn't translate into thousands of sales, it's still getting my name out there.  That can't be bad.  I've come to the conclusion that a PR company is truly the way to go.  Too bad I don't have an expendable income to use strictly for that.

I'll admit, I was a little nervous about signing on with Newman Communications.  They found me, I didn't search for them, and when I first got their email, I thought it was spam.  I'm a bit of a freak, though, and I like to Google most things I get through email, especially if it's publishing stuff so I can familiarize myself with the latest scams and avoid them.  But I quickly found out that Newman wasn't a shyster, they were legit.  I did my diligent research, contacted others who had used their services to get feedback, and asked my publisher what they thought of using a PR company.  Turns out they had worked with Newman before and really enjoyed the results, so that sealed the deal for me.

As you can imagine, these companies don't work for free, but they are worth every dime.  I had a limited budget (very limited), but they were able to work around it.  Like I said, they got me seven radio spots, along with some blog posts (forthcoming).  Was it something I could have done myself?  Probably not.  I mean, I could have gotten radio spots, but not with as much coverage as these ones have.  And I definitely could have gotten blog posts, but, again, not with as much coverage.  I am really thankful for what Newman has done for me.

Like I said, I wish I had thousands of expendable dollars.  It would make my book campaign (for any of my books) so much easier.  Don't get me wrong, I still do my own promotion, but it hasn't gotten me the exposure Newman has.  I've been spoiled, and I don't want to go back to doing it on my own!

Meet An Author Tuesday

Today's author is Cordelia Dinsmore, who writes YA and upper MG novels when she isn’t digging in the dirt, riding her old mare, or attempting to train her dog and kids. She lives in a 100+ year old farmhouse that is haunted, according to her brother. The ghosts don’t bother her, but she wishes they would help with the cleaning occasionally (who wouldn't want that!).

Where you can find Cordelia:

Musa Buy Link

Amazon Buy Link

Barnes and Noble Link




Q) What inspired you to write this story?
My dad’s parents lived in a spooky old house and had an even spookier dog who would lurk around and watch us. My siblings and I would be playing in the yard or in the house, doing things we definitely should NOT be doing, and we’d turn around and find Blackie watching us. It creeped the others out, but I knew she just wanted to join in on the fun. After all, she lived with two elderly people and most assuredly had a very boring life. I know she just wanted to join us as we bounced down the stairs on Granny’s sofa cushions or slid across the rooms on her throw rugs. She had very slippery floors and lots of open space. And then, of course, there were the ghosts that occupied the back bedroom, where I NEVER slept.

Q) How long did it take you to write?
The actual writing took six to nine months, but then there was a lot of fiddling around with it and constant editing. I can’t seem to leave things alone. It was murderous for me after I had it accepted for publication, because I couldn’t do any more tweaking. Drove me crazy.

Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
Getting to know my characters. Some of them are just figments of my imagination, but others come to me and demand I tell their stories. It was rather freaky the first few times that happened. But I’ve found that these characters are so strong and real that I can’t ignore them. Sometimes I will even go back over something I have previously written and thought, “Who’s been messing with my manuscript? I didn’t write that.”

Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
I think the least favorite part about writing is when I begin to doubt myself. It makes me want to avoid the computer, and I’ll start playing those mindless games instead. Sometimes I think it’s all just dribble and no one would care either way. But then I tell myself, and it’s true, that I’m not writing for other people so much as I am for my characters. They all have a story to tell, and have chosen me to do the telling. It’s my ‘job’, such as it is, and most of the time I enjoy it. I guess I’m my own worst enemy.

Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
I would love to be Reba McIntire for one day. For one thing, she’s a redhead, and I love red hair. And I would love to be able to open my mouth to sing and sound like that. Besides, she just seems to be a really fun person, and I love to have fun.

Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
There are a couple of bottles of beer in my refrigerator that have been there for at least eleven years. Why? I could not begin to tell you. My husband says they are commemorative bottles or something. If I drank beer, they would definitely not be there. Everything else in there is relatively safe because our fridge went out a few months ago and we had to buy a new one. We had to chuck almost everything in there.

Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
I have a couple of upper MG novels in the works. One is a story of a girl in foster care and her adjustments to a totally different, but good, kind of life. The other is a 1960’s story of a girl who discovers a whole town full of relatives that she never knew existed. Some of my stuff is a little on the dark side, but the 60’s story is a lot of fun, even though some of the issues are a little heavy. And I also have plans for a tale of a couple of run-away slaves from pre-Civil War. That one’s going to take awhile, because it involves a lot of research and history is the bane of my existence.

Thanks so much for allowing me this time. I’ve had loads of fun. (Thank you for sharing with us!)

Movie Review Monday

What the heck?  The weekend is over already?  Where did the time go?  I didn't even have a chance to watch a movie.  The boys and I went to visit my parents this weekend, which is fun, but it's also tiring.  The kids don't sleep well in new places, and I have to sleep with them, which means I don't sleep well.  (Does it amaze any other parent out there that a 3 foot tall, 30 pound child can hog a kind-sized bed?  Boggles the mind.)  I'll be spending the entire week catching up!

I had my second radio interview this morning.  It was at 6:23 a.m.  A little early for me, but I got up and did what I had to do.  It was fun and for Daybreak USA, so I'm hoping it gets me some great exposure.  There should be a podcast of the interview, and I will post it as soon as it's up.

My brain is going to take a long time today to function.  I'm already having issues trying to type this blog.  Perhaps the best thing to do is quit now.  I can recoup later.

Have a great Monday!

This Week in Writing

I signed a contract last weekend for my fourth novel.  MuseItUp Publishing decided they wanted Wucaii, so the tentative release date is April 2013.  It seems like forever away, but I know it will be here before I realize it.  You know I will keep you updated on the progress.

It's been a pretty chill week on the writing front.  I did edits (mine and someone else's) and wrote another blog post (for the secret thing).  Other than that, I've been really lazy.  I need to start edits on Wucaii, but I haven't had the desire.  It has been a long, busy week.  This weekend isn't going to be much different.  I have until September 20 to get them done, and I will get them done, but I need to find my motivation first.  If any of you see it, please tell it to come home.

Yesterday, I had my first radio interview for Life Lessons from Slasher Films.  I've done radio before, but that doesn't stop me from getting nervous.  I try not to be; I tell myself I'm just talking to someone on the phone, and that helps a little.  There is a podcast of the show online, and you can access it here.  I usually don't listen to the shows once they're on, only because I'm sure I sound like a total moron, but I encourage you all to check it out.  Let me know what you think!

Last night, the spouse and I had some things to do, so the boys stayed over at Grandma's.  As usual, we ran a little late, so we didn't pick them up until bedtime.  Neither one of us ate, so we ran through a drive-thru.  For some reason, the boys were wound for sound.  They were bouncing off the walls and screeching and screaming.  Both my spouse and I told them to calm down and chill out, and they did--for about two seconds.  Finally, my spouse had enough.  One of the kids screeched for the umpteenth time, so my spouse turned around and said, "This is the last time.  I mean it.  How many times do I have to tell you to chill out?"

The boys sat silently for a moment, and my spouse turned around in his seat.  From the back came the voice of the 3 year old, who said, "Four times."

I almost lost it!  I had to bite my lips and turn away so they couldn't see me laughing.  I guess if you ask the question, you're going to get an honest answer.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Self-promotion Thursday

Once again, I would like to push my books from Musa Publishing.  Come on!  You know you want to read them.

Other Options


Eddie stood at his locker, staring at the manila folder. He opened it for half a second before slamming it shut and heading for the command offices. He threw it onto Assignment Officer Diaz’s desk, who looked up at him from his paperwork, expressionless.

Eddie placed his fists on the desk and leaned forward. “I want Shaun Harris.”
Diaz grabbed the folder and flipped it back at him. “Harris is out on another mission. This is the best I could do.”

“I can’t do it.” Eddie pushed himself away from the desk and paced the room. “I can’t go out with a woman.”

Diaz leaned back in his chair and folded his hands over his stomach. “Rie Danalgo is highly capable.”
“I’m sure she’s more than capable, but that doesn’t change that she is a she,” Eddie spoke between gritted teeth and chopped his hand through the air to emphasize his point. “Do you know what I just went through? What I will be going through? I can’t trust ‘em. I can’t handle being around them. I might lose it. I might say something rude, and then I’m stuck with her for months. I filed the paperwork asking for Shaun, just like you asked me to.”

Diaz threw his hands out to his sides. “What do you want me to do? We’re short on personnel right now. Petroid’s expansion is growing exponentially faster than the manpower I have to oversee it. I read your request and did the best I could. This is the only assignment I have open right now. If I had any say in the matter, you wouldn’t go out at all. You would stay landed until you got your crap together.”

Eddie stopped pacing in front of the desk. “What about a rookie expedition? Isn’t there one of those going out?”

Diaz leaned forward and punched a few keys on his keyboard. “Sorry. Everything’s booked.” He leaned back in his chair. “It’s only three months.”

Eddie snatched the folder off the desk and headed for the door.

“Hey,” Diaz stopped him before he walked out.

Eddie glanced at him over his shoulder.

“You have your medication? The shrink’s number?”

Eddie sighed and nodded curtly.

“Use them both. Everything will be fine. I know how hard this is for you. But, you know what? You’re not the first person to go through a divorce. It will be all right.” Diaz smiled, attempting to lighten the mood.

Eddie clenched his jaw and stepped out of the office, refraining from slamming the door behind him. Diaz was trying to be nice, to help him out during a difficult time, but the only thing that was truly going to help was a different shipmate.

The Devil Made Me Do It


Anger and pain surged through his body as he thought about that fateful day. Even if the man before him was crazy or a figment of his imagination, his offer was better than anything else Adrian had at the moment. He agreed. The man placed a hand on Adrian’s forehead. His skin was so cold, it sucked the heat from his body, beginning with his feet and running to his head. When all the heat dissipated, he was pulled back into darkness. He didn’t feel any pain, there was no bright light, and there was no sudden realization that he had the answers to every question in the universe. It was just him. Naked. Waiting in the darkness for something to happen.

The man reappeared after a few minutes, bathed in a red light. He circled Adrian, who turned to keep him in view.

“There’s no reason to be suspicious. The hard part is done.” He stopped pacing and placed his hands on his hips.

“Where are we?”

“Right now, nowhere. We’re on a plane between life and death.”

“You mean Purgatory?”

The man grimaced. “Not exactly. Purgatory is an actual place, this is nothingness.”

“Who are you?”

The man held out his hand, a sneer on his lips. “I’m the Devil.”

Adrian stared at the limb like it was leprous. He glanced around the room, expecting someone to jump out and tell him it was all a joke. He glanced back at the man, who had withdrawn his hand and placed it in his pocket.

“Perhaps ‘Lucifer’ would be better?”

“What’s going on? Why did you bring me here?”

“To offer you a job. You know, like we talked about in the hospital room?”

Hazy memories of being hooked up to machines and a breathing tube drifted through Adrian’s mind. He shook his head, trying to get a clearer picture.

“What job?”

“Why, assassin.”

Adrian’s brain felt like it was expanding in his skull, threatening to explode his head. What was going on?

“Assassin? Why do you need an assassin?”

The Devil clicked his tongue and began pacing again. “Well, you see, Adrian, we have an ongoing tiff with Heaven, and we need soldiers to fill our ranks. Unfortunately, we can only get those soldiers if someone dies.”

“So then just wait until someone dies.”

“Yeah, see, it doesn’t work like that. Not everyone who dies goes to Heaven or Hell. Sometimes, they get stuck in Purgatory. See, I need soldiers now. Your job is to get me those soldiers.”

Confusion covered Adrian’s face. “You mean kill people?”

The Devil pointed a finger at him. “Precisely. It’s not much different from what you were doing, but this way, you can’t get caught. There are a few rules we have to abide by. We don’t just run around picking people off. If we did that, we wouldn’t be able to guarantee that they actually came to our side. We don’t want to give Heaven any more soldiers. We take souls that probably would survive, but then they’d have a change of heart, become good. We pluck them right in their prime of evil. But those are details you’ll work out later.”

“You said you’d give me the men who killed my wife.”

Lucifer placed his arms around Adrian’s shoulders. “In due time, my friend. Do a few small chores for me, and I’ll see what I can do for you.”

Day to Day

Man, it has been a long week, and it's only Wednesday!  I've been busy busy with edits (my own and other people's) and getting blogs written for the secret project that I can't tell you about now but will shortly in the future.  Work has kept me hopping, and on top of all that, I haven't been sleeping well. 

I don't understand why that happens.  It goes in phases.  One week I sleep fantastic every night, then the next, the kids are getting up.  Mainly the 5 year old.  His mind doesn't seem to stop, and he gets nightmares.  Last night, he woke up at 1:30 and called for me.  When I went in, he didn't need anything.  Then, he got up at 3:30, and when I went in there he said, "I just wanted to tell you something."

"What?" I growled.

"I love you."

It was sweet, but not that early in the morning.  I told him I loved him back and then stomped to bed, grumbling under my breath.   

Nights like that make the day seem so very long, and it stifles my creativity.  It makes it hard to think straight, so it makes it hard to create stories.  I guess it's a good thing I'm only doing edits right now.  That, and Shark Week is on, so I'm really not being creative!

Meet An Author Tuesday

Today's guest is Roseanne Dowell, author of Ring Around the Rosy.

My goal in life was to become a topnotch journalist. I loved writing. Always had. Ever since I can remember that’s all I ever wanted to be. Suddenly, the goal was at hand. Within reach. I got it. My first big byline! I beat out all the other reporters at the scene and the paper printed my story. MINE!

I was ecstatic. So… there I was drinking a cup of coffee and reading my story. My headline! GEORGIE PORGIE PUDDING AND DIE by me, Susan Weston. Word for word just the way I’d written it. Not one word changed. I’d been first on the murder scene the night before. Got there before the cops, so I got a pretty good look at the body. Turned out to be a guy I knew from the neighborhood. Pretty gruesome, too. Not a sight I’m likely to forget.

So like I said, I was drinking my coffee and reading my story and Okay, gloating a little bit. It made me feel good that for once my story got printed and not those other guys. This was it. I knew it. My big chance. Things were going to change now. No more fluff pieces for me. Nope, now the boss would have to assign me to some good stories. And then everything went haywire. The phone rang. Nothing unusual in that. My phone often rings. Of course I answered. The voice on the other end sent goosebumps up my arm, down my spine, and chills down to my toes. It still does. Just thinking about it.

I could hardly hear the caller. His raspy voice faded out, and I only caught a couple of words. Something about liking my story and strawberries. I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. I figured it was a crank call. Reporters got them all the time. But something about that call bothered me. Nagged at me.

My life hasn’t been the same since. To find out what happened, you’re going to have to read my book, Ring Around the Rosy available from Amazon.

Susan propped the News Gazette on the counter and focused on the headline. ‘Georgie Porgie, Pudding and Die’ by Susan Weston, it blared at her. Her headline. Her story. She’d done it. Finally got her headline. She drummed her hands on the counter and did a little dance step. She swore if her grin got any wider her face would crack. .”Susan Weston, journalist!” she shouted. God, she wanted to shout it from the rooftops.

The phone rang, startling her. “Who the heck is calling at this hour? “ She grabbed the phone. “Hello.” Bella rubbed against her legs, waiting to be fed. “Hello?” Susan grabbed the box of kitty food, filled the bowl, and set it on the floor.

“Hello,” she repeated, ready to hang up if no one answered this time.

The evil, raspy voice on the other end sent goose-bumps up her spine. “Who is this?” she whispered.

The voice mumbled something she could barely hear.

“Strawberries? What are you talking about?”

“Just for you,” the garbled voice continued.

“I can’t hear you. Who is this?” What kind of sick joke is this?

She caught the words, “loved your headline,” more garbled words, and “Watch for Jack be nimble.” Then the phone line went dead.

Susan grabbed the counter to steady herself. Her hand trembled, and she stared at the phone. She dropped the receiver back into its cradle as if it was on fire. But she couldn’t stop the trembling. Her stomach churned. Nausea filled her throat. What was wrong with her? Just someone playing a sick joke. This wasn’t her first crank call, why react like this? Maybe because none of the others had sounded like this.

He said he liked her story. That shouldn’t bother her. Something about that voice, so harsh, so evil. It gnawed at her. The hair prickled on the back of her neck. Something about it seemed familiar, but she couldn’t quite place it.

After pouring a cup of coffee, she read the story under the headline aloud, trying to keep her mind off the phone call. “Police are investigating the death of thirty-one year old George Lucas, whose body was found last night in Lagoon Park near his west side home.” The sound of her shaky voice surprised her.

What was the matter with her? “Get a grip, girl.”

Must be the effect of seeing the lifeless body. The way George Lucas’s eyes stared into space. What was he thinking when he looked into his killer’s eyes? The distant street lamp didn’t help. It cast an eerie shadow on the victim. His face frozen in terror, lips parted in a silent scream, and his head tilted to one side as if it was too heavy for his neck. The way one hand clutched at his throat and the other gripped the note, fingers frozen around it, sent icy chills through her, even now. She shuddered.

Thank God there wasn’t any blood, since the image would forever be embedded in her mind. Susan rubbed her arms to warm them.

Picking up the paper, she continued to read. “The coroner will determine the cause of death, but early reports indicate that Mr. Lucas was strangled. Lipstick was smeared across the victim’s mouth, and he clasped the nursery rhyme, ‘Georgie Porgie,’ in his hand. The teen who discovered the body reported seeing a man carrying a bag and wearing a gray shirt running from the park moments before. Police have no suspects at this time.”

Bella brushed against her legs, jumped on the counter, and snuggled against her.

Susan’s heart pounded. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. So much for the thrill of seeing her name on the front page. The image of the body filled her mind. Her hands trembled while she held the paper and reread the headline with her name below it. It was exactly as she had written it — not one word changed, short and to the point.

George Lucas lived in her neighborhood. She’d seen him a few times in Meliti’s Market talking to old Mrs. Meliti. Although they never spoke, they had nodded and smiled hello. Nice-looking guy, about her age. What a shock seeing him dead. Another shiver shook her body. Seeing a dead body was bad enough, but knowing the victim threw her for a loop. Made it personal.

Arriving only a few minutes before the police showed up and ordered her to leave, not that they had to tell her twice, she had viewed the crime scene and then skedaddled lickety-split. She knew enough about crime scenes to maintain a distance, knew if she got too close, she’d compromise the scene, maybe even leave trace evidence of herself behind. She didn’t need that. But she’d been close enough to read that paper in his hand, a nursery rhyme. She’d seen every gory detail.

The nursery rhyme letters, cut out from newspapers and magazines, and bowl of chocolate pudding and the strawberry pie that had been dumped on the victim’s head would stay in her memory for a long time. Of course, the police requested that information not be printed.

Requested, hell. Demanded was more like it, but Susan understood. Those were facts only the killer knew, and it prevented crank confessions. Couldn’t give the public too much information. After waiting behind the crime scene tape long enough to hear the possible cause of death, she hurried home to write her story before the deadline.

Susan walked around the kitchen. To sweeten the deal, her colleagues hadn’t shown up until well after they’d taped off the crime scene, hadn’t seen what she’d seen. So Ernie printed her story. Her first big byline! Even that cocky reporter, Dan Hill, hadn’t beat her out this time.

Staring at the large headline, she sipped her coffee. The words from the phone call rambled around in her mind.

“Strawberries. The voice on the phone said something about strawberries. Strawberry Pie dumped over the victim’s head.” Her voice cracked at the memory.

Only the killer knew about the pie. Her body shook. Had she been talking to the killer? What else had the caller said? Jack be nimble. Another nursery rhyme.

Grabbing the counter to steady herself, she repeated part of the nursery rhyme “Jack be nimble…”

Her mind raced. She pushed away from the counter and paced the kitchen, trying to remember the rest of the rhyme.

“Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jumped over the candlestick. That’s it!”

What the heck did it mean? Was he going to kill again? Was there a serial killer out there?

She grabbed the phone and dialed the police department. Maybe it was nothing, but she needed to report it. Something didn’t sit right.

Movie Review Monday

Puss in Boots (2011)

I've reviewed this movie before, but it was the only one we watched this weekend.  It's worth looking at again.

This movie cracks me up.  It also cracks up the 3 year old and the 5 year old.  It's one of the movies that is so smartly done and so entertaining, any age group will enjoy it.  I had to watch it twice this weekend because the kids enjoy it that much.  (Isn't it funny how kids get on kicks like that?  They see something they enjoy and just want to immerse themselves in it over and over again.  My sister and I did that once with Batman.  We watched it every day after school for I don't remember how long, but I know it was at least a week.) 

The first time this weekend it was on I wasn't really paying attention because I was getting ready for the day, but the second time I sat down with the boys.  There is nothing more enjoyable than sitting down and laughing with my kids.  It makes all the other problems in the world disappear.

I can't believe some of the things I forgot from this movie.  I totally forgot about the cat that goes "Oooh!" all the time, but he totally cracks me up.  And the animation!  My goodness!  The facial expressions on the characters are amazing.  It still blows my mind what animators can do.  It really made my weekend to hang out with the kids and rewatch this movie.  Plus, I really like cats, so this movie has everything for me.

If it's been a while since you've seen this movie, and if you remember enjoying it the first time around, watch it again.  It's totally worth it.  And if you haven't seen it yet, what are you waiting for?  Adventure and humor await.

This Week in Writing

My second novella is for sale today.  It's called Other Options, and you can purchase it here.

Eddie has a great life with a loving wife and fabulous job. His work keeps him away from home for long stretches of time, but he counts down the moments until he gets to be back in his wife’s arms. He would do anything for her. Unfortunately, she doesn’t feel the same way, and plans on leaving Eddie for another man. Feeling crushed and betrayed, Eddie has a hard time trusting women. He knows it’s unfair; he knows not every woman is as evil as his ex-wife, but he can’t deny his feelings. As an ice miner, he’s expected to spend months at a time on his ship. Much to his chagrin, he is forced to spend it with Rie. Will being trapped on a ship with a woman help Eddie get over his fear and hatred of women and move on with his life? Are there any other options?

When I first submitted this story to Musa, it had a different title.  It was originally called "Second Chances."  Apparently, there were several other books at the publishers with the same title, so I was asked to change it.  (The editor didn't want people inadvertently picking the wrong book because of the title.)  Not a big deal.  I'm not normally chained to my titles, but I do hate thinking them up.  I sent a list of possible replacements, throwing "Other Options" in as a joke.  Much to my surprise, the editors thought it fit perfectly, so it stuck.  I was actually a little shocked I got it to work as well as it did, but it seems to fit the story.

This week, I finished the first story in my new YA series, but I haven't started the second.  Been a bit lazy on that front.  I finished chapter 5 of my next novel and got two lines of chapter 6 done.  I did get a blog post done for something very exciting, but I'm not going to tell you about it until it comes out.  It'll be worth the wait, don't worry.

I've had very little motivation to write this week.  I haven't been sleeping very well, and I've been busy at work.  By the time I get home, I'm ready to plop my butt in the recliner and not move.  I've been very successful at doing that.  And going to bed early.  It's been great!

The boys have discovered their favorite song:  "Fishin' in the Dark" by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.  I have to play it every time we get into the car.  They are learning the words to it and think they are pretty cool for doing so.  Even after listening to it 500 million times, it still brings a smile to my face (mainly because it makes me think of the kids).  So, I send you into the weekend with a song.  Have a great one!

Refraining from Lashing Out

I received a rejection for my middle grade book yesterday.  Not the first, and, more than likely, not the last.  Although, I have to say I was a bit confused about the whole thing.  The editor said:

Unfortunately, I do not feel that it is very marketable as a middle grade novel, because the characters read much too young, and because the adult characters of Gage and Slade play a much too prominent role in the story.  Keep in mind that middle grade readers are between 8 and 12 and prefer to read characters that are slightly older than themselves.  So with this novel, you're probably looking at an 8-10 year old audience, so you want to go with characters that are 10-12 (they need to not only be this age, but also read as if they are this age).  Broden and Landon think and behave like 6-8 year olds (kissing mom good night, fist fighting for no reason, believing in monsters, etc.), which is much too immature to appeal to a middle grade audience.

My first reaction was WTF?  How does kissing your mom good night make you immature?  I still kiss my mom good night whenever I see her.  And do you have siblings?  I can still fight with mine with very little prompting, and I'm 34 (granted, it might not be a fist fight, but there have been many times I wanted to punch one of them).  I'm not convinced people ever stop believing in monsters.  I think the faces change, but monsters are just the embodiment of our fears, be they real or imagined.   

My first thought was that she didn't get it.  I fought back the urge to write a detailed email that explained the intricacies of my story to her.  After all, the basis of my story is that the main characters have to learn to overcome their fear and stop fighting with one another.  Besides, my beta readers told me they enjoyed the story and thought the interaction between the brothers was great.  However, my readers were adults.  I don't know any 10 year olds that would be willing to read the story.

Of course, I didn't send that email.  It wouldn't be professional.  That, and I would become one of those authors you read about who hound and irritate editors.  Besides, they are entitled to their opinion.  I stepped back and took a deep breath.  After getting over the initial sting, I realized the editor was trying to help me improve the story.  She wanted to make sure the book was successful, and she knows more about middle grade novels than I do.  So what do I do? 

I can change the story so it reads like a chapter book, which is more appropriate for the age group she says my characters sound like.  That means I cut out half the book and shorten my chapters.  Either that, or I continue to send the story out to other publishers and see how they react to it.  If they say it sounds too immature, I will look at fixing it.

On one hand, I don't want to give up my vision for the story just because one person didn't like it.  After all, publishing is a very subjective field and someone else might think it's fine.  Perhaps I need to find a 10 year old to read it and give me their opinion.  But on the other, I want the book to be a success.  I want kids to read and talk about it. 

Rejections are part of the game, I know that.  I've been doing this for a while.  Still, that doesn't make them easy, especially when they come from someone I thought would be willing to work with me on the story.  It just goes to show that you can't ever take anything for granted.  The best thing I can do is be thankful the editor was willing to give me feedback, lift my chin, and move on. 

Young Impressions

I think almost everyone can trace back into their childhoods those moments that influenced them becoming what they've become.  I like to write science fiction and fantasy because of the movies I watched as a kid.  I have fond memories of hanging out with my dad watching MonsterVision.  I watched such classics as King Kong, Night of the Lepus, The Thing (both the original and the remake with Kurt Russel), among many, many others.  When I got older, I enjoyed watching Mystery Science Theater 3000.  That show, of course, was slightly different than MonsterVision because they were making fun of the horrific movies they played, but they still played "classics."

My dad also let us watch Sinbad movies (the pirate, not the comedian), as well as sword and sorcery movies such as Conan the Destroyer and Red Sonja.  We watched Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans.  Movies with fantastical worlds and sword fights.  Magic usually abounded, along with mythical beings.  These movies started a life-long love affair with wanting to explore and create new and different worlds.  (It also started a life-long love affair with Arnold.  I love that man.  But only in his action/adventure films.)

I was never a huge horror fan until later in life.  I hated being scared as a child.  Gremlins freaked me out for years.  I didn't really watch horror movies as a past time until I was in college.  (With the exception of the Alien franchise.  But back in the day, I considered them science fiction, not horror.  And, yes, they scared the crap out of me.)  Then, I had become so jaded and cynical it took a lot to frighten me.  But even now, I'm very particular about the type of horror I watch.  For instance, I don't like things with horror that's too real.  Give me the supernatural and monsters any day.

That being said, I still remember the first time I watched Night of the Living Dead.  I was 15, and I had a friend staying the night.  I remember being scared, but not jump-out-of-my-skin scared.  It was more of a creeped out feeling.  It made me want to see more.  Since then, I've always been fascinated with zombies, and I try to watch as many shows as I can.  Trust me, I've seen some horrific (as in terrible) zombie shows.

Recently, my kids are going through their fantasy phase.  Since I have such fond childhood memories that revolve around movies, I like to buy those movies.  I own Clash of the Titans and Jason and the Argonauts.  I have one of the Sinbad movies, too, but I can't think of which one.  I love Ray Harryhausen, so my goal is to own all the movies he ever did.  The graphics are horrible, some of the story lines have huge plot holes, but I still like to sit down and watch them with the boys.  It brings back that tingly feeling from when I was a kid.  It inspires me to write.  I can only hope that my body of work can be as lasting and as influential as some of these films.  Heck, if nothing else, it wouldn't hurt my feelings if I became a cult classic.

Meet An Author Tuesday

Today's interview is with author Lianne Simon.

Lianne's father was a dairy farmer and an engineer, her mother a nurse. She grew up in a home filled with love and good books. Small and frail, she spent much of her time indoors, reading. She graduated from the University of Miami and eventually settled in Georgia. She and her husband live in the suburbs outside of Atlanta. Her debut novel, Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite is due to be released in September.

Welcome, Lianne.

Thank you for inviting me.

What inspired you to write this story?
Jamie is a teenager who was born with one testis, one ovary, and a pixie face. The doctors initially put male on his birth certificate, but when it became clear that she considered herself a girl, her parents let her live as one. When Jamie was nine, however, circumstances forced the family to have their child live as a boy again. At sixteen, the four-foot-eleven soprano leaves a sheltered home school environment for a boys' dorm at college. When a medical student tells Jameson he should have been raised female, childhood memories return and he questions his gender. The ensuing struggle puts his education and his relationship with his family at risk. Jamie can thrive as a girl, but are a boyfriend who may desert her and a toddler she may never be allowed to adopt worth the risk?

The book explores some of the issues faced by intersex children growing up in a male-female world. It's based on conversations I had with a number of intersex adults. As a conservative Christian, I was appalled by the way some of them had been treated. And having my own genetic anomalies, I could sympathize with them regarding the physical issues involved. I'm hoping the book will contribute to people's awareness of intersex.

How long did it take you to write?
I woke up one morning in August of 2010, with the basic idea for the story. By that Christmas, I'd completed a 110,000 word first draft. While writing, I'd come to know the characters well enough to understand that they wouldn't have done what the plot had them do. So I tore up the manuscript and started over. In the spring of 2011, I sent my third draft off to an editor for a manuscript evaluation. He recommended rewriting the entire manuscript in first person and sharing more from the heart. I finished the fourth draft late in the summer of 2011. That fall I made extensive changes based on reading Hooked and Story, both excellent books on writing. In December and early January, I received three contract offers. I signed with MuseItUp Publishing because of their reputation and author community.

What is your favorite thing about writing?
Where else do you get to so freely exercise your imagination and creativity? A reader recently told me that one particular scene convinced her that I was writing about my own experiences. In that one tiny place, at least, I'd conveyed an image from my imagination to hers. From my heart to hers. That's also my favorite thing about reading--seeing or feeling something new and different.

What is your least favorite thing about writing?
For me there was a bit of a let-down when I finally had to let go and stop changing things. The creation process had become so much a part of my life that I wasn't sure how much I'd enjoy the next phase.

If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?Um, okay. Here you go. My husband says I already drive like Ken Block. Not true, but I might like to.

What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
There are a couple of bottles of homemade beer that someone gave us, um, two years ago? Maybe three by now.

What can readers expect from you in the future?
My second book is a fantasy involving Scottish mythology mixed with modern-day issues. In World War II, a bio-weapon killed off most of the people living on a remote island in Scotland. A few pregnant women survived long enough to give birth to a new race of people, much like the Fair Folk. Seventy years later a human body, still barely alive, washes up on the shore. It's the first contact between humans and the quarantined island.

Thanks, Lianne. Good luck with your book.

Thank you.

Movie Review Monday

In Time (2011)

Justin Timberlake is such a cutie.  I've never really listened to his music, but I really like him as an actor.  He did a nice job in this movie.

The basic premise of the film is that humans have somehow become genetically altered so they don't age past 25.  Of course, they only have one year to live after that.  They have clocks on their arms that let them know how much time they have left.  They can buy/acquire more time, which means they can potentially live forever.

As you can imagine, there is a separation between those who have time and those who live day to day/minute by minute.  The elite believe they are entitled to live for eternity, so they tax the lower classes so they can have all the time.  There is more than enough to go around for everyone, but the rich don't want to share.  They have no regard for human lives and only care about themselves.  Will (Justin Timberlake) wants to find justice and wants everyone to be equal. 

The film wasn't terrible.  It had some good action scenes and a nice plot.  It was 1 hour and 50 minutes long, but it didn't seem tedious.  It did a great job of pointing out social injustice and fighting for what is right, and it did it in a Bonnie and Clyde/Robin Hood type of way.  If you like these kinds of films, I suggest checking this movie out.

I did have some problems with the movie.  Mainly, I kept rolling my eyes at the premise and the anti-elitism message.  Like I said, the film was very Robin Hood-esque:  steal from the rich and give to the poor.  The filmmakers made sure they pointed out that the elite were stealing time from the lower classes through low wages and inordinately high loan rates.  Because of this, there was no way the poor could get ahead.  As Henry Hamilton pointed out, someone had to die so that the world wouldn't become overpopulated.  The poor were just unfortunate enough to be those someones.

The film brought forth the question:  who is to blame for the state of the world?  And the answer:  the rich.  Through nefarious means, they keep the little man down.  It's not the poors' fault they can't get ahead, oh, no, it's the rich.  They want them to fail.  They take time from them so they can't get ahead.  The world should be equal and everyone should have fair access to all of the time.

Well, see, it doesn't work that way.  Near the end of the film, it shows a newscast that portrays how the people from the poor districts, who now have tons of time on their hands (literally), have left their posts at the factories.  They are all moving to the rich part of the world to live a life of luxury.  That's what I think bothered me most of all.  Who is going to create products for people to buy?  Living forever is going to suck if you don't have the luxury to live in.  The film definitely proposed a lovely idea for a utopia, but we all know it won't work.  Chaos takes over, and there are always those people who will try to horde the riches for themselves.  I'm probably looking deeper into this film than I need to, but it really bothered me. 

It seemed to comment about our society as a whole.  There was an obvious challenge to our capitalist system and proposed the notion that every thing should be shared equally among everyone.  Again, that's a lovely idea, but one that isn't going to happen.  We have a notion in this country that everyone can be something great, all you have to do is work for it.  The whole "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" philosophy.  If you don't make it in the world, it's no ones fault but your own.  Is it fair?  Probably not.  But has life ever been fair?  I guess it just bothered me that these people were expecting something for nothing. 

I know, it can be argued that they were just taking back what was rightfully theirs.  After all, the rich stole their time in the first place.  Perhaps their real concern should have been how to reverse the genetic mutation that made them like that in the first place.

I'm sure after these people migrate from the ghettos into the elite part, there will be some individuals who try to take advantage of others and their time.  Thieves and shysters who never have enough and take from others.  And there will always be those who fall for those ruses.  I don't know.  I'm sure I missed the "real meaning" of the film, so if some of you have seen it, chime in and let me know what you thought.  I mean, I didn't really even touch on the moral issues of living forever.  Or about the ideals of youth.  What is so wrong with growing old?  Am I wrong?  What did you think the film was about?

This Week in Writing

The Devil Made Me Do It is now available.  You can get it here.  It's a collection of five stories that focus on what normal people do when faced with extraordinary circumstances and deal with the Devil.  I hope you enjoy.

I've been working on my novelette this week, and I'm pretty close to having a final draft.  It's a young adult series, and, at the moment, I'm planning three stories.  The first one is around 45 pages, and I'm guessing the others will be too.  I will keep you informed of my progress.

Other than that, I've been working on galley proofs.  Why do they always seem to come at one time?  It's very strange to me.  I had one last week, one this week, and probably another this weekend.  Oh, well.  The sooner I get them done, the sooner I get them out of my hair!  And that means the sooner they become available to you!

On Wednesday night, the boys decided they wanted to read before heading to bed.  The 5 year old picked out several books, and they got ready for bed.  One of the books he picked was a coloring book he got on the 4th of July from the Laramie Police Officers.  It's about strangers.  That was, of course, the last book they wanted to read.

As I picked it up, my first thought was, Oh, I don't think this is a good idea.  Then, I figured, what could it hurt?  It's never too early to start talking about what to do about strangers.  I should have gone with my first instinct.

After we finished reading, I kissed the boys goodnight and headed out of the room.  The 5 year old freaked out.  He started crying and going on about how he was scared.  I told him his fears were justified, but he didn't have to worry because no one was going to hurt him.

"But a stranger's going to get in our house!" he tells me.

"No they're not.  They can't.  The dogs will rip their face off if they try.  Think about something else.  Who won the cave race?  Remember that book?  Tell me who won the race."

"I don't know," he wails.  "All I can think about is strangers!"

Thankfully, my spouse came home a little later and the boys were able to go to sleep.  At least I don't ever have to worry about my kids and strangers!

Have a fabulous weekend!

Media Whore

I have an article in my local newspaper.  It's for Life Lessons from Slasher Films.  Check it out when you get the chance.

I think this is the third or fourth time I've appeared in the paper.  It's not my most favorite thing to do, but it's one of the best ways to get my book information out there.  Whether or not those articles translate into sales, it's hard to say.  But it makes me feel like I'm doing something.

I've always taken a very active role in promoting my own books.  I have to.  I'm my biggest fan (and my worst enemy).  So, as long as publishers keep publishing my stories, I'm going to keep telling the paper about them.  I'm also going to continue to approach reviewers and blog sites. 

It's incredibly time consuming promoting my work, and I've slowed down a bit since I've started my new job.  I've got to get into the swing of my new schedule before I put too many things on my plate.  Plus, for my nonfiction book, I also hired a PR company.  This was the first time I've done that, and I'm anxious to see how it goes.  If nothing else, it will be a great learning experience.

Speaking of self-promotion, I recently got my baubles for Death to the Undead.  It's not out yet, but the store I use was having a great sale, so I got key chains, a coffee mug, notebooks, and postcards.  I was pleasantly surprised with how the notebooks turned out.  Personally, I think they look really cool.  I will be giving away all these items as soon as the book is available.

Like most people, I really enjoy talking about myself and my work.  Hence, I go out of my way to find places that allow me to do that.  If you can't be the greatest champion for your own work, who will?

Being Brave

I have a guest post up here.  Check it out when you get the chance.

I subscribe to Dave Farland's "Daily Kick in the Pants," which is a daily newsletter he puts out to encourage writers to continue to write (or maybe to start writing).  Yesterday, he had a great piece about finding the courage to write.  I found myself nodding and agreeing with most of his points, especially the part about needing the entire world to read your writing.

I don't ever recall being shy about people reading my work.  Mostly because I never really thought it was that good or that it would go anywhere.  I enjoyed writing (still do), and I have fond memories of being in grade school sitting at my grandmother's typewriter creating stories.  However, I never thought they would develop into anything else but a way to pass the time.  Honestly, I can't remember if I let anyone read them or not.  If they did, it didn't bother me.

In high school, and I had a fabulous teacher who really encouraged my writing.  Well, actually, I had two.  I distinctly remember sitting in my sophomore English class learning a new way to score essays.  It was this long, drawn out process of looking at sentence clarity and content and flow of paragraphs, among other things.  I don't remember all of the criteria, but there were several, and they would be scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest.  For practice, the teacher would put up student papers (anonymous, of course) and we would score them.  I remember the day my paper went up.  As my own worst critic, I thought for sure it would score very low.  Surprisingly, under the criteria, it actually scored very high.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Even with my wonderful English teachers, I never thought of my work as going any further than an assignment.  Then, some of the other swimmers and I decided to have a contest: Who could write the best fiction story?  By that point, I wanted people to read my writing.  They had to if I was going to win.  And I was going to win.  (Side note:  the contest was never finished, so a winner was never declared.)

Since then, I've always wanted people to read my creations.  If I wanted to keep my writing private, I would keep a journal.  If I can't share what I've done with others, then I don't want to do it.  My stories may not be fantastically wonderful and win tons of prizes/contests, but they entertain, and that's all I care about.

I do know what he's talking about, though, when he says you have to find the courage.  Many times I've fought back panic attacks when it came time to send out queries.  No matter how courageous you are, you're going to get rejected.  Repeatedly.  And that weighs on your psyche.  The true test is being able to pick yourself up and move forward.  So, I would say that you not only need to find courage, you need to find some stubbornness and staying power.  It's the only way you're going to make it.