Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Always the Small Things

Last week was a terrible week. The 4 year old got sick on Tuesday night. At 11:30 p.m., while two steps from the toilet, he puked all over the bathroom floor. I almost lost it myself cleaning up the mess. Then, he was up several more times that night getting sick. Trust me, that kid is not a quiet puker. He wants the neighborhood to know he's sick. I had some head cold thing with an awful cough, so I couldn't sleep.

The 3 year old picked up the stomach bug over the weekend. I had a slight meltdown, all self-induced, because of some life changes that may or may not occur. On Saturday, while on the way to a birthday party, I was rear ended for the second time in six weeks. That's been an adventure. Seriously, the woman who hit me is certifiable and it has turned into a bigger ordeal that it ever should be. But I won't go into details right now.

However, through it all, I overcame my writer's block. The world could have been falling down around me, and I would have been content typing away. It felt so good. I accomplished something! I will finish the story! Life is fan-freaking-tastic!

There's something very calming about being able to maim and kill characters in the fictitious world. Keeps me grounded in the real one.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Meet An Author Tuesday

I would like you to meet Patricia Yager Delagrange. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, all her books take place in California because then she can give her reader a realistic picture of the environment. She got her B.A. in Spanish at UC Santa Barbara after studying at the University of Madrid for her junior year, then received her Master’s degree in Education from Oregon State University. She lives with her husband and two teenage children and two large chocolate labs in the small city of Alameda, where Moon Over Alcatraz takes place.



Musa link

Amazon link

Barnes & Noble link

What inspired you to write this story?
I wrote Moon Over Alcatraz as a personal research into how a couple would feel if they lost a child at birth. I’ve always been interested in how a mother and father would deal with a kidnapped child and that segued into wondering how losing a newborn child would affect a marriage.

How long did it take you to write this story?
It takes me about three months to write a book and then another three months or more to edit it. My first book was something like 120,000 words and I edited it down to about 60,000. Then I took online craft classes and hired a personal editor and learned how to write better.

What is your favorite thing about writing?
I love creating a world that only exists in my mind, typing it on my laptop, and watching that world become reality. After my last book, I walked away from it for about two months because I’m on a blog tour for Moon Over Alcatraz. When I returned and read it, I didn’t even recall writing a lot of it and it seemed fresh to me and easier to edit. Sometimes I don’t see the forrest for the trees when I try to edit immediately after completing a book.

If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
It would be exciting to be an Olympic horse jumper for one day to see how it feels to ride the course and finish it with no mistakes.

What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
Probably the only thing that gets “old” in my refrigerator are the ice cubes. I’m one of those people who throws things out once the due date arrives. My dad always told me, “when it doubt, throw it out” and that’s what I do.

What can readers expect from you in the future?
I am editing a women’s fiction book Brenda’s Wish. It’s about a divorced woman who’s raising her 17-year-old son in San Francisco. Her ex-husband is a cop who is murdered and the book revolves around how that affects both her and her son’s lives. It’s tangled yet has happiness sprinkled throughout the novel and ends on a good note.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Movie Review Monday

Weekends need to be longer. Or I need to stop being so busy. I didn't have a chance to watch a movie this weekend. I did, however, get kind of caught up on my CSI episodes. I finally finished the one where Catherine leaves. Yes, I'm that far behind on the show. Only two left and I'll be completely caught up. Thank goodness for DVR!

I really need to find some time, or I'm going to have to change Monday's post. I'm sure things will calm down soon. They have to. I can't keep this pace up!

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend and are gearing up for a great week. Just keep telling yourself it's going to be a great week, it's going to be a great week...

Really, it's going to be a GREAT week!

Friday, February 24, 2012

This Week in Writing

I'm stuck on chapter 13 of the dragon story. I had half a day on Monday, so I got a lot of work done. The story was flowing, the characters took me where they needed to go, chapter 12 ended great, then I got stuck. How to start chapter 13? What happens next? I started the chapter, I'm about two pages in, but I'm not sure it's the right direction. I'm going to muddle through and worry about editing it later. Now, I just need some time. I wish I could take half a day off every day!

I got an email from the nonfiction editor with a schedule. Looks like they are working on a July release. Squee! It's actually coming to fruition! I know July seems like forever away, but it'll be here before you know it. I know it'll be here before I know it. I can't believe it's almost March. I had plans to get so many things done...

I guess if the world doesn't end in December, I'll have the rest of my life to worry about it!


Earlier this week the family and I were watching Wipeout. It's one of our favorite shows. The 4 year old really enjoys it. What's funnier than watching people get hurt?

Anyway, the announcers try to add some humor into the show while the contestants are running the gauntlet of pain. One girl was wearing a short skirt, so they decided to put a censored sign over her bum. In reality, I don't think she was exposing anything, but it made it funny.

At one point, she gets knocked off the obstacle she was on and splashes into the water. We all laugh, and the 4 year old gets really serious.

"Oh, no," he says. "She got her sign wet." Referring to the censored sign on her butt.

My spouse and I lost it! The 4 year old didn't care that the girl may have seriously injured herself (she didn't), but he was upset that her sign would get wet. Kids truly do say the darndest things!

Hope you have a fabulous weekend, and keep your signs out of the water!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Reading Success

The reading went great last night! Several people showed up, and I sold some books. I think I entertained everyone. No one ran out of the room screaming.

I really enjoy doing public readings like that, and I love that my friends and family are always there to support me. I wouldn't make it without them! So, to all of you who came to the reading, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are the reason I write!

And a very special thank you to my friend Tamara. She helped me get everything ready, from the flyers to the press release, and she introduced me to the group. She had some very lovely things to say. I can't wait to pay her back!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Meet an Author Tuesday on Wednesday

Today's guest is Barbara Ehrentreu.



Barbara, a retired teacher with a Masters degree in Reading and Writing K-12 and seventeen years of teaching experience lives with her family in Stamford, Connecticut. When she received her Masters degree, she began writing seriously. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, Barbara’s first YA novel, was published by MuseItUp Publishing on September 16th and was inspired by Paula Danziger. This novel recently won 2nd place in the Preditors & Editors Poll for the Best Young Adult Book of 2011.



In addition, Barbara has a story in the anthology, "Lavender Dreams," also published by MuseItUp Publishing. All proceeds from this anthology go to cancer research.

Barbara also writes poetry and three of her poems are included in the soon to be published anthology, Prompted: An International Collection of Poems, a collaboration of members of The Anthologists. Her blog, Barbara’s Meanderings, is networked on both Facebook and Blog Catalog. She hosts RRWL Tales from the Pages (Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages) on Blog Talk Radio every 4th Thursday. In addition, her children's story, “The Trouble with Follow the Leader,” and an adult story, “Out on a Ledge,” are published online. She has written book reviews for Authorlink.com. and several of her reviews have been on Acewriters and Celebrity CafĂ©. She is a member of SCBWI. Writing is her life!

Links:
Muse Bookstore Ebook

Print

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Blog

Facebook

Twitter


Q) What inspired you to write this story?
I needed to have 3 chapters of a children's story to submit to Paula Danziger for her children's writing workshop at Manhattanville's Writer's Week. So I wrote the chapters using my daughter's problems at the time. She was starting to be bulimic and acting out. Also she had a poor body image. So I divided this into two characters and though the actual first draft was so bad Paula said to cut almost everything, she found some merit in it. So I decided to finish the story.

Q) How long did it take you to write?
It took me about two years on and off and another two years to critique it.

Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
Writing is like breathing for me. I put my fingers on the keyboard after I get a decent sentence and they fly. It's probably the easiest thing I ever do. When I'm writing I block out the world and there's only me and the keyboard or me and the paper.

Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
Sometimes I don't like the revision I have to do when I'm finished with a story. It's tedious and for me, I always seem to rewrite the first chapter over and over until I get it right.:)

Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
That's a good question. I think I would probably like to be Oprah Winfrey and have all that money to give away to people and choose the book to publicize. Of course, if would be mine!

Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
A tiny piece of parmesan cheese from September.

Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
I have a young adult novel I am readying to submit called When My Life Changed. It is about a 15 year old girl whose life changes when her father has a heart attack and bypass surgery. It is told in her POV and examines what happens in a family and in her life when her father is hospitalized. This is based on my own true story.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Miscommunication

I seem to have had a miscommunication with my guest author today. No worries. I'll post it tomorrow!

In the meantime, I want to remind everyone of my book reading tomorrow. Although I doubt most of you are in the area, if you are, you should come check it out. You know you want to hear me read my book out loud. It's like going to a concert to see your favorite band!

This is the book.



I know, I know. You're probably sick of hearing about it, but too bad! I'm not giving up until the world has read this story! Actually, until the sequel comes out. Then, you'll be bombarded with BOTH books!

There was a great article in the paper today. I'm really looking forward to this. I love being the center of attention, and I really love talking about my work. Keep your fingers crossed I have a good turn out!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Movie Review Monday

Wilderness (2006)

What can be better than a movie about British punks who are sent to an isolated island for punishment and stalked my a maniacal killer? Well, lots of things, but it wasn't horrible.

I found this movie while compiling my slasher film list for my nonfiction book. I'd never heard of it, so I thought I'd give it a try. Thank you Netflix for having obscure movies!

My spouse hated it. He's not convinced it's actually a slasher film, but we could sit down and debate it. It's not a slasher in the "traditional" sense, meaning when you think of a slasher, you usually think of Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare of Elm Street. The type of films with supernatural killers. However, there can be a lot more to them than that.

This film was a slasher. I'm not going to go into an incredibly lengthy list of why, but one of the main components is that the victims are killed by something other than a gun--a weapon that slashes. Most of the victims were killed by dogs in this film. Although not typical, they were a weapon that slashed. Plus, some were killed with knives and arrows.

This was troublesome to my spouse because he isn't afraid of dogs. If it were him on that island, he would have killed those dogs with his bare hands. Shown 'em who was boss. That's fine. He's the alpha male in our house, there's no debating that. However, how many slasher films actually make sense?

Really? You're going to go down into the dark basement all by yourself without a light when you know a killer is on the loose? Please get drunk, smoke weed, and have sex. No one is going to punish you for it. You're completely safe. Those stories about a killer on the loose are just stories. You all know the typical story plots.

There were other elements in the film that made it a slasher, too, but my spouse wasn't convinced. I'm sure he'd still debate it with me even though I'm the "expert." Oh, well. We watch movies for different reasons. He for entertainment, me so I can pick them apart.

Like I said, it wasn't horrible, but it wasn't award-winning either (how many slasher films are?). I didn't feel like I wasted my evening, and if you're a fan of the slasher genre, you might want to check it out.

Friday, February 17, 2012

This Week in Writing

I've started on chapter 10. I was hoping to have it done by now, but this dang cold is kicking my butt. Instead of feeling better as the week goes on, I'm getting worse. It was so hard getting out of bed this morning.

Anyway, I'm hoping to get a little bit of work done this weekend since the boys will be staying with grandma. Keep your fingers crossed for me!


I've always loved Spongebob. I liked him looong before I had children of my own. I own several DVDs of his older episodes, and the kids really enjoy watching them. I've seen most of them a bazillion times, so I work on something while they're watching the show. There is one episode, however, that always puts me in a good mood. It's called "Jellyfish Jam."

No matter how bad my day has been or what I'm doing, I always take a moment to dance with the boys when the song comes on. Instantly, my worries and stresses melt away and a smile comes to my face. (It helps that the boys are usually giggling). Try it. See if it doesn't put a smile on your face.



Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

More Self-Promotion

Today I'd like to pimp my story, "The Weeping Bride." If the cover doesn't intrigue you to figure out what it's about, maybe the blurb will. It's part of an anthology, so check it out!



Scorned at her own wedding, The Weeping Bride has vowed to make every bride from her hometown miserable until she finds her own happiness. When the groom at a friend's wedding disappears, Melanie and Tyler must solve the mystery of the Bride to save him. Time is not on their side. Will they find him before The Weeping Bride's revenge is satiated?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Small Gestures

I have a guest post up. You can check it out here.


I have a horrible cough. I don't feel well. This week started out on the wrong foot. Yet, it's not that bad. I may be incredibly grumpy and quick to temper, but there have been little things each day that have made it that much brighter.

On Monday, I was ready to go on the war path. That morning, nothing turned out right. By the afternoon, I had a long conversation with the nonfiction editor and received my final cover. It made my whole day.

Yesterday started out normal, nothing major happened, and I wasn't overly grumpy. I handed out Valentines to my coworkers, mainly because I had a bunch of leftover Fun Dip and didn't want to sugar up my kids. I didn't really think anyone would be overly excited, but I was amazed how appreciative people were. I can't tell you how many said that candy brought back childhood memories. It made my day to know I made theirs.

It really is the little things in life that make you happy. Whenever they occur, I grab onto them and savor them. I never used. I used to view them as fleeting and sink back into my funk. I've been working on that lately because I hate being angry all the time. I hate feeling like the world is out to get me. (In reality, it's not. The world could care less about me. That's not a bad thing, it's just how it is.)

If you don't already, you should do the same. Find something wonderful in your day, no matter how small, and hold onto it. Extend a small gesture of kindness. You'll be amazed how it will brighten your day and someone else's.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Meet An Author Tuesday

Today's guest is Heather Hiestand. Heather Hiestand is the author of many novels, novellas and short stories. She is an Amazon Romance Anthology Bestseller. She lives in Washington with her husband and son.



Q) What inspired you to write this story?
I wrote "Captain Fenna's Dirigible Valentine" because I wanted to know more about the sister of the heroine in "Captain Andrew's Flying Christmas." Terrwyn had a fascinating life story and I both wanted to know more, and make sure she and her baby daughter had a happy ending despite their dangerous lifestyle. How does a single mother who is both an escapee from prison and a smuggler by trade manage? I've also become addicted to writing steampunk so I had to write some more.

Q) How long did it take you to write?
The first draft took about six weeks. If my toddler was still napping I'd have finished in half that time, but sadly those days are gone! Then it went through a couple of critiquers, a few beta readers, and a final proofreader.

Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
I love being in the zone and seeing the word count add up. That only happens when I know where the story is going and don't have to research those connecting details.

Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
Scenes that I don't know quite how to get through in an interesting way for the genre I'm writing. Depending on the genre you have to minimize some scenes and emphasize others. At the moment I've left the clean Steampunk Smugglers series on the backburner and am writing an erotic steampunk romance novella, so I want to minimize the science parts and make the sex scenes fresh and exciting. With the Smugglers I want to have my airship well imagined and make sure a rebellious attitude is front and center, plus have great gadgets.

Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
This one stumps me. Having a toddler makes you very present in your own life. I need to come up with a famous person who is comfortably retired so I could relax for a day! But since I can't toss out a name, how about Anne Boleyn? I've been reading lots about her lately and I'd sure love to know what really happened in terms of her arrest and beheading, and why, from her point of view. I just finished two Alison Weir Boleyn biographies. I would have thought royalty would have better documentation, but after all the Tudors lived 500 years ago. Amazing how fascinated we still are by them.

Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
I think I have a bottle of sparkling cider in there that moved in with me in 2006. At least I think the freezer was completely emptied in mid 2009!

Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
I have three projects active. Two are Heather Hiestand projects: Captain Gravenor's Airship Equinox, which is the third Steampunk Smugglers tale, a full length Victorian romance with a hint of steampunk, and my next Anh Leod project, Clockwork Captive.

Captain Fenna's Dirigible Valentine Blurb:

A 27,000-word steampunk adventure novella complete with airships, automatons, ray guns and romance. Smuggler Terrwyn Fenna just escaped from Newgate Prison and most of the British Air Force is after her. Only one government crewman can help. But will trusting him save her baby and her airship or lead her into the hands of her greatest enemy?

Buy links:

Smashwords

Amazon

ARE

Barnes and Noble

Find Heather Hiestand online:

Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Leave a comment and be placed into a drawing to win a free ecopy of "Captain Andrew's Flying Christmas"!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Movie Review Monday

I didn't watch a whole movie this weekend. I attempted to watch Black Swan (2011), but I couldn't make it through the movie. I've been fighting a cold, so my patience level was way lower than normal. The film was slow.

I'm sure it was setting itself up for something. Natalie Portman's character was very accommodating and a pushover. By the time her "Black Swan" side came out, I'm sure it was spectacular. However, getting to that point was pure torture. Maybe some day I'll be able to watch it again. Who knows?

Has anyone else seen it? Is it worth watching again? I got to the part where she went to see the other ballerina in the hospital, maybe a little past, but that's the last thing I remember.

Friday, February 10, 2012

This Week in Writing

I started chapter 9 of the dragon story. Still taking my time getting the story done, not on purpose, it's just been how my schedule has worked out. I need to take a day off and just work and edit. That would be lovely. I don't think it's going to happen any time soon though.

I signed a contract with Musa for a short story this week. It was another attempt at a romance. I'll let you know when it comes out. I'm very excited about that. It's my second contract with them, and they are such a fabulous company. I plan on sending other stuff in the future.


The boys have been having a hard time going to bed lately. We moved them into the same room because the 3 year old would get scared. We figured having his brother and a dog close would alleviate some of his fears. It has, but it's also given them the opportunity for play time.

The first couple of weeks they did great going to bed. Now, not so much. Like I said, they think it's play time. For the most part, I let them go. As long as they stay in their room and are somewhat quiet, I'm fine. However, that rarely happens. They'll stay in their rooms, but they'll scream and jump off their beds. It's been rough.

Since they don't go to bed like they're supposed to, they're very tired in the morning. The last few mornings, I've had to wake the 4 year old up. That's a pleasant task, let me tell you. He's been tired and grumpy. This morning, I thought for sure I'd have to get him up again. I was about to head back there when I heard him come into the living room.

"Good morning," he says to his brother.

"Good morning," his brother says back in his sing-song voice.

It was so sweet, it almost made the whole ordeal of bed time disappear. Almost.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Shameless Self Promotion

I wanted to highlight one of my stories today. I don't think I'm very aggressive about promoting my work other than novels, so I'm taking the time today!



When you're told your life is tragic, what else can you do but believe it? To deal with her own tragedy, Stevie drowns her sorrows in alcohol while never venturing beyond a three block radius of her home. A menial existence at best.

Then, a blue-eyed mysterious stranger offers to take away the pain and heartache and show her the world, all Stevie has to do is make a wish...or three.

Excerpt:

Do you know why you only get three wishes? I do. Perhaps the better question to ask is: do you know who first started granting humans’ wishes? If you answered fairies, genies, or leprechauns, then the originators have done a good job of hiding their trail. Fairies, genies, and leprechauns do grant wishes, but they didn’t come up with the idea. They only got into the act when they realized it was beneficial to them. Make no mistake; mythical creatures are very self-serving. They won’t do anything for humans unless they know they can get something out of it. But I digress. No, the first creature to grant humans’ wishes was a vampire.

I know you’re wrinkling your nose and pushing your eyebrows together in confusion, but it’s true. You can’t expect someone to live as long as a vampire does and not learn some magic or the secrets of the cosmos. The old saying warns, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it,” but the more applicable saying is, “Misery loves company.”

I’m sure you’re wondering how I know all this, so I’m going to tell you.


You can purchase the book here or an Amazon.

Want a free version of the story? Leave a comment and I'll put you in a drawing to win one!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Making It

My friend, Horror Artist Jerrod Brown, sent me an interesting article the other day. In it, the authors talk about some of the things that keep indie authors from being taken seriously.

I'm assuming when they say "indie authors" they are referring to authors that self-publish or have small publishers. That's the definition I'm applying!

The one that really caught my eye was "Big Reason #1: Bad Editing."

Many of you know I work on both sides of the fence. I know how important editing is, and I know how embarrassing it is to be reading through your story and see a mistake. I know, we're all human. Mistakes happen. But it is nice to alleviate them as much as possible.

As they point out in the article, it's not only the small publishers/self-published people who have editing issues, big houses have problems too. I've read many books where I've found mistakes. Granted, indie books can have more than others because of their nature. However, I know many small publishers who pride themselves on editing.

The other points in the article were valid too. There are a lot of struggles authors have to go through. With the advent of self-publishing and small publishing, it floods the market with more books. It's very important to make yourself stand out. If I had to add another point of how indie authors aren't taken seriously it would be that they don't know how to market themselves.

I know this from experience. If you have an agent or a big house, they'll at least give you some ideas, perhaps set up some readings or a book tour. As an indie, you're on your own, sometimes floundering in the dark. How do you get noticed?

I enjoy being an indie author, if only because I don't know what it's like to be anything else. I would love the chance to compare and contrast. However, if this is how my work is going to get into the hands of readers, I'm fine with it!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Meet An Author Tuesday

The Fun and Challenge of On-site Research
by Donna Del Oro, author of A BODYGUARD OF LIES, a Jake Bernstein spy-mystery

Is there a correlation between a novel’s verisimilitude and the on-site research that the author does to make the story come alive? You bet there is. Having boots on the ground, so to speak, affords a writer the opportunity to soak in the atmosphere of a place: The sights, sounds, smells, micro-weather changes, and the flow of traffic and people. In essence, the local color and vagaries.

Not to mention, being on-site inspires a lot of ideas for plot and characterization. In June of 2009, my sister and I took a 12-day Globus motorcoach tour that began in London and took in southwest England, Wales, Cornwall, the Republic of Ireland and eventually parts of Scotland. As the motorcoach, full of passengers from all over the English-speaking world, toured from country to country, our escort guide regaled us with the history, economics, politics and local lore of the area. In addition to learning a lot, we tasted the various fares, tipped a few pints of the local ales and beers, and realized the unique qualities of each region. From the beauty of Cornish farms to the Welsh red-dragon flag, each area bespoke its own quaint history.

This trip was strictly a vacation but before long, ideas for a spy mystery-thriller began spouting like a fountain of muses. Imagine, I thought to myself, an FBI agent recruited by MI-5 to go undercover and investigate an elderly, naturalized American grandmother suspected of war crimes during World War II. I knew my World War II history, knew that the Republic of Ireland was neutral during the war and that German U-boats sometimes surfaced in the Irish Sea, occasionally dropped off Nazi spies, and even stopped to share some pints of ale with the local Irish. I also knew that the Allied countries of the war had never stopped hunting for Nazi war criminals, and that some of those very Nazis had immigrated to the U.S. under false identities.

Imagine that an elderly woman and her granddaughter could be passengers on a similar motorcoach tour, visiting the grandmother’s home country of Ireland one last time. What if the grandmother, due to coincidences of name and origin, is suspected of being a ruthless Nazi spy, never caught by the Allies, and who allegedly has spent the past sixty-five years of her life in a cocoon of lies?

What if the handsome, single FBI agent, Jake Bernstein—a Jewish-American whose German-born grandfather had narrowly escaped the death camps—finds himself attracted to the suspect’s beautiful granddaughter, Meg? To what extent is Jake tempted to compromise his investigation because of his budding relationship with Meg? Yet, by-the-book Bernstein considers himself fair-minded, and wouldn’t let anything or anyone interfere with an objective investigation. What if the clever, cagey grandmother stays one step ahead of Jake’s investigation? How does she manage that?

Thus was born my first spy thriller, A BODYGUARD OF LIES.

The sights and smells I experienced made their way, of course, into the story. In fact, the very personal experiences I had during that tour evoked so many plot points and scenes that my notebook was smoking at the end of each day. First-hand experiences, nearly not as exciting as the story I envisioned, were sometimes not enough. In certain chapters, for example, such as Cardiff, Killarney and the Irish Stud Farm, I supplemented first-hand experiences with city maps and tourist brochures.

In capturing the dialect of the local people, however, on-site experience was vital. I doubt the local jaunty cart driver realized that I was capturing nearly word-for-word his little, humorous spiel. Yep, his schtick showed up in my novel and still makes me laugh when I read it. Had I not walked the streets of Killarney, I would never have known that two Saint Mary churches were located near each other. One was a Catholic cathedral and the other was a small, Episcopalian church. That distinction played an important role in my story and helped to convince Jake Bernstein that Mary McCoy Snider wasn’t who she claimed to be. I kept filling my notebooks as the plot and characters crystallized in my mind, each little detail of local life inspiring another plot point or character quirk.

Our later visit to Hannover, Germany to visit our good German friends, the Sandrocks and their daughter, Steffi, resulted in the chapters set in Berlin and Hannover. Learning that Hannover, in northern Germany, was 90% destroyed by Allied bombs during WW II helped me to add nuances of sympathy and depth to otherwise stock neo-Nazi characters. The Engesohde cemetery in Hannover became the site of the story’s shattering climax. I could not have written those scenes without walking the very steps taken by Meg and her grandmother.

Researching the history online or in books, for me, is never enough. For me, the story and characters come alive more believable—and more enjoyably as a writer—when I can travel in my characters’ footsteps. See what they see, hear what they hear, and so on. I know that my stories benefit greatly from going the extra mile.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Movie Review Monday

I Am Number 4 (2011)

The aliens were cool. I could have lived without the teenage drama. At almost 2 hours, the movie was a bit long.

The story is about John Smith, an alien who has been hidden on Earth from enemies who want to kill him. There are nine special (teen) aliens total, and three have already been killed. John and his protector move around so the evil aliens can't find them, and while they're in Ohio, John falls in love. He also starts developing powers.

I get the point of the film. John wants permanence and a family. He wants to belong. He also has normal raging hormones, which is weird since he's not human. Oh, well, I guess puberty is the same no matter where you're from in the universe. However, they could have cut some of that stuff out and added more action scenes. The opening and the fight against the aliens was AWESOME! I want more of that! But, the movie wasn't exactly directed toward my age group.

Horrible Bosses (2011)

I'd heard mixed reviews about this movie, so I was a little hesitant about watching it. It didn't take long for me to enjoy it.

The movie is about three friends who have horrific bosses. The bosses are caricatures and the most heinous people you can think of. Although I doubt there are people who are that evil, I know there are awful bosses in the world. Anyway, the friends are trying to figure out a way to kill their bosses.

The film was really funny. It was a nice way to unwind and relax over the weekend. I would totally recommend it for a mindless laugh.

Friday, February 3, 2012

This Week in Writing

I'm working on chapter 7 of my dragon story. The going has been a little slow. As I mentioned earlier this week, I haven't been sleeping well, so my creative juices aren't flowing like normal. Still, I'm moving forward. I have no goal in mind for the story, just to have it done before the end of the year. Hopefully, I can accomplish that!

I finished an edit I was working on and started another. Keeping busy with that. Did you expect less?


We had some 3-alarm Hot Tamales in the cupboard. I'm not a big fan, and neither is my spouse, so we thought we'd give them to the kids. They weren't particularly fond of them because they're spicy. Still, that didn't stop the 3 year old (yes, he's now three. Happened at the end of January). He's my sugar baby. If it's sweet, he'll devour it.

I was back in my room one night, and the 3 year old came back with a handful of the candy. His face was stained red, along with his hands, and he looks at me, holding out the Tamales.

"These spicy," he tells me.

"Then don't eat them," I say. "Go throw them away."

He face dropped, his eyes grew wide. His look said, What? Throw away sugar? Are you daft? "No. Me keep them." And he walked away.

He held onto those things until it was time for bed. By that point, they were pale, melty blobs and he was a sticky, icky mess. Eventually, I was able to convince him to throw them away. They were sprouting dog hair!

Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Geek is Showing

I'm not very adventurous. I'm firmly entrenched in my rut, and I hang onto my preconceived notions like a toddler with his blanket. If the phrase "don't knock it till you tried it" applies to anyone, that would be me.

Snowmobiling? No. That doesn't sound like fun. It sounds cold and scary. Had I ever done it before? Nope. Good thing my spouse doesn't give up on me. It's the best thing in the world!

Audiotapes? Are you kidding? They'll probably put me to sleep. Have I ever listened to one? No. Holy cow! What have I been missing? I love being read to! I can listen to a book and get other stuff done. Why did I think I'd hate it?

I'm listening to a book for book club right now. It's Methland by Nick Reding. The subject matter is pretty deep, but it's fascinating. I enjoy being read to so much, I was poking around on the Audiobooks site yesterday because, next, I want to "read" a fiction book.

Can you believe it? They have 130 odd Star Wars books! And 18 hours of Conan the Cimmerian? Yes, please! I have the Conan book on my Kindle, but I haven't had a chance to read it. If someone reads them to me, life will be perfect!

I didn't even get a chance to peruse the other sci fi/fantasy books, but I'm sure there are many more I'd be interested in. My geek meter went off a little bit while I browsed, and I made a mental list of the Star Wars books I was going to put on my wish list. First, however, I'm listening to Conan. I can't wait to finish Methland!

I can't get over how many books are actually on audio. Why was I so stubborn about listening to them before?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Appreciated

I've been struggling a bit lately. I haven't been sleeping well, and my evil day job is stressing me out (probably affecting my sleep patterns). My stories aren't good enough, and I'll never make it as an author. You know, the usual stuff that weighs down on you.

Then, I received an email yesterday that turned it all around for me. It came from an author whose children's story I recently edited. It said:

Thank you so much for your help. I'm pleased to see it advance now toward publishing.
I must say that working with you was a real pleasure! You somehow were able to help me understand how to improve my work and be an inspiration at the same time.
I am working on a rather serious book and hope to work with you again.
Please stay in touch.


Made my day. Made me think maybe I wasn't as bad as I thought after all. Maybe I do know what I'm doing. I still might not make it as an author, but it won't be for lack of trying!

I'm focusing on the positive today, and I don't think it gets better than that email!