Archive for March, 2011

Twitter: An Online Support Group For Writers

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Last week I reviewed a book by Steve Umstead, a writer I met on Twitter. I don’t remember how I started following him, but I’m glad I did. Steve would tweet about the book he published and with his every tweet I got a little more curious about the novel. Even though the story was sci-fi, a genre I know nothing about and usually don’t want to know anything about, I downloaded it for my Kindle.

I won’t go into how much I liked the book, for that you can go to over to my corner shelf and read the post there, but I did like – a lot. By talking to him on Twitter I was introduced to other writers of that genre and started to talking to them as well. The same thing happened. I found myself downloading several other books that are currently burning a hole through my Kindle waiting for me to read them.

I first joined Twitter because that’s what “they” say you should do when starting up a writing career. Get out there, show yourself and your writing to the world. Make friends, give support and in turn you’ll get support back, hopefully.

I have to say it works.

The one writer I talked to asked where she could find my books. If I could have reached through the computer and kissed her I would have. It would have been creepy afterwards, I mean, really, how do you back out after something like that? A nice woman would be sitting in front of her computer giving support to someone whom she thought was a normal person and this crazy redhead jumps out of her computer wanting to kiss her in gratitude. Embarrassing.

I got so giddy when I saw that tweet pop up. However, the ever grounded Sparky was there.

“She wants to know where she can find my book!”

“Um. You don’t have a book yet.”

Gee, thanks for the reminder. But that wasn’t the only reason why I got excited.

I got excited because I made a connection. Everyday I stay at home with my kids and although I wouldn’t change that for the world it can get a bit lonely without adult contact. When I go on Twitter I can talk to other adults about things that are of a common interest.

Knowing that there are people out there that are going through the same things that I am make me feel supported. Knowing that there are people out there that are where I want to be and are willing to talk with me about their experiences gives me something to shoot for.

Sparky’s right, I don’t have a publishable book right now, but I am working on one. It’s amazing that there are people out there that are curious about my work because of conversations that I’ve had with them. It makes me want to write even more.

The support I’m finding on Twitter is second to only the support I get from Sparky.

So, thank you Twitter friends for being there to motivate, inspire and support me. And for giving me someone to drink with while I write. ;)

 

Books, Books, Books…And Books

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

If you told me three years ago that I would read between 5 and 8 books a week I would laugh uncontrollably to the point that bladder control would become a huge issue. As an English major I would read between 8 and 12 books a semester, so after four years…well, you do the math. I can’t say I hated books when I graduated, but I was under the impression that if I never saw another book again it would be too soon.

Two years ago I was a bored housewife, even though I had a 1 year old. Sparky was working non-stop, which isn’t much different than now. I needed something to occupy my time so I wasn’t distracting him from his work. I used to scrapbook and do crafty things, but that can get expensive and we were on a tight budget then. (Not that that has changed much, either!)

One day I was at the neighborhood Curves with my mom and the women were talking about this one book. They were raving about it, about the characters, the relationships, the intrigue. Ladies and gentlemen, they were talking about…Twilight. Honestly.

I had heard about the book when it first came out and I remember being interested in it, but it was during my “books are evil and make my eyes bleed” phase. Curious again I asked for the series for Christmas thinking that reading a book may help with my boredom. I didn’t have much hope, but I was desperate.

Sparky got me the first one for Christmas, by the time New Year’s came around I had read all four. I don’t know if I can credit the actual story with getting me to read again or if it was just my mind craving words and stories again. Or vampires. I like reading about vampires, yeah I think that was it.

Sparky was thrilled. He could work at night and not have me staring at him inflicting guilt with imaginary guilt darts shooting from my eyes.

Thanks to a good friend of mine I started reading Nora Roberts and that’s when the real problem appeared. I would read her series books in one day. I would read, and read, and read.

The best part? The books I was reading were loaned from friends and relatives; in fact, my cousin and I started a little book club with just the two of us. We’d each read a book, switch, then discuss. It didn’t last long because I would read a book in a day and she would need a couple more days. While I was waiting, I’d read more. I couldn’t stop.

The same friend that introduced me to Nora Roberts introduced me to a used bookstore. Money started disappearing in the amounts of $2 here, $4 there. I got a Prime membership from Amazon and started buying from their marketplace. I couldn’t stop, there were murmurs of going to RA (Readers Anonymous) from Sparky. He was starting to look for sponsors for me.

Last summer, two years after I started reading again, Sparky gave up the hopes of rehabilitating me and bought me a 5 x 8 bookcase for my birthday. The second it was assembled it was filled, and I still had books left over that needed a home. This past fall, Sparky got me bookends for our anniversary. Those, too, were put to good use, but still, I had more books.

The best birthday and anniversary presents so far - bookcases.

At his wits end he gave up and bought me a Kindle for Valentine’s Day. Little does he know that I still buy regular books in addition to my Kindle purchases. But that will be our little secret.

 

My Escape to Panera

Monday, March 28th, 2011

If you follow me on the Have Coffee….Will Write blog you know that last week was a tough week for me as a mom and a writer. I was fed up with trying to do everything for everyone and not having any time for myself as a writer. I have to say that the response I got to the post was very supportive and inspiring, so if you visited the site and commented on my post, thank you for your thoughts and suggestions.

When I was at a complete loss last week, spiraling out of control inside my own mind, I did what any self-respecting writer would do. I turned to Twitter. I posed the question there, then again to the HCWW blog readers, asking them where they go when working at home just isn’t working out. Like I said in Friday’s post, I got the usual answers of coffee shops, libraries, parks to the not so usual, McDonald’s.

I’ve decided that although I absolutely love McDonald’s french fries, I opted for our local Panera Bread. I didn’t pick the best time to go, Saturday over lunch, but I must say, even though I shared the restaurant with 150 perfect strangers, I loved every minute of it. I ordered soup with a sandwich, a huge Pepsi, found a corner table and slipped into my own little paranormal world. It was amazing.

And quite surprising actually. The little table I found was situated by the door and with being there during lunch time, it seemed as if that door swung open every 30 seconds. Not only was the door constantly being opened, but with every person that came in brought a chill from the outside with them. The tables were full around me with gossiping teenagers, hungry children and deaf senior citizens. I did more writing in that crowded bakery then I have done in a quiet house with the napping kids. Who would have thought?

I sat for 2 1/2 hours and I outlined chapters with details, I thought up ideas for blog posts, I ate and drank way too much. No one wanted food from me, no one needed their diapers changed, the dishes were being taken away by someone else and I got to just sit and think. The noise and chaos around me didn’t touch me; I allowed myself to forget who I am and the responsibilities at home and just focus my attentions on my characters.

When I did come home I felt refreshed. The rest of the day I could dedicate to my family without feeling like I was forgetting to do something. There was no guilt trying to balance reading books to my children and writing a book for me.

I’m going to try a library next. We’re surrounded by several colleges, so I may check out them out (with their longer hours it may be more beneficial for me with writing at night.)

So, thank you friends, for being there when I needed you, your support and advice were greatly appreciated! Now, I’m off to make dinner.

 

Gabriel’s Redemption by Steve Umstead

Monday, March 21st, 2011

When writers write to be published they usually have a specific audience in mind. A contemporary romance author probably isn’t thinking of what a reader generally prone to fantasy will think of her novel. However, I feel that one of the greatest compliments an author can receive is when someone outside of their targeted audience picks up their book and loves it.

This is the compliment I give to Gabriel’s Redemption (Evan Gabriel) author, Steve Umstead.

I am not a science fiction person, at all. My father loved Star Trek and Star Wars; if it was sci-fi and techy my dad was there and I was in the other room rolling my eyes. Sparky, my husband, has an affinity for it as well. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it will be a part of my entertainment selection when my husband or father is involved.

Imagine my surprise when I picked up this novel and couldn’t put it down.

From the very beginning Umstead captured my imagination and interest with reachable, likable, yet mysterious characters. I have to admit, since I’m not a regular sci-fi reader that it took my brain several chapters to understand the technology that was being introduced. That’s not to say that Umstead was clumsy or sparse with details, far from it.

In fact the way Umstead introduced his readers to the technology in the book was one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. Instead of stopping the flow of the story to introduce or explain how every new technical device worked, he just incorporated its uses into the dialogue and narration. It was very easy to understand the function and use of a weapon or gadget based on how it was used and the reaction it caused. To me it was smart writing and didn’t make me feel like an idiot that had to have every single thing explained to her.

From the first page I was captivated by the former North American Federation Naval Commander Evan Gabriel’s story. The flashbacks to his youth were excellent in setting up the character and aided in his growth over the course of the book. The members in his team were made real by their little quirks or habits which added humor to the story.

If you don’t normally read science fiction, or if you’re like me and never read it, read this book. You’ll like it. If you read science fiction you’ll most likely love it.

In the end, I think my favorite part was what I noticed on the cover. “Book 1 of the Evan Gabriel Triology.” I’ll be anxiously awaiting the other two, Steve!

What Do Non-Irish People Do On St. Patrick’s Day?

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

We drink, duh.

Before I continue with my post you’re probably a little confused about the above statement in reference to the title. You’re most likely thinking, “She’s not Irish? But she has red hair?” And a temper so watch it.

No, ladies and gentlemen, I’m not Irish, there is no Irish in me no matter how red my hair gets. Growing up I almost started hating this holiday because people would look at me and just question how a “sweet little red head like me isn’t out celebrating her nation’s holiday.”

Ok, one, I’m American, my nation’s holiday is July 4th. Second, there are more redheads born in Scotland than any other place in the world. And that people, is where some of my heritage lies. Actually, I’m more Polish than anything. (Halupkis anyone? Pierogies? No? Good, more for me.)

However, I just learned some good news today while reading all the articles published about Ireland, the Irish and this holiday that gives us an excuse to drink. (Yeah, I know, who needs an excuse to drink? Psh.)

Today I learned that the patron Saint of Ireland, the man who started it all, St. Patrick is actually…are you ready? He was Scottish. You heard me. Now put down your green beer and listen.

He was born in the year 387 in Kilpatrick, Scotland. He was kidnapped by Irish raiders and was forced to be a shepherd. His name was Maewyn Succat (have fun pronouncing that one) until it was changed to Patricius, or Patrick, when he entered the church.

So, there you have it. I feel vindicated. I feel like I can now enjoy this holiday like everybody else. I know you’re probably thinking that there are millions of non-Irish people out there pretending to be Irish and wearing those silly little “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” buttons, but I could never do it. I felt like a fraud.

But no longer! I will no longer pretend to be something I’m not, even though I never would, but still, not the point. What is the point you ask? I honestly have no idea. I saw that bit of information, got excited and decided to post.

I will say that no matter what your heritage is, where you come from or where you live, today is the day where we all get the chance to drink green beer (which to me is just weird) and say stupid things about getting lucky (which has its moments).

Even before I knew what the land of my great grandmother played in the raising of the great St. Patrick I celebrated the only way I knew how. I drank. (Of course, I didn’t start this type of celebration until I was of age. cough)

So here is the way Sparky and I will be celebrating tonight. For those of you who follow me on Twitter you’ll probably note that we celebrated this past Saturday and again last night after we attended a Guinness beer dinner. And before you go on thinking that I’m talking about something weird and kinky, I’m not.

Yes, its the Irish Car Bomb (I didn’t name it so don’t fill my comment section about Irish history and whatnot) Its a half a pint of Guinness, in which you drop a shot glass that contains half Jameson whiskey and half Bailey’s Irish Cream. Drop the shot glass in the pint and chug. Don’t take your time, the contents of the shot glass are known to curdle. Admit it, before that last sentence you were interested. Honestly, it doesn’t curdle instantly, just if you let it sit. Just saying.

So, I bid you farewell and please be careful and responsible whether your celebrations include the drink above or anything else of the Irish variety.

I’ll leave you with an Irish proverb sent to Sparky from a coworker and friend, who, with the last name of O’Hara, is very Irish, seriously.

In life, there are only two things to worry about— Either you are well or you are sick. If you are well, there is nothing to worry about, But if you are sick, there are only two things to worry about— Either you will get well or you will die. If you get well, there is nothing to worry about, But if you die, there are only two things to worry about— Either you will go to heaven or hell. If you go to heaven, there is nothing to worry about. And if you go to hell, you’ll be so busy shaking hands with all your friends You won’t have time to worry!

Lá Fhéile Pádraig

(Happy St. Patrick’s Day)

Update 3/15

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Hi everyone!

My WIP is moving along, a little slow, but with 2 very young, very active kids I’m lucky if I get 2 hrs a day to work on it, if that. But enough of the excuses.

I am working on my favorite pre-writing research – character development. Last week I wrote out the basic story, the history of the two kingdoms involved, how they came to be, why the war was started, how it’ll end, etc. I have the story broken up into three parts and each part will be its own story focusing on one coupling.

So, with that foundation set, yesterday I started researching the characters. I had an image in my head for all six of the major players but I’m having difficulty finding a representation that I can use for two of the guys.

With this novel I’ve taken the advice and suggestions of several writers that say they find pictures of celebrities or models that look like the character they’re writing about. It gives them a point of reference, something to study to get the features down, or at least its another set of eyes staring at you demanding that you write. Whatever the reason, I was curious to see if it helps and for the characters in which I found celebrities that matched my thoughts, its working great.

I found different pictures with various poses, clothing and facial expressions that aid in the character development that I’m writing. I almost feel like a Disney animator studying the way animals move and interact with each other. I just need a little mirror next to my computer so I can reference my own facial expressions if need be!

I think my problem with the two men I have yet to find matches for is that I have very specific features in my head. This is one of those times where I wish I could draw, but my creativity only goes as far as the stage and the written page.

Well, that’s where I’m at. I usually don’t plan out a story but with the elements of this one being so new to me I can’t be my usual “pantser.” Although, I must say, plotting, developing and outlining this story is actually fun and exciting. Of course, I can’t wait until I’m comfortable with the characters and story that I can just write, but discovering them is just as fun.

Jessica Z by Shawn Klomparens

Monday, March 14th, 2011

 

Twitter is an amazing thing. Just last week I spoke to author Shawn Klomparens and at first it was nothing special. Just “hey, you’re a writer, how’s it going?” But then we started talking about his books, his characters. As a new writer trying to find her place in this industry it was awesome to actually talk with someone who has gone through it all, and is still going through it.

As usual when I follow someone on Twitter I looked up websites, blogs, anything to learn about who I’m following.  After talking to him for a bit, I looked him up on Amazon and found his two books.  He seemed like an interesting guy, so I thought, why not? I downloaded his first book, Jessica Z and started reading and didn’t stop until it was done.

I was completely captivated by the character of Jessica and the relationships that she was involved in. I wished that I had a close sister like Katie to share my secrets with or have an outspoken friend like Gretchen to laugh at things with.  Heaven knows I would have loved to have to the prospective love interests of Patrick and Josh and remember I’m happily married, so what does that tell you? ;)

Jessica was easily accessible to me and I’m not just saying that because we both have red hair. Her indecisions and insecurities are ones that almost every woman faces in her day to day life.

Does the guy upstairs like me? Should I quit my comfortable job and take a risk with a friend? Is my new boyfriend a terrorist?

Ok, maybe not that last one, but let me tell you, the twists and turns this story took at the end had me reeling…in a good way. Its one of the reasons why I couldn’t put it down.

I found myself laughing, crying and cursing, which, if you follow me on my other blog, you know that those elements all make up a great story in my mind.

So, if you have some time, check the book out. Not only is it a great read, but the author is pretty cool. And he drinks Scotch, so you know, that right there should say it all.

 

My Writing Environment

Monday, March 7th, 2011

When I think of writers sitting down in their offices to write their next bestseller I don’t picture a dining room table littered with Barbie dolls, play food, notebooks, sippy cups and used tissues. But alas, that is my office.

We bought this old house back in 2005, before kids, before dogs, before I knew what I wanted to do with my life. We were like most young married couples, full of big plans for our home and completely stupid. We looked at this house and saw a blank canvas that we could make our own. While our parents tried their best to stifle their giggles and groans we tore down old plastered walls with reckless abandon in hopes of adding more bedrooms, blowing out the kitchen wall to make it bigger and live like kings. Well, we still only have the 3 bedrooms, the kitchen is still small and I haven’t had a front hallway, and thus use of the front door, in over 3 years. Our computer room is now in the bathroom’s closet. Oh, how I wish I were joking.

Back to the point of a writer’s office. I think most writers have a place where they can close away the rest of the world and just focus on their craft. Me? I have a dining room table that has yesterday’s oatmeal stuck to the sides and constant distractions in the form of young children around me. The scene below is a very common occurence while I’m writing…or trying to.

Both of my kids love to grab ahold of my leg and try to swing the chair around so they can climb up and sit on my lap. Usually I can distract them by pointing out a toy, a doll or some shiny technological gadget that their father has left out for them to go play with but that only lasts so long. Before I know it the following happens….

Yep. I cave. I pick her up and let her sit on my lap while I try to figure out how to type with one hand. Which never works because as soon as my hand goes to the keyboard, so does hers and she’s not as good of a typist as I am. Although, some of her edits are interesting and noteworthy.

But I try. Through all the distractions, the runny noses, the surprising plot twists that set me back in my story, to spending time playing princess for the thousandth time that day I make sure that each day I write something. Each night I set aside time to tickle the keys with my thoughts, hopes, ideas and hopefully, if I’m lucky, my characters.

It doesn’t matter what the space looks like when we sit down in it. What matters is that we sit, that we type, that we do what we feel we were meant to be doing and I am.

NEW WIP

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Well thanks to a mysterious character with flashing blue eyes showing up in my contemporary romance and completely screwing everything up I have moved on to writing my first paranormal romance. That’s right, the flashy eyed man captured my interest and his holding my muse hostage. Since I am at the mercy of my characters I must follow in their lead and write this story. The only problem is, I have no idea what the actual story is about. I’ve tried asking this peeper flashing man what he’s all about, but so far he’s a little shifty and avoiding me. The nerve of some people.

All joking aside, I am working on a paranormal romance that involves a royal family of two brothers and a sister all given a special gift to use in the war against their enemies. (Can you tell how far I’ve gotten with this concept? The enemy doesn’t even have a name yet) A prophecy tells of three people from our world that will come and aid in the war.  I’ve come up with the abilities of the royal family and the three that will help them but there is so much more to develop.

Since this concept is new to me and the idea of this story is only a day old, I have a lot of work ahead of me. I have some major brainstorming and research to do. I am also infamously known to be a very indecisive person. Don’t be surprised if I post again in a little bit saying how the book is about chainsaw welding fairies and the men that love them. It could happen.

I’ll try to keep you updated as the story comes together or at least give you a synopsis of what the story is; heck, the characters may actually have names by then!

Happy writing!

Black Dagger Brotherhood by JR Ward

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Holy Crap! So I just finished the third in the series and I am completely hooked, have been from about chapter 2 of the first book. It’s pointless for me to sit here and write about how much I love this paranormal romance series so I’m just going to list the books in order and tell you that if you like vampires, sex, action, complicated characters, sex (did I mention that one already?) reoccurring characters throughout the series then you’ll want to get your hands on this series.

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 1) Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 2) Lover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 3) Lover Revealed: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood Lover Unbound (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 5) Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 6) Lover Avenged (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 7) Lover Mine: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood Lover Unleashed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 9)

Father Mine: Zsadist and Bella’s Story: A Black Dagger Brotherhood Novella

The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide