Friday, May 20, 2016

Writing Celebrations

Hello, all! I didn't intend to disappear from the blogosphere for the past few weeks, but I do have a good excuse because I've been busy writing! I'm trying my best to concentrate as hard as the little cutie in the picture above and keep writing, writing, and writing.

But since it's Friday and time to celebrate, I'm jumping back in to blog land and celebrating some writing-related fun I've had in the past few weeks.

1. I was interviewed by Carolyn at Authors, Agents, Books, and More and it was a great experience to be featured there! Carolyn does an awesome job with that site and I was so grateful for the opportunity. If you'd like to see my interview, click here.

2. I received an unsolicited invitation to appear at an author's event in 2017 and I couldn't be more thrilled. The lady who contacted me asked what my fees would be to appear and I almost fell off my couch. Fees? Someone was asking me about fees when I would happily pay to attend? Yes, she was, and she also offered to pay my expenses. I took her up on that since I will need a hotel but I told her I don't charge any fees. Just the idea seems so crazy! But who knows, maybe someday I'll actually be in that position. It sure was nice to be asked! Anyway, by total coincidence, the event is in Marysville, Ohio, which happens to be the home of Baby Moo and Sunrise Sanctuary, the star and setting of my forthcoming children's book. I couldn't believe that coincidence but somehow it feels like a good omen!

3. Finally, I'm celebrating that I'm making real progress on my new story for my Polar Night series and I'm genuinely enjoying the writing. And I'm thinking about the story ALL the time! When I'm in the shower, when I'm driving to work, when I'm taking Clancy for a walk.... it's always fun when a story takes over like that. :)

So after the past few weeks, I'm not only as focused as that little cutie above, I'm also as excited as this one.

Happy Friday and weekend, all!

The Celebrate the Small Things hop is hosted by my buddy Lexa Cain and co-hosted by L.G Keltner at Writing Off the Edge, Tonja Drecker at Kidbits, and Katie at The Cyborg Mom. Visit Lexa's blog here to find out how join in the hop yourself and to see the list of participants.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Friday Celebrations & a Visit from Misha Gerrick

It's Friday and that means it's time to Celebrate the Small Things from the past week. The hop is hosted by my buddy Lexa Cain and co-hosted by L.G Keltner at Writing Off the Edge, Tonja Drecker at Kidbits, and Katie at The Cyborg Mom. Visit Lexa's blog here to find out how join in the hop yourself and to see the list of participants.

I'm going to make my list of celebrations short & sweet because I am also welcoming Misha Gerrick to the blog today as part of her tour for her new release.

I'm celebrating:

1. I attended the Mad Anthony Writer's Conference in Hamilton, Ohio last weekend and had a great time. I met up with some members of my SICCO writer's group and enjoyed spending time with them, plus I feel like I learned some things thanks to a great presentation from Jane Friedman.

2. As I mentioned in my IWSG post, I'm working on a new book in my Polar Night series and I'm super excited about it.

3. Game of Thrones is back and, as of the end of last week's episode, so is my favorite character. (I'll leave it at that in case anyone is behind on watching.) All is right in my tv world. :D

And now I'm turning it over to Misha. Hope everyone has a great weekend!


One of my favorite things about Endless was Nick’s narrative voice. It was just magic from the beginning. I didn’t need to do anything. He just came alive as I wrote, so often writing his scenes were the easiest writing I would do all day.

Ryan and Aleria’s voices were a bit more difficult. Ryan, because he’s more of distant person, who’d built so many walls around himself over the past few decades that he just doesn’t come across as interesting unless I push him.

Aleria was tricky because… well… she doesn’t know who she is.

That said, the foundations for both were laid in the rough draft phase, same as with Nick. All I did was to start with whatever the character wanted to say, and then let the characters do the talking.

As the story progressed, I got more of a feel for who each character was, and how that influences how they sound. Which meant that by the time edits came around, it was easier for me to refine each character’s voice.

I know that nailing down voice in a story is seriously difficult, so I thought I’d share my five tips for managing it.

1) Focus on how the character would say something. Not you. The character is the one speaking to the reader. Not the author. If you can remember that, you’re on your way.

2) Listen to your character even as you write. You’ll start getting a feel for the character’s word choices, speech patterns and turns of phrase. So that you can go back and reinforce moments where you slip up during the rough draft.

3) What that character reveals is important. What the character doesn’t reveal to the reader can be even more so. So get to know that character as well as possible so you know what’s going on. If you’re familiar with a character, you’ll know the things the character will never say.

4) Don’t focus so much on making a character sound unique that the character ends up sounding fake. Some phrases are commonly used between at least more than half of English speakers everywhere. It would be stupid to make one character avoid using one of those just because another character used the same phrase earlier.

5) Careful of letting a character’s hobbies/jobs/interests inform every description or turn of phrase. Just because someone is a vegetarian doesn’t mean that they will describe everything in terms of vegetable or fruit colors, for example. It comes back to point #4. Yes, a character’s life will inform the way they see and describe things. But often, this difference will be subtle. Think of yourself and your job. How does it affect your perceptions?

My day-job is exporting fruit and veg. I still don’t see everything in terms of fruit and veg. But I will pick up quality issues in almost any fresh produce within seconds of seeing them. Because it’s my job. But I won’t arbitrarily call a green “lime green” unless the color exactly matched that of a lime.

Bonus tip: Subtlety goes a long way.

How do you nail down voice in your story?

About the Book

First, do no harm.” Blake Ryan swore that oath to become a doctor. Ironic, given that he spent most of his thousand year life sucking souls out of other immortals.

Things are different now. Using regular shots of morphine to keep his inner monster at bay, Ryan has led a quiet life since the Second World War. His thrills now come from saving lives, not taking them.

Until a plane crash brings Aleria into his hospital. Her life is vibrant. Crack to predators like him. She’s the exact sort of person they would hunt, and thanks to a severe case of amnesia, she’s all but defenseless.

Leaving Aleria vulnerable isn’t an option, but protecting her means unleashing his own inner monster. Which is a problem, because his inner monster wants her dead most of all.

About the Author

Misha Gerrick lives near Cape Town, South Africa, and can usually be found staring at her surroundings while figuring out her next book.

If you’d like to see what Misha’s up to at the moment, you can find her on these social networks:

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

IWSG & Sign of the Green Dragon

The first thing I thought when I realized it was time for the May meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group was how is it May already? I can't believe a third of 2016 is already in the books. 2015 was not a productive writing year for me and I started this year determined that 2016 would be different.

So far it hasn't been! But I am confident that will change because I finally have a solid story mapped out for another Polar Night book and I am excited about writing it. Last year I tried to force an idea that just didn't work and I knew it wasn't working all the while I writing it, so the whole thing became a chore. I know it's different now because I actually look forward to writing again and we all know what a great feeling that is.

Originally I planned to post about my insecurity that the year was already getting away from me. But as I sat down to write that post I realized I don't feel bad about that because I am excited and enthusiastic about writing my new story. I know the rest of the year won't be a waste. So I'm kicking the insecurity to the curb and focusing on that enthusiasm instead.

The Insecure Writer's Support Group was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and meets the first Wednesday of every month. Visit Alex's site to join in and view a list of members.

I'm also excited to share the awesome cover for Sign of the Green Dragon, the latest great book from the talented mind of C. Lee McKenzie. The book will be available in August of this year.

Book Summary: When a wall of their cave hideout crumbles, three boys discover a skeleton, clutching a treasure map. They set off to trace the story of an old murder, but stumble into a modern crime, and confront ancient Chinese dragons. 

Want to Read Link: Goodreads 

Author Bio: C. Lee McKenzie is a 4 & 5 star reviewed author. Her greatest passion is writing for young readers. Sign of the Green Dragon is her third Middle Grade novel. Alligators Overhead and the sequel, The Great Time Lock Disaster were her first two. She has traditionally published four young adult novels: Sliding on the Edge, The Princess of Las Pulgas, Double Negative and Sudden Secrets.

Congratulations, C. Lee!! And Happy May, all! :)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Celebrating the Small Things

Hello and Happy Friday, all! It's time to once again celebrate the week gone by with the Celebrate the Small Things hop. This fun hop is hosted by my buddy Lexa Cain and co-hosted by L.G Keltner at Writing Off the Edge, Tonja Drecker at Kidbits, and Katie at The Cyborg Mom. Visit Lexa's blog here to find out how join in the hop yourself and to see the list of participants.

I missed last week's hop because I was traveling to California for my nephew's wedding. The wedding is the main thing I'm celebrating this week, as it was a wonderful event and I'm so glad I got to attend. We had a fantastic time in beautiful Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica, and this was my first visit to that area. The wedding was outdoors and we couldn't have had more perfect weather. It was a treat to spend time with family and old friends in such a picturesque and happy setting.

I also got to explore Santa Monica very briefly, and there are few things I love more than the ocean!

I'm also celebrating that I finally came up with a solid, workable idea for another story in my Polar Night series. I had given up on that ever happening, and then I had a dream that provided me with just the inspiration I needed. The original story for Polar Night came from a dream, so I can't help but feel like this was meant to be. I'm super excited to start writing and of course that is always something to celebrate!

I hope everyone has a great weekend ahead. :)

Friday, April 8, 2016

Celebrating a Trip out West, Part Two

Zion National Park

Last week I posted about my trip to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. While I was there I was fortunate enough to visit Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park, both of which are within easy driving distance from the sanctuary. Both were so spectacular I'm still celebrating the trip!

I'd heard great things about Zion and it definitely didn't disappoint. It was hard to be anything but speechless while driving through it. I felt as if there were majestic temples towering over me on either side of the road.

I really couldn't stop saying "Wow" the whole time I was at the park. I would love to go back sometime and explore more of it. It's so spectacular that one afternoon wasn't nearly enough time.

Amazingly, Bryce Canyon is just as spectacular in its own right. The amount of beauty in this section of the country was extraordinary to me. If anything, I almost enjoyed Bryce more simply because it was less crowded.

We drove up to the highest point in the park, which is at 9,115 feet. That's the highest elevation I've ever been at and it was simply stunning.

The snow made it even more beautiful, although I was glad that none of that snow was on the roads!

The natural bridge at Bryce is also amazing. We read that there is no way to know when the arch could collapse, as similar structures at other parks in the west have collapsed without warning. I was glad that nothing like that happened while we were there, and the arch is so beautiful I hope it remains intact for thousands of more years.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about this trip and the extraordinary landscape since I returned home. I now have a special place in my heart for Southeastern Utah and I definitely hope I can return again someday. I felt so fortunate to be able to visit such a phenomenal place.

The Celebrate the Small Things hop is hosted by my buddy Lexa Cain and co-hosted by L.G Keltner at Writing Off the Edge, Tonja Drecker at Kidbits, and Katie at The Cyborg Mom. Visit Lexa's blog here to find out how join in the hop yourself and to see the list of participants.

I hope you have all had lots to celebrate this week and enjoy the weekend ahead!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

April IWSG

Today is the day for the April meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Alex's co-hosts for April are Megan Morgan, Chris Votey, Viola Fury, Christine Rains, Madeline Mora-Summonte, L.G. Keltner, Rachna Chhabria, and Patricia Lynne

I am keeping this post short and sweet because I know lots of people are busy with the A-Z Challenge. And because I really couldn't think of much to write about anyway!

This month seems to be all about ideas for me. I have ideas floating around my head for a new story I've been thinking about forever, a new attempt at the sequel to Polar Day that I gave up on back at the start of the year, and even a totally new writing adventure that I've never tried before. I'm actually really excited about all of these ideas, but that's the problem. They are all just ideas. 

So I guess my insecurity for this month is that I am starting to feel like I will never be able to harness these ideas and make them into an actual story. I can't seem to focus enough to do so. I'm not sure what I need to do to get my focus and drive back. Lately I have just been all over the place. 

Maybe just acknowledging that I need to stop messing around and get that focus back will be enough to get my butt in gear. I hope so. Ideas are fun but not nearly as fun as putting them down on paper and making a story grow around them. 

I hope all of you who are busily blogging from A-Z are having fun! It feels a little weird to not be doing it, as I have completed the challenge every April since I started blogging in 2011. I am hoping that by sitting this one out I will be able to get my writing focus back and make this a productive month.

Fingers crossed, anyway.

Happy April, all!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Visit from Witch of the Cards author Catherine Stine

I'm happy to have Catherine Stine here today to talk about her latest book Witch of the Cards and its setting, the beach town of Asbury Park, New Jersey. She's also hosting a great giveaway to go with her release tour, so be sure to check out the rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. Welcome. Catherine! 

The allure of creepy, ramshackle beach towns as settings for dark fantasy

What is it exactly that makes edgy beach towns the perfect setting for sinister fantasy and historical suspense? I’ve always been attracted to the dark side, and particularly to strange beach towns. So far, I’ve set two of my novels in them.

When I first moved to New York City after college and a stint out west, you couldn’t tear me away from the nefarious boardwalks of Coney Island. This was back before the arcade was renovated, back when the sideshow by the sea with its sword swallower and human pincushion were on full display. It was when a hungry, dirty capybara was caged in a box that read: Only $1 To See the Biggest Rat in the World! This poor critter was a plot point in Dorianna, my paranormal twist on Dorian Grey. And no surprise, I set Dorianna in Coney Island, and installed my sexiest villain ever, Wilson Warren, an agent of the devil disguised as a videographer who prowled the beaches, making girls into Internet sensations.

Fast-forward to my new novel Witch of the Cards, set in 1932, about Fiera, a sea witch who has a special talent with Tarot (and not just reading the cards). Of course, I set it in a shady beach town, in this case, Asbury Park, NJ. You see, I’ve been coming to this gentrifying beach town for years and know it well—in its sunny moods but also in its spooky, moody shades.

Around the turn of the century, and up until 1940, Asbury Park used to be the stomping grounds of the glitterati. There were grand concerts in the art deco Convention Center, and people dressed to the nines would stroll on the boardwalk at night. Then came the race riots of the 1960s and the economic crash, and the place fell into major disrepair. Its only remaining claim to fame was The Stone Pony, where Bruce Springsteen rocked into the limelight.

When I first ventured into the convention center, there was a hole in its roof that seagulls flew in and out of, and only one lonely saltwater taffy store on the boardwalk run by an ancient lady who seemed to have stepped out of a Stephen King novel. Of course in Witch of the Cards I made her into a fabulous, dangerous witch, who sold magical taffy. And I turned the paranormal museum on Cookwell Avenue, the main shopping lane, into a place to hold séances that often went horribly wrong. I installed an illegal speakeasy in the taffy store basement. In my novel, Witch of the Cards, even the ocean hides terrible secrets.

There’s something about the scent of saltwater and hotdogs, the splintered, salt-dried boardwalk and the scream of people hurtling down on the arcade rides that gets my blood charging and my imagination firing. What about you?

Here’s a snippet of a scene when Fiera and her date Peter went down to the basement speakeasy in the taffy store:

“Perhaps I was far too gone, but I didn’t care. Peter and I danced and danced. The room filled with the overflow from the convention hall dance—young lovers, bootlegger types with wide ties and cigars, older women with twinkling earrings and heavy bosoms, even a prostitute or two. I thought so anyway, because they wore way too much rouge and came alone to sit brazenly up at the bar with the gin rummies.
This time I couldn’t say whether or not I stepped on Mr. Dune’s polished wingtips. This time, he probably couldn’t be sure if he knocked his bony legs into mine. We had many more nips of absinthe, and I wolfed down another green-swirl taffy and before I knew it, I was leaning provocatively against Peter and laughing like a wild banshee.
I remember gaping up at him to see his black hair all disheveled and him mumbling indistinctly. And I, thinking that he was the most gorgeous human being I’d ever seen. I remember Dulcie grabbing one of my arms, and Peter grasping the other. I remember all of us howling at the crescent moon over the ocean, and the shocked sideways glance of the hotel proprietor as we all stumbled in.
I recall pulling out the Tarot he’d given me, and laying them out on the bedroom rug. I recall babbling at him—about a witch and a swindler and a boat—not necessarily in that order. I can still picture his expression of shocked surprise but not at what.
And I remember Peter’s lips branding my forehead—how could I ever forget that—while shocks of his lush black hair dangled deliciously on my burning cheeks. The last thing I recall before things went dark was kicking off my shoes.”

Book Description:

Fiera was born a sea witch with no inkling of her power. And now it might be too late.

Witch of the Cards is historical, supernatural romantic suspense set in 1932 on the Jersey shore. Twenty-two year-old Fiera has recently left the Brooklyn orphanage where she was raised, and works in Manhattan as a nanny. She gets a lucky break when her boss pays for her short vacation in Asbury Park. One evening, Fiera and her new friend Dulcie wander down the boardwalk and into Peter Dune’s Tarot & Séance, where they attend a card reading.

Fiera has always had an unsettling ability to know things before they happen and sense people’s hidden agendas. She longs to either find out the origin of her powers or else banish them because as is, they make her feel crazy. When, during the reading, her energies somehow bond with Peter Dune’s and form an undeniable ethereal force, a chain of revelations and dangerous events begin to unspool. For one, Fiera finds out she is a witch from a powerful sea clan, but that someone is out to stop her blossoming power forever. And though she is falling in love with Peter, he also has a secret side. He’s no card reader, but a private detective working to expose mediums. Despite this terrible betrayal, Fiera must make the choice to save Peter from a tragic Morro Cruise boat fire, or let him perish with his fellow investigators. Told in alternating viewpoints, we hear Fiera and Peter each struggle against their deep attraction. Secrets, lies, even murder, lace this dark fantasy.

Buy links:


 One $40 gift card, two hand-painted heart-boxes (by Catherine) with secret treasure inside, one signed paperback of Dorianna by Catherine Stine, one signed paperback of Witch of the Cards by Catherine Stine, one brand new collector Tarot deck along with an envelope full of special swag!

a Rafflecopter giveaway