Wednesday, April 5, 2017

IWSG and Keeping Things Simple


Hello and Happy April! Today is the day for the monthly meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group, founded by our Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. To view list members and this month's co-hosts, visit the IWSG page here.

Last month I wrote about returning to writing simply for the love of it and I'm happy to be able to say I have been able to do just that. I've been working on a sequel to Polar Night and Polar Day and I have been taking it slowly and enjoying the process. I'm excited about the story and it's been fun to delve back into Alaska as a setting. I am totally enchanted by that place and I hope that I can visit there one of these days.

The Ghost Town of Kennecott, Alaska (WIP setting) 

In the spirit of keeping things simple, I've decided not to try and start up a new blog as I had planned to do with my All in For Animals site. It was a mistake to try something new when I was already feeling sluggish in terms of writing and blogging. I don't have the energy to devote to another site so I am letting that go for now. If I have any fun animal things to write about I plan to just do so here as I have in the past.

I've decided to only set two goals for myself for the rest of 2017. I want to finish my WIP, titled A Killing in Kennecott, and I want to complete the running training program I've been doing for the past month or so. I am enjoying it and the exercise is good for me both physically and mentally.

I've learned that writing to-do lists and setting weekly or monthly goals or daily word count challenges doesn't work for me at this time in my life and they are demoralizing rather than motivating. So for now I'm simply going to enjoy the writing and enjoy the running and try not to stress about either one.

My first A to Z badge (warm fuzzies!)

To all working on the A-Z Challenge, good luck and enjoy!! Even though I'm not taking part this year I still get the warm fuzzies about the challenge each year at this time. Taking part in my first challenge in 2011 was the best blogging decision I've ever made and I will always be grateful to those who have made this great event possible through the years.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Celebrating Apes, Running, & Two Great New Releases

Hello and Happy Friday! Of course, Friday means it's time to Celebrate the Small Things. Since I missed the hop last week, I'm celebrating the past two weeks today.


First up, I'm celebrating the Great Apes of the Congo Basin. Why? Because last week I attended a totally awesome lecture by David Morgan of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project and learned tons about the gorillas and chimpanzees who call the Congo Basin home. Mr. Morgan's group works to save the apes' habitat, which is currently under threat from logging, poaching, and the bush meat trade, through research and collaboration with the Congolese government, local scientists, and other wildlife organizations.

Mr. Morgan's tales of living side by side with the apes were both fun and fascinating, and it was great to hear about some of the project's conservation success stories. If you'd like to read more about the experience, you can find my recap of the evening on my All in For Animals site here.


Next up, running!

I've been totally sluggish and lazy for quite a while now and wanted to get back to some kind of fitness routine. I was inspired by my friend Madeline at The Shellshank Redemption to take up running, as she has been kicking butt with it for a while now.

I have a running training program that I downloaded years ago but I've never actually made it past week one of the program. But this week I started again and I'm determined to stick with it this time. My goal is to run (or at least run/walk) a 5k in the fall so we'll see how that goes!



Last up, two new releases from two fantastic authors - Medeia Sharif and Cathrina Constantine. Congratulations to both ladies!!

 I was supposed to participate in Medeia's cover reveal last week and like a moron I forgot. So I'm sharing the scoop on Medeia's latest today. The cover is amazing and I know the book will be a great read!


GIRL WITHOUT A FACE BY Medeia Sharif
Evernight Teen, March 3, 2017

Destiny awakes with amnesia. She had been driving on a wet road, about to leave flowers at a memorial marker of a deceased classmate, when she almost met that same fate.

Her mother, Mildred, is restrictive. She doesn’t want Destiny to have her cellphone, which a nurse sneaks into her room. It’s useless since Destiny doesn’t have the passcode. After her hospital stay, she enters her mother’s overbearing household. Mildred becomes physically abusive, and Destiny fights back.

When Mildred is away, Destiny leaves with her neighbor, Gabriel, whom she’s developing feelings for, and they drive around to jog her memory. She’s positive she crashed near a memorial marker. When they find the marker in question, and when she remembers her phone’s passcode, her identity is questionable and Mildred is even crazier than she at first thought. Destiny is eager to escape Mildred’s household and find out who she really is.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

Website   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon


And now for Cathrina's latest!


Incense and Peppermints
Cathrina Constantine
Publication date: March 10th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Peace demonstrations, sit-ins, and burning the U.S. flag following the escalation of the Vietnam War are leading to a catalyst known to the world as the Sixties, and a musical revolution, flower power, hippies, marijuana, and drugs are carrying the generations—young and old—into a new decade. All the while sixteen-year-old Mary Monroe is caught between being an innocent good girl and an autumn of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.
When her brother offers a solution to her dilemma in the form of a little pill, Mary ignores the rumba in her brain and takes a walk on the wild side. Plunged into popularity and a life she’s only imagined, she meets Michael Covington, the hot newcomer, and she’s instantly drawn in by his less than flawless exterior and bad boy sex appeal. Caught up in the danger and excitement as they drift from party to party, into underground fight clubs, and through a series of drug and alcohol fueled adventures, Mary follows her new crush into a world where young girls are never truly safe from the predators lurking in the shadows and young men are hiding from the harsh reality of war.
Feeling buzzed and as if her life is spinning out of control, Mary is assaulted by an unknown man at a party, and she’s left questioning if the enigmatic Michael is truly her hero or if he is the face behind the terrible attack. With every piece of information Mary learns about Michael, her doubts grow deeper, but with every minute she spends in his presence, so does her love.
With the war and her fear threatening to separate Mary and Michael forever, only the death of a friend, a crushing confession, and her own sensibilities can carry her over the threshold between adolescence and adulthood.
EXCERPT:
September 1969
The corners of my bedroom had dulled to a muddy gray by the time my brother leaned on, or rather wobbled against, my door. His glassy eyes floated in their sockets. Stoned, again.
“Whatcha doing, Sis?” Stevie, my older brother slurred.
My gaze slipped over his pasty chest, sprinkled with wiry hair, and past his jockeys to his stick-like legs. Did he realize he was only wearing saggy underwear? Normally, I’d say gross and mock him, but only because he normally treated me like a speck of toe scum.
“Nothing much.” I slipped my diary into my sock drawer, away from prying eyes. Our parents weren’t home, and our little sister was asleep in her crib on the other side of my room.
“You need to grow up,” he said. “Here, it’s party time.” Pinched between his thumb and finger, he revealed an ordinary aspirin as if he’d procured the magic solution.
“Uh… I don’t have a headache.”
“Hey, turd. It’s not an aspirin. Stop the nerd act and get with the program. Grow up.”
Our sibling behavior toppled into the belittling and ridiculing stage. Though I figured it was his way of helping me. Yet, staring at the pill, I was interested, but a hootenanny of cymbals clashed inside my head and my sensible side screamed.
You’ll puke! I hate puking. Wasn’t it only last week Stevie was tripping and heaving guts like a water hose?
Shaking my head, I declined his kind and strange offer and tried using simple logic to get rid of him. “Not tonight. Mom and Dad will be home any minute. Go to bed. It’s late.”
“They’ll be so-o plastered. I can’t stand them like that.” Dejected, his shoulders slouched, and his body seemed to deflate. Until he tossed the pill, saying, “Catch.”


Author Bio:
Cathrina Constantine is the Best Selling author of Don’t Forget To Breathe. Her book won Readers’ Favorite International Book Award for 2015 and The Literary Classics Seal of Approval and Literary Classics Gold Award. Her Paranormal Fantasy, Wickedly They Come has been awarded the 5 Star Seal from Reader’s Favorite. Tallas from her dystopian series received Literary Classics Silver Award and Literary Classics Seal of Approval.
Cathrina resides in Western New York with her husband, five children, two Labrador Retrievers and her cat, Bones. Author @chbbpublishing. Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly. When not attached to her computer, she likes to take long walks in the woods with her dogs, drink way too much coffee, and is an avid movie watcher. She loves music and doesn’t need a dance floor to shake a leg.

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

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

IWSG and Writing for the Love of It


Hello and Happy March! Today's the day for the monthly meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group, brought to you by our Ninja founder Alex J. Cavanaugh. To see Alex's co-hosts for today, view the list of members, or sign up for the group yourself, visit the IWSG page here.

I've realized recently that over the past year and a half I've spent far more time talking about writing and thinking about writing than I have actually writing. As a result, except for my Baby Moo stories, I haven't written anything I've liked in two years now.

My problems seemed to start when I became obsessed with getting more books published, and convinced myself that I had to write a long series so that I could get at least one book out every year. When my focus became getting published, I didn't enjoy writing and I couldn't even come up with story ideas that I liked. Everything I wrote felt forced.

Before I knew it, writing, or more accurately, the lack thereof, became a source of anxiety and frustration. I've struggled with anxiety and depression many times in my life, and writing was one of the few things that always helped me come out of those periods. Yet somehow it all got turned upside down.

I started thinking about my first stories and how much I loved writing them. I realized I wanted to feel that way again, and was reminded of a quote from one of my favorite books, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do---the actual act of writing---turns out to be the best part. It's like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.

This quote struck a chord with me the first time I read it, and it does so even more now.

I've started a new story, and I've realized once again how much the act of writing means to me. I love bringing life to characters that exist only in my head. I love writing dialogue. I love when a scene comes together so perfectly it makes me grin from ear to ear all the while my fingers tap away on the keyboard.

It's been a pleasure to rediscover the reward of writing, without worrying about publishing or marketing. That will come in time. But for now I just want to write because I love doing it.

I want to write because writing makes me happy. And as Lucy said, that's a helluva start. :)





Friday, February 17, 2017

Celebrating Clancy the Clown and Charlene the Star

dogs, dog in costume, clown

Hello and Happy Friday from my dog Clancy the Clown and me! We are ready to celebrate the weekend.

Doesn't he look like a stuffed animal here? :D 

Friday is the day to Celebrate the Small Things and today I'm celebrating Clancy's adorable clown costume! This costume used to be mine - I wore it to a Halloween party back in the 1990s. My mom found it in a drawer at her house and we decided to see if Clancy would wear it. He normally has a fit even from the bandanna the groomer puts on him, so I wasn't hopeful, but he not only agreed to wear the bow tie, he also went along with wearing the hat!

Clancy got some cheese for his efforts and I got a great laugh - the best I'd had in weeks. So that's why I'm celebrating my four-legged clown. :)



I'm also celebrating another adorable animal, Charlene the horse. Isn't she a beauty?

Charlene the Star was written by my friend Deanie Humphrys-Dunne, and I was lucky enough to be able to read an advanced copy of the revised edition. This is a wonderful story with great life lessons for kids and adults alike.

Charlene was born into a racing family but she doesn't want to race. Feeling embarrassed and out of place when she can't run as fast as the other horses, Charlene wants to find a place where her own gifts can shine. Without spoiling the story, I'll just say that she does. And she finds a sweet dog best friend as well.

Since it took me more than forty years to figure out that I wanted to write, I could relate to Charlene's struggle to fit in and to figure out what she wants to do with her life. I'm sure many children will recognize their own doubts and fears in Charlene's story. Congratulations to Deanie on a job well done!







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


Friday, February 3, 2017

Celebrating Ohioana & A Visit From Chrys Fey


It's Friday and that means it's time to celebrate. This week I'm celebrating that I got accepted to be part of the 2017 Ohioana Book Festival, which will be held in April. This will be my third time participating in the fest and I love it. I was so thrilled when I got my acceptance confirmation and I can't wait be there again, this time with Baby Moo's Great Escape

Cow kisses! 

I'd love to bring Baby Moo himself with me, but I have a feeling he wouldn't fit too well at the table.




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








Now I want to turn the blog over to the awesome Chrys Fey, who is here as part of her Tsunami Crimes blog tour. Welcome, Chrys!

I asked Chys this question in preparation for her visit:

Have you ever lived through one of the natural disasters you have written about in your series? If so, can you share a little about the experience?


ANSWER:
Hurricane Crimes was strongly based on my experience with Hurricane Francis and Tropical Storm Fay. Hurricane Francis was one of three hurricanes that struck Florida, one right after the other, in 2004. As a matter of fact, while writing Hurricane Crimes, I imagined Beth’s house was the house I was living in when those hurricanes hit. Unlike Beth’s house, mine survived. The only damaged was to parts of the porch and the garage door, which was knocked down.
The flooding in Hurricane Crimes was based on the floods from Tropical Storm Fay. She made landfall on Florida four times. Many places flooded. Where I was living, the streets flooded so much that it looked like my house was floating in the middle of a lake.
Thankfully, I have not experienced an earthquake or tsunami, but Book 4 (which I will be editing soon) is about wildfires, and I have experienced those. The fire in that story, which threatens Beth and Donovan’s home, is taken directly from my childhood memories. Every part of it: my best friend’s dad saying the fire looked like it was right next to my house, the moment when I see a crowd of gawkers at the end of the street and I yell at them, my dad on the roof with a hose, the firefighter who got burned, the brush truck that got stuck in the fiery woods…everything.
Even real-life random moments were used fictitiously, such as my mom coming out of the house with a bag of potatoes, and one of my cats running toward the fire. She survived, but another one of my cats, Angel, had also run toward the flames. She came home that night. Burned. She died a few days later on my twelfth birthday.
I fully believe in using our experiences in our stories, and that’s what I do.

BLURB:
Beth and Donovan have come a long way from Hurricane Sabrina and the San Francisco earthquake. Now they are approaching their wedding day and anxiously waiting to promise each other a lifetime of love. The journey down the aisle isn’t smooth, though, as they receive threats from the followers of the notorious criminal, Jackson Storm. They think they’ll be safe in Hawaii, but distance can’t stop these killers. Not even a tsunami can.
This monstrous wave is the most devastating disaster Beth has ever faced. It leaves her beaten, frightened. Is she a widow on her honeymoon? As she struggles to hold herself together and find Donovan, she’s kidnapped by Jackson's men.
Fearing her dead, Donovan searches the rubble and shelters with no luck. The thought of her being swept out to sea is almost too much for him to bear, but the reality is much worse. She’s being used as bait to get him to fall into a deadly trap.
If they live through this disaster, they may never be the same again.

On SALE for $2.99!

BUY LINKS:

P.S. Hurricane Crimes and Seismic Crimes are on sale for 99 Cents!


BIO:
Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series. She is a blogger, reader, auntie, vegetarian, and cat Lover. Get Lightning Crimes (Disaster Crimes 2.5) for FREE!



FIND CHRYS:



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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

IWSG & Postcards from the Past


It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's also time for another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. The Insecure Writer's Support Group was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh in 2011 and has grown to include upwards of 200 members. If you'd like to join in, visit Alex's site here for a sign-up list and to see this month's co-hosts.

Several months ago the IWSG team started providing us with a new writing-related question each month. I decided to answer this month's question as it relates to one of my worst habits!

The question: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

My answer: I now compare my writing to EVERYTHING I read and in my insecure mind I always come up short. No matter what I am reading, I hold a running dialogue in my head about how this is so much better than anything I could ever write, I wish I could write like this, I'll never be this good, etc. I do this even with books I don't like! In fact, I've done this with books I hate so much I don't even finish them. It's a terrible and obviously completely unhelpful habit.

I'd love to say I'm going to break myself of this habit NOW and never be insecure while reading again, but I think we all know that would be a lie. My insecurity has been turned up to 11 lately anyway, so I am sure that soon I will be reading the circular the grocery store sends out and bemoaning the fact that everything about it is better than anything I could ever write.

In other news, I have become obsessed with two Twitter accounts featuring old postcards! If you use Twitter, are you familiar with PostcardFromThePast and PostcardToAmerica? I love them and have recently been going through their tweets and brainstorming possible story ideas. I think they are such fun!

Here are just a few screenshots of some of my favorite postcards. The people who run the accounts write what was written on the back of the card above the pictures.

Some are funny:



Some just plain macabre:



And some make me so curious! I wonder what was happening in the lives of the people who wrote these cards.



The Holiday Inn card makes my brain spin in all kinds of directions. So many story possibilities! :D

I love old photos, postcards, and history, so these Twitter accounts are a goldmine for me. I am so glad I came upon them.

Happy February, all!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Celebrations & A Cover Reveal from Cathrina Constantine



Hello and Happy Friday! I didn't mean to disappear from the hop for the past few weeks but life happens and all of the sudden here we are at the end of January. The holidays already seem like forever ago.

And it's time to Celebrate the Small Things once again. The hop is hosted by Lexa Cain and co-hosted by L.G Keltner at Writing Off the Edge and Tonja Drecker at Kidbits. Visit Lexa's blog here to find out how join in the hop yourself and to see the list of participants.

This week I'm celebrating:

Baby Moo, the sequel!
I finished my revisions for Baby Moo Goes to Hollywood and submitted the manuscript! I'm so excited to move forward on getting another Baby Moo story out into the world.

A healthy Nate!
I had to take my cat Nate to the vet because I found a lump under his skin. I immediately freaked when I felt it, but hoped it was just a fatty tumor. Sure enough, it was! That was a huge relief and now I just have to wait for him to forgive me for taking him to the vet in the first place. The poor cat is terrified of his carrier, the car, and, most of all, the vet's office.

And finally, a birthday!
If the weather cooperates my sisters and I are taking my mom out for a birthday brunch on Sunday. She's turning 89 and is still as strong as ever. If I ever start to feel sorry for myself, I think about my mother undergoing chemotherapy and kicking cancer to the curb when she was 87-88! She's my hero.

Today I also want to share the stunning cover for Cathrina Constantine's next release, Incense and Peppermints. 


Isn't that gorgeous? Congratulations, Cathrina!!

The book will be released on March 10 and you can add it on Goodreads here.

The blurb:

 Peace demonstrations, sit-ins, and burning the U.S. flag following the escalation of the Vietnam War are leading to a catalyst known to the world as the Sixties, and a musical revolution, flower power, hippies, marijuana, and drugs are carrying the generations—young and old—into a new decade. All the while sixteen-year-old Mary Monroe is caught between being an innocent good girl and an autumn of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. When her brother offers a solution to her dilemma in the form of a little pill, Mary ignores the rumba in her brain and takes a walk on the wild side. Plunged into popularity and a life she’s only imagined, she meets Michael Covington, the hot newcomer, and she’s instantly drawn in by his less than flawless exterior and bad boy sex appeal. Caught up in the danger and excitement as they drift from party to party, into underground fight clubs, and through a series of drug and alcohol fueled adventures, Mary follows her new crush into a world where young girls are never truly safe from the predators lurking in the shadows and young men are hiding from the harsh reality of war. Feeling buzzed and as if her life is spinning out of control, Mary is assaulted by an unknown man at a party, and she’s left questioning if the enigmatic Michael is truly her hero or if he is the face behind the terrible attack. With every piece of information Mary learns about Michael, her doubts grow deeper, but with every minute she spends in his presence, so does her love.
 With the war and her fear threatening to separate Mary and Michael forever, only the death of a friend, a crushing confession, and her own sensibilities can carry her over the threshold between adolescence and adulthood.
Congratulations again to Cathrina, and Happy Weekend to all. :)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Kicking off the 2017 Friday Celebrations!


It's the first Celebrate the Small Things hop of 2017! Happy Friday, everyone!

Even though this was a short work week because of the New Year's holiday, it somehow felt like the longest week in history. It's so hard to get back to normal after the holidays.

So I'm celebrating that it's the weekend, plus a few other things.

1. I finished writing my sequel to Baby Moo's Great Escape. I still have tons of revising and editing to do but at least I got the story down. I'm excited to be moving closer to getting Baby Moo and his friends back out into the world again for another adventure.

2. I also got my new All In For Animals site up and running and I'm really excited about it! Huge thanks to everyone who stopped by there after reading about it on this blog.

3. We got a little snow yesterday for the first time this winter. It wasn't enough to cause any problems, but it was more than enough to make my dog very happy. Clancy LOVES snow and he is ecstatic every year when the first snow comes around. He gets so excited when we go outside it's adorable. Seeing my dog so happy makes me happy, so I'm celebrating a happy pup!

The only time he wasn't happy was when I pestered him for a picture. :D 







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










I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend ahead. :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG & All In For Animals


Hello and Happy 2017!! It's the first Wednesday of the year, which means it's time for the January meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group.

2017 - wow! I started this blog back on December 31, 2010 but really started posting in January of 2011. I can't believe it's been 6 years. What a wonderful ride it's been, with membership in this group being one of the highlights.

The Insecure Writer's Support Group was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh in 2011 and has grown to include upwards of 200 members. If you'd like to join in, visit Alex's site here for a sign-up list and to see this month's co-hosts.

My main insecurity this month is about starting my new project at All In For Animals, which is my new blog dedicated to animal rescue and welfare issues. Getting started with Wordpress.org has been more complicated than I expected, but I think I've finally got it now and I've been able to get the site up and running. Now I just have to write for it! I do have my first post up, but I know I have tons of work to do to get my ducks in a row for future posts and topics.


Still, I'm more excited than I am nervous since I'm devoting time to two of the things I love the most - animals and writing. I hope I can make this venture work. I definitely don't plan on using this blog to advertise my new one, but I thought I'd share a link now since I'm just getting it off the ground. If you're interested in checking out my new space, find me at AllInForAnimals.com.

I hope everyone had a good holiday season and I wish you all a very Happy New Year! Here's to lots more writing adventures for all of us.