Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: Not the Internet!!

Wow! The A-to-Z Challenge is certainly filling up. It was so exciting signing in yesterday to see so many blogs already participating.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
5. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week I'd like to share a bit from The Missing Link, by Bryan Pedas and Brandon Meyers. *Note: These guys have a blog, which you can visit here: A Beer for the Shower.

"Now, Brent Porter was not a brave man. Were this a yeti or a zombie destroying his network, he would have merely hid behind his desk and called security, but this...this was some kind of child-sized mutant, twenty pounds at most. Brent, who had never been in a fight in his life, was pretty sure he could take the little bastard." Kindle, 2% in.

Obviously, I'm not very far in yet, but their humor is a kick and the premise is fascinating. You can get an idea of how you feel about their writing by visiting their blog, linked above.

What are you reading?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A-to-Z Sign-ups are Open!!

Hello everyone! The sign-ups are here if you're interested in the A-to-Z Challenge. Last year was my first year participating in the Challenge, and I'm looking forward to doing it again this year.

If you don't know what the A-to-Z Challenge is, have no fear (that comes after you sign up, haha)! The A-to-Z challenges you to post every day in April, excluding Sundays (other than the first one, as April 1 falls on a Sunday), following an alphabetical scheme. You can post anything you want, but it has to be in alphabetical order. For example, A is for Author (April 1), B is for Benchmark (April 2), and so on and so forth. You sign up on our little linky and you'll get lots of new visitors by your blog. Hopefully, you'll hop around and visit others, as well.

These posts can be thematic (mythological creatures, poems, horror movies, books, authors, games, websites, publications, you name it) or anything that particular letter of the alphabet stirs up for you. Though many of our participants are writers, you do not have to be a writer to participate, just a blogger! This is a great way to stretch yourself, get yourself on a schedule, challenge yourself and meet new people.

Thank you, Jeremy!

For more information, you can go to the official A-to-Z Challenge Blog. We will have all different kinds of posts on how to approach the A-to-Z, survival strategies, technical help and anything else that has to do with the A-to-Z. You can even find people's reflections on last year's A-to-Z if you want to try to get a better grasp of what it will be like. We welcome others' posts, as well, so if you've participated before and want to share your strategy, advice or story, please contact myself or one of the other hosts.

Speaking of hosts, how about a list of my wonderful co-hosts for those who might have missed it?

Arlee Bird Tossing It Out
Damyanti Biswas Amlokiblogs
Alex J. Cavanaugh Alex J. Cavanaugh
Tina Downey Life is Good
Karen Gowan Coming Down the Mountain: A Writer's Blog
DL Hammons Cruising Altitude 2.0
Jeremy Hawkins Retro-Zombie
Matthew MacNish The QQQE
Elizabeth Mueller Author Elizabeth Mueller
Jenny Pearson Pearson Report
Konstanz Silverbow No Thought 2 Small
Stephen Tremp Breakthrough Blogs

If you haven't already checked out all of these blogs, I highly recommend you do so. I couldn't be more delighted to be working with all of these wonderful folks!

You can find the A-to-Z Challenge on Facebook. Stop by and chat with other Challengees or ask questions.

If you Tweet about the A-to-Z, be sure to use the hashtag #AtoZChallenge. This is yet another great way to find out more about the A-to-Z and chat with your fellow Challengees. There's already lots of discussion.

You can see last year's A-to-Z posts in my archives if you look at April 2011. This may help you if you're on the fence.

The A-to-Z is a great time, and we hope to see as many of you participating as possible. There will be familiar faces, but also new faces. Also, for any of you out there who like to do videos, or maybe want to try their hand at video-making since you'll eventually be doing a book trailer, for instance, check out our current Pre-Challenge Video Challenge on the A-to-Z blog.

If you have ANY questions, please feel free to ask them, either here in the comments, by emailing me through my profile (or any of our esteemed hosts) or at the official A-to-Z email: 2012azinfo@gmail.com. There is a convenient "Contact Us" tab at the official blog, as well as an FAQ that we will build on as we get questions.

The linky list can be found on the A-to-Z Info and Sign-up tab underneath my header. I hope you'll join us!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Helpful Links: NiNoCon, Formatting Help, Free Reader & Author's Houses

Before I get to today's links, I need to announce that Monday's post on New Models in Publishing will be moved to Wednesday, in place of [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday, due to the opening of official sign-ups for the A-to-Z Challenge. I misplaced my days, but didn't want to make you wait another week for the informative notes from the Write Brain.

Onto the helpful hints:

I swear by THIS for formatting during that crunch before submission. I searched it out this week to format a short story for submission, and realized I hadn't passed it along before. It's a fantastic resource.

And, because I was doing a lot of editing this week, I did some looking around and heard about Natural Reader. It's a free program that allows you to listen to your words instead of just reading them over and over. I have, of course, read my novel out loud in editing, but my voice was hoarse and my throat sore for the next day or so. Plus, having sat in a Read & Critique at conference, I know that it sounds different in someone else's voice. I haven't actually tried this yet, but plan to within the week. It came highly recommended, though.

It seems there are a lot of online conferences I keep missing, but I lucked across this one ahead of time: NiNoCon begins Saturday, February 4. Click on the link for more information.

This link is just meant to be frosting. There was an article on Flavorwire about "15 Authors' Beautiful Estates". I was rather partial to Stephen King's house (I'd love to see it decorated for Halloween), Mark Twain's house and Kurt Vonnegut's house.

Finally, some weekly reminders:

Don't forget the A-to-Z Challenge. Even if you don't want to participate in the blogging challenge portion, there is currently a video challenge for your video-making pleasure. We are also looking for anyone interested in guest posting in the lead-up to the challenge.

The NLAPW (Pen Women) Flash Fiction Contest is ongoing. The theme is Are You Devious At Heart?; it is a micro-flash, 100 word maximum contest with a cash prize.

Pikes Peak Writers is accepting submissions (unpaid) for an anthology, to benefit their scholarship program. The theme is Moving Mountains.

And, of course, the Pikes Peak Writers Conference is open for sign-ups, and has scholarships available for those who need help with the fee. The sooner you sign up, the more likely you are to get a pitch session and/or a Read & Critique session.

That's it for today, folks! I hope you'll be back to sign up for the A-to-Z on Monday. Next Thursday, I hope to include a Project 52 update with my links. Also, don't forget that the continuation of my notes for New Models in Publishing, a Write Brain workshop presented by Pikes Peak Writers will be moved to Wednesday of next week, in lieu of [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday.

Which author's estate was your favorite? Any helpful links, information on readers or online conferences to pass along?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday: Peanut Butter and Jellies & A to Z

Since we're in the dead of winter, and I'm entirely landlocked, how about a photo of a jellyfish? From the aquarium, of course...

Random Jelly Factoids:

1. Jellyfish both eat and expel waste through their mouths. Pleasant.

2. Jellyfish have no nervous system, no blood, no heart, no bones and no brain. They're basically jet-propelled water.

3. Jellyfish have been around longer than dinosaurs. Guess the dinos just weren't ready for that jelly.

I've now written "jelly" too many times and really want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It doesn't help that yesterday was National Peanut Butter Day.

I guest posted at the official A-to-Z Challenge Blog today, as well, about something important to remember during the A-to-Z Challenge. You, too, can guest post over there! Just go HERE to read up on how to do so.

Any random jelly facts? Ever been stung by one? How did you celebrate National Peanut Butter Day?

I have some helpful links/software for you tomorrow (and no, it doesn't make typing sounds), and Monday sees the continuation of my notes from the Write Brain on New Models in Publishing.

May you find your Muse.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: My First Steampunk!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
5. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Thanks to this book making the blog circuit, I was introduced to Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, part of the Infernal Devices series, which is what my teaser is today:

"'Such a fuss over a few mundanes.' Mrs. Dark chuckled and moved to stand beside her sister, so that Will, with his blazing sword, was between Tessa and both ladies. 'We have no quarrel with you, Shadowhunter, unless you choose to pick one.'" p. 46

Interesting book, and the pace is fairly lively. I like the writing; it flows. From the back of the book:

"Magic is dangerous - but love is more dangerous still.

When Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother in Victorian England, something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld. Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, who are members of a secret organization called the Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she has the power to transform into another person. The Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own. Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons. She soon finds herself fascinated by - and torn between - two best friends: James and Will. As Tessa is drawn deep into a plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, she realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all."

What are you reading?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Write Brain Notes: New Models in Publishing, A Bookseller's View

Last week, I attended the Write Brain session, offered by Pikes Peak Writer's. It was a great workshop, which I promised to pass along.

The wonderful folks who ran it were Deb Courtney (Courtney Literary), Robert Spiller (author), DeAnna Knipping (author) and Natalie Johnson (Black Cat Books). For this post, I am going to cover just the first part of the workshop, as it will otherwise be too long.

Natalie Johnson went first, as she had to leave. She is the owner of Black Cat Books, a small bookstore in Manitou Springs. She was quite reassuring on trends in publishing, as far as her store was concerned, and said she'd only seen a drop-off in physical book sales in the last few months. She feels e-books reach a different audience than the physical books in her store. Here are a few of the notable things she said:

1. When contacted by a local author to do a signing/carry a book, she will always do a signing first, which introduces the author to her patrons and lets people know she will be carrying the book. After the signing, she carries the book continuously.

2. When you contact a bookseller for a signing/to carry your book, make sure you know how to get them copies of the book and are prepared to give them your distributor/sales information(they are not just going to buy them from Amazon).

3. Booksellers, both big and small, are more likely to carry your book if it is returnable through the distributor. This is one of the reasons self-published books are often not carried by local stores. Black Cat Books will still give you a chance, but you will be expected to provide your own books.

4. When doing a signing, it is a good idea to also have information to hand someone on how to purchase an e-book format of your book. Whether that's a bookmark, a business card, or something specific to the e-book, this is something authors frequently overlook.

5. Once a store is carrying your book, she recommends you call to check up every six months or so. For her, this reminds her to re-stock the book if it is sold.

6. Booksellers have the right to turn down your book. This might happen because it is badly edited, because it promotes hatred, or for any other reason. Make sure you are bringing a quality product to the bookseller.

7. When doing a book signing, promotional items are great. However, make sure they are not too big; there is limited space in a store, and something smaller will likely be kept out longer than something large and unwieldy (like a large sign/banner, for instance). Bookmarks and small items like that are the best.

8. Speaking of promotional items, if you can come up with something that is unique to you or specific to your book, it can help you get an edge. One author had his information printed on nail files, because people often need a nail file in a pinch. Another author gave out guitar picks, which had bearing on his novel. Sweet treats are good, especially if geared toward something in your book.

9. If you can get an award sticker on your book by submitting it for contests/awards, that book will sell.

10. People come into bookstores knowing what they want, most of the time. She is rarely asked for recommendations by patrons. Have your information out there.

This is the end of the first part of my notes. Come back Monday for the next portion.

Any other pointers for authors when it comes to getting your books out to booksellers, whether big or small?

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thursday Helpful Links: Anthologies, Typewriter Sound Effects, SOPA Petition

First, here is the link for the petition against SOPA, courtesy of J.A. Bennett in the comments in my last post: PETITION
Courtesy of OCAL at clker.com

I briefly scouted around for free programs that would make a typewriter sound when I was typing. I came across an e-How article that recommended three. The one I've gone with is ClicKey, and I can tell you it works! So far, it seems easy to use, but I just installed it. As in, right before I did this post. When you open the program, a window comes up. Type the different letters to hear the sounds that go with them. I prefer "C." It has the most typewriter-y (yes, I know that's not a word) sound. Also, it doesn't all blend together like "A." There are also pings and other sounds that have nothing to do with a typewriter.

Related to that, Alex J. Cavanaugh, a fellow host of the A-to-Z Challenge, passed along an app that includes typewriter sounds: CTS MobileSoft Office. It costs $.99 and has other sounds, as well. Thanks, Alex!

Courtesy of OCAL at clker.com

I submitted my first piece for the year, yay! I wanted to pass along the link again, in case you missed it on Monday. They are not guaranteeing pay at this time, but the premise caught my attention. It is an anthology with the theme "Sofas I've Slept On." I can imagine a lot of interesting stories will come from that.

A few reminders from past links:

Don't forget the A-to-Z Challenge. Even if you don't want to participate in the blogging challenge portion, there is currently a video challenge for your video-making pleasure.

The NLAPW (Pen Women) Flash Fiction Contest is ongoing. The theme is Are You Devious At Heart?; it is a micro-flash, 100 word maximum contest with a cash prize.

Pikes Peak Writers is accepting submissions (unpaid) for an anthology, to benefit their scholarship program. The theme is Moving Mountains.

Pikes Peak Writers Night is this Monday, January 23, from 6:30-8:30, at Poor Richard's Bookstore in downtown Colorado Springs. It's always a great night.

And, of course, the Pikes Peak Writers Conference is open for sign-ups, and has scholarships available for those who need help with the fee. The sooner you sign up, the more likely you are to get a pitch session and/or a Read & Critique session.

Stop by Monday for my notes from the Write Brain on new models in publishing. There will be more helpful links that day, as passed along by Deb Courtney and DeAnna Knippling, concerning publishing resources, as well as others.

Any helpful links to pass along? Anyone going to add the typewriter software? Know anywhere I could advertise the flash fiction contest?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday: No SOPA, A to Z Video Challenge Up!

Today's [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday is a statement against SOPA and PIPA:

Image courtesy of OCAL at CLKER.com

I am delighted to announce that the A-to-Z Video Challenge is open for entries! You can find the rules, some samples, and the entry form at the official A-to-Z Blog.

Also, I went to a great writing workshop (Write Brain) last night, put on by Pikes Peak Writers. I intend to type it up and pass it on to you Monday. It's on New Models in Publishing. More on Monday! Tomorrow I'll have some helpful links for you.

May you find your Muse.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: Mini Witches and Warlocks

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
5. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week's book, read on a friend's Nook, is Witch and Wizard: The Gift, by James Patterson and Ned Rust.

"Would you think I was completely mad if I told you that what saved us in that signal hut was a portal that sucked me and Wisty through several dimensions and hurled us back into our current hellish reality at a completely different location?

A year ago, I would have checked myself into a psych ward for that, but crazy is the new sane in a society defined by New Order nutjobs."
p. 25

What are you reading?

May you find your Muse.

Social Media for Writers

I've questioned various forms of social media since starting this blog: why should we use them, what good are they, how do they help, are they just time wasters? I signed up for Twitter after a lot of recommendations on my Twitter post during last year's A-to-Z challenge, because I was told it was valuable for writers. I was already on Facebook, and MySpace was obsolete to me before I joined Facebook. As far as LinkedIn, I only joined because I kept getting requests from people. But what should I be doing with them?

For Twitter, I've followed publishing houses and such, and some have even found me first, which I imagine is for their advertizing purposes, but it works for me, either way. So far, it has not had major use yet, but I imagine its day will come. Also, I would have to spend more time on there to give it a real chance before I complain. I can see how it would be a good source for finding publishers, learning about agents, and hearing about contests, though. And when the day comes that I've got something to advertize, I'm sure it will be helpful there, too. I know that I have valued it when someone has "retweeted" or "RT'd" something I've put on there, and I wonder if some of my readers haven't been discovered that way.

I'm still trying to figure out some of the logistics of Twitter. When someone "tags" me with a "FF" tag, for instance, am I supposed to respond in some way? I don't right now, because I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. Help? I don't respond every time someone thanks me for following them on there, for various reasons. Am I supposed to always respond? Am I supposed to tag everyone who follows me with a thank you message? Do people prefer that, or are they happy without it?

Facebook has a bunch of uses, so while I can see how it can be valuable, I'm not sure how to get a Facebook page out there where everyone knows it's there. For instance, I created one for the Pen Women, but how do I get people to follow it? Of course, I have one for this blog, too, but I figure for right now just having the button on the side of my blog referring people to it is good enough. If someone wants to "like" the Facebook page, they can find it on here. As of right now, though, it is mostly used to notify people of new posts on here. I tried starting conversations on there a few times that were related to what I had posted, but it didn't work. Maybe in the future when I have five trillion followers/readers?

One that I never bothered much with until recently was LinkedIn. Like I said above, I added it because I kept getting requests. I mostly had a couple friends on there and that was that. However, I started getting requests from fellow writers who had found me on here, and then I got recommendations for others to add, and I've started doing a teeny bit more that way, but that was really it. Then, maybe about a week or so ago, I got a nice little form message recommending some groups I could join. I had no idea there were groups! I clicked on the groups and checked them out, and there were some neat groups of writers, so I went ahead and joined.

Lo and behold, a few days ago someone posts in one of the groups that their anthology deadline has been extended. I click on that discussion, it sounds interesting, and I go to the site. Their prompt instantly sparked something, and I immediately wrote a personal essay to submit. I've never submitted an essay for publication (I've hardly submitted anything for publication...), so I have no idea if it's good, but I'm delighted to have done it. In case you're interested, the anthology is Sofas I've Slept on. I believe they're taking submissions until March 20, 2012.

Image courtesy of OCAL at CLKER.com

I'm learning that I maybe shouldn't be so skeptical of social media, and that it has value. The problem is learning how to use it to my advantage without allowing it to suck me in and become a time waster. That's true for every single bit of social media I take part in. Other than the lure of CastleVille, I'm getting better at brief, pertinent visits most of the time.

Quickly, I'd like to mention the Pikes Peak Writer's Write Brain, occurring tomorrow, Tuesday, January 17, 6:30-8:30 at Celebration Place in the Citadel Mall. It sounds like a great program. I'll likely write it up if I get good notes, and share it with everyone, but if you're able to attend, I'm sure personal attendance would be far more valuable than my write up. This Write Brain will be run by Deb Courtney, Robert Spiller and DeAnna Knippling, and concerns New Models in Publishing. Each of these people has been involved with both traditional and self-publishing. For more information, click HERE.

What forms of social media do you use? What do you find most valuable? How do you insure you aren't wasting time?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Best of Both Worlds: A Guest Post by Author Ian T. Healy

I met Ian at last year's Pikes Peak Writer's Conference. He was friendly, calm and seemed confident in a setting that I found mildly overwhelming. That was the first thing I noticed, other than his hair (obviously). Most people I saw at the conference looked about as frazzled as I felt, but he seemed to be having a great time.

Since then, he has become the word-wielding slave master that makes me feel bad if I'm screwing around on Facebook without having written or edited anything that day. Not because he is actually telling me I should be writing, or in any way trying to make me feel ashamed, but because he is always working on something, despite being a dad and having a full-time job. He cheerfully posts snippets of his current works in progress and updates what he's working on. If you want real, positive encouragement, I recommend you add him on Facebook. Everyone needs someone to kick them into gear in some way or another, right?

Since that meeting, Ian has self-published several novels and short stories in e-book format, which you can find on Amazon and Smashwords. He has also traditionally published a book through New Babel Books, entitled Just Cause:

Some superheroes can fly, or lift great weights, or shoot lightning bolts. Mustang Sally runs. A third-generation superhero, Sally's life changes forever when she fights and loses to the notorious villain Destroyer, who killed her father just before she was born. She dedicates herself to tracking him down so she can even the score. When all you can do is run, you'd better be fast, but can even the fastest girl in the world run quick enough to save her teammates' lives from Destroyer and his growing parahuman army?

Ian is one of the few authors who has experience in both self-publishing and traditional publishing, and one who hasn't chosen sides in the war that rages on the battlefield of publication preference. He agreed to write about the best of both worlds on his Just Cause Live Blog Tour (for other stops, including interviews and guest posts, go to his blog and look in the top left corner).


The Best of Both Worlds:
Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Dual Publication

I've been rejected more than anybody I know.

That's not to say I'm any kind of record-holder. I'm sure there are writers out there whose Rejection Collection is more than a thousand strong, but let's face it—if you've earned that many rejections, maybe writing just isn't your strong suit.

That being said, the story of how Just Cause found its way to publication involves well over 140 rejections (that was the number where I stopped counting). I've recounted how the initial story came about in other posts of this tour, but to recap, I wrote it as a way to get my foot in the door with Del Rey so I would be asked to write Star Wars novels. I realize that's an odd reason to write a novel, but like so many other great discoveries throughout history, it seemed like a good idea at the time. This was 2004, when I was barely scratching the surface of what it meant to be a modern writer, and the truth is that I knew next to nothing about revising, editing, querying, etc.

Is it any wonder I earned all those rejections?

Unlike many other writers, I didn't keep trying to massage Just Cause. I kept writing other books, like sequels (which I know you're Not Supposed To Do if the first book hasn't been published). I discovered NaNoWriMo and over the years have added eight more novels to my catalog than I might have otherwise. I experimented with "self-publishing" in 2005 with my NaNo book The Milkman. iUniverse took money from me and that was the first time I really learned the lesson that money should flow to the author, not the other way around.

I finally landed an agent, who couldn't sell any of my work, and eventually her failing health drove her to retirement. Her replacement likewise couldn't sell any of my work, and eventually her health issues drove her to retirement as well (Note: along with my next agency contract, I'll require a note from the agent's doctor). At the beginning of 2011, I found myself without an agent and something like two dozen completed works gathering dust on my hard drive.

I decided to publish them as ebooks. Just Cause, renamed Mustang Sally by then, was one of the first ebooks I released. It, along with a few superhero short stories, formed the backbone of my early library. And by then, those works had been revised and edited, because I learned a lot in eight years of beta reading, conferences, and paying attention to the Right Sort of People (those who have been published).

What I did worked, because I attracted the attention of a small publisher specializing in superhero fiction, named New Babel Books. The Editor in Chief wanted to acquire the entire Just Cause universe. I was pleased to accept the offer. Right now I have three more books under contract with them and one more under consideration. I have plans to write at least fifteen more novels set in the JCU, and as long as New Babel is happy with them and I'm happy with New Babel, we'll keep working together.

At the beginning of 2011, I was hiding my ebook library from potential agents. Now I'm flaunting it. I know what I'm doing now, and it's important that they see that if they can't (or won't) sell my work, I am perfectly capable of doing it myself. Publishing doesn't have to be an either-or proposition. You can be successful working both sides of the fence.


Ian Thomas Healy is a prolific writer who dabbles in many different speculative genres. His superhero novel Deep Six: A Just Cause Novel was a Top 100 Semi-finalist in the 2008 Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award. He’s an eight-time participant and winner of National Novel Writing Month where he’s tackled such diverse subjects as sentient alien farts, competitive forklift racing, a religion-powered rabbit-themed superhero, cyberpunk mercenaries, cowboy elves, and an unlikely combination of vampires with minor league hockey. He is also the creator of the Writing Better Action Through Cinematic Techniques workshop, which helps writers to improve their action scenes.

His goal is to become as integral to the genre of superhero fiction as William Gibson was to cyberpunk and Anne Rice was to urban fantasy. The first book in his Just Cause Universe series, JUST CAUSE, is available now from New Babel Books.

When not writing, which is rare, he enjoys watching hockey, reading comic books (and serious books, too), and living in the great state of Colorado, which he shares with his wife, children, house-pets, and approximately five million other people. His ebooks can be found on Smashwords, Kindle, Nook, iBook Store, and other online retailers.,



Thank you for coming by, Ian, and for your informative guest post! Good luck on the rest of your tour.

Any questions for Ian?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Helpful Links: Anthology, 750 Words, Conference Scholarships

Happy Thursday! We've almost made it to the weekend.

Before I get to today's links, be sure to return tomorrow for an insightful guest post from author, Ian T. Healy, who is both self-published and traditionally published. He is a prolific writer, and one that keeps me motivated when he posts his writing progress on Facebook. For those torn on self-publishing versus traditional publishing, he tells you why both are equally acceptable.

Also, if you haven't stopped by the official A-to-Z blog for information on the video challenge leading up to it, check it out! Not my bag, baby, but it might be yours. And I'm very excited about watching the video entries.

Moving on to some news from the Pikes Peak Writer's Conference, which, by the way, I can officially declare I'm staff at! There are some truly exciting things coming up for this, the 20th Pikes Peak Writer's Conference. I can't wait until I can share it all with you and get you as excited as I am.

There are scholarships available for those that might wish to come, but cannot afford it. You can click here to apply. You can also donate if you do have the means and want to help a struggling writer along. A note: do not register until you've heard the results of the scholarship (if you apply, obviously). If you have the means to pay while waiting, you will likely be disqualified, as others won't have even that option.

Speaking of donations and scholarships, Pikes Peak Writer's has paired with Courtney Literary to create their first ever anthology. They are now open for submissions. This will not be a paid anthology; rather, any money brought in will go toward PPWCon scholarships. The theme is "Moving Mountains," 1000-5000 words accepted, all genres, but no poetry. Check out www.pikespeakwriters.com for more information, or email anthology@pikespeakwriters.com.

Lastly, I heard about a website called 750 Words over at Annalise Green's blog. You can sign up at the website, then write each day (750 words, duh). You get points for your participation. I haven't signed up yet, but am considering it. Anything to get my mojo marching forward at a more acceptable pace.

Image courtesy of OCAL at CLKER.com

Now that I've passed those along, does anyone know of a free trustworthy downloadable software that will make typewriter sounds while you're typing? Weird question, I know, but I had that with a piece of software from Stephen King about a decade ago (when he pioneered purchasing and reading a book, all online...) and I'm looking for a fun little change-up. Also, I love the sound of a typewriter when I'm writing. Seriously. I might get sick of it, but I'd like to give it a try. I stupidly got rid of my typewriter a few years ago. Sigh.

Any other helpful links to pass along?

May you find your Muse.

P.S. Stephen King may not have pioneered it, but he was the first fiction writer I'd heard of to try it. I need to look up which one it was. "Riding the Bullet," or something like that? It was about a decade ago, because I remember the four-plex I lived in at the time, and staying up late on my computer after work to read it. Love him or hate him, he has progressed the writing world in many adventurous new ways over the years. Gotta' give him props for that!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday: Sweater for a Tree

For today's [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday, how about a silly one? I was in downtown Colorado Springs this week, at Poor Richard's Restaurant, which tends to draw a sort of artsy crowd (including the writer's night I attend there once per month). Outside the restaurant, I found this crocheted "sweater" on a tree:

There are different patterns and colors, but they're all connected, right up the trunk and onto the branches. I have no idea why or when this was done, but I loved that it appeared to be a community effort, the differences meshing together to create the whole. This is the sort of thing artists should do more often.

What was the most interesting thing you've seen lately?

P.S. If you have a moment, especially if you like to create videos, head over to the A-to-Z Challenge blog. There is a current challenge that has nothing to do with blogging, and everything to do with making fun videos!

May you find your muse

Monday, January 9, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: The Maze Runner

Before I do my teaser, I have two announcements to make:

1. There will be a guest post from the fantastic Ian T. Healy, a prolific writer, and one both self-published and traditionally published. On Friday, he talks about how it shouldn't be one against the other, but that dual publication can be beneficial, too.

2. There will be an exciting project announcement on the A to Z blog on Wednesday. I will link to it once it's up, both Wednesday and Thursday. It's not just a writing project, folks!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
5. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week I'm reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

"My name is Thomas, he thought.

That...that was the only thing he could remember about his life."

This book is intense, fast-paced and intriguing. It keeps you turning the pages, desperate to know what's going on, what the big mystery is.

From the back cover:

Everything is going to change...

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is empty.

But he's not alone. When the lift's doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large expanse enclosed by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as anyone can remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, for just as long, they've closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered in the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the Maze after dark.

The Gladers were expecting Thomas's arrival. But the next day, a girl is sent up - the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. The Gladers have always been convinced that if they can solve the Maze that surrounds the Glade, they might find their way home...wherever that may be. But it's looking more and more as if the Maze is unsolvable.

And something about the girl's arrival is starting to make Thomas feel different. Something is telling him that he just might have some answers - if he can only find a way to retrieve the dark secrets locked within his own mind.

What are you reading?

May you find your Muse.

Twenty Seconds of Insane Bravery

We took the kids to see We Bought a Zoo the other day. In it, the main character, played by Matt Damon, said that sometimes all it takes is twenty seconds of insane bravery. Aside from being a touching statement, it's fantastic inspiration. As writers, twenty seconds of bravery is what it takes to hit send on a query email, or push that envelope through the slot. Twenty seconds is how long it takes to hand over your manuscript to a beta reader or critique partner. Twenty seconds will net you an elevator pitch, better known as the drunken bar pitch. Oh, wait, it's not called that? All the ones I witnessed involved alcohol.

Once you take that step, there's no going back. You've taken that courage and used it to pursue the next step. Sometimes, though, it takes more than twenty seconds of bravery to get where you're going.

A writer must carry their conviction through the entirety of their work. Yes, we face doubts ("No one's going to want to read this," "this sucks," "I'll never find an agent/publishing house," etc.), but those who make it have to stay brave throughout and push right through those doubts.

Courtesy of Mohamed Ibrahim, clker.com

In those moments of doubt, it only takes those twenty seconds of insane bravery to push through the hump. We've all got that within us. I hope everyone out there employs their twenty seconds to make the next step today, whether it's just to face that manuscript today, to write a tricky scene, to query someone, or whatever else requires that measure of courage.

What has required your twenty seconds of insane bravery lately? Was it worth it?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A-to-Z Challenge Official Announcement!

I'm delighted to have the honor of being a member of the 2012 A-to-Z Challenge team, and to be announcing that sign-ups for this year's Challenge will be opening up on the 30th of this month.

For those who aren't familiar with the A-to-Z Challenge, it is a challenge wherein you post every day except Sunday, and you do so with an alphabetical theme, in order. So, for instance, on the 1st of April you would post something that had to do with the letter "A." You can do it any which way you want, in any theme, or lack thereof, as long as you post all but Sunday, and you do so in alphabetical order. For more information on what this means and how it began, click HERE, where you can hear it from the creator, himself, Arlee.

I will be joining this esteemed team:

Arlee Bird Tossing It Out
Damyanti Biswas Amlokiblogs
Alex J. Cavanaugh Alex J. Cavanaugh
Tina Downey Life is Good
DL Hammons Cruising Altitude 2.0
Jeremy Hawkins Retro-Zombie
Matthew MacNish The QQQE
Elizabeth Mueller Author Elizabeth Mueller
Jenny Pearson Pearson Report
Konstanz Silverbow No Thought 2 Small
Stephen Tremp Breakthrough Blogs

Please take a moment to visit their blogs and show them some love. You won't regret it!

As a member of this team, I will make occasional announcements concerning the A-to-Z Challenge. For the best and most up-to-date information, though, please go to the official A-to-Z Blogging Challenge site and be sure to follow so you get the updates. The number of followers on that blog will help us determine some tentative numbers for the upcoming challenge, and help us in our preparations.

While you're there, check out some of the reflections posts from last year's A-to-Z Blogging Challenge, as well new posts on the upcoming challenge. I hope to see you there!

Have you participated in the A-to-Z before? Do you plan on participating this year?

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thursday Helpful Links: Forensic Science, Flash Fiction, PPW Conference

Today's Helpful Links:

The Pikes Peak Writer's Conference is open for registration! You can go to their site at www.pikespeakwriters.com. You can also go to that site to join, which is free!

Speaking of Pikes Peak Writers, click here for the December Write Brain, a FREE MP3 workshop, with handouts you can print up, run by Chris Mandeville, PPW's president, entitled "52 Ways to Get Unstuck." It's worth listening to, even if you're not stuck right now. Chris is a great speaker and motivator for her fellow writers.

If you enjoy writing flash fiction, there's a great blog and newsletter that updates on paying markets, contests, etc. You can find the blog here, and if you look on the left-hand side, you can see where to sign up for the free newsletter. You can also request that information be put in there, such as if you're running a contest.

Speaking of contests, don't forget the NLAPW Flash Fiction contest with the theme "Are You Devious At Heart?" More information here.

Lastly, for mystery writers, or anyone writing about police investigations, there is a great informative blog called Forensics4fiction. He posts all manner of fascinating forensic information that you might have trouble finding elsewhere. This week included obtaining ear prints at the scene of a crime, touring the crime lab, getting fingerprints from dead bodies, shoe-print overlays and recovering erased marks from a white board. I don't even write crime, but I find it all fascinating.

I hope you find one or all of these links helpful. Come back tomorrow for an official A-to-Z announcement that includes an introduction to all the hosts.

Any interesting links you'd like to share?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday: A Refreshing Taste From Shoshone Spring

I live a couple minutes from Manitou Springs, which is sort of our local hippie, artist and pagan hangout. The arts are strongly respected in this tiny town, and the views are glorious. For readers and writers, they have some great book stores, and tend to be very willing to work with local writers.

One fun thing to do is to walk around and sample the natural mineral springs. They each have a different mineral makeup, and therefore a different taste. The photo above is of Shoshone Spring. These springs used to be bottled and sold around the country for their health benefits as sparkling table water (some are naturally carbonated). A couple of the springs produce water that is supposed to be super tasty to make lemonade with. I haven't tried it yet, but I think I've figured out one spring that would be fantastic in lemonade. It's just a matter of wandering over when the weather is nice and gathering it up!

HERE's a little article about some of the history, distant and recent, of the mineral springs of Manitou Springs, including a bottle label from 1910.

Ever been to a natural spring? Did you taste it? How was it?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: A Visit to the Land of Oz

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
5. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Still reading the same Kindle book. Only because that's what I read when out of the house and I've gotten a break the last two weeks on being out of the house. Woo-hoo! Not because the book is lacking.

This week I'm reading Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire. I loved his first couple books, but have not read another of his books in a long while. I saw this on the new releases at the library and snatched it up.

"So upon her return, Dorothy had been greeted not as a ghost or an angel, neither blessed by the Lord nor saved by a secret pact she must have made with the Evil One. Just tetched, concluded the good folks of the district. Tetched in the big fat head." p. 4.

That is from the Dorothy portions of the book. Glinda is the other POV character.

"Puggles saw her struggling with the front door and rescued her. 'Let e help, Mum,' he said, relieving her of the umbrella. It had a handle carved to look like a flying monkey; she hadn't noticed that. Probably Cherrystone would decide that the umbrella was grounds for her execution. Well, stuff him with a rippled rutabaga." p. 24. (Ow.)

This is billed as "The Final Volume int he Wicked Years." I had no idea it had progressed into a series. I'm actually going to return this one and read from the second novel forward, though I think this book probably stands on its own. Reading from the beginning is just a quirk of mine. For all I know, it will be better if I do it that way, but I don't feel like I'm fumbling around, unaware of what's going on, either. The book is good enough to make me want to go back and read the others, though, if that tells you anything.

What are you reading?

May you find your Muse.

New Year, New Goals!

This year has been a good one, but I have not achieved much of what I'd hoped. I'd thought it would be easier to get time to write with my daughter in preschool for half days, but all that did was create one more reason I had to be out of the house for a couple hours each day. That, paired with other issues, insured I never managed to establish a routine for my writing, which is what got me through 2010 with a novel written.

That being said, I'm bound and determined to do better this year. I'm not one to set New Year's resolutions, but I have no problem with setting goals for the year to come.

It's been awhile since I posted a Project 52 update, so I figured I'd post my update, then add goals for the new year to fill it back up to 52 goals for 2012.

I finished:

13. Prepare flash fiction contest. (See HERE for more information on the contest).

21. Find old floppies with saved writing. (This is not technically completed, but is being removed, as I have discovered said floppies appear to be gone forever).

25. Check out RMFW and consider membership. (I have checked it out and do intend to become a member)>

27. Make blog tabs for resources, prompts, publications. (I made the tabs for what I wanted for the time being).

37. Research non-fiction book. (I'm removing this, because I've lost my enthusiasm for this particular project, but am considering another).

38. Start Scrivener file and introduction for non-fiction book. (Removing for the same reason as 37).

46. Post a weekly photo through the end of the year. (Accomplished, yay!)

50. Discover at least 1 new blog per week. (Done, and then some, yay!)

With these removed, I now have a list of 37. Considering I started the journey fairly late into the year, I'm satisfied with that completion rate, especially as some of those still on the list are partially, if not mostly, completed.

Courtesy clker.com

The rest of my list is as follows:

38. Prepare for the 2012 A to Z.
39. Contact publications about flash fiction contest.
40. Submit at least one flash fiction piece for publication.
41. Spend less time on the computer (unless writing).
42. Try hand at travel writing.
43. Submit one travel writing piece for publication.
44. Take four "field trips" this year.
45. Read at least two books on writing.
46. Establish writing routine through beginning of summer.
47. Join Friends of PPLD and RMFW.
48. Register for Pikes Peak Writers Conference.
49. Finish listening to writer's workshop materials.
50. Attend more writer's meetings.
51. Get better about reading through Writer's Digest magazines when they arrive.
52. Write at least five How-to articles for Helium.

What are your goals for the year?

May you find your Muse.