Thursday, September 29, 2011

Do Writers a Favor--Review!

I don't do reviews on the blog, but I've repeatedly seen pleas by authors to review their books. Though I still have no intention to do reviews on here (the closest I'll get is Teaser Tuesdays), I did break out of my comfort zone to do a couple reviews on Amazon the other day. I have yet to do them on Goodreads, as I don't really go on there ever, but I will try to do so in the near future.

Indie and new authors need these reviews the most, in my opinion. Go to the page of an established author's book and you will find many reviews. Go to a new author's page and you may find zero reviews. Which one are you more likely to purchase?

In an age where more purchases are being made online, hearing what other people thought about the book is getting more important. If I can't skim through the book, having an array of reviews is incredibly helpful. Yes, Amazon offers the ability to look at random pages, and that's great, but it's not the same as being able to flip wherever you please (and I understand why they can't offer that ability, of course).

Blurbs on the back of a book can only give you so much of an idea about its contents. Reviews can offer a little more insight. Even before the digital age, word of mouth was an important selling point. Help a writer out and review their book, whether on your blog, Goodreads, Amazon or some other forum. They'll appreciate it!

Now for a quick Project 52 update!

My internet was down for hours the other day. Hours! Gasp! Had I not been in the midst of dying from some virus, I could have gotten far more done. However, I did take advantage of my social black hole to finally, FINALLY, transfer some short stories onto the computer. I learned that I need to take care to write legibly, as there were some parts it was a struggle to read. Whoops! That's alright, my handwriting is why everyone thought I'd be a doctor when I grew up. Showed them!

I've also done a considerable amount of research for the flash fiction contest I'm chairing, so I'm crossing that out to keep myself moving forward. I just need to compile some of the information to present to my Pen Women group in October and hash out the final rules. Then I can get it out there, and I really hope to see a bunch of entries from my fellow bloggers!

Lastly, I got a bunch of old photos scanned to disk. Now that I've started, it should be easier to continue. Crossing that one off my list, too! Woo-hoo!

What do you think about book reviews? If you're a published author, how do you find them helpful? If you do reviews, where do you do them?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday 9/28/11

This [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday is going to be a departure from the norm. Rather than showing an attractive/cute shot I liked, I wanted to share a bit of a funny I saw on a church's front sign on the way home the other night.

Sounds good to me! Don't forget to get your "exercise" in today. To help you along, how about some writer's comics by Inkygirl?

Any funnies to share with us today? See any great signs that have stuck with you?

May you find your Muse.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaser Tuesday 9/27/11

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

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
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!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This teaser is from The Spirit Lens, by Carol Berg, another Colorado author (Fort Collins, I believe), p.48:

Dante hoisted himself up with his stick and strode back toward the path and the house. Before I could decide whether to chase him down, he halted, spun in place, and jabbed a finger toward Ilario. "Dress me like this strutting cock, and I still could not get near them. Do I walk up to the gate and apply for the position of queen's assassin?"

As you can maybe see, I am back to working my way through books I got from this past spring's writer's conference.

From the back cover:

In a kingdom on the verge of a grand renaissance, where natural science has supplanted failing sorcery, someone aims to revive a savage rivalry...

For Portier de Savin-Duplais, failed student of magic, sorcery's decline into ambiguity and cheap illusion is but a culmination of life's bitter disappointments. Reduced to tending the library at Sabria's last collegia magica, he fights off despaire with scholarship. But when the King of Sabria charges him to investigate an attempted murder that has disturbing magical resonances, Portier believes his dreams of a greater destiny might at last be fulfilled.

As the king's new agente confide, Portier--much to his dismay--is partnered with the popinjay Ilario de Sylvae, the laughingstock of Sabria's court. Then the need to infiltrate a magical cabal leads Portier to Dante, a brooding, brilliant young sorcerer whose heretical ideas and penchant for violence threaten to expose the investigation beford it's even begun. But in an ever-shifting landscape of murders, betrayals, old secrets, and unholy sorcery, the three agentes will be forced to test the boundaries of magic, nature, and the divine.

What are you reading? Any writers local to you that you'd recommend?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Platform Building Campaign 2nd Challenge & Douglas County Writers' Conference

Better last minute than never, I finally had a chance to sit down and write my piece for the 2nd Campaigner Challenge. First, the rules, as copied from Rachael Harrie's blog, Rach Writes...:

Write a blog post in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should:

*include the word "imago" in the title
*include the following 4 random words: "miasma," "lacuna," "oscitate," "synchronicity,"

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional and included in the word count), make reference to a mirror in your post.

For those who want an even greater challenge (optional), make your post 200 words EXACTLY!

Yes, I fulfilled all of the challenges, optional and otherwise. It's just more fun that way! My entry is number 105, so please "like" it HERE if you enjoy it. **Note: When I posted this, I was #106. Apparently, someone deleted an entry, so my number was changed at one point. Not sure whether that might have an impact. :( It's 105 now, though.

My Cherished Imago

As I look into the mirror, I consider the lacuna of my life, as it’s been indicated to me. Where did the missing time go? How is it these others know more about me than I, myself, do? My past is nothing but love, joy and pleasure when I look back, flowers and butterflies, but as it’s explained to me, it comes across like a miasma born of a million putrid swamps.

How can they tell me my mother and father weren’t the saints I believed them to be? After all, they aren’t here to defend themselves anymore. There’s no way they could have done the things Sinclair claims. Then again, I know no other reasons for the multitude of scars my body bears. I’ve always attributed them to a clumsy childhood or possibly an illness.

As I look forward, my past looms behind me, seeming to oscitate, black as night. The synchronicity that brought Sinclair to me at just the right time, when my best friend also returned from a chasm of years, shows me I must continue to dig. I yearn to learn the truth about my past, at the same time fearing it with all my being.

For those of you who can't enjoy this until you know what the heck those words mean, here they are, as defined by

Imago: An adult insect or an idealized concept of a loved one, formed in childhood and retained unaltered in adult life.

Miasma: Noxious exhalations from putrescent organic matter; poisonous effluvia or germs polluting the atmosphere or a dangerous, foreboding, or death-like influence or atmosphere.

Lacuna: A gap or missing part, as in a manuscript, series, or logical argument; hiatus or one of the numerous minute cavities in the substance of bone, supposed to contain nucleate cells or an air space in the cellular tissue of plants.

Oscitate: To gape; to yawn.

Synchronicity: An apparently meaningful coincidence in time of two or more similar or identical events that are causally unrelated.

Yes, I stretched the meaning of a couple of those pretty far!

Before I go, for those in Colorado, especially those close to Douglas County, there is a writers' conference in danger of being canceled for low attendance. The information is below (copied and pasted from a CAL email):

The 5th annual Douglas County Writers’ Conference “Writing Your Way into the Winner’s Circle” is Saturday, October 8 to be held at Castle View High School in Castle Rock, 8 am to 4:30 p.m.

As of Friday, we had 27 registered attendees. We must have 100 registered attendees by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, September 27, or the conference is in jeopardy of being cancelled.

The cost is $75. The faculty has 19 workshop presenters, and we have three agents from NY, Colorado, and California. Kate Chenery Tweedy, author of Secretariat’s Meadow: The Land, The Family, the Legend, is the dynamic keynote speaker. London photographer Victoria Carew Hunt will be there to do head shots for $25.

Click HERE to go to their website.

Have you ever been to a smaller conference? How did you like it?

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Well, That's Convenient & Awards

While doing rewrites, I was looking through notes from the contest I entered and there was one spot where one of the reviewers said, "Well, that's convenient." As a writer, you don't want to hear that about something in your story. What made that statement worse was that it was something I'd put very early in a book where a group of teens were developing various abilities. I wanted this particular ability to be put to a much greater use near the end of the book, so I introduced it in a minor situation in order to introduce it without it being deemed "convenient." In other words, I had been quite aware that placing this ability in the wrong place or in the wrong way would be convenient, so I attempted to avoid that. That one comment, more than anything else in there, really stuck out and bothered me.

Instead of being vague, I'll just spell it out. I needed my heroine to have healing abilities for something major near the end of the book. I also feel it ties in with her other major ability. To introduce it, she accidentally discovers this power while nursing a minor cut near the beginning of the book. How is one supposed to introduce something to be used later on if not this way? I thought by it being near the beginning of the book, and for a very minor thing that would heal itself within a couple days, that it would be a valid introduction.

I still think that.

This is one of those criticisms that I will be ignoring. Feedback/critique is a wonderful thing. It leads us to see things we may have missed on our own, as well as showing us how things look to a reader. However, there's no way anyone can take every little criticism or suggestion and incorporate it into their story. There's also no way every single criticism or suggestion would necessarily improve anything. That one specific sentence was a reminder to me to lighten up and read my critiques with a critical eye. There were some wonderful things in there, including things I already questioned, but also some things that I didn't feel were valid for my work. This is going to be true of any critique we, as writers, get, so be sure you take feedback with a grain of salt. Just don't ignore it entirely, either, because there are bound to be gems mixed up in there, as well. Things that make you go "hmmmmm."

I also wanted to thank Michele, of A Wanderer in Paris, for the Versatile Blogger and One Lovely Blog awards. Michele is a children's writer participating in the Writer's Platform-Building Campaign.

A quick Project 52 update: I can now strike out #31-Reorganize Office. Woo-hoo! I'm not making good enough progress on this and need to step it up.

How do you take critiquing of your work? Have you gotten a particularly good or bad bit of criticism? Do you try to make every change suggested? How do you decide what will work for you?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday 9/21/11

It's time for [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday! I had a different photo planned for today of Pikes Peak covered in snow, which officially means fall to me, even if the fall equinox isn't for a couple days. However, there was low cloud cover, which made the photo a bit too hazy for my liking. Instead, here's Kansas:

We were on a road trip through Kansas, from Colorado to Kansas City. When we got far enough into eastern Colorado, we hit nothing but rural areas, basically consisting of fields, with an occasional giant weather vane, barn, silo or oil drill thingy (no idea what those are actually called, but they're the ones that look like the dippy/drinking birds). This continued across the majority of Kansas. Some of the buildings were so aged and creepy looking that I started keeping watch for the Children of the Corn and warned my husband that if the car broke down neither of us was walking to one of those farms. No way. Killer Corn Satan would have eaten our faces off. I am not down with that. And evil children are freaky. Thus, no Children of the Corn. They would have tried to convert my babies to Freaky Corn Demon Children. Not okay.

Setting all of that aside, there's something about the look of a silo or aged barn against a darkening sky that appeals to me. I spent part of my youth on a ranch in Oregon, so there's something familiar and homey about farmland (despite my fear of Murderous Corn Monsters). There were some great shots I simply couldn't capture (I took this out the window while we were in motion and was surprised it turned out so well), but sunset was truly gorgeous out there. We passed several old homesteads, which I have an odd obsession with, but not until it was too dark for me to bother getting photos. Next time, next time.

What is your favorite area to travel through (not to)? What is your least favorite? What sort of setting do you find the most stunning?

May you find your Muse.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teaser Tuesday 9/20/11

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

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
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!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This teaser is from Blood Drive, by Jeanne C. Stein:

"Before surprise can register on their faces, I've grabbed both of them by the scruffs of their necks and flung them to the ground. I crouch over them, teeth bared, beyond all reason, snarling like an angry mother bear."

From the back cover:

Anna Strong was a tough-as-nails bounty hunter, until the night she was attacked - and changed forever...

Now that she's a vampire, Anna has superhuman strength and near invincibility. But that doesn't make her life any easier. She's struggling to find her place in the world of the undead as she clings to her connections with the living.

Anna's situation becomes even more complicated when she discovers that her long-dead brother may have had a daughter - and the girl's in serious trouble. There are some very dangerous people after her, but they didn't count on Anna stepping into the fray. Now they're about to learn that to a bounty hunter with an unnatural thirst for blood, even the deadliest human predators are easy prey...

What are you reading?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blog Hops/Fests and Contests Mish-Mash + Helpful Link

I've saved some interesting links for blog fests, blog hops and contests lately, but haven't been passing them on, so I thought I'd get on that and give out some info for my Monday post. I hope there's something in here for everyone!

Oooooh, before I start, though, I won a book from Dark Faerie Tales! I'm so excited! The book is The Secret of Spruce Knoll, by Heather McCorkle. It looks and sounds awesome (love the colors on the cover).

Okay, links!

Paranormal Wastelands will be running a Halloween blog hop involving scary stories and book reviews. There will be prizes!

Novel Novice has a flash fiction contest going. The story must involve the Titanic, but can be any genre you please. Must be submitted by September 30.

Tell Great Stories is hosting MonsterFest 2011. You will be posting about a monster that interests you, a field guide of sorts. Sign up has begun, and will go through Halloween.

10 Flash Quarterly gives prompts for their quarterly publications, which you use to write flash fiction. The current one will open for submissions on October 1 with a theme of "It's the End of the World as we Know it."

While we're on the subject of links, I read about these two places in a blog post and had to pass them along. Have a problem getting things done and avoiding social media? PC users can go to Cold Turkey and download a free program that allows you to block yourself from various social media and addictive sites until you reboot. Anti-Social does the same, but I'm not sure what system it works on. It also isn't free ($15 to download, though, which isn't expensive). These sites were mentioned on Michael Hyatt's blog. The rest of the post I linked to is a good read, as well.

Until tomorrow, have a great Monday! No cases of the Mondays out there, okay?

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

An Interview With Indie Author Andrew Leon

Today, I’m delighted to share an interview with self-published author Andrew Leon of Strange Pegs. His book, The House on the Corner, has just been released in e-book and POD format. Please join me in welcoming him to The Warrior Muse!

Every child has whimsical dreams of mystery and adventure, but what happens when they get more than they bargained for?

Ruth, Tom and Sam are forced to move far from their friends and the only life they’ve known. Unwilling at first, they arrive in Louisiana only to find themselves in a house full of mystery. There are secret rooms, hidden caches and crazy neighbors—everything a kid can dream of—yet these are only the beginnings of a fantastic journey of magic and discovery. What happened to the previous tenants, who vanished without a trace twenty years ago? And why do some of their neighbors appear to be more than meets the eye?

The House on the Corner is a story that will delight people of all ages, from the young adults it was written for, to the parents who explore it with them.

Andrew, we have the summary of the story, but tell us a little about what this story means to you.

The House on the Corner is about 3 siblings moving to a new house and a new state and what happens to them. In some respects, it's very Narnia in that it really grew out of that spot I had when I was a kid of always hoping against hope that something cool or strange would happen in big, creepy houses. Even houses I spent lots of time in. Like my grandparents' house. I just kept waiting.

Of course, what the book is really about is the kids, how they interact, how kids interact, and about growing up.

It sounds like you maybe moved around as a kid. Were you frequently moving? Was there a house that you had particularly interesting experiences in?

Actually, no, I really didn't do any moving around. Well, we moved from Texas to Louisiana when I was still too young to remember it, but, after that, I just grew up in Shreveport. I did live in a few different houses in Shreveport, but they were all, basically, in the same neighborhood. However, my grandparents' house was full of little nooks and crannies, all the houses in that neighborhood were, and it just always felt to me like there should be secret doors that I just wasn't finding. I should say that we did, eventually, move into my grandparents' house when they moved full time out to their farm in east Texas. Even as a teenager, I felt like that house had secrets that I wasn't able to figure out.

Speaking of the wonders of exploring a new house as a child, the children in your book are so well characterized that I, as a reader, became very fond of them (and frustrated with them...and worried about them). Are they based on your children or someone you know?

Actually, yes, they're based on my children. On the whole. It was sort of the point, when I started the novel. I needed something to keep me writing, because I have, well, several projects I've started and never finished. I'd go until I got stuck and switch to some other idea. I needed some external source of accountability. My clever scheme was to write a book for my kids and read it to them as a bedtime story as I progressed. I knew they'd badger me if I didn't keep going. Since I was going to be writing it for them, I decided to make it about them. They, of course, love it, and, sometimes, refer to themselves as their characters or, even, get mad at each other because of things I wrote in the story. We've had to have several discussions, at this point, about how they are not their characters. That's not to say that they're completely accurate. Ruth is the closest to her real life counterpart, but Tom was really only a jumping off point from his double. The basic personality is the same, but there's going to be quite a bit of divergence in the next book.

Did being held accountable in that fashion help you, ultimately? How long did it take you to complete the novel, including writing and the majority of your editing?

Yeah, it really helped me get started and keep going. At some point, I reached a sort of critical mass and was able to continue on my own, but if I hadn't been reading it to them when I started, I never would have reached that point. It took me 6 months to finish the initial draft. During that time, because I was reading it to my kids and in their classes at school, I was also editing it at the same time. Mostly grammar and spelling and catching awkward sentences. Not long after I finished, we had a death in the family, and that really derailed me for a while. Well, between that and the holidays, I didn't look at the book again until January of this year. At that point, really, only the first half was edited heavily. I discovered the ABNA contest and wanted to enter it, but the deadline was only a few weeks away, so I knew I didn't have time to go back through the whole thing again with the proverbial fine-toothed comb. That's when things get sort of jumbled, because, through ABNA, I also discovered CreateSpace, and I figured I'd just kill two birds with one stone, so I went ahead and set the book up for publication and entered ABNA. It was one of those "why not?" moments for me. At any rate, I was very surprised at how much easier it is to spot errors in the actual book in my hand than it is to spot them sitting at my computer looking at it on the screen, so a new round of editing commenced. That, also, got more involved than I'd intended, but, as to length only, that was about another 4 months.

Now that we know a little about how the story came to be, I'd like to talk about your decision to go a different route than traditional publishing. Self publishing versus traditional publishing is something I'm paying a lot of attention to now. What made you decide to go that route and did you query at all first or go straight to self publishing?

Well, that's kind of a complicated answer. After I finished my manuscript, I did start querying. Actually, I started talking to someone at a small press before I finished the manuscript, their acquisitions manager, and he was the first one to read it. He said it was the best manuscript of its genre, magical realism according to him, that he'd seen the entire time he'd been with them, which was something like 7 or 8 years. And they made an offer right off the bat. But I didn't like the offer they were making, so I started querying. This was in August of 2010. My mother-in-law had been struggling with pancreatic cancer for nearly a year and a half, at this point, and she ran out of treatment options just about this time, so, by the end of August, I had quit querying, because her health began a fairly rapid decline, at that point. Through that time, I started really looking at the publishing industry, in general, and more specifics about what was going on with agents. Not that I hadn't done that before, but I'd only done it in the aspect of what agents I wanted to query and how to go about doing that.

The problem was that I was still stuck in the idea that that was just how it was done. That was THE option. I mean, the option if you wanted people to believe you were really, really a writer, not just someone writing fanfic or the like. I already knew about all the waste in the publishing industry and have been pretty disgusted by it since college (when I worked in a used book store and discovered all that stuff). The thing that really got to me, though, that made me stop and think about what I was doing was the way the role of the agent has changed in the digital age. Or, possibly, I should say what the role of agent has disintegrated into. Over the past several years there has been scandal after scandal of agents skimming off of their authors, which is bad enough, but the real issue is that agents are no longer working for the authors but for the publishers. They have become these gatekeepers that help the "big 6" homogenize everything. They don't advocate for the author, anymore. And they're doing everything they can to defend traditional publishing and denigrate anyone who goes any other route. That's the thing that really tells you whose side they're on. I'm sure there are still some good agents out there, and, by that, I mean agents that work for their authors' interests and not the publishers' interests, but I think the odds of finding someone like that are pretty small.

At any rate, in reading all of this stuff, I came across the ABNA contest a couple of weeks before it was going to start for this year. This was in December, so, not only were we in the midst of the holidays, but my mother-in-law had just died, so it was a volatile time. I knew I didn't have time to go back and do anything major with my manuscript, but I also knew that I'd already given the first third or so a fairly heavy dose of editing, so I decided I was going to enter the contest. Through the contest, I discovered CreateSpace, and, since I was having to format the novel for the contest, I decided to go ahead and set it up through CreateSpace at the same time. I had people asking to read it and stuff, so I thought, "why not?"

I'm sure I made some mistakes in all of that, but I'm glad I did it, and I learned a lot about what I'm doing. If I hadn't, I'd probably still be sitting on this thing wondering what to do with it.

Your path so far has been very interesting, as is your insight into the publishing world. There's been a lot about agents becoming publishers lately, and one has to wonder how that will impact the writer/agent/publisher relationship. It certainly doesn't seem like that will work out well for writers. I could be mistaken, though. For the final question, what advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Before I answer the question, I think what we're finding out about the whole writer/agent/publisher relationship is that there are too many fingers in the pie. So to speak. When all of this stuff first started, and I'm talking hundreds of years ago when books first started being published, the author was the one in control. The one with the power. Publishers, in effect, worked for the author. After all, there was no use for the publisher without the author. Somewhere in there, though, we allowed the publisher to become the one with the power. In a similar manner, agents started out working for the author. The author was the boss and the one that paid the agent. Somewhere in there, though, the agents have become the ones with the power. For all practical purposes, now, the power flows from the publisher, to the agent, and the author has none. The author has become merely an employee. I think we are at a point, right now, where authors are in a position to again become the ones with the power. If they choose to take it. For so long, though, we've accepted the established way of doing things that most people want to stay in their cages. After all, you can't be a "real" writer unless you have an agent and are published by one of the big 6. I think we have the opportunity to challenge this for the first time in a really long time, and, if we don't, it may be another couple of centuries before the time comes again.

Part one of the answer is this: a writer is only an "aspiring author" before they've completed a manuscript. There are a lot of those out there, though. I see the blogs every day from writers struggling to complete a manuscript. For whatever reason. Although, I think, the biggest one is a lack of discipline on the part of the writer. And I've been there, so I know what that's like. The only advice I can give there is to figure out your trick. The thing that will enable you to sit down and plow through and get to the end. Mine was reading my work to my kids as I went. It gave me the incentive to finish. I think that's the most important thing an "aspiring" author can do. Figure out what you need to do to finish.

Part two: Once you have a manuscript, before you start querying or anything else, know what you want as a writer. Is your goal to have written? Is your goal to be published? Are you trying to make a living at it? Is what you really want is to walk into a book store and see your book on a shelf? Do you just want people to enjoy what you've written? I think this is where a lot of writers get lost. I mean, we all have this dream of getting published and selling a million copies and being adulated by the press. It's a great dream, but you have to figure out what you really want. At the core. When I actually thought about it, I realized what I want is for people to enjoy what I've written, like the boy in my daughter's class at school who asks me how far I am on the next book every time he sees me, because he loved The House on the Corner so much. That's what I want. So I'm taking the steps to accomplish what I want to see happen with my writing, and that doesn't require traditional publishing. At any rate, figure out what you want, and choose the path that will best accomplish that.

Andrew, thank you so much. You’ve given us a lot to think about. It’s obvious this isn’t something you’re just jumping into. Do you have any closing thoughts or anything you’d like to share?

I think the most important thing we can do as writers is to believe in ourselves and our stories. I see so many people posting about how they need to make story changes because some one person (usually an agent) has said they didn’t like something and, then, spending months and months ripping and tearing and gluing and taping to make those changes only to do it again when the next person (again, usually an agent) comes along and points something else out. We can't respond that way to these people, because, honestly, they don't know anymore than we do. In fact, they know less than we do, because they don't know the story. This is not to say that you shouldn't respond to technical help when someone shows you incorrect grammar or the like in your work, but you can't let people push you around where your story is concerned. Get many opinions and listen to all of them. If they're all pointing at the same area or set of areas, yes, look at them and make them stronger, but don't take any one person's voice as law. Well, you know, except mine.

You can find Andrew’s The House on the Corner by following the links on his blog sidebar at . Andrew offers a sample of the first chapter there, as well (or you can click HERE). You can get the hard copy from CreateSpace, get the Nook version HERE or the Kindle version HERE. Check it out!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday 9/14/11

Since I've been alternating between photos of places and photos of animals, I guess it's time for an animal photo!

This pride of lions is from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, here in Colorado Springs. You can hear this guy roaring all over the joint when some jerk upsets him (for instance, he really hates it when people shine flashlights in at him during the night-time zoo experiences--so would I--I hope he busts through the glass and eats one of them).

But the real cool cats in this photo are the lionesses. They are the reason I have to visit the lions every time we go. They exude attitude. I've named them. I even have imaginary voices for them. Not kidding.

Last time we went, I got to see who the winning bad-ass of the lionesses was, as she took out two of the others over a bone. They went off into separate corners and pretended not to glare at her for awhile, but they never made another move. There was much nonchalant paw licking while they watched her out of the corners of their eyes, saying "You didn't scare me; I just don't want a bone right now. I was just after that little ant in front of you. Shows what you know, Mary Beth." The fourth one just shook her head (well, internally, anyway) and ignored the younguns while she cradled a piece of meaty bone none of the others appeared to notice. Seriously, she was hiding it, all wrapped up in her paws. I watched her cover it up when they walked her way. Smart.

Mary Beth also eyeballed my nephew like he was dessert. I got pictures of her staring at him while gnawing away, but they suck because of how badly damaged the glass is (or maybe it was just super dirty that day). She walked right up to him and continued eyeballing him. I'd rather not know what she said; she doesn't mess around.

The lionesses of CMZ rock.

And that's your [Mostly] (though [Hardly] might make more sense sometimes) Wordless Wednesday. I'm hoping for an opportunity to go get some fall photos now that some of the trees have started to change, but we'll see. Life is busy right now!

Don't forget to tune in Thursday for an interview with Andrew Leon!

May you find your Muse.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Teaser Tuesday 9/13/11

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

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
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!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This teaser is from Werewolf Smackdown, by Mario Acevedo (Denver author), p.12:

"The giant crab tumbled straight for me. I dove forward at vampire speed."

From the back cover:

Felix Gomez, Latino vampire detective extraordinaire, tackles a dangerous werewolf cabal in the fifth installment in Mario Acevedo's satirical supernatural series.

A sure-to-be-bloody civil war is brewing between rival werewolf factions, and P.I. Felix Gomez will do anything he can to make sure it doesn't explode into a vicious battle that engulfs all creatures, living and dead.

Between that, the sudden reappearance of an ex-girlfriend, and a gang of other vampires trying to take off his head, this is one rumble even a fanged detective extraordinaire may not be able to handle.

May you find your Muse.

Likey Linky and Awards

I was given several awards this week, which I greatly appreciate, but first I wanted to ask that if you liked my Flash Fiction Campaign Challenge on Thursday, could you take a moment to click "like" on the linky list? I am number 291, which is a rather awkward number, as many won't get that far. I didn't think to mention the "like" thing in my initial post, as I didn't really understand how any of this was working at the time (things have been overwhelming lately, but it's September, so I suspect a lot of people, especially parents and students, are feeling the same).

Now to the awards!

From Jennifer, of Hunting Sea Glass With Wolves and Ms Saba of Of Thoughts and Words Thank you, Jennifer and Ms. Saba!

From Julie at What Else is Possible? Thank you, Julie!

For the Versatile Blogger Award, I am supposed to tell you 7 random things about me, while I'm to list 7 of my own blog posts for the 7x7 Award. I'm pretty certain people must be tired of random facts about me, so I'm going to combine the awards and just list 7 of my blogs that meet the requirements:

Most Beautiful: I'll have to go with a [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday for this one, so how about my Pikes Peak/Garden of the Gods panorama? It was this or Apache, but I'm feeling rather fond of the mountains today.

Most Helpful: I'm having some trouble on this one, but I think I'll say that my Publicity Primer post, where I passed on notes I'd taken from a Pikes Peak Writers' Conference workshop on how to drum up your own publicity as a writer, would be my most helpful, or at least most recent helpful post.

Most Popular: Technically, if I go by comments, my most popular post would have been my introduction in the Platform Building Campaign, but I think that's a bit skewed since that is introductions and not really anything I said (lol). Two tie for second place with number of comments, and those are my post for the First Campaign Challenge - Flash Fiction piece and the MC Blog Fest in Kieran's Voice (Kieran being the main character in my YA WIP).

Most Controversial: I don't really write about controversial stuff, but a discussion ensued on whether horror was actually dead in my Where's the Horror? post. So we'll say that's the most controversial.

Most Surprisingly Successful: For this one, I will go with a recent post-Top Ten Signs You Watch, Read or Write Too Much Horror. I was surprised it got so many comments because I was just playing around and having a bit of fun when I wrote it. See what happens when you relax? Other people have fun, too!

Most Under-Rated: I guess I'd go with Hangin' With the Cool Kids on this one, not because it's some spectacular post, but because I thought I might get more feedback on this than I did.

Most Pride-Worthy: Erm, I'll go with the two that are listed under "Most Popular," simply because they involved my coming out of my shell and sharing a little bit of my fiction world with you. This is something I've been afraid to do, and I've skipped some very fun-sounding blog hops because I was afraid to post any of my fiction. Since there were two in that category, I figure that evens everything out, anyway.

I am excited to announce that I will be interviewing Andrew Leon, author of The House on the Corner and blogger on the blog Strange Pegs. He has some interesting things to say about self-publishing, as well as the writing process, so check back on Thursday!

As I did not tag anyone in this, I'd love to see what anyone's answers are for the blog categories listed above. If you post about this, put a link in the comments. If you don't wish to make a post about it, feel free to put a link to your favorite blog post (one you've written) and I'll come check it out!

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Campaign Challenge: Flash Fiction & Books, Brews & Bards Info

It's time for the first challenge of the Platform Building Campaign. Here is a description of the challenge from host Rachael Harrie's blog, Rach Writes:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count)

For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

If you like this, you can press "like" on entry #291 here (in the linky list): Campaign Challenge Linky.

The door swung open and in stepped one tall drink of water. He swept the room with eyes that shone emerald like his scales.

A few men looked up, quickly returning their attention to the drinks they nursed in front of them. He stood there another minute as if waiting for something then drew three guns, two with his hands, one with his serpentine tail.

Guns ablaze, he wiped out the entire room, save myself and the bartender, who promptly passed out cold behind the bar. The stranger's tongue darted out, tasting death and liquor, then snapped back into his mouth with a dry rasp.

I couldn't help myself; I was drawn to his shimmering beauty and strength. I wrapped my body around his and rubbed my cheek along his neck, purring.

"I'm not into furries," he said, not even wasting a glance my way. He shrugged his shoulder, forcing me to pull back.

"What'd these guys ever do to you, anyway?" I asked. Behind the bar, the bartender groaned.

Without a word, the stranger holstered his guns and turned, briefly silhouetted by the glaring sun as it peeked inside, as if for a better look.

The door swung shut.

Microsoft Word says it's 200 words exactly, so there you have it. I hope you enjoyed it! If you posted to the linky list for the Campaign Challenge, I will be by this week to read your entry.

Also, I wanted to pass along a local poetry shindig called Books, Brews & Bards, hosted by Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District with support from Phantom Canyon Brewing Company.

There will be poetry readings by our Pikes Peak Poet Laureate, Jim Ciletti, and Poet Laureate Emeritus, Aaron Anstett, as well as a brewery tour and open mic for poets and aspiring poets. Click HERE for more information.

What comes to mind when you read this piece? What sort of genre, characters, scene do you envision? Have you tried your hand at flash fiction?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday 9/7/11

Since we just had a federal holiday, how about a federal picture?

This is the White House, photographed from the National Mall. There were five billion people there, due to it being Memorial Day weekend (boy, did we regret that one!). There were political rallies and bikers galore, as well as a parade. Best of all, we got to tour the White House, thanks to hubby's connections, which included visits to the Rose Garden, the Oval Office, the Press Room and the Situation Room(s). They had a groovy high tech phone booth for very private calls. Soundproof. We kept the kids in there for a little while and couldn't hear a thing. ;-p (I jest...mostly.)

Sadly, only photographs from the press room and outside the White House are shareable. There were parts of the tour where we had to lock up phones in little secure cases and swear on our future graves that we wouldn't take any photographs.

Also sadly, I did not get to have any discussions about how Capraesque the situation was. Guess the guards just weren't feeling chatty that day.

Five bonus points to anyone who can tell me what I'm referring to right there!

May you find your Muse.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Teaser Tuesday 9/6/11

If you're a Campaigner stopping by (or just someone who might like a bit of flash fiction), I will be doing my Campaign Challenge flash fiction piece on Thursday. I hope you'll come back by then!

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

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
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!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This one is from a memoir, which makes it a tad different than my usual reading material, but I'm an equal opportunity reader!

From I Think I Can, I Think I Can, by M.J. Brett (a Colorado Springs author and member of my Pen Women group):

"Do old people think we don't understand what they're saying, or that we're too little to remember? I've thought about it a lot, and sometimes I think I remember most everything, but not the thing I most want to know."

The back jacket:

What do an unknown soldier, a Victorian zealot, Ferdinand the Bull, an old philosophical farmer, a mean Army colonel, a progressive young doctor, and a stepmother have in common? All become part of the thinking of an abandoned child who just wants to know WHY.

How she learns to accept what she can't change, and change what she can through forgiveness of herself and others is the crux of this tender tale of a child's view of the world. Her quest to find her origins and the why of the matter take her from a farm in Missouri to a stage in Hollywood, to a satisfying realization of the mysteries of life.

What are you reading right now? Care to share a teaser?

May you find your Muse.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Tag: 10 Random Facts About Me

I was tagged by Robin Weeks (@Robin_Weeks) from my Urban Fantasy group in the Platform Building Campaign, which means I need to tag four others and write ten random facts about myself.

I'm tagging:

T.F. Walsh (@TFWalsh), because I like her banner and I enjoy her mythological creature Mondays.

Tangynt (@Tangynt), because of an awesome website.

Liz at That's What Liz Said (@LizHellebuyck), because I like her banner, also, and she moved her blog, so why not help get people over to the new one?


Andrea S. Michaels (@words2live), because she's doing a fun "getting to know you" thing on her blog, though I haven't had the chance to participate yet.

10 Random Things About Me:

1. I have an overactive imagination.
2. Garden of the Gods is one of my favorite places.
3. I am addicted to pictures, as in ones I've taken. I love to take pictures and I love to look through my pictures.
4. I enjoy school so much I'd be a permanent student if I was rich.
5. I'm the oldest of five kids.
6. I'm about to have two kids in school, woo-hoo! (Though only one is in full-time).
7. I love baths, but rarely take them instead of showers.
8. I love autumn.
9. Halloween is my favorite holiday (I'm hoping to do some fun posts in October!)
10. I did not get any writing done this week (~slaps own hands~).

May you find your Muse.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Feature Friday Features: "Superman Sammy"

In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, I thought I would feature the blog Superman Sammy. It is written by Sammy's mom, who details what it's like being the mom of a boy going through treatment of ALL (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia). She details his progress in kicking cancer's *ss and shares with us wonderful times, such as Sammy's Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World.

She has another son, Jack, and she features him in his own blog, as well. It is easy to overlook the child who is well, but she has very obviously not done this. You can find Jack's blog HERE and get an idea of what it's like to have a sibling with ALL.

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Project 52 Update & Awards

Did you know September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month? We've all seen the pink stickers for breast cancer awareness, but the color of childhood cancer is gold.

This topic is near and dear to me, as one of my son's friends developed AML Leukemia when the two of them were 3 1/2 years old, just days before her baby brother turned 1. I learned a lot the year she was undergoing round after round of chemotherapy. It's shocking just how prevalent childhood cancer actually is, despite the fact that I very rarely hear about it. I understand why, of course. It's terrifying. No parent wants to think about their child getting cancer. I mean, isn't that just something you have to worry about when you start getting older? Isn't it something your grandparents have to watch out for? That's not even close to being true, of course, but the face of cancer we typically see is older. How common is childhood cancer? Here's a quote from the National Cancer Institute to give you an idea:

In the United States in 2007, approximately 10,400 children under age 15 were diagnosed with cancer and about 1,545 children will die from the disease. Although this makes cancer the leading cause of death by disease among U.S. children 1 to 14 years of age, cancer is still relatively rare in this age group. On average, 1 to 2 children develop the disease each year for every 10,000 children in the United States. Source.

I'm not typing this to scare anyone, which is why I posted the above quote. While the number was more than I thought, it does state that it is "relatively rare in this age group," this age group being children 1 to 14. I do think, however, that it is important to shed light on an under-publicized portion of the cancer population. All cancers are not created equal when it comes to research dollars, and there are many worthy charities out there fighting to find answers to why children develop cancer. In addition, there are charities that work to provide housing for the families of child cancer patients (Ronald McDonald House, for instance); programs that help children through their treatments by bringing them toys, activities, wigs, and other special items; places like the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which help give children who are suffering something to look forward to.

An all around wonderful charity supporting research and family assistance is Alex's Lemonade Stand.

My son's friend is in remission and is currently in first grade. She's doing wonderfully, thanks to her doctors, her family and many charitable groups who helped along the way. The last two years, we have attended something called The Miracle Party. At this party, children who have, or have had, cancer get to party like rock stars. They're honored in front of everyone for their bravery and strength. It truly is such a phenomenal night.

Now for a quick update on Project 52!

I have scratched out #26: Complete work on Pen Women scholarship and distribute information. Done! As a reminder, this scholarship is open to Southern Colorado women, 18 and up, who are seeking advancement and/or enrichment in areas of art, writing and musical composition. For more information, CLICK HERE.

I am making progress on several other items on my Project 52 list, but most of them are long-term projects. Still, yay! If you'd like more information on Project 52, please click on the logo on my right sidebar.

Lastly, I received two blog awards from Rachel Pudelek at Rachel-Dreamer, Bread Baker, Story Maker. Rachel is a mom and an aspiring author who blogs about writing. Thank you so much, Rachel! I hope you don't mind if I fudge on the rules for now.

I think there were other things I wanted to talk about, but this post is more than long enough, eh?

May you find your Muse.