Wednesday, February 29, 2012

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday & I've Been Tagged!

I was tagged by Jeremy over at Geeky Tendencies. Jeremy is participating in the A-to-Z Challenge, and has been a great proponent, helping us get the word out. He also answered the Getting to Know You questions we co-hosts are answering for the A-to-Z, which was great fun! You'll find my answers to his questions below the [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday photos.

A friend recently announced she was moving into our area, and she mentioned that someone had told her she might see bears and deer. That made me laugh, because of course she will see them! This area's lousy with them! And I'm sort of missing hearing about sightings of mamas and their cubs around here, so how about a pic of a couple bears in my parents backyard. Well, they were in the neighbor's tree, but I got a call from my dad, who knew how much I wanted to get pics of the local wildlife (I'm sure mom was none too delighted with him giving me the opportunity), saying he'd had a run in with a bear and her cub, and that they were still out there if I wanted pics. (This is far from mostly wordless...sowwy). He had let their dogs out for a night time potty break and they'd gone berserk. It should be said those vicious little ruffians are some manner of tiny terrier. But they think they're tough. Dad walked down to figure out what they were barking at, looked up in the tree and saw bear booties. Yeah, he was standing right below the mama bear and her cub.

Only there wasn't one cub, which we didn't realize until I blew up the picture at home. She had a couple cubs with her. See if you can spot cub number two (we discovered there was a third, too, but I don't think it was in that tree).

"Hey, Ma, why's that crazy human standing there pointing some little black thing at us?"

"I don't know, Honey Bear. Humans are weird. I'll never understand them. Just ignore it."

Now for my tagging, the request is to answer the following questions:

1. What is your dream vacation?
Really, anywhere I can drag my camera and my family and have fun with both. I'd love to go to Australia, Egypt, England, Scotland, Yellowstone.

2. Are you spontaneous or do you like to plan ahead?
Uhhh...both. Maybe it's my ADHD, but I'm either a "plan well in advance and get all excited about something that may or not happen, despite the fact that I have it thoroughly planned" kinda' girl or a "I'm bored, let's go do this RIGHT NOW" kinda' girl. Either way, I'm sure I drive people nuts. When we schedule a vacation, for instance, I have it researched a year (or more) in advance.

3. Tell us one thing you want to do but don't dare do it.
Participate on Wipeout. It looks like fun. I have severe back and neck issues, though, and I don't see that show going well at all for my physical health. Pretty sure my Physical Therapist would smack me if I even suggested it.

4. What's your biggest phobia?

Sheesh, all I can think about is the one that Jeremy said (waking up in the middle of a surgery), but I can say I am freaked out by the thought of being on a boat in the middle of, say, the ocean. I feel like there's not much you can do for yourself should your ship go down, and I'm all about having an escape plan. My husband wants to go on a cruise to Alaska. I asked him if he'd like to watch Titanic again. I mean, we're going up there in the choppy Pacific to see ICEBERGS. Are you kidding!?

5. If you were stranded on a desert island-what three things would you want with you? (Not including your laptop or family)
I actually sort of hate this question, because...I don't bloody know! A water filtration system, tampons and my contacts? Because I can't see without those darned things. And, well, I'm not going to explain the other two. If you don't get it, you never will!

6. Name three blessings in your life.
My husband and my two children. I've got the best husband ever, and both of my babies are miracles; I wasn't supposed to be able to have them. :D I would call that a blessing, wouldn't you?

7. What was your nickname in High School?
I didn't really have one in H.S. unless you count my siblings calling me Sissy or one single friend calling me Non (which I explain in my Getting to Know You post on March 8th on the official A-to-Z Challenge blog.)

8. If you could meet the President of the United States, what would you say to him?
I imagine some people would have plenty of things to say to him, whether positive or negative, but, at this point, I'd just say hello.

9. If you could be any literary character, who would you be?
Oh man, I forgot that I meant to be thinking about this after I originally saw the question. I mean, I'm pretty happy being me. So the literary character I would be would be whichever one never has pain and whose life is just perfect. Is there one like that?

10. What is your favorite quote?
Anne Frank: "In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart." If that child, in that situation, can be so wise, hopeful and optimistic, everyone should be able to.

What do you think the bears are discussing in those photos? Care to answer any of these questions for me? How about your favorite quote or what literary character you'd want to be? Feel free to take these questions and run with them, but be sure to let me know you answered them, too, so I can stop by!

May you find your Muse.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Catch Fire! Blog Party, #Atozchallenge Giveaway & Teaser Tuesday

You will find my teaser for Tuesday Teaser at the end of this post, but while you're here, why not read the about the Catch Fire! Blog Party!

A quick announcement before we get to the party: Konstanz at No Thought 2 Small is hosting a giveaway if the A-to-Z signup reaches 1000 people by March 1. Help us get there! And click on her blog name above to check out her awesome giveaway!

Today is the Catch Fire Blog Party, celebrating the release of CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh! The goal is to help CassaFire “catch fire” on the best seller charts and achieve the success of the first book, CassaStar. There’s also a special package of prizes being given away at the author’s blog (copies of CassaFire, CassaStar, tote bag, mug, and bookmarks) as well as book giveaways during his two-week blog tour. See Alex’s site for details.

Before I go any further, though, how about an A-to-Z of reasons to help CassaFire catch fire? Alex is, after all, one of my esteemed co-hosts for the A-to-Z Challenge, and today is his day!

Awesome book trailer (see below) & Alex, of course! Action! Adventure! Aliens! (Sheesh, I should have just done an "A" of reasons...)
Because I said so? Not a good reason? Byron! Best-selling author!
CassaStar & CassaFire!
Exploration &
Fighter space!
Generous blogger & a Giveaway!
Hugely cool prize package (see above)!
Intelligently written & Interesting!
Just because it's a good read...
Killing time? Read a book! This book!
Life in a different time and place,
Mental powers (More than bargained for) & Mounting tension!
Nothing is what it seems...
Oh boy, what did I get myself into? Original!
Quintessential Sci-fi, for fans and newbies alike!
Ruins in space! Race against time!
Spaceships, Space and Sci-Fi, Skillfully woven plot.
Tgren, Telepathy & Teleporting!
Unexpected twists!
Vindicarn War--memories and promises in the past.
Weapon--a big one? Possibly!
Xerophiles! What? Okay, not something in the book, but it's a plant adapted to not needing much water, so that sounds appropriate for space and...yeah, I was really grasping at straws...moving on...
Yahoo, we've made it this far, and now is the time!
Zero gravity...yeah, boy!

by Alex J. Cavanaugh

CassaStar was just the beginning…

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities.

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

Available today!

Science fiction - space opera/adventure

Print ISBN 978-0-9827139-4-5, $15.95, 6x9 Trade paperback, 240 pages

EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-6-9, $4.99, available in all formats

CassaFire is the sequel to Cavanaugh’s first book, CassaStar, an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller:

“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

You can visit the author’s site at

Book trailer available on YouTube.

Purchase your copy at:

Barnes and Noble


Amazon Kindle

**** **** **** **** **** ****

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!

From Chipeta: Queen of the Utes, a Biography, by Cynthia S. Becker and P. David Smith:

"Ouray roared in, the soldier in tow, barking orders to pack up and prepare to leave at first light. Chipeta knew by his tone that it was best not to ask questions, so she rolled up her hides and started packing. Ouray held a long meeting with the headmen and chiefs, and only late in the night did Chipeta hear the full story of the disaster heading their way." p. 47

What are you reading? Have you checked out Alex's blog yet? Entered for a giveaway on his blog or Konstanz's?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, February 27, 2012

On Writing Biographies & Historical Fiction...Research

I got to attend a luncheon with speaker Cynthia S. Becker, who wrote Chipeta: Queen of the Utes, a biography about Chipeta, wife to Chief Ouray of the Utes. She spoke to us about resources for researching biographies, but her information would be useful to anyone who wants to be historically accurate, no matter the type of story you're writing.

A lot of what Cynthia did was legwork. If any of you have ever tried to find information on Native American history, you know how hard it is to find thorough and accurate information. I've hit roadblock after roadblock in trying to research my own ancestry, and that's despite family still living on Indian land and my grandfather having been offered a plot in Oklahoma (he wasn't registered, and we can't find who was). You see, the safest thing for many Natives was to pretend to be white, to record it that way on censuses, adopt white names and get social security cards, etc. Tracking family beyond that point can be very hard, unless you know what their previous given names were.

Luckily, one of Cynthia's hobbies was genealogy, something that gave her a leg up on knowing some resources for historical research. She recommended genealogy websites. Personally, I found great information at, but the cost was steep. Cynthia informed us that many libraries have access to, so if you don't want to pay for your own account, you can do this research at the library.

You can check Census records to find locations, as well as who was living with the person you're researching. There was a separate Indian Census on reservations, done by their Indian Agents, so if you happen to be researching Native history, that is one additional place to look.

Some obvious places to do research are old newspapers (often available online these days), historical societies in the appropriate areas (for instance, Cynthia worked with the Colorado Historical Society), Grolier (a research site with encyclopedias and newspapers), OneFile (which has periodicals and journals), CultureGrams (which covers over 200 countries), and ProQuest (for research around the world).

Newspapers are a great source for those writing historical fiction, as well as biographies, because they can give you a feel for other things going on at that time. For instance, you can see how people dressed, what was in style according to the ads, what prices were, kitchen and household items being sold, vehicles being sold, movies and shows playing at the time, etc. This can be valuable research when trying to set the scene.

If you can swing it, a visit to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. can be very valuable. They have copies of government receipts and documents. Cynthia was able to swing that by piggy-backing on her husband's business trip out to D.C. I would love to spend some time at the National Archives!

All of this research is great, of course, but even better is talking to people who have a more intimate knowledge of what you're researching. You can find golden nuggets of information that you likely wouldn't have found out any other way. Cynthia points out that people are often eager to talk about their past experiences, whether loved ones or a famous person they encountered. While doing her research, she was able to talk to family members of people who had met Chipeta and/or Ouray. One man talked about how Chief Ouray came to a trading post and took the little boy whose parents ran it out back, spending hours patiently teaching him how to properly use a bow and arrow. A man told Cynthia his neighbor was having a baby at the hospital when Chipeta came in for a surgery, and how Chipeta, who had never birthed a child of her own, came in and asked to hold the baby, snuggling it and talking to it in the Ute language, so sweetly. Considering how horrid newspaper reports were about Natives during the time in question, first-person accounts like these can help tell us who these people really were.


One thing to remember in newspapers and personal accounts is that anything that can be researched/backed up, should be. Reading through the sensationalized newspaper accounts about the "savages" running around torturing white farmers and prospectors, mutilating them, raping their women and children and the like, it is easy to see why residents wanted the Natives removed. What the papers were reporting was utterly terrifying. Yet those who lived near the Utes, the Indian Agents and those that came into contact with them reported things completely differently, though attempts to set the record straight fell on deaf ears. Here, I've been thinking that our media has gone downhill, sensationalizing things and stretching the truth, yet you see it no matter what the year. The news has always been about what would sell papers, so take what you read with a grain of salt and seek other means of research to check it out before reporting it as the gospel truth.

Cynthia S. Becker was a wonderful speaker. I was captivated with her obvious respect for Chipeta and what she went through. She passed along some great information, and I'd like to close by sharing resources she recommended for research at the end of this message (many of them are regional, but may give you an idea for places to look that are similar).

Come by tomorrow for a teaser from Chipeta: Queen of the Utes, as well as Alex's Catch Fire! Blog Party!

From Cynthia's handout:

Online Research Sources

National Archives Denver Branch

Native American Nations (Southwest)

Colorado Historical Society

Colorado State Archives

Library of Congress American Memory

U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management


Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection

Library of Congress Historic American Newspaper Collection

New York Times Archives (fee for use/free for subscribers)

Rocky Mountain News Archives (fee for use)


Denver Public Library Digital Collections

National Archives Digital Photography Archives

Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library

Some of those sites are so incredible that I could get lost for hours! Any great research sites you'd like to pass along? I'll gladly re-post them on Thursday with credit to you!

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday Helpful Links: Writer's Grants, Contest, Fun Stuff & #atozchallenge

Before jumping into this week's links (which I think are pretty awesome), I'd just like to say that IT'S ALMOST THE WEEKEND!!! Despite the short week, thanks to President's Day, I've thought it was a day ahead all week. That makes today Friday...if only!

Also, see my new banner?! Jeremy over at Retro-Zombie rocks! I sent him one sentence and he completely nailed my inspiration for The Warrior Muse! Maybe you recognize his digital signature in the corner of the banner; Jeremy is also the person responsible for many of the A-to-Z banners and badges you're seeing around the blog-o-verse. Like this one:

Speaking of the A-to-Z and my co-hosts, we are hoping to get to 1000 signups for the A-to-Z Challenge by March 1. If you're waffling, now's the time to sign up! If you've already signed up, would you help us meet our goal by posting about it/sharing? This year's A-to-Z is going to be amazing!

Image courtesy of OCAL at

First, we have FundsforWriters. This site lists contests, grants and publications. You can sign up for a newsletter that will automatically bring you updates on these things. Very cool! I'm kicking myself because I know one of our fellow bloggers was asking for help due to medical reasons. If anyone knows who that was, can you send her the link? There are grants to pay medical bills for writers in need.

Image courtesy of OCAL at

There is a writing contest open, no entry fee. They also have an art contest associated with it, so this isn't just for writers! This is the Tarcher Top Artist Competition. It is associated with Penguin and the winners receive $5000 cash and, for the writers, a critique of their entire book by a Tarcher Books editor. Not too shabby, eh?

Image courtesy of OCAL at

This binder from the Novelists, Inc. was recommended by someone on LinkedIn. You will find tons of helpful information in it, and it is FREE! I scanned through it before I downloaded it and it is chock full of information helpful to writers.

Now, just for fun, here's some art carved out of old books (encyclopedias, dictionaries, textbooks, etc., all out of date, I believe).

Weekly Reminders:

Are you devious at heart? That's the theme for the PPB NLAPW Flash Fiction Contest. More information can be found on the Flash Fiction Contest tab at the top of my blog.

The A-to-Z Challenge is filling up fast! No worries, though, there is no limit to how many people can sign up to participate. The sooner you sign up, the sooner you can start getting to know your fellow A-to-Z participants. Click on the A-to-Z tab at the top of my blog or go to the official A-to-Z website for sign-up, information, helpful posts from our team and past participants, and video challenge pieces.

The Pikes Peak Writers Conference is filling up fast! The sooner you get registered, the better your chance at getting a Read & Critique appointment or Pitch appointment.

The Flash Fiction Contest I'm chairing for the Pikes Peak Branch of the National League of American Pen Women is open through May 1. I received the first official entry this week! Now if only someone would submit the first official online entry, I'd be all sorts of pumped!

Anything to share? Anything you'd like me to be keeping an eye out for that I'm not? Let me know!

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday: Field Full O' Elk

Seeing as how it's been cold and randomly snowy around here, how about a photo theme that's the epitome of winter? I never posted any photos of the elk we ran into on our way into Estes Park in November, and the feel of the photos seemed apt for today. So, without further ado, elk!

The first photo is to give you an idea of how large this herd was (I suspect it was many herds, but I'm not elk expert). This is maybe 1/4 of the elk out there, if that much.

Just a note: Any barbwire fencing you see is because they had wandered onto someone's fenced property. They were wild, not trapped within a fence.

I've lived in Colorado since I was twelve, but my trip to Estes Park two years ago was the first I ever saw elk. The second time was this past November. They're neat animals to observe.

Ever seen elk? Moose? Do you live somewhere with a lot of deer (random question, I know, but I thought everyone had herds of deer in their neighborhood all the time until recently)?

May you find your Muse.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: Here, Kitty, Kitty

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!

Today's teaser is from Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn. I pulled this one off the shelf to read again because Carrie Vaughn will be at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference this April. So exciting! I always get a kick out of reading a book set in Colorado (or somewhere I'm very familiar with, like parts of Oregon), and since Vaughn currently lives in Boulder, CO there is plenty of the Front Range featured in the Kitty books.

From p. 89:

"I shut my eyes. My voice was hushed. 'Is change all bad?'

'You're going to get yourself killed. And not because of people like that assassin.'

'I'm an adult. I can take care of myself.'

'No, you can't.'

And that's what this was all about, wasn't it? Which one of us was right?"

What are you reading?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Yay & Twitter: Help!

Before I start talking about Twitter, I want to excitedly announce that I got the first submission for the Pen Women Flash Fiction Contest! Yay! I hope they start to flood in. If you haven't seen information on this Flash Fiction Contest, you can click the Flash Fiction tab at the top of my blog. I am the Chair for the contest, but am not judging it. Getting that first submission made all the hard work seem worth it!

Also, I attended a lovely Pen Women meeting on Saturday with guest speaker Cynthia Becker, who talked to us about researching for a biography (she wrote about Chipeta, wife of Ute Chief Ouray). I am hoping to pass along some of the helpful information she gave us, probably next Monday. She had great research links and ways to research that will help you with historical accuracy, whether you're writing historical fiction or a biography.

Lastly, I think I've landed on a fun extra for daily posts during the A-to-Z. I'm so excited to try it out! Speaking of the A-to-Z, we hosts are doing "getting to know you" posts throughout the next month-and-a half and answering questions you might find to be unexpected. Arlee Bird, our honorable leader in insanity, posted his on Saturday. Mine isn't until March, but you will find some fun posts from my co-hosts in the meantime.

Moving on to Twitter...

I signed up for Twitter last spring or summer, having received encouragement during the A-to-Z on how helpful it was for writers. I have not really gotten to know it well yet, and have mostly used it to reply to tweets directed at me and to post a link to each post here on the blog.

The problem is that I've been getting contacted more and/or tagged, and I'm not sure how I'm supposed to respond, what the Twitter rules of etiquette are, etc. I'm hoping some of you can help me.

When someone tags you in a "tweet" with the tag #WW what does that mean? Is it just referring people to a Wordless Wednesday-type post? Should I be responding with a thank you, re-tweeting, what? Help!

Also, if someone tags you with the tag #FF what is that for? Follower Friday? What does that mean? Should I be responding with a thank you? Once again, please help!

For my part, I always try to tweet a thank you to anyone who retweets one of my tweets (haha, writing that word over and over is weird). I follow back most who follow me unless it is blatant advertising, completely inappropriate (considering I have a twisted sense of humor, it has to be really inappropriate) or something porny, and I hesitate when it is someone with no tweets, or none that are recent. I also look at their number of followers versus the number they follow. If this is very lopsided and they have a ton of followers but are only following a few, I pretty much assume they intend to delete me after I follow back, so they will not get me as a follower.

If I happen to be on for whatever reason and see something interesting I want to share, I retweet it by clicking "retweet" at the bottom of their post (I specify that because I've since happened across a discussion on whether you should do it that way or whether you should copy the link and do a whole new tweet on it).

I'm trying to learn it because I hate thinking there is some proper way I'm supposed to be responding to various things on there and people who were nice enough to mention me are possibly peeved that I haven't responded appropriately. I'm sure there have been some other manner of tags, though I think #WW and #FF are the major ones I've seen. Is there a resource you might recommend for knowing what various hash-tags mean or would someone kindly tell me about the proper ways to behave in Twitter Land? I don't want to be known as rude.

I imagine I can't be the only one who has no idea what any of this means, so any answers provided in the comments will hopefully help someone other than me, as well.

What do #FF and #WW stand for and how should one respond to them when tagged/mentioned? Do you automatically follow back? If not, what are your specifications for whether you follow someone? Are you in the same boat as me...signed up, but completely clueless?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Visit me at the A-to-Z!

I'm posting over at the official A-to-Z Challenge Blog today! I'm talking about the importance of community among bloggers and writers, and how the A-to-Z can contribute to this. Please come over and visit!

CLICK HERE to come visit.

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Project 52 Update & Helpful Links: Contests, CAL, Submissions, Write Brain

We'll start with a quick Project 52 update:

I submitted a horror story this week! Yay! Doesn't mean it will be accepted, but I'm excited to have gotten my act together and to have submitted a work of fiction.

5. Submit at least 1 horror short story for publication

I can also cross off:

39. Contact publications about flash fiction contest.

#39 is why I'm behind on responding to comments and visiting blogs. I've spent a lot of the last two weeks, including the weekends, going through and finding contacts for the flash fiction contest. I will continue doing so, but the main drive is through, I think. Everything else is going to consist of random searches when I have a few minutes.

Can't believe I hadn't already crossed this off, but I forgot it was on my list:

48. Register for Pikes Peak Writers Conference.

Now for some links!

This sounds interesting, and there are some very cool prizes: My Gutsy Story Contest.

Here's another one that might be interesting: Essays for Hope.

I've heard about this contest the last couple years, and it has some high cash prizes: Scare the Dickens out of us Short Story Contest. It does have an entry fee, but it seems reasonable for the prize money.

This seems like a neat group/resource for Colorado authors (I am not a member, but contacted them about the Flash Fiction Contest, and they were very friendly and receptive): California Author's League (CAL).

I had not heard of these guys before, but it is something I wanted to look into a bit more (though I haven't yet): National Writers Union (NWU).

For those in or near Colorado Springs, there is a great Write Brain this month. I can't make it to this one, but it definitely sounds worth attending: Formatting eBooks 101, presented by DeAnna Knippling (you may remember her from the previous Write Brain I attended.)

Weekly Reminders:

Are you devious at heart? That's the theme for the PPB NLAPW Flash Fiction Contest. More information can be found on the Flash Fiction Contest tab at the top of my blog.

The A-to-Z Challenge is filling up fast! No worries, though, there is no limit to how many people can sign up to participate. The sooner you sign up, though, the sooner you can start getting to know your fellow A-to-Z participants. Click on the A-to-Z tab at the top of my blog or go to the official A-to-Z website for sign-up, information, helpful posts from our team and past participants, and video challenge pieces.

The Pikes Peak Writers Conference is filling up fast! The sooner you get registered, the better your chance at getting a Read & Critique appointment or Pitch appointment.

Anything to share? Anything you'd like me to be keeping an eye out for that I'm not? Let me know!

P.S. I will be posting over at the official A-to-Z Challenge Blog tomorrow about the A-to-Z Challenge and the importance of community among bloggers and writers. I'll post a reminder and link then!

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday: Fairy Wonderland

We had one of those perfect snows on Saturday. The kind where the snow sticks to the trees and brush and coats them in glistening white and silver. We had fog, too, which we don't see nearly enough around here (have I mentioned I lived in Oregon for seven years?). Fog and a gentle snow make me want to snuggle up and relax. Instead, I went for a snowy hike in Garden of the Gods and snapped a few pictures.

I hope you enjoyed your walk through my fairy wonderland, winter in the high desert. I know the pics were a bit dark, but, was dark and foggy, and snow was still falling, so I hope you'll excuse my lack of photo prowess.

How is the weather in your area? Are you a fan of snow and fog, or could you do without it?

May you find your Muse.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: An Oldie, Yet to See if it's a Goodie

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!

Today's teaser is from The Night Crew by John Sandford, p. 33

"The two-faced man hurried down the darkened pier, saw the light in the side window, in the back. He carried an eighteen-inch Craftsman box-end wrench, the kind used in changing trailer-hitch balls. The heft was right: just the thing. No noise."

What are you reading?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Guest Posting Tips

I've only entered the world of guest posts in the last few months, but there are some things it's worthwhile to pass along when it comes to guest blogging or hosting a guest poster. I'm not aware of a manual floating around out there, so here are a few tips you might find valuable. Feel free to add your own in the comments or, if you beg to differ, tell me why. I'm still learning, and can use any tips you have to offer me.

When You're the Guest Poster

*Thank your host.
*Post about something the host's readers might be interested in. In other words, do your homework.
*Return to respond to comments.
*Visit those who were kind enough to read your guest post and comment.
*Get your post to the host by the requested deadline (or in a timely manner if there is no deadline).
*Post a link on your own blog so people know you have guest posted elsewhere and can follow you there.
*Be professional. Watch your language, be respectful, etc.
*Keep up with communication with your host before your post.

*Ignore guidelines (if they say it should be 500 words, make it 500 words).
*Monopolize your guest post as a sales pitch for yourself, even if it technically is. Instead, write something interesting that will make them want to know more about you.
*Submit a guest post full of errors; check your grammar, spelling, html and information.

When You're the Host

*Be sure to make clear any preferences, guidelines or rules.
*Thank your guest poster.
*Write a nice introduction to your guest poster.
*Let people know the guest post is coming up to make sure people stop by.
*Be flexible where you're able.
*Keep up with communication with your guest leading up to the post.

*Assume your guest poster knows what you want if you haven't told them.
*Take the day off. You should still be there to respond to comments on your own blog, even though it isn't technically your post.
*Change the date of the guest post without discussing it with the guest.
*Change the content of the guest's post without discussing it with them first.

Guest posting can either be very comfortable and rewarding or very uncomfortable and, possibly, damaging. Treat it as if you're a guest in someone's home, or a guest speaker at their office. If you wouldn't do something in person, don't do it in writing. You're being given a great opportunity to reach a new audience, so be sure to show your gratitude through your words and actions.

Do you have any other tips for guest posters or hosts? Any guest/host horror stories to share?

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thursday Helpful Links:

For today's helpful hints, I've got a smorgasbord (hey, I spelled that right the first time!).

First, Rachael Harrie's Fourth Writers' Platform Building Crusade is open for sign-ups. I had no idea it was time until I happened it across it on someone's blog. I think you have about a week to sign up. I'm not sure I'll be doing it this time around, but if I do it will be last minute sign-up, right around the time I miraculously get all aspects of my life caught up.

If you're not sure what the Writers' Platform Building Crusade is, I'll tell you! You sign up to participate in some mini writing projects. You are given specific dates for participation, and on the opening date you are given details for what you are supposed to write. You have a couple days in which to write to the given specifications. You visit other participating blogs and others visit your blog from the main linky list(s). You also compete, so there are judges and voting. If you've got the time, it's a great way to build your platform and stretch your writing skills.

An annual magazine, "Kansas City Voices," is accepting submissions through March 15, 2012. Don't let the name fool you, they are open for any quality subject matter, not just that related to Kansas or the midwest. They accept prose and poetry. This is a paying market.

Pentalk is a community on Facebook where you can view little mini-workshops on various writing-related items, share your expertise or look for someone else's guidance.

Dark Markets is a website that keeps you apprised of horror markets accepting submissions. There are some great projects on there!

Big World Magazine is looking for photos and stories that are travel/culture related.

Q&W Publishers are putting together an anthology on "The Old Weird South". This is a paying market.

Just a Contest appears to be a great site where you can track down various contests. You can even sort the categories for your search.

Finally, Writer Gazette seems like a wonderful overall resource for writers, listing resources, articles, calls for submissions, contests and such.

Weekly Reminders

Are you devious at heart? That's the theme for the PPB NLAPW Flash Fiction Contest. More information can be found on the Flash Fiction Contest tab at the top of my blog.

The A-to-Z Challenge is filling up fast! No worries, though, there is no limit to how many people can sign up to participate. The sooner you sign up, though, the sooner you can start getting to know your fellow A-to-Z participants. Click on the A-to-Z tab at the top of my blog or go to the official A-to-Z website for sign-up, information, helpful posts from our team and past participants, and video challenge pieces.

I'm officially registered for the Pikes Peak Writer's Conference! They are still open for attendees, but register soon if you want a chance at Read & Critique appointments or a pitch appointment.

Any helpful links or sites to share? Please feel free to share links and/or to ask me questions about what I've posted, especially if it's about the reminder links, as those are the ones I'm most familiar with.

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday: Toasty Meerkats

It's chilly today, and I was sitting in front of the fireplace, getting toasty, as I looked through my photos for some [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday inspiration, and here were these little guys, getting toasty in front of a space heater:

So I thought I'd share them. Cute little guys, aren't they? This isn't the first time I've shared the meerkats, though it is the first time it's been this particular photo. They're a cute and feisty little bunch, full of personality.

I had no idea what meerkats were until "The Lion King." I wonder if we'd have them at the zoo if it weren't for that movie. Things that make you go hmmmm...

Speaking of things that make you go hmmm, Arsenio will be on the new season of "The Apprentice." Anyone watching that? And did anyone catch the 2 hour premier of "The River?" I wanted to watch it and failed to DVR it, so I have to wait until it's available online. I'm curious if it was any good.

Did you know meerkats existed before Disney introduced them?

May you find your Muse.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: Skinwalker Versus Vampires

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 Blood Cross: A Jane Yellowrock Novel, by Faith Hunter.

"I had a feeling that this formal visit might be only marginally better than Leo's kerosene and fire visit of the night before, and that brought out a belligerance I usually controlled better. I narrowed my eyes at him. 'No shit.'" p. 43

What are you reading?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Write Brain Notes: New Models in Publishing, An Indie Author Speaks

This is the third, and final, portion of my notes from the Write Brain workshop New Models in Publishing, presented by Pikes Peak Writers. Today, I will pass along notes from DeAnna Knippling, an independently published author.

DeAnna Knippling gave us advice on indie publishing. She pointed out that we should do research on self publishing, whether we're going traditional or not, so that we know what to look at. For instance, if you've done your research on what makes a good cover, you will know what to consider when a traditional publishing house sends you their design for your book cover. Is the font good? Will the colors stand out? Can you read the title? Is the image eye-catching? Studying up on details like this will help you insure your book is high quality, even if you're being traditionally published.

If you're being traditionally published, she stresses that you should READ THE CONTRACT CAREFULLY. Don't just sign it in a flurry because you're excited to be getting published. Read every nitty-gritty detail and make sure you're being treated fairly.

DeAnna pointed out that being consistent in the types of stories you're putting out can increase your sales. She'll be the first to tell you that she doesn't do this across the board, but that her children's series is consistent and sells better than some of the more varied offerings. People will come back to something they liked.

The following is summarized from her handout on Indie Publishing, and is what she feels is the bare minimum (for the full handout, please see it on the Pikes Peak Writers' official blog, Writing From the Peak, where there is fantastic information I did not pass along in this series of posts):

You need material that you own the rights to; a freelance business (properly set up) for tax purposes; various forms of marketing (an author website, social media, contact with reviewers (send them a free e-copy), contact with any specialty markets that may apply to your book (websites with related content) and writer's groups); proper editing, proper formatting, a good and legal cover design, e-publishing in all formats, validation of your product once published, announcements/marketing and limitless patience. **NOTE: All of this is further explained in the handout, linked above)**

Some links:
Library Thing
Step by Step Self-Publishing
Smashwords Style Guide
Dreamstime free images and software
KDP Amazon
Zen Habits for patience

Some additional resources:
The Copyright Handbook by Stephen Fishman (this comes highly recommended by her, and seems like an excellent resource, whether you're self-pubbed or traditionally pubbed).
Nolo's checklist: Start Your Own Business: 50 Things You'll Need to Do

DeAnna always has valuable insight, and can be found in the following places:

Her personal blog,
Her small publisher website,
Her middle-grade pseudonym blog,

She also does e-book and POD formatting for hire, so feel free to contact her at the above places. Her books can be found under the names DeAnna Knippling and De Kenyon.

Do you have anything to add to this?

This concludes my notes from the Write Brain workship, New Models in Publishing, by Pikes Peak Writers.

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Project 52 Update, Open Anthologies, Community Websites

It has been an overwhelming week, so the links are a bit sparse today, but I do have a couple. First, though, how about a Project 52 update?

I can now cross out:
20. Make query/submission spreadsheet
28. Organize and edit scenic photos

I can technically cross this one out:
34. Submit 1 photo to a contest/publication

But I'm not going to. I had two photos in a paper and they credited them as Courtesy Photos instead of putting my name in. By the time I discovered it, it was too late to do anything about it, though I imagine if I fought I could make it happen. They were not scenic photos like I enjoy taking, but were of people, and I don't feel like they were very good, so I'm letting this one slide in order to not ruin a specific relationship (so yes, I have my reasons, but I'm still not necessarily happy about the situation). I am going to take this as a learning experience and go from there.

On a positive note, I was delighted to see that I officially have 400 followers as of this evening! So cool! I appreciate each and every one. I'm thinking it's time to start planning a giveaway when I reach 500 followers.

And now...the links:

Writers Unite is a writer's community I heard about this week. I have not yet joined, nor have I checked it out in-depth. However, it sounds interesting, so I'm passing it along, as it never hurts to find a supportive community, especially in such a solitary pursuit as writing.

The Denver Women's Press Club is running their Unknown Writer's Contest. You must be a Colorado resident (both men and women can enter) and you cannot have been paid for published work before.

Renee Rongen is accepting submissions for an anthology on the spirit of a woman. I do not believe you have to be a women to enter this, just to follow the theme of "What is the Spirit of a Woman?" Though it is not reflected on the webpage, the deadline has been extended to February 18.

I came across a second online community, this one called the WAE Network (or Writers, Agents, Editors). I did sign up to look at a pitch fest they are having, but didn't find much information on it. I haven't explored the site further (NO TIME!!). I like their cute little characters at the top of the page (featureless except for sneakers and socks).

And here are the weekly reminders:

The Pen Women Flash Fiction contest is ongoing. You can find more information on the Flash Fictiontab at the top of this blog. The theme is Are you Devious at Heart?

The A-to-Z Challenge is up to 430 sign-ups as of the writing of this post! You can sign up on the A-to-Z Info and Sign-up tab at the top of this blog.

Pikes Peak Writers is still 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. I'll be doing some volunteering, including in the pitch room, and I'd love to have an introduction to any of you who might be attending, as well.

That's it for today, everyone. Have a wonderful weekend! I hope to see you back here on Monday for the final portion of the Write Brain notes on New Models in Publishing, where I'll discuss information from DeAnna Knippling on e-publishing. You don't want to miss it!

Any helpful links to pass along? Are you familiar with any of the websites mentioned?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Write Brain Notes: New Models in Publishing, What the Writers Say

There will be no [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday today. Instead, I bring you the second part of the three-part New Models in Publishing notes.

Last week, I posted ten notable comments from bookseller Natalie Johnson, owner of Black Cat Books in Manitou Springs. However, those comments were only a portion of the Write Brain workshop I attended. This is the second part of that workshop, and will detail my notes from Deb Courtney (Courtney Literary) and Robert Spiller (author). DeAnna Knippling's contribution will be passed along next Monday.

Deb Courtney, who now represents Robert Spiller, after he left the publishing company that put out the first three books in his Bonnie Pinkwater series, spoke about key points in publishing these days. Her new business, Courtney Literary, is not a publishing house, nor is she an agent. Instead, her goal is to help self-published authors make marketing plans and book-selling strategies. Basically, her job is to assist self-published authors and to do some of the legwork for them.

Deb pointed out that the things you need to insure are taken care of in self-publishing are the quality of your book, the editing and the graphics. As she said (and I'm not sure of the exact quote), it's worse to put out a bad product than no product at all. If you cannot properly edit your own words, pay someone else to do it or do an exchange with another author, where you each edit the other's work. As far as cover art, it is there to catch the eye and draw buyers in, whether on a physical book or the photo representing an e-book. This is something you should either be very good at, or that you should pay for. Expect to pay between $200 and $1000 for a good cover.

She reminded us to do our homework on format (Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, etc.) and to explore different product lines and revenue streams (audio book, short stories that are associated with your novel/series, and all distribution types). She recommends that you not limit yourself to just one type of format (such as just putting it out for the Kindle, but not the Nook).

One service Deb Courtney provides that Robert Spiller is pleased with is a marketing plan. She says you must have one. Set specific goals. How will you get yourself out there? Who will you contact? What is your time frame? She and Robert had made a list that filled several pages, just on places to contact. Consider author interviews on blogs and in newspapers/other media, get reviews, get your book placed in bookstores, do giveaways and guest posts, and get your book on Good Reads. If you absolutely can't find anyone willing to review your book, there are respected places that will charge you to do a review, such as Kirkus (costs around $500 or so). They don't guarantee a good review, though.

Deb Courtney has just launched her business, and Robert Spiller is her first client. At this time, they both seem very happy with the arrangement. In fact, Robert Spiller said he is having much more fun with this, his fourth Bonnie Pinkwater novel, than with the other three. They have great communication between them, and she works closely with him throughout the process.

Some resources she passed along are:
Huffington Post

Any advice to add?

May you find your Muse.