Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Annual Shiny New Year's Post With Less Shininess

I'm not gonna lie, guys - 2013 has not been the best or most exciting year for me. It was a tough year for me as a writer. I really thought it was going to be the year I got an agent and my first pub deal, and it wasn't. But I'm not gonna whine about it beyond that - that's why writers have to be tough cookies. I'm just going to keep writing and it'll happen when it happens.

Here are some of the awesome highlights of 2013:

  • I was a Pitch Wars contestant and me and my mentor won the middle grade category with my book Everdream getting the most MG agent requests. I got lots of awesome feedback on the book, even though it ultimately didn't pan out with an offer of representation.
  • I did a ton of editing on two different books and wrote lots of shiny new words on some other projects.
  • I queried one of the books I did a lot of editing on and got some really great feedback (your writing is wonderful, but I have something too similar; the market's not right for it but send me your next project, etc.)
  • I got inspiration out of the blue (not from my existing idea list) and wrote my fourth novel in less than 6 weeks. It's an awesome concept which I love.
  • I'm still in the running with one of my urban fantasies for the Harper Voyager digital submissions contest, the pool having been whittled from over 4,500 entries to less than 300.
I guess 2013 was a year of lots of agent near-misses. And I know that means I'm getting close to finding the right agent and making my break into the pub industry. So, I'll just keep on writing my ass off! I hope to query my latest WIP in the next couple of months and we'll see what happens from there. In my non-writing life, 2014 will be a year of lots of transition because I'm sad to say I'm getting a divorce. It's definitely for the best, but it's hard nonetheless. We need to sell our house, and my son and I will be moving into town and finding a place to board my horse. Lots of change on that front!

So, writer friends, what's your year been like? And what do you want to accomplish in 2014? I certainly am glad I have the support of such an awesome community of writers!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Gratitude and Other Random Introspection As the Year Draws to a Close

I've just finished probably my fifth plate over the last two days of Thanksgiving food. I LOVE TG food, especially my dear Tofurkey. It makes this vegetarian a happy girl :) Anyways, I've been remiss in blogging lately so I thought I would post some random notes/thoughts on what I've been up to and what I'm planning as the year winds down.

  • The first being, how IS the year already almost over? How did it happen? Last night I saw the first Christmas lights and it was shocking, even though I know it's almost December. Time is flying.
  • I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. While I'm going through a big transition in my personal life right now, there are so many things I'm grateful for. I won't bore you with them, except for one: I love my writer friends SO much. Fellow bloggers and Twitter friends, I am always astounded at your awesomeness and I've known some of you for years now, and it makes me happy.
  • Speaking of bloggers, I rarely blog anymore, but am on Twitter almost daily. So, if you're one of my blog peeps that I am not following on Twitter, please send me a message and I'll add you to my daily list. My handle is @aachamberlynn (or just click to find me!).
  • I am currently editing the book I got sudden and crazy inspiration for and wrote in 6 weeks. It's pretty rough. I've got a big edit to-do list. But I've been working hard and I'm hoping to have it query ready by January.
  • I'm also going to submit a short story I wrote earlier in the year to some lit magazines and hope I can find a home for that. I might do that this weekend.
  • I have a busy schedule of fun concerts, art shows and parties to attend in December, which is unusual for me, so I'm excited to branch out and be a butterfly for the month!
So, as the year wraps up, what are you aiming to finish up? What makes you happy and grateful? Do you find yourself gravitating more to Twitter than the blogosphere? Whatever you're up to, I hope it's awesome and makes you sparkle inside and out. TTFN, writer friends!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Soup Swap!

So, this is a random detour from my usual posts about writing, but a few days ago I got into a fun conversation on Twitter with Elizabeth Flora Ross and Jessica Sinsheimer about soup! Jessica tweeted about having a soup swap in Brooklyn, I lamented about not living in Brooklyn, and thus the conversation began. Jessica kindly offered to let us steal her idea and do an internet soup swap instead. Go visit Elizabeth's blog if you want to join in on the swapping fun!

Here is my recipe for Vegan Lentil Soup, from http://www.eat-yourself-skinny.com/, and adapted from Alicia Silverstone's vegetarian cookbook. This is one of the most delicious soups I have ever tasted! I am not vegan, just vegetarian, but I still love it. The seasoning is amazing.


2 Tbsp safflower oil (I use olive oil)
1 medium onion, diced
2 small tomatoes, diced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (I use dry ginger and it's fine)
1 1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Pinch of sea salt
2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
7 cups vegetable broth
1 cup brown lentils
1 cup baby spinach or kale


In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat and saute onion for about 2 minutes, until soft. Stir in tomatoes and ginger, cooking an addition 3 minutes. Stir in turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne and salt and cook for 2 minutes, tasting to make sure its to your liking. Next add the sweet potatoes, broth and lentils. Bring soup to a boil then reduce heat and cover, allowing to simmer for about 30 minutes. Then add spinach (or kale) and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Hope everyone has an awesome weekend! Eat some good soup and stay warm!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I'm in Love! Plus, a Redonkulous Development

Hi, writer friends! I've been in the glorious raptures of writing the first draft of an awesome shiny new idea after a month trying to figure out what project I wanted to work on. After playing with several of the ideas in my idea folder, I had sudden inspiration one day for a totally new idea, and it stole me away from the others.

The project is new adult fantasy, and it's a really fun, unique idea that I think is pretty rad! I'm already about a third of the way through my first draft, and I've challenged myself to write 2k words a day so I can finish the draft by 11/1. I usually aim for 1k a day, since I work full time, but I wanted to challenge myself a bit. We'll see how it goes :) Since I then would have done the equivalent of NaNoWriMo, I think I might try to do an intense editing version of NaNo in November while everyone else is drafting.

Anyways, in other news, I have a new ass. A mini ass!

I am pleased to welcome Islington the mini donkey to the family! He will keep my horse Max company. He's super cute and sweet. I named him after the angel in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.
So, that's what I've been up to lately. How about you? Are you doing any form of NaNo?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dr. Who Meets CassaStorm!!

This week my long-time blog friend Alex Cavanaugh is having a blog party for the release of his third book, CassaStorm. As part of this event, Alex said he'd answer one unique question for each blogger who participated. So, this was my question:

The main character of your series, space adventurer Byron, meets Dr. Who - tell us about this encounter!
Alex's answer: Dr. Who pulls out his screwdriver and Byron perceives it as an aggressive act. He fires the lasers and takes out the Tardis. While the Doctor is distracted, Byron jumps his Cosbolt to safety. (Don’t hate me Dr. Who fans! But blowing up the Tardis was fun.)
No, not the Tardis!! But we'll forgive you, Alex. Plus Alex will bribe us with swag: comment on his blog this week for a chance to win a Cassa mug, mousepad, magnet, and swag!
And here's all the info about CassaStorm!
By Alex J Cavanaugh
From the Amazon Best Selling Series!
A storm gathers across the galaxy…
Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.
After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.
Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…
“Cavanaugh has created wonderfully moving moments of great poignancy… CassaStorm could have been a dark story full of hardship and angst, but instead it's a cleverly balanced story about hope and triumph.”

Lynda R. Young, author of Make Believe

"Cavanaugh makes world building on the galactic scale look easy. The stakes affect the entire known universe and yet Cavanaugh makes it intensely personal for our hero. The final installment of this series will break your heart and put it back together."

Charity Bradford, science fantasy author of The Magic Wakes

Watch the book trailer!

$16.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera
Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019
$4.99 EBook available in all formats
Find CassaStorm:
Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.
I suspect the interwebs will be aflutter with talk of CassaStorm over the next few days, so enjoy the blog party and happy writing until we chat again!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Idea Carousel

I find myself in a fun and unique position the last couple of days. I've finished major edits on two different books which I've been working on for the last year and a half or so. I'd work on one and then switch to the other. And while I started drafting a new book earlier this year, I didn't get very far before I got sucked into edits on these other two, after getting some good feedback from a couple agents.

But now I'm done - I can't think of another thing I could do to either book. I'm querying the one, and it'll either get picked up by an agent or not. I've gotten some lovely feedback on it, along the lines of "your writing is wonderful, but I have something too similar". It may be that the market is just not right for it now. Time will tell. I'm going to query the other one, but I don't want to query them both at the same time.

So now I'm in the position to start something completely brand new. I thought about going back to the one I started earlier this year, but I'm not sure if I want to right now. And I thought about going back to my very first completed novel and working on a rewrite of that, but I'm not sure I want to do that, either. What I need is to just write for the love of writing and not worry about a goal. That's something I seldom do - those of you who know me well know I am extremely goal and deadline driven. But I'm going to chill out for the time being and see what happens.

Now the idea carousel spins, as I go through all the ideas I've had over the last couple years. I have 19 folders in Word for different story ideas. Some of them pull at me and are more mentally plotted out than others. So yesterday I started writing one of the ones that's tugged pretty hard at me over the last year. And after that I wrote something that had only been a tiny, random spark of an idea, and all the sudden that one has stolen my muse away; snuck up and shoved all the more planned ideas in the closet. But I'm not committing yet. I'm going to play the field, and write a little of whichever idea I feel like until one of them claims me entirely. And I'm having a great deal of fun with that.

How about you guys? Any bright, shiny ideas luring you at the moment?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Trip to Romania - Cloaked in Fur Release Party!

I am super excited, for the second week in a row, to share my blog with another of my writer friends, T.F. Walsh! Her book Cloaked in Fur was just released by Crimson Romance a few days ago. Take it away!

Hi Alexia, thank you for having me on your blog. I wanted to chat about setting today, and why I chose Romania for Cloaked in Fur.
Cloaked in Fur is set in Romania, more specifically Braşov. Braşov is located within what is the region traditionally known as Transylvania. I was born in Romania so I have a special place in my heart for stories based there, particularly those stories set in Transylvania. The region is steeped in lore and history and is about 30km from the Bran Castle, one of the historic homes associated with Vlad Tepes. Vlad Tepes is also known as Vlad the Impaler and is often cited as the historical basis for Bram Stoker's Dracula. Whilst many people consider him a villain, the local populace generally consider him a hero. Interesting fact is that is it said Vlad the Impaler never lived in the Bran Castle, despite the Dracula stories. The region of Transylvania also contains stretches of the Carpathian Mountains. The Carpathians spread through a number of European countries. Large tracts of forest, deep gorges, steep cliffs and cave systems make it a dangerous and beautiful area. With a large population of animals including wolves and bears it makes a wonderful setting for any story. And that’s exactly why I set Cloaked in Fur in Braşov.

So, readers, what setting would you love to see in a story?
And a little more about Cloaked in Fur:
As a moonwulf, Daciana never expected to fall in love with a human. Hell, she never imagined that she’d abandon her pack, endanger everyone around her, and break the worst rule possible. But she did.
A rogue werewolf is killing Daciana’s friends, and she sets on capturing the creature.  She’ll do whatever it takes to stop the beast. The police and her boyfriend, Inspector Connell Lonescu, are starting to question her involvement in the murders, which is endangering the pack’s secret existence. But when the pack alpha kidnaps Connell, revealing the awful truth about the creature and its connection to the pack, Daciana must choose between saving the man she loves and saving her pack family from certain death.
Buy Cloaked in Fur Here:
About The Author
T.F. Walsh emigrated from Romania to Australia at the age of eight and now lives in a regional city south of Sydney with her husband. Growing up hearing dark fairytales, she's always had a passion for reading and writing horror, paranormal romance, urban fantasy and young adult stories. She balances all the dark with light fluffy stuff like baking and traveling.
Find her here!
I love having friends over to visit! And I hope everybody has a great week. I'm on vacay starting Friday!

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Super Fun Chat with Novelist Lisa Ann O'Kane

Today I am so excited to share my blog with my writer friend Lisa Ann to talk about her new book deal. Here's a bit about Essence, being released in June of 2014 by Strange Chemistry:

Neutrality is the key to longevity.

This motto has governed 17-year-old Autumn’s life in the mid-21st-century Centrist cult, which believes that expressing emotions leads to Essence drain and premature death.

But Autumn’s younger brother’s death casts her faith into question. While sprinting through a park in violation of Centrist teachings, she encounters Ryder Stone, an Outsider who claims Essence drain is nothing more than a Centrist scare tactic. She agrees to join his Community, a utopia of adrenaline junkies living in the abandoned remains of Yosemite National Park.

Autumn learns about sex, drugs, and living life to the fullest. But as she discovers dark secrets beneath the Community’s perfect exterior, she realises that this illusion of paradise could be shattered…

Cool, yes? So stoked for it to come out! And without further ado, here's the interview:

AC: I understand that camping out in Yosemite for the summer was part of your inspiration for Essence. What would you say inspired the unique rules and concepts of the Centrist cult in your book (the concept of Essence, etc.)?

LO: I have always been intrigued by the psychology of cults, so I jumped at the chance to create a main character whose entire upbringing was shaped by one. I picked San Francisco as the hub for my Centrist cult because I remember the public outcry that ensued in the aftermath of the Northridge Earthquake in 1994. Some groups actually believed the earthquake was a manifestation of God’s anger, and they said San Francisco was targeted because it was a haven for perversity.

I wondered what would happen if a group of San Franciscans actually took this message to heart. I drew from Theravada Buddhism and the concepts of the Four Noble Truths, and I created the Centrist cult and its Essence theory—which advocates living a life of neutrality and warns that your emotions have a finite limit. Once you use yours up, they’re gone. You’re gone.

Imagine how scary it would be to believe you might run out of Essence and drop dead at any moment. That’s what my main character Autumn faces when she finally decides to break free from her Centrist upbringing.

AC: Super cool! Love the tie to Buddhism. Okay, so who is your favorite character in Essence, and why?

LO: It’s hard to choose, but I’m pretty partial to Ryder Stone, the Outsider who first convinces Autumn to leave the Centrists and join his community of free spirits and adrenaline junkies in Yosemite. He’s a very complex character, and he fought me every time I tried to pigeonhole him. (I literally had no idea how the story was going to end until I finally gave up and let him lead the way!)

AC: He sounds fun! I love it when characters are bossy like that :) Next: what has surprised you most about your publishing journey so far?

I am finally beginning to see the publishing industry for what it is: an industry. When I first started this journey, I pinned all my self-worth on the success of my novel. If an agent or editor liked it, that meant I was a good writer. If they didn’t, I questioned my entire identity.

Nowadays (thanks to time, experience, and many, many rejections), I understand that agents and editors can like my work—sometimes even love my work—and still reject it. Maybe it isn’t a good fit for their list, or maybe they already have a similar novel. Maybe the market is saturated, or maybe it isn’t saturated enough. Maybe they love my novel but realize it doesn’t have mass appeal, or maybe they just don’t love it enough to stake their reputation on it.

Regardless, rejections are often far less personal—and far more subjective—than I would have ever imagined. This is good news, and it’s bad news. When agents and editors say, “It’s not you, it’s me,” they usually really mean it.

AC: Excellent point! Now, tell us something fun and/or random about yourself that has nothing to do with writing.

In the past thirteen years, I have lived in sixteen different houses in ten different cities in five different states in two different countries in two different hemispheres. I have accidentally surfed with great white sharks in Australia, and I have been stranded on a cliff in Death Valley and marooned in northern British Columbia when my truck hit a patch of black ice and flipped six times. Despite this, my three biggest fears continue to be Ferris wheels, odd numbers and wooden utensils. (Sad, but true…)

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me, Alexia, and thanks to everyone for stopping by to visit. I had such a blast writing Essence, and I still can’t believe I get to share it with you!

AC: I have mega wanderlust, so that sounds amazing! Thanks so much for stopping by today! So, to learn more about Lisa Ann and Essence, check out the links below. Her Pinterest board for Essence is super fun, so don't miss that!





Saturday, July 27, 2013

Editing and Querying and More Editing and Querying: A Mid-Year Review

Okay, so it's a bit past the middle of the year. I find myself in a contemplative state (those of you that know me are thinking "shocker!" in very sarcastic tones) about what I've accomplished so far this year, and what I want to finish up. I've not been blogging a whole lot this year, so here's a quick rundown of what I've been up to:

  • I changed my first book from third to first person and worked on a new beginning
  • I got into Pitch Wars with my third book, got some agent requests and sent out some queries
  • I wrote about a quarter of a new middle grade steampunk before stopping to work on edits on my third book based on feedback from the agents
  • Needed some space from my third book so rewrote my second book, changing my protag from a vampire to another supernatural being I created, since vamps are so oversaturated in the market now
  • Currently querying that and getting some agent nibbles
  • Now back to work on my third book, editing ferociously and without mercy
I kind of feel like I've been spinning in circles, but I think I'm finally making some progress. Once I finish edits on my third book, I'd like to finish up the first draft of the steampunk before the end of the year.

What has everyone else been up to? Have I missed anything important during my lack of regular blog hopping?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Adventures with Neil

I am very psyched to share about my trip this last weekend to Atlanta to see Neil Gaiman on his last U.S. book signing tour. This was my second time being in the physical presence of my favorite author. The first was in 2011 at World Fantasy Con in San Diego, which you can read about here.

The adventure started out by picking up my friends Ann Marie and her boyfriend Lee and driving five hours from Florida to ATL. We got to the site of the event, a small women's college, about three hours before Neil was scheduled to talk and went to grab something to eat. When we got back like thirty minutes later, there were hundreds of people in line ahead of us. We had to wait in the blazing sun for over an hour to pick up our tickets, but it was a very pretty and magical looking ticket indeed:

After that, we had to get in the longest line I've ever seen, which spanned like half the campus, to wait to get into the building. This is the line when we got to the back (though it's missing about thirty people on the left side), and what you can see below is only about a fifth of the whole thing. Can you see how far it stretches into the distance???
We finally got in and sat in the balcony at the back of a large auditorium. Neil spoke at about 7:30 and as usual was smart and charming and super cool. He read from Ocean at the End of the Lane and then had a brief Q&A, though he refused to answer more than three Dr. Who questions. My favorite answer? When asked how he approached a writing project, he said, "I just sidle up next to it and say Hullo."
This is the gorgeous building we were in:
After Neil spoke the serious waiting began. We had about six hundred people ahead of us to get our books signed. Finally, after midnight and eight hours of waiting total (eight!), we got our books signed. And it was totally worth it. Neil was so friendly and made a point to talk to everyone even though he'd been signing for hours. He said he liked my shirt, which just about made me giggle like a school girl, and I asked him about something he'd said he was working on when I saw him in 2011, and then we were through and it was over, and I didn't regret one bit of the waiting.
Here is a pic of me and Neil, with most of my makeup melted off from waiting in the Georgia heat and a beam of light cutting across my head:
Silly as it sounds, I feel changed every time I see Neil. It solidifies my aspirations as a writer, and helps me dream of the future. I want to be the cool author with an eight hour line. I want to travel the world and make good art and inspire others. I want to free the imagination of countless readers and change how they see the world every time they pick up one of my books.
So, yeah. It was a pretty rad weekend :)
**Update** LOL, I just read my old WFC 2011 post where I talk about waiting ONE WHOLE HOUR to get Neil to sign my book. Oh, perspective...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Very Sad Goodbye

My dear pony Mocha died last night. I think it was peaceful. He was very old and had been lethargic and just not himself the last few days, so I had suspected he was going soon and was able to say my goodbyes. When I went out this morning to feed the horses he was just lying in the pasture.

I remember when I first got him almost five years ago how he was such a rascal and would never let me catch him in the pasture. We worked together and soon he got over that silly habit. We had been told that he was very skittish and abused by someone in the past, and so it was hard to win his trust.

I remember how he would always chase my huge warmblood away from his food, though he was less than half his size, if I didn't seperate them during feeding time. He was so bossy to the other horses, but so dear and sweet to his people.

I remember when I made him wear a Santa hat and pose for Christmas pictures a few years ago, and how when I was squatting on the ground trying to get a good angle since he was so small that he kept coming up and snuffling my face with his soft muzzle. He was the cutest Christmas pony ever.

I remember last November when he an abcess in his eyeball of all places, and I had to give him five different medications ten times a day, all through the middle of the night even though I had to get up at 6:30 for work. That went on for two weeks, and then the medications were weaned off slowly, but all in all it was six weeks of intensive care putting medicine in his eye. I didn't even have to put a halter or leadrope on him. He just stood there and let me mess with his eyeball. Even though we were close before that, I think that experience made us truly trust each other.

He was part of my inspiration for Everdream, my last novel about living carousel ponies. The specific character he inspired was Onyx, a grumpy, bossy jet black pony that is part of the dream caravan. When this gets published, he will be on the dedication page.

This morning after I found him I noticed that a single magnolia bud was on the tree, and just a few minutes ago when I went to pick flowers for his grave, I saw that it had fully bloomed, just in the last couple hours. White and perfect just for him. I placed it in his grave along with some blue hydrangeas.

I will miss you, old friend. May your spirit be boundless and joyful wherever you travel.

Monday, May 27, 2013

An Uncomfortable Confession

A couple days ago I was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix and grumbling to my husband about how there are barely any non-white characters on the show. This came after a scene where a black man was depicted unloading a van and then gets eaten by Dracula (double whammy of a person of color depicted in manual labor and then being instantly killed off). And I had a very uncomfortable realization. In the WIP I'm editing now (my second book), I don't really have any significant non-white characters either.

I sat there thinking, "Wait - can that be right?" And it pretty much was. I had one fairly minor Asian character, but that's it. Now, I've grown up (thankfully) in a non-prejudiced family. My grandmother was one of the few white teachers who volunteered to work in integrated schools when they were first mandated in the 1950s, and my mother is famous for making a gift to NAACP in honor of her extremely racist in-laws during her first marriage. I am a huge promoter of diversity of all kinds.

Recently the HBO show Girls, which is fairly new and exploding in popularity, was called out for the same thing. The creator, writer and main character Lena Dunham had to admit that she had made her show with an almost entirely white cast of characters as well. And when you look at it, a lot of the TV, movies, books, magazine pictures, etc. have mostly white people depicted. What disturbs me about this, as evidenced by my own writing, is that even for people who consider themselves fans of diversity, we can sometimes slip into white-centric thinking unconsciously.

So, for the WIP in question I've gone back and reevaluated my main characters and made sure that there is diversity in the mix. And it's something I'm going to have to be conscious of in my writing from now on. They say to write what you know - but just because I'm about as white as you can get, other than a little Native American blood, I don't want to "write white" (and I frankly think that piece of writing advice is not the greatest anyways). Diversity is beautiful, and our writing can only be better by sharing it.

What about you? If you take a good, hard look at your cast of characters, what do you see? I know I'm not the only one, based on a ton of the books I've read. I'd love to hear your opinions below.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Art of Stopping

Confession: I'm a workaholic.

Aside from my creative writer side, I have a very type-A personality. I thrive on goals and deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise. I like to always have something going on, and I write, edit or query pretty much every day (in addition to working more than full time and dealing with kids, husband and multiple pets). But every now and then I have to do something that's rather hard for me. I just have to stop.

So, I haven't posted in a while because I needed to replenish a bit. Work has been stressful, and I've been sick several times this year, and I found myself in the unusual (for me) position of not knowing what writing project I wanted to work on. I was querying one book, and immediately started a new one, which I usually do to distract myself from querying. Then I got some great feedback from a couple agents on the book I was querying, and suddenly I went into a bit of a tailspin. Should I edit? Should I push through and finish the first draft of my current WIP? I really just wasn't sure.

Thus, I stopped. I recognized that I needed to really make myself take a long break and just BE. Which is very unnatural for me, but I did it for several weeks. I was lazy and watched lots of Buffy, Vampire Diaries, Game of Thrones and Castle. And after a bit I started to feel back to normal, and the feeling got stronger, and now I think I'm almost back to where I need to be.

I've decided to pause on the new WIP and work on edits on two books. Then, querying shall begin anew! I got great responses from agents and writers alike on these, and I know the areas I need to work on. So, that's the plan. What have you been doing lately?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Myth or Reality?

Today at work we had a book club meeting at lunch and discussed The Scorpio Races, which is loosely based on Celtic mythology about water horses that drag people to their deaths (and it's an AMAZING book, so go read it, NOW, if you haven't already). So naturally we started talking about myths in general, and how similar some are all across the world.

For instance, vampires and werewolves are prevalent in myths and folklore all around the world. My young colleague from Trinidad was saying that vampires are still very much feared today, and that as a teen if she came home after dark her grandmother would make her walk through the front door backwards as this is supposedly something a vampire would not be able to do. They also sprinkle salt all around their houses, which is said to ward them off.

How is it that so many different cultures spread all over the world have these common myths? Is it word of mouth spreading from travelers? Do they all stem from some primal basic human fear, thus the sameness of them? Or did there used to be some truth to these myths before the world became so modern that all the magic faded?

I find it all pretty fascinating, especially since I love vamp and werewolf tales. So, what's your take? Is there some truth in the old tales? Or is it all explained in some rational way?

Monday, March 11, 2013


Last weekend I got to go to an international equestrian event that is held in my city each year. It's pretty exciting, because my city is not that big, so it's cool we have it here. I've loved horses since I was born practically, and been riding since I was nine (though I'm so busy I haven't done much riding in recent years). Anyways, here are some pics I took.

Sometimes I get to combine my passions and sneak equine things into my books (or in the case of my last book, have the entire thing involve horses). What are your other passions besides writing? Do you ever get to combine them?

Hope you're having an awesome week :)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

You've Got To Be Kidding Me

Recently I decided to pick up the first book in a very popular series that I've heard rave reviews about for years. I was super excited to check it out and had honestly felt remiss for not doing so sooner. So, I started reading it. It was good. I got even more excited. I get to about page 60 in the book, when the main character (a woman), meets the secondary main character (a man). The man comes to the woman's house in the middle of the night (they have never met before), enters her house without her permission, and then she becomes instantly aroused, throws herself at him physically, and they get busy in her living room.

Wait, what??

Yeah, I hope that's what you're saying. Because what rational, intelligent woman would instantly desire to sleep with a complete stranger who has broken into her house? It doesn't matter how hot this man is. I would find a weapon and bash that a**hole's head in. No stranger better come into my house at any time of day without permission and expect a welcome reception, let alone sex.

What is up with this? How is this okay? I am very disturbed by the extreme sexism here, not to mention this book is written by a woman. I've of course heard of this tired plot in bad romance novels, but this is a popular fantasy series. Or, perhaps it's technically paranormal romance, but I thought those were a little more intelligent and were supposed to have strong females leads. Now, don't get me wrong, I love some romance and bedroom action in my books. But not if it makes women look completely moronic. Not to mention, a slow build to the booty scenes is so much more satisfying anyways. If they hook up right away, where's the tension? Oh, that's right, it fell off with that chic's panties.

So, pipe up here - where do you fall on the romance spectrum? Are you okay with home invasion stranger sex (and if so, why?)? Or are you like me and prefer a liberal dash of intelligence and non-degradation of women with your nooky? I want to hear from the guys, too!

Okay, I'm off the soapbox now.... hope you're having a good weekend :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Writing ADD

So lately I've been bouncing all over with my writing projects, which is extremely unlike me. After Pitch Wars and querying for Everdream, I started working on a rewrite of my first book, Countless, while I waited on agent responses. I did successfully change the book from third to first person, and cut about 15,000 words, and then worked on my plot significantly, and then decided on a completely different climax to the book. And I sat down to start working on the plot changes and just... totally wasn't feeling it. It needs a ton of work, and the hugeness of it looming over me was anti-motivating.

Instead, I decided to start working on the outline of a shiny new idea I had a couple weeks ago about an awesome steampunk middle grade. And I got about half way through the plot points and then just couldn't figure out where I wanted to go with it. So I procrastinated a few days and stared at my Pinterest inspiration board for the new book, and procrastinated some more, and then last night I had a really weird dream about drinking tea and souls, and today I wrote a 2,451 word short story about that.

Sooo.... I've decided that it's okay, for short spans of time, to jump around a little. I am extremely steadfast and meet my writing goals most of the time. It's fine to just let myself drift in the creative winds of my writerly soul for a bit right now. So that's what I'm doing.

What are you up to these days? Are you working on one project only, or dabbling in a few? I hope you're having fun either way :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

In Which I Don't Talk About Agents (Very Much)

So, ever since Pitch Wars, during which I got two full requests and a partial request for Everdream, I've been in this weird torturous limbo place. I mean, I am totally beyond stoked that real live agents have my book and are excited to read it. Holy shiz! But they've all told me it could take up to 10 weeks to read, which is normal stuff, I'm just a bit stir crazy. I've distracted myself a lot with undergoing a massive, epic rewrite of Countless, my first book, which has helped a lot. And this weekend I got to go down to the beach for a day, which was amazing.

Yeah, I know it's February. I do live in Florida though, so winter is substantially less evil than in other parts of the country. So, I headed down Saturday morning with my sister and some of her friends. Hubs stayed home with the kids. I arrived at about 3:30 in the afternoon and we kicked things off with some red wine out on the bluff over the beach. A couple hours after that the giggles set in, along with the dirty jokes and tears-pouring-down-my-face laughter. It reminded me of how infrequently I laugh that hard. A bit later we built a bonfire and drank more wine by the water. It got pretty cold with all the wind along the shoreline, and my sister said I looked like a middle eastern princess with a scarf wrapped around my head to keep warm. After a few hours I got too cold and went up to the house and read for a bit. Then we had some Prosecco I brought, which was extremely tasty, and I crawled into bed just before 1 AM. A few minutes later my sister woke me up because the moon had just risen over the bay. I wrapped a blanket around my shoulders and waddled back down to the sand. There, just above the trees, was a perfect half harvest moon. It hung in the sky like a huge slice of orange and cast a wide beam of tangerine light over the water. I have never seen such a perfect half moon so big and seemingly close, and especially not when it's the bright orange of a harvest moon. It was incredible.

So, for almost 24 hours, I didn't think about agents one single time. I just soaked in the salt air and ate beachy snack food and drank entirely too much vino and had a gorgeous time. Sometimes you just need that total break from thinking about your real life. Of course, now that I'm back, I hope, hope, hope that I'll have good news in the near future to think about :)

How about you? What has monopolized your thoughts of late?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fun Stuff Happening Around the Web

Hi, writer friends! There are a couple super fun things happening this week that I wanted to point out. If it strikes your fancy, hop on over!

First, head to Twitter and pitch to lots of agents tomorrow, 1/25 during the Pitch Wars Twitter party! The official Pitch Wars bloghop was on 1/23 and 1/24, but everyone is invited to the pitch party on Twitter. Use the hashtag #pitmad. Also, I got 3 agent requests so far for Everdream! So stoked! For more about Pitch Wars in general, head to Brenda Drake's blog.

Second, Jamie Ayre's debut novel 18 Things came out yesterday! Here's the Amazon link.

Here's a little about it:
Olga Gay Worontzoff thinks her biggest problems are an awful name and not attending prom with Conner, her best friend and secret crush since kindergarten.

Then, Conner is killed in a freak boating accident and Olga feels responsible for his death.

When she downs an entire bottle of pills to deal with the emotional pain, her parents force her into counseling. There, her therapist writes a prescription in the form of a life list titled “18 Things”: eighteen quests to complete the year of her eighteenth birthday.

But there’s more to Olga’s quests than meets the eye and when her therapist reveals a terrifying secret, her world is shaken.

There’s only one thing she knows for certain: her choices won’t just affect her future, but all eternity.
Hope to see you at the pitch party, and give Jamie some love if you can! Hope everyone has a rockin' week. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

In Which I Make Some Editing Resolutions

I don't really make New Year's Resolutions, I make goals, and you guys already saw that. This is different. I need to define my editing process a bit and you guys can be my witnesses. I'm great at writing a first draft. I can usually get it banged out in 3 to 4 months, and that's with a full time job and kids. Editing, however, not so much. I dislike it a lot more, first of all. And I've developed a very thorough, organized processed for the many rounds of edits needed on a good book, which is great. But I realized after writing Everdream that I tend to languish in this stage.

So, this is what I propose from now on, after my 2-4 week first draft breather so I can have a fresh perspective:
  • 2 days for the first read-through with basic notes - this is where I identify big problems and create a to-do list - no actual editing done
  • 3 weeks for the first big work-through of edits (with mini timelines established within based off to-do list)
  • 2 days for a second read-through - more notes/to-do list
  • 2 weeks for the second work-through of edits (with mini timelines established within based off to-do list)
  • 1 week for line edits
  • 1 week for backwards read-through and edit (sentence by sentence, not word for word)
  • 2 days for third read-through and polish
If I can stick to this schedule, I'm looking at about 8 weeks of editing. Now, I know this could vary wildly depending on the book. But I'm going to use this as a timeframe for my deadlines. I'm such a deadline driven gal :)

What about you guys? Do you have a particular editing timetable? Do you like deadlines?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Some Editing Things I've Learned Lately

Hello, lovely writer friends! I think I mentioned in my last post that I was going to regale you with editing knowledge I've gained through this whole Pitch Wars thing. I was incredibly lucky to be picked by my mentor of choice for Pitch Wars, and receive a critique of my entire manuscript! I've never had anyone do that except for family, so it was pretty epic. Here are the main things I worked on for Everdream:

  • More of everything for my characters. Main character needed more inner motivations. Evil Queen needed more evilness. Funny side characters needed to show their uniqueness more. Pirates needed to be more pirate-y.
  • I needed to get my characters into more trouble. I was letting them off the hook too easily. I massively changed the endings of several scenes to make sure that they had to fight their way out of something, and in some cases had lingering consequences. This sets them up to be stronger at the end in order to face the final challenge, whatever that may be.
  • I need to trust my own editing instincts more. Both of the things above I had noted when I worked on earlier edits of Everdream (I just finished the 7th round of edits). But I let myself off the hook too soon. Things were still nagging at me, but I didn't address them as fully as I should have, until I felt fully satisfied. I think the book is so much stronger now that I've handled them. I no longer feel the inner editor nagging at me :)
Of course, I'm not totally done editing yet! Until they print this baby, it's still fluid :) And right now, Heidi and I are working on a 50-or-less word pitch. Queries are challenging enough, but fitting your whole book into an enticing 50 word bite? Good gracious.

Anyways, are you editing these days? Drafting? How's everything coming along in 2013? I hope it's awesome!