Wednesday, February 18, 2015

MAJOR HOPE FOR PICTURE BOOK AUTHORS/ILLUSTRATORS...

HI, All,
Happy mid winter....

I know the north and east has been pounded with snow and I am know how aweful that can be. I hope and pray that you are all safe! 

When I was in NYC last week we did get a bit of snow, but nothing like is happening now. The SCBWI conference was AMAZING! I learned so much and felt so energized and excited about writing again. If any of you are in a slump, I HIGHLY recommend attending ANY regional or national conference it is worth it's weight in gold. Seriously, it was a costly venture, but the knowledge and advice I had received was priceless.

For those of you who are children's writers and illustrators, you will be happy to know that this genre is making a HUGE comeback. I have thought about doing a picture book for quite some time now. Since I can illustrate, it would be such a blast to create something amazing for younger kids. Once I finish with my current querying and WIP, I hope to create a picture book. It would be SOOO FREEING.

The guest speaker at the conference ranged from picture book artists, m/g/ y/a authors and commercial mega successes. Each had an amazing and inspirational story to tell. And the bottom line is DON'T GIVE UP! I know many of us just want to crawl back into our holes and cover ourselves up, never to be seen again. DON'T you DARE! Keep plugging away at it.

As for my featured story, I was very fortunate to be given some amazing advice on how to really fine tune my first few pages. AND...THANKS to my wonderful friend and fellow blogger, Carrie Butler, she had give me the final tweaks to really make my story blinding....  THANK YOU, CARRIE!

Now it is time to send it out to the agents and publishers from the conference. Many of you may not know this, but if you attend one of these conferences, your ms will be given a boost up. They will at least READ your query in first few pages. As we all know many of the top agents have assistants reading their queries. Yours will get a fighting chance. Isn't that the best we can hope for at this stage?

I was also humbled during my first round of the round table critique to get an ovation from the publisher and other authors. I was shocked and THRILLED. The editor liked most of it, but did suggest for me to start the story a bit differently. Will I take her advice? Maybe. I am still working through it. At least for the next day or so. I really feel the beginning is where it needs to be, so I may just leave it. Always remember it is OUR story, not theirs.

So the process continues... Believe me you will all be the first to know if I receive any full or partial requests.

I also have some news on the house hunt... if finally found a place! YAY! I put in the offer today. Keep those good vibes coming my way that the owner accepts it! Once it is finalized, I will give you all the details...

Anyway, I hope all of you are well and safe. As soon as I return to Chicago next week, I will be visible. Between the conference in NYC and looking for places in South Tampa, my life has been one, mad dash. Plus I didn't have internet access for almost two weeks. WE all know how hard that is...

Stay well, my friends and I'll be by to see you all soon!


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

ANOTHER LIFE ALTERING WRITING MOMENT COMING...

Hi, All,

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far. I know the Northeast and Midwest have been dumped upon by mounds of snow and the white stuff is still dropping. Let's send some positive vibes their way! Especially since this weekend is the SCBWI conference in NYC. I am flying to New York as you read this post. So please keep those prayers and positive wishes coming my way. I'd REALLY appreciate it!


Today is also the IWSG! Every first Wednesday of the month we spout off about our insecurities and give blog warmth, love, and advice to those who truly need it.

Today I am on edge because of the conference. On Friday I have a private group meeting with an agent and publisher... We have to read our first 500 words and give feedback. EEEK! I know that my MS is probably in the best shape it will ever be in before it moves on, but I still can't help feeling helpless and insecure. Who wouldn't?! Yes, I always strive for the positive as you well know, but this is different... or... is it? Okay, I am really trying to talk myself into it. It's no big deal...right?

OF COURSE IT IS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This could make or break my future novel. LOL. Sorry, just a minor freak out. You see I've worked on this particular novel for FOUR years. I know that sounds like so much for those who publish a new book once or twice a year. But, for me, I won't let go until it is published one way or another. Each time it goes under a critical eye, I rewrite it. I can see you all cringing right now. I know you've been there.

Here are my first 500.... Please let me know what you think...


Chapter One 

Aidan


Will this nightmare ever end? my shaking hand scribbles onto the last page of a journal. 
In a swift movement, I push it under the mattress and glance at the glaring red numbers on the digital clock. 
0300. In three short hours it begins again. I wonder what fresh hell he has in store for me today?
Snuffing out the light, I drift into a dreamless sleep, tossing and turning throughout the pre-dawn hours.
I wake with a start as my heart jumps from my chest. The second blow nearly sends the door off its hinges. 
“Get up! It’s 0500. If you’re not out of that bed and downstairs in five minutes, consider it your coffin. Don’t keep me waiting.”
For the past three years, since Mom died, this has been my wake up call.  
I kick off the sheet and my journal lands on the floor with a loud thud. A good thing Dad didn’t see it. He’d freak. Writing is not a career option according to him. It’s all about life in the Corps.
I pick up the journal and flip to the story I’ve been working on, skimming it to the end. 
Terryn opens the utensil drawer and lifts out a meat cleaver. She runs a delicate finger across the edge…
“There’s no use hiding,” she calls out as a fiendish grin trails to each corner of her mouth.
“It works.” I close the dog-eared cover, placing it back under the mattress, giving it a good shove this time. I grab my cell to look at the time. Two minutes just passed.
Shit. Dad’s waiting. 
I reach for my crumpled t-shirt and jeans hanging off the edge of the chair. One minute and forty-five seconds later, I jump and land at the base of the stairs. My best time yet. 
For a split second I pause and consider going straight to school, hoping to avoid another physical encounter.
“Aidan! Stop slacking off and get in here.”
Too late. 
I head into the kitchen.
Dad raises his coal-like eyes from the newspaper and nails me in place with his stare.
“Sit and eat.” His breathing puffs like an oncoming steam engine.
“Yes, Sir.”  
I take the seat across from him and crunch on the usual burnt toast while waiting for the list of orders.
“You will be polite to the teachers. You will pay attention.” He pauses and holds my gaze. “You will be home at 1500 sharp. No excuses. Is that clear?”
I gulp hard and swallow as the piece of toast scratches the inside of my throat.
He pounds the table. “Is that clear?”
“Yes, Sir. 1500 sharp.”
My fingers tense, itching to strangle anything. To strangle him. But instead, I reach down deep inside, not wanting the devil to know my thoughts.
It sucks having to live by his starched and mind-numbing military code 24/7, and I wonder, for the millionth time, how much more can I take?  

So, today, I hope to take my own advice and keep positive, focused, and enjoy the experience and that is what I INTEND to do! 

I had been to this conference a few years ago and had the time of my life and I hope this time, this year, it will CHANGE my life.

If any of you are attending PLEASE let me know! I'd love to see you there!

And, PLEASE, don't forget to visit the other IWSGers who may need your support... You can find all of us at Alex's blog...

Thursday, January 29, 2015

SECRETS....MYSTERY...and MORE...

Teens have so many emotional issues in our turbulent times. No longer are our children's lives simple, uncomplicated, safe...

We try to protect them. Keep them happy...healthy...emotionally stable. 

But...

Life happens... 




one Secret
Cleo has struggled to heal after her baby sister’s death, but the flashbacks to the accident won’t go away. With the move, she vows to keep her tragedy a secret and avoid pitying looks.

one Mystery
Something’s strange about the abandoned house across the street—flashes of light late at night and small flickers of movement that only someone looking for them would see. 
Everyone says the house is deserted, but Cleo is sure it isn’t, and she’s sure whoever is inside is watching her.

another Secret
In one night, Belleza’s life changes forever. So famous, her only choice is to hide her secret from the world so she can silence small town bigotry. 

Then Cleo happens.






You don't want to miss Lee's newest novel. What an intriguing beginning. I know I'm hooked. It will definitely be the next book I read. 

CONGRATS LEE! All the best!



YOU CAN FIND C. LEE ON TWITTER AND FACEBOOK OR VISIT HER WEBSITE. SHE BLOGS AT THE WRITE GAME. See all of her book titles HERE



HAVE  a terrific weekend everyone! Don't forget to put Lee's book on you TBR list. It certainly will be a great weekend read. Especially for those of us FROZEN in the north.

Take care everyone!

Friday, January 9, 2015

BOOK II'S A HIT....THE INQUISITOR'S MARK DEFINITELY MARKS THE SPOT!....

Hi, All!

Today marks the first book I have read this year! I had promised myself last year to read more and sadly I came very short. But I am HAPPY to say I am starting off the new year right! It is important for us as writers to READ. I never knew how much until I stopped reading almost entirely. I hate admitting to this, but it's true. I may have read only three books last year, where once I was an avid book a week reader. What happened?

Writing. The moment I became a writer, I diminished as a reader. Aweful. Isn't it? How do you all do it? Read, write, work, family? It amazes me how so many of you balance your lives so effortlessly. I respect you more than you could EVER imagine. Give yourselves a MUCH DESERVED pat on the back!

I don't usually do many reviews. I mostly introduce new and exciting books on my blog. Many of you know this and have always enjoyed my unique play on plots, characters, etc. But today I am reviewing. SO no splashy intro here. NOT that this book doesn't deserve the best I can do, BUT today is the Dianne Salerni's day to shine.

I have been an admirer of her work from almost the beginning of her career. I think I missed her first novel. When I read the Caged Graves, I was instantly intrigued. Although written in a genre I generally don't read, I enjoyed her story tremendously. THEN... I had asked to read the proof of her next book. The EIGHTH DAY... I was hooked! Written in my favorite genre, middle grade fantasy, I jumped on it. Here's the link to my review if you'd like to read it. It's a nice introduction to her world.

A few months ago I was sent the continuation of Jax's story in The Inquisitor's Mark. With the JOYS of MOVING and the holidays tumbling into the foray of my life, I hadn't had the chance to read it. Until NOW... What a wonderful start of year present.

The Eight day has been threatened. And only thirteen-year-old Jax, his guardian, Riley, and Evangeline, one of two links to keeping the eighth day in tact, are destined to save their unique and mysterious world.

Who would ever want to destroy a magical eighth day? you ask. The answer will astound you. Could it be Jax's long lost biological family behind all the disappearances, murder, and theft. Or, the rivals of the magical descendants of Riley's family?

Jax is once again thrust into the eight day world. Not prepared for the answers. But this time he has more on his plate besides saving the world of the eight day. His best friend has been kidnapped. A normal. An innocent bystander. Why was he taken? And by whom?

Jax wants answers. And gets them. But, are they the right ones? Now he has to deal with who he is and who is real family is...

Deception, trickery, loyalty, oaths, AND sometime shocking revelations, leak into Jax's seven day world. Will he be able to hold onto his liege lady(Evangeline) and keep his loyalty to his family?

Time will tell. And even that can be altered.

Not since Harry Potter hit the scenes in the late 90's have we seen a new and intriguing world full of memorable characters, amazing chemistry between those characters, and a journey into a world similar, yet different, from our own.

Just like with the Potter books, I find myself loving each new adventure. Jax is funny, smart, and so beautifully naive, yet his strength, loyalty, and love for his friends overpowers any shortcomings in his personalty. What teenage boy doesn't have shortcomings... right? lol.

Dianne Salerni's, Inquisitor's Mark, definitely marks high in my opinion. I anxiously await book III! Just like I did when Rowling was writing HP. My favorite in her series was book III and I have a sneaking suspicion it will be the same with this series.

ALL the best Dianne! Put me on the list for your next proof... I'll be waiting!!!! Hopefully not to long.

Here's the Amazon link: A GREAT WEEKEND READ! ENJOY! Have a great weekend everyone!





Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A NEW YEAR...INSECURE?...MAY YOUR DREAMS/GOALS FOR 2015 BECOME REALITY!...

Hi, All!

HAPPY 2015! A week already has passed in the new year and life is still a whirlwind for many of us!

I hope you enjoyed he holidays and are now fresh for an EXCITING and MOMENTOUS Year!

I know I am. Once I put away all the Christmas decorations this weekend, I plan to JUMP back into my writing. I need to prepare for the SCBWI conference in NYC! 

But first, Alex has asked us to write a short bio about us... Okay... if I must. LOL. Currently I am an interior designer by trade, but last year I had started a new online business of creating blurbs, creative editing, and COVER design. I am happy to say several of you had contacted me and I LOVED working with you, creating the write blurb or cover for your new works. I'll be continuing to do more of that this year. 

I have written two novels and several shorts. I have several published blurbs, illustrations, an cover designs. In 2015 I hope to add my novel to this list.

I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to dust off my second novel and take a fresh look at it. A blogger pal has just finished the latest version and she loved all the new edits. So now I am ready to present it the masses at the conference. I also opted for the Friday special critique of my first few pages. I am nervous and excited about the reaction of the group and the agent who will be hosting it. This conference is amazing. I had attended a few years back and had THE TIME of my life. I had presented the same novel then, but in all honesty it wasn't nearly as polished as it is now. I had done a MAJOR edit, changed, the tense from first/past to first/present. I killed off a main character and added another to fill in the gap. I softened some of the edges on the MC and fleshed ALL the characters out. It took over six months. Longer than writing the actual story, which only took six weeks. And this is what I'd like to talk about today.

No matter how polished we think our MS is we still need to continue. I had written this novel four years ago and now I finally feel it is ready. Giving your story a time to "ferment" is a good thing. I had left mine for months at a time. Then I picked it up again and revised and rewrote. It all happened when I had submitted to a small publisher. It was turned down by two out of the three editors. BUT the one who LOVED it, contacted me and offered her help. She actually became my editor and helped me focus on many different variables to make this story even better. She was amazing. THANK YOU, Mary Waibel! You are the best!

I plan to go through my novel one more time before the conference. I am SURE there will be things to tweak here and there. As we all ask ourselves, "Will it ever be ready?" I also realize once an agent/publisher gets there hands on it, I will need more revisions. SO REMEMBER THIS...

I am toying with the idea of turning my novel from a strictly male POV into dual. It seems that male POV is not very sellable in the Y/A market and a very close blogger buddy of mine has just sent me a new novel written by a bestselling author WHO just happened to have written in a dual POV. Her style, according to my friend, is very similar to mine, so I may have to do this to sell my book. I plan on reading this novel and waiting until after the conference to see what happens there. Thank you, Donna for thinking of me and sending this book to me. I really appreciate it!

So as you can see, I have my insecurities in check. At least for now. Next month may be another story.  The conference is on the Friday the 6th. On Wed. the 4th I may be a nervous wreck! Hopefully I will still have it together then for that post. LOL.

In the meantime. I wish all of you a very happy, healthy, prosperous, loving, successful, and CREATIVE year. As in the past years we, as a community, have always been there for each other and I see a stronger and more amazing community emerging for this year. More novels than EVER are being published and I wish all of you the very best with them. I hope mine will join the masses soon. It is time. As I always say. In Time...

Have a glorious day everyone and DON'T FORGET to drop by the other members' posts. Thanks again, Alex for creating this wonderful group! And thanks to this month's hosts Elizabeth Beckman, Lisa Buie Collard,  Chrys Fey, Michelle Wallace, AND the regulars at the IWSG Facebook page!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

CHRISTMAS MEMORIES...SELFIES...AND WISHING ALL THE MOST WONDERFUL HOLIDAY SEASON EVER!...

Hi, All,

Well, with Christmas Eve less than twenty four hours away, I just can't help doing a cheery HOLIDAY POST!

I know I haven't blogged much this past month, BUT, you all know why and it's not because I don't adore all of you, I was moving...YUK. But I finally have time to blog, visit and send out loving wishes for this most festive and most holy season.

Since we are all part of the same universe, many of you may be celebrating other festivities and I wish you all the happiest season. But one thing they all have in common is sharing with our family, friends, and to those less fortunate. LOVE is UNIVERSAL after all and by spreading it all over the globe, someday there may be a peaceful world. One can only pray and hope.

I'd also like to take a moment to take a moment to send warm thoughts and healing ones to those who are ill. Every day I hear of another friend's family member stricken with cancer or some other life threatening disease. I BELIEVE in the power of prayer and good wishes. I've seen the results first hand! So keep on sending them to those who really need it.

As I cruised the blogosphere yesterday and came across some very fun hops and even though I may be late, I'd like to share a few of them with you!

First, the coolest and most insane one of us, Tammy Theriault is asking us to post a SELFIE in front of our Christmas trees. Well I had to wait until last night to get a decent one of me and my tree.

The second one, I thought was wonderful and is from two newer blogger buddies of mine. Cherdo and Janie Junebug, MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MEMORY...

Janie's memory, in particular, left a huge lump in my throat. It's the true meaning of this season... Please drop by their blogs and read their stories!

Here's mine...

Cherdo was telling us about her memories of her great grandmother, and that got me to thinking of mine... (grandmother that is...)

I only knew my mom's mom and she died when I was only nine. BUT, I remember her vividly. Spunky, fun, and THE BEST COOK EVER! Nothing like have an Italian grandmother. Talk about amazing food and baked goodies. And and always had custard creme in the fridge...always. Homemade, sweet, delicious, yellow creme ready to spread on a cookie or cracker...

My favorite Christmas memory with her was in 1968...I believe. I was only seven, but I remember the brand, new RCA COLOR TV. She had left two puppets on her marbled laminated coffee table.(Scary 60's furniture... lol) She sat my brothers and me down in front of the TV and switched it on. An advertisement for RUDOLF THE RED NOSED REINDEER flashed brilliantly across the screen. WHOA! I thought... SUCH BRIGHT COLORS! It was my first time seeing TV in color. 

Imagine that! Kids today couldn't even fathom that thought!LOL. 

Then I looked down at the puppets...ONE Santa...ONE Rudolph! That was my first time ever watching it and it has been my favorite ever since.

Well, there you have it... what was is your favorite HOLIDAY memory? We'd all LOVE to know...

On a final note, I'd want to wish all of YOU, the HAPPIEST, HEALTHIEST, and MOST WONDERFUL HOLIDAY SEASON and may 2015 be your best year EVER!

ALL THE BEST MY FRIENDS! SENDING OUT CYBER HUGS TO YOU ALL!!!!!

And now for my selfie..... I have a new addition to my Christmas collection and it's debuting in my new digs.... Check out my snoopy! He's about four feet tall sitting on his doghouse decorating his tree!











Tuesday, December 9, 2014

INSECURE ABOUT MISSING ALL OF YOU....

Hi, All,

I know it's been ages since you've all seen me around the blogosphere, but I have had you in my thoughts.

Life has been very time consuming for me lately. With selling my condo, moving into my new apartment, and traveling to NYC and Central Florida, I haven't had a chance to catch to even catch my breath. 

I LOVE being active and all of my time has been spent well. For now, my journey seems to be on track. Now we are only a few weeks away from Christmas so I know all of us are busy preparing for this WONDERFUL holiday.

I know my IWSG post is almost a week late, but I spaced it this month, not realizing the first Wednesday was so early. I know Alex and all the wonderful people is this group will understand. I have always been VERY ACTIVE in this group since its beginning and I will continue to do so. I am settling down FINALLY. I should be ready to breath normally by the end of this week. Thankfully all my anxieties have been lifted. It feels AMAZING not having to stress every month to make my monthly bills. And with the holidays so close, money seems to go so much faster. But for me, this holiday season is a very thankful one. God has answered so many of my prayers for myself and for my special friends who are facing life's challenges with all the strength they can muster up. I still pray for those in need. That has never faltered. I was also THRILLED to be able to donate a nice amount to the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, who do so much good through the National Shrine of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini.  

I also plan to help out some of our four-legged friends, too. There is such need for funds for the Anti Cruelty society and PAWS here in Chicago. I LOVE animals and so many are abused and neglected so helping them is very important to me.

Giving is the most amazing feeling. Isn't that what Christmas is really all about? Giving our love to those we care about most. Those who need us... those who are far less fortunate than ourselves.  I constantly think of all my loved ones who suffer with Cancer. Especially the children. And I plan on donating to St. Jude's charity as well. All those poor families who can not afford the care for their children. It is such a great charity that helps the families stay together during this stressful time. I hope you will remember all of your favorite charities this season. With money so tight for many of us, even a little goes a long way. Our community has the biggest hearts and are beyond generous with their time. Give yourselves all a BIG HUG from me!

I've missed you all tremendously. I will be seeing you all very soon. I plan to start making the rounds tomorrow....Until then,

Keep peaceful and calm. Know that you are loved when your anxieties take root....Always remember we are here to help....