Tuesday, March 17, 2015

TIME FOR A BIT OF EMERALD TO MAKE THE SPRING POP! ....

Happy St. Patrick's all!



Even if you are not Irish a little bit of green goes a LONG, LONG way. With Spring just a few short days away, it may be time to strip away all those dark colors you've been sporting and add a touch of color... Green is fresh, neutral, and lively. We all need a bit of spring in March!

After a STUNNING 70 degree day yesterday here in Chicago, our temps dropped over 30 degrees! Yes, sadly, winter is back. BUT the sun is shining and the ice and snow are gone. As I look out my window there are patches of the emerald stuff stretching toward the blue sky. Yes, there is hope for Spring.

Life renews itself once more and this is THE PERFECT time to dust off all those old stories and put a bit life back into them. I spent all last week doing that to my novel and I am HOPING that this will be the last. Later today I plan on sending out a few queries. It's time. This will be the last chance I can query the agents/publishers from the SCBWI conference. They only allow six weeks. And I am certainly cutting it close. Hopefully I will make it just in time.

I've missed all of you. As you know life is insane as usual, trying to settle down into a new home. I'll be returning to Tampa next week HOPING to finalize my place. WE are still in negotiations. Both of us standing our ground, but neither party willing to move on. They want to sell and I want to buy, but we are still haggling over the price. It's too much. The place needs TONS of work, but they are banking on the neighborhood. Yes, it is AMAZING, but I don't want to fall into the same trap. I way overpaid for my condo in Chicago and put THOUSANDS in upgrades. I lost a ton when I sold it, so I don't want that to happen again.

I'll keep you posted for sure. Waiting on a few other things to tell you about. Spring is my favorite time of year and that is when all good things happen to me. SO I am keeping VERY positive that all works out.

Please let me know how you guys are doing! Any fun SPRING projects? I know many of you are debuting cover reveals and novels. I hope to catch all of them. I will try to make myself more visible. It's just so overwhelming sometimes when your private life is in upheaval and you are living in boxes. I decided to leave my rental half done. It's a waste of time to finish doing it. I hope to be out of here and in South Tampa SOON...

Take care everyone and HAPPY SPRING!!!!!!




Wednesday, March 4, 2015

THREE MONTHS INTO 2015 AND WHERE ARE YOU?...

Hi, All!

Hope everyone is managing to get through our insane weather patterns. I just arrived back to Chicago yesterday afternoon after driving through five hours of fog in Florida, misty rain through Georgia and Tennessee, and on and off torrential rains through Indiana. Surprisingly, Chicago weather was't too horrible: 36 and cloudy.

At least I woke up to the sun streaming through my windows... a nice way to start the day.

I can't believe we are in MARCH already. Didn't 2015 just begin? Time is fleeting, and it seems that I am only one step behind the world. Don't you just hate that? No matter how hard I try, I am missing out on something important.

Will we ever catch up?

That is my theme for today's IWSG post. Playing catch up...

Am I just fooling myself? Are any of us? We are always tenacious, focused, and forever trying.
I've learned so much about myself these past six weeks in Florida and NYC. I left Chicago, bright-eyed and full of hope. I would do GREAT at the SCBWI conference in NYC, and I would find my perfect home in South Tampa. That was the plan...

As we know, life always has its own plans for us. WE may push ourselves toward our goals, but obstacles can and WILL pop up just as we are sailing along effortlessly.  Always remember the detours will push us into unknown territory WHICH is NOT NECESSARILY a bad thing.  God has his own plans for us, hopefully we are on the same track, but not always.

The conference was AMAZING as I had written about in my previous post. Now I need to buckle down, review my notes, and brush away all my insecurities about querying those amazing people I had listened to and learned from at the conference. Push away all my fears and jump right in!

Not so easy after the stress of looking for my future home for over a month. I racked up more miles in that short time on my poor 13 year old Saturn than I had in ten years in Chicago. I found three residences that were perfect for me and SADLY all of them fell through for one reason or another. By February 28 I had enough, ready to get up at 4:00 am Sunday morning and drive home, defeated. I felt so bad for myself and my realtor. She was amazingly patient and supportive. Telling me not to settle for something not right...WHICH I almost had. Even put an offer on this property and just needed to counter and leave the escrow money. But...I didn't. I decided to look one more time at the MLS. And, I had found my place!

I submitted an offer and I am ANXIOUSLY waiting for the acceptance or counter today. This was the LAST place I looked at, too. It is meant for me. I just know it.... After three let downs, can this be the fourth? I am hoping not. Sometimes we have to WAIT for the right moment for our goals to be achieved. SO, KEEP AT YOURS. I know I intend to. I looked a the MLS again last night and found "Backup" condos, JUST IN CASE. I'm not giving up. AND, neither should you on your goals and dreams.

This is my advice to all of you. Our writing lives and personal lives often share the same road. Keep trudging along and you will be led to your destiny. Keep and open mind and if the obstacles are too great, get yourself a pair of spiked boots and DIG IN. STAND YOUR GROUND!

Please drop by the rest of the IWSG members here   at Alex J. Cavanough's site, for inspiration and advice. Remember we are not alone in our insecurities....

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!