Thursday, December 7, 2017

I Am A Bad Blogger

I sometimes forget I have an author blog.


No, I often forget I have an author blog.


I'm busy writing other stuff when I should be writing on my blog.


I actually should be writing about my Christmas books since this is the season for it...well...there are seven little gems out there on Amazon and Kindle in time for Christmas this year. Three of the 5x8 books are stand alone novellas- A Major Production and The winter Solstice Ball are both set in Maine, the first at a playhouse, the second at a grand resort hotel. A Major Production is Kelly's favorite- a must read every year. The Winter Solstice Ball is my favorite, and yes, I usually read it annually, too! The Red Velvet Suit is the third novella. I just gift copies of this novella to all the ladies int he local button club at our Christmas Party. I shot the cover photo and those are my buttons on the front and back cover! The other four books perfect for stocking stuffers, gift basket tuck-ins, teacher gifts, Secret Santa gifts, family and friends are Christmases Past and Christmases Present, Christmas Inspirations and Christmas with the Family which includes three short stories about the same Irish family- three successive Christmases in the old farmhouse where they live in Vermont. Rusty & Pepper create some Christmas mischief in the first story. Sensitive, bookish middle child Carmine doesn't get the one thing he really wants for Christmas in the second story, causing his parents to scramble to correct that oversight. In the third story little Chili is a singing dancing elf in her school play, and eldest daughter Ruby gets her first real kiss from a boy in her class who braves a dinner at the Riley's house to prove his feelings for Ruby. The last story in this collection is Finding Christmas, partially based on my real life so it's a little satirical, and a little poignant as a middle-aged couple prepare for their adult children's return home for Christmas while contending with neighbors trying to outdo one another with decorations and a friend with too much holiday spirit and not a lot of common sense! It's about family traditions and staying true to them.


That was my holiday books sales pitch.


Like I said, I am a bad blogger. I should have done this in November, not two and a half weeks before Christmas! Thank God I'm not an actress because my timing is always off!


Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mixed Messages

In June of 2016 I wrote Black King Takes White Queen for my daughter for her birthday that month. It's a long book because I did world-building and had dozens of characters to introduce in this first in a series novels. It's sort of magical realism/urban fantasy/cross genre writing.


At the end of October 2016, on the spur of the moment, I submitted it to Chanticleer reviews OZMA Award contest for fantasy. It hadn't even been thoroughly edited yet. I'd done a lot with it, but it wasn;t exactly how I wanted it to be yet, but I sent it anyway. In January 2017 I was informed via email that the novel was a finalist for the short list. In February it advanced and was short listed. That's as far as it got, but as a shortlister I was invited to be at the awards ceremony and sell my novel in the authors room. I couldn't fly to Washington state because John had lost his job and I was having RA issues due to all the stress in my life. But I was thrilled, excited, and happy to have my novel short-listed.


So, in April I entered it in Writer's Digest's Self Published Novel Contest. I had further edited and revised the novel, given it a cover upgrade, and overhauled the interior to make it look as professionally published as possible.


I got the results back today and it sort of pulled the rug out from under my feet. The female judge was harsh. She marked me low on just about everything except appearance of the book (which was what I had been marked the lowest on when I'd entered The Archetypes-First Generation and My Magical Life in the same contest two years ago while the stories themselves got high marks, although unconventional)


It's discouraging to get a bad "report card" on the same novel that was short-listed in another contest (the improved version even!)


But, here's the lesson learned here- some people will like it, and others will not. It's a matter of personal preference. A writer can't let someone else's issues interfere in their creative process. There were tidbits of good advice in the critique but the whole "report card" was just very off-putting in tone; not in what was said, but in the speaking-down-to-you attitude that came across the page.


My reaction- get off your high horse, lady! I do all the work myself from writing to editing, proofreading, interior layout design, cover design, back cover copy writing, publishing, etc.- I wear a lot of hats. I've only been doing this for two years. And I also work a full time job to help support my family. But, I would never play the superiority card on anyone!


Please don't ever let me get that full of myself that I forget how hard writers work- and how we all have different styles, different and unique voices. We don't all conform to the whims and ways of big name publishers- that's why we SELF Publish!


Rant over!



Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Remember November

One of our favorite movies in this house is 'V' for Vendetta. Remember, remember the fifth of November...  We're not from the UK, but the movie has a message. Plus it's just downright creepy and disturbing.


November is also the month in which Thanksgiving falls. With everyone offended by virtually everything that's ever happened in history the celebration of being thankful for friendship and a good harvest has turned into a slap in the face to the native Americans, so Thanksgiving has lost much of its status and turned into more of a Harvest Day celebration so none of feel guilty,,,when in reality only a very tiny percentage of current Americans can trace their ancestry back to the Pilgrims and other early immigrants to this country. I'm only a second generation American myself. My father's family didn't arrive here until the very late 1800's. They were Polish refugees who settled in CT and farmed onions and potatoes. My Dad was born in Hatfield in 1928 where his parents had moved to from Suffield, CT. They were still farmers. I'm third generation American on my mother's side. My grandfather was born in Greenfield in 1905, my Mom in Griswoldville in 1930. My grandfather worked in Kendall Mills as a truck driver between the two mills in Colrain. My mother's relatives came from southern Italy and through Canada as French-Canadian immigrants in the late 1800's. They were all poor, came to this country with a lot of other immigrants looking for a better life, worked hard, struggled, went hungry, learned to speak English before they were allowed to go to school, fought in wars for this country, worked hard, raised families, and cared about everyone, not just themselves. So, every November, Thanksgiving doesn't really mean anything to me other than I'm thankful my relatives were welcomed into this country and through their own hard work made something of themselves without stepping on anyone else's rights or taking anything away from them to do it. We can't change history- it's already written. What we can change is how we behave toward one another now in the present day because we are writing OUR history now, and I for one don't want to be lumped into the Jerks and Assholes who ruined this country category in some future history lesson. History is more than just a generalization of events and their outcomes. I'm just thankful for the simple things in my life- my family and friends and my ability to write. Everything else- well, I've worked for that. (I am stepping down off my soapbox now.)


November is also NaNoWriMo month- National Novel Writing Month. This is my 6th NaNo. I began participating in 2012 and have written a novel each year. I've self-published the NaNo novels I've written. In 2012 it was Talon: An Intimate Familiarity about a young woman who is different from her peers who is hired as the night shift receptionist/secretary at City Morgue. The old ME passes away and the frosty, difficult younger ME takes his place. But he's more than just a doctor- he's also a grim reaper and he's chosen Bryce as his portal long ago, but their relationship is volatile because Bryce is not just your typical portal- she's also in the angelic ranks and a healer. He's also never experienced this type of powerful intimate attraction to a portal before, and being an immortal supernatural being, he finds it difficult to deal with Bryce's human side, her emotions and feelings. In 2013 I finally wrote the first novel in the Amberton Paranormal Investigation series, The Fairlawn Investigation. I wrote The Victoria Wayfarer Inn Investigation, the second novel in 2011. In 2014 I took a Halloween novelette I wrote for Kelly when she was in middle school and added a new beginning and a new ending and rewrote the novelette to blend it all into one new adult novel, The Unwilling Witch (formerly called Medea). It received it's new titled in late September this year as it was the last book I revised and changed the cover art of during this year of revising and polishing all my books. In 2015 I took the premise of nearly two dozen attempts at a story written throughout the previous year and wrote Remy and Lissa's story, Life Skills, a contemporary novel about two young people from abusive homes who had been Life Skills class partners in high school where she did the majority of the work because he was already twenty-one years old but part of his former juvenile sentence was that he had to complete high school, not go the GED route- so he's already out in the real world working while also attending school and doesn't have the time or patience or desire to do outside classwork. But when Lissa has a breakdown one night he's the one who takes her in because he's always cared about her and understands some of what she's been going through. His dysfunctional family embraces her and welcomes her, and helps heal the rift between her and her abused mother. And there are some pretty wonderful German Shepard dogs that the Brice family owns who play a role in the novel also. Last year my 2016 NaNo novel was the sequel to Black King Takes White Queen, my magic/fantasy realism novel that was shortlisted in 2016 for the OZMA Award. Black Knight, White Rook continues Romney and Ivy's story. Now that the threat of his being killed by his evil sister has been dealt with, things have been peaceful as they've continued to work on uniting white and dark arts practitioners. But then Ivy's sister returns with a cruel, evil warlock as her husband and they begin trying to wrench Romney and Ivy's bond apart and ruin everything they've worked so hard to attain so far, and steal their son, Ezra, the future king. It continues Ivy's journey of self-discovery begun in the first novel- from white witch/druidess living an unassuming life working in her grandfather's nursery growing things to Romney's queen has not been an easy transition, but she's found strengths within herself she never knew she had. She's going to need all those still newly discovered strengths and more to cope with everything Holly and Wheaton Trowbridge throw in her and Romney's path in this sequel.


2017's novel will be The Clockmaker's Son- the lycanthrope novel that was inspired this past spring by my first real life sight of the mechanical clock tower here in the town I live in open at high noon one day. During the remaining ten minute ride home the idea for the novel developed. I made a few attempts to write it...but was busy with the book revisions still, and other things, like putting together the WhipCity Wordsmiths writers group, and working full time. I'm going to try to write this darker novel this month.


If I'm not here much, it's because I'm working or writing...this is going to be a crazy month!! See you in December!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

On the Radio

Back in April during Articulture, locl author Melissa Volker and I were invited to be on Bob Plasse's radio program on local station WSKB 89.5 FM which is broadcast from a small studio on the campus of Westfield State University here in town.We set a date for June 2017.


In May Bob advised us that he had overbooked for the show, so we rebooked for October 24th.


I kind of put it out of my mind because I am by nature a quiet person, and Kelly is even worse than I am at not talking much, and she had also been invited to join us because she had just self published her first novel and her first novella.


Well- Melissa came down with an upper respiratory virus and didn't want to be exposing us to it in a small studio, so she volunteered to be a phone in guest. In for a penny in for a dollar, Kelly and I decided that if we were going to do this then we were going to go to the studio and just do it- so, at 5:45AM this past Tuesday I rolled out of bed and threw on some clothes, combed my hair and brushed my teeth, then rousted Kelly at 6:03AM, and she pretty much did the same thing. We lft the house at 6:18AM in the pre-dawn darkness and headed to Little River Dunkin Donuts so she could grab some breakfast- chocolate milk and a plain bagel as is, and a bottle of water for me...too nervous to eat and drive.


We made our way on surprisingly busy streets to the college campus, found the faculty staff lot where we could parking, stuck our two hour temporary parking permit on the dash, then headed to Ely Hall and the third floor radio station.


The anteroom door was propped open with a wastebasket. We let ourselves in. Bob was on the air in the studio, but smiled and waved in greeting. Kell and I took seats and sat quietly talking until Bob came out to ask if we were ready for the program. We nodded and followed him into the studio. Music was playing so he got us settled into task chairs, adjusted the green milk crates to rest our feet on, then showed us how close we had to have the microphones in order to be heard, and how to hear everything through the headsets.


Seven o'clock rolled around and we went live on the air! There were some ice breaker questions and stuff to make us laugh and relax, and then we got Melissa involved on the phone as she had called in. We discussed acting, books, jobs, ghost stories, vampires...and I got to talk a little bit about my newly released contemporary vampire novel, and our writers group, Out. Melissa spoke about her upcoming sequel to The Thirteenth Moon. Kelly talked a little about Teleport and Parapsychology. Bob was made an honorary WhipCity Wordsmith during the show.


The hour literally flew by! It was easier than I thought it would be, and because I have known Bob for years and he is a very personable man I felt comfortable and was able to talk more than I usually would.


It was gloomy gray out just past 8AM when we left the building to head home. I definitely would do this again because it was fun, and now that I've done it once and survived I'll be more relaxed and prepared for it the next time, because he did invite us back, and hopefully Melissa will be able to get into the studio in the future too!


Turns out my husband who has never shown any interest in my books but has snooped through my files in the past, tuned into the radio program and listened. That surprised me...that he admitted to listening, not that he actually did listen.


I definitely would do this again because it was fun, and provided exposure which is something every author needs to have if they want to sell books!







Thursday, October 19, 2017

Can Someone Please Stop The Calendar!!!!

It seems like I just blinked and already more than half of October has passed. Can someone please stop the calendar, or at the very least slow it down?


I have been crazy busy with author events this month, and working on the WhipCity Wordsmiths that I haven't had much time to work on the not one, but two books that I've started. My NaNo novel looms on the horizon of approaching November. With so much stress in my personal life with my husband still jobless after 20 months, our health insurance coverage ending at the end of November, the usual bills still rolling in unrelentlessly, and so on and so forth I feel like a small pat of butter spread every so thinly across a slice of bread as large as my kitchen table!


The Art&Author event during PumpkinFest went very well on the 14th. The dynamics in the author's room were amazing! Four of us are Wordsmiths and by the end of the fifth hour the fifth author had earned honorary Wordsmith membership- we all felt as if we'd known her all our lives! Connie Bombaci had written a book about her deaf dalmatian, Hogan. She brought with her her deaf dalmatian, Judea, who is also her service dog. As soon as Judea's service vest came off she was just an ordinary, beautiful dog aching to pounce on the shadows playing across beams of sunlight on the floor in the room, but there were a lot of people flowing through the room so she had to be kept on a close lead. She received an acre of attention from people of all ages and performed some tricks for us which amazed us all. It was a great day!


Next up for me is the official launch for Out, my unconventional vampire romance. It received a very nice 4-star review from an advance reader. I believe she actually got the intent of the book, which please me immensely! This is Out's second 4-star rating! I'll be discussing a little about folklore vampires and how vampires morphed into media stars thanks to authors and the movies. My book is bringing vampires back to be more in line with folklore vampires, but these are modern day vampires.


Immediately after te author event is the second official WhipCity Wordsmith's meeting. The agenda has changed several times, so I'm not really sure what will take place, but I have ten or so items in my notebook to discuss when we start.


Ghost Stories LIVE! will take place on October 28th. I wrote one new ghost story but there's a lot of B-L-O-O-D in it (Kelly doesn't do well with blood, or even the thought it, so if I choose to read this story, she's going to have to step outside until I'm done!).


Hoping to be able to get a table at a local church craft and vendor fair on November 18th to promote the seven little Christmas books- 3 stand alone novellas (A Major Production, The Red Velvet Suit, and The Winter Solstice Ball) and 4 story collections (Christ With the Family, Christmas Inspirations, Christmases Past and Christmases Present). I've been told I should write for Hallmark. These stories were written over the past 20 years for family and friends. I have no clue what this year's story will be...it'll be written in December.


It feels as if this year has flown by, like in the hurricane force winds that devastated so many places this past summer. I have so much I still want to accomplish this year...and the days are flying by!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

It's Been Awhile

I realized that I haven't posted anything here since September 28...things have been busy here with the arrival of October. All four Saturdays this month are booked solid and then some! This past Saturday I had hoped to go see authors Shawn Flynn and Connie Bombaci at 1PM at the Barnes & Noble closest to my home. But then I remembered that I'd been invited to an author event at Blue Umbrella Books here in town at 1PM. Also, I'd been invited to my best friend's mother's surprise 80th birthday party...at 1PM. And then there was my co-worker's wedding reception at 4PM that afternoon. I also needed to do a lot of the preparation work for the author event during PumpkinFest this coming Saturday- making signs, getting my books organized and ready, creating raffle tickets and ticket buckets, putting together the raffle prizes which included shopping for last minute pieces for each.


I made it to two events- the Blue Umbrella author event which was downtown near the Italian club where the surprise party was being held. I managed to get to both spending an hour at each before heading home to make decorations and signs for the rest of the afternoon and straight through to midnight when I finally called it a night.


On October 1st I began writing the third book in the Romney & Ivy series that started with the shortlisted Black King Takes White Queen and continued in Black Knight, White Rook. This one is tentatively titled A Bishop Among Pawns, but is currently under the title An Army of Pawns. I don't know yet which it will be but I've been averaging 5400 words a day (well for the first 4 days anyway). I hit the stall point when I had to stop to prepare for PumpkinFest.


I've also been busy getting ready for my author event to promote Out, my new vampire novel on the 21st, and the monthly WhipCity Wordsmiths meeting, also on the 21st immediately after my author event.


And then I've been helping work on an anthology for Ghost Stories LIVE! and need to write a new story for that event. In talking to the host it occurred to us we're down two cast members with them being off to college, so I scrambled last night to bring onboard a new permanent cast member-yea! She (Melissa Volker) is awesome!


I also created my NaNo novel, The Clockmaker's Son, and wrote the synopsis so I'm ready for November 1st. And yes, this is the werewolf novel from months ago! It'll finally get written!


And yes, I'm working full time days as well as working full time nights on all this other stuff I'm doing while wearing my author hat!


Burn, burn little candle, at both ends! I'll meet the flames in the middle and we'll see whether or not I'm fireproof!!!





Thursday, September 28, 2017

Disturbing

A previous blog post mentioned that Kelly and I were putting together a mother/daughter anthology of creepy stories. Well, that's what I've been working on putting together since she sent me her five stories. I contributed 13 ghost and unsettling stories...and then threw in my one and only horror story at the end, despite having to actually read it and edit it- ugh! But, I got it done and uploaded it last night after a search of our photo archives to find the creepiest picture I've ever taken- of the alien-like eyes staring into our from window from the truck of the linden tree!


We didn't have a name for the book- but inspiration struck when I said, "You know, that picture is really disturbing." Therefore, the volume of 19 stories is titled, Disturbing.


I prefer to think of myself as the writer of some pretty good Christmas stories (something I've been doing since 1997), but somehow, in my hometown, I've become known best for my "Halloween" stories, which I really just began writing in 2014, although I dabbled a bit with Halloween-themed children's story when Kelly was younger (thus the revamped Halloween Story which is now known as Isabel's Initiation, and Medea which was expanded into a novel and was just revised and renamed The Unwilling Witch. It's the stories in Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume I that launched me into the realm of supernatural, paranormal and ghost stories.


So, now that October will be arriving on Sunday, it's time to put on my Halloween Hat and come up with a couple of new ghost stories. And after that, it'll be time to think about this year's annual Christmas story. (I just created 7 5x8 small volumes from the original three 6x9 larger volumes of holiday stories- so look for The Winter Solstice Ball, A Major Production, and The Red Velvet Suit as independent novellas, and Christmas With The Family, Christmas Inspirations, Christmases Past, and Christmases Present as smaller story collections that would be perfect for tucking into holiday gift baskets, giving to elderly family members in assisted living or nursing homes, tucking into stockings of those who love Christmas, as Secret Santa gifts, teacher gifts, co-worker gifts, etc.
The books are available as print books on Amazon.com and also as Kindle e-reader books in the Kindle store.


The Halloween books are also available that way.


I think al my books have now been converted to Kindle ebooks, but can also still be ordered and purchased as print books.


Now, off to practice grant writing, something new for me to learn!