Wednesday, December 4, 2013

'Tis the Season

It's been a while, I know. But what's a holiday season without a little insecurity?

Let's start with my good news. My good news is I started my next WIP. Granted, I'm only two chapters in, but it's a start. I've been exchanging chapters with a dear friend and CP. In fact it's because of him (and my last IWSG post) that I'm writing again. He's fabulous at peer pressuring me. In fact so many of my CPs have been wonderfully supportive by trying to kick my butt into writing gear. Thank you for that.

Here's my problem, with the limited writing time I have, everything I give him is rough...and by rough I mean ROUGH. And yet so many of his comments have been positive, which, naturally, makes me insecure. Yes, I give my chapters away hoping someone else will like them. But then when someone does, I flip out and feel the need to pass them around until someone will crush my growing optimism and knock me down a peg. Stupid. Sick, twisted - yep, I know. Tell me, why do we only trust the bad stuff?

I hope you all enjoy a lovely holiday season!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ice Skating and Grit

Thank you Alex J. Cavanaugh for giving me an excuse to blog every first of the month. Happy IWSG Day!

Angela Duckworth conducts research at the University of Pennsylvania that proves the two most determinate factors of reaching success in life are grit and self-control. As a seventh grade teacher, I’ve preached for the last 15 years that intelligence without determination is wasteful. I’d rather have a semi-smart student whose determined to find the answer than an ubber-smart student who can read any difficult text I throw at him but is too apathetic to push himself beyond his ability.

My three-year-old son was born with grit. After a punctured lung and almost losing his life twice in the first week of life, he fought hard to get rid of the machines breathing for him. He would pull out tubes and IV’s when he was ready to not rely on them anymore. How an infant can instinctually determine that is beyond me – but my kid has amazed more in the last three years than I’ve been in the last 35 years of life. At age two when he didn’t have words, he would sit for 20-30 minutes at a time and practice his flashcards that indicated sounds – not because I prompted him. He wanted to talk. His path to success hasn’t been easy. He needs everything explicitly taught to him. But he wants to learn, and he’s determined to succeed.

A couple weeks ago, I took him to an introductory ice skating class. I don’t know what I was thinking. My kid struggles with coordination, motor planning, and core strength – things you kind of need to skate. It was nothing short of disastrous.  He cried, screamed, and fell a million times. At one point, he was crawling on his hands and knees for the door of the ice rink while sobbing. In that moment, I was pretty sure I’d ruined his life. But at the end of the thirty-minute session, he took one step off the ice and said, “Mama! Mama! I did it!” He smiled for the rest of the night. After two more lessons, he was skating. I still tear up when I think of how proud I was of him in that moment.

My kid is amazing.

I can read about it, I can preach it, I can be inspired by it on a daily basis. At some point, it’s time to get my ass in gear and show some grit.

May you all find the grit you need to meet the success you want in life.

My 3 yr old son with his brother and his aunts

Monday, September 16, 2013

CassaStorm Book Release

One of the greatest parts about having a blog is having the opportunity to support friends and talented writers. Today I get to celebrate both. Alex J. Cavanaugh's CassaStorm, the final book in his best selling series, will be released on Tuesday, September 17. Congrats Alex! I am thrilled for you.

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…

“With a talent for worldbuilding and a compelling cast of characters, Alex J. Cavanaugh combines high powered space battles and the challenges of family dynamics to provide readers a space opera with heart.” 
- Elizabeth S. Craig, author of the Southern Quilting and Myrtle Clover mysteries

“I thought the revelation was going to be one thing and I was completely wrong … CassaStorm pushes the limits…”
- Tyson Mauermann, Speculative Reviews

“…mesmerizing story of survival, personal sacrifice, tolerance, and compassion. It’s a rare jewel that successfully utilizes both character and plot to tell a story of such immense scope and intimate passion…” - Nancy S. Thompson, author of The Mistaken

$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:
Amazon -

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.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Inspiring Success Stories

I have officially become a lurker. I've been stopping by blogs, reading what you have to say, and leaving without commenting. Blasphemous, I know....If it helps, I feel guilty about it. In my very weak defense, most of my perusing has been on my iPhone, which makes commenting impossible. Let's blame Apple, shall we? (Certainly this has nothing to do with user error). Why Apple, when the iPhone can do so much, is blog commenting difficult?

In my prowling, however, I've come across some people with wonderful news. I thought this month might be a good month for a few success stories. If you don't know these people already, follow them.  They are wonderful, knowledgeable, and perfect people to secretly stalk visit:

Amy Sonnichsen at The Green Bathtub
Amy just sold her book, RED BUTTERFLY, to S&S

Dahlia Adler at The Daily Dahlia
Dahlia sold one book, changed agents (after multiple offers of rep)
AND she'll be blogging about it this month

Go visit them and be inspired. I GUARANTEE both of these authors have big writing careers ahead of them.

Happy IWSG Day! 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

IWSG: Gremlins

It's been a while since I've posted - I know. I said I'd be back after we moved and then nothing. Little did I know how long it would take to "move in" to a house. I swear late at night those stupid boxes piled in my garage are multiplying like evil little gremlins.

So, I reenter the blogosphere (briefly) for ISWG day baring a few gifts....contests....and good ones.

If you have a fabulous MS waiting around seeking representation you MUST check out:

Christmas in July hosted by the fabulous Ruth Lauren Steven and Michelle Krys. Submission window will be open July 9.

Authoress of Miss Snark's First Victim is also hosting July's Secret Agent Contest on July 8 AND The Adorable Editor's Contest on July 16.

Now onto my IWSG post hosted by the fabulous Alex J Cavanaugh.

Over a year ago, I jumped into submissions with my first MS thinking "it's now or never." It did pretty well - no offers of representation, but just enough encouragement to make me think publication is possible. I entered the blogosphere, met some fabulous, kind, talented, smart, smart, smart people - writers, agents, friends and critique partners. Then I had Baby Boy #2. Then I went back to work. Then we moved. Then I started taking graduate classes. Then we moved again. And I found myself saying over and over again, "Next month, I'll have more time....for writing, critiquing, reading your manuscripts, and blogging." But every month, something new pops up and that anticipated time disappears. It literally vanishes - swallowed whole, most likely, by evil little gremlins who can be blamed for everything. (In this particular case, the evil little gremlins are NOT my two baby boys, who sometimes act like evil little gremlins).

So my conclusion is giving in....Right now, responsibilities and family time (something I'm never willing to sacrifice) take precedence. I'll squeeze the writing in when I can, but that probably means pulling back on some other blogging regularly - at least for now. And that is what I'm insecure about. I hope I can be that distant friend that you hear from every now and again but don't wholly give up on. I hope that when life settles down - surely in a few more months, right? - I'll continue bumping into you regularly. Until then, have a happy 4th of July - my favorite holiday.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Secondary Characters Blog Hop

I'm popping in for a quick blog hop hosted by the fabulous Rachel Schieffelbein, Suzie Retlaff,  Theresa Paolo, Kelley LynnJessica Saylor, Jenny Morris, and Cassie Mae. 

I love good secondary characters. They can make or break a book for me, and I could easily list 20 or so good secondary characters that I enjoy reading. Instead, I'm going to name my most recent favorite: Captain Carswell Thorne from the book Scarlet. He's a cadet, but prefers to be called captain. He's arrogant, flirtatious, and, at times, crude. In the beginning of the book, he's so full of himself that he's slightly annoying and by the end of the book, I laughed out loud every time he spoke. His ingenious characterization was well crafted by author Marissa Meyer. I look forward to reading more about him in her next books.

See you all in a few more weeks!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Contest Circuit: May 13

I'm still recovering from the A-Z Challenge. I managed to post every day, but got behind a few too many times commenting. The biggest highlight of the challenge was being featured as one of Alex J Cavanaugh's blogger buddies for his letter "P" on the Princess Bride.  Thank you again, Alex, for your kind words.

I'll be absent most of May as I get ready to move. Until then, here are a handful of contests and blog hops I had to mention. Enjoy!

Contests and Blog Hops

Julie at A Thought That Grows pointed out the Unpublished Writer Fiction Contest: Colorado Gold Contest. The contest is for unpublished writers of commercial novel-length fiction and offers an opportunity to get your novel in the hands of an acquiring agent or editor. See Julie's site for details.

SC Write, Michelle4Laughs and Writer's Outworld are hosting Query Kombat Contest. If you survive the tournament, eight agents will be browsing the semifinals to make requests. Submission window is from May 13-May 17 until 225 entries are filled.

80+ bloggers are signed up for Kid Lit Giveaway Hop hosted by Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews. Jump around and sign up for a few giveaways!

Steven Tremp, Alex J Cavanaugh, L. Diane Wolf and Michael Di Gesu are hosting the Get Healthy Bloghop on May 29.

DL Hammons and Elise Fallson are hosting the WIPIT Good Blogfest on May 31 focusing on your latest WIPs.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

IWSG: So Much to Celebrate

Today, I celebrate another month of IWSG and my Blogoversary. A year ago today, I wrote my first post, "Giving In." I reluctantly started this blog to enter a contest. I ended up gaining more from this blogging thing than I ever expected. Over the next month or two, I'll share my reflections of what I've learned from this past year and what I actually "infiltrated." Those posts require me to be reflective and (hopefully, ideally, not making any promises) profound. After 26 days of the A-Z Challenge, I'm feeling neither. So instead I'll leave you with this:

After a year of blogging and querying, this unagented anybody writer believes that successful publication is not only possible, but it is something I truly believe will happen for me AND for you if you want it badly enough and will work hard for it. Hard is a relative term, I know. It's also different for all of us. I don't know what "working hard" means for you. All I know is this: A year ago, one-day publication seemed like a pipe-dream. Now, it seems like a possibility. You and I just need to get it done. 

Read. Be reflective. Be open to criticism and toss the criticism that isn't right for you. WRITE, WRITE, and WRITE some more - without forgetting to enjoy life as you go. Enjoying life, after all, gives us our inspiration and motivation. 

Enjoy life, write about life, whatever you need to do. Just get it done.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Zombies....naturally

Z is for Zombies

I've been putting off this post.

"Because you're so sad to see this challenge over?" you might ask.

Not exactly.

Despite the amount of time this challenge has sucked out of my life taken up, I have actually enjoyed it. Shh! Don't tell my hubby who has only heard me whine and complain about the posts I "had" to write or the blogs I "needed" to visit - two very good excuses to get out of doing dishes. ;)


I've been avoiding this post because I hate to end on a negative note. I also don't want to offend anyone with what I'm about to say. So, here's my disclaimer before my mild rant: If you write about zombies, this has nothing to do with your writing ability or the fabulous story I'm sure you've crafted. It's just...well....zombies? I don't get them.

I want to - it's the trend right now. Everyone LOVES "The Walking Dead" and swears that it has strong characterization and a great plot line. And it does, sure. But I can't get into the show because of the zombies. Their skin is rotting, and they want to eat people. They walk too slow. They aren't too bright. I just don't get what it is about them that fascinates people or scares people or attracts people. So please, tell me why they are awesome, because I think they're....err...not for me.

Keep in mind, a few years ago I probably would have told you I hated vampires and werewolves, but I jumped on that bandwagon and became transformed. I'm willing to follow the crowd, succumb to peer pressure, and all that. I just need convincing. Give me an argument and maybe, just maybe you can convince me to dig into a few books I have on my "to read" list that I can't read because I can't get past the zombies.

And that ladies and gentlemen is my 26th post. My boys are in bed. My hubby is off painting our new house. I feel like I need at least a high five for surviving this challenge.  A round of virtual high fives to all of you for completing this challenge on your own or putting up with me and my 26 most recent posts.

See you all Wednesday for IWSG.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for YA and a Yearly Tradition....

Y is for Young Adult Characters....why I love them

As a seventh grade teacher, I can always tell people I read YA because it's "my job" to know what the kids are reading. It's a convenient excuse. But the truth is, I love it. I mentioned this briefly in an earlier post. YA characters are passionate, blissfully ignorant, and have an unwavering sense of right vs. wrong. As adults, things become grayer. Politics and priorities cloud once easy decisions. In adult books, "the good guy" more frequently makes bad or unethical decisions. The bad guy is sometimes more relatable than we'd like him to be. Obviously, this isn't always the case. But I love to read and write YA because there is something lovely and nostalgic about the innocence YA characters capture....even in the most horrible dystopic societies.

Y is for a Yearly Tradition

In W's post, I mentioned a yearly walk we participate in - the March for Babies with March of Dimes. MOD funded research that saved one boy's life (Baby Boy #1 on right) and helped another boy be born full term (Baby Boy #2 on left). With Baby Boy #1's health thriving and Baby Boy #2's safe arrival, we had so much to celebrate this year. It was the first year I didn't cry while walking for MOD. I still got choked up for families celebrating the memories of babies born too soon that didn't make it - I always will. But this year, especially after closing on our home on Friday, we had much to celebrate. My two boys are MOD success stories - for that I will be forever grateful.

Read a bit of Baby Boy #1's story here.

One day Jake will look at this picture and hate me for putting him in this hat...I love it anyway ;)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for Xander

X is for Xander

When I read Matched last year, my first thought about Xander was that if I had the nerve to do the A-Z challenge next April, I would write about characters and Xander would be my easy X. (This makes the letter "X" ironically easier than finding characters that start with the letter "O" which I found to be impossible) 

Xander is the guy in the Ky-Cassia-Xander love triangle who doesn't get picked. Only here is the problem with that...unlike Edward vs. Jacob and Peeta vs Gale, in the Xander vs. Ky show down, I like Xander better. Truth be told, I can't remember why. Sure, he's is kind, intelligent, attractive, understanding, and a leader (just like every other typical YA love interest). Beyond that, I don't really remember too much about him - at least nothing that makes him stand out. Perhaps it's because I read it so long ago, or my mind is elsewhere, or it's 10:10p.m. and this is a last ditch effort just to complete this post in time for the sake of posting my X. 

Poor neglected Xander.

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Warner and Wonderful Life Moments

W is for Warner, a Walk, and a Wonderful Life Moment

Warner is the antagonist of Shatter Me. (I haven't read the second in the trilogy where I've heard he's even more developed.) Warner is a power-hungry sociopath who's so in love with protagonist Juliette that he protects her even when she tries to escape from him and kill him. Juliette has powers that she herself doesn't even fully understand, which Warner wants her to use inhumanely. His obsession and love for both power and Juliette are sick, twisted, and awesome to read. I wish I could spend more time talking about him, but my head's just not into characterization today...

A Walk....

On Sunday, my husband, my two sisters, my two boys, and I will be walking for March of Dimes, a charity that funds preemie research. Thanks to MOD research, my three year old is alive and thriving, my 8mo old was born full term, and I have a beautiful family that I feel blessed to have. I'm a lucky, lucky girl. 

A Wonderful Moment.....

Later today....if all goes as expected *fingers crossed, knock on wood*....we close on our first family home. I owned a townhouse in Ohio in my twenties. When my husband and I got married, we bought a fabulous condo in the city. But this feels like my first real home. And while I never thought this would be that big of a deal (after all, I've done this before, right?), I find myself all weepy and nervous and excited that this will be our place - not my place, not a condo for my husband and me, but a home for our family to grow into. This one feels permanent, and I like that.   

May you all have a few wonderful moments of your own this weekend.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Voldemort...and the Very Annoying Mr. Anonymous

A short, short list of contests and blog hops at the bottom!

V is for Voldemort and the Very Annoying Mr. Anonymous

Voldemort is brilliant, beyond evil, a complete sociopath. He doesn't have an ounce of beauty or compassion or understanding in him making him a fabulous and unstable villain. We never know who he'll go after next because he's willing to sacrifice anything and anyone. 

My favorite part about Voldemort, however, is that a boy is the one who destroys him. I love YA lit in part because kids and YA characters are often naive and unjaded. They believe in right vs wrong. They are passionate enough and foolish enough to fight unswervingly for what's right and just. I love that Voldemort can't understand love and friendship and virtue - everything that makes up HP.

And now the Very Annoying Mr. Anonymous

A few weeks back, I changed my preferences and allowed people without a Google Account to comment Anonymously on my blogs. After doing so, I had some lovely conversations with people I might not have heard from otherwise - and I really enjoyed them. However, I also starting getting attacked - yes attacked! - by the Very Annoying Mr. Anonymous. 

Mr. Anonymous doesn't spell very well. His grammar and capitalization skills are poor. Even as a grammar teacher, I understand we all make mistakes (myself included). But it makes me angry when the Very Annoying Mr. Anonymous does it - partly because I know he's not reading my posts (which makes me feel better about bad-mouthing him here...I don't like to make people - even annoying people - feel bad about themselves). 

When Mr. Anonymous comments, he tells me he likes what I'm saying in my posts or that I have a very fresh perspective or that I'm really smart and he wants to talk with me more about how I can help him improve his blog but HE'S LYING! He just wants me to visit his blog and buy something stupid like magnetic paperclips or the world's shiniest (self-proclaimed) shoe polish. Well, Mr. Anonymous, you're not fooling me - no matter how many posts you visit (or how outdated those posts may be), I will win this fight! *shakes fist dramatically in air* 

Unfortunately the only (reasonable) way to win is to either turn on CAPTCHA - which I just can't do - or turn off the ability to comment anonymously. I wish there was some other way, but there isn't. So, I'm sorry. I really am. Mr. Anonymous ruined our fun like that seventh grade student who sticks his chewed up wad of gum under my desks so many times that no one is allowed to chew gum in class anymore. Very annoying, isn't it?

Contests and Blog Hops
The Writer's Voice competition begins May 1st. 

Operation Awesome is hosting another Secret Agent Contest on May 1st.