Saturday, December 15, 2012

On Writing and Panicking about Writing. Or Deadlines. Or Something.

Hiiii, all! Happy December! Er, mid-December. I've been busy with all sorts of family and holiday things. On the writing front...well, I'm still working on Rising Book 2.

I had expected to be able to publish Rising Book 2 at the end of this year, but it's going to be sometime next year before it's out, and I apologize to anyone waiting to read it. I had the whole draft written--you may remember me saying I had finished it at 185,000 words or so. Rising Book 2 is divided into two parts, and part one had already had tons of work and rewriting. Part 2 had been written very fast and was messy by comparison.

Well, not long after that, my beta readers made suggestions, and this is what happened:

-I cut 60,000 words in one day.

-I realized the second half of the book needed to be rewritten. Figured out what chapters from part 2 I could salvage. Kept them in. Cut another 45,000 words or so.

-Set cut chapters aside, because I know there will be a few scenes I'll be able to use.

-Tried to sort out the brand new plot, because this part of my rewrite needed brand new plot.

-Panicked. Thought about deadlines and panicked more.

-Kept writing. Words all became a jumbled mess.

-Panicked some more.

-Wondered if anything in part 2 was working, or if I needed to scrap all of it and start from scratch.

-Reminded myself that at least part 1 was ready to go--completely edited, rewritten, tweaked, through betas and editors, and that rewriting just part 2 wasn't really as bad as I was making it out be.

-Brain was exhausted. Was more stressed about about this half of a novel than I've been about any book in a long time.

-Words looked even more of a jumbled mess. Panicked and got a hold of writing partner Emma one afternoon. I walked her through my rewrite on part 2, and she talked me through points of the plot and helped me realize it does make sense, I didn't need to scrap and start over, and I just needed to keep going, and she helped me see clearly how to keep going.

-Breathed, wrote, emailed Emma my story file. (Emma and I read each other's in-progress books, which helps us both immensely. It helps us keep each other encouraged, and it helps that we both end up knowing each other's plots.)

-Emma read and loved it and I was super, super encouraged and non-panicked.

-I'm still writing.

And that has been my writing process lately. I will admit that I'm still a little stressed because I'm like !!!!DEADLINE!!! and flailing in my head like a maniac, because I do want to get this out soon, because I have other stories in the works and my agent is shopping around one of my other novels, but, as one of my other friends keeps reminding me, I want to put out my absolute best, and I want to make sure the story is what it needs to be. I owe it to myself, I owe it to the characters, and I owe it to my readers. The first draft of the story had all the plot points in there, but it wasn't what it needed to be, and I wasn't happy with it. Therefore, I'm going to keep taking it one page at a time, figure out how the new plot weaves together, and then when it's finished, I'll whip it into shape and put part 2 through beta readers and editing, and then I will get the book out there. I don't have many more chapters to write, so hopefully it won't be delayed that much, but I know the book will be better off for the rewrite.

At least part 1 of the novel is ready, right? O_o (I tell you, this book has taken more out of me than any book I've ever written in my life. It's exhausting.)

Anyway, thanks to all of you for your patience! It's soooo close to being 100% done, it's ridiculous. I'll just be over here in my corner, working on this and reminding myself to breathe and not panic.

I hope all of you are doing wonderfully, especially during this super busy time of year!!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

I'm Thankful for My Readers Bloghop

Today, we have a bloghop!

 Thankful for Readers Bloghop

I'm so thankful to my readers, of all kinds!

Thank you to my crit partners, who pick apart my stories, are bluntly honest and therefore only help make my novels better, and who have shared more laughs, late-night giggles, and inside jokes than I can even recount. Most of you have seen me in every state imaginable, including my super-hyper-sugared-up-and-caffeinated state. (Even if I will never live down army crawling across the floor.)

(There is a story to that. It was like 2AM, and one of my writing partners goes, "Hey, Laura, what if I told you my two characters might not get together?" I crawled over to her in a flash and went, "WHAT?"


Thank you to my blog readers, who are so encouraging and thoughtful and have stuck with me through so much. I've met some incredible people through the blogosphere. For you, my first attempt at a haiku:

Marvelous readers
Make the blogosphere go round
Wonderful people

And in addition, as thanks, I know there are a lot of writers on here, so for the first five people who mention they want it in the comment, I'll edit the first ten pages of your book. Or the first chapter, if it's under fifteen pages. (I work as a professional editor.)

Thank you to my book readers, who buy my books and support me that way. In thanks, for one week only, I'm making Rising Book 1: Resistance available for free on Smashwords. You can use coupon code VT82DYou can get any ebook version you want using that coupon code here: Rising Book 1: Resistance

(Also, for the month of November, I have Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School) for $0.99 on Smashwords using coupon code HB87F, which you can purchase here if you so desire: Confessions on Smashwords.)

Thanks to all of you who help, encourage, and support me in so many ways! You are all so awesome!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ready, Set, Go

I've begun my read through of the first half of Rising Book 2: Rebellion and the rewrite of the second half. Confession: The rewrite terrifies me. I'm having this momentary "How am I going to make this work? How am I going to make it work by my deadline? What if it's terrible because I can't get it right in time?"

So now it's time for me to take a deep breath, remind myself I can do this, and go after it with a club. Or, you know, a keyboard. 

What are you working on right now?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Here and Gone

You may have noticed that I've been absent on Blogger for a while, and I've been terrible at keeping up with blogs. It's been all I can do to keep up with everything else I have going on. Between editing for work, writing novels, revising, rewriting, prepping for publication, homeschooling, and breathing, my blog has slipped woefully between the cracks. I'll pull up Blogger from time to time and stare at it and think about how I need to get on this sucker, and then a wave of exhaustion will wash over me. I haven't even had time to read my critique partners' latest books/chapter updates, never mind any other kind of reading. The only books I've read this year have been client edits. I need a good chunk of time to just sit and read. And you know, breathe. ;)

Anyway, I'm sorry for being so absent all over the place, and I'm hoping that things will settle down a little bit the rest of this year and I can get to some of the blog posts I've been wanting to do! Thanks to all of you who have stuck around and been so encouraging--it's meant a lot to me in the insanity of the past months. The only thing I have left planned for this year is the rewrite of half of Rising 2 and its publication--last month, I cut 73,000 words from the book, and now I need to rewrite some new story.

Also, a big, belated thank-you to Christine Rains for presenting me with the Daisy Award. :)

(Oh, I've also finally set up an author page on Facebook, and I hope to be more active there, too, so I'd love for you to join me. :)) My Facebook Page

Thanks again to all of you, and I hope you're all doing magnificently!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Another novel down!

I have been in a vacuum this month that, alas, did not involve blogging, but did involve finishing my novel Rising Book 2: Rebellion. I finally, finally finished writing it today. It clocks in at just over 185,000 words, making it not only the most emotionally draining book I've ever written, but the longest one as well. Editing it is going to be so much fun. O_o

But it's WRITTEN. *throws confetti*

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Agent News

I can now officially announce that I have signed with the amazing, spectacular Natalie Lakosil of Bradford Literary Agency. :D :D :D

I AM SO EXCITED AND HONORED, YOU GUYS. If I hadn't twisted my ankle yesterday, I'd still be bouncing around like crazy.

Friday, July 13, 2012

July Updates

This month has been absolutely insane.

--I finished my July editing job really early. It took ten days from start to finish (that's me doing the first edits, the author doing the revisions, and me reviewing the revisions and going over final questions).

--Hubby and I went apartment hunting, found an apartment we really liked, waited a weekend to find out if we were approved, were approved, and will be moving in about three and a half weeks. We're only moving about five minutes away, but this still requires packing. And organizing. And sorting. And more packing. I started sorting my kids' toys today. One of my cats had a blast jumping in and out of the empty toy drawers I had spread across the living room floor. Entertainment for kitties = win.

--I revised one of my manuscripts completely in twenty-four hours. This meant changing plot elements, writing new things, cutting other things, etc. It's funny how you can change one thing and then realize that changes four other things, and you have to keep tweaking threads until they all connect again. It was a lot of fun, though. :D It took me weeks to decide to take this particular plunge, and I wasn't sure I would happy with it, but I really, really am.

--I went shopping for my kids' homeschool books. I think I'm pretty much set for the coming school year.

--I'm still writing Rising Book 2: Rebellion. I have (I think) about eight and a half chapters left to write. Considering that this book is now clocking in at...134,306 words, and I've already written nineteen and a half long chapters and twenty-eight shorter flashbacks, that's really not a huge amount left. I cannot begin to express how excited and relieved I will be when this book is done. Well, at least written. Of course there will be editing and running it through the critique partner gauntlet and all that stuff, but at least the story will be complete. Oh, and it has a Goodreads page now!

--The weeks have flown by so fast and I realized I neglected to properly thank a couple of people for awards I got.

First, thank you to Christine Rains for The Booker Award.

The rules for this award:
This award is for book bloggers only. To receive this award the blog must be at least 50% about books (reading or writing is okay)
Along with receiving this award, you must also share your top five favorite books you have ever read. (More than five is okay) You must give this award to 5-10 other lucky book blogs you adore.
 Here are my favorite books:
1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
2. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
3. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
4. My Fair Godmother and My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison
5. The Giver by Lois Lowry
6. The Only Alien on the Planet by Kristen D. Randle
7. Into the Dream by William Sleator
8. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede

There are so many bloggers I adore, and I'm so behind on this award that I'm not sure who's received it and who hasn't--so I'm going to just say that if any of you haven't received it and want to talk about your favorite books, have at it!

Next, thank you to Deirdra A. Eden for the Creative Blog Award.

And finally, thank you so much to T. Drecker for the Fabulous Blog Ribbon Award.

And this one has some questions:

Name five of your most fabulous moments, either in real life or in the blogosphere.

- marrying my husband
- having my children
- going to Mexico to help build houses and meeting some of the most amazing kids there
- moving back to the south after three and a half years in the north
- meeting my writing partners in person for the first time

Name five things you love.

- God
- my family
- my friends
- my cats
- it's a toss up between coffee and socks. Although this is definitely a "like" kind of love and not a "I'm very fond of my cats" love or a "I desperately love God and my family and friends" love.

Name five things you hate

- seeing the people I love hurt
- people chewing in my ear
- throwing up
- the smell of dog poo
- most horror movies

I will try to come back very soon with something more than a giant update on everything. O_o But for now, I hope you all have a FANTASTIC weekend!!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Father's Day Cupcakes

My daughter and I made Perry the Platypus (from the cartoon Phineas and Ferb) cupcakes for my husband for Father's Day. We still have six left to decorate (there are twelve altogether) but here's the process and initial result.

My daughter's stuffed animal Perry and the Starbursts that we used for bills. We also used Starbursts cut in half and dipped in frosting for the feet.

Graham crackers being shaped into the tails. I had no idea what I was going to use for the tails until I was hunting through the cupboard for something to use and went, "Aha! Graham crackers!"

Two cupcakes stuck together with frosting form the base for the bodies.

Completed cupcakes!

Close-up of completed cupcake. My daughter and I dyed toothpicks in food coloring for the top part sticking out.

Happy Father's Day to my wonderful, amazing husband! Happy Father's Day to my dad and my father-in-law. And Happy Father's Day to all of you dads out there!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Editing Slots, Award, and Camp NaNoWriMo

First, I still have two slots for editing the first ten pages of a manuscript, if anyone else is interested. (It's first come, first served.)

Second, thank you to Sherry Ellis at Mama Diaries, who graced me with the One Lovely Blog Award. ^_^

Third, is anyone participating in Camp NaNoWriMo?

It's basically a NaNo in June, but I'm not using it as NaNo. I mean, I'm not like "WORD COUNT! MUST GET WORD COUNT!" I did sign up because a) I'm still writing Rising Book 2, so I might as well and b) so I can offer encouragement to anyone else doing it by writing with them. But I'm just going to take this book the same way I've been taking it: one chapter at a time.

I have about 91,000 words on Rising Book 2. I have about twelve chapters and nine flashbacks left to write. I'm also up to my eyeballs in editing, which is why I haven't gotten as much writing done. And my husband and kids and I just went on a weekend vacation to visit some of his family in Ohio. The trip was awesome and so much fun, and it was great to see family. I'm in Vacation Recovery Mode right now--I love traveling; it's just very tiring!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Random Act of Kindness Blitz

I've been kind of out of the blogosphere loop lately--I've been so busy with family, homeschooling, and writing and editing deadlines. I would have completely missed the fact there's a Random Act of Kindness blitz going on right now if Donna Weaver hadn't graced me with an amazing shout out and gift. Donna is such a lovely, generous person and I'm so touched by her constant thoughtfulness.

As part of the RAOK blitz, I'd like to offer something to some of the wonderful people who have supported me on this blog, so for the first five writers who request this in the comments, I will edit the first ten pages of your book. I know ten pages isn't a tremendous amount, but it might let you know if I spot anything huge that I think you could work on grammatically or narratively. I would offer to edit more, but as I said, I'm on editing and writing deadlines. I work as an editor for a publishing company and do freelance editing on the side. (Fair warning: I'm a picky editor. ;))

To all of you, thank you for your encouragement and support since I started this blog. (And to Donna, thank you again--you have been a wonderful source of encouragement and inspiration, and it has meant a lot to me. Thank you for your RAOK gift.)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Grammar Daze: A While vs. Awhile

My past few weeks have been stuffed full of writing and editing. I'm still writing Rising Book 2, and I've been doing my freelance editing in between. I'm on deadlines all around, but with all the editing I've been doing, I figured it would be a good opportunity to do another Grammar Daze, since it's been a while since I've done one.

Speaking of "a while," that happens to be the subject of today's post.

A While vs. Awhile

A While is a noun. It's a period of time.

Awhile is an adverb, and it means "for a while."

There are a couple of ways to test which one we need.

Test #1:

You can replace "awhile/a while" with an adverb and see if it works. If it works, you need the adverb, "awhile." If it doesn't work, you need the noun, "a while."


1. Lie down awhile.

This is correct. We could use another adverb here. We could say: "Lie down quietly." And it makes sense, so we know we need to use the adverb awhile.

2. I'm going out for a while.

This is correct. We could not use an adverb here. We couldn't say "I'm going out for a quietly."

Remember: An adverb (words like awhile, quietly, happily, peacefully) can never be the object of a preposition (words like with, for, on, under).  So you can never, ever say "for awhile." If you have the word for in there, you have to use the noun: for a while.

This is another way to figure out whether to use "a while" or "awhile."

Test #2:

"Awhile" already has "for" in its meaning. You can try to put "for a while" in a sentence. If you can use "for a while" then you can use the word "awhile." If it doesn't make sense, you need "a while."


1. I'll be awhile.

This is incorrect, because if we say "I'll be for a while" it doesn't make sense. You need the noun: I'll be a while. (This is also where we could substitute another adverb and see that it would not make sense: "I'll be happily.")

2. I'll be over there awhile.

This is correct, because if we say "I'll be over there for a while" it makes sense. (This is also where we could substitute another adverb and see that it would make sense: "I'll be over there happily.") This means we could also reword the sentence to use the noun if we wanted to: I'll be over there for a while.

Any questions? Thoughts? Have I completely confused you?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mid-April Update

I hope all of you doing the A-Z challenge have been having a blast with it! I can't believe it's already halfway through April. I haven't been blogging because all of my free time has been going to frantically writing Rising Book 2. I'm almost halfway done--I have about a chapter and three-fourths left to the halfway point. I think this will probably be my longest novel yet, considering I have 69,154 words already. There's just so much more story to tell and tie up in this one than the first one.

I've also been prepping for my daughter's birthday party, which is today. Her birthday was a couple of weeks ago, but today was the first day we had free to do it. She wanted a Yoshi cake from Mario Brothers, and let me tell you, that thing was hard to make. O_o I had made the head out of rice crispy treats, but it fell apart (slooooowly) after I attached the head to the body, so then I had to remake the head smaller. Plus, I was pretty much out of frosting at that point, which meant I had to steal some from around the body. Yeah. Definitely not my best cake ever, but it's together and it's edible, darn it.

Here is the end result:

I also had my next Taekwondo belt test this past week--I don't have the results for that yet. So. Yes. April has been busy.

I hope you all are having a wonderful month and that you have a fantastic day!! I need to go do final prep for a birthday party...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Interview with Mavis Duke Hinton

I'd like to introduce Mavis Duke Hinton, author of THE DACHSHUND ESCAPADES.

Please tell us about yourself. Where are you from? When did you start writing?
Although I was born in North Carolina and currently live here, I grew up in a military family.  I lived in France and Germany as a child, and experienced a bull fight in Spain, The World’s Fair in Belgium, and the Tulip Festival in Holland.  My family enjoyed touring Europe on camping trips, and we met and shared meals with friendly Europeans along the way.  I attended a French parochial school for kindergarten through half of the second grade, so I was fluent in French by age five (but I’m not now!).  My mother decided at that time that I needed to attend the American school for military children, which was located an hour and a half from our home. That lasted only through third grade, as my father’s tour of duty ended, and we returned to the States where I attended school in Ft. Eustis, Virginia.  In all, I attended 13 schools by the time I graduated from high school.  I have also lived in Florida, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, but my favorite of all was Alaska, where we lived in Ft. Greely, located in the central part of the state.

As far back as I can remember, I enjoyed writing, at age ten even producing a little “newspaper” called The Daily Blab for the amusement of my friends.  Of course, I had to do everything by hand then, complete with pictures and articles—even advertisements!  In high school, I went through my short story and poetry phase.  I wrote articles for the campus paper in college as well.  Over the years, I’ve taught all levels of middle and high school English, along with AP British literature, creative writing, speech, and journalism.  While doing so full time, I never had the time to write as such, with my family responsibilities and the heavy load of grading research reports and essays.  My late father used to tell us what our dachshunds were thinking, and I believe I have inherited that 'gene' for doing so.  All of this is tongue in cheek, of course—and it makes for many a laugh around our house. My family encouraged me to use my “talent” to write a book. So, I walked away from my full-time career in ’05, started writing, and voila—I became an author, with my series entitled THE DACHSHUND ESCAPADES.  I am currently working on Book 3, DACHSHUNDS FOREVER, a work in progress.

Why did you choose to write this book?
My other reasons (besides the “gene” thing) for writing from the dog's viewpoint are:
1) I enjoy imagining how day-to-day happenings must appear to the family dog;
2) I can shift  reality to share with readers what dogs think about life situations;
3) I have a zany sense of humor (my family can attest to that), and can use such humor when incorporating it into the dog’s viewpoint;
4) I love and appreciate dogs as man's best friend.  They show us unconditional love, like God has for us.  One of the characters in THE DACHSHUND ESCAPADES series, Papa Duke (who is based on my father), so aptly states my feelings about dogs:

"A dawg loves you no matter what. You can be ugly, old, even dumb--but a dawg don't care. All he wants is your love and some food now and then. I think dawgs represent the unconditional love God has for us--maybe that's why He created them, to show that to us." 

If you could have dinner with any author, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Without a doubt, I would want to dine with Mark Twain.  I have always admired his works, and his brand of humor just cracks me up—his way with words amazes me.  It would be so enjoyable to converse with him, hear his answers to my numerous questions, and just enjoy his company. I know historically how life was during his lifetime, but it would be a pleasure to hear him talk about it.  Not everyone thinks he is that humorous, but in such works as INNOCENTS ABROAD or TOM SAWYER, I just laugh every time.

Who is your favorite character out of any you've created?
Besides Sarge, the doxie “author,” Papa Duke, of course.  His penchant for telling funny (but true) stories about his zany experiences, his zest for life, his robust laugh—it was a labor of love creating that character from details that I recall fondly about my dad, who died in 2000.  My books are my legacy to my grandchildren, giving them a chance to know him, since he passed away before they came on the scene.  I’ve told the granddaughters, ages six and seven, his stories often, and they request them again and again. Our little grandson just turned two, but perhaps in years to come he’ll enjoy hearing about his great grandfather Duke. In fact, six-year-old Alexa recently saw a photograph of Dad.  She said wistfully, “I miss Papa Duke so much.”  I replied that she had never met him—but she quickly added, “Well, I can still miss him, can’t I??”

What are your hopes for this book?
I want the entire series of THE DACHSHUND ESCAPADES to reach that niche audience of dog lovers, encourage and uplift them, and leave them saying to themselves, “Wow!  Those family members really love the Lord and each other—and what a dog Sarge is!”

Do you listen to music when you write or do you need quiet? 
I have this uncanny ability to block out everything when I am reading or writing—therefore, either way is fine with me.  In fact, when our daughters were growing up, they disliked  it when I was reading, because (in their words) the house could be burning down around me and I wouldn’t realize it until a fireman came to rescue me!  Clark, my husband doesn’t bother to ask me anything if I’m “in the zone,” because I simply won’t hear him J.  It’s not intentional—I am just engrossed in what I’m doing.

What's one quirk of yours?
I only get to name one?? (laughs)  Actually, the quirk I’m about to mention harks back to my full-time teaching days:  I’m just not all that “laid back” over tasks I feel are important to finish.  I absolutely detest having anything hanging over my head—meaning that I kill myself to get it done.  When I had, for example, 140 senior research projects to grade, I worked feverishly to get those things graded and back to my students.  There were just too many others things requiring my attention to let them be.  Even now, as I work from home, I put things in order of urgency and hack away at my list.

What is your favorite book and why?
Most recently, RADICAL by David Platt was a life changer.  Here’s one statement from the book that hit me squarely between the eyes:  “Are we willing to fundamentally alter our understanding of Christianity from a luxury-liner approach that seeks more comforts in the world—to a troop-carrier approach that forsakes comforts in the world to accomplish an eternally significant task and achieve an eternally satisfying reward?”

I have been a Christian since age 28, but this book brought a fresh outlook for my purpose in writing: it is not for self or merely to entertain readers—my purpose is to glorify Him and uplift my readers in the process.

What's the farthest from your current home you've ever visited?
Well, having lived in Europe as a child would qualify as pretty far away from North Carolina!  A few years ago, we drove (yes, drove) out to Arizona to visit our daughter Bethany and hubby Kurt.  Clark and I have also toured parts of Canada by car. We love traveling, so it was enjoyable seeing interesting places like Niagara Falls or the Grand Canyon, eating different food (but North Carolina barbecue is still the best!), and exploring towns that way.  When my family lived in Alaska, Dad’s next tour of duty was Miami, Florida—and we drove down!  So, I’ve seen a great deal of this country, and loved (almost) every minute of it!

Please tell us about your book.
I AM SARGE is Book 1 of THE DACHSHUND ESCAPADES series, and the books in this series are written in first person from the family dog’s viewpoint.  My stories are 95% true, as they are based on my family, friends, and of course Shadow, my “granddog.”

Here is the synopsis from the back cover of I AM SARGE:

Sometimes a dachshund’s “lowdown from the ground”
perspective is just what human beings need.

I was only eight weeks old when I was adopted into my new human family who knew immediately I was a super dog. They proudly gave me the name Sarge—after my Papa Duke, who was a sergeant in the Army. Quite a fitting name for a good-looking dachshund too, I might add. I just know someday I’ll do great and mighty things, befitting a super dog.

But in the meanwhile, I’ll just steal your heart and make you laugh out loud with the antics of this “chow hound.” And maybe, if you come over, Papa and I—two food lovers—might just share a snack or two with you, too.

Fall in love with Sarge, the quintessential dachshund,
and laugh along with his foibles and humorous escapades.

My links:
My website: Mavis Duke Hinton
Facebook: Mavis Duke Hinton's Books (please “like” my page!)
Twitter: @writer4dawg (follow me!)

For those in the Triad area of North Carolina, I’m having a book signing at Barnes and Noble Booksellers:  Saturday, April 7, from 2:00 p.m. “until.”  The address is  
906 Mall Loop Rd., High Point, NC.  The event is featuring both of my books:  I AM SARGE and I AM DACHSHUND.

I’m also on LinkedIn, and my books are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook, etc.

Thank you for having me today, Laura!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rising Book 2 - flashback/excerpt

I posted this picture months ago on my blog, but with the release of Rising Book 1: Resistance, it's a lot more relevant now. This is artwork that was done by Holly Robbins, my cover artist, of Lachlan and Brenna—two of the secondary characters in Resistance.

These were two characters that hadn't been planned for when I started the book; they both swept in for different purposes. As I came to the end of writing Rising Book 1, I realized that Lachlan and Brenna's story needed to be told too, and they became my narrators for Rising Book 2.

For any of you who have read Rising Book 1, you might understand when I tell you that the idea of telling their story terrified me. For those of you who haven't read it, I'll just say that these two characters have been through a lot, and their story is the most intense I've ever written. I'm actually telling their back story in scenes that take place between each chapter. I'd debated for a while about whether or not I should do that, but in the end, their history was way too complex and relevant to the story to tell it any other way.

The reason I mention all of this is because I'm going to share one of these flashback scenes from Rising Book 2 on my blog today. It was really hard to find one that wouldn't spoil certain things in the first book for anyone who hasn't read it, but I think I managed it.

So under the "read more" cut below, here's a flashback scene from Rising Book 2. It takes place around nine years before the start of Rising Book 1. (And it's still a work in progress--I'm not done writing the first draft of Book 2 yet.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Avatar: The Legend of Korra...and a "Rising" interview and a review.

Last year, I did a post on the tv show "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and how it is one of the best shows I have ever seen--cartoon or otherwise. (I also said the movie "The Last Airbender" was a travesty to what the show was. It kind of destroyed everything I love about it.) I have watched the tv show so many times--it's only 61 episodes, about 22 minutes each, and so, so worth watching. Anyway, the creators/writers have been working on a sequel, called "The Legend of Korra." "Korra" takes place 70 years after the end of "Avatar: The Last Airbender." It premieres next month, though they do have a website where the first two episodes will premiere this Saturday, because they got 100,000 new likes and shares on facebook and twitter. :D

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am for this. The world-buildling, the characterization, the friendships, romances, consistency, the humor, the way the characters matured from little kids--the writers gave me all of that on the first show and made me trust their storytelling skills absolutely.

Here's a trailer for the new show. Story + characters + animation = gorgeous.

Here's a fanmade trailer that someone made for the original show, "Avatar: The Last Airbender":


I was also interviewed by author Mavis Duke Hinton on her blog: Interview. Come back on Monday to see an interview with her here. :)

Krista McLaughlin left an awesome review for "Rising Book 1: Resistance" on her blog: Rising review at The Jelly Beans of Writing

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rachel Morgan's "Guardian" - Blog Tour Stop

Today, it's my pleasure to introduce you to Rachel Morgan, author of the Creepy Hollow series. Her first book, Guardian, was released earlier this month.

1. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Not exactly. As long as I can remember I’ve loved stories. I made up plenty while playing Barbies or acting out fantastical scenarios on the school playground. At some point in high school I started writing ideas down, but I never advanced further than a few chapters. It was after I finished my Honours in Genetics (and decided that research wasn’t for me) that I seriously decided I wanted to write for a living.

2. Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely, if you can make enough from it to live on! Actually, now that I’m thinking about it... even if you don’t make enough money from your writing, that shouldn’t make it any less of a career. We writers sure as heck put enough time into it that it should count as a career! But it would be a dream come true to me if I could make a living solely telling stories :-)

3. What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book (which has not yet been inflicted upon the reading world) was inspired solely by the idea of a guard falling in love with his prisoner. The story became about so much more than that, but that was the original idea. It’s interesting how stories develop and grow and transform from that tiny initial spark.

4. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Right now I’d have to pick Cassandra Clare. I think she writes beautifully as well as being able to tell such brilliant and complex stories. She has twists that I don’t always see coming, heart-wrenching love stories, and characters that I just can’t get enough of :-)

5. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Um... read? In between teaching, and writing and social networking, though, there isn’t much time for reading (or anything else, for that matter!). There are a few TV shows I enjoy watching (like The Vampire Diaries, Modern Family and Glee), and movies are nice to go too as well (yay, Hunger Games!).

6. What books are on your bedside table right now?
Well there’s my Kindle, which is full of books, and there’s also Legend by Marie Lu and Switched by Amanda Hocking (yeah, I haven’t read that yet. Shocking, I know!).

7. Do you listen to music when you write? What songs/bands have most recently inspired you to write?
Thanks to you, I have most recently been inspired by the band He is We. I fell in love with All About Us after you shared it on your blog :-) There’s a scene a few books on in the Creepy Hollow series that comes to mind now every time I hear that song.

8. If you could be a character in any fiction, who would you be? Why?
Hmm... Last time I answered this question I chose Lyra from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, but this time I’m going to pick Hermione. She’s smart, funny, loyal, pretty, can do magic, survive a wizard war, and is friends with the famous Harry Potter!

Thanks SOO much, Laura, for hosting me on your blog today!

I've had the pleasure of reading Guardian--it was a fun novellette, and I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series. You can purchase the book at the links below, and check out Rachel's blog and other info. ^_^

Rachel Morgan was born in South Africa and spent a large portion of her childhood living in a fantasy land of her own making. These days, in between teaching mathematics to high school children, she writes fiction for young adults.

The Creepy Hollow Series

Author Info

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lucky 7 Meme

Tara Tyler has tagged me in the Lucky 7 Meme.

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS.
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy down the next 7 lines - sentences or paragraphs - and post them as they're written. No cheating.
4. Tag 7 authors.

In my case, I'm not going to tag other authors because there are soooo many people doing this right now--instead, I'm going to say if you haven't done this meme and you want to, have at it! It's super fun. ^_^

My current manuscript is Rising Book 2: Rebellion, and fortunately, I'm well past 77 pages. ("Fortunately" because I'm on a deadline to finish the first draft by the end of April.) The fun thing about this is that these snippets are so short, it could make sense or not make sense. ;) Here are my current seven lines starting at line 7 on page 77.

"She hasn't exactly been very forthcoming."
"She never is." Freya stood up and looked at Lachlan expectantly, and he took that as his cue to leave.
Lachlan rose and waited for a mild wave of dizziness to pass. "Thank you again." He exited the tent and made his way back over to the one he'd left earlier, waving at Kilta and Tobias, who were still beside the fire, as he passed them.

And while I'm at it, here's a song from my Rising Book 2 playlist (which has about 25 songs on it). This is "One Day" by Trading Yesterday, one of my all-time favorite bands.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Angry Birds Birthday Cake

My son's birthday party is tomorrow. He wanted an Angry Birds birthday cake, so I spent today baking and putting it together. Here is the finished six-layer cake:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's all about the characters.

This past weekend was crazy--we had storms (high winds, hail, thunderstorms, tornadoes) come through the south, my cats got spayed and I had to get the vet's permission to pick them up early to avoid said storms, and then I fell sick again--it's been ridiculous for illnesses this winter--and I could hardly focus on anything.

On Saturday night, my husband and I started watching the tv show The Walking Dead, and I am sooooooo not a zombie person. I mean, I cannot begin to express how much I am not a zombie person. I have been horrified of everything zombie-related since my sister sat me down and made me watch 28 Days Later some years ago. But I started watching this show because one of my friends recommended it. Given that this friend is much more of a biographies and contemporary fiction sort of person, I was intrigued. I've spent most of the time with my eyes looking like this: O_O or covering my eyes or holding hubby's hand so tightly I'm probably cutting off his circulation. And then after every episode I watched in the first season, I went and squeezed my kids and still looked like this: O_O

My daughter, who's about to turn seven, wisely told me, "Mommy, it wouldn't be so scary if you stopped watching it!"

She's absolutely right, and as I'm asking myself whhhy am I freaking myself out like this, here's the answer: characterization.

Yup. This show has amazing characterization. They made me care about the characters immediately, and they keep introducing characters that I care about (and then freak out about--"AHH, AHH, this person's going to get eaten, I KNOW IT") but the point is, as a reader/television viewer, if you can make me care about the characters, I will step far beyond the bounds of my comfort zones to read/see the story, because I want to know what happens to these characters.The actual zombies freak. me. out. Of course, it probably doesn't help that we watched the first episode at like midnight, so I spent the whole night dreaming about zombies. (Fortunately, they were not panicky, scary dreams, but just annoying ones.)

And that is why I am watching a horror/sci-fi/zombie apocalpyse show that I simultaneously can't stand and enjoy. It's all about the characters.

(I should add that as we've moved into season 2, I'm doing much better on the dealing with zombies front. I also am still enthralled with the characterization.)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Announcing "Guardian," the first book in the Creepy Holly series by Rachel Morgan.

"Guardian" and Other Book Announcements:

First, my books Smashwords is having a site promotion for the next week, and during that time, you can get both Rising Book 1: Resistance and Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School) half off with the promotional coupons on those pages.

Second, Alex J. Cavanaugh has his blog tour for his book, CassaFire going on now, in case you've missed that.

And now, for the main blog attraction: Today the Creepy Hollow series by Rachel Morgan kicks off with the release of her first story, GUARDIAN!!

GUARDIAN introduces readers to the magical world of Creepy Hollow, a realm where fae creatures both safe and definitely-not-so-safe dwell. Things are cool as long the fae stick to their own realm. It's when they find their way into the human world that things start going wrong...

1. Receive assignment.
2. Save a life.
3. Sleep.
4. Repeat.

Protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures is all in a day’s work for a faerie training to be a guardian. Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale knows this better than anyone—she’s about to become the best guardian the Guild has seen in years. That is, until one of her assignments—a human boy who shouldn’t even be able to see her—follows her into the fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild Law, a crime that could lead to her expulsion.

The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the boy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he’s discovered of the fae realm. Easy, right? But Nate and Vi are about to land themselves in even bigger trouble—and it’ll take all Vi’s training to get them out alive.

The Creepy Hollow Series

Author Info

To find out more about the series, the author, and the characters, check out the blog tour that’s happening over the next two weeks.

I'll be hosting one of the blog tour stops on March 15, so check back then for an interview with Rachel. ^_^

Monday, February 27, 2012

Harry Potter and Blog Tour Link #7

Last night was an epic reading night for me and my kids. We finished reading the last Harry Potter book. Now, I've read them quite a lot--I started reading them before Goblet of Fire was released, before I even had kids--and I've explained to them how I had to wait years in between the last books to see what happened. I started reading them to my kids at bedtime almost a year ago. When we were packing up all of our things to move from Ohio back to Tennessee, I kept out the book we were on so that we could keep reading and know where the book was during the move.

And now we're done. It was so much fun to share with my kids something that I had so much fun with, and to see the things they thought and enjoyed.

(Next, they want me to read them one of my books, which was totally their idea, and kind of weird for son ran over to the bookshelf yesterday and grabbed it off of there.)

Is there a book/series that you've loved reading over and over, or sharing with others?


Today's Rising blog tour link is over at the fantabulous Tara Tyler's blog.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Blog Tour Link #6 and Once Upon A Time.

Today, Rising Book 1: Resistance is featured over on the awesome Kate Johnston's blog. She posted about what it was like to see this book get written.

Today is also the last day to enter Laura's contest to win a paperback copy of Rising.

It's Sunday, and usually there's a new episode of Once Upon A Time on, though not tonight. I know quite a lot of people have been talking about it in blogs lately, but I'm curious: Do any of you watch the show Once Upon A Time, and if so, what do you think of it? What do you think of the way the stories interweave and how characters aren't always "good" and "bad," but far more layered and ambiguous? I'm loving it, and my kids are watching it with me--it's the first show they've watched me with me as it aired, so that's been fun. Of course, I'm a sucker for fairy tales anyway.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Blog Tour Link #5 - The Importance of Being Part of A Writing Group. Also, music.

First, today's Rising blog tour link is over at the lovely Faith King's blog. (She is also my co-author on the YA inspirational fantasy Restoration series. :D) She talks about the importance of being part of a writing group, so go check that out if you have a minute!

I have a gigantic playlist that I listened to while writing this book, but there was one particular song was on repeat for a lot of the time I wrote Rising Book 1. It was the theme song for my character Mairwyn (pronounced mire-win), who was one of my two narrators. It's called "Roadside" by Rise Against.

Hope you all have a fantabulous day!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Finding a balance and blog tour #4 link

Yesterday, I withdrew from this year's A-Z blog challenge. I did the challenge last year and had a blast and met some awesome people, but after having some long conversations and doing a lot of thinking yesterday, I realized I need to take a step or ten back in some things. Between family and homeschooling and editing and writing and blogging, I realized I have barely had any time to actually write. I'm on a deadline to finish Rising Book 2--I need a complete first draft by April, which shouldn't be a problem if I can actually sit down and do it. I know what needs to happen and I already have lots of the book written. But as April is the A-Z challenge...yeah. You see my conundrum. Even though I already had decided on my A-Z blog topics and even jotted down some ideas, I knew how the month of April and part of March would end up some bizarre blogging time-vacuum.

Plus, my kids' birthday are March and April, and one or two days for each birthday will be taken up with cake-making. Every year, I design and make the cakes for their birthdays. Last year, I made Appa from Avatar: The Last Airbender for my son:



and Wall-E for my daughter:



(Appa had, I kid you not, 22 cups of powdered sugar. It was a HUGE cake with so. much. frosting.)

This year, my son wants Lightning McQueen. My daughter just told me she wants a Hello Kitty cake.

I think all writers need to find a balance in what to do and what's too much and what they need to do in order to still be able to write. I have a lot of thoughts on this, but I'm still thinking over them, so I'll leave it at that.

How do you balance your writing with everything else you do?


Today's Rising blog tour is a review of the book over at the incredible Donna Weaver's blog.

The paperback giveaway at Laura's blog still has a few more days. (I'd posted it ended Saturday, but it ends Sunday.)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blog Tour #3 Link

Thank you all for your wonderful comments on my blog the past couple of days. Aside from continuing to put together blog tour stuff, I've been spending most of the past couple of days writing Rising Book 2: Rebellion (which is the only other book in this series) and homeschooling and trying to keep up on housework.

Today's Rising Book 1: Resistance blog tour link is a guest post over on the fantabulous Laura Pauling's blog, in which I talk about the differences between writing my speculative fiction book versus my contemporary fiction book.

Laura (a different Laura—yes, there are a lot of Lauras out there) still has the giveaway for the signed paperback of Rising going on here: paperback giveaway. It's super easy to enter.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Write Like You're the Only Person in the Room." Also, links to blog tour stop #2 and a giveaway.

Aside from the release of Rising Book 1, this week has been full of awesome stuff. First, I was hired as a freelance editor for Whiskey Creek Press, which I'm super excited about. I get the opportunity to combine three things I love: editing, reading fiction, and helping other writers with their books. I'm really looking forward to working with this publishing company and being a part of the process of helping authors get their books ready for publication.

Second, my son (who is turning nine in a few weeks) passed his most recent belt test in Taekwondo. He's a green belt now, so he starts advanced classes, and I have to get him sparring gear. My husband and I passed our tests as well and got our yellow belts. The helpful thing about having a son who's more advanced than us is that when we get stuck on a new pattern, we can be like, "Um, help, please?"

I did a post before on how Taekwondo is like writing. I've learned another thing about writing from Taekwondo, which ties in a lot with the Darth Vader/Comfort Zone stuff I was talking about recently. I've never done well when I have to perform in front of people. When I took gymnastics years ago, I was always super self-conscious about the fact that even mothers were watching. Well, when my son and I went to take our belt tests the week before last, there were like three hundred people there. About a third of them were testing, and about two thirds were watching, and there I was, a beginner student, expected to get up in front of judges and the whole room and show what I'd learned. Granted, they did have us test in groups of three or four, but I was so nervous when we walked into that room. I was self-conscious about even practicing in front of all those people. I leaned toward my son and told him, "I am so nervous. I'm going to forget my patterns or something. There are all these people watching!"

My son looked at me very earnestly and said, "Mommy, you just have to imagine you're the only person in the room."

My husband (who couldn't make it to that testing) told me pretty much the same thing when I frantically texted him before testing started.

So I took a deep breath and did just that. And I did fine. Then I used the same analogy recently in discussions with a fellow writer, because it's completely relatable to writing. Those scenes that make me nervous, I will remind myself to write as if I'm the only person there. I mean, I'm the only person looking at these scenes as I type, but I write them knowing that soon they'll be going to family and friends, and eventually, they'll be released into the world.

Those invisible eyes can be daunting. If you find yourself questioning what you're writing or worrying what other people are going to think, my advice to you is this: Write like you're the only person in the room.

Do the invisible eyes get to you or do you already write like you're the only person in the room?


And finally, today's Rising Book 1: Resistance links and information:

1. Yesterday there were people who participated in the release event for the book. I had been going to give away several e-copies of the books and announce the winners today, so here it is: everyone who participated in the Rising Release Event will receive an e-copy of the book. If you signed up and participated in that yesterday (or had told me you'd be doing it Monday or today), you should have received an email from me; if I somehow missed you, please email me at the address under "contact" at the top of my blog and let me know. Thank you all so much for your help in spreading the news!

2. Rachel Morgan is hosting today's blog tour. She's an incredibly generous and wonderful person and I'm thrilled to be featured on her blog. If you're not already following her, you totally should be. To check out my interview on her blog, go here: Blog Tour Stop #2

3. Laura, whom I met through Twitter some months ago, is giving away a paperback copy of Rising Book 1. She did this entirely on her own—she asked me about signing a copy of the book, but she put the whole thing together because she loved the book and wanted to share it. (Thank you, Laura!!) Her giveaway runs through this Sunday, the 26th, and you can check out the contest and enter it here on her blog: Rising Paperback Giveaway.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rising Book 1: Resistance is Now Available!

Today is the release event for my latest novel, Rising Book 1: Resistance! I'm so excited to finally get to share this with everyone. :D It's also the start of the blog tour--you can visit the awesome Barbara Kloss's blog to check that the first stop on the tour.

All Alphonse wants is a quiet summer at home before his final months at university. What he gets is a half-dead stranger on his doorstep and the task of delivering a package to the leader of his home country. Not long after he boards a train toward the capital, he's attacked by knights, elite soldiers of the neighboring king.

Alphonse is temporarily rescued by Mairwyn, a mechanic with a haunted past and a deep hatred of knights. Together, they attempt to carry out Alphonse's urgent errand, only to learn that if they fail, countless people will die.

And even if they succeed, they may not be able to prevent the war that lurks on the horizon.


Rising Book 1: Resistance is now available in:
Ebook format:

Amazon (Kindle)

Barnes and Noble (Nook)

Smashwords (everything else)



To see the book on Goodreads, you can go here: Rising Book 1 on Goodreads

And finally, you can still read the beginning of the book here.


Thanks to all of you for your encouragement and support through my process of working on this book. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it!! You are all awesome! I hope you have a fantabulous day. ^_^

Friday, February 17, 2012

Of Mermaid Inspiration

So, I was going to do a post today about writing scenes of hope/healing, as a follow up to my Darth Vader/Breaking out of your comfort zone post. However, I have been sick the past couple of days, and instead of writing the post on hopeful, healing scenes, I spent the day in bed, drinking tea and sucking on tootsie pops. (Okay, I did eat actual healthy food, too; I even managed to cook eggs this morning, despite my Nyquil-and-illness-induced-morning-haze.) While being sick in bed, I watched a bunch of episodes of a pre-teen/teenage show about girls who turn into mermaids if they get wet. Yup. Mermaids. (This now gives me the perfect excuse to draw a stick figure mermaid. I cannot resist.)

And you know what? I enjoyed it. Watching this TV show, that is, though I enjoyed drawing the mermaid, too. Most of my regular TV shows are "adult" and intense and sometimes silly, but still adult--and it was a lot of fun to watch this and see how the writers wove the character interactions and friendships--so far, I think they've done it really well, in a way that has kept me clicking to watch the next episode.

Sometimes, if I'm feeling worn out with my writing and I need inspiration, I'll pause and read a book, or watch some movies, or play some video games. Depending on my mood, any of these things can get my imagination going, or help me work through a plot problem, or whatever. Seeing different worlds and stories and characters that have been created by other people is a very powerful thing. Such is the case with me at the moment; taking a break and watching something different has really helped my creativity. When my head doesn't feel like it's stuffed full of cotton, I feel I'll be even more ready to dive back into my current novel. (Which, for the record, has absolutely nothing to do with mermaids.)

What helps you get your creative juices going? Has this winter been as insane for weather and illnesses for you as it has for me? How many licks DOES it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop??

Monday, February 13, 2012

Origins Blogfest

Today is the Origins Blogfest, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, Matthew McNish, DL Hammons, and Katie Mills. (Thank you all!)

The story of how my writing dreams began isn't really anything huge or profound. I've been writing since I could even attempt to spell words. I used to write stories for my first grade class and bring them in to read them. In third grade, I was working on a story about a planet made from candy. (I had an illustration of this concept in one of my first blog posts...let me see if I can dredge it up...)

Aha, here it is!

(The Twizzler grass was my favorite part of this story.)

I loved reading; I read any book I could get my hands on. My third grade teacher made my whole class learn how to read in the cafeteria when everyone was being loud, so we could learn to focus. I probably didn't need a lot of help in blocking things out when getting sucked into another world, and it sure didn't serve me well in fourth grade, when my next teacher was constantly trying to get my attention before class started. One time, I was so sucked into a book that it wasn't until my fourth grade teacher was like, "LAURA!" that I looked up and realized everyone was standing up for the pledge of allegiance.

I had a really hard time finishing stories, though--child and then teenage me had a difficult time with the concept that stories had to be finished when they got boring. There were so many shiny new plot bunnies to explore! And when I did come close to finishing, I suffered The Great Computer Crashes™ and didn't bother going back and rewriting everything. This attitude has, obviously, changed in the years since.

I finished my first "novel" at age fifteen. It took me two years to write it. I laugh a lot now, because it was about 90 pages long, and that seemed sooooo long to me. It was probably a novella, not a novel.

I've loved words for as long as I can remember. I love the idea that words can suck us in and spur the imagination onward; I love stories that can touch the heart and make me think about them for years afterward. I write because that's the story I want to tell: one that will make a mark on someone, that might leave an imprint. This dream didn't really ever have a definitive beginning--it's kind of just grown with me my whole life.