From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Choose Yes if you mean No?

I don't know about you but I absolutely Hate those pesky convoluted questions written by lawyers that land on the ballot. Does my yes choice mean yes or no? I have to read them several times and usually I'm still at a loss for what to choose.  So, now I go to www.ElectionsOnThe.Net print the ballot a few weeks ahead of time and do my research. I can poll my smarter friends and generally we figure out what the question means.

I know, you've heard enough about voting this election season.  Well, I'm not hear to weigh in with my opinion, campaign for any person or cause. I simply want to share a resource and hope that everyone educates themselves with the facts.  Nothing worse for me than being asked to make a decision and regretting my choice later because I didn't have all the facts.

If you are like me and don't like to be surprised or tripped up by verbage, then take a minute or two and search for your state's ballot.  I've already got mine, highlighted and stuffed in my purse.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Miss Wheaton's Whiskers by Susan Gee Heino






New Release  - Kindle Edition





A Regency Romance
Her little white lies are no match for true love...
One little lie--the tiniest whisker--throws pampered Miss Wheaton into a pickle. Soon one lie leads to another, and now scandal is dogging her every move. What's worse, she's found herself in the arms of the notorious duke who caused all the trouble! Will this tangle of falsehood wrap them in ruin, or will Miss Wheaton's whiskers lead to true love?

Quick! Go check it out!  I'll wait.

Congratulations on the new release Susan! 
What a beautiful cover!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Of Ducks and Witches

If she weighs the same as a duck...she's made of wood...and therefore...she's a witch!

I don't recall a time when I've ever stepped onto a political or social soapbox, but by gum I just have to say something about this whole Chick-Fil-A situation. Not about what actually was or wasn't said or which Constitutional Amendments might have been violated or even whether the pro-family right is a better or worse position than the liberal left.

What really gets my boxers in a bunch is how quick everyone is to allow misrepresentations in the media to inflame their thoughtless passions. I think the Zombie Apocalypse started many years ago when sensationalist media started eating people's brains. It's times like these that make me glad to be a writer, where I can escape from the chaos of reality and create worlds where people actually use their heads before grabbing torches to light up the old woman with nose warts and a black hat.

Maybe it's the way I was raised. My parents always encouraged me to be skeptical about the things I see and hear, to ask questions, to have doubts, to do a little research on news and issues, and to hear all sides before drawing my own conclusions. I don't depend on other people to tell me what or how to think and I absolutely REFUSE to become impassioned about something I first read on the Internet.

It didn't take long after Dan Cathy's interview statements were taken out of context by the media that liberals everywhere became outraged and photos began appearing all over social websites. The most ridiculous of these snapshots depicted billboards at national fast food chains carrying the slogan "We support Chick-Fil-A, now try to boycott us!" People began Liking all these pictures and sharing them on their personal accounts. Did anyone even once stop to wonder about the validity of any of this? My, how easily our nation is distracted and flustered by anyone these days with digital imaging software and access to the Internet. The pictures reminded me of my absolute favorite quote from Facebook:

"Don't believe everything you see on the internet" - Abraham Lincoln

This whole Chick-Fil-A hype is really a call to arms for writers everywhere to remember our solemn duty to create work that inspires and restores order back into today's over-stimulated, over-reactive, over-entertained, over-educated, over-sensationalized, and over-manipulated society. Let's give people a reason to ask for their brains back because there's an awfully tremendous need for them right now.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

RWA 2012- Day Two

I've already met some very lovely ladies! Not that I expected any differently. But being a newbie at this Amazing and Large conference is super overwhelming.  That being said, everyone has been very helpful, kind, informative and friendly.

My first friend is Tracy Brogan from the Dashing Duchesses! We met in the Chicago airport during our layover and she has been wonderful. Guiding me where I need to go, giving me very useful advice. The best of which has been, "Empty your bag frequently, you WILL keep getting free books and promotional swag."

So very right! I already have 12 new books just by checking in!!!!  Can't wait to see what else I come away with.  Got my camera at the ready too!  Hope to update with photos later today!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

RWA 2012 - Day One

Packed my bag last night. Yep one bag. VERY heavy.

Got up at 5:45 this morning, Ugh. With a capital U.

Drove the hour to Dayton, OH.Splurged and parked in a luxury valet site, even getting the oil changed in my truck while I'm gone. Very nice to have full service.

Check in was fun. Two separate couples in front of me had the strangest checked 'luggage'. Couple one took over 45 mins to check in with their three children and two unknown animals in their two crates. I never did get a good look but I'm thinking cats or maybe ferrets. I watched at they had to use a drill to put holes in the crates all the way around. That was great for the animals! Then run zip ties through each set of holes. TWO crates, may I remind you. Then, after that task was complete (Which the solitary male ticket attendant on duty did not multi-task like any good woman and usher anyone else through while he waited on the task to be completed.) next came a mountain of paperwork for each crate along with I'm not sure what all documentation needed to be strapped to the crates as well as individual bags of food.  And I'm not even to the good part of the story yet.  Next, he picks up both crates.  I'm thinking, here we go, finally he'll put them on the conveyor belt and it'll be my turn soon; I'm second in line.  Nope, hopes are dashed. He steps over the baggage scale and walks across the lobby to a special door in the corner with a TSA person.  There is another 10 min or so lost while he helps them check the animals there.

SERIOUSLY?

They couldn't have been directed gone over there in the first place?  Has no one heard of efficiency?

While this is going on a second ticket agent has shown up. Poor gentleman has the good fortune of getting the one person who is checking a FIREARM! Really?  This is a post 9/11 world!  Where have you been?????  Best part, it only took them five minutes to fill out the necessary paperwork and turn over the item. That's it.

Here's your lesson. Animals are considered more dangerous on a plane than a firearm. Next time, ship the animals UPS and pack your gun.

Storms are still a brewing in the Dayton, OH area and in Chicago, my connecting flight to Anaheim, CA. I will get to the RWA Conference. I know I will.  And dearest Susan Gee Heino will be waiting with a frosty cold one. I'm going to really need it.



*****11:48am UPDATE******
In bound flight was just cleared to land. Yay! Hopefully, I'll be Chicago bound soon!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Headed to RWA 2012!!!!!

I'm heading out next Tuesday for the 2012 Romance Writers of America Conference in Anaheim, CA.  I absolutely, cannot, wait!  Six days of girl time with my favorite authors.

Last night, I got together with the highly talented historical romance author, Susan Gee Heino and planned my wardrobe for the week. I have picked several very exciting and beautiful dresses along with matching shoes. In my small social sphere I'm well known for my addiction to footwear. See below picture of my must haves!



I can already see that one or two of my favorites is missing.  I really need a taller shelving system, don't I?

So, after planning what I should pack, we moved on to what goals I would like to accomplish during the event itself.  Here is where I might go a bit fan girl crazy. You see, I'm a big, HUGE some might say, Sabrina Jeffries fan. I own every book she's ever written. Even the anthologies.
I buy them on release day.
Always.


Doesn't she just look like a lovely, fun person to know?

I have made it my goal, albeit not a writerly growth goal, to meet Ms. Jeffries during those few days.  That being said...I have also warned dearest Susan that I, in all likelihood, will probably make a fool of myself and bumble my own name.  If I can even spit it out.

I have given Susan the task of getting my picture, if I am still up right and conscious. Sabrina, if you are reading this (which I hope you are!) Please do not be worried that I am one of those crazy fans who is going to stalk you right into the ladies room, nor am I going to jump up and down and scream. Well, at least I hope not, anyway. But, in all seriousness, I have read your stories for all of my adult life.  Some of them upwards of ten times! You are big part of why I have begun the monumental task of putting my stories in front of people who are going to critique my work, judge me. Decide if I can change my official occupation to Writer.

Her kind words of encouragement written on her website to her fans helped me find the gumption to dive into the writing world wholeheartedly.

I realize that I am staring into the face of great opportunity at this conference.  There are important workshops given by amazing authors. Agents, editors, publishers....the list goes on of the who's who in the publishing industry that I will be rubbing shoulders with. I plan to attend everything I can. But, from the heart of a young girl, the most exciting aspect of this coming week is that I'll get to meet someone who's words made my heart leap, sore, dive and love. I can only hope I get the chance to say thank you.

Don't forget to check back in.  I will have plenty of pictures and stories to post!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Blog Noveling

When I was in college, while bored in my Philosophy class in sophomore year, I started writing a story about a girl named Liz McLancy, the second oldest of seven kids.  At the time, I didn't know what I was writing.  I knew the McLancy family was having a reunion.  I knew Liz didn't want to go home for said reunion due to a scarred past.

Other than that...I had no idea.

Fast forward to the summer after graduation and I am still working on that novel, writing almost every day.  I finish it by the end of the summer, and a month or so later I start revising it.  This would become the first novel I would send into the world.

I stopped, though, because a year later, my writing voice and style had changed SO much that it didn't sound like me anymore.  And I also realized that there wasn't a huge market for the story of a radical cult in the YA market right now (on top of that, I wasn't 100% certain it WAS Young Adult).

I've been wanting to re-revise this novel for some time now.  It holds a special place in my heart and is almost constantly in the back of my mind.  And so...I'm blogging this novel as I fix it.

Yeah.  You heard right.

http://www.northebattletothestrong.blogspot.com


I will be posting the novel sequentially, chapter by chapter (or, as it is, parts of chapter by parts of chapter) until you have the full novel.  A FREE NOVEL!  On a BLOG!

I'm very excited about this project!

I'll be posting parts of the novel on Mondays and Wednesdays, and some Fridays.  On other Fridays, I'll be posting little "behind the scenes"-esque posts about the characters, the idea, the research...answering your questions...anything.

Also, if you go and "like" my Facebook author page, you will be certain to get word of the new parts going up as soon as they happen!

I hope to see you around my blog novel and I hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Three Questions: Getting to Know Your Setting

Location, location, location!  In real estate, they say that location is everything. In your writing, SETTING plays a significant role.

1)  Real or imaginary?  If your location is a real place, have you actually been there?  If not, best be planning a road trip or else some serious research.  You need to truly know a place in order to write about it so that your readers believe it. You don’t want to be called out on your descriptions by the locals – that’s something that could completely blow your credibility. Conversely, if the town you write about is entirely fictional, you need to describe it so your readers will believe that it actually exists or possibly could.


2) Big city lights or down-home hospitality? In some instances, your location actually becomes a supporting character. Think of Sex and the City or The Andy Griffith Show. In Sex and the City, New York plays a major role. The show would not have been the same if it were set in Detroit, for example. Same thing with The Andy Griffith Show. Mayberry has a flavor, a texture, a feel so that not only do you believe it is real, but you can actually imagine what it would be like to visit, or even live there yourself.


3) Past, present or future? The Help would be a very different novel had Kathryn Stockett set it in 1942 or 2012. Instead, the setting is 1962, in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. How would your story be different if it were set in the 1980’s? (Just think how much technology has changed since then!) What if it were set 10 years into the future?

Setting is too often neglected in discussions on good story telling. However, a little extra attention to this detail will reward your audience with a deeper reading experience!



If you don't find Beth here, come look out back in the garden.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Iridescent

Every so often, I stumble upon a song that pertains so perfectly to whatever project I'm working on at the time that I can't help but go buy it on iTunes right away.  This happened to me with the Linkin Park song "Iridescent" a couple of months ago, and it hasn't left my iPod since.  It's just one of those songs that fits perfectly in the mind of my main character in my dystopian project.




You were standing in the wake of devestation
You were waiting on the edge of the unknown
With the cataclysm raining down
Insides crying "save me now"
You were there and possibly alone

Do you feel cold and lost in desperation?
You build up hope, but failure's all you've known
Remember all the sadness and frustration
And let it go, let it go

And in the burst of light that blinded every angel
As if the sky had blown the heavens into stars
You felt the gravity of tempered grace
Falling into empty space
No one there to catch you in their arms

Do you feel cold and lost in desperation?
You build up hope, but failure's all you've known
Remember all the sadness and frustration
And let it go, let it go

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Caption This!


Here is my three-year-old son, don't we all just wish we could capture that much energy and excitement for even one day?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Three Questions: Getting to Know Your Character

So, here's a quick quiz for you.  How well do you know your character?  Can you answer these three questions about him/her?

1)  What kind of underwear does your character wear?  Tighty whities?  Boxer briefs?  Bikini?  Commando?  Underwear choice says a lot about a person. 

2)  If your character saw a penny laying on the ground, would they stoop to pick it up?  Would they pick it up only if it were "heads up" because they are superstitious?  Would they pick it up because they were so broke that they needed a measly penny?  Would they step over it?  Would they miss it completely because they have their head in the clouds?
 
 3)  Who would your character take a bullet for?  Their family?  A friend?  What about their boss?  How about a complete stranger?  Nobody? 

Obviously, your reader doesn't need to know your answers. (Unless you are writing romance, in which case, question number one may be of paramount importance.)  However, the better able YOU are to answer these things then the more rich and complex your character will ultimately be!

Happy writing!!

Some days, you can find Beth here:  bethnbijoux

Monday, June 11, 2012

My Ever-Inspiring Roomies

These are my roommates.  This is an example of what "normal" is around our apartment.  And THIS is why I will never have a lack of inspiration when it comes to my characters...



(I'll probably have to sleep with my door locked tonight, for posting this on the internet.  Or perhaps I will just have to...not tell them.  That seems the safer option!)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fish Frenzy!


I could NOT resist! This will be me tonight after work.  I have the great fortune to work for one of my best friends. Well, she is the back bone of this office, keeps all of us on task, on track and focused.  She left today for a destination wedding and, well, we're already headless chickens!

Miss you much dearest!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Welcome To Summer.....

Summer is my favorite season. As a homeschooling mother of four I need the slower pace of the summer to take a break from my frantic schedule. As a family we enjoy swimming, hiking, and camping. For personal activities, I enjoy the slower pace to catch up on cleaning/organizing my house, walking my dog, and of course, writing! How about you...what do you enjoy most about summer?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bloomin' Wednesday with Beth

"People from a planet without flowers would think
we must be mad with joy the whole time
to have such things about us." 

~Iris Murdoch


Poppies

Sweet William, Bachelor Buttons, Coreopsis


Lupine, Dianthus



Monday, May 28, 2012

Trading Bookcases

Almost a year ago, I moved into the apartment I currently live in.  When this event occurred, I only owned two decent-sized bookcases (one six foot, one three foot), plus a mini bookcase (for my writing things), and a tiny bookcase extension that attaches to the top of my dresser.  When I moved, I moved figuring that I was going to buy another six foot bookcase eventually.  This happened a few months after moving in, but mostly what went on there were the old, childhood books that I was determined to get out of their boxes.

The rest of my books, however, stayed where I'd put them the night I moved into my apartment.

For a while, this was fine, because it was manageable.  And then many of the authors I love published new books...and books got sequels...and Half Price books had sales...and suddenly my original six foot bookcase got a little overflowing.

It's like a game of Tetris when I buy new books.
Today was deemed the day in which bookcases were going to get reorganized.  I've started reading so many books that are planned as trilogies or series, and I've gotten into reading so many different authors, that I know over the coming year, I'm sure I'll buy just as many books as I did the last twelve months.  After a couple of hours, I had a much better book situation going in my room.

Bookcase #1 (the one with the original mess)
The After Picture

Bookcase #2 (the one with all the childhood books and nothing else)
The After Picture

But best of all, my wonderful dystopian shelf has plenty of room for all of my dystopian-novel-obsessing.  It has the tallest shelf, so I can easily stack books on top of each other, plus it's not even full yet.  This is a great improvement from what it looked like before.

Dystopian shelf -- Before
New and Improved Dystopian shelf
The big test is going to be when I try to locate one of my books.  I'm going to guess that it's going to take me some time to get used to my new arrangement!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Revision Checklist

I recently read a book titled "Stein on Writing" by editor/author/instructor Sol Stein. A section of his book is dedicated to helping writers revise their drafts in the most efficient and effective manner. Since many of our members have completed first drafts and are now in revision mode, I thought this would be a timely lesson to share.

When I first began writing, I figured I'd be finished with my story as soon as I typed the words "The End" in my first draft. I didn't know much about the revision process and thought my first draft would be my final submission after making a few minor spelling and grammar changes. Wow was I ever wrong!

I've come to think that the process of story-writing is much more like baking a cake. Writing that first draft is like gathering all the necessary ingredients together and setting them out on the kitchen counter to see what you have to work with and discover what you might still be missing. It isn't until the draft is written and the ingredients are all together that you whip out your revising cups and tablespoons and begin measuring in the flour, sugar, eggs, and spices until it tastes just right. Several revisions later, you're preheating the oven and spreading the frosting for everyone to enjoy!

According to Sol Stein, the best way to revise is to start with the big problems first. Then you work on the medium problems, small problems, and finally the tiny changes such as grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Tackle these areas in succession to make your revision process as quick and effective as possible:


  1. Determine what represents the sense of wonder, enlightenment, or excitement in your story and make sure that level of enthusiasm is maintained throughout the story. Too many stories start out exciting and then just fizzle out.
  2. Is the main character exciting enough to hold the reader's interest throughout the story? What motivates the main character and drives her to act and change throughout the story?
  3. Do you really like your antagonist? You should! Your antagonist should be just as motivated to accomplish her goals as your protagonist and just as driven to succeed. Is your antagonist truly bad, or does she just behave badly? Villains who are truly evil are much more enjoyable than cardboard cut-outs who just cause trouble for the heck of it. What endearing or charming qualities does your villain possess that would allow the reader to care about them?
  4. Don't neglect your minor characters. They need to be credible and believable with their own motivations to act.
  5. Is the conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist credible and strong enough to sustain the reader's attention throughout the story?
  6. What is your most memorable scene? What makes it work so well? How can less memorable scenes be strengthened to this level?
  7. What is your least memorable scene? Does it move the story forward? Would the story be stronger without it? Consider rewriting it or cut it out completely.
  8. What are the three most important actions in your story? Are they motivated in a believable way? Remember that "coincidence" in a story is not a credible reason for any action to occur. Review all other actions and either strengthen, rewrite, or cut them if they're not absolutely necessary to moving the story forward.
  9. Place yourself in the reader's seat and read the first page of your story. Are you compelled to keep reading? If not, you have work to do.
  10. Make sure there's something visual on every single page of your story. Never give the reader an excuse to remember they're reading a story. Help them visualize and become involved in the story.
  11. After fixing all the above, you're now ready for general revisions:
    • Tighten the manuscript by cutting every word, sentence, paragraph and scene that does not contribute to the story. Be ruthless with your word choice and make every word work.
    • Vary your sentence lengths to avoid a monotonous voice.
    • Make sure the pacing matches your story arc.
    • Fix point of view errors.
    • Make sure the tension continues to mount throughout the story and the stakes are continually raised for the protagonist.
    • Get rid of all but the most essential adjectives and adverbs.
    • Eliminate all cliches and rewrite for originality.
    • Vary and clarify all dialogue tags.
    • Look for precise word choices and meanings.
    • Add variety to your dialogue. Can exposition be replaced by dialogue? Is the dialogue confrontational enough? Does it actually move the story forward or is it just banter?
    • Last but not least, correct all spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors.
By correcting the biggest problems first and working through your manuscript with the checklist above, your revision process will be much more focused, productive, and efficient.

By following this process, I've also learned to quiet my inner editor while I furiously write that first heated draft because I already know it won't be - and shouldn't be - perfect. I now know that writing my draft is just a way to sort through all the cupboards, drawers, and pantries looking for ideas and ingredients for a feast I can worry about baking and garnishing later for my readers.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Why I Need A Dry Erase Board In My Shower

The funny thing about inspiration is you never know exactly when it will strike.

Below is am email conversation I had today with my writing partner. By the way, we're both Michele. To clear the mud I'm Michele B and she's Michele D.  Writers that we are, we appreciate the comedy of the name situation.


writing
12 messages


Michele BThu, May 17, 2012 at 9:12 AM
To: Michele D
Hey where were you last night?  I was on until about 9ish.... Saw you wrote 800 words!  That's awesome!  You have to be inches from the finish line now!

In the shower this morning I finally came up with a hook for Treasures, I think. :)



Michele Thu, May 17, 2012 at 10:40 AM

To: Michele Buchholz 

No - I only got 1 file on chapt 18.

Thanks for looking at it - as I was going to sleep last night, I realized there were a couple things I need to insert in that chapter - just a few things here and there but I always think of them on my way to sleep (as in, I don't want to turn my light on to write it down, so I think I'll remember it and then never do. I'm hoping I'll think of it as I'm doing revisions. It would be so much more convenient if I could think of them in the shower like you do. But no, my brain doesn't work that way)  :)




Michele Buchholz Thu, May 17, 2012 at 10:43 AM
To: Michele 
Funny you think that about the shower.  I jump out dripping, soak my floor and mat, then drip all over my dresser while I write it down... That's if I get out and write it down.  Otherwise I do the same, repeat it hoping my goldfish memory will hold it until I"m done. :) Today I jumped out and wrote it down! 


Michele Thu, May 17, 2012 at 11:26 AM



To: Michele Buchholz

Ok, so clearly there is no best way. Usually I'm so sleepy and warm and I'm almost ready to slide under and I just don't want to mess that up. Darn brain! Why do they do that to us?

Maybe you could find a whiteboard that won't wash off - then you could just write the idea down without getting out. :)


Michele Buchholz Thu, May 17, 2012 at 11:58 AM
To: Michele 
That is a fabulous idea!

So, let this be a lesson for all of you linear, mathematical, engineer types. Writers, well, we're creative, spontaneous and innovative.  You have been warned. The bathroom floor may be wet, and there just might be marker or pen on unusual surfaces.  Just know, it is for the greater good of the human imagination.

Where was the strangest place that inspiration took hold of you?  What did you do about it?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Graduation To-Do List

This year my husband and I will be graduating our first high school student. You see, we have chosen to home educate our children, so on June 1st our oldest son will be graduating. We are participating in our home school support groups ceremony, and I'm really looking forward to the time. What I didn't anticipate was all of the things that needed to be finished prior to the "big day"

Here's a sample from my to-do list:

1. Choose graduation pictures
2. Write biography for program
3. Send pictures and biography to appropriate person
4. Put together graduation board (this requires sorting through years of photographs which make you sad)
5. Put together all info for college. (Transcript, loans etc...)
6. Prepare party for approximately 200 guest
7. Clean house for out-of-town company
8. Make list and purchase items for everything son will need for first year at college.
9. Cook, clean, grocery shop, maintain laundry etc....
10. Work on writing...it's what I love!

Congratulations to the class of 2012!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo

For eight years, I've participated in National Novel Writing Month in November.  I've only passed the 50,000-word finish line for the last few years, but regardless, I find the experience a great motivator to getting me to write every day.  I also love the community of writers that forms through the experience.

The Office of Letters and Light, the organization that hosts NaNoWriMo, kicked off an event last summer that they called "Camp NaNoWriMo", which was a novel-in-a-month event, but in the summer.  It's geared toward people who either can't wait until November's event or who don't have the ability to participate in November at all.



They're doing it again this year in June and August.  You can sign up at the official site, and there you will eventually be assigned to a "cabin" with 4-6 other writers to cheer each other on, you'll have access to the word count trackers we're familiar with in November, and you'll have the epic motivation that comes from writing a novel in a month with a bunch of other nutcases.

I've signed up to participate in June.  I need to get some first drafting done and this seems like as good an excuse as any.  I hope all of you will consider joining me on my first summer in Camp NaNoWriMo!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Home Improvement

This past weekend my husband and I tackled a home improvement project.  Like most couples we don't always see eye to eye or communicate well but, we have learned, over the years, not to get too worked up or frustrated.  We have the same goal in mind, we might have different routes planned, but the end result is always something beneficial for the whole family.

This project was no different, except there were some significant power tools involved.  And not to toot my own horn, well maybe just a bit, I have a very steady hand with power saws.  Not to mention, I love them.
However, what I do lack is brute strength.  So you can see that in building a pergola over our back patio my husband and I had to work as a productive machine.


Here's how it went down, or I should say, up:
Day 1: We are full of energy and carry six 6x6 posts that are about 15 feet tall around to the back yard.  We, or I should say my husband and our wonderful neighbor, dig all six post holes by hand.  This takes us ALL DAY! I helped finish the last hold in the dark.  My main role was to mix and pour the concrete into the holes and help brace the posts.



 Day 2: I carried all the 2x6 x10 boards around to the cutting station where I 'dog-eared' them.  My arms nearly fell off.  Treated lumber is extremely heavy. But, while I did the cutting the men did the lifting.  See, team work. Below is a picture of my husband cutting the excess off the posts once we had the stringers level. He is using a chain saw. I am standing back out of harm's way.
 Below is a picture of my cutting station.  I love that saw.
Coming soon: a finished photo once the patio stones are all back in place.  We expanded the patio about five feet as well for a larger grilling area.  At the end of day two a storm arrived so we didn't get to do the arranging and decorating yet.  Hubs went from post to post with an 18 inch drill bit, punching holes through the supports and posts.  I followed along behind and set the massive bolts in place that hold it all together.  We finished that up just as the wind picked up and the rain begin in earnest.  Teamwork, we succeeded through to the end.

Without my team here in Fiction Flurry, I doubt I'd be at the place I am in my path to publication.  Thanks much everyone!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

First Blooms

We know you like to write,
but what else do you do? 

What inspires you? 
Leave us a comment...

For me, it is gardening:








Monday, April 30, 2012

Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse

As we all know (or perhaps you don't), the world is supposedly going to end sometime on December 21, 2012.  The Mayans said so.

In other words, this is shaping up to be 2012's version of Y2K.  And much like I did back during that chaos, I've taken the sarcastic route.  (I mean, maybe the Mayan calendar ended because the guy in charge of creating it just got tired?  Or died?  Ever think of that?)

Regardless of how not seriously I'm taking the whole thing, my friends and I have been joking for months that on December 21, we're going to have a party.  Because, first of all, you can always use a good excuse to play drunken Apples to Apples.  And second of all, there's something strangely appealing about counting down to December 22 and then going "oh my goodness, we're all still alive, I'm SO SURPRISED!"

One of the requirements of this party is to come decked out in your best zombie-fighting gear and wielding your favorite zombie-fighting weapon.  I mean, if the zombie apocalypse does occur on December 21 (and let's face it, if an apocalypse happens, it'll be a zombie one), we want to be able to defend ourselves.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my group of friends.  And this is normal for us.

The zombies will be running in fear.

 My friend Emily and I were talking today via our company's instant messaging system (she recently started working for the same company I do, which means we can bother each other more effectively).  Somehow, and I'm not sure how, the topic of the zombie apocalypse came up in our conversation.  We came to a very important conclusion.

In the case of the zombie apocalypse, it's more likely that the nerdy, geeky, creative types will be the ones to survive.  For one, the nerdy, geeky, creative types are the ones who have spent too much time talking about the zombie apocalypse in the first place.  And second of all, we're really good at thinking out of the box.

Let's face it, if you're trying to beat the zombies, thinking out of the box might be your best bet.  Where one person sees a toilet cover, a thinking-out-of-the-box type will see a handy, zombie-crushing weapon.  (Yes, this has actually been discussed by my friends and I.)

Emily and I also decided that we should change the saying "the meek shall inherit the earth" to "the geeks shall inherit the earth."  It's true, you know.  If the geeky types are the ones who will survive the zombie apocalypse, then by default we would be the ones to inherit the earth, yes?

So take comfort, my fellow nerds, geeks, and generally creative types.  Come the zombie apocalypse, our amazing skills of thinking outside the box and finding creative ways to maim the characters in our novels will benefit us greatly.

And, of course, don't forget your favorite anti-zombie weapon of choice.  I'll be wielding a toilet lid.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Education of a Mustang

If you know me this next line comes as no surprise.  I am a Daddy's girl.  My earliest memories are of following my Dad around 'helping' him.  As a parent of a three and five year old now I know that it was through the greatest act of love and patience that I was allowed to 'help' my father do anything. But that isn't the topic of this post.  Today, I want to tell you about an evolution.

You see, my Dad, he is a Ford man.  Yes I know, most of you reading this right now are women and probably not car people and even less of you are motorcycle people.  But, stay with me. I'm not sure of the exact year my Dad bought one of the most collectible mustangs of all time but I do know those few years we owned it I begged him almost daily for rides in it.  I learned the value of hard work each weekend when we shined her up for car shows.  How to be careful and gentle when I was anywhere near her glossy black paint or pony stitched leather seats.  Believe it or not.  In the early 1980s we owned a 1968 Shelby Cobra GT500KR Fastback.  A what?

This:

Only a few hundred were made and each one was numbered.  There are only a very few left in existence and they sell for more than most houses do.  At the time we owned them they weren't worth a fraction of what they are today.  And I cried like a baby the day my Dad sold it.  Watching it leave our drive way was pure torture. Complete with all the drama a pre-teen could muster. My sincere apologies Dad.

For Dad, that car was one of many in a long line of Mustangs.  Albeit the most special of the breed.  So, when I was fifteen and car hunting I did what every young lady dreams of.  I bought my own 1966 Mustang Coupe.  It was only a little inline six-cylinder.  Not the hefty 289.  Though my uncle did have a 350 Windsor in his garage he said he'd help me install when he was teaching me how to solder my leaking radiator. Dad, however, was a firm No. Not because I wasn't capable of learning and doing the job, but because he was worried about all the illegal racing I'd probably do.  Frankly, he was right!



I spent hours working on that car with my dad. Again, he demonstrated his bottomless well of patience as we rebuilt the carburetor.  Too many little parts and pieces to name and describe for you here, but amazing that things smaller than your finger nail can keep a car from running properly.  Then there was the day we changed the valve cover gaskets.  Inside these covers are the most mesmerizing moving parts, that when the engine is running, squirt oil everywhere!  Yes, Dad knew my fascination so, he did rev that engine for just a few seconds.  It was worth the hour of clean up.

A few years later I went off to college and fell in love with a 1989 Mustang GT 5.0 five speed and traded up in the world.  Don't get too excited though this was in 1996.  So, still a cheap car.


This is the era where I learned to drive. I was already well trained in the art of changing oil, spark plugs and fan belts.  Though the battery still terrified me.  I've seen a few of those spark. No Thank You. I'll let someone else handle that.

This leads me to the next evolutionary step of car buying.  By this time I was married.  My amazing husband is into motorcycles.  I am also a lover of all things two wheeled, be they road worthy or off road ferocity. He actually bought me my first motorcycle and much hilarity ensued as I learned to ride that top heavy beast. But, I'm off track.  In his infinite wisdom since we were newly married, I'd just graduated from college and had my first real job, we did NOT, I repeat, did not buy a newer mustang like I wanted.  Oh no.  He bought me a Saturn Vue.  I almost died the first day I drove that car.  Not from humiliation as you might believe, though that was a close second.  I was simply used to the power of a mustang, the speed and handling.  A Vue did not have those features and I learned that quickly the first time I pulled into rush hour traffic and the four cylinder could barely get out of its own way.

Needless to say that car did not last in my life very long.  Which leads me to my current vehicle. Much to my husband's continuing torture.  About nine months after purchasing the Vue I begged him to go to the grocery store with me.  Not something he normally did, but he was eventually persuaded.  Upon arriving at the establishment I parked in the side lot which was conveniently located right beside the same dealer who sold us the Vue. "Oh look honey!" I said pointing to the gorgeous Ford Explorer Sportrac that was climbing the gigantic rock pile that just happened to be in the middle of their parking lot. "Let's go look."

I did not buy groceries that day.  To quote Charlie Sheen, "Winning."

And now, we've made it to my current dilemma.  Ten years later I am ready to purchase a new car.  I keep drifting towards my beloved mustang.  Especially since there is a new body style release in 2013.  I can start educating my boys on the proper care and maintenance of a muscle car.  Each time I go to our local Ford dealer I take a trip through the showroom and drool over their 1968 Hertz Rent-A-Racer.  I have pointed our many features to both of my little ones, surprising the salesmen is also a small reward in and of itself.

This is also how I feel about my writing, its an evolution.  See, I did get back to the roots of this blog. I wrote my first novel and a short story.  I joined a critique group and a professional RWA group.  I'm entering my work in contests now so I can get feed back from professionals in the industry.  I keep learning and practicing, growing. I didn't give up even when others told me it was hopeless. I did what made my heart sing. Even if you didn't understand all the technical aspects of my analogy I hope you came away with the understanding that no matter what you are tackling patience and perseverance payoff.

Back to my dilemma.  Do I be the responsible parent and get the Soccer Mom SUV?  Or do I indulge my passion and buy the 2013 Mustang GT? Did I mention my Dad's newest purchase? A Cobra Kit Car...



I know what twelve-year-old me would do.


Monday, April 16, 2012

What's Quidditch Without a Little Rain?

This past Saturday, I dragged myself out of bed at 8:30am. I had a hard-boiled egg for breakfast and checked my email. I glanced outside and lamented the gray skies, and then lamented the gray skies even more when I saw that the weather was calling for rain off-and-on the entire day. I threw on sweatpants, my HPA Accio Books tshirt, a pair of old tennis shoes, and a raincoat. I packed a bag with a couple of books, a notebook, wallet, iPod, phone, camera, and a bottle of water. I found my roommate Kathleen downstairs, we grabbed an umbrella and our other roommate's OSU parking pass she lent us for the day, and jumped in the car. We drove 15 minutes down to OSU's west campus, got confused while trying to find where to park, and then lamented the gray skies some more as we walked to Beekman Park.

And then we spent the next several hours watching Quidditch.

You really shouldn't be surprised. I mean, I am easily the nerdiest Flurrier.

Yes, folks. The game played by Harry Potter and company while flying on broomsticks is a real sport. A real, legit sport, where players get injured frequently and have to be escorted off the field by the sports medicine people. Played by colleges such as Ohio State and Carnegie-Mellon and Virgina Tech. It's even got a nonprofit organization running the leagues (The International Quidditch Association) and each November there's a World Cup that draws thousands of fans. It's even going to have an exhibition at this summer's Olympics, with teams representing the USA, the UK, Canada, and possibly more.

And I finally got to see it played on Saturday at the second annual Ohio Cup, held by OSU, which drew twelve Quidditch teams from all over the midwest.



For the most part, the game is very much like what you read about in the Harry Potter books, minus the flying, obviously. Each team has seven players in action at a time, all of whom run around with makeshift brooms between their legs. The chasers are trying to score goals with the "quaffle" (in this case, a slightly deflated volleyball) through three tall hoops at each end of the playing field. The beaters are running around, hitting people with the "bludgers" (in this case, slightly deflated dodgeballs), in order to knock them "out" and force them to abandon play and run back to their team's goal hoops before joining the game again. The keepers are busy trying to keep the other team from scoring and the seekers are busy trying to catch the snitch...which is a person dressed all in yellow who has a tennis ball in a sock hanging out of the back of their shorts. The game can only end when the snitch is caught...and in the "Muggle" version of Quidditch, the snitch is only worth 30 points (rather than 150), to give the team that doesn't catch it at least a fighting chance.

It's basically soccer meets dodgeball meets flag football...meets antics, because the snitch runner has no rules. The snitch runner is allowed to do whatever and go wherever he or she wants in order to keep the seekers from getting that tennis ball. We saw snitch runners gang up against seekers with water pistols and nerf guns. We saw one snitch runner don an incognito costume of a hat, a beard, and a vest, and then climb a fence to stand on top of a baseball dugout roof. Seekers were wrestled to the ground, the backs of their brooms gripped by snitch runners...they were pelted by pinecones, they were forced to run miles trying to catch the snitch, they were pushed down hills repeatedly.

It was possibly the funniest thing I've ever seen. And I got really into it.

The fun was cut a little short after a group of us watched OSU win their last regular match of the day, which was about the time we decided it was far too cold and far too rainy and we escaped to Starbucks. Not that it mattered, really...the tournament ended up being cancelled due to weather about an hour later anyway, so we didn't miss too much. But would I go again? In a heartbeat. It was the best way to spend my Saturday, even with the rain.

I even got hit by a rogue bludger.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Why I Loved the Hunger Games Movie (Spoilers Ahead)

I'm a sucker for book-to-film adaptations. I can't really explain why this is. I think it has something to do with my fascination of translating a story from one medium to another. Whatever the reason, ever since they started turning Harry Potter into movies over a decade ago, I've felt this need to watch the movie version of any book I read that has been translated to film.

That being said, I was obscenely excited when they announced that Hunger Games was going to be made into a movie. I followed the casting announcements, read all the set reports, watched the interviews, counted down to the trailers, bought my midnight premiere tickets a week after they went on sale. I was so excited for this movie that I went to the midnight showing in costume as Katniss and had a Hunger Games-inspired dinner party with a few of my friends before we left for the theatre Thursday night. I speculated and obsessed with the rest of the Hunger Games fans about what scenes would be cut, what scenes we would be most excited to see, what scenes we hoped they just wouldn't screw up.

And then the night of March 22 came and I went to the midnight premiere. The second the movie was over, I wanted to see it again. And again. And again. I couldn't get the amazingness off my mind no matter how hard I tried.

Here are the things I MOST LOVED about the Hunger Games movie.
[SPOILER ALERT]

  • The Opening: Oh, yes, I'm like that. The way the movie opened was perfect for setting up the situation and the world and explaining everything without Katniss's inner monologue that you get in the books. At the movie's opening, we simply get white words on a black screen--an excerpt from Panem's Treaty of Treason, stating exactly what the Hunger Games are. And then it cuts straight into Caesar Flickerman and Gamemaker Seneca Crane discussing the history of the Games in front of an audience. Perfection.
  • The Relationship Between Katniss and Gale: I'm glad they didn't go all Twilight love triangle on us (because while there is a triangle, it's not supposed to be the focus), but Katniss's and Gale's relationship is so vital to the whole story. From the first second we see them interact in the woods, you get that brother-sister, best friend bantering. And then, during the Reaping, their silent exchanges with each other are both important to see how close they are, and how incredibly tired they are of attending the Reaping year to year.
  • The Boy with the Bread: In the book, Katniss reveals the story of Peeta giving her burnt bread the second after his name is called in the Reaping. It cuts away from the central story in a flashback-like fashion and we get the whole memory in one fell swoop. The movie doesn't do this. In the movie, we get bits and pieces over the course of several scenes. I think this works perfectly for the movie audience, in that you're not pulled completely out of the story.
  • Haymitch and Effie: Perfect. There are no other words for how perfectly Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks portrayed these two characters. From the subtle arguments to the attitudes...everything about these two was just great.
  • The Interview Dress: In the book, Katniss's interview dress is described as being LIKE on fire. When she moves, the fabric and beading makes it look like she's engulfed in flames again. In the movie, when she twirls, the bottom part of the skirt actually bursts into fake flame. I liked this, not because it was lovely and easier to explain, but because it so perfectly sets up another interview dress for the second movie.
  • Behind the Scenes: I particularly loved that they didn't just show everything from Katniss's perspective. This is effective for the book, because I think having the story from a single perspective in writing brings more immediacy to it. But for the movie, I loved that we got to see everything--what was going on in the Districts, how the Gamemakers were running the show, what Haymitch was doing to help. Not only was it fascinating for me to watch as a viewer, but it was also kind of like getting bonus material...like now I know what was going on elsewhere in the book.
  • President Snow and a Spark: Oh, Donald Sutherland. They could not have found a more perfect President Snow. That dude is CREEPY. But what I loved were the additional scenes between him and Seneca that were added. In particular, the scene where he speaks to Seneca about giving the districts hope. He says something about a spark being a good thing, as long as it's contained. This, also, sets up the second movie and a certain speech he gives to Katniss about her being a spark.
  • District 11: After a *cough* certain character's death, the story flashes over to District 11. While I wasn't surprised by this, I WAS pleasantly surprised about what happened after. District 11 rebelled. They set things on fire, beat up Peacekeepers, knocked over cargo holds and stage lights. And why did I like this so much? Because, once again, it set up for the next movie so perfectly that I couldn't even fully contain myself.
  • The Cast: I've mentioned Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, and Elizabeth Banks, but in truth the whole cast was astounding. Jennifer Lawrence IS Katniss, Josh Hutcherson IS Peeta. Each Tribute, even the ones that died within the first five minutes after the Games started, was fascinating to watch. I was so impressed with all of them.
  • Cato's Speech: This was one thing I hadn't been anticipating AT ALL. At the climax of the movie, they wrote in this amazing speech for Cato. In essence, he talks about how this is all he knows how to do--kill. He was never good for anything else. And he always knew he was going to die. And then he shouts up at the sky, where he assumes a camera might be, asking for the Capitol's confirmation of this. In the books, Cato is nothing more than a cold-hearted killer. This speech brought so much humanity to the character that I was almost sad when he got killed thirty seconds later.
  • The Ending: In the book, it ends with Peeta and Katniss, now at odds with each other, returning home to District 12. While it made me want to read the next book, it gave no indication of what the next book could hold. It was just an ending. But in the movie, they didn't end with Peeta and Katniss. They ended with President Snow watching footage of the two returning home to an excited crowd. President Snows watches this for a moment--dramatic music swelling--and then, without a single word, turns and walks away. It's so ominous, so obvious that President Snow sees these two teenagers as his biggest threat, that how could you NOT want to watch the next movie?

And there was so much more, but these were the things I was most impressed by. I honestly think this might be one of the best book-to-film adaptations I've seen yet. The changes weren't just because. Every single one of them had a point. And the spirit of the story wasn't trifled with one bit. I can't wait to see what they do with the other two stories in this series.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Reading, Writing, & 'Rithmetic

Here's a simple math formula for all us writers out there:

Better Story Telling = Writing + Reading2


Just as deep space travel depends on the relationship of energy to the mass of an object times the speed of light squared (e=mc2 for all those not familiar with Einstein's theory of relativity), being a great writer also depends on universal principles. In fact, the difference between a hobby writer and a great story teller is very similar to the difference between an amateur astronomer and, say, Galileo Galilei. One enjoys spending a couple of hours a week using his instrument to scan the sky and, occasionally, happens upon something interesting. The other completely immerses himself in his field, applying what he already knows to come up with new ideas that completely change how we think about ourselves and our universe.

Nicolas Copernicus studied the pioneering works of Aristarchus before developing his own revolutionary views on heliocentrism. Isaac Newton often pondered the moon's orbit around the Earth while gazing from his bedroom window at apples falling from a tree in his mother's garden (contrary to so many cartoon stories, he was not struck in the head). In fiction, Doctor Victor Frankenstein pored through books, spending years in laboratory research before assembling his fateful beast.

The point is this: in order to be better writers, we need to be better readers. That means reading...a lot! A couple of years ago, I sat down at my computer with a burning desire to write science fiction. Needless to say, I'm still trying to finish the same story. I realized one of my biggest obstacles was the fact I was trying to write science fiction, but it had been years since I had actually read any science fiction. I was out of practice, out of vocabulary, out of style, out of research, out of context. I was trying to write the science fiction I remembered as a kid without realizing that science fiction had progressed and surpassed everything I remembered.

As the year 2012 rolled around, I made a commitment to myself and to my writing. I made a list of books I wanted to read this year and use the opportunity they afforded me to study the craft of published writers in my genre. I wanted to learn how they wrote, how they captured my imagination, how they allowed me to visualize the worlds they created, how they made me keep turning pages long into the night when I should be sleeping, how they expressed the messages they felt needed to be told about humanity and the fate of our world.

My goal was twelve books, one for each month, with a promise that I would learn from the best and the worst. Even if I didn't like a book, I would read it and finish it and learn why I didn't like it, making mental notes about what worked and--just as importantly--what didn't so I wouldn't make the same mistakes.

So the key to good writing is good reading and reading a lot, which is why reading gets an exponential square in the equation above. We're just ending the first quarter of the year, and I've already read my twelve novels for the year. Here's the list:

Foundation's Edge by Isaac Asimov
House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
The Atlantis Code by Charles Brokaw
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Changelings by Anne McCaffrey
Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke
A Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
The Bradbury Report by Steven Polansky
War of the Worlds by HG Wells
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Daniel X by James Patterson
The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Granted, most of these were in audiobook format during my daily commute to and from work. But the format doesn't matter. And I'm not stopping with just these twelve. I've discovered that listening to audio books is by far preferable to hearing Adele lament for the bazillionth time about love lost. Think about it, how many times can you really hear the same song over and over again before you tire of hearing it? And I don't miss in any way all the talk and commercials on the radio.

It was Isaac Newton who once said, "If I have seen further it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants." The important thing is to read a lot and learn from the masters how to construct a compelling story. Read a lot and write a lot and little by little your writing will improve until, one day, you can see further because the high road on which you travelled was paved by those who came before you. Happy reading!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March; Lion or Lamb but mostly Soccer

If you are a parent then you know that regardless if March comes in like a lion or lamb it definitely heralds the return of soccer season.  Both of my boys started practice with their new soccer teams this week.

Monday was the first practice for my youngest, this is also the first year he's been old enough to play.  He is so excited to finally participate and not just watch his big brother from the sidelines.  So are his dad and I, no more sprinting onto the field to snatch him from the middle of a game. We hope.

My oldest has his first practice tonight. The fields the local soccer organization uses are outside of town in a very wide open stretch of treeless fields.  You are guaranteed that the wind will be whipping and the temps about fifteen degrees cooler than in the town.  We button up to our eyeballs in layers, mittens and caps.  Trudge blankets and chairs out to the sidelines for thirty minutes of non-stop ball-chasing hilarity to be rewarded with hot chocolates and exhausted children.

The excursion is well worth the effort. My boys have learned much about patience and team work.  So, as we say goodbye to March I sail forth two nights a week for Life Lessons I'm hoping will stick.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Needs a Catchy Name

Ok everyone, I need your best creative ideas to name a poem I wrote this afternoon. Winner gets a TimBit!



To defeat a man
Most thoroughly,
You need not weapon swift nor smart.
But sidle up most lovingly
And fasten to his heart.

As years progress,
Breathe promises
Of glory, wealth, and fame.
Instill in him the hope of bliss,
Make fortitude his aim.

Each time he stumbles
To the dirt
And bruises ego, faith, and will,
Encourage him to onward press,
Push forward fighting still.

At last success
Within his grasp,
At golden years of latter life.
As aged hands reach fortune's gate,
Then aim and thrust the knife.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

ABNA Quarterfinals


I found out yesterday that I made it to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest Quarterfinals with my Young Adult novel Call to Action.

I found out TODAY that you can now go download, read, rate, and review the excerpts of the Quarterfinalist entries over on Amazon.com.

So if you'd like to read an excerpt of my current project, which is a Quarterfinalist in the ABNA competition, you can do so HERE!

First Conference Adventures

This past weekend, I went to my first-ever writers conference--Write Stuff in Allentown, PA. It was basically amazing and I got to know some pretty awesome people. After a long, headache-inducing flight debacle (which I've detailed on my personal blog here), I had such a wonderful weekend that I'm not even entirely sure I can put it all into words.

But, for you, I'll try.

Friday night consisted of two sessions (neither of which I could attend, because of the flight debacle) and then a reception. I was thrilled I was able to make it to the reception, at least, and after a couple minutes of awkwardly standing around, I got to talking to another girl who was ALSO a first-time conference goer. We ended up sitting at a table with a mix of other writers and had a great time chatting to everyone. (It was during this that I learned that the most common general icebreaker question asked at a writers conference is, "So...what do you write?")

Saturday started early with a breakfast and welcome and then we dived right in. I went to the agent panel, which was very interesting. I then went to a session by James Scott Bell about revisions...in which I took a lot of notes and laughed quite a bit more than I ever thought I'd laugh in a session about revisions.

Then it was time for the session I was really intrigued about--Fictional Characters Anonymous. The 15 of us all gathered in a conference room and it started off interestingly enough, with everyone going around the table and introducing themselves as their character, telling a bit of their character's story. There was such a hilarious mix--from high fantasy characters to middle grade characters fascinated by zombies and everything in between. At first, the moderator had to pick out people to ask questions, but after a handful of minutes, people just started asking each other questions. And some hilarious answers happened. I know I definitely loved getting a little deeper into my character's head...and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

After lunch was the keynote presentation by James Scott Bell about how storytellers will save the world. But before this, the writers group that hosts the conference decided to recognize all the participants who had come from the furthest away. Color me surprised when I find out that I'm one of these participants...and I got a pretty cool little toy airplane out of it!

It was then time for my agent pitch session. It went better than I could have hoped for and I really enjoyed talking to Lauren Ruth. I was pleasantly surprised when she asked me to send her my first three chapters. And it was amazing how the anxious knot in my stomach went away after.

The last session I went to was another James Scott Bell one, this time about suspense. Again, I took away some great tips!

All in all, it was a GREAT experience. I met some absolutely amazing people and had a blast. If I'm able to go back again next year, I definitely will.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Dreaded Pitch

Well, the day looms before me. Tomorrow three of us Flurriers will be pitching to agents and publishers.  None of us participating have done it before.  So you can imagine, we are nervous as can be!  Last night four of us got together and practiced.  Our dear Colleen has been through this process multiple times and she graciously volunteered to play the part of devil's advocate and interrogate us.

A few glasses of wine got us in the spirit of the game. Two hours and much laughter later we had boiled our novels down to a handful of lines.

Today, I will be practicing said pitch on my unsuspecting co-workers. And possibly people I will bump into as I run errands.  I live in a small enough town that I'm bound to run into someone I know!

Wish us luck!  Don't forget to check back in for a recap of how it all turned out!

Monday, March 12, 2012

FREE DOWNLOAD




This novella-length romance (plus a bonus vignette) is a stand-alone sequel to Janie Mason's SERVICING RAFFERTY.
Gigi Thompson is tired of being window dressing. So when she is hired as the assistant to the Newtown High School athletic director, the challenge of making order from the chaos of his office is a welcome challenge. A recent sexual scandal in the school has made inter-office dating taboo, but that’s okay with her. She’s learned the hard way that dating co-workers leads to trouble.
Sean Fitzgerald is a high school history teacher and the new head football coach for the Newtown Lions. The school’s athletic director is as warm and fuzzy as a block of ice, and the team’s starting quarterback is on the verge of failing two classes. So, if teaching, coaching and tutoring a player aren’t enough to keep him busy, the sexy new assistant in the office is one distraction he doesn’t need.
But once Sean admits he's fallen for Gigi, it takes an all-out blitz to convince the redhead they're worth fighting for.

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