Friday, December 30, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things-December 30, 2016

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain!  Tonja Drecker and I are her co-hosts.

I'm sorry I'm a bit late in posting this.  Holiday weeks are always a tad strange, and my usual routine has been thrown into chaos.  That's okay, though.  It keeps life interesting.

The boys had a wonderful Christmas.  They got lots of fun gifts, and they had a great time playing with their cousins. Lyle accidentally broke his glasses while they were playing, but we managed to repair them.  With glue.  It may not be the most proper fix in the world, but they're enduring so far.

I currently have all the ingredients to make homemade chocolate chip cookies, so that's probably going to happen sometime in the near future.  Yay cookies!

Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things-December 23, 2016

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain!  Tonja Drecker and I are her co-hosts.

Little Zoe is a month old as of yesterday.  It's amazing how quickly the time flies.  She's getting bigger every day.  

The kids are on winter break now, and we're going to spend today making gingerbread men.  I've never done this before, so I have no idea how things are going to turn out.  Wish me luck.  In either case, I'm sure the kitchen will be a disaster when all is said and done.

As always, I'm looking forward to Christmas with my husband and the kids. We're going to have a busy weekend, but I'm sure it'll be lots of fun.  The boys will likely have us all out of bed at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning, but that's okay.  Coffee is my friend for a reason, and I love seeing how excited they get.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

WEP Utopian Dreams

It's time once again for another WEP Challenge!  Thanks to Yolanda Renee and Denise Covey for making this possible!

This month we were tasked to write a little something around the theme Utopian Dreams.  As you may imagine, there's plenty of scope with this theme, and I expect to see a wide variety among this month's participants.

I ended up going the poetic route this time, and I thought adding some images would enhance it.  Enjoy!

Word Count: 300

Friday, December 16, 2016

Deja Vu Blogfest and Celebrate the Small Things-December 16, 2016

I have a double post for you today!  Enjoy!

It's once again time for the Deja Vu Blogfest!  Thanks to D.L. Hammons for making this yearly event possible!

This has been a big year for me, so I had a big choice to make when it came to selecting a post to dust off and share.  I published some stuff, and I had a baby.  Yet I've a lot of time and energy promoting my books, and I've dedicated several posts over the last few weeks talking about the new addition to the family.  That left me wanting to bring you something different, so I found a piece of fiction that I'd forgotten about. I originally posted it on February 1st of this year, and I hope you enjoy it!

*     *     *

Lost & Found Valentine's Edition Bloghop

It's time for the Lost & Found Valentine's Edition Bloghop! This bloghop is brought to you by Arlee Bird and Guilie Castilol-Oriard, and it's co-hosted by Elizabeth SeckmanYolanda ReneeDenise Covey, and Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Today I'd like to share a piece of fiction with you.  I hope you enjoy it!

Cursed Love

Once upon a time, a girl named Harriett learned a lesson, even though most days she didn’t even remember that she’d learned it.

The lesson was this: one should be careful of curses.

One should also be careful of people who know how to cast them.  Unfortunately, those who can cast curses don’t typically advertise the fact that they can.

It all began when Harriett was fifteen, and she did what many of her age tend to do.  She fell in love.  Perhaps it wasn’t the mature kind of love that most adults take seriously, but it was certainly the most intense feeling she’d ever known.

The mysterious boy moved in next door in the middle of the night.  That alone added a level of mystique to the situation.  However, when she saw the black-haired boy with the gray eyes on his front porch the next morning, her heart practically did a great flip out of her body and landed at his feet.

Unfortunately, he didn’t go to school like most kids their age, so she couldn’t hope to run into him in the hallway.  She wanted more than anything to talk to him.  To get to know him.  She just didn’t know how to take that first step.

It took three weeks of seeing him outside every morning before she approached the chain link fence and offered him a simple greeting.  “Hello.”

The boy smiled tentatively and introduced himself as Jonah.

Several weeks passed with daily greetings at the fence.  Smiles were exchanged.  Fleeting glances paved the way to longer conversations, and within a few months, they started sneaking away from the fence to spend time hidden away in a grove of pines behind their houses.

Every time Harriett smelled a brand new pine-scented car freshener, she recalled their first kiss.

*     *     *

Jonah wasn’t supposed to fall in love with someone normal.  A mundane life would have only drained him of his magic.  Yet when he looked into Harriett’s cerulean eyes, he couldn’t help himself.  The risk didn’t matter.  After spending an entire childhood in solitude, it was good to have someone.  Those stolen moments made his days brighter.

Every time Jonah’s mother added pine needles to her cauldron to make her signature anti-wrinkle potion, he thought of Harriett’s embrace and the sweet scent of her straw-colored hair.

*     *     *

During another intimate moment in the pine grove, Jonah buried his face against Harriett’s neck and breathed her in.  “I wish we could run away together,” he whispered.

She laughed softly.  “We’re only sixteen.”

“I know.  Maybe one day we can take off and see the world together.  I don’t want to be worried all the time.”

Harriett never understood why Jonah’s mother was so strict, but she didn’t want to risk losing these moments with him.  She hugged him closer.  “We will.  We’ll go, and we’ll see everything we can.  Nothing can stop us.”

*     *     *

Jonah’s mother had been on her way to collect pine needles when she caught sight of her son and the neighbor girl kissing among the trees.  Her blood boiled.  She slipped away soundlessly, all thoughts of her anti-wrinkle potion banished.  She had something more important to do.

*     *     *

Neither Jonah nor Harriett noticed the difference right away.  The curse made them forget what they had previously meant to each other.  When they saw one another from their respective yards, it barely registered.  Why would Harriett notice the strange boy who never spoke to anyone?  And why would Jonah care about this girl he didn’t know when he had to work on honing his powers?

Only one day out of the year was any different.  Each year on Valentine’s Day, they remembered everything.  For twenty-four hours, they looked at each other and saw just how much they’d once meant to one another, and they were allowed to spend that time together before the veil dropped between them once more.

Jonah’s mother designed the curse that way for a reason.  That single day wasn’t enough for Jonah to devise a way to break the curse, and it was just enough to keep him from moving on entirely.  The vague sense of wrongness would keep him from looking at any other girls who might distract him from his life’s path.  That outcome was worth letting them have that one day.

*     *     *

Each Valentine’s Day, the lovers met in the pine grove as soon as their memories returned, and they spent the entire day together hidden away from the world.  Once they were both eighteen, they started renting hotel rooms so they could have the intimate moments they craved.

When they were twenty, they decided to run away.  Jonah wasn’t sure what would happen, but he knew he had to try.  They made it as far as the state line by midnight.

The next morning, they both woke in their separate beds, the memories of the previous day nothing more than a blur.

*     *     *

When Harriett was twenty-two, she discovered she was pregnant.  This came as a shock, because she wasn’t in a relationship.  She’d never been with anyone.  She thought back to various college parties she’d been to, and though she couldn’t recall anything happening at any of them, what other explanation was there?

Her parents were disappointed, but they invited her to stay at home even after she finished school.  They didn’t want their daughter to be alone.

*     *     *

Harriett walked carefully down the sidewalk.  It was the week before Christmas, and she didn’t want to slip on the ice with her infant son in her arms.  He’d been born with gray eyes and a headful of straw-colored hair adorning his head.  The doctor had commented on how unusual that was, but the boy was also healthy, so she wasn’t concerned.

She reached her car on the side of the street, and she was about to place her son in his car seat when someone bumped into her.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” the young man said, his eyes wide.  “I wasn’t paying attention.”

Harriett, barely recognizing him as the neighbor, clutched the baby to her chest.  “You’re lucky I didn’t drop him,” she scolded.

The young man looked down at the child, while she focused on his face.  Something stirred inside her as she looked from the neighbor’s gray eyes to her son’s gray eyes.  They were identical.

“Jonah,” she said quietly as something snapped into place inside her.

He looked up, the recognition evident in his face as he studied her.  “Harriett.”  That single word was filled with wonder.  He silently offered her his hand.

She took it, vowing never to let go again.

Now it's time to Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain. Tonja Drecker and I are her co-hosts.

I'm finally finished with Christmas shopping.  While it can be fun selecting gifts for family members, it can also be stressful. I'm glad to have it done.

The boys had their winter concert yesterday, and they had a great time performing.

Unfortunately, little Zoe has her first cold.  It was inevitable, I suppose. Everyone in our house has a cold right now.  The good news is that she only has a stuffy nose, and it doesn't seem to be bothering her that much.

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things-December 9, 2016

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! Tonja Drecker and I are her co-hosts.

I took the kids to see Santa last Saturday, and I'll be taking them to see him again this Saturday.  Santa's been making visits to local libraries, and since the events are free, I figured I'd make the most of it.  I know my boys are excited. 

The boys also took turns taking pictures with their new baby sister.  This first photo made me laugh, because this is the face Lyle makes when he's up to something.  

In the next photo, you can tell Jude was a bit nervous about holding his baby sister, but he did just fine.

I'm also celebrating the fact that we got some Christmas shopping done.  Not all of it, but we're procrastinators, so the fact that we've gotten any of it done at this point is noteworthy.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Insecure Writer's Support Group: December 2016

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and you know what that means!  It's time to convene another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group!  Our esteemed leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has rounded up another great group of minions to co-host this month: Jennifer Hawes, Jen Chandler, Nick Wilford, Juneta Key, J.H. Moncrieff, Diane Burton, and M.J. Fifield.

Be sure to visit the IWSG website!

Now that it's December, I'm looking back on the past year and thinking about all that I've accomplished.  I think that's normal behavior for this time of year.  Overall, I have to say I'm pretty happy with everything that's happened.  I had two short stories published in anthologies, and I've continued self-publishing my Self-Help 101 series.  Nevertheless, I'm insecure about the fact that I'm not going to reach all my goals for the year.

My original goal was to have the entire Self-Help 101 series written and published by the end of the year.  It's become clear to me that this is not going to happen.  Now, the entire thing is actually written.  I accomplished that much. However, when I made the original goal, I hadn't anticipated getting pregnant and having a new baby in the house.  Now that I have a two-week-old baby in the house, editing and preparing a novella for publication is not my top priority.  I can't say for sure when I'll manage to publish the last novella in my series, but I'll get it done as soon as I can.  

And now it's time to answer this month's question.

In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what's your plan to get there?

The biggest thing I'd like to accomplish in the next five years is to have a novel published.  It's a lofty goal, yes, but I have to believe it's possible.  

I've written plenty of novels in my time, though it has been a little while since I last attempted it. Were any of those previous novels any good?  I have to be honest and say that most of them weren't.  Some of them may have some potential, but it would take a lot of work to whip them into shape.  Maybe I'll unearth one of them and make the effort, or maybe I'll come up with a brand new, shiny idea and start anew.  Either way, I plan to start on my goal of writing a novel once I've completed my work on Self-Help 101.  I'd like to have a complete first draft of a novel written by the end of 2017, and I hope to have it ready for submission by mid-2018.

From there I just need to be stubborb and go through the submission process.  I know it'll be a bumpy ride, but I'm ready for it.  You don't achieve your goals if you aren't willing to get a little scraped up.  As long as I keep writing and submitting, anything is possible.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things- December 2, 2016

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain!  Tonja Drecker and I are her co-hosts.

We had a tornado on Monday.  That's kind of crazy for the end of November in Iowa.  The tornado was pretty small, and while there was some property damage around town, no one was hurt.  We got lucky and didn't have any damage at our house.  Our little town made the news over the whole thing. You can check that out here and here.

For those of you who don't know yet, I had a baby girl on November 22nd.  We named her Zoe Jane.  My friend Chelsea, who's good enough to make a living as a professional photographer, came by over the weekend and took some newborn photos.  I thought I'd share a few of them with you. Selecting a handful to share is difficult, because they're all amazing.

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things-November 25, 2016

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! Tonja Drecker and I are her co-hosts.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you living in the United States! We certainly had an eventful holiday.  I got out of the hospital Thanksgiving morning, and I had an extra bundle to take home with me.

Zoe Jane was born on November 22nd at 7:01 pm.  She weighed 8 lbs., 3 oz. and was 20 3/4 inches long.  We've been sleep deprived this week, but we have a lot to celebrate nonetheless.

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, November 18, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things-November 18, 2016

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain!  Tonja Drecker and I are her co-hosts.

This has been a bit of a rough week.  I came down with a nasty cold on Monday, and now my kids are both suffering through it too.  Not that you can really tell by looking at them.  They're determined to play as if nothing is wrong. Fortunately, I'm starting to feel almost normal again, so I'm definitely celebrating that.

Considering everything that's going on, I'm not as far into edits as I'd like to be, but I'm still making progress.  Any progress is better than no progress.

I also managed to get a lot of baby-related preparations finished despite not feeling well.  I've still got a few things left to do, and hopefully I can finish them up this weekend.

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things-November 11, 2016

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain!  Tonja Drecker and I are her co-hosts.

I finished the first draft of my WIP this week, so that's great. Now I'm immersed in the editing process, and it seems to be going well so far.

I treated myself to a new wristwatch this week.  I'd been thinking of getting a new one for a little while.  It isn't an expensive one, but it looks nice and works well.  That's all that matters to me.

The weather has been consistently beautiful here.  My kids can run around outside in the afternoon without jackets, and that's extremely unusual for a November in Iowa.  We're going to enjoy it while it lasts.

I'm still offering my books for free through November 29th.  If you're interested, check out this link for more information!

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things-November 4, 2016

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain!  Tonja Drecker and I are her co-hosts.

I'm normally not an avid sports fan, but I do like to follow the World Series when it happens.  Maybe the fact that I used to play softball as a kid contributes to my enjoyment of baseball. All I can say is that Game 7 of the 2016 World Series was probably the most tense and exciting game I've ever seen in my life.  I know a lot of people who were up too late watching it, and I'm glad I got to see it.  Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs for winning it all for the first time since 1908, and kudos to the Cleveland Indians for playing such a great game. It was indeed a hard fought battle all the way.

Parent-teacher conferences were this week, and they went quite well.  My boys seem to be doing well in school this year, and their teachers only had positive things to say about them. I think that's worth celebrating!

Writing is also going well this week.  I feel like I'm getting a lot done.  Let's hope I can keep it up!

Also, if you're interested in getting free copies of some of my books, go HERE and find out how you can make that happen.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: November 2016

Is it really the first Wednesday of the month already?  I guess you know what that means!  It's time to convene another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group!  Our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has assembled another great group of minions this month: Joylene Nowell Butler, Jen Chandler, Mary Aalgaard, Lisa Buie-Collard, Tamara Narayan, Tyrean Martinson, and Christine Rains.

Be sure to stop by the IWSG website!

First of all, I'd like to wish everyone who is participating in NaNoWriMo the best of luck!  You've got a heck of a month ahead of you!  I'm expecting a baby this month, so instead of joining in, I'll be cheering you on from the sidelines.  And trying to fit in all the writing I can before the big day comes, of course.  I'm feeling a bit insecure about how much I'll be able to accomplish in that time, so wish me luck!

I participated in Trick-or-Treat Reads, which the awesome Patricia Lynne made possible.  The coupon codes are good through November 29th, so if you're interested in snagging some free books, go HERE.

Now let's move on to this month's question!

The question for this month is: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

There are a lot of things to love about being a writer, but I think my favorite has to be having the freedom to go anywhere and do anything without leaving home.  As a writer, I create characters and send them out into places and situations that I've never experienced.  I get to live and experience things through them, and it can be exhilarating.  A person might think that I, as the writer, have complete control over the story and characters, but I don't.  Things take unexpected twists and turns all the time, and that makes the process even more exciting for me.

What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Trick-or-Treat Reads Book Blog Hop

Happy Halloween everyone!  I'm participating in Patricia Lynne's Trick-or-Treat Reads Book Blog Hop.  This event is like trick-or-treating, but instead of getting free candy, you get free books!

For this event, I'm offering all of my Smashwords titles for free.  Here's more information about each book and how you can get your hands on it!

A Silent Soliloquy

Genre: Sci-Fi/Dystopian
Word Count: 28,000

TIPPIE was created to be a weapon. By all appearances, she's an ordinary girl of 18, and she uses that to her advantage in her work for The Facility. What no one sees is that there's another girl buried deep inside. She can't speak or control the movements of the body she inhabits. As TIPPIE's silent passenger, she can only observe. She uses the details she learns from TIPPIE's work to reconstruct the stories of other people's lives. It helps her feel a little more connected to the world she can only watch.

When TIPPIE's work leads her to David, a young man with a haunted past and information that The Facility wants, TIPPIE uses her skills to earn his trust. The silent girl beneath the surface knows that TIPPIE is only going to hurt him, but she can't help but feel for him. Those feelings only grow, but she knows all too well that TIPPIE's work will soon come to an end.

Available from Smashwords.  You can find it HERE.  Simply use coupon code MZ84X at checkout.

Cosmic Seasoning

Genre: Sci-Fi/Short Stories
Word Count: 16,000

This compilation of ten short science fiction stories is sure to add a little flavor to your day. You'll get to see what happens when a universal translator malfunctions during first contact, the repercussions of a maladjusted writer making a holographic duplicate of herself, the reunion of a couple of shapeshifters that have been exiled to Earth, and more.

Some stories are funny, and others are a bit darker, but they're all short enough to read in one sitting.

This book is always free, and you can get it from any of the following places.

Download Links:

Self-Help 101 or: How I Learned to Take Over the World Through Tolerating My Family

Genre: Holiday/Humor/YA
Word Count: 27,000

Book 1 in the Self-Help 101 series.

Dani Finklemeier has decided to write a self-help book about how to take over the world, but she’s not sure where to start. After all, she’s only seventeen and looking for a better way to make money than babysitting. She buys a self-help book that promises to teach her how to write a self-help book in the hope of getting the job done.

Not that it’ll be easy to get any work done this holiday season. Her family is staying at the house for Christmas, and fights break out almost immediately. Dani also has to deal with the fallout from an unexpected kiss with her best friend Seth and the feelings that go along with it. On edge around her family and unsure how to interact with the one person she’s trusted with everything in the past, she can only take what inspiration she can from the crazy circumstances surrounding her and see what happens.

One way or another, it should be an interesting holiday.

This book is free through Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBooks.

Self-Help 101 or: How to Survive a Bombardment With Minimal Injury

Genre: Holiday/Humor/YA
Word Count: 25,000

Book 2 in the Self-Help 101 series.

Dani Finklemeier has self-published her guide to taking over the world, but she still isn’t rich.  Now she’s eighteen, still babysitting for money, and looking forward to starting college in the fall.

Of course, she has to survive a 4th of July outing with her family first.  That’s a challenging prospect considering she has to be in close proximity with a group of cousins known as The Fallible Four.  As if that weren’t enough, she also has to deal with the fallout of her parents learning more about her relationship with her boyfriend Seth than she ever wanted them to know.

The good news is that, if she survives this holiday, she’ll have plenty of material for another self-help book.

Available from Smashwords.  You can find it HERE.  Simply use coupon code AM73Z at checkout.

Self-Help 101 or: How to Select a Costume to Help You  Deal With People

Genre: Holiday/Humor/YA
Word Count-29,000

Book 3 in the Self-Help 101 series.

Dani Finklemeier is adjusting to life in college and the realities of living away from home for the first time.  She’s also learning to deal with the criticism that stems from sharing her writing with the world.  Some of the online criticism is even spelled correctly, which somehow makes it worse.

Fortunately, she has a Halloween party, a group of friends, and a supportive boyfriend to distract her from the things that are bothering her.  Of course, a holiday celebration wouldn’t be complete without something going wrong.  Between an unpleasant confrontation with an infuriating classmate, some shocking costume choices, and a bizarre fraternity stunt, the evening will be anything but dull.

Dani’s detractors may not like it, but she’ll definitely have enough material for another book.

Available from Smashwords.  You can find it HERE.  Simply use coupon code WG67W at checkout.

The coupon codes are all good through November 29th, 2016, so if you don't get a chance to redeem them right away, no worries!  You have a little time!

That's all from me!  Be sure to hop around and visit the other participants so you can amass as many free reads as possible! Happy Halloween!