Friday, August 28, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things-August 28, 2015

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

Today is a rainy day, but I'm hoping to make the most of it by writing.  Rainy days can make excellent writing days!

The kids have had a great first week back to school.  They love their teachers and have made new friends.  It's great to see them so excited about learning.

I'm also celebrating the fact that we'll get to spend some quality time as a family this weekend.  With everyone off doing their own thing every day, it's good to have those days to catch up.  We may spend that time reminding each other of the ways we drive one another crazy, but it's still a good thing to have.

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things-August 21, 2015

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

We took the kids to the beach last weekend.  Well, it's the closest thing to a beach that you can find in Iowa anyway.  The kids went swimming and attempted to make sand castles.  They certainly enjoyed themselves.

My kids go back to school next week.  I took them to Meet Your Teacher Night last night, and they were so excited about the whole thing.  In fact, they didn't want to come home after it was over.  I'm glad to see them so happy about school.  I hope that enthusiasm lasts for many years to come.

I participated in Write . . . Edit . . . Publish this week.  The goal was to depict a spectacular setting.  I'm glad I did it, because I've received a lot of good feedback.  If you'd like to read my entry, you can find it HERE.  I'd also recommend that you read some of the other entries as well.  There are a lot of talented writers there.

You can still get a coupon to get my novella A Silent Soliloquy free from Smashwords. Just go HERE for details.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

WEP August Challenge: Spectacular Settings

Here's my entry in the August 2015 WEP Flash Fiction Challenge.  It's all about Spectacular Settings!

For the first part of this challenge, I'd like to share an excerpt from Neil Gaiman's novel Neverwhere.

"It was a city in which the very old and the awkwardly new jostled each other, not uncomfortably, but without respect; a city of shops and offices and restaurants and homes, of parks and churches, of ignored monuments and remarkably unpalatial palaces; a city of hundreds of districts with strange names-Crouch End, Chalk Farm, Earl's Court, Marble Arch-and oddly distinct identities; a noisy, dirty, cheerful, troubled city, which fed on tourists, needed them as it despised them, in which the average speed of transportation through the city had not increased in three hundred years, following five hundred years of fitful road-widening and unskillful compromises between the needs of traffic, whether horse-drawn, or, more recently, motorized, and the needs of pedestrians; a city inhabited by and teeming with people of every color and manner and kind."

I love this use of setting because it sets the tone for the whole novel.  Neverwhere is a story of finding the strange and fantastical hidden in plain sight.  London Below is a wonderful and dangerous place that most people never see, but there are entrances everywhere.  The juxtaposition of old and new as outlined in the excerpt gives the impression of a city that's been layered over time, and highlighting that nature makes the idea of something as bizarre as London Below remaining hidden that much more plausible.

Now on to part two!  This comes from my WIP, which is currently untitled but is the follow-up to my novella A Silent Soliloquy.

*     *     *

The sky is black.  The moon and stars have been obliterated by cloud cover.  I pull the dark trench coat tight around me to combat the bone-chilling breeze.  This coat used to be as black as the night sky, I suspect, but old age and use has turned it an unappealing brownish hue.  The large cloth that I’ve wrapped around my head to hide my hair is royal purple, and I’ve made sure that it doesn’t cover my ears so I can hear anything that might be happening around me.  Fortunately, the city is largely silent as I make my way down the street, keeping my eyes peeled for the potholes that might trip me up.
There are still some signs of human activity, of course.  There’s a partial cigarette on the ground by a trash bin, the cherry still glowing softly.  The sound of a metal door sliding shut in the distance lifts the silence briefly before it comes crashing down around me once more.  Curfew just ended a few minutes ago, allowing the early shifters to go about their work routine, but most of the world is still asleep.
My shoulders remain hunched as I kick aside a couple of food wrappers.  A red neon sign advertising discount pharmaceuticals illuminates the end of one street, so I get a glimpse of a human figure curled against the wall.  It’s wrapped in a filthy pink blanket.  Whoever it is has clearly been here for some time, but I’m not surprised the curfew violation went unnoticed.  Enforcement officials have more important places to protect.
As the long minutes pass, which are filled with the sight of tiny square homes standing entirely too close together, a faint pink glow grows on the horizon.  The cloud cover is beginning to lift enough that I can make out the top of the sun as it peeks over the edge of the world.  I’m just coming to the Ryan Street Bridge.  There’s a bit more traffic now, of both the foot and motor vehicle variety, so I keep my eyes aimed downward as I walk.  Near the start of the bridge, I casually begin to shrug out of the trench coat.  The shedding reveals the wide-collared cerulean sweater that was somewhat fashionable a couple years ago and generic black slacks.  It’s still quite cold, but the sweater is heavy enough that hardly anyone would think anything of my appearance.  I let the coat drop so that it comes to rest on the grassy slope that leads to the water.  Lots of homeless people take shelter beneath this part of the bridge, and it’ll be claimed before long.
The dull roar of the river passing beneath my feet draws my attention as I cross.  The hypnotic quality of the sound keeps my thoughts grounded, as does the steady whir of passing cars.  The less I think, the better.
Soon I’ve left the bridge behind me.  A group of people dressed in jumpsuits stand in front of a convenience store sipping coffee and talking.  A happy laugh escapes one of them, while the guy next to him looks mildly annoyed.
About fifteen minutes later the local elementary school comes into view.  I hold my shoulders straight and my head high.  The surveillance cameras are more numerous in this area, but I happen to be casually looking in the opposite direction at a passing car, or an advertisement board, or a rock garden each time I pass one.  A stand of trees near a side entrance to the school gives me just enough shelter.  I pull the purple garment from my head and flip it, revealing the dark blue floral print on the other side.  When I step onto the sidewalk once more, I’m wearing it as a shawl.  My hair is pinned up in a French twist.  I could pass for any teacher or business woman now.
The sun is well above the horizon when I pass a bistro.  I remember it from a mission that happened early on in my life, and I shudder slightly.  I suppress my visceral reaction as I pass a group of men and women in fancy business suits walking out with breakfast croissants and baguettes. 
It’s all about walking tall and proud, as if I make this walk on a daily basis.  I continue to glance away from every surveillance camera that I pass.
I may seem composed on the outside, but the bistro has stirred my thoughts in an unwelcome way.  I can’t avoid the thought that Will and the others have to be awake by now.  I can picture Will ranting about how he should have trusted his gut in the first place and kept me locked away.  He must be telling Blue that he feels like an idiot for lowering his guard, and that saving his life must have been a clever ploy to gain his trust so that I’d have a chance to escape.  For all I know, he’ll have evacuated everyone by now, and that I’ll never be able to find them again.
Maybe this was a bad idea.  Maybe I’ll come to regret it.
That fear nibbles at me until I take the final turn into a residential district.  Here the houses are tall and brightly colored.  Ample lawns are framed by white fences, and shiny cars sit in driveways lined with garden gnomes and tiny windmills.  The house I’m here for is a soft sky blue.  A large slab of black granite sits in one corner of the yard, the name of the family that lives here proudly inscribed.
Rage bubbles inside me as I stand there in the light of an increasingly sunny morning.  So much pain started here.  Lives changed forever, including mine.
I think of the boy who once called this place home, and the other boy who tormented himself in the years that followed, as I stride toward the house.

Word Count 993/FCA

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Get a Copy of A Silent Soliloquy for Free!

I'd like to start by thanking everyone who has purchased a copy of my novella A Silent Soliloquy, read it, reviewed it, or in any way helped to promote it.  You've all been amazing!  Anyone who downloaded a copy of Cosmic Seasoning is also totally amazeballs.  Seriously.  Thank you!

This whole self-promotion thing is tricky.  I'm admittedly not the best at it.  The more I promote my work directly, the more I feel like a door-to-door salesman that no one wants to see coming.  Whether or not I appear that way to any of you is another matter. I've been trying to decide how I can keep trying to get the word out there about my work without becoming too desperate or annoying, and I've had an idea.

I'd like to thank Karen Elizabeth Brown for inspiring me on this one.  She's offering a coupon code for her book Galaxy Nomads, which means you can get a copy from Smashwords for free until August 30th!  If you'd like to get your own, check out her post for the details.  I already downloaded mine.

When I saw that post, I started thinking about doing this with A Silent Soliloquy.  A short term promotion like this might help me get my work out there, and as an indie writer, this is crucial.  Then I tried to think like an advertiser.  Again, this is not a comfortable niche for me, but I gave it my best, and here's my proposition for you.

I've created a Smashwords coupon for A Silent Soliloquy.  Anyone who takes me up on this offer can get a copy from Smashwords for free.  All you have to do is this.

-Use some form of social media (Twitter, Facebook, a blog post, etc.) to promote either A Silent Soliloquy or Cosmic Seasoning.
-Email me at with a link to the post/tweet/whatever so I can see that you've done it.  Please put "A Silent Soliloquy promotion" in the subject line of your email so I know what it's about.
-I will respond to that email with the Smashwords coupon code.
-You can find A Silent Soliloquy HERE.
-Use the coupon code at checkout by September 14th, 2015.

And to make your promoting easier, here are a few links to my works for you:

A Silent Soliloquy:

Cosmic Seasoning:

That's relatively simple, right?

Thanks again to all of you for being so cool.  Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things-August 14, 2015

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

I have a lot of back to school stuff going on in the coming week.  I need to finish shopping for school supplies tonight, on top of grocery shopping, with both kids in tow while hubby's at work, so wish me luck on that one.  It might not be an easy task, but I've always enjoyed shopping for school supplies.  It's almost thrilling for me.  Does that make me weird? Oh well, even if it does, I'm fine with that.

I signed up for the WEP Challenge that's happening next week.  It starts August 19th, and the theme is Spectacular Settings.  If you'd like to learn more about it and possibly participate, feel free to check out the details HERE.

My writing is still going well.  There are occasional moments of frustration, but overall, I'm making progress with my WIP. I hope my progress continues when the kids start school again later this month.

My ear is all healed up, so I'm quite happy about that too.  My oldest also got a bit sick last weekend, but it didn't last long.  He had a cough, runny nose, and a slight temperature, but he was back to normal within a couple of days.  I'm grateful any time an illness passes quickly.

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things-August 7, 2015

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

It's been a somewhat unpleasant week overall, but I'm celebrating the fact that it's getting better.  I know this is somewhat gross, but I've always had a problem with ear wax building up in my ears.  I inherited the problem from my dad.  It got so bad that I completely lost my ability to hear out of my right ear.  The excessive buildup also led up to a nice ear infection. I can't begin to tell you how fun it is to have an ear cleaned out by a doctor while it's also infected.  I can hear again, though, and my ear doesn't hurt anymore.  Yay for that!

Writing continues to go well.  I'm excited about the story I'm working on.

I made brownies this week.  I love brownies.  Anything involving chocolate is fine by me.

As of writing this, I'm about to reach 100,000 page views on this blog.  Not nearly as impressive as those who are well into the millions, but I'm excited about it nonetheless.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Insecure Writers's Support Group: August 2015

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!  Alex J. Cavanaugh is the brilliant mind behind this group, and this month, the following minions are assisting him: Nancy Gideon, Bob R Milne, Doreen McGettigan, Chrys Fey, Bish Denham, and Pat Garcia.

Don't forget to visit the IWSG website!

This past month has been a busy one for me.  I released my novella A Silent Soliloquy and my free short story collection Cosmic Seasoning.  If I've learned anything over the past month, marketing is one of the hardest parts about being a writer.  I've never been the best at drawing attention to myself, and repeatedly mentioning that I have a book for sale makes me feel as if I'm in the middle of a crowded dance floor waving my arms and shouting "look at me, look at me!"

That issue aside, I'm glad I put myself out there.  Now that I've done it, I feel less apprehensive about the prospect of publishing other work in the future.

I just started writing a follow-up to A Silent Soliloquy, and I'm pleased with how its going so far.  I can't say too much without spoiling things, so I'll just leave it at that for now.

So, yeah, I'm not feeling all that insecure this month.  I guess I'm keeping too busy for the insecurity to have a chance to sink in.

What are your insecurities this month?