Monday, February 29, 2016

Guest Post With Yolanda

Today I'm over at Yolanda Renee's blog talking about my short story "Felix Was Here." If you're curious about how that story came to be, you won't want to miss it!

"Felix Was Here," as I'm sure almost all of you know by now, will be featured in the upcoming Insecure Writer's Support Group anthology Parallels: Felix Was Here.  The anthology will be released on May 3, 2016, but you can pre-order it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things: February 26, 2016

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

Be sure to stop by Hart Johnson's blog for more story blurbs from Parallels: Felix Was Here.  The authors featured today are Melanie Schulz and Sylvia Ney.

Stop by the Parallels blog if you haven't this week.  On Wednesday, Melanie Schulz posted a little something that'll get those mental wheels turning in interesting ways.

This week the most exciting thing we did was take our kids bowling for the first time. Jude and Lyle have been into playing electronic bowling, as well as bowling with this little plastic set they have.  It was so cute watching them do the real thing for the first time.  Yeah, at ages six and four, they were a tad too small for the ball they had to use, but they had a great time and seemed to love every second of it!

This coming Monday is February 29th!  To everyone out there who may have been born on that day, I hope you enjoy having an actual birthday!  I've known a couple of people over the years that do, and it tends to be a big occasion for them.

Also, all of you need to check this out.  My husband showed it to me, and I just needed to share it.  If you're having a bad day, just go HERE, and it should make you feel at least a little better.

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things-February 19, 2016

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

Be sure to stop by Hart Johnson's blog to read two more blurbs from the authors of the Parallels: Felix Was Here anthology.  Today we're hearing from Michael Abayomi and Sandra Cox.

Valentine's Day brought us The Walking Dead, so that's a good thing.

We got a telescope this week.  We got an Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector, and along with that we also got an Orion 08889 1.25-Inch Telescope accessory kit.  A lot of technical details, I know.  All I can say is that I'm really excited about trying it all out!

It's been a busy week, so while I didn't get a ton of writing done, I did manage to do a little every day.  I'll consider that a win.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

WEP-Valentine Challenge

First of all, before I begin with the task at hand, I'd like to let everyone know that Sylvia Ney is posting today over at the Parallel's Blog about Science Past, Present and Future. Be sure to check it out!

It's time for another WEP Challenge!  Thanks to Yolanda Renee and Denise Covey for hosting this fun event!

Since it's February, this month's challenge is all about Valentine's Day.  You can celebrate all that is wonderful about the holiday, or you can post something that laments the very existence of all that it entails.  The choice is yours!

The piece I'm sharing now is a follow-up of my recently released novella Self-Help 101 or: How I Learned to Take Over the World Through Tolerating My Family.  Since I'm turning it into a series, I've been inhabiting that world for awhile.  As such, it's hardly surprising that this is the direction my mind took when it came time to write something for this challenge.  

But never fear!  You don't need to have read the novella to read this.  I promise.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy!  

Dani Finklemeier’s Valentine’s Day Survival Guide

Valentine’s Day can be a tough time for those of us who don’t fit into the typical order of things.  I fit into the mold about as well as those super-strength acids people use to dissolve bodies in horror movies.  Sure, I can conform to the shape of acceptability for a brief time, but my true nature soon begins to corrode the container I’ve stupidly tried to inhabit.  Fortunately, that fact doesn’t bother me as much as some people seem to think it should.
In my early years, I probably wouldn’t have gotten any valentines if the school didn’t require kids to hand them out to everyone.  Then in middle school, I could expect only one, which came from Seth.  Now, even though Seth had been my best friend since age three, I knew he wouldn’t have continued to give me one if his mom didn’t remind him to do it.  I’m not saying that he’s a thoughtless guy, because he really isn’t.  He just isn’t that good at remembering little things like that.  When it comes to the big things, he does fine.
I’m not here to go on and on about the boy I’ve known most of my life who went on to become my boyfriend.  Doing that while purporting to give advice to people who must endure Valentine’s Day alone would be too obnoxious, so without further ado, here’s my somewhat questionable advice.

1.       Buy yourself chocolate.  No one else got you any, but that doesn’t mean you should be deprived of a source of comfort on what might prove to be a lonely day.  And if you want to get through the day without adding a misdemeanor to your record, you’re going to need the chocolate.

This is something I do every year.  I don’t believe in waiting for anyone to get me chocolate when I can do it myself.  Only I know what kinds of chocolate I’m craving at any given time anyway.  And if someone does actually buy me chocolate as well, that’s even better!  How can you go wrong with that?

2.      Remember that, even if you eat your entire stash of chocolate in one night, there’s bound to be a massive chocolate sale the day after.  Congratulations!  You’ll have the opportunity to eat your feelings all over again!

I also take advantage of this.  Why not?  It’s unthinkable to allow that kind of opportunity pass you by.  Granted, I’ve never understood why there would ever be enough leftover chocolate to justify a sale, but hey, it benefits me in the end, so whatever.

3.      If you find yourself particularly sad about not having someone special, pick a romantic movie so cheesy and rife with bad dialogue that the idea of romantic love becomes repulsive to you.  The effect may only last a day or two, but it should be enough to get you through the dark times of Valentine’s Day.

You know the kinds of movies I’m talking about.  These are the ones with clumsily-written clich├ęs about how these two people can’t live without one another while having only known each other for a few hours.  Sure, people can make a strong connection in a short amount of time, but that doesn’t mean you’ve reached the point where you’re going to go all kamikaze over it.  And if you are, then perhaps you have some deeper issues.
I’m also talking about the poorly acted movies with corny dialogue and terrible music.  There has obviously been no effort to make a film that wasn’t a gigantic pile of crap.  These movies give love a bad name, and that’s exactly what you need to help you get through a lonely Valentine’s Day.  Be cautious, though.  If you’ve been eating your feelings all night, watching too bad a movie can lead to nausea.  Ick!

4.      Come up with a fun tradition for Valentine’s Day that in no way requires you to have a significant other.  Instead, you can share it with a friend or family member.  Granted, it may be a struggle to find someone romantically unattached who is also willing to spend time with you, but hopefully not impossible.

Seth and I have a tradition like this.  We get together each Valentine’s Day, watch movies, and eat vast quantities of unhealthy food.  It is absolutely one of my favorite traditions.  It was his idea to start this tradition, too.  We were thirteen when he proposed it, and it was that awkward age where you start to really notice whether anyone is remotely interested in you or not.  Those awakening hormones can really throw off your Valentine’s Day equilibrium.  It helped both of us forget about those concerns by giving us something to look forward to other than implied rejection.
Until, of course, the year he skipped out on our tradition to go to a dance with another girl.  I might have gone through a bit more chocolate than normal that year. 

5.      If you’ve ever been through a nasty break-up, focus on all the reasons why being in a relationship isn’t always a good thing.  And if you’ve never been through a break-up because you’ve never been in a relationship, look at the examples around you.  They’re everywhere.

I’m fortunate that I’ve never been through a nasty break-up, or any break-up for that matter.  Being considered an undateable weirdo for most of my life helped me out on that front. Still, I’ve seen enough heartbreak amongst the other people in my life to know how unpleasant these things can be.  There are also plenty of movies describing that kind of heartbreak, and perhaps selecting some of them for your own movie night might help if you don’t have the personal experience.
So, there they are.  Dani Finklemeier’s tips for surviving Valentine’s Day.  Hopefully I helped you, but let’s face it.  I probably didn’t.  Valentine’s Day can suck for us misfits no matter what we do.  
At least we have Halloween.

999 words/FCA

Friday, February 12, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things-February 12, 2016

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

It's been a heck of a week.  I signed on to be one of Stormy's Sidekicks for the A to Z Challenge, so that should be fun.  Thanks to Heather M. Gardner for the opportunity!

I got a new laptop this week, and I'm loving it so far.  Though my old one was still working, it was getting older and had its eccentricities.  It's also been patched up on multiple occasions.  I'm not getting rid of the old one, though.  One never knows when something might break and a backup could be handy.

I also got a new tablet, and I intend to read a lot of ebooks on it.

Be sure to stop by Hart Johnson's blog for some story blurbs from the upcoming IWSG anthology Parallels: Felix Was Here.  Today's blurbs are from Crystal Collier and Cherie Reich.

The anthology is set to be released May 3, 2016.  There are pre-order links if you're so inclined to use them.

Barnes and Noble

You can also add it on Goodreads.

Speaking of the anthology, I have in my possession a review copy of the ebook, and it looks great!  Seeing it makes the whole experience feel more real.  If anyone who does book reviews would like to read and review it, just let me know and I can arrange for you to get your own e-copy from the publisher for reviewing purposes.  All I'd need to know is your website, your email, and whether you'd prefer a Mobi or ePub.  Think about it.  You could read these amazing stories before most people get the chance.  How cool would that be?

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What is Speculative Fiction?

Today I'm posting at the Parallels blog about an interesting question.  What is speculative fiction?  It's a broad category, and as such, it's a challenge to define it. Nevertheless, I decided to take on that challenge.

If you're curious about what I have to say, click on over and check it out!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things-February 5, 2016

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

Be sure to stop by Hart Johnson's blog where you can find blurbs for two stories from the upcoming IWSG anthology Parallels: Felix Was Here.  One blurb is from my story "Felix Was Here" and the other comes from Yolanda Renee's story "Ever-Ton."  If you're at all curious, you won't want to miss it!  She's going to be doing two per week for the next few weeks, so there's plenty more to come.

Writing hasn't progressed with the speed that I might have liked, but I've also been sinking a lot more effort into marketing this week than I normally do, so I can't really complain.  The writing I have done seems to be pretty decent too, so I should only be celebrating.

The kids also had two snow days this week, so that also impacted my writing schedule. Let's just say we have a large quantity of snow outside, but the kids are back in school now, so my sanity should be safe for now.

I wrote up a detailed outline of my goals for the next couple of months, and while it feels like I have a lot that I want to do, it should be manageable as long as I stick to it.

What would you like to celebrate?

EDIT: Parallels: Felix Was Here will be available May 3, 2016!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Insecure Writer's Support Group-February 2016

How in the world is it the first Wednesday of the month already?  Time sure does fly, doesn't it?  Let's get this party started and convene the next meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group!  Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh is our esteemed leader.  His co-hosting minions for this month are Allison Gammons, Tamara Narayan, Eva E. Solar, Rachel Pattinson, and Ann V. Friend.

Be sure to stop by the IWSG website!

I can't believe January is behind us already.  I have a list of goals drawn up for February, and I'm looking forward to tackling several projects.  That's the part I feel fairly confident about.  However much work it may take, I know I can finish them.

My insecurity this month has to do with marketing.  I am not good at marketing myself or my work.  I'm such an introvert that I feel awkward even trying to convince people to give my work a chance.  I silently hope that people naturally stumble across my stories, even though that's highly unlikely.  Oh, why can't it be that easy?

The good news is that I may be learning a lot of valuable information about marketing over the next couple of months.  Those of us who are going to be appearing in the upcoming IWSG anthology together have been communicating about various ways of promoting the book, and it's been a good experience so far.  There's no better way to learn about these things than working with your fellow writers.

What is your insecurity this month?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Murder & Obsession With Yolanda Renee

Flames burn between a hardboiled cop and a gifted artist, but soon extinguish as another man’s obsession ignites into an inferno of desire, driving him to destroy the object of his madness.

To be Released March 2016

As wedding bells echo like the ring of toasting champagne glasses in the ice carved mountains of Anchorage Alaska, detective Steven Quaid rehabs his grandfather’s cabin into a honeymoon cottage for his new bride.

When he returns from a hunting trip, Steven’s faced with five police officers, who “Want to talk.” Plagued by two unsolved murders, the Department is searching for answers.

The conversation comes to a deafening halt as the team finds a bloody crime scene in the bridal suite. "Where's her body?" is a question Steven cannot fathom. 

Steven’s jaw clenches and his heart races. Images of Sarah streak through his mind.

The silence breaks as an explosion of accusations vibrate through every fiber of his being.  Steven bolts…

Although running is never the smart thing to do, Steven’s not thinking clearly and his escape into the wilderness of the Brooks Range proves almost fatal.

This Steven Quaid mystery is both personal and heartbreaking.


Yolanda Renee

At one time Alaska called to me and I answered. I learned to sleep under the midnight sun, survive in below zero temperatures, and hike the Mountain Ranges. I've traveled from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, and the memories are some of my most valued. The wonders, mysteries, and incredible beauty that is Alaska has never left me and thus now influence my writing.

Despite my adventurous spirit, I achieved my educational goals, married, and I have two wonderful sons. Writing is now my focus, my newest adventure!

You can find Yolanda at:

New Covers:

After a gritty detective becomes involved with a beautiful widow suspected of murder, rumor and obsession obstruct his quest for justice.

World damnation is a psychotic man’s goal, but two obstacles stand in his way, greed and a dedicated detective. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

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 Seckman, Yolanda Renee, Denise 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.