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!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things-October 28, 2016

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

I finally got Halloween costumes for the kids last Friday.  I found a Joker costume for my oldest son for $8 used.  It's in great condition, though I did have to hem the pants for it to fit.  My youngest son is going to be Rubble from Paw Patrol, and he's super excited about it.

Last Saturday my husband and I took the kids to a Halloween event that included trick-or-treating in the woods, a costume contest, and hayrack rides.  After that we went to a haunted house.  Everyone had a good time.

I'm also celebrating that my husband took the night off work for Halloween, so we're all going to go trick-or-treating as a family.  Considering how far along in this pregnancy I am, I'll need all the help with the kids I can get.

Speaking of Halloween, I'll be participating in the Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop.  If you're not sure what that entails, follow the link for details!

I also have a couple of short but spooky pieces of flash fiction for your enjoyment.  One of them, Gazing Into the Abyss, was written for the October WEP Challenge.  The other, Truth or Dare, was written for Spooktoberfest.

If you're a member of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, don't forget that the deadline for the 2016 Anthology Contest is November 1st!

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Self-Help 101 or: How to Select a Costume to Help You Deal With People Blog Tour Stop #7

Hey everyone!  I'm over at Tonja Drecker's blog today to talk about the best way to handle setbacks as a writer.  If you're interested, please stop by and check it out!

Also, don't forget that if you want to get into the Halloween spirit, I have a couple of spooky stories available for you to read.  I wrote one of them for this month's Write Edit Publish Challenge, and I wrote the other for Spooktoberfest.

Have a great day!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Self-Help 101 or: How to Select a Costume to Help You Deal With People Blog Tour Stop #6

Hello friends!  I have a couple of things for you.  First of all, if you'd like a short little Halloween scare, my entry for Spooktoberfest is now available for your entertainment!

Secondly, Laura over at My Baffling Brain has been kind enough to host me today as part of my Self-Help 101 or: How to Select a Costume to Help You Deal With People blog tour. Today I'm talking about why I, as a writer, love Halloween.  If you're interested, please feel free to stop by!

Thanks everyone, and have a great day!

Spooktoberfest 2016: Truth Or Dare

Halloween is fast approaching, and you know what that means!  It's time for the 5th Annual Spooktoberfest!  Thanks to Dani and Jax for hosting this fun event!

Truth Or Dare

“No way!” Terri cried.  “The closest I want to come to a graveyard on Halloween is a Tombstone pizza!”
Annabelle giggled, the flickering firelight playing across her alabaster skin.  “This is truth or dare.  If you’re not willing to take the dare, you shouldn’t be playing.”
Austin kicked a log deeper into the campfire with a work boot.  “Maybe you should pick better dares, Annabelle.  There’s nothing fun about going to a graveyard.”
Annabelle rolled her eyes.  “The point of a dare is to get someone to push their limits.  You’re supposed to feel uncomfortable.  You only object to my dare because you want to use your magic powers of seduction to woo Terri.”
Terri’s eyes widened.  “Is that true?”
Austin choked, his hand flying to his chest.  A moment later, he cleared his throat.  “Don’t listen to her.  She’s jealous because I turned her down.  Messing with people’s feelings makes her feel better.”
Annabelle grinned.  “Lie to yourself if it makes you feel better.  It only proves truth is more frightening than dare, especially if you’ve lived a somewhat interesting life.”  She turned back to Terri.  “Would you rather have truth?”
Terri nodded.
“Fine.”  Annabelle took a drink of her beer, her black hair falling back to expose her pale throat.  “Okay, Terri.  Do you think Austin is attractive?”
A moment passed before Terri nodded, her cheeks flushed.
Austin sat forward.  “Really?”
Annabelle slugged him in the shoulder.  “It’s Terri’s turn to ask now, not yours.  You’ll have to wait.”
“Okay,” Terri said.  “Annabelle, truth or dare?”
“Truth, of course.  I love living on the wild side.”
Terri smiled shyly.  “What’s your deepest, darkest secret?”
Annabelle stood, brushing the dust from her jeans.  “Follow me.  I’ll show you.”
Austin looked hopeful as he stood to follow.
The three of them soon stood behind a dilapidated barn.  It was too dark to see more than fuzzy outlines.  “How are you going to show us something when we can’t see?” Austin asked.
He never got a verbal response.  Instead, he felt the blinding pain of something solid colliding with his skull.  He collapsed in a heap, groaning.  Austin struggled to focus, and he was barely able to make out the shape of a machete in Annabelle’s hand.
“Don’t worry.  We won’t kill you right away,” Terri said reassuringly.
Annabelle nodded.  “She’s right.  I like to play with my food first.”

Word Count: 399

Friday, October 21, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things-October 21, 2016

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

Last weekend my boys carved pumpkins and helped us build a scarecrow.  They had a great time doing it!

The kids also got their school pictures back this week.  I may be biased, but I think they look pretty handsome.

I finished a flash fiction piece and submitted it this week. Whatever the response, I'm glad that I'm pushing myself to keep submitting.  I still have two more stories I'd like to submit by the end of the year, and I also need to finish and release my final Self-Help 101 novella.  Oh, and I'll be having a baby soon.  The end of 2016 is definitely going to be busy!

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Self-Help 101 or: How to Select a Costume to Help You Deal With People Blog Tour Stop #5

Hey there!  Today I have a couple of exciting things going on. If you're interested in reading my creepy WEP entry, which uses both the constellations and Halloween prompts, you can find that HERE.

Also, I'm over at Fiction and Film with Kate Larkindale talking about my latest Self-Help 101 novella and how important it is for a writer to be open to inspiration as much as possible.  If you're interested, you can find that HERE.

Have a great day everyone!

WEP October Challenge-Gazing Into the Abyss

It's time for another WEP Challenge!  A big shout out to Yolanda Renee and Denise Covey for making all this possible!

I couldn't resist using constellations as my inspiration, and I guess Halloween leaked in as well, because this tale turned out pretty dark.  So I guess I used both themes at the end of the day.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this decidedly sad and twisted tale.

Gazing into the Abyss

The chill of the evening has permeated my skin, reaching down to the bone.  I’m not wearing a jacket, because I hadn’t planned on being outside for this long.  It figures, though.  My life seldom goes according to plan.  It only makes sense that I’ve found myself in this situation.
The scent of burning leaves reaches my nostrils, but I can’t move enough to see where the fire is at.  Not that it matters all that much.  I focus instead on the stars above me.  The big dipper is enormous.  I imagine it turning upside down and pouring out the Milky Way that currently stands out so clearly above me.  Far from city lights, far from any hint of civilization whatsoever, I can see more of the universe than I’ve ever seen before.
How long was I in the car that brought me here?  And where is “here” anyway?
Next I find Orion.  Do you even have a clue how it feels to be hunted, Orion?  Would you even care?
“Enjoying the view?”  The voice is more chilling than the crisp October air.
I’m enjoying it as much as I can given the circumstances, which isn’t all that much.  On a clear, moonless night like this, I’d typically pull out my telescope and look at the stars with my best friend Matt.
Matt.  I’m never going to see you again, am I?
“Let me guess.  You’re speechless?  You should be?  There are no words that will make your betrayal okay.”  A fuzzy face moved into my field of vision.  Chester.
My betrayal?  I start to laugh at the audacity of it all, but my laugh turns into a choked cry as pain flares in my gut.
“You hurt me, Melissa,” Chester said, his voice hard.  “You have no idea how badly.  I love you.  Don’t you realize that?”
I can’t focus on him.  My vision is starting to blur, and he’s pacing now.  I could never explain how much worse he’s hurt me.  And to think I actually felt bad for hurting him.  I didn’t make the decision to break off our relationship lightly.  The feelings that were once there began to fade ages ago, at least on my end.  I also didn’t intend to fall in love with Matt.  Things like that just happen sometimes.  While Chester is quick to anger and overly critical, Matt is gentle.  He listens.  I try to picture his warm brown eyes and easy smile.
I’m sorry, Matt.  I’m sorry I can’t come back home.  I’m sorry that I’m going to die out here, and I’m sorry my death with erase the smile that I love so much.  I knew Chester would take it hard, but I never imagined he would go this far.  The blood staining my white T-shirt proves I was wrong.
My eyes can scarcely make out the Pleiades.  The seven sisters.  They managed to outrun Orion for seven years before the chase was immortalized in the stars.  If only I could have run as fast as they did.  If only I had more time.  I wasted so many hours worrying about silly things that didn’t really matter.  If I had a chance to do it all again, I could do it so much better.
“He’ll never have you, Melissa.  No one will.  There won’t be anything left of you by morning.  He’ll never know what happened to you.  How does that make you feel?”
That has to be a rhetorical question.  I’m far beyond the ability to talk.  He can probably read the answer in my eyes, anyway.
With a cold smile, Chester steps away for the final time.  “Good-bye, Melissa.”
The sound of dry grass crunching beneath his feet is nearly drowned out by the crackling of the fire.  It must be closer now.  I can see something bright in the periphery of my vision.
Most of the stars are too faint for my tired eyes to distinguish now, but I still spot the familiar shape of Cassiopeia.  The queen on her throne.  I don’t suppose you could lend me a hand, could you?  No?  I didn’t think so.  I doubt you’d even care about what’s happening to me right now, but I’d rather you be the last thing I ever see.  Not Chester.  He doesn’t deserve to be the last person I think of before my life ends.
Or I can pretend Matt is here, and we’re lying on a blanket as we gaze at the stars.  I may be so cold and weak that I can no longer shiver, but that delusion almost makes me feel normal for a moment.  I clutch it tight, holding it firmly in my mind.  I can’t stand the thought of letting it go.
The heat of the fire soon licks my feet.  The shroud of smoke now obscures my view of the sky.  Rather than lamenting this fact, I pretend I’m one of those stars.  I’ll soon burn as bright as they do.  How many people can say that? Maybe one day someone will write out my story in the constellations, rendering me immortal.

Word Count: 854

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Self-Help 101 or: How to Select a Costume to Help You Deal With People Blog Tour Stop #4

Hello!  Today I'm continuing my October blog tour for my latest Self-Help 101 novella with a stop by Lori MacLaughlin's blog.  In my post, I talk about the challenges of writing a novella series in a year and offer you an excerpt from the book.  Please stop by and check it out!

Have a great day!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things-October 14, 2016

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

My kids helped me make a chocolate cake for my birthday, and as you can imagine, it was a messy but fun experience.

I got my print copy of Circuits & Slippers this week.  I think it looks amazing!

I'm feeling much better after that nasty cold I had last week. I'd feel almost normal if I weren't nearly 34 weeks pregnant and waddling like a penguin everywhere I go. :)

Writing is going better now that I'm feeling more like myself. I'll definitely celebrate that.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Self-Help 101 or: How to Select a Costume to Help You Deal With People Blog Tour Stop #3

Hello!  I'm here to let all of you know that I'm over at Denise Covey's blog today talking about entering the IWSG Anthology Contest.  If you're a member of the IWSG, you should definitely consider entering, and if you need a pep talk, stop by Denise's and let me tell you why you should! Plus you can learn more about my latest novella in the process!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Self-Help 101 or: How to Select a Costume to Help You Deal With People Blog Tour Stop #2

Today I'm continuing my October blog tour with Tamara Narayan and a post about dealing with critique.  Some critiques are valuable and have much insight to offer, and some are simply mean-spirited and aren't worth worrying about.  How can you tell the difference?  Stop by Tamara's blog to find out!

Have a great day!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things-October 7, 2016

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

I've been doing my best to write while battling an unpleasant head cold.  Not the most fun, but I've still managed to be somewhat productive.

My birthday is Tuesday.  I plan on treating myself to a small book shopping excursion.  That sounds like a great way to celebrate a birthday.

The kids have had a fun week.  It's Homecoming, and they've been doing all kinds of extra activities at school.  Today they're taking part in a parade, and they're all excited about it.

What would you like to celebrate?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Self-Help 101 or: How to Select a Costume to Help You Deal With People Blog Tour Stop #1

Hello!  I'm just posting really quick to let everyone know that I'm over at Diane Burton's blog today talking about why I wrote a Self-Help 101 novella about Halloween.  Please feel free to stop by!

Have a great day everyone!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: October 2016

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and you know what that means!  It's time for another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group!  Alex J. Cavanaugh is our host.  His minions for this month are Beverly Stowe McClure, Megan Morgan, Viola Fury, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Angela Wooldridge, and Susan Gourley.

Be sure to visit the IWSG website!  And don't forget that the 2016 IWSG Anthology Contest is underway!  The deadline is November 1st.

The question for this month is: When do you know your story is ready?

This is a tricky question.  One of the main things that used to hold me back was the feeling that the story is never done. How could I send my story out into the world when it's not absolutely perfect?  The problem with that thought process is this: the story is never going to be perfect.  You can edit and edit and edit endlessly.  If only a bright neon sign could pop up and declare "It's finished!"

Since life isn't that simple, I ask myself a series of questions. Does the story achieve what I wanted?  Do the characters stand out?  Does everything make sense?  Have I eliminated all of the grammatical and spelling errors that I can?  If the answer to all of these questions is yes, I declare it done.  I try not to worry so much about every single word choice beyond those first rounds of editing.  If I let myself get wrapped up in that, the story would never see the light of day.  As a writer, that would be a problem.

How do you decide a story is ready?