Friday, December 29, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things-December 29, 2017

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

The kids all had a great Christmas.  They woke up nice and early, as I knew they would.  The boys ripped into their gifts with glee, and Zoe seemed a bit bewildered by it all.  That being said, she got into it pretty quickly and had a good time, too.

Winter finally arrived here.  I'd been wondering when that would happen.  Warm temperatures lingered for far longer than I could have reasonably expected, and now it's cold and snowy like it would normally be this time of year.  I'm not personally excited about it, but I'll celebrate on behalf of my kids who jumped for joy when they saw it was snowing outside.

Happy New Year everyone!  Here's to an excellent 2018!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things-December 22, 2017

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

It's been a stressful week due to reasons I'd rather not talk about right now.  I'd rather focus on the fact that Christmas is almost here and all the good things that go along with that.  I'm looking forward to watching my kids open their presents.  I'm also excited about spending time with the rest of my family and eating good food.

To all of you who celebrate, I'd like to wish you a Merry Christmas.  To those of you who don't, I hope you have a wonderful week!

What would you like to celebrate?

Monday, December 18, 2017

WEP: The End is the Beginning

It's time for another Write . . . Edit . . . Publish challenge!  Thank you to Yolanda ReneeDenise Covey, Nilanjana Bose, and Olga Godim for making this blogging event possible.

Since we're approaching the end of 2017, we're also pausing to reflect on the nature of endings and beginnings.  This is a broad and interesting topic with a wide array of possibilities.

I decided to try something short and fun with this one.  It took several tries to get this to work, and I invite you to let me know how well it worked for you.  (Note: the different colors of letters are used for a reason, it isn't random.)

Word Count: 68

Friday, December 15, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things-December 15, 2017

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

Sorry I'm posting so late today.  I wrote part of this post, then had to stop and only found the time to finish it now.  Oops.

My boys had their school Christmas concert last night, and they both had a great time.  Lyle got to dress up as part of a massive Christmas tree formation, and Jude got to play a lobster during one of his songs.  They were adorable.

I'm taking all of the kids to visit with Santa tomorrow morning.  Fingers crossed that they don't come up with any last minute gift ideas for Santa!

Once the kids are all in bed, I plan to relax and get some writing done.  I'm definitely looking forward to that!

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, December 8, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things-December 8, 2017

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

A bunch of Christmas gifts we ordered online have started rolling in.  Fortunately, the boys have been at school every day we received a UPS delivery, so that made it easier to hide things without having to answer awkward questions.  My bedroom closet is now so full of kids' toys that I don't dare open it, but oh well.  It's only temporary.

We put up some Christmas lights, so our house looks festive.  It isn't a fancy display by any means, but the kids absolutely love it!

Writing is going well.  Though progress on my novel has been a tad slow this week, I'm pleased with the progress I have made.  Fingers crossed that it continues!

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: December 2017

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time for another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group!  Our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has assembled another group of top-notch co-hosts for this month: Julie Flanders, Shannon Lawrence, Fundy Blue, and Heather Gardner.

Be sure to visit the IWSG website!

The question for this month is: As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

This is an appropriate question, as the end of the year seems a perfect time to reflect back.

As far as my writing goes, this has been a busy year.  I've been submitting a lot of stories, and I've had a couple of successes.  One of those successes is getting a story published in the 2018 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide, which is an anthology of science fiction stories for middle grade readers.  It just went on sale earlier this week, and I'm excited to see how well it does.  If anyone is interested in getting a copy, you can find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

I have one more story to submit by the end of the year.  Once I submit this last story, that'll put me up to thirteen submissions for the year.  I didn't originally set out to do that many, but it happened that way.  While that has led to some exciting acceptances, it has also led to plenty of rejections.  I'm trying not to find those discouraging, especially since I subbed to some really competitive magazines.

While I'm happy about how many stories I've been writing, one thing I wish I could do differently is focus more on my novel.  My original plan for 2o17 was to have a completed 1st draft.  At present, I have about a quarter of it written.  That's certainly better than nothing, but I know I could have done more.  I had a couple of dry spells where I wrote almost nothing, and I wish I could have organized my time better.  Oh well.  At least I know what my goal for 2018 is going to be.

If you could go back, what would you have done differently?  What successes have you had, and what are your goals for the coming year?

Friday, December 1, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things-December 1, 2017

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

My boys excitedly wrote out their Christmas lists for Santa this week.  I'm so proud of how much they've learned and what a good job they did writing those lists.  I'm also impressed with the sheer number of items they put on there.  Santa is going to have his work cut out for him.

I set myself some goals for the month of November.  While I didn't do NaNo, I still wanted to challenge myself.  The goal was to write a complete rough draft for a short story and add 15,000 words to my novel.  How did I do?  Well, I did indeed complete the rough draft for that short story.  On that front I was successful.  And how about my novel?  How many words did I add?

Drumroll, please.

I added 15,o37 words.  I didn't blow past my goal like I'd hoped I might early in the month, and for a little while there it seemed possible I might.  Then Zoe's birthday and Thanksgiving happened, and I lost some momentum there.

Still, I achieved my goal, even if it was only by the skin of my teeth.  It's still a win, and I'll celebrate it!  And I'd like to congratulate anyone who made it through NaNo this month.  I admire you for that.

And finally, I'd like to celebrate these little beauties that came in the mail.  Earlier this month, I learned I'd won a Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children boxed set through a giveaway on Goodreads, and I just received it this week.

Also, the 2018 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide is coming out, and I just got my author copies in the mail.  Aren't they pretty?  

If you'd like to learn more about the book, you can check it out on Goodreads.

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, November 24, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things-November 24, 2017

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

I'm a little late posting this, partly because I'm lacking in motivation after such a busy day yesterday.  After a full pot of coffee, I'm starting to finally get on the ball with what I need to get done today.

Zoe had a great birthday, and she's learned how fun it is to open gifts.  She loves wrapping paper, but most kids do, don't they?  Here are some pictures I took of her on her birthday.  Isn't she cute?

I ate way too much food for Thanksgiving, but a lot of the dishes I attacked included fresh vegetables and fruits, so at least I got some good nutrition in there.

I've made some good progress on the short story draft I've been meaning to work on.  It's almost half done, and it would be cool if I could finish that draft by the end of the weekend.  I have no idea how likely that is, but we'll see how it goes.

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things-November 17, 2017

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

We bought a used car last weekend.  It's an SUV that has enough room to haul the kids and various other things, which is nice.  Since it is used, it needs a few repairs done.  We already got one of those fixes done, and the others will be completed as time and money allow.

We also got a new washer and dryer.  Our old washing machine was completely dead, and our old dryer took about six hours to actually dry anything, so it was past time to get them.  We also got both for the price we'd been expecting to pay for one, so that was great!  I'm definitely happy about that.

Zoe's first birthday is on Wednesday!  I can't believe she's going to be one year old already.  She's been proving her age by walking across our living room for the past week.  She's still wobbly, but she's getting better at it every day.

To all of my fellow American blogging friends, Happy Thanksgiving!  I'm going to be eating entirely too much food over the next week.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Remakes Blogfest

It's time for the Remakes Blogfest!  Our hosts for this one are Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather M. Gardner.

Let's face it.  Remakes abound these days.  A lot of the time, remakes are made to cash in on nostalgia, and they're often done so poorly it hurts.  In a world filled with terrible remakes, it might be reassuring to know that remakes can be done well.

The process of writing this post was more difficult than I originally imagined it would be.  I've seen a lot of remakes, some of which I didn't realize were remakes until much later, and that got me to thinking about what makes a good remake.  I can't quite plot the trajectory I ended up taking, but one thing led to another, and all of the sudden I found myself debating the terms remake, reboot, and retelling.

In general, these terms aren't so easily defined.  People seem to have different ideas of where the lines are drawn.  It's generally agreed that remakes stick close to the original source material.  The primary reason to make a strict remake tends to be to make use of updated special effects.  And to make money, of course.  This might be one reason why I find a lot of remakes dissatisfying.  They ultimately seem pointless.  If the original was so wonderful that you want to make a completely faithful remake, then why bother?

Reboots happen a lot these days too.  These take the original premise, but often take the story in a different direction.  This can be an interesting route to take.  You can explore how beloved characters react to new scenarios and contemplate the alternate paths history might have followed under other circumstances.  The recent Star Trek films are an example of this.  While they're not perfect, I have enjoyed them for what they are.  As long as you stay true to the heart of the source material, a reboot can be a good way to entertain old fans while drawing in new ones.

Then comes the category I personally find most intriguing: the retelling, aka the re-imagining.

The retelling is the least loyal of the three.  Here you can have wild divergence from the original source material, though you can still see it there, hidden in the bones of the piece when
you pick it apart.  It serves as inspiration, helping to lay the foundation for something new.  Why do this, though?  Why are we compelled to retell stories across time?  There are untold worlds worth of stories to be told, but we keep coming back to the same ones and reexamining them.  Why do we keep adapting Shakespeare's plays?  Why do we keep making new works based off The Odyssey?

I think a part of it has to do with the themes of these classic stories.  Shakespeare's plays continue to resonate because they speak to love and loss and greed and pain.  No matter how much society changes, those human emotions stick with us.  Those old stories are a part of us.  We grew up with them, and we continue to relate to them.

That being said, we also live in a time vastly different from Shakespeare's day.  While our humanity remains, our worries about the world are different.  We live in a world where the wonders of science both excite us and frighten us.  We value what science has made possible while also worrying about how our own human failings may lead to disaster on a much larger scale than was previously possible.  In retelling these old tales in a new context, we can explore what it means to be human in modern times.  We can examine where we've come from and speculate about where we may be going.

That brings me to one of my favorite retellings.  It may not be a remake in the strictest sense, but I feel like it falls within the spirit of this blogfest.  I have fond memories of watching this film as a kid.

Forbidden Planet sends Shakespeare's The Tempest into deep space.  The story has been greatly changed, obviously, but it's still there, repackaged in sleek metal and special effects.  It explores the old themes in a new context.  I'd recommend watching this video to learn more about the relationship between Forbidden Planet and The Tempest.  It's pretty brilliant.

What are your feelings about remakes?  What remakes have you enjoyed?

Friday, November 10, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things-November 10, 2017

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

I got some great news regarding one of my short stories this week.  Near the end of August, I submitted a short story called "Becoming Death's Personal Assistant" to for an anthology called Normal Deviation.  The premise of the anthology intrigued me.  The guidelines required us to use the chosen photo as inspiration, come up with three story ideas, get rid of the first two, and write a story based on the third idea.  I did just that, and I found out this week that my story was selected for publication in the anthology!  I'm definitely excited about this one.

I also got a lot more writing done on my untitled novel in progress.  I'm nearing the 20K mark, and I hope I can keep up my momentum.

We're also looking to buy a used car in the next week or so.  We have the funds to buy something decent.  I'm just hoping to find something good in our price range.  Wish me luck on that!

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things-November 3, 2017

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

The kids had a great time trick-or-treating.  It was freezing cold, but at least it wasn't windy.  I had the kids wearing heavy layers of clothing under their costumes, so that helped keep them warm.  Jude dressed up as Foxy from the video game Five Nights at Freddy's, while Lyle dressed up as a creeper from Minecraft.  Zoe was an adorable little pumpkin.

It's November, and I've submitted twelve stories so far.  I've had a lot of rejections, of course, but I'm trying not to feel too bad about that.  I've been submitting to big magazines that see hundreds of stories every month, so that's to be expected.  Why do I keep trying when the odds are so stacked against me?  Maybe I'm crazy, but I still feel like I need to keep trying.  Every time I get a rejection, I turn right around and resubmit elsewhere.  If nothing else, I'm proud of my persistence.

I've been making some progress on my writing goals for the month, and I'm determined to keep going.  As long as I have coffee, I'll be okay.

What would you like to celebrate?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Mistakes of the Past Release

Luc seeks atonement for the actions that banished him from his home. Living as a priest in a small town, he strives to show how much he’s changed with the hope that one day he can return to his family.

Haunted by the guilt that destroyed her family, Rose has shut her heart off. She vows to never let anyone near again lest she hurt them. When she meets Luc, she can’t deny the draw she feels to him.

But the past is not easily forgotten. When Luc’s past finds him, Rose is caught in the middle. Forced to face who he used to be, Luc must decide if he’s willing to give up his chance at redemption to save Rose. But doing so means he won’t be able to hide who he is. Will Rose be able to reconcile the man she knows with the devil he used to be? Or are the mistakes of the past too damning?

Buy Links:

About the Author:

Patricia Josephine never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was all about art. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head. That was the start of it and she hasn't regretted a moment. She writes young adult under the name Patricia Lynne.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow, and an obsession with Doctor Who.

Thornwood: Creating a fictional town
I have a habit in my writing, I don’t often use real places. In my YA, Snapshots, the city Cyc lives in, I didn’t have a name until one of the very last drafts. I picked a name along the lines of Los Angeles and had a bit of meaning. In Path of Angels, and Abducted Life, there are no names for the towns the characters are from. It just wasn’t important to the story.

But when it came to Mistakes of the Past, I needed a town name because it matters to Rose. She wants to escape the town and the tragedy attached. Plus, the characters kept talking about the place. When I introduce Rose, she’s looking at the name to the town!

Many writers will use real places, but that has its downsides. You gotta get details right. That’s hard if you don’t live near the place. And trust me, someone who lives there will let you know. This is the main reason why I often make up the places where my characters live. I can arrange it how I need it to and don’t have to worry about getting it wrong and throwing readers out of the scene.

Of course, that’s not to say I don’t get inspiration from real towns and cities.

Thornwood is actually a mix of two towns I grew up around: Newberry and Curtis, Michigan. Curtis is a tiny, little tourist trap. You can drive through it in a minute. Newberry is bigger, but not by much. I mashed them together to get a small town where most everyone knows each other, but it’s also big enough for a hospital. Both aren’t too far from where I currently live, so the inspiration for the city (which I never bothered to name) is inspired by that. Although, that city is much bigger than the one I live in.

Will I ever use a real life place for a story? Yeah. It will probably be somewhere I have visited or can easily. That will allow me to make sure the streets I use are accurate and makes sense.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: November 2017

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and you know what that means!  Let's convene another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support GroupAlex J. Cavanaugh is our leader, and he's assembled another wonderful group of co-hosts: Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton, M.J. Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass.

Be sure to visit the IWSG website!

This month's optional question pertains to NaNoWriMo, and that brings up a little insecurity of mine.  I'm a writer who has never participated in NaNo.  Sometimes it feels like I'm the only one, though I know that can't actually be true.

So why have I never taken part in this event?  In the beginning, I found the idea of it too intimidating.  Resolving to write a novel in a month is one thing, but publicly declaring that intention and then having to follow through?  A little bit terrifying.  I admire everyone who has done it, and I would like to eventually do it too.

Why not try it this year?  Well, having a baby in the house who crawls everywhere and is trying to learn to walk makes that difficult.  Fingers crossed for next year.  Instead of doing NaNo, I'd instead like to set some writing goals for November.

Goal #1: Finish the rough draft of a short story I started writing a little over a month ago.

Goal #2: Write at least 15,000 words in the novel I started writing earlier this year.  I'd like to do 20k, but 15k sounds like a good minimum.

To those of you attempting NaNoWriMo this month, good luck!

What has you feeling insecure?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things-October 27, 2017

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

I've been distracted this week.  My grandma passed away last Friday night.  The funeral was yesterday.  That's obviously been at the forefront of my mind.  Since I don't have a whole lot to say, I thought I'd post a few fun and motivational quotes celebrating life instead.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things-October 20, 2017

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

My boys got their school pictures back.  I may be biased, but I think they look handsome.

I got a short story I want to write outlined.  I set out to write it without an outline, but I felt like I was spinning my wheels and not getting anywhere.  I'm hoping that the outline, which I feel quite pleased with, will help me get it written.

The weather here has been gorgeous.  It's been in the 70's for the last few days, which is odd for where I live, but I plan to enjoy it while I can.  I know it can't last forever.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

WEP: Dark Places

It's time for more fun with Write . . . Edit . . . Publish.  Thank you Yolanda Renee and Denise Covey for making this possible.

It's October, so that means we get to have a spooky time with this month's theme of Dark Places.


A Dark Man in a Dark Room 

The light bulb burned out days ago, but Ray didn’t bother with it.  A trip to the store would’ve involved interacting with people in the street, and his insides twisted at the thought.  He couldn’t risk temptation so close to home.
You could go out at night.  The convenience store down the road is open 24/7, the little voice in his mind whispered.  You’d be less likely to be caught if you slipped up.
Ray shook his head so violently the muscles in his neck twinged.  He couldn’t obey the impulse.  Going out would only end badly.  He’d already added light bulbs to his online shopping list, and the delivery service would bring them by the following morning.  He could survive another 12 hours or so in the lightless room.
The faint illumination cast by his laptop screen was enough to navigate the tiny studio apartment.  He hopped from website to website, reading articles that barely interested him.  He needed to keep his mind busy.
You know where you want to go, the voice hissed.  There are so many websites that could bring you pleasure.  No one needs to know.  Why restrain yourself?  Looking at images online won’t hurt anyone, will it?
Ray tried to push those inklings deep inside.  Maybe he’d eventually be able to bury them so deep they’d no longer plague him.  It seemed an impossible dream most of the time, but he continued to hope in the face of futility.
A sharp knock on the door made him jump.  He set his laptop on his musty comforter and slid off his bed.  His heart thumped loudly enough in his ears to mask the sounds of his socked feet on the hardwood floor as he crossed the room.
The delivery wasn’t due yet, and family members stopped dropping by for visits two decades ago.  The neighbors tended to give him no more than a hurried glance before sidestepping him in the hallway.  His wild eyes and unkempt hair were more than enough to guarantee such a reaction.
Maybe you should try being more approachable.  Aren’t you lonely?  Don’t you want to get close to someone?
Ray shivered as he reached for the doorknob.  He should have pretended he wasn’t home.  That was the only option that made sense, but the logical part of his brain was drowning.  He’d soon lose touch with it altogether.  Nevertheless, he pulled the door open.
“Hello, sir,” a young girl with blond hair and brown eyes said cheeffully.  She was slender and came up to his shoulder.  She couldn’t be any older than thirteen or fourteen.  A cardboard box rested in the crook of her arm.  “I’m selling candy bars to raise money for new marching band uniforms.  Each candy bar only costs $1, and they’re really delicious.”
This last part of her spiel sounded so enthusiastic that Ray knew she must have sampled one for herself.  He pictured her holding an unwrapped bar in her hands, the chocolate melting over her fingers, gooey and sweet.
He licked his lips, and finding his voice, replied, “I shouldn’t.”
The girl’s smile widened.  “Who says you shouldn’t?  Come on, it won’t hurt you too much to give in this one time, and it’s for such a good cause.”
Yeah, you heard her.  Give into the temptation.  One more time.  Remember how it made you feel before?  Those were the only times you ever felt good.  Let her help you feel good.
Ray felt like he was quaking beneath the surface.  He could shatter at any moment, and he couldn’t imagine how he looked to this girl who had no idea the type of monster she was dealing with.
Invite her in.  See that perfect skin?  You know what you want to do to her.
He did know.  He couldn’t help imagining it.  Running his hands over that creamy flesh.  Replacing his hands with a razor blade.  Dragging that blade along the skin, pressing just hard enough to create a valley in which it could rest.  Then pressing the extra little bit that would breach the skin.  Crimson liquid bubbling forth around the metal before cascading toward the floor.  Watching it pool around his feet before using it to paint a picture on his floorboards.
You could paint flowers.  Or other pretty girls to stare at.  All you have to do is invite her inside.  Say you need to get your money.  She won’t suspect anything.
Except he was at home, and other people may have seen this girl going door to door.  If she disappeared, people would come looking for her.
“All right.  I’ll buy one.”  He bit down on his lower lip as he reached into his pocket and pulled out the dollar.
Her face lit up.  “Thank you, sir.  I appreciate your help.”
When he accepted the candy bar, he purposely brushed his hand against hers.  The contact lasted only a moment, but something deep inside him roared to life.
His toes bumped against the shoebox stashed beneath his bed.  He froze in place, savoring the memories of how each of the photographs contained within came to be.  The torn flesh.  Subdued cries for help that went unheard.
If only he had a light bulb.  He’d have pulled them out and perused them for an hour or two, reliving the moments since he could make no new ones.
Except he could, in a way.  He closed his eyes and envisioned new scenes of gore and torment.  He thought up new ways to make it beautiful.  The room might’ve been dark, but nothing rivaled the dark recesses of his own mind.

Word Count: 938