Saturday, September 7, 2019

Fairy Tales & First Dates

My amazing writing group, Friday Night Writes, has been working on Fairy Tales & First Dates all year. If you love fairy tale retellings, painfully awkward situations, humor, and a dash of magic, this collection is for you!
There’s no getting around it, first dates are awkward.

Join Robin and Marian as Little John hijacks their night. Watch as a pixie is forced to spend the evening with an insufferable prince and the Muffin Man romances the Gingerbread Girl.

You won’t be able to look away when Ms. White faces off with an alarmingly charming principal, and Belle has to navigate the frightening world of online dating.

Then there’s the burly knight in shining armor who rescues the girl a little too well, a blind date that includes seven brothers with a twisted sense of humor, and a satyr who’s trying to convince a sea witch that she’s not a monster.

Friday Night Writes brings together a collection of Fairy Tale First Dates like you’ve never imagined them before. 

Coming soon to Amazon!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Blog Touring: Golden Gown

Every novel deserves a chance to shine and my newest fairy tale retelling Golden Gown is no different! What does that mean? It's time for another blog tour!

Golden Gown's Blog Tour is going to be unique. In addition to a giveaway, my social media specialist, writer Amy Hubbard, will host several games that will run during the duration of the tour, May 28-June 14. Also, Becoming Beauty and Midnight Sisters on eBook will be on sale for 99 cents!

On several of the blog stops. you'll get to learn something new about the cast of Golden Gown, from mischievous Rumpelstiltskin (Gilberto De la Vega) to nosy neighbors. It promises to be fun! Check back in over the next couple of weeks to take advantage of all the exciting things that are going on!

May 28 Inkings and Notions (Gilberto De la Vega)
May 30 Cindy C Bennett (Elyse Morley)
June 2 Half Agony Half Hope (Lady Lydia & Clara Demmings)
June 12 Jo Ann Schneider (Royal Family)
June 13 A Backwards Story 

Follow the Online Launch Party for games and giveaways during the blog tour. Also, you're invited to the Launch Party at Endless Indulgence to pick up a signed copy of Golden Gown!

Check my Events page for updates, then come gab with me and my author friends in person, participate in giveaways, contests, and whatnot!

Let's play!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Cover Reveal

For the last couple of years, I've been working on my Rumpelstiltskin retelling, Golden Gown. Inspired by the portrayal of Rumple in the television series Once Upon a Time, I wanted to create my own Rumpelstiltskin tale featuring him as the hero. My longtime love, Gilbert Blythe (from Anne of Green Gables) crept in and made the mischievous imp truly lovable. Then I make Rumple into a Spaniard and Gilberto De La Vega was born.

My heroine, Elyse Morley, is based primarily on my grammy, Elsie Caraway, and secondarily on all the Boucher and Caraway women. Elyse is patient, hardworking, talented, and has a good sense of humor. However, like all the women in my family, when Elyse is cornered, her latent temper comes out.

Here's her story:

Elyse has lost everything; her parents, her family home, and the village where she is loved and respected. Still grieving, she arrives in a new town where she must prove her skills as a seamstress. Overnight, she creates a gown stunning enough to catch the princess’s eye and win the community’s approval. With every eligible maiden clamoring for her designs, Elyse must do everything in her power to appease them. 

No one can ever know that in the moments when she doubts her abilities, a mysterious stranger with a talent for tailoring and a penchant for damsels in distress comes to her aid. If anyone ever discovers the truth, her reputation will be ruined.

Golden Gown will be available May 2019 and a number of great events will run through May and June. Stay tuned! There will be more fun to come!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Creativity: Balancing Passion & Madness

It is a truth universally acknowledged that writers dream of, speak to, and argue with their characters. 

Likewise, those characters beg for more scenes and better dialogue, preferring to do so when their creators are engaged in other endeavors. Like sleep. Or the occasional shower.

No wonder everyone thinks we’re crazy.

The process of creation exalts and exhausts writers. It encroaches on sleep, social lives, hobbies, day jobs, and everything else. We become emotionally involved with our stories, weeping when we inflict pain on our characters and cheering when we lead them to overcome the obstacles in their way.

The challenge of balancing passion and madness is something we all must face.

Like all creatively inclined individuals, P.T. Barnum of Barnum and Bailey's Circus saw the world differently and sought to share his vision. Public disapproval, familial troubles, and monetary struggles haunted his career, but in the end, Barnum was revered as a showman and businessman who established an enduring legacy.

I close my eyes and I can see 
a world that’s waiting up for me, that I call my own. 
Through the dark, through the door, 
through where no one’s been before, but it feels like home,
They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy. 
They can say, they can say I’ve lost my mind.
I don’t care, I don’t care, so call me crazy.
We can live in a world that we design.
‘Cause every night I lie in bed, the brightest colors fill my head.
A million dreams are keepin’ me awake.
I think of what the world could be, a vision of the one I see.
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take.
Oh, a million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.
(A Million Dreams, The Greatest Showman, 2017)

During his career, Barnum toured the country and gave lectures on “The Art of Money Getting.” In his biography P.T. Barnum: Every Crowd Has a Silver Lining, Tom Streissguth states, “[Barnum] advised listeners to follow their vocation, concentrate their energies, and advertise. (p 78)

That’s the essential difference between passion and madness. 

Instead of pursuing dreams in a haphazard way, creative individuals:
a. follow where their education and training leads, acquiring more training and expertise as needed, 
b. focus on their goals, expending their best energies to achieve them
c. develop and adhere to sound marketing plans

At one time or another, we all dream of easy success. 

However, dreams only become reality when we put in the work required. Whether we are afraid or overly eager to step onto the world’s stage, we each have a story that the world is waiting to hear. 

I see it in your eyes. You believe that lie that you need to hide your face.
Afraid to step outside, so you lock the door. But you can’t stay that way. …
You cannot be afraid.
Come alive, come alive.
Go and light your light, let it burn so bright.
Reachin’ up to the sky and it’s open wide, you’re electrified.
And the world becomes a fantasy and you’re more than you could ever be,
‘cause you’re dreamin’ with your eyes wide open.
And we know we can’t go back again to the world that we were livin’ in,
‘cause we’re dreamin’ with our eyes wide open.
So come alive.
(Come Alive, The Greatest Showman, 2017)

In walking the fine line between passion and madness, we must be a little fearless. 

We must play to our strengths, identify our weaknesses, and move forward with purpose and passion. How well the world receives our message is not a matter of chance or good fortune, success is a direct result of careful consideration, planning, and hard work. 

So, “go and light your light,” my friends. The world is waiting.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Musings of a Repentant Pantser

That may sound like the confession of a playground bully, but I'm not talking about actually pantsing anyone, I'm talking about pansting my novel.

Photo via Unsplash

In the world of writers, I'm the type who follows the call of my characters, their quirks and whims, to discover my finale. In other words, I'm a pantser.

It's not the most organized process, but it is fun and unexpected. So far, it's been ideal for a girl who came to writing from an entirely unrelated field.

However, October marked the first month of My First Ever Novel Writing Class, so I was required to switch gears. A few weeks in, I was assigned the task of outlining a novel I'd hardly begun to write with characters I barely knew. I was stumped. I tried. I really tried. But I could only come up with six events. Six. Measly. Events. I don't know if you've read anything lately, but six measly events do not a novel make.

I gave up. My instructor didn't know what my novel was about, right? She hadn't been in the critique group who had heard the first couple pages of Rapunzel. So I outlined the novel I finished in August, a Rumplestiltskin retelling. Since my goals for the novel writing course included rethinking the novel I'd finished as well as plotting out a new novel, I only felt slightly like a great big cheater pants.

Okay, maybe more than slightly.

The next week, my instructor, the amazing Mette Ivie Harrison, assigned a synopsis. Again, I tried. Due to a few exercises along the way,
  1. fleshing out my characters more fully,
  2. diagramming how the characters interacted with and influenced one another (aka my version of fleshing out events in the plot),
  3. returning to original sources to reread the original fairy tale,
I sat down at my computer and followed my characters through to a working synopsis. The process was as amazing as jumping in and writing.

That brings me to today, where I admit that there is something to this outlining thing. I have a better picture of where Novel Four is headed than I ever have before. I've also spent enough time away from Novel Three to have a good perspective about what needs to be tweaked, improved, and added.

Does this mean I have exchanged my proud-to-be-panster status for overly-exuberant plotter status? I enjoy chucking aside outlines and following characters in unexpected directions too much to become a die hard plotter. But I can finally see the benefits of spending more time getting to know my characters and story before actually writing it.

I might even stop mentally mocking the die-hard plotters for spending days and weeks and months organizing and reorganizing before writing. Maybe.
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For more about embarking on the writing journey, read:

And if any of you out there are interested in serving as reviewers, I'm offering the eBook version of Midnight Sisters  in exchange for honest reviews. For my philosophy on reviews, please read Reviews: Give 'em to me! Leave me a comment or send me an email if you're interested!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Quick Sidestep

Back in my junior college days, Phys Ed was not my thing, so having the chance to take a movement class that didn't involve profuse sweat, sports bras, or showering in public was appealing. That's how I wound up in Social Dance learning the foxtrot.

Photo by Tim Gouw via Unsplash

The foxtrot involves two slow steps forward and two quicksteps to the side. The pattern keeps replaying in my mind, two steps forward and quick-quick sidestep. I'm well acquainted with the sidestep, the deviation from the plotted course.

My entire fall is a deviation from my writing goals. A whole new group of little people have just entered my life. They will take all my time and attention for a minute. Or a month or two. And then I can have a life outside of my classroom.

It's not the first time I've had to take a quick sidestep this year. I've been active on social media since 2014 when my first book came out. For a year or two, I posted to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram several times a week and posted fresh content here on my website at least once a week. With managing my book release. launch, monthly author events, and working full-time for most of the year, my Queen of Social Media tiara slipped a little. It's been a year of creating connections and meeting new readers. My focus has been on traditional marketing far more than on online marketing, and though it probably doesn't make a difference to my Amazon ranking, I'm happy with those results.

Writing time is writing time. It's sacred. Blogging or posting on social media is time stolen from finishing my novel. And that first draft is so close to being done! It's the Writer Paradox: successful writers need to connect with readers, in person and online, but the best way to be a successful writer is to keep writing.

Photo by Alvin Mahmudov via Unsplash
That's why I'm pleased to announce that I'm taking my first creative writing class since high school. The only education I received on crafting novels came from reading a ton of Young Adult novels. It will take a healthy chunk of writing, blogging, and social media time, but it should help me more more forward as a writer, even if it's in a different direction than I might have planned.

Forward momentum is forward momentum, even if it isn't precisely where you thought you were going. For a little more inspiration, let's muse on this quote by Ginger Rogers: 

Image result for backwards and in high heels
I do everything the man does, only backwards and in high heels!
In the next few weeks I'll be doing author events, Parent Teacher Conferences, Comic Con, a Novel Writing class, and finishing my Rumpelstiltskin rewrite. And much of that will be in really cute shoes.

Don't worry, I've got this.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

A Little Romance

Life has been busy lately. My summer life is transforming into my fall life. Writing full-time is making way for working full-time and listening for the call of my characters will make way for learning the needs of my students. My summer story is nearly written and with the opening of the school year, a new chapter unfolds. 

This summer, my journey has been marked with morning walks, morning talks, and so many stories. My heart is swayed by romance and as I roam around my school instead of my neighborhood and fall in love with adorable five-year-olds instead of my own characters, I'll continue searching for a little romance.

Perhaps you too are trying to reconcile a summer life with a regular life and you could use an extra smile and a giggle. If so, maybe you could benefit from a little escape nestled between the pages.

Related imageRoss Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, Winston Graham. I first met Ross Poldark in the PBS Masterpiece series Poldark. Because Aidan Turner, my friends. Since I discovered that it's based on a series of novels, I've been dying to get my hands on them. And guess what? They're fantastic. Ross's courage and inborn romance will win anyone's heart. 

Image result for i am the messenger book coverI Am The Messenger, Markus Zusak. Zusak's style is both masterful and delightful. In this tale, he weaves the story of good-for-nothing Ed Kennedy who is given another chance to connect with humanity. Or Ed will be punished by the unknown master calling the shots. 

Image result for vanessa and her sister book coverVanessa and Her Sister, Priya Parmar. Parmar weaves a tale around the life and times of Vanessa Bell, artist and sister of Virginia Woolf. Historical Fiction will always be one of my favorite genres. It always sends me scurrying to the internet and library for more information on the events and historical figures portrayed in the novels. Vanessa and Her Sister is captivating, inspiring, beautiful, and heartbreaking.

Image result for rembrandt robin king book coverRemembrandt, Robin King. Alex Stewart has a eidetic memory. She recalls everything she has ever seen with prefect clarity. When she's recruited by a secret organization, she finds her skills put to the test as a secret operative and her heart pulled in another direction by a handsome stranger. King's first novel in the series is both intriguing and youthful.

Related imageThis Lullaby, Sarah Dessen. Dessen's novels paint a world of heartbreak and joy, youth and folly. And regardless of the fact that they are Young Adult novels, they always reveal a ribbon of truth running through the middle. This Lullaby follows the carefully plotted out last summer of Remy. She's leaving her eccentric author mother and newly-in-love brother for Stanford in a few short months. The only thing that's missing from her life is one short-term summer romance. She doesn't expect Dexter, a messy, quirky musician to claim more of her life or more of her heart than she's willing to give.

Image result for a little in love book coverA Little Bit in Love, Susan E. Fletcher. Novels that give new life and breadth to a character we thought we knew always intrigue me. Eponine, from Les Miserables, is reimagined in this gorgeously woven tale of grit, romance, and heartbreak. It follows the path that led Eponine to Paris and Marius and love. We may know how her story ends, but now we can know her heart.

* * *
As for me, I'm only a few scenes away from finishing my third novel, beginning the task of editing and polishing and pruning, collaborating to create cover art, and starting a new novel. Oh yes, and educating another group of adorable five-year-olds! Stay tuned for news on both! Thanks for reading!

Note: The above novels, with the exception of Remembrant, may feature language, strong themes, sex, or other elements you may not appreciate. Please read responsibly.