Monday, February 29, 2016

#Writing is Life

There is SO MUCH going on this week! Meme Blog Hop, Release Day, and IWSG!

First I want to thank all the participants in advance for joining our MEME BLOG HOP!

Here are a few I came up with...

(All you need to make a meme is a picture and a few words of lightness or encouragement - put them together in Paint or I used Powerpoint. There's also a meme app.)

Stop by my most awesome co-hostesses - Christine Rains, C. Lee McKenzie - and those on the list below for some further wonderful wittiness!

I also hope these memes are encouraging for IWSG day! Here's my contribution...

Some say "Life's not a sprint, it's a marathon."
I say, "Life's a never-ending obstacle course!"

Does anyone else feel pressure to show others that writing isn't just a hobby? Lately I've been submitting short stories, hoping to prove my writing is "worth" something and help pay bills... But these bits and pieces take time away from my novels, which I feel I need to continue to put out there, too!

I'm also scheduling more appearances to drum up business - marketing is an incredible time drain. I've got so many different projects going on at the same time, it's hard to prioritize and can get very stressful (and makes me grouchy) Sometimes I just feel lost.

I guess the key is to concentrate on one thing at a time. I hate to break it to you, but science has proven that multi-tasking is FICTION. Our brains can only truly concentrate on one thing at a time. Though it may seem like multi-tasking, it's just doing successive things quickly.

Another way I help myself is to make deadlines. I like deadlines, they're just more concrete goals. I prioritize my stuff and set soft dates to try and get them done by.
>>Try to work on WIP 1 hour a day (finish the dang thing so I can start editing!)
>>Blog posts have their own deadlines, so I do them. And try to visit!
>>Submissions have deadlines too - but if I don't finish those, there are plenty more, so I'm working on building up a file of ready-to-submit stories.

How do you keep your head above water??

And lastly -

with ongoing video storybook

A trouble-making maiden, a clumsy out-of-work squire, a loyal puppy, and a talking goat go on a quest - What could go wrong?

I didn't plan a big launch day or tour or anything, but I want to say a huge THANKS to Susan Gourley-Kelley and MJ Fifield for volunteering to help spread the word! We'll see how this self-publishing goes. And the next story in my Unconventional Princesses series (of course it's a series), TWO PRINCESSES, is somewhere on my extensive TO DO LIST...

Have a positive and productive week!

Monday, February 22, 2016

#Writing trend: More Diverse Characters

As I search for writing prompts to submit, I'm seeing a trend of folks asking for MORE DIVERSE CHARACTERS! Well, this is great! Anglo-saxons do not rule the earth, why should they star in all the stories? I would love to write a diverse story. Unfortunately, if I tried to create a main character from another culture, I feel I would fail miserably. Stereotypes cannot be used and need to be broken. I read a MEME this weekend that proclaimed something along the lines of:

Stereotypes may be true for some, but they are NOT true for ALL.
Look beyond skin color.

Writing for another culture is harder than writing an opposite gender character or an adult writing a teen character because we've had enough experience with them, we should be able to emulate them. Though I can research and interview and even immerse myself in another culture, I can't begin to truly understand what people of color have gone through, even those in the same demographic as me; they've been treated differently their whole lives and it's part of what makes them who they are and what motivates them.

Well, what can I do? I want to bring more awareness to other cultures - it will help all of us understand each other better and therefore get along better. I suppose I can start with the basics. We all have the same foundational threads of life. We are born, grow up, get jobs, and die. We all deal with family, money, and health issues. We all start out as clean slates and go through life making choices. The differences are in the hows and whys - and that's where we shape our characters.

When I create characters, I put myself in their shoes. I give them a backstory - where they're from, what they've experienced, and their influences as they grew up. Most characters need special care and deep details - like when God created woman, the most complex being on the planet from the basest creature man (ha ha). But these histories are for my benefit only. The hard part is showing the character's feelings and background without telling his/her life story. Think of J.K. Rowling and all the questions she gets asked and answers about the HP universe!

I like to think that any person could play my characters in a movie, no matter the nationality. Actors bring their own interpretation and thereby, their background into a role. Just like readers! Unless the story is specifically about a certain culture, if the writing is good, anyone can read it and relate to the characters, and that is the goal.

I'm trying to make the world a better place with the tools I have. 
Have you ever written a main character from another culture?  
I'll take any advice you'd like to share!

And now, the NEWS!

Sign ups start TODAY for the A to Z Theme Reveal blog hop which will be March 21. I'm participating this year, but over with The Really Real Housewives! We are sooo excited!

I mentioned this last week, but I'm anxious for it to be available!

JOLISSA - An Anti-Princess Story, the novella that goes with my video storybook, will be available available February 29th. Eeek!

A snarky teenage maiden thinks an adventure will make her life better, until she's forced to go on one.

AND don't forget to join...Christine Rains, C. Lee McKenzie and I for the Winter Blahs Buster Meme Blog Hop! It starts next Monday! Post a MEME Feb 29 - Mar 4. We've got prizes, including TWO $20 gift cards!

Monday, February 15, 2016

No time for #love

That's just silly. There's always time for love! But I'm going to an Anti-Valentine's party with my latest Muse for Sarah Foster's Musiversary!

So here's the how the party goes...

I brought Grumpy Writer Cat, or GW. He just looks at me and I shut my social sites, feeling guilty for not writing... and he's my anti-valentine because he's a no nonsense kitty. I mean cat. He hates when I call him kitty. (But he's so cute!)

Neither of us is very romantic, but I'm definitely the silly, sentimental one. I gave him a bow tie. He hates it. But we brought chocolate and low fat milk so he's amicable.

For tunes, I'm sure Sarah's going to play "Love Stinks," so I'll say "You Give Love a Bad Name" by Bon Jovi.

Here's a great anti-Valentine party game, Pin the Zit on the Ex.

I will eat too much, drink too much, and have an awesome time!
GW will drive us home. He keeps me from going over the edge!

And of course we brought the hostess a gift - a free ebook! Congrats, Sarah & Jordan! (Sarah, email me which ebook you would like!)
A maiden with a bad attitude

To see more party goers, find the list here!
Happy Anti-Valentine's Day, y'all!

Plus I have special MONDAY NEWS!
I've taken the plunge into self-publishing... JOLISSA - An Anti-Princess Story, the novella that goes with my video storybook, is available available February 29th (can pre-order now!), the same day as...

Did you see those dunks this wknd? Sick!
...Christine Rains, C. Lee McKenzie's and my Winter Blahs Buster Meme Blog Hop! It's only 2 weeks away. Post a MEME Feb 29 - Mar 4. And I love how our great group of goers has grown. Don't forget, we've got prizes! Including TWO $20 gift cards!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What's with all the death? Embrace life!

We lost too many beloved celebrities and I know several who lost loved ones last month. And the deadly blizzard took a toll on millions. I'm glad January over. Lessons learned - embrace life and make the most of the time you have, especially with those you care about, and physical things don't last.

Which brings me to my  Insecure Writers Support Group post for February. Many thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for establishing this totally terrific institution each first Wed of the month. It's so huge, he recruits special guest hosts to make sure we all get taken care of. And there's always room for more!

I usually write encouraging posts - I'm in a happy place with my publishing situation. But January brought me some unhappy moments. Nothing as severe as losing a loved one or a job, but I've gotten several blows to my self-esteem.
  • I've been querying agents - and we all know how depressing those rejections can be
  • Reviews are lacking... People tell me they enjoyed SIMULATION, but not many are reviewing or rating it... If anyone wants a free e-copy of any of my books for a timely honest review - please let me know! I'm sharing the love in February! Reviews are lifeblood to an author.
  • When POP TRAVEL was on sale, it did well. Then I got two 1 star reviews which I can handle, but upon further inspection, the readers posted a ton of ratings on the same day, so it didn't seem like they even read it.
  • Lastly, I'm in substitute limbo again and not working much, when I really need to.
All these negatives pile up and with the extra, get-myself-motivated, "free time" on my hands, it can be hard not to dwell on the downside, like: Maybe I'm not that great of a writer. Maybe I'm too old to get a permanent job. Being home also reminds me what a terrible housekeeper I am. Some days I just want to get in my car and drive away from it all... But I won't. Running away is never the answer. I know I have to keep going. I won't give up.

Instead, I come up with ways to motivate myself.
  • It's not me, it's them... I can't please everyone. I know I'm not a "literary" writer. I'm a lite, entertaining, action-packed fun storyteller. And many people seem to like my books. One of my neighbors got so excited when Simulation came out, and several of my students keep bugging me, asking for the next Broken Branch Falls book - those are the moments to live for and keep in mind.
  • Be productive - I've been getting lots of writing done, but it's all WIPs - emphasis on in progress. To feel more productive, I need more immediate results. I've started looking into freelance writing jobs - writing to get paid, what a concept. I love Shannon Lawrence's posts advertising publications looking for submissions. I also get updates from sites that are like want ads for writers. I'm going to start a short story file and an article file.
  • This means I need to actually submit my writing. Which means more rejections. But I also know that the more you submit and improve, the better your chances of acceptance. It's a depressing process, but it's the only way!
  • Lastly, I tell myself that this time off (that I'm always asking for) is a gift. I have time to do necessary domestic things, time to work on my online classes for recertification, and time to finish my writing projects! Like I was able to put Jolissa, chapter 2 onto Youtube!
my latest muse
We have to make the most of what we have. Find the positive. And keep going. It's just hard sometimes. Thanks for listening!

But enough of my whining. I do want to encourage you guys and I know you like to encourage others. So why not join Christine RainsC. Lee McKenzie, and me the week of Feb 29 - Mar 4 for A MEME Blog Hop! Make a funny, cute, or inspiring MEME! Use any picture, use an app, or do it yourself, and sign up below. It's easy!
And I leave you with a gorgeous parting image of MURDER (open with death, close with death...)
The amazing COVER REVEAL (and new covers) for Yolanda Renee's MURDER collection!

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.

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.

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…

This Steven Quaid mystery is both personal and heartbreaking.

Yolanda's first two MURDER novels:

to be released March 10.

Congrats, Yolanda!

Now let's have a lively February!

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