Posted in new release, someone wicked this way comes

#WickedRevenge: It’s DONE!

Wicked fans have been waiting a while…a long while…for the final installment of the Someone Wicked This Way Comes Series.

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Book 3 (Wicked Glory) was supposed to be the last book. There was too much to fit everything in, wrap up all the questions, and not give readers whiplash.

So, a book 4 was needed. Unfortunately, so was the time to write it. Not only was 2015 super busy, I overloaded my writing schedule and got behind on just about everything. Add it the fact that I always go into panic mode about finishing a series, and there’s a reason this book is coming out more than a year and a half after book 3.

SORRY!

Wicked Revenge is going into editing mode, but I’ll have it up for pre-order while that’s happening…which will be soon. But just in case you’re having Ketchup withdrawals, here’s a peek a what’s coming up in the fourth and FINAL (for real this time) installment of this wicked series.

And in advance, yes I know I’m so mean for sharing this excerpt, but I had to…

~*~

“Van,” he says slowly, “we need to go, now.”

“What?” I ask a split second before the glass of both passenger side windows explodes.

Wicked Revenge GOLD FRONTLunging for Ketchup, I drag him down to the wheel wells and throw my body on top of him. Bullets continue to slam into the car, jerking it back and forth as I bite back a terrified scream. Heat sears across my shoulder, and at least one bullet is lodged in my left thigh. It’s only seconds, maybe five, but it feels like a lifetime before the report of gunfire stops and squealing tires replaces it.

As soon as it does, I lift myself off Ketchup and ask, “Are you okay? Ketchup?”

I’m stuck trying to get out from under the steering wheel when a strange choking noise freezes me. Warm fluid bursts against my forearm and suddenly I can’t breathe. “Ketchup? Ketchup? Answer me!” Panicked scrambling gets me out from under the steering wheel and I reach for his half-turned body. Terror and my own pain kept me from recognizing anything else until I saw the blood seeping from his chest.

Tears blur my vision as I start babbling, “No, no, no, no,” over and over again. His pains overwhelms me and my hunger screams at me to lap it up, but I can’t. This is my fault. My doing. I knew how dangerous it was to leave without protection. I didn’t care when I sped away from the house, didn’t put his safety above my own delusional self-importance.

Find out what happens next in Wicked Revenge!!!

Find the rest of the series HERE

 

Posted in creative writing, writing

Time for Some Homework

Recently (this week, in fact) I’ve officially gone back to college!

2016-03-29 18.34.38.jpgOriginally, I intended to get my bachelor’s degree in English, but there were some issues with that plan and now I’m working on a degree in Communication-Media Studies with a minor in English. Getting my degree will allow me to teach more classes at our local community college, so here I go!

This summer I’m taking a Technical Writing class that is way more intense than I was expecting, and a Travel Writing class which is awesome.

Why am I sharing this?

Both classes understandably have homework, and since it’s writing related and I like sharing things I learn about writing with my readers, I’ll be posting some of my homework pieces here on my blog. Some for feedback, some for fun. So when you see posts about how to sew a French seam or why the Spruce Tree House is closed at Mesa Verde National Park, that’s why.

If you feel prompted to offer feedback, please do! There’s always room to learn more, and comments from readers are just as valuable to me as comments from classmates and instructors.

Have a great summer!

Posted in writing, writing thoughts

Reading as a Writer: Looking for the Good

Whatever you do for a living, if you’ve ever watched a show that portrays someone in your profession and they get it all wrong, or half wrong, or even just a tiny bit wrong, don’t you find yourself rolling your eyes or commenting to the person next to you on how it really works?

This is why my hubby and I couldn’t watch that TV show Numb3rs together. Or that lousy movie with Jenna Fischer as a dental hygienist.

beautiful burnSometimes, reading is like this for me. It’s not always easy to turn off the writer part of my brain and just read to enjoy. All my writing pet peeves poke at me while I read, and make the experience less fun. Then I have to remind myself that some other writer is reading my books having the same thoughts!

So, instead of critiquing as I read, I try to learn from it instead. I just finished reading “Beautiful Burn” by Jamie McGuire and loved all the work she put into researching how the Hotshot firefighting teams in Colorado live and work. Having lived near or in Colorado for most of my life, I appreciated the level of detail she put into her writing, and it pushed me to dig a little deeper into some of the research I’ve been working on for “Wicked Revenge.”

jm barrieI’ve also been reading JM Barrie’s “Peter Pan” (the original book) which, let me tell you, is far removed from the Disney version, or any other version I’ve ever seen. It’s bizarre and really not something a kid would understand or probably be interested by. I have a pretty good vocabulary and love British fiction, but I’m still looking up words and trying to figure out what Barrie is trying to get at half the time.

BUT, I love the honesty of his characters. Peter has this moment of intense jealousy as Wendy decides to go home to her mother and the Lost Boys say they’ll go with her because they want a mother too, and Peter mentions a saying in The Neverland that every time you breathe, a grownup dies, so he starts breathing really hard and fast. It’s dark, but completely honest for a young boy who’s losing his only family and is too proud to admit he wants them to stay. I want to be able to write that sort of frank honesty in my characters, even if I’ll leave the archaic words and style to Barrie.

So, whether you’re watching a TV show that’s totally misrepresenting what you do every day at work, or reading about cars driving 55 miles per hour down a windy, two-lane mountain pass in a blizzard (which, trust me, would NEVER happen), there’s almost definitely something else that’s going to be wonderfully inspiring. Don’t forget to look for it.

Posted in books

Let’s talk #Podcasts

I do realize that many of my readers have no clue what podcasts are, which is just not okay. I am a podcast addict, and I think everyone should love podcasts as well.

What are they?

Podcast are like radio shows, but they’re prerecorded. They may be recorded live (caller-based shows) and edited later, or they may be completely scripted and prepared, or something in between. The nice thing about podcasts is that they’re archived and downloadable, so you can subscribe to a channel on your podcast app (iTunes, or I use Podcast Addict on Android) and download an episode when you want to listen absolutely FREE.

So, what podcast are awesome? I have a list 🙂

This American Life: Stories from all over the country on all kinds of topics

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The Moth: Live storytelling sessions shared on a theme by theme basis

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Beautiful/Anonymous: Beautiful stories from anonymous people with Chris Gethard

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The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe: Science, superheroes, dumbest stuff, etc.

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Serial: One story told week by week for the whole season

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Kobo Writing Life: Tons of writing topics and interviews

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The Author Hangout: Mainly focused toward indie authors with marketing tips

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If you’re a podcast listener, tell me what you’re listening to, and if you’re not, try some of these out!

Posted in creative writing, writing, writing advice, writing tips

Open Doors and Plot Holes

Death_to_stock_Dinner_damo_8.jpgMaybe this only happens in my house, but unlike the picture above with nicely closed cabinet doors, I can walk into a room and, no kidding, there is almost always at least one drawer, cupboard door, or package of something or other left open. Usually, more than one. There have been times when I’ve walked into the kitchen and literally every cupboard door is standing open because someone was looking for something and, after finding it, walked away.

What does this have to do with plot holes?

Your readers are like one of my kids looking for the bag of chocolate chips they want to add to their spoon of peanut butter. They keep looking for the answers you’ve promised them, scouring every page, rereading when they think they might have missed something, or silently working out all possible endings when they’re forced to put down a book and pay attention to real life for a few hours.

Those times when all the cupboard doors are left open because they have to search that hard, it often results from one of two things:

1: They’ve opened every other door in the kitchen and are reaching for the last one, opening it slowly, only to find, the cupboard is bare and the answers you promised aren’t actually in the kitchen, or anywhere…and they walk away, annoyed and vowing to never read anything of yours again because, dang it, when you want a snack and can only find celery sticks that make your mouth itch, your definitely not going to take the time to clean up your mess.

OR

2: They reach for that last cupboard door, pull it open and – because you’ve done an impeccable job of filling in holes and stretching out your reveals – all those awesome answers come flooding out at the very end for your reader to gobble up as hungrily as my kids might those cookies I tried to hide from them, and abandon the kitchen in complete satisfaction…forgetting to close all the cupboard doors.

The point?

Little Blond GirlJust like when my kids (my daughter specifically) stomps away, annoyed I haven’t purchased sufficient snack-worthy foods, your readers will walk away when they finish a book unsatisfied because of questions you never answered if your book leaves them with option #1.

I’ve been teaching a self-editing class this semester, and one of the best tips for avoiding plot holes is to re-outline your novel or story as you do your first major edit.

Why?

Editing sucks, right? 90% of writers will agree with me on that, I’m pretty sure.

Outlines suck even more. Okay, maybe only other pansters will agree with me on that, but that’s got to be at least 50%, right?

You know what sucks more, though? Having a reader leave a nasty review…one that’s legit and calls you out on shortcuts you took or hints you failed to live up to.

During your first major outline, take the time to outline your book, taking note of all the hints you added in, the questions you posed, and the bits of backstory you teased your readers with.

Did you follow up on each and every one?

If not, you have two choices:

1: Nix it. If you never followed up because that particular tidbit simply didn’t pan out, remove it.

Questions2: Fill in where you neglected to follow through. Any questions you posed that pertain to that particular book (notice I’m not talking series-length questions) make sure you have an answer, or make it apparent that question will be answered in a subsequent book, if you’re working on a series.

Most readers have a Love/Hate relationship with valid cliffhangers.

ALL readers have a Hate/Hate relationship with lazy writing that leaves them questioning why they purchased a book.

Don’t let your readers down. Answer every question you ask, even the ones you might have forgotten about from those first few chapters when the concept of your story was still in flux. You’ll thank yourself later, and so will your readers. Nobody wants to end a book like Lost Season 6, trust me. Rants are still happening about that finale six years after the fact.

Posted in agents, query letter

Here I go again…

DeathtoStock_Desk5So, about 7 years ago, I started looking for an agent or publisher. I had two finished manuscripts I was ready to send out. I also had a toddler and a kindergartener and a very supportive husband. What else did I have going for me that would entice and agent or publisher to pick me up?

Nada.

Had no clue about social media (wasn’t even on Facebook), no website, no publishing cred, no writing degree, nothing.

Guess how it went?

Nobody was interested. I had a tiny handful of agents or publishers requests a few chapters, then nothing. Admittedly, the publishing climate at that time wasn’t terribly open and no one wanted to take on a newbie. So, I decided to self-publish. I started figuring out the whole social media and marketing thing. I kept writing. I got picked up by several publishers along the way, having good and bad experiences, and now have 20+ books published either traditionally or indie, and even made the USA Today Bestsellers list as part of an awesome box set.

Now what?

I’ve got it into my head that I want to try the agent route again. I don’t know how it will go, but I’m going to do it anyway. That’s a big cliff to jump off of because it involves a lot of research, waiting, heartache, and more waiting.

To anyone else who is thinking about joining the agent hunt, I thought I’d share a few resources that can make it a little easier.

TIPS FOR THE AGENT HUNT

Death_to_stock_communicate_hands_1https://querytracker.net/ — Great for finding agents accepting submissions and what genres they want, and keeping track of your queries and responses.

Twitter and Facebook — great for seeing what the agents you’re interested in are doing and looking for “right now” and also for getting to know their personality and if it’s someone you’d be comfortable working with.

http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/ — Great for seeing what agents have been up to lately, when they’re last sale was and what publishing house the sale was with.

http://www.agentquery.com/ — database of literary agents, who’s taking what, and how to submit.

Comparable titles — know what your book is up against and be ready to tell and agent why yours will fit right in with other popular books readers are currently gobbling up.

QUERY HELP

If you need help writing a strong query letter, I recently did a podcast on the topic. Just click the Write. Publish. Repeat. logo below.

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Posted in writing

MIA…sorry about that!

I don’t think I’ve written a blog post that wasn’t a pre-prepared promo of some kind since the beginning of the year. It’s been a hectic start to 2016, and now that we’re beginning month 4, I finally found some time to sit down to blog.

What has been keeping us so busy lately?

iStock_000024086772LargeThere have been some health issues in our family, we’ve had a huge shift in our spiritual and religious beliefs-which has affected a lot, and I managed to seriously over schedule myself when it came to my writing and teaching schedule. Add in track and soccer, taxes, regular every day family, house, and work stuff, and a few panic attacks thrown in there, and yeah… I feel like we’ve been running since January and haven’t really had a chance to breathe until recently.

My hubby shouldn’t have to travel again until summer, we have less than a month left of sports events and practices, health issues are under control for the most part, major deadlines were met, we’ve got a plan for fixing up the backyard (yay!), and I’ve decided to go back to school to finish my bachelor’s degree-which will be tough, but will also help improve my work situation. Things are getting back on track.

2016-03-29 08.02.02I’m still writing, which is a huge stress reliever for me. Running keeps me grounded as well-not to mention keeps my back and shoulders from killing me. Writing-wise, I’m working on finishing Wicked Revenge. Personally, I’m looking forward to spending the summer camping and working in the yard with my family as soon as the always volatile spring weather of New Mexico figures its crap out and decides to warm up.

If you have tips on keeping the crazy under control, I’d love to hear them 🙂