Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wednesday Whittleings - Wandering Mind


Wednesdays are my day to randomly babble. Sometimes about children books, others about writing, and usually about whatever strikes my mind. Random thoughts...random whittleings.



This morning, I'm sitting around waiting for the chimney sweep. 


via GIPHY





And I'm throwing in a picture my husband snapped the other day... (see the carriage far away)?




While writing a guest post the other day, I learned that there are over 6,500 spoken languages. Wow. And I only know two.


These are my random thoughts this morning. Completely unconnected and all over the place.

My writing isn't any different. I have three...actually four...WIPs I could work on, and tons of plot bunnies nesting in all corners of the brain. 

Where to start? Where to go next? 

I'm currently editing a story....again...that I've been working on for years. It needs some TLC, but should be ready to be sent out in a few months.  This is science fiction pure with lots of fun and adventure and shoots off into a trilogy...for middle graders.

November is going to be my time to finally tackle a series, also for the middle grade, which involves mystery and science—geeks rule in this one. It's been outlined to a certain degree, has characters researched and will hopefully roll smoothly along. 

Or maybe not.

But just to show how bouncy my mind is lately in the story world...

I ran across an amazing profession - a cosplay artist!!! (I honestly had no clue this existed-thanks to Christine Rains) This man makes his living by creating costumes and portraying video game heroes. Talk about a fun job!  His name is Leon Chiro and can be found on Facebook here.

When one of his photos appeared on my feed, a new plot bunny bounced in my head—a completely new direction for a story...new genre...new audience. 

And there goes my mind, hopping off to another world, plot and characters.

If only I could write as fast as the brain switches, flows and stumbles.

And did you know that the Peacock Mantis Shrimp can punch water so fast with its claws that the water around it starts to boil?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Wednesday Whittleings - Book Bloggers



Wednesdays are my day to randomly babble. Sometimes about children books, others about writing, and usually about whatever strikes my mind. Random thoughts...random whittleings.


This week on Twitter, there was quite the storm in the book blogging world. Okay, it was more like a mini-dust devil with bite. A publisher (and others) made comments which criticized the book blogging community as being unnecessary, at best. The criticism claims that book bloggers not only lack influence and don't really contribute to book sales, but are a group of individuals who simply seek free reads or a way to make themselves feel important......  

This last statement made me laugh. Actually, I'm still laughing.

The rest of the book o' sphere a la Twitter was not laughing but took offense, and as this awesome community always is... immediately came to the defense of all of us book bloggers out there. Gosh, I love this community.

But offense here or there, my thoughts took on all sorts of strings.


Free books - Ready to gasp? Yes, I started book blogging for free books.

Do I hang my head in shame? No way!

I lived in Europe and was so sick of never finding any good reads in English at the library. Buying books grows expensive, especially when your reading speed puts you at a book a night...and book prices are/were controlled in Germany, making sudden deals not as easy to find. But this grand idea of free books lost its glittery sparkle fast when as a new book blogger, I wasn't able to get my hands on any 'great' books. Almost all books available to little ole' me came from the self-publishing world. Now, this statement might sound offensive, but please remember that at that time (yes, this was a few years ago), self-publishing was just gaining ground. Today, there are so many awesome reads among self-publishers and so many amazing gems to discover. Back then, too many people still didn't understand how important it was to hire an editor. 

Side note: Always hire an editor...a good one.

After years of book blogging (and a much smarter and established self-publishing realm), I get amazing books and can pick and choose. And yes, I get all giddy every time our postwoman brings me another package. Mini-Christmas a few times every week!

But do I blog for free books? As said, that idea disappeared shortly after I started my blog. My bank account sure wishes that dream had worked, though! The longer I've blogged, the more and more money I've given out for books. Books are addictive.... do I have to say that? Plus, the reads I drool over I need to have in hardback for my every growing shelves. And those which suddenly catch my eye...Kindle can be so cruel with the simple tap and buy.


Lack influence on Sales - This thought is simply short-sighted in so many ways. (This publisher needs to go back to those basic business classes at college). Sure, one post won't immediately set off a dozen sales. When you see a billboard, do you immediately exit the highway and pull out that wallet? While immediate sales are generated to a certain extent (usually very small), book blogging is about wide spread informing and reinforcement. The more people who see the book the better. If no one knows a book exists, they can't consider buying it. The more a book appears in front of their eyes, the more it sticks in the mind. People see the book, remember the book and will begin to recognize the book when flipping through Amazon or at the book store or when searching for their next read.

Marketing 101.


Self-verification - Yeahhhhh. Right. Every time I think of this one, I chuckle. How can book blogging... and I mean for us small bloggers and not those with massive followings... do that? I get little to no feedback through my blog. Most comes from the publishers or authors, who I'm reviewing for. If that. Yes, I do a little happy dance when I see a snippet of my review suddenly appear somewhere. And an very occasional word comes in from a book lover out there. Oh, and I have managed to pull in a line of awards...this blows my mind every time! But if I'm doing this for self-verification, I'm going to shrivel and die at the pace those 'special' moments hit.

Sorry, there are so many better ways of getting this kick if you're the type of person who needs it.

So...

Why do book bloggers blog?

I assume everyone has their own reasons. Love of books is a huge one. And for me...okay, outside of the ridiculous idea in the beginning that I'd get free best-sellers out of this—the one that got mega-squashed... it's simply a chance to help spread the word, especially for indie authors and those from small publishers.

I've mentioned on here before that children's books are a beast in the marketing end if an author doesn't go through a big publisher. Book blogging is my way of giving those authors/publishers a hand because there are some amazing books out there that won't be noticed otherwise. Do many people notice them because of my blog? Probably not. But without a spark, there can never be a fire...or even a smolder.


A side note:
I'm adding this to my original post because I just realized I forgot to mention it. Of course, all reviews on my blog are my honest opinion and thoughts. I don't even waste my time with reads I don't like, simply because I'm already on a tight schedule and that would be a silly waste. A book blogger who doesn't leave an honest review is only hurting themselves. Readers aren't dumb. They'll notice what's going on. Leaving good reviews to make authors and publishers happy is self-defeating for a blogger. So nope, I don't do that.


What do you think of book bloggers? Do you pay any attention to them? Have you ever bought a book you've seen on one of their sights? Do you ever read their reviews?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

IWSG and so much more


It's IWSG time!

Every month on the first Wednesday of the month, us writers come together to offer support, advice, encouragement or simply to shed our frustrations and woes with each other. Writing is a tough journey, and we don't have to go it alone.

Thanks goes to the brain behind this group, Alex J. Cavanaugh! If you want to join in or find out more (because there is so much more to this group) then head on over here.

Special thanks goes to this month's co-hosts: Dolorah @ Book Lover,Christopher D. Votey, Tanya Miranda, and Chemist Ken!  Thanks guys!


This month's question is...

How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

Major life events (and even less major) can completely murder my writing. Not only does time become a huge issue, but my mind refuses to switch into imagination gear. But that's fine.
My philosophy is that writing can only happen by living. Major life events mold, teach, and widen the horizon in different ways. It is these experiences which help determine who we are as writers and how we write. Without them, we aren't who we are and can't write what we write.

What about you? How do those major life events affect your muse?


*****

I have two shout-outs today.... Gosh, I love to shout!

Happy Book Birthday week to one of my writing buds, Krystal Jane Ruin and her amazing
The House of Falling Embers!

I was lucky enough to read an ARC copy and LOVED it. 
Krystal thrives on the dark side of life, and this one is deliciously dark. Considering it's October...the month of dark and chilling reads...it's come out with perfect timing.



Once upon a time there was a witch. She was a kind witch, but that didn’t matter. The people were afraid, and fear often turns to hatred.
When Artemis was thirteen, her best friend Aris was swallowed by the crumbling house they found in the woods. Like a coward, she abandoned him to the horror within.
She moved away. She tried to forget. But when she finds herself back in her old neighborhood after college, the ghosts—and her guilt—are waiting. A charred figure stalks her dreams, and someone, or something, haunts her from the trees.
Going back into the woods might be the only way to save her sanity.
Because nine years later, the house is still there. Still waiting. Still restless.
*****

One year anniversary!!! 
99 cent sale for October!!!

Need a creepy Halloween read?


To celebrate the first anniversary of
FULL DARK: An Anthology, we’ve
dropped the e-book price to just 99c
for the entire month of October!
And 100% of the proceeds benefit
veterans and first responders!


What happens in the dark will come to light.

Full Dark is a collection of eleven short works with impressive depth and range. Twisted tales of ghosts, villains, and the paranormal await you—mystery, heinous fantasy, and pure suspense. Acclaimed and award-winning authors as well as a few talented newcomers have joined forces to be your guide. Venture into the dark if you dare.


Just A Matter Of Time by Loni Townsend
Forerunner by David Powers King
Taking Care Of You by Carrie Butler
The Apartment by Lisa Buie-Collard
The Caricature by Nick Wilford
Shifting Sands by Elizabeth Seckman
Shadows Falling On Rainbows by Celeste Holloway
Meringue, Murder or Marzipan by Tonja Drecker
Haunted Lake by Michelle Athy
Soul Coin by Laura Rich
Retribution by Melissa Maygrove

***
FULL DARK is a benefit anthology. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Gary Sinise Foundation, an organization that does many wonderful things for our country's active military, its veterans, and the countless first responders who sacrifice so much to keep us safe.

Publisher: Obsidian Books
Release date: October 30, 2017
Rating: PG-13

Available for Amazon Kindle and Nook
(search ‘Full Dark Maygrove’)


Also in paperback at regular price.




Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Wednesday Whittleings - Banned Children's Books 2018



Welcome to the very first installment of my brand new Wednesday Whittleings! Every Wednesday, I'm going to randomly babble about something children book, writer, author, reading or 'whatever else strikes my mind' related.

This week is the official Banned Books Week! Which means that especially book orientated people are taking this week to reflect, discuss, mention and showcase banned books.

So, are books still banned in the US today? And what about children's books? Surely, nobody would do that anymore. We love freedom, right?

Interestingly enough, books are still being challenged even in the USA. After a little research...which may or may not always be correct (yep, I make mistakes too. Tons of them)...here are several books for audience under 18 which were challenged by school districts recently in the United States. (Photos taken from Goodreads).

Whether or not I personally find the content of these books okay and would happily hand them to my own children isn't the point of this list. I just found it interesting that school districts and parents still try to ban books.

Side note:
Interestingly enough (or probably as most of us already know), banning hasn't stopped these books from being circulated. All of them have enjoyed sales I as an author personally dream of.

Which children books (audiences 18 and under) do you know about which have been banned in recent years?



I'm betting some of you already knew this first one....


Because of the way the theme suicide was handled, this one was banned in several school districts last year. (Young Adult)




School districts claimed this one had to be banned because of the profanity and sexually explicit scenes every year since its release in 2007 (Young Adult)



Who didn't have to read this one in school back in the day? I believe this is one which has been challenged many times since its release in 1960. Last year, due to the 'N' word and violence. (I'm putting this one as Middle Grade since it was given to us in the 6-7 grade)



I've seen this one...and it's sequel... everywhere lately! Who knew that it was challenged last year due to hitting upon themes like drug use, profanity, and was considered simply vulgar. (Young Adult)



This one is for Middle Graders and that topic we all hated...aehm...respected during those classroom discussions. Anyway, this one was said to invite kids to be too open about the topic. (I haven't read it, so I can't say anything more to that). But it reminds me of a similar upset surrounding Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume which came out when I was maybe in the 5th grade. I never read that one either, but I remember the whispers going around...and giggles. (Middle Grade)



This picture book, published in 2006, was banned repeatedly thanks to depictions of families with two moms or two dads. (Picture Book)



Has been constantly under ban attempts in school districts since its release in 2013 and is still being banned by districts this year (2018) thanks to it's profanity and 'pronography'. (Young Adult)

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

IWSG - A Writer's Fork in the Road of Publishing


It's IWSG time!

Every month on the first Wednesday of the month, us writers come together to offer support, advice, encouragement or simply to shed our frustrations and woes with each other. Writing is a tough journey, and we don't have to go it alone.

Thanks goes to the brain behind this group, Alex J. Cavanaugh! If you want to join in or find out more (because there is so much more to this group) then head on over here.

Special thanks goes to this month's co-hosts:  Toi Thomas, T. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler!  Thanks guys!


This month's question is...

What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?


I'm more of a traditional type of girl, and that's the path I decided to take. At least, that's the easy answer, but when in life are things that easy? This was a path that didn't happen overnight either.

Many of my author friends are self-published, and this is a path I will probably also embark on someday. Just not quite yet. Even then, I'm thinking I'd rather be a mixed author and continue with both (if possible). 

But here are the reasons I chose the other path for now (ready for the list?):

1) Middle Grade literature is a tough cookie in self-publishing. (This is by far the most important point in my decision). While YA and adult literature can run well or at least somewhat decently in the self-publishing world, children's literature isn't quite as marketable. There are various reasons for this, which I'm not going into right now. Seven or eight years ago, authors insisted that children's literature just needed to gain footing, but it never happened. Not really. I do know some self-publishers who have done all right...very few...but it's still a battle for them, and I've seen many of them give up and switch over to YA instead. 

2) Not alone. Honestly, publishing and marketing are new adventures I didn't want to have to learn on my own yet. My life is pretty busy as it is, and I'm constantly having to learn things from scratch. Let's just say it's nice to have some assistance in at least one area of life rather than tackle that alone too.

3) Verification.  It was important to me to bring my writing to the point where others would stand behind it too. What can I say? Even I have personal dreams and goals.


But, as said, this doesn't mean I wouldn't switch paths or use both in the future. I'm always ready to go with the flow.


What about you? Which route do you want to take or have you taken?

*****


And on the happy news end of things...

One of my super-duper writing buddies has her cover reveal today! YAY!!!!






This is a paranormal retelling of Hansel and Gretel....and what a read it is! I was lucky enough to receive an ARC copy from Krystal, and....
WOW...
I'm loving every page.
She has a slightly dark twists on things and it definitely draws in.
Anyway, click the cover to head on over and see it on my blog, Bookworm for Kids.

******

I almost forgot!!!!

Today is the first day of open submissions for the latest IWSG Anthology!



Genre: Young Adult Romance
Word Count: 3500-5000
Theme: Masquerade
A masquerade can be a false show or pretense, someone pretending to be someone they aren't. It can be a ball, a fancy dress party, it can be a mask. Open to interpretation.

Submissions accepted: September 5 - November 4, 2018

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (Double spaced, no page numbers), previously unpublished story to admin @ insecurewriterssupportgroup.com before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges who will be announced.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.



Are you joining in?

Friday, August 31, 2018

Celebrate Those Small Things - a super short list this week!


It's time to celebrate the small things!!!

What exactly are we celebrating?

Anything. . .everything! Every week, things happen which put a smile on our faces. Although some are hard to forget, others are more passing moments. But it's these small things in life which can make all the difference.

Thanks to Lexa Cain and her co-host, L.G. Keltner from Writing Off the Edge, we can sit back for a second and remember these happy moments.

This week, I'm celebrating. . .

1) My husband being home! This is one of those bitter/sweet celebrations. As a trucker, he isn't home but on weekends. However, he was home for 5 days this last weekend... (now, comes the bitter part)...because his truck broke down and was in the shop. But he's back on the road and was glad for the mini-vacation.

2) Cooler weather! Last weekend, it was up in the mid-90s again and was horribly humid. I am not a hot-humid fan. Luckily, it's cooled down to the mid-70s and rainy. I even wore a light sweater today! Fall weather, here we come!

And that's about it for this week...although it wasn't as boring as my celebrations make it sound. It was crazy and had to do with a ton of driving, but in a life silliness sort of way. So, I'm leaving it at that.


What put a smile on your face this week? Already contemplate a Halloween costume? See a rainbow? Find a pretty paperclip?

What are you celebrating?






Friday, August 17, 2018

Celebrate Those Small Thing - Oh yes!


It's time to celebrate the small things!!!

What exactly are we celebrating?

Anything. . .everything! Every week, things happen which put a smile on our faces. Although some are hard to forget, others are more passing moments. But it's these small things in life which can make all the difference.

Thanks to Lexa Cain and her co-host, L.G. Keltner from Writing Off the Edge, we can sit back for a second and remember these happy moments.

This week, I'm celebrating. . .

1) Cantaloupe! My youngest brother keeps a garden, and this year he raised cantaloupe. Wow, did that stuff grow (considering so many other things didn't thanks to our wacky, hot, ridiculous weather this Summer). This week, I've received 4 juicy, round cantaloupe. Which is great, except with everyone basically gone, that's 4 big, juicy cantaloupe all for me. I think I'm gaining a slightly orange hue to my skin. But hey, my parents have to chomp through 18, since my brother refuses to eat any of it.

2) Dedications and edits! Writing is going smoothly...well, not on my WIP, but that's another story. MUSIC BOXES received a thorough edit, and I handed in a dedication a couple of days ago. Everything is on schedule, which means ARCs are hitting the world in a only a few short weeks. It's fun to watch the process!

3) Three black kitties! I'd take a picture but these little guys are SO shy. Two months ago, I saw two peer out around behind a corner in the milk barn, but only twice. Then, I didn't see them for a very long time, so I assumed something had gotten them. (Forests and farms have lots of evil, kitty eating creatures looming in the shadows) About two weeks ago, my daughter discovered one between the hay bales. That was the only one anybody saw. But yesterday, when I went to feed the mom and dad, all of a sudden, three kittens cautiously came out into the open. Maybe there are more???


That wraps up this week. What about you? What put a smile on your face? Did you wrestle a tiger and win? Sip a wonderfully warm cup of tea? Eat a delicious piece of candy?

What are you celebrating?

Friday, August 3, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things... If I can catch up


It's time to celebrate the small things!!!

What exactly are we celebrating?

Anything. . .everything! Every week, things happen which put a smile on our faces. Although some are hard to forget, others are more passing moments. But it's these small things in life which can make all the difference.

Thanks to Lexa Cain and her co-host, L.G. Keltner from Writing Off the Edge, we can sit back for a second and remember these happy moments.

This week, I'm celebrating. . .


Holy crow! This week trampled by, leaving me blinking at the passing dust. I completely missed IWSG and almost flew through this lovely hop too.  But here, I am! So.......

1) Cool weather! Lots of it (although it could have brought more rain). Still, I'm happy! I could actually work outside without swimming in sweat the entire time. The temperatures have eased back into the 90s the last few days, but the nights are in the lower 60s, which, at least, cools things down. Super YAY to that!

2) Moving my son out! Okay, this is one of those celebrations, which is not necessarily one. (He's my strong helper for the farm, which leaves now, only me and the two younger ones *le sigh*) He's finally moving to the main campus to continue his next degree. My daughter's been up there since last year, so we were expecting him to make the move for some time. It went smoothly, and I'm sure he'll survive very well.

3) Finished painting the front deck! I still have the back one to go, but progress is progress.


On the writing front...

Editing has been the key word the last two weeks and will still be next week. Editing... editing... editing. BUT I have been poking at a different MS too. Pure editing makes for a dull mind.


And that's it for my week!

How about you? What put a smile on your face these past days? Did you try to eat 3 jelly doughnuts in an hour (this is my younger son's idea)? Have a chance to take a stroll somewhere you've never been before? See a beautiful sunset?

What are you celebrating?









Friday, July 27, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things


It's time to celebrate the small things!!!

What exactly are we celebrating?

Anything. . .everything! Every week, things happen which put a smile on our faces. Although some are hard to forget, others are more passing moments. But it's these small things in life which can make all the difference.

Thanks to Lexa Cain and her co-host, L.G. Keltner from Writing Off the Edge, we can sit back for a second and remember these happy moments.

This week, I'm celebrating. . .


1) Butterflies!  Mamosa trees are bountiful in our area. I know some consider them a weed (and they can be a pain), but the flowers are amazing. Especially since the smell so lovely and draw in the butterflies. We have a fairly large tree, and right now, it seems to move thanks to all of those beautiful winged creatures.

2) Cool weather in sight! We've suffered a drought in our area which was hitting the pastures and cattle hard. Most started feeding hay early July. I was in luck and had one pasture I hadn't used yet and could fall back on. But the rain finally pulled in last week (saving me just as I was running out of grass too). And this weekend, the prediction sits at 75 degrees and rain for three days! I might even have to put a light sweater on. YAY!

3) Running around! As summer break shadows with its end, the kids have been wanting to toss in last activities. We've gone to the water park, a State park, canoeing, lots of ice cream eating, movies, museums and all sorts of other places. My writing has suffered horribly because of it, but we are having fun.


And that's it for this week!

What about you? What put a smile on your face? Did you pet a cute dog? Get a special discount at the grocery store? Find just the right pair of shoes on sale? 

What are you celebrating?





Friday, July 6, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things


It's time to celebrate the small things!!!

What exactly are we celebrating?

Anything. . .everything! Every week, things happen which put a smile on our faces. Although some are hard to forget, others are more passing moments. But it's these small things in life which can make all the difference.

Thanks to Lexa Cain and her co-host, L.G. Keltner from Writing Off the Edge, we can sit back for a second and remember these happy moments.

This week, I'm celebrating. . .


1) Fun on the 4th of July! Since the heat is getting ridiculous (we can't even use our pool, the water has gotten so warm!), we headed for the creek and the swimming hole. There's a rope tied very, very, very high in the tree to swing out into the water on. There's a slide tied to a rock and all sorts of fun little swimming spots. We brought our mini-grill and headed out to make sure we were there at 10am...because we are people shy and knew everyone else wouldn't appear until 1pm or so. And it was great! No one else there for a few hours and we had fun.

2) My husband was home on the 4th! As anyone knows who's been following me, hubs has turned into Mr. Trucker. The company he works for actually does all they can to bring their drivers home for certain holidays. So we could swim with him too.


Ugh! That's all I can think of for this week. Unfortunately, I caught the stomach flu which smashed several other celebrations I might have had. But oh well, that only gives more to do next week!


And what about you? What put a smile on your face this past week? Find a fluffy winter cap? See fireflies? Find some cool water somewhere?

What are you celebrating???