Friday, May 30, 2014

Small Things and Short Novels

Today on My Pet Blog, I'm returning to a pair of bloghops that I haven't taken part in in a while. I hate missing out on these things, but occasionally life requires my attention elsewhere. But I always come back eventually. Like a boomerang. A very slow boomerang that's prone to wandering off and disappearing for weeks at a time.

Anyway...

First up, is VikLit's Celebrate The Small Things where participants blog about whatever it is they're celebrating from the past week. (Click on the link for more information and a complete list of participants...) 

Here's what made my list this week:

—My lilacs aren't dead! I first mentioned my newly-planted lilacs last spring and was amazed that I didn't kill them. My gardening skills are pretty much non-existent. Unless it's a weed. I can get those to grow like crazy. Anyway, I was concerned what this monstrous winter might have done to the lilacs, but not only did they survive, they're flourishing. I think one will even have flowers on it at some point. Maybe not. I don't know, but I'm thrilled they're still alive.

—The Red Sox have won four games in a row! That's so much better than that whole losing ten games in a row thing they were trying out earlier in May. Guys, you know I love you win or lose, but do you have to lose so much all at once? Try to space it out a little. Or, you know, not do it at all. Just a suggestion.

—If all goes well today, I shall be sending Effigy off to the printer and ordering myself some proof copies over which to obsess. I'm not sure I've ever been this excited and terrified all at once. Well, except for maybe when I first watched season three of Sherlock. Anyway, this means the formatting is done, the cover is done, the damn blurb is done, and I am running out of reason to not publish my first novel. Hmmm...maybe I'll have to come up with some more.

Today's second bloghop is The Cephalopod Coffeehouse hosted by the Armchair Squid where participants share the best book they read over the past month. (Again, click on the above link or the picture to the right for more information and a complete list of participants...)

I'm cheating a little bit with my selection this month. I didn't actually get a lot read during the month of May. I have chronic wrist problems that plague me every now and then, but this part month it was so bad that I had a hard time holding books. Even turning the page on my Kindle was painful, so my reading was reduced to not quite a complete halt, but pretty damn near close.

So the book I've chosen to talk about today, I actually read in March. But as I didn't get to talk about it then, I hope it'll be all right to talk about it now.

The book is called The Assassin's Blade and is comprised of five novellas telling the origin tales of Celaena Sardothien, the main character in Sarah J. Maas's Throne of Glass series.

Here's the synopsis, courtesy of Goodreads

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin's Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas - together in one edition for the first time - Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.


Back in January, I read the first two books in this series. The second one blew me away with its awesomeness, and as I waited (and still am waiting...the next book isn't out until September.) for the third installment, I picked up this book.

I was curious about it because I haven't always been a fan of the 'in-between' stories some authors put out to supplement their series (Janet Evanovich, I'm looking at you.) but as it's a concept that I've been recently toying with doing for my own fantasy series (Mercenary Guy now thinks he needs a spin-off), I considered this book to be research.

It was a good decision. This collection is well done. This collection makes me like the novella supplements because I loved these stories. I really did. I loved getting to know how Celaena Sardothien became the Celaena Sardothien I met in Throne of Glass. I loved getting to know the supporting characters (especially you, Sam Cortland...). It made me want to go back and re-read the entire series again, in order this time, just to see if that changes anything for me. I haven't had the opportunity to do so just yet, but I'll get to that eventually.

Maybe in September.

That's going to do it for me today, kids. Have any celebrations and/or books you care to share with the class? I'd love to hear them.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope y'all have a wonderful weekend...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Let's Get Ready To Rumble

Today on My Pet Blog, author DL Hammons has stopped by to talk about his addictive and always exciting writing competition...



Take it away, DL—

First off, I’d like to thank M.J. for the opportunity to talk to you today about something near and dear to my heart…WRiTE CLUB. My modest writing contest has proven so popular that the DFW Writers Conference is now considering incorporating it into their agenda for 2015. 

For the newbies out there, let me explain what WRiTE CLUB is? It’s a modest writing competition whose inspiration was derived from the movie FIGHT CLUB. There are numerous versions of this concept around the internet, but nothing like we do it. Its essence embodies simple, good-natured competition, with lots and lots of fun sprinkled on top. 

Over the course of eight weeks I hold twice-weekly bouts in which the winners advance to the play-offs, which will ultimately lead to a single champion. Bouts between who…or what…you ask? Anonymous 500 word writing samples, submitted under a pen name by anyone who wishes to take part, that’s who. The writing can be any genre, any style (even poetry) with the word count being the only restriction. It’s a way to get your writing in front of a lot of readers, without having to suffer the agony of exposure. 

And the winners are determined by WRiTE CLUB readers!

To find out how to become part of the fun just head on over to DLHammons.com and click on the WRiTE CLUB tab

Submissions are open until May 31st. After that date a panel of a dozen judges will read all of the entries we received and pre-select 32 of the best writing samples to climb into the ring. Those 32 participants will then be randomly matched to compete over the next eight weeks, each of them hoping to make it into the play-off rounds and moving towards the ultimate goal –WRiTE CLUB Champion. No one (other than my wife)…not even the judges being used to pre-select the 32 contestants, will see the true identity of any sample. Unless you win, of course.

Again this year, the most exciting part is the winner of the final round will be chosen by a panel of publishing industry professionals! Judges include New York Times best-selling and multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning horror and thriller author Jonathan Maberry, Agents Katie Grim of Don Congdon Associates, Margaret Bail of the Andrea Hurst Agency, Sarah Negovetich of the Corvisiero Literary Agency, Brittany Booker of The Booker Albert Literary Agency. Also included is Candace Havens, Editorial Director of Entangled Publishing Covet line, Authors Les Edgerton and Lydia Kang, and previous WRiTE CLUB winners Tiana Smith (2011), Mark Hough (2012) and Tex Thompson (2013).

Are you willing to WRiTE for what you want? Then crack those knuckles and get ready to flex that imagination. And whatever you do, tell your friends!

WRiTE CLUB – The contest where the audience gets clobbered!


Thanks for coming by today, DL. Best of luck to all of this year's participants!! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Tomorrow

I saw this pic online yesterday, and thought it so very accurate that I wanted to share it with all of you today:



I honestly do not know where my week went last week. Pinterest, probably, with a side of Twitter and a dash of Facebook. Damn you, social media!

Needless to say, I did not complete all of the goals I set out for myself last week. It's been a while since I've actually been able to do that. I hope to do it again someday. It's a nice feeling.

First up, let's review last week's goals:

1. Put out whatever Effigy-related fires crop up as quickly and efficiently as I can.

As suspected, there were some fires, and I did put them out. I can't really say how efficiently it was done, but the important thing is (I think) that it was done. That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.

2. Complete Chapter 25 of Second Nature.

Pardon me a moment as I laugh my you-know-what off. Two scenes took a more concrete shape, but this chapter remains far from finished. This goes back to what I was talking about at the start of this post. I always think, "Okay, tomorrow, I'm going to kill this scene/chapter/section" and then I just...don't. Seriously—where did my week go?

3. Secure a new vet for my dogs.

Well, I made the phone call, and Big and I are going for a trial appointment at the end of this week. I'm sure everything will work out just fine, but I still have reservations. Yes, I am a crazy overprotective dog mom—every vet's nightmare, I imagine. One positive sign, though, was that the woman to whom I spoke on the phone knew about Big's super-rare eye disease without me having to explain it to her. I will cling to whatever straws I can.

4. Run and/or walk at least 10 miles.

I logged 11.5 miles. And with the exception of last Sunday, I walked every single one of those miles because my shin splints hurt like hell. They didn't stop hurting until Friday morning. I am possibly the worst jogger ever.

And now let's move on to this week's goals:

1. Continue work on Chapter 25 of Second Nature.

Yep, that's right. I've made this goal completely foolproof. So long as I do something—anything—on this chapter during the course of this week, I will have achieved this goal. Cheating, I know, but I kind of just need a win, however small.

2. Work on creating a website.

I have a brand spankin' new domain that's in need of a website. Okay, the domain's not all that new. It's been sitting around a while now waiting for me to do something with it other than ignore it. I intended to work on this earlier in the year and that plan fizzled out when I was quickly reminded that I know nothing about building websites. My significant other, the computer guy, claims that it's easy. It's all drag & drop, plug & play whatever type things—I don't even know what he called it, but I'm dumb when it comes to—well, a lot of things, really, but techno-anything in this case. I see several "For Dummies" books in my future. And possibly several "For Dummies" books for my "For Dummies" books. They make those, right?

3. Run and/or walk at least 10 miles.

I like having a fitness goal. Some days I think I sit around too much; making this goal helps.

And on that note, I'm out of here...But before I disappear again, I just wanted to take a moment to say that over this weekend, I reached 100 'likes' on my Facebook author page. I know it's not the biggest milestone ever, but I am grateful for it. Thank you to everyone who helped me get there!

And thank you for stopping by My Pet Blog today. It's always much appreciated.

Monday, May 12, 2014

All The News That's Fit To Print

...And, knowing me, probably some that isn't.

I am so unfocused today. The same could likely be said about me every day, truth be told, but it feels worse today for some reason. I blame the jogging. That's right—I went jogging yesterday. Deliberately. And not because there was a sudden zombie apocalypse outbreak in the Mount Washington Valley or anything. I went because I was operating under the delusion that I want to be healthier. Which I still do want, just... ugh. Whatever.



Maybe I'm unfocused because I'm so woefully out of practice whereas blogging is concerned. This blog has been rather neglected—more than usual, even—thus far this year. Last month was my worst showing yet. As a whole, last month didn't exactly go to plan. Or anywhere near the plan. Last month decided to bushwhack a trail through some truly gnarly territory, and I neglected to pack my machete.

I pulled out of the A to Z Challenge because of time restraints. I thought I had too much other stuff going on and didn't want to end up not committing fully to the challenge. I like the Challenge quite a lot; I didn't want to neglect it.

April saw yet another mass employee exodus at The Store, leading to more demands on my time than usual for this time of year. I also wanted to make a big push toward getting Effigy out into the world, as well as put a sizable dent in Effigy's sequel, Second Nature, because if Effigy is on its way out, Second Nature needs to be finished ASAP.

Out of those three things, the only thing I managed to do last month was the day job thing. #1 Boss called me her girl during one shift. After my head exploded and reformed, I wrote this haiku:

boss called me her girl?
i hate to break it to her
but the hell i am

(Let it be know that this girl belongs to no one but herself. And Benedict Cumberbatch her significant other.)

I also wrote some other haiku that day, but as they were comprised of various forms of various four letter words that would probably make a sailor blush, I'm not sure any of those are fit for print.

It's possible I have some rage issues. Also, I just really love this gif:

Source

So I guess what I've been slowly working up to with this big, long rambling post is that May is now supposed to be the month where I get back on track. Or, at the very least, get to a position where I can at least see the track I'm supposed to be on. And considering it's pretty damn close to the middle of the month, I have decided to set the following goals for myself for this week:

1. Put out whatever Effigy-related fires crop up as quickly and efficiently as I can.

I don't know what fires these will be, but I guarantee there will be some. I think it kind of comes with the territory. Or else I'm just doing this whole thing wrong. Possibly both, I suppose.

2. Complete Chapter 25 of Second Nature.

Last month, I had a completely different plan in place for this chapter. It wasn't working. Now I think I understand why: it was wrong. I created a new plan over the weekend, and I'm still very excited about its prospects 48 hours later. I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to write these new scenes I've planned, but figuring it out should be fun, right?

3. Secure a new vet for my dogs.

My previous vet closed his practice a few weeks ago and moved several hours away because he received a wonderful job offer that would pay him more money and put him closer to his family. On the outside, I was all, "Hey, that's so great. I'm thrilled for you!"

But on the inside, I was more like this:


Have I mentioned I don't ever always deal well with change? At any rate, I believe I have gone through four of the five stages of grief and am ready to move on to acceptance.

4. Run and/or walk at least 10 miles.

Because one day the zombie apocalypse will come, and I don't want to be the first one eaten. Also, I bought a pair of not-inexpensive running shoes and now need to justify have done so. I should have just bought more books. Then I'd have to justify that purchase by sitting around and reading them.

Live and learn, kids. That's my motto. As is 'always eat chocolate.'

What's on your agenda this week? Have a motto you care to share? Thanks for stopping by today—it's always appreciated.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Thing That Scares You (An IWSG Post)

Click here for more info on the
group, or for a complete list
of participants!

It's looking more and more like 2014 might be the year. The year where things stop going wrong and start coming together. The year where all the ducks finally get in a row and stay there long enough for me to push that ever-elusive 'publish' button.

(There is a 'publish' button, right? I'll be very disappointed if there isn't...)

And it worries me. I worry. It's what I do. If I didn't worry about this, I would worry about something else. And I do—worry about something else. But mostly, these days, I worry about this.

But despite the worry, I keep moving forward and I keep taking those steps and I keep crossing things off my "Publishing To Do List."

And then I add three more things, but that's a different post for a different day.

Today I thought I might ramble a little bit about what happens after publication. You know, the part where you're supposed to market the book and tell the world that you've done this thing and you want to share it with them.

Yeah. I don't think I'm going to be very good at that part.

Yesterday at my writers group, I was asked how the book was coming, and because it was a woman I like and felt comfortable with, I told the truth. Things are going well; this thing could actually happen—and relatively soon, even. Her response was one of which I imagine most writers would be glad. Excitement, glee, an announcement of "I can't wait to buy and read your book!"

My reaction: "Excuse me while I hide under this table."

And then, just the other day on My Pet Blog, I hosted author Tara Tyler as she debuted the cover for her new novel. She made a mention in the comments of the two of us one day doing a book signing together in New England. Another person might have thought, "Oh hey, yeah! That sounds awesome!"

My reaction: "A book signing? In public? Where people can see me? Excuse me while I hide under my desk."

Once upon a time, I wanted to be an actress or a singer, or a singing actress hybrid person. I wanted to perform as Eponine in Les Misérables on Broadway (and still kind of do. On My Own is my jam, y'all!); I wanted to sing opera at the Met (I no longer wish to do this. I no longer have the range for that.). I spent my last two years of high school performing in every play and singing every solo for which my voice was suited. I went to college and did the same thing for a while because I loved being on stage. It was nerve-wracking, but exhilarating, and I wanted to do it.

Obviously, I didn't do those things. College took me down another path, as college often does, and I ended up pursuing the writing thing instead. But post college, I did a two year stint as a high school English teacher at a school for at-risk teens, which requires one to stand up on a daily basis in front of a class of extra angry teenagers. And I did that, too.

So I'm not sure what happened. I don't know what transformed me into this shy-mouse-wall-flower-girl who wants to hide any time anyone even looks in her direction, but that's who I am right now. I imagine it'll make the whole promoting thing hard. Not impossible—nothing's impossible, right?—but hard. I'm not sure what I'm going to do or how I'm going to do it.

But I will do it. Because as my good friend Eleanor Roosevelt believes, you should "do one thing every day that scares you."

And this scares the you-know-what out of me.

So I guess that leaves me with only one thing to say...



All right, Mr. DeMille—I'm ready for my close-up.

Which I'm totally not (and likely never will be) but...Fake it until you can make it, right?

So how do you deal with the things that scare you (whatever they may be...) To quote another good friend of mine..."What's your secret? Mellow jazz? Bongo drums? Huge bag of weed?" (Bonus Points for anyone who can Name! That! Reference!)

Thanks for stopping by today. It's always appreciated.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Welcome To The Forest!

Welcome to the Forest!

Today on My Pet Blog, we're pleased to come out of hibernation (more on that subject another day) to participate in the cover reveal for author Tara Tyler's new novel, Broken Branch Falls.

I first came across Tara's blog during the A to Z Challenge a couple of years ago. I'm not sure how I ended up on her site—when I do A to Z, I try to go to as many new sites as I can squeeze in, and one day, I went to Tara's. I don't remember the subject of that day's post, but I'm guessing it made me laugh because I always go back to the blogs that make me laugh. It might have involved haiku. Tara does post haiku on occasion, and as you may know, so do I.

But however I ended up there, I'm glad I did because Tara is a terrific person and a fantastic writer, and I'm happy to be able to help her out today.

So without further ado, it's time for the highly anticipated, most spectacular cover reveal of the day!



BROKEN BRANCH FALLS (MG Fantasy)
by Tara Tyler
Release Date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Curiosity Quills

Gabe is an average fifteen-year-old goblin. He’s in the marching band, breezes through calculus, and gets picked on daily by the other kids at school, especially the ogres. Gabe’s closest friends are goblins like him, but Gabe is tired of being a goblin – he’d like to try other things. And he has his eye on the new ogress at school. It’s against all beastly rules, but there’s just something about her.

When a prank goes wrong, Gabe is forced to join the football team as punishment – but finds a way to make it work. Soon the whole school is getting in on the rule-breaking fad of mingling with other species. Too bad the adults have to step in and ruin things by threatening to destroy the school and split up Broken Branch Falls. And Gabe is their scapegoat. With help from friends, old and new, Gabe sets out on a quest for a relic of their mysterious past, which hopefully holds the key to saving Broken Branch Falls. After all that trouble, it better work.

Add it to your GOODREADS list!


Also by Tara Tyler, techno-thriller detective series, The Cooper Chronicles, Book One: POP TRAVEL


Tara Tyler started out as a math teacher. After having a hand in everything from waitressing to rocket engineering and living up and down the Eastern US, she now writes and teaches in Ohio with her three active boys and Coach Husband. Currently, she has two series, The Cooper Chronicles (techno-thriller detective capers) and Beastworld (MG fantasy) She's an adventure writer who believes every good story should have a moral, plus a few laughs!

ONE LAST THING BEFORE YOU GO...

There's a Rafflecopter giveaway on Tara's blog. I had a little trouble posting the HTML stuff because I'm technically inept that way (sorry, Tara!) but please be sure to head over to her blog to enter the giveaway and to wish her all the best with her latest project.

Thank you!