Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Play Lists?

This week has flown by. Sorry this post is getting out late. Better late than never, right?

I'm actually getting some writing this week. (a little) Which got me thinking... Do you write to a play list? First, I guess I should ask do you write to music? Do you have a play list for you WIP/MS/novel?

I was writing and realized that I tend to listen to different music based on the mood of my characters. Granted, I have a generalized "writing" list that I listen to, but there are certain songs that I hear that portray the feeling of the scene so well that I play them while writing. Does this happen to you?

Here are a few of the songs on my play list for this scene. Can you guess the emotion?

So, what do you think? Do you know these songs? Like them? Have your own play list? 

Have a great weekend. I'll be spending it with my wonderful husband, who's birthday it is on Friday. Happy birthday, honey. I love you!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What's Up and I Did an Interview

How's your week going? Hope everything is going good. Are you finally getting back in the swing of things? Any announcements or good news lately? Book releases or anything else you want to give a shout out about? 

I've just been busy working. I haven't had any time to work on my MS, hopefully soon though.

I did, however do an interview over at The Death Writer. It's all about my day job, nursing. I talk about how death has effected me and how I deal with it at work. My first interview ever. So if you have a second head over there and check it out. Let me know what you think.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Author Interview: Alex J. Cavanaugh

I'm honored and thrilled to have Alex J. Cavanaugh visiting my blog today. If you're a blogger that's been around the blogosphere at all, then you know Alex. If you don't, you should. He is one of the nicest bloggers I know. He's amassed an amazingly loyal and huge ninja army who refer to him fondly as the "Ninja Master". He stuns us all with his abilty to visit hundreds of blogs a day while writing books and blog post, working a full-time job and living a life. Secretly, I think he's a robot and never sleeps. ;)

Thank you, Alex for taking the time to come by and answer all my questions.

JS:  You had a book published in 2010 (CassaStar) and one in Febuary (CassaFire). Congratulations! Can you tell us a little about your books?
 AJC:  CassaStar follows Byron, a cocky young man determined to succeed as a Cosbolt fighter pilot. Standing in his way is Bassa, the toughest trainer in the fleet. Both men need a friend and a chance to heal past wounds. When war erupts on the edge of space, Bassa follows Byron into battle as his navigator. Struggling with trust, the two must to come to terms if they hope to survive.

CassaFire begins twenty years later. Keeping his promise to Bassa, Byron is now the senior pilot on an exploration vessel. Sent to the desert planet of Tgren to investigate alien ruins, Byron finds himself saddled with the training of a young woman whose mental powers rival his own. Struggling to maintain his privacy, Byron fights his growing feelings for Athee and a budding friendship with a young scientist. A crisis with the alien ruins challenges Byron’s beliefs and plans for his life.

JS:  What book are you working on now?
 AJC:  The third and final book in the series, CassaStorm, which begins twenty years after CassaFire ends. (Note a pattern here?) It will involve an intergalactic war, the aliens who created the ruins, and a situation that could wipe out all of the races.

JS:  Will this be the last book in the series? Will you keep writing when this series is done?
 AJC:  Will I keep writing once this series is complete? I’m not sure yet. I’d never planned more than one book in the first place so I’ll have to see what happens after CassaStorm is released.

JS:  You went with traditional publishing. Why did you decide this vs. self-publishing?
 AJC:  I never even considered self-publishing. I wouldn’t know where to begin!

JS:  How many query letters did you send out?
 AJC:  Dozens to the biggest science fiction publishers before I moved on to smaller presses.

JS:  What do you like best about your main character Byron? Least?
 AJC:  I like his focus and commitment to perfection. He’s a lot like me in that aspect. However, I do not share his arrogance or demand for privacy. Sometimes those aspects make him downright unlikeable.

JS:  For someone who has never read sci-fi before is there anything people should keep in mind when reading your books?
 AJC:  What surprised me after CassaStar’s release was the amount of non science fiction readers who enjoyed my book. My novels are light science fiction, focusing on characters and adventure rather than high tech. They are good entry level books for those who have never read the genre.

JS:  You have said that you never wanted to be an author. What made you decide to write a book?
 AJC:  I know it’s funny, but it’s true! I happened upon the original manuscript for CassaStar, written over thirty years ago when I was a teen, and realized that while the story was awful, the characters were solid. On a whim, I rewrote it. A couple friends read it and suggested I seek publication, so I said what the heck. I had no idea I would actually find a publisher!

JS:  How did you become the ninja master and amass your army?
 AJC:  It’s been so long since my followers gave me that title, I don’t even remember! My Ninja Army is really special though. I’ve made some good friends and I try to focus on building and maintaining those relationships. At every opportunity, I give back to the blogging community. My Ninja Army just keeps growing - over 1500 followers now. I’m past the point of being able to visit everyone, but I do try my best!

JS:  What advice would you give to any who want to be author?
 AJC:  Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone!

Random Questions: 

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate, although I’d take a box of Hot Tamales over either one.
Coffee or tea?  Neither - give me an energy drink!
Beach or mountains? Mountains - much cooler
Last book read? Jessica Bell’s String Bridge
Favorite author? Preston & Child
Most played song on iPod? Count of Tuscany by Dream Theater. Really impressive considering the song is twenty minutes long!
Favorite movie? LOTR trilogy
Favorite food? Give me the spicy Thai
Outliner or panster? Outliner - I’d get lost otherwise
Favorite joke? Don’t really have a favorite joke, but Jim Gaffigan’s skit about Hot Pockets makes me laugh every time.

Alex J. Cavanaugh

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Known online as the Ninja Captain, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

CassaFire by Alex J Cavanaugh.JPGCassaStar was only the beginning… 

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren's civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan's technology and strange mental abilities.

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves, the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

CassaFire is the sequel to Cavanaugh’s first book, CassaStar, an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller:
“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

Have you read CassaStar or CassaFire? Is there anyone who doesn't know Alex? Did you learn anything new about him from this interview?


Monday, May 14, 2012

First Loves Blogfest

This is my post for the First Loves Blogfest. This blogfest is hosted by none other than the ninja master Alex J. Cavanaugh, you can go HERE to see more about this blogfest and the other blogs participating.  It's all about your first loves – first movie, first song/band, first book, and first person.


 My first movie that I fell in love with was probably The Princess Bride. It had a bit of everything- comedy, romance, action, fantasy, and revenge. It made you believe in true love and wish for a dark pirate to come sweep you off your feet. It gave you a new type of princess. And some of the best lines ever... As you wish, Inconceivable, and the one below.

One of my favorite first bands that I fell in love with was Wham! I had the biggest crush on George Michael. What can I say I was maybe ten and it was the 80's.  Can you believe those shorts?

I think when I was about thirteen I read a book called 13 is Too Young to Die by

Throughout my sixth grade year I had a boyfriend. (Ah, young puppy love.) We would walk home everyday from school together and went on my first date with him. His mom picked us up and dropped us off at the movie theater. I think the movie was Some Kind of Wonderful. Anyone remember that movie? At the end of my sixth grade year we moved from California. I was devastated. I remember my mom letting us stop by his house before we drove out of town. I remember watching through the back window as he got smaller and smaller, tears streaming down my face. I couldn't understand why we had to move away. Ironically we stayed friends throughout the years and still talk. He's also a writer. (Hi if your reading this, you know who you are. :)


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Colors Like Memories Blog Tour

Wings & Things

Thanks so much for hosting me for my blog tour for Colors Like Memories! Today kicks off all
kinds of fun. I also have a contest running for my blog tour—all commenter’s are entered into a
drawing for two copies of my book, and one person will win a $25 giftcard to Amazon or Barnes
& Noble. There are more details on my home blog, if you want to check it out!

So, I was trying to come up with something to post about, and I got to thinking about all the
angel books that are on the market right now. If you’ve been following the YA market, there
are quite a plethora! (I have totally fallen in love with a few of them—the Angel Burn series
and Fallen series especially.) Anyhow, while the beings in Colors Like Memories aren’t exactly
angels, they have some similarities. They’re actually Sary (I made them up, just in case you try
googling them :) and it’s their job to help people who are thinking about taking their own life.
Anyhow, when in private, look a lot like the more traditional angels most people are familiar
with—wings and all. The Sary would say that most of the myths, legends, and beliefs that are
centered on people-with-wings have their roots in Sary-sightings. And, really, there are a LOT of
cultures and myths that feature winged people. Here are just a few:

-The Alkonost of Russian myth. A part-woman, part-bird who sing so beautifully that the hearer
forgets everything they know and wants nothing more ever again (um, yikes!).

-The ancient Greeks had many different gods and other characters portrayed with wings. For
example: Eos, goddess of the Dawn, the classic Sirens, & Boreas god of the North wind.

-The goddess Isis of ancient Egypt. Isis plays many roles in Egyptian mythology, which include
being the patron of nature and magic.

-The Winged Genie of the Assyrians, shown to pollinate fruit trees, or protect royalty.
There are tons of others! It’s kind of fun to look at all of these myths and beliefs, and compare
them to what we think of as angels in today’s world, and especially in our books (okay, maybe
that’s my inner anthropologist talking, but still!). Anyhow, it’s a little something to think about
the next time you come across an angel story in the bookstore, or if you, ya know, pick up Colors
Like Memories!
Winged Genie

Inquiring minds want to know if you know of any other winged people or beings from

A bit about the Colors Like Memories:

Julia has a secret: she killed the guy she loved. It was an accident—sort of.

Julia is a Sary, the soul of a child who died before taking her first breath. Without this 'breath of
life' she and others like her must help those on the verge of suicide. It's a job Julia used to enjoy,
until the accident that claimed her boyfriend’s life—an accident she knows was her fault. If
living with the guilt weren't enough, she's now assigned to help a girl dealing with the loss of her
mother, something Julia's not exactly the best role model for. If she can't figure out a way to help
her, Julia's going to lose her position in the Sary, something she swore to her boyfriend would
never happen.

Release date: May 11th 2012 from MuseItUp Publishing.

A bit about Meradeth Houston:

Meradeth’s never been a big fan of talking about herself, but if you really want to know, here are
some random tidbits about her:

  • She’s a Northern California girl. This generally means she talks too fast and use "like" a lot.
  • She has her doctorate in molecular anthropology. Translation: she sequences dead people's DNA and is a professional lab rat.
  • She’s been writing since she was 11 years old. It's her hobby, her passion, and she’s so happy to get to share her work!
  • Her other passion is teaching. There's nothing more fun than getting a classroom of college kids fired up about anthropology!
  • If she could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because she’s terrified of heights.

Thanks for coming by Meradeth. I wish you great success with your book.

Check out her blog, she has some great stops to the rest of her blog tour.

Do you guys know Meradeth? Putting her book on your must read list?


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Guest Post, Matthew MacNish: The Ancient and Honorable Art of the Query Letter

Today Matthew MacNish is stopping by to talk about the art of query letters....

The Ancient and Honorable Art of the Query Letter

My name is Matthew. Matthew MacNish is the pen name I publish fiction under. You can visit my blog, The QQQE, if you would like to know more.

Do you guys hate query letters? Do you think distilling a 60,000 word novel into 250 words is a study in insanity? I don’t blame you if you do. I used to feel the same way. When I first started sending out queries, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know any writers in real life, and I hadn’t met any on the internet yet at the time.

So I crafted what I thought was a good query (but was really a big mess of synopsis-ish writing, and egotism), and sent it out. I got a couple of requests (surely based more on the pages than the query), but I was inevitably rejected. I wasn’t ready. Neither was my query—or my book.

You can read some of my terrible old queries by checking the label “queries-rejections” at my blog.

I decided to study query letters, and as much as I hated them, I decided I would get good at them. So I started my blog, and began by sharing my own mistakes, so others could learn from them. Then I started finding some great resources for helping to learn how to write a better query. First, was Nathan Bransford’s blog, specifically posts like Query Letter Mad Libs, and Anatomy of a Good Query Letter. Then it was Kate Testerman’s blog, and especially her service Ask Daphne! About My Query. Then I met Elana Johnson, read her e-book From the Query to the Call, and after getting to know her (and the other great hosts) for a while, I won a query contest at Write On Con, which you can read the results of, in which Literary Agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe critiqued my query, here.

So once I figured out how to write a decent query, I started hosting and analyzing successful ones on my blog. They didn’t have to have earned the author an agent, just a full or partial request. The fun part is though, several of those queries are now published books. You can find a list of those posts, here. Then, once I became familiar with good queries, I started critiquing query letters on my blog.

You can find those posts by checking the label “queries-critiques” at my blog.

Now that you know how I ended up in this position where I hate to love and love to hate the ancient and honorable art of the query letter, let’s talk about what one is, and how to write a good one.

Assuming you want to write a standard query letter, and not break any of the “rules,” this is how it works: One page or less, 250 words is generally a good guideline. Usually 3 paragraphs.

- First is your opening hook and pitch. You need to get across a strong sense of character right away, and if you can sprinkle in some backstory, in a nice, organic way, that's great. Then try to finish up with the inciting incident.

- Second, you want to introduce the conflict. If you can sprinkle in setting and stakes, great. Try to be specific as possible. Avoid clichés, and make it clear why your story is unique.

- Finally, you need to give us an idea of what choices your character has to make in order to overcome the conflict. The best choices are really tough ones, in which there is no clear or easy solution.

So that's: Character. Conflict. Choice. The three Cs.

If you can get those three things across clearly, and sprinkle in some great voice, you’ll be off to a good start.

Some personalization about why you queried that specific agent, and some kind of writing background bio are a great way to finish, but it’s the heart of the story that really matters.

Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments, and thanks Jessica for having me!

--Matthew M. Rush

Thanks so much, Matthew for stopping by and giving us some of your wisdom.  If you don't follow Matthew's blog you should definitely check it out. Every week he helps people out by critiquing their query letters.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

News This Week

As you can tell, I got a makeover! Well, I didn't, but my blog did. Tiana Smith started up a new blog design site, was giving away a free blog make over and guess what? I won! Her new site is and you should definitely check it out. She has nine templates to chose from and you can change the color or fonts to suit your tastes.

Tiana is absolutely wonderful to work with. We probably exchanged over fifty e-mails (not kidding), due to my indecisiveness and/or other questions or ideas I thought up. Throughout it all though, she was professional, patient and super easy to work with. She took each request I had and made it come to life. The makeover took only a couple of days and that's more because of my indecisiveness then anything. I cannot say enough fabulous things about her. She went above and beyond. If you're thinking of getting a new look, I would definitely recommend Tiana!

I'm so happy with the way my blog looks and with Tiana. Thank you so much, Tiana! You did a fabulous job! I absolutely love it!

In other news...

Monday is the A to Z challenge reflections post. Time to give your thoughts, good, bad or otherwise on the challenge.

On Wednesday, the query guru himself, Matthew MacNish is stopping by to give us the basics on writing a query letter.

On Thursday, I'm hosting a stop of the Color Like Memories book blog tour. Congrats, Meradeth, I'm sure it will be great!

Next Monday is The First Loves Blogfest. Want more info- head over to Alex J. Cavanaugh's to check it out.

And finally, next Wednesday, a week after the normal time, hope you're not to confused, an author interview with non-other than the ninja master himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Wow, that's a busy two weeks and I thought I would be slowing down now that A to Z was over.

Well, what do you think of my new blog design? Do you like it? Thinking about getting a makeover? Have you checked out Tiana's site? What template's your favorite? Do you know Matthew, Meradeth, and Alex? Will you be back to check out the posts? Participating in the reflections post or First loves?


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

IWSG#8- Stress is Food

This is my monthly post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the amazing brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. It's a group where writers get to support each other and talk about their writer insecurities. You can go HERE to find Alex's blog and the other blogs participating.

For anyone who lives these days, stress is a part of life. You can't avoid it, it's everywhere. For those of you who tackled the A to Z challenge last month, added even more.

If you've been following my blog for a while you know that a lot of my ISWG posts are about stress and lack of time. I'm busy. Who isn't. I'm not going to sit here and bore you with all of the things in my life that make me busy. You have a life, I'm sure you can guess.

It's a constant struggle for me to balance everything. Time management has become crucial and I have become lazy. I have completely tanked in the past month. I feel bad about it. My husband has been wonderful and picked up my slack, but I'm thoroughly shamed. I didn't write much on my WIP, I did do the A to Z challenge (but I had done most of it previously. I just had to go in each night and update it.), I didn't get my critiques done, my house work suffered, and I just didn't do much of anything. Why? Stress.
Photo credit

 I was overly stressed and shut down. I felt like a complete failure and Mrs. Naysayer was back in full force. I curled up in a little ball inside myself and didn't want to step outside. So, what happened? Vacation.

One wonderful week in sunny Florida. One beautiful week with my family. No blog. No Internet. No WIP. No stress. I recharged. I saw the magic in my kids eyes when he saw Pluto for the first time. I saw the orange seared sun drop into the crystal blue gulf. I fed on the sun and the powdered sand beneath my feet. My heart swelled with the sight of my children riding the waves and I fed off of every smile and laugh.

I am recharged. So, stress bring it on, because I'm ready now.

How do you recharge? Do you feed off of stress or does it get to you?


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A to Z Challenge Story

I'm back from vacation. Did you miss me?


 I want to thank everyone again for contributing to the story. Without you my A to Z Challenge would have failed. I would like to especially thank those of you who came by everyday or almost everyday. And also a very special thanks to DL Hammons for filling in for me for the last week. You're the best!

Finishing our story off is Elise Fallson and her sentence is:
"Do you have the documents we need?" he asked.
"I've got zilch for documents, but I do have the flash drive..." and before I could finish my reply I was teleported into the airship.

Here is the story in it's entirety:

    The alpha coefficient was too high; the risk too great. Losing my balance, I plummeted to the darkest recesses of the canyon. I had to release my tenuous grip on the briefcase, so I could pull my chute in my panic; it spilled classified papers all over the floor of the ravine when it exploded on impact. Struggling to free myself from the parachute, I cursed the debacle this mission had become. After finally getting the parachute to release me, I started to ponder over the enigma of where I was.  
     It seemed odd to think that only thirty hours ago I had been sitting in a Starbucks having coffee. But then that man with the formidable mustache had sat down next to me. He made me an offer and I'd run through the gamut of usual excuses, but to no avail. And actually, I couldn't pull off the hypocrisy of not wanting a million bucks. But I played it casual and said, "How ironic, you of all people would need my help.
     The safety of that coffee shop juxtaposed with the danger I was in now.
     "Ironic? No. You and I are practically kindred spirits and you need the money," he said, placing a briefcase on the table. I had to admit that he was right; and after all, money had been the first real love of my life. Until that monumental moment when I was forced to weigh what was really important. Since that time though, I'd been on the run nonstop. Always with the fear that some omnipotent being was watching me.   
     But I think it's time I palliate this fear and bite the bloody bullet, yeah? My Quixotic quest for understanding could wait until I was on a secluded beach somewhere, sipping run-filled fruity drinks brought to me by bronze bikini-clad beauties; right now I needed to get the Hell out of this canyon. And that's when I saw it, nestled in a crevice, a riant sight that would teleport me to the airship Hindenburg IX. 

    Then a sinister feeling washed over me. They wouldn't let me on the ship without my papers. And they were currently being blow down the canyon. To hell with the papers I thought, harnessing my emotions and casting aside the timorous voice inside my head, all the while praying the flash drive still in my pocket would be enough to gain access to the airship.  After all, we were united in our goals. Or, at least, I was the means for them to achieve theirs. I reached out for the crevice to grab hold of the walkie-talkie, but just then the wind filled my parachute and I began to be blown away. With a valiant effort I struggled to hold onto the branch that was keeping me in place. With determination I untangled myself from the parachute and with wanderlust, grabbed the walkie-talkie. It was like a xenium from the gods as I turned hit the button, said my name, and someone answered.
     "Who is this?" said the voice.
     "Agent Smith!" I yodeled. "Come and get me!" "Do you have the documents we need?" he asked.
    "I've got zilch for documents, but I do have the flash drive..." and before I could finish my reply I was teleported into the airship.

What do you think? Do you like it? Are you surprised how it turned out? How was your A to Z Challenge? Are you happy it's over?