Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentines Day- BONUS

In honor of Valentines Day, I have decided to share a bit of writing that I've been working on.
Recently I finished final edits on The Irish Baker. All that remains is a synopsis, blurb, and to start querying agents!
The other project that has its fangs in me is my Urban Fantasy story, which has a very strong love theme.
So without further ado, I give you the moment the two main characters meet in my current Urban Fantasy WIP.
Enjoy! :) 



           Ethan had never been one for clubs. Even when he was in the age demographic where clubbing was essentially mandatory, he was the outlier. Sure he had gone to a few; well, more what he would consider bars. The woods of Montana, where he grew up,  hadn’t been a hub of city life.
            The thumping of music felt like an intrusion to his thoughts. But his sister insisted. His parents, they suggested he go and enjoy spring break with his sister. More like watch his baby sister’s back while she drank and danced with complete strangers in Miami for a week.
            Thankfully it was their last night before she headed back home to Montana, and he to his small office at work, nestled in the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky. Work was his passion. It never felt like work, except when he had to grade the term papers. Those made his eyes cross and his stomach clench. The college wouldn’t appreciate it if he just passed everyone. Might raise a red flag on his teaching.
            Ethan Donnelly, professor of Occult Anthropology had officially started his sabbatical.
            At least the club had some good whiskey. Not many places his sister wanted to go to carried the good brands. They mostly served vodka and rum mixed drinks. But daiquiris and “Slippery Nipples” weren’t his drinks of choice.
            The music intruded again as the DJ switched songs and tempos. Spinning on his stool, his back now to the bar, Ethan could lean back and keep an eye on his sister. Where he was dark in color, she was light. His dark hair was easy to miss in the club, but her naturally bleach blonde locks were hard to miss.
            He spotted her quickly dancing with her friends in the middle of the floor.
            That’s when he saw her.
            She swayed and moved with the music—her rhythm was perfect. It looked like the music flowed through her. Not too skinny, her curves filled out the dress she was wearing leaving her long, muscular arms and legs bare.
            Heels increased her already impressive height. Without them he estimated her height to be around five-foot-ten inches, tall for a woman. With the four-inch heels strapped to her feet, she still came up four inches short of his six-foot-five inch frame.  Red hair, curled loosely, fell to just above the middle of her back.
            She danced, like all women do, in a group of others. But something about her caught and held his attention.
            “Enjoying yourself?” Ethan was startled from his inappropriate staring by the words of his sister.
            He met her bright blue eyes, her eyebrow arching at his startled expression.
            “Huh, wouldn’t have thought you’d go for a woman in a club.” Reaching past him, she picked up another drink in a hurricane glass complete with an umbrella in the top. “Well, whoever she is, have fun!” Her tinkling laugh echoed in his ears before being drowned out by the music once more.
            Picking up his glass, he tried to be more casual about scanning the crowd for the red-haired woman. His heart dropped when he didn’t see her. Slowly he started to spin around to face the bar again when a voice made him stop.
            “Are you looking for me?”
            He finished the rotation of the stool to find the blue-eyed stare of the red-haired woman he had been watching. 


He was cute, she had to give him that. Cocking her head, she extended a hand to him. He met it, and shook it woodenly. He had dark hair—a bit shaggier than she was used to, but not too long as to lay in his eyes. His eyes matched his hair, and in the whirling lights of the club looked almost black.
Something in her stomach clenched, but in a pleasant way, and she coaxed the wolf that rose up at the sight of him, back down. That would be dangerous for more than just him if she gave her full rein.
“Ah, well, yes.” He stuttered to her. She smiled. It wasn’t that he was drunk, oh no, she had watched him as well. He sipped the whiskey, instead of downing it like any inexperienced frat boy.
“Good.” She sat on the stool next to him, and tapped the bar with three fingers. The bartender knew what she wanted, and quickly a bottle and glass were provided before the bartender moved away on silent feet. She poured herself a drink, and offered to top off his glass.
“How’d you get him to give you the bottle?”
She met his eyes, and smiled. “Oh, he knows me.”
“You come here often?”
“Well, now there’s a line if I’ve ever heard one.” She had to stifle a chuckle with a sip of the whiskey. It was deep, but with a hint of oak that she liked. Not as good as the stuff she got at home, but it was better than fruity drinks and vodka.
“I didn’t—I wasn’t—.” He paused, trying to gather his thoughts. Taking a deep breath he tried again. “I wasn’t saying a line. Just an observation.”
She waited a beat before smiling and saying, “I thought so. Just teasing you a bit.”
He smiled in relief and took another drink before turning to survey the crowd. “You don’t strike me as a club hopper.” She watched him watch her out of the corner of his eye.
“No, not usually.” She turned as well; two could play that game. “My cousin owns the bar, asked if I would come down for some extra help during spring break.” She paused taking a long pull from the nearly empty glass.  “This is my last night, thankfully.”
“It looked like you were having fun.”
“I never said I wasn’t having fun.” Carefully, she set her drink on the counter before turning to him, holding out a hand. Something inside of her told her to—she didn’t understand it. She wanted to dance with him. Well, if she was honest, the wolf inside wanted to do much more than dance. But dancing in the middle of a club should be harmless enough.
Surprisingly he took her hand, and she led him out onto the dance floor. Most of the clubbers had left, leaving a little bit of room near the DJ’s setup. She liked being near it. The speakers were to their left and right, and when the beat came through them, she could feel it in her heart.
It must have spoken to the primitive part of her that would have marched to the beat of a drum in her grandfather’s time. But this was no war, at least not that type. The only thing she had to overcome was the wolf inside.
 He had natural rhythm. Though not quite as fluid as she was, he could keep up with her. The wolf inside hummed in pleasure at having his arms around her, or his hands on her hips. Her head buzzed like she had been drinking too many coffees, but she couldn’t get enough of him. She thought about taking him back to her hotel room, but suddenly a hand on her arm pulled her away from his embrace, breaking whatever feeling she had.
She growled, and then realized it was her cousin Cyrina who had pulled her away to whisper in her ear.
“Are you mad? He’s not one of us. You could kill him!” Cyrina’s amber eyes bored into her.
“I know what I’m doing!” She hissed back.
“Right, and the last human you mated with was when, exactly?” Cyrina accused with her hands on her hips. Despite being only five-foot-nothing, and blonde, Cyrina could be intimidating in her own right. She had an inkling it had to do with her being mated to the Alpha of the pack in Miami.
Her wolf didn’t want to give him up, and she could feel him standing there, waiting to see what had happened. Taking a few breaths, she turned back to him being careful not to touch him again.
“I have to go. Something’s happened in the ladies room, and they need my help.”
He looked so heartbroken and sad that she almost couldn’t take it. Her heart ached, and she felt a howl crawling up the back of her throat as her wolf started to panic.
He swallowed twice before speaking. “Okay, I understand.” He glanced around. “It’s almost closing time anyway I should grab Abby before it’s chaos.”
Her wolf cocked its head as jealously started to gripped her heart. It didn’t matter who Abby was. She would never see this man again once she returned home to Chicago tomorrow.
She made to turn away, but electricity ran up from where he touched her arm. She felt her body shiver as she turned toward him.
“I never got your name?” He leaned in and asked where no one would overhear. A quiver ran up and down her spine when he did so, but not an unpleasant one.
“It’s Bryna.”

Thursday, December 1, 2016

What Happened ?!?!

If you've followed my social media accounts you'd know that I had some serious aspirations and goals for NaNoWriMo. I was going to work on/write two full novels for a total of 100,000 words in 30 days, and possibly dabble in a third work that wouldn't leave me alone.

I started off strong, I had my notes, scene cards, character sketches and great writing sound tracks.

So what happened?

Sometime around day 13 I faltered. The first two weeks it was an honest struggle to get into my stories, even the one that I had written out scene cards for. I liked my characters, that wasn't it. I had plenty of time, so that wasn't it either.

I fell into the trap that many creative types, including writers, often fall into. I started to doubt my work, and my ability to tell stories. That coupled with the exhaustion of just entering my second trimester of pregnancy stopped my creative process dead in its tracks.

I had ideas and a plan, but I completely lacked the inspiration and motivation to get my ideas on the page. So I took a break. I crocheted, I read, I watched a few of my favorite TV shows on Netflix.

Then suddenly around Thanksgiving I had the compulsion to start working again. But I didn't start until November 27th. I let that inkling to write grow, and instead of forcing myself to work on a set project- AKA the two books that I really had planned on writing - my mind went to the third project that wouldn't leave me alone.

I did the math. In order to win by midnight on November 30th, I had to write 25,404. Which broke down to 6,351 words a day. Almost four times the number of words needed to win had I written every day that month. I buckled down, plugged in my head phones and then set myself to work.

It was hard. It felt like I was pulling my own teeth out. Two days it took all day of little sprints to get there. But I got there, every. single. day.

My muse didn't suddenly show up and help, little elves didn't sneak into my office in the night to finish my work. No. I finished. I put my nose to the grindstone and finished the challenge by the skin of my teeth.

That is was it takes to write everyday, even when you don't want to.

One of my favorite sayings from a famous horse training clinician is this:
"Average talent, plus hard work and dedication, will always beat talent by itself."

The second of my favorites is this:
"Don't let anybody's opinion kill your belief in yourself."

While both of these quotes are directly related to horse training and riding, they are completely able to be translated to writing. With direct effect. 

I think we as writers, or creative people in general, need to remember these. Make a sign, make a note card. Hang them where we can see them every single day. Repeat them, and never lose your belief that hard work and dedication to your craft is the best trait someone can have.

Keep writing, my friends!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Why I love NaNoWriMo

Ahh, it's that time of year again.

The cool breeze, pumpkin spice everything, hot chocolate and cider, carving pumpkins, the changing leaves, Mosquitoes die in the cold pits of—oh there I go again getting away from myself.

It's fall! *canned cheering*

Which can only mean one thing for writer-ly types: NaNoWriMo approaches!!





This year will be the fourth time I have competed in the challenge and the second time I plan on writing two novels in 30 days. I have also participated in their summer program Camp NaNoWriMo several times.

There are so many positive aspects to this program, not the least is providing materials and support to schools and libraries across the USA. They have turned the month of November into a celebration of literary abandonment and the joy that is writing.

The concept is simple: write a brand new novel that totals 50, 000 words in the 30 days of November. So if you break that down, the daily goal is 1,667 words every day. Something that's a little more "bite sized", but at the end of the month you either have a completed novel, or at the very least, the start of one.

I will, of course link their website at the end of this post for curious clicking.

Below are just a few of the reasons that I really love, and support this program.


1.) It is a month completely dedicated to literary events that center around writing. It is one month out of the year that can give people the excuse to say "Not right now, I'm writing". Finding the time to work on your writing can be difficult for many people from many different walks of life. From the college/HS student, to the workaholic, to the stay at home parent. Finding even 30 minutes to yourself can be hard to find. But just once a year, telling your loved ones that you're concentrating on hitting a goal as lofty as writing a novel in a month gives credit to your efforts, and gives you a concrete timeframe.


2.) The challenge is fantastic for learning how to set a big goal, and break it down into smaller bite sized pieces. Most people, if not all, know that in order to attain a larger goal you should break it down into smaller steps. NaNo does that for people. It can be a stepping stone to working on other projects, both writing and non-writing related. You just wrote a book in a month, why not start that walking routine? Or saving money? Or eating just one more serving of fruits/veggies instead of the french fries? NaNo can be a spring board for other great habits, both with intangible and tangible rewards.


3.) NaNo brings together people in a way that I have yet to experience elsewhere. The site has the option to make a "region" your home location. Within that region there is a forum where people, anyone in the region, can start a "thread" or conversation. Other members can comment and even set up public meetings called "write ins". Usually Write Ins are held at coffee shops or libraries. They are events where the writers come, get food, drink, socialize, and best of all write! Writing can be such an isolating activity, NaNo combats that with the forums and local write ins. Writers now have a "built" in community of people who understand the ups and downs of writing. I met my entire writing group through NaNo, and they are honestly my best friends, mentors, and editors.


4.) One of the fantastic aspects to NaNo that I love is that it promotes writing to EVERYONE. Not just people who have been writing for years, or even went to school for it. But EVERYONE. That cashier at the local CVS? She has a story to tell. Your pastor? He has a story too. The Barrista at the local coffee place? The same. Creativity is not limited to people who have always been writing, it is for ANYONE who has ever had the thought "I could/should write a book." Writing is one of those activities where it doesn't matter your age when you start, unlike say Football. If you have a story in your mind, write it. NaNo encourages that.


5.) At the end of the month, whether you've written the 50,000 or 5,000 you have the feeling of accomplishment. You've attempted, or met a goal that not many people actually try to do. If you hit the 50k you'll feel like a winner. If not, even if you wrote 2,000 words you've still written 2,000 words that you hadn't before. No matter what happens during the 30 days, everyone who participates, who tries for this large goal, everyone can feel proud of themselves.

If you are a more serious writer, of course you could and should write throughout the rest of the year. But why not participate in something that is so exciting and brings so many different people together using the one thing they all love?

I for one plan on participating every year unless serious life events challenge that. But even then I'll probably still find a way to write extra during November. 



NaNoWriMo site:  http://nanowrimo.org/

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Writing Across Genres: The Good

In thinking about this post, I've realized that it could easily be split into two camps. The good, and the challenges of writing multiple genres. This blog, which is hinted at in the title, will focus on the "good" parts of writing across several genres, while next weeks, will focus on what the challenges are.





As someone who writes across several genres and sub genres I think I'm a pretty good "expert" (giggles into my tea...there are very few "experts" in writing due to the nature of the craft). Now, the fun part! The genres and sub-genres I write in, just for example.

High Fantasy - think Tolkien, Terry Brooks etc.
Urban Fantasy - Vampires, Loup Garou, Witches etc.
Historical - colonial America era
MG/YA Christian Fantasy - Similar to Narnia, only modernized
Action & Adventure Fantasy - Like Brian Jacques Redwall series
Contemporary Sweet Romance - Nothing graphic, fade to black
Scene-Based Literary Fiction - working on a re-telling of something that happened in my family's history

Within those there are differences in the stories I write as well. I have two High Fantasy story lines that are vastly different. One could almost be marketed as a YA/NA while the other...think more Game of Thrones. Much more adult. Grittier, darker. This illustrates just how your writing and plot can change within the same genre to fit each story.

In all genres of writing there are certain aspects across the board that must be met.
Your characters need to be developed and three dimensional.
Dialogue must be done well, and be believable.
Setting must be fleshed out and aid the telling of the story. This includes "world-building", even for stories set in "our world".

The benefits of writing across genres are many, not only will you learn the tropes and clichés in each, but you will also gain the understanding of how and when use them.  Some people are intimidated when it comes to certain genres, or it may be by choice that they only read one type of book. however, if you're writing across several that person, now reading one of the types that you write, may like your writing style enough to branch out and try something new!
I have had so many people tell me that they never read fantasy before, but will now that they have read my Ryder Chronicles and loved it. That is honestly one of the best feelings in the world.

The year I wrote two novels during NaNoWriMo was honestly one of my most successful! I was writing both a romance AND the second book in a new fantasy trilogy. If I ever felt stuck, I would switch to the other book. This gave my subconscious enough time to figure out how fix the book I was stuck on!

Your craft gets better the more you write. Period.

There is no substitute for practice. All of us are apprentices in a craft that has no master.

By writing across multiple genres even when you get stuck in one, you can hop over to a different world, story, character, and continue to write. No Writers Block Here!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Why Writing is Important

As a lover of words, and as an independently published author, I have been criticized for my choice of work.

Not my "day" job, mind you, my very passion. This has not just come from people that don't know me, but people who have been around me for many years.

I have received the comments and questions including the following:

Writing isn't hard.
Novels aren't important.
Who has the time to read?
And my favorite: That's a degree program?

People don't seem to understand my choice to study what I love and to continue to pursue my dreams of readers falling in love with my worlds and characters.
But they are quick to support and appreciate the studies and careers of Doctors, Nurses, Lawyers, Engineers. Why the stigma around writing and the creative arts? Heck, I've even seen more support for friends who are photography students than for writing!

For me, and many of my friends, writing is not just a hobby, or even a passion, it is a release. It is escapism at it's finest, and it is therapeutic. Being able to express yourself in a creative outlet aids your understanding of yourself, and the world around you.

Often writers are introverts, or at the very least are observers of the world around them. They often understand more of the human condition than they realize. Then through their writing, they help readers to also gain understanding of themselves and the world around them.

Reading a character going through something life altering can help a child with her parent's divorce, or the little boy being bullied on the school yard can find an example of how to be brave. A child or adult facing a disability gets to imagine the sensation of running, or even flying.

Maybe the most important feeling of all may be found between the pages of books:
Hope.

So maybe we authors aren't performing surgeries, or designing a building that will offer hundreds of new job opportunities, or even putting away murders for life.

I contest we are doing something much bigger than those.
We are instigators of imagination, writers of wrongs, and bringers of hope.

Writing isn't useless. It is vital to our species continuation. It is beautiful, necessary, and something to be shared for many generations to come.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Advice

What advice would I give an "aspiring" writer?
Well first off, I dislike the use of aspiring. If you're writing something, anything creative, you're already a writer. So let me rephrase the question.
What advice would I have to writers, especially those just starting on the journey.

First off I would say, welcome! Most other writers you meet are going to welcome you with completely open arms, and want to "talk shop".
There a few pieces of advice that I would like every person that is on the writing journey know:


1. Though writing is (typically) a solitary adventure, you are putting down imaginary characters from an imaginary world down onto paper, you are not alone. There are literally thousands of writers all over the world who are doing the same thing you are. Reach out, connect, cheer each other on, and commiserate when characters misbehave.


2. Practice. Practice. Practice. No one writes a perfect first draft. NO ONE. That is what the revision process is for. Every time you go through it your writing gets better. I promise.


3. If thinking about self publishing, get as many people as you can volunteer to read it before hitting that "submit" button. Yes, typos happen to the best of us (I've found several in traditionally pubbed books as well), but the more eyes you have checking, the less likely you'll have readers pointing them out later.


4. Develop a thick skin. Sadly, as much as you love you story and you characters, writing is still art. And art is subjective in nature. Not everyone who reads your stories will love them, or even like them. Learn to sift through for the gold nuggets of advice, and leave the rest alone.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

How to help your favorite Indie








Independent authors are a different breed of people. Usually they have a stick-to-itness that others don't, and they develop a thick skin. They are the DIY'ers of the writing industry, and are not afraid to take a new challenge head on. Whether that challenge is writing the actual book, or wading into the murky waters that is social media to promote their books and build their "brand" (whatever that means *snort*).

But no matter how outgoing, or stubborn an "Indie" is, they still need people to help them in both large and small ways. Below are some of the ways that friends and family are able to help their favorite "Indie" out in the process.

1. Be a listening ear/sounding board. Because we, the authors, spend so much time in our own heads, it is helpful to bounce ideas off of someone who doesn't know the whole story. We can gauge your reactions and impressions, and then adjust accordingly. (Or maybe we just need a break from typing our fingers off!)


2. Provide coffee (or their preferred mode of caffeine/inspiration fuel). We do accept gift cards! ;)


3. Ask us how the writing is going. I know, I know, we may groan and moan, but we will love and appreciate that you are taking an interest in not only our interest, but often times writing stories is our passion. Even the most reclusive introvert will talk your ear off about their writing if you take the time to ask.


4. Once the book is out, buy a copy! Better than that, ask us to sign the inside, and then read it and let us know what you thought. Writers love to hear what people reading their books think. We usually start out writing for ourselves, but it is nice to know how others reading it are responding to the characters and plot that we've created.


5. Once you've read said book, leave a review. Leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, your own facebook/social media. THIS IS THE SINGLE MOST HELPFUL THING TO AN INDIE. Shout out that you loved this book to everyone!
Independent authors do not have a media team behind them like the traditionally published books do. They need every bit of help they can get to promote their work.
Even writing a one line review and leaving a star rating helps. This increases visibility, and also encourages potential readers that the story is worthwhile.


6. Never grumble about the price of the book. An Indie author pays for everything upfront out of pocket, usually funded by a day job they would rather not have, just to make ends meet.



Writing a book is hard, editing a book is hard, promoting a book is hard. Be kind, and help out the Indie authors you know. You are helping them live their dream, and isn't that something worthwhile to support?