Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Motivating change, creating goals

Well its a few days before the new year, hopefully everyone is thinking about, writing down, and or actually getting a jump start on their 2012 goals :).

Studies have shown that the more concrete the goal, the more likely the person is to complete it. So saying, “I want to lose weight”, “I want to get published”, aren’t valid goals. Well, they might be valid, however, they have two things wrong with them 1) too vague, 2) the goal is not directly controllable for the person.

Define the goals:

Work backwards. Where do you want to be in a year from now?
If I want to lose 30 pounds, and I break it up into nice little x-pounds per month chunks- I could still be messing things up because my body may not lose weight at that ratio. There are many different variables that make up weight loss- such as our body type, our fitness level, genetics, age, etc. So to say, “X-pounds per month” is setting things up for a big disappointment. Then you get depressed, give up, and go eat a pint of rocky road. The trick is to make as your goal something you CAN control. For weight loss this could be “I will work out for 30 minutes a day 3 days a week, and go for 45 minute walks 6 days a week.” This is something YOU have control over- if you fail, regardless of the reason (no time, things came up, etc) the onus is on YOU to fix it. Plus, in terms of weight loss- when you get enough healthy goals lined up you WILL lose weight ;).

For the goal of getting published- again break things down. For most folks still looking at the traditional model, an agent is a good idea. (Not going into the whole agent thing right now. ;))Now saying, “I’ll get an agent this year.” isn’t a viable goal either. The agent does have a say in things- after all, free will, etc. So the better goal is one in which control comes back to you. Something such as, “I will submit a query to 25 agents this year.” That is in your control completely and hopefully will lead to an agent, which will lead to a sale, which will lead to being published. Making life happy and joyous all around until the anxiety over the next book starts.

Develop control:

The problem for many folks is that they place the “success-o-meter” for their goals in the hands of something other than themselves. Psychologists refer to it has an external locus of control. My happiness, or success, is in the hands of someone else, whether it be fate, luck, some higher power. If a person has an external loci of control, they see that their happiness, sadness, success, etc is out of their hands. "I'm not happy because (outside action, person, event)." Or I’d do that “wonderful thing to change my life” BUT. These could be called the ‘because’ and ‘but’ folks.

It's also true for responsibility of ones life and actions- external locus of control folks are never to blame for their own failures or mistakes. It’s not their fault their life isn’t what they want, or they can’t reach their goals- it’s always the action of something far beyond them.

Folks with a more internal locus of control see themselves as the steering action for their lives. If they succeed at something- it’s through their own hard work. They fail at something? It’s them who dropped the ball. And it's up to their to get back on course.

Now guess which group has more control in changing their behavior?

Like all personality and social behaviors, people range from one end of the spectrum to the other- probably no one is at the extreme end for either side. But as people who want to gain control of our lives, one of the first things we need to do is take responsibility. Develop your internal locus of control ;).

Future Time Perspective:

This is a psychological theory about people’s ability to delay gratification now, in order to achieve a goal or desire in the future. Aka, how much are you willing to suffer now to reap future rewards. Like locus of control, people range on this scale. Some folks are close to zero. They’re the 'I want it now, I don’t want to set aside time to advance my goals, I want to watch tv because it gives me immediate enjoyment' bunch. Those folks have a hard time making the reality of those future goals concrete in their heads (and most are going to be on the external locus of control end of the game too- if you can’t control your future, why should you give up current pleasure for it?).

People with a strong sense of future time perspective have trained themselves to see what they want (define their goals), adjust those goals as needed, and can connect their current actions with those future goals. They adjust to dealing with getting up at 5am, to watching less tv, playing less with social media, giving up some time with friends (not too much, social contact is vital for mental health ;))-because their future goal is real to them and they see they have control over it.

Notice I said train themselves. Through upbringing people may be at one end or the other on both of these scales. BUT they can train themselves to be better. To realize they have control over their lives (both good and bad events), that sacrifice now is important for success later on.

Now this was a very long blog for me-LOL- but hopefully it gave some folks stuff to think about, just as it did for myself while writing it.

Succeeding at our goals is far more than just making wishes. We need to define them, we need to realize that we have control over them, and we need to connect our current actions (or restrictions of actions) with that future success. And I forgot to add flexibility- which is also important. Your goals should never be carved in stone. As you move and grow throughout the coming year- your goals might change too. You need to be willing and able to adjust them as many times as needed.
Hope everyone has an amazing 2012!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Just a wish for all of you folks out there to have a wonderful Christmas if you celebrate it, and a beautiful Sunday even if you don't.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Goals for 2012

Yeah, yeah, yeah- these should be posted in January. But my way of thinking is that January is when you’re jumping into your new goals, not thinking them up ;). So I do them now then have a little over a week to work my way into them.

First, let me address those folks who don’t like “resolutions”. There are lots of reasons not to like them, which is why I call them goals. It’s always easier (at least for me) to start a new habit or behavior at the start of something. A week, a month, a year- these demarcations of time make handy little starting points for changes. So I like using this time period to reflect and move forward- if you do as well, great. If not- no worries ;).

Even though this is a writing blog, I’m going to list all of my plans here. Writing really is part of my life and as such can’t be pulled out and kept separate.

1) Fitness: I did get off to a good start in the second half of 2011- and got into the habit of working out every day. The last month or two has been spotty due to health issues and NaNo messing up my sleeping (and thusly messing up getting up at 4:45 am to work out). My plan for 2012 is to get back up to my 7 days a week, with increases each month. So extra workouts later in the day on a few days, changing things up, much longer walkers/ workouts on week-ends. I ain’t getting younger, and the fight begins now.

2) Food: ok, this too took big strides forward in the latter half of 2011- then sort of slipped during the holidays. I’ve got way too many health issues that I really want to get rid of to keep messing up eating. Back to tracking food and weighing in regularly.

3) My writing itself-

a. Take myself seriously as a writer- fake it until you make it. I may be under published, but I AM a writer. If I don’t believe it, how will others?

b. Really attack the publishing end of things. No more hit and miss of sending out (in terms of quantity- not who I’m sending to- I do my research ;)).

c. Develop a thick skin. Ok, easier said than done, and I hear lots of laughing from you folks. But a big part of having a thick skin is how rejection is perceived. Successful people often don’t see it as bad, it’s a stepping stone to their goal. I plan on working on my perceptions a LOT this year.

d. Push myself. I love to write, and will always do so. But, I do want to share my work with others. I want other people to share the worlds I’ve created and get to know my characters. Art of any kind grows when it is a shared experience-so I need to get to a position of being able to share. To do that, I have to be constantly pushing my boundaries on what and how I write.

e. Constantly work on improving my craft. I plan on picking one topic a month and focus on it. I figure you never can have too much knowledge!

That's it for now, another aspect of 2012- I want to have a mini goal session each month. Little changes can have big impacts.

What about you?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reflecting on 2011

I’ve been thinking about the end of the year and where I am as a writer right now.

This year has seen some wonderful friends sell great books, first releases, upcoming releases, agent contracts. I did some submitting, but not very much. Got a few nibbles, but in the end the project wasn’t write for this time.

So I does all that make me feel? If I am totally and completely honest about 10% frustrated and 90% ecstatic for my friends who burst through that plateau this year.

The frustration is natural, I was hoping to have submitted a lot more by this time and found my perfect agent. But various things happened and I didn’t get many submissions out for a plethora of reasons which I won’t go into now. But if ya don’t submit, ya ain’t going nowhere.

I did some good things this year though, some craft building things, re- wrote some projects, did more editing of others. And I have the bones of a new book thanks to NaNo- one I’m excited about diving into next year.

But still, a wee bit of frustration that I haven’t hit that point, that right story+ right author+ right agent/editor spot-yet.

And, also if I’m honest, part of my frustration is at how others see me. Those looks of, “Oh really, you write…how…cute.” Until there is a contract, or even better, a book in print, there will be folks reacting that way. Even when they don’t, there’s still that feeling that they are thinking it.

But I write because I have to. I’m not writing for accolades, or status, I’m writing because I love to create worlds, and people. Sometimes though, just sometimes, it’s easy to forget that ;). And it’s something I really should NEVER forget. My love of writing is all I have to protect me from the slings and arrows of rejection.

As for my friends who went to that next level – who got those contracts- they give me hope. When you see REAL people around you making it, actual friends that I can I say “I knew them when”, it makes the whole process real.

Plus- this way they get to go through it all, and when I’m there I can be running to them for words of wisdom.

Monday, December 12, 2011

GUEST BLOGGER- Cathy1967 Post NaNoWriMo and Fanfic writing

Today I'm welcoming a friend from the NaNo Wars (and the Farscape boards), Cathy, to come blog about her adventures in NaNo and her experience as a fan fic writer (Fan Fic is fiction based on characters from TV shows, movies, or other authors books).

Welcome Cathy!

Post NaNoWriMo – Thoughts and ruminations on what it took to get there and what comes after

By Cathy1967

It's funny (and I think I use that start in a sentence way too often, but hey ...), but now that I sit here, almost two weeks after completing NaNoWriMo on time (that's a load off my shoulders and a bit of a surprise too), trying to think of something to write, I draw a blank. Well, okay, not a total blank. I'm writing this, after all. :)

My dog is moseying around in the background with a chewed-up plastic bottle, making noise because I'm not paying attention to him; probably because I didn't pay much attention to him during November either. Poor puppy.

NaNo happened by chance this year. I wasn't going for it, hadn't planned to participate. I was over at Terra Firma (a forum about everything Farscape, a sci-fi tv-show), browsing around for something interesting to read, and someone mentioned NaNo. And suddenly I thought it might be the thing to do. My life has been a bit shredded lately. October had been a bit of a nightmare for various reasons and November was looming ahead, promising to be almost as bad. Yeah, I'm psychic. *L* Okay, maybe not, but I was in a funk and knew that there was no way out of it until I made a decision with a heavy heart. Sick, old cat equals heartache in this house. I decided to try my hand at original fic and do it through NaNoWriMo. Ambitious under the best of circumstances, since I generally tend to write fan-fic and have only very few and very short original tales under my belt.

Anyway, from the moment I got up on Tuesday, November 1, things just went wrong. I was caught in a month of everything going wrong, of having gotten up on the wrong side of the bed every day of that blasted month. My one cat was not doing well and I knew where it was going, but had a hard time acknowledging it. I made the decision, booked a time with a vet who could come to my house, and had a week before that dreaded date. Finishing NaNo should have been the furthest from my mind, but writing has always had a therapeutic influence on me and, by jove, I needed something to go right. Just one thing. So I wrote whenever I could and I needed to reach the deadline of 50,000 words by November 30 so badly, it spurred me on.

Of course, the support system on Terra Firma helped immensely as well. The encouragement over there was heartwarming and it helped me accomplish what I sort of had given up on. With everything just crumbling around my ears and the loss of my kitty ... I think writing was a lifeline. It kept my mind off things, made me focus on this make-believe world and characters I had created from the ground up.

Writing original fic sure is different from writing fan-fic. Mostly because in fan-fic, you know that as long as you stick to the true and tried versions of the characters, others will recognize them and just see your tale as another adventure they're on. Original fic leaves you high and dry with characters that aren't fully formed (for the beginners among us) and a story-line that may or may not appeal to someone else. Of course, in NaNo you don't actually need anyone to read your stuff to participate. But it is a diving board for the start of a tale and it forces you to concentrate on telling a story as fast as possible. The first time I tried it, I failed. I had a plan, I had a layout for a story, and I was gung-ho on getting it written. But not much came of it. This time around, I was unprepared. I had an idea, yes, but I had no outline, no plan, no nothing. I jumped in feet first and it turns out I actually could swim.

And, what more is, I'm still interested and I want to finish it. Whether someone wants to read it is a totally different matter, of course. But I'll worry about that when it's done. Right now I just need to finish it, but I think I'm going to let it lie and soak up the atmosphere a little before I start working on it again.

Usually, when I write fan-fic, I do it in parts and post each part. I reread until I'm blue in the face, I try to fix mistakes along the way and fix those my readers kindly point out to me after the post. This experience has been ... different. I wrote 80-odd pages and I never reread, I never stopped to correct. I did skip back a bit to get a name or a situation right, but mostly I just moved forward, intent on getting those 50,000 words written so I could get on with this hellish month with at least one thing that had gone right. And I managed. Don't ask me how, but I did. When I hit the finish line – and not even on November 30, but on November 29 – I was at first stunned, then deliriously happy. It raised my spirit in spite of all controversy.

I don't know how others feel about writing in general, but to me it's therapy. I get rid of a lot of pent-up emotions – something you can tell clearly in some of the stories I've written – and that helps me to move on. I've written fan-fic since I was 12 and I intend to write until I can't write anymore. Will I ever be a published author? No clue. I may try. I aim at finishing this story and offering it up as a free e-book for others to read. Hopefully I'll get feedback on it and hopefully it'll be positive enough that it won't discourage me from trying again.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


It’s hard to believe that at my age, I’d be considered a virgin. Well, I conquered that label recently when I attempted for the first time the NaNo challenge. For the entire month of November, I wrote my fingers to the bone (not really), making certain to reach the 50,000 words (almost didn’t) by November 30th. The experience was…stressful.

I’d always wanted to do NaNo. I felt a strong sense of community with other writers while challenging myself to write during the start of the holiday season. I don’t know what I was thinking. It was hell!

Except for a short story I wrote earlier this year, I haven’t written a new full-length book in 3 years. Life was a major reason for the lull. Losing my confidence was the other. And yet a third came in the form of brain death, which I had mourned far too long. When I decided to finally take the plunge, I was nervous, uncomfortable and terrified, and that was just the day I entered my book before the November 1st start date. There was still a month to go! I’ve had a horrendous 2011, health- and otherwise, so why was I intentionally setting myself up for more stress?

The answer: I needed to find out if I could write again or if I should hang up my keyboard and call it a less-than-stellar writing career. In other words, could I rebuild my confidence in myself and my storytelling? Oh, and could I find my creativity, which seemed to abandon me 3 years ago.

The morning of November 1st, I was up early, steaming coffee at my desk, eyes wide open and staring at a white screen. Blank screen. No words. Had I expected come the start of NaNo I’d sit at the computer and my fingers would fly over the keyboard? Apparently. My little bit of positive thinking bombed, and it was only the first day.

I write historical novels. My research was somewhat complete, although when I write, I’m always referring back to my files and searching the web for answers not in my notes. Unfortunately, to “win” the challenge, I had no time to waste on looking up details I knew were beneficial to the story. Almost immediately, I came up with ways to get around the use of research. In places I needed a name, I’d write “whatshisname” or “whoeverthisis.” For the details of the period (15th century Italy ) I didn’t know, I’d write “lookthisup” or “whatsitcalled.” I thought, okay, this isn’t going to be so bad. That thought came back to bite me in the…well, “youknowwhere.” Why did I run the words together? It would make replacing them with the find and replace easier when the time comes.

I threw some words down on the first page. Actually, it wasn’t so bad. My fingers didn’t fly like a flock of birds with a purpose, but I wrote those 1767 words each day. Until the 4th day. Understand, I’m a detail-oriented writer. I have to know what “things” I can use in the story. For that, I needed my research. Desperately. Remember those substitutions above? I discovered they didn’t work a lot of the time. My creativity already stalled, and I was only 4 days in. Panic set in. I fell behind in word count. But by some minor miracle, I caught up on day 5 and surpassed the count by 500 words.

Until day 6. Yeah, my creativity didn’t last. So for the next 24 days, I developed a love-hate relationship with NaNo. Losing my (NaNo) virginity became as painful as it is for my heroines when they part with their virginity. Of course, in a different part of the body, but the kind of pain I suffered through was real.

The most difficult thing for me to do was turn off my internal editor. She has a habit of sitting on my shoulder when I type. My first draft of any book isn’t submission ready when I’m finished, but editing while I write is a habit I developed years ago, somewhere in the 30 years since I began writing. Every time she crept in, I tried my best to shoo her away. I really hated chaining her to the lamppost. I was afraid the police would notice.

My muse was a different matter. For most of the month, she decided to go AWOL. I could have strangled her for leaving me stranded without a clue. But then, the police would definitively take notice. Instead, I struggled to find motivation and conflict for my hero and heroine. They weren’t helping either. Non-cooperative characters tend to rub my temper the wrong way. To blow off steam, I’d take a break and cook or bake, play with my dogs, decorate for the holidays. And procrastinate.

Being a stubborn Italian, I refused to quit. No matter the rubbish I’d written, I determined to work through memory and creativity lapses (every single day). The stress overtook the enthusiasm I’d built long before NaNo started. No way is my story fit for anyone’s eyes but my own. At the end of the 30 days, I figured I’d trash it all and start from scratch. You know, that blank page.

It wasn’t until a few days before the end of NaNo that I realized my goal was in reach. I turned into a madwoman, just one step short of being committed. On day 29, I surpassed 50,000 words. When I clicked on word count, I stared numbly at the number: 50,423. Whew! I did it! Proudly I followed the links to the certificate I was to receive, filled in the blanks and printed it out. My husband pointed out that I’d misspelled Petska. I had typed Petwska (after nearly 40 years, you’d think I get it right). The perfectionist that I am was not happy with the error. I tried to go to the certificate to fix it but couldn’t. Apparently, once you’ve printed it out, there’s no going back.

I doubt I’ll do NaNo again. The stress combined with other factors in my life became almost unbearable. For a while, I dreamed of finding the guy who came up with the idea for NaNo and dropped it into November. Really? He’s probably single and doesn’t have holiday cooking, baking and cleaning a house for company to do. Holiday shopping for gifts. No concept of how busy life is for everyone at this time of year. Is it bad that I woke up several mornings with my fingers closed around an imaginary neck, squeezing the life out of the faceless creator?

Now that it’s a good week behind me, I can be a bit more objective. For one, NaNo got me writing again. And two, I can say I joined the NaNo challenge and won. It feels good. Now, where is the TV news camera and announcer telling me and the world, “Jannine Corti Petska, you’ve just won NaNoWriMo. You’re going to Disneyland ?”

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another NaNo bites the dust

Ahhh the sweet feel of victory after a long battle...even when that battle was with yourself and your own self-impossed deadline created by some crazy people.

It's kinda how you feel after you stop pounding your head against a wall- for a month ;).

This NaNo had some good and some bad- we'll start with the bad ;)

This year just felt like I was doing alot of of fighting with myself. Could be because I was doing something different with this book (a stand alone romantic fantasy) or something else. But it just felt like I was fighting alot!

My hand hurts. Ok, sounds whiney, but my right hand didn't like this-LOL. I type with three fingers, mostly with my right hand...

It took up time I could have spent doing something else- ANYTHING ELSE.

The good :)

It got my writing and creating mojo back- that alone is worth all those long horrific hours and a sore hand.

I now have the bones of what looks like a kick ass good book- we'll see how I feel in a few months- but this one could rock big time. AND it's a stand alone! WOOT!

I got to play with other writers on Facebook, Terra Firma Farscape, RWA, and through Buddies on NaNo- it is great to really be hanging around writers in such a situation- we're crazy, but we're together.

It was a great challenge- a marathon for writers- and I crossed that 26.5 mile line :). Feels really good.

So, the long and short- NaNo was the best of times and the worst of times. But now it's over :). I'm planning on letting the mess set for a mo nth or two- and in the meanwhile polish up and edit the other books and start sending them to my chosen targets ;). I think I'm a better writer for finishing NaNo.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sometimes you need to call in the dragons

Welcome all- today I’m doing my best to come up with a blog that actually makes sense. Ya see, NaNoWriMo has eaten my brain- very sad. It’s even sadder when I mention that I am behind on words, my week-ends are filling up faster than sales on Black Friday, and my characters have decided to go on strike. It doesn’t look good.

So when I was thinking about what I was going to do, I thought- how could I make things really messed up for me as the writer (yeah- I did- of course this will screw up my characters do- but in a different way).

I decided to add dragons. Now, even though I love dragons and they are in the title of my blog, I have yet to put them in any of my books. They are in my NEXT planned book (always have something waiting in the wings is my motto ;)), but not in any I’ve done so far.

So, the other day I added dragons. Now I’m not completely insane, while at first I thought about making them part of my world building from the beginning, I managed to talk myself out of that horrifying idea. The idea of diving back into the jumbled mess that is a NaNo dirty draft and throwing such a major element in just made me shake in fear.

So, they’ve now become part of the “big bad” issue. In fact, adding them actually gave me a bigger frame for my story and a few more layers of betrayal to deal with.

Now I wouldn’t recommend adding dragons (or blowing things up- I am fond of that technique as well) for everyone. But sometimes pulling in something completely from left field and forcing it into your story is just what the writing doctor ordered.

Shake things up and ya get a whole new yahtzee score ;).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's all about the stream

"In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins- not through strength but by perseverance." H. Jackson Brown

Ok, I would have liked a more humorous quote, but since yesterday was the half way point for NaNoWriMo- this one really fit well.

NaNo isn’t a race, but a challenge of sheer stubbornness. Normal people- even normal writers- wouldn’t subject themselves to writing 50,000 words in 30 days. (Unless there was a very big deadline looming over their heads and the editors were threatening to hunt them down and beat them with sticks.)

NaNo is painful. LOL_ ok, there may be some folks out there for whom writing those kind of word counts isn’t a problem. But for most of us, especially us working full time in non-writing jobs folks- it hurts.

But, like working out each day, it feels good when you’ve finished.

I just did a 10,000 word week-end to catch up and try to get a bit of a cushion for a few days this week that I know I’d have a big zero. It was nasty sometimes, wonderfully amazing others (ok, far more of the former than the latter ;)). But it felt great afterwards. I think for sprinting especially there really is a writer’s high. We may not physically be getting the adrenaline going, but mentally we are stoking those fires and really get the rewards.

And we can’t give up.

NaNo is a great proving ground, not just for writing, but just to show us that when we set our mind to something, we can achieve far beyond what we expect. Regardless of whether someone wins or not- just trying is a success. Most people are too quick to limit themselves, to shake their heads and say “I could never do that.” Usually it’s followed up with a justification- the “real” reason they say they can’t do it.
But most of them time is they just don’t trust in the power of the stream. That big old rock may be laughing now, but give me enough time and I’ll beat it.

If you’re NaNoing- good luck and KEEP AT IT! If you’re not, each day find something to push- to just keep at some task you think is impossible. Little by little, you’ll find you’re stronger than you know.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New characters- old friends

Well today finds me in the midst of nano madness. As always this event is crazy, insane, and so much fun it's not even funny.

But this year I found myself having more trouble than usual. My characters were strangers!

Now, yes, new characters are always strangers- they're new after all. Part of what I love about being a writer is getting to know these very cool new folks. But this time I found myself really missing some of my previous characters.

Maybe it’s an affect of now starting my fifth “world”- I’ve already got four very healthy worlds with very healthy casts living in my head. Maybe since there are so many, my heart wants one of my familiar faces to pop up. Someone I know and can laugh with.

This hit me the first week of NaNo- it wasn’t that I didn’t like my characters, it was just a longing for the ones I already knew. Sort of like the second season of a beloved tv show- you already know everyone so that awkward getting to know you phase isn’t needed and you get to jump right in.

I wanted to jump right in but my mind didn’t know these new folks (Karthen and Sakari) so I had a wee bit of a conflict.

But something happened this week-end. I started just running with the characters. I made a list of how they were different from my others- the good the bad and the ugly.

Slowly I began to see them for who they were, or rather who they were becoming to be. And you know what? I like them! Now, it doesn’t mean I like my older characters any less- but I think there’s room for another crew or two in my heart and psyche.

What about you? Do you miss old characters? How do you get to know the new ones?

Happy NaNoing folks!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Guest Blogger: Kerri Nelson- How Being a Paranormal Author is Better than Having Super Powers

In Courting Demons, I turn a cheating husband into a rat (literally). I kill people, bring people back from the dead, open portals between dimensions, and much more. All of this right from the comfort of my own kitchen bar stool.
I can do all that without even having to raise so much as an eyebrow (or maneuver a nose twitch—shout out to Samantha from Bewitched).

Now, what do you say to that superheroes? You’ve got nothing on me, eh?
Recently, I’ve been infatuated with the television show Heroes. Somehow, throughout having all these children in the last 3 years, I totally missed this series. But thanks to the technology of Netflix instant viewing, I’m now able to catch up on every thrilling episode. I’m currently on Season 2 so if you’ve seen past that, please no spoilers.

If you haven’t seen it, boy are you in for a treat. The premise is the idea that there are just a plethora of so-called “regular folks” who happen to have super abilities walking among us. Only they either don’t know about or understand their abilities. Or, in some cases, they are simply frightened by their abilities because they don’t know that there are others out there like them.

Now, as a paranormal author, this show really speaks to me because the writers are great at juggling a multitude of characters in a variety of settings with a lot of plots and sub-plots interwoven in every single episode. You really have to be on your toes to keep up with this one.

But it got me to thinking about whether or not I’d really like to be one of these people with super powers. What if my genetics were somehow evolved to a level that I possessed super human strength, the ability to fly, or spontaneous regeneration? Would that be cool?

Well, perhaps. But as a writer, I can have all these same powers with none of the potential downfalls. I mean, what if others found out about your powers and wanted to lock you away and study you? Or, what if you were constantly being hounded to heal people or save people? It might be neat for a while but you’d never really get to lead your own life once the secret was out there.

Now, think about being a paranormal author. I can give my characters any powers I want. I can put them through the ringer with challenges and conflicts. I can live vicariously through them without ever breaking a sweat or so much as a fingernail.
Then, at the end of the day…I can still go to the grocery store without being hounded by the paparazzi. I can tuck my kids in at night knowing that I don’t have to shuffle off the save the world before dawn. And I can even keep my manicure in good shape for longer—even with all that typing I have to do. You know, all the important stuff in life.

Thanks for hosting today, Marie. And to everyone who drops by, don’t forget to enter my Kindle contest no later than November 7th! The grand prize winner will be announced at my Twitter Party on November 8th.

Book Title: Courting Demons


Paisley Barton was already having a bad day before she turned her husband into a rat.
First, she was fired by her boss and then came home to find hubby in the shower with a naked blonde chick. They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned but this break-up may just unleash hell on Earth when Paisley casts a spell of vengeance against her philandering husband.

After her spell casting inadvertently opens a portal between dimensions, Paisley finds her family home transformed into a nightly courtroom for settling disputes between demons of the underworld and she’s the judge! If that’s not enough, she’s got to deal with a charming, ancient demon named Camden who wants to be her personal bodyguard while trying to explain her husband’s sudden, mysterious disappearance to sexy police Detective Dalton Briggs.

But Paisley will show them all that an everyday working mom is better equipped than most to deal with the mystical mayhem…and with a tempting demon hottie and a flirtatious young detective vying for her affection, she soon learns that being single again isn’t so bad after all.

“When a wronged wife turns her cheating husband into a rat, you know you have to keep reading! Kerri Nelson offers up a lot of fun and wild magic in Courting Demons!” --Bestselling author, Linda Wisdom, Demons are a Girl’s Best Friend

Author Bio:
Kerri Nelson discovered her love of writing at an early age and soon became a columnist for her local newspaper winning the Outstanding Young Journalist of the Year Award for her efforts.

After a fifteen year career in the legal field, Kerri fulfilled her lifelong dream of publication and is now an award winning multi-published author of nearly every genre under the sun (and moon) and also writes young adult fiction under the penname K.G. Summers.

A true southern belle, she comes complete with a dashing southern gentleman and three adorable children for whom she often bakes many homemade treats.

Kerri is an active member of Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America as well as numerous chapters including Futuristic Fantasy & Paranormal Writers and her Presidency of Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.

Read more about Kerri’s books at her website:
Follow her on Twitter here:
Visit her industry blog here:

Buy Links (print and e-book versions available 9/15 wherever books are sold but here’s the publisher link—free gift available with purchase of print copy—while supplies last):

Giveaway for the day:
Leave a question or comment to be entered to win today’s prize: A choice of e-books from my back list!

Details on how to enter to win the GRAND PRIZE Kindle at the end of my “Dark Days of Demons Tour” located here:

Excerpt link for Courting Demons:

© Kerri Nelson 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Ok, yes, as of late my mind is turning more and more towards Nov 1 (sorry, I refuse to get up at 11:59 pm so I can start NaNo ).

Today I'm posting about some helpful sites that'll get even the most confused writer on track. In theory ;).

Now even if you're not doing NaNo (what- ya chicken? ) these sites might help you start that next book, your first book, or do clean up on aisle 9 (aka editing). If you know of any great sites in the similar vein as these listed- please add them!

A nice over view of plot construction

Alexandra has a ton of blog posts about prepping for NaNo- not to mention all the other great writing info

Ok-this is the Mecca of fun generators- GREAT if you get stuck! (Or just want to play )

Please add to this list!

ADDED: ok, a friend of mine has a GREAT blog about tips!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Less than two weeks to NANO!

Ok, I am chomping at the bit AND nervous about NaNo (aka NaNoWriMo) next month. I’m excited because it’s always good to challenge yourself and see just what you’re made of. And NaNo is the ultimate writing challenge where the only person you are racing against is yourself.

I’m also nervous for pretty much the same reasons ;).

I have a number of friends who while intrigued by the concept of NaNo have yet to commit (ok, so some have said “Hell no!” but I’m still optimistic.). In honor of the date of impending madness, I thought I’d come up with my own top five reasons for doing NaNo- feel free to add to it ;).

5. Bragging rights- seriously there are only a few folks insane enough to try this. Watch your friend’s faces when you tell them what you are doing!

4. Finding new ways to pad your word counts can be a helpful skill in some fields (politics anyone?)

3. Discovering alternative food sources. Time is fleeting during NaNo- therefore definitions of meals become very flexible.

2. An excuse NOT to clean! Some may not need an excuse, but for others this is a month of freedom, “Honey, I’m writing over 1600 words a day- you’ll just have to do all the laundry.”

1. Developing the ability to take your inner editor, gag her, and shove her in a dark closet.

Add to the list! And if you're NOT doing it- why not?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How often do you try something new?

Today’s blog is about changing things up. I’ve decided the next 12 months (it’s my birthday this month- so as good a time as any!) are going to be about change.
I’m going to increase my awareness of things in my life and nudge them on track- or where needed- a new track ;).

My writing is something that will be under the microscope- I need to build a better and more constant routine. I’m prepping for NaNo and intend the prep and the event itself to be my “Great Get Back in Gear” period.

But I also want to change things up.

On the Castles & Guns blog (check it out if you never have- lots of amazing writers there! And not just because I’m there every other Saturday ;)-Link is in my list of blogs to the right)) I posted recently about going from pantser to plotter. JUST for Nano though! LOL.

Part of my thinking is that with NaNo being so insane, a guideline for the new book might be a good thing- at least for the tattered remains of my sanity ;).

But also I see NaNo as a time for experimentation. Last week I talked about habit- but it was the getting into the habit of writing everyday (good) as opposed to being stuck HOW we write (which could be bad). I see writing as a fluid practice. Who we are at the moment we are writing (or editing) influences how we write and what we write about. As we grow, our writing should grow and change too. But just like it’s not good to do the exact same exercise routine for weeks on end, writing the same way for book after book is going to leave flabby writing muscles.

So, I’m pulling in plotter techniques into my NaNo project. The ones that work, I’ll keep after NaNo. I recently asked one of my hard-core plotter friends for help- and it was WAY more intense than anything I could/would do. Talking to her did help though- I need to pull in new ideas (new exercises for the old writing muscles) but I need to keep true to my own way of creating/writing. And I like the idea of cards…just not colored ones (yeah, ya lost me there Melissa- ;)).

So what about you- are you stuck in a writing rut? How often do you change up YOUR routine?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Until it becomes habit

Humans are for the most part creatures of habit. There are a few rebellious folks who pick up their lives and completely change them every few years, but for the most part- we’re beings who follow patterns.

This is true for many things in life- like say fitness and writing :).

I’ve been slowly working towards getting healthy over the last few months. I work out at a gym 3 days a week (weights) and I do 3.5 mile walks 2 a week, and a long walk at least one day on the week-end. I started slowly and built my way up until it’s become a habit. Now don’t get me wrong, I still don’t really LIKE having to work out like this- especially since I have a day job which means I’m up at 5am to inflict this torture upon myself. I like having done it.

But it has become habit.

If I don’t go during the week, I feel off. Just like something is just a tad off but nothing major. And I definitely notice a difference when I get back into my routine the next day. Weight loss is slow, but my body is adapting happily to my new habit.

Writing needs to be a habit.

I recently have had some stressors kicking my life around lately and I fell off the writing wagon. It started slowly, working on edits and convincing myself that I shouldn’t start my new book yet. Then life started getting messy and even the edits stopped.

Now I feel about writing like someone who is looking at all those folks at the gym in panic and confusion. My writing “gait” is off because I let go of my habit.
I’m now trying to get my writing habit back in place- stronger than before. I’ve always been more of a writing when I want to person, but there was never a set goal. I was lucky that since I love writing not having a set goal wasn’t a problem. Until now.

So, I’m looking for help, suggestions, ideas, to really make this essential to my well being, to make this such an ingrained habit that when I miss a day I actually ache.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Motivation!

Here's today's photo prompt- have at it! Are your characters lurking here?

(This is a public domain photo ;))

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What about Voice?

As writers, one of the most obscure comments (good or bad) can be about voice. “I love your voice” can be just as confusing sometimes as, “I don’t hear your voice”.

So just what is “voice”?

"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Writer's voice is the literary term used to describe the individual writing style of an author. Voice was generally considered to be a combination of a writer's use of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works). Voice can be thought of in terms of the uniqueness of a vocal voice machine. As a trumpet has a different voice than a tuba or a violin has a different voice than a cello, so the words of one author have a different sound than the words of another. One author may have a voice that is light and fast paced while another may have a dark voice.

In creative writing, students are often encouraged to experiment with different literary styles and techniques in order to help them better develop their "voice". This aspect varies with the individual author, but, particularly in American culture, having this asset is considered positive and beneficial to both the writer and his or her audience."

This helps a bit; I liked the musical instrument example. Not so sure about the statement about one author having a light voice and one having a dark voice. There maybe some authors for whom all of their books are dark or light, but I think many of us change depending on the story being told.

I like to think of Voice as the combination of my own storytelling style, my personality, and the story itself. I also think skill level and experience play a major part- the more comfortable a writer is playing in their sandbox, the more their natural voice will come through. I currently have four different books/series in the editing- submitting pipeline. Each one is different in style, but from folks who have read more than one, I’ve been told they “sound” like me. Aka, my voice is coming through even though I write differently for my fast paced space opera as opposed to my Victorian SF. So voice is not a single snapshot of an author’s writing. It’s going to flow and change depending on the project and the authors’ experience.

I think there is no absolute- THIS is your voice and how to build it rule (just like there is no rule for how to write ;)). I believe people find their voices from the choices they make and who they are. If a writer relaxes, and listens to their heart while writing- they’ll find their voice. It’s not something to be learned, it’s something to be discovered.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Motivation- returns!

Ok folks- I had some emails asking about the monday motivation- aka the photo writing prompt portion of this website.


Here's the rules- I post a picture- you decide what it means. Use it to start a new idea, for a writing sprint, to jog something stuck in your brain- your call.

No need to post here unless you want to ;)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

When did you know you were a writer?

Today I'm musing about when I knew I was meant to be a writer. My first inkling was in 5th or 6th grade- I recall a teacher having us write a small play for the class. I don't recall much, but it had cats and I had to use that old blue copy paper.

I was so excited, creating something out of nothing!

But then...nothing.

Until I was about 13. I'd just fallen in love with Star Wars and wanted to tell my own story! It wasn't even about space, the movie, or anything SFish. All I recall is that I took a number of the names...and that the main character had a best friend who had a brother who looked ALARMING like Mark Hamill. Story never got finished, but again I remember being excited about creating the images on paper (I think boys kept distracting me during this time).

Then late teens- started a new REAL story. My first book! I loved it and I loved writing it...but only got 175 pages in. I think my obsession with boys brought me down again. The story was finished (I had an ending) but it never got completed.

Forward a few years later- started ANOTHER real book. Finished this one, and wrote the next in the series (yeah yeah- first time author starts with a trilogy, but at the time I thought that was a good idea ;)).

Graduate school got in the way this time. Set aside the completed books (and the third which was 50 % done.

Then a few years ago I got back into writing. This time something was different, the thrill of creating new worlds, and meeting new people grew! Nothing and NO ONE in my life has dimmed that draw this time. Now I KNOW I am a writer.

Some folks start writing young and keep it up their entire lives. So of us take a longer route to get there- needing the write combination of life experiences and dreams to finally push us over the edge.

What about you- when did you know? What has you path been?

Monday, August 22, 2011

GUEST BLOGGER: LISA KESSLER-Characters make the Story…

Hi everyone –

Thanks to Marie for inviting me over to her blog today!

My life has been a crazy whirlwind for weeks now and the book blog tour for Night Walker continues in its quest for World Domination… One blog at a time!

Muahahaha! *ahem*

Sorry, it’s starting to get to me, can you tell? LOL

Anyway, now that I’m finally able to share Night Walker, it’s been rewarding to hear people tell me that they “loved” Calisto, or were “worried” for Kate. In order for a story to work, you need to have characters that the reader can care about and root for. Without them, even the best laid plot won’t keep readers turning pages.

When I first started writing and publishing, it was short stories.

Horror short stories to be specific.

I had very few words to create characters that a reader would care about enough to be frightened for them, or conversely, to loathe and be terrified to meet them in a dark alley. It was a great training ground as a writer to learn to use as few words as possible to create a character that a reader connected with.

Short stories also taught me to develop character quirks. They don’t have to be huge, but a quirk can help make a character more memorable and lifelike. We all have quirks, some larger than others, but ask any friend you’ve known for a long time and they can probably give you a list of your quirks.

Anyway, Calisto has a habit of answering questions with another question. By the end of the book, I found his quirk endearing. I’m sure it was infuriating at times for other characters in the book, but it also made Calisto more than just an immortal. It gave him a little touch of human… :)

So do you have any quirks you’re willing to share? Have you given any of your fictional characters quirks? I hope you’ll share…

And if you’re interested in checking out Night Walker, you can find the links to grab a copy and excerpts from the book here…
I’m very chatty online, so feel free to connect! :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I’ve Got A Secret…

We keep secrets. We tell secrets. We pursue secrets. It's all part of human nature.

Paparazzi, private detectives and nosy neighbors make it their mission in life to dig up every secret there is. Secrets can be worth a great deal to the right people and worth nothing at all to others.

I stumbled across a website called Post a Secret.Post a Secret It's a multimedia project in which people can write down their secrets on a postcard anonymously and send them in. The postcards on the website display secrets that are funny, embarrassing, heart wrenching and even weird. The project's concept is an innovative way to get people to express themselves and relieve some of the weight of carrying their secrets.

Face it, secrets can be a burden. They shape us, affecting how we behave and how we deal with other people. Big secrets can make it next to impossible to really get close to someone. There's always the fear that your secret will be exposed and all that you had will come crashing down around you.

Secrets are the fodder of mystery writers or any writer wanting to add tension to characters and plot. How many mysteries have you read where the killer was someone who killed to protect her secret? Not everyone who holds a secret is a homicidal maniac in waiting. Sometimes secrets are thrust upon a person through fate or the machinations of others. It takes strength of character to hold on to some secrets. In my novella Out of the Shadows my heroine Carolina carries a secret. It is a secret that has been passed down through her family for generations. It is now her responsibility to maintain this secret even at the cost of her life.

In celebration of the 1st book in the SHADOW WARRIOR series, I am holding a contest. Follow me & the tzitzimime (celestial demon and nemesis of Shadow Warriors) on the blog tour and leave a comment to be entered to win a $25 gift certificate from Samhain Publishing. It’s that easy!
All entries must be in by August 24th. The winner will be declared on the blog August 26th. Contest starts June 5th and ends midnight August 24th (EST).One winner will be chosen at random for the prize.

Samhain Publishing

When the last shadow warrior falls, so will all humanity.

With each demon he vanquishes in service to the Aztec sun god, Tomás fulfills his duty to defend humankind—and surrenders another piece of his humanity to his wolf spirit. All hope seems lost until a mission leads him to the door of the one thing he thought he’d never find…his spirit mate. The only woman who can save him from oblivion.
When Carolina hears the wolf’s howl, it pierces the very core of her lonely heart. Yet she dare not answer. As the last guardian of her land and the secret it contains, she is haunted by the mistake that cost the lives of her family. Never will she repeat that mistake, especially with a warrior who is more beast than man.
Chasing away the demon is easier than breaching the barriers around the heart of the young woman who possesses a strange power over water—and his very soul. But if they are to survive the night, he must convince her they are destined to stand together.


A wolf’s howl pierced the desert silence, causing the animals to stir restlessly in their stalls. Wolves had been reintroduced into Arizona, but she had yet to see or hear one so close to her ranch. Was it an omen?

Carolina paused in her chores to stare out the open barn door into the gathering darkness.

For a moment, she let herself get caught up in the long, solitary note. It felt like a kindred spirit. She knew loneliness intimately. Only her loneliness did not come from the vast miles of the sun-parched Sonoran desert that surrounded her, but out of the necessity to protect her goddess, her land’s secret. As one of the few amongst her people to become a guardian, her choices were limited.

The one occasion she’d invested herself in another, he’d betrayed her. She’d foolishly placed her hope and trust in Billy and she’d paid a horrendous price. Her desire to find someone to share the workload, her joy and sadness, and the burden of her secret—just as her parents had done—had blinded her to the trap she’d walked into. By the time she understood what was happening, it was too late. Her parents were dead.

Her heart weighed heavy in her chest as if it had happened recently and not five years ago. The memory of her parents lingered too close to the surface today. This had been their land, their dream, and now it was hers to fight for. She’d vowed never to fail them again. Above her own needs came the higher purpose of protecting her goddess at all costs.

Her mare, Mariposa, snorted and reared up, pulling Carolina from her thoughts. The animals had been growing edgier with each passing minute. They sensed the evil that blew in with the warm desert breeze. She berated herself for not paying more attention to them.

Goose bumps prickled her skin. Her tattoo, a gift from the goddess, began a slow burn on her shoulder, a sure sign that evil was approaching. She felt the heat radiating through the fabric of her denim shirt. The last time she’d experienced the odd sensation, her world had fallen apart.

Cautiously, she turned her head, seeking the source.

Her breath came out in a gasp.

Less than ten feet away sat a magnificent gray wolf, watching her. Waiting.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Motivation!

This week's photo writing prompt is an odd one. Where is it? WHAT is it? Go to town and see how many different snippets you can create out of it ;).

Have a great week and keep writing!

(This photo was obtained from a domain free website :))

Friday, August 12, 2011

Stuff Ya Didn't Know Friday- Ryujin

Today's critter is a sea-dragon god, Ryujin, who resides at the bottom of the sea. He controlls the tides with his gaping maw that sucks in all of the oceans. He lets them go as he breathes in and out.

Able to transform into a human shape, Ryujin lived in his palace under the sea built out of red and white coral, from where he controlled the tides with magical Tide Jewels. He used sea turtles, fish and jellyfish as his messangers and servants.

There is a story of Empress Jingo of Japan who prayed to Ryujin for help in her struggles against Korea. She received the Tide Jewels and used them to beach the Korean fleet, then drown the crews.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Are you a focus or a scatter?

I've had theory for years that people are either a "focus" or a "scatter". Now, I don't mean scatter brained, although that can happen ;). I’m talking about the way people work and function in their lives.

Focus's usually have a very narrow and intense way of doing things. In school they often excel at whatever topic they study. My former thesis adviser is an excellent example of a focus. When I met her she was only 27 and was already a tenured professor at a University. She also had spent time with the World Health Organization in Geneva. At 27. Scared the crap out of me for reasons you'll see very quickly.

I, on the other hand, am an example of a scatter (stop laughing folks ;)). Someone as intensely aimed at their area of study like my thesis advisor was a bit unnerving for me. Scatters find so many things interesting that we rarely get to the level of intensity that a focus does. The extreme case is a scatter brain, or someone who can't get through school, or go after goals because of too many distractions.

Both types in the extreme can be problematic. Scatters may fail to reach their potential if they can't put some blinders on and focus. The focus folks can miss out on many things in life if they become too obsessed with a single subject. I'm thinking my former advisor did NOT have a rip roaring fun time in college-LOL!

But both types have strengths as well. If the object of the focus’s intense dedication falls through, they may find themselves at a loss. But the scatter can pick up and find another topic with ease. The focus can get to a level of depth within a subject, which would be difficult for a scatter.

Now how does all this relate to writing you ask? It affects both your characters as well as you the author. Understanding where on the sliding scale of focus your characters lay can help you keep their behavior consistent and believable.

Understanding your own position on the scale can help you keep your writing form in top shape. You need to understand how your mind and personality work best so that you can keep moving forward in your writing career. Now it doesn’t mean that a scatter can’t become more focused and visa versa- but before anything can change, you have to understand what’s there to begin with. True for our characters and ourselves.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Motivation!

Today's photo writing prompt:

A nice summer image to generate some writing...or is it a creepy one? You never know with carousels!

Have great week and keep writing!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Just. Keep. Writing.

Keep Writing.

Two little words that mean so much. Today I saw possibly the best writing post ever:

Former agent, and current author, Nathan Bransford posted The Solution to Every Writing Problem that has Ever Existed. His solution? “Keep writing.”

I enjoy Nathan’s posts, but this one rocked in its simplicity. Any writing problem you have will resolve itself if you JUST keep writing. Don’t fret, don’t panic, don’t storm around yelling at your barrista about how misunderstood you are…JUST KEEP WRITING.

It reminded me of a quote a screenwriter once told me, “You can’t fail, you can only quit.” If you don’t quit, then you’re never a failure because you’re still in progress. And as long as you keep writing, creating, learning, WRITING, you’ll eventually find the solution to all of your writing problems.

These concepts are simple to hear, difficult to internalize. We, aka “humans”, make life far more difficult than it needs to be. We as writers (hopefully, also humans) make our writing lives far more painful, scary, confusing, and depressing than they need to be.

We just need to write. We need to not quit.

Now go out there and do something nice for your favorite writer (look in a mirror folks ;)) and get back to work!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Motivation!

OY! ya know it's monday when you're late on your blog! Hope it's a good one folks! Today's photo is from a domain free site (not mine, although it is from san Diego ;))

Friday, July 29, 2011

I'm guest Blogging!

Come on over folks- I'm guest blogging at a very cool site!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Comic Con 2011

Well I survived!
Yes, Comic Con 2011 and I did battle and I won! Heck, who am I kidding? As usual, it kicked my behind.

This year I went into it a bit annoyed. For various reasons, I was determined I wasn't going back. That next year they'd be without me!

Then the creative, maddening, and beautiful insanity that is Comic Con forced its way back into my heart. By Saturday I was back in love, by Sunday already mourning the end of another year.

It can be said of this event, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times- and not be far off at all.

Now lets face it, I attend Comic Con just because it's fun. But from a writer's POV, it's amazingly mind rattling. TONS of ideas, concepts, and perceptions slamming around until creative overload is a given. I'm still jotting down things that may very well come to nothing. But the creative jolt from this thing is INSANE.

I'm too fried to really write a blog in fact-LOL. So, I'll turn this back on you- what event have you been to this last year that just blew you away?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

GUEST BLOGGER: Self-Publishing with Debra Holland

When Marie originally invited me to blog, I picked the topic of self-publishing, thinking that by this time I’d have my fantasy romance trilogy already done (fantasy would fit the theme of her blog.) However, the covers aren’t finished yet, so those books won’t be available for a few more weeks. Therefore, I’ll have to talk about my experience in self-publishing my sweet historical Western romances, Wild Montana Sky and Starry Montana Sky.

On April 28th, I published the two books on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. By July 21st, I’d sold over 8500 books--this from two books that had been sitting on my computer for ten years. My two agents couldn’t sell them because they were sweet, not sexy, even though Wild Montana Sky was a Golden Heart winner.

I know I’m not alone in experiencing a writing journey that has times of excitement and success and other times of rejections and unfulfilled possibilities. The journey can be downright discouraging at times.

There are many stories, especially in the paranormal genre, that don’t fit the regular publishing market. However, the publishing world has changed. Many authors are experiencing renewed hope because of self-publishing. Self-publishing, instead of being looked down upon, is now considered by many to be cutting edge. Books that are good, but don’t fit into the New York model can be quite successful as ebooks, especially when they fit a niche that traditional publishing doesn’t address. I know my books are successful because they are hitting two niches--Westerns and “sweet” romances.

If you’re thinking about self-publishing, it’s important to do your research beforehand. You’ll read and hear all kinds of rumors--from all self-published books are poorly written to self-publishing is a gold mine. Actually, there is truth in both points of view. There are a lot of poorly written and badly edited books. And there are some authors making a LOT of money. There are also people making little money, and others who are able to supplement their income, or even afford to write full time.

Those of us who create stories know that sales are more than money. Don’t get me wrong. Money is GOOD! But there’s satisfaction in knowing people are reading your books. It’s wonderful to receive positive feedback. (Not so wonderful to receive negative feedback.) Almost every five star review I’ve received has brought tears to my eyes. (Same with those two star ones, but for different reasons.) I can’t express in words the overwhelming gratitude and happiness I felt when I received my first two fan emails within days of each other. Both wanted to know when my third book would be out.

Self-publishing is not for everyone: Some things to think about before you self-publish:

1.Do you have a book (or books) that has gotten good feedback from contest judges, agents, and editors (not just your mother or your best friend) but you haven’t been able to sell because it doesn’t fit the market in some way?

2.Do you have the rights to your backlist and want to make some more money on them?

3.Do you like having control over your content, covers, and blurb?

4.Can you have patience as your sales slowly build?

5.Will you enjoy receiving a monthly check (or direct deposit) from Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, and Smashwords?

6.Are you prepared to discover you have a compulsive impulse to constantly check your sales numbers and Amazon ranking?

If you answered most or all of the questions with “yes,” or maybe “Hell, yes,” then I encourage you to jump into the self-publishing pool. I think you’ll enjoy splashing around in there. I know I do!

Thanks for coming by Debra!
Want to learn more about Debra and her books?


Wild Montana Sky

Starry Montana Sky

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Motivation!

Happy Monday!

Ahh summer is in full swing- so head on down here to today's writing photo prompt!

Maybe your characters need a wee vacation?

*this is a domanin free photo taken from a free site

Friday, July 22, 2011

Stuff Ya Didn't Know Friday- Cadbury Castle

Today's "Stuff Ya Didn't Know" is a place:

Cadbury Castle- Sommerset England

It started as a fortified settlement in 500 BC, then began digging itself in, creating a rampart and ditch defense system to ward off the newest weapon of mass destruction- the sling. While the common folk lived outside of the walls, they would shelter inside during times of emergency. The powers that be sheltered there all the time.

Cadbury Castle faced a peaceful transition in to the Roman era- by not fighting at all in 44 AD when the Romans came through. They quietly co-existed with the Romans until 30 years later when rebels or bandits made enough noise to gather the attention of the Romans- and not in a good way. The gates were shattered, merchants, workers, and leaders all slaughtered within, many in their market stalls.

After that, Cadbury Castle lay mostly in quiet abandon, ignored until 500 years later a warrior of myth and legend admired its defensive position- a warrior who may have been King Arthur.

Just what the early citizens did to bring down the mighty wrath of the Romans after 3 decades of peace, and just who was the warrior who later returned it to its strategic power really was are questions that might be best explored in the realm of imagination.

More information can be found

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Comic Con 2011: Recap of 2010

I'm sitting at home waiting for my car to hopefully come out of the shop ready to go. Car repairs are never fun, but especially now- it's Comic Con preview day!

In honor of the madness of this monster event, I'm reposting last years' blog. This year I'm hoping for even more creative mayhem IF I can just get there!

From 2010: Day after Comic Con 2010

I have just survived another Comic Con. Not sure, but I think this is number 16 or 17 (that I’ve been to- they all blur after a while). I’m in recovery today, reconnecting with the aspects of my life that got shoved into a dark corner during the week of con madness.

For folks who are unfamiliar with this tiny, intimate event- let me provide a brief explanation.

Comic Con International San Diego is one of the biggest popular culture events in the world. 125,000 geeks gather from across the globe to mix and mingle with other fans of comics, novels, tv shows, movies and art. It is a four day bit of glorious madness that is dear to my heart even as it has me often ripping out my hair.

People can see a number such as 125,000, but often not really process just what it is like. It’s A LOT. Even someone like myself can get thrown off (see above for how many of these things I’ve lived through). For instance preview night (once upon a time preview night was for pros and a select few to make deals and see the floor- now it is just insanity in a three hour window). I knew to expect madness, but the crowds just had me running for the door after an hour (but not before I’d bought my pass for next year ;)).

To see any of the “big” panels (aka those hit tv shows and upcoming movies) you really need to be in line by about 6 or 7 am…even if the one you want to see isn’t until much later in the day. And the stars have just gotten bigger each year. This year I saw panels for the movie Megamind (Will Ferrel and Tina Fey in attendance), the upcoming Tron movie (the whole flipping cast); Salt (Angelina and Leiv- nuff said), and Battle Los Angeles. Plus the casts for Chuck, Castle, Futurama, Family Guy and many more. And I missed FAR more than I saw. You learn to function on little sleep, pack lots of food and water, and hunker down for the duration. These big rooms hold between 4,600 and 6,500 folks- so the lines are massive.

Massive lines, insane hours, pressing crowds…and yet I am depressed now that it’s over.

Aside from the coolness of seeing some favorite actors, writers, and artists, and getting to be around my "own people" en masse comic con is an amazing example of the power of creative energy. Even as it is sucking the energy out of you- it is also feeding your creative spirit.

The sheer mass of creative folks there is simply awe inspiring. There are so many folks from so many creative industries that you can’t help but get a little psychic charge. A bit of “wow, that would make a great character in a book!”, or new ideas for a WIP, or weird terrifying thoughts like “yeah, becoming a cartoon voice actor would be great!” (it’s important to watch what panels you go to- ya never know WHAT will seem like a good idea!)

In short Comic Con is a well-spring of “what if’s” and folks who are following those what if’s, living the dream of all creative people everywhere. They are a reminder that wherever we are in our career- we too can make it.

I know a lot of writer’s limit their convention exposure to events that only handle writing, and often only their genre. I say it's a good idea to find other types of creative conventions as well. Comic Con isn’t for everyone, nor can everyone come out to San Diego. But chances are there are some sort of smaller creative cons near you- check one out. The buzz you get may motivate your work in new directions.

Where do YOU go to get a creative boost?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Motivation!

Happy Monday!

Today's Monday Motivation writing photo prompt is just gorgous! Gotta be SOMETHING you can to with it! (Even just enjoy it ;))

*this is a domain free photo taken from a free website-

Friday, July 15, 2011

Stuff Ya Didn't Know Friday-Jaculus

Today's critter came from Roman and European folklore- mostly during the Middle Ages. It's name referred to the javelin and it was called so due to the way it hunted.It was reported to have two legs, be fairly small in stature, but quick and deadly

It would hide high in trees then launch down on its victims and attack the back of their necks with its fangs.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Guest blogger: Jannine Corti-Petska-- Research: How Much is too much?

This is a subject near and dear to my heart. I write historical romance novels and do considerable research. Sometimes I find exactly what I need. Other times, I’m stumped.

When I began writing 30 years ago, my option for research was limited to the local library. One of the most exciting aspects of writing (for me) was perusing the shelves and finding books appropriate for my wip. The smell of libraries and used book stores kicks my adrenaline into high gear. At times, the anticipation was overwhelming. I was like a kid in the candy shop, all those books being my candy.

Fast forward to present day, and I’m sad to say I rarely go into a library anymore. Almost everything I need is on the internet. Does that mean I rely only on searching the web? Not at all! For one reason, the facts can be unreliable. How do you know if the author of the article(s) is an expert in the field he’s written about? I check out the sources and compare. But I will never give up the feel of paper in my hands or the little crunching sounds of the spine when I open an old book. Come into my office and you’ll see the truth. I have over 2000 research books in there.

I’m the type of person who goes overboard with research. That’s because when I find one thing I’m looking for, sometimes it leads me to an interesting fact or tidbit I can use in a completely different story. Never ignore or throw away those snippets of information. I even cut out articles from the newspaper and stick them in a folder—not on the computer but in a real paper folder, lol—I labeled Tidbits for Story Ideas. The folder is bloated now. I swear I’ve become a hoarder. I can’t throw anything away! And yes, I have dipped my hand into this folder for story ideas, especially if a tidbit really intrigues me and languishes in my mind. Some of the information is stranger than reality.

I will admit, over-researching is time-consuming. It has its advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is what I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Finding certain information I hadn’t thought about but will use in another wip. The disadvantages? It takes me about 3 months to research a book (30 years ago it was one month. Darn age slowed me down.). I’d also do research while I wrote. Chances are, 85% of the material will go unused. But that 85% could take root in another story.

If I am not familiar with an era or genre, I will have 30-50 manila folders of research material. For example, the third book in my Sisters of Destiny trilogy will be set in medieval England, which intimidates me in a big way. This book should have been written in the spring of 2010. The damn insecurities of tackling this particular time and setting kept me seeking out so much research that I am now inundated. To clear my head of the clutter and confusion, I decided to write what I’m comfortable with—that would be book 4 of my Italian Medieval Series. I probably have 15-20 folders for each book in that series. A big difference. I’ll tackle the end of the trilogy next year. Sorry, folks. If you happen to be waiting for the final book in the trilogy, you’ll have a long wait.

There is no magic key to unlocking the secrets of the amount of research that’s necessary. Another writer may need only a handful of information to begin writing. Doing research for historical fiction is as subjective as what you like and don’t like to read. So in answer to my question: No, you can never do enough research. But you have to know when to stop. Now that’s something I haven’t figured out yet.

Jannine's books:

Her gambler father murdered, Rachel Garrett joins a wagon train west to be with her aunt and the fiancé she's never met. Her dream is to forget the life she led performing on stage to earn the money her father gambled away and settle down in one place. But along the trail, she is helplessly drawn to a priest--forbidden fruit--and her hopes are shattered.

Professional gambler Reno Hunter is wanted for the murder of James Garrett. His disguise as a priest on a wagon train is foolproof, until he discovers the woman the old gambler wagered in that fatal card game and Rachel Garrett are one and the same. Can he protect his identity and his heart, or will he surrender to his desire for Rachel and risk being apprehended by the law?

The Wild Rose Press


book 2, The Sisters of Destiny Trilogy

Charlotte Nikolos was raised in a Gypsy camp, her pale hair and light skin in stark contrast from the darkness of her family. After she learns she has two sisters somewhere who share her looks and psychic powers, she's determined to search for them and learn why her birth mother sent her away. But where does she begin?

After three years of roaming, Rafael Cazares returns to his Andalusian Gypsy camp to pursue the woman he left behind in disgrace. He must win back Char's trust and recapture her heart. He insists on helping her find her true family but soon realizes someone is determined to keep them apart. When Rafael's deep, dark secret is revealed, he will do everything in his power to protect the only woman he has ever loved. Even if it costs him his life.

Available from:

And from:

You can find out more about Jannine at

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dealing with writer’s block

Ok, first let me preface this blog post with a caveat- I don’t believe in writer’s block. I think it’s used by some writers a) to sound more “writerly”, b) gain sympathy, or c) as an excuse to themselves why they aren’t writing. It’s the catch-all phrase to give us a reason NOT to be doing what we need to do.

I lump writer’s block under the “waiting for my muse” phenomenon. You can’t wait for inspiration to strike, you have to keep moving forward- even if it’s complete crap.

For folks who suffer from either writer’s block or “missing muse-itis” I have one suggestion- NaNoWriMo. If you play by their rules, and seriously aim for that 50,000 words in a single work, you’ll find that both of your “disorders” have been cured all within one month ;). You may be producing junk of the highest order- but you’re producing ;).

When I get stuck, and I mean the “OMG where in the heck was I going” stuck, I jump tracks. I’ve found sometimes doing a different scene, one that in some cases never makes it to the book, gets the brain firing on all cylinders. And sometimes jumping ahead gives me insight into the problem piece.

Also, listen to your inner self. Sometimes it’s just brain farting that’s lead you to a quagmire. Especially for us seat of the pants writers it’s often a case of painting oneself into a corner. Sometimes the chapter can be saved.
Sometimes it can’t.

We have to realize that not everything we create will stay in the book. So perhaps the reason you’re stuck is that you’ve gone down a dead-end. The sooner you realize it and cut it loose- the better.

What tips do you use to get the writing moving? Writer’s block may not be real (in my world ;)) but the fact is we all get stuck from time to time. What are your coping mechanisms?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Motivation!

Another Monday and another wee bit of photo writing prompt action heading your way.

This is a domain free photo optained from a public free site.

Happy Monday Writing!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Stufff Ya Didn't Know Friday-Lamashtu

Today’s guest at Stuff Ya Didn’t Know Fridays is actually a goddess from Babylonian myths-Lamashtu. She was the daughter of Anu and the most terrible and feared of all of the female demons.

Lamashtu preyed upon unborn babies and newborns, but would take the bood of a man when she could get it. She wasn’t nice to look at either with the head of a lion, the teeth of a donkey, and a very hairy body. Her hands were always bloodstained, and she had the nails and feet of the Imdugud bird.

Lamashtu perpetrated a variety of evil deeds: she disturbed sleep and brought nightmares; she killed foliage and infested rivers and streams; she bound the muscles of men, caused pregnant women to miscarry, and brought disease and sickness. Lamashtu was often portrayed on amulets as a lion- or bird-headed female figure kneeling on an ass; she held a double-headed serpent in each hand and suckled a dog at her right breast and a pig or another dog at her left breast.