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.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Guest Blogger- Bella Street :Symbolism In Writing—A Cleverly Disguised Excuse For Book Promotion

Thanks, Marie, for having me on your rockin' blog!

What do zombies, time-travel, and pink velour have in common?

Zip, zero, nada...unless you're named after Persephone and get blasted through time and space because your friend breaks a long-held agreement to keep the past, well, in the past.

Then, yeah.

All Seffy Carter wants is a comfortable Juicy Couture tracksuit, a good tan, and the perpetual adoration of her lifetime crush, Gareth. But her carefully constructed life comes unraveled faster than cheap velour when she swaps spit with a zombie in a moment of alcohol-induced weakness.

Now before we get all judgy, let's talk symbolism. What is it with zombies anyway? They're everywhere in film and in books these days.

Vampires are hot and usually represent sexual temptation and/or repression. Werewolves—also hot—reflect the untamed side of human nature trying to claw past our societally imposed civilities. What about zombies? Aside from the rotting flesh, a taste for brains, and probable haliotosis, they're most often portrayed as being mindless, shambolic, and only wanting one thing.

I don't know about you, but that about sums it up for me.

And for Seffy, too. She and her besties share a past dark and dysfunctional enough to keep them all bound together under do-over identities. Along with a factory-fresh persona, Seffy's list of Things We Don't Speak Of is meant to keep the contrived status quo among her and her friends. And that always ends well, doesn't it?

Which brings me to my next point. Another key representation of zombies is that you can't outrun them. They will eventually get you, no matter how slow they are, how many limbs they're missing, or what obstacles you put in their way. And just as you kill off the last one and breathe that final haggard sigh of relief? Another one comes out of nowhere and takes you down. Nom, nom, nom.

Seffy finds out the hard way that despite her best intentions, she's been living a meaningless existence (trying to find success as an actress when she's not really interested in movies, and eschewing other men for the one she'll probably never get). Add to that the truths she's tried to long ignore. Well, they come back with a bite and then some. Especially when rends develop in their relationships from the flesh-eating pressures of ending up nearly thirty years in the past, in a Montana desert, surrounded by zombies wearing dated disco duds.

Denial is bad in real life and when pursued by reanimated killers.

And for the record? Zombies—not such great kissers.

Bella Street is the author of the series Apocalypse Babes. The Z Word is the first installment and is free at Smashwords. She's also having an awesome contest called Help Spread The Z Word where you can enter for a chance to win cool prizes like a Juicy Couture tracksuit, Victoria's Secret perfume, and an Amazon gift card, among other bookish things. Check out the details at

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It'll get you in the End

Happy Wednesday!

Today's blog came about due to some horrific channel surfing over the week-end. My tech free week slowed me down on it- but alas I'm still doing it too much.

I watched the last 15 minutes of Star Wars. The last 15 minutes of Return of the Jedi. The last 20 minutes of Return of the King (LOTR). It wasn't planned, and to be honest I own all of those movies so I could have just plopped in a DVD and watched the entire thing. But no- I just sat there enjoying the endings.

I'm a serious, hard core geek. So those movies have been watched over and over and over. I could have probably said the lines along with them. Yet I stopped channel surfing to gaze at the last bits like a child with a new shiny toy.

I often do that, watch the very end of shows or movies that I've seen before. The endings for all my favorite shows are happy, so I get the happiness fix. I know the story, so I can get the nostalgia fix.

This made me think about movie endings. How many times have you walked away from a great movie, only to realize (upon reflection and sharing the story with friends) that it really wasn’t all that great really? But those last 15 minutes were amazing and changed your entire view.

This made me think about book endings. I know for myself a bad ending can ruin a book for me. There is one author I won’t really read anymore because she got to the point of “sudden stop” endings. I also call them “the author got bored and wanted to stop NOW” endings. Annoying and they started giving me whiplash.

Another problem can be a wonderful ending, but then upon reflection (see my note above about movies doing this) you realize they didn’t resolve a lot of the plot points. Then you get annoyed anew (or at least I do).

I’ve found that I have a tendency to rush my endings on the first draft. I get the bones in there, but they have no meat. I think it might be a side-effect of my Seat of The Pants style of writing. I’m as excited as a reader would be to see what happens next. But I can’t flip ahead in pages- so I just make it fast and dirty. Then do some serious restructuring afterwards.

I think many writers forget about the endings. We worry about that beginning hook and the middle that needs a girdle. But we don’t always focus on the finale, the piece de resistance that can make or break the 300 + pages of blood, sweat, and tears that came before. I now have a new appreciation for endings that I didn’t have before. The hook draws folks in, the middle keeps them there, but the ending has the power to stick with a reader long after the book has been read- and more importantly- makes them anxious for your next book ;).

Monday, July 4, 2011

Monday Motivation!

Happy Fourth of July!!! It would have been to easy to pick a photo prompt with flags or fireworks today- so I went for this instead. Have a safe and wonderful holiday.
(This is one of my own photos- please don't re-post without permission :))

Friday, July 1, 2011

Stuff Ya Didn't Know-Tengu

Today our guest you may never have heard of before is the tengu.

These half-man, half bird creatures were found in the Shinto religion of Japan. Their appearance varies, sometimes they have both the body of a man and the face of a bird; in others they are men with wings, claws for feet, and beak-like noses.

These mischievous creatures are blamed for teaching humans the art of war and how to use weapons. There are tales of a tengu possessing a human during battle, endowing him with great skill. When the tengu leaves, the warrior has no memory of what happened.

During the Middle Ages the Shinto based tengu were at odds with the Buddhists, they would often try to tempt, fool, or carry off Buddhist priests and often were blamed for setting fire to Buddhist temples.

In response, the Buddhists forbade the worship of tengu and even had a special place in their spiritual world- "tengu road" that was reserved for hypocritical priests who had forsaken their vows.

Sources: Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference, Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures