I Interrupt This Programming for a Cover Reveal

I am happy to announce that 13 Morbid Tales has a cover.

13MT front cover post proof 600 dpi

Isn’t it gorgeous!

First, I have to give a huge shout out to Janell R. Colburn. Not only did this extremely talented woman create some beautiful cover art, but she was really pleasant to work with. Easy going and intuitive, she did not disappoint. Thanks, lady! You rock!

And no, your eyes do not deceive you. That cover does say that 13 Morbid Tales has been edited by Reggie Lutz, another amazing woman I am proud to know and thrilled to be working with, who spared no red ink in the editing process. Thanks, lady! You rock!

(Stay tuned for more on upcoming projects with Reggie.)

So, when might you get to see the interior of this book?

I am thrilled to announce that I also have a release date! You will be able to acquire your very own copy of 13 Morbid Tales on October 1, 2015

#13MorbidTales

Advertisements

Read It: Haunted

Haunted coverI could not be more excited to announce that Haunted, a novel by my dear friend and intensely talented writer Reggie Lutz, is available for your reading pleasure!

And yes, I do mean pleasure. I was lucky enough to beta read this book. More than once I found myself so engrossed in the story that I forgot to do my beta reader job and had to go back. Yeah. It’s that good.

So what’s it about?

Gwendolyn McTutcheon can’t move on even though she’s been dead for a year. Having left behind a grieving husband, Evan; and three sisters, Trudy, Bethany, and Sarah; she knows there is work yet to do. 

Sarah, Gwen’s youngest sister, is back in town to help her two remaining sisters confront a depressed Evan about settling Gwen’s will. Still grieving—and raw from wrongful accusations made by Trudy and Bethany that he’d murdered his wife—Evan must set to the task of putting the past, and Gwen, to rest. But not all of the past stays in the past when Sarah offers her help and a romance between her and Evan begins. After all, it was that inappropriate kiss years ago that sparked the notion he might have harmed his wife in the first place. 

As Gwen watches, unable to intervene, Trudy and Bethany keep secrets of their own, secrets that level the field and make Sarah consider coming home to stay again. But when an arsonist sets his sights on Evan’s bar, Duard’s, and Sarah’s life is threatened, Gwen knows she must find a way to intervene, for her family and for her own peace. 

So, you know….

Buy Haunted for Kindle

Buy Haunted for Nook

Buy Haunted on Smashwords

Got it? Yes? Great!

I’m also thrilled to announce that Reggie and I have teamed up on a project that’s coming along swimmingly. We’ve had moments of wowing each other and surprising ourselves and just generally having a great time telling a story. It’s been fun living in our post-apocalyptic dystopian world and we can’t wait to invite you to hang out with us there.

Soon, my pretties. Soon.

On that note, I have some work on that project to go do now.

But seriously, buy Haunted. You won’t regret it!

One Day

Photo Credit: Kelly Rowles,
Pix|elation Photography
(link below)

I am living a lie.

It’s not an interesting lie. I’m not an international spy. I don’t have some second family secreted away in another state. I’m not a princess playing a peasant. No, it’s much more mundane than that. I just had the privilege of learning that the life I’m living is not the life for which I was meant.

Last weekend (so yes, I am a bit late on this post), I had the extreme pleasure of getting to model my gorgeous wedding gown at the MayFaire Moon Corsets and Costumes fashion show at Dorian’s Parlor. On that one day, I met some incredibly talented, beautiful, and overall wonderful people who embrace—no—live their creativity. It was that creativity, buzzing like an alarm clock all around me that woke me up to the fact that I’ve lost my creative self in the day to day life that I’ve been living. On that one day, the Universe bestowed upon me a moment of clarity necessary to change my perspective.

Right now, my life is very much about the daily grind, and getting done with everything that needs to be done to pay bills or keep promises. It’s not that my daily life is that bad.  But what became so clear to me in the presence of all of those fabulous people, is that they truly live their creativity while I always seem to put mine on the back burner. The life I keep telling myself I’m working toward is the one for which I never seem to have time. At the end of the day, after all of the other deadlines and expectations that my daily life requires are met, my own expectations are the only ones I can blow off without any repercussions.

Or can I?

The repercussions are that I’ve not met the goals that I’ve made for myself. Blowing myself off is why 13 Morbid Tales still isn’t finished. Blowing myself off is why I can’t lose that last 10 pounds (okay 15). Blowing myself off is how I’ve created a life in which all I have to look forward to is more of the daily grind that was never meant to be anything more than a means to an end. Blowing myself off is the reason that I look in the mirror and see that I’m a stranger in my own life, feeling trapped like a prisoner by that damned daily grind!  And this goes beyond finding balance. I tell myself that if I’d just “find a balance” all of this would work out, but it doesn’t. Telling myself this lie is just another way of making light of the issue and giving myself permission to blow myself off even further, as if finding balance is a simple fix that I have all the time in the world to make. And while I continue to tell myself this lie, the life I want continues to pass me by.

I’d like to make some declarative statement that “I’m done with this!” and move on, but this is something I frequently struggle with, and I tend to find myself in need of that one day to put it all back into perspective. I am so grateful that every now and then I get that one day to put me back on track. I owe a very special thank you to all of the amazing and creative people in my life who never fail to make that one day possible when I need it the most.

Now for the end-of-blog-post questions we have all come to expect, recognize, and dare I say, love: What is your ideal one day? What kind of things help get you back on track?

Also, please give some love to these fabulous people:

Photography – Pix|elation Photography
Clothing – MayFaire Moon Corsets & Costumes
MUA – The Changeling Room

Summer

Summer, like the Starks say about Winter (you’re welcome, GoT fans), is coming, and I want the carnivals and festivals, the beach, and a base burn (as unhealthy as I know a burn is, I know that if I burn once, it won’t happen again for the rest of the summer). I want to drive around a neon lit town with the sunroof open to the smell french fries, pizza, and boardwalk burgers on the night air. I want to pretend, or rather, truly believe, that I honestly do love everyone in the beach side bar.

But what does this mean for my writing? As spotty as my progress has been, I notice it waning even more with the warm weather, the sound of night bugs, and that smell of summer. And I can’t deny, I’m most prolific in the Fall, when the weather, and general feel of my part of the world, changes.

How do you, especially those with demanding jobs in addition to this writing thing (this most certainly includes stay-at-home-motherhood), stay on task when the weather outside is your preferred weather?

Finally, Some Productivity!

I have recently been reminded that if there is something about my life I don’t like, it is up to me, and no one else but me, to change it.

This led me to a productive weekend. Rather than sitting around sulking or dreading Monday morning’s arrival, I set myself a list of things to do. While making a list is not really different from any other weekend, this weekend was different because I actually tackled the list.

The biggest entry on the list was to get some writing done. I’d actually had quite a few ideas running back and forth in my head, and it was time to get them from my head to the paper.  As I’d mentioned in a previous blog, getting the thoughts on paper hasn’t been going so well for me lately. Getting frustrated with my lack of results, or more accurately, what I believed to be low quality results, made it easy to procrastinate.

But I had some extra motivation in the form of my upcoming one-year wedding anniversary. Because my husband ordered me not to spend any more money, and because I felt I still owed him another gift, I decided that I would write him a story.

Of course, this is still me, so it’s still a morbid tale (meant for inclusion in 13 Morbid Tales), but he was the inspiration for it and so it should be “his” story.

I hope this momentum keeps up. After all, it is up to me to become the writer I want to be.

How do all of you keep momentum going?

A Writer’s Funk: Writing Plenty, Producing Nothing

I have not forsaken the blogosphere. Normally I would blame my absence on the Muses forsaking me, but that’s not even true. I’m in one of those funks.  This particular funk is the no-matter-how-I-write-it-it-looks-like-crap-to-me funk.

Generally, I try to say something profound or at least remotely helpful in my blog. Taking a step back to consider that only posting when things work might be a misrepresentation of the writing life, I decided to post about what’s going on now—the time when nothing at all seems to work.

Gah

That moment when it gets really tempting to say, “Screw this shit! It’s whiskey o’clock!”

I have a couple of undone blog entries and an almost-finished short story for my project 13 Morbid Tales sitting on my laptop.

The blogs are being hindered by two pesky little demons: the Nobody Wants to Read That demon, and his bitchy associate, the What Will They Think of You demon.  The former whispers, “Seriously, who on Earth really gives a crap about that? The few who might have had similar experiences, so you’re not exactly enlightening anyone.” Meanwhile, the latter whispers, “What? You want the whole world to think you’re a wack-job, in addition to the few who know you well enough to know you’re a wack-job?”  Posting this is kind of my way of telling both demons to f*ck off. Hopefully it works, and you’ll see these posts soon.

The short story is another issue entirely. It has, in my opinion, everything a short story of its nature should have, except for that whole being finished thing.  It started with a loose outline, and of course, as the story started taking shape, it evolved well past the outline. Great! It should have done so. I had momentum.  I had direction. Well, I still have direction, but suddenly no momentum.  Every paragraph I write reads back to me a little something like this:

Blah, blah…Is that even a word?…Blah, blah…Bad segue…Blah, blah…Sentence I really like…Blah, blah, blah, blah…and, oh yeah—blah!

A friend and fellow wordsmith once advised me against doing the “writerly” thing, which, in that particular case, meant reworking a whole paragraph over and over to no avail just because I was too in love with the one sentence that was screwing it up to remove it.  Realizing how great that advice was after I took the troublesome sentence out (because I ended up with a great paragraph), I placed it in the great advice file in my memory bank to be revisited any time I saw myself in a similar situation.  Well, you know what I read after I took out that great sentence? Exactly the same as above minus the “sentence I really like” part! So I scrapped the shit. And by that I mean I scrapped the paragraph, not the story. The story is good.

So, for half a second, I decided to turn to free-writing exercises to help unclog whatever has been stopping me up. But that idea was shot to hell by my own screaming at myself to, for the love of Pete, focus on the task at hand!

Gah!

There is no conclusion to this post. No great pearl of wisdom. Hell, there isn’t even a plastic Mardi Gras bead of wisdom. Just know that I’ve not abandoned you. I’ve been keeping up with the reading of posts, even if I don’t comment, ’cause God(ess) knows, I haven’t even been able to write a good one of those lately!

When Reading Something Not-So-Good is Very, Very Good

This past Sunday found me restless as Sundays often do.  Sunday is the day when I inevitably look around and see everything I’d intended to accomplish not being accomplished.  But hey, I’m not going to spend my last day of freedom before the work week begins cleaning out my closet, dusting my bookshelves, or sewing buttons on stuff that’s missing buttons. So I spend the day being restless thinking about everything I should do, but not doing it.  And I know that if I’d just do it, it would only take a couple of hours and then I could spend the rest of the day enjoying the day, but that’s just not how I roll.

So there I was, flipping back and forth between the History Channel, the Travel Channel, and HGTV because Sunday is also the day I relearn what a Civil War era pocket watch is worth, that testicles are chewy, and that home renovations never go as planned. But this time I decided that I wanted to occupy my mind, if only with a little brain candy, and my Kindle is generally where I turn for such things.  I logged on to my Amazon account and started browsing books perfect for a Sunday afternoon of sloth.

Let me be clear.  I wasn’t looking for the Great American Novel.  I wasn’t looking for spiritual enlightenment.  I was looking for some fiction within my genre of choice (dark fiction) to suck me in for an enjoyable while.

It proved to be harder than I thought, because I wasn’t looking for any ol’ dark fiction, but I had a very clear picture in my mind of what I wanted to read; the setting, the hero/heroine, etc.  After a bit, I let out a sigh that my husband, who was sitting beside me at the time, knows all too well.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Nothing.  I’m just looking for a book to read.”  I didn’t have to look at him to know that he was raising an eyebrow.  I’m in the middle of a couple of books right now and have many left on my must read list.  “I’m in the mood for something specific,” I told him.  “I’ll know it when I see it.” And maybe it was just my imagination, or maybe it was my own guilty conscience, but I could swear I sensed something else my husband wanted to say, and I could swear I knew what it was too, so I continued, “I know, I know.  If I can’t find the book I want to read, maybe I should write that book. I get it.”

My husband is one of my biggest cheerleaders, but lately that translates into the person who—metaphorically speaking—smacks my knuckles with a ruler in an attempt to keep me on task.

He smiled knowingly and went back to his computer game.  I continued my Amazon search.  Finally I came across a book that looked promising. I’ll admit that it was the cover that caught my attention. And oddly, it didn’t catch my attention in a good way.  My first thought was, Somebody’s trying to look like Fifty Shades of Grey.  But upon reading the description, it sounded nothing like the Fifty Shades books and sounded like precisely what I was in the mood to read.  However, I learned that it was a sequel, so I directed my attention to the first book…and its Amazon reviews.

Reviews ranged from raves about how people couldn’t put it down, to slams on how the book should be used in creative writing classes as an example of what not to do. For the low e-book price, I considered it worth the gamble, especially because the synopsis looked interesting.

Honestly, I agree with both of the above examples.  I’m refraining from doing a proper review of this book here because, well, what credentials do I have?  I’d feel a little guilty making some of the comments I’d make about this author, who truly does have great potential, while I’ve yet to accomplish what she has accomplished.  Not only is her book out there, but people are buying it. Hell, I bought it.  And truthfully, I’ll probably buy the second book because she does tell a good story, but its faults are pretty glaring.

And I’m guilty of the exact same literary sins.

Some of my own work came to mind as I was sitting there reading and thinking, It’s such a shame that I keep getting pulled from such a great story by poor word choices and questionable grammar.  I’ve made the same word choices. I’ve been that repetitious. I’ve made the same grammatical errors.

And I’ve been too close to the work to see it.  And I know that’s what beta readers and editors are there to catch, but I personally want to submit the most polished piece I can. And I know nothing about this author’s writing process, but I’ve got to wonder who read her work and didn’t catch this stuff.

But as it turns out, this book was a very good purchase.  Not only did I get to read a good story, but I learned lessons that will carry over into the telling of my own stories.

Any writers out there have a similar experience?