"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Friday, February 26, 2016

Weekend Rehabilitation

The kind of week I've had...

I'm self-prescribing chocolate, a couple of good books, and some time with my girls. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

What do you recommend reading while trying to escape stress?

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Great A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal!

Sign-ups for the 2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge are already under way. If you have done it before, you know how much fun it is and if you have not, this is your chance to give it a try. You can sign up to participate HERE. 

One of the most burning questions participants ask themselves every year is: "Should I have a theme?" Themes are not mandatory, but definitely fun. They let your visitors know what to expect, and help you create posts that line neatly up from A to Z. They also have an added bonus – they let you participate in a whole separate blogfest! 

Three years ago, A to Z participant Mina Lobo started the Theme Reveal, and we thought it was such a great idea that we made it tradition. 

Here is how the Theme Reveal Blogfest works: 

Sign up on the Linky List here. On Monday, March 21, reveal your theme on your blog and give us a hint of what to expect from it. Then, once your post is up, use the Linky List to visit all the other blogs announcing their themes. 

This is a great opportunity for all of you to get a jump start on your A to Z experience. You can link up with fellow bloggers, scout out and bookmark themes that you look forward to, and lure in wandering participants with your awesome theme. This way, by the time the frenzied posting begins on April 1, you will already have an audience eagerly awaiting your posts. 

There is also an A to Z Challenge Twitter Chats now open. Other "A to Z" dates to remember include:

A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal Blogfest Day
March 21, 2016

2016 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge Day
April 1, 2016

A to Z Reflections Post
- See more at: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/a-to-z-calendar.html#sthash.ndBiFIKI.dpuf

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Anthology Submission Calls

I'm posting about "Science: Past, Present, and Future" at the Parallels blog today. If you have time, please stop by and say hi here.

Interested in writing scifi, horror, paranormal, or romance? Check out these submission calls:

 Triangulation: Beneath the Surface — Parsec Ink - due February 29

 Lazarus Risen — Michael Rimar and Hayden Trenholm; Bundoran Press - due February 29

 The Journal of Unlikely Observances — Unlikely Story - due February 29

 Stiff Things — Comet Press - due March 1

Ghosts on Drugs — ed. Hy Bender and Will Paoletto - due March 1

Hyperpowers — Third Flatiron - due March 15

 The Beauty of Death — ed. Alessandro Manzetti; Independent Legions Publishing - due March 30

 All the King’s Men — ed. Shane W. Smith - due March 31

 Fairytales Slashed: Volume 7 — Less Than Three Press - due March 31

Circuits & Slippers - Co-edited by Jaylee James and Lyssa Chiavari - Due April 8

 Let Us In — Time Alone Press - due April 30

Dark Clouds — ed. Sue London; Graythorn Publishing - due April 30

 Unidentified Funny Objects 5 — ed. Alex Shvartsman - due April 30

 Survivor — ed. JJ Pionke and Mary Anne Mohanraj; Lethe Press - due May 1

Friday, February 12, 2016

Loving Castle

It’s Valentine’s weekend - a time to celebrate love for a spouse, parents, children, siblings, friends, chocolate, and television shows. Yep! I said TV shows. Many networks will be running marathons this weekend. While I do enjoy a good Hallmark love fest, the one I’m looking forward to is a two night premier of new episodes of Castle.

I discovered this show several years after it first premiered. Home sick one day, I came across an all day marathon of the first season: There are two kinds of folks who sit around thinking about how to kill people: psychopaths and mystery writers. I’m the kind that pays better. I was hooked.

In case you've never seen an episode and are wondering "Who is Castle? Why should I watch?" here’s the intro for the first couple of seasons:

If that intro isn’t enough to show you why I’m such a big fan of this show now in its eighth season, here are five more reasons why I enjoy the series so much:

1)      Nathan Fillion is a writer who hangs out with other writers. In each episode we are treated to some of his wild theories on the cases. He focuses not just on the crime, or suspect, but motives – often injecting the most ridiculous plot ideas including aliens, time travel, international spies, treasure hunters, vampires, and even paranormal activity. These are perfect examples of how writers play with stories, trying new twists, and character introductions in order to find that perfect combination for a truly memorable tale. The audience is given a high energy, intelligent, and lovable protagonist. Viewers are also treated to scenes with real-life writers from time to time. James Patterson, Michael Connely, Dennis Lehane, and the late Stephen J. Cannell have made appearances at “the writer’s poker table.” In one episode, Castle calls Wes Craven for advice.
2)      Fabulous Femme Fatale – Stana Katic’s character, Kate Beckett, becomes Castle’s muse for his new series. While it’s all too easy for mysteries to offer a flat or carbon copy femme fatale, this show gives us one who is not only beautiful, but smart and strong as well. Does it necessarily follow that she must bring misery to any man who is with her? Castle is definitely willing to find out. See video below for an example: 
3)      Amazing Supporting Characters – the show focuses an equal amount of time on relationships with family, partners, and friends. This series offers us some of the most witty and lovable characters to fill these roles. Castle has a daughter and his mother living with him. Beckett has two male partners, and female coroner best friend. Whether the episode gives you a police procedural, psychological thriller, or a twist the comedy relief and loving support of those secondary characters carries as much weight as the two leads.
4)      Frequent nods to scifi and fantasy fans – Hat tips have been offered to shows like Buffy, X-Files, Star Trek, and Star Wars. There have also been a few references, and guest appearances, from Firefly (another Nathan Fillion series). And viewers discover in an episode, The Final Frontier, that Beckett, Castle, and Alexis are all science fiction nerds who enjoy Comicons. That one episode alone is FULL of visual, plot, and dialogue references to the popular genre. For a list of those references go here.
5)      Musical references – nearly every episode has some melodic reference. From the musical opening, to settings in music competitions, and a full episode such as Swan Song (a behind the scenes documentary style episode) the series offers many lyrical references. Sometimes characters merely recite a single line from a song, or briefly refer to a musician’s actions in passing. Viewers might even miss it in the snappy dialogue if they are not paying close attention. Occasionally, the supporting cast may offer musical numbers (that's right, many of the actors have musical skills). We are left with no doubt that the amazing writers are also music fans of every genre and age.

If this list isn’t enough abc put together a list of 100 reasons you should watch when they aired the 100th episode. Isn’t that cake gorgeous? You can find those 100 reasons here.


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Release Date, Review Copies, and Meeting the Authors

Freedom Fox Press has set a release date of May 3 for Parallels: Felix Was Here!

They will be sending out a limited amount of print books for reviews (Library Journal, Publishers Weekly) and eBooks to some of their key science fiction reviewers. 

In order to get it into the hands of as many reviewers as possible, we need your assistance. If you are a book blogger, have a review site, or are an author who reviews, please comment below with a link to the site(s) where you would be willing to leave reviews. Also, PM me with the same links and include your information (name, email, website, and Mobi/ePub preference) and we may send you a review copy.

If you would like to meet the authors, read a tagline and a blurb from each story, or learn more about the anthology publication information check out our collective blog at http://parallelsanthology.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

IWSG: How Much is Enough?

Check out the new logo!

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

A new writer recently asked me how many drafts, or revisions, did I feel we should go through before submitting. I thought a minute about my own style before answering:

“I’ll produce no less than four versions, but usually closer to seven or eight before I submit. Even then, I’ll find things I want to change. I guess most writers are never really done.”

She stared at me, perhaps in a mixture of confusion and horror. Was I too honest? I didn’t mean to discourage her. Finally, she asked, “How does that work? What do you change each time?”

So I explained:

Draft 1 – Falling in Love – This is where I start with an idea and just let the story and characters take me where they want. No preplanning. No outlining. I just enjoy the ride.

Draft 2 – This is where I go back and flesh out the characters, fill in plot holes, and make sure everything is flowing toward the conclusion I want.

Draft 3 – This is where I check my facts. Did I spell character names the same way throughout? Did I use repetition of words, phrases, or gestures that I need to adapt? This is where I’m checking for accuracy, consistency, and other issues that can distract the reader, or detract from the believability of my tale.

Drafts 4 through 7 – Most people call these line edits. This is where I scour the story for grammar, punctuation, and spelling. I usually won’t show ANYONE else my manuscript before I get to this stage. However, this is where most of us are ready for a second pair of eyes. Someone to help us identify: Is my POV consistent? Did my main character develop in any way? Am I being too cliché? Am I showing instead of telling? Is the dialogue awkward, or wordy? Do I need to clarify any action, or backstory? This is where we are polishing the manuscript, and strengthening our voice.

Additional Drafts – Hopefully, you’ve had at least one other person review your work by now. That could be family, friends, fellow writers, readers, or even an editor, agent, or publisher. The truth is, the more people you can trust to give you honest feedback, the better story you’ll be able to produce. Once you submit, the editor or publisher who accepts your work will likely suggest at least one more round of edits. While you may grow to hate your story by this point, remember it’s all in an effort to produce the best version of your creation.

Don’t give up. Don’t deny the world your BEST writing.

What do you think? How many drafts are enough? What’s your routine for revisions? When are you ready to “let it go?”

Monday, February 1, 2016

Lost & Found: Valentine's Edition

From Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out and Guilie Castilol-Oriard at A Quiet Laughter, and co-hosted by Elizabeth Seckman, Yolanda Renee, Denise Covey. and Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Do you remember that special feeling of love found? And who hasn't experienced the emotional experience of love lost? Some of you might have even lost a love only to find that person later for another go around. 

Tell your story about love lost or found in this special Valentine's blogfest. Your post can be a short fiction, an essay, poetry, or even a song--let your imagination run free. Any genre is fair game, be it romance, historical fiction, memoir, or even science fiction. After all there are no limitations when it comes to love. Want to participate today? For details and to sign up, go HERE.

MY LOST LOVES: pets who've passed away, a high school sweetheart, students I've taught who moved on and probably forgot me, family members who've passed away, friendships that became toxic.

MY FOUND LOVES: My husband who is perfect for me, the two daughters he gave me, the dog he gave me, my friends, my family, travel, writing, and the students I teach.

Secret Admirer - This a poem I wrote in high school.
Masters in Love - A short story about finding love in graduate school - about 800 words.
Love's New Beginning - A short story of a relationship starting a new chapter - about 800 words.