Friday, August 31, 2012

Cat Lavoie Guest Post

Please Welcome Cat Lavoie, blogger at Catenabi Chronicles and author of Breaking the Rules.
Take it away Cat!

In my debut novel, BREAKING THE RULES, Roxy loves cooking more than anything else in the world. The kitchen is her sanctuary—the place she heads to when life gets a bit overwhelming. So today I thought I'd share how her love of baking started—a chocolate chip recipe. Roxy's dream of being a chef began with something as simple as cookie dough—and a few words whispered into her ear by her best friend, Ollie.

When I started thinking about what Roxy was like as a young girl, I imagined her hovering around her mother in the kitchen—getting in the way while trying to help—and carefully studying her mother as she combined flour, sugar and butter in a mixing bowl. Older sister Izzie would come running into the kitchen and complain that youngest sister Steffi was being a pest and that she couldn't study for her pop quiz the next day. While her mother was distracted by the commotion, Roxy would steal a handful of raw cookie dough and a lifelong love affair would begin.

As she grows older, Roxy goes from helping with the cookies to making them herself, carefully measuring every ingredient and following her mother's handwritten recipe to the letter. But eventually she doesn't have to look at the recipe anymore—she knows it by heart. So when she and Ollie go to her house after school, she can run to the kitchen and—seeing the someone has eaten the batch she made the day before—she can have a fresh batch baking in the oven within minutes. Ollie will ask if he can take a few home and she'll pack up the rest of the cookies in plastic wrap and hand them over. "I can make more," she'll say when he tells her that she should leave some for her sisters. 

As Roxy becomes more confident in the kitchen, I see her taking her mother's recipe and making it her own. Simple chocolate chip cookies are boring. The baking aisle is filled with interesting options and Roxy wants to try them all. Raisins. Peanut butter chips. Shredded coconut. Walnuts. Macadamia nuts. Multi-colored sprinkles. Soon she's spending her allowance money on baking supplies instead of movie tickets and makeup. And when she puts something in the oven, she's not really sure what's going to come out. She sits at the kitchen table and waits for the oven timer to ring, wondering what her latest creation will taste like.

When the timer goes off, the rest of her family—like clockwork—bursts into the kitchen to see what Roxy has baked this time. Even though she's warned to wait for the mint chocolate chip & coconut cookies to cool, Steffi grabs one and takes a huge bite, burning the roof of her mouth. Roxy is flooded with relief when a slow smile spreads across her sister's face. This is her toughest critic and she wouldn't hesitate to spit out something if it wasn't to her liking. "My mouth is on fire," Steffi says, taking a gulp from the glass of milk Izzie has just poured for herself. "But it's so worth it. These are awesome."

Later that evening, Roxy packs up the remaining cookies for her best friend. And when she gives them to Ollie the next day at school, he hugs her and tells her that she is going to be a great chef one day. She shakes her head. "Stop being silly. It's only cookies. Anyone can bake cookies." But his words stay with her and she begins to daydream about running her own kitchen one day.

Roxy's passion for food is an essential part of BREAKING THE RULES, and when I was writing her story, it was important for me to understand how that passion started. And—in order to really be in touch with my character—I also had to sample quite a few chocolate chip cookies. All in the name of research.

Sounds like yummy research!!! 

Thanks for the awesome guest post, Cat!

Breaking the Rules is available at Amazon

Official Blurb for Breaking the Rules:
When twenty-seven year old Roxy Rule’s best friend and roommate accepts a glamorous new job overseas, she expects their relationship to continue as it’s always been—carefree and easy—until they share a heart-stopping kiss. While Ollie escapes to jolly ole England to live out his dream and save the planet with green architecture, Roxy is stuck in New York City working for a boss who makes her want to stab herself with a letter opener. She can’t bear to think about her own big-city dream of being a chef anymore. Over the years, her passion for food has only resulted in extra pounds and a staggering credit card balance for fancy kitchen equipment that she barely has time to use. Still, Roxy’s sure that nothing can come between two lifelong best friends—not even mild jealousy over a thriving career or a silly little kiss that meant nothing. In fact, it was such a meaningless and forgettable kiss that it’s not worth mentioning to her fiancĂ©, not that he would even listen—all they do these days is argue about their upcoming wedding. Roxy is faced with an unexpected family reunion when her younger sister Steffi arrives on her doorstep, six months into a pregnancy she refuses to discuss. When older sister Izzie—in the throes of a premature midlife crisis—joins them, she’s determined to crack the case of Steffi’s impending motherhood. With the Rule sisters living under the same roof again, Roxy’s quiet little apartment in the city is about to be anything but peaceful. Roxy soon discovers that her seemingly idyllic relationship with Ollie started getting complicated way before he left for London. She must come to terms with her feelings for him, learn to stand up for herself and go after what she really wants. Breaking the Rules is the story of what happens when you have to redefine the rules of love, friendship and family in order to find yourself.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

So Much To Do!

So much to do, so little time . . .that means that it's autumn.

There are loads of awesome blogfests, celebrations and giveaways. I can't participate in everything, but I'm looking forward to:

The Cover Reveal by Partners in Paranormya next week!

What's Your Chocolate? hosted by M Pax, Laura Eno, Brinda Berry, and Ciara Knight on September 10th.

 Alex J. Cavanaugh's Genre Favorites Blogfest!

I also want to give a shout out for Marcy's Great Giveaway at Maine Words. Marcy is generously giving away books, and first chapter critiques from now through September 26th!

As usual, I'll be participating in the Insecure Writers Support Group on the first Wednesday of September, and have planned an encouraging post . . .or at least one that I hope is encouraging.

In addition to all of that, I'm getting back to school . . . as a homeschool co-op teacher and a homeschooling parent/teacher. I'll still be hanging around the blogsphere, but I'm going to be on a time limit each day . . .so my visits may be short, and my comments will be brief (if I can manage that).

The first few weeks of our year are usually the most challenging . . . it's just hard to get back into a daily schedule after so many weeks of free time, friends, vacations, and outdoor time.

Plus, I still have Champion in the Darkness to finish polishing . . . I'm going for progress each day, and I'm not setting myself a self-publish date quite yet . . .I'm finally going after a cover artist  this next week . . .I actually know three young adults who are skilled artists who might be interested.

And one of these days, I'll do a catch post on my progress in the Scripture Verse Memory Challenge by She Sparkles.

This Friday, please stop by for a visit with Cat Lavoie of Catenabi Chronicles and celebrate her book:

Monday, August 27, 2012

Torture Day . . . erg, I mean, Hair Cut Day

Maybe I'm the only woman in the world who doesn't squeal with delight at the prospect of getting a hair cut.

Maybe I'm just paranoid about someone I don't know running their hands and a pair of scissors through my hair.

Maybe I'm the only one found cringing in the movie theater when there's a hair washing scene that's supposed to be romantic. Instead of seeing sensual romance, I'm imagining scalp burns, scents that make me sneeze, and drowning.

Is it just me?

Does anyone else have hair cut horror stories?

Ever been burned in the shampoo chair? Had water accidentally sprayed in your face?

Walked out after countless hair cut appointments with the plan to buy a new hat?

I don't know what I do to make hair stylists so angry. Really. I used to be as quiet as possible as a teen in the hopes that I wouldn't ruin their concentration or cause a slip of the scissors. Now I try to simply be friendly and go with whatever mood the stylist seems to be into.

However, my hair has different ideas.

My hair just doesn't go the direction that hair stylists want it to go. It doesn't accept curling irons - it flattens. When flattened with a straightener, it curls. When shellacked with products and straightened, sometimes it stays . . .just long enough for the hair stylist to look at me, swivel the chair away from the mirror and say . . ."you know, your face looks better when your hair has a little body to it."

Thankfully my time in the swiveling torture chair is over for now.

And I don't have to buy a hat.

Plus, I didn't get burned, have my hair yanked, or get sold on products that make my scalp itch.

It was actually an exceptional hair cut day.

On a writing note, it got me wondering . . . what do my characters think about their hair? Does Clara like hair cuts? Does Salene? What about Stelia? It's not something that really fits in my book, but yet, hair is something we all have to deal with every day. . . .hmm. Maybe I'll add a "hair moment" in my next book.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Punctuation Saves Lives!

This wonderful little nugget of punctuation wisdom was posted the other day by a friend, and I couldn't help but repost. It seems fitting since I'm getting ready to go back to school - to teach my own kids (homeschool) and teach kids in homeschool co-operative writing classes.

I'm not a grammar queen, but I have a fairly good understanding of grammar rules from experience - English and Secondary Education major, college grammar classes, acting editor of all my friends' essays. So, I find grammar and punctuation humor fun.

Do you have any "fun" grammar nuggets of wisdom to share?


Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Weighted (Prequel Novelette)
The Great War of 2185 is over, but my nightmare has just begun. I am being held captive in the Queen’s ship awaiting interrogation. My only possible ally is the princess, but I’m unsure if she is really my friend or a trap set by the Queen to fool me into sharing the secret of my gift. A gift I keep hidden even from myself. It swirls inside my body begging for release, but it is the one thing the Queen can never discover. Will I have the strength to keep the secret? I’ll know the answer soon. If the stories are true about the interrogators, I’ll either be dead or a traitor to my people by morning.
Weighted is here! And I'm so excited. A while back, Ciara Knight asked for ARCs and I managed to get in on that. I loved, loved, loved Weighted!

Ciara writes to ‘Defy the Dark’ with her fantasy and paranormal books. Her debut novel, The Curse of Gremdon, was released to acclaimed reviews, securing a Night Owl Top Pick and five stars from the Paranormal Romance Guild. Also, book I, Rise From Darkness, from her debut young adult Battle For Souls series, secured glowing reviews and won July Book of the Month from Long and Short Reviews.
Her first love, besides her family, reading, and writing, is travel. She's backpacked through Europe, visited orphanages in China, and landed in a helicopter on a glacier in Alaska.

Ciara is extremely sociable so please feel free to connect with her at her blog, website, Twitter, Goodreads, or Facebook,
Ciara is a very encouraging, and I highly recommend reading her blog, as well as her books.

You can find Weighted at Smashwords Amazon and Barnes and Noble 
Upcoming books in The Neumarian Chronicles:
Escapement (Book I) - Early 2013
Pendulum (Book II) - Mid 2013
Balance (Book III) - Early 2014
Other books by Cara Knight:
Battle for Souls Series
Ascension of Evil - Coming in October

Monday, August 20, 2012

Birthday Hugs and One Wish

Today it's my birthday . . .and I just want to embrace life in the fullest.

My life is full of joy in abundance.

I am so thankful to be alive, to be breathing, to have a wonderful family, to kiss my husband's scratchy half-beard face (his co-workers call him cake face), to watch my sweet girls sleep in, to rub my fingers through my dogs' short fur, to drink my favorite tea, to soak in the green and blue of the morning (green for all the lush plants and blue for the sky).

I'm just loving life.

And I hope you are too.


My one wish for my birthday is this: that each person on this planet would know joy deep down in their hearts - that each person would know that they are fully loved.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say, Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly (that's all of us). Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:6-8 (God really loves us, each of us, no matter where we are or what we've done.)

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." Hebrews 10:24

Friday, August 17, 2012

Back from Being Unplugged

I meant to unplug for a week, but then it went longer. How did that happen?

It went something like this:

(My oldest daughter and my hubby cliff jump from a 10 ft cliff.)

I unplugged to write, then I jumped deep into a four day family trip to Sun Lakes, Eastern Washington with 14 people (family).

Boating, tubing, water-skiing, swimming, cliff-jumping, putt-putt golfing, reading in the shade, and watching a laser light show on the spillway of Grand Coulee Dam are so different than our regular lives that we felt like we went to a whole different place.

A place so different that I actually remained calm when my youngest daughter did this:

That's my 11 year old fearless girl jumping from a 30 foot cliff.

Well, I remained mostly calm. I'm glad that two of her older cousins were with her. I'm not sure that I'm going to survive her childhood. I might just have a heart attack one of these days. Or I might have to work up my courage and join her . . .umm, heights and water? Deep breath. Maybe next year.

 I've had my horizons expanded by rest and excitement, and now I'm back to work, ready for writing, ready for blogging, and even ready for the school year. But I don't want to say that last part too loud because I'm trying to soak up every last moment of summer while it's here.

Have you unplugged lately? Had a moment to renew your energy for the harvest season coming up?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Revision and Polishing: 100 Days of Revision Update

100 Days of Revision is coming to a close . . .soon. (Friday) (I'll be keeping to myself from today until Friday evening so please feel free to ignore my blog until next week)

And am I going to be finished by the end of my self-imposed goal?

I think so . . .mostly so. Yes.

The reality is . . . I went a little deeper in revision than I originally intended, but I think it's for the benefit of my novel. I changed around some major details again. Yikes. But it's ok. In fact, it's better than ok. I think it's almost finished.

The reality is that at the close of the 100 days . . . I'll still need to rub a polishing cloth over the story.

The awesome news about that is that I found an amazing critique partner who's helping me find the rough stuff and the few "question" areas that remain. I plan to be fully polished (no more "revision" of major parts) by early September (hopefully end of August).

Is this an unfair extension of my 100 Days of Revision?

I don't think so. I gave myself 100 Days to take the gobbledy gook parts of my story and get the plot back into place after questioning myself too many times in previous revisions. This time the plan is good and it's coming together . . . finally.

So, my critique partner is worth her weight in gold, and I hope she knows it.

Do you have a critique partner? Where are you at in your writing? When do you feel finished?

On another positive note: I cleaned my writing nook, stumbled across my sequel to Champion in the Darkness and read it from start to finish with happiness. I think the sequel may be stronger in rough draft form than Champion was . . .and that's awesome, because once I finish Champion, I plan to polish One Wing and get it it out there quickly. BTW: planning on self-pubbing.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Authonomy and Figment

Have you ever heard of Authonomy and Figment?

If so, what do you think?

Authonomy is "An online community of discovery where writers become authors."

Developed by HarperCollins, it's a place you can share your writing with other writers, readers, editors, and supposedly publishers, and find out what they think. You can vote and give feedback, and receive votes and get feedback. As writers, we're supposed to be able to find agents and publishers possibly there . . .the thing is . . .you have to upload 10,000 words of a current project to showcase your work there.

Figment "is a community where you can share your writing, connect with other readers, and discover new stories and authors."

 Figment is another online self-publishing site that has authors of all ages and in varying states of success publishing bits and pieces of stories, novels, poetry, and all kinds of writing. There are ways to get and give feedback. There are writing groups.

Since one of my students' from my Creative Writing class recommended Figment to me last year, and since I had to sign up to leave feedback on her writing there, I threw a few bits of my writing on there . . .things I had previously published on my blog or that were extremely rough and needed feedback.

I've enjoyed using Figment, but I haven't been a regular user. I can't keep up with continual use of that, my blog and facebook (oh, and two e-mail accounts). My twitter use has become almost nil . . .someday I might remedy that.

So, What do you think? Are self-pub sites like Authonomy and Figment worth our time as writers?
Do you use them or sites like them to showcase some of your writing? And do you think I should "upgrade" the quality of my work on figment, since I've thrown some stuff on there haphazardly . . .shudder, what would a professional editor think of my Medusa story? 

And if you're curious and have extra time (who has that?), you can check out my figment page here

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

IWSG August 2012

August is Awesome! It just is. It's my birthday month and my anniversary month. Plus, it's actual summertime here in the Northwest United States . . .it's just getting into the 80s this week. I know that much of the states are sweltering, but here we are just getting warm.

So what in the world does that have to do with IWSG?

 I'm in an unstoppable, amazing mood so I can't really get into insecurities right now. I have them. They suck. I'm not interested in giving them the time of day. I'm just too happy to let them pull me down right now.

So, my advice and encouragement today is:

Be Happy.

Write and Be Happy. Live and Be Happy. Just Be Happy.
Love every word you write. Love your life. Love yourself.
Know Joy.

Then go by Alex J. Cavanaugh's site and give him a giant virtual hug!
And go hug other writers and their blogs!

"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say, Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4