Friday, February 26, 2016

Do You Have Goals? Books and Movies Update

Many thanks to Misha and Beth for this blog hop!
If you are interested in joining, go here!

1. Write Strong!
 I fell way short of my 25,000 word per month writing goal, but I did keep writing. 

I wrote and subbed an article for the new IWSG newsletter, and Chris Fey accepted it! Yay! (It may be with this month or a forthcoming month newsletter edition). 

2. Market with Strength!
I'm still figuring out what this might mean. 
However, a friend of mine sold 15 of my books for me. (Wow!) I think I need to at least buy her a coffee. 

On a seriously sad note, the most encouraging and kind bookstore owner I've met has sold her business and closed shop. She's retiring and no one bought the bookstore from her, so I had three books returned to me. 

3. Publish with Strength!
Champion's Destiny is still getting its paperback cover . . . soon, soon, soon.

Flicker: A Collection of Short Stories and Poetry is set to launch via Smashwords on March 1st - and the paperback might be ready that day, too. I'm kind of proud of it since over half of the 90 stories in it were published previously over the last few years. A little warning/taste for readers (especially those few younger readers who stop by my blog), Flicker is meant for readers 15 and up since some material is dark and there are a dozen stories that reference serious topics like human trafficking, depression, and serial killers (not all at once). At the same time, if you like truly dark stuff, it doesn't have that much of it - it has light-fluffy stuff like superheroes struggling with long capes in addition to the grim stuff. It's a combination of short, long, light, and dark - flickers of various genres and lengths of story-writing and poetry. 

4. Live Strong!
I've walked 27 miles and biked 45 miles this month so far. I have cut back slightly on caffeine, and I've been feeling much better.

Sadly, vertigo has still been my companion if I use my computer too long. (This is why I haven't been asking for any blog book tour kind of help - I feel like I'm in the random zone of blogging time - 15 minutes in the am - 15 at noon, and then sometimes in the evening.)

5. Worship Strong!
I'm taking part in a Bible Challenge for Lent - attempting to read from Genesis to Revelation by Easter. I've fallen a few books of the Bible behind, but I think I can catch up . . . maybe. 
I'm also fasting from fiction, except for Sunday afternoons - so all of my fiction reading is going on in 2-4 hour spurts once a week, and the rest of the time I'm into the Bible and a few non-fiction books.

6. Gratitude = Grace (Strength Through Thanksgiving!)
I noticed that my attitude improved on day 5 of my Bible reading challenge. Maybe this was just coincidence, but I don't think so. I was a bit cranky while reading Genesis and Exodus - "really, God - using totally broken, messed up people to start the kingdom of God on earth?" but finally started feeling some thanksgiving - "so glad my dad comes to church with me, and sings off-tune right next to me." (Really, I would rather hear my dad singing off-tune over any professional singer - I love my dad's voice.)

7. Rest, as needed. (Rest Strong!)
Did this, again! Score! I know it sounds weird to add to a list of goals, but I have to remind myself that rest is a good thing. 

Books, Movies, General Fandom, and News

Books I enjoyed this last month:

Bill Bryson's African Diary is probably the shortest travelogue that I've read by Bill Bryson and one of the most serious as he highlights CARE refugee camps, but Bryson's humor still makes a showing on the small aircraft rides and train transportation sequences.

The Inquisitor's Mark by Diane K. Salerni takes off where the first book, The Eighth Day, ended, and it adds more twists and exciting turns to this excellently written adventure series. Highly recommended! 

Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible by Stan Lee is a unique comic book auto-biography of Stan Lee's life. I think I learned more in an interview of him in Costco Magazine. However, I got it from the library and it was fun. 

Pawn by Aimee Carter was a one-afternoon library read for me, and it takes the reader on an action-packed dystopian journey filled with political intrigue. The MC, Kitty, undergoes a total make-over of her life on a bone-deep level just to escape punishment for stealing an orange.

Movies and Shows I enjoyed this last month:

Fantastic Four, the newest remake, made for a wonderful family evening at home. We wished we had supported it in the theaters. While it didn't have quite enough Ben Grimm (Thing) screen-time for me, we all thought did a great job developing the characters and the background of the Fantastic Four. Sure, it only had one major action scene, but we didn't mind. This was a movie about friendship, not about beat-downs.

Hail, Caesar! by the Coen Brother is . . . a Coen brothers' film. I'm not sure how else to describe it. It's funny, thought-provoking, interesting, and enjoyable, but all at a slightly odd angle . . . or at least that's how I felt after I watched it. 

Flash has been in my docket of Netflix shows for a while, but I finally convinced my family it was worthwhile this last month and we raced through the end of season 2. My daughters had a half hour debate over how time travel issues might work. My husband managed to keep his "that's not within the laws of physics, engineering, science" comments fairly low, and we were all glad that this particular DC comic hero doesn't need to strip to the waist to do his stuff (cue: many more comments from the husband unit peanut gallery). 

An old youtube show that got picked up and had a three year run from 2012-2015: Video Game High School. I didn't expect much from it but I thought I would try it one night on Netflix, and the first episode is worth a watch, even if if you never watch the rest. I think it's pretty funny, and my family seems to agree. Enjoy ultimate gamer geekdom with this show! 

Current non-fiction reads (will report in a month or two, since I'm slow at non-fiction): The House of Sky by Ivan Doig, Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams, and Showing and Telling in Fiction by Marcy Kennedy. 

What are your goals? Your current reads? Best movies or shows watched recently? And, if you would like to dream big, please join this awesome hop!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Five Reasons to Write Indoors and Adela's Curse Cover Reveal

5 REASONS TO WRITE is a new series of blog posts. Starting with 5 Reasons to Write Super Short Stories, these posts will explore a variety of writing related topics - like 5 Reasons to Write Indoors, 5 Reasons to Write Outdoors, 5 Reasons to Write Commas, 5 Reasons to Write Speculative Fiction, and more. I'm hoping to get guests involved, so please consider one of the 5 REASONS topics listed under the new tab above, or create one of your own. I would like to have at least one guest a month, and I would like to put together an anthology in mid to late 2017. See tab for more details.

Five Reasons to Write Indoors

1. Weather Unpredictability - I live in the Pacific Northwest, specifically on the Western Washington Peninsula. We get rain regularly, although the highest average rainfall in the United States goes to Hawai'i according to this report. The PNW just varies in rainfall prediction and what it means. The prediction of 90% showers usually means that the rain is going on all day, but it might vary from spitting (a rain drop every five minutes) to pouring (sheets of water falling from the sky), or somewhere in-between with an all-around constant dampness.
 Writing indoors means I don't have to bring a tarp for my writing space. 

2. The Quality of Light - If we're writing with a laptop, we need the quality of light to be just right. Even without a laptop, I like the quality of light to be at a certain level - some outside light coming in from a window is a nice addition to the yellowish light of our dining room lamp. 
Indoor lighting allows for a steady, comfortable level of light.

3. Fewer Distractions from Nature - Inside, no bees do flybys of my head. I don't stop to watch a butterfly land on a flower, or a hummingbird zip from one plant to another. No other birds - eagles, woodpeckers, blue jays - soar overhead, and no squirrels scold me from a nearby tree.
Writing indoors means I can focus on my writing. 

4. Writing Space Can be Planned/Comfortable - Paper, pencils, sticky notes, journals, laptop, and anything else needed is at my fingertips when I'm writing inside. I have character posters and maps tacked to my wall by my desk, and if I'm in the dining room (other writing area), I have a big table for spreading out my materials. 
Writing indoors means I have everything I need for the job at hand.

5. All  Season Wear - I can be barefoot and in comfy clothes when I write inside my own home. (This doesn't work as well at coffee shops, but I think 5 Reasons to Write at Coffee Shops might be another post.) Although I have gone barefoot in the rain and even the snow, I am unlikely to sit outside barefoot while writing (unless it's a hot summer day), so because I love writing without shoes, writing indoors works best for me in all seasons. I can also wear pajamas and no one is the wiser. 
Writing indoors means writing in comfort.

And now, what you've really been waiting to see - the cover reveal for Adela's Curse by Claire M. Banschbach

A witch and her master capture a young faery and command her to kill their enemy. Adela has no choice but to obey. If she does not, they will force the location of her people’s mountain home from her and kill her. To make matters even worse, the person she is to kill is only a man struggling to save his dying land and mend a broken heart.
Count Stefan is a man simply trying to forget the woman he loves and save a land crippled by drought. When a mysterious woman arrives at his castle claiming to be a seamstress, he knows she is more than she seems.
Adela enlists the help of Damian, another faery, to try and delay the inevitable. He insists she has a choice. But with the witch controlling her every move, does she?
Goodreads link - Add it to your TBR list!

Claire Banschbach was born and raised in Midland, TX, the fourth of eight children. She was homeschooled through high school and is now a proud member of the Texas A&M University class of 2014. She is currently working on her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Texas Tech University Health Science Center. She continues to write in her spare time (and often when she doesn’t have spare time). She hopes her strong foundation in God will help to guide her writing. 
Contact Info

Congrats to Claire!!!

Where do you like to write? Indoors, outdoors, in your pajamas? 
And would you like to do a 5 Reasons post?

Oh, and BTW, I love where I live, rain and all. When I have visited places that have sunshine every day, I find myself searching the horizon for clouds on the third or fourth day. Even when it doesn't rain where I live, we usually have a mono-cloud covering the whole visible horizon at least two days a week. It's what I'm used to having so it works for me although I like a few blue sky days, too.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Five Reasons to Write Super Short Stories

Five Reasons to Write Super Short Stories:
1. Creativity Boost -  Let's say you're stuck in the middle of your novel and you feel frustrated. A short story with a completely different cast of characters can free up your imagination so when you return to your novel, you have some imagination coursing through your veins.

2. Courage - If you submit those short stories, the process of submission can help you build up the courage you might need to self-publish or send query letters for your novel later. 

3. Experience - When you get a short story published, you might go through an editing process with an editor first, or you might just get the elation of getting published. 

4. A Sense of Accomplishment - Writing a short story should only take an hour to a month of your writing time. It's nice to have something get completed quickly. It gives a writer a sense of accomplishment. Story started, story done, and so on. 

5. Word Choice - Working within a short word count forces a writer to pay attention to the vibrancy of each individual word. With a lot of short story practice, I think this skill starts to show up in our novel writing. 

If you don't know what I mean by super short stories, check out these sites:

Hint fiction: Nail Polish Stories (unpaid)   

Drabble Fiction: Specklit (paid) The Drabble (unpaid)

Flash Fiction: Every Day Fiction (token payment)   Brilliant Flash Fiction (unpaid)

I write short stories to help boost my creativity, gain courage and experience, have a sense of accomplishment, and work on my word choices.

Do you write short stories? If not, I highly recommend trying this form of fun, fast writing. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

IWSG February: For the Love of the Journey and Music

Many thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and all of the amazing people who make the IWSG blog hop, website, and facebook page awesome!

I've been thinking about journeys these last few weeks. 
My road has been a bit rocky lately, but I'm still walking it. 
I think that's what we're called to do:
to keep walking,
to keep writing,
to keep believing,
to keep hoping,
to keep faith,
and to keep living with joy. 

I love to sing with my journeying. It's why I can go for the ride with any musical movie - I have burst out into song now and then, when I'm joyful or sorrowful. I get caught up in the words or the sound and the world fades away. 

Music is like its own place, like a hidden refuge right inside the real world.

And yet, I don't usually write to music. 
Because when I'm in the music, that's all I want to do, is reside in it.

If I write or clean my house to music, I'll find myself just singing, caught up in the words.
And, if I'm energetic, I'll actually dance - not exactly something that's conducive to writing.

However, if I let the music reside inside me, I can write with a new understanding that comes from that place of refuge inside the journey.

Currently, I'm writing some new material. I'm not ready to share the "what" yet with anyone, but I'm thankful for newness of it, for the journey of it, and for the small places of refuge in the story. 
A few songs that have inspired me are: 

What's inspiring your journey this month?

BTW - Champion's Destiny is out in ebook and only 99cents until Feb. 12th!
Champion in the Darkness is #FREE all the time to start the trilogy.
"The Horse in the Well" is Free today.
Dragonfold and Other Adventures is also Free today. 

New and Upcoming Books:
Parallels: Felix Was Here, Anthology
Print ISBN 9781939844200
eBook ISBN 9781939844118
Science Fiction/Alternate History

Enter the realm of parallel universes! 
What if the government tried to create the perfect utopia? Could a society linked to a supercomputer survive on its own? Do our reflections control secret lives on the other side of the mirror? Can one moment split a person’s world forever? 
Exploring the fantastic, ten authors offer incredible visions and captivating tales of diverse reality. Featuring the talents of L. G. Keltner, Crystal Collier, Hart Johnson, Cherie Reich, Sandra Cox, Yolanda Renee, Melanie Schulz, Sylvia Ney, Michael Abayomi, and Tamara Narayan.

David Powers King's new book The Undead Road is out!

Yolanda's newest book will be out March 10th!

M Pax's latest Backworlds book may be coming out in May!

And, I know there are more - if you have a new book out or coming out, please let me know at and I'll put up a mini-release blurb for you!