Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Rework WHAT? And some MADNESS!!!



Hallo, fine peoples!!! I can't believe we are already here. But I guess there are only 28 days in February...

So two things are happening today. One I can take care of quickly, so let's do it.

March Madness is HERE and I have a plan. BUWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! *cough * I am going to finish Summer of Bones this month (I have about 70 pages, so need about 200-250 more). And I need to be efficient because I have a week mid month that I am traveling for work. I don't write well away from home and I have also never been to New Orleans PLUS my husband is going with me, so non-conference time will be sight-seeing time. If you want to join March Madness, check my last post.


But YOU are probably all here because it Insecure Writer's Support Group First Wednesday. And this month's question is this: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

And my answer, broadly, is... sort of.

I have a plan for my very first that I have never undertaken. But I have taken books back up that have sat for years... but they sat with me KNOWING I was coming back to them—that they needed serious revision. I write fast intentionally. I can take a tangent like you wouldn't believe, and writing fast keeps those to a minimum. But writing fast (for me anyway) means serious revisions. I skip sections if they aren't coming with just notes as to what broadly has to happen. It leaves wiggle room.

So there are THOSE kind of revisions. (not just those... my draft # typically runs about 10 before I consider a book done). But there are also things like changing PoV—third to first. And there are big plot adds that change a lot. Those things don't happen too often, but HAVE happened.

What about you? Have you pulled out something really old and reworked it?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Who’s Ready for a bit of MADNESS!?



That’s right, March Madness is upon us! And I don’t mean the broomless Quidditch silliness. I mean the annual WRITING event!


Wanna hear more?

My Writing Group, The Burrow, began this a few years ago… a crunch month, but instead of a novel in the month, it is a push to FINISH something, or EDIT something, or if you want to WRITE something. Your choice. Your goal. But with the support of fellow writers.

If you want to make March a month to get something done, JOIN US! We do our support at Facebook: BuNoWriMo


So that's it! Wanna join!  What do you plan on writing in March!?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Self Care in the Age of Activism


Before I get started, I have a question. Anybody else being inundated with spam? I normally used to get a notification once a month or so that there was a blog comment that needed moderating, but over the weekend I got like 15, in just a couple days. I'm thinking blogger botched some upgrade and made it a downgrade.

But back to the topic at hand...

Some of my Facebook friends will have seen an abbreviated version of this, but I thought it was work expanding on.


It is a time of high passions and many of us find ourselves putting a lot of energy into trying to hold off things we see as not just bad but destructive. Now I'm not going to get into which side and what activities. If you have been around, you know my politics, but this is not ABOUT that. This is some wisdom gleaned at a wellness day put on for some employees at the U where I work.

Now my purpose at being invited to this has to do with my dayjob. The U is making a serious effort at creating a more inclusive environment on campus and departments have champions, if you will. These champions, by definition, CARE. We care about people feeling included, which means collectively, we have higher than average empathy. And the risk factor I am addressing is related to THAT.

Compassion Fatigue

Why don't I start with a definition. Compassion fatigue is what happens when we see so many people hurting and we work like crazy to try to help, but the cases keep on coming. A person with a soul could get it watching the news these days. But at particular risk are people with causes close to their hearts. Nurses. Social workers. People who see people in the saddest of situations. But also human rights advocates. Aid workers. It covers an awful lot of us.

So How Do We Combat It?

Please consider these to be the patronuses against the dementors that are out there:

Purpose: keep the faith in yours—what you are doing is important. Allow yourself to feel that.

Creativity: use some, no matter how small it seems. This can be challenging. I find when my heart is drained it is harder to do what I consider good work. But there are lots of kinds of creativity, and who says it has to be “good”?

Connectedness with other people, real, online, friends, strangers. We did an exercise where we spent 90 seconds with a stranger, alternating—each got 45 seconds to ask questions, with a goal of finding a connection. And you know what? We did. It can be that fast. So the kind words in the grocery line matter. So does reaching out to someone you haven't talked to for a while, or pausing to actually interact with someone you see daily.

Presence: The other word is mindfulness. Try to be in the moment, rather than worrying about things that are happening in some other place or will take place at some other time. Our minds can wander, but if we stick to the here and now, the stresses don't compound so badly.

Sleep: 7+ hours a night, whenever possible.

Exercise: Especially if you can get out in nature to do it, or if it also involves some mind/body interaction. But most of us can get in a zone to exercise and take a little mental break.

Eat well: Lots of vitamins and minerals. Minimal highly processed crap. Whatever else works for your body, you probably know best. You can put whatever energy you can manage into it, but fresh stuff=good; processed crap=bad. Those are reliable rules.

Self Compassion: This is one we may have to keep reminding ourselves on. Be gentle with yourself. Take a break if you need. Let yourself feel good if you get something good accomplished. Let yourself grieve when it's called for. Treat you like you treat others... you are no less deserving.


And just keep on being your excellent selves and do what you can to make the world a better place, eh?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Insecure First Wednesday Anallat


Hallo fine peoples! Welcome to Insecure Writer's First Wednesday, and one month into the re-boot, known as the New Year.

So it's been a month of chaos... I did that old writing thing for a while. My buddy Tina-Sue and I holding each other accountable... but it all sort of fell to heck when the world did. So once again, back to it...

But as for this month's Insecure Post... the question is:

How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

The answer, at risk of sounding like a major moron, is bigly. Oops. Was than political? Sorry.

I still walk and read. That hasn't changed.
But to be honest, for a while it sort of ruined it for me. It used to be that I just loved a good story. It didn't matter if they broke writing rules, or hit a couple cliches, or pulled a deus ex machina. I was okay starting the story in a dream, or looking in a mirror. I actually liked adverbs. So for a while after learning the writing rule it was really disappointing to read all these bad books.

But you know what? They aren't actually all bad. The rule abiding writer sort notices, but if other readers don't then the book is FINE.

And then I sort of got into a perverse cycle of loving bad books because they taught me what not to do. I'm over that. Though I still advocate doing it for a while. Just not long enough to pick up any bad habits.

And for more than a year of learning to write mysteries I read only mysteries, and then learning to write YA I read only YA. Anymore I try to mix it up a bit. And I try to separate from the rules. But I am definitely a more critical reader than I used to be. I read a lot of fantasy because I don't write ANY fantasy. I'm more a puzzlemaster than a world maker. It allows me that domain to figure “fantasy just does that”. I want so badly to have reading as escapism still available to me, and that is where I've found it.

What about the rest of you? Has it made reading better? Worse? Just different? No different?

Go check out the other Insecure Writers!

Friday, January 20, 2017

I Survived Blogfest


So you guys know how I love the end of the world, right? So when I saw this blogfest from Chrys Fey as part of her book release, I couldn't resist... Besides, it's tsunami themed!  I have a recurring tsunami dream... of course it turns out I can breathe underwater and that seemed to not fit here, but I do have some attachment to the idea of tsunamis. It is her third installment in her disaster crimes series, with a blurb, details and a contest after blogfest portion of this post... But since this is a blogfest, let's start with that!

I Survived with on-site reporter Chrys Fey (interviewing ME!)

Ecola State Park overlooking Cannon Beach, Oregon
"This is Chrys Fey reporting for Disaster 5 News. I am at Ecola State Park just north of Cannon Beach, Oregon, where a tsunami hit yesterday morning. I have Hart Johnson with me, a survivor of the tsunami. Hart, can you tell our viewers what happened, and how you survived?"

Hart: Hi Chrys. You know it's funny. I has a trip to Oregon planned when one of my readers, a middle school apocaplyse enthusiast, asked if I'd come talk at their library. While we were at the library we felt the ground rumble, so the librarian found a news site and said it had been an 8.2 earthquake off the coast and that a tsunami was coming. Annika, the gal who invited me, shouted “get to higher ground” to me and then pulled my arm out of the library.

I guess the west coast was about 70 years overdue for a tsunami that comes every 260 years, something Annika chattered at me as she told me to drive. But instead of heading for higher ground, she directed me to her house—she needed to warn her family, you see. At the time I was mad—I thought she'd killed us with the detour, but it seems little Annika not only loves apocalypse tales, but had a plan. It involved two inflatable rafts, three air mattresses, six rolls of duct tape and two coolers of survival gear.

You know, it was close. We had a lot of inflating to do. But her dad and brother helped while her mother pulled together the gear. We set it up in a field behind her house that sits with a protective cove around it, so the water didn't slam us exactly. Some came over the top, but not a ton. Mostly it came around the sides and then back filled, lifting us up. Of course we couldn't see except through the little camera she had outside—one raft was under us, the other over. The air mattresses were to make sure the stuff flying around inside the raft bubble, namely us, didn't hurt anyone else too badly.

Oh, we got tossed over—ended up in the raft that had been over our heads with all our gear upside down. And as the water retreated, it pulled us into a tangle of downed trees. Took a while to get out of that. Even longer to get up here, but it turns out when she said she had survival gear, she meant it—her family has been patching people up and feeding them as they get up here and we wait for the National Guard and whoever else plans to help out.






Title: Tsunami Crimes
Series: Disaster Crimes #3
Author: Chrys Fey
Genre: Romantic-Suspense
Page Count: 272


BLURB: Beth and Donovan have come a long way from Hurricane
Sabrina and the San Francisco earthquake. Now they are approaching their
wedding day and anxiously waiting to promise each other a lifetime of love. The
journey down the aisle isn’t smooth, though, as they receive threats from the
followers of the notorious criminal, Jackson Storm. They think they’ll be safe
in Hawaii, but distance can’t stop these killers. Not even a tsunami can.

This monstrous wave is the most devastating disaster Beth
has ever faced. It leaves her beaten, frightened. Is she a widow on her
honeymoon? As she struggles to hold herself together and find Donovan, she’s
kidnapped by Jackson's men.

Fearing her dead, Donovan searches the rubble and shelters
with no luck. The thought of her being swept out to sea is almost too much for
him to bear, but the reality is much worse. She’s being used as bait to get him
to fall into a deadly trap.


If they live through this disaster, they may never be the
same again. 




DIGITAL LINKS:

PRINT LINK:




99 CENTS: Amazon
And everywhere ebooks are sold. 


GIVEAWAY!

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Alternative Anthem

Know how it’s fun to take a song and write alternative lyrics? Usually it is for humorous purpose, and this seems to be something school children arrive at as an activity even without being prompted. I know my friends and I used to do it, and as I’ve met people from other walks of life, I find we aren’t the only people to have done this.

But did you KNOW this used to really be a THING? Like in the 19th century people would write them on broad sheets and distribute them. And then sometimes they would make it to newspapers and other publications. Often the purpose of these was protest, so yesterday, watching the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at the University where I work, I had the opportunity to head this one performed.

Written by EA Atlee in 1844 and published in two Abolitionist Papers

1. Oh, say do you hear, at the dawn’s early light,
The shrieks of those bondmen, whose blood is now streaming
From the merciless lash, while our banner in sight
With its stars, mocking freedom, is fitfully gleaming?
Do you see the backs bare? Do you mark every score
Of the whip of the driver trace channels of gore?
And say, doth our star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?

2. On the shore, dimly seen thro’ the mists of the deep,
Where Afric’s race in false safety reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it heedlessly sweeps, half conceals, half discloses?
’Tis a slave ship that’s seen, by the morning’s first beam,
And its tarnished reflection pollutes now the stream:
’Tis our star-spangled banner! Oh! When shall it wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

3. And where is the band, who so valiantly bore
The havoc of war, and the battle’s confusion,
For Liberty’s sweets? We shall know them no more:
Their fame is eclispsed by foul Slavery’s pollution.
No refuge is found on our unhallowed ground,
For the wretched in Slavery’s manacles bound;
While our star-spangled banner in vain boasts to wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

4. Shall we ne’er hail the day when as freemen shall stand
The millions who groan under matchless oppression?
Shall Liberty’s shouts, in our heaven-rescued land,
Ne’er be shared by the slave in our blood-guilty nation?
Oh, let us be just, ere in God we dare trust;
Else the day will o’er take us when perish we must;
And our star-spangled banner at half mast shall wave
O’er the death-bed of Freedom—the home of the slave.

I felt like that was an appropriate historical reminder for MLK Day, and also maybe a suggestion… we are mostly writers here. And these alternative lyric movements seem like a nice way to make our point.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

An Interview with Christy (aka: Cecelia Earl) on the release of When Ash Rains Down


It's fun to have a friend I've known for a couple years have a first book release, and in spite of the unfamiliar name on the cover, this book is by none other than our friend Christy from Erica and Christy, writing under a pen name (my guess is because teaching is one of those professions where it is best to keep fiction from real life persona). I think it's more fun to do these book release posts as interviews, so Christy was gracious enough to share an ARC of her book with me.


Let me just give you a brief teaser first:

Enter a world where angels and demons battle for souls while hidden from human sight...

Being crowned homecoming queen and enduring a week at the center of her classmates' attention is eighteen-year-old Julia White's worst nightmare--even with Cole, her long-time crush, as her date. But when Julia is attacked by a green-blooded demon that vanishes in a plume of smoke, she comes face to face with what real nightmares look like--in the flesh, and all of the homecoming stuff hardly matters anymore.

As a frightening wave of crime infiltrates her small Wisconsin town, Julia tries to avoid Nicholas, a brooding, infuriating relative of Cole's, who insists she's the reason behind the corruption. He claims the culprits are demons who are after powers that only she--a human-angel hybrid--possesses. It's unbelievable, of course, until he takes her to a hidden battlefield where warrior angels train to fight soul-siphoning demons--and her own angelic wings unfold.

When angels and demons draw battle lines, endangering everyone in their way, Julia has to find a way to protect them all, including herself. Because as it turns out, she's the devil's most powerful weapon against the angels, and he'll stop at nothing to claim her.

The final battle between Heaven and Hell has begun.


*cue spooky music*

And now without further ado... to the interview...

So I want to start a little with the theme of angels and demons. When did you first become interested in them as a paranormal phenomenon?

Ohmygosh…I racked my brain trying to come up with a better answer than…I can’t remember! I wrote When Ash Rains Down (it had a different title back then) in 2012. Or 2013. No! I just spent half an hour looking for when I first wrote it…the summer of 2014!! Anyways, I can only think that I must’ve drawn the “write what you want to read” inspiration card and felt compelled to go with an angel/demon muse coming from a reading binge, probably the Unearthly series, Hush Hush trilogy, Mortal Instrument series, and Infernal Devices series.

I DO remember that it all began because I’d wanted to write a novella to experiment with writing a book with plot and more fast-paced action than I was used to writing with my more lyrical, character-driven, plot-less contemporary realistic manuscripts.


And do you envision all angels and demons are “born” or can other people become one or the other? Do you distinguish between fallen angels and demons?

I don’t believe angels/demons are born, nor can anyone become one. I tried to remain true to my Catholic Christian faith in as many aspects surrounding angels as I could (aside from the completely imaginative fantastical main part of the novel—the hybrid human-angel characters who are born, of course). I believe angels were created at the time of creation and that demons came into existence when the devil challenged God, and lost, taking 1/3 of the angels with him when he left Heaven. I believe fallen angels are demons, same thing. In the book, however, there are angels believed to be fallen that are, in fact…maybe demonic, or maybe…not fully.


Have you found it at all tricky to determine how much religion to come into your stories? Is there a “too much” or “not enough” line for you or have you felt it sort of fell into place organically?

This was probably one of the most difficult aspects of writing this book. I struggled, deliberated, researched, prayed about, discussed, revised, rewrote, and ultimately crossed my fingers and hoped for the best about how to remain authentic and true to my faith without being overbearing or preachy.

This final, published version is quite different from earlier drafts that had a LOT more explicit beliefs included in conversations between Julia and Nicholas (the main character and her angel warrior trainer). When trying to come up with the purpose for her to decide to do as he asked-- to fight demons. Initially my reasons were much more faith-based, without including my faith intentionally. Basing the stakes on my faith, where angels, demons, and souls were concerned, was just the natural way my thought process worked.

It wasn’t until after a (paid) beta reader, hired through my editing company, pointed out that I was really polarizing my readers, that I went back and forth, discussing my story with other Christian and non-believing writers, and finally decided on the amount that exists today. My hope is that other believers see my faith included, but that non-believers, or believers in other religions, read it seeing the story and characters without its faith--or lack-thereof--arising in their thoughts to the extent that they don’t enjoy the book.

Though, I must say, when my dad asked if I write with any purpose, meaning, do I write to convey a faith-based message, I told him it wouldn’t hurt for readers to contemplate whether or not their souls live on since their physical lives are only temporary, whether or not they have angels protecting, and demons preying upon, their souls.

Mostly, though, I wanted to convey a theme of friendship, trust, and forgiveness. And I wanted to tell a story that people got a little lost in, an escape from real life, with characters that readers enjoyed getting to know and want to spend even more time with in the future.

Are any of your characters or any character characteristics based in anyone you know? Or any characters who inspire you?

There was a boy in my high school, years and years and years ago, that loosely inspired Mitch, though Mitch’s character ended up becoming someone quite different. Over the summer, when I was revising the novel, my husband’s uncle showed us the 1953 movie Invaders from Mars while camping, and so he inspired Mitch’s obsession with classic sci-fi.

Other than that, there are probably characteristics of myself in Julia, and Cole and Nicholas are polar opposites, one an extreme of Julia’s personality, the other her flip side. Her character arc will determine who she ends up most like in the end. So…I guess Julia inspired their personalities.

I find Mr. Alex to be inspiring and intriguing. And the peaceful man. I look forward to finding out more about them in future books… wink.


And is your setting a real one? Or is it an “anytown” near where you live? Are there features of the town and setting you felt were critical to the story?

It is an “anytown” in Wisconsin, not based off of any real place that I’ve lived or visited, but it’s most definitely real in my mind after “spending so much time there”. The size of the town, small-ish, is vital to my main character’s school setting as it influences the environment in which she coexists with her peers, as is the small-town diner setting and its necessary neighboring shops and customers, important to her mom, though nameless to Julia. The main street and shops are very like “downtowns” I’ve visited, and even like the ones near where I live, in smaller towns in Wisconsin.


Do you have a specific arch and set number of books planned for your series, or are you setting up a world with broader potential for an undefined number of installations? Want to share a little about your planned pacing for publishing and what we will see from you next?

I do! When Ash Rains Down is the first in a planned trilogy. When Smoke Rains Down’s publication is planned for Spring 2017, and When Fire Rains Down will then be published in Summer 2017. I’m planning at least one series novelette, but probably more. The one I’m ready to write now would fall into the order between books one and two and would be told from the perspective of a female angel you’ve not met, Rach’s Guardian. I’m also planning for a prequel trilogy from the point of view of Julia’s mother, Melissa, about the years when she was a teenager and met her own Guardian Angel, Julia’s dad.


Awesome!  It's great to hear about your book and your process. Thank you!

Thank you so much for having me here today, for taking the time to read my novel, and for preparing these questions for me. These were fun to consider and respond to. And I’m excited to share these tidbits of my writing process and details of my novel(s) with you all. Thanks for visiting, blog readers!


Author Bio

Cecelia Earl graduated with a degree in education and has been teaching ever since. She’s a wife, a mom of three boys, and an owner of a magical laundry pile that never stops growing. She lives near enough to Green Bay, WI that her refrigerator is always stocked with cheese, and the first colors her children learned were green and gold. She’s a teacher by day, a mom always, and a writer in her sleep, but that’s okay because being an author is a dream come true. She writes angel books for young and youngish adults. If you feel young, she writes for you—whether or not you feel particularly angelic.


And you can find Christy/Cecelia and her book at:

Website https://ceceliaearl.wordpress.com/
Blog https://ceceliaearl.wordpress.com/blog/
Author Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/authorcecelia
Twitter https://twitter.com/authorcecelia
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32611801-when-ash-rains-down
Newsletter (for giveaways, updates, exclusive content, etc) http://eepurl.com/cdvvIj

Buy Links:
Amazon Paperback $8.99

Amazon e-book 99 cents/free with KindleUnlimited

Createspace (Paperback) $8.99


So let all your Angel and Demon lover friends know, and go like Cecelia on all her social media. Oh... and buy the book!