Fantasy Anthology 2015 by Xchyler Publishing

I am excited to announce that my short story Breath will be included in the yet to be named 2015 fantasy anthology published by Xchyler, a fun and unique Indie press. These guys know their stuff and it’s been a pleasure working with them. Their past anthology titles include:

TerraMechanica

Terra Mechanica, a Steampunk Anthology: In an alternative past with an unrealized future, trek around the world and beyond in nine separate adventures, in the ships locomotives, and flying machines that power the Steampunk universe.

MomentsInMillennia

Moments in Millenia, a Fantasy Anthology: Travel with seven talented authors as they glimpse through time into Humanity’s future. Will mankind blossom and flourish, conquering the stars and time itself? Or, with selfishness, greed, and just plain bad luck send us all to the brink of destruction?

ShadesAndShadows

Shades and Shadows, a Paranormal Anthology: In the dead of night, you sense something other beyond your sight, out there in the darkness. You feel a breath upon your neck, cold and clammy, fecund with mold and decay. Your hair stands on end from no random chill. The air is still. No one is there. Travel with nine talented writers into their paranormal world, but don’t disregard that inkling that niggles somewhere in the pit of your stomach to leave the light on, to shun that dark room, and to pull the covers over your head. Whatever you do, don’t look under the bed.

ADashOfMadness

A Dash of Madness, a Thriller Anthology: One man’s crazy is another man’s norm. Inside, eight bizarre stories explore twisted perceptions and challenge conceptions about right and wrong. With a fascinating dive into several unstable minds, the authors examine different avenues for exposing warped cognition and mutilated logic. Each delivers a disquieting glimpse of reality.

MechanizedMasterpieces

Mechanized Masterpieces, a Steampunk Anthology: Amid a cacophony of cranking sprockets and cogs, in chuffs of steam and soot, comes the expansion of classic literature into alternative Steampunk masterpieces. Follow nine skilled authors as they lead old friends and new acquaintances through Jamaica, Singapore, Cape Town, Denmark, Paris, London, and Geneva on a phantasmagorical Steampunk World Tour.

ForgedInFlame

Forged in Flame, a Dragon anthology: Forged in flame, wrought in blood, bone and steel, from the bowels of the earth and the inner most chambers of the heart, dragons arise. Fired by their passion, inspired by legend, six talented storytellers delve into realms of myth and fantasy as they explore what it means to be human.

Deadlines…

One of the attractive perks of being a writer is that for the most part you get to set your own hours and create your own working environment.  When you are not under contract you also decide when your deadlines are.  The only deadlines I have are the ones that I have imposed upon myself and missing them usually only means a loss of productivity.

Currently I have a deadline to submit a fiction piece to an anthology.  They close the submission window at the end of the month and will accept nothing outside of that window. The piece I’m working on is a thirty page fantasy that I’ve submitted before without success.   When I reread the story for this anthology I realized that it had several fundamental weaknesses that had to be fixed.

The problem is, when I revise something and am not careful I will end up rewriting the whole thing.  This not only takes huge amounts of time but it also requires more editing passes to correct any new passages that I end up writing.  I had hoped to have the revisions done by today so that I could have a friend give it a test read, but I still have 18 pages to go.

This might have been easier had I not gone on a family camping trip this weekend. I had envisioned sitting back with my tablet as the kids played around the campsite whittling away at this story and having plenty of time to get it finished, but that wasn’t the case. Every time I sat down a family member would come join me that wanted to talk. In the spirit of niceness I obliged.

Now I’m starting to sweat a little.  I’d love to have this piece published and to have some real writing credentials under my belt, but I can’t submit something that’s not ready either.

With luck I’ll find a few large chunks of extra time today to finish it!

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

The Finish Line is in Sight

back to school sign owlNext week marks the magical and wonderous time where I send the oldest two children back to school. This is the first year when they will both go for the full day and I can’t contain my excitement.  The last six weeks of summer vacation have been exhausting, the house is a mess, and the unending chorus of “I’m bored!” has grated me down to my last nerve.

I’m looking forward to spending more uninterrupted one on one time with my youngest. With the other two around it’s been hard to focus on just him because brother and sister come and need me to do something, or want to do what we are doing, or start arguing and force me to divide my attention.

I’m also hoping to find more writing time.  With all three in the house it’s been too chaotic to sit at the computer and focus.  At the beginning of the summer I had finally reached the part of my draft that didn’t need extensive renovation. Not being able to work on it has been sheer torture.

Writing with a two-year-old in the house will still be a challenge, but it’s got to be easier than having all three rattling around.

Heck, I might even finish the Man in the Cupboard series!

My Distractions are Bigger Than Yours

For all those who are anxiously waiting for another episode of Mike Finnegan, I apologize. He will be making his next appearance next Friday when I have had time to write another episode.  For now, I only have time and energy for a brief update.

I’ve had my novel on my mind constantly these last few weeks and it’s been driving me crazy that I haven’t had any significant undisturbed time to really dig in and build up my characters.  It’s not that I can’t work with the little ones around, I can.  It’s just that the quality suffers.  I read through a few passages that I’d written while being besieged with requests and even physically pulled away from the keyboard every few minutes and found that although the writing is okay, the characterization really suffers.  When I can’t focus, I can’t get inside my character’s heads and live the scene through their eyes.  And for me, one of the most vital requirements of a great book is that the reader feel fully immersed in the characters.

For first drafts this isn’t as big of problem, but now I’m deep into near final drafts where I’m trying to hone and refine all the different aspects of the story, the inability to find that laser focus and actually work on it is driving me crazy. I’ve played with the idea of starting a small contest called “My Distractions are Bigger than Yours” and feature pictures and videos of all the crazy things that happen when people are trying to work.

This would be the first submission –

Creepy Baby HandYes, that’s a hand reaching through my desk and touching my screen. At least she can’t reach the monitor power button from there, the hand itself is distracting enough, having the screen turn off and on would be the last straw.  Sometimes I keep goodies like jelly beans that I can offer the hand, sometimes the hand brings me gifts like small toys.

On rare occasions I get dual hands, there is a second hole in my desk on the other side meant for cables and baby D will come and play along.  Sometimes the hands want to play catch with each other and get angry when it doesn’t work.

Where there are little hands there are also little bodies trying to sit on my feet.  The way this is going I’m not going to finish the book until my youngest starts going to school!

What are your worst distractions?

 

Teaching the Next Generation

I had all the intentions of writing a new section of The Man in the Cupboard for this morning but then I got caught up in another project – preparing a mini class for my daughters kindergarten class.

Part of being a writer mom means doing my best to be the coolest mom out there for my kids. If I can do that using something I love, teaching about writing, then that’s a double bonus for me.

For the class I will be walking the students through the parts of a book which include, beginning, middle, end, conflict, resolution, character and setting.  As part of the class we will be making our own book using ideas from the class.  It’s fun to encourage the kids to think of silly ideas and then being able to create a finished product that they can keep.

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Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here’s hoping it will go as planned!

2013 Year in Review

2013 has been a fantastic year, I’ve had a great time with this new blog while continuing posting over at my blog for writers, My Literary Quest.

Here are the most popular posts from this blog this year:

spongebobEverything I need to know about life I learned from Spongebob – As with most popular memes, this post was inspired by a random spur of the moment idea.  School was out for my kiddos and I’d overindulged with them on Spongebob. While watching the thought struck me that the show has a lot of positive ideas.

summer 13 giveaway hop[1][1]Summer Giveaway Hop 2013 – It’s not surprising that this post got a lot of hits, as part of a one of the biggest author hops and including a free giveaway  there was good incentive to drop by.    I had fun being a part of the hop and I am considering doing it again, although I might wait until I have a book to offer.

alfie01The Search is Over – Back in the beginning of the year I had a series of posts introducing my cast of characters.  In this post I introduced Jarand, one of the protagonists, and compared him to the popular tenor Alfie Boe. To my surprise the Alfie Boe fan club dropped by and said hello!

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While I would love to say I’m happy with my current traffic, it’s really quite puny.  I guess that’s what I get for not posting as often and not having a strong platform.  The biggest problem is that I really don’t know what to say here.  I don’t have that regular news about the current book I’m working on that I’m willing to share, yet. And I haven’t published yet so I can’t really post updates about that either.

One of my goals for 2014 is to find a better focus for this blog and then reach out to that audience and bring them in.  I’d love this blog to serve as a brilliant way of attracting fans to my writing.  Hey, a girl can dream right?

Here’s to another great year of blogging!

Back to Business

The month of November seemed to fly by faster than normal, there was way too much going on and not nearly enough time for any of it.  We celebrated Thanksgiving and three birthdays.  Then there was the decorating and the cooking and the other dozens of things needed to prepare for the holidays.

As for NaNoWriMo, my rebel project hit a wall at the 15,000 word mark when I realized that I had a major plotting issue.  I call it my rebel project because instead of writing a new piece of fiction I chose to put the polish on the book I’ve been fighting to finish.

The problem goes something like this – everything was fine with the story, but it needed something to give it a little oomph.  To do this, I combined the roles of a more minor character with a main character.  This made so much sense in the planning phase and I was really excited at the different possibilities it offered.  Now I can have a love triangle along with all the action and adventure.

However, as I began my revisions and started changing that character to fit both roles I had a terrible realization.  I need him to be a part of a mini quest with another character but I had neglected to figure out how he gets involved with that character in the first place. They are not an obvious pair, and for the life of me I have yet to find a great way to get them to work together.

So, I shelved my revisions until I could find a way to fix this problem it out and started a crochet project instead.  This is avoidance behavior at its finest.  Now that I’ve taken a break and let the problem stew for a while I think I’ve found a way to fix it.  I’ll need to write it out and see if it will work.

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My new pair of slippers, I love the flowers!

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A cozy tam for the colder weather

On a happy note, I did manage to finish and package up a short science fiction story for submission to a few magazines. I’m crossing my fingers that all goes well, this is my first time submitting to a professional market that isn’t a contest.  If all goes well, I plan on doing more short stories for magazines. ‘

For the month of December I plan to pick up the manuscript once again, fix the plotting problem and continue revisions.  I would still love to finish this round by the end of the year, but it looks like it might take a bit longer.

Announcing a Brief Hiatus

For the month of November I’m planning on digging into my manuscript and giving it a good polish, my goal is to have it ready to be reader tested by the new year.  Because of this I’m going to be taking a short break from article blogging both here and at my other blog, My Literary Quest.  There might be an occasional update or guest post, but other than that I’m putting all my writing energy into my book.

Until then!  Happy Writing!

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There might be a few elephant pictures as well!

 

Waiting for Perspective

I am now two weeks into a self imposed six week break away from my manuscript and random scenes and characters are still wandering through my head.  Taking a break between drafts is important because it helps me regain needed perspective and distance. While writing I get too close to the story and can no longer see what’s on the page as compared to what’s in my head.  The best way to overcome this is time away.

800px-Sharpened_PencilTaking a break doesn’t come without a downside. The other night one of my characters brought up a plot error, an action that didn’t make sense for the character in question. I wanted him to be wrong and ignore the problem but he wouldn’t let me alone. I didn’t pull out the manuscript, I know that’s what he wanted, so over the course of the day I mentally worked over the problem until something clicked. If I didn’t, I know he wouldn’t let me sleep.

Even with random characters haunting my steps, being away from the book has been a welcome change. I’ve finally had the time to work on some of my smaller projects and see progress there. The one short story I’ve been editing is only a few pages from turning itself into a novella if I’m not careful. My goal is to have it finished and submitted to a few markets for publication before I return to work on the book. 

For the next four weeks I’m looking forward to continuing work on my short stories and taking a bit of a break before diving back into the gritty process of refining and editing the manuscript. After this draft it will be ready for beta readers! As much as if terrifies me, I’m looking forward to getting some real world feedback.

Retreat!

This weekend I attended my first ever writer’s retreat high up in the Manti-La Sal National Forest. For the first time in years I had hours of uninterrupted time to sit and work on my book.   It came at a great time as well, for the past few weeks I’ve whittled away at the final scenes and not made any progress. Being away from my crazy normal life gave me a chance to clear my head and think through the different emotions and images that have eluded me.  Now I just have one concluding scene, and this draft is finally done!

Not only was this my first retreat, but I was also on the committee.  If fact if I hadn’t been, I probably wouldn’t have been able to justify going. Having invested many hours organizing and finding answers to questions, I was all the more committed to make this retreat a success.  It turned out fabulous, if I do say so myself.  Everyone seemed happy, the food was wonderful, there was plenty of free time to write and to spend time chatting with fellow writers.

There really is nothing like being around people who share the same passion.  It creates a closeness that’s almost impossible to find anywhere else.  Working together to make each other’s writing better and sharing ideas creates bonds of friendship that last.

I give out a huge thanks to those who made it possible and our awesome speakers who shared wonderful insights into their writing and the craft itself.  Working with and getting to know these wonderful women has been a delight.

The retreat has recharged my creative batteries and I feel ready to tackle my writing projects once again!

Retreat photo