Thursday, December 1, 2016

Cradle Rock Release Day

WELCOME BACK TO THE FOREST!


Gabe the goblin just saved his town Broken Branch Falls from splitting apart. He also revealed that humans--horrible creatures of myth and legend--may actually be part of their history! But seriously? Nah!

Now Ona, Gabe’s girlfriend, is headed thousands of miles away to Camp Cradle Rock for Spring Break seeking evidence of humans. Gabe knows better than to tell a stubborn ogress she’s crazy, so he’s letting her go and spending the break at the beach like a normal teenage beast. And he’s determined to have a good time without her, whether he likes it or not.

But when Gabe hears Ona went missing, he and his friends set out for the wilds of the west to find her, no matter what dangerous creatures get in his way. Not even humans.


Check out the Book Trailer!

(insert your comments here)

Here is the list of wonderful CRADLE ROCK RELEASE PARTY POST HOSTS:

12/5 Patricia Lynne Nerds Rule
12/5 Heather R. Holden Vampires
12/7 Juneta Key author spotlight interview
12/9 Julie Flanders Teenagers Now vs 80s
12/9 Elizabeth Seckman Beast-themed Recipe
12/12 Lori L. MacLaughlin Merfolk
12/14 Sharon Bayliss Ogres
12/14 Tyrean Martinson 5 Reasons to use Chapter Titles
12/16 Michael Di Gesu Craziest Spring Break Trip
12/17 Cathrina Constantine Teen Dating
12/19 Christine Rains Hiking Faux Pas
12/19 Alex J. Cavanaugh Beast vs Monster - terminology
12/21 Ann Noser CR Quotes
12/21 Heather M. Gardner Discrimination - joking vs hurting
1/4 Ken Rahmoeller Dragons
1/4 L. Diane Wolfe Marketing Tips - Live & Online
1/9 C Lee McKenzie Grownup Stereotypes
1/11 M. J. Fifield Crazy Road Trip
1/25 Crystal Collier Poetry & Songs in Stories - Writerly Wed

Tara is also giving away signed copies of Broken Branch Falls and Cradle Rock, some Beast World swag, and a $20 GC!

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Coming Attractions

Hello, everyone. Hope one and all had a lovely, drama-free holiday.

In my last post, I stated that today I would be sharing some news, making a big announcement, something like that. And I am. It's just...I feel as though I should preface the big announcement by saying that it's a big announcement for me. For anyone else, it probably wouldn't be. It'd be more of an "Oh, by the way" afterthought, or something, but for me, it's a Big Deal. In large part due to the fact that what I am about to tell you terrifies the living daylights out of me. The dead daylights, too. (If there is such a thing.) All the daylights are terrified out of me.

But it's happening anyway.

Because as my good friend, Eleanor Roosevelt, once said, "You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

What is this terrifying thing, you may be asking yourself. Well, I'll tell you. It's this:



Recognize that name in the middle? (You may recognize other names, as well. I don't know.) You know what it means?

This Saturday, I will be making a public appearance.

You know, as an author. Not just me going out to buy groceries or anything like that (which is terrifying in a completely different kind of way...). Neither is this public appearance one of those events like the signings I've done in the past where I can blend in with other authors and only make eye contact with the people who actually approach the table under which I'm hiding. No, this event will require me to stand up in front of an unknown number of persons, and actually talk to them. About myself. And my work.

And I am terrified.

You, of all people, should know how terrible I am at talking about myself. Or, I could have just stopped after 'talking,' couldn't I? Because, really, unless I'm talking about my love for the collective works of Joss Whedon, or Gilmore Girls, I am about on par with Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel. Only, not nearly as articulate. And when I am talking about my love for the collective works of Joss Whedon, or Gilmore Girls, I become an incoherent fangirl who sounds like she's trying to communicate with dolphins.

And I cannot do either of those things on Saturday. (At least I don't think so. Right?)

Hence, the terror.

To the best of my knowledge, I will have approximately fifteen minutes to fill. After which time (provided I haven't already fainted), I will take questions. That I will be expected to answer. And do all of this in a way that won't make me sound just...really stupid.

Not sure how I will pull any of this off, but I imagine that it will involve me spending mucho time practicing in the mirror, the shower, the car, and probably other locations, too, over the next five days.

Just as soon as I figure out what to talk about.

Any advice?


Thanks for stopping by today! See y'all next time...

Friday, November 18, 2016

Things Which Make Me Happy

Hey, y'all remember when on Monday when I was all, "Hey, I'm totally going to rock these edits and knock this thing out by the end of the month!"?

Yeah. That's not going to happen now. The universe caught wind of my plan and my cautious optimism and came to smack me down for it.

Because it's 2016, and that's what 2016 does.

So today, I am listing a few things which have and will make me happy in the past, present, and future.

May they make you happy, too.

First up...

THE RETURN OF ECHO EFFECT

Echo Effect is a webcomic created by amazing artist and storyteller Heather R. Holden. I came across it a couple years back during the A to Z Challenge and have been addicted to this story and these characters ever since. It's been on haitus for a little while, but is making its return TODAY. I'm so excited, I must use this gif:



Next up is a little something very near and dear to my heart...

THE RETURN OF GILMORE GIRLS

Gilmore Girls, in the event that you haven't heard of it, was a television series that ran from 2000-2007. It told the story of a single mother and her daughter living in a quirky Connecticut town. It is one of my all-time favorite shows, right up there with Firefly and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. (Yeah. That's how much I love it.) When the show ended, I was pretty bummed. Partly because it's one of my all-time favorite shows, but also partly because the last season was, overall, a big disappointment. Either way, I really wanted more.

And next Friday, at 3:01am, EST, I will get my wish. Four brand new 90-minute episodes (written and directed by the show's original creators, nonetheless) will be released on Netflix. Meaning, I will have six more hours of Gilmore awesomeness.



Now, my original plan for this momentous occasion was to devote an entire week of blog posts to the show, but as that didn't work out (yes, it's all right if you breathe a collective sigh of relief) here instead are a couple of clips/trailers:



(Just...so many things. Emily wearing jeans. Sutton Foster (whom I adore) as a dancing pilgrim. Lorelai hiking. Kirk at Friday night dinner. And SOOKIE.)


So much awesome. So little time.
So, if you're looking for me next Friday between 3am and 9am, I'll—You know what? Better not to look for me until at least 10am next Friday. I'll need at least an hour to cry all the tears.
I'M SO EXCITED!!!
But for now, I need to go back to work and take advantage of every last second I can squeeze out of the rest of this terrible year.
I'll be taking next week off from blogging (You know, because the two whole posts I've managed to put together this month were sooooo taxing), but I'll be back again on Monday, November 28th, with some big news. Well, at least big for me. And a little scary. A lot scary. Well, at least for me.

Have a great holiday, everyone. See you in a week. And a half. Or something like that.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Salvage

So, 2016 has been for me, personally, a pretty shitty year. Lots of emotionally-draining occurrences that have left me...well, emotionally-drained. And yes, I know I'm saying this with the understanding that I don't live in Aleppo, or didn't lose everything in a crazy flood, or anything along those lines, so while it's been a shitty year, it could have been much, much worse. And I'm probably a jerky jerkface for having the audacity to say that it's been a shitty year, but even if I am some super huge jerk for saying so, it's been a shitty year.

Not to be mysterious or cryptic or anything, but I don't particularly want to get into the reasons why this year has been so rough, so, just know that it has been, I guess. I'm only mentioning it now because it's kind of the driving force behind me writing this post at all.

So instead of talking about things about which I don't want to talk, I'm talking about goals—More specifically, I'm talking about how I have had to let go of a lot of the goals (like, all of them, except for one.) I set for myself back in January, including my biggest, most important (to me) goal of all—releasing my second book.

Which I really should have seen coming. As I've said before (and will say again, I'm sure), it's not an M.J. release unless I screw it up the first time around.



So, fine. Whatever. We accept the things we cannot change and move on to Plan B.

Which is, to say, salvaging as much of the year as I can in the time I have left. (As it relates to my novel, I mean. That healthy eating goal is toast.)

I have spent much of this year editing and revising my intended release. I can't get it to the point where I'm happy with it. (Or, as happy as I ever get with my own writing.) My critique partners have had good responses to the chapters they've read, and my three beta readers gave it very high marks, but I'm not seeing it. Not yet.

As such, I've been working my way through another round of revisions. I'm way behind the pace I had intended to set, but again, it's an M.J. release, so of course I am, but I'm trying very hard to get caught up.

Well, it's too late to get caught up. How about this: I'm trying very hard to just be finished with these never-ending revisions (at least until such time as the proofreader gets his or her hands on it and tells me everything I've missed) by the end of November.

On paper, it's totally doable. I think. I have fourteen chapters left to revise, and seventeen days in which to do them. Each chapter is in various stages of completion. Some only need a few lines tweaked. Some require more rewriting. One scene contains what I am pretty damn sure is the most terrible sentence in the entire history of sentences. I also want to add one brand new scene, maybe two.

And I want to do it all by November 30th.

Hmmm. Maybe it's not doable.

But I won't know until I try.

So in the hope of giving Plan B the attention it requires, I am reinstating my "When It Is Acceptable To Interrupt The Writer At Work" guidelines that I generally pull out when I am participating in NaNoWriMo.

Here's the current list:


WHEN IT IS ACCEPTABLE TO INTERRUPT THE WRITER AT WORK


1. The mobility-challenged German shepherd has fallen, and you cannot get him back up on your own.

2. The house is on fire. (May also be extended to include the imminent arrival of a hurricane (Cat Three or higher) and/or tornado. Because we live in Florida, where both these things are possible. And possibly probable.)

3. Joss Whedon is at the door. (May also be extended to include Benedict Cumberbatch. If it's anyone else on my list of favorite celebrities, however, politely ask them to come inside and wait for a break.)

4. There is an actual, legitimate emergency not mentioned above. (Please see addendum below)


Addendum A: the following things do not constitute an emergency:

1. Any YouTube video you think is funny. I guarantee you that I will not find it funny.

2. Any other YouTube video. Seriously, just don't.

3. Any tweet by that guy in Australia you follow who's always posting the pictures of giant spiders, snakes, or crazy angry kangaroos. (Actually, let's just make that an always thing.)

4. Any tweet, really.

5. You want to know what's for dinner. You have two hands and phone. You can order pizza yourself.



And on that note, I'm going back to work. Hope everyone has a great Monday, and a fantastic week. See you next time.




Monday, October 10, 2016

On The Run From Matthew (A Road Trip Recap)

Today I had originally planned to post about my October goals because, you know, I haven't yet done that this month. But then Hurricane Matthew happened, so I decided to post about my experience with that instead.

(This will probably end up being a long post. Sorry in advance!)

Last Monday, I flew back to Florida from Maine after a impromptu visit home. I hadn't wanted to go back to Florida on Monday, but a certain airline was being a pain in the you-know-what about it. I won't name names, but here's a hint:


So, fine, whatever. I flew back to Florida last Monday and jumped immediately into hurricane prep because there was this not-insignificant hurricane working its way toward us. I very diligently went out to stock up on bottled water, batteries, candles, matches, food that neither had to be refrigerated or heated—that sort of thing. You know the drill. Batteries and bread were the biggest challenge and required me to visit multiple stores to find them because mostly, the shelves looked like this:



It took entirely too many visits to entirely too many stores, but I finally amassed myself a nice, little collection of hurricane supplies. Which was good because on Wednesday, we went from a hurricane watch to a hurricane warning. So The Man and I very diligently prepared the yard as best we could—bringing in or securing anything that could be picked up by a strong gust of wind and thrown through someone's windows. Evacuations were called for in parts of our county, so I very diligently packed emergency get-up-and-go bags for The Man and me, as well as my pets. As Wednesday progressed, the forecast grew more and more scary, so I spent the vast majority of Wednesday night looking for a place we could go, should it become necessary. I was really pushing to leave at this point because I honestly didn't want my animals to have to go through that experience. (The Gator Girl can't even deal with a normal thunderstorm. I can't even imagine how I would get her through a hurricane of any size.)

But The Man thought we could stay. As we were just thisside of the mandatory evacuation zone, we planned on staying and riding out the storm. Much to my mother's delight.

Then came Thursday morning. Approximately T-minus twelve hours until things were scheduled to get scary.

I was up early (mostly because I couldn't sleep because I so badly wanted to leave), needing and wanting to hit just a couple more store to get just a couple more things, and making plans to further protect ourselves from this ever-growing storm. Our home has a few large, exposed windows, and we lacked a way to protect them. No hurricane shutters, no plywood. Nothing. So I made The Man help me strip the bed and use our mattress and box spring as protection:

Yes, those are unpacked book boxes holding the mattress in place.
Yes, I was semi-prepared to sacrifice them in the name of
protecting the house.

Definitely not great protection, but I thought it would be better than nothing.

The only rooms in our house with no windows are a walk-in closet and the laundry room, and I intended to set them up as shelters in which to spent the night, as that was slated to be the worst part of the storm. The Man and the dog of his choice would be in one, while Fat Cat, the remaining dog and I would be in the other. Again, not terrific protection, but better than nothing.

Then we watched the latest forecast.

Not only was a strong category four hurricane making its way up Florida's east coast, but it was predicted to make landfall in our county. On our county. The Man and I looked at the map, listened to the weatherman's not-at-all terrifying predictions of life-threatening catastrophic damage, looked at our proximity to the ocean, then at our our complete inability to protect our windows, our pets, and ourselves, and said,



So the question became where would we go? County shelters were out, because they were reserved for people in the mandatory evacuation zones, which left hotels. But here's the thing...when you're traveling with three animals, your options are limited. When one of those animals is a 100-pound German Shepherd, your options narrow even more.

I contacted the few big dog-friendly hotel chains in areas without a hurricane warning, and farther and farther out I had to expand my search because there were no rooms available at any of them—with or without dogs.

But finally, I found one.

In Mobile, Alabama.

An eight-hour drive away.

That's eight hours in good weather. When a good chunk of the county's population isn't re-enacting the above Monty Python scene.

But I wasn't in a position to be picky. Plus, the reservationist kindly took pity on me and waived the hotel's two-pets-per-room policy so we could have all three animals in one room, instead of having to reserve two separate rooms. I booked the room, we packed up the babies, and got the hell out of Dodge. Much to my mother's delight.

Gator Girl, falling asleep in the car
while nursing on her security fish.
She's so weird.

Eleven hours later, we finally arrived at our destination. I went inside to check in, and discovered that the room I reserved was on the third floor, as far away from the elevators and the exits as it could get. Which is fine, if one is traveling on one's own, but when one is traveling with a thirteen-year old, 100-pound German shepherd with severe mobility issues, it becomes a problem.

Big has a degenerative disease that is slowly paralyzing his back legs. He cannot walk long distances. He can walk short distances if you hold up his back end with a sling (which we made from one of those reusable canvas shopping bags), but he still can't go far and looks like a drunken sailor when he tries. It's hard to get him in and out of the car. It's a two-person job. We're looking to acquire a wheelchair for him, but  we haven't acquired it yet.

But again, the hotel staff took pity on us and bent their pets-can-only-use-this-one-entrance rule and told us we could use the side door that led straight to the elevator.

Didn't matter.

We got Big out of the car and into the hotel, but we hadn't even gotten close to the elevator before Big went down and wouldn't get up again. I don't blame him. It had been a long day, and I know he got stiff spending all that time in the car. I was stiff, and I don't have a problem with my legs or spine. 

So we stood there for a while, waiting for him to rest up, and wondering how we were ever going to get him to the elevator, then down the hall to the room. And then back and forth every time he would need to go out.

Fortunately, a fellow hotel guest came to our rescue and suggested the use of a luggage cart. I don't know her name, but I will be eternally grateful to her for the suggestion and the chicken tenders she swiped from the hotel dinner buffet to bribe Big onto the luggage cart. She even fetched a luggage cart for us. The Man and I lifted Big onto the cart, then wheeled him down the hall to the elevators, rode to the third floor, then wheeled him all the way to the other freaking end of the hall to our room, then lifted him off.

It's not a great picture, but this is Big on his chariot,
the homemade sling wrapped around his back.

Then we had to go back and get the other two animals.

It was an exhausting day.

(Now, please allow me to indulge in a bit of a braggy moment here: my babies, though total spazzes at home, are remarkably well-behaved in hotels. Even the damn cat, who is the most annoying creature on the face of the earth (myself, included...), is well-behaved in hotels. Some days, I would like to live in a hotel just for that reason.)

Every six hours during our stay, we would load Big onto his parade float and wheel him through the hotel to take him outside. (Part of his condition is that he doesn't know when he needs to go, or even when he is going, so we have to take him out frequently to avoid messy accidents in the house. Or hotel rooms.) As you can imagine, we garnered a lot of stares from employees, other guests, pizza delivery guys—even people driving by the hotel all stopped to stare at us as we rolled Big to and from the room. Is he all right? they would ask. Here are a couple of my responses:


  • Yes, he's fine. He's just super lazy.
  • Yes, he's fine. He just prefers to travel in style.
  • Yes, he's fine. He's just working on his audition for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.


Meanwhile, the Gator Girl slept. It's amazing how tired she gets when there's any sort of change to her routine. (I should really change her routine more often.)



For two days, we did this. (I'm pretty sure the hotel was selling tickets to watch us by the end of our stay. We were quite the attraction.)

And the hurricane decided it didn't want to make landfall on the Space Coast after all.

Stupid hurricane. (Except, no, thank you for not making landfall on the Space Coast, Matthew. I would be writing a very different blog post, if you had.)

Saturday, we started back. The hotel staff was very sad that their live-in entertainment was departing, and told us to come back soon. No offense, kind accommodating hotel staff, or the people of Mobile, but I kind of hope that I never have to make that trip again.

The return trip took ten hours, and was nerve-wracking because we didn't know what we would be coming back to. (This is what I get for never getting to know my neighbors. I have no one to call to say, "Hey, is my house still standing, or is there just a sink hole where it used to be?") Knowing that the storm didn't actually make landfall, and knowing that the few other people I do know in the area didn't sustain major damage and already had their power back, I was cautiously optimistic.

I am pleased to report that I was right to be.

The power was out (it's obviously back on now, though), and our trees and gardens took a very hard hit. (But it wasn't like they looked so great to begin with. I am in charge of keeping them alive, after all. Probably nobody even noticed the damage.) Part of our neighbor's fence came down into our yard, and a part of our fence is leaning badly. (The Man keeps telling me I need to fix it. And I'm like, "With what? Duct tape?" because I literally have no skill with any other tools.) There was a small lake in the sun room, and a little bit of water in the living room. The roof sustained no damage at all (Thank you, arborist who trimmed the trees back just a couple of weeks earlier!) except for a couple of spots under the eaves that The Man has already managed to repair (See, he should be the one dealing with the fence.), but the satellite dish is currently in the garage, waiting for the handy-dandy satellite repair man to come and reattach it. (Friday, between noon and midnight, I think is our appointment time. Looks like my Netflix account will be getting a real workout this week...)

So, all and all, we were very lucky. Just, incredibly lucky. I can't even stress how lucky we were. Are.

Now I just have to hope that no video of The Man and I rolling our dog around on a luggage cart shows up on YouTube. (Haven't found one yet, but I keep checking...)


That's going to do it for me today. If you were in an area affected by Matthew, I hope you and your family are okay!


See you on Wednesday, when I just might get around to talking about those pesky October goals...

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Are You Ready For This? (An IWSG Post)

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group.

If you're not already familiar with the IWSG, please click on the above link for all the deets, as well as a complete list of participants.

This month's co-hosts are: Beverly Stowe McClure, Megan Morgan, Viola Fury, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Angela Wooldridge, and Susan Gourley.



This month's question asks, "How do you know your story is ready?"


My answer:



Seriously, I have no idea. 

I know I got one book to the point where I thought it was ready (enough) for human consumption, but I honestly don't remember how I did it, or what it felt like, or even if I was right to feel that way in the first place.


So, I am at a loss. I'm looking forward to seeing how other people answer this question because I am struggling mightily with it.



How do you know your story's ready?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Timeless Cover Reveal & Giveaway

Today, we're pleased to welcome author Crystal Collier back to My Pet Blog, as part of the cover reveal for her upcoming release, Timeless. Check it out below, and make sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win an ARC of this very cool novel...



TIMELESS (#3 Maiden of Time) by Crystal Collier #CoverReveal



Book Title: TIMELESS (Maiden of Time #3)
Author: Crystal Collier
Genre: YA Paranormal Historical
Release Date: November 1, 2016



TIME IS THE ENEMY

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat, along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart, the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?



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Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her Blog, FacebookGoodreads, or follow her on Twitter.

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