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?



a Rafflecopter giveaway


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.

Want the first chapter free? Sign up HERE.


Monday, September 12, 2016

September Goals

Well, it's coming up on the midway point of the month, so I thought I should maybe post the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the month. I like to post them in a public forum, such as this blog, because I think it help keeps me motivated...because I really hate having to write the follow-up post and admitting I didn't accomplish something.

I took August off to visit with family, so there were no goals set then, meaning there are no goals to review today. In fact, I just checked, and the last time I even posted goals was way back in May. (Turns out, I actually went three-for-four that month, so kudos to me.) Perhaps I can get back on track during this last chunk of the year...

Stranger things have happened.

Anyway, here's what I'm trying to accomplish this month:

1. Complete latest set of revisions for Second Nature.

I finally finished the read-through in the wee hours of Saturday morning, and have since started applying the proposed changes to the manuscript. There are many, many notes. I literally filled three 100-paged notebooks with proposed changes, thoughts, ideas, and even some solutions. As many notes, however, say something along the lines of "This needs to be fixed somehow. I don't know how, but, you know, fix it, okay?" I'm not 100% convinced that I can accomplish this goal in the nineteen days left in September, but I sure will work my ass off to try.

2. Read a book I didn't write.

I am currently eight books behind in my Goodreads reading challenge. Back in June, I was only a little bit behind. Now it is much worse. Which is what happens when one focuses 24/7 on editing, and nothing else. The reading goal may be a lost cause this year. Still, I'd like to make it only seven books behind this month, if I can.

3. Walk, run, or bike 75 miles.

That's an average of 2.5 miles a day. I am just under par at the moment, so it's definitely do-able, if I remember to stop revising every now and then and take a walk around the living room or something. However this month plays out, though, I am in excellent shape to surpass my yearly mileage goal, so that's something at least.


And that's the end of my list. What are your goals for the month?

Thanks for stopping by...Hope to see y'all again soon.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Saleswoman of the Year

Before I get into today's post, I just wanted to thank everyone for the encouraging comments on Wednesday's IWSG post. I know I didn't respond personally to each one, but they were much appreciated, and they must have worked their magic because I am feeling much less hopeless about the situation. Thanks, all!

Now on to today's post...

This is a true story.

So, there's a sandwich shop in the area called Jersey Mike's (it's a chain, so there may be one or more near you, too. Unless you live in the Mount Washington Valley. Then the nearest location would be, like, 100 miles away, and at that point, seriously, just make your own sandwich.), and they make and sell these delicious sub sandwiches. These sandwiches are so good that this shop quickly became The Man's favorite sandwich shop.

Well, one day, I was on their website, looking at the menu, and what should be on the top of the page? A big banner proclaiming that in April 2015, this chain was named the Official Sub Sandwich Shop of the New York Yankees Evil Empire.

Now, if you know me, you know that I am a die-hard Red Sox fan (First place in the AL East, baby! WOOT!) so anything—anything at all—related to the Evil Empire automatically becomes repellent to me. (It's totally rational.)

Take, for example, Jacoby Ellsbury. Oh, I had such a thing for that boy. (The Man was so pleased.) Seriously, you should see all the pictures I took of his ass him when I attended a Portland Sea Dogs game in which he had a rehab start. My brother attended the same game...partly because he enjoys baseball, and partly to make sure I didn't get arrested for stalking. (He's a good brother.)

But the moment I learned that Ellsbury had signed with the Evil Empire, he became dead to me. (Much like Adam Vinatieri and Wes Welker when they made their respective traitorous moves. Again, completely rational.)

Because the Evil Empire = Evil. That's just science. (Note: possibly not science.)

So, when I learned that The Man's new favorite sandwich shop was affiliated with the Evil Empire, my immediate reaction was, "Well, we can never go back there."

But The Man is nothing if not persistent (I do now live in Florida, after all), and the sandwiches are pretty damn good, so one day, I relented, and we returned to the Evil Empire's Sandwich Shop. We ordered our subs, and I went over to the cashier to pay.

"Do you have one of our rewards cards?" she asked.

"No," I said.

"Are you interested in getting one?" she asked next.

"I'm good, thanks," I said.

"Are you sure?" she asked. "With each purchase, you can earn points toward free sandwiches."

"Thank you, but I'm really okay," I said. "You don't know what it takes for me to even come through the door."

This, naturally, garnered some odd looks from the staff. The Man, however, having already heard what was about to be said, just rolled his eyes in a oh-here-we-go kind of way.

"See, your restaurant here is the official sandwich shop of the New York Yankees," I said, "and as a die-hard Red Sox fan, you can understand how I would be conflicted about coming here."

She nodded and thought about this for a moment, then said, "Well, if you get one of our cards, every time you earn a free sandwich, it'll be like you're stealing from the Yankees."

So I got a card.

Well played, Jersey Mike's cashier. Well played.

***

That'll do it for me today. Enjoy your weekend, and be sure to tune in Monday when I actually get around to posting my goals for September. (Unless I forget, which I probably will, because the Pats are playing Sunday night.)

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Sisyphus And Me (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.

I am assuming that anyone checking out this post today is already well-versed with the IWSG, but in the event that it's new to you, and you'd like to know more, please click on the above link for more information, as well as a complete list of participants.

This month's co-hosts are C. Lee Mackenzie, Rachel Pattinson, Elizabeth Seckman, Stephanie Faris, Lori L MacLaughlin, and Elsie Amata.

This month's question asks, "How do you find time to write in your busy day?"

But I'm taking a pass on the question this month because I am decidedly un-busy. I'm fortunate enough to have no job outside of writing. My only children are two (admittedly) high-maintenance dogs and one attention-hungry cat, but it's not like I have four kids who need to be at four different events in four different corners of town every afternoon. My family and friends are 2000 miles away. I eat, sleep, and breathe writing. And as an insomniac, most of the time, I don't even sleep. I'm not busy.

So, instead, I shall talk about the myth of Sisyphus.

Have you ever heard the Greek myth of Sisyphus? You probably have, but in case you haven't...

The super, incredibly pared-down version of the story is that this guy, Sisyphus, managed to irritate the ever-living daylights out of Zeus and was condemned to spend all of eternity rolling a stone to the top of a hill. Every time Sisyphus would get that stone to the top of that hill, the damn thing would roll back down, forcing him to start all over again. Over and over again. For all of eternity.

All.
Of.
Eternity.

You're writers, so I'm sure you already can tell where I'm going with this, but...

I am Sisyphus, and my current WIP is the stone.

The hill is editing.

Every time I think I've figured the story out, ironed out the wrinkles, put commas in remotely correct places (or at least near them...), or whatever else, it's only a matter of time until I find out otherwise. I find more things with which I am unhappy.

The stone rolls back down the hill, and I have to start all over again.

This latest edit has been particularly brutal. I've taken to calling it the Slash-And-Burn Edit because I'm slashing huge chunks of story (in theory to be replaced by better-written chunks of story), and talking myself out of burning the rest.

Seriously, it's like I have forgotten how to properly construct a sentence. I don't know—maybe I've never known how to do that, but I at least thought I did. (And delusions are half the battle, right?)

I don't think that anymore.

I don't know what it is about this story. I don't know why I thought it was okay in May when I sent it to the beta readers, only to end up hating so much of it now. But I do. I really, really do. And I don't know how the one beta who actually made it through the story found anything good to say about it. (But, bless him, he did.)

(UPDATE: Just heard from Beta #2. She also had good things to say about it. She doesn't seem to think it's a molten mess of terrible wordsmithing. What is happening here?)

I don't know how to change that. There's many a day these days when I worry that I'm not smart enough to write this novel I set out to write. That the idea was too ambitious for me to actually pull off. And the only way I know how to change that is to actually pull it off.

So the bottom line is, I have to figure out how to fix this story. I hate that it's taking this long, and that I'm so far behind the goals I set at the start of the year. I'm frustrated that I haven't been able to get it right, that I'm still pushing this stupid rock up this stupid hill.

But if it takes twenty more rewrites to get it right, then I'll do twenty more rewrites.

I really hope it doesn't take twenty more rewrites, though. I desperately want to get to the top of that hill once and for all.

I hear the view is pretty great...

Better get movin'.



Ever find yourself trapped in a vicious editing loop? How did you break free? 

Thanks for listening to me moan and groan today, y'all. I'll try to be cheerier the next time!




Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

 Hello, all!

As you may remember, for about three and a half weeks at the end of July into the middle of August, I was on vacation. One of those weeks, I was able to go home to New England (Yay!). The rest of the time, my sisters and niece came to visit me in Florida.

The vacation's over now, and I've gone back to work (Yay.). I meant to do this post at the actual end of my vacation, but I'm still me, so I ended up posting it a little late. (What are you going to do, right?)

Anyway, today I thought I might share with you some of the many, many pics that were taken over the course of those three and a half weeks. There were more that I wanted to share, but for some reason, Blogger's being a real pain in the you-know-what about them. But maybe that's just Blogger's way of telling me I'm sharing too many photos. Whatever, Blogger.

At any rate, below are the photos I was able to upload properly.

Please enjoy my photo essay...

Frenchman's Hole in Bethel, Maine.
Oh, how I have missed the woods.

Another shot of Frenchman's Hole...
and my godson, leaping into it

Mount Washington Valley, New Hampshire
Oh, how I have missed the mountains.

Mount Washington Valley, New Hampshire

Yes, I made time to see if my book was still in the library.
And people have actually checked it out. Possibly on purpose.

Let my niece play with swords.
Because I'm the cool aunt.

Went to the beach and realized
just how tan I've gotten this summer.
Had a blast at the Crayola Experience in Orlando


The Pick-Your-Own-Pack wall at the Crayola Experience
An entire wall of crayons and markers for one to choose from.
I now own a giant tin of specially-selected crayons.
I regret nothing.

Saw the Meerkats (and much more) at
Disney's Animal Kingdom

The noble steed my vertigo and I rode on
Prince Charming's Regal Carrousel
in the Magic Kingdom

And, of course, we went to the beach.
It is Florida, after all.



What did you do on your summer vacation?

And I know I was just off for, like, forever, but I'm off again until Monday. (So much for that consistent blogging goal of mine...)

Have a great weekend, all!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What's This Sign of the Green Dragon Anyway?

Hello, all. I'm popping up from my extended summer vacation (rough life, I know...) to share with you this post from awesome author C. Lee Mackenzie. She's here today to talk about her latest release, The Sign of the Green Dragon.

I'll be back to posting next month. Probably...

But for now, please put your hands together for Lee!

What's this Sign of the Green Dragon anyway?



A Vintage Poster 


First, it's called Cang Long of the East or Qing Long Xing, Green Dragon Star, and it appears every year in spring in the eastern sky. In Chinese mythology it represents the essence of all devine creatures, and the first mention of it is about 3,000 years ago.  In 10 BC it was linked to the length of the seasons and meant to help farmers calculate their planting and harvesting of crops. Because of the dragon properties, it also gave protection to those needing it. (I'm really simplifying all of this. But after thousands of years you can imagine the stories and the complications.)


I've always been fascinated by Asian mythology, so when I read about this star and its significance, I tucked the information away until I found a story to connect it with. Years later, the story I needed came to me on a visit to Virginia City, Nevada. I have no idea how that happened, but it must have been the open sky that wasn't dimmed by city lights as well as the historical period of an early mining town that somehow triggered Sign of the Green Dragon.


I decided to use the sign (a series of six dots) as a secret code and set my characters on a quest to find out what it meant. I needed more to make the story possible, so I added a note written in the 1800s and a crumbling skeleton just to spice up the adventure.


Here's the scene where the kids (Sam, Joey and Roger) find the note. They've discovered a secret room after an earthquake has shattered a wall of their cave hideout. In this room is a large chest with a dragon carved into its top.







Sam inched forward and aimed the flashlight inside the chest. “Uh oh.” 


“What?” Joey gasped.


“It’s a ... well, kind of a ... skeleton.”


“Awww,” Roger screamed, ran, tripped, and sprawled on his stomach.


“It can’t hurt you, Roger,” Sam said. “Come on. Take a look.” One thing about being in a family of paleontologists, you got used to bones.


Roger quick-shook his head. “No. No. No.”


Joey took three slow steps and stood next to Sam. “Sweet. A dead guy. Man, let’s get out of here.”


“Hold this.” Sam handed Joey the flashlight. “Keep the light on him, okay?”


The skeleton was partly covered by a tattered shirt and pants. Bony fingers clutched a wooden box with a piece of thin metal about two inches long on its top.


Reaching inside, Sam tried to pry the box from the skeleton’s grasp, but the finger bones fell through the rib cage and clattered to the bottom of the chest. The box lodged between the ribs.

The light jiggled in Joey’s hand. “Come on Sam, enough already.”


Sam picked up the thin metal piece from the top of the box, and held it under the light. One end of it was bent at a right angle. A faded red tassel looped through the other end.


“Here, take this.” Sam handed Joey the strange object, then reached inside the chest and gripped the box. He lifted it slow and easy. It could be a trap. It could be dangerous. His hands twitched and the edge of the box caught on a rod that held the chest lid open. He barely snatched the box free before the lid crashed down.


What sounded like an angry dragon exploded around the cave.


The walls trembled, and the floor heaved under foot.





And so the story begins. . . 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Return of the Mummy Hand And Other Fun Tales

Back in May, I wrote a post likening my never-ending editing experience to a Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode—the one where she works at the magic shop and does battle with an uncooperative mummy hand. (Life Serial—Season Six, Episode Four) You know, the one where she looks like this:

Coincidentally, this is what I currently look like on the inside.
And maybe the outside, too. Whatever.

In that post, I said my revisions were like that uncooperative mummy hand, and that I was failing in my attempts to tame said mummy hand.

But eventually, I found my way through to the end. And for almost one glorious month, it stayed that way.

But then...the mummy hand returned. With a vengence.

It all started when I received emails from my betas saying, "Hey, here's a typo; you should go fix it." And I did that. I opened the manuscript to fix said typos, and ended up catching sight of a sentence whose structure made me do this:



So I decided to fix that, too. And then things sort of snowballed from there. Or, you know, avalanched from there. Whatever.

The bottom line is, I think I have forgotten how to write prose. And now I need to correct it. If I can.

It's been a slow process, which has been exceedingly frustrating. I have fifteen chapters left to go through, and more often than not, it feels like I'll never get there. This is, of course, not true, but it still feels that way.

I literally am spending every single moment I can on this revision—often foregoing things like eating and sleeping and exercising, and blogging and reading books written by other people—but those available moments are about to shrink big time because in a couple of days, I am...

GOING HOME

That's right. I am going home. To New England. For the first time since I moved to this godforsaken swamp state Florida. Sadly, it's just for a week, and not, like, you know, forever, but I will take what I can get. Which is a week with much-missed family and friends in a land where the temperature may actually drop below 90 degrees once in a while, and there are very seldom any lizards camping out in the mailbox.

It's going to be great.

Which brings us to the moment where I ask a favor:

Part of my adventures that week will be a visit to my old writers group where I will be talking a little bit (in front of the group, even) about blogging. But because I am a notoriously inconsistent blogger, I turn to you, gentle readers, to help me out with this.

What advice would you give to an aspiring blogger? 


Then, provided I survive my brief public speaking experience, The Man and I will be playing host to family the next two weeks, which will be equally great, but does mean that my revisions will be on the back burner until the end of August. and this blog will once again become a ghost town. (And I started off the year so well, too.)

Which may sound like a complaint, but really isn't. A little forced time off will likely be good for me. And while I'm sure I'll fight it at first, I'm sure I will quickly embrace my freedom.

And probably spend every spare moment watching this over and over again:




And on that note, I'm outta here. Thanks for stopping by today. See y'all again in August...