Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Interacting With Readers and a Camp NaNoWriMo Update

This has been mentioned on this blog before—and will certainly be mentioned again, I'm sure—but I am one of those authors who's really not all that comfortable being an author in public. (Or just being in public in general, truth be told.)

I pretty much live in fear of being asked about my book. Or hearing that someone is reading my book. Or hearing that someone has read my book and now can't wait to talk to me about said book.

But when these things happen (which they occasionally do), I try to act like a somewhat normal human being capable of putting words into sentence doing (Name! That! Reference!) and, occasionally, I am somewhat successful.

But most of the time, I am just a big, blithering idiot who probably leaves every reader wondering how it is I managed to write a book at all.

Anyway, I recently had a pair of reader interactions I thought I would share with you. To my credit, I neither ran away nor hid under any tables at any point during these experiences.

—A gentleman—in front of a group, mind you—provided a passionate (and mostly accurate) recap of Effigy's plot—being sure to hit all of the darkest plot points, of course—during which I imagine I turned about a million shades of red. Upon finishing, this gentleman turned to me and asked, "How did such a sweet, quiet, little thing like you write such a dark book?" To which I responded, "If you think that book was dark, you really shouldn't read its sequel." (Also, it should be noted that I am not, in any way, shape, or form, a sweet, quiet, little thing.)

—A reader told me that she recently acquired a copy of Effigy and was really enjoying it. In fact, she was finding it rather difficult to put it down, and even read until 3am one night, because she didn't want to stop reading. Which, for me and all of my gross dysfunction, is just the highest compliment. As I wrote in a blog post a few years back, one of my goals was to write a book that make people (or person, as the case may be) want to stay up all night to read. So I am incredibly humbled that she feels that way about my book, and took the time to tell me so. Even though I was my usual social doofus self when she did.

—This conversation:

Potential Reader: I should really read your book.
Me: Oh, don't. It's terrible.
Potential Reader: Huh?

—And this conversation:

—Potential Reader: What's your book about?
—Me: Uh, well...there's this girl, and she's trying know, not die.
—Potential Reader: Well...that's a good goal to have.

I'll keep working on that 'normal human being' thing...

Camp NaNoWriMo Update

Goal: 65,000 words

Words Written: 42,321

Words Remaining: 22,679

Days Remaining: 13

Biggest Issue: I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. There are 42,000 words in this damn thing, and I have yet to write the actual romance part. Methinks I am doing this all wrong.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

You Know What You Should Do (An IWSG Post)

Hello, all!

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

(I'm assuming that, by now, anyone coming to this blog will know all about the IWSG, but if you're new and you'd like more information, or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.)

This month's fabulous co-hosts are Tamara Narayan, Pat Hatt, Patricia Lynne, Juneta Key, and Doreen McGettigan.

This month's question asks, "What is one valuable lesson you have learned since you started writing?"

Which I'm kind of answering. Or might be answering. I'm not sure yet. We'll have to see how the post goes.

All right, so, back in New England, I belonged to a writers group. And, for a while, there was a member of this group with whom I would constantly butt heads. If we both attended a meeting, there was a better-than-excellent chance that we would end up having an argument. There was one very simple reason for this:

He thought he knew what every writer should be doing.

Every writer, he would say, should want an agent and a big six (or is it five now? Wasn't there a merge in there somewhere?) publisher. Every writer should want to be on a bestsellers' list somewhere. Every writer should want a movie deal. Every writer should want fame and fortune.

"Otherwise," he would say, "what's the point in being a writer?"

Well, I took great offense at this. Because not every writer is the same. Not every writer wants the same things. In that particular group, we had a few members interested in publishing, but more weren't. It was just the composition of that particular group. There was a woman who composed poetry simply because she liked it, and quite a few members who were writing their memoirs and/or family histories because they wanted their children or grandchildren to have them. They weren't interested in publishing. They wrote for the joy of writing.

And that man just couldn't comprehend it. So we fought a lot. Because he would make these writers feel bad about what they wanted. He would make them feel like something was wrong with them because their goals weren't his goals.

And that pissed me off. So I told him. Loudly. And frequently.

Because I am a firm believer that all writers are different and, therefore, may want different things. And no one gets to decide what those things are but you, the writer.

Because it's your work.

Want to keep everything you've written in a box under your bed? Okay. Want to get yourself an agent and a big six (five?) publisher? Good for you. Want to self-publish your masterpiece? Great. Want to have a bunch of photocopies made at your local Staples to hand out on street corners? Wear sunscreen. Don't know what you want to do? Do the research, talk to the people who have been through it, and then decide.

But always remember that the decision belongs to you. There may be people who don't like it, wouldn't have chosen it for themselves, and think you're crazy, but who cares? As my good friend, Tina Fey, would say...

But that's my opinion. We welcome yours.

Monday, July 3, 2017

In Which I Review Books

I always mean to write a post at the start of every month reviewing the books I had read the previous month, and for a while, I actually managed to do that. For whatever reason, however, I haven't done of these in quite a while.

But that changes today! Which you probably guessed from the title.

So here now, for your reading pleasure, is a recap of what I've read recently, and what I thought of it:

Right Behind You—Lisa Gardner—I was disappointed by this novel. I like her D.D. Warren series a lot, but this...I did not like this one. It was supposed to be a Quincy and Raine story, but they felt like secondary characters to me who really didn't have a whole lot to do. Also, it was repetitive. repetitive. And dull. And repetitive. It's hot, and did you know that Cal makes cheese? I do. It was mentioned twelve hundred times in each of his POV scenes and occasionally in other scenes. But I struggled through the book, only to get to the Epilogue, which summed up everything I'd already read. At least the German shepherd survives.

Empire of Storms—Sarah J. Maas—The latest installment in her Throne of Glass series. The second book in this series, Crown of Midnight, I thought was very good, and every book since then (in this series, I mean) has failed to live up to that, in my humble opinion. But yes, despite that, I keep reading them. (I alway seem to hope that there will be a return to the heights of that second book.) Anyway, in this installment...okay, just...I felt like I was reading about a completely different set of characters that just happened to share names with characters from earlier installments. Like, Dorian? Is he still possessed? Did he have a personality transplant in between the last book and this book (one that makes him really into bondage, perhaps?) because he's not the guy that I kind of liked in the first two books. There's also the very convenient romantic pairing-off of all the characters, like Oprah stopped by and did a giveaway (YOU get a soulmate! YOU get a soulmate! EVERYBODY gets a soulmate!), which lead some kind of ridiculous sex scenes. And can I just say...when you're some kind of magical being who bursts into flames at the, you know, height of pleasure, you probably should consider refraining from having relations on a wooden boat in the middle of the ocean. But maybe that's just me. The end felt rather deus ex machina to me (Aelin can certainly coordinate a lot of things without the use of any form of instantaneous communication/transportation), and my favorite character wasn't in the book at all. But considering what happened to the other characters, this was, perhaps, for the best.

The One Memory of Flora Banks—Emily Barr—A story about a seventeen-year-old girl whose memory resets itself every hour, or couple of hours, or every few hours, or whatever was most convenient for the plot. This book was just sooooo repetitive. Yes, I understand that a large part of that was because the main character had no short-term memory (due to a supposed brain tumor—more on that in a moment), but it made for a very tedious read. Especially when the one memory she does develop is her having kissed a boy. Not only does she remember it, but she decides she's in love with the boy, and she has to do whatever it takes to be with him. (Translation: goes by herself to the Arctic Circle to find him) There's a brother we never actually get to meet and a magic email from him that explains everything, but leads to an ending that's more unbelievable than the rest of the novel.

Into The Woods—Tana French— A story about the murder of a young girl and the completely incompetent detective with a mysterious past assigned to solve the case. Seriously, I had this thing solved on, like, page 137, but the detectives required a few hundred pages more to get it done. And then there's this paragraph toward the end of the novel where the narrator was all, like, (to the reader), "Well, the villain fooled you, too!" Which, she didn't. You're just stupid, dude. And a note on his mysterious past...that's a mystery that's never solved in this book. I wanted it to be solved, and I kept reading, hoping it would be solved, but it never is. And yes, in real life, there are mysteries that are never solved, but this isn't real life. This is a mystery novel in which a central mystery goes unsolved. I personally would have preferred the opposite.

A Season Of Daring Greatly—Ellen Emerson White—A novel about an eighteen-year-old girl who is drafted by a major league baseball team. I really enjoyed this story. You were probably thinking that I hate everything I read, but I didn't hate this book. I liked it very much. I thought it had a great character voice. It made me laugh, and it made me worry about the main character, which I find is always the mark of a good book. She doesn't have an easy time of it, which she shouldn't, and I was sincerely concerned for her. It made it hard to put this book down. My only real quibble is that I didn't like where it ended. I wasn't ready for it to end, and I hope there's another installment in the near future.

The Hate U Give—Angie Thomas—I loved, loved, loved this book. Seriously, I loved it. And this will be my shortest review, which sounds odd, I know, given the extent of my love for it, but I don't want to give anything away. Just know that it made me feel all the things, and I spent a good amount of time wiping away tears while reading this book. I found it to be an incredibly moving story.

Camp NaNoWriMo Update:

Goal: 65,000 words

Current word count: 8062

Words remaining: 56,938

Biggest Plot Issue: My MC gets fired, but I haven't worked out the hows or whys of it all yet.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Plan

As you have perhaps deduced from this post's title, I have a plan.

I know I don't exactly have the best track record with plans, or following through with them, or sometimes even starting them, but this time shall be different.

I know there's no real reason to think that this time shall be different from any other time because this blog is nothing if not a well-documented account of each and every one of my failed plans, but somehow that never seems to stop me from creating a new one.

I have only failed on the day I stop trying. Right, Nathan Fillion?


So. The Plan. Next week, maybe, I shall tell you the inspiration behind The Plan (it'll depend on my mood), but today is all about The Plan itself. It's probably going to look just like one of my monthly goal lists, but here we go:

The Plan

1. Stick Full Circle (Book #3 in my fantasy series) on the shelf.

After a fast and furious start, I've kind of stalled out on this project. I'm disappointed, but not surprised. I have to do some thinking and revising of the plot to try to reconcile a few issues I've been having with it, and I believe I shall have greater luck with this if this project is not my main focus (And if you're currently thinking, "Gee, M.J., you know you haven't published Book #2 yet, right?" the answer is yes, I do know this, and I am working on it. It may not be reflected in this particular plan, but I am working on it. I swear.). So it's going on the shelf. For now. It won't stay there indefinitely. There are two characters with whose story line I'm pretty obsessed. This book will be finished if for no other reason than those two.

2. Find an illustrator.

I've mentioned before my desire to one day publish a book of the work-themed, somewhat sarcastic haiku I wrote during my job at The Store. And I am currently inspired to try to accomplish this goal sooner rather than later. So, I have half a plan for it (a plan within the plan, if you will), and that half a plan requires an illustrator. I've started to do some preliminary research for this, and I'm excited by the prospect. I think it could be fun.

3. Write a new novel.

As I mentioned in part one of The Plan, Full Circle can't be my main focus, which means I need something else on which to focus, and that is a new novel. Well, an old half-finished project that I've been essentially ignoring since 2009. Essentially the same thing, right? Anyway, I've pulled it out of the archives and will be attempting to whip it into shape. It was supposed to be a romance novel, but it turned out that I am about as good as writing a happy love story as I am on following through with plans. One of my critique partners said she didn't want my hero and heroine to spend anymore time together, which (and correct me if I'm wrong) is probably not the feedback one wants when one is striving to write a romance. But I still really like the characters, so I'm going to give their story another go.

4. Write this new novel in a month.

Which means it's time for another action-packed installment of...

That's right—in order to help me reach my new-novel goal (or at least give it a nice kick-start), I shall be participating in next month's Camp NaNoWriMo session. It's been a while since I've done NaNoWriMo in any way, shape, or form, and it's always a good time. (Almost always...) I'm really looking forward to giving it another go.

So that's The Plan. We'll see how long it lasts. Let's just hope that this:

doesn't turn into any kind of Jessie Spano-type meltdown.

But I'm sure that'll be fun too.

So, what's going on in your neck of the woods? Any romance authors out there have any tips for me?

Have a great Wednesday, everyone. See y'all next time.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

You Call It Quitting, I Call It Stopping (An IWSG Post)

Hello, all!

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

Once again, I am assuming that all who visit this blog are already familiar with the IWSG and all that it does, but for anyone needing or wanting for information, including a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.

This month's amazing co-hosts are: JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner.

This month's (optional) question asks, "Did you ever say 'I quit'? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?"

I quit a lot. Yearly. Monthly. Weekly. Daily. Even hourly, on occasion.

Because there are days when I can't remember how to construct a sentence. There are days when any sentence I do construct would make a Dick and Jane story look sophisticated. Yesterday, it took me eight hours to write a single paragraph that was only two lines long. There are days when I can't even manage that much. And there are a lot of days when I can't stop thinking that I simply cannot do this writing thing.

So I quit.

I plan to run away and join the circus (even though I have absolutely no skills that could be useful in a circus environment). I plan to be a tap dancer (even though I can't dance). I plan to go back to retail. I plan to do anything other than be a writer (even if my only even remotely marketable skill involves precision folding).

But then—and this is the most important part, I think—I pick up my pen and go back to work.

Because, love it or hate it, writing is what I do.

For anyone who wondered, the title of today's post came from an episode of Survivor. I don't remember the season, but there was this one contestant who decided to quit the game. I think he was the first contestant to just outright quit the game. When pressed by Jeff Probst about his decision, the contestant replied, "You call it quitting, I call it stopping." Which, for some reason, became an oft-quoted line in our household. It just seemed to fit this post.

Of course, it's possible that no one wondered where the title of today's post came from. If that's the case, sorry—my bad.

So what about you? Are you a quitter (or a stopper)? What do you do afterward?

Thanks for stopping by today!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Curious Case of the Missing Character

I mentioned this on social media a while ago—because apparently, this is Stuff I've Already Posted On Social Media week on My Pet Blog—so some of you may already be aware of this, but I seem to have lost a character.

Somewhere in between the end of Second Nature and the start of Full Circle, this character just...disappeared.

And not some random, background player, either, but a POV character. A character who has played a pretty significant role in the first two books.

It's weird.

I'm just under 50k in Full Circle's word count (I was over 50k, but deleted a bunch of stuff because I'm me, and that's what I do), and while scrolling through the document, it occurred to me that in those nearly 50k words that this character just...wasn't there.

No scenes. No lines. He's barely even mentioned. I think he's only mentioned once. In the first chapter. Oh no—twice. He's mentioned twice. The second time, in a later chapter, because two other characters are wondering where he went, so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that he's gone missing, but missing he is.

And it worries me. I don't quite know what it means. If anything. Maybe it means absolutely nothing. I honestly don't know. I just find it strange that he's gone.

I would be less concerned with his absence if I had any idea at all about where he went and what he was doing there. I had such a careful(ish) plan for Full Circle way back when before I actually had finished writing Second Nature. And when the ending of that book obliterated said plan, I developed a new plan for Full Circle, or at the very least, part of a new plan (I admit Act Three is currently lacking), but here's the thing about those plans— my missing character didn't figure in to either one.

The character the plot forgot.

So where did he go? Did he take a look at the plot I have figured out and decide it was time for an extended vacation? Did I kill him off and just forget (which, as it was pointed out, would be a total MJ thing to do)? Is he off working behind the scenes in this book and just hasn't yet revealed to me there wheres and whys of it all?

I'm hoping for Door #3.

Of course, Full Circle is deep within First Draft territory, and will be languishing there for a good long while, so all this worry and fussing may be for nothing. Hell, because I'm talking about it here, I'll probably realize right where that character is and then have to kick myself repeatedly because it was so obvious.

Which, I would totally be okay with.

In the meantime, however, let's just hope no other characters decide to join him.

Have you ever lost a character? If so, how did you go about finding him/her/it?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Goal Post

Happy Monday, all!

You may have already seen this on various social media sites, but in case you missed it, I had one of those mythical, magical mornings over the weekend where ideas for both of my current projects were flowing fast and furious, leaving my hand cramping in my attempt to record them all.

It was amazing. It's been a good long while since I've have such an experience, and I owe it all to two people: one of my critique partners and my brother. They were gracious enough to spend some time talking story with me, and in doing so helped me get unstuck on that one remaining trouble scene in Second Nature, and gave me a potential solution for a problem scene in Full Circle.

Which made me feel a little bit like this:

But that's not all...I even had this...moment where a potentially not-awful hook for Second Nature's blurb popped into my head. Just...boom. There it was, and I wrote the first draft of a blurb just like that.

I still can't believe it. It's just so crazy that it could happen so quickly—especially when you know how damn long it took me to write a blurb for Effigy—but it did, and I have this workable blurb that I'm actually willing to show to other people. Sure, those people will tear it to shreds (and I will thank them for it), but it's nice to have something to show them in the first place.

So, in light of my moderately-productive weekend, here are my goals for the week:

1. Finish that page of Second Nature edits you found tucked into your notebook.

Yep. That's right. I found another set of editing notes. I don't think it's a particularly difficult set of revisions—mostly questions of word choice and frequency of word usage—so I think it's entirely possible that I'll finish this week. Of course, I say that all the time, so who knows?

2. Prep submission for critique group...including, but not limited to, the dreaded blurb.

We submit about 10-15 pages in our group, and right now my plan is to submit the blurb and possibly my first completed scene for Full Circle. Of course, at the moment there are no completed Full Circle scenes, so part of this goal will be to complete said scene. If I don't get it finished, I'll just submit the blurb. My critique partners will think it's Christmas.

3. Read a damn book already.

My reading progress has slowed dramatically as the year has progressed. I've only managed to read one book thus far this month. I'm currently working my way through two books: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas and The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr. I'd like to be finished with at least one of them by the end of the week.

4. Complete at least three thirty minute work-outs.

I used to do this religiously. Yoga, strength training, and aerobics, at least three times a week. And then I fell out of the habit. Strangely, I miss it, so this week, I will be attempting to reestablish that habit.

What's on your To-Do List this week?

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Coming Full Circle

In my last post, I talked about my new-ish computer set-up. Part of this set-up was a brand-spankin' new word processing program, which was one of the reasons why I had held out for so long.

I liked my old word processor. Sure, it was from the late 1990's (Yes, you read that correctly), but I actually knew how to use it, and I didn't want to exchange it for something new because I hate change.

I am Sheldon. Sheldon is me.

But technology seems to love it (Whatever, technology), so with the new-ish faster computer came the new word processor and my idea to transcribe Book Three.

For those who may not know, Book Three, otherwise known as Full Circle, is my new project, the third intended installment in my fantasy series. Not that I can do anything with it until I actually do something with Second Nature, but sitting around and not writing anything makes me crazier than I already am. Besides, given how long it takes me to actually write a novel, I really should have started years ago.

Anyway, I've been working on Full Circle. My original plan for it fell by the wayside, as my plans often do, so I've been building a new plan, with varying degrees of success. Thus far, this novel has been a combination of plotting and pantsing. Mostly, I've been writing down everything that pops into my head. I have no idea how much of it I'll actually keep (I'm thinking not much), but the new plan is to throw it all against the wall and see what sticks.

I'm getting off track again, as I often do. The point is, at the time I converted to the new computer, I had nearly 60,000 words. No completed chapters—hell, there aren't even any completed scenes. It's just 60,000 words worth of possible plot.

When I get stuck on a scene, one of the ways I attempt to get unstuck is to rewrite it. Meaning, I break out my spiral-bound notebook, choose a pen, and physically write it out, and then as soon as any change (no matter how minor) pops into my head, I write it down and follow it to the end. Often, it ends up some place pretty damn good.

Which is why I thought I'd try it with all of Full Circle.

It didn't work out the way I had hoped it would—with me adding a ton more words to the story. Mostly, I just second guessed every plot point I've come up with and went from "I'm so excited to be writing this story at last!" to "How did I manage to screw it all up so quickly?!?"

Doesn't really have anything to do with anything, I know.
I'm just in love with Baby Groot.

Good thing it's a first draft.

So I may not know what it's supposed to be yet, or how to go about writing it, but somewhere in there must be the start of the story I want to tell, right?

Plus, I have plenty of time to figure it out. I still (technically) haven't finished the second book yet.

But that's another post for another day.

Thanks for stopping by, y'all. I'm pretty sure this will end up being my last post for the week, but perhaps I'll be back next week.

Enjoy the rest of your week, and your weekend, everyone!

Monday, May 15, 2017

What's Up

This has been my Sunday night routine of late:

Me: I'm going to write a blog post!

Me: *boots up computer and logs into Blogger*

Me: *looks at blank screen and blinking cursor*

Me: *looks at blank screen and blinking cursor*

Me: *looks at blank screen and blinking cursor*

Me: Ugh. Never mind. I'm not going to write a blog post.

And this is my attempt to break that pattern. I don't exactly know what to write about because I don't exactly live a super exciting existence (and thank goodness for that!) and I seem to have forgotten how to write a blog. So here in bullet point format (because full and complete paragraphs are beyond me) are the highlights (or, what passes for them, anyway) of what's .

—Last month, I flew home to Maine only to get into a car and drive back to Florida with my sister and niece. Highlights of our road trip included our traditional Les Miserables sing-along and our inaugural Hamilton sing-along, both of which delighted my niece to no end. (Translation: she was not delighted to any end.)

—On our way back to Maine from Florida, there was the super fun moment in North Carolina when I received a text from The Man saying that one of those super fun Florida wildfires had started super near our house (Seriously, it was so close), and the neighbors were preparing to evacuate. Which is exactly the text one wants to receive when one is an OCD-ridden control freak who has no confidence that anyone other than her can properly prepare a go-bag for her pets. Fortunately, the fire department, with an assist from the army reserve people, got things under control, so no evacuation was ultimately necessary. Thank you, Fire Department and Army Reservists! We salute you!

—After my road trip/vacation, I did the unthinkable: I told The Man it was time to upgrade my computer system. He's been pushing for that for a while now—something about my old laptop needing a good thirty minutes to actually boot up?—so he was delighted (perhaps actually so). I am now working on an older laptop of his. It's newer than mine (every computer, with the exception of the one on which George R.R. Martin does his writing is newer than mine) and much faster. I no longer have time to do my best Cave Buffy impression in between pushing the power button and actually being able to use the damn thing.

—Which leads us to writing. Second Nature has more or less stalled. I submitted what I believe to be my last problem scene (of course, I say that about every scene I submit) to my critique partners to get their take on it. We meet tomorrow, and I hope they can help me shed a little light on what's bugging me so very much about it. Fingers crossed.

—I'm also using my shiny, newish laptop to work on my new novel, Full Circle (aka, Book Three in my fantasy series). I'm not going to say too much about it at this point in time because I'm planning to  make it the feature of my next post (maybe on Wednesday, maybe never if my current blogging patterns hold), but I at least wanted to mention that I am writing and working—even if it's not the book on which I should be working.

On that note, I'm outta here. Thanks for stopping by today! And I hope that the mothers among you had a wonderful Mother's Day.

And, also because I love him more than life itself, I will be ending this post with Baby Groot:

See you Wednesday. Probably.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

One Lost Hero...Or Two?

Today on My Pet Blog, we're (is it weird how I'm always referring to myself as 'we' in these intros?) welcoming author Sarah Foster, one of the amazing contributors to the latest anthology from the Insecure Writers Support Group.

Take it away, Sarah!

One Lost Hero…or Two?
by Sarah Foster

When I first approached the idea of a lost hero, I always had it in my head that this hero was someone being looked for. As the characters and plot became more concrete in my mind, it was clear to me that the actual “hero” I had created wasn’t the protagonist of my story. The narrator, Raynor, was the one telling the tale. He and his twin sister Illy are searching for their long-lost uncle in order to stop an evil group known as the Black Cloaks from kidnapping people with special powers.

So the hero of my story is literally lost, and the main characters are trying to find him. Mikah is a lost hero because he does not want to be found. He no longer wants to be the hero he once was. A big part of the story is learning about his backstory and what happened to him that made him decide to stop fighting evil and disappear. It was always obvious to me that Mikah was my “lost hero.” But was he the only one?

Finding their uncle is the main goal for Raynor and Illy; they and the reader don’t know what will happen once they do. For Raynor, his priority is protecting his sister. She’s the one determined to locate their uncle and defeat the Black Cloaks. Raynor, on the other hand, is reluctant to go on this journey, but he knows there is no arguing with his twin and so he must go with her.

Raynor spends most of the story worrying about what could happen, and revealing to the reader how truly frightened he is of the results of this journey. At some point it occurred to me, isn’t Raynor a bit of a lost hero as well? Not in the sense that he is literally lost, but that he is reluctant to become a hero. He seems to know that he must become one, but wants no part of it. It’s only when things are at their worst and he is forced to protect his sister that his own truth is revealed to him and he can accept his role as a hero.

It was funny to suddenly realize that my narrator was also a lost hero in this story. The fact that Raynor and his uncle have a particular trait in common (something revealed at the very end of the story) ties this idea together. So while I thought I was creating one lost hero, another one was telling the story the entire time. But as with most things I write, my characters are usually the ones in control.

Sarah Foster is a blogger and an aspiring novelist and poet. She lives with her stand-up comedian husband and an overweight cat in a studio apartment above a movie theater just south of Boston, Massachusetts. When she’s not obsessing over Broadway musicals or baking cupcakes, she is usually working on finishing—and hopefully someday publishing—her debut novel. You can read about her writing adventures (and the love/hate relationships with her characters) on her blog, The Faux Fountain Pen.

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The Last Dragon

In a land free from dragons, a new evil rises to take their place. The Gifted—those with special powers—are being collected by a mysterious group with a sinister purpose. With little hope in sight, Raynor and his twin sister, Irillya, seek out their long-lost uncle—a once great warrior who disappeared without a trace or a reason.

Hero Lost
Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Can a lost hero find redemption?

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I'm A Writer (An IWSG Post)

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means that it's time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

(Once again, I'm assuming any visitors today are already familiar with the IWSG, but if you want for instruction, or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.)

This month's co-hosts are: Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Michelle Wallace, and Feather Stone.

As my writing has completely come to a stand-still (Yay!), I'm taking advantage of the optional question of the month, which asks...

"What's the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for a story?"

So, as you may know, I primarily (though these days I feel as though I should say 'theoretically') write fantasy. Medieval-esque, and occasionally a little dark. And occasionally a lot dark because I am a horrible person who enjoys torturing her characters. Which means that, like many writers, my research is a little...odd. And possibly has me on some government watch lists.


I mean, yeah, sure, I routinely research topics such (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT!) as "the best places to stab people" or "burning people alive" but it's not like I'm actually planning to do any of those things to anyone other than the aforementioned characters.

I'm not. I swear.

So let's focus on what I personally think is the coolest:

I like weapons. And weaponry. A lot. Possibly more than I should. And by weaponry, I mean swords and daggers and double-bladed battle axes, and bows and arrows and the like. (Note: while I think this is totally cool, I do recognize the fact that not everyone will share in this opinion. For example, my sister, who once exclaimed, "What is wrong with you?" when I expressed interest in visiting a sword shop (or what at least looked like a sword shop. I suppose it could have just been some other kind of shop that just happened to have swords in the window.) we came across while on a trip.)

So, to recap, I like weapons. And weaponry. Any time I get to research weapons or weaponry, or their use, I am a happy camper.

And because I am a method writer, I actually want to hold these weapons in my hand and really understand their use (As best I can anyway. I honestly have very little talent for these things, as evidenced by all those lamps I have killed and walls I have stabbed in my many attempts to master these tools.) My most recent acquisitions were a set of throwing knives and a book on how to throw said throwing knives. Y'all, they are just so cool. Look!

My greatest achievement with these knives and this new hobby thus far is that I, and all those around me, still have all our fingers, toes, and eyes.

Sure, I may have accidentally stabbed myself that one time when I may have flipped the knife in the air (all cool like Buffy would) and may have caught the wrong end, but how else am I suppose to learn, right?

I'm certain that with just a little more practice, I will fully master this sport.

(Pauses for laughter.)

All right, so that's gonna do it for me today. Thanks for stopping by, everyone. See y'all again next week. (There's no way I'll get another post written this week.)

Unless I forget.


Monday, April 10, 2017

How It Went

In my last post, I told you about my upcoming author forum, at which I was one of the five featured authors/speakers. Today, I thought I might tell you how it went because I know you're just dying to know.

So, I had planned to talk about inspiration—places where I have found it, and how it helped to shape my one, lonely, little novel. And I practiced my talk a few times beforehand in hopes that I would more or less memorize it and be able to deliver it somewhat smoothly. I did the same thing before my first talk, but I practice-delivered that speech a lot more. This time, I just lacked the time. And the focus. (I am living for Book Three right now. Which may or may not be a good thing.)

Anyway, there were eleven people in the audience (not including the other authors), and I was scheduled to speak fourth. By the time my turn came around, a few people had left, but there were still a lot more people than the no one to whom I had been practicing all week long.

So I get up there and begin talking. In my practice runs, my talk went approximately twelve minutes. It was supposed to last around fifteen, so I figured twelve was good because it would allow for a few minutes of me getting off track and rambling about some completely unrelated subject. (Not that I ever do that.) In my practice runs, I had proper transitions and pace and...other things I can't think of at the moment.

In actuality, I didn't deliver the talk anywhere close to how I had wanted to do it. I blew every transition and dumped an entire section. I have no idea for how long I actually spoke, but I'm pretty convinced I sounded a lot more like the Micro Machine Guy than I should have. In the event that you do not know to whom I am referring, I refer you to this video:

On one of those completely unrelated side notes in which I never indulge, if you've never heard the Micro Machine Guy's album "Ten Classics In Ten Minutes", you should really look it up. It's funny as hell. (His real name is John Moschitta, by the way, but I am an 80's child, so to me, he will forever be the Micro Machine Man.)

Getting back on topic...

But other than the aforementioned issues, I guess the talk went...not entirely horribly. People laughed. Possibly because I said a funny thing, but given how the rest of it went, I can't be too sure.

And then came the question and answer period.

Some of you know how this went because you saw it on Twitter, or even on this blog, because look—there it is on the left, but things went fine until this happened:

Audience Member: What's your book about?
Audience Member: Hello?

I. Couldn't. Answer. The. Question.

One of the other authors (who had read my book) had to answer for me. (And did so very well, might I add. I should really just hire her to be my official spokesperson.)

Such a proud, proud moment.

(Note to self: Next time, practice answering questions, too...)

But despite all of that, I did manage to sell a book, which was one more than I had expected to sell, and there was even talk of having me on yet another panel. I suspect they were either just being polite, or super desperate. Or maybe the certain comic relief provided by a walking human disaster is just too good to pass up?

Time will time, I suppose.

So, this will probably end up being my last post until May. You know, because I really need a break from blogging. And because there's some travel in my not-too-distant future, and I just won't be around. But have a great week, and rest of the month.

Thanks for stopping by—see y'all in May.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

I Have A Lot Of Feelings (An IWSG Post)

Hello, everyone.

It's the first Wednesday of the month (at least I think it is. I haven't really slept in a while, so I suppose it might not be.), which means it's time for another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group (unless it isn't actually the first Wednesday of the month after all, in which case, let's just pretend it is, okay?) ( you know how many times it took me to type that close parenthesis correctly...or how many tries it took me to spell 'parenthesis' correctly? I don't even know if I did spell it correctly either time. Feel free to let me know in the comments.)

For more information, or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.

This month's fantastic co-hosts are: Christopher D. Votey, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Fundy Blue, and Chrys Fey.

This month's (optional) question asks, "Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?"

I haven't done that. Not really. Well, maybe. I don't know. (Seriously, I am so tired right now.) Last year, my theme was the music I listen to when I'm writing. Like, songs that remind me of specific scenes or characters. Which I suppose could seem like it was marketing or publicity. Just not particularly good marketing or publicity.

Because I am an utter failure when it comes to marketing and publicity.

That said (again. It's not like it's a secret or anything.), this Saturday, I shall be participating in an author forum where I will be expected to stand up in front of people (gasp!), and speak (double gasp!) intelligibly (triple gasp!) on some subject for, like, fifteen minutes. (now I'm hyperventilating.)

It's true. Here's the flyer:

There are actually two flyers, but I chose the one
that doesn't actually have my face on it.

I think I've made my feelings on public speaking (or simply interacting with the human race) pretty well-known over the years, but in the event that you're new here, they can be summed up with one simple gif:

I have no idea what this is from, but it terrifies me
almost as much as public speaking does.

Regardless of the terror, when I am asked to participate in one of these forums, I say yes. Because it's good to get out of our comfort zones once in a while, right? It's good to challenge ourselves, and it's probably good that I at least make an attempt at promotion.

But I hate doing them. I hate promotion. I don't know how to do it without feeling all boastful and braggy. I feel horrible going into them, and I feel horrible coming out. And I carry around this horrible weight for a good week following each event.

This will be my third since moving to the first circle of hell Florida. My talks must be going reasonably all right, given that they keep asking me to come back, but it doesn't make me any less terrified. (I know I keep using that word. It fits and I'm too tired to think of another. And you have no idea how many tries it took me to spell 'another' correctly. I really need to go to bed.)

I suppose they could be asking me to come back each time because they've placed bets on when, exactly, I'll pass out, run away, or just projectile vomit all over the audience (first three rows may get wet...) and they all want to be there to record it for YouTube.

But let's hope it's the other thing.

Sorry...that Stephen Colbert gif has made me laugh and lose my train of thought, so I have no idea what I had originally intended to type in this space. Probably something about feelings, as the title of the post is "I have a lot of feelings", and the only feelings mentioned thus far have been terrified and tired. (Is tired a feeling? My goodness, I need to sleep.)

Oh! I remember! I was going to say something about how the terrible, horrible feelings there make me feel (see...feelings) like I can't do this writing thing. Well, maybe not the writing thing. I can write (kind of anyway...just don't use this blog post as an example). The author thing—that's what I meant. I don't always feel like I can do the author thing.

And I have no idea what to do about that except to finish writing my talk on inspiration (yeah, I'm talking about inspiration, which I feel kind of ironic), get up and deliver it, and then go right back to writing. And say 'yes' to the next opportunity.

For you, Patricia Lynne!

And maybe take a nap in there somewhere.

Have I mentioned that I'm tired? (I'm kidding. I know I have.)

So, yeah. I'm going to stop here. I'm going to sleep for a bit, and then feel horrible because I wrote this post and told you these things.

Because I have a lot of issues. And feelings. Let's not forget the feelings.

Thanks for stopping by today—See y'all next time (provided I survive the forum and I haven't scared you off...)!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Expand Your Vocabulary

Hey everyone!

I am poking my head out of my latest, totally unplanned blogging break to throw the spotlight on a brand-new book release by author extraordinaire, Patricia Lynne (aka Patricia Josephine).

Check it out...

A collection of flash fiction inspired by unusual words. Each tiny tale is crafted around a word that is unique or no longer in use. Read them while waiting in line, or before bed. They range from sweet and lighthearted to dark and disturbing. Look out for the supernatural, but don't turn your back on the average human. A killer might be lurking underneath. Expand your vocabulary, and get some inspiration of your own.

Now available at:


About The Author:

Patricia Josephine never set out to become a writer, and in fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was more of an art and band geek. Some stories are meant to be told, and now she can't stop writing. She writes Young Adult under the name Patricia Lynne.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, and has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow.

Find her online at:

Amazon Author Page

Congrats, Patricia!

See y'all on Wednesday...and for all of you who are A to Z-ing, we salute you.

Monday, March 6, 2017

And Then There Was None

A funny thing happened over the weekend.

I may (or may not) have completed my revisions.

I have to keep the 'or may not' part because I am, after all, me, and I have a long history of not actually completing my revisions.

But, for the moment at least, they are complete, and the manuscript is in the hands of my last beta reader. And in theory, she is reading at a neck-breaking pace because she finds it impossible to put down the story. (and also because she'd like to get to the end before I decide I must rewrite the entire thing. Again. My beta readers love me. Just so much.)

So until such time as I decide to either move forward, or rewrite the entire book (again), I'll be working on other things. It's kind of weird to be saying that because I've been revising for so long. Like, just this side of forever. I'm a little worried that I'll end up revising more just because I've forgotten how to do anything else. So if you see me with a red pen, just slap it right out of my hand, okay?

Here's what I'll be attempting to work on in the coming days and weeks and possibly months, all in the name of distracting myself (and also because they need to be done anyway—but mostly that first thing...):

1. Write a blurb for Second Nature

I had one brief moment of happiness upon the completion of my revisions. It was quickly swallowed by the knowledge that the dreaded blurb now awaited me. Is it too late to run away to join the circus?

2. Work on plan for Full Circle (aka, Book Three)

When I last looked at this manuscript (the last time I thought Second Nature's revisions were finished...), there was one of those super fun big ole timeline problems. I really need to figure it out before I can do anything else with this book.

3. Once the timeline problem is solved, find that scene I wrote in a notebook somewhere for Full Circle but now can't seem to locate.

I swear I wrote that scene fairly recently (translation: since having moved), but I haven't figured out in which notebook it's written. Fortunately, I only have about a million notebooks, so I'm sure tracking down one scene in one of them will be super easy.

Good thing I have a lot of time on my hands...

What's going on in your corner of the world?

Happy Monday, all.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Tales From The Vault (An IWSG Post)

Hello, everyone. It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

(As always, I'm assuming that, by now, you know what this is, but if you need/want more information, or a complete list of participants, please click on the link.)

This month's co-hosts are Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, Nicohle Christopherson, and, you know, me. (I always feel weird writing this particular part when I am among the hosts. But, as I pretty much always feel weird regardless of the situation, I perhaps didn't need to mention this particular instance to you.)

Anyway. On with the post.

This month's question asks, "Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?"

Well, I'll tell you. Well, at least I'll tell you half of it. I have no idea if it will ultimately work out, but I did, not too long ago, pull out an old manuscript of mine.

I generally have two projects going at one time—a main project, and a back-up project that I work on a little bit whenever I need a break from the main project. At the moment, my main project is Book #2 of my fantasy series, and my back-up project is Book #3 of said series.

And because there was this time when I thought I might actually finish Book #2 (Ha!) and promote Book #3 to Main Project Status, I went hunting through the archives of abandoned never-finished stories to look for a new possible back-up project.

One of my top contenders was this novel I had started in high school, and worked on through a few years of college, but never finished. (The story of my life, I know.) What pages did exist were well-received in college. Like, really well-received. The feedback from professors and classmates and fellow writers met at conferences was excellent, flattering, even—and maybe, just maybe, played a minor part in cultivating my ego a little bit. (I know I'm always so ego-free, so this information may seem jarring to you.)

So, fast forward many, many years to the time when I thought I might actually finish Book #2. (Again, I say, "Ha!") I pulled this abandoned story out of a box and submitted the first ten pages to my critique group, just to get their take on the story.

And their take was:

Leaving me all:

and wondering what in the world all my professors, classmates, and conference-writer acquaintances were fawning over during my college years, as well as worrying that my entire decision to be a writer (made the summer before my junior year of college) had been predicated on big, fat lies designed to avoid hurting my delicate artist feelings.

But that's another post for another day, perhaps.

I went home after my critique and paged through the rest of the manuscript, and had a good long laugh at both it and myself. My critique partners were so incredibly right, and if this story ever does make it to Back-Up Project Status, or even Main Project Status, the characters and I will be in for a total overhaul.

And boy, am I looking forward to that.

Thanks for stopping by today, everyone. Happy writing.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Abducted Life

No, this is not another post about how editing has completely taking over my life. You may breath your collective sigh of relief. Go ahead—I'll wait.

Instead, we welcome author Patricia Lynne (or, Patricia Josephine, as she's also known...) back to My Pet Blog. She has a brand new book out, and she's here today to talk about some real life influences found in the story.

Take it away, Patricia!

Five Real Life Influences in Abducted Life

Writers seem to like to insert little homages (boy, did I just have one heck of a time trying to spell that word) to things in their real life. I did it in Being Human with names of people in my life. Abducted Life was no different. Here are five real life inspirations that helped me add a little personality to the story.

Number One: Did I say that out loud?

The baker at my day job can have quite the snarky mouth and often she will say something sarcastic and end with a flair of snark. "Oh, did I say that out loud?" There's a scene where Savannah is walking behind two women who are gossiping about one's boyfriend. Savannah accidentally says what's on her mind out loud and earns a nasty look from the women.

Number Two: I love this song!

This is another coworker story. I used to have a cook who loved music and, I swear, 80% of the songs on the radio she said she loved. I'd actually tease her when she didn't say it. So naturally, when Mandy and Savannah are clubbing, I had Mandy enjoy each and every song she heard and declare it to Savannah's amusement.

Number Three: The dump

Behind my parents' house is an old, cleaned up dump, but there is still stuff littered there, including and old beetle car. It was a fun place to explore in hopes of finding a hidden treasure. When writing where Evan hung out when not stalking Savannah, I envisioned that dump down to the sloping hills and overgrown road that ran through it.

Number Four: The old farmhouse

Speaking of my parents' house, that was were I got the inspiration for where Savannah's parents lived. My parents own a 100+ year old farm house that has a giant tree in the side yard. They have a picture of the house when it was first built and the tree was just a sapling. Mom also loved flowers and birds so she has many flowerbeds and birdfeeders. The land surrounded the house is also hayed yearly and is very secluded for an easy alien abduction.

Number Five: Trouble

The last little detail is a small one. In the beginning, Savannah recalls how she and Evan met in kindergarten and had gotten in trouble for not paying attention. My bestie of 30 years and I met that way. We were sat next to each other and I remember the teacher separating us for talking.

Savannah Janowitz’s perfect life was destroyed the night she and her boyfriend vanished without a trace. When she reappears a year later––alone––she’s a shell of her former self. Robbed of her popularity and her boyfriend, she has no memory of what happened to her. Savannah struggles to move forward as strange, new abilities manifest.

Evan Sullivan never gave extra-terrestrials much thought until the night he and Savannah were abducted. While Savannah’s memory was wiped clean, he remembers every horrific detail. Constantly reminded of the experiments that made him less than human, Evan hides in the shadows and watches Savannah rebuild her life without him. But neither can let the other go.

When their paths cross, Savannah and Evan finally see a glimmer of their old lives return. As they face what happened to them, they soon discover they aren’t safe. There’s more to fear than what’s hiding in the stars.

About The Author

Patricia Josephine never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was all about art. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head. That was the start of it and she hasn't regretted a moment. She writes young adult under the name Patricia Lynne.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow, and an obsession with Doctor Who.

Other places to find her online:

Congrats on the new release, Patricia! Hope everyone out there has a wonderful weekend. See you next week. Unless I forget. Which I totally might because I do occasionally do that. Regardless, hope you have a wonderful weekend.