Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Getting to Know You Blog Hop

Hello, and welcome to the Getting to Know You Blog Hop. We have an eclectic choice of bloggers for this hop and it will run from January 29, 2013 to February 1,2013. I’d like to thank all of the participants for joining and committing this time to their blog.

Let’s get started on getting to know me.

Where are you from?
I was born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in a very small town and grew up on Lake Michigan. I stayed in Michigan until I graduated high school and left for warmer parts of the country via the United States Marine Corps.

When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always been a writer at heart and started reading and writing at age four. I love the written word. I chose a career as a Technical Writer creating computer user manuals and segued into writing novels after I had a life changing experience. A near-death experience that brought into focus what was most important in my life, and that was my goal to become and author.

What books have most influenced your life?
Stephen King’s books resonate with me because I feel like he’s my “unofficial” mentor. I use his books and his style to guide how I write. He can use a few words to trigger an entire world inside a reader’s mind. That’s my goal as well.

What is your favorite book from childhood?
The book “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S.Lewis comes to mind, as well as “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I also like the Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner.

Are the names of the characters in your novels important?
I try to find character names that fit the character description and attitude of the character I develop. I try to make sure all the character names in my books are unique and I don’t overlap or use similar names to confuse my readers.

What’s your favorite fruit?
No question about it. Blueberries. I LOVE them. As a child, I worked the summers as a picker for a Blueberry farm. We would get a dollar a bucket. Best times of my life.

Do you ever wish you had an entirely uncreative job?
Never. Writing is whom I am, how I live, what I breathe. I could not exist if I were not a writer. I tried the corporate route before. It didn’t agree with me.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
My husband. He helps me stay grounded. He’s as close to me as anyone could be and he know all my moods. I also lay all my troubles on God. He’s my rock.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
I learned how to survive by going into the fantasy realm of my mind and make up stories. I was bullied a lot in school and I learned how to switch it off and just go into my mind and be one with my stories.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Stephen King. I’ve even written a blog titled, “EverythingI know about writing I learned by reading Stephen King”. It’s true. And, I believe that every writer worth his salt should have a copy of ON WRITING by Stephen King on their desk or bookshelf.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’ve recently had two books released. OUTFOR JUSTICE and GOOD INTENTIONS.

OUT FOR JUSTICE: Rookie homicide Detective Karen Sykes is out to prove she is good at her job, finding justice for a darkness in her past through law enforcement. She gets her first chance to shine with a case that hits a little too close to home. Like her younger sister, a four-year-old boy, has been brutally murdered. The case pairs her with Mike Connelly, an attractive crime scene technician, and sparks fly between the two of them. Mike resists the attraction and only adds more emotional conflict to the case.

When her partner becomes the latest victim and ends up in the hospital near death, Karen sets out to find the murderer before he hurts anyone else. Only the case gets trickier when the murder suspect ends up dead, leaving new clues to the real killer. Finding comfort in Mike's support, their relationship heats up, but so does the investigation. The killer has a plan. One that involves a Cat and Mouse game of hide and seek inside the hospital, where her partner struggles for his life. Karen discovers it takes more than catching a killer to make the pain of her past go away. It also takes opening her heart and learning to trust in others.

GOOD INTENTIONS: The tragic story of one woman’s efforts to help a teenage mother. Megan, fourteen and pregnant, needed a mom. Tracy, thirty-nine and already raising a large family, gave her a home. Neither was ready for what happened next.

Tracy Reynolds’ life is not her own. She works the nightshift at the hospital and has three boys, two girls and a husband who works the opposite shift along with a menagerie of rescued pets. Somehow, she and her husband, Tim, have made it work with love, faith, and impeccable ethics.

Adding fourteen-year-old Megan and her newborn son to the mix was supposed to be uncomplicated. The adoption agency made it sound so easy. They painted Megan as a good child who had a rough life. She needed love and understanding and the stability of a respectable home and family. Tracy and Tim fit the bill and were fast tracked through the system and before they knew it trouble landed on their doorstep. Megan.

Megan rejected their family values and resisted from every direction when it came to learning how to live within their family dynamics and taking care of her son. She missed her friends and the people she knew when she worked as a prostitute. Despite court orders and her probation officer’s warnings, Megan secretly reconnected with her old friends and lover. 

The Reynolds’ family spun out of control. Not one would be untouched by Hurricane Megan’s path of destruction.

One link in a strong chain of family dynamics can crumble the entire household.

Deceptions. Infidelity. Drugs. Child abuse. Cancer. Sexual abuse. Home invasion. The Reynolds’ went through it all. Would their family ever be the same?

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write. Write something every day. And, Read. Read every day.Always be willing to learn and grow as a writer. If you’re serious about becoming an author, be serious. Look like an author in the virtual world. Have a website, a blog, a Facebook author page. Join LinkedIn, Twitter, and any other social network community that can benefit you. I recommend Triberr. There you can specialize which communities,“tribes”, you want to join that will be beneficial to you and them.


Thank you for reading a bit about me and I’d like to introduce you to other authors along this hop. Their links are below:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Life Between Species Just got a Little Closer

Watching this video brought tears to my eyes. At the humanity and the tenderness displayed.

The dolphin waited patiently while the diver freed the dolphin from the tangled fishing line. What instincts that dolphin had to go to the humans for rescue, and what clear thinking the diver had to immediately assess what the dolphin needed and take action.

My husband is a scuba diver and he's seen every kind of underwater situation there is, and this doesn't cone close. It's truly God's species getting some up close and personal time communicating with each other.

The video touched me. I hope that it touches you as well.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Today I Celebrate

Today I celebrate fifteen years married to the most wonderful man on Earth. Let me tell you a little about how we met and how my husband proposed.

My husband, Greg, and I met at a place where we both worked. It wasn’t love at first sight. It was more like dislike at first sight. I thought he was arrogant and a know-it-all and he thought I was a pain in the ass. Why? Because he was a computer programmer and I was a technical writer.

Most computer programmers have very little patience when it comes to having a technical writer document their programs. But, it was my job and I took it very seriously. After a while, Greg realized I knew what I was doing and wasn’t so hostile to me. I got to know him better through impromptu employee lunches and saw that under the arrogance was a nice guy.

We unofficially buried the hatchet and soon enjoyed activities outside of business like happy hours and playing cards and movies. All of these activities were together with other employee friends. We weren’t a couple by any means. Throughout this time, Greg went through a painful divorce. We all tried to be there for him, but it was me he turned to in his most depressing hour. We talked, cried, and just sat together the entire day the divorce became final. We bonded.

That bond grew stronger, and we became better friends. He took me for rides on his motorcycle and began to enjoy each other’s company outside of our other friends. We kept this side of our relationship separate from work. We didn’t tell our co-workers or anyone else. We hadn’t even kissed yet. It actually took a few months before we exchanged our first kiss. When we did it was as if all the stars in the sky brightened a hundred-fold. We clicked. It felt so right. As if, we’d finally come home. Together.

Our relationship grew along with our love for one another. We’d been living together for about a year, when Christmas time drew near. It would be our first "real" Christmas together, tree and all. The year before Greg had gone back to his home in Pennsylvania to share Christmas with his family. My oldest daughter was coming to spend Christmas with us and would arrive on Christmas Eve. On the morning of December 22nd, Greg insisted that we each open a gift. He told me that the gift he wanted me to open was meant to be just between us.

I had no idea what he could have been thinking at that moment. I was bewildered and confused. He sat me down on the sofa and placed a very large, but light box in my lap. I tore the wrapping off and opened the box eager to see what was inside, but only found newspaper -- and another box. The box was addressed to "somebody special." Once again, I eagerly tore into the wrapping and opened the box, only to find a note. I was led on a scavenger hunt throughout the apartment finding little notes everywhere, until I got to the last note.

The note read " Find the little blue church and you will find your present."

Talk about strange messages! I sat and thought about the cryptic message and then realized that we had placed a small wooden church ornament on the tree and it was painted blue. I searched the tree for the little church all the while thinking I was getting a necklace or earrings because I had hinted long and hard about what I had wanted for a present. Finally, I found the little blue church. With disappointment, I noticed that no necklace or earrings hung from the little ornament. However, when I turned the little church upside down, there was a note taped to the bottom. It read "Turn around."

Now, I was shaking. My hands trembled as I replaced the ornament, careful not to disturb anything else on the tree. I slowly turned around and there was Greg, on his knees, holding open an engagement ring box. Inside was the most beautiful and elegant ring I had ever dreamed.

It was such a huge shock to me that I immediately burst out crying. Of course they were happy tears and of course I said YES! We were married a year later, and my oldest daughter was our witness.

So, today, as I sit here fifteen years later, he’s still the man I would choose to spend the rest of my life. He’s still my best friend. Our love has deepened into such a beautiful bond that I can barely believe it at times. I prayed for a man like Greg, and God granted my prayer. In His time, not in mine. I had a lot of growing up to do before I met Greg, and I had a lot to learn after I met him. He encouraged me, built up my self-esteem and treated me like no man ever had. Together we make it work. That’s how it is best said about our relationship. Together.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Everything I learned about writing by reading Stephen King

I have to tell you, my all time favorite author and my "mentor" is Stephen King. I have read and re-read so much of his work that it has taught me nearly everything I know about writing. Every writer should have his book ON WRITING sitting on their desktop or close at hand.

  • Show the story.
  • Use the reader's imagination.
  • Give few details, let the reader fill in the rest.
  • Streamline your story.
  • Always leave your readers wanting more.

Show the Story:
It doesn't get more straightforward than this. Show vs. Tell is a topic every writer should be aware of and must understand the basics before they can write. Use action verbs. Stay away from adverbs. Be flawless in your writing and the readers will notice.

For example, I received this quote for my latest book, GOOD INTENTIONS.

"Flawlessly written and heartbreaking, you won't soon forget this story."
Sammie Callahan

Use the Reader's Imagination:
Draw a vivid image inside the reader's imagination using the words you create. Let the reader free flow along with you as you create your story. Use your words to give the reader the chance to see the images in their mind and create the "movie" inside their head.

Give few details, let the reader fill in the rest:
Don't go overboard on description and background information. Don't fill pages with words the reader will probably skip over, anyway. Stephen King is the master at this. He uses a few words, a bit of detail and all of a sudden, you, the reader have the entire description inside your head. It may not be the same for the next reader, but that's okay. It works for you. It works for them. Make it work in your next writing project.

Streamline your story:
Keep your story lines fluent and easy to follow. Don't get all convoluted and try to be tricky. Write a good story and your readers will appreciate you for it.

For example, I received this quote for NOT WITHOUT ANNA.

Ms. Taylor's writing style is clear, without frills, and so streamlined that her story flows and flows and flows, without taking a break, to its satisfying conclusion. Maeve of Tara 

Always leaving your readers wanting more:
End your stories with a bit of a question still floating in the reader's mind. Give the reader only what you want, never more. Have them come back to you and ask, "Yes, it ended, but what about...?" That's the sign of a good story. Always leaving the reader wanting more.

For example, I received these quotes for my novel FOREVER UNTIL WE MEET.

It is one of those stories that you just want to keep going and going - even after the last page has been reached. Kristie Leigh Maguire  
I look forward to seeing more of this author's writings. Linda Strong    

"The art of a good storyteller is giving the reader what they want and knowing what not to give the reader so they can use their imagination." -- Vicki M. Taylor
Happy Writing,

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Staying Focused - Through the Good Times and Not so Good

A friend of mine asked me how do I stay focused with all my medical issues both mental and physical and keep up with writing my blogs.

Well, my friend, that is a very good question. And, I'd like to answer it here, if I may?

Staying focused isn't all so much as focusing on one thing at a time, but having the ability to focus on the present while keeping an eye on the future.

When I'm feeling particularly well, I not only write my daily blog, but I'll write down ideas for topics of future blogs. This way, I have an on-going list that I can glean ideas from and come up with new posts. 

Another way to stay ahead of an illness or behavior, is to write those blogs out and have them sitting as drafts so that you can pull any one of them out, polish a bit, and voila! You have a ready made post for that day.

Staying stable is so important when you are ill, either mentally or physically. That's very crucial to building your blogs and maintaining your blog topic idea list. So, it's very important that you listen to your mind and body and know when enough is enough and it's time to spend quality time with yourself, healing yourself, gaining your strength back, in whatever fashion that may be for you.

For me, it might mean a quick trip to Busch Gardens for a walk around the park. That always rejuvenates. me. Kayaking in a local estuary looking at wildlife, getting astonished when fish jump, or a bird takes flight, always brings me back to earth.

Lying still, letting my dog lay his head in my lap, softly petting him. Just laying my hands on him. Finding the peace of mind I may have been missing for a while is always helpful. 

Sometimes, I need to read a bit from my Bible, just to find a bit of attachment with the One above who knows all and sees all. Sending Him my prayers and asking for help is always a good way to keep myself grounded and find motivation to stay focused.

Staying focused. Doesn't always mean sitting at your computer for eight or nine hours a day pounding on the keyboard. 

Staying focused can mean, centering yourself, knowing yourself. Being yourself completely in the moment. Once you have mastered that. You may only need to spend an hour or two working on your blogs rather than all day. It's all about balance.

Find that balance in your life. Life for balance. Practice Balance. It won't be easy at first, but with practice come repetition and repetition means you are learning. Balance your life. Balance yourself.

So, when you are well, work on your blogs, build up your cache of posts and topics. When you are ill, take care of yourself. You come first. Don't worry. We will all be here, with gentle hugs of welcome when you return.

So, do you have any tips for how to stay centered and focused while writing your blogs? What keeps you going?


Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Next Big Thing Bloggity Hop

I’m happy to be a part of The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. Thanks go out to C. Michael McGannon for inviting me. I have two new books that have just been released and I can’t wait to tell you about them. I’d also like to share with you other authors who are participating in The New Big Thing Blog Hop. You can find their links at the end of this post. Please visit and share the love.

“THE NEXT BIG THING” is designed to raise awareness of our work, or work in progress. We do that by answering ten questions about it. We graciously thank the person who nominated us, and tag other authors whose work could very well be THE NEXT BIG THING.

1. What is the working title of your next book?

I’ve just finished two novels and they released at the end of this year: Good Intentions and Out for Justice.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

My ideas come to me from a variety of sources. Dreams, newspaper articles, magazines, real life news stories, and thoughts I may have from time to time.

The idea for Good Intentions came from a newspaper article that caught my eye. It was a very long article about a family who attempted to adopt a pregnant teenager, and subsequently her baby. The story interested me, because this family was already made up of a mom, dad, and five children. It was a very heart warming article.

Out for Justice came to me in a dream. The entire story was there, and I even had exact vivid images of how the characters would look and act. I woke the next morning and wrote and wrote as much as I could remember. I love how stories come to me like that. I wish I had a machine attached to my head so I could capture all my dreams!

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Good Intentions would be under contemporary Women's Fiction/ family drama.

Out for Justice would be filed under contemporary romantic suspense.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I’ve never thought about my stories in that way, so this is a hard question. Each character is unique and I don’t craft them after a movie actor. I guess, in Out for Justice, Karen, the homicide detective would probably be played by a young Ashley Judd. In Good Intentions, the pregnant teenager, Megan, could be played by Kirsten Dunst, and Tracy, the mom, could be played by someone like a younger Kathleen Turner.

I really don’t like putting movie actors to fill in for my characters, as I want my readers to develop the full character from what they read and fill in with their own imagination.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

OUT FOR JUSTICE: Rookie Detective Karen Sykes is out to prove she is good at her job, finding justice for a darkness in her past through law enforcement

GOOD INTENTIONS: Good Intentions is the tragic story of one woman’s efforts to help a teenage mother.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

OUT FOR JUSTICE is published by Mundania Press, LLC
GOOD INTENTIONS is published by Amazon CreateSpace

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Good Intentions took a very long time. Nearly two years of writing and about two years of editing.

Out for Justice took nearly a year of writing and about a year of editing.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I guess Good Intentions could be compared to a Jodi Picoult book. It has that kind of drama in it.

Out for Justice, I don’t compare it to a particular book, but if you read romantic suspense, you’ll definitely enjoy Out for Justice.

I try not to compare my books to others because I’d rather the reader begin the journey of self discovery themselves and not be biased by anything I’ve compared the books to that might cloud their reading pleasure.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

In Good Intentions, the mother of five in the newspaper article who loved enough to want to adopt a pregnant teenager inspired me. She is truly an inspiration.

As for Out for Justice, I felt that my story is a conglomeration of all rookie female homicide detectives. I didn’t choose a particular one. She came to me in a dream.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

In Out for Justice, rookie homicide detective, Karen Sykes, fights to bring justice for the murder of a four-year-old boy. She has personal reasons for getting so involved in the case. She also feels an attraction to one of the crime scene technicians.

In Good Intentions, Tracy Reynolds, the mother of five, has so much love to give that she can’t turn her back on Megan and her baby. She does have a tendency to bring home every stray in the neighborhood and her friends and family have their doubts. Tracy struggles to prove everyone wrong even though the odds are stacked against her. Read how she overcomes every obstacle thrown her way.
You can find these books at your local B&N bookstore or ordering it at any bookstore, or by clicking here:

Happy Reading!

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Here are the fabulous authors I’ve tagged to tell you about their Next Big Thing!