Execute or EXECUTE


A couple of days ago, a friend of mine and I were talking about publishing and our thoughts on what constitutes good writing and ideal concepts. I mentioned to her that I've been a bit disappointed in some of the novels I've read this year that had wonderful concepts but lacked in skill (in my humble opinion). I couldn't get three chapters through one very popular series this year, and I found myself asking "What is happening?"

As we discussed the matter further, we agreed that often times concept outweighs skill. But should that be so? I argued that having a great concept is wonderful, but a great idea poorly executed is just that - an idea. Not a reality.

Have we come to an age where talent lies in our minds and not on paper? Are we content with "neat idea" over unique voice? Do we seriously prefer something different than something beautifully told?

I feel like there is a world full of talented people waiting for discovery, and there is no reason to sacrifice one over the other. Most classics are both lovely and original. Why can't we have our cake and eat it too? Give me Literature! Give me something I'd want to re-read and quote for years to come. Please, please, please inspire me. Give me words that will not only take me to another world, but transform the one I'm living in.

And if we, as writers, can't execute the beauty in language, then we need to execute the project. (This is my theory, at least.) Sometimes works can be polished to obtain the literary value we all hope for, but sometimes it's not possible. I've trashed some of my projects because of my lack of skill to adequately convey them.

It's our job to retain the poetic value of literature. And what a daunting job it is...

Photo by Favim.

Cover Reveal: DRAGONFLY WARRIOR by Jay Noel

I'm so excited to be on the the reveal crew for Jay Noel's novel Dragonfly Warrior. A huge congrats to him for its upcoming release!

Dragonfly Warrior is a steampunk adventure like no other. It's a dynamic mix of Asian and European mythology, the Wild West, martial arts, traditional fantasy, and high powered steam action that will keep you turning the pages.

Dragonfly Warrior Blurb:
The Mechanica Wars: Savage Machines Are Afoot...
At the age of twenty, Kanze Zenjiro's bloody footprints mark the bodies of those who stood in his way to protect the throne of Nihon. Now, the tyrannical Iberian Empire is bent on destroying his kingdom, and they send their steam-powered giants and iron spiders against him.
Zen embarks on a quest that takes him on the most dangerous journey of his life. To succeed, Zen must live up to his nickname, the Dragonfly Warrior, and kill all his enemies with only a sword and a pair of six-guns. He is called upon to somehow survive a test of faith and loyalty in a world so cruel and merciless, it borders on madness.

Author Bio:
After doing some freelance writing and editing for more than a dozen years, Jay decided to stop procrastinating and pursue his dream of being a novelist. He's been blogging for over eight years, and even had a comedy podcast syndicated all over the internet. All of that was fun, but all the steampunk-inspired stories in his head just wouldn't leave him alone. Jay spends his days working in medical sales, but he can be found toiling over his laptop late at night when all is quiet.

He draws inspiration from all over: H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Shakespeare, Ray Bradbury, Douglas Adams, and Isaac Asimov.

And Jay loves cookies.

Dragonfly Warrior is the first book of The Mechanica Wars, and will debut on January 6, 2014.
Jay Noel's website: www.jaynoel.com

DOs and DON'Ts of Submitting to Literary Journals

Hi friends. As most of you know, in addition to writing books, I'm also the founder and executive editor of Belle Reve Literary Journal. Our inbox has been open since April of 2013, and since then, I've learned a few things about being on the editor's side of the table. Here is a quick list of DOs and DON'Ts that would make me happy, happy, happy if all writers would follow:

  • DO submit a short paragraph about your short story. Give me a rundown of what I'm about to read. Pitch me the story quickly and in an interesting way.
  • DO include a THIRD person bio. I cannot even count how many times I've had to correct a writer's bio. After the hundredth time, it begins to irk you.
  • DO follow submission guidelines. If the guidelines say 5 poems. Do not submit 7. If it says a 2,500 word limit on fiction, don't submit 3,500.
  • DO try to make your e-mail submission as professional as possible. Remember this is our first impression.
  • DO try to respond promptly when you receive an e-mail from editors. If we're writing you, it's important.
  • DO mention where you heard about the journal. It helps us keep a record of what's working in terms of advertising.
  • DO rate journals on Duotrope, Every Writer's Resource, and wherever their website says they're listed. This helps us establish a reputation with both writers and readers. 
  • DO follow journals you submit to on Facebook and Twitter. Social media is invaluable to us, and we always need help spreading the word. If you'd be willing to submit to a journal, then in theory you'd have enough interest to follow it and contribute to its growth.
  • DO remember that we're not dream crushers. We simply have an idea about the tone we want our journal to have, and sometimes even good works don't fit it.
  • DON'T send us a long list of every publication in your bio. Some writers will send a 250 word bio. Don't be one of them. It's not flattering; it's inflating.
  • DON'T think you're the exception. If the guidelines have a word limit, don't think that your work is so great that I should overlook the rules. I have made exceptions in the past, but it's rare. It's best to follow directions.
  • DON'T send multiple e-mails to editors for any reason. I love hearing from authors! But I do not want my already booming inbox full of e-mails unless they are very important. Keep your e-mails to a minimum. It will save us all time in the future.
  • DON'T send us work that needs editing. This may sound crazy because we're editors, but we are not paid. Nor do we have an infinite amount of time to polish your work. Almost every submission needs some editing by us, but we prefer it to be minimum. We know it's hard to edit your own work, but please do your best. Read it aloud, and let a critique partner take a look before sending it to journals.
  • DON'T give up! Even if you receive loads of rejections, keep submitting. This is a subjective business. Always keep that in mind.
An example of an appropriate submission letter for Belle Reve:

Dear [Editor]:
I'm submitting [story name] for your consideration. I read about Belle Reve [...] and thought my story, which takes place in Alabama, would be a perfect fit for your southern journal.
[Name of story] is about a young boy who discovers an enchanted pond on a fishing trip. The morning's fog opened his eyes to a world he never knew existed. Later he must decide if what he saw was a dream or unveiled truth.
Bio: [Write in third person.]
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Then add your story/poems either in the body or by attachment. Easy, right? Please know that every editor is different. I can only speak for what I am looking for, but I hope that something in this post will help you on your submission journey.

Something else to note, I hate sending rejection letters. My heart aches a little every time I send one. All of us are in this business because we not only love reading good work but we love authors. We want to support them, build them up, and promote them. We're not evil people who take joy in saying "no." In fact, a lot of editors are writers. All of us at Belle Reve are. We know what it feels like to be on the other side of rejection. It hurts. We truly feel your pain, but try not to let it get you down. We all receive rejections. Keep your chin up.

Write On and Submit Away!


Rejection: Painful Progress or Deadening Defeat?

It's been a while since I've written a post on rejection. In fact, I've only ever written an entire post on it once, and somehow that piece is the most read on the blog. I get it. Writers face a near 99.9% rejection statistic. Some years we have a slump, and some we ease by with a couple of publications. I've been more lucky lately, but a quick look at my Submittable account is a cruel reminder of all the rejection I've had over the past two years.

There are two ways a writer can take in rejection. We can choose to see it as painful progress or deadening defeat. In my first post The Nasty Taste of Rejection, I spoke about the hurtful feedback I received from an editor. It was truly discouraging, but I fixed what I thought needed fixing and continued submitting it. The story has since been picked up by another journal. It all worked out, but we all know that's not always the case. Sometimes we can get so many rejections with a piece we decide to give up. I've been there too. I've not sent a single query out for my novel Georgia in over a year!

If we chose not to submit a work any longer, have we been defeated? Or could it be progress dressed in defeat? Here's how we know: If we've retired a piece because it doesn't seem to draw anyone's attention including our own anymore, we've made progress. Not everything is a masterpiece, but all written endeavors help in growing our voice. If we've given up on a piece that inspires us just because of what others say, then we've allowed ourselves to be defeated. If you believe in a piece, keep sending it to editors! It's likely you'll find someone who believes in it too.

The ultimate defeat comes when we stop pursuing our dream of writing. I've thought about this a lot lately since the time is quickly approaching for me to send out queries for my third novel. I've devoted an entire year to working on it, and I've never been so invested in something. The idea of letting it out into the world of agents terrifies me. In the past, I've handled rejection okay. It's never even slowed me down, and I'm hoping this time will be no different. But whatever happens, I want me and you to know that writers are born. I'm a writer because I've always been one and will always be one. Same goes for you. However hard it may be to overcome disappointment, we must never reject our dreams.

Best written wishes to you.

I Murdered THAT


Most of you know that I've been working on editing my manuscript for a few months now, which has been torture. It always is for me. I should actually be working on it right now, but alas I'm with you. And you're totally worth it. :)

Through ravaging my work, I've noticed that I dislike things in my own writing.

  1. I hate that my fingers have muscle memory and type words that exist but are clearly not the right ones for the sentence, and Word doesn't notice that they are wrong. Therefore, I have to hunt them down.
  2. I hate that in my first go round, I didn't take too much thought in character names, and now I have to change them to make them fit symbolically.
  3. I hate that I'm a putter inner when it comes to editing. I don't take a lot of things out because I usually write just the bare bones. It would be much easier and take less time to take out the too much than to have to put in more.
  4. I hate that I'm impatient. I struggle to meet my own deadlines. For the first edit, my self-inflicted deadline is the end of this week. Well, I still have nine chapters to go. Good luck.
  5. Last but not least, I hate the word "THAT." I have noticed THAT I use it way too much! It's the way I speak, and we all know we should never write the way we speak. (Especially I, who grew up in South Alabama.) I've slashed, stabbed, butchered, and cursed every THAT I could throughout my novel, and I think it's better for it. Now that I've noticed this annoying problem, I've caught myself looking for the same fiend in others' works. It appears I'm not the only one haunted by THAT. I had a professor once tell us to go through our papers and circle THIS, THAT, THESE, and THOSE. Wow were we shocked to see so many circles. He then challenged us to take them out and/or replace them with actual descriptions. I've been trying to heed to his advice. I murdered THAT. The others will soon follow.
What do you dislike about your writing? How have you learned to improve your skill?

Photo by Favim.


Inspirational Retreats

Right now I'm sitting in a lovely row house on arguably the most quaint street in the world - East Jones St. in Savannah, GA. Yes, the same East Jones St. from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, home of Clary's Diner and Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House, and feet away from 22 beautiful moss-laden live oak filled squares. Nothing, and I seriously mean nothing is more picturesque than Savannah.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, John Berendt thought picture perfect Savannah was worth an entire novel. Savannah represents all the enticing flavors of the South. It's the most inspiring place I've ever been.

The other afternoon, my husband and I were sitting in Oglethorpe Square, I think, and he suggested I close my eyes, take in the sounds, and build a story around what I heard. Just at the moment a carriage was passing by, and the horse's shoes clanked on the brick street. A bird squealed in the background, which sounded like a young girl's scream. Yet further in the distance, I heard a violin being played (probably from a neighboring park). It was about five o'clock in the afternoon and still brilliantly lit, but when I closed my eyes, it was night 150 years ago, and a snarky man in a suit took over my mind and told me a story about a curious family and their extravagant parties and homes. Nothing new in Savannah, of course, but there was something more to this family than wealth. One night, one murder, and one mystery was born. Crazy enough, I had a title for this story almost three months ago. Before I'd ever met Jasper (the snarky man in the square). It came to me during a poetry reading at a book festival and has been tucked away awaiting its story until now.

My husband recently read an article about the importance and success of writer's retreats. He forwarded it to me and has since insisted that I attend one. He's amazingly encouraging and is the driving force behind everything I do, so I've been looking into it since. I've spoke to a couple of my writer friends, and everyone has had nothing but good things to say about them. I'm now convinced that Savannah will be on my list for a future writing retreat.

-Written August 2nd, 2013.
-Photo by Favim.

Has a place ever inspired you?
Have you been on a writer's retreat and found it productive?

Unquenchable: Every Writer's Dream

If a writer writes a novel that is unquenchable, then he/she has reached the epitome of success. There's no denying it. As a reader, I am on a constant search for the next book that's going to have my undivided attention for as long as it takes to finish it. These books are few and far between. I've found that there are four types of books:

  1. The bad ones. For whatever reason these are the ones that we put down and never pick them back up. They are the ones with cheesy dialogue, unrealistic characters, and ones with plot holes the size of Texas. 
  2. The ones that reach our limit. These are usually the ones that we are forced to read in college to "broaden our minds" or the ones that were strongly suggested to us by a friend that just won't keep asking if we've finished reading it yet. 
  3. The okay ones. These are the "good" reads. They aren't bad because we can't find anything technically wrong with them, but they aren't great either. For whatever reason, the author failed to envelope us with the story. We're just mere onlookers to what's happening, not participants. 
  4. The unquenchable ones. These are the ones that we read for! The ones that we can re-read over and over without ever getting tired of them. They are rare, treasured diamonds in our libraries. They are the ones that we only allow close friends, if then, to borrow (only after removing the dust cover, of course). No one could convince us that we weren't actually a part of the story. They become a part of our own story. We watch the midnight showing of the movies when/if they come out. We have the soundtrack. We have the posters. We have the author's website bookmarked. These are what we dream of!
So what makes them unquenchable? Here's what I think:
  1. Lacing the story with wisdom helps in building a relationship between characters and readers. Readers want to trust and relate to the narrators/characters. We want to feel like we know them. The better we know them, the more we feel like a part of their story.
  2. Keep it real. Even if we're writing fantasy, it's important to have something real about it. The Coleridge term "suspension of disbelief" comes to play here. Keep fantastical characters as real as possible by using dialogue and personality traits that we see in our world.
  3. Develop a language for each character. I've read a few novels lately that do real well with this, Tom McNeal's Far, Far Away comes to mind. In it, each character has phrases that only he/she uses. For example, one of his characters says "Zounds!" when she's surprised. We, as readers, almost expect her to say it, and that makes us feel like we know her.
  4. Keep it conversational. Stephen King's Joyland is a great example of this. An older man is telling a story from his youth. He interjects the story to say something that he's learned since then. There are no $50 words or posh language. It's simple. It's real. It's like we're simply having a conversation.
  5. Keep the mystery. It's sometimes hard not to reveal too much, especially if we're outliners. That's why I prefer an organic approach to writing. If I don't even know what's really going to happen, how would my readers? The King writes about this in his book On Writing. We must write with mystery. Imagine a veil between us and the readers. We want to make sure that the veil isn't lifted until a time (usually near the end) when they would say "What the?" 
  6. Make every chapter a mini novel. After all, a novel is nothing except a series of short stories. Each, in my opinion, should have a intro, climax, and end. And when we end a chapter, it needs to have a hook - something that keeps the readers wanting to continue on. Leave them with something mysterious. Like, "That's when I fell into the darkness." 
  7. Great novels have it all - love, conflict, danger, growth, friendships, disappointments, everything! Our central focus may differ, but it's important to keep a complexity about the world we invent. In real life, our readers deal with all of these things, and it's important to let them know that they're not alone. We all have complicated lives, even our characters. 
  8. The most important part of a novel is arguably the end. Why? Because we had better make it worth the ride. Our readers have stuck with us and our characters through thick and thin, and we had better reward them with something that's going to have their wheels turning for days if not months. It's our job to make it unforgettable. We want our readers if asked ten years from now about our book to say, "That book was awesome. I was sad when it finished. My favorite character was ___, and my favorite part was ___." That's what we want, right? We want our stories to be immortal, not just in print, but in hearts too. 
I'm in the editing process of my YA novel right now, and I've been constantly thinking about how to incorporate these things into my story. Success isn't about sales, it's about creating a story that someone can't get enough of. 

What other things can you think of that makes your favorite novels unquenchable?

Oh yeah, if you're a Lord of the Rings fan, you may want to stop by The Literary Yard and read my article "Reflections on the Life and Works of J.R.R. Tolkien." Let me know what you think.

Photo by Favim.

A Week in the Life


Okay, so I'm sitting here in my P.J.s at lunch time writing this post. Yep, that's pretty much normal for me. I've developed a nice little routine that allows me not to step into my real life until after lunch everyday. Pretty great, huh?

I've read many writing books and have found that most of them say similar things. Many address style, plot, theme, dialogue, and include the oh-so-dreaded grammar lesson. But few have inspired me to change my entire schedule and look at my writing differently. I recently read Stephen King's On Writing. (I know, I know. It's been around for like - ever.) In the book, he addresses how he schedules his life. He writes in the morning (at least 2,000 words). I've found in the past that mornings work well for me with writing, and so I began to model my schedule similar to his. I write first thing (after my coffee, of course), spend the afternoons exercising and doing household chores, and spend the nights with my husband (usually working on our house or lounging around watching DIY or a Duck Dynasty re-run.) This schedule has worked for me so well that I was able to finally finish my novel last Friday. It felt amazing! I kept a short journal about my progress last week:

Monday June 17th, 2013: Wrote 2,200 words. Introduced two of my favorite characters so far, and my MC's gift is expounding. End count: 59,243.

Tuesday June 18th, 2013: Wrote 2,574 words. Wrote a lot of action scenes today, sprinkled with some despair. Took the King's advice about not being ashamed of my writing today. Just let it flow. End count: 61,441.

Wednesday June 19th, 2013: Wrote 2,574 words. Some new, unexpected twists just occurred in the story. Love when that happens! I found that my word length may be longer than expected as a result. It was difficult to write this session at the beginning, but it eventually got going. End count: 64, 015 words.

Thursday June 20th, 2013: Wrote 4,467 words. I wrote until my fingers started to cramp up. I was on a roll and hated to stop but hunger and carpal tunnel crippled me for the day. I'm on the last chapter, which is both amazing and sad. Like all good things, right? End count: 68,482.

Friday June 21st, 2013: Wrote 1,359 words. First draft is complete It's bittersweet, but luckily, I'm not saying goodbye to the characters. It's more like "see you in a few weeks." Now I'm looking forward to writing Book 2 of the series. End count: 69,841.

Grand Total: 12,798 words in five days.

I'm also taking King's advice on waiting six weeks to edit the manuscript and work on an unrelated project until then. I have several edits that I've thought of so far, and it's killing me to not work on it. But I'm hoping that this piece of advice will produce as much success as the other.

I had a very difficult time completing this novel. I'm not sure why, but I've received lots of encouragement and great ideas that have helped me push through my creative barriers. In the end, I'm more proud of this work than any the others I've written. Who knows if it'll ever be published or see the light of day. To be frank, it doesn't even matter. I write because I have to. It's a driving force that I've never been able to shake.

Some writer friends, you know who you are, :) provided great suggestions to help me through some troublesome spots. Thanks, guys!

More than anything, my "Ideal Reader" a.k.a. my husband, pushed me to finish. His faith in this novel far supersedes anything that I could imagine. His belief that this is "the one" makes me hopeful.

In the meantime, I have started a novella based on a blurb I wrote two years ago. It was recently published here.

I hope that your writing endeavors are going well. I'd love to hear about what your working on, if you've hit a road block or are breezing through, and if you've found that following a schedule helps keep you on track.

Read you soon. Write on.

Photo by Favim.

Nagging Ideas


Hi friends. Do you ever have ideas that just stick with you? Why do you think that we sometimes have stories within us that just never go away?

I've been nagged for nearly two years by a novella idea about a young woman named Rowena. A medieval English History class + a weird dream = a medieval/modern story idea. (Think A Knight's Tale.) Yesterday, The Story Shack featured a short blurb that I wrote about her. I've been trying to decide if her story is worth telling. Here's where you come in. If you have a moment, which is all it would take to read over this piece, I'd appreciate it if you'd take a look at "Rowena." Do you want to know more? Would you read an entire novella about her? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Many thanks to the illustrator Nazareth Horner for her beautiful rendition of Rowena. I think she did a fabulous job. I couldn't be more pleased.

Happy writing!

Picasso Poetry

Photo by Favim.
Hi friends. It's been awhile since I've blogged. I thought that when I graduated I'd have more time to do all the things I love to do, but somehow my time has still been filled. I have been writing some, though, and my literary journal is now over a month old. So I guess all is not lost.
Since receiving submissions and reading a few of them to my husband, we've had this on-going debate about poetry. He loves traditional rhyme and hates the new free verse, anti-rhyme style that has become popular. A part of me agrees with him. What happened to the Frost, Dickinson, Tennyson, Browning, etc. style poets?
I recently read Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler (which is fabulous, btw.) and in it F. Scott Fitzgerald says, "The smart literary son kills his own father." My question is must we kill our literary fathers? Why not build on all the greatness before us and add our own seasoning? I, personally, am moved by Victorian poetry and the idea of killing Bronte, Browning, and Tennyson is horrific. To me, these people were/are the definition of poets.
Contemporary poetry is now Picasso - abstract. They're vividly descriptive, but the meanings are sometimes completely elusive. This type of poetry is okay with me. I can see the art in it just as I can see the art in Picasso's work, but what saddens me is that there is little to no place for the traditional style anymore. If what Dali and Warhol produced is art, then why can't a modern Rembrandt be art too?
Think about your favorite poet. What do you like about their poetry? If you like it so much, why would you change the formatting? If it's not broke, why fix it?
When the novel first appeared on the literary scene, it was considered trash literature and only suitable for women. Poetry was premium literature. Now their roles have reversed. I think the reason is because modern poetry has become so abstract that few people, outside the true literary-minded, can discern its beauty.
This is just food for thought. I'm sure I won't revolutionize the poetry market with my observations, but maybe if we start being open to writing in rhyme again, the market will follow. Who knows?
*If you'd like to read more of my quirky, literary thoughts see "Confessions of a Serious Writer" , a guest post I wrote for the brilliant Ashley Chappell. 

Belle Reve Literary Journal - Call for Submissions

It's spring, and it's the season for new beginnings and new growth. I have been dreaming of starting a literary journal for years, and what better time than now? Belle Reve Literary Journal was founded to showcase southern writers and/or southern writing. Submissions have already started, and shockingly, only a few days after its birth, the journal already has works published. I'm so excited to see where this project may lead us.

If you have something you'd like to submit, please don't hesitate. The editors and I want to read your work! See the submission guidelines for details. We'd also love for you to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

As always, I am in awe of all the support and encouragement I receive from my online friends. I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.

Recreate a Photograph with Words - Writing Prompt

People say that a picture is worth a thousand words. I, personally, think that a picture can be worth a thousand stories. I picked this picture from Favim in hopes that it would inspire all of you like it did me. Here's the challenge: describe what you see in the photo in killer detail, envision a character, and write their story. Simple, right?

Hopefully this prompt will get your creative juices flowing for the day. If you decide to accept the challenge, let me know how it turned out.

Write on!

Photo can be found here: http://favim.com/image/603949/

Heroines with Heart Blog Tour: Interview with Author Z.L. Arkadie

It's my pleasure to have interviewed Z.L. Arkadie the author of Parched as a part of the Heroines with Heart Blog Tour. Take a moment and find out more about her and her book below, and don't forget to enter the contest to win a free Kindle!

Brief Bio:

I have a BA in Broadcast Journalism and an MA in Communications Studies from California State University, Los Angeles. I’ve read scripts, providing coverage for production companies and screenwriting contests but have been studying and writing fiction for over 13 years.
Visit her blog here.

1.) What made you want to be a writer?

Every one has that one thing that they do the best and for me it’s writing.

2.) How long have you been seriously pursuing a career in writing?

For about 13 years.

3.) What words describe your nook/writing space?

Sun and skyscrapers

4.) Where do you draw most of your inspiration from?

Inspiration is abundant. The writer’s thoughts are always active. You see something happen on the street that leads you to wonder. You look into the window of a restaurant and there’s someone sitting on a stool gazing, listlessly out the window and you wonder. And then there’s the index in our heads, memories. I draw my inspiration from all of that and more.

5.) Are you an outliner or a seat-of-your-pantser?

I’m an outliner. I call what I do creative outlining though because at some point I relinquish structure to pure creativity. I mean, yes, outlining is a creative process but it’s a different kind in a way that I’m aware that I am the writer and I am merely building the story. But when I start to know where I’m going, then I stop and go into pure creativity. In pure creativity mode, I as the writer am not writing the story, the characters are. And this is a great way to tell if I’ve hit the wall. If I get stuck, then I know the characters are done and that I need to go back into outlining mode to write up to my next beat.

6.) If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

J.D. Salinger because I was right there, experiencing those few days of freedom with Holden Cauflield in the Catcher in the Rye. He wrote that story with such detail by capturing Caufield’s actions and reactions as he continuously moved forward.

7.) If you could meet one character in your book, who would it be? Why?

Whoa, tough question. Maybe Clarity because she’s able to know what I’m thinking and feeling at first sight. And then I would ask her, so tell me, who do you think I am? I’m curious to know.

8.) Favorite quote/personal motto:

“Can’t get there unless you push yourself,” Michael Jordan once very frankly said.

9.) If you could give any advice to other writers, what would it be?

Simple. Take it serious. A doctor is born with a gift but he or she still has to LEARN how to be a doctor. The same goes for writing. Our craft has been so romanticized that a lot of people who want to do it should probably be doing something else. It’s in the studying where one learns if he or she is truly a writer.
Description of Parched:
Get to know a new kind of Vampire for our kind of world…

“Baron Ford, he says and pauses to pick apart my expression, attempting to read how familiar I am with that name. I nod stiffly to give no indication I know exactly, who that is. I’m shocked to hear it in this setting, at this stage of my life, the one far away from Cambridge, Massachusetts over five years later.”

Advertising Exec, Clarity Parker thought she would never see Baron Ford again. Five years ago, she fell in love with him on their magical first date and then poof–he literally vanished into thin air. That’s why she’s past stunned to hear his name again. After all, five years have passed since that night. And to add intrigue to what Clarity considers an embarrassing and unforgivable insult, he’s asked that she be exclusively assigned to his multi-million dollar account.

Clarity tries her hardest to avoid Baron but he finally catches up to her and when he does, he issues a warning–things are not safe for her, especially since the fog has rolled in.

Before the day is over her entire world will come crashing down on her. Everything about her life that she thought was true is a lie, and she doesn’t know whether to jump for joy or rage against everyone who’s deceived her. However, she has no time to choose between reactions. Baron was right. Her life is in danger–so is his, and they need each other to fight the forces of evil that threaten them both, and possibly the entire world!

One thing’s for sure, from this point on, their lives will never be the same.

About Blog Tour: Heroines With Heart is a massive blog tour that runs throughout 2013, that features books with strong female protagonists. We have authors from several different genres, including young adult, mystery/thriller/suspense, romance, sci-fi/fantasy, and Christian fiction. We are also giving away fun digital prizes and sharing new and noteworthy books throughout the year
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Heroines With Heart Blog Tour: Author Jordyn Meryl

It is my pleasure to help promote author Jordyn Meryl's new book The Space Between today as a part of the Heroines With Heart Blog Tour. Read a little about her and her book, and enter the contest below.

About Jordyn: Once living under the guise of a passive, quiet, school librarian, books and kids were the passions which kept her mind fresh. But now it is when the night muses visit Jordyn, her spirit rises up to wrap around the stories that float in her head. Land locked in the mid-west she dreams of days on a white sandy beach with a laptop to write all her tales. Crossing many genres she spins chronicles of romance, paranormal and fantasy, for they are stories worth telling, even at the risk of revealing true feelings.

This is Jordyn on her own. I co-authored three books in “The Stilettos Series”. The responses I received were so overwhelmingly positive; I decide it was time to step off into my own exciting venture. The three new books are solely my novellas stories. Also, visit her at http://www.jordynmeryl.com/.

About The Space Between: When the human spirit is so bruised it rages against the laws of nature, the Universe steps up and issues Justice. The beautiful Katrina guided by the three Goddesses, Mariah, Tess and Jo find righteousness is possible with the right gifts and a pure heart. But Karina did not expect Mitch, a human with a good soul and integrity. Awaking a missed chance at love, she weights the purpose of her mission. The quest to seek revenge against the evil Tomas pits her in the peril of good versus bad.

Excerpt: Her right hand gripped the large kitchen knife as her left hand reached for her cell phone.  Hitting “1” on her speed dial, she sent the call as she backed away from the man.

“So, I read in the rag paper, you accepted a modeling assignment in Paris.  Of course after hearing it from a friend’ who couldn’t wait to rub it in.”  The very tone of his voice made her jerk with alarm.

On the move, to get far away from him.  “…it just happened this afternoon.  I am preparing a sumptuous meal for us to celebrate.”  Waving the knife towards the chopped food.

Her first instinct to come home, pack and escape now looked like the better choice.

Her back hit the wall as he reduced the distance between them.  He lunged forward and with one swift move, backhanded her.  The knife and the cell phone flew from her hands as she slid down the wall to the soft white carpet.

The explosion in her head put flashes of light in front of her eyes.  The cell phone was within in her reach. The knife was not.  Snaking her hand out she tucked the cell phone next to her, careful not to hang up.

The woman stood up slowly, the sting of his abuse still radiated on her skin. “But it’s my job. It's what I do.”  Swaying wobbly, she leaned against the wall trying to clear her head of the pain.  “It’s a good-paying gig."  Her hand with the phone hung at her side she turned towards the wall.

His sinister laugh told her that was the wrong thing to say.  “You have a job. Pleasing me.  You don’t need money. I meet your needs.”

His advancement towards her again made her step away.  “Okay, I’ll call.”  She turned towards the bedroom, walking on unsteady legs.

In the room, her bags stood packed, ready to go.  With the caller still on the phone, she picked up her bag and purse.  She needed to escape. To get away from this madness.

Wheeling her suitcase behind her, she shook her head again to clear it then went out to face him.

From behind the counter, his eyes flashed an intense fury as he watched her come out of the bedroom with her luggage.

“I see you are not taking me seriously.  Do I need to make my point clearer?”

Stopping short, she raised her head and squared her shoulders.  “No, you made yourself perfectly clear.  I am leaving, you and this toxic relationship.  Good bye.”

Wanna keep reading?Buy the book here.

About Heroines With Heart Blog Tour: Heroines With Heart is a massive blog tour that runs throughout 2013, that features books with strong female protagonists. We have authors from several different genres, including young adult, mystery/thriller/suspense, romance, sci-fi/fantasy, and Christian fiction. We are also giving away fun digital prizes and sharing new and noteworthy books throughout the year.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

What Makes A Writer?

Photo by Favim.
What makes a writer? I cannot help but ask myself this question often. I can't even escape it while mindlessly perusing Facebook. The question "What do you do?" taunts me. Can I truly put "writer" in the employment section? Am I a writer if I've barely ever made money from my endeavors? Can I really feel comfortable labeling myself as "writer" or "author" unless I've had a book published traditionally?
It's truly maddening to be stuck in limbo as far as a career is concerned. I am blessed enough not to have to search for a job right after graduating, and I've decided to focus on my writing for a bit and hopefully finish the two novels that I've been working on. But after working on three novels and all the work, time, and blood it takes to be a novelist - I still wonder if any of it really makes me a writer.
Most people would argue that one is a writer because he/she writes. While I fancy agreeing with this notion, I cannot quite convince myself of it. But something happened last week that made me stop in my tracks and reconsider this whole idea. Consider this:
If you were told that you only had thirty days to live, how would you spend your time?
Most people think about things like spending more time with family and friends, focusing on spirituality, or perhaps traveling to a place they have always dreamed of seeing, etc.
For me, there was something else on that list. When faced with this hypothetical question, I couldn't help but feel this overwhelming desire to write. I momentarily felt this panic inside to get all my stories out and to release what little bit of wisdom I had inherited from this life into immortal words. I, too, would want to spend more time with the people I love and in prayer, but spending more time writing truly came as a shock for me. I realized in that moment that "writer" is labeled on my soul. It's not what I do; it's who I am.
If you've ever tackled this question, how did you answer it? And if you only had thirty days to live, would some of your time be spent immortalizing yourself through words?

Last Year's Highlights; This Year's Dreams

Happy New Years!!

Last year was an awesome ride. So many life changing events happened for me.

-We moved into our tiny slice of heaven on Lake Eufaula.
-I started a new novel!
-I got a poem and an article published in addition to my collections 'Psalms of Me' and 'Collecting Light'.
-I had many amazing authors provide interviews right here on my humble blog. (Thanks guys!) :)
-I got a new puppy- Georgia.
-I became an aunt to baby Brysun.
-My husband and I had our 5 year anniversary.
-And I graduated with my English degree.

Wow. 2012 was pretty amazing, and I sincerely believe that 2013 is going to be just as great and maybe better. I'm taking a bit of a sabbatical for a few months this year. I'm planning on finishing two of the novels that I've been working on, and I'm going to spend some time being still. I've been going so hard for the past few years trying to obtain my education that I've not taken time to smell the roses, embrace my talents, and enjoy this beautiful life that I've been blessed with. That's all going to change this year. I had this idea of what and where I wanted to be by the age that I am now, and while some things have worked out, I've fallen short on others. And you know what? That's okay. I'm happy despite the odds. lol My only dream for these next twelve months is to laugh more and enjoy the ride. Life is beautiful, and it's short. Why not grab a cup of joe and enjoy?

Thank you, readers, for making this the best blogging year ever! Your encouragement, support, and wonderful comments have given me loads of joy. I'm looking forward to another year of contests, interviews, and and writing adventures.

I pray that this next chapter sprinkles lots of moments that remind us all how great life truly is.