Friday, August 15, 2014

No Sympathy for the Wicked Blog Tour

I was recently contacted to participate in the “No Sympathy for the Wicked” blog tour. My knee jerk reaction, was no, just because I have been swamped this summer, and I HATE to say ‘yes’ to something only to complete the task half-assed because I’ve run out of time, BUT once I found out the story is set in Vegas, I was ‘all in’, so to speak. Since I’ve lived in Vegas off and on since ’97, I always enjoy reading stories set here…just to see…and this one was worth it!

My review of “No Sympathy for the Wicked”

Let me preface with, this is not your run-of-the-mill read! It is actually a compilation of three short stories, all intertwined around the underbelly of Vegas life. We meet a wide barrage of ‘wicked’ folks from meth heads to mobsters, and they are all tied together via dog fights, drug deals, music moguls, death, and police investigations. Mark Rico is the central character that threads through all three stories. He’s a likable ex-gangster from Atlantic City. I especially like his golden pit-bull, Queen! In fact, I LOVE the author actually writes from the dog’s perspective from time to time! In these stories, the point of view can change at a moment’s notice. At first, it was disconcerting, but once I got the hang of it, I enjoyed being privy to the thoughts, feelings and experiences of different characters. I found the Vegas details to be accurate and entertaining! All in all, “No Sympathy for the Wicked” is a gritty, unusual, gripping, fast-paced page turner!

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Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Path to Writing Blog Tour from IC Publishing

 Well, this little blog tag/hoptour from IC Publishing sounded like fun! I eagerly jumped at the chance once I was contacted by the amazing and talented June M. Pace of Pressed Leaf Publishing to participate! She sent me four questions to answer, and the wheels started spinning. (Click to check out June’s answers)

Here’s how I write…

How do I start my writing projects? (BRAINSTORMING/PREWRITING)
Most of my writing projects start with a spark. Now, where that spark comes from is anyone’s guess. It could be the music or endorphins of a run, a gift, a spoken word, or something I encountered while walking my dogs. The spark can come from anywhere, really, and once it happens, then the characters begin to form. I have to hear their voices, see their clothing and understand their personalities and mannerisms before I know how they will behave. The characters always come before the plot. During the character development, there are multiple notes in notebooks, on post-its, scribbled on a bar napkin or a store receipt, and this handwritten ‘outline’ is labeled and kept safe until the story reaches completion. After character development, I write. I sit at the computer and write, regardless of how I feel.

How do you continue your writing projects? (DRAFTING)
Continuing my writing projects can prove tricky. From late August to early June, I am an elementary school teacher and this MUST take priority. I find myself jotting notes at school (I teach English Language Arts to very creative kiddos, so there are constantly ideas flowing). Then I try to keep Saturdays as sacred writing days; it’s important there is always time carved out for my writing. If I’m lucky, I can sneak into my office in a few nights a week, allowing my fingers to peck away…if I’m lucky.

Now, once I start a story, it writes itself in stages. A story plays in my head and I write what I see. Most of the time it’s a consecutive sequence, but there are times I have bits and pieces of a story in a random clutter. It sorts itself out at the story progresses. Every story has a ‘junk pile’. When I cut something, I place it in the ‘junk pile’, just in case…

Sometimes, the story won’t flow, so I write a lot of TELLING…’he was sad’…to remind myself of my train of thought and to move the story forward. During the editing phase, I will come back and SHOW the reader how/why he was sad.

The rough draft can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the length and flow of the story. Every time I finish a rough draft my mind flashes to Kathleen Turner’s character in “Romancing the Stone”. At the beginning of the movie, she finishes her book and has a drink. It always makes me giggle!

How do you finish your writing projects? (REVISING/EDITING/PUBLISHING)
Once the rough draft is completed a few different things happen. First there are revisions. I reread it, checking for plot holes and making sure my timeline is clear. I revise for content and fix as many mistakes as I can find. Then I edit it. OK, I don’t actually edit my own work. I send it out to a professional editor. Lately, I have been lucky enough to work with Carol von Raesfeld of The Von Raesfeld Agency. While the editor has my manuscript, I don’t touch it. I don’t open it. I don’t read it. I don’t make changes to it. I let her fix my proofreading errors and I wait for her feedback. During this time, I also send it to my creative advisor, the talented Jennifer Paquette, and several beta readers. This is a time when I rely heavily on feedback from others to check for plot holes and to see if the story is any good. After a few more revisions on my part and another pass through my editor, the story is ready for publication. I’ve been self publishing lately. I tried one summer to write and send query letter to solicit agents. With such a limited time (summer) to dedicate to writing, I hate to spend hours poring over letters that barely get read, let alone a response. Right now, self publishing suits my needs.

One final challenge or tip…
Tip: WRITE! Even when you don’t feel like it…WRITE! Even when your fingers are tripping over each other…WRITE! Even if you think you have nothing to say…WRITE!
Challenge: Look at yourself critically, so you can become better. Have an open mind when someone has constructive criticism to offer. (This doesn’t mean take abuse. It means truly listen to opinions of others. Yes, write for yourself, but remember the reader is an important part of the equation.)

Next up:
Liz Kingsbury McKeown: A blogger and indie writer, Liz uses social media to connect with others.

Also check out some great responses from some talented others!

Josh Stanton: UK SteamPunk author.

Andrew Knighton: writer, teacher, blogger

Russell Phillips: non-fiction writer specializing in military technology and history

On Friday, the “No Sympathy for the Wicked” blog tour will be featured! Be sure to stop by for my review and some awesome prizes!

Friday, August 1, 2014

If you Give Stephanie a Story to Edit…

One of my favorite all time children’s book is “If you Give a Moose a Muffin…”.  I love this crazy ass moose! He gets offered a muffin, but then he's faced with some serious distractions at every turn. One thing leads to another as he makes his way through the house, leaving messes and silliness in his wake. BUT he’s a good-natured congenial moose! Just cute stuff! And there are other variations: “If you Give a Pig a Pancake” or “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie”. In fact, there are a whole slew of them now. If you hang out with children, you’ve probably heard of them. If not, look them up. Who knows? They may brighten your day and make you chuckle.

The other day, I found myself in a similar conundrum to the moose. Here is a silly tale with a similar premise of “If you Give a Moose a Muffin…” set in a modern day adult world.

If you Give Stephanie a Story to Edit…

If you give Stephanie a story to edit, she’ll want a green tea to go with it, so off to the kitchen she’ll go.  Of course, she’ll need to turn the Keurig on. While the Keurig warms up, Stephanie will notice the floor is dirty and grab a broom. When she’s done sweeping, she’ll realize the throw rugs need to be washed. And when she goes through the house collecting rugs, she’ll decide she might as well sweep ALL the floors. When she finally puts the broom away, she’ll see the new magic erasers, and want to try them out on the scuffs on the walls. Once the scuffs are cleaned, she’ll see all the dust on the blinds and grab the Swifter. In the middle of changing Swifters, she’ll remember she wanted a green tea and load the Keurig cup. While it brews, she’ll realize she’s in too deep to quit. Shrugging, she’ll finish the blinds, only to see the terrible mess it’s left on the carpet. Off to the closet, she’ll grab the vacuum. Once the carpets are cleaned, the trash will need to go out. As Stephanie replaces the kitchen trash bag and washes her hands, she’ll decide she’s starving, so she'll makes herself a sandwich and lemonade before heading back to edit.

True Story! See you next time!