Friday, September 30, 2011

Nearing the End

First of all, congratulations to Lionmother, who won my contest last week!

Secondly, I am nearing the end. I would say the end of my rope--after all, I have two kids, a job, and my writing career--but really things aren't that dire. No, I'm nearing the end of the novel I've been working on.

I started it back in July, never expecting to take this long to finish it. I realize it's only been two months, but I type fast, and the ideas usually just flow. The ideas on this one flowed, but they kind of flowed in the wrong order. I kept stopping and realizing that I'd put something where it didn't belong. I don't usually revise while I'm working on a first draft, other than to tweak a word or sentence here and there, so I just kept plowing through, knowing full well I would have to go back and redo parts of the story.

When I finished the first draft, I went through it and made notes for myself. There were definitely things that needed to be fixed. The entire first chapter was essentially useless; it had nothing to do with the story, other than providing a little foreshadowing. I moved part of that scene to a later chapter and got rid of the rest of it entirely. There were a couple of major plot holes, which I think I've now taken care of. (My editor will let me know if I haven't, I'm sure...)

I have 20 pages left to go in the revision. Most of that is getting rid of "crutch words", words that I tend to overuse. I think all authors have them, though we don't all have the same words. The plan is to submit it over the weekend.

I'm kind of excited about this book; on the other hand, it has the distinction of being the second book I've written that's triggered me. (I have PTSD...long story.) The first book, Taking Control, which is book 4 in my Reality Shift series, didn't trigger me when I was writing it; that happened when I was getting ready to submit it and had to contact a Child Protective caseworker and a domestic violence detective to do some research. The research was the trigger more than the actual story. In this new book, there is a scene that had me crying so hard by the time I finished writing it that I couldn't see the computer monitor.

But I think it's a good story, and there is victory for the main character at the end. I'll keep you all posted on what happens with it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day Late, Dollars Short

Sorry I was absent today. I've had to renew my security system and just got back online minutes ago. Next week, I'll make up for it. I promise.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011



Greetings All!

My immediate news is that my murder mystery, IF IT’S MONDAY, IT MUST BE MURDER! is now released and is available on the Gypsy Shadow webpage, soon to be on Amazon! The link is here along with the link to the book trailer:
Able to “sign” it on

Here is the blurb:

Mel, a former cop shot in the back now lives in constant pain and walks with a cane. When her best friend's daughter is missing, Mel is asked to help find her. The girl is found dead at the bottom of a tall building and the cops believe she jumped. Did she? Or is it murder?

I read a blog this week about writers not willing to disclosure who their favourite characters are in their books (see this blog: and I wondered about my own books. So in the nature of full disclosure here are my favourite characters from each one of my books!

AINE-Of course Aine is my favourite, who wouldn’t love a girl who only wants to pass tenth grade, has a crush on a boy and not be a fairie?

FAERIE FOLK-AINE 2: Although I still like Aine, I’d have to say that the boy faerie, Fennen who is protecting her is one of my favourites.

NINA-I like Nina, she’s tough and doesn’t give up in spite of having her world turned upside down.

WITCH HUNTER-I’d have to say that although I do like Molly O’Claire, the main character, I also love her bff, Chloe who is snarky and sarcastic but loyal.

FITZROY: THE BOY WHO WOULD BE KING-Fitzroy is my favourite character by far.

THE CRAZY NURSE-I enjoy the romantic male lead, Johnny Whitefeather, I've always loved long hair on a guy!

IF IT’S MONDAY, IT MUST BE MURDER!-Mel Thompson, the former cop who got shot on the job and now has to walk with a cane is my favourite character. She’s feisty, smart, snarky and a great friend.  She’s the one you want in your corner if you are in trouble, she never gives up.

LORE OF FEI that’s being published in April, 2012 by Muse It Up Publishing has two characters that I like, the main character, Ariela-a wingless faerie and her childhood friend, Rion, he has the most beautiful golden coloured wings. This is my faerie novel, faeries v. humans in the war that will determine the fate of their world.  

I’m going to skip the short stories collections, PLEASE TO SEE THE KING and INTERLUDE. So, there you have it.

Who is your favourite character from either a book you are reading or one you are writing (or have written)?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Azin Sildanel: A Fun, Controversial Key to The Relics of Nanthara

Where do I begin? Azin is an Alkanien, a cousin to the Elf. Their mannerisms are similar, yet appearance differs somewhat. Azin was a controversial subject from the onset of this series...and a fun one at that. Bickering, sarcasm, distrust, womanizer, drunkard, and I can go on. His past gives him a mystique which I feel causes more folks to read and wonder what is this dude about?

What I do like about Azin is just when you think you have him figured out, he does something unexpected. Now, he's not mushy, but there is a heart underneath his hardened exterior developed from his service as an assassin to a dark government. This compassion was tested and pushed beyond his threshold when his family was used as an example to force Azin to comply with their demands. They were wrong. The enemy would have been better off killing Azin instead of allowing him to escape. Hehehe!

His rebellious antics is not the only amusing thing to read on this character. Its his constant arguing with a stubborn member of the group, a Dwergen. Dwergen are a cross between an Alkanien and a Dwarf. They carry Alkani agility, Dwarven strength, and the pigheadedness that comes along with it. Putting Dwergen and Alkani together in the same room is like shaking a bottle of soda with a loosened cap.

Most folks who have critiqued the first novel, Secrets Revealed, love Azin. His no-nonsense approach to life allows readers to connect with him, seeing some of their qualities in Azin's personality. I think this is a quality many writers try to accomplish; being able to link with your reader. But this is another topic to discuss later.

Azin's past was unique for me since it continued developing as I wrote the trilogies. Not all of his "doings" were written down before the second and third books were written. As I wrote, things showed up, and they worked great by adding new twists and subplots which helped move the story along. I'm glad I didn't have Azin die in book 2, Sacrifice of Heroes. It would have removed some of the crazy guesswork of "What is he going to do now?"

I'll keep this short for now, but I hope this little introduction to Azin will give you all some input into this guy's mind. Don't take my word for it, read what he does in The Relics of Nanthara Trilogy. Book 2, Sacrifice of Heroes is due out in October, 2011 and Book 3, Dawn of the Apocalypse, is awaiting its contract. Until then, take care.


Monday, September 26, 2011


Finishing pre-edits, be back next Monday.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Don't See Ghosts, But I Hear Them Knocking!

My name is Usha Suyin and I’m a character in Elizabeth’s book. At least, that’s what she thinks. But, it’s really the other way around. I’m creating Elizabeth.

I hardly think she knows more about me than I do. Really. I have to tell her everything. After all, I’m fourteen. And on top of that I’m an old soul. My grandmother says so and that translates into I’ve been here before. And that means I know a lot more than Elizabeth.

I see things most people miss or dismiss as unimportant. But, one thing I don’t see are ghosts. Oh, I know they’re there. I feel them. For me, the whole world seems colored with spirits and magic. It’s all there for everyone to experience but most don’t believe.

Take my grandmother’s daily ritual for example. In the late afternoons she will take two bowls of rice to the back porch and in front of a small family altar, she will light incense. Then she will sit, eat and talk with a ghost. The ghost being her dead husband and she will do this as if it was the most normal thing to do. Of course, it is in our family. Ghosts are so a part of our life. I guess it’s not unusual when your family is Chinese.

Every Saturday, my father takes me to visit relatives at the cemetery. Yes, the dead ones. But, you couldn’t tell that by my father. We usually bring something to eat and drink to share with them. I think that’s the only time in the week when I have a can of soda. It was one of my aunt’s favorite drinks. I didn’t know her too well when she was alive but I’m getting to know her as a spirit. One day we had a plate of Chinese dumplings and buns, like Ear, Okole and Manapua. A tall man carrying a bouquet of flowers passed by us and stopped to look at the food we had laid out. He asked my father when our people would show up to eat the food. My father replied, “The same time your people show up to smell the flowers you’re bringing them.”

That’s my life or at least a part of it. I was wondering do you see or believe in spirits?

Love, Usha

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pitching Your Unpublished Book!

Last year around this time I was not thinking about publishing my book. In fact I had put it away in a safe place on my computer and it was gathering dust after being revised over nineteen times and sent out and rejected seven times. So when Lea Schizas advertised the Muse Online Writers Conference, which takes place the first week in October online, I thought I'd go and participate in the workshops. Then Lea said she was adding a pitch session to this year's conference. Immediately the wheels in my head started turning.

I thought of all the publishers there that I hadn't encountered and suddenly a wild desire to have my book published overrode any sense I had. I was going to pitch my book to an independent publisher who appreciated my story. So I told Lea about pitching my book and sent her the list of the suggested publishers she had given to us. Now here's the part I hadn't expected. She told me that she had started a brand new publishing company and she would really love it if I would pitch my book to her company! This made me realize that I knew the publisher and maybe if she liked it, then maybe, just maybe it might be published!!!
Ecstatic about the possibility of this I raced off the perfect my "elevator pitch".

As you all can see from these blogs, I have a tiny problem with summarizing things and writing a pitch is all summary. So I wrote and rewrote and rewrote until I thought I had it right and I would post all of it here, but then you would see the ending of the book. You have to give a synopsis of your book, including the ending, in a pitch. Actually, my blurb for the book is very similar to my pitch. I can post the pitch with the ending removed so you can see:

Carolyn Samuels starts freshman year in high school with Jennifer Taylor as her Math partner, the girl who tormented her all last year. After fainting in gym Carolyn needs Jennifer's help to keep it quiet, so she does Jennifer's homework for her never realizing this would lead to more and more lies to cover it up from her friends as Jennifer, on the track to be an Olympic gymnast, befriends her, teaches her how to tumble and how to dress, and until Carolyn, basking in the glow of being Jennifer's friend, finds out the truth. Jennifer has a secret she has kept from her parents and her best friend and tells Carolyn, who must keep Jennifer's secrets on her brain like "sandbags” because she needs Jennifer's help to become a cheerleader and wants to be close to Jennifer's hunky junior quarterback boyfriend Brad on whom she has a crush. In the process of learning too much about Jennifer....

Here is the blurb:

Carolyn Samuels’ freshman year becomes a series of lies to cover Jennifer Taylor’s terrible secret in return for popularity.

Carolyn Samuels is obsessed with the idea of being popular. She is convinced that the only thing keeping her from happiness is her too heavy for fashion body and not being a cheerleader. Hyperventilating when she gets nervous doesn’t help. When she is paired for a Math project with the girl who tormented her in middle school, Jennifer Taylor, she is sure it is going to be another year of pain.With Carolyn’s crush on Jennifer’s hunky Junior quarterback Brad her freshman year in high school looks like a rerun of middle school. After Jennifer’s the only student who knows why she fell in gym class, Carolyn is blackmailed into doing her math homework in return for Jennifer’s silence. Jennifer takes on Carolyn as a pity project since she can’t be seen with someone who dresses in jeans and sweatshirts. When Jennifer invites Carolyn to sleep over to make her over and teach her to tumble, Carolyn learns Jennifer’s secret and lies to her own friends to cover it up. Will Carolyn become a cheerleader and become popular? Does she continue to keep Jennifer’s secret? Or will she be a target of this mean girl again?

You can see the differences. In the pitch everything was straightforward. You have to give the ending too. In a blurb it's more detailed and of course the ending is left out of it. The blurb is there to help the reader decide if they want to read your book. The pitch is to editors and publishers who only want to see if the book fits their needs. 

So once you have your pitch, how do you pitch online? This was how I had to pitch my story last year. If you are thinking about doing it this year, make sure you are good at cutting and pasting, because that is how you are going to pitch. There is a big open chatroom where you are basically in a waiting room with other writers who are waiting to pitch. I was extremely nervous and could barely type at one point while I was waiting. You are called to the waiting room before it is your turn so you have a lot of time to see people move in and out and either share the joy or the sorrow when you find out if the pitch was successful. If they like your pitch you are asked to submit part of your story and then you wait. If they don't they tell you immediately. That was what I didn't want to happen.

When it was my turn I went into a very private two person chat room where my now editor and publisher were waiting. I had to paste in my pitch after an initial welcome and then I waited. They read it and I went back to the waiting room to await my fate. They liked it!! In fact, the both of them said they loved it!!! I sent my three chapters and waited. The next day they asked for the whole manuscript. So I sent it and waited some more. Then the miraculous night, actually, arrived. I was checking my email when I saw one from Lea. It said the magic words I had been waiting to hear for five years!! She was offering me a contract and there it was. I was on my way to being a published author!!

My YA novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor is now available from MuseItUp Publishing at The Muse Bookstore, Amazon, Kindle. Soon to be available for Nook.

In closing, I hope you will all consider attending The Muse Online Writers Conference. Registration closes on September 25th. It could change your life.:) Until next Saturday, hope you all have a great week!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Series or Stand-Alone

I have two young adult urban fantasy series currently being published by Jupiter Gardens Press. Both of them, Reality Shift and The Dark Lines, became series because several years ago, I had too much time on my hands and was going through some stressful situations, so writing became my escape. Reality Shift was supposed to be a series all along; The Dark Lines was originally one book that grew out of control.

I think it's pretty common for urban fantasy to lend itself to series. The author has often created an entirely new world for their story, and that world might have an infinite number of stories. (The Dark Lines might have been infinite if I hadn't balked at writing more than 30 books...Yes, there are thirty.)

Recently I received edits on one of my contracted YA contemporary novels. In the notes, the editor said he would like to see stories about two other characters in that book. In the original version of the book, those two characters' stories were major subplots, but the first editor I worked with at the publishing company asked me to cut out the subplots because she felt they detracted from the primary plot. I'd been thinking all along about writing those stories as separate novels, but I was balking because that would mean more series.

Apparently series find me...

What do you think? If you're an author, do you prefer writing series or stand-alone stories? And all you readers, what do you prefer?

I'm in a give-y kind of mood this week, so I'll draw a commenter's name on Monday to receive a copy of their choice of book from Reality Shift or The Dark Lines.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Granddad's Guide to the Good Old Days

This week, I think I'll post one of the short stories from my compilation Granddad's Guide to the Good Old Days. It is a collection of true stories from my childhood and youth, and is at yet unpublished. I'd like to think my life has been no different than most of yours, but I did have some memorable moments I just had to put down for posterity (if not prosperity-lol). This one is titled: My First Bike. Enjoy!


When I was eleven, the big old world beckoned me to come explore. And every week when I walked past the windows of Western Auto, I would drool over the really cool bicycle they had on display. It was shiny and bright red. From time to time, I’d go in and ask if it were lower in price than before. The salesman would say no with a sad smile.

I’d saved a little money from birthdays and such, and from a few odd jobs I’d done for neighbors. The amount I had was way short of the price of that bike. So I moped around for weeks, wondering how I would ever get enough money to buy the bike. Thirty dollars seemed unattainable.

Dad was still overseas in the Army and Mom had barely enough money to take care of her three kids. Nobody else in the family had any extra either, so I moped and walked everywhere while my friends all rode their new bikes. That big old world was beginning to look pretty grim.

My grandma Goggin, whom we called Maw, waited tables in the local café across from the courthouse. One day I dropped in to say hi, secretly hoping she would slip me a stale piece of pie. Don’t you think it’s neat how grandmas always worry about whether their grandkids are hungry? Anyway, I saw this cool punchboard on the counter. Maw told me she didn’t want me gambling with that or anything else so I said nothing to her.

The punchboard had a lot of little white spots on it. When you paid your quarter, you took a little key and punched through one of the spots, pushing a folded piece of paper out the back. The paper had markings on it and you matched them to the pictures on the front of the board. I had a quarter in my pocket and waited my chance, which came when Maw had to go up the street to the grocery store to get something for the café.

As soon as she left, I told Lilah, the other waitress, I wanted to play the punchboard. Lilah liked me a lot, I think. She hugged me a lot and that made me pretty nervous, except she was really pretty and curvy, and always smelled wonderful. She hugged me and shook her head because she knew Maw would be angry. Well, I sweet talked her into letting me give it a try. Funny how you can sweet talk a woman when you’re just a kid.

I handed her my quarter and she gave me the key. I think she figured I’d lose my quarter and that would be that. But the paper said I got a free punch in the special section. I punched and that one said I got another free punch in the prize section. I put the end of the key into one of the remaining spots that seemed to blink at me and closed my eyes, hoping I would win something good. I pushed it through.

The paper said I’d won the grand prize; twenty-five dollars! Lilah screamed and kissed me on the forehead just as Maw came back. She hollered, “Lilah!”

Lilah screamed, “Dale won the jackpot, Maw! This little guy just won the big prize!”

Lilah was happy. Dale was happy. Maw was not happy! “Young man, haven’t I told you not to play that evil thing?”

“Yes, ma’am. But-”

“No buts. Those things are the work of the devil!”

I looked at her with my big sad brown eyes and asked, “Do I have to find the devil and give the money back to him?”

Lilah cackled but slammed her hand over her mouth when Maw glared at her. Then Maw started laughing too and came over to give me a hug. “No, boy. I don’t want you looking for the devil. Chances are, he’ll find you soon enough as it is. Maybe already has. You can keep the money. What will you do with it?”

“I’m going to buy that big red bike at Western Auto.”

She said, “That’s pretty expensive. You have enough money?”

“Just about.” Truth was, I’d spent most of the money I’d saved since it didn’t look like I’d ever be able to buy the bike. I needed almost four dollars more but that didn’t seem so impossible now. Of course none of my family had an extra four dollars so I was still out of luck on the bike.

When Granddad Thompson invited me to come down and stay a few weeks in Glen Allen, I jumped at the chance; mainly so I would not have to walk past that Western Auto store and stare at the bike I couldn’t buy. I’d stayed at their house the summer before and most of my good friends were still down there.

During my second week in Glen Allen, I walked by the gas station and saw a sign on an old bike. FOR SALE. It was old, with dented fenders, and a scratched up blue and white paint job. Besides that, it was a girl’s bike. I saw that old bike sitting there every day I walked down to the train station where Granddad was the station master. Most of the other kids had gotten bikes and I was usually the only one walking. I hated that.

After the other guys promised not to tease me, I went in and asked if I could try the bike out. I’d learned to ride on one of my friends’ bikes after it looked like I’d be the owner of the coolest bike in Iron County. The gas man said sure, if I thought I might buy it. I told him I did.

Wonder of wonders, the old bike rode real easy. And it was fast. I took it around the block, throwing up dust and gravel behind me; getting the attention of one of the other guys who mocked me for riding a ‘girl’s’ bike. I challenged him and literally left him in the dust. I’d done the math and knew I had enough money to buy the old bike and maybe enough to fix it up some.

I asked the gas man how much he wanted and he said, “Fifteen dollars.”

I was in seventh heaven! Just then, Granddad came by and said he’d heard us, and the bike wasn’t worth more than ten. Mister gas man said he’d part with it for twelve. Before my granddad could mess things up any more, I hollered, “Sold!” and that was that. I had my bike and over half my money left to fix it up.

After I went back to Ironton, I bought two fenders and some shiny red paint at the Western Auto store. By the way, the fancy bike was gone so I couldn’t have bought it if I’d had the money. It was just a memory, but I had my own bike. After I painted it, it became the neatest bike in Iron County.

One last bit of bad news. During the summer at my grandparents, I ran into a low branch on the small tree in front of their house while showing off and chipped one of my front teeth. That came into play years later as a contributing factor to my inability to audition as trumpeter with the U.S. Air Force Band. I was that good, and it was an audition that, with all modesty, I know I would have passed with flying colors.

Ah, well. Such is life.

Happy reading,

Pat Dale

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Blog for Sept. 21, 2011

Greetings All!

I am excited about the upcoming release of my murder mystery, IF IT’S MONDAY, IT MUST BE MURDER! book. The publisher is Gypsy Shadow ( and the blurb and link to the book trailer is here:

Mel, a former cop shot in the back now lives in constant pain. When her best friend's daughter is missing, Mel is asked to help find her. When the girl is found dead at the bottom of a tall building, the cops believe she jumped. Did she? Or is it murder?

This is my first attempt at writing mysteries and although it isn’t YA, I thought some might be interested in reading it. It should be out by the end of this week.

I’ve been working on my Salem Witch Trials inspired YA and am about 20K in. The problem is it’s starting to take a turn I wasn’t anticipating. So, my question for you is, what do you when a character doesn’t behave?

When I write I don’t usually plot out the entire novel first. I have a basic premise and I build on it as I write. I began this story by thinking: What if the witches in Salem were aliens from another planet? What would that story be like? Well, it started out like I envisioned it but now, not so much. It’s no longer about the witch trials but more of a character study about the alien who crash landed on the alternative earth and her love for her husband and for the captain of the ship that brings her to a safe haven. 

I saw a blog article about writing your characters descriptions down and I do that if I am stuck. She had many questions you could answer about your character. Her blog is here:

Another blog I like is the one that has different ways to convey colour etc. and that blog is here:

The Bookshelf Muse

Another  character storylist is here: (it’s more for screenwriters but it would work for novelists)

 How do you get a character “unstuck?”

Until next time, take care,


Monday, September 19, 2011

Over Used Words

I'm a genre hopper. I'm currently writing in crossover YA, but I've hopped from light paranormal suspense to YA fantasy to time travel romance to historical romance to metaphysical nonfiction. Being a hopper I've written for several different publishers. I'm with a new publisher and with this publisher I'm required to do pre-edits. Since several of the other Downtowners write for Muse It Up they're familiar with how this works. I've never had a pre-edit work sheet before so this is new to me. One of the pre-edit requirements is looking for overused words. Its a good requirement. It makes you tighten and sharpen your writing. It's also not quite as easy as it seems.
For instance, what do you use in place of and
as if
Gets tricky doesn't it? I've been doing some research on these little words and find some of the substitutes just bring in other words on the list or use 'ly'.

Some of the substitutes I've found:
As=when, while
As if=in all likelihood
But=yet, though
As you can see, the subs will work sometimes but not all the time.
What words do you replace with when you run across words that over used? I'd love to know.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Under The Covers

Under the weather, so I'm under the covers.

Here's a short film...a suspense thriller.  Enjoy.

The Killing Joke from sebastian lopez on Vimeo.

Later, Elizabeth

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Promoting an e-book and other thoughts

                                                           Half Rainbow

I apologize for last week when I didn’t show up. It was my daughter’s birthday and my entire focus was on making sure she had a good day. Unfortunately for her, her birthday falls a day before 9/11 and so we have a difficult time celebrating. I think it is a difficult time for everyone and when you celebrate a birthday it is a little different this time of year. I actually felt it this year a little more, because it was the 10th Anniversary of the event. Though this has nothing to do with my story or even this blog post I am going to post it here along with a poem about a rainbow I saw earlier in the week after so much rain.

Posted on Poetic Asides - September 9, 2011
(Written on the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Twin Towers)

Collective Horror
I watched in horror as my country

ached when the point of the planes
pierced the soul of every American

Tearing our freedom into pieces
the moment steel touched steel
and destroying the symbols of

our power in minutes

On TV the falling bodies resembled
cinders until you saw their forms

flying downward to escape the flames

No one who saw the soot and dust covered

faces of the aimless bystanders wandering

the site and their occasional turn of the head
to watch objects sail toward the rubble already
collecting beneath them erased those images.

The towers crumbled and we

as a nation went into deep shock

where only the blood of our enemy

might soothe our fevered souls

And patriotism became a cherished

word so dear we once again hung

flags to show our love

Hundreds risked their health digging
frantically hoping to hear the sounds
of a living, breathing human – instead

they faced the constant dust and the

lethal concoction which destroyed

the strong bodies of the brave

first responders

Those images lay in our brains

Like old fashioned negatives

Indelibly pressed like a souvenir
of a nightmare – one we have

pushed so far to the back of our
minds hoping the memories would
disappear, fade into the dust of ten
years. But alas, memories such as

these have burned themselves
into our minds and will never disappear.

Now there is a force unleashed in

America that holds those memories
as a new gospel of fear and terror

A force who will use the event to
continue this oppression
for the sake of our safety

And we are a nation suffering from

PTSD collectively shuddering every

time we hear the hint of a breach of

copyright 2011 by Barbara Ehrentreu

My poem is only one of many expressing thoughts about 9/11. Check out the site to see all of the other amazing poems written by the many talented poets who frequent this website writing to the prompts of Robert Brewer.

The next poem was written after I saw a rainbow after so many days of rain.

September 8, 2011

I Saw a Rainbow

I saw a rainbow this morning
Not the whole kind arcing across the sky
A part, a multi-hued reminder the sun
had popped in to say hello, but
had been pushed away
by the massive dark clouds gathering
around it.

It valiantly tried to move beyond the clouds
It’s radiant face dimmed by the gossamer
threads covering it
I knew it was there behind the rain
Hoping to shine once more and bring
its warmth to my face

I wanted the sun’s rays to touch my cheeks
To warm my thighs and legs
To force me to wear sunglasses due to its
excessive brightness
Much better than the terminal grays we have
faced for too many days

The rainbow, just a piece of it, bathed me in hope
for that is the job of rainbows
they soothe your soul for they are a covenant
with whatever power watches over us and protects
us from destructive forces.
There was the rainbow, like a handshake
Telling me the rain was temporary and right around
the arc of its colorful trail was a beautiful day.
copyright 2011 by Barbara Ehrentreu


This Friday my YA novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, was released as an e-book by MuseItUp Publishing. I had a party on my blog and all were invited. Also if you are my Facebook friend you were invited to the Facebook party. I am giving away a free book to whoever leaves my favorite comment on both. But what about the people who are not online and might not know about my book being published? How do I get to them? I’ve been handing out postcards to anyone I meet. I gave one to the bank teller, one to the person who booked my hair appointment, one to people I meet anywhere. Also I am having a book signing in the lobby of my apartment building.

Planning a book signing for an e-book is not the same thing as one for a print book. First of all you have no copies of your book to sell. Instead you are selling the idea of your book. How do you do that?

My idea was to have a big poster of the cover of my book so people could see it. Also I want to have a way for people to read a little bit of the book, so they will be able to browse, like at a real book signing. There is a way to sign an e-book now. You have to go to and upload your book. The website requires you have an Amazon ISBN, but you can’t get one until you are published on Amazon and that is only after the publication date. So I figure the best thing is to have all the websites displayed where people can get my book and to have there for people to see how it works. I’m going to use my IPad for this so people can see the method. I will show them my book and I can demonstrate for them how it works.

The other thing is getting people’s attention. In my story,  Carolyn, my MC's mother makes chocolate, chocolate chip cookies. So I am going to have homemade cookies for everyone. I know this will get people’s attention and bring them over to me. Although with a 2 foot by 3 foot poster I probably don’t need more attention.:) I am also going to have postcards that have my book cover on them and also have the event. I will sign those of course.

Just as everything in my life, I decided to move it to next week. I made flyers to put up and next Saturday I will be in my apartment building's lobby. At any rate, I will let you know the following week how it turned out. Meanwhile, have a great day and wish me luck today. Please leave me a comment or a question and I will gladly answer it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

New Release!

Yesterday was the release day for my newest young adult novel, When Darkness Falls, which is book two in my urban fantasy series The Dark Lines. When Darkness Falls introduces readers to Blake Walker, a boy who has spent most of his life hiding his psychic abilities after his biological mother beat him and turned him over to foster care. Blake's adoptive mother Laura is wonderful, but even after living with her for nine years, Blake can't bring himself to trust her enough to reveal the truth about himself.

When Blake finds out that Faith Carlisle and Eli Tyler, two of his classmates, also have psychic abilities, things start to change a bit. He isn't alone anymore. When he meets Topher James, an older teen who has an unexpected connection with Blake, Blake gains even more confidence in himself.

Then he and his friends discover a force of darkness using an old shack in their town as a portal to its world--where it destroys people with psychic abilities to strengthen itself. Blake and his friends are thrown into the universal war between the forces of darkness and forces of light, and if Blake chooses not to fight, he might lose Faith forever.

When Darkness Falls is available from Jupiter Gardens Press.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Written in Stone

Today, I'm going to talk about something that's been bothering me. In a way, I suppose you could say this is a self-help column, but I suspect the vast majority of these little tomes are just that in the final analysis. My problem? Dividing time between schmoozing and promoting, and my creative writing.
For years, I had a solid regimen of working on WIP's or other true writing labors. Only after two to four hours of creative writing would I check my inbox to see what was flapping in the breeze on a given day. Following that, I would devote such time as was available to the painful (for me) art of promotion of my published books.
Lately, I've not been able to do that. When I sit at my computer, supposedly ready to create, nothing coherent comes out, and I spin my wheels worrying about the blogs, promos, or whatever else I felt needs to be done. Thus, my question: should a writer develop a routine that is 'written in stone', or should we go with the flow.
I'm an enigma in some ways, long on organization other than my writing, and short on inventiveness (is that a word?). When it comes to writing, I'm a definite pantser and I hate pre-planned plots with a passion. If my brain can't keep up with all the characters running wild in there, I don't deserve to call myself a writer. Don't get me wrong; I do lay out plot elements as I go, making sure all the threads of my fiction tapestry are pulled into place.
I realize that this monologue is not strictly about YA writing, but I think it is apropos in general. One thing I should add. Lately, I've been successful at creative writing in the afternoon. That never happened before, so I'm not sure whether to realign my daily scheme. For now, I will. I have several projects at a point where they need daily attention, one of them the second in my mystery series. The first book has a date certain for publication, so the second one has to be ready for the editors in time to keep on schedule. Now that should light a fire under my derriere, wouldn't you say? LOL
I'd like to hear from all of you about how you orgainize your writing day. Leave a comment if you can, so I can see how the other side lives. Meanwhile, happy writing and reading!
Pat Dale

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Big News!

Blog of September 14, 2011
Greetings All!
I have a couple of things that may be of interest. First of all, the BIG news for me is that I now have a literary agent!!! WOO HOO!!! She is shopping around my contemporary YA. I worked and reworked my query/first three chapters until I couldn’t see straight! Then I submitted it.
The second news is that I did an interview on Dark Angel’s blog yesterday with a giveaway for my YA historical novel, Fitaroy: The Boy Who Would Be King. Here is the link to that blog:
And besides announcing it here today on this blog, another blogger asked me to do an interview about how to get an agent. Her blog is:
but I’m not sure when the interview will be posted so keep checking! I hope to have a giveaway on that one, too.
And the third piece of good news is that my murder mystery (not YA) is coming out at the end of the month from Gypsy Shadow.  I may do another one to follow that one, still pondering.
I have finally met my editor for my faerie v. human novel to be published in April, 2012 by Muse It Up. I am working on the sequel to it (it might be a three book series, not sure yet).
My current WIP takes place on an alternative planet earth loosely based on the Salem Witch Trials. I really like writing fantasy, especially YA fantasy. It’s probably my favourite genre to write in.

So, now it feels a little bit surreal that I have an agent. I have been writing since I was eight and I had my first poem published when I was 17. As Bob Dylan stated in his song, My Back Pages, "Ah, but I was so much older then/I'm younger than that now.”

 Take care until next time,

Story Ideas Are Everywhere!

Howdy again,
It's a Tuesday morning and I'm sitting here wondering how all of you are doing while thumping my brain on what to write about. Then I grinned. A-ha! So, I pose this question to you: where do your story ideas come from?

Story ideas can come from a myriad of places: music, movies, commercials, conversation, school, work, books, articles...get my point? One of my novels, The Chronicles of Nuclear Fist: Darksoul was inspired from my eight year old son. He wanted to create a superhero and print it from the computer. After finding a website that did this, I decided to make myself one. After I printed out my creation, I looked at it, studied it, thought about it...hmm, this has potential. Several days later the first page popped into my head, and two days later I had five chapters written.

A new trilogy I am working on, Sons of the Trident, came to me with a brief idea, but there were details I needed flushed out. What did I do? Easy, I collaborated with my trusty brainstorming partner, my wife. If you have someone who you trust, use them to bounce off ideas. Their input may amaze you. There were times I wanted to brainstorm with my wife, but instead I ended up talking out loud, answered my own question, and left satisfied. She just smiled.

Lyrics from songs, dialogue from movies and commercials, or words picked up in conversation could serve as a great palate of ideas for stories. Look at the news or the headlines on the web. There are plenty of concepts you can capitalize on. Another idea is to take a known event or part of history and add a twist. I read a book where the author took the British military history dealing with India during the Napoleonic era and replaced main players with fantasy characters. He had elves and dwarves dressed in Napoleonic attire toting muskets. Neat, huh?

So, keep a micro-recorder or a pad of paper with you at all times and be prepared to jot down notes on your creative thinking. And from some of these author sites or writing groups you hang with, there is bound to be someone you can exchange ideas with. You may be surprised with what you discover.
Take care, Nick

Monday, September 12, 2011

Blood Lust

Please welcome T. Lynn Tolles

Thank you DowntownYA for asking me to Guest Blog. I thought I would talk today about how much research authors do to make their books as realistic as possible.

I’ve found that one of my favorite parts of writing is the research. Who knew? I hated researching book reports and such in high school and college, but when it is something you are doing for your own pleasure, its way more fun!!

So much so that when I started receiving shipment after shipment from for researching the second book in my Blood Series – Blood Moon, my family started to question my sanity. My sister-in-law even went so far as to ask me, “Should I be worried? Are you now a witch?” I laughed and told her not to worry, at least not for yet (giggles).

I ordered gem stones and books, smudging sticks, wiccan spell books and even pouches of potions pre-prepared for me. I felt if I was going to write about making potions, wards, talismans and spells, that I should have some hands on knowledge of it or it would just come off in the book as unrealistic.

Living with an engineer for a husband, I’ve learned that you have to have your facts straight. If he can’t justify something by some kind scientific test, then you better be knowledgeable with all the details when the onset of questions comes. Oh sure, most times I find this incredibly annoying, having to explain myself, but in this instance (writing), it has been a blessing going into the research with that mind set.

It may be tedious, but this way I can share the smells, the tastes, and the feelings that come with almost all the aspects of potion making, working with crystals, and preparing spells. To some, I suppose, it is rather silly to go to such extremes to help my writing become more plausible, but I learned a lot and enjoyed myself in doing so.

In conclusion, no matter what my readers think about my behind the pages research, I like to think that a reader can walk away from my books feeling like they may have learned a little something, whether it be wiccan practices like in Blood Moon, or tidbits about places visited like in Bloodstone Heart. After all, isn’t that what reading is all about? Learning, enjoyment and losing yourself In someone else’s world for a moment leaving your own worries far behind for a while?


They were almost to the black limousine, when they all finally stopped walking and Dominic turned to the boys and began to speak. “I’m in need of your help, boys. Anton is terribly sick and I would like you both to come to Connecticut with me, to help me determine what it is that is ailing him.”

“I’m very sorry Anton is sick, but that does not excuse your. . .” Devon started and Blake interrupted.

“What Devon is trying to say, Dominic, is that we are not boys any longer. We have lives, here; jobs, commitments, significant others. We can’t just up and leave.”

“Yes, I can see you’ve hooked up with a lively bunch of hooligans. Eating at a table with witches and werewolf swine. How could you? So what, you with your, Darby girl, and you with the werewolf cross breed creature? Both witches, I presume?”

“Yes. I am with Rowan, but you don’t understand, Dominic,” Blake said reluctantly.

His eyes grew large as saucer. “How despicable, boy. Didn’t I teach you anything? Didn’t you listen to a word I told you? Your mother must be turning in her grave in shame. We are a family of noble vampire blood. What a disgrace to your heritage. Vile. Disgusting.”

“That’s enough Dominic. You are wrong about werewolves, like many are wrong about vampires. You are mistaken. .” Devon defended.

“How dare you. I am a professor of science. I most definitely am not mistaken. I saw, with my own two eyes, the horrific act of a werewolf. They are animals, not people.”

“Your wrong, Dominic, very wrong. These are good and decent people. They’ve risked their lives for us on numerous occasions..” Blake tried to explain.

“Don’t bother explaining Blake. He won’t change his mind. He has his view, and that is the only view he’ll ever see,” Devon said.

“I see your manners have been severely degraded by the company you keep. I demand you come to Connecticut immediately. Maybe you’ll find your manners there and remember your place in society.”

“I’m not leaving. Not for you and most definitely not for Anton.”

“Oh grow up boy. That was ages ago. Let bygones be bygones already. I won’t take no for an answer. You will both march in there pack your things and come home.”

“Connecticut is not our home. This is our home, Oljone, California. Right here, a bunch of great friends that are waiting for us to continue our Thanksgiving feast,” Devon said as he turned and headed back to the house.

“Wait Devon,” Blake said. Devon stopped and slowly turned around. “Dominic, won’t you please join us for dinner. Get to know these people. They are like family to us.”

Devon said, “Don’t bother wasting your breath Blake. He’s already made up his mind about them.”


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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Heart and Soul

It may seem that my posts are more about being “all that you can be” than about writing.  And that’s probably true.  I have never been a cheerleader, but let me take pompoms in hand to say I am an advocate of that philosophy.
This past year I have learned a lot about writing, about people, and about myself.  Learning more about who I am and what I want to say in my stories has been a turning point for me.  I could say it’s about themes or the purpose or a message in a story.  That’s not it. As one of the early movie moguls, Sam Goldwyn said, “If you’ve got a message, send it by Western Union.” Today of course, he would say send an email.

For me, it’s more about soul and the heart.  Mine.  Yes, I write fantasy, but I want my stories to be more than an adventure into another world.  Writing stories from the heart about ordinary people lost in their doubts about themselves who discover they can be extraordinary and make a difference in the world.   I guess, it’s a story about ordinary me fighting to be extraordinary.   Whew!

Let me share Nelson Mandela’s eloquent 1994 Inaugural Speech he made in South Africa.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?

Actually, who are you NOT to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
 We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.

And as we let our own Light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

So yes, my posts have been  and will be to cheer you on, but also to remind me to get to it girl!
“The road is long where I want to go.  But go I will.”

Have you been on a journey of discovery this year?

Till next time,

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Next Big Thing

There's often a lot of speculation on various message boards and writer's communities about what the "next big thing" in young adult fiction will be. Some say that paranormal (vampires, werewolves, etc.) has passed its prime. Zombies are becoming a little overdone. I've heard a few authors saying lately that they think the next big thing will be merpeople, which is as good an answer as anything.

I've personally never been able to write to trends. I write the stories that interest me, that I would have wanted to read when I was a teenager. (Which is probably why I often forget to give my characters cell phones and computers; I didn't have those when I was a teen back in the mid-1980s.) So some of my books are a little different. I've had reviewers praise my Reality Shift series for being something out of the ordinary; there aren't many paranormal or urban fantasy books out there about teens using energy healing and channeling to keep the universe from being destroyed. But sometimes I'm not sure being different is a good thing; some readers seem to stay away from the Reality Shift books for just that reason.

Despite the fact that some people say contemporary young adult fiction just isn't selling, I have two contemporary YA novels under contract. The publisher and my editor seem pretty happy with them; hopefully readers will be too. (I'll keep you posted as soon as I have release dates.)

So what do you all think? What's the "next big thing"?

Maybe I should start plotting a mermaid novel, just to be on the safe side...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Age and Writing

One of my publishers just signed an author who is in her teens, and that brought up a question I've often asked myself. How does age affect my writing? I remember my teen years and I had an amazing imagination back then. Through the years, lots of things have changed, but imagination is not one of them. Still burning brightly, sometimes blindingly so, I have no dearth of story ideas to turn into books.
Thinking about how age affects our writing does bring out a couple of questions I'd like your input on, if you don't mind sharing your thoughts with me. I would say that a young author can easily speak for her/his generation in the realm of YA writing. That should be a piece of cake for a true author. But, can a youngster successfully capture the thoughts and feelings of older adults? Lots of them have tried, but in my opinion, only a few have ever been able to truly depict middle age.
Conversely, can an older adult truly depict life as indelibly as teens discover it? I know, we've all been there and done that; experiencing life in the growing lane, that is. Most of us have families replete with the younger generation, and live vicariously through our kids and grandchildren. But, are we able to do justice when tapping out a 'tween's innermost feelings? Or a young adult's first foray into things sexual? How about the dizzying complexity of what one will do with one's life, say about the time one graduates from normal school?
Write what you know. A maxim that has served writers well through the ages, it also can be considered a warning for us to avoid treading into territory we know not. And that, in my opinion, is where imagination comes into play. Some of us, I'd say a very few, come equipped with such vivid imaginations that we can place ourselves in aged shoes to synthesize what it feels like to be old.
If you can't feel in your bones what it's like to have to stretch old muscles just to be able to stand without falling; to try to lift an object you've carried around for years, only to learn that you no longer can get it off the table; if you can't feel the weariness creeping through your limbs early in the day, don't try to write about old folks.
If you can't remember what it is to wake up bursting with energy, fighting the clock to get out there and discover new frontiers; if you can't depict accurately the thrill of your first love, of suffering through the depressing low of your first rejection by your peers; don't attempt to write for young adults. That's my opinion.
What's yours?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Food is More than Fuel

Greetings All!

I think it's interesting what we have our characters eating. It's important not to dwell on food (unless you are writing a food related story) too much but I find that my characters eat well or never eat! The historical YA novels I have done (and am doing) involve doing research into what people of that time period ate/drank. I find that if I spend too much time in the kitchen/dining room having my characters eating, I am missing out on telling their story. A quick dinner, maybe a conversation that's relevant and then, out. There are exceptions, of course. So this brings me to my first question.

What are your characters eating?

I saw that Barnes and Noble (via Nook) did a survey of what writers ate while they were writing. I thought it might be fun to poll you about the same thing.

Since I am allergic to chocolate (no M&M's for me!) I have to be creative with my snacks. Right now my favourite snack is Jolly Rancher gummies. I can go through half a box in no time! I also like almonds if I feel I need a boost. I like the small bags of pretzels if I am craving something salty. If someone would bake me cookies, I might nosh on those but, alas, no one is here but me and my cats and they don't bake! Although I do think it's time they learned, lazy things.

My favourite drink is either cups of tea or coffee, depending on the hour of the day, Cinnamon Apple Spice is good if I don't want caffeine (and why would I NOT want caffeine???), I also like Chai Tea. Any bold roasted coffee is good for me. Luckily coffee doesn't keep me awake at night so I love a cup after dinner. I read that some writers drink wine while writing and although this might be good for them, I wouldn't want to read my writing if I wrote it while drinking alcohol!

So, what do you snack on when writing?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Experience It! Then Write!

Whaaaa? What does he mean by this?
Simple. If you are planning to write a scene, go and experience the setting or event, if possible, before writing. It is a blast, and by using all your senses, you will be inundated with ideas...but you still have to get them into text. As an example I've used before, I was a Civil War re-enactor for 15 years. Aside from the actual bullets and cannonballs flying, I've experienced much of what a soldier did during that time period. Okay, no lice, but I did get a bad case of chiggers. By using all this experience, I was able to start a historical non-fiction without a problem. Why? The 'been there, done that' comes into play.
"I don't reenact," you say? No problem. Suppose you are writing a scene dealing with a chase down some rapids. Find a river with an abundance of them, go sit, and watch. Study the river-goers zipping past the rocks. Better yet, go down with a guide yourself and feel the jars, bumps, splashes, and thrill of the event yourself!
I read once where an author rode with a small town police officer in order to get the feel and protocol of what he did in a crime investigation for her mystery novel. What about feeling stranded in the desert? Go to the desert, park you car, and walk about 100 yards away (with water) and sit, making sure to have the car and other modern amenities out of view. Without trying to drink, feel the heat, the thirst, the loneliness, the thoughts that begin to run through your mind knowing you are lost and in dire straits.
Placing yourself in the midst of what you are writing and experiencing it firsthand will make a world of difference, if you can. But make sure it is safe. Don't do something that will endanger your life. You can't write if you are dead!
I also know of numerous haunted places you can visit if you are in the market of writing something of the paranormal genre. Once you get there, listen to the sounds, feel the darkness, let your imagination flow as it creates things that are not there...muahahaha! Oh, carried away there.
Another thing you can do is to prepare with the same methods actors use when they are studying a role to perform. Either hang out with the person they are portraying, or sit back and study the type of person(s) they are trying to be. This will also help give you insight on what you are writing about.
Hope you enjoyed it.
Take care, Nick

Monday, September 5, 2011

What I Learned From The Hunter Series

Each book an author writes brings with it self-knowledge. We learn what genre we prefer to write in or what word count we’re comfortable with, what comes easily and what is difficult. What I’ve learned from the Hunter Series is that I love writing in first person. I started out in third and had problems getting in Zoe’s head. So I decided to try first, something I’d never written in before. Immediately, Zoe and I got intimately acquainted. I learned her likes and dislikes, her love of clothing, manicures and iced lattes. And I learned about her loathing for Dere, the vampire that killed her parents and a young man she was attracted to. But let’s let Zoe tell you about that herself.

Dere. The vampire that killed my parents and a friend. Uncle and I hunted him. I killed him. “Dere lived here?” The words were stiff and disjointed. I felt dizzy. My vision blurred.

“Zoe. Zoe, are you alright?” The words came from a long way off.

“Put your head between your knees, Zoe,” Uncle commanded as I swayed. When I didn’t respond, he came around the table and shoved my head down. The room tilted at a crazy angle then righted. I pushed away his hands and sat up.

“Breathe, Zoe,” he commanded.

I took a deep breath. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“He’s dead, Zoe. He can’t hurt you anymore.”

“But to be in the same house where that monster resided.” I shuddered. I felt cold, so cold. Just the thought of him made my stomach knot. He’d had immense power. And he’d killed without mercy for food, for pleasure...and revenge.

“I just remind myself of how much he’d hate it.” Uncle Julian still squatted beside me. He looked at me and bared his teeth in a ferocious grin. Uncle had a few scores to settle with Dere himself.

Uncle had hunted him for several lifetimes. Pranics, as you probably know, reincarnate. They are born to hunt blood vampires. And until every filthy bloodsucker is dead, hunters such as Uncle Julian and myself will keep coming back. To my knowledge this is my first time around. I believe its Uncle Julian’s fourth, but I could be mistaken.

Vampire Bay is available as a download at Smashwords

and Amazon

for $3.99.

Labor Day
Labor Day is a day that honors all Americans that are part of the workforce. The labor union
celebrated its first workingmen's holiday on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 in New York City. Over the next few years, the idea spread throughout the country. In 1884, it was switched to Monday. In 1887, Labor Day gained state recognition in Oregon.Other states followed suit.By 1894 it became a Federal Holiday It has continued to evolve into what we recognize as Labor Day today.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Let's Celebrate With Chocolate!

Labor Day heralds the end of our fun-filled days of summer. So, let’s have a party this weekend! I’ll bring the brownies.

It’s time to reward ourselves with chocolate to strengthen and fortify our spirit for the last push before the end of year. Here’s a recipe for a very decadent, very chocolatey goji brownie recipe. It’s to die for it’s so yummy.


4 cups walnuts (you can substitute another nut)
12 whole pitted medjool dates (this is instead of sugar)
4 Tbsp carob powder
8 Tbsp cacao powder
2 tsp vanilla powder
½ cup dried goji berries, soaked and coarsely chopped
6 Tbsp goji water, drained after soaking berries
½ tsp Himalayan crystal salt (I personally forgo the salt)
½ tsp cinnamon
½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
¼ cup cacao nibs


1. Place the walnuts into the food processor with the ‘s’ blade and grind them until they look like meal (dried powder).

2. Pull the dates apart into a few smaller pieces and add to the walnut meal. Continue to process until the mixture is well combined.

3. Add the carob powder, cacao powder, vanilla powder, goji water, salt and cinnamon. Process again to combine all ingredients.

4. Remove mixture from processor and place into a mixing bowl. Add the cacao nibs and drained goji berries and mix well by hand. Make sure the all the ingredients are well mixed. Pack the mixture into a 9X9 baking dish. Let chill for 2 hours before serving.

5. Store the brownies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. They will also freeze beautifully for up three months.

This recipe is Chef Tina Jo’s of “Splendor in the Raw.” Hope you enjoy it and your weekend. What’s your favorite dessert recipe?

Till next time,

Seeing the World as a Writer

Today while we were having a conversation, my husband talked about a writer who had taken a photograph of a real incident and wrote about it with her own perceptions. She didn't look into the facts of the photograph even though she was going to insert it in a non-fiction article. My husband didn't understand how someone could have done this. I tried to explain to him that writers think that way. When we see a photo or an incident we always think "What if?" So anything happening in front of us might set us thinking.

For me it happens this way. I might see an article and a photo might affect me in some way. Hearing an incident might also affect me the same way. Or a live accident could set off these thoughts. The what ifs bombard me and soon I am making up a story about it. Or maybe it will start me thinking about the feelings and images and I'll start writing a poem about it. Or many years later an experience will pop up in my head and I'll find myself writing about it. This is what happened with an incident with a first grader who was the victim of bullies. He kept the fact of being bullied to himself, though he would arrive at school with his shirt untucked and rumpled and his pants full of street dirt. As his teacher, I reminded him about coming to school dressed neatly. Each child had to wear the same uniform and most came to school neat and tidy.

Finally at the first parent-teacher conference I met his parents and I was amazed. They were so well dressed and when I told them about their son's coming to school so messy they couldn't believe. They told me he left the house neat as a pin. That is when I started wondering how this could happen. Did he play on the way to school getting messy from horsing around? Or was there something more? It turned out that the truth finally came out. Some boys from the class waited for him to get near the school and then they attacked him. This had been happening for weeks. It all made sense after that, because his behavior had turned unruly in class too. When the situation with the bullies was settled he became a different person in class too.

Fast forward to ten years later and I found someone who was talking about bullies. I remembered the boy's situation and suddenly from my brain popped a title: "The Bully Train". Then the words started pouring out and before I knew it I had written a whole chapter or a short story about this boy and his bullies. My mind kept going to the what ifs and soon I had the whole scene of how it might have gone with this boy.

Maybe not everyone thinks like I do, but this is just an example of how my writer's mind works. When I wrote my YA novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, every incident within the story caused the next one to happen. I constructed a whole set of what ifs and used them to explore the possibilities. What if a girl who has body image problems is paired with a girl who is perfect but who has a much bigger problem? What if these two girls already have a history and one of them has bullied the other one in middle school? Then what if on the first day of school these two were chosen as partners for a project. What if these girls were also in the same gym class? What if the girl who felt uncomfortable about her body also had a hyperventilation problem? What if the hyperventilation made her faint?

You can see how using what if can move your story along. You can also see how an everyday incident can create an entire story. Writers are never satisfied to let something alone. You drive by an accident and wonder how it happened. You think of the people involved and were they hurt? You think about the people they knew who were not in the cars. You wonder how it might have happened? A writer is constantly questioning and using what ifs to flesh out their stories. You wonder about the state of mind of the drivers. Maybe one of them might have had a fight that day. What if that driver wasn't thinking and slammed into the back of the other car? What if the other driver was too sad and just sat there stunned? What if the first driver was going to pick up a tuxedo for a wedding? What if the passenger in the second car was the girl he was going to marry? See where the what ifs can take you?

My novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, is being released September 16th as an e-book from MuseItUp Publishing. I am knee deep in going over my galleys and as I read the story I can see how the what ifs took me through to the end. By the time you are going over galleys your story is almost set in stone. That part is over and now you have to go over it with a microscopic writing lens to make sure there are no errors. Amazing as it may seem, there are still a few errors. I am very excited we are very near the finish line.

My real life is encroaching on my writing life and that is why this is so late. My apologies to Sandra for the late post and this is really due to circumstances beyond my control. I will be back next Saturday morning.

All the month of September some of us MG/YA authors are holding a Blog-A-Thon where we are hosting each other on our blogs. Please come over and enjoy these amazing Muse authors this month. If you come to where I am you can win a free copy of my novel. Every author is giving away free gifts and the more you comment the better your chances to win. Here is the schedule and I hope you will try to pop over and read about some of us.:) Schedule for September Muse Authors MG/YA Blog -A-Thon.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Back to School- or Not

Hard to believe it's September already! A lot of the kids in my area of Massachusetts have already gone back to school. My town doesn't start until next week, which my older daughter finds amusing and my younger one finds unfair. (Guess which one of them actually likes school?)

Unfortunately, some schools in other parts of the state, and in a lot of other areas along the east coast, had to delay their start dates because of Hurricane Irene. We didn't have too much trouble from the storm here, other than branches coming down and boats being yanked from their moorings, but we were very fortunate. I've seen the news stories about other places, some not far from me, and I've been keeping good thoughts for the people who are struggling with the results of the storm.

There are some cities and towns in Massachusetts that won't have their power back until Sunday at the earliest. This is after losing power last Sunday during the storm. Some people aren't able to return to their homes, and sadly, some don't have homes to return to.

With all that, it might sound odd to talk about school. There are more important things in the lives of those affected by the storm than whether school starts on September 1 or September 8, right? Well, yes and no. Obviously finding housing or rebuilding, replacing what's been lost, getting power restored are all important things. But for some kids, school is the most stability they have in their lives. Some of them need the structure and schedule (my 13-year-old, who has Asperger's Syndrome, is one of these). And with all the chaos going on because of the storm, not having school is just one more thing for them to have to adjust to.

Here's hoping that power will be back, homes will be rebuilt or replaced, and all those affected, children and adults, will have their lives back soon.