Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo is Done!

Greetings All!
Well, it is the end of November, do you know where your novel is? I finished NaNoWriMo over the past weekend and made it to 50,001 words. I have to say that I enjoyed the last half of my vampire novel more than the first half. It needs mega editing and I don't know if I'll go back to it, but I may later on.

Once I finished NaNo I picked up the YA dystopian I had been working on and am up to 22K on it. I am enjoying writing about our world after a devastating war that destroys civilization as we know it. No one has electricity except the city that used to be known as New York. And they only have it on and off because they are guarded by the military. If any of you are Star Trek fans, remember the Cloud City episode where the rich lived in a perfect city with art and music and had all the food they wanted but the miners who lived below ground had to forage for food and lived a harsh life? Well, my novel is something like that only it has zombies in it!

I also finished my novella and sent it off to a potential publisher. Fingers crossed.

As we finish out 2011 I was thinking about my 2012 writing goals.
1. Sell my book(s) to one of the big six with a healthy advance (might as well dream big!)
2. Finish writing and then editing the YA dystopian.
3. Find a teaching job at a university teaching creative writing.
4. Start a MFA program.
5. Continue to write and be able to make a living from it (again, dream big!)

What are your writing goals for 2012?

I hope those that participated were able to finish their NaNo novels and can add a winner's badge to their website/blog/whatever. I added one to my website.

Take Care, Until Next Time,

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Creating Your Fantasy World

Hey all! I hope your Thanksgiving was a good one. I'm going to chat a bit on creating your world.

When I wrote my first trilogy, The Relics of Nanthara, the story came from a D&D adventure I conjured years before, taking form in my mind with all its features, climates, terrain types, and people in vivid color. There are many ways to design a world for your characters to live in. I’m going to chat a bit on how I create a fantasy world like Nanthara.

First of all, allow me to say this. When creating your characters’ environment, do not limit yourself to your minimal thinking. I say this not as an insult, but many times, even in life, we limit ourselves by our negative thoughts. Don’t be afraid to go outside the box. I prefer making my fantasy worlds with more of a historical flavor, minimal magic, and a low potential of running into a plethora of crazy creatures. But this is me. If you want floating castles, dragons and unicorns zipping around every tree, and glowing warriors with wings in every city, then go for it!

To begin, I drew a rough outline of a continent capable of hosting a variety of climates and land features. Once I was satisfied with the outline, I added the individual provinces, realms, and kingdoms. Now, a key factor that must exist in any world is names. Names have to sound real; words which sound good to the ear as well as resound off the palate. One peeve of mine is reading a story filled with poor names. From the realm names to the characters, if it sounds cheap, it takes away from the story. While creating names, the kingdoms come to life in my head, bringing forth visions of the races, economy, landscape, etc. Therefore, I try and make this part the best I can.

Once the names are in place, I then add major land features on my map. Use variety in creating these land features and mix them up if possible. Can you have one feature dominating a land? Yes. Yet the more features you add, it creates the potential of new ideas. For example, by adding several mountain chains to a specific realm, I created the opportunity for a once thought extinct race to exist, thus making Book 3 of my Relics Trilogy more exciting. Try not to start a land feature in one empire and suddenly stop it at the borders of the next realm. Flowing one into the other helps create a realistic flow of terrain, and prevent your map looking like a child’s jig-saw puzzle.

Despite the starting point of your project, you always have room to expand by adding or subtracting details. Consider sculpting moist clay. Once the main shape is formed, you can improve it by carving here and adding there until you have your masterpiece. Since I started creating Nanthara six years ago, I am still adding to it.

A world must have variety. Building a large continent comprising scant features with the same climate and people strewn across it surface is quite boring. Each realm you create should carry distinctions as diverse as the countries of Europe. Crossing one border into another brings you a different culture, different foods, people, strengths, weaknesses, terrain, etc. The diversity I’ve created in Nanthara has allowed me to introduce two trilogies and at least three other works in progress, all taking place in different places involving new races unique to those areas. And this is not taking into consideration the potential of ideas from having friends, foes, and all those in between intermingled in your lands above and below the surface. Again, it is your imagination, create.

One thing I designed to organize my ideas was a flow sheet with the names of each realm, their capital, their ruler, and their chief liaison. On a second chart, I listed the name of each realm, the description of their flags/banners, and their alignment (good, bad, or neutral). I now have quick reference when speaking about armies, a realm’s designating colors, or key figures for political interaction. You can also list currencies, types of goods produced, specific units of the army’s composition, races; the list goes on. This is another factor that has allowed formulated ideas on stories to become current works in progress.

Once a world is created, coming up with races would be next. Originally, I had the typical Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, and Humans as key races in my Relics trilogy. But in brainstorming with my wife and by taking suggestions from a fellow author, I decided to tweak it. I kept some of the races and created new ones. With this, I had to develop a history of how the new races came about. Doing so helped mold my trilogy. New, lesser confronted races were sometimes created as the stories developed. In Book 3, Dawn of the Apocalypse, one race was created at a sticking point in my story where a transition was needed into the next scene. The neat thing was this race also played a part toward the end of the book as well. As I’ve stated before, the possibilities are endless.

There is a lot more to discuss and much more that other authors could contribute, so I will bow out for now. I hope I was able to spark some ideas and quell some fears on moving forth in your writing careers. If you have a question, feel free to email me at:

Take care,

Nick Giannaras

Monday, November 28, 2011

Who's Your Favorite Twilight Character?
We did the requisite trip to the theater to see Breaking Dawn Thanksgiving evening. The seats were sold out. I enjoyed it and I feel with each sequel the wolves get more realistic looking. But my all time favorite of the Twilight series movies so far is the first one. I think its by far the best.
And speaking of favorites what about the book/movie characters? There's quite a cast.
Bella, endearingly klutzy, willing to make any sacrifice for those she loves
Edward, the 'vegetarian' vampire, who doesn't want to be a monster and loves Bella to distraction
Jacob, her best friend, Werewolf, protector of humans against the cold ones, also in love with Bella...until he imprints on her daughter
Carlyle, the handsome, good, doctor vampire
Emmett, the 'jock' vampire
Jasper, the newest vampire, Alice's significant other
Alice, the gamine-faced vampire, Edward's vampire sister and Bella's best friend
or possibly
Esme, the vampire mother, whose mothering tendencies carried over from her human life
and several others
Mine is Charlie, Bella's dad. I'm not sure why I'm so taken with him. But I love his persona on the screen and in the book. Bella has inherited all his awkwardness including his lack of social discourse. Maybe its the fact that he's so darn human. In a world filled with mega immortals, Charlie just goes through his daily return of watching sports, fishing and once a week eating at the diner, oblivious to the under currents around him, trying his best to be a good cop and a good father. He's a man of few words but has a dry sense of humor that I enjoy. While he can't stand up against the body-builder stereo types of the Werewolves or the perfection of the vampires, he's handsome in his own understated way. He's the stereotypical protective father, ready to give grief to any young man that causes his daughter pain or harm. But where she or any other young woman is concerned he's a total marshmallow. Yup, Charlie's my favorite. Who's yours?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Finish Line

On the 16th of the month, I came down with something nasty. Pneumonia.  It stopped me for five days.  But, after the initial feverish days I got back into the wip for NaNo.  Still coughing and feeling like well, you know.  I finished NaNo.  Now, I don’t think a months of sleep is going to be enough to get over the exhaustion I feel.  But, I also feel exhilarated by the experience.    You see, for me it was more than getting a certain word count; it was about making a commitment and following through.  And Woohoo I did it.  Now, since I still have pneumonia I’m going to go and have a long lay down.  Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday with your family and friends.
Till next time,

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Has Bullying Invaded Shopping?

The stores advertised for a whole week that they would open as early as midnight Friday morning. Thousands of people lined up to be the first ones in the store so they could get the very few bargains the stores held out as a carrot to the eager shoppers. Black Friday they call it, because it is the first day of shopping for the holiday season and for some stores it will put them in the black for this year.

Most of the people who shopped were probably well mannered and went about their business without any interference or problem. There were the few, though, who couldn't shop without having a problem. Several people brought pepper spray with them and used it. Imagine the shock and horror of reaching for an item and finding you are being pepper sprayed by another shopper who wants the same item! It's unthinkable!!

This same week I watched as campus police used pepper spray on students who were staging a peaceful and orderly protest by sitting down and linking arms. The police sprayed the pepper spray as if these students were pesky insects. I couldn't believe anyone could be so blasé about using such a product on people. Pepper spray is very harmful and to think that a shopper brought it to a store is horrible. What would cause someone to do anything like this? Isn't pepper spraying someone for an item you want, bullying? 

My husband used to work in Kleins, which was a department store that had a lot of sales. He told me the chaos that ensued when women came to shop and more than one wanted the same item. They would each tug and many times the item would be ripped in two and useless to them. Now people fight mostly over electronic items like Wi's and other video game players. The stores slashed prices and for some people this is the only way they can get it. Does that mean you can bully someone so you can have something? Is bullying ever okay? I don't think so. You have to ask yourself if these aren't the same people who have gone through life bullying to get their way. Only now they carry pepper spray and use it on innocent shoppers. Maybe they learned that they can do that from the video of the students being sprayed. I know it horrified me, but then I haven't used bullying in my life. 

I think the incidents on Friday should be a wake up call for this country. Bullying is intrinsic in our culture and now it has come back to shopping. Years ago many people were very poor and sales meant they could get merchandise they might never have at any time. They pushed and pulled, but they didn't use anything but their mouths and hands. People yelled at each other and pushed ahead, but no one sprayed anyone. These days many in our society are unable to buy things all year and this sale day afforded them the one chance they might have to get an item. Does this mean when they couldn't get the item they should use bullying to get it for themselves? No!! These are only things and people mean more than things. What will happen if you don't get that Wi? Maybe you or your children won't be able to play it and you will feel frustrated and sad. But you will survive. It isn't like not having food or shelter or clothing. Too many people this holiday season don't have enough food to live. Too many people don't have a job or if they do have a job they make too little money. Bullying is not the answer to change their lives. Bullying is never an answer anytime.

In my YA novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, the main character, Carolyn is bullied for a couple of years because of a physical problem over which she had little control, she hyperventilated. Jennifer Taylor, the most popular girl in middle school decides it will be fun to bother her so she starts bullying her by saying a phrase that she knows will make Carolyn feel awful. Jennifer doesn't leave Carolyn alone to the point where Carolyn flinches when she sees Jennifer. The bullying makes Carolyn feel invisible and worried about herself. Jennifer's bullying creates a physical response in Carolyn. Here is a little excerpt from the book that shows how Carolyn feels and the consequences of this bullying:

Becky turns to look over at the group at the top of the bleachers and then turns back to look me in the eye. “You know you have to put that stupid day behind you.”

I pretend not to know what she’s talking about. “What stupid day?”

Like I don’t remember every detail.

“The zip line day.”

“Oh, that day,” I say with a combination grimace and smile. “The day I wound up having to climb off the platform. I wanted to bore a hole into the ground so I wouldn’t have to walk past them but couldn’t, and everyone screamed at me: ‘Breathe, Carolyn, breathe.’”

“You have to admit it was funny the way the gym teacher ran up the ladder like a squirrel to rescue you. Everyone laughed at how stupid she looked. Jennifer got the whole class going with that ridiculous ‘breathe, Carolyn, breathe.’” Becky looks behind her to Jennifer. “You know I wanted to run over and punch her, but I couldn’t because I was still on the platform, and it was my turn to go.”

“Yeah, if I had a few more minutes, I would have been able to get up the courage to grip the zip line and hook myself to it. Stupid teacher didn’t give me a chance. This not breathing thing when I get nervous really sucks.”

Becky nods because she knows me so well.

“So then Jennifer started with that horrible chant, and of course, the whole class followed her, like always.” My eyes fill with tears as I remember, and my breathing is getting worse by the minute.

“I thought it was a dumb idea to do ropes course stuff in school. We did it at my camp the summer before, and no one was forced to do it. Anyone could get nervous with Jennifer in front of them,” Becky comforts me.

I continue talking as if I’m in a trance. “Remember how last year whenever I ran into Jennifer she would whisper ‘breathe, Carolyn, breathe,’ so no one could hear it except me. Once she did it just before I had to go up in front of the class in math. Sometimes she would do it in front of everyone and, of course, get a big laugh while I wanted to turn into a piece of furniture.”

Becky grabs my arm. “Do we have to go back over this again? You need to forget about it.” She takes her hand away from my arm as I continue to speak.

“Becky, I can’t. The thing is it’s this bad movie in my brain looping the same horrible scenes. The funny thing is, most of the time, she would ignore me. I would never know what she was going to do. You have to admire someone so single-minded she managed to get to me at just the right time.

You remember don’t you? And today did you see how she wore the same outfit as me? It’s spooky.”

My funny breathing returns as Miss Gaylon tells us to line up on the yellow line alphabetically. I hope there will be someone to go between Jennifer and me. No luck. Jennifer is going to be behind me all year. I hold my breath. I couldn't stand more of the same this year. I pray for the day to end soon. A glance at my new watch shows me fifteen more minutes left of the period. Is Miss Gaylon's voice getting lower? What is that pounding in my ears?

Jennifer turns to face me, and I hear, "Breathe, Carolyn, breathe.” Then my world turns black.

How does a person who has been pepper sprayed feel about themselves? What effect does bullying have on a shopper? No one knows, but if it continues stores are going to have a real problem this holiday season.

How do you feel about the events that happened in the stores this Friday? Leave me a comment and be on the lookout for bullying of any kind. You never know when you might be the victim.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Post-Thanksgiving

At least for those readers in the USA. For the rest of you, happy Friday!

Even if you're in a country that doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November, it's still a good time to think about what you're thankful for. Actually, any time of year will do for that. It's always good to be thankful, and a lot of us probably have more in our lives to give thanks for than we realize.

This year, I'm very thankful for all the great things that have happened in my writing life in the past couple years. I've met some wonderful publishers, editors, and other authors who have given me encouragement and support. I've met readers who, to my amazement, actually like my books! Well, maybe not amazement, but it's definitely a high when someone tells me they like something I've written. I get all happy every time I hear it.

I'm thankful for my books that have been published and the ones that are under contract. My 2012 schedule is filling out pretty well at this point, and it's looking like my readers are going to have a few things to look forward to.

I'm thankful for my family most of all. Both of my daughters, who are teenagers (and that makes me feel old...) are proud of my writing and my books. Of course my older one acts like I embarrass her sometimes when I talk about my writing to people, but then she turns around and brags about me when I'm not there. My younger one says she never gets embarrassed. My husband is very supportive and the voice of reason about my writing, and also brags about me when I'm not around.

So I have a lot to be thankful for this year. I hope you do too!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thought on Thanksgiving

Hi, folks. I hope everyone is having a great day today. And that you are able to be with your loved ones at a very special time of year. Now I have a sobering thought to share with you.
As you arise from the table where you've been privileged to enjoy life's bounty, ask yourself one question. Will this be the last time I'll ever be here with my family and friends? If the answer is an unequivocal yes, then Godspeed to you as you go off to the rest of your life.
If you find yourself unable to say with certainty that you will definitely be here next year, then say a little prayer for the blessed time you've just enjoyed with those others who value and love you. And, whatever else you do, do not leave the gathering without telling those you love that you love them. Family and friends are among the most valuable of our assets and we should never forget that. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
Pat Dale

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sad News: Anne McCaffrey has died

Greetings All!

Anne McCaffrey died yesterday. She was 85 years old. I remember reading The Dragonriders of Pern and being fascinated by the world she created. As soon as I could I got the rest of her books to devour. One of my favourites is The Crystal Singer series. This is about a woman who sings crystal, kind of like a miner. In order to be a crystal singer you have to have perfect pitch.  Next I read the Harper Hall trilogy about a girl who becomes a harper, or a singer. Hmm, do you sense a theme here? I fell in love with Menolly and her baby dragons. To say that Anne McCaffrey inspired me to become a fantasy writer goes without saying. I did a recent blog interview and one of the questions asked which writer inspired you the most? I answered, Anne McCaffrey. Another question wanted to know who I’d want to collaborate on a book with and I said either Anne McCaffrey or JK Rowling. I often thought that when I hit it big as a writer---Universe, are you listening?---I’d be able to meet Ms. McCaffrey and tell her what a wonderful writer she is and how much I admire her. A few months ago I sent one of my novels to a beta reader---one who helps with plot inconsistencies---and she came back with the comment that my writing reminded her of Anne McCaffrey’s! High praise, indeed.  I remember introducing my daughters to her books when they were younger. They, too became fascinated with the world of Pern.

To say that the writing community has lost one of its best writers also goes without saying. She was the first woman to win a Hugo Award and she blazed the way for other science fiction/fantasy women authors. As one person on Twitter stated yesterday: “Anne McCaffrey has gone between.” RIP Ms. McCaffrey.

Today is day 23 of NaNoWriMo. I wanted to update everyone about my status. Let’s see, I gave up my first novel, started a second one on day 7, gave that up on day 13, wrote another novel that turned into a novella at just 20K and started a third novel on day 14. Of course the third novel isn’t really “new” it’s the first novel again! Yes, I am back to doing the vampire novel.  I am up to 40K and hope to finish it soon. I guess I had to have a break from it in order to get back to it. I don’t know if I’m ever going to do anything with it come December but at least I’m back in the groove, so to speak and am happy with where it’s going. The one thing I didn’t do this year is go to any write-in’s. I wanted to be more social and get to know other WriMo’s in my area but I write best at my kitchen table when it is quiet so I stayed home. Doing NaNoWriMo has taught me that I can write a novel in a month (or three!) and that if I stick to a plan, I can achieve my goals.

I hope all that celebrate Thanksgiving give thanks for what you achieved this year, even if it’s only finishing NaNo by November 30 (in seven days!).

I recently put together two of my YA fantasy novels into one volume. Aine and Faerie Folk are now bundled together as The Faerie Chronicles on Kindle. I wanted to put them together since Faerie Folk is the sequel to Aine. Here is the link and the book trailer:

Until Next Time,

Take Care,


Monday, November 21, 2011

When To Edit

Do you edit as you go or wait till the bitter end?
The experts advise waiting till you've finished your writing to edit so that the critical portion of the brain doesn't interfere with the creative side. This doesn't mean, though, you have to wait until you've completed your WIP. There are several workable ways to approach this.
1) When you've rung out every single thought for the day that you're going to get down on paper, you can go back and edit what you've written. Or if the baby's crying and you are out of time, you can give it a once over on your next block of time. This will also act as a refresher, get you focused so that you can pick up where you left off.
2) You may decide to edit chapter by chapter. Once you finish your chapter, you may wish to go back and edit it then move on to the next. Again this helps re-familiarize yourself with your story and nudges your creative side to start back up. If you decide to edit chapter by chapter, I recommend just a light glossing over so you don't lose your momentum.
3) You can just keep going full throttle till you've completed your wip, nano style.
I sit on the fence a bit on editing-as-I-go. I'm a great believer in writing while your muse is whispering provocatively in your ear. But I get sidetracked easily. What does this word really mean? Could I find a better one? One that's more crisp, packs more of a punch. Is there a better way of formulating this sentence?
By the time I've finished fleshing out that sentence or finding the perfect word I've probably lost inspirational steam. On the other hand, when I come back to edit, that word or sentence may not be as important to me and I may find myself settling for verbiage with less impact. So I compromise. If its a matter of not remembering so and so's last name, what day it should be, what the weather's like, I either highlight, make a note to myself at that spot or the bottom of the manuscript and clean it up when I come back. At this point, I also ignore spelling and sentence structure errors.
The bottom line: edits are extremely important. We can't sell our work without them, just don't let editing interfere with your creativity while your working on that bestseller.
Sandra Cox, Vampire Bay

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Novel, Flash Stories, and Poetry Oh My!!!

Last weekend I had the opportunity to go to Montreal to meet my publisher and fellow authors at what our publisher labeled a Retreat. I drove almost seven hours from Connecticut to Montreal and it was so worth it!! First of all, meeting everyone with whom I had emailed back and forth and bumped comments on blogs was very exciting. It was wonderful talking face to face and seeing how we had such a rapport. There is a little bit of the crazy in all of us and I was happy to see that! My publisher is everything and more than I expected. Lea Schizas and her very capable business partner, Litsa Kamateros have built MuseItUp Publishing into something extraordinary in this business. She is organized, competent and she has amazing passion for what she does. I am thrilled to be part of this company!

    Some of the authors of MuseItUp Publishing in Montreal

I missed last Saturday due to my real life. So I decided to write this as soon as I could so it would be there for this Saturday! Sorry Sandra!!

Two Saturdays ago I was at a book signing at Zeller's for my just published YA novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor and it was amazing! The book just came out in print that Saturday and it was very exciting. I met the readers I had been writing for, girls ages 10 and up, who grabbed my book and didn't want to let it go!! Their enthusiasm was very exciting and signing the book for them made me feel so good.  I have a couple of photos I can't post here with me and the kids and one of the first girl who bought my print book! Seeing her expression was worth the drive there. I do have photos of me at the book signing, though.

I mentioned last week that my flash stories would be in The Book Breeze for November/December. They are there now and I posted the link to Facebook. But here it is for anyone who didn't see it:

The Book Breeze is both online and in print and is given to authors at conferences. They are advertising my book too as a New Release. It's very exciting, because the stories are on the first page and they are very different as I mentioned last week.:) The reaction from my friends is excellent and several want me to start writing in this new direction.

In addition to these stories I have a story published in Lavender Dreams, an anthology which is devoted to stories about people with cancer. I have mentioned this here before, but as Christmas and Chanukkah come ever closer I wanted people to know that this is full of excellent stories both fiction and non fiction and all the proceeds go to cancer research. I am very proud to have my story included here. When we were at the Retreat there was a memorial to the authors who have passed away recently due to cancer. They are the reason we decided to do the anthology.

Then there is Prompted, an anthology of poetry written by the members of a group called the Anthologists. We are poets who decided we wanted to merge our poems written to prompts that we found on Poetic Asides. The idea was tossed around awhile and then we all collaborated to bring it to fruition. With the capable help of our editor, Pearl Ketover Prilik, this is now complete and at the publisher's. Each of us contributed three poems to three different prompts. We voted on everything and it was the most collaborative project I have ever been involved in that worked out so well.:) This is another book whose proceeds will go to charity. We decided to send them to literacy research.

That is what is special about my publisher. She believes in collaboration. She brings all new ideas to us, the authors, and she listens when we give our ideas. She weighs them and decides by keeping them in mind. She is available to us whenever we need her and she is part of every decision we make for our work.

Suddenly from having nothing in the public eye except a few short stories I have a novel, a story in an anthology, and soon will have three poems in a poetry anthology.  It's all very exciting and it's wonderful to know that my writing will be seen by so many people. Now if only all of this will translate into a few dollars I'll be happy!

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Releases!

First off, I'd like to apologize to readers and my fellow Downtowners for missing my spot last week. Last Friday was Veteran's Day here, and that completely confused me because my kids didn't have school, so I kind of forgot it was Friday...

Another thing that's been making me a bit on the confused side is that I've had two releases in the past week and a half! The fifth book in my Reality Shift series, From the Ashes, came out yesterday from Jupiter Gardens Press. Shanna Bailey is getting used to life with her new foster family, but aftereffects of her mother's abuse continue to plague her. And now she has to cope with her first boyfriend, her former next-door neighbor Ken. At least she has her best friend Jonah Leighton to help her deal--and to help her against a "psychic" who isn't what she seems. To help celebrate this release, Jupiter Gardens is also releasing, just for the holidays, a set of Reality Shift books 1 and 2 at a special price.

The Reality Shift series contains some of my favorites of my own books. I love seeing my characters grow and change, and seeing Shanna Bailey overcome her past and move on to truly live her life.

My other release was last week. Cluing In, from Featherweight Press, is my first contemporary YA novel. 16-year-old Jamey Mandel doesn't want anything to do with his ex-girlfriend Tina, especially after rumors begin that Tina is pregnant by her new boyfriend. But when Tina takes her own life, Jamey wonders if he's to blame.

It's always exciting as an author to have new books out, and I'm thankful to get to work with two publishers who work hard and work *with* their authors.

Speaking of thankful, I hope all the US readers out there have a great Thanksgiving! I'll be back next Friday with something reasonably profound :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rabbit in the Brier Patch

I'll bet we've all heard the story of the rabbit who hid in the brier patch to escape the hungry wolf. From my earliest days of teaching, I have a story that derives from that old tale. It is one I've hesitated to write because it still chills me to remember the horrendous facts behind the story.
I write graphic violence without trepidation, relying on my imagination to make it seem real. In this case, it was real and I can't escape the notion that I could have done something to help. Actually, I couldn't do a thing and neither could anyone else, but I shudder when I recall the depths of depravity some will stoop to to gain their way.
I can't tell the story here. I am writing it now and it will come out some day soon, hopefully. When it does, I can only pray that my words will somehow become part of a movement to eliminate this kind of cruelty to abandoned children.
The recent case of a kidnapped child in KC brings it all into sharp focus. Somebody there knows what happened to baby Lisa, but they're not telling. Did they kill her and dispose of her body? Did they take her and bargain for drugs or money? Did some deranged mother take the girl to raise her as her own? It has happened before.
If you haven't figured it out yet, this is a cry from the wilderness for all the abused and neglected children in the world. Many, perhaps most of us, rail against the barbaric practice of abortion, but what do we say after the child has been born? I look upon each child as a gift from God, a gift and a responsibility to care for that little one until he/she grows into an adult.
Now we're getting into another category and I don't want to go there. Suffice it to say, I set a high bar for my own family and expect others to do the same for theirs. I'll close with a rejoinder from one of my favorite college professors: Aim high and you can't help raising your expectations. Aim low and you're bound to score a bullseye, but what has it gained you?
Please join me in a solemn moment of contemplation.
Pat Dale

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaNoWriMo Day 16

Greetings All!

Okay, we are just over the halfway mark on NaNo. That means the WriMo's need to be at 25,000 words give or take by today. I am at 23K, so I am keeping up. But, I am having trouble with motivation. The truth is I don't like the novel and at this point I am just trying to finish it so I can be done with it. It is a mess and even editing it over the month of December will not fix it.

I have wanted to quit several times, I told people, "I am quitting NaNo, I can't do it this year." I get cheerleader type encouragement like, "you can do it, you did it last year", "keep on going, you're almost done", "don't quit, you aren't a quitter" and my personal favourite, "No, you aren't quitting and that's final!" Uh-okay.

Since last week I have procrastinated in writing my NaNo novel by:

-Dusting my teapot collection and getting an allergy attack which means I can't write when I'm sneezing, can I?

-Doing laundry, folding it and putting it away and straightening my sock drawer so I won't have to go back to my laptop and face those #$@% characters

-Going to the library for hours at a time and coming home with no books and no inspiration

-Going to coffee with a friend and chatting for hours (twice) and being too tired to write when I got home

-Doing the whole Twitter/Facebook/email thing for hours and then feeling like I couldn't type a single letter after that

-Reading a novel in the middle of the day and then being so bummed that the novel I read was WAY BETTER than anything I'd ever write so why am I bothering to write anything? I did this two different days, today was one of those days

-Going for a walk and being too tired to write when I got back

-Doing research on Canadian wilderness parks for hours on the Internet "for my novel"

-Writing guest blogs and since I already did "writing for the day" how could I possibly write any more?

-Trying to decide what I hate more, my plot, the characters or the fact that I ended my novel too early and have nowhere else to go with it?

-Getting an idea for ANOTHER novel (yeah, this is my second NaNo novel this year, I stopped on day 7 and started over. I want to start over again but there's no time!) that I am itching to start

-Having my birthday right when NaNo starts so I can't write, IT'S MY BIRTHDAY

-Watching TV for hours especially shows I never watch so I can avoid writing. How many episodes of Toddlers and Tiaras or Supernanny can you watch in one setting?

I am a first class procrastinator. But I will finish. I promise. I pinky promise.

What about you?

Take care, until next time,


Monday, November 14, 2011

Writing A Novel.....Where To Begin

So you've decided to write a novel. Where do you begin?
First of all, pick a genre. What do you enjoy reading, feel comfortable with and are passionate about?
Like most readers you probably don't limit yourself to one specific genre. Me neither. One of the genres I enjoy is espionage. I even feel passionate about it, but do I feel comfortable enough with it to write about it? No. Working as an administrative assistant at a community college doesn't exactly give me a background in covert affairs. Paranormal, that's another story. Even without paranormal figuring into my day job--though there are rumors about a ghost in the building--I enjoy reading it, feel comfortable with it and I'm passionate about it. Ergo, I've found the genre I'm comfortable writing in, paranormal and fantasy. Found yours? I bet you have.
Once you've chosen a genre, you need a story. What are you going to write about?
The most frequently asked question of an author is where do your story ideas come from. The answer I heard I liked best was, "I order them from a boutique in New York." In other words, everywhere and nowhere. Sometimes they're from songs, movies, books, even something seen at the sea shore. Sometimes we have no idea where the idea comes from, we just go with it. The idea for GROUNDED came when I was out walking and saw a statue of a fairy holding a gazing ball and wondered what it would be like to be trapped inside a statue. From that idle thought, the story of GROUNDED was born.
When your idea hits,write as much of it down as possible. Ideas like sentences are illusive and can dissipate like mist.
Now that you have your idea you have some options. You can either research, outline, or jump in and start writing.
Research usually comes in to play in any novel but especially history and world building. If world building, you'll probably want your world created before you get going.
If you are done with your research or choose to research as you go, the next step is to decide whether to outline or just jump in. This varies from writer to writer. Some writers use the seat of their pants method. I used to. Now, I create a rough outline. For me its like a road map. It gets me where I'm going. That doesn't mean I won't take excursions on a side road or change my mind on where I'm headed, it just helps me get from point A to point B.
What approach have you decided to take?
If you're outline is done or if your ideas are swirling in your head....its time. Turn on the computer, take a deep breath.....and write.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Still Going......

Here are my stats for NaNo as of Saturday night: total word count 29515.   Also, I have a lump on my forehead from the contact sport of banging head to laptop.  Replacing my chocolate frenzy are grapes.  I like the sensation of popping them in my mouth one after the other.  LOL.  I’m drinking so much herbal tea and water, I’m spending a lot of time in the bathroom.  That was more information, I’m sure, you wanted to hear. 

Hit a few bumps in the road, when my characters got out and decide they were going in another direction.  Man, I was pissed at them.  I mean, I had their path paved out for them.  How dare they choose for themselves?   What that meant was I had to input a new direction for my GPS system.  Usually, I find it exciting when characters know where they want to go, but it’s a little nerve wrecking when you’re under the time constraints of NaNo.  So, that’s the latest update.

Here’s a clip about spoonerisms.  Huh?  Spoonerisms are accidental verbal errors.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What's new?

I just submitted a new novella to Muse. Not for YA for sure, it is a work I hesitated to submit because it is such a departure from my usual writing. But I wrote it; can't deny that. So much for compartmentalizing my creative spirit!
Have you ever done something out of character? I think most of us have if we're beyond our teens or twenties. More to the point, have you ever done such a thing that made you question who you really are? Now those activities are the ones that challenge you at the deepest level.
After watching certain events this week, I wonder how many of those coaches at PSU have asked those questions of themselves. They well should. What was allowed to happen there no doubt changed (ruined) the lives of countless young boys. So much for putting your program ahead of all other considerations. In the course of human activity, there are times when we must absolutely draw the line in the sand and hold firm, no matter the consequences.
If one boy's life isn't more important than keeping the image of an icon sacrosanct, then what is? I waited for those men to do the right thing, tardy by years, but at least showing a level of character we all should expect from them. And others like them. It is entirely possibly, God forbid, that other programs have had similar nightmare circumstances.
This is not to condemn Penn State as an institution of higher learning. I want to believe that the vast majority of faculty, staff, and students there are horrified by what has been revealed. If it were my alma mater, I would want them to clean it up, stand responsible for what was allowed to take place, and make sure nobody ever repeats those reprehensible acts.
I know this is not about writing as such, but it is about young people and the minefield of life that some of them have to traverse. Let's all pray that the boys affected can find solace, if not outright redemption now that it has been revealed to the world.
Not a happy day in Happy Valley.
Pat Dale

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NaNoWriMo Progress Week 2

Greetings All!
Yeah, it's me blogging about my #nanowrimo progress. And it's not pretty. I got 15K into my novel and decided I couldn't do any more of it. I hated the plot so I stopped writing it. Instead I started an ENTIRELY NEW novel on day 7 out of 30. Unheard of, you say? Maybe. I am now at 10K on the new novel, called VIDDENS---a viden is the Latin term for a seer---and so I am behind. At first the NaNo site said I'd finish in Feb. then Jan. now it's up to Dec. 9th based on my current word count. Getting there.

It's funny---well, not laugh out loud funny---because I was gung ho to do NaNo this year and even plotted out my novel, chapter by chapter---just the titles of the chapter---and I realized early on that I did not want to write that novel. I wanted to write a YA dystopian, something I have not done before, so now I am. The first few days of NaNo I wanted to keep up with one of my writing buddies who was going strong and felt like I needed to keep up, write, keep writing, so what if you don't care about your characters, your plot, your story. Keep going and WIN, WIN, WIN! Yeah, I know. I'm competitive by nature. But, you know what? After scrapping my first NaNo novel and going back to zero on day 7, I found out something. A.) I don't need to "win" NaNo in one week--I mean it's a 30 day challenge not a seven day one and B.) I can't write a story I'm not 100% invested in.

I'm invested now. I love my main character, she's a seventeen year old kick-butt type girl with an attitude. Lovely. And she's got superhuman powers. Even lovelier. Except she doesn't fly. . .yet. I am just at Chapter 5 and I can't wait to write more of her story! So, the moral of this blog is, write from your heart, write from your soul but don't write something you don't believe in even if it means you will not succeed at NaNo.

How do you keep yourself motivated when you are writing?

If you are doing NaNoWriMo leave a comment and tell us a bit about your novel and current word count.

Take care,

ps/Maybe next week I'll have caught up with my word count!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sowing Good Seed Will Benefit Your Harvest

What does sowing good seed mean? Well, it means to do good tasks to help others out without expecting them to pay you back. Trust me, it does have its rewards, in writing and in life.
Let's be realistic, for a new author starting out writing their first novel, and then thinking of what to do next in entering the publication realm is a massive, daunting task. The overwhelming stress has forced many to quit their "dreams". But for those who persevere, it pays off.
Now, our work in being an author should not stop once you are published or continue only to get another book done. We must "Spread the love". Share your knowledge and time with others beginning their writing venture. How? Donating your time with writing groups, contributing to blogs, answering questions authors have, working on a dilemma/writer's block a budding young writer may have, even sharing words of encouragement to those planning to give up. You never know, the one person you help may be the next King, Stein, or Salvatore.
Helping others is a task that will come back to bless you. I experienced this personally. A year before my first novel was accepted, I gained the services of a freelance editor. Her parents were both published and educated and she had been writing for about twenty years, but none of her stories were accepted. At one point, I ran out of money to pay for my services. For the last several chapters and a bit more after, she wanted to help me "without pay". I told her that for her kindness, it would be her time to prosper next.
Guess what? After she helped me complete my editing, she received a multiple book contract with a well-known publisher, and it has kept growing from there. So, if someone ever needs help, and you can contribute, do so. You never know if your kindness will unlock the block in your writing career and in life.
Take care,

Monday, November 7, 2011

Deadman's Blood

Happy Monday, everyone. Today we’re hosting a character Interview with Harry the Cat and Darby O’Rielly – Blood Series Books by T. Lynne Tolles

A beautiful blonde wearing jeans and a tank top walk into the room. In front of her a very large mostly black cat walks swishing just the tip of his tail as he saunters to two chairs set up for the guest interview. His hair is very long, his eyes golden amber and his undercarriage and feet are white. The two take their seats and get comfortable.
Sandra: Thank you so much for joining us today.
Darby smiles, her bright blue eyes sparkle as she speaks: Thank YOU for inviting Harry and I.
Sandra: Can you introduce yourself and your friend?

Darby: I’d be happy to. I am Darby O’Rielly and this, here, is my cat Harry.
Sandra: Hello to both of you! I must admit, I’ve never interviewed a cat before, though being a cat person I’m looking forward to it. I’m not quite sure how to approach it. How does it work?
Darby smiles: My sister and I worked a little spell on him so that he could communicate with you and me. What you will experience is not so much an actual dialog, but an image or word will come to you as his answer. We’ve used this technique a few times and I must say it’s been quite successful.
Sandra: Hmm. How interesting. Before we get to Harry, can I ask you to tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
Darby: I’d love to. Let’s see. My sister and I are both witches but we’ve only just started using magic, so we aren’t as good at it as some. We do however come from a long line of witches. My family immigrated to the east coast from Ireland then moved from Massachusetts to Oljone, California during the witch trials.
Sandra: I understand you are dating a vampire? That’s rather unusual.
Darby: Yes. Devon Bloomington and Blake his brother rented a house next door to me and my sister about a year ago. Devon and Blake are both vampires, of pure blood – that is to say that in the world of vampires they are considered to be practically royalty.
Sandra: And you just went through a very trying experience with Devon – trying to find him, right?
Darby: That’s right. Libby was an ex girlfriend of Devon’s, but more recently married to Devon’s cousin Anton Larsen. She was a very rare breed of vampire called an “Insatiable”
Sandra: Rare? How so?

Darby: Insatiables can control vampire’s thoughts, much like vampires can control a human’s thoughts AND insatiables feed off of other vampires. Libby had drained Anton leaving him for dead for my Devon, but because of their past history, no one believed that Devon was Libby’s prisoner. They all just thought he had left me for her.
Sandra: How awful! I must say though, that many readers of your adventur
es in Blood Lust, saw you as weak or pathetic for taking all the coldness from Devon previous to his abduction.
Darby: Hmmm. I didn’t know that. In my defense though, it was so out of character for Devon to behave as he did, that I knew something must be wrong from the get go. Sure he tends to clam up when doesn’t like a situation, but nothing to this extent. I guess I’m just stubborn. He’s so worth the effort and I’d like to think he would have done the same thing if the roles had been reversed.
Sandra: I think we all would like to believe that about our significant others. So how does Harry help you out?

Darby: He knows the neighborhood like the back of his paw and animals are more sensitive to their instincts if something is wrong. Occasionally my sister and I will cast a spell on him so he can reveal to us, if anything is out of the ordinary.
Sandra: How extraordinary! What does Harry do when he’s not helping you, your sister and your friends?
Darby laughs: Truthfully? He’s either eating, sleeping, or stealing something from neighbors. He’s a literal cat burglar. I have a basket near the fireplace with all kinds of things that he’s stolen from people. I just don’t know from where so I can’t easily return them.
Sandra: And what is Harry thinking right now?

Harry squints his eyes at Sandra in acknowledgement then a large rumbling growl comes from his tummy. Darby and Sandra both laugh.
Sandra: Well I don’t think I need to ask him any more questions. Thank you so much for talking with us and I wish you, Harry, Devon and the rest of your family and friends success in your adventures in Deadman’s Blood.

Darby: Thank YOU for having us. It was a pleasure meeting you. Suddenly Harry jumps down from his seat and heads for the door only looking back once to make sure Darby was following swishing his tail as he stepped lightly out of the room leaving an imprint of a tuna can on Sandra’s mind.
Contest: For an opportunity to win a download of Deadman’s Blood just leave a comment and include your email addie.

Deadman’s Blood can be purchased at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, All Romance, CreateSpace and Lulus

Sunday, November 6, 2011

As of Saturday night, my word count is 12,463 and maybe I’m a few pounds heavier.  LOL. 
I thought I’d share this video of writer/artist Beatrice Coron who doesn’t merely write stories, but cuts them out of paper.  Gee, all we do is sit in front of a laptop and pluck away at the keyboard.  This is a long video, but may give you some ideas for your story.  If you can at least watch the beginning when she walks on stage wearing a lace-like flowing robe made of paper.  This you have to see.

 And if you need a chuckle here’s a silly one for you. 

How’s your progress going?  Don’t give up and don’t worry this it’s not perfect.  Just get it down.  Later you can make you perfect or close to that as you want.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Be Careful What You Write! It Might Get Published!

As I was thinking about what to write this weekend I went through my email just before going to bed. I'm up in Montreal at the MuseItUp Publishing Retreat and tomorrow I will be part of a very large group of authors all signing our books!! My book is in print for this occasion and will soon be available everywhere you can buy print books!!

Anyway, one email caught my eye. The editor of the Book Breeze wants to publish my story "Incident on the A Train". I had sent her many different flash stories and this one I thought no one would publish. After all it is very bizarre and involves aliens and shoes! I had dashed it off in a few minutes one night and it sat there in my documents. So when I gathered up all the flash stories I had written I included this one. I didn't take sending it seriously. I had other stories I thought were better.

So I had to laugh when I saw which story she had settled on to publish. Every author loves the words starting: We would like to publish.... Then I saw which story and didn't even remember the story. I had to go back, find it, read it and then wound up laughing. I was laughing because it is so trivial and to me something I had just sent in as a lark! So it got me thinking about writers and what we write. Should everything we write get published? I didn't send this one out for any critique. With flash stories you have a sense of what works and what doesn't. I had a wonderful teacher who showed me exactly how to write a flash story.

He made us write so many that after his excellent online class I had the ability to write any kind of flash story. I even wrote a few drabbles and a few of my flash stories were published in a newsletter. For me flash stories are more of a writing device. Being able to write a flash story means I can trim my words so they make sense in a much shorter piece. This flash story is a page and a fourth of a page. But it gets everything it needs into that limited space. It tickles me that this short and bizarre story is going to be published.

So I go back to my original statement. Be careful what you write! It might get published! One night I had this idea and typed it onto my computer screen. I thought it would never see the light of day. Then suddenly  I was sending it out.:) We never know when someone is going to gain value from our words. A writer's words are very powerful. We don't think so when they ease out onto the computer screen or slide across a fresh piece of paper. Yet someone is going to read them and gain meaning from them. The thing is you never know which words are going to affect people. All you can do is write from your heart and though this story is very playful, I am very proud of it.:) Not too many people write YA flash fiction!!

When you read it let me know what you think. I don't have the link yet, but I will be posting it as soon as I get it.:) By the way, thank you to Karen Cote who told me about Book Breeze!!

Remember, if you live in the Montreal area, come on down to Zeller's where I will be along with lots of other MuseItUp Publishing authors signing our brand new print books. There is a limited supply so come early. The signing starts at 1PM and goes until 5PM!! I am really looking forward to meeting new people tomorrow. Until next Saturday, have a fun weekend. I know I am!!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Words Help

You've probably heard the saying "words hurt". Unfortunately a lot of times they do. People don't always think before they speak, and the results can really suck.

But words don't always have to hurt. Sometimes they can help.

I recently finished writing a short story for Featherweight Press's new "Helping Hands" line. The line, which will launch New Year's Day 2012, consists of stories donated by authors. Royalties--author and editor--from the stories will go to benefit charities, chosen by each author, that support GLBTQ youth. I was honored to be asked to be part of the line's launch, and I'll keep you posted on whether the story's accepted and when exactly it will be out.

I also contributed a short story to a friend's blog. My friend, Cherie Noel, has started a blog where she plans to post stories and poems about and for GLBTQ teenagers who may be struggling with accepting themselves, or with the bullying many of them experience.

Both the above projects were started in response to the many teen suicides that have made the news. Teenagers who were literally bullied to death. Teenagers who thought nothing could help them.

I'm not saying my stories, or Cherie Noel's, or the stories in the Helping Hands line are going to save the world. But if any of us help even one kid, our words will be worth it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Equilibrium lost, equilibrium gained

Wow, what a week! I've finally recovered from a whirlwind week that left me spent and wanting for energy. And for coherent thoughts. First, I attended another HS reunion last week. It took me aback that so many of our number have found their way to the happy hunting grounds. Even worse, it seems that I'm the only teenager left among the living. LOL
Seriously, it was fun to see familiar faces, though it took searching through the wrinkles to find them. All in all, my old gang is still the same bunch, just more mature now. Other than me, he he.
Then came the baseball playoffs and, unbelievably, my Cardinals were in the mix. For a team that everyone had written off in August, it was a mighty achievement just to be there for a few games before they were eliminated. But wait; who is the 2011 World Champion baseball team? None other than my St. Louis Cardinals! Wow, what a week!
Oh, I already said that, didn't I? The capper to the week was when my Nebraska Cornhuskers totally dominated the Michigan State team that was supposed to give them a whooping.
Now that was the week that was, or as they once said, TW3.
So, you ask, what has this to do with writing? Just this. Remember that you are never too old to do something right if you keep trying. You are never too inadequate to come out on top if you refuse to quit. And, you can best any obstacle if you believe in yourself. Three important messages, rolled up into one.
Takes those concepts to your writing and put them to work. Do it right, never say 'uncle', and believe in what you are doing, and you can't help succeeding. That's my advice and my hope for each and every one of you.
Now I've got to get back to my NaNo WIP. 7468 words so far, and more to come before this day is done. Happy writing and reading, all!
Pat Dale

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NaNoWriMo Has Begun!

Greetings All!
On November 1st I wanted to stay up until midnight to start writing but I was too tired. I got up yesterday morning and wrote and wrote and wrote. I am done with two chapters so far. I wanted to write ahead because I have tons of things coming up this week and I don't want to fall behind.

How did you do? Or rather, how are you doing on day 2 of NaNo? I like this phase of NaNo because it is all still so new we are all on our honeymoon, we love NaNo, we can't get enough of it and we can't imagine a day when we won't want to be a part of it. Then, around week two, reality sets in. You can't devote as much time to it as you hoped, your family/friends/coworkers/pets are whining about your lack of attention. You've neglected your laundry/bills/housework/yard. But, don't despair, everyone falls apart a bit in week two, it's okay, pick yourself up and get on with it! You're halfway through at this point. But, right now, I'm in the "I love you" phase of both my novel and NaNo. Next week I'll blog again about my progress. Will I still be "in love"?

In order to keep your momentum going, be sure to attend some write-in's. They are usually listed on your region's calendar. I will attend a couple but I prefer to write at home on my laptop at the kitchen table with the sun streaming in the window and both of my cats sleeping on the unoccupied kitchen chairs. It's quiet and I can get up and get a cup of tea anytime I want!

What is your ideal writing place? Most of us aren't blessed enough to be able to furnish our own writing office but if you could, what would yours look like? Mine would have a desk with a large surface area---I like to spread out when I'm doing research---a comfy chair to sit in when I write and one to sit in when I'm reading or relaxing. A fireplace is a given. Windows to let in the sunlight and a window seat. Bookcases along the walls filled with all my favourite books. A good reading lamp and one on my desk. My laptop, of course. A picture of my daughters, my teapots---I collect them---and teacups with my book covers on them. The floor would be hardwood with an area rug. That's about it for mine, what about yours?

Take Care,
Until Next Time,

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Writing With A Twist

Writing with a twist. What do you mean?
I will keep this article short and sweet. I once read Donald Maass was looking for writing with a twist; taking the ordinary and adding some flare. I purchased a book he was the agent for where the author took the British Napoleonic history in India and dropped elements of fantasy in it. You had elves dressed in Napoleonic attire, firing muskets (the foreign elites), Dwarves using a blunderbuss crossbow instead of a battleaxe, and traditional fantasy elements interwoven. Very cool.
So, why don't you? Why not take the ordinary "traditional story" and add some zip. Doing so could open up possibilities in your story or thoughts you have not yet capitalized on that could take you beyond what you thought you were capable of.
I've read some tag lines and could see "wild ideas" that came to fruition in a published novel. Don't be afraid to combine those "crazy thoughts" others have considered dumb, odd, or impossible. I have read other articles expressing the desire of agents to discover stories along these "outrageous" lines, so to speak.
Why not combine a "Van Helsing" storyline and add a "superhero" flare? What about taking the traditional "Cinderalla" and having it end "NOT happily ever after?" Or how about taking "The Titanic", add an alien flare to it, and a hidden secret upon the ship to explain its sinking?
The possibilities are endless. So is your creativity. You are not an author by mistake. It has been ingrained in you to write and share. Artwork in words. So, in the words of Nike..."Just Do It."

Take care,