Tag Archives: Writers

And the Winner is…

editing example

Diane Davis! Congratulations! Look for my email about how to claim your copy of The Stone of Kings. 😀 Thanks so much to everyone who entered! I hope you had fun cracking my code. 😉

Here’s the solution: “My heart is full of thanks for my God, my family, and books. When my days are filled with all three, my days are happy.”

If your so inclined to decode my diary page, go for it – but it’s a poorly written account of how I got sick at a carnival in front of my crush. The only thing interesting about it is the code itself. *snicker*

And Now, Announcing…

Masterpiece Editing! Just in time for you NaNoWriMo-ers out there currently in need of a copyeditor. 😉

After much research, consideration, and discussion with my spouse, we have agreed that my Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature would be best spent as a freelance copyeditor. Instead of killing myself to grade 350 high school papers a week for meager pay and even less appreciation, I can focus on the enhancement of one story at a time.

I sincerely hope that I can be a positive benefit to any writer who desires to make their manuscript sparkle. If you’ll notice, there is a new heading on my blog about my editing services. Feel free to take a look to see if I might be a good fit for editing your manuscript.

I’ve been through the process myself, and know first-hand how daunting it can be to put your “baby” in the hands of someone else. It’s rather like dropping your child off at daycare for the first time.

Of course I will continue my own literary pursuits between editing jobs. So Grannie’s story will eventually come. 🙂

Happy writing!

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4 Things I’ve Learned from My Media Fast

I wouldn't get too wrapped up in that, kid...

I wouldn’t get too wrapped up in that, kid…

I needed a media fast. I posted it on my Facebook page:

Hey folks, for anyone who might happen to care, I’ve decided to go on a FULL media fast for about a month. As an author in the digital age, I’ve been told I must be “connected.” I’ve created a blog and this FB page, I even go on Twitter and Instagram every so often. Being so connected may be good for me as an author, but with all this exposure to media comes things that are not good for me…as a person.

Because I’m not a faceless name on the internet. After what happened to those nine innocent people in Charleston, I’m exhausted. It was different because of how people reacted to our own history. No other event seems to have brought out so many unsympathetic people. The Chattanooga massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing, Sandy Hook, the Aurora theater shooting, etc…we all seem to grieve collectively for those. But somehow it was different for the AME Nine. And while the hype has died down, articles still crop up and I just flat out need a break.

I need a break from cynicism. I need a break from bullies. I need a break from people who don’t think words matter. I need a break from people who passively censor the ugly parts of southern history, because they don’t want to FEEL. I need a break from selfishness.

Go ahead and respond to my post if you want. Whatever it is you want to say, whether for or against, I won’t respond till I’m ready. God bless.

So now it’s been a month. While I didn’t engage in media viewing or reading, it’s still difficult to wholly avoid. But some positives came from the experience. Sometimes you have have to step out of the forest so you can stop focusing on the trees. 🙂

1. The Confederate Battle Flag still looks like a symbol of bigotry and oppression.

Especially when it’s a HUGE one flying down the road on the back of an over-sized pick-up. Preoccupied with size much? At least I got a month break from the people who shout “heritage, not hate” or “the Civil War was not about slavery.” They are the mindless drones who have never bothered to read Mississippi’s Declaration of Causes of Secession, among the other Southern States declarations of the time. Apparently, they prefer the fairy-tale version of history which omits lynchings, beatings, and ripping people from families.

*Shakes head sadly*

2. Donald Trump still looks likes a narcissistic bully.

Seriously? Where does this guy stand on actual issues? As of this published post, the only position he talks about on his political website is immigration. So if he becomes president, then American government can completely decay, education can continue to plummet, and our budget can do whatever it wants. But that’s okay, because we’ve eliminated all the illegal immigrants…one way or another.

I know the election is over a year away, but it disturbs me to see how he still has such a strong following. I haven’t yet figured out why people can’t see through him. But I’ve never been able to quite see how the German people couldn’t see through Hitler either.

I wish more people would go on a media fast. Trump’s pot of water is slowly heating up and the frogs are oblivious to their predicament.

3. Hillary Clinton’s comment about how religion needs to change is still foreboding.

Why in the world would she say that? What happened to freedom of religion? Should I prepare to channel my ancestral heritage and plan a pilgrimage to a land where I won’t be told how I should believe in my God? She’s as bad as the news outlets who tell me what I need to think.

Which leads me to my last point…

4. It finally clicked in my head that PBS is likely where I should get my news.

Part of my struggle to see the forest for the trees was caused by the frustration of being told what to think. I hate that. I’m not stupid. I don’t like feeling like a drone. I can draw my own conclusions, thank you very much.

PBS is not glamorous or sensational, so I’m sorry to say I overlooked it in my struggle to draw my own conclusions from biased media. On a smaller scale, I think PBS will help me continue my media fast. No more CNN-or FOX-like hypnotism.


Okay, so the only positive is the thing with PBS. But to me, that’s a big positive. I liked my month of not being fed opinions. A big part of me really doesn’t want to even get back to Facebook, but now that I’ve had a break, I should be able to just skip the things I don’t want to see. That’s an even bigger positive. 😀

Have you ever had to go on a media fast? Does the tabloid-like setting of our society exhaust you? How do you deal with it? Are you a media drone? How do you deal with being a drone?

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First Amazon Review of The Stone of Kings!

TheStoneofKings_500X750I’ve got a post started to introduce the character Ardan from The Stone of Kings. However, the zombie porcupine has been pitiless. It kept me from finishing it today. I’m hoping to have it ready next week.

But I couldn’t let the day pass without sharing my first Amazon review for TSOK! I’ve refreshed the Amazon page more than is probably healthy. Some authors make a point to not read reviews. Maybe I’ve got a thicker skin, because I look for people to tell me what they like AND what they don’t like. I crave to make myself a better writer and need to know where my writing should be tweaked.

I definitely feel as if I’ve grown since writing Harp Lessons, and this first review (being a five-star!) for TSOK is a nice little validation. 😀

 

 

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World Blog Hop – Redo

TheStoneofKings_500X750Alrighty then! Trying this again, despite the fact that the wind has died a bit from the sails. I was asked to participate in the World Blog Hop a few weeks ago, and between my computer eating my first draft and zombie porcupines destroying my guts, I was unable to get it done. But I got it now, so…

1) What are you working on?

Why would you assume I’m working on anything? Oh, yeah, I’m a writer. 😉

At the moment, I’ve been working on the screenplay for The Stone of Kings. And while it would be a dream come true if it were made into a movie, that’s not really why I’m writing it. I studied screenplays briefly in high school, and I’d always wanted to write one. What I’m learning in the process is fabulous. Writing in this style is forcing me to think about my story visually. We writers tend to slip into telling the story instead of showing it. Screenplay writing is a fantastic way to remedy that tendency. I may just write the screenplay before I submit any of my following works and cross check to see how I can make the novel form better. 🙂

A project that I have on pause right now is a mystery/suspense about the American Civil War. It’s about halfway finished and has been that way for almost a year. 😉 I’m stuck on the technicalities of a major plot point. Wrapping up and publishing The Stone of Kings has put it to the back burner.

2) How does your work differ from others in your genre?

My genre? Hee hee. That’s a funny question.

I don’t really have a set genre. Harp Lessons is a sweet romance, The Stone of Kings is a historical fiction/fantasy, my WIP is a mystery/suspense. After that I have two more ideas, one is a dystopia, the other is a historical thriller. But all of them share a general theme of investigation and getting “the whole story” before making a decision about a person or situation. It falls into my theme of finding ways of working together as people, instead of focusing on differences and using them to tear us apart.

Which leads me to…

3) Why do you write what you write?

The answer to this is basically in my author bio. It’s incredible to me that there are still parts of society haven’t moved past racism and bigotry. What I write is my effort to help.

4) How does your writing process work?

Gotta do it in longhand. I can’t seem to create on a computer. The words simply don’t flow.

I’m also a pantser. I have no idea how my story will end until I’m more than halfway through. I usually let the characters decide how the story goes. Sometimes, I get too bossy. That’s when my characters put me in my place and do the opposite of what I thought they would do. 🙂

I’d love to hear from you!

Are you a writer? How would you answer these questions? 

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World Blog Hop…Fail!

Okay, Apple! Next time, I'll fork over the money and invest in your brand. *Sigh* Image attributed to Brandon Grasley via flickr.

Okay, Apple! Next time, I’ll fork over the money and invest in your brand. *Sigh* Image attributed to Brandon Grasley via flickr.

First of all, my sincere apologies to Louis Spirito. Between computer problems (it’s less than a year old for crying out loud!), getting ready for the first day of school, The Stone of Kings release, and being “glutened” on top of all of that, I believed I was ready for this post. I had my questions about my writing process answered and organized at least a week ago. The only thing I was missing were 2 other authors/bloggers to carry on the torch. The one author that wanted to participate also has small children, and I think she’s in my busy-ness boat.

When I said that I was having computer issues, I was serious. It ATE my draft of what was supposed to be this post and I didn’t find out till today. *facepalm*

However, I would be totally remiss if I didn’t point you guys in the direction of Mr. Spirito’s post in the blog hop. His book GIMME SHELTER looks well worth the read. 😀 Check out his answers to his writing process! When I have the chance, I’ll answer mine and have them ready for Mondays post instead.

Louis Spirito lives in Malibu with his wife Eugenie and their rescue dog, Tanner. He has written for film, TV, stage, magazines and newspapers. GIMME SHELTER: A Damaged Pit Bull, An Angry Man, and How They Saved Each Other is his first book.  Lou describes his gritty but heartfelt memoir as…“The Sopranos” meets “Marley & Me: with a twist when a volatile, chronically ticked-off writer from a “Goodfellas” family struggles to help an abused, timid, big-hearted shelter dog.” It’s available at Amazon and B&NWhen he’s not writing, he works with juvenile inmates at the L.A. County Juvenile Probation Camp Schools in the Santa Monica Mountains. For fun, he teaches Okinawa GoJu Ryu (“Wax on; Wax off”) Karate and Tai Chi. In their downtime, Lou and his wife travel to Italy where they were married and where they have dual U.S. – Italian citizenship. For more on Lou and GIMME SHELTER visit his website and blog: www.louisspirito.comtannerthepitbull.blogspot.com.

 

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Hmm…Frigid, Churning River, or Gluten? I’ll Take the River!

That’s obviously not me. But I’m pretty sure that’s the falls that ate my sunglasses. Image attributed to anoldent via Wikimedia Commons.

First off: The Stone of Kings will be released August 12! Squee! That means I’m going to officially show off its gorgeous cover tomorrow. I don’t usually post on Tuesdays, but this is a special occasion. 😉

Why Writers Don’t Fear Death

This past week, we’ve been on vacation in Helen, Georgia. If you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend it. It’s a cute, touristy town in the Northern part of the state and it’s modeled to look like a Swiss village. On Wednesday, we took a day trip to go rafting down the Nantahala River in North Carolina.

The river flows from a dam. The water is pumped from the lowest part of the lake which is always around 40 degrees. After blending with the rain water and regular river water, it runs about 50 degrees.

When we started out, the double paddle I was given kept dripping the frigid water on my legs. I paddled on my inflatable kayak (funyak) with my husband and his cousin in their funyaks. The first time we hit a rough rapid, the water splashed on my face and body and made the drips coming from my paddle inconsequential. We floated down, occasionally getting splashed for about 2 hours. One splashing dribbled through the back of my life vest and it felt like someone had dropped an ice-cube down the back of my swimsuit.

Then we hit the last rapid.

It’s the only class III on the commercial part of the river. Not too rough if you’re in a large raft with lots of other rowers. But by yourself, it’s a different story. I had gone on this one before in a funyak, so I figured I knew what I was doing.

My husband went first, and made it through okay. Then it was my turn. The white water was pumping through the stones and I hit it with my left side showing. I think that was where I went wrong. The current took my boat and flipped me over. I gripped my paddle as hard as I could just for something to grip. I was completely disoriented.

My brain didn’t register the cold until my face broke the surface. I tried to breathe because I knew that the current would pull me back in again, but my lungs wouldn’t expand because they were frozen by the water. I gasped in short panicked bursts. This felt weird, because I wasn’t panicked.

What would be the first thing to go through your mind? What if the current bashes my head on a rock? What if my foot gets stuck in some stones and the current makes my legs or knees break? What if my back hits a stone and breaks it, paralyzing me?

Pffft.

The first thing that ran through my mind was, this would make a great description for a story!

The writer’s mind apparently puts the story first. We can’t even take a vacation without thinking about plot points.

Then I heard, “Rope!”

A man on the river bank threw out a rope and pulled me out of the current. When I tried to stand, I realized I needed to take it slow. I was still dizzy from being tossed around like my four-year-old’s stuffed Mickey Mouse. When I tried to walk, it felt like my feet had turned into blocks of ice. The muscles in them refused to work but the ones in my arms were going spastic with shivers.

Then I realized that my third pair of sunglasses this trip, were missing. Charlie had snapped the first pair, William stepped on the second, and now the river had claimed the third. At least, I noticed that my hubby had managed to grab hold of my funyak before getting out of the river himself. His cousin made it through the falls just fine too.

Face to Face With Gluten! *Shivers*

Two nights later, we all went out to dinner, I ordered gluten-free rotini pasta. Like the river, I’d been here before, not had any trouble with the food, so I felt pretty confident about what I was eating.

Then I saw the shell.

About halfway through my meal, I spotted regular, wheat, pasta shell lurking among my gluten-free rotini. Remember the splash of river water that felt like an ice-cube was sliding down my back? Somehow the river found its way to the restaurant because I felt it again.

Sure enough, though I obviously didn’t eat the shell, it was enough to contaminate my dinner. Two hours later I was squirming with abdominal cramps and nausea. Ugh. At least it happened on the last night of our vacation.

It’s going to be a loooong seven weeks.

Given the choice between falling in 50 degree water or eating gluten…I pick the water!

I’d love to hear from you!

What are some of your adventures? Would you do them again? If faced with potential life-threatening danger, would your life flash before your eyes, or would you want to put the experience in a book?

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Wednesday Welcomes: Heather Gray!

Whew! Summer is busy now that I’ve got a kid who’s been in school. It shouldn’t be any different than before he started, but somehow it is.

Weird.

Anyway, I can still do guest features pretty easily! 😀 So without further ado, I’d like to welcome back the delightful Heather Gray! Enjoy!


Back Cover Blurb:

Hiding in the shadows just got harder.

When tragedy strikes, Juliana and her family must flee their home. Can they persuade a virtual stranger to help them? Juliana isn’t so sure, especially after their chaperone threatens to cane him. Even as Juliana struggles to trust him, she finds herself drawn to this mysterious man. Surely all she wants from him is refuge…

Rupert is a man whose life depends on his ability to remain unnoticed. What, then, is he supposed to do with this family he’s inherited?  His life is overrun with an ancient chaperone who would terrify a lesser man, two spirited girls, and the secretive Juliana – someone he comes to think of as his own precious jewel.

With this new responsibility thrust upon him, Rupert will have to make sacrifices – but will God ask him to sacrifice everything?

 

 

Excerpt:

1810

A duke had been cut down in the prime of his life. According to the War Department, The Hunter was to blame.

Jackal had been put onto The Hunter’s scent and told to ferret him out at all cost. It was his job, his duty to the crown, and he treated it with the seriousness it demanded. Evil could not be allowed to go unpunished, and people who took pleasure in destroying the lives of others would not walk away with impunity, not on his watch.

Jackal met with his contacts in the Austrian government and found no gratification in revealing they had a traitor in their midst. It had been a necessary move, and now the problem would be dealt with. The Austrians would put The Hunter down, and England’s hands would remain clean of the mess, exactly as the minister wanted.

Grim foreboding furrowed his brow as he left the meeting with the Austrians. His lack of evidence mocked him. He’d done as ordered, and they’d believed him, but had it been his choice, he’d have gathered more proof first.

Jackal climbed into his carriage and slapped his hand against the roof, signaling the driver with his readiness to depart. A lengthy ride awaited him. He would leave the carriage and his current identity behind in Munich once he arrived there. New papers and fresh horses were waiting for him. The same would happen again when he crossed over into Stuttgart, and then again in Brussels. His task was clear: remain alive long enough to claim each of the new identities and return safely to his homeland.

Sitting back on the roughly cushioned seat, he accepted what he’d begun to suspect. This would be his last assignment for the crown. He was getting too old for the job. The time to retire was upon him. The younger bucks were willing – if not entirely ready – to take their place among the ranks of the unseen, unknown, and unnamed heroes of war. Jackal shook his head. Not too long ago, he’d been one of those young bucks. Ready for retirement at age thirty-two? The thought would be laughable in any other career. In his line of work, though, only those who retired young lived to be old and grey.

Lost in melancholy, Jackal barely noted the change from the raucous noise of a bustling merchant district to the quiet pastoral sounds that would accompany him on most of this journey. Europe was a large land with rich cities interspersed with vast emptiness dotted with small hamlets. Traveling by carriage would take weeks, but as long as he could report back that he’d done as ordered, it would be worth the time.

He settled into his seat. They were still days from their first sanctioned stop. As always, the best defense was to keep moving.

 

****

 

A change in the carriage’s soothing methodical movement woke Jackal from his doze and alerted him that something was amiss. Awareness coursed through his veins, pushing away the remnant of sleep. A quick glance at the curtained window told him it was late morning. They’d ridden through the night to put as much distance as possible between them and Vienna – the current hub of Austrian government.

The carriage was moving with a wildness he’d felt only one other time in his life. Dread snaked through his middle as he accepted the truth. There was no longer a driver in control of his conveyance. Jackal crouched low on the floor for balance as he prepared to throw open the door and jump. Perhaps he should have sought retirement one assignment sooner.

Before his hand could touch the door, a jarring force threw Jackal against the seat to his left, shooting pain up his arm. They’d been boarded, then, and his driver – an agent he’d worked with for years – had likely not been alive to sound the alarm. Emotion would come later. For now, Jackal needed to focus on one thing: Survival.

The carriage gained speed under the skillful hand of whoever now sat in the driver’s seat. I should have jumped when I had the chance. Jackal shook his head as he calculated the odds of survival.

Palming his gun, he pounded on the roof of the carriage, commanding the driver to stop. Surprise flared to life as his conveyance did indeed come to a standstill. Rather than slow to a gentle stop, the carriage halted its forward momentum in a skidding bone-shaking fashion. It was the kind of stop that guaranteed no beast would be able to walk away from it afterward.

Jackal jumped before the dust could settle. His best chance would be to go on the offence and catch the driver off-guard. Though he’d assumed the driver had a partner, nothing could have prepared him for the vicious attack awaiting him on the other side of the door.

Jackal no sooner touched the ground than he was trampled under the anxious feet of a high-stepping horse. He’d not even had a chance to gain his footing. As he lay on the ground, Jackal both heard and felt the breaking of bone in his left leg. A couple of his ribs surrendered to the heavy hooves as well. Rolling onto his side, he took aim at the perpetrator. The sun blinded him, and he could distinguish no features on the man whose gun dared him to move. In the split second it took for him to reassure himself he was not aiming at an innocent bystander – for they were indeed in one of the numerous modest hamlets that dotted the continent’s countryside – the rider pulled the trigger, and pain seared through Jackal’s already throbbing leg. It felt as if the lead had burrowed its way into his very bone.

He pulled the trigger of his flintlock pistol, and the man on the horse recoiled. Even as Jackal reached for the gun concealed at the ankle of his wounded leg, he knew it was futile. The rider had a second gun in-hand before his own fingers even brushed against the grip of his hidden weapon. Pain tore through his shoulder, immobilizing his shooting arm. Another ball of lead ripped into his middle. He felt his blood seeping out onto the street.

Accepting his fate, he asked only one thing. “At whose hand am I to die this day?”

Laughter vile enough to sour port met his question. “Today the Jackal shall meet his end at the hands of The Hunter.”

The Hunter? The Austrians were supposed to have him by now.

“Your plan failed, and I am free. Prepare to die.”

Blackness closing in around him, Jackal released the last thought held captive in his mind.

Why God?

Cold claimed his body as he slipped into darkness. He neither heard nor felt the next shot.

 

Author Bio:

Heather Gray is the author of the Ladies of Larkspur inspirational western romance series, including Mail Order man, Just Dessert, and Redemption.  She also writes the Regency Refuge series with titles His Saving Grace, Jackal, and the soon-to-be-released Queen.  But that’s not all!  Interested in contemporary Christian romance?  Take a look at Ten Million Reasons and Nowhere for Christmas.

Heather loves coffee, God, her family, and laughter – not necessarily in that order!  She writes approachable and flawed characters who, through the highs and lows of life, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.  And, yeah, her books almost always have someone who’s a coffee addict.  Some things just can’t be helped.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

iTunes

 

Where to Find Me:

My Website – http://www.heathergraywriting.com

My Blog – http://www.heathergraywriting.com/blog

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/heathergraywriting

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+Heathergraywritingnow

Twitter – http://twitter.com/LaughDreamWrite

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/LaughDreamWrite

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