Monday, December 30, 2013

New Years Goals!

Mondays About Me!

2013 Goals Check up Time:

1) I was going to attend 2 writers conferences - I got to one. I had to back out of the second one because my Mother-in-law got cancer last year and died the week before conference. We love her and she will be greatly missed.

2) I wanted to get at least one novel published - I got a contract signed with a publishing company and my novel comes out in 4 months! This totally counts, right?

3) Complete Nanowrimo 2013 ..... well it began well ..... but I didn't get it done. I on'y got about 15,000 words, but at least I started it! Better luck next year.

4) Participate in my ANWA writing group meetings each month - not only did I participate, but I got elected President (which helped me reach my goal but was very unexpected!) I love my ANWA sisters and I'm so excited for another year of participation.

5) Attend book club and read all the books - Ok I was really reaching here. I have 2 book clubs and between the 2 I think I read 4 of the books and went to 2 meetings total ....

6) Complete 2 more novels - well I did start 4 novels this year but as for completing them ..... if you put them all together, word count might be one novel :)

7) Manage my time better - I actually am happy to say that I have learned to better manage my time! I'm writing almost every day, keeping up on blogs, FB, and my social and personal life, and running a small business doing launch parties (Check out the links below if you like to attend parties or want help launching a book):
FB: https://www.facebook.com/lovingthebook.launchparty
Blog: http://lovingthebooklaunchparty.blogspot.com/p/cost.html
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/LovingtheBook

8) Keep up on my blog and make new blog friends - I did make lots of new friends! I went from having about 10 friends to have over 140! I'm so glad you are all my friends! And hopefully more friends to make next year!

Personal note: Favorite things that happened in 2013 - my parents coming to visit after they got home from their mission in Mongolia and before they left to their mission in Samoa.


And ... we officially own our house! It is no longer under my husband and his parents (as co-signers). We refinanced and it is now under my name and my husbands name!


So what's coming up? Well, for 2014 I have new goals (and some the same) that I'm hoping to accomplish!

1- Finish 2 books and get at least one of them signed for publishing
2- Get back into shape like when I got married (that's only 20 pounds left to go!!)
3- Attend 2 writers conferences this year
4- Make new blogger friends and keep up on blog posts
5- Pay off 2 debts
6- Complete Nanowrimo 2014 (Win it with 50,000 words)
7- Try and sign on with an agent this year
8- Manage my time (Specifically do sprints at least once a week) and don't sweat the small stuff

Apparently 8 is my lucky number! I had 8 goals last year (and did fairly well in completing them) and I've got 8 goals this year!

Thanks everyone who helped me have a fabulous year. You all taught me so much and I have learned and grown and my writing has gotten so much better thanks to you!

Happy Monday and here is to 2014! It's going to be a great year!!

What are you're new years goals?


Thursday, December 26, 2013

What I've learned in the last year

One year (and about 2 weeks) ago, I learned about Nanowrimo and it changed my life. No really, it did!

It was the start of a chain of events. Even though it was almost half way through November when I made this amazing discovery I jumped in and wrote something for Nano. Now don't get excited because no I did not finish the 50,000 words. But it did open a door for me. I met some great people and for the first time in my life I discovered writers groups and critique groups and writers conferences. Yes, I will honestly admit that although I'd been writing for almost 15 years, I had never known what great resources were available to the writing community. For that matter, I had never known there writing communities!

So once my friend let me join her group I discovered everything else - including the very strange idea that it's ok to share your work and get feedback. Authors support each other and they like to help. Critiquing makes your story better, bouncing ideas with a group keeps your story moving, and spending time sprinting with other authors pushes you to get words on the page. Even if they aren't great words, at least they are words and it's moving your story. You can edit later, just get the first draft down!

I joined a group of writers that meet monthly and share knowledge, ideas, and WIPs (Work In Progress). I learned writing terms I had never heard before, and I went to my first writers conference. It was the best thing I could have done for my writing and I'm so excited to go back!

So why am I telling you all this? Well, specifically because I think it's important for writers to understand that puting yourself out there is what gets you to where you want to be. I could never have gotten my publishing deal on my own. It was through the efforts of some awesome people who critiques, edited, read and re-read my manuscript, and taught me so many things, that I got what I wanted. If you want to get published and be a serious writer, go find a great critique group. Meet other authors, go to conferences, learn everything you can, write, write, write, and write some more!

I have learned more and grown more as an author in the last year than in the last 5 years since I graduated with my BA in Creative Writing. I became stagnant and didn't know what to do next. I was trying to do it all on my own, writing, editing, critiquing, and querying. And I was failing miserably. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and join the writing community! You will progress more than you ever imagined. I know I did, and I'm still learning! Even though us writers are very protective of our work and we're very sensitive to criticism. Constructive criticism, or critiquing, will take your writing to a level you could have never achieved alone. Go for it! It's worth it, I promise.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Traditions

Mondays about Me

Everyone has family Holiday traditions, and growing up we were no exception.

My hubby decorating our cute little Christmas Tree

When I was young, my family had this tradition on Christmas Eve where the entire family (all the kids anyway, no matter how old) would sleep down stairs, either sharing rooms or in the basement family room. Then, in the morning Mom and Dad would bring down breakfast and we had to eat and be fully dressed before we could go get our presents. Mom always made homemade granola and dad made eggnog.

Then we would line up on the stairs in order of age, youngest to oldest, and go into the upstairs living room where the tree and all the presents were. Dad would then sit by the tree and hand out the presents one by one. We all had to wait and see what each person got before the next present was handed out. I think this was to make it seem like there was more by stretching out the time. Or to make us appreciate each thing more, cause we didn't get a whole lot.

There were a lot of us kids (my parents have 14 children) and we didn't always have a lot of money to spend on Christmas. But every year, no matter what, we always each got a coloring book and a box of crayons. These were my favorite! I loved them! We also got stuff like shampoo and body wash wrapped up, and then we'd get a few family games and movies too. In our stockings we always got an orange and an apple in foot of the stocking, and then lots of peanuts and only a few candies filled up the rest. We usually always got a toothbrush, chapstick and a small pack of gum in our stockings.

And that was Christmas for us. We'd have a huge feast with everyone, and Grandma and Grandpa would come over at some point in time, either for the gift part of the feast, each year.

I made this wreath last year for Christmas and was very pleased with the results :)
My Hubby and I still haven't yet set up our own family traditions. We spent our first Christmas with his family and extended family, and our second Christmas at Disneyland. Our 3rd Christmas we were living with friends to help them out while she was bed ridden with twins and trying to handle a 3 year old. And our 4th Christmas we were on our own and we opened all our gifts at about 5 AM when he got home from work. Then we went to bed and slept till noon. And we did get matching pajama pants! It was lovely, but I'm excited to set up family traditions with our kids one day. This is our 4th Christmas together and I'm excited to see what happens this year, cause we've never really made plans, it just kind of happens (even Disneyland, we didn't plan it, we just decided on Christmas Eve to go, and since we lived only an hour away, we up and went the next day :) ) So here's to finding out what Christmas traditions stick for us!

Our matching "Avengers" Pajama pants


Happy Monday and Merry Christmas!!
What are some of your family Christmas traditions?


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Welcome to my Blog Kelly Nelson

Today I'd like to introduce to you all Kelly Nelson! She's the author of The Keeper's Defiance!


While getting to know a bit about Kelly, I asked her to make a top 10s list of favorites for me, and here's what she gave me:

1.       Author: Bodie Thoene
2.       Book:  The Zion Chronicles
3.       City:  London
4.       Film: Titanic
5.       Food: Anything chocolate
6.       Game: Settler's of Catan
7.       Hobby: Horseback riding
8.       Music: Anything country 
9.       Sport: To participate in: running To watch: basketball
TV Show: Once Upon a Time

I'm thinking Kelly and I would get along quite well. At least 3 of hour favorites are the same, and 3 of her favorites are interests of mine!

So now on to her amazing and awesome book:


Welcome to the blog tour for Kelly Nelson's third book in The Keeper's Saga. Read more about The Keeper's Defiance</ a> below and enter to win a signed copy!

The scream of a dragon woke me. Wide-eyed, I scrambled to my knees, searching for a place to hide. Then it dawned on me--within the clutches of the enemy, I was perfectly safe from the dragons.--Chase Harper.

When Chase found the gold counter buried in a cave, he went back in time, setting in motion events that would change the course of his life and forever alter the destiny of the new world. After he and a small group of soldiers rescue his girlfriend Ellie from the Shuylians, they are overtaken during their race for the Algonian border. Chase falls into enemy hands, leaving Ellie to fend for herself. As time passes, he is believed dead-- forever lost. So when Davy, Perception's Keeper, is charged with seeing to Ellie's safety, will his persuasions turn her heart away from Chase?


The Keeper's Defiance on:

Kelly Nelson was raised in Utah and now resides in the heart of the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She enjoys life on a ten-acre horse property with her husband, four children, and of course lots of horses. Kelly has a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University and worked as a CPA for several years before opting to stay home and raise a family. As a young girl she was an avid reader and had a passion for creative writing. Her travels to England, France, Egypt, Israel, West Indies, Mexico and across the United States sparked a love of history, adventure and exotic places. This led to the inspiration behind her debut novel, The Keeper's Calling, Book 1 in The Keeper's Saga.

                              
 The Keeper's Calling (book #1) $2.99 on Amazon     The Keeper's Quest</ i> (book #2)


Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win a signed copy of The Keeper's Defiance!


  a Rafflecopter giveaway




Check out the other blog tour stops:

Monday - Britney Gulbrandsen's Blog</ a> and Bonnie Harris' Blog
Tuesday - Laura Johnston's Blog
Wednesday - Kylee Shield's Blog
Thursday - Rebecca Lamoreaux's Blog and Cami Checketts' Blog
Friday - Donna K. Weaver's Blog

Monday, December 16, 2013

Dancing

Mondays about Me!

I love to dance! I started dancing ballet when I was 8 years old and performed in a small ballet production of The Sorcerer's Apprentice. I danced on and off for years and year, and became dedicated again through high school and into college where I got into jazz and modern as well as Ballet (though I never could really figure out hip-hop).



However, when I reached my final year at school I had to make a decision to keep dancing, or finish my degree (in English - Creative Writing) that year. Rather than incur more debt and drag out school, I gave up dancing to finish my degree. I then started working and didn't go back to dancing, except to take a class here and there, and of course to dance around my kitchen :)

When I'm really happy I do spins and leaps around my house until I'm either dizzy or laughing so hard I can't continue. My secret desire would be to go back to school and get a second degree in Dance. It is my second dream - my first was to be an author, and here I am! So while I will not give up writing to dance, I would love to dance again, and relearn all that I have forgotten.

So here is one of my dance performances from about 4 1/2 years ago. I thought you might enjoy it. I was the second from the Left at the beginning. Enjoy it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ndeq5k7y75A


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Editing

I'll be honest, I struggle with editing - A LOT!!!

I have to make myself NOT edit or I'll never get the first draft down. But then I have to remember to switch gears into editing mode after I've got it written. And then, again, I have to switch off editing mode when I'm reading someone else's book or I can't fully enjoy their novel. But then I have to turn it back on again when someone asks me for a critique. And it goes on and on. I am doing much better with the on/off editing switch, but it does get confusing!

So here are a few tips I've learned about editing that have really helped me (You've probably heard them over and over again, but they work! That's why we all keep using them!)

1- Let your draft sit! You have to give yourself time without your manuscript or you can't read it with fresh eyes. This is a killer for me cause I want to jump in and get it done, but if I do I'm going to miss a lot of important corrections.

2- Know your crutch words .... and then avoid them! I have crutch words. The words I use ALL THE TIME! But I never seem to see them when I am reading the manuscript. Some of my words are look, gasp, jumped, blush, and there are others but I can't think of them right now (see, you don't always know your own crutch words!) Use a word counter tool, such as wordle.net or other word counting tools that will show you the most used words in your manuscript. Then use a thesaurus to find new words to get across the meaning you want. Some of my favorite thesauruses are here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=thesaurus%20by%20ackerman

3- Read aloud! Seriously, I felt ridiculous the first time I started reading aloud to myself at home. There was nobody around and I had avoided reading aloud because I thought it would sound silly. Well it does sound silly, and at first I was extremely self conscious about reading aloud to myself. But then I began to hear the sentences and finding little mistakes that I had never noticed, no matter how many times I read it in my head. And I found ways to restructure sentences to make them smoother, more polished, and flow better on the page. It was such an amazing discovery!

4- Don't be afraid to let others read your work! Other people are going to see your work different than you. You have this whole world created in your head that you see every time you look at your story. Others don't have that world, so they see only what you have shown to them through your writing. They are going to let you know if things don't make sense, or if you've forgotten to give the reader details from your world that are important.

5- Get a professional editor! Once you have done everything you can for the editing of your book, then get a professional to do it. You don't have to break the bank, and if you have an agent or a publisher already they will probably help with this step. But if not, look around, ask around, find out what editors your author friends have used, and go to them to make your piece shine. Querying with a manuscript that has not been professionally edited could be a risky move, so rather than worry over issues that may or may not be there in your writing, just take the time and spend the money to make it clean. Then you know you've done everything you can and it's out of your hands once you send it out.

Those are my tips - the things that have helped me. Take them or leave them as you like!
Happy Editing!


Monday, December 9, 2013

Night time reading

*Mondays about Me*

I love reading at night, but I have something of a love/hate relationship with it.



I love reading anytime, but especially at night when all is calm and everyone is in bed. But that is when I find myself so entirely engrossed in a book that I can't put it down to sleep!

Seriously! All of you out there that write books I can't put down - Shame on you! And thank you! cause I love them!

So here in lies my dilemma .... I hate being up to see the sun rise. It makes me angry at myself if I see the sky lightening and know I haven't slept. Now, I know that's super weird cause most people like seeing sunrise. I just don't want to see if after I spent a night not sleeping when I needed to sleep! But, if I planned on staying up to see the sunrise, that's completely different :) Then I enjoy it thoroughly



So, back on topic here. If I start reading a book and it keeps me up at night, the deal is that I'd better finish reading it by 3 or 4 in the morning. That ways I can still sleep and pretend I went to bed when I was supposed to cause I never see the sky lighten to show morning is coming!

And now that I have thoroughly confused you, or made you laugh - either one works, I have a serious question ....

How in the world did I possibly get my degree, and graduate with an honor GPA, when I slept between 3-4 hours a night (usually due to reading) and worked a full time job all through school? Yet the better question is this: Why, when I try and go on that much sleep now, do I have to take an afternoon nap and eat chocolate that people throw at me from across the room because I'm too cranky to have anyone near?

Have a Happy Monday!!

PS: Enjoy this giveaway! It's got a couple of those books that will keep you up all night reading!!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/bf6e131/

Click on the link above to go to the rafflecopter page



Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fury of the Storm Wizard

Today on my blog I'd like to welcome new author Shauna E. Black!


When Shauna E. Black was diagnosed with cancer in early 2012, her author aspirations were put on hold. Now, almost two years later, she will realize her dream as she publishes her first novel, Fury of the Storm Wizard.
Jesse, the main character of Fury of the Storm Wizard, must find courage as he grapples with the death of his mother and a move from the Kansas prairie to a Colorado mining town, where Jesse discovers he has astonishing magical power.
When he befriends a girl scarred by fire and a young dragon disguised as a human, Jesse finds strength to overcome his challenges. Together, the teens must uncover the truth behind a string of deadly mining accidents and foil the plot of an evil mage before Jesse can learn to control his magic and use it to save his friends and family.
Like Jesse, Shauna found strength to defeat cancer in the support of her loved ones. They gave her the courage to make her dreams into reality.

Fury of the Storm Wizard will be available the first week of December 2013 in paperback and ebook formats at online booksellers. Please visit http://www.thunderstrucknovel.com or http://www.shaunablack.com for more details. Also, go check out her fabulous giveaway on her page!! Enter to win some great prizes (look under the launch party tab.)


SYNOPSIS
A storm is brewing in Silver Valley, where an unusual string of mining accidents has locals whispering of dark magic. When the marshal sent to investigate goes missing, his young assistant Boone turns to Jesse and Eliza for help. But Jesse is a new mage with raw magic, and Eliza is hiding a secret. The three must learn to trust each other before the valley is destroyed and they are ripped away from everything they hold dear.

EXCERPT
Jesse skidded to a stop, pulling away from Eliza. Squeezing his eyes shut, he spun around in one smooth motion, pulling the gun up to his shoulder and squeezing the trigger. He thought he heard a high-pitched squeal just before the gun’s report set his ears ringing.
Jesse risked cracking his eyes open to see if he’d hit anything. The basilisk wasn’t far away, rearing back with a bloody scratch along the side of its face. Jesse felt a crushing disappointment. He’d only grazed it. But then a rumbling began under his feet. There was a whoosh of air from the stope opening, and a wave of heat following it.
“Oh, no.”
A huge ball of crackling lightning formed and raced toward them.
“Run!” he screamed at his friends. “Run!”

Go check out Shauna's links (above) and enjoy her book! Thanks for visiting my blog today!

Other blog tour sites:
Monique's Musings: http://moniquebucheger.blogspot.com/
Sporting Pink: http://www.shesportspink.blogspot.com/
Life As I Know It: http://gerbsrandomthoughts.blogspot.com/




PS - Author Shauna E. Black also included this fantastic recipe for ice cream in our blog tour. Since I love ice cream, I'm posting it here for you all to enjoy!


LEMON CUSTARD ICE CREAM
CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM SANDWICHES
APPLE STREUSEL ICE CREAM
“FRIED” ICE CREAM
VANILLA ICE CREAM
3 cups milk
1 ¾ cups sugar
½ tsp salt
1 can evaporated milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 cups cream
Dissolve sugar in the milk. Add remaining ingredients. Place in ice cream maker and churn until frozen. Makes 4 quarts.
BLACK FAMILY ICE CREAM BASE
1 large package gelatin, any flavor
1 cup boiling water
1 ½ cups sugar
1 large package instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups heavy cream
6 cups milk
1 cup fruit, chopped
Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, stir together sugar and pudding mix. Beat in eggs. Add vanilla, cream, milk, and dissolved gelatin. Stir in fruit. Place in ice cream maker and churn until frozen.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving

Mondays about Me

I know it's the Monday after Thanksgiving, and maybe I should have done this on the Monday before, but for today's "Mondays about Me" I'm going to tell you a bit about what I'm Thankful for and why.

I am thankful for my wonderful husband and that fact that we are married for eternity. Yes, I realize that many people say how grateful they are for their spouses and I applaud every one of them.  But let me tell you a bit more about my gratitude. You see, it was a hard fight to get my husband!
When I first met him, I knew I was going to marry him. The moment I laid eyes on him my first coherent thought was "I'm going to marry him!" Then followed some non-coherent thoughts and being speechless for 5-10 minutes (which never happens to me - I am such a talker!!)

Then we had a year of long distance relationships in which one of us (usually me) had to drive 6 hours to see the other. We could only make this trip every 2nd or 3rd weekend. So often we would go 14-21 days without seeing each other at all. And we didn't get to skype either. Just phone calls and text messages. Also, I had to do most of the driving because my dear hubby falls asleep after 2 hours of driving if he's on his own.
After a year we finally were in the same state and engaged. Then, his parents, who had loved me up until this point, decided that they did not like me anymore because I was going to marry their son. Not sure how that happened, but basically they didn't like me for the next 9 months until our wedding, and for 3 months afterward until we moved away. They tried everything to convince my husband not to marry me, and then when we were married tried to talk him into an annulment or divorce right away.

My husband got baptized as a member of our faith just before the wedding. So a year later, after a lot of trials, huge family fights, and some other fun issues, we finally got to be sealed for all eternity! Needless to say my gratitude for having a wonderful, supportive, loving husband grows every day! I am grateful that the trials we faced pulled us closer together rather than pushed us apart like happens to so many people. I am grateful for every moment of every day we get to be together instead of living in different states. And for the decision we made to move away and become our own family instead of being influenced by others.

I am grateful for the job he has that supports us and gives us great insurance, and I'm grateful that he is so supportive of my writing! It was his idea for me to stop working and just focus on writing. He loves to hear I've been working on something new and he reads my work (and brags about me to everyone.)

I am very grateful for my husband and I love him so very dearly!!!