Friday, August 31, 2012

Life's Little Challenges

Hurricane Isaac has finally left.  He stayed and blew and rained, and rained, and rained.  I live far enough from the coast here in Mississippi that we just got a lot of rain, and fortunately didn't loose power.  Those on the coast are not as fortunate.  Homes are flooded, power disrupted.  Life is chaotic right now.

For myself we weathered the storm okay.  My oldest son did fine as well.  He just north of New Orleans.  He came up to ride out the storm.  My grandson jumped and played in puddles and is having a grand time with his grandmother.  My son brought some friends as well, they are amazed at what is going on.

Then my son got word that his neighborhood flooded. His home is on the highest spot in the area, but he fears his house took water.  Roads are closed, he can not get in to the area to see what transpired in his absence.

I had a long chat with him about the goings on.  He was at his in-laws.  They decided to evacuate and leave the area, a smart move.  Had he and his young family stayed the water would be coming in their home.  His 1 year old son and wife would have been out in the elements.  Rain and wind whipping around them as they awaited someone to get them out of the flooded area.  Instead they were in a warm dry home miles from the flooding.

My son has a good attitude and a can do approach to life.  He just bought and moved into the home last month.  A life changing moment is upon him.  I am watching to see what will happen.  I am hopeful that he treats this as a set back.  His family is safe and sound.  He has lost things.  Things can be replaced.  He already has a contractor lined up to help with repairs.  He has insurance.  I plan on going down to see first hand the damage to the home and help him get set to rebuild.

His attitude will be the key in how things progress from here.  Take it in stride, regroup and go on?  If so this is just a set back.  Or will he throw up his hands, loose his job and become sullen?  Will this become a big issue?

I believe he will keep his good optimistic attitude and forge ahead.  I've seen this area grow over the last seven years.  Everyone has helped each other out.  Katrina is a memory.  The place has been recovering.  Now Isaac has flooded things out.  I see everyone joining together and helping again. 

Life has storms.  How we react is our choice.  Attitude will determine everything.  It isn't easy.  Then again life isn't easy.  Make sure problems just become setbacks. 

I'll keep you posted.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Blog Ring of Power Interview with Suzanne Lilly Part V

Well hurricane Isaac is blowing rain on my house.  I've spent the last few days getting the last bits of preparation complete for the storm.  Now it is evening and the wind is blowing outside.  The sun is setting, clouds and blue sky, with the threat of tornadoes through the night.  Tomorrow will be a deluge of rain.  and oh yes, I forgot all about part V.  Sorry Suzanne!  I've been cutting down tree limbs so they won't go through my roof tomorrow!  Isaac may be bearing down on New Orleans and just made landfall at the delta of the Mississippi River, it still has a ways to go before it gets to New Orleans.  I am North East of there, so I'm dealing with bands of rain, and will soon be dealing with the storm itself.  But I still have power and internet connection, so let me finish off this interview and apologize for not getting it out sooner today.

So welcome to The Write Time.  Suzanne has agreed to share some of the wisdom she has picked up on her road to publication.  Suzanne Lilly writes lighthearted young adult stories with a splash of suspense, a flash of the unexplained, a dash of romance, and always a happy ending. Her short stories have appeared in numerous places online and in print, and she has placed and received honorable mentions in writing contests. Her debut novel is Shades of the Future, (July 2012, Turquoise Morning Press) followed by Untellable, (February 2013.) She lives in Northern California where she reads, writes, cooks, swims, and teaches elementary students.

  1. Tell us about your route to success –did you use an agent? How did you land your agent and/or publisher?
Everyone’s road to success is so different. I did land an agent with the first novel I ever wrote. But it wasn’t ready for publication, and my agent wasn’t able to sell it. We parted ways, and I continued to write and hone my craft. After five novels, I caught the interest of the publisher I work with now, Turquoise Morning Press.

  1. Why did you choose to go with a small/independent press?
One thing I love about a small press, is the relationships with editors, fellow authors, and the publisher. It’s a truly supportive writing family. I don’t know if it would be possible to have that at one of the Big Six publishing houses.

  1. Is there anything you would have done differently during the querying and publishing process?
I learned so much from the querying and publishing process, yet I look back and thing, “How could I have ever done that?” Things like sending out queries for stories that weren’t good enough for publication yet, or not understanding the publishing process. But I wouldn’t change those things, because of the lessons I’ve learned. I think the experiences have made me better at what I do. At least I hope they’ve made me a better author.

  1. What are the most important elements of good writing?
Remember your audience and write for them. It may be your dream to write anything you want, but if no one reads it, what purpose does it serve, other than personal therapy? Also, respect your readers and give them the best product you are able to write.

  1. What are your current / future project(s)?
My latest book is Shades of the Future. It follows the theme of exploring the unexplained, as well as trusting in ourselves. Here’s the book blurb:
What would you give to see the future? Would you make your dreams come true? Would you change the things you didn’t like?
Mariah Davis loves animals, running, and her hunk of a boyfriend, Kevin Creamer. Everything looks bright for her until the day she finds a pair of sunglasses that allow her to see the future.
When she glimpses a disaster looming, she tries to avoid it but fails. She has a car accident that lands her in a wheelchair, smashing her hopes for a running scholarship to the veterinary program at Ohio State University. She pushes Kevin away, thinking he’ll want to end their relationship now that she can’t walk.
Will she ever learn to trust and love again? She could search for an answer in the sunglasses. But she’s afraid what they reveal might destroy her.

If you’d like to read a short excerpt, you can send an email to shadesofthefuture {at} gmail {dot} com, or you can get a free sample from my Suzanne Lilly Amazon page.

My next book, Untellable, is about Aspen Dwyer, a young woman hiding from her past. She finds love and friendship in Honey Creek, but when her father is released from prison, and threatens her life, she has to decide if she should run again, or stay and fight for the people she loves. Untellable will be available from Turquoise Morning Press in February 2013.

  1. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’m celebrating the release of Shades of the Future by giving away a designer pair of sunglasses from to one lucky commenter. So don’t be shy, readers! Chat me up on the blog tour and you might win!

Also, 10% of royalties from the sale of this book will go to an animal rescue organization. Mariah Davis and Kevin Creamer, the main characters, work for Happy Paws Pet Rescue. Mariah’s schnauzer Lady is a rescue dog. I also have a good friend who fosters pets until they find their forever homes. All of this is done through donations. If my book can help save a few animals from being euthanized, we will all have accomplished something great together.

Book Blurb:
What would you give to see the future? Would you make your dreams come true? Would you change the things you didn’t like?
Mariah Davis loves animals, running, and her hunk of a boyfriend, Kevin Creamer. Everything looks bright for her until the day she finds a pair of sunglasses that allow her to see the future.
When she glimpses a disaster looming, she tries to avoid it but fails. She has a car accident that lands her in a wheelchair, smashing her hopes for a running scholarship to the veterinary program at Ohio State University. She pushes Kevin away, thinking he’ll want to end their relationship now that she can’t walk.
Will she ever learn to trust and love again? She could search for an answer in the sunglasses. But she’s afraid what they reveal might destroy her.
 Follow Suzanne on the web:

Facebook page:
Twitter: @suzannelilly

What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)
It’s available in print and digital formats.

Here are the other parts of the interview.

Part 1 @ Terri - Wednesday, August 22nd
Part 2 @ Teresa - Thursday, August 23rd
Part 3 @ Emily - Friday, August 24th
Part 4 @ Sandra - Monday, August 27th
Part 5 @ Dean - Tuesday, August 28th
Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Don’t Let A Setback Become A Failure

If you have read much of my blog, by now you know that we watch the Olympic Games at my home.  There is so much real life drama.  There are so many stories, so many things to see.  So many lessons, if you wish to take the time to find them.  So many examples of character, on poor winners and graceful losers, on champions who shine, and those who fall short of the high standards, but shine because of how they compete.

While a gold medal is the goal, others have other goals, other things to prove, more to themselves than to the world.  Just to be in the Olympic Games is an honor, to be able to say, “I am an Olympian.”  Wow.

There are many stories, but one that caught my attention and I wish to comment on today is Michael Phelps.  In the 2008 Beijing Games Phelps was solid gold.  That was the only color medal he won.  An unprecedented eight gold medals.  A vast improvement over his 2004 Athens Games where he won six gold and two bronze medals.

So now, it is 2012 and the London Games are at hand.  The Olympic Champion is back, coming out of retirement to compete once again on the Olympic Stage.  As I read his bio, the writers tell about records, and accomplishments.  While all is great, and he deserves the accolades, there is a moment in the 2012 games that really impressed me. The 200-meter race.

Phelps wasn’t ready for the race, he just made it into a lane from the qualifying rounds.  The media was a buzz about the fact that the gold medal winner from the Beijing Games just made it into the pool for the race.  The outcome in London was far different from the outcome in China.  Phelps lost the 200-meter race. Not only that he didn’t even make the platform, he came in 4th.

It was a defining moment for him.  He said as he left the pool and walked behind the diving platform he realized he wasn’t in the game mentally.  He took things for granted.  In other words he wasn’t going to win just because he had won before.

My wife and I discussed the emotions of the winners.  Gold Medal – Happy, they won.  Silver Medal – disappointed, they didn’t win the Gold, but they have something to remember, they did their best and got a Silver.  Bronze Medal – Grateful, they made it onto the podium.  For Phelps 4th place in the Olympics had never happened.  He had always stood upon the winner’s platform.  Not this time. He had to walk away while others got the glory, glory that was once his. 

The defining moment.  Quit?  Give up?  Or gather resolve and get into the game.  The Champion always does the latter, they dig deep inside and find that resolve to continue onward.

So losing the 200-meter race became a setback, not a failure.

One oops wipes out a whole lot of atta-boys.  However, life is full of setbacks.  How we deal with them determines our character.  Determines if we grow and learn lessons from them.  If we learn the lessons, we become better people, better at whatever we do.  A writer takes the news from his critique partner, or beta reader and though they may not like what they are hearing about what they have slaved and worked on, the feedback can make their work better.  A student with a lower test score can reflect on what they did to prepare for the test and make adjustments for the next one.  A salesman who didn’t close the deal can look back and see what needs improvement and make the adjustment to close on the next sale. 

Setbacks are just that, a setback.  A learning moment.  What you decide to do after the setback determines success, or failure.

What setbacks have you had in your life?  What did you learn from it?  How did it affect what you did next?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Blog Ring of Power Interview with James Garcia

Welcome to Part Three of James Garcia's progressive interview across five blogs. 

James Garcia Jr. was born in the Central California town of Hanford. He moved up the road to Kingsburg with his family as a child. After graduating KHS, he attended Reedley College where he met his wife. They, along with their teenage sons, still make their home in Kingsburg which is also the setting of James’ debut vampire novel. “Dance on Fire”, was published in 2010 and its sequel is scheduled for an early 2012 release. James is an Administrative Supervisor for Sun-Maid Growers of California.

Here is the schedule and locations for the other parts of the interview:

Part 1 @ Emily - Friday, August 10th
Part 2 @ Sandra - Monday, August 13th
Part 3 @ Dean - Tuesday, August 14th
Part 4 @ Terri - Wednesday, August 15th
Part 5 @ Teresa - Thursday, August 16th

Today on the Write Time James talks about the creative process.

1) Where do you get your story ideas?

This is a good question that I don’t have an answer for. I don’t write every day, due to my schedule. On the other hand, my mind is always working and gestating ideas. When I begin to start thinking about a new project, my mind goes into overdrive, creating that world, characters and plot. I don’t actually begin writing anything until I have a real clear picture of what it is. When I do sit down to write, the scenes have already formed. I type up everything that I saw from the day before and then I walk away. Between that time and the next session, my mind forms the next scenes. It’s odd how it works, but it does work, and I’m not going to question it. *grins*

2) How do you deal with writer’s block?

Writer’s block is something that all writers have either faced or are scared to death that they will face one day. Perhaps because to this point I have only worked on a few projects is the reason why I haven’t faced it yet. Perhaps it has more to do with not forcing anything until I really begin to see it. I don’t know.

3) Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Originally I was a pantser. I had never written a novel before, so I learned as I went. With each subsequent project I find myself plotting a bit more. For this third novel that I have been working on this spring, I spent more time on the outlining. However, I refuse to create binders on all of the little details because I think it takes all of the fun out of the writing. I know the story, so I like it when I discover great things that surprise even me. If the writing isn’t fun for me, then it will suffer and I don’t know how I could possibly get through it all with any energy whatsoever.

4) Do you use critique partners or beta readers?

I had never used betas before; however, as fate would have it, my small publisher just closed, giving me an opportunity to do so. I think it’s a great opportunity to get input from the readers and have the book improved before it gets to market. I just sent my second novel out to betas who enjoyed the first one, and I very much look forward to hearing their thoughts on it.

5) How much time do you spend on research? What type of research do you do?

In terms of research, I have yet to need a lot of it, so far. Much like plotting out the story, the thought of doing a bunch of research first is a buzz kill for me. When I already have the scenes and dialogue in my head, I want to write it down – not wait. What I have done is write the story and then go back and research the details that I realize come off as being weak. Of course, the day may come when I really don’t know a thing about my subject or material and I’ll be forced to do the research first. I hope not, but it probably will. I live in a small town, so I have been afforded the opportunity to meet with the chief of police on a couple of occasions, as well as with the fire chief for my second novel. Other than that, I surf the net and look up things like almanac information or study up on weapons and other equipment. Stuff like that. 

Where you can find James on the web:

Dance on Fire synopsis:

            Each May, the Central California town of Kingsburg celebrates its Swedish heritage with the annual Swedish Festival: a weekend event where the town puts on its traditional dress, culminating with a dance around a Maypole on Friday, and a Swedish pancake breakfast and parade on Saturday. The town with a population of over 11,000 residents draws thousands more to the event. This year, two uninvited guests also converged upon the unsuspecting town.
          Nathaniel is a vampire. He wandered into town, bothering no one; feeding upon stray cats and other vermin, wanting nothing more than to have a place to rest his head. Vincent is a second vampire, and the one responsible for making Nathaniel. He has been searching for his long lost “son” for well over two centuries. Vincent’s goal is to take Nathaniel home or kill him. Nathaniel has often wished for death, wondering why God ever allowed this punishment: to walk the earth undead and unable to be redeemed. Does God remember the little boy from Romania who watched his parents die, was raised by the murdering vampire, only to become one himself? What does God think of Nathaniel and could there yet be redemption for one outside of heaven?
          Ten days before the start of the Swedish Festival the most tumultuous week in the history of Kingsburg has begun with two vampires leaving death and destruction in their wake. Kingsburg Police Detectives Mark Jackson and Michael Lopez, Barbara and the entire Lopez family find themselves drawn into something that threatens to destroy them all or leave them scarred forever.
          In a marriage of the classic horror story and the Christian themes of good conquering evil and redemption, Dance on Fire is the account of characters being drawn into the fire and the supernatural forces around them watching as they burn.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Blog Ring of Power Interview with Susan Quinn

Today Susan Quinn stops in to discuss her current work.  Here is the schedule for the other parts of her interview:

Part 1 @ Teresa - Thursday, August 2nd
Part 2 @ Emily - Friday, August 3rd
Part 3 @ Sandra - Monday, August 6th
Part 4 @ Here with me - Tuesday, August 7th
Part 5 @ Terri - Wednesday, August 8th

Susan Kaye Quinn, Author
Susan Kaye Quinn grew up in California, where she wrote snippets of stories and passed them to her friends during class. She pursued a bunch of engineering degrees and worked a lot of geeky jobs, including turns at GE Aircraft Engines, NASA, and NCAR. Now that she writes novels, her business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist" and she doesn't have to sneak her notes anymore. All that engineering comes in handy when dreaming up paranormal powers in future worlds or mixing science with fantasy to conjure slightly plausible inventions. Susan writes from the Chicago suburbs with her three boys, two cats, and one husband. Which, it turns out, is exactly as much as can handle.

So Susan, welcome to the Write Time, lets get right to it, lets talk about your current work.

Tell us about your new book and when it is out? Where can people purchase it?
My latest novel, Closed Hearts, is the second book in the Mindjack Trilogy—a story about a future world where everyone reads minds, except one girl. She quickly finds that she can control minds instead, and things get pretty dangerous after that. The tagline for the first novel in the series, Open Minds: When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep. I’m working on the final novel in the trilogy, Free Souls, and have a series of short stories (Mindjack Origins) coming out as well. You can find out more at the Mindjack website – the books are available in print and ebook at Amazon and Barnes&Noble. 

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
In writing Closed Hearts, I learned how quickly I could write a novel, if that was the only project I focused on—before I always had multiple works going at once. Start-to-finish, I wrote Closed Hearts in six months. It was a hectic six months, so I think Free Souls will take a little longer—not least because my kids are out of school for the summer, and my writing always slows down then. 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I like to let readers decide what they take away from the novel—I think every reader has their unique perspective that they bring to it. But there’s a pretty clear theme from the beginning of Open Minds about intolerance: the main character (Kira), who doesn’t read minds in a telepathic world, is very painfully isolated from her mindreading peers. The intolerance of her world is even more extreme for the mindjackers hidden in their midst. The impact of their intolerance on Kira, and the effect that has on the society as a whole, is a large driver of the story. 

Tell us about your book’s cover – where did the design come from and what was the design process like?
My cover designer, D. Robert Pease of, is amazing—he has 20 years of experience designing magazine covers, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the covers he’s done for Open Minds and Closed Hearts. Dale is great to work with as well (I highly recommend him). I usually come to him with an idea, and then we work together until it’s exactly what I want—I think I’m demanding, but Dale tells me he just wants to make sure I have a cover I love. (See how awesome he is?) 

Is there anything new, unusual, or interesting about your book? How is it different from other books on the same subject?
People often tell me, after reading Open Minds, that they think the book is very unique. While mindreading and mind control are well-worn subjects in fiction, the thing that makes it unique in my stories is partly that everyone in the story is a mindreader or a mindjacker (so it has a huge impact on the entire story world), and partly that I’ve worked hard to make the mindreading and mindjacking into visceral experiences. Mindjacking is (supposedly) something no one has done before, so I wanted to give it a feel and a taste, so that we could (virtually) experience something no one has. People tell me it feels real to them (almost too real), so I take that as an indication that it’s working!

Find Susan  on the web:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Skills and Traits for Success

Values, Priorities, Motivation, Attitude, Determination.  Items I’ve blogged about, items I feel help to make you successful.  A winner.  If not that, at least feel better about yourself and your lot in life, or give you things to change your lot in life.

How do you accomplish things?  To accomplish anything it takes skill, and it takes some character traits. 

Today I want to focus a bit on writing.  I love to write.  I would like to think I am good at it, some of you think so, you’ve been following my blog.  For that, thank you. 

However, I would like to publish the life long work I’ve been chipping away at for years.  Although it isn’t ready, and that is another topic. 

I do have an accomplishment.  I have four complete manuscripts.  Four books.  Are they ready for an agent, or an editor, or publication.  Sadly, no.  I do have some people willing to beta read, and I do have a crit partner.  So I am better than I was. 

But to accomplish getting all the words down on paper took a lot of work.  And today I want to list some of the skills or traits needed for that accomplishment.  In the following weeks we can explore each trait a bit more in depth.  For right now I am going to list them, in no particular order, just ten traits that I thought of that helped me get this far in my quest for publication.

1. Creativity
2. Determination
3. Personal Drive
4. Motivation
5. Organization
6. Fearlessness
7. Vision
8. Work Ethic
9. Positive Attitude
10. Problem Solving

I am sure with more thought I could add more items to this list, but these came to mind when I stopped to think about it.  Besides it gives me some focus on more items to blog about.  So in the weeks to come we will explore some of these traits, that did help me with my writing, but with other aspects of my life as well.

Nothing you achieve is due to any one thing, but a collection of many things.  What are some of the skills or traits you’ve used to accomplish things in your life?