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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Memories

This entry first appeared on A Montage of Writers.

As I get older my love for family time has grown, and my happy memories of huge family gatherings as a child are more poignant. They give me a warm, fuzzy feeling, and I remember the childhood magic of Christmas.

 I am grateful for any time that we get to spend with our families, as my husband’s job as a paramedic and my non-writing job as a nurse means we don’t always get traditional holidays off. Our extended families now live out of town, except for one cousin, and because my husband is an only child and I have only one brother, my children rarely get to experience the kind of holiday chaos that comes with large families. I remember these fantastic, frantic, loud, crowded experiences with so much love.

Christmas Eve was reserved for Dad’s family: my Warner grandparents, his three sisters and brother, and later their families. It was amazing. For several years, Christmas Eve dinner was self-made pizzas with unique toppings, or delicious soups made by my aunt’s husband. My two cousins, brother and I would hope for snow and make “snowla-colas” if it did: hard packed snow in a glass, over which you poured the soda. By the time more little cousins arrived, we were happy to pass on that tradition. I was the only niece/granddaughter until I was twenty one, when my aunt finally ended the male-dominated cousin situation. I was tremendously spoiled. 

Dad’s family was a little quiet, less demonstrative in their emotions, but the wrapping paper snowball fights after opening presents were legendary! However, compared to the maternal side of my family, they were downright sedate. 

Christmas Day was reserved for the Pallmes. Mom’s family consisted of my grandmother, Mom’s two sisters and brother, and usually included my uncle’s in-laws as well. This meant about ten adults, and nine cousins who eventually married and started having kids of their own. I don’t remember a lot of organization in regard to meals. I remember fabulous meatloaf once, ham, turkey, and even pheasant that my uncle had hunted. It was there that I learned to drink sloe-gin fizzes. You could never hear yourself over the level of conversation (hearing loss is a family demon).  Here, there was no dearth of estrogen: I had five girl-cousins, and drama was inevitable, although we were very close when we were young. I remember a cutthroat game involving monkeys on a tree one year that had us all screaming. Since I usually asked for books for Christmas, my introverted side would eventually end up in another room with my book, but I could always be drawn out for ping-pong.

As we cousins grew up and married, we started drifting away from these huge family gatherings on holidays. We moved away and got more scattered. It was difficult to schedule get-togethers with multiple in-laws, jobs, family obligations and other things that happen when you grow up. 

That’s why it’s important to me that we are able to get together with relatives whenever possible, and my children get to experience the madness that is having twenty-five second and third cousins at my husband’s family reunion once a year. It’s an experience like no other to be swarmed with people who are related by blood ties: loud, crazy, annoying at times. My adult self probably remembers these gatherings with more sentimentality through those fuzzy, fond glasses we all wear when we look back on happy memories. But I’ll keep them close, and remember those Christmases with love.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Last day of my tour!

The last day of my tour, and what better way to end it than this lovely review from Aly on Tina's website!

The Book Landers: Book Review + Giveaway: Song Magick

and a spotlight from Penny:

Penny Writes

Thanks again to the fabulous Roxanne Rhoads at Bewitching Book Tours. This lady knows her stuff. What a great time I had!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Two more stops on the tour, and a live book signing!

Come see me at the Grinter House this Saturday for a local artisans fair, where I will have signed copies of my book available!  I believe I'm even doing a reading :-)

Two more stops today, and then more on Monday, which will wrap up my tour. 

Sapphyria's Book Reviews

Sapphyria has a book spotlight for me today, and

Lissette Manning  has a guest post from me, and a spotlight. It states there's a review to come as well later today!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Another review that has me in lunar orbit!

Holy cow, I'm going to become an egomaniac writer and sit in my pajamas all day banging away at my keyboard, expecting others to bring me tea and chocolate. (I already have the sitting in my pajamas all day banging away at the keyboard part down to a science!)

 Making it Happen  : Carra has written a beautiful review. My gosh. I'm speechless, you guys.

Fantasy Book Lane  - What a beautiful site!

Deb Sanders also has a lovely spotlight for Song Magick today.

Three gorgeous websites and a stellar review. I'm just gonna sit over here being happy and working on Telyn's next story, TRUTHSONG.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Two more stops on the tour today...

Thanks to these lovely folks for hosting spotlights on my tour today...

Share My Destiny

Cassandra M's Place

Stop by and say hi!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Smiling so much my face hurts!

Two stops on my blog tour today. The first, Paranormal Romance and Authors that ROCK, posted a review that had me doing happy dances and grinning like a fiend.

The second location (her mustache wallpaper made me giggle!) has a guest post by yours truly - if you ever wondered about my musical inspirations while writing Song Magick, it's there...the links don't work though. I will repost it here after the tour.

Kayl's Krazy Obsession

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week long Bewitching Book Tour!

Thanks to the amazing Roxanne Rhoads from Bewitching Book Tours for setting tour up for me! There are chances to win copies of Song Magick, and one review already that had me doing the happy dance all weekend. Seriously. She about made me cry in a very good way...

Make sure you show these folks some love! I will post them as they come.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


This year, I am thankful for family. 

As I get older, I look in the mirror and see more of my mother each year. It isn’t a bad thing to see the woman who raised me to be myself in all my weird glory staring back at me. It’s actually an honor, and I am thankful for her unconditional love.

My mother in-law raised her son to respect women, and I get the payoff of her very hard work. United by the marriage of their children, she and my mother have become great friends. There is no drama between families; we blend holidays seamlessly without stress. They’ve both had serious health issues this year and I am thankful to have a job schedule which allows me time to spend with them both. Despite their continued struggle with evil remote controls and uncooperative computers, I am thankful that they remind me that all this new-fangled communication is no substitute for face to face lunches, dinners, and hugs.

I am thankful for my husband, and the fact that we have been married twenty years this November. We have weathered many storms: the deaths of our fathers, my cancer misadventures, his own health issues, financial woes and bizarre work schedules. And we are stronger for it. He encourages my dreams. I am thankful that I asked him first to marry me, and that we share the never-ending adventure that is parenthood.

I am eternally grateful for my children. They make me laugh, cry, give me grey hair, and I love (almost) every minute. As they grow into young adults, I am glad that we read to them when they were small, and that they share my love of books. I am thankful they are learning to be very good cooks, and I often benefit from their talents in the kitchen. And I am so very thankful that they are growing into people with compassion who are blind to differences, and can sometimes exist in the same room without World War III breaking out.

It makes me grateful for my brother, because we too fought like ninjas and pirates, and I know my children will survive and eventually be friends. I am also grateful that he found the “right one”, which has given me not only the experience of having a sister, but being an aunt to a fantastic niece and nephew.

Finally, I am so thankful for my friends, who are my extended family. No matter the distance between us, the long times between visits and phone calls, we are there for each other. No matter the philosophical differences, we are able to talk and agree to disagree. As we get older I am thankful for the memories we share, which keep me young at heart and in mind.

My gratitude definitely outweighs my regrets. And for that, I am most thankful.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

30 Days of Thankfulness: Kindle Fire Giveaway!

The fabulous Mysti Parker has set up a giveaway, and I will be guest blogger on 11/11/14! Check it out, and don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter to take a chance on this amazing prize, loaded with books-including SONG MAGICK!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Six Monthaversary!

     I can't believe that Telyn's first adventure has been out for six months, and that in that time, I've finished a second novel and started on our intrepid bard's next adventure.

     Life is starting to get back to normal (Mama B should be going home from the hospital in the next day or two). Looking forward to our schedules evening out again so I know when I can focus on writing.

     In the last week or so, though, it has become apparent that I may not be able to convey Telyn's whole story in just one more book, so...I now have outlines for two, lol! The one I am currently working on is now called TRUTHSONG. Those of you who've read the first book might remember that this is Telyn's most controversial gift, and how conflicted she is about using it. It also fits in to the general theme that keeps popping up in the book - being truthful with yourself, and those you love, even when it hurts. The third book will definitely be LORD OF THE WOOD, for many reasons.

     I'm working on getting a book tour set up for the six month mark of SONG MAGICK, and have approached a local branch of Barnes and Noble about doing an author signing event in the near future. Getting excited about it!

     In the meantime, I am digesting all the wonderful beta feedback I have received from my critique partners on NECTAR AND AMBROSIA. It's going to have some serious revision to voice and possibly the first chapter before I send out any queries. Learning hard lessons about sending something out before it's ready...*sigh*. The sound of crickets is deafening.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Brain paralysis

     It's amazing what a fragile thing the creative process can be. I've written before about how I have to be able to concentrate, and once folks are up at my house, creativity kind of shuts down.

     This week my awesome mother in law had a heart attack. She has been in ICU since Monday, and my hubby and I have been up at the hospital most of that time. Each day has been a roller coaster, and things are starting to even out, thank goodness, as her condition improves.

     Today is the first day I've had all week where I will be able to write, and will be the only day until next week.

     And I haven't been able to bring myself to write a word on my work in progress.

     I'm sure that exhaustion and emotion and a host of other things have a lot to do with it, but I've missed writing so much this week. Ah, well. The benefits of being an author without a contract obligation allow me to take a little time off to recuperate instead of forcing a pile of word-puke that would probably be horrid anyway.

     Maybe I will try again after coffee. *sigh*

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Massive "Passive" Hunt

   I've met so many incredible people during these last two weeks of PitchWars. The level of community among writers is staggering. Everyone continues to humble me with their willingness to provide meaningful feedback, gentle redirection, and sometimes, ego bruising kicks in the gut that are entirely needed.

     NECTAR has undergone yet another rewrite for passive voice. What is passive voice? Well, I am still struggling with it now. Agents and editors don't want to be told what your character is feeling- they want to be shown. Consider my original first paragraph:

It was already June, and Callie couldn’t remember how long she’d been on the road.
The time since she had started running seemed to blur together. She had managed to catch rides with friendly drivers when the uncanny sense that she’d come to think of as her early warning system told her it was OK, and took buses when it wasn’t. She hadn’t known where she was going to end up, only that she felt pulled in a particular direction, and when she had crossed four state lines and three rivers Callie suddenly knew she was in the right place. But she didn’t know what that meant.

Now, rewritten and revised for passive voice:

It was already June, and Callie couldn’t remember exactly how long she’d been running.
Time seemed blur together after she fled the small college town where she’d grown up. When the uncanny sense she’d come to think of as her ‘early warning system’ told her it was okay, she caught rides with friendly drivers, and took buses when it wasn’t. Halfway across the country from where she’d started, not knowing where she was going to end up, Callie followed an insistent pull in a particular direction. She hoped her odd talents were not going to let her down after all these years. Finally, after crossing four state lines and three rivers, Callie knew she was in the right place. But she still didn’t know what it meant.

     Removing some of the "had"s and "that"s  brings the reader into the action rather than reading about it, and it makes for better prose. Still have to do the "was" hunt and figure out which of the little buggers can stay or need to be squashed.

     Writing is an ever-evolving thing, and you run the danger of nitpicking until doomsday. At some point I will just have to put this manuscript in read-only mode and leave it alone, and just start submitting. As one of my new friends said, "Not like I'm obsessive or anything," lol.  Writers pick at their manuscripts forever if left to their own devices, and I'm no exception.

I'm loving all the new things I'm learning about my craft. I'm doubting I made the mentor cut, but it's been so worth it.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Mentee Biography

About the Author

Elisabeth Hamill is a nurse by day, fantasy novelist by night. In seventh grade, she had “Famous Author” inscribed under her name on her yearbook cover – an aspiration that, while delayed, was never forgotten! Her first published work, SONG MAGICK, saw its first draft finished during recuperation from cancer treatment and surgery, and is the fulfillment of that lifelong dream of being an author. She lives in eastern Kansas with her family, where they fend off flying monkey attacks and prep for the zombie apocalypse. Elisabeth has a new adult urban fantasy gearing up for submissions called NECTAR AND AMBROSIA, and is working on Telyn Songmaker's next adventure. 

I think that all writers love to live in the fantasy world of their own creations in their spare moments. But most of us are also avid readers, and I’ve always loved to live in the worlds of others as well…I started out with the Wizard of Oz, like many other kids, but then was introduced to Lloyd Alexander, Ursula LeGuin, and Madeleine L’Engle. My dad presented me with a hardback copy of The Hobbit when I was about twelve, and I saw Star Wars eleven times at the theaters when it came out in 1977. In high school I discovered Katherine Kurtz, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and later in my adult life, David Brin and Nina Kiriki Hoffman.

I can’t remember a time I didn’t love sci fi and fantasy. I started writing my own stories when I was twelve. Too many years later (too many than I want to admit to, anyway; I'm still a kid on the inside!) I'm still a novice writer. 

 Writing my first, recently published novel started in serialized form as a way to amuse myself and my friends. When my life took an unexpected, devastating turn, it became a way to keep my mind occupied while undergoing radiation, chemotherapy and extensive surgery due to cancer. 

As I learn to navigate this crazy world of writing and querying and pitching and revising, I'm still a padawan [:)] ...and the only nurse on the block with a TARDIS license plate holder and an Evil Dead ID badge.

Welcome to my world!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Shopping with Gollum

     I shop like a guy.

     Really, I do. I lack the shopping gene that many females seem to have. If I need something, I go in, I get it, I leave. I don't shop. Malls have me running for the exit in less than thirty minutes. Time me. I have little to no fashion sense. My wardrobe primarily consists of scrubs, stretchy pants, and t-shirts.

    Unfortunately, I have passed the lack of this gene on to my daughter. When the time came this week to get clothes for her senior pictures photo session, it was like dragging Gollum out of its cave. ("Retail! It burns us!!") I was able to lure her out with the promise of Starbucks, which, frankly, I was going to need as well to survive this deviation in our normal comfort zone.

    My girl wears almost nothing that is not a fandom related t-shirt, jeans, and Chuck Taylors every day of the week. I can get her into a Hot Topic without problems, but I knew it would be a monumental quest finding a dress that she would agree to wear. I had done some online shopping first in hopes of not having to slog from shop to shop, thinking a vintage look might be really cool and just different enough to tempt her. I found some neat dresses on Retro Vixen's website, pinup type stuff that I thought would be adorable on her.

     "It has flowers on it." This was said with a wrinkled nose, and a dubious look.

     "I think this would look wonderful," I said, trying to fight my own urge to just hit Walmart and be done with it. But the grandmas have been after me for four years to get "real" pictures taken of my kids, and not just candid iPhone shots. If I don't follow through on this, name is mud, since this is her senior year. "Look, they have steampunk stuff, too. Do you want to check it out?"

     "Sure," she shrugged. That is as close to a yes as I was going to get, so we got in the car.

     We hit two different shops (Retro Vixen and Monkey Wrench here in Kansas City. They have amazing pinup and steampunk type clothing, if you wanna look at their websites). In each place, we found these lovely dresses, but my picky Gollum was not having any of it.

      "It's too red."

      "No flowers."

      She loved the dark, shimmery black on red steampunk skirt, but there wasn't anything in the way of a shirt to go with it that would fit her also-inherited-from-Mom voluptuous figure.

     "I don't know," she said. "I really want something formal."

     I was surprised. "Like a gown? A prom gown kind of formal?"

    "Yeah." She brightened a little. "Let's go to Deb's."

    I facepalmed. No matter how many stores we go to, we always end up at Deb's, in the middle of the busiest freaking mall in the affluent county south of where we live. It's a little like an episode of that show with the rich girls and their $30K Sweet-16 parties at this mall. But, we always end up finding something she likes there that fits her well. We should have gone there first.

    We arrive at the mall and make a hurried beeline for Deb's, and she immediately finds some of the most sparkly, fluffy feminine dresses in the store. I'm open mouthed at the things she's picking out. They're gorgeous.

    And they're 70 percent off. Mom scores.

    We knew THE DRESS when Gollum suddenly turned into Arwen as she came out of the dressing room. She was smiling, the strapless bodice of the gown sparkling, the icy blue and silver floor-length skirt looking like something Princess Elsa from Frozen would wear.

    "I love this one!"

     I was too amazed by my beautiful daughter to say much other than, "I love it, too."

    She was so happy that I talked her into getting a casual outfit for the candid shots there too, and she tried on four different outfits without protest before deciding what she liked best.

     Start to finish, from leaving the house to getting home, we were gone for three hours. We were like real girls for an entire afternoon, and I loved shopping with her more than I thought I would.

     We even hit Hot Topic for fandom-related stuff. She's going to wear her anti-possession tattoo shoes with the Princess Elsa gown.




Sunday, July 20, 2014

Drip, trickle, flow or waterfall?

     I envy some of my fellow writers who can write reams of paper in one sitting.
     For me, it takes silence, which is why I get up early to write, before anybody else is up. Even then, I only get about three pages of work finished, about 1000 words on average, because the minute I seem to hit the Zone...something interrupts my groove. My hubby wakes up, the coffee maker emits its beguiling aroma and lure of caffeine, and, it's all over. Or, my imaginary world shatters around me with the first, "Mom, what's for breakfast?" or, "Can I watch Transformers?" I just can't recreate the Zone when there are Autobots and Decepticons battling for world domination, or my son is giving me a running commentary about the Creepers in his mine or the fact that he is now a MooShroom.

     My dream is that someday, writing will be my only job, and for it to be lucrative enough to feed my family and pay my bills. Maybe then, I can lock myself in a cave for hours every day to write, but until then, I'll keep slogging to work and writing on my days off, and enjoying being with my family. The kids are growing up so fast...I should be careful what I wish for. Before long, they'll be grown and off on their own, and I'll have plenty of time to write, but less time with them. Then again, it looks as though my son will be 30 and living in our basement playing Minecraft and making YouTube videos about his Transformers at this point. But we don't have a basement. Anyway, I digress.

      Being an aspiring writer with a full time job and a family can be challenging, but I know it can be done. Several of the Coolest People Ever have small children and still have written three times as many books as I have in the same amount of time it took me to finish Nectar and Ambrosia. It seems like a lot of time, but then again, I have been sternly ordered not to be another George RR Martin. I've had some of my beta readers threaten me with dire consequences should I make them wait very long for sequels to my books.

    One word at a time, one paragraph at a time, one chapter at a time. Before I know it, I'll have a whole 'nother book done. Then I can start on the next one! 



Friday, June 6, 2014

Nectar and Ambrosia - first draft party!

    Because of my work and life schedule, I get up early in the mornings to write when no one else is awake. I love the quiet time, the taste of Dove chai coffee (shameless plug for my chocolate enabler, Lori), and the insistence of my cat, who feels that it is imperative that he sit on my laptop and be loved for at least ten minutes before I am allowed to get productive.

    This morning, the cat slept in, my husband was at work, and both my kids slept in. I was in The Zone. Totally oblivious to everything around me, I sank into writing mode. I admit to returning a few messages on Facebook to my writing group, The Coolest People Ever, but other than that, I was focused, which is a rare thing these days. So, when I typed the last sentence of the last chapter, it was kind of a surprise.

     I stopped. Suddenly, I was DONE. It was a really good feeling to type that last word of my draft. It's been so long since I finished the first draft of my recently published novel that I'd forgotten what it felt like. I got really excited, breathed out a big sigh, and did a happy dance. This is only the second time I've actually finished a whole novel, so it's still a new, wonderful feeling.

     Then I realized, "Holy's 2:00 in the afternoon!" I'd written almost all day. My cat and my kids were still sleeping, and I had to run in quickly and make sure that they were all still breathing or hadn't been kidnapped by aliens.

     Thankfully, no aliens or trauma were discovered, and we (the kids and I, not the cat) went out for a celebration lunch. My son said thoughtfully over his Peanut Butter Snickers shake, "Mom, you should write a blog post about finishing your second book. That's kind of cool."

     So, my son thinks it's cool. That feels even better than finishing writing the book! So, here's the blog post, because my son says I should. :-)


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Book Release "Unforeseen Obsessions" by Valerie Clarizio!

Release and Giveaway:

UO Blog Tour Button copy

$10 Amazon Gift Card

2-Ebook Copies of Unforeseen Obsessions

Rafflecopter Giveaway 


Title: Unforeseen Obsessions     Author: Valerie J. Clarizio
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press     Release Date: May 15, 2014
After Alex Polecheck’s police officer husband, Sam, is stabbed in cold blood, she vows to see the murderer brought to justice.  Peter, Sam’s best friend, and fellow police officer, seems to be the only member of the Police Department interested in catching the killer.
Peter sets out on a perilous hunt for the killer, while trying to protect Alex, who appears to be next on the murderer’s list.
The mystery begins to unravel when Peter finds a connection between the murder of Sam and two other law enforcement officers, who were all part of an internet crime taskforce. Peter and Alex find themselves alone in the battle for justice and truth when they discover members of the local police department cannot be trusted.  Will Peter piece together the puzzle before Alex is silenced?  While battling to protect Alex, will he be able to continue to conceal his love for her?

Buy Links:

Whiskey Creek Press


Chapter 1

Excerpt 4
Peter glanced toward the EMTs. Alex looked in that same direction to find that they’d loaded Sam onto a gurney and covered him up. She could no longer see his precious face. She watched through cloudy eyes as the EMTs wheeled the gurney through the yard and around the corner of the house. A crater the size of the Grand Canyon filled her chest. Her knees grew weak. Peter grabbed her and held her up. She was sure she would have fallen if he hadn’t.
Alex glanced around her backyard to find several of Sam’s fellow police officers milling around her property. One of the officers was taking photographs, one was writing something on a piece of paper attached to a metal clipboard, and two were inspecting the patio and sliding glass doors leading to their bedroom. They’d begun dusting the door for prints.
She could hear the officers whispering but couldn’t make out what they were saying. Whenever she caught a glimpse of their gaze, their eyes read disbelief.
Alex stared into space. “This can’t be happening. Tell me this isn’t happening. This is small town Wisconsin. We read about this sort of thing, not live it,” she murmured.
Peter squeezed her hand.

About the Author

Valerie is a writer of romantic suspense, contemporary romance, and women’s fiction novels.  She lives in beautiful Door County Wisconsin with her husband and one very spoiled cat.  She loves to read, write, and spend time at her cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  She’s lived her life surrounded by men, three brothers, a husband, and a male Siamese cat who required his own instruction manual.  Keeping up with all the men in her life has turned her into a successful hunter and fisherwoman.
She is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. Additionally, she was a finalist in the 2011 Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, Novellas Need Love, Too! Contest.

Ms. Clarizio’s Links:
Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads