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Friday, December 18, 2015

I'm Eleven Again! (NO SPOILERS)

This is me right now.

Star Wars was a turning point in my life. 

I was eleven that summer, and the world of science fiction had already begun to tempt me to fully join the Nerd Side. I'd read Heinlein's Tunnel in The Sky, loved Lost in Space. My main genre was still fantasy.

Then, I met Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo. It was love at first sight. I can still study the Brothers Hildebrandt poster for hours, the warm, sunset colors illuminating the abs Mark Hamill wished he had. I had a yellow t-shirt with the same iron-on transfer. I wore it until I outgrew it.

I decided I was Luke Skywalker's sister, Diana Skywalker, Jedi Knight in training. (Remember, we didn't know Leia was related yet.) My long suffering friends in the neighborhood, already used to my dead-serious games of make believe based on stuff they had never read, were dragged into my new obsession. My friend Stephanie was Biggs Darklighter's sister, of course, and we trained together in the field at the end of the street, whacking at each other with unstrung plastic archery equipment for light sabers. She was very good natured about the whole thing, but I knew she really wasn't into it.

I saw Star Wars eleven times that summer. All but maybe three or four times, I was alone.

It was then I discovered that sci-fi and fantasy fandom is sometimes a lonely thing. People don't understand you or your obsessions. When I did find somebody who knew what I was talking about, there was this great rush of joy and we could play with my Star Wars action figures and look at my bundles of trading cards. But nobody was really as 'into it' as I was. 

That continued through most of my life. I'd occasionally find friends who were as obsessed as I was about my various fandoms, joined a D&D group, and did other social things with like minded people. But I was always happiest alone, writing my stories that we didn't call fanfic yet, dreaming about traveling other worlds, and re-reading my favorite books. Before the advent of the internet which made it possible for us to find Our People easily, many of us were clandestine, solitary individuals waiting for a sign that it was safe to reveal our secret obsessions.

I found friends who were like me. At last, My People! I married one of them twenty one years ago and we have been happily geeking out for that entire period.

And then, we had children. Muahahahahaha. And we warped them in our image. My daughter and I have conversations in fandomspeak that even my husband doesn't understand. 

Seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens with my family today was a joyful event. The moment that crawl and the brass fanfare came on my face started to hurt from smiling. Best of all was being able to share the 'in jokes' that JJ Abrams and crew inserted into the film. And my son, during an intensely emotional scene, putting his arm around me and saying, "It's OK, Mom." He understands my attachment to these characters, and that I have known them almost literally my entire life. 

It was everything I hoped it would be. Well done, JJ. Thank you.

And I'm eleven again, even though I will turn fifty on Monday. But this time I get to share my obsession with my family and My People, all over the world.  


Friday, October 23, 2015

A study of the habits of subphylum scriba esset

Hypothesis: The height of the pile of laundry is directly proportionate to how the writer is feeling about their craft today. The higher the pile, the higher the confidence and creative flow. The writer is receiving the necessary solitude to achieve writing sublimation. Writer is happy.

Observation: Today is a laundry day. Pile has gone from a scale model of Mt. Everest to a more negligible hill. A teenaged boy is on fall break accompanied by second teenaged boy. Writer seems... cranky.

Hypothesis: The amount of questionable carbohydrates consumed is also directly proportionate to said writer's confidence. The higher the amount consumed, the lower the productivity. Caffeination is critical to productivity in obverse amounts.

Observation: Two convenience store doughnuts have been entirely consumed without discernible gagging. Meanwhile, only one caffeine infusion has been observed with no other source in sight.

Hypothesis: The closer the writer gets to their "Sunday evening" (working weekend option makes Friday Sunday. I--err, I mean some writers-- live their lives backwards from everybody else. Monday is Friday and Friday is Sunday.) Uh, sorry. What was I saying? Sheesh. Never mind.

Observation: Day job dread begins to intrude on concentration and enthusiasm.

Hypothesis: Joy and despair can exist simultaneously within a writer's heart when hearing of multiple critique partners' successes, agent offers and sales on works with which they have been involved.

Observation: Smiles and does happy dance for friends. Sniffles. Pokes inbox with a stick to see if anything falls out.

Conclusion: While scriba esset appears to be a rather fragile subphylum of scriba prospere, their resilience is the stuff of legend. After they are done lying face-down on the bed surrounded by chocolate wrappers, kleenex and occasionally pizza boxes, they can invariably be found pecking away obsessively at the keyboard, scribbling with deranged intensity in spiral notebooks, and composing the latest in a very long list of submissions and queries. The continuation of the species scriba is assured as they continue to nurture and support their own.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Christmas Pets and Kisses Release!

I just finished reading Dante's Gift, Aubrey Wynne's contribution to this anthology. It was a lovely little short romance. Amazing! (Had to include the little blurb for Rolf's Quest as well, because I'm waiting for that one with great anticipation!)

Romance with a touch of magic… 

any time, any place, any century

ChrstPetsKisses_ad2 copy

Ring in the Christmas cheer with sixteen all-new sweet and heart-warming romances from New York Times, USA Today bestselling, and award-winning authors. Don’t miss out on this romantic collection of Christmas tails…uh, tales as adorable pets with fins, paws, feathers, and hooves bring holiday magic with the gift of true love.
ChristmasPetsandKisses3D_5100by2400 copy

Christmas Pets and Kisses

Contemporary/Historical Romance

Available Nov 6, 2015

Dante’s Gift by Aubrey Wynne

AubreyWynn_DantesGift_600x900 copy
Seventy years ago, a collie mix brings two hearts together in war torn Italy. Will their story help their grandson find his own Christmas love?

Coming in early 2016 


Rolf’s Quest

Time is running out for the royal wizard of Henry II. Rolf’s quest: find genuine love and lift the enchantment that has imprisoned his ancestor, Merlin, for centuries. Now he must win Melissa’s heart without the use of magic. She desires him, but will she defy her family and refuse her betrothed? Or will Rolf be doomed to a life of bitterness like his ancestors before him? Coming soon…

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Coming out of the writing cave for a breath!

Hey there! I do exist, I am not just a figment of my own imagination. I think.

September was a busy month both personally and professionally. This weekend I am taking a much needed break to attend the Weston Irish Festival and indulge my deep and abiding love for Celtic music and hard cider. I think I deserve a pint or two after doing two more edits of Truthsong!  I'm also hoping to catch a nap.

Telyn's second adventure is shaping up very nicely with the help of my incredible Alpha, Janean, who whipped my first draft of Truthsong into shape. I have discovered with her help that people shake, nod, and otherwise make head motions far too often in my manuscript.

I cut these actions ruthlessly and came up with some other "show not tell" body language in some cases. Until someone brings things like this to your attention, it's funny how you miss them. Find and replace is an underused tool in my arsenal. I used many things I learned from Carly in conjunction with Janean's input, and the manuscript is now in the hands of some trusted Betas.  I know they will help me work some more editing magic on  the story and plot.

I've started brainstorming Lord of the Wood, which will be the final book in Telyn and Mithrais' story. But it won't be the last we see of them, I promise...ideas are popping up like crazy.

I also need to outline another book in my adult series, the Amaranthine Inheritance chronicles, in the near future. I  started to work again on my fantasy romance, tentatively called In Fire and Blood (that's from a poem by Pablo Neruda. Seriously. Hottest poet EVER.)

Until next time! Really trying to keep up with my blog.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Pitch to Publication: An amazing opportunity

As one of the winners in P2P, I won the chance to work for a month with Carly Bornstein, a freelance editor.

This experience has been one of the most satisfying writer-ly activities I've ever had. Carly was dead-on in her assessments of what NECTAR AND AMBROSIA needed in terms of character development. I'd had trouble with the main character being a bit one dimensional, but her fresh eyes on the manuscript showed me that the seeds were already there for development, conflict, and depth for the two lead characters.

This was where my inexperience as an author showed, unfortunately. Carly's advice to add more prominent character flaws and challenges made my manuscript so much better (and added greatly needed volume to my word count with the scenes I added).

Once again, the community of writers I worked with proved to be a supportive, cheerleading, commiserating bunch of disconcertingly talented people. Two of them have already garnered agent representation on their manuscripts, and there are other manuscripts so beautiful that I can't believe they won't be snapped up immediately.

I've learned that an editor is an invaluable resource, and that for a truly quality manuscript, you can't skip this step.

Huge thanks to Carly for all of her guidance, and to Samantha Fountain for bringing this whole thing to life.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Lots of news!

Wow, have the last couple of weeks been full of emotional highs and lows.

The high points:

1: SONG MAGICK won first place in the Dante Rossetti Awards for YA Fiction in the Fantasy category! So many thanks to Chanticleer Reviews. I can now say that I'm an award winning author, and it feels AWESOME. I'll write more about this when I can think straight.

2: I finished the first draft of TRUTHSONG, and the raw, bleeding pages are in the hands of my alphas for plot and storyline consistency. I've started tweaking the chapters and making them not so much wordsploosh on a page so that I'll be ready to incorporate what they tell me.

3: I've received and turned around my first set of notes with my professional editor Carly Bornstein for NECTAR AND AMBROSIA. She gave me so many valuable suggestions...I spent three days revising (with one day off to spend with my best friend, who was in town from North Carolina!). I should have her in-line editing notes late next week for the next round.

Those were the emotional highs, and they were some big ones!

The lows were that two of the people I love most are battling serious health issues, one in the hospital, and one at home. If you have some good energy or prayers that can be spared, send them our way. We'd appreciate some good juju.

I promise a much better post will come soon. I'm just really tired tonight after working, but wanted to update!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I get to work with an EDITOR!!

OK, yeah, so everybody knows I've kind of become a Twitter contest masochist. I really do love them for the sense of writer community - albeit an arms' length, introverted kind of sense of community.

I've been having trouble finding the sweet spot for pitching this manuscript. I've gotten a lot of really nice compliments from agents I queried, but it hasn't reached out and grabbed anyone, for the most part. This leads me to believe that it could use professional eyes.

I entered Pitch to Publication kind of on a whim. I hadn't really planned to; there were a couple other contests at the same time that I was going to try. I saw one of the editors was hoping for mythology-inspired manuscripts, and with some encouragement from a friend (thank you, Samantha!), I decided to go ahead and enter in hope of the chance to work with a professional editor to revise my manuscript.

Most of the contest aftermaths look like this if we aren't chosen:

We all feel like we're not good enough. It's a major ego blow, because non-writers don't realize just how much courage it takes to put our material out there in the face of almost certain rejection. It's almost never brutal rejection- quite the opposite. Twitter has some of the most supportive souls on it in the form of agents, editors and writers that I've had the good fortune to meet. My CP group, the illustrious Beta Babes, are just some of them.

But this time...THIS time...

My name was on the winners list.

I now have the opportunity to work with editor Carly Bornstein on my manuscript for Nectar and Ambrosia for a month! I am still happy dancing around.

I've already told my family that I will have deadlines I have to meet. They know I value my writing time and they interrupt me at their own peril, LOL. At the end of the month, there will be an agent round where literary agents bid on full manuscript requests. After that: a publisher round for indies and small publishers where they can also bid on the manuscripts. (I had just sent off a full manuscript at a small publisher's request, and respectfully retracted it in order to take advantage of this opportunity to work with Carly. It can only make it better.)

I am having even more confidence that Nectar and Ambrosia will see the light of day in the near future.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

X-Files Geeksplosion

I'm just sitting here this morning, minding my own business and checking Facebook when I saw it.

Mulder and Scully are back.

I was surprised at the visceral, immediate nerdgasm I experienced on hearing that creepy little synthesizer riff. I actually squee'd.

I missed them so much. I was a faithful viewer every week, even when the show got a little--err, iffy, there toward the end. I even saw the movie.

But they're back, a little longer in the tooth, with flashlights blazing in search of The Truth.

And I can't wait. January, baby.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Goodbye vacation, hello Twitter stalking

It's been a great eleven days off. We did absolutely nothing for ten of them! I power slammed the entire season of Sense8 (watch it!), watched 'Chappie', and basically hung out with my kids and hubby at home except for one day trip on Wednesday. It was awesome.

In between, I got stuff ready for two contests. Hi, my name is Lisa, and I'm becoming a contestaholic. Holy cow. I get glued to the TweetDeck feed watching for hints on whether they're talking about my entry when they're gushing. Depending on my state of mind, it's either: 

Or, if it's something that might be mine and it's negative:

The coolest thing about the writers in the Twitterverse is how we all pull together to cheer each other on. 

I have learned so much from the authors and editors and agents I meet during these contests that I don't feel completely guilty for stalking Twitter like a fiend. 

Tomorrow I go back to work *sigh*. 

Good luck to everybody in the #pg70pit and #PitchtoPublication !

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A lack of empathy

I've always been fascinated by characters in books who have an empathic bond with each other- it's probably why my first book naturally featured the concept of lifemates. It was no surprise then, that I've become obsessed with the show 'Sense8' on Netflix, which features a cadre of eight people all over the world who can share thoughts, sensations, skills, and emotional support through a bond that transcends distance and language.

One of the characters said in an episode that he felt their gift was once more common, but humans had found a way to breed it out because it hindered the one thing that humans do best-  it's easier to kill when they feel nothing.

It made an impact on me. How could we possibly hurt another human being as easily as we do now, if we could feel emotions and see through their eyes of others how much pain we inflict? Offhanded, passive aggressive comments. Deliberate emotional manipulation. Domestic violence. Racism and oppression. Warfare.

Many writers have explored this theme. For the most part, the consensus is that species who have managed to develop a sense of empathy are peaceful and at harmony with themselves and others. Trouble usually comes when a less sensitive species who has not developed this gift moves into the neighborhood. The empathic race is inevitably on the losing end of the conflict.

In the series 'Sense8' these gifted individuals are hunted down and experimented upon, treated as dangerous fugitives. There are obvious parallels drawn in the series in our society: racism, poverty, prejudice, the denial of equal rights to same-sex partners to see their loved ones in intensive care. These eight characters face all of these things in addition to persecution for being something a little more than human.

I have often noted with despair that the trait of empathy is indeed being bred out: that people have somehow come to believe that compassion makes people weak. The drive to succeed, to be right at all costs, to defend our own rigidly held beliefs has become more important than the welfare of the fellow inhabitants on this planet.

It makes me very sad that things as small as the amount of melanin in one's skin, whether we believe or don't believe in a higher power, or check red or blue boxes on election day cause such dissent among human beings. Indeed, there are some who ridicule people like me as "bleeding liberal", "hippie tree hugger" because I am more a humanist than anything: I feel that our primary reason for existing is to take care of each other. Heaven forbid that we do that. It might force us to feel something uncomfortable.

Without empathy, it becomes impossible to care for others, yet the same individuals will complain bitterly that nobody helps them out. It's hard to do when it isn't encouraged by society. Movements like the random acts of kindness show us that empathy is still there, but we've fallen out of practice. We need reminders to be decent human beings.

Human beings need reminders to be human. If that isn't irony, what is?

I'll continue to look forward to this show for the fulfillment of that fascination I have with human connection that transcends speech, religion, sexual preference, race, or geography.

And I'll mourn the fact that it's still considered science fiction.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Music is magic

    Music has always been an enormous part of my life. Each year, it seemed there was a "song of the summer" for me, usually the one I heard most at the community pool. One year, it was Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street", which remains an all time favorite of mine. Another year, it was Kansas "Carry On My Wayward Son", a favorite I now share with my daughter, who discovered it via 'Supernatural'.

     I love sharing common music with my kids, and when they were younger, we'd sing along to Owl City or songs from 'Phineas and Ferb' in the car. My son and I now sing together to Fall Out Boy's "Immortals" and "Centuries"--a mark of his changing taste in music as he grows up more quickly than Mom's heart can stand. My daughter and I share Broadway soundtracks, and the song "For Good" from 'Wicked' becomes more poignant each time we sing it, as I face the fact that she is now an adult.

     Back in the dark ages (the 80's), I used to wish there was a way that I could pick and choose the music I wanted without having to buy the whole cassette tape or record album. CD's came along, and with them the ability to burn music, but it was the advent of MP3 that for me was a gift from the gods. I can have all my 80's New Wave favorites like Thomas Dolby, Peter Murphy, Madness, and Duran Duran right alongside my Rush and Incubus, and my newer favorites like Of Monsters and Men, Fall Out Boy and 30 Seconds to Mars cued up in between. My childhood in the 70's is represented by John Denver and The Carpenters. (I am not ashamed! Those 8 track tapes in the van on our long vacations defined my need for car music.)

     The streaming music function on my phone is the best thing that ever happened to me. I can't even drive to the store without my music. I have a subscription to Rhapsody, and whenever I  hear something I like I just add it to my playlist. (Most recent addition: Bastille's "Pompeii" and "Bad Blood".)

    Having my favorite songs at my fingertips saves my life on those long workday road trips when my next patient is 60 miles away. I can sing at the top of my lungs to save my sanity after the second visit to pronounce a death in two hours.

    But more and more now, it's a way of recapturing youth: my own, and my children's. With these songs, I will always be twelve and on vacation with my parents and brother, fourteen at the pool staring down at the blue water from the high dive board, or sixteen and watching the first days of MTV.

     Or in the car five short years ago, when my kids were still little in my eyes.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

New Yoooooork, Neeeeeeew Yoooooork! The chaperones never sleep...

     I apologize for not keeping up with my blog--I went on an adventure! Last week, I helped chaperone my beautiful daughter and ninety other  high school students to New York City for a music competition. Their chorale and symphony orchestra swept the competition, thank you very much!
     We had a whirlwind trip - twenty four hours on a bus there, hit the ground running, and never stopped until we boarded the bus for another twenty four hour ride to go back to Kansas. I have always considered myself a "city girl", but I realized that I have absolutely no idea what real city life is like. Manhattan is an amazing world in and of itself, and if I'd had the chance to visit any of the other boroughs, I'm certain I would have been just as lost.
    In Times Square, the press of bodies was unbelievable. I felt like a mother duck with my train of ducklings--we seriously had hold of the jackets of the person in front of us so we didn't lose anybody, but we still lost three in the bowels of a gift shop on the way to the M&M/Hershey store. Fortunately, we didn't leave any students behind, even the boys ogling the pretty street character wearing not much more than body paint and a smile.
    It was an amazing trip, but I have to admit that New York has now lost the mystique it once held for me. After all, the buildings and skyscrapers are just buildings, people are just people, and taxi drivers are freaking insane. I felt that way after visiting London many years ago--it made me sad in a way, but at the same time I learned that all over the world, people live in cities, work, play, fight, love, and plead for your spare change.
    We're all the same, no matter where we live. Let that be a lesson for me in my writing: No matter what world I'm writing in, people have a common core. The dialect might be a little different (like the difference between Long Island and Lawn Guyland), but inside, the language of humanity is identical.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

New release from Valerie Clarizio! Crazed Reckoning: A Nick Spinelli Mystery

My friend Val has a new book coming out today! Nick Spinelli is one of the sexiest detectives out there...check him out! If you go to one of the blogs there is also a Rafflecopter giveaway!

New Release & Giveaway – Crazed Reckoning, a Nick Spinelli Mystery

Title: Crazed Reckoning, a Nick Spinelli Mystery (Novella #3 in the Nick Spinelli Romance Mystery Series – Saint Patrick’s Day setting)
Publisher: Melange Books, LLC
Release Date: March 12, 2015


Giveaway: In celebration of the release of Crazed Reckoning, a Nick Spinelli Mystery I’m giving away copies of Covert Exposure, a Nick Spinelli Mystery!  You can nab your copy here at Smashwords for a limited time (MOBI, PDF, or EPUB):
Sale: To further celebrate, Craving Vengeance, a Nick Spinelli Mystery is on sale for a limited time at Smashwords and Amazon for only $2.99:
Giveaway #2: Visit the following blogs during the March 12th Release Day Blast and enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win an Amazon gift card!
Read Our Thoughts Book Blog  Spotlight/Excerpt
books are love Spotlight/ Excerpt
Those Crazy Book Chicks Spotlight/ Excerpt
mousey books Spotlight/ Excerpt
Kishan Paul Spotlight/ Excerpt
Author Sandra Love Spotlight/ Excerpt
Amanda’s Blog! Spotlight
Padme’s Library Interview
Books N Pearls Interview 
Dahlia Donovan Spotlight
Thank you all for visiting and your continued support!



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Post-contest musings

It’s amazing how the advent of Twitter and Facebook has created a community where aspiring writers are able to support and promote each other.

I’m currently participating in #AgentMatch, hosted by the dynamic Samantha Fountain @FountainWriter.  During this event I’ve made a number of new Twitter friends, traded manuscripts with one whose book I was dying to read, and have watched as other enormously deserving writers’ queries have received requests from agents…

…And listened to the deafening silence on my entry in regard to requests. It’s always a humbling thing, having poured so much creative energy into my manuscript and having revised the query at least fifty times. I went into this with a calm heart, because I believe in this manuscript, and I know that eventually it will see the light of day through an agent’s notice or a small press’s vote of confidence.  But it’s still a little stinging to the ego when your work is passed over.

Those of us who haven’t seen any action on our entries (most of us fantasy and sci-fi authors—drat the market, anyway!) have banded together, and have been reminded why we do what we do by the positive support offered from our peers.

We love to write.

We each have a dream to share our work with others. For me, it’s a desire to give somebody else the joy I experience as a reader, of becoming immersed in a world that exists only in imagination, to live vicariously through the characters and as a result dream up fantasies of their own. Maybe even be inspired to write, as I was.

I wondered aloud in the Twitter-verse about what writers did before social media to support each other. I can imagine lots of lonely nights in front of a typewriter or a legal pad, scribbling away, with no way to reach out immediately to other authors and say, “Do you ever just feel like giving up?” “Do you have any tips on how to polish up this chapter?”

It’s no wonder there’s a stereotype (still relevant, if references to wine are any indication in the Twitter writing community!) of the lonely scribe, drinking at their desk as they peruse their latest draft. It’s still a solitary business, creating worlds on paper. Non-writing spouses don’t always understand the creative need; children know Mom or Dad love their computer a lot and are grumpy if writing time is interrupted. Those of us who have supportive friends and loved ones are very lucky, but at the end of the day, it’s still just us.

And only another writer, one who feels the spur of the muse, can truly understand the drive, the joy, and the disappointment.

So, as I revise this query for the bazillionth time in preparation for a new round, I am grateful for the support and friendship of other authors. We can do this.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Love Least Expected

Check out this wonderful new book from my friend and mentor Aubrey Wynne and eight other authors. It debuted yesterday at number 15 on Amazon! Some sweet and steamy romance stories, that's for sure... Can't wait for some of these teasers that are turning into full-length books very soon!

Romance with a touch of magic… 

any time, any place, any century

LLE-Banner-Ad copy RWA


Youtube Trailer
rolf'squest cover tree and title

Rolf’s Quest

Time is running out for the royal wizard of Henry II. Rolf’s quest: find genuine love and lift the enchantment that has imprisoned his ancestor, Merlin, for centuries. Now he must win Melissa’s heart without the use of magic. She desires him, but will she defy her family and refuse her betrothed? Or will Rolf be doomed to a life of bitterness like his ancestors before him.

Other books by Aubrey Wynne

      merryxmashenry2-1-1    P E book award
Henry, a shy and talented artist, moonlights as a security guard at a museum and loses his heart to a beautiful, melancholy woman in a painting. As his obsession grows, he finds a kindred soul who helps him in his search for happiness. On Christmas Eve, Henry dares to take a chance on love and fulfill his dream. Published my Melange Books, LLC
 Pete's award  Petes promo cover
Pete McNutt needs customers for his new business. Spring has arrived and it’s prime time Privy Season. After much consideration, he refines his sales pitch and heads to the monthly meeting of the Women’s Library Association. Published Alfie Dog Fiction
Final cover Cliche 
 The evil Queen Lucinda exacts revenge on a royal poet by casting a spell of never-ending clich├ęs upon the kingdom. Will the clever King Richard thwart his stepmother’s magic and save the good people of Maxim? Test your literary knowledge and enjoy an entertaining spoof on fairytales. Published by Alfie Dog Fiction

The Editing Hall

   bigstock-Vintage-Inscription-Made-By-Ol-64649878 copy    editor Top 10
Second place in the Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2014

Making your literary dreams come true.