Thursday, April 30, 2015

National Poetry Month: Susan Porterfield, The Last Azars in Kousba

Today is the last day of National Poetry Month. So why not go out with a bang? Today's poet is near/dear to me.

My love of poetry and the written word started well before college but I have my college professors to thank for developing my passions.

Here is my professor, Susan Porterfield, reading some of her work. Enjoy!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Review: HIT by Delilah S Dawson

This weekend I attended my first release party at the charming Fox Tale Book Shop here in town. The party was for the quirky-cool Delilah S. Dawson. She’s the author of the Blud series (an interesting twist on vampires, carnies, clockwork, and steamy romance), Servants of the Storm (a dark YA set in Savannah which is totally on my TBR pile), and most recently HIT: a YA story about a teenage assassin.

Delilah spoke for about an hour on world building/craft before signing copies of HIT for each person in attendance. Oh, and there was cake! Yummo!

But enough about the party, what about the book?

Here are the details:

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Released: April 14, 2015
Audience: YA
Tag line: In order to save her mother, a teen is forced to become an indentured assassin in this sizzling dystopian thriller.
Disclosure: I purchased my own copy and was not compensated for this review

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

The cover is so perfect for this book:

Here is the blurb:

No one reads the fine print.

The good news is that the USA is finally out of debt. The bad news is that we were bought out by Valor National Bank, and debtors are the new big game, thanks to a tricky little clause hidden deep in the fine print of a credit card application. Now, after a swift and silent takeover that leaves 9-1-1 calls going through to Valor voicemail, they’re unleashing a wave of anarchy across the country.

Patsy didn’t have much of a choice. When the suits showed up at her house threatening to kill her mother then and there for outstanding debt unless Patsy agreed to be an indentured assassin, what was she supposed to do? Let her own mother die?

Patsy is forced to take on a five-day mission to complete a hit list of ten names. Each name on Patsy’s list has only three choices: pay the debt on the spot, agree to work as a bounty hunter, or die. And Patsy has to kill them personally, or else her mom takes a bullet of her own. Since yarn bombing is the only anarchy in Patsy’s past, she’s horrified and overwhelmed, especially as she realizes that most of the ten people on her list aren’t strangers. Things get even more complicated when a moment of mercy lands her with a sidekick: a hot rich kid named Wyatt whose brother is the last name on Patsy’s list. The two share an intense chemistry even as every tick of the clock draws them closer to an impossible choice.

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My thoughts:

HIT is a fast, enthralling read full of gripping and visceral action.

Surprisingly, the violence is the edgiest thing about the book. There isn’t a lot of profanity (if any – nothing jumps out in my memory) and the kissy scenes are lusty without being graphic. In most respects this book is tame….well, except for the killing. And boy there is a LOT of killing. I’m not talking like *bang-fade-to-black* type killing were we assume the MC killed someone. Nope. This killing is right in your face from the first chapter.

The best part about HIT is the action: It’s real without being too gross, It’s fast without seeming rushed, and it’s easy to imagine. HIT unfolds so visually and realistically that you can practically see it as a movie.

I also loved the concept: Bank Owned America. It's a creepy idea that made my skin crawl.

Okay, okay, so we know the concept and action in HIT is awesome, but what about the characters? Well, Patsy is a tough but quirky girl (She yarn bombs stuff – I didn’t even know that was a thing but I’m totally into it) which makes her accessible. And her love interest, Wyatt, is kind and generous and flawed and adorable. *Sigh*. Oh, and the puppy, Matty, is absolutely perfect.

When I finished HIT two things immediately crossed my mind:
1. My hubby would love this book (did I mention my hubby is reading it right now?)

2. I MUST know what happens next *makes grabby hands*

All in All, I give HIT five out of five screaming cats – this book was a fabulous, action-packed adventure. I Loved it.

Want to know more about the Author? Visit her on Twitter or on her website.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

TBT: Discipline - You gotta have it

I was recently reminded how much of the 'art' of writing is actually 'hard work.' I think it's easy to slip into the idyllic belief that storytelling, craft, and writing come easily to some. Heck, maybe it does. But the vast majority of writers I know and follow work hard. Very. Hard. Every. Day.

So, for today's TBT I'm sharing Discipline: You gotta have it.



When you tell people you are a writer they generally react one of two ways: either they perk up and ask if you’ve published anything (believing that publishing is a giant cash cow) or they recoil from you like your disease is contagious.

Some people think writers/artists are worthless and lazy. We all live with our parents or leech off our spouses. We’re dirty because we never shower or take care of our selves. We're willing to just let the world run right over us like this cat:

Most people think we’re all maniacal drug addicts or alcoholics and if you get too close to us our disease of creativity may just spread. And with every stereo type there is likely some truth to those about writers. Well, except the contagious thing.

And although there is a stigma on those who choose creativity as a career it seems self pub or indie pub writers get it the worst.

But we can all agree that writer stereotypes are not universally true. Even though I’ve been known to skip a shower on days when I’m on a roll. I mean, yeah, who’s going to see/smell me when I look like this:

Well, other than my husband. But he’s stuck with me. For writer or worse, right?

All that aside, I’d argue that the successful artists (however you define success) are anything but lazy.

The hottest buzzword around the pub industry is ‘writer entrepreneur’ implying that a writer is actually a self-employed, small business owner. They are the CEO, CFO, COO, CIO, and VIP of Marketing. They are labor and management. I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds like a TON of hard work.

Avid tweeter Leigh Ann Kopans, author of the upcoming self pub’d ONE, has recently caused some waves with her posts about the work and cost that goes into launching in the self pub world. I think she later redacted her posts because I cannot find them now - but if you read them you know, they were very detailed.

Ultimately, I see hard work and discipline everyday in the pub world. These are skills, people. Hard work and discipline are learned behaviors. Sometimes these skills are handed down from their parents or pounded into us by teachers and coaches. But where we really polish our discipline is at the Day Job, or DJ as I call it.

It takes discipline to do just about anything DJ related because, let’s face it, most of us hate our DJ’s. It takes discipline to go to work, let alone actually do work. It’s easy to hate the DJ and view it as an obstacle to further chasing our dreams of becoming pub’d writers. But while we trudge through the frustration, challenges, and rigor of the DJ we are honing the ability to work hard, manage conflicting priorities, push through obstacles, and overcome.

Writers of all kinds (pre pub, self pub, small press pub, trad pub) need discipline to make it in this industry. Let’s hear it for the Day Job for helping us along our journey.

How has discipline helped you along the path to publication?

If you liked this post check out these Day Job posts:

Day Job - Stability

Day Job - Villains

Monday, April 20, 2015

National Poetry Month: Lily Myers, Shrinking Women

Several months ago one of my favorite authors, Delilah S Dawson, posted a link to a video. Now, I'm not in the habit of clicking on vid links - because, yeah - but I clicked on this link.

What I found was the most amazing, talented, and wonderful poet performing her work. I watched the video over and over again until the words had soaked into my bones. Then I sent the video to my sister and my mother. The poem was that good.

So, in honor of National Poetry Month I want to share the poem that blew my hair back. Shrinking Women by Lily Myers.

I hope you enjoy:

Monday, April 13, 2015

2015 Quarterly Goal Check

It's April already and for most of you that means you are one quarter deep in 2015. Woo hoo. But for me (due to my shortened goal year) I am Half. Way. Through!! Omg. How did this happen?

Before I spiral into a tornado of doubt and panic (my writing goal time is half over!) I need to pause, take a breath, and examine my activity thus far.

My goals for 2015 were:

Professional: Improving Craft

Take one online writing classes before Aug 2015 – On track but not yet completed. I’ve seen a few that looked interesting but budget restraints kept me from enrolling. Luckily, I’m a member or RWA and the organization offers classes online for members on the cheap. I’ve spied some good ones coming up.

Query at least one project before Aug 2015 – On track but not yet completed. However, the project I’ve targeted for querying is nearly polished. Have not lost hope yet.

Complete 2 revisions before Aug 2015 – On track but not yet completed - 1 project revised. Another one on the schedule.

Professional: Idea Generating

Plot NA sequels before Aug 2015 – Done!!! Yep, I plotted them and I'm in love with the characters. I'm really looking forward to writing them.

Plot YA sequels before Aug 2015 – On track but not yet completed.

Plot UF sequels before Aug 2015 – On track but not yet completed.

Plot any shiny new ideas before Aug 2015 – On track but not yet completed.

Professional: Efficiency

Define writing time (once law school class schedule is finalized) – Schedule still unknown.

Research alternate platforms before Aug 2015 – Done. I haven’t decided if I’m going to move from Blogger to Tumblr yet but I feel like I’m leaning that way.

Better integrate social media presence before Aug 2015 – Done. I’ve linked my pinterest and goodreads to my blog. So that’s nice.

Personal: Fitness

Run a 10k before Aug 2015 – Not yet completed.

Run 2 or more 5k’s before Aug 2015 – On track. One down, one more to go.

Define law school fitness time (once class schedule is finalized) – Schedule still unknown.

Personal: FUN! (Because I’ve heard my 1L year of law school might not be fun)

Go on a Caribbean cruise before Aug 2015 – Booked!!! Can’t wait.

Visit Alaska (one of my bucket list items) before Aug 2015 –Booked. Can’t wait.

Go camping or backpacking before Aug 2015 (a local fun thing that we sometimes forget to do because we get ‘too’ busy) – on track.

Go tubing/float trip before Aug 2015 (another local fun thing that we sometimes forget to do because we get ‘too’ busy) – on track.

Personal: Family

Take at least one highway ride on the bike with Handsome Jack – Planned for May! Going on a full out ride with his RC. Should be fun.

Visit STL before Aug 2015 – On track.

Visit FL before Aug 2015 – Done.

So a lot of my goals are not yet completed. However, I feel like they are reasonable and manageable in the time remaining before I start school. I’m not going to restate any goals at this time.

How are your writing goals coming? Need to make an adjustment? That’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve been there. Check out my goal restatement post here.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

TBT: Avoiding Neckbeards - aka setting new goals

Remember earlier in the year when I stated my goals for 2015? I also stated my year would be shortened due to my upcoming start in law school (omg, omg, it's really happening). So April is my 'midway point' of my shortened goal year.

Soon I will be posting a recap of my progress thus far and restating any goals that need to be adjusted. But before I get to that, I wanted to take some time and review the importance of setting goal in general.

For today's TBT I'm sharing Avoiding Neckbeards - aka setting new goals. This post was originally written way back when I was laid off from a particularly cray cray Day Job. I felt out of my element (I'd never been laid off before) and I wasn't sure where to go next. So goal setting became my light in the darkness.



Now that I find myself paroled from Corporate America I have a lot more time on my hands. Time for reading, writing, and blogging. I can no longer use the go-to excuse:

But time can also be a problem. A person can literally drown in too much free time. I’ve seen it. Not pretty. See neckbeard below:

I'm about two days away from being that guy. So I feel like it’s time for a new set of writing goals. Call these short term goals – since the length of my parole is undetermined. And I think it’s important to articulate the non-writing goals along with the writing goals. Why not? Right?

New Short Term Goals:

1. Wake up at a decent time – no sleeping in

2. Work out regularly (it always sparks ideas). I’m thinking running, or Zumba, or something

3. Write 5 days a week for 4 weeks

4. Spend time at the pool, because, you know, who doesn’t want to spend time at the pool?

5. Post three blogs a week

6. Clean one item (floors, counters, bathroom, etc) in the house every other day

7. Finish draft of WIP

8. Read, read, read

9. Go to bed at a decent time each night – no staying up too late to finish goal 5, 7, or 8

I’m sure I’m going to miss a few of these goals. I'm going to go ahead and say the chores goal is a long shot. Unless there are cute kittens available to assist.

Anyone who diets knows that there are days when your resolve crumbles and you just pig out on chocolate and potato chips (wait, chocolate covered potato chips sound really good right now. Are those a thing?).

Losing your willpower for one day, or even a few days, doesn’t have to derail your goals. I mean you wouldn’t get rid of your car if it got one flat tire.

The point of setting goals is to whisper the ideas out loud. Document them. When you breathe life into them they gain momentum and momentum is a powerful thing.

What do you do to gain momentum?

Need more on how our Day Jobs can make us better writers?

Check out this post about taking criticism.

Or this post on Stability and Creativity.

Or this post on Discipline - you gotta have it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

My Thoughts on Nice-guy (and girl) Sexism

Maggie Stiefvater posted a beautiful rant detailing the anatomy of her sexism related rage (not specifically in publishing). And then more women followed her lead: Olivia Hinebaugh posted about Kindness and Safety, and Ava Jae posted about what sexism is.

You should read these posts in their entirety because they are wonderful, insightful, and poignant. In fact, they got me thinking about the sexism in my life.

First, I should say that I don’t immediately identify as a woman. I am a woman. And I even like a lot of female things. I dress like a woman and I live my life as a woman. But when I think about who I am I don’t think of myself as a girl first. Never have. I think of myself as strong, creative, honorable person. A friend. A warrior and a softie. I never think of myself as female first and then strong second. I just don’t.

I suspect this is true for a lot of people. Certainly there are those who identify first and foremost as ‘woman’ or ‘man’ but that’s not me.

So I don’t tend to dwell on issues like sexism until I’m confronted with them either through stories like Maggie’s or my own experiences. The anatomy of my rage is a lot like hers. It started when I was young and boys took liberties. They touched. They stared. They made comments about the size of my breasts. My nicknames were always sexual in nature:Foursome, Big Boob Girl, Mouth, etc.

And let me be clear, every man in my life did not treat me this way. I had male friends growing up who were honorable, kind, and sincere. Friends that valued me for me, without the assumption that we would sleep together. Men who didn’t care about my femaleness. They were the exception.

But what troubles me the most, in light of Maggie’s rant, and the rants that followed hers, is that we are systematically taught that sexism, in all its forms (whether an aggressive, possessive advance or something as subtle as wage inequality) is something that we are supposed to giggle at. Something we are supposed to turn away from quietly. Don’t make a scene. Don’t stand up. Just turn the other cheek.

We are taught that the problem is ours. If a guy grabs your breast while hitting on you it’s a compliment. If a stranger shoves his hand down your pants while you're in pit at a concert it’s a compliment. If the person you're dancing with at a bar pulls your top down and exposes your breasts in full view of other people it means your are...what? Hot? Sexy? If you’re offended to find your friends' older brother is feeling you up while you sleep, then that’s on you baby. If you aren’t making as much as the comparable man in your same position it must be because he is doing a better job.

But, as Maggie so deftly identified, the most insidious form of sexism comes from the nice guy or girl. We can all agree that the guy fingering you without consent is a bad-guy sexist. An obvious villain. But what about the sexism from nice-guys?

Around Halloween last year I attended a party hosted by a male friend of my husband’s. I should point out that my hubby is a computer nerd and the company he works for is a small tech business. His coworkers are nice men. Respectable men with hilarious opinions and the occasional rude comment. The party was mostly work colleagues and their SO’s. A few single men and only two single women. I’ve grown up with brothers and spent a lot of time hanging around guys. Typical guy behavior doesn't surprise me. What surprised me was when these nice, respectable men, who I count as friends, began sexually harassing a single woman at the party. It wasn’t overt. It was flirty, at first. But then it got out of hand. Publicly, one man kept flipping the girls skirt up. She said stop. She pleaded again and again but the man kept flipping her skirt up and laughing. And the room, of mostly guys, was cheering him on.

That’s nice-guy sexism.

And even more shocking was that the other women witnessing along side me were calling this poor girl – who obviously didn’t want this type of attention – a slut.

That’s nice-girl sexism.

I wanted to scream. I wanted to yell at this guy to stop. I wanted to tell the women they should do something instead of judging the poor girl. But I did nothing. I didn’t move a muscle because I was afraid.

I was recently traveling for my day job with male coworkers. We attended a social event with an open bar. After a long night of networking with drinks men started hitting on me. One colleague, a Vice President in my company, grabbed my ass so forcefully that he lifted my butt cheek up, shook it, and squeezed it.

My immediate reaction was to run. Get away from the group as fast as possible without drawing attention to myself or making a scene. So when one of my coworkers stepped outside for a smoke break I followed. We chatted about work in general and our frustrations with recent changes. When he was done smoking he asked if I wanted to go up.

I shrugged, assuming going up meant going up to our floor (we had rooms on the same floor). I followed him as we continued to chat about work. He stopped at his room and invited me in to “continue our discussion.” I followed.

As soon as the door shut behind me he grabbed my face and tried to kiss me. I pulled away and explained that I was married (which he already knew) and that this wasn’t going to happen.

It should have ended there but it didn’t.

Instead, he began bargaining. Telling me we could do everything except sex. That he wouldn’t tell anyone. That his girlfriend wouldn’t care.

I stayed in the room. I didn’t run. I didn’t punch him in the teeth. I stayed and tried to calm things down to make sure no offense was taken in my rejection. I stayed so I didn't make a scene even though we were alone and the advance was completely unwanted and unencouraged. I stayed to make sure everything was okay. There was a lot of awkward laughing and apologies from me to him.

I said “I’m sorry if anything I did misled you.”

That’s bullshit. That’s infuriating. Why did I feel the need to apologize? And when I went back to my room I began cataloging all the things I did right – I didn’t wear revealing clothing, I didn’t drink more than I could handle, I didn’t flirt. Why did I feel the need to justify my behavior? Why did I feel the need to prove I didn’t do anything wrong?
It’s self-inflicted nice-guy sexism. Or in this case, nice-girl sexism.

And in the end, I couldn’t explain my need to smooth things over. I couldn’t explain my need to not make a scene. Because there isn’t one single answer.

It’s court battles over whether or not a rape victim was ‘asking for it.’ It’s movies and television and music and books with the message that women are somehow lesser. It’s female politicians being judged on their appearance instead of their message. It’s women getting paid less to do the same job as a man. It's women being told they must be a fake geek because they're too pretty to be a real geek.

It’s a lifetime of a million tiny actions and inactions that have coalesced into the palpable sexism we live with.

The night I was harassed while traveling for work I typed an email to my best friend, who is a night owl and would likely still be up, detailing the night’s events. His response:

“You should have known better.”

That’s nice-guy sexism.

Nice guys and girls are contributing to sexism every day. It’s the nice-guy/-girl sexism that chills me because there isn’t a clear villain to burn. It’s not one damaged person in a sea of undamaged people. Nice-guy sexism is in all of us and I am angry about it. I am angry about living in this tapestry of subtle and not-so-subtle hate every day. But mostly I’m angry that I haven’t done enough about it. I should have stood up for that girl at the party. I should have stood up for myself on that business trip. I should do more. I should say more.

I will start with this post. I will start by questioning the status quo. I will start by not listening to my fear. I will start by trying.

Monday, April 6, 2015

March 2015 Month In Reiew

**Recapping my monthly progress serves two purposes: first, it keeps me honest and accountable to my goals; second, it allows me to truly capture just how much work I’ve done over the last year. So let the recapping begin!**


It’s that time again. Time for a month in review. March blew past me as I kept busy.

I’m in the place in my revisions where I’m slicing, stitching, and slicing again. It’s a bit maddening, actually. As soon as I’ve fixed one scene there’s another, lurking, just behind it. But it’s good work, worth doing. Each time I stitch a scene back together I feel like the story is better and stronger because of it.

Running was sidelined in March. I developed a strange pain in my big toe (the joint where the toe meets your foot). It came on suddenly and was so bad that by the end of the day I couldn’t walk normally. After staying off my foot for the weekend, and with no improvement, I went to the doctor.

The Orthopedic doc saw nothing on the x-ray (woot woot) and decided that the pain was caused by a ganglion cyst on or near the joint. I was relieved it wasn’t a bunion or arthritis. A course of steroids helped clear it all up and I was able to get back to running.

And March saw its own law school activity. I attended an ‘accepted student’s reception’ where a bunch of potential new students get to mingle with the Deans, current students, and alums.

The event was at a firm downtown and I have the worst luck with downtown ATL driving. I got lost and was late…but it was still an enjoyable experience. I talked to a few other admitted students – most of which were planning to attend part-time, like me – and a few current students. It was a cool event.

The month wrapped with a fun trip out of town to visit the in-laws in their adorable 55+ community. We had a blast running a 5k with them and their friends. Afterward, we went to a dance at their community center which was surprisingly fun.

With all this going on it might be hard to imagine I was able to get any goal related work in – but I did. Here are the details for March 2015:

1 Out of Town visit (including a rockin' dance)
1 5k with family and friends
1 strange, sudden foot problem - later resolved (thank goodness)
9 gym workouts (including elliptical/treadmill and personal training) – (less than my usual, due to my toe)
4 books read for fun (and there are still more burning up my Kindle I’m dying to start)

And on top of all of that I still had words. *does happy dance* This month’s grand total is 11,595 words. This brings my total ‘tracked’ word count for 2015 to 24,359! Not too shabby. I’m off to a good start. (note: I gave up on tracking every word during revisions - it is madness. Now I only track if I have net gain).

And as for miles, this month’s grand total is 16.6 miles, bringing my total ‘tracked’ mileage to 112.3 miles. I’m just thrilled that my foot is okay.

All in all, March was a good month with progress made. I’m still feeling good about my start to 2015. #NeverGiveUp #NeverSurrender

Remember, my goal year is shortened in 2015 due to school starting in August. So next month I my 'mid point' in which I will be recapping and fine-tuning my goals. Stay tuned for more goal related posts.

How are your writing goals coming along?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

National Poetry Month: Jeffery McDaniel

If you follow this blog you know I have a deep love for poetry - the music of the written word. Even as a child I globbed onto verse with chubby, dirty, hands. It's my first love.

And with April being National Poetry Month I feel it is right to kick it off with one of my favorite contemporary poets, Jeffery McDaniel.

Watch this video of Jeffery performing his poem, The Ben Franklyn of Monogamy. Enjoy.

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