Monday, December 30, 2013

What To Do Between Christmas and New Years

If you're anything like me, you run full tilt from October through December. More food to buy and prepare, more people to contact, more company and more stuff in general. The day after Christmas, you can generally find me unwrapped and under the tree. Comatose.

So between Christmas and New Years, I'm slower than a sloth. What I like to do is see movies. The Hobbit was on my list, so I checked that off. I thoroughly enjoyed that movie. It's so much better than Lord of the Rings. Go see it. Eat popcorn and let Hollywood cinematography wash away the holiday sludge.

I even resort to looking up trivia to give my brain its well deserved rest between the change from one year to the next.  Here are a few I thought were  interesting.

Did you know that Rudolf Valentino's real name was Rodolpho d'Antonguolla? What? How do you pronounce that?

And Kirk Douglas? You'll never guess what his real name was before Hollywood polished it up. Issur Danielovitch Densky. Yep. No lie.

As to the Oreo Cookie: It first appeared in 1912 and the source of the name is a mystery. Most likely it was a pleasing sound to some long forgotten person in a marketing department. 

There. I feel better already with nothing but trivia to consider. How about you? How do you refresh yourself after the rush of November and December?  See you again on January 8 when the ISWG hits the blogOshpere for the first time in 2014

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

50 States of Pray


2013 was a year of loss for our family. My mom died. My son was in a serious accident and is still in ICU.

While I never imagined two back to back catastrophes like this, I've learned to live with them and to appreciate my family more than ever before.

So out of death and out of crisis come simple lessons: treasure the moment because that is all you have and treasure the people in your life while you can.

My sincerest thanks to all of my followers and my readers. I appreciate you and I value your part in my life. May you share your holiday with those you love and my 2014 see your dreams come true. 

Here are others who have set aside a few moments on this December 24. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

How The Composers for Relief Works


THE MUSIC PART: Over 30 gifted composers hailing from 16 countries collaborated on an inspirational album, initiated by Peter Ebbinghaus to raise funds for the victims of this catastrophe. All profits from the album, and companion ebook, will go to Gawad Kalinga (“give care”), supporting the efforts in distributing food and rebuilding the devastated lives and damaged cities across the Philippines. More information on the album can be found at the Soundtracks and Trailer Music site.

THE WRITING PART: In the spirit of collaboration, 28 writers from across the globe will join me in discovering the stories of triumph lurking in the notes of each track, waiting for us to pull it into words. The final tales will be compiled into a companion ebook anthology for the album, with all proceeds going to Gawad Kalinga.

So I wrote to this sound track called AURORA by Renan Javier. I thought it was beautiful, and I'd love it if you'd listen to it as you read my contribution. Then let me know if I did his music justice. I'm used to reviews, so let me have it. 


There was only silence. Night followed night, and earth coiled against Chaos and darkness. The people drew away from openings and burrowed deep inside their shelters. 
Waiting, while their hearts stretched to breaking and their minds wandered to madness.

The elders remembered the Promise and tried to pass its hope to the youth, but the youth were deaf and the youth were blind. Why did they need to hear or see in a silent, dark world?  

Then when they feared they’d come to the edge of their time, notes of change whispered to the elders. The elders crept forward into the streets. Listening. Watching. Could this be the Promise, the Promise that might be kept? Would those faint notes come together to create the music they once knew? Was there to be an Early-Born light again? If so, would this wonder from the world of before be too late in returning? 

In their old memories they heard the silk of her saffron-yellow robe flutter just out of sight with only a hint of her coming. They saw her rose-tinted arms and fingers spread wide across the East. That had been her domain. Countless times she had reclaimed it and sent her pale sister to the other side of the world. Her passion had warmed the land and drawn life from the seed. 

But that was before man scattered her home in the high latitudes. Before he had stolen her warmth and contorted her solar winds. Before he had given sway to Old God Chaos.

Now tentatively hopeful, these elders knelt in communion and lifted their faces in the direction they knew from the days of their youth. And there they waited until they heard the stirring of light in their hearts. Out of the darkness came the stroke of a bow on strings and a gentle drumming and the lightest of musical key stokes. Then for the first time in generations, a faint rosy line glowed on the horizon, and, as that light rose higher in the sky, silhouettes appeared. The elders hadn’t seen anything in silhouette for so long, and at first didn’t understand what they were looking at. When they did, they wept. 

The remains of their cities. 
The remains of their forests. 
In the distance, they glimpsed a shimmer across a vast surface they had called the sea when they had been young.

And then the Goddess of Morning Light fell over them and challenged them. “Teach your children about the music that comes with the light. Let them hear. Let them see. Let them be human again.”

And the elders knew they had only a short time to meet her challenge. Their lives were close to ending, so they drew the youth from their shelters, and they began to teach the lessons of long ago. Lessons they prayed would open young ears, turn their eyes to the heavens and restore the order that sound and light could bring to the world.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Ketchup


This week I'm celebrating getting through November. It was one rotten month and it's usually a month that I truly enjoy. I'm also celebrating surviving with some of my sense of humor in tact. That's it this week. Oh, yes. I'm celebrating that Blogger let me do something without exploding more than it did. Thanks GARY and PENN Y.

Hope you'll LINKY up for this wonderful Celebration or visit others who have joined.

You might want to sign up for Medeia Sharif's GIVEAWAY. There are some great books available. She has a new book coming out next year. It's called VITAMINS AND DEATH, and it sounds tantalizing.

I keep mentioning Composers For Relief Supporting the Philippines because I think it's such a great idea. I've chosen to write to Aurora, a piece composed by 
Renan Javier Carrera. It's beautiful. Here's the YOUTUBE link that gives you the sound track as you soar over earth.

Did you know DEZMOND has so many talents? You might want to check out his other blog HERE. It looks quite tasty.

Have you signed up for 50 States of Pray? Mark Koopman had a super idea for one simple post on Christmas Eve, but from all the states and more. If you haven't signed up, now's your chance. Right HERE.

What are you celebrating? Are you signing up for more online involvement or are you kicking back during this holiday season?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Wha Happened To My Bloggy Blog?

Wha Happened? 

(Ignore everything I said about my new look. I just changed it to another new, but classic look, so that "snappy" one is already kaput!  However, the rest of this post is still the same. Sheesh! I'm exhausted playing with Blogger.) 

All I set out to do was restore my threaded comments and fix the constant error messages I was getting from #!@!!% Blogger when I wrote a post.

And Viola (a girl I once knew), I got this.

I'm still not sure how to manage it, but I'm working my way through. It took me half an hour to find the Compose page.

I kind of like the choices it gives me, but it's not "homey." Should a blog be homey or snappy? That's the question I keep asking myself.

So vote okay?

Do you like this slick, very cool style for me? Did you have trouble figuring out which way you wanted to view it? That THINGY in the upper left hand corner gives you all kinds of options. You have to pull up all my links that used to be on the right side, by clicking on one of those SLIDING-OUT-WHATEVERS. You can see how technically challenged I am. Even my vocabulary is limited when it comes to explaining this bloggy world.

New Writing Challenge

I wrote a whole piece for COMPOSERS FOR RELIEF, but then discovered the sound track I'd written it for was already taken. My fault. I didn't check the list first. I think my new blog is to blame.

Anyway I chose another sound track. Here's the LINK to that one. I think it's very beautiful. Now all I have to do is write some words. 

If you'd like to sign up, click on the Composers link above, join in the fun and help with the relief effort.

The Writing Barn

Looks like a great place to write.

Here's a great chance for anyone with a complete or almost complete draft of a Middle Grade book. Check out the offer. I'm thinking of it.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Ketchup

My water pipes didn't all freeze at the same time. One popped on Tuesday morning, another one on Wednesday. 

I have a lovely electric blanket that works.

Tomorrow the temperature starts to climb again. 

I'm so pleased to have all of these small things to celebrate. Check out the Linky and see what others are taking time to celebrate this week.

Truth or Lie

Available on AMAZON

Here's the lie and the two truths that Crystal Collier gave us last week. How did you do on the guessing?

Crystal writes,

1.    Crystal answers proudly to several nicknames, one of which is “Chicken.”
2.    She won her first ice skating competition at the age of ten.
3.    Her brothers trained her to become a ninja, and she can still sneak up on you or remain “invisible” when desired. 

The lie: #2. Despite very much wishing it, ice skating was something I never became very good at. Chicken is my nickname, because it is my name. My maiden name is Hicken, and my first initial… Well, put them together. I was ridiculed for it as a child, but in Jr. High I decided the name could mean whatever I wanted it to, so I embraced it. By high school it was a cool thing.

As far as ninja-ing goes, yes, I’m that good. :-)

Thanks, Crystal. Great launch. Lots of fun.

COMPOSERS FOR RELIEF  This musical collaboration aims to raise funds for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. Check out the article and list of participating artists. Writers will choose a track that inspires them and write a story. All of these stories will be put together as an eBook by January. The proceeds from the eBook will also go to support those who are recovering from that typhoon. 

As SAMANTHA GEARY JONES says, "28 tracks by 30 composers + 28 brilliant writers = one helluva collaboration! 

So that's my ketchup post. So much to keep track of these days. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Author Events--Do 'Em & Thanks Lexa and Julie & Kelly Polark's New Book!

Emily Jian, Author and Angela Mann, Book Seller

Last week I had two author events that were very different, and very rewarding. The first was at Kepler's, an independent bookstore that does so much for authors. At this event I "sponsored" two books besides my own: Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan and Hiding Out At The Pancake Palace by Nan Marino.

I got to talk to readers and authors and booksellers! All of that led to being asked to another event at a local high school in March. One event leads to another. That's why doing 'em is a good thing.

Me Blah-Blahing People Around Me Snoring

The second event was at the library. What a great place to hang out and meet people who love to read and write books. They were kind enough to sell my books, so what's not to like?

A Young Reader Enjoying A Story--Happened to be Alligators Overhead

I hope everyone joined the great Dream Destination Blog Hop to celebrate the arrival of Lexa Cain's Soul Cutter and Julie Flander's  The Ghosts of Aquinnah. It was a super Hop. (Sorry Gary. But it was.)

Yay for Kelly Polark. She's got a new book out. Hold The Mustard. Is that a great title or what? 

Oh and wish me a Happy Anniversary. I've been married to the same guy for a very long time. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Small Things to Celebrate & Dream Destination Blog Hop

Thanks to VIKLIT

My list is very short this week and it's early because I didn't want to miss out on the first day Lexa's and Julie's DREAM DESTINATION. 

Also I wanted to tell you that Crystal Collier has extended her winner selection until Dec. 10. We just have to wait a bit longer, but I'll announce the winner here ASAP. 

Then there's the IWSG Contest that you must sign up for.

Now for that Celebration. I'm thankful for the life I have. It's a small thing when you consider just how big our universe is, but as we all know it's the small things that are the most important. Hope you'll visit the others in this HOP. Just click on the link find all those who are participating. 

Where to go is the question?  For me the answer is quite simple. I would choose to go to one of those newly detected galaxies. I'd want to take a peek at planet X, Y or Z and look back at our place in space. Think of the new perspective! 

Any suggestions for what I should pack? 

Go see where the rest of the hoppers are dreaming of going. I'm on my way to check them out where Lexa and Julie hang out and to enter their giveaway. See you there.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Insecurities 2013


As the year 2013 comes to an end I'm reassessing the INSECURITIES that plagued me. These are the ones I drag around in a big sack; others only nibble at my heels like annoying puppies. 
  • I'll never finish writing this book.
  • If I do sell this, reviewers may shred it.
  • It's not as good as my last book.
  • It's not as good as X's book!
  • No one will read this book.
  • I can't write worth (fill in blank).
  • Why did I ever think I could write? 
Are any of these familiar? May 2014 see some of these fade or disappear entirely.  

Monday, December 2, 2013

One Way To Decide About Those Unfinished Projects

How many unfinished WIP's are in your desk drawer or on the shelf--maybe way at the back? 

I have a few and when I found this article by ELLEN CASSEDY, I paid attention the questions she proposed writers ask themselves when they're stuck on a project.

She writes, "I don’t ask these questions right from the start. At first, I give myself a chance to experiment, to take risks, to give my attachment to the work a chance to grow. But after a while, I ask myself:

    • Am I behind this work 100%?  Do I love it to pieces?
    • When I imagine it published, do I feel peacock-proud, or kind of nervous?
    • Can I see myself traveling around the country, reading from a podium?
    • Have I sought out readers who really matter, experts who have the        authority to judge the work and suggest improvements?
    • Have I listened very carefully to what those readers have to say?"
My resolution for 2014 is to look carefully at my stalled WIP's and ask each of Ellen's questions as I review those stories. 

For the whole article by Ellen click HERE.

Any other questions you could add to Ellen's list? Share 'em, please. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

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For an early Christmas gift Uncommon YA is offering YOU the chance to choose your prize. Click on the titles below to learn more about each one.

You can add it to your Goodreads shelf while you're there!

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Sliding on the Edge

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 a Rafflecopter giveaway