Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas and Farewell 2015




This is not a California scene, unless you're in the Sierras. But we are getting some rain, and some is better than what we had last year, which was none. 

Because I tend to be an optimist (even in these times when I should know better) I planted tulips and daffodils all over the place. The rain will come, I'm sure, and so will those brilliant blooms. 



I won't be blogging until after the year ends, so this is both a Christmas greeting and a farewell to 2015. May 2016 usher in things like world peace, and no more hunger for anyone, and tolerance, and excellent books

Quote of the Week: "Always be in the lookout for the presence of wonder." E.B. White.

What are your wishes for 2016? 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Hats Off Corner Welcomes Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson

It's great to be back and to kick off my return I'm welcoming Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson to the HATS OFF CORNER! 




Release date: DECEMBER 1, 2015
Delacorte Press/ Random House Kids Books
MIDDLE GRADE/ ages 10 and up
ISBN: 978-0-385-74471-3
Authors: Jessica Haight & Stephanie Robinson
Illustrator: Roman Muradov
Publicity Contact: Samuel Terris sterris@penguinrandomhouse.com

Eleven-year-old Fairday Morrow is less than thrilled that her family is moving thousands of miles from civilization to the quiet country town of Ashpot, Connecticut, where she’s absolutely certain she’ll die of boredom. 



As if leaving Manhatten and her best friend, Lizzy, the only other member of the elite Detective Mystery Squad, weren’t bad enough, Fairday is stuck living in the infamous Begonia House, a creepy old Victorian with dark passageways, a gigantic dead willow tree, and a mysterious past. 




Before she can even unpack, strange music coming from behind a padlocked door leads Fairday up a spiral staircase and into a secret room, where she finds an ancient mirror, a brass key, and a curious portrait of a red-haired lady. These seemingly unrelated items prove to be the first in a series of clues that takes Fairday, the visiting Lizzy, and their new squad member, Marcus, on an amazing adventure.






Can the members of the Detective Mystery Squad piece together the puzzle before it’s too late? Or will whatever’s causing trouble find Fairday and her friends first? 




Catch the Book Buzz. . .


"I really enjoyed this book. It was a marvelously done, debut, thriller novel. Ms. Robinson and Ms. Haight are great authors that really pull you into their story. I couldn’t get out until that final sentence. And, by then I wanted more. To say I want a second book is an understatement. The writing style is compelling, and makes me feel as if I was there with Fairday and her friends. I really like the illustrations in the book. They are like the ribbon on a present, or the icing on the cake. I give this book five out of five bookworms!"
~ Erik Weibel/ This Kid Reviews Books  

"Mixing realism and fantasy, Haight and Robinson’s debut opens with 11-year-old Fairday’s move from Manhattan to a small town in Connecticut, where her relentlessly cheerful parents plan to turn a dilapidated Victorian into a bed and breakfast. No sooner has the family arrived than eerie sights and sounds begin to haunt Fairday. The house turns out to hold dark secrets that everybody in town suspects but nobody can explain: a perfect mission for Fairday and her best friend Lizzy’s Detective Mystery Squad (DMS)."
~ Publishers Weekly

"Fifth-grader Fairday Morrow's new home lives up to its spooky reputation, but she and her companions in the Detective Mystery Squad find out why. At Begonia House, strains of bagpipe music issue from behind a padlocked door, grains of sand in an hourglass have stopped falling, and a malevolent weeping willow looms in the backyard. A magic mirror shows an invisible door; a wardrobe hides secrets and a portal. Ruby Begonia vanished more than 50 years ago. Is there also a ghost? Fairday has a new, helpful friend in classmate Marcus, and her best friend Lizzy can visit on weekends to help solve the mystery. What more could readers want?"
~ Kirkus Reviews









JessicaHaight is a true New Englander, with a deep desire to be near the ocean and a love of the four seasons. She enjoys drawing while standing up and cultivating magic in her garden. She easily floats away in the pages of a good story and is still waiting for her owl from Hogwarts.


StephanieRobinson lives with her husband in a quiet town, though not as quaint as Ashpot. After teaching fifth grade for almost fifteen years, she is now enjoying her role as a school media specialist. 


Good luck you two. So happy you could visit with me today. 

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And here's my Christmas spirit showing. If you have young readers, I hope you'll take advantage of my 50% off sale on The Great Time Lock Disaster, Sequel to Alligators Overhead. Here's the coupon to use at SmashwordsSC99M

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Quote for the Week: "No one has ever become poor by giving." Anne Frank

Monday, December 7, 2015

Back Again

While I had every intention of visiting all blogs and doing more Twitter and more FB while I was on break, that didn't happen. Here's what did.


I went to Cuba. (more about that later)






I went to Mexico. (more about that later, too)





I came home. (his was the sensible choice for security)






I got sick.





I got sicker.




I'm just now climbing from between the sheets and looking around at what's happening in the world. 



And discovering it's Christmas. Really?


All of that is my way of saying sorry I didn't stop in to say hi. But I did do some things. I sent out my Special Offers Newsletter and I chose a winner! Lelia's name came out of the hat this time, so a signed copy of Double Negative is hers. Thanks for signing up for my Newsletter, Lelia. Each month I either offer something or I find special offers by others. Hope you'll sign up.

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I'm trying to get up to speed. Give me a push if you see me start to slide. Oh, and if you can please stop by Cover Wars to vote. There was a glitch in October, so all the votes were dumped. Maybe this has brought on my bed-ridden condition. The Great Time Lock Disaster needs help! I also see that Patricia Lynne's Snapshots is up for votes. And there are more. Vote everyday. Vote for several of your choice. It's kind of fun.

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Quote for the week: 
If you can accept losing, you can't win. Vince Lombardi

What do you suggest for getting back on track after a break and then after being totally out of it for days? Are you ready for Christmas? Do you know about Masquerade Crew and their Cover Wars? 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Little Dab of Horror Does It

A Little Dab of Horror Does It




"A boy's best friend is his mother."


I can't write horror, but I love to dive into a good scary book or film every once in a while and scare myself. I love it when I can't wait to turn the page, but dread it at the same time. I love it when the next scene makes the back of my neck staticky. And I'm a real sucker for fangs and claws--in stories. 

There have been a lot of theories about why people buy books guaranteed to keep them awake at night or flock to see films like Psycho or Dracula and Dr. Hannibal Lecter. For me these are places to be scared, but safe. If I had to go mano a mano with a Zombie, you'd better believe I'd beat any sprinter's time on the planet. 

"I do wish we could chat longer, but I'm having an old friend for dinner." 




"I never drink ... wine."


How about a little Ghoulash? 


Quotes of the Week (2 in honor of my favorite holiday): "Horror films don't create fear. They release it," Wes Craven 

“Where there is no imagination – there is no horror.” Arthur Conan Doyle

Now go out and make something terrifying. It's October! See you in December. And if I have internet at all, I'll be around to say hi before then.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Hats Off Corner Welcomes Stephen Tremp and a few Bad Girls

Thanks Lee for hosting me today. And thanks everyone for stopping by. As a writer, you can find inspiration anywhere and everywhere. My wife belonged to a Bible study group and one of the books they went through was Bad Girls of the Bible. I flipped through it a few years ago and sure enough there were some really Bad Girls doing really bad things. Some were repentant while others met a terrible death. I thought this would be a good topic as the thirteen antagonists in Salem’s Daughters are all Bad Girls. 

Potiphar’s Wife: Her name doesn’t appear in the Bible but this wild woman was bad news for Joseph. Sold into slavery by his brothers, Potiphar bought Joseph to be a household slave. Potiphar was ‘Captain of the Palace Guard’ and his title giving reference to butcher or executioner. 

And his wife had the hots for Joseph. She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. Genesis 39:12 

Joseph ended up spending many years in the dungeon on her false accusations he came on to her before being released and rising to second in command in Egypt. 

Delilah: She betrayed her husband Samson for money and he ended up a prisoner of the Philistines who blinded him. Samson did get his revenge by collapsing a stadium full of Philistines. 

Rahab: A prostitute, she helped the Israelites capture the city of Jericho she lived in. In exchange, her life and those of her family were spared for her cooperation. 

Jezebel: Often the measuring stick for bad girls everywhere. She incited her husband King Ahab to worship false deities, persecute the true prophets, and brought false witness against common folk and had them killed. Her ultimate demise: she was thrown off the top of a tower by members of her own court and ended up in a big splat where wild dogs ate her. 

Mary Magdalene: She had seven demons cast out of her, was repentant of her sins, and followed Jesus. She is commonly portrayed as a prostitute but her lifestyle was never spelled out specifically. She is mentioned twelve times in the Gospels, more than most of the disciples. 

Sapphira: She and her husband Ananias were killed suddenly after lying to the Apostles about money. 

Jael: She was actually a good person as she killed Sisera to deliver Israel from the troops of King Jabin. She was more of a bad-ass than bad. 

"Then she went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness.” Judges 4:21. 

Well done, Jael. Well done, indeed. 

Question: Do you have any favorite ‘Bad Girls’ regardless of the source? 

Short Blurb: A four hundred year old evil is unleashed when the daughters of those killed during the Salem Witch Trials find a new generation of people to murder at a popular modern-day bed and breakfast. 

Stephen Tremp writes Speculative Fiction and embraces science and the supernatural to help explain the universe, our place in it, and write one of a kind thrillers. 

Me with Spawn Number Two
You can read a full synopsis and download Salem’s Daughters by Clicking Here

Stephen Tremp posts weekly blogs at his website Breakthrough Blogs

Next Stop: Wednesday November 11th with Michael Di Gesu at In Time.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

IWSG November

Alex J. Cavanaugh


Here we go again! And just to show you how insecure a writer can be, I'm not even showing up this month. No. I'm hiding somewhere in the world and it isn't HERE. What this means is that I wrote this post back in October, then packed my bags and fled. I'll tell you about it when I'm home.



I will be back, but not for a couple of weeks. When I do return, I expect to find that all my INSECURITIES have vanished and I can get on with my life--my confident one.

I'll be around to say hi after I return, but hope you'll understand that I'll be a lot late this month. 


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In the meantime, here's something you can do to make this group even more secure and exciting (if it hasn't happened already in my absence). Email Writers’ Digest’s at writersdigest@fwmedia.com, subject line 101 Websites, and suggest the IWSG site be listed as one of Top 100 Best Websites for Writers! Be sure to include this link.  http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/

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If you're not signed up for IWSG. You can do that at any time. And just look at the gang you'll be joining!

Monday, October 26, 2015

My Schedule for October-November

Hi Everyone! I have to pull the plug on this blog for a while. Sometime life happens, and so this is when it happens for me.

However, because I have some IMPORTANT PEOPLE and IMPORTANT HOPS  and it my favorite HOLIDAY MONTH that I said yes to, these are the days I'm  here.





The WEP was here on Oct 21, and my contribution is HERE




The IWSG will be here on Nov. 4. I'll be late in my comments, but I'll be around.




Stephen Tremp will be here managing things on November 9. Hat's Off to Stephen!


A Little Dab of Horror in Honor of Halloween

If all goes well, I'll be back December 7. Sooooo if you are launching a new book or want to do a special giveaway in December, email me and I'll put you in the Hat's Off Corner.


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My Quote for the Week: "The difference between successful people and others is how long they spend time feeling sorry for themselves." Barbara Corcoran, Real Estate Mogul
 


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

WEP Again! Youthful Frights vs Adult Fears



Hi Everyone! I do hope you've joined in the Halloween fun and signed up for this month's WEP. I'll try to get around to say hi to you if you have, but I may be late because I'm off on some family business, and then another trip. If I'm late, just remember that old saying about "better late than. . ." 


Yolanda Renee and Denise Covey


I'm a "if it goes bump in the night, I'm out of here" kind of person, but because I'm also something of a paradox at times, I adore Halloween. It has always been my favorite holiday. Maybe I'm a Druid at heart? Just a scaredy cat kind of Druid.

So here's my contribution for this WEP Halloween Challenge.


Unprepared
by 
C. Lee McKenzie

Since childhood, her greatest fear has been this! She's guarded against it every year. Every year until this one. Well, there was the book to write, the new job. Lots of changes. No time. 

Now huddled in the room, she waits, heart slamming against her chest. And then. . .

thud, thud, thud of knuckles against the wood summons her, and when she grasps the knob, when she twists it and the latch clicks free, the cautioning voice in her head hisses, “Don’t open that door.” 

Still she knows she must ignore the warning, and she must deal with the consequences. As the door swings in and the fingers of the October night chill her skin, they're out there. Eyes big and set on her, their demands unwavering. 

There are three this time, but more hovering just out of that cone of yellow light that thwarts the insects, but fails to protect her against these spirits. 

What does she have in her storehouse that might appease them and send them away? 

“Nothing.” That inner voice is talking to her again. 

If she moves fast, slams the door, locks it and turns off all the lights, will they vanish? Will she be able to climb between her sheets, knowing she’s escaped their vengeance? 

“Not on your life.” Damn! That voice won’t shut up.

Then from out of the darkness. . . “Trick or treat,” the first ghost sing-songs. 


Happy Halloween All!







Monday, October 19, 2015

Thanks SA Larsen & Why Flash Fiction?

Sequel to Alligators Overhead


I'm a GUEST along with Pete and Weasel from The Great Timelock Disaster! Yes, I've successfully cloned myself, and I'm here and HERE today. Thanks, SA Larsen for letting me invade your super site.



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And now. . . Why Flash Fiction?


It’s short. That’s one reason. 

After writing a novel, it’s a great way to get a piece of writing done in jiffy. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can afford to be sloppy. In fact, the shorter the fiction, the more attention to detail it takes. Each word, the sounds that repeat, those that add to the tone and the meaning of the piece need to be carefully chosen. 

wolfofgowstreet.com

So the second answer to my question, “Why Flash Fiction?” is because it makes you focus and be very selective about what you put down on the page. When you only have a couple hundred words to tell a story, it makes you think differently about your writing, and, for me, that’s a great brain exercise. And it seems to freshen the way I think about my craft.

Photo Credit

A while ago, the Flash Fiction Forum at Works Gallery in San José, CA asked me to sub something. I did, and they invited me read my piece for their audience. I did that Oct. 14 and had a great time. Here's some of what happened.

The Authors Who Read their Stuff

Me being Italian

Tania Martin (seated right) and Lita Kurth (standing) , Flash Fiction Founders

Ruth Littmann-Ashkenazi, reading "Session 3"

Me Laughing at Myself


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Quote of the Week: "People who love reading are often called bookworms--but that's the wrong way around. It's not you that worms into a book; it's books that worm into you." Amanda Craig, Novelist

Monday, October 12, 2015

Hats Off Corner Welcomes Life Lessons for the Teenage Girl and Kelly Tonelli



The tragic issue of cutting is what started me on the path to writing for young adults. In my debut novel, Sliding on the Edge, my main character was a cutter. Writing this book was my attempt to understand why young, bright kids were self-abusing. My research led me to a lot experts, but the book I'm featuring today wasn't out yet, or I would have dug into it for more background information about the issues of teen girls and advice for dealing with those issues.

When I found Kelly Tonelli's book on Book Blogs I asked her to share her expertise as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist on this topic. I'm so glad she agreed.

Hats Off Corner Welcomes Kelly Tonelli

Available at
AMAZON and BARNES and NOBLE


Cutting is when a person injures themselves by making cuts or scratches on their body with any sharp object – often deep enough to break the skin and make it bleed. These injuries can be placed on any spot on the body including arms, legs, stomachs, and wrists. 

Why kids cut:
  • Some kids cut as their way of coping with strong emotions, intense pressure or relationship problems. They may believe that experiencing physical pain will allow the release of emotional pain. 
  • Kids may be angry or ashamed about something they have done and are cutting in order to punish themselves for the “bad act”.
  • Cutting may be used as a distraction from painful thoughts and feelings.
  • The child may be trying to feel “something” – kids may feel emotionally numb and prefer pain to feeling nothing.
  • Cutting can be a “cry for help”. Kids may cut in order to let others in their lives see how distressed they are in hopes someone will be able to help.


Cutting warning signs:
  • Pattern of unexplained injuries, cuts and/or scratches. 
  • Insistence of wearing clothes that are counter to the weather (i.e., long sleeves or long pants on hot days) may be an effort to hide injuries.
  • Finding sharp objects where they wouldn’t be expected (i.e., razors, unbent paper clips, box cutters).
  • Blood stains on towels, tissues, clothes, sheets and blankets.
  • Locking self away from others – being secretive about activities while alone.
  • Series of “accidents” in otherwise not clumsy child.


What to do if you suspect cutting:
  • Talk with your child about your concerns. Do your best to avoid shaming the child, but focus on wanting to understand and help.
  • Problem solve alternative behaviors your child can utilize if the temptation to cut recurs. These can include: talking to you, physical exercise, writing about feelings, and distraction techniques (reading, TV, music, friends).
  • Know when to ask for help. A mental health professional is a great resource for you and your child. Make sure your child knows the therapist is a resource to help the family, not to “fix” them or because they are “bad”.
  • If your child shares future cutting incidents, do your best to come from a position of love and support, not anger and shame. Our goal is to increase communication about the behavior, not hide it away.
Thank you for such clear and helpful information, Kelly. I appreciate it and I'm sure my readers do, too. This practice isn't going away from what I've read, so it's good to have the word out. I hope none of you have  to deal with cutting in your lives, but if you do, I know Kelly's information is sound and helpful. I enjoyed reading her book, and I've posted a review of Teenage Girl. HERE it is!



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Quote of the Week: "Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood." Marie Curie

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IWSG in October

SIGN UP HERE

Fall is officially here and nights grow longer. Spookiness wraps its arms around you and you shudder in the chill of October. It's the perfect time of year to look under the bed before climbing in to sleep. And guess what you'll find there--besides those dust bunnies and the last page of your manuscript you lost in April. . .


INSECURITIES

Yep, there they are huddled together, waiting, hoping to keep you tossing in those sheets and sleepless with them nagging at you.




Well, heck no, INSECURITIES. Take that! 

But just in case you don't have a good left hook, SIGN UP for the IWSG and get the help you'll need to see you through the dark and stormy nights ahead.





And if you have a good story to share. Enter it to be included in the IWSG Anthology!
ENTER HERE

Oh and speaking of Insecurities: There's nothing like a contest to give you the jitters. The Great Time Lock Disaster has been entered in the Cover Wars Contest over at Masquerade Crew this month. If you like the cover, it would be great to have your VOTE


Amazon