Friday, December 30, 2011

Florida Vacation

Hubby and I in Epcot, Disney
  Hubby and I just came back from a week long vacation in Florida. We needed a change of scenary and  a break. We stayed with Tommy's father near Tampa for a few days and then spent a couple of days in Disney. Last day was in Epcot.
The temperature was perfect - 80's, then 70's (although the last few days it got down into the 40's in the morning and evening). While at my father-in-law's, I relaxed by the pool and wrote. I haven't felt this relaxed and stress free in quiet a while and my productivity was up. I wrote more in three days than I wrote in the last couple of weeks. I guess that is the key for the muse to find me - I have to be in a relaxed dreamy state, and preferrably somewhere warm. Until I can be in that state constantly (ha ha, I made myself laugh), I have to find ways to attract the muse more consistently and up my creativity in the every day life. That should be a fun challenge for the new year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award and Happy Holidays

As I'm going on a trip and will, in all likelihood, not be able to post for the next few days, I just wanted to drop q quick note about a couple of things.

First of all, I wanted to thank Michael Hayes for awarding me with the Versatile Blogger award! You can find his post here. I will be more than happy to pass the award to other bloggers. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to write that post now, so I will do a thorough "Versatile Blogger award" as per rules after the holidays.
And I can't wait to do it!

Secondly, don't forget to check out Writing During the Holiday Madness and let me know how you're handling it.

At last, I would like to wish everyone very happy, joyful, relaxing and safe holidays! May the joy of the season be felt in your heart!

I will mostly likely do a post or two next week but until then - enjoy the holidays and happy writing!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Here are the rules:

1. Post 2 sentences from the current book you're reading. You can either

a) open the book and share 2 sentences from anywhere on that page or
b) share your favorite 2 senetnces from the book (they have to be in a row)

2. List the page #


3. List the name of the book and the author

"I'm a tea snub. My sensei had introduced me to teas and teaware when I was teenager and I had made a study of tea after hours, after he had bruised and beaten me into a pulp and somehow along the way, taught me how to fight like a man."


Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock, book 1) by Faith Hunter (e- version)

Share your teasers in the comments or give a link to your blog if you're running a Teaser Tuesday.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Writing During the Holiday Madness

 Holidays are fun, full of good cheer, family warmth and hopefully rest. They can also be crazy, stressful, full of little annoyances and things to still be done. For some it's the time where they can find a few hours of solid uninterrupted writing time. For others (probably the majority) it's the time where writing just cannot fit into the equation, where there's too many other priorities to be taken care of and where "uninterrupted" is no longer in our vocabulary.
So how can we still fit in that precious writing time and feel like we can stay sane?

 Here are a few tips.

1) If you have any kind of vacation time from your day job (if you do have a day job), rejoice in the opportunity that you have and make sure that your family and friends know that you need time to write. You can even present it as having to work, if the demands get too much on your personal time. Who's going to blame you for having to do some work? Once you get those precious hours, make sure you put them to good use. Even if those hours are few, you can accomplish enough with a little prioritizing and by making sure there are no unnecessary distractions, such as hanging out on Twitter and answering emails.

2) If you're doing any sort of travel during the holiday season, you can either bring a laptop with you, or have a simple notepad and pen to keep you company while you're waiting for that plane or while you're on a bus. Your hubby can read a book or play games if they're waiting with you. If you  have kids traveling with you, doing your own stuff may not be as easy. But even if you don't have the opportunity to actually write, keep a notepad with you and jot down ideas about your characters, scenes, etc..

3) While you can tell your family and friends that you have to work, don't think of writing during this time as work in your mind. Think of the time you can sit down and write as a mini-getaway from the stress and demand of the holidays, a mini-retreat. If writing makes you happy and reaching a goal of a certain amount of words on paper brings feelings of satisfaction with it, chances are once you're get back to the holiday world, you'll feel recharged and ready to take on everything else. Writing can be meditative. If you think of it that way, your mind will follow.

4) If you decide to take a break from writing to concentrate fully on the holidays and the demands (and joys) they represent, don't feel guilty about it. Once you made the decision, go with it. Think of it as a way to immerse yourself into the holiday spirit and to recharge your batteries for the next year. But make plans for the year ahead and think about what you want to achieve with your writing. Then dive in once the holidays are over.

Whatever you do for the holidays, may they be full of joy, family, laughter and good times. And perhaps some wonderful writing time!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Writing Goals 2012 (And How I'm Planning To Reach Them)

Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.
Napoleon Hill

Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.
Stephen A. Brennan

Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.
Fitzhugh Dodson

Goals are dreams with deadlines.
Diana Scharf Hunt

(Instead of the regular Friday Art & History Feature, I wanted to share my goals for the new year with you)

It's that time of the year again. Wait, already? Yep, the time of the year to take stock in what was achieved this year and to make plans, resolutions and goals for the next one. As every year, this one had its ups and downs. The highlights, as far as my writing is concerned, was signing with the awesome Jennifer Mishler and Frances Black of Literary Counsel. My writing partner Tina Moss and I couldn't be happier about that.
Tina and I also started on the sequel, book 2 in the Keys Series.

I started an individual project (as has Tina) but more about that in the new year's goals.

I also feel a sense of accomplishment  about participating (and finishing!) the NaBloPoMo challenge (National Blog Posting Month) in November, in which I had to do a post a day for a month.

So what's ahead?

My writing goals for 2012 are quiet ambitious, and I'm going to start the year with the sense of optimism that all of these goals can be reached successfully. So here's the list of the goals and how I plan to achieve them.

1. Finishing my WIP. It is very important to me to finish my novel within 6 months. It will be a challenge but a welcomed one. In order to do this, I will change my method of writing a bit. 1) I will start making brief outlines of each chapter to have an idea of what I want to include in the chapter and the general direction it will take. This has proved to be very helpful when I work with Tina (my writing partner) on our Keys Series. When working on my individual project, I tend to just sit down and write, but that is not always an optimal way of doing it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Making an outline of chapters assures that I can always sit down and know what to write (even if it's in more general terms).

I'm also going to be more diligent about keeping the smaller goals of a certain amount of time spent writing a day/a week and/or a certain amount of words written a day/a week, etc.. Hopefully, there will be a very visible rise in both the time spent writing and the words written in the beginning of the year vs. the end. To accomplish this, I will experiment with a few different methodologies and see what works the best for me. I'll be tracking this experimentation and the results in blog posts throughout the year.

2. Finishing book #2 in the Keys Series with Tina Moss. I love the process we've established while working on book 1. We put our heads together - and sometimes bump them - and we divide up chapters and hash them out. Then we write them and come back together to read over them, then edit each others chapters. Lots of good ideas and good times ensues.

3. Keeping up with the blog post schedule and expanding and developing the blog further. I would like to do another months or two of NaBloPoMo challenge. During the rest of the months, I will be happy posting 3-4 posts a week. I would like to have my features written in advance and be ready to posted when the time comes. These features are Writer Wednesday Flash Fiction and Friday Art & History Feature. I also plan to have a collection of articles on writing that I can use whenever I need to have a post up but don't have time to write it that day. This will allow me to always keep a reserve of articles and keep up with the blog posts even when I'm focusing on other work and cannot devote a lot of time to the blog. It is my intention for my blog posts to inspire and motivate other writers.

These are the major writing goals I'm setting for myself in the new year. On top of the writing goals, here are a couple of non-writing goals:

1) I'm starting to train for my second black belt degree and am hoping to test sometime during the next year.
2) During the next year, I would like to start a couple of campaigns to raise money for the organizations that work for preservation of big cats and of wolves. Stop by the blog in the next few weeks for more information on this projects. 

Share your writing (or non-writing) goals and how you plan to reach them. How do you motivate yourself and what advice do you have for motivating other writers?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Writer Wednesday - Flash Fiction suspended for the holidays

Because of the workload I have right now at my day job, at he dojo on top of holiday stuff and, trying to stay on top of WIPs, I will be suspending Writer Wednesday Flash Fiction feature until early January. I promise that it will come back with flourish early next year though.
For now, take a peak at my previous flash fiction: The Tango, The Tiger, The Road Not Taken and Sole Survivor.

I will be posting my writing goals for the next year (and my methods of achieving them) by the end of the week.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Here are the rules:

1. Post 2 sentences from the current book you're reading. You can either

a) open the book and share 2 sentences from anywhere on that page or
b) share your favorite 2 senetnces from the book (they have to be in a row)

2. List the page #


3. List the name of the book and the author

"Calvin looked at him as if he were seeing him for the first time. Maybe he heard Adam's willingness to put his life on the line for a bunch of people he didn't know, too."


River Marked by Patricia Briggs (e- version)

I'm finishing up with the Mercy Thompson series...until the next book comes out in 2013. River Marked is book 6 in the series.

Share your teasers in the comments or give a link to your blog if you're running a Teaser Tuesday.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Art & History Feature - Ruth Thompson

Ruth Thompson - Dragon
 As a lover of all things urban fantasy and paranormal romance (as a writer and a reader), it's no wonder that I tend to gravitate heavily towards fantasy artists. I discovered one of my favorite female fantasy artists at a Renaissance Fair where there was a booth selling her art books and prints. Since then, her art has haunted me with beautiful visions of angels, elves, dragons and other magical beings. Her name is Ruth Thompson and her website is called Ruth Thompson's Tarnished Images

I will let Ruth Thompson speak about herself with her "About" and "Frequently Asked Questions" on her website - which I really recommend checking out. What I'm going to do here is give you a sampling of her art and let you decide if you want to know more - and if you're as enthralled by her art as I am.


Ruth Thompson - Howl

Ruth Thompson - Michael

Ruth Thompson - Gabriel

Ruth Thompson - Warrior & Unicorn

Ruth Thompson - Dragon

Ruth Thompson - The Snow Queen (close-ups)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Writer Wednesday Flash Fiction - Sole Survivor

I don’t know what happened. I don’t know how long I was unconscious. All I know is that I woke up all alone in the smoldering world. I tried to breathe in deeply and was punished with thick black smoke going up my nose and into my mouth, choking me. I tried to cough it out but it was everywhere. I blinked my eyes a few times and my vision finally adjusted enough to make out gray shapes all around me. Thick boulders and concrete beams lay in heaps and I realized with horror that one of those beams lay across my lower body. I tried to move, expecting pain. But all I could feel was chilly numbness. I could not feel my legs. Terror twined its icy tentacles around my heart.

I tried calling out but my throat was dry and all that came out was a horse squeak. Blackness wrapped me up once more. Something tugged at me as I slowly came back to. I heard a low growl and saw a large brown dog standing over me. It was doing something with my legs. The dog was a giant; I’ve never seen such an animal before.
Was he chewing on me?

“No, get away!” I yelled. Or at least I thought I yelled. A whisper was more like it.

The dog turned its yellow eyes on me and I thought it smiled. I was having hallucinations.
I must have blanked out again.

When I opened my eyes, there were two men with axes. They raised them over my head. They were going to chop me to pieces. I shut down.

The next time I woke up, the dog and the men with the axes were gone. I was lying on the grass outside of the ruined building and the sunshine produced black spots in front of my eyes. A kindly face of a middle-aged man in firefighter uniform leaned over me, gently soothing my horror.

“There was an explosion in your building,” he said when I gave him a questioning look – I still couldn’t talk. “You were the only survivor. And you will be ok.”

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Here are the rules:

1. Post 2 sentences from the current book you're reading. You can either

a) open the book and share 2 sentences from anywhere on that page or
b) share your favorite 2 senetnces from the book (they have to be in a row)

2. List the page #


3. List the name of the book and the author

"Samuel opened the door on cue. His eyes were bloodshot and he looked tired and grumpy. I could smell the blood and disinfectant on him."


Iron Kissed. Book 3 in The Mercy Thompson Collection by Patricia Briggs (e- version)

Share your teasers in the comments or give a link to your blog if you're running a Teaser Tuesday.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Art & History Feature - Fast and Fun Historical Facts

I wanted to do something a little different today and present you with a number of fast and fun historical facts that you may find intriguing and interesting.

An ancient Egyptian tomb
 During the First Dynasty in Ancient Egypt, numerous members of household staff, as well as family members, and animals were walled up within the tomb of the deceased king. These people and animals were supposed to accompany the king into the afterlife.

Julius Caesar
 Julius Caesar was the first recorded user of encoded communications. His method of encoding became known as the Caesar Cipher.

In ancient Rome it was considered a sign of leadership to be born with a crooked nose.

Laika monument
 The first animal sent into space was a husky named Laika. She was launched into space by the Soviet Union in 1957. In 2008, a monument to Laika was unveiled at the military research facility in Moscow where the dog was prepared for the space flight.

Ching Shih
 One of the most famous and powerful pirates was a Cantonese woman named Ching Shih. She was once a prostitute who eventually became a pirate who commanded 1800 ships and over 80,000 pirates. This was in the early 1800s in China.

Vikings used the skulls of their enemies as drinking vessels.

Taj Mahal
 It took 20 years to build the Taj Majal, using 20 thousand men.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

NaBloPoMo Wrap-up - Lessons I Learned

 "There's so much about the process of writing that is mysterious to me, but this one thing I've found to be true: writing begets writing." ~Dorianne Laux

Yesterday was the last blog post of the NaBloPoMo November challenge that I committed to. NaBloPoMo runs all year, but I thought I'd try it for a month and see if I can manage to write a blog post every day. I'm very excited to say that, despite all the other stuff going on in my life, I was able to meet and successfully finish the challenge.

Here's what I learned from doing it:

1) I can commit to a project and successfully carry it out.

At the day job, this is something that I don't even think about. Projects come left and right, and there's never a question of finishing them or issue with doing it successfully. However, it's always harder to do so in personal life. The first time I knew I could commit to a major project and actually accomplish it was when I got my black belt after five years of practicing karate. I'd started a couple of times before coming to this karate school (which ended up being the place where I met my husband) but would usually quit after a few months because life got too busy or exhaustion set in that was too much. The day I finally got my black belt was the day I knew I could do anything I put my mind to and that previous excuses were just that - excuses. This is the attitude I now take into everything I do, especially my writing.

2) "There's so much about the process of writing that is mysterious to me, but this one thing I've found to be true: writing begets writing." ~Dorianne Laux

I have to repeat this quote because I fell in love with it when I read it a few days ago. The truth of these words is undeniable and irrefutable. The more you write, the more writing you want to do. The more you produce, the more you want to produce. This was one of the lessons I learned when doing the NaBloPoMo challenge (even though theoretically I knew it, of course). I now have a harder time NOT writing for a day then ever before.

 So all in all, I would say great lessons came out of doing NaBloPoMo and I'm grateful for the chance to learn them.

With the holidays fast approaching and a few other things going on, I won't be able to commit for NaBloPoMo in December, but there will still be 2-4 posts a week. I also need to concentrate more on my two WIPs and put more time into writing there. I'm ready for the next challenge!
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