Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Teaser Tueday

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

"My sweet sister, you are but sixteen. Ah, you look wonderfully worldly wise, but you are not yet grown up. You are very like the little girl who sat in the window seats at Blickling, and dreamed of knightly deeds. Life is not romantic, Anne, and men are not frequently honorable knights. Life is a battle or a game which each of us fights or plays with all the skill at his command."

p. 35

Murder Most Royal by Jean Plaidy

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

Monday, January 30, 2012

Researching For Writing

Research can be defined as the search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, with an open mind, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories (*Wikipedia).

Any writer knows that research is an important, if not integral, part of working on a story. Doing research helps the writer to include details that will add to the credibility and the depth of the piece. Details are often what makes the world come alive in fiction, and what lets the reader to relate and connect to that world. The other aspect of including the correct information is the fact that your readers may be experts in various topics. When they read a story that contains errant information on those topics, they pick out those details out and this can, possibly, turn them away or at least bring a measure of negativity into the reading. A writer needs their audience to believe that they know what they're talking about.

Research can be tedious and time-consuming. It can also be fun and amazingly informative. Do not think of doing research for your story as a chore, something that you want to be done and over with. Instead, think of it as constant learning and enriching your mind with new information. There's so much out there to learn and explore. Personally, I know that when I'm doing research, I find out new information that leads me to look into yet other fascinating information.

Research today has been made much easier through the use of the Internet. Be careful however. Internet has as much bad and unreliable information out there as it has good and true information. Make sure you look at a few different sites on a particular topic. Another great source of acquiring reliable information - interviewing experts. You may have people in your own family who are experts in a particular topic. Otherwise, ask friends, neighbors, doctors you go, professors who teach your children, etc.. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Most people love to talk about what they love to do - whether their work or hobby - and would be glad to provide your with information for your story.

Make research a fun part of your writing process and you will enjoy doing it as much as writing!

Do you like doing research for you writing? What are your favorite research methods?


And just for fun:

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Art & History Feature - Mount Olympus

Today, on my niece Rebecca's request, I will talk about Mount Olympus.

Highest peak of Mount Olympus in Greece

Mount Olympus is a real mountain in Greece, about 100 miles from the city Thessaloniki. It is the highest mountain in Greece and contains 52 peaks.

The fame of Mount Olympus comes from the Greek mythology, in which the Mount was considered the residence of the 12 major gods. According to mythology it was created after the titans were defeated by gods in the great Titan War. The following gods made it their home:

Gods of Mount Olympus
 Zeus (the main "father" god, god of sky and thunder), Hera (Zeus wife, goddess of women, home and marriage), Demeter (goddess of grains and fertility of the earth), Athena (goddess of wisdom, courage, warfare and law and justice, as well as art), Poseidon (god of and earthquakes), Hestia (virgin goddess of hearth, family and architecture), Apollo (sun god of light, truth and prophecy, healing, music and poetry), Artemis (virgin moon goddess of hunt and wild animals and childbirth, as well as patroness of young girls), Ares (god of war), Aphrodite (goddess of love, beauty and procreation), Hephaestus (god of blacksmiths, sculptors, metal workers and fire) and Hermes (god of messengers, literature and writers, orators and thieves).


The food and drink on Mount Olympus was called Nectar and Ambrosia - the food of gods. Nectar was a sweet drink made from fermented honey.

Goddess Artemis, goddess of moon, hunt and wild animals - Versailles

Zeus ruled Mount Olympus, calling the gods who did not reside on the Mount Olympus to attend his court when summoned. Goddesses named Seasons kept the gate of clouds that would permit the divine beings to enter and exit Olympus.

Lines from the "Odyssey" describe Mount Olympus
"So saying, Minerva, goddess azure-eyed,
Rose to Olympus, the reputed seat
Eternal of the gods, which never storms
Disturb, rains drench, or snow invades, but calm
The expanse and cloudless shines with purest day.
There the inhabitants divine rejoice
For ever." (
Thomas Bulfinch)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

More Pictures That Inspire Me

Unfortunately, I have to suspend my Writer Wednesday Flash Fiction feature for today. My hubby was in a hospital for a couple of days with chest pressure. He is ok, his heart checked out completely ok but he's still not feeling well, so now we have to figure out why. So my head has not been in writing the last few days.
Instead, I would like to post more pictures that inspire me - and maybe they will give you inspiration as well.
Flash Fiction will return next week as scheduled.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

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

"Between me and the king, there will never be a choice. She is in love with him, just as every other doe-eyed girl at this court. Just as your own wife once was."

p. 185

The Queen's Rival by Diane Haeger

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

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rebel Writer's Pledge 2012

Even though I posted my goals (writng and non-writing) for 2012 last month, today I'm posting them again due to joining an amazing group of writers in the Rebel Writer's Pledge 2012

 As every year, 2011had 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 also started an individual project (as has Tina) but more about that in the new year's goals.

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. I pledge to  finish 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 pledge 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. For the beginning, my goal is 250 words a day or 1500 a week (hopefully going up to 1000 words a day towards the end of the year). 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. I pledge to finish 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. I pledge to keep 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.

4. I pledge to read at least 50 books (various genres, the majority urban fantasy/paranormal romance and historical fiction, as well as YA). Also I pledge to read at least 1 book on writing craft a month.

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 pledge to start to train for my second black belt degree and am hoping to test sometime during the next year.
2) During the next year, I pledge 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?

Don't forget to check out Rebel Writer's Pledge 2012!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Art & History Feature - Great Women of History

Today, I give you a little preview of some of the feauture Friday History posts I will write during the year. These are the portraits of great women of history that I find fascinating and that I intentend to write about this year for the blog feature.

These women lived in different eras, different countries and within different cultures. Yet they all made an impact on history and on humanity that cannot be denied. Some are well known, while others may not be. They were all strong and fascinating personalities.
This is definitely not a comlete list.
For now, enjoy this picture list.

Cleopatra II

Sofonisba Anguissola - great Renaissance artist
Anne Boleyn, 2nd wife of Henry VIII and the mother of the great Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I of the England's Golden Age

Isabella of Portugal

Catherine The Great of Russia

Josephine Bonaparte, the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte

Marie Curie, the great scientist

Ann Frank

Golda Meir, the 1st female prime-minister of Israel (and the 3rd in the world)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Writer Wednesday Flash Fiction - The Sword

The inspiration for this week's Flash Fiction came from watching and reading a lot of historical fiction lately. Especially about one period in history (which I will let you guess from the story below).

The Sword

 The Sword is rushing towards my neck. I don't see it but I know. It makes a low whistling sound as it descends, rushing to take my life away with one clean cut.

My daughter. My little girl. My Elizabeth. What will become of her now? She is the most precious thing in this world to me. I hope the world would treasure her the way I did. But the world is cruel. As cruel as her father, the king.

I loved him. I loved him with all my heart and soul. I still do. That is perhaps the cruelest thing of all. All I wanted was to have him all to myself. A woman's heart can bleed with a thousand wounds that nobody would ever see or know. But he gave me Elizabeth and for that I will forgive him everything. For that, I will even wish him happiness.

The Sword is getting ever nearer. I hear my women wailing. I hear the roar of the crowd come to watch their queen die. They never liked me. They never understood me. I could have been better. I could have been stronger. I could have been more sensitive to them. But I am what I am and I hope that they will forgive me, in time. I hope that Lord will forgive me and show me mercy.

Mercy is the last word I hear before the Sword reaches my neck. Before the world goes dark. Mercy. And Elizabeth. My heart fills with strange warmth as the name of my daughter rings in my ears. Then darkness descends.

I jerk upright, sitting up, my heart beating triple time.

"Welcome back," says the man across from me, smiling gently. Recognition rushes back at me. This man is the therapist who specializes in past life regression. Today is my appointment with him. I blink rapidly to clear my eyes of the remaining images of...what?

"Looks like you were Anne Boleyn in one of your previous lives," he says, not a hint of humor in his words. "We'll build your therapy from this memory. There's much that troubles you."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

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 have served my lady since she was a child," the knight said. "I have watched her become a woman, and wield power as consort to an emperor. She has greatness within her."

p. 25

Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick (e- version)

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

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Art & History Feature - The Colosseum

This summer my husband took me on a magical trip of a lifetime (although hopefully not the only one). He took me to Rome and then on a Mediterranean cruise.
Rome is a heaven for lovers of ancient history and archeology, like me.
Today, in honor of Spartacus returning to Starz in a couple of weeks, I'd like to tell you a little about one of the most famous and amazing places in Rome - the Colosseum (Spartacus, gladiators, Colosseum, get it? :D)

Colosseum is not the original name of this monumental place, a theatre which is an example of ancient Roman thirst for entertainment and blood. The original name for it was  Flavian Amphitheatre in honor of the emperors of the Flavian Dynasty, during which rein it was built. Its building started around 70AD during the rule of the Emperor Vespasian. So how did it become known as the Colosseum? It took this name after a "colossal" statue of the mad Emperor Nero, named the Colossus of Rhodes, that stood right near it. *"This statue was later remodeled by Nero's successors into the likeness of Helios (Sol) or Apollo, the sun god, by adding the appropriate solar crown. Nero's head was also replaced several times with the heads of succeeding emperors. Despite its pagan links, the statue remained standing well into the medieval era and was credited with magical powers. It came to be seen as an iconic symbol of the permanence of Rome."

It is known that during the opening games of the Amphitheatre, 9000 wild animals, including tigers and lions, as well as hundreds of gladiators and slaves. It is also interesting to note that originally, in the first three years of its opening, naval games were also held there. The bottom of the amphitheatre would be filled with water and fights between ships would take place. However, the Roman people got easily bored with these games, as they didn't provide much bloodshed. And so it was decided that the bottom would be built about to contain cages for the wild animals, rooms for slaves and trainers and equipment, and above it all a wooden floor was placed, called the arena. That is where the gladiator fights took place. The modern word "arena" comes from this floor.

With the rise of Christianity, all of the statues decorating the walls of the Colosseum were destroyed or melted to create other statues and jewelry. The bricks and marble was also re-used to build around Rome. Thus today Colosseum is only a shadow of what it used to be and it is hard to imagine it in all its splendor.

Despite the splendor and the history surrounding this ancient place, we cannot forget that this was also a place of death and horror. Thousands of gladiators - who were mostly slaves - and thousands of animals were murdered there. Pope Benedict XIV also declared it a sacred space were many early Christians were martyred. This happened in 1749, and in our times Pope John Paul II erected a cross inside the Colosseum. Popes have also being leading the stations of the cross since Benedict XIV's times.

Colosseum is spectacular in person even today. Walking among the ancient stones, touching the marble steps on which ancient Romans have sat and breathing in the air of antiquity is an unbelievable experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Writer Wednesday Flash Fiction - The Museum

The Museum

The night was abuzz with life around me in the city that never sleeps. The honking of hundreds of yellow cabs and thousands of tourists still milling around should have made me more relaxed but my heart was pumping double time. I always wanted to do this. I had to do this. A deep breath later and feeling a bit calmer, I began to ascend the great staircase towards the entrance. The Metropolitan Museum of Art towered majestically above me. I stopped in front of the large doors and looked at the key in my hand. A friend working in the museum got me this key. I shouldn’t be here. I was about to trespass. But I had to do it. Once in my life I had to be inside the empty museum after dark. I had to know if the feeling I had when I was a child was real. I had to know if everything inside came to life when no humans were present.
I walked left to the small staff entrance door and turned the key in the lock. As soon as I entered, I disabled the alarm as my friend taught me. The sounds from outside muted to an almost silence as the door closed behind me. This was it.
I took out my flashlight, although I could see dim lighting in some places, and walked into the belly of the building. Silence was complete here. Men and women on Rembrandt’s and Titian’s paintings stared down at me, watching me, waiting to see how I would disturb their peace. Roden’s Eternal Kiss marble lovers were locked in their eternal embrace. The gods of Egypt seemed to whisper and reach out to me. But it was only my imagination. No movement or sound penetrated this sacred space – the sacred space of masters and geniuses and their creations.

Eternal Kiss by Rodin
I smiled to myself. Nobody came to life like in my silly childhood dreams. I turned to go. And saw a woman in a beautiful 17th century gown. She put her finger to her red plump lips in a sign of silence and then beckoned me to her. As if enthralled, I felt myself drawing nearer. The woman's eyes twinkled as she leaned over to me and whispered into my ear.
“Are you sure you want to know our secrets?”
Her smile was stunning and enigmatic. And suddenly I had a feeling I will never leave this museum.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

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

"A sense of tranquility and serenity pervaded the ground and the air, the way an old-growth forest feels, the loamy soil rich and fecund with life. But beneath it all was a trace of something feral. And dead."

p. 33

Blood Cross 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, January 9, 2012

Rafflecopter Launch Party Giveaway - check it out and enter & support Rafflecopter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Art & History Feature - Bob Ross

Bob Ross
  I remember watching Bob Ross half-hour painting specials when I was in junior high school and high school. I've always been interested in art and have been painting watercolors since I was about seven or eight. The magic of Bob Ross finishing beautiful oil landscapes in meager half hour. I was absolutely fascinated.
Recently, I found out that my husband also loved watching the Bob Ross show and we both held our breath every time Bob made a "happy little mistake" and then all of a sudden it turned into a cloud, a lake or a few trees.

Bob Ross was born in 1942 in Florida. He was an artist and an instructor, hosting the Joy of Painting show for 12 years on PBS. In his earlier years, Bob enlisted in Air Force at the age of 18. He didn't finish high school past the 9th grade. While in the Air Force, Bob was stationed in Alaska, where he fell in love with the snowy landscapes he was so fond of painting later on. Bob was married twice and had a son from the first marriage. His son Steven appeared on the Joy of Paining a few times as an instructor as well.
Bob Ross died in 1995 after losing the fight with lymphoma.

Bob Ross used a technique in his painting called "wet-on-wet". Because this technique allows the painter not to wait for the first level of paint to dry, Bob was able to create the paintings very fast. He used 2" and other brushes, as well as painting knives, to create trees, lakes, mountains and clouds that looked realistic in a matter of minutes. Part of the excitement of watching Bob paint was to see in-distinctive smudges take shape and become realistic objects.

Many of phrases that Bob used on his show have become famous - "happy little trees", "happy accidents" and "beat the devil out of it" (referring to the beating of brushes against the easel to dry them off).

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Keeping The New Year's Momentum going

Keeping The New Year’s Momentum Going

You’ve made the New Year’s resolutions, the way you do every year. January 1st, you’re all primed to go. You’re psyched and excited about accomplishing all your goals. This will be the year you do it all!
We’ve all experienced this, year after year. I definitely have. The problem is not with setting goals and making resolutions. The problem is keeping the momentum going. And not just through the first week or two of the new year but throughout the whole year. That is the only way to look back on December 31st and realize that this really was the year you reached your goals.

As all of us know, keeping the momentum is easier said than done. That is the trick of tricks. So how is it done?

One psychological trick is not to start on January 1st. Start your resolution on December 30th on January 3rd when you go back to work after the holidays. This is a cheat but it works. Why? Because starting on January 1st can seem exciting and scary at the same time. After all, it’s a special, “magical” day, the cutoff of things old and beginning of things new. This thought can be daunting. What if you screw it up, this new beginning? Purely psychological manipulations of human psyche but we all do it. The other, simpler reason for starting a couple of days later is that we’re still often in the holiday mode. We are still with family and friends, eating and drinking and being merry. We might not go back to our regular work lives until 2-3 days past January 1st. And if we fail to jump straight into our resolutions during those days, our excitement might dim, our determination may waver.

Once you’re ready to jump into our resolutions with both feet, you have to remember to have SMART goals:


If these five factors are not accounted for, it is much harder to keep the momentum going. We all need smaller realistic goals and time frames to push us forward.

Keep in mind that “realistic” is specific to your life and your every-day demands. What’s realistic for one person may not be realistic for another. For example, for someone who works full time and has kids realistic, let’s say, writing goals might be very different from someone who can write at home all day. To be successful, it is imperative to be reasonable and realistic with your goals as applied to your life. And only you will know what those are.

It is also very important to review where you are in relation to your larger goals/resolutions every week or so. This serves a dual purpose – it lets you see what you have to do next and it also raises the level excitement and satisfaction at seeing how much has been already accomplished.

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