Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New Year's Resolutions? What about Last Year's Reflections? 2014 Edition

Some of you may remember that last year I wrote a post celebrating my year in 2013. Those reflections stayed with me throughout 2014. I wanted to post on the same subject this year, and I encourage all of you to do the same!


1) I published my first book! I've been writing for so long, I kind of forgot about publishing--so much so that I'm struggling a bit with the reality that I really, really, REALLY had my first book released on December 1st! (Shameless plug: Buy it here.)
2) DEAD DOLL, my young adult novel, was accepted for serialization by Germ Magazine. The first two chapters are up here. An awesome publisher asked to review the entire manuscript as well. Who knows where my writing will take me next?
2) I chose to serve in AmeriCorps for a second year.


3) I finished Project 365, which means I took a picture every day for 365 days. That's a lot of picture taking! But it was a wonderful way to document my first year in Connecticut.
4) I finished a Pokedex on a Pokemon game for the first time. Like, completely filled it up with all 718 Pokemon! I cannot express to how much effort and bloodshed went into this...
5) I opened an IRA!
6) I turned a half-a-century old!
7) I met my Goodreads goal to read 50 books again. That was a close one. I had to read a book a day for most of December to catch up.
9) I visited Vermont for the first time on a birthday trip.
10) I applied to a TON of graduate schools in the hopes of pursing a Student Affairs Master's. Hopefully one of them ignores how insane I am and lets me in...
11) I said goodbye to both Grandpa and Mimi York. While the loss is nothing to celebrate, each death was life-changing. But their lives and their love will forever inspire me and my own story. 
12) I got to spend a week with Grandpa in August before he passed. Neither of us had enjoyed that kind of alone time before. I'll treasure it forever.
12) I went a full year without a professional haircut or coloring. I can't believe I used to spend $90 every other week on such a triviality! That's money that I will always put toward people in need.
13) I bought a juicer and sacrificed many innocent fruits and vegetables to its blade.
14) I got a new tattoo--and for those of you who consider that a triviality, you probably don't have one or you got a butterfly off the wall when you were 18.


15) I moved into a new home, a space that I get to share with the beautiful woman mentioned in point 8 and a plant.
16) I said goodbye (at least in proximity) to some friends, but I made precious new ones. I kept the old, tattered ones as well. They just don't make 'em like that anymore.
17) I raised $150 dollars and did the Penguin Plunge for Special Olympics.
18) I whittled away at my bucket list.
19) I stuck it out through some tough times at home and at work and have come out all the stronger for it. After all, if I didn't work to get it, what's the point in having it?
20) I welcomed both of my parents to my new home in CT, and while the trip was hard for many reasons, it was also good to see that I really am all grown up now. But that isn't to say that a little handiwork from Daddy and hugs from Mommy don't still go a long way...



There you have it. 2014 summed up into 20 tiny bullet points. What did your year look like? If you want, please share with me. I feel that these reflections are a thousand times more powerful than planning new resolutions or looking back on old, possibly failed ones.

We're all amazing. Let's celebrate that fact. Together.

Monday, December 1, 2014

THE LIGHT YOU CANNOT TOUCH Official Release

I can't believe it! Today is the day my very first book, THE LIGHT YOU CANNOT TOUCH, is released. I've been writing for as long as I can remember and publishing since I was 14. But today marks a milestone that I've striven for years and years to reach.

Someone thought my work had enough merit that they accepted a compilation of it and published it.

THE LIGHT YOU CANNOT TOUCH (#tlyct) is 60 pages of poetry that begs the question...Wouldn't it be nice if all tragedies became love stories? Read #tlyct, and follow that journey, that wishful thinking.

Oh, and buy a copy to support this starving artist, would ya? It'll make a great Christmas present! Click on the book to make the purchase. (I'm sending you to Create Space instead of Amazon because I get more royalties. Hey, no shame in my game.)


The Kindle edition of the book is also available here.

Keep checking back for more information about book signings, readings, and more. And to all of you who've stood by me through my incredibly long, winding road, I love you more than words can ever describe. That's right! Even MY words won't do you justice. ;)

On a side note, the first segment of my young adult novel, DEAD DOLL, is up on Germ Magazine. Please go read it, so they'll publish more!

See you next time, readers, writers, and lovers.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Review of STORMS AND SPIRITS by Tamara Grantham--Release Party!

First of all, let me start by saying how excited I am to be a part of author Tamara Grantham's release party for STORMS AND SPIRITS, the third and final installment of the REVEN trilogy. If you'd like more information about Tamara's other books, you can visit her blog here. You can also find a review of her first novella by yours truly here.

If you've been following the trilogy this far, I'm sure you're already a fan of the main character, June. In this book, her name ends up playing its own part in the story--but I won't spoil the book by telling you what it is. You'll just have a buy a copy for yourself.

Here's a picture of June for those of you curious about what this spunky, empowered, female character looks like:




Also, here's the book cover for STORMS AND SPIRITS, which, again, is making its debut on Amazon today:




What's this third book all about? Well, June and her love interest, Memphis, get a lot of stage time together. Some crazy, mind-boggling things happen with June's superpower. And June's family--especially her sister (who's my favorite character)--have a few adventures of their own. We also find out that the threat of the Revenants and Le Tueur aren't what they first appear to be...

I like Tamara's writing because it's clean, crisp, and to the point. The pace of book three picks up at the first sentence and doesn't stop until the finish line. Reading the last sentence just made me want to see more of Tamara's writing in print. (Tamara, that's your cue!)

Have no idea what I'm talking about? Then you've got to read books one and two! Seriously, I couldn't support Tamara more. She's an amazing writer, and I devoured all three volumes in REVEN in a matter of days. I know fellow young adult fiction lovers will, too.

In short, when you're looking for your next fall read, choose this trilogy. I can't personally advocate for the rest of the Shine series, since I've read (and loved) only Tamara Grantham's and Sabrina Fish's installments. But best of all, they stand on their own. Tamara--and Sabrina--really know their writing.

But don't take my word for it. Go read Tamara's writing, and write your own glowing reviews.

See everyone next week for an update on my own writing journey (Hint: It has everything to do with the release of my own first book!!!!!).

Saturday, October 4, 2014

1k A Day Writing Challenge--DEAD DOLL, Week 9

It's hard to believe that another week has flown by. I've been plagued by a cold/flu recently, but that hasn't slowed me down! Today alone, I submitted work to Germ Magazine (a great spot to publish for girls ages 18-26) and Puff Puff (who's published many of my poems in the past). I also may have two surprise book reviews coming up in the next couple of months. So keep checking back for updates on that.

And now, please enjoy the next chapter of DEAD DOLL.


CONTENT REMOVED DUE TO IMPENDING PUBLICATION.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

1k A Day Writing Challenge--DEAD DOLL, Week 8

As promised, I'm posting twice this week. Here the next chapter in my young adult, paranormal novel, DEAD DOLL. (Here's the link to Chapter One.)

As an aside, I signed a publication contract for an article with The Forum this week! I get to see it in print in a few short months! That's my big writing news for now.

But back to the book:



CONTENT REMOVED DUE TO IMPENDING PUBLICATION.

Friday, September 26, 2014

1k A Day Writing Challenge--THE LIGHT YOU CANNOT TOUCH, Week 7

Hi Everyone! It's that time again for updates on my #1kadaywritingchallenge. This time, I thought I'd change things up and post some poems from my first book of poetry, THE LIGHT YOU CANNOT TOUCH, that have been accepted for publication. I plan to start submitting my book of poetry this next month!

As always, thank you for reading.

Special Note: Check back tomorrow for the next installment of my young adult novel, DEAD DOLL (You can find the link to the first chapter here.). Since I missed last week's post, I'm posting twice this week!




CONTENT REMOVED DUE TO IMPENDING PUBLICATION.

Monday, September 15, 2014

1k A Day Writing Challenge--Dead Doll, Week 6

Here's the next chapter on my novel, DEAD DOLL. Enjoy!



CONTENT REMOVED DUE TO IMPENDING PUBLICATION.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

1k A Day Writing Challenge--DEAD DOLL, Week 5

Thanks again for reading DEAD DOLL! If this is your first stumble upon the story, you can find Chapter One at this link.




CONTENT REMOVED DUE TO IMPENDING PUBLICATION.

Friday, September 5, 2014

1k A Day Writing Challenge, DEAD DOLL--Week 4

Here's the next chapter of DEAD DOLL! Thanks for continuing to read.




CONTENT REMOVED DUE TO IMPENDING PUBLICATION.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

1k A Day Writing Challenge, DEAD DOLL--Week 3

Here's the next installment of DEAD DOLL! Thanks for reading.





CONTENT REMOVED DUE TO IMPENDING PUBLICATION.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

1k A Day Writing Challenge--DEAD DOLL, Week 2

Hi All!

I apologize for the delay in updating on DEAD DOLL. I had a death in the family, then my grandfather was hospitalized. I flew out of town abruptly and just returned. However, I have still kept up with my writing! In fact, I finished the fifth edit of DEAD DOLL and am now rereading it a final time before I send it out to beta readers.

I'll post updates on the weeks I miss daily until I'm caught up. Then, I'll be switching over to the project that I pick up next.

So stay tuned! More writing coming soon! But without any further ado, here's the next installment of DEAD DOLL.



CONTENT REMOVED DUE TO IMPENDING PUBLICATION.

Friday, August 8, 2014

1k A Day Writing Challenge--DEAD DOLL, Week 1

For those of you who follow my blog or know me from Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, you know I finished Project 365--a challenge where you take a picture every day for a year--on August 1st, 2014.  You can find all of those posts on my blog, starting here.

I loved Project 365 because it helped me document my year in AmeriCorps and turned out to be an amazing memory maker. I've definitely learned to appreciate each day more because of it.

As one challenge ended, I added another. A good friend of mine, Taylor Newcomb, has been doing a 1k a day writing challenge for going on two months now. He's made amazing progress on his current works in progress, as well as started a lot of new projects. Since I've gotten to see and read his evolution, I realized this challenge was the one I wanted to undertake next.

I'm now 10 days into the challenge out of 365 and have written and edited just shy of 29k. Like Taylor told me, this isn't a challenge that I'll do for a year--it's a way of life.

Can you imagine it, writers? Churning out at the very least 365 thousand words? I know I'm in! And right now, I'm encouraging you to do this project with me. Just use #1kadaywritingchallenge whenever you post about your writing, and we'll be able to connect with one another.

I'd love to read your writing, and I'd also love for you to read mine.

So Welcome to my 1k a day writing challenge blog post. While I finish the edit of my current project, DEAD DOLL, a paranormal young adult romance, you'll see posts of it here. Check back weekly for updates!


DEAD DOLL 


CONTENT REMOVED DUE TO IMPENDING PUBLICATION.


If you made it this far, congrats! And thank you for reading! DEAD DOLL is a finished book, though those of you who've read it before will notice it's a significantly different story than it was a year ago. I've been going through it again, editing for a fifth time, and I think it's finally shaping into the book I want it to be. So if you like what you just read, don't worry! There will be more next week.

Until then, I hope you'll start your own 1k a day writing challenge and keep me in the loop! See you next time!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Review of RAZE by Tamara Grantham

A few days ago, I finished reading a novella by a good friend of mine, Tamara Grantham (find out more about her here). All I can say is WOW. Once I started reading RAZE, I couldn't stop until the last line pierced my heart. 

I'd like to tell you more about RAZE and where you can find a copy of your own.


To kick things off, here's a synopsis of the story:

"In the near future, a few young women manifest extraordinary abilities called "Shine." Each girl's ability is different. Some develop extraordinary mental abilities. Some become physically strong. Others have powers that defy description. But the world does not embrace these Shines. It fears them.

As professional hellraisers, sisters May and Lillie Wheaton believe they’re prepared for any situation. A client hires them to find her missing daughter and it seems like just another job until they realize the lost girl is a Shine. She’s been captured by New York’s most devious gang, the Xeros. May and Lillie track down the Xeros, but are horrified to learn the gang uses Shines in violent, deadly cage fights. Too late, May and Lillie realize the Xeros are smarter than they expected and, armed with the explosive power of Shines, are incredibly powerful. The lines between ally and enemy, between sister and friend, are about to change--fatally."


#

Super suspenseful, right? From the first sentence to the last, I guarantee that it is.  I've had the pleasure of reading quite a bit of Tamara's writing, and I've never not liked any of it. She writes hilarious, tough female leads who always get themselves into more trouble than it first appears they can handle. Her characters in RAZE are no different. If you like female characters who pack a punch, stop reading this review now and buy the book. 


This is the 6th book in the SHINE series, but just like Sabrina's book, LOST HAVEN, you don't have to read the others in order to enjoy RAZE to the fullest. I'm a picky reviewer, so since I can speak for any of the books before this one, I vote that you stick to Tamara and Sabrina's volumes. If you're hungry for more reads, keep checking back to my blog, I have more reviews upcoming! 

Also, you'll soon see an author interview from Tamara, so stay tuned! 

See you next time, readers.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Project 365 Comes Full Circle

As this year's Project 365 draws to a close, a lot of my life is changing. I'm moving to live and work at Mitchell College, which is a four-year institute in southeastern Connecticut. While I'll still be in AmeriCorps, we'll be getting an entirely new team of people. When I look back at the past year and all that's happened, I'm both nostalgic and excited for the future.

So much is different now, but in a good way. I foresee positive change continuing over this next year. I haven't decided whether or not I'm going to continue Project 365, but I do know that I've learned to appreciate each day--maybe not all of it--but certainly the important moments. I want to live my life by recording those moments in whatever form works best at the time.

For everyone who's gone on this Project 365 journey with me, I just want to say a huge thank you. Without your love and support, I couldn't have done it.


Project 365 Celebration Badge

So here is my final post that completes my start on August 1, 2013 to my finish on August 1, 2014.


Day 342: When I returned from my trip, my girlfriend had cleaned my car inside and out from top to bottom. I found me a winner, folks!


 Day 343: Enjoying being buried alive in Cape Cod.


Day 344: Me with my beautiful girlfriend.


 Day 345: These lobsters were HUGE and delicious. 


 Day 346: Just me and the ocean...perfection.


 Day 347: If only this fortune were true, but in fact, it's the exact opposite! 


Day 348: A last glimpse of the food pantry at Three Rivers Community College. I'm happy to be leaving it full for students who will come in this fall semester. 


Day 349: Here is the building my new office at Mitchell is in. Pretty snazzy, no?


Day 350: I've started setting up my new office. I think it looks pretty good so far. And, yes, that is a window you see peeking in the right side of the picture! I'm moving up in the world, baby. ;)


Day 351: My girlfriend and I finished our first puzzle, and on a Saturday night, no less. I think this means we're officially old--and proud of it! This is going up on my wall. ;)


 Day 352: So I passed this street on the way to my first meeting with Mitchell College's new partner, United Way of Southeastern CT. PRETTY SURE IT'S THE BEST NAME EVER!


Day 353: I'm continuing to decorate my office at work. Can you tell I'm proud to serve my country through AmeriCorps?


 Day 354: These skinny little legs support a big personality.


 Day 355: I'd been promising my girlfriend lemon bars. Finally, I came through. ;)


Day 356: Lyci and I are on our second puzzle. This one has 500 microscopic pieces. Seriously, I'm going blind trying to piece this thing together!


Day 357: One of my best friends in CT and a former VISTA is headed off to graduate school. I got her a present to celebrate.


Day 358: The gym at my apartment complex reopened. All the equipment is shiny and new.


Day 359: After a year of wishing I'd brought mine with me, I finally got a crock-pot. I love Target's back to school sales.


Day 360: Annnd it's time for VISTA training again! This time, the returning members join the new members at Southern Connecticut State University. 


Day 361: While at the training, I got a little creative with pipe cleaners and made this present for my girlfriend. I told her I'd bring her something back!


Day 362: I'm starting to build a library for my career in higher education. Here are a couple of reads that I've collected since starting my new year of VISTA at Mitchell College.


Day 363: My plant baby continues to grow! Remember when I first got this sucker? Here's a link to what it used to look like. 


 Day 364: I brought back a lot from the first training for this new year of VISTA service a few days both--things both tangible and not. I also brought back this VISTA crown that I made out of pipe cleaners. As you can see, over the couple of days we were at Southern, my craft skills increased. ;)


Day 365: THE FINAL DAY: Here we have the 2014-2015 CTCC VISTA crew all together! I'm excited to work with this new group. Together we make a much bigger difference than we do on our own. 



This concludes my year of Project 365. Again, thanks to everyone who supported me in this endeavor. At day 20, it seemed impossible, but here we are--one picture a day for 365 days...

Keep checking back to my blog. I have a couple of book reviews and interviews with authors coming up, and after that, I'll be on to my next challenge, whatever that may be! So here we go! XOXO

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Interview with Sabrina A. Fish--Author of LOST HAVEN

Today is an awesome day! I got to interview my good friend and great author Sabrina A. Fish about the YA novella, LOST HAVEN, she recently published. Here you'll find all the latest information about her writing, as well as where you can pick up this quick summer read! In fact, visit her website here.


1) You've published your first (and may I say, excellent) YA novella. How does it feel? In what ways has your life changed? I feel excited, relieved, and awkward at the same time. When I tell people that I'm a published author, their eyes widen and they gush at me as if I've suddenly come up with the formula that will make teleportation possible. Since I don't feel extraordinary and we're still traveling from point A to point B via foot, animal, or motor vehicle, this one is always a bit uncomfortable for me. I've never been good at receiving compliments and becoming published hasn't helped at all with this.

2) Did you have a mantra or routine you'd follow to get into your character's head and voice?
You wouldn't know from reading Lost Haven, but I usually write in a very dark style. My music reflects this.  I don't really have a specific song for each book or character, but rather a play list of mellow and sometimes downright dark music. I find that anguished, lonely, and depressing music feeds my muse, making my fingers fly over the keys.
I make character sheets with all a character's details and notes. When I am writing in a certain character's voice, I read over that sheet and sink back into who that character is. If I have any scenes written for that character, I'll usually read one or two of them as well.

3) You use an amazing amount of research AND your own creativity in this book. How long did it take you to research Oklahoma history? And how long did it take you to come up with the innovative spins and twists that add an element of sci-fi/fantasy?
I grew up in SW Oklahoma, so I was already familiar with the type of people and the area. Most of my other works-in-progress are fantasy stories based in other worlds. This is the first one I wrote in the 'real' world, so I chose someplace familiar in which to write it. The Oklahoma research was much faster than the research about the brain and how sight works. I've always thought my preferred super power would be a camilleon/shifting type power a la Mystique from X-Men. When I needed to come up with a Shine power for my main character, Camille, the ability to affect vision fit. Learning so much about how the brain works has been fascinating. 

4) What does a typical day look like for you? How do you fit writing into your schedule?
A bit like a day in the life of the mad hatter. *grin* I own a trophy company with my husband, so I work long hours. My writing time is precious and squeezed in whenever I can get it. I usually get up at 6am, write for 2 hours, then go to the gym before starting my work day. I try to also arrange my work load so that I can write a couple afternoons a week, and on Sunday after church. Of course, if my son has any activities, I will move the schedule to accommodate them. The key to my schedule is flexibility and the ability to laugh off things that don't work out, including decent writing time.

5) Where can your readers go to connect with you?
Pick your favorite: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Google+, Amazon, Blogger, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

6) What would you say is your favorite line in LOST HAVEN? (I know I have several.)
'Nothing is ever easy' is probably my favorite line. It's something I heard as a child, I've read it in some form or another in several books, and have generally kept it in mind throughout my entire life. Generally, if something is easy, we're missing something. In Lost Haven, Camille feels this keenly when she realizes that Mr. Jefferies offer isn't as perfect as she'd hoped. I think too often we look for the easy way out when what we considered the easy way is simply going to make everything harder. If you know going in that nothing is ever easy, you usually can adjust easier and get past the difficult situation quicker. 

7) What authors, books, or ideas influence you?
Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn Trilogy is one of the reasons I gathered my courage and starting writing my own stories. I want to make my readers think even while enjoying a complex, interesting story like I did when reading this series. 

8) What are you reading in 2014?
Everything! Right now, I'm reading Sanderson's Way of Kings series, the newest book in Nalini Singhs Psy/Changeling series, The Fault in My Stars, Eloisa James Fairytale novels/novellas, Django Wexler's The Shadow Campaigns series, and I'm sure there'll be many others.

9) Finally, what other writing are you working on for all of us hungry fans?
I'm in the final revisions for the sequel to Lost Haven set to come out in the Fall 2014, I'm also working on the first book in paranormal romance series that I'm super excited about, and I'm working on the final revisions for the first of an epic fantasy series.


Thanks SO much to Sabrina for being willing to do this interview! I can't wait for your next book to come out. You better believe I'll rush right out and pick up my copy!




I hope you all enjoyed hearing from this awesome author. If you have questions for Sabrina, leave them here, and I'll be sure she gets them. Look for the book review of RAZE (and later NEVER SAY REVEN) by Tamara Grantham later this month, as well as her author interview. Until next time!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Project 365 Takes a Summer Trip

Since I'll be staying in Connecticut for another year, I took a trip to KC, then went back to Indiana. Here are the pictures from that trip. 


 Day 328: Dropping off some donations to Goodwill. 


Day 329: I love to climb trees!


Day 330: My new office at Mitchell. I have a window! That's how I know I'm moving up in the world. 


Day 331: My pool. I can't get enough of it.


Day 332: I was taking a picture of traffic, and this is how it came out. No Photoshopping or editing necessary.


Day 333: I love this idea. When I move into a house, I'd like to buy doorknobs and paint designs on them!


Day 334: Me with one of my very best friends at a crepery in KC.


Day 335: At the pool! The palm tree in the background isn't real.


Day 336: Niki and I went to a water park on a cloudy day. The place was practically empty other than the lifeguards and us. We loved it.


Day 337: My newest tat--gotten with one of my BFFs and one of my high school English teachers. This guardian symbol is for my mom.


Day 338: So can you tell we weren't ready for the picture? But here are some of the girls enjoying Ethiopian food at the Blue Nile. Yum, yum.


Day 339: Me with my beautiful family in Indiana! I love them all SO much.


 Day 340: My grandfather's newest toy! An awesome old car.


Day 341: Enjoying the wilderness from a comfy seat at my aunt and uncle's new house.



And that's all for this week! See you next time!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Project 365 Finds a Bit of KC in CT

This past week, one of my best friends from Kansas City came to Connecticut. It was so good to have a bit of home all the way out here. I also went to New York for an AmeriCorps retreat.

Enjoy the pictures!

Day 321: The dorm room we stayed in at the AmeriCorps retreat in New York.


Day 322: Enjoying a special breakfast at the retreat.


Day 323: On our way back from our service project, we were pulled over by a cop. Our driver got a ticket. Thankfully we were able to laugh about it.


Day 324: One of my fav foods right here. Yum.


Day 325: Enjoying Chaplin, CT, a very different world from my beach side town of residence.


Day 326: Hunting water lilies! 


Day 327: Eating breakfast with Seth! Easily the best part of the week.



See you all next week!