Monday, February 25, 2013

Mr. One-derful

Photo taken by my friend Kaylinda and ran through Instagram.

Yesterday was Connor's first birthday. You hear people say they can't believe it's already been X amount of time, but for me, this feeling has never been the strongest than it was yesterday.

Or more accurately, the last few days. I kept thinking, "This time last year, I was checking into the hospital to be induced." 

"This time last year, I was in labor."

"...still in labor..."

"....still in labor..."

"...thinking the labor would never end..."

"....finally going in for a C section."

The first three months of Connor's life seemed to take forever (probably the extreme lack of sleep), but after that the time has flown. I keep looking at my son and I can't believe he's here, that I'm a mom, and he's already one years old. 

Me and my pal Scout drinking our milk. In our drawers.

We were lucky that even though it's been nasty and raining all week, yesterday was a gorgeous day. The kids had plenty of time to run around outside.

It also made grilling hot dogs and hamburgers a lot easier. :D

Even though we kept his party really low key, Connor started getting upset towards the end of the day. He's also teething something fierce, so he was a bit cranky right from the get go. He normally does okay in large groups of people, but I think the idea that they were all focusing on him unnerved him. 

Naturally he burst into tears when we sang happy birthday and gave him his smash cake. 

Is this...poison?
Rena also had the astute observation that for a whole year you've been rescuing anything like cake they get near, but suddenly everyone is watching them and they have a giant cake in front of them...he was very suspicious.

After everyone left he calmed down and started playing with his new toys. 

Busy baby day!  

I'll post more pictures of the party itself when I get them back from my friend. She had some awesome photography software that she's going to work some magic with. You'll have to do with these pictures in the meantime. 

So what about you? Anything eventful this weekend?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Guest Post: The Top 5 Things I Wished I Knew Before I Started Writing

Everyone, please welcome Charity again to talk to us about about the publishing process. I'll be in the back, handing out cookies...

The Top 5 Things I Wished I Knew Before I Started Writing
by Charity Bradford

Welcome to number 2 of the Top 5 Things I Wished I Knew Before I Started Writing. This is part of the Mini Blog Hop for The Magic Wakes blog tour, and came about from a discussion the author had with a group of teen writers. The blog chain starts HERE.

2. The Publishing Industry (Many ways to publish—Always changing)

This is publishing at its simplest definitions. A starting point if you will for your industry education.

Traditional—Finish your book, send out queries to get an Agent; they shop your MS to the Big 6 5 publishers. (I have heard of agents shopping books to mid-sized publishers as well.) What you get: help with contract from the agent, an advance against the royalties (which I believe means you don’t make royalties until after you’ve exceeded what you were paid in advance) from the publishing house, and the house puts up the money to edit, design the cover, print, market, and distribute the book.

Mid-size—These publishers prefer to work through agents, but they are not closed to unagented queries. What you get: royalty rates are similar to the big NY publishers, but advances are a lot smaller. The house puts up the money to edit, design the cover, print, market, and distribute the book.
Small—You don’t have to have an agent to approach these publishers. You query the acquisitions editors. You get: they put up the money for an editor, cover, design and print of book, help with marketing but not as much as traditional (a lot is up to you), distribution, and royalties. Some houses may offer very small advances, but usually nothing is offered.

Self—It’s all you! Hiring an editor, design/formatting, book cover, getting ISBN, marketing, printing costs, complete control is in your hands as is the financial risk of printing.
What are the main considerations you should think about before choosing which route you want to go?
Time—This varies greatly between the options. Traditional publishing may take years for a book to hit the shelves. Small publishers deal with fewer books and therefore can get them out faster—maybe a year or less depending on their load. With self publishing you can have an e-book out in days or weeks, print copies within six months or less.
Money—Editors, printing, marketing, and distributing all take money. Lots of it. Do you have it? Or do you need an option where someone else funds all the little details?
Control—Who has it? Do you need it to stay sane? Are you flexible enough to let someone else make changes to your novel, choose your cover, and when/where/how it goes out to the public? Granted the different sizes of publishing houses will involve their authors to varying degrees. You just have to decide what works the best for you.

Q4U: What is it that YOU want from the publishing experience?
Next up is The Process.

5 Things I Wish I Knew About Writing Before I Started Mini Blog Hop Alex Cavanaugh--Intro to Blog Hop Cally Jackson--Time Elizabeth Poole--Publishing Options Kay Froebel--The Process Mason Canyon--Critique Partners Katy Sozaeva--Platform Building

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Award Goodness

So my friend Rena, aka the Liz with the Dragons, has nominated me for an award. Awards are fun, and I always enjoy talking about myself, so here we go!

The rules:
  • paste the award badge to your blog, 
  • give us 11 random facts about yourself, 
  • answer the 11 questions, 
  • and choose your nominees
 Since I am not sure I can think of random facts about myself everyone wants to know, we're skipping right to the questions, m'kay? M'kay.

a.        What naive misconception did you have about writing books when you started

That your "process" was a static thing. Once you found your magical process at the end of a rainbow, that was it. Just, lather rinse repeat for every single book, forever and ever.

This is so not the case. I always try new things, partially because I am always trying to find a better way to do something, and also because the same thing doesn't work for each book. Some ideas I spend a lot of time working on the character, while the next book I might not have to work hard at all. 

This isn't to say that I don't spend equal time working on character, plot, and setting, just that some things come easier than others, but what things are easy and what is hard changes with each book.  
b.      What is your favorite part of writing? 

That warm, bubbly feeling in the pit of your stomach when you're writing and the rest of the world disappears. Your fingertips are flying across the keyboard and the words come easy.

I also really love brainstorming new ideas.
c.       What is the one thing you would change about publishing and why?

Wow, what a can of worms! Most of the business practices of publishing are there because they need to be, I think (please lay down your pitchforks). But there's a lot of things that could be done far more efficiently, and I think the new computer tracking systems make it hard to build a career. 
d.      Do you have an inspiration list? Can you give us a sample? 

I use music and pictures to inspire me, especially during the brainstorming stage of a project.

Pinterest is excellent for the picture aspect. Here are my boards. All of them are for a book idea. Some of those ideas are really far developed (Deja Vu and Sanctuary for example), but other ideas have been really slippery, so I actually used Pinterest in attempts to brainstorm (What the Water Gave Me for example). 

As for the music aspect, that's why Job invented iTunes. I make playlists for each book idea, and I have a separate playlist called The Idea Mine that's nothing but songs I find inspiring. A few of those songs are:

"A Question of Heaven" by Iced Earth
"Snuff" by Slipknot
"What the Water Gave Me" by Florence and the Machine (if you couldn't already tell from Pinterest) ;)
"Talons" by Bloc Party
and "Daisy" by Brand New

Tangent: there is an excellent Whedonverse music video to Daisy...

e.       If you were a super villain, what would be your fatal flaw? 
Hubris, for that is everyone's fatal flaw.

Other than that, it would be over thinking everything. I would try to run a Xanatos Gambit, over think all the possibilities, and never get anything done. I would be the less effective supervillain ever.

f.       If you were a super hero, what would be your super power? 

I would be the superhero that pulls all the other superheros together. When the chips are down and all hope seems lost, I would be the plucky sidekick that gives a rousing speech about friendship or courage or nachos that kicks the Moody Superhero off his/her butt and saves the day.

If I was short inspiration that day, I would just crib Aragorn's speech. He wouldn't mind, I'm sure.

g.      If you could go on a trip to a tropical island but you didn’t get to pack anything before you left, would you go?


If you asked the same question about the Arctic Tundra the answer would be no. I figure, a tropical island, I could just buy whatever I needed there. Arctic Tundra, not so much.

Now for the nominees:

Joe Selby
Liz Davis
Charity Bradford (who also has a book coming out soon, that you should read because it's AMAZING)

...and anyone else that wants to answer these questions. Let us know in the comments section if you're game, so we can visit and see!

Nominees, because Rena asks awesome questions, I am going to ask that you answer the same ones. :D

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Author Interview: Charity Bradford

State your name for the record: Charity Bradford

Identify your gender: A true Southern Lady, thank you very much.

Please state your birthdate: August 14th

Identify your place of birth: Kentucky, but I claimed Tennessee as home until North Carolina stole my heart.

Where do you live? Northwest Arkansas (I get around don’t I? I’ve also lived in Alabama, Utah, and a summer in Connecticut.)

Hair and eyes: brown hair, blue gray eyes—I’ve been told they change

What is your preferred OS? As in operating system? I guess Windows because it’s what I have, but I’d love to get a Mac.
Do you use a mousepad? How about a screen saver? Mousepad—check, when my kids haven’t “borrowed” it. Screen saver—check, it rotates through my photos of family and vacations.

What is your favorite color? Yellow! Bright sunshiny, blind you when you first see it kind of yellow.

What is your favorite hobby? Reading, always has been. I love to do lots of other stuff, but reading is what I usually wish I was doing.

What are your favorite TV shows? Castle, NCIS Los Angeles, and the new Beauty and the Beast 

What is your favorite smell? Vanilla with mint coming in at a close second.

What is the best feeling in the world? Feeling understood, loved and accepted for who you are imperfections and all.

What is the worst feeling in the world? Exhaustion. Why? Because it means I’m not going to get stuff done and guilt comes with that.

What are your favorite things to do on the weekends? Spend time with my family, preferably outside somewhere with our little dog in tow.

What is one vain thing about yourself of which you are proud? I have great legs. They are shapely and look really good in heels.

What is your ultimate vacation spot? Somewhere peaceful and not overly crowded. I love the mountains but think I could enjoy a sparsely populated non-touristy island as well. The top of my “to visit” places are the Isle of Skye in Scotland and Machu Picchu. Credit: credit: wikipedia

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? “Not again.” LOL. Seriously all I really want to do is snuggle back up with my honey and pretend we don’t have kids.

What are your favorite foods? I like almost all foods but one, see below. Italian, Mexican, Chinese, you name it. Desserts are a weakness, especially if they contain chocolate.

What foods do you hate? I don’t like sea food of any kind. Ick.

What is your number one pet peeve? Slow drivers. I try not to speed (too much), but can we at least go the posted speed limit??

If you could have any job you wanted, what would it be? I really like the one I’ve got. Mom, wife, writer. That’s pretty perfect in my book. Hah! No pun intended.

What is on your bedroom walls? A print of “Dance Me to the End of Love” because this is how I see my relationship with my hubby. There are also two abstract paintings hubby did in blues, browns and whites.

What are your favorite movies? The 5 hour BBC Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson, Tangled, and the new Star Trek movie. :D

What's under your bed? Nothing! Pretty amazing isn’t it.

What one thing do you wish more people already knew? We are all on a journey and it doesn’t matter that they are all different. Everyone deserves respect and acceptance.

Tell us about your upcoming book.
 It truly is a dream come true for me. Here’s a shorten blurb for it. You can read the full one and watch the trailer on my website:

Talia Zaryn has a secret, one that will save her world and yet rip it apart. Only she can decide if the price is worth it.
Major Landry Sutton isn’t looking for a friend. He’s looking for a traitor. His ability to sense emotions convinces him Talia is that traitor until a touch sizzles between them. In an instant their minds are connected and they can communicate telepathically.
Can they learn to trust each other and the magic coursing through their veins in time to defeat an alien army?

What was the inspiration for it?
This all started with a dream. Not the one to become a writer, but one that left me sweaty and panting for air because I thought I was meeting my death at the hands of some pretty scary creatures. It was one of those dreams I never forgot, and when the story I was writing wasn’t working out, somehow it weaved its way into a new story. Now if only I can write a book using the dream I had about invading chocolate chip cookies…

Give the audience one piece of writing advice.
 Just do it. If you need to write in order to feel whole, sane and happy, just do it. Who cares if no one else ever reads it? I believe that the need to write can be as much a part of who you are as brown hair and blue eyes. ;)

And finally, what skills do you bring to humanity when the inevitable robozombieapocalypse happens?
I might not be much help in a normal zombie apocalypse, but I’ll be a superwoman in a robozombie apocalypse. Why? Because all things electronic short out or crash regularly in my presence. Yeah, it’s sad because I really like computers, cell phones, TVs, etc. Unfortunately, I must have a high natural energy output because nothing lasts long around me.

Should I start developing this talent for on demand usage? And is there something you know that you’re not telling us?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


So I am done with the first draft of Zombie Road Trip. 

I don't feel excited yet. Mostly, I feel like a fake. That's because my endings in the first draft suck. They suck big time. They suck so much they create tiny black holes stealing all my joy. When I say I am finished, I feel like I am anything but.

It's not until a few days later do I start to feel joy at being finished. I know people talk about post-novel ennui, and for me, it comes on quick wings of loathing. Of realizing how awful the ending is, how big the plot holes are, etc etc etc...

Yes, I am a perfectionist. Most people say that with a certain amount of pride. That they demand a high quality in themselves. That IS something to be proud of, and I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it in small doses. But I'm not talking about spell checking something before you send it to your boss. 

I'm talking about never wanting to let anyone see something until it's "good enough". And since it will never be "good enough" in your eyes, no one ever sees anything. That's why I've written five novels and never queried one. That's why when I finish a first draft all I initially feel is despair at how awful it is.

And that why I am breaking the cycle with this book. I've let people read the first draft, warts and all, despite how much I want to crawl in a hole and die at the thought, and why after a break, I'm going to revise the crap out of this book, and then I am going to send out some queries. 

In the meantime, I am going to be celebrating and telling everyone who will listen that I am DONE with this draft.   

EDITED TO ADD: My friend Liz has advised me that I can improve my crappy ending by adding: AND THEN THEY ALL DIED. THE END.

Or if I was feeling optimistic: AND THEN THEY HAD SEX.