Hello Facebook

It was inevitable. The day has come that I finally got with the program and set up an author Page on Facebook. I have heard for months (okay, I’ve known forever) that as a professional person one should have all the social media that they can get. I have researched all the hidie-holes for information and, in case you’re wondering, there is more than one website dedicated to social media and how it can promote your profession (go figure!).

I did a quick search on Google “Why a Facebook Page?” (in quotations) and the results were robust….1,070,000 pages/links/hidie-holes showed up for me to browse and learn. It was surprising the number one page that came up was: 3 Reasons Why a Facebook Page Can’t Replace an Author Website

Wait….what? I’m looking for reason TO have a Page. After all, I’m an author and I am told I should have a Page. I must have a Page! There are millions of Fans climbing over one another ripping through cyberspace just so they can Like My Page. Fear not my curious reader. Jane Friedman gives some very sound advice for authors, or anyone in a professional career, a number of reasons not to put all your vowels into a single basket. Her number one point that I took away? Social Media is in a constant state of flux. What you set up today could be obsolete tomorrow. Proceed with caution.

Scanning down the list of Google’s choices for researching this vast subject I came across a blogger who supports the need for a Page and why. Why a Facebook Page for business or blog is necessary This post is very business oriented. Yet, there is some very useful information for the creative mind. Wading through the SEO’s, Branding’s, and Analytic’s can be a little treacherous, so take the time to get an idea of how it can help.  Even though you may be a painter, a writer, or a sculptor, all the techno-babble does apply to you and the art you are promoting. Facebook can help.

After weighing my vowels against my consonants I decided that a Page was for me. It is dedicated to those who have an interest in the things that life throws out into the cosmos inspiring creativity, along with those funny quips and foibles keeping the creative mind nurtured. Follow this LINK to my PAGE and choose to LIKE it and FOLLOW it and all those other things that need to be done to stay in touch. Thank you.

P.S. I can also be found on Twitter. (Yep, that one’s still a mystery to me, but I do tweet every now and again). @kjscrim

Karen Emanuelson

Sword fighting at Viking Festival

Karen demonstrates her sword fighting skills at a Viking festival.

KJ~~ Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Karen~~ I’m a Viking re-enactor and do era correct sword-fighting.  My bird, Xanadu, a Peach-faced African Lovebird, is my oldest animal at 15 1/2.  She detests my cats and is happiest if she can get them in trouble.  I have two Pugs, Jera and her brother, Lahi, three cats, Li Po, my oldest boy at nine and the “kittens” Isaz and her brother, Wunjo.  I also have three horses, the mares Misty (Queen of the Universe!) who is a registered Spotted Saddle Horse (a gaited breed) plus my APHA registered Paints, Denver, my big dressage horse, as well as my filly, Fehu.  I used to be a horse breeder and trainer.  Sometimes I give riding lessons in dressage.  I’m a musician and although I play a variety of instruments:  Irish Bouzouki, Mountain Dulcimer, Ukulele, NAF (Native American Flute) and Bodhran (the Celtic frame drum) I have studied the recorder for the past 2 1/2 years so I can play Renaissance & Baroque music as well as Celtic music on that instrument.  Water is my element and I love to swim–almost as much as I love horseback riding.  I was a high adventure sports specialist, taught rock-climbing and cross-country skiing and worked as a whitewater raft guide all summer.  I’m a veteran and was in the Army for 9 1/2 years.
KJ~~ I understand that you are a Beowulf Scholar. Would you tell us more about this?
Karen~~  I present on Beowulf at academic conferences.  I always show up in period garb and often with a collection of weapons.  One year I did a sword-fighting demonstration as part of my talk which is not something most academics do I suppose, so I’ve attracted a bit of a following.
KJ~~ You are presently working on a series of books. What are they about?
Karen~~  They are all a look at Beowulf’s world which was early 6th century Scandinavia.  We know that Beowulf’s uncle, King Hygelac was killed in 521 CE during an act of piracy against his neighbors the Frisians.  Due to that documentation we can date the other events that happen during the Beowulf saga.  The poem that we are all familiar with was written down by a couple of monks over in England more than 200 years after the events occurred.  The stories had to get past the church censors, so the writers layered on a heavy Christian gloss that would not have existed in Scandinavian society during the saga’s time.  I have removed that Christian gloss and re-situated the story back into the proper culture.  Although Beowulf himself is an important character in my books, the thrust of the narrative focuses upon women of his world.  Norse women had a lot of power until the Scandinavian lands were Christianized at the end of the much later Viking era and their professions were quite diverse.  They were traders, farmers, healers, ship captains, warriors and leaders, among other things.
KJ~~ Where did you get your inspiration?
Karen~~ When I was going to college over in Germany–my last duty station while in the Army–I wound up being an English major by default.  At the time I wanted to be an Ethologist (animal behavior scientist) but the University of Maryland, European Division, Frankfurt, didn’t have much of a program in natural science, although of course I took all the classes they did offer as electives.  As I finished up my course work for my degree we had a “drive by class” that covered both “Beowulf” and “Gilgamesh” in one evening.  Something like, “These are both heroic epics.  The End.”  I studied “Beowulf” on my own.  Instead of anything Germanic in university, we spent loads of time–entire courses in fact–on the Greeks.  I asked one of my professors if anyone had ever written a novel based upon “Beowulf” that was empowering to women & she said not as far as she knew.  Years later I decided to present on Grendel’s mother at an academic conference.  As I did my research, I was amazed by what I learned–several key words in the original manuscript had been mistranslated because of the Christian attitude toward women in the late 19th century.  Rather than a monster, I learned that Grendel’s mother was a noblewoman and a mighty warrior.  I read about the graves of Norse women warriors who were mislabeled “men” because of the warrior artifacts buried with the remains until scientists were able to extract DNA to prove otherwise just recently.  Approximately 10% of the warriors were women.  My novels follow the life of one of them, a woman who starts life as a wife, mother and simple farmer until catastrophe strikes her farmstead.  As she travels in her quest of retribution, she meets many characters from the “Beowulf” saga.
KJ~~ What does a typical writing day look like for you?
Karen~~ The last thing I do every night before I go drain my brain into the idiot box and cuddle with my pets is write.  I write absolutely every single night, no excuses.
KJ~~ Do you have strategies for getting past those days that are hard to write?
Karen~~ My rule is that I write every night–even if it’s only one line.  Some nights I have indeed, only written one line.  Other nights I write pages.  It’s all a matter of discipline.
KJ~~ Is there a lesson you have learned in your writing that you would like to share with us?
Karen~~ Force yourself to write.  No excuses, no blaming “the muse” or whining about writers block.  If you plan to write something long, you must write every day regardless of what is going on in your life or you will never ever finish.
KJ~~ What books or authors have influenced you the most and why?
Karen~~ I’ve read many translations of “Beowulf” and although the late Seamus Heaney’s version is the most celebrated, I enjoy the beauty of the language in the Howell D, Chickering, Jr’s version the most.  Tolkien is a huge hero of mine and I can’t wait to get my hands on his “Beowulf” translation and hope the book includes his essays.  He was a famous Oxford professor and his scholarship is admirable.  His LOTR series of books was his way of giving the English people back their own mythology–instead of all the Greeks and Romans.  All Germanic mythology is related, so it’s relevant to me.  Plus, he was the first serious “Beowulf” scholar.  When I went to England with the university to finish up my thesis in graduate school, I walked to Tolkien’s favorite hang-out, “The Eagle & Child” to enjoy a pint, soak up his energy and write.  That night and the day I visited Stonehenge were the only times it rained–and it poured both times.  I love what Diana Galbaldon has done with Scottish history.  Any time an author does his or her research and is accurate without winding up with a novel that reads like a history text book and tells a good story, it makes me happy.  I plan to be to Beowulf’s time/place what Phillipa Gregory is to her era of British history.  Although I don’t find JK Rowling’s writing style to be especially “clean” I absolutely adore her Harry Potter books.  I believe that being a great storyteller is more important than anything else when one writes novels.
KJ~~ If you took a two-week vacation in any book or story, where would you go and who would you be?
Karen~~ I often dream about what it might have felt like to have a good childhood, so I think it would be awesome to be someone like Fern in “Charlotte’s Web.”  When I was a kid, authors didn’t tend to write books with interesting female protagonists.  I wanted to be Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn in Twain’s books–the female characters were a bore to me.  Of course most of the books I read were about horses or dogs.  I read all of Walter Farley’s “Black Stallion” novels and all of Marguerite Henry’s books.  She was a Wisconsinite like me, so I really admired her when I was a kid.  But again, both of these favorite authors had boys as the protagonists.  Girls were dull.
Coming September 1st: Award winning author Donnell Bell.

Anthonette Klinkerman


Anthonette Klinkerman receives two 2013 Reader’s Choice Awards

Anthonette Klinkerman, winner of the 2013 Reader’s Choice Award (Bronze and Silver Star), stopped in to tell us about her award winning book.

KJ ~ Tell us a little bit about yourself.
ANTHONETTE ~ I was born in San Diego and transplanted in Colorado. Among the many hats I wear, I am a public speaker, an author, and a public school English teacher. My husband and I have been married for fifteen years now, and our daughter is ten years old. I enjoy golfing, reading, and writing.

KJ ~ What are you working on right now?
ANTHONETTE ~ Currently, I am working on my blogging efforts, and enjoy writing about etiquette and manners, or lack thereof, in my WordPress blog, http://courtesybootcamp.wordpress.com/. I do have another children’s book rolling around in my head, and though I started writing it, I did not like the initial beginning so I tabled it for a while. It is going to be a seasonal book, a Christmas-time story, and I find it a little difficult to be disciplined about writing when it is so beautiful outside!

KJ ~ Battle of the Grandmas is your first children’s book (and winner of the 2013 Reader’s Choice Award), what is it about?
ANTHONETTE ~ It is a story about a little girl with three grandmas, and when the three grandmas accidentally buy her all the same present, they launch into a gift-buying battle for supremacy. The little girl emerges as the voice of reason and wisdom at the end, telling the grandmothers that she can’t play with all the stuff, or wear all the clothes. It is far more important to spend time creating memories with each grandma.

KJ ~ What was the hardest part about getting this book/story from the first ideas to publication?
ANTHONETTE ~ Rejection letters from the better-known publishers! Those were the worst, but the problem has been solved with self-publishing. (You can print your book idea in a matter of days with digital and print-on-demand printing.) It used to be called “vanity press”, but now it has become so respected, bigger publishers are now searching for new up and coming authors in the self-publishing realm.

KJ ~ Beside self-publishing this book you also found an illustrator. What advice would you give someone seeking this for his or her own book?
ANTHONETTE ~ Be very very careful when selecting your publisher. I am currently at odds with my publisher as once you turn over all of your files to them, it is extremely difficult and EXPENSIVE to get them back. You want to maintain as much control as you can over your book, so I would strongly advise anyone to get their own ISBN and to use publishing centers such as CreateSpace to keep as much control, and as much of your profits, as possible.
Marketing the book yourself is also a bit of a challenge, too, as you can’t possibly visit every book fair and book sale. It makes sense to then invest more money into a company that can do it all for you, as long as they are reputable. I found out after the fact that checking the Better Business Bureau is a terrific place to start when checking out a publisher.
As for illustrators, they are very expensive, and as one put it, you are creating a life-long relationship with them for as long as your book is on the shelves. I had a rather brilliant idea to hire a student artist to give him experience, and a great piece for his portfolio. There is a lot of hidden talent in school districts and art schools, so I would look there first.

KJ ~ Where did you get your inspiration for Battle of the Grandmas?
ANTHONETTE ~ It is a near-true story! When my daughter was very small, she received a personalized book in the mail from a grandmother. The very next day, the same size package arrived, and I opened it to find the identical personalized book from another relative. I thought, “What are the odds of that happening?”, so I sat down that afternoon and wrote the poem that is the story.

KJ ~ What does a typical writing day look like for you?
ANTHONETTE ~ As I mentioned before, I am not as disciplined as some about making an appointment with myself to have undisturbed writing time. The upside is I just listened to a webinar stating that writing the same time every day, posting thirty times a week, etc. is not the way to do it. I felt so much better after hearing that! Although, when I am struck by the desire to write, I am not to be disturbed! I close my office doors, stream some music on the computer, usually jazz, and let my fingers fly.

KJ ~ Do you have strategies for getting past those days that are hard to write?
ANTHONETTE ~ That is a tough one. I like reading to inspire my own writing, and sometimes social media, though a huge time-waste in some cases, trips some notion to write about something. Responding to people’s posts or links gets some ideas moving. Getting out and people-watching works even better for me as it is always interesting to watch a population that believes it is invisible behind their little screens. A coffee shop is a gold-mine for speculating as to what people are really doing when they are trying to look busy.

KJ ~ What are a few of your favorite books that you have read for pleasure?
ANTHONETTE ~ I recently completed The Book Thief and loved it. I hesitate to see the movie as the prose in the book was so lovely I am afraid the movie experience may ruin it for me! It was set in Hitler’s Germany, and is about a girl who takes to stealing books as the narrator, Death himself, is watching.
I really enjoyed The Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel in the past. It included The Clan of the Cave Bear, and several others. I waited over 14 years for her final book to come out just two years ago!
I also recently read The City of Thieves. Ironically, it is the same setting and time period as The Book Thief. While I did complete it, I wouldn’t rate it among my highest as there were instances where I thought the author was being gross just to be gross.
Truly, teachers don’t pleasure read until summer so I am looking forward to getting into a few books right now!

KJ ~ If you took a two-week vacation in any book or story, where would you go and who would you be?
ANTHONETTE ~ Another great question! I would have to go back to my all-time favorite story, Where The Red Fern Grows. I must have read that book as a Fifth grader, but I loved the simpler times of the 1920s; Billy, the boy running around the Ozark mountains in overalls and barefoot, the grandpa’s general store and its candy jars, the two red-bone coon hounds… I would be Billy. The end never fails to bring tears, though. I think I read it probably seven times through so the visuals are burned in my mind. It sounded like Heaven compared to the stress and strain of our daily lives in 2014 so this would definitely be my choice.


Coming August 15th: Karen Emanuelson, Beowulf Scholar and author who is working on her new series of books based in 6th century Scandinavia.

Chris Mandeville

Chris Mandeville

Author Chris Mandeville joins us today for a quick chat.

KJ ~Tell us a little bit about yourself.
CHRIS ~ I’m a UC Berkeley grad, wife of a retired Air Force officer, and mom of three boys. I grew up in California, moved around a bit with the military (including a stint in Canada), then settled in Colorado where I’m more than happy to stay. Once upon a time I worked in advertising (most notably on the Lexus launch and Iams Pet Food) and also taught preschool. Since leaving the paid workforce to raise my children, I’ve always kept busy doing some kind of volunteer work or other, including working with the Red Cross, Project Sanctuary (www.projectsanctuary.org), and Pikes Peak Writers (www.pikespeakwriters.com) where I served for more than ten years on their Board of Directors. Now I’m a full-time writer and president of Delve Writing, an online community providing boot camps for writers (www.delvewriting.com). I love to teach writing and spend time with other writers, so look for me at writing events in Colorado and online, or contact me if you’d like me to present a writing workshop for your group: Chris@delvewriting.com

KJ ~ What are you working on right now?
CHRIS ~ I write New Adult speculative fiction and currently have a post-apocalyptic under consideration at several publishers and literary agencies. While that manuscript is making the rounds, I’m trying my hand at something new: this week I began working on a mystery novel. I love reading mysteries but this is my first time writing one. I’m also putting together an ebook for writers: 52 Ways to Name a Character which is due out later this year.

KJ ~Of the books you have written, which one would you like to tell us about?
CHRIS ~ 52 Ways to Get Unstuck: Exercises to Break Through Writer’s Block
This is a comprehensive guide to overcoming writer’s block, including suggestions for how to prevent it from occurring. It includes innovative exercises, anecdotes, and advice from dozens of authors.

KJ ~ What was the hardest part about getting this book from the first ideas to publication?
CHRIS ~ There was nothing hard about the project itself—it was a dream to write. The only slight difficulty was that occasionally during the writing process I missed working on fiction because the nonfiction process keeps me in my own life rather than transporting me to “somewhere else.”

KJ ~Where did you get your inspiration for this book?
CHRIS ~ Several years ago the Pikes Peak Writers Conference was in need of a workshop on writer’s block and asked if I could put together something on that topic. I did and “52 Ways to Get Unstuck” was born. The workshop was so well received, I immediately began making plans to put it into book form, but it took me awhile to wrap up some fiction projects before turning my focus to nonfiction.

KJ ~ What books or authors have influenced you the most and why?
CHRIS ~ In terms of nonfiction books for writers, several have been very influential in both my fiction and nonfiction writing. In particular, GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon and Writing the Fiction Synopsis by Pam McCutcheon have been invaluable. As far as fiction, I’ve been influenced, inspired, and instructed (as well as entertained) in countless ways by hundreds of books over the course of my life. If I had to choose just one, I’d say Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman stands out as being the most influential because it was only in reading this book that I learned to embrace my own voice as a writer.

KJ ~What are your favorite books that you have read simply for pleasure?
CHRIS ~ Iron House by John Hart, The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, Midwives by Chris Bohjalian, Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldie the Caterer series, Faye Kellerman’s Decker series, everything by Jeffery Deaver, and I just finished –and loved– The Breakup Doctor by Phoebe Fox.

KJ ~What does a typical writing day look like for you?
CHRIS ~ I like to write in “binges” rather than for a set amount each day, so a typical writing day for me is to tank up on coffee at breakfast, then write all day until something forces me to stop (sometimes that’s making dinner or sometimes I’ll write into the evening). It’s not uncommon for me to put in 8-10 hours on a good writing day. If I’m on a deadline I’ll sneak an hour or two of writing into a busy non-writing day, but I usually plan my week so that I have the opportunity for a couple of binges. The only essentials—besides time—are coffee and my laptop. I can write anywhere, but my usual spot is in a comfy leather chair in the pub at my house. There I have a great view of the woods, it’s quiet except for the wind in the trees, and I have an espresso maker within reach. Heaven.

KJ ~Do you have strategies for getting past those days that are hard to write?
CHRIS ~ Yes! The specific strategy depends on the type of difficulty I’m having. Often when it’s “hard to write” that simply means I’m having trouble getting my butt in the chair and I need to clear the decks and put my nose to the grindstone. I seldom have difficulty being productive once my butt is in the chair and my hands are on the keyboard. If I’m stuck on something related to story/character, or if I’m having difficulty turning my focus away from my non-writing life, I turn to one of the strategies in my book, 52 Ways to Get Unstuck. My top strategies are to take a shower or take a drive.

KJ ~If you took a two-week vacation in any book or story, where would you go and who would you be?
CHRIS ~ Most of what I read is mystery/suspense/thriller, and I don’t want to take a vacation amidst killers, corpses, and danger! So I think I’d choose to go to C.S. Lewis’ Narnia, and I’d want to be myself. I’ve already seen how the characters in the Narnia stories interact with their world; I’d want to experience that magical place for myself as myself.


Coming July 31: Anthonette Klinkerman (2 time winner of the Reader’s Choice Award) is the author of “Battle of the Grandmas” and she shares some of her thoughts about writing this children’s book.

Phoebe Fox


KJ~~Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Phoebe~~ I grew up in Georgia, moved to New York City to pursue an acting career, “retired” from showbiz to Florida to work as a journalist, and seven years ago moved to Austin, Texas, with my husband and our terribly spoiled dogs, where I plan to stay for a while. I’ve worked as a film producer/director, a theater critic, a health columnist, a game-show host, a casting assistant for Broadway shows, an intern for Paramount Pictures, and the voice of the heroine in a video game. Kind of a fun and eclectic background to draw on when you’re a writer.

KJ~~What are you working on right now?
Phoebe~~ At the moment I’m putting the final touches on the Breakup Doctor sequel—Bedside Manners, out in March of 2015—and then doing a final edit on a manuscript currently called Falling Together (soon to be retitled, thanks to one of my favorite writers, Marisa de los Santos, who used that working title for her last book). That one’s a bit of a departure from the Breakup Doctor series—a deeper story about a woman who leaves her seemingly happy marriage and literally starts a new life from scratch in an unfamiliar, washed-up beach town after a tragedy she cannot overcome. It’s about forgiveness, really—of the ones we love who hurt us, whether they mean to or not (and often so much more deeply because we love them), and even more important, forgiveness of ourselves for doing the things we once imagined were unthinkable.


KJ~~Of the books/stories you have written, which one would you like to tell us about?
Phoebe~~ The first in my Breakup series—cleverly titled The Breakup Doctor—is about a therapist who, when she loses her practice, reinvents herself as a relationship columnist and counselor, on call to help you shape up after a breakup. But when her own relationship falls apart, she finds herself spectacularly breaking every one of her own rules. It’s a fun, funny read, but I hope also says something real about how we handle the tough parts of love—not just in our romantic relationships, but with friends and family too. And how to forgive yourself when you fall short of your own expectations. Which seems to be a theme in my writing.
There are a variety of buy links on my publisher’s page

KJ~~What was the hardest part about getting this book/story from the first ideas to publication?
Phoebe~~ A couple of years ago my agent, the tireless Courtney Miller-Callihan at Sanford J. Greenburger, submitted Breakup Doctor all over, and we got some of the nicest, most positive rejection letters you’ve ever seen—but not a single offer. I figured the story was just a no-go, so I put it away and worked on two other manuscripts I’ve since completed.
After that I revisited Breakup Doctor and still liked it and thought it had a story to tell, so I did a heavy rewrite of it and told Courtney that I was going to self-publish, and she said, “Give me one more crack at it first.” (Every author wants a Courtney Miller-Callihan in her corner.) And so she shopped it around one more time, and this time we found the perfect home for it—Henery Press, an intimate house that has impressed me at every turn with their enthusiasm for the book and for me, as well as their industry knowledge and fast growth as a company.
In a way I think this is how it had to happen—Breakup Doctor is a much better book than it was the first go-around; I needed time to “season” the story. And Henery is the exact right publisher for it, and I found them at the exact right time (when they branched out form their usual comedic mysteries to include my genre, chick lit). It makes me think of the story of Breakup Doctor itself—something really, really good came out of what at the time felt like nothing but rejection and heartbreak.
KJ~~Where did you get your inspiration for this book?
Phoebe~~ Breakup Doctor started years ago as an almost entirely different book, generally based around a woman who bought a fixer-upper house to flip it in the hot Florida market, just before the mortgage crisis hit. At the time I was living in Fort Myers, Florida—the epicenter of the mortgage collapse, nicknamed “Foreclosure Myers” in the press. And yes, I had just bought a house.
In the process of writing it, however, I supported several friends through tough breakups (and vice versa), as well as writing a recurring series for my paper about happily married couples and what made them work. I spent loads of time observing, researching, and talking about relationships—why they succeeded, why they failed, and how to handle the latter when it happened—and the book started to take on a new path, though I still wasn’t quite finding its spine.
And then I met the man who is now my husband, and we hit it off fast and hard, followed very quickly by what I like to call “the Great Disappearance” (and my husband likes to call “a figment of my imagination”). After a month of steady contact—dates, phone calls, e-mails, a full-court press—he told me he was going away for a week’s vacation, and I stopped hearing from him. Completely.
I immediately decided he was there with another woman, and that all the great connection I’d thought we’d had was in my own head. I beat myself up mercilessly—how could I have misjudged everything so thoroughly? And in his absence the book finally found its heart: Why can love make us a little crazy, even when we think we have it all together?
Oh—and it turns out my husband was at a weeklong yoga retreat. Where they discouraged computer and cell phone use. 

KJ~~What books or authors have influenced you the most and why?
Phoebe~~ He’s Just Not That Into You, by Liz Tuccillo and Greg Behrendt, literally changed my dating life, and is probably a good large part of the reason I’m happily married today. It was a big inspiration for Breakup Doctor as well. For craft books, Sol Stein’s Stein on Writing is like a master class in writing fiction, and Brenda Ueland’s If You Want to Write is the greatest treatise on and exhortation to creativity that I know of. In the fiction field, I have to say that my childhood reads were among the most influential—they’re simple stories, but books like Harriet the Spy and Encyclopedia Brown and the Judy Blume books and Why Me? and Lisa Bright and Dark gave me an appreciation for storytelling that’s probably a huge part of the reason I love to do it today.

KJ~~What does a typical writing day look like for you?
Phoebe~~ Like a lot of writers, I still work a full-time job, although I’ve had the luxury for the last twenty-plus years of working from home. So generally I get up, walk the dogs, and then write for a couple of hours in the morning, and then work my “regular job” for the rest of the day. Lately I write weekends too, though I didn’t used to—since the first Breakup Doc came out, I learned that getting the word out about your book is also a full-time job. So I’m still working to find the balance between my writing career and my other career, book promotion, and family. I keep assuring my neglected husband and family and dogs and friends that that balance is coming soon….
KJ~~What are your favorite books that you have read simply for pleasure?
Phoebe~~ I’m a big fan of authors like Hester Browne, Lolly Winston, Emily Giffin, Jennifer Weiner, Liz Tuccillo, Marisa de los Santos, Sarah Pekkanen, and Sarah Bird, more or less in my genre. But I also read a lot of nonfiction—I love history, sociological subjects, and biographies (especially if A. Scott Berg wrote them)—some self-help (like any writer worth her salt who focuses on relationships), and recently have been reading more mystery. And Jenny Lawson and the Oatmeal make me snicker like a twelve-year-old boy.

KJ~~Do you have strategies for getting past those days that are hard to write?
Phoebe~~ Usually avoidance and denial, and then more coffee and gritted teeth—the mental equivalent of a cattle prod. My husband and I just saw Eddie Izzard, one of my favorite comedians, and in a Q&A after the show he was asked about what led to his success. I loved his answer: “Determination.” He said that someone once asked him, when he began pursuing acting, why he wanted to be a so-so actor when he was such a brilliant comedian. And his answer was, “Once I was just a so-so comedian.” That struck me so viscerally—the idea that being successful is much less about some kind of innate talent, and more about determination, persistence—just doing and doing and doing that thing you love until you become good at it. That’s what I remind myself of on the days writing feels like a slog.

KJ~~If you took a two-week vacation in any book or story, where would you go and who would you be?
Phoebe~~ I think I would like to visit the worlds of Grimms’ Fairy Tales. I grew up reading these stories, and they were the magic portal for me to my imagination. All things were possible—frogs could talk, a mermaid could trade her tail for legs, a childless couple could wish a minuscule son into existence. Good triumphed over evil, virtue was rewarded, and true love conquered all. They were magnificent and magical and occasionally terrifying, and they opened worlds to me beyond the one I knew.

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood

Written in My Own Heart's Blood (Outlander, #8)Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Diana Gabaldon has once again not disappointed me. “My Own Heart’s Blood” is a fantastic telling of love and life during the Revolutionary War. Passions of life and death are as thick as the air over the battle fields. What a great read!!

It falls microscopically close to 5 stars only because of the long and slow start to the book. No spoilers here, but anyone who reads it will get what I’m talking about.

I am looking forward to book #9!!

View all my reviews

Word, Word, Word, Word…..

STUCK. Ever have one of those days that you feel so stuck you could scream? Artists of every kind have at one time or another. The painter stares at a blank canvas, a photographer stares at an empty lens, and a writer stares at a blank sheet of paper. Stuck. Nothing. Nada. Ziltch. It is a frustrating experience isn’t it?

How do you go about getting unstuck? A few ideas that may work for you: run,swim, meditate, walk, or jump up and down. Some people find it helpful to do an artistic exercise of a different kind. If you are a writer then scribble a doodle. If you are a painter then write a poem, and if you are a photographer….well, I used to turn the camera upside down just for a new perspective. For writing I like to consult my Delve Writers group who can always come up with a new tip or trick. The latest comes from the top in the unstuckedness class of writers, Chris Mandeville (author of 52 Ways to Get Unstuck). Her advice for today: write the word, ‘word’ over and over again and see what comes out.

I was so inspired by this I ended up with two blog posts. So, in honor of getting unstuck I want you to have some fun too. In the comments please write ‘word’ over and over again and see what comes of it. You can see mine at arbitrarydustbunnies.

….and begin….Word, Word, Word, Word…..

Kristi Lloyd

We are pleased to have Kristi Lloyd join us today to chat.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

First of all, I would like to say thank you, KJ. It’s an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to be featured on your blog.

I am an Army wife and stay-at-home mother of two children. I’m originally from a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA, but I’m currently living in Colorado. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and used to work in a psychiatric hospital, which has helped me with my writing. I have a blog at http://www.thumpsbumpsandthrills.blogspot.com. You can also find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/kristi.l.lloyd or on Twitter @KristiLloyd1926. You may email me at generations1926@gmail.com.

2. What are you working on right now?

I’ve recently completed an urban fantasy novel, FAMILIAR GENERATIONS, the first of a series. I’m getting ready to “send it into the world,” a scary yet exciting sort of feeling! The second book of the series has started to unfold as well.

3. Of the books/stories you have written, which one would you like to tell us about?

Familiar Generations: Victoria Braumwell is a Wiccan with a number of psychic abilities, but her greatest downfall is that she’s terribly attracted to bad boys. When she meets Chaz Paglione, a mob boss-turned vampire, Vicki knows she finally found the real deal. While falling for Chaz, Vicki discovers she’s a partial vampire herself and is offered a position as a manager at a hot new nightclub in classic Mafia fashion. But when spirit activity becomes dangerous in her new place of employment, Vicki will need the help of her friends to ensure the nightclub is safe for its guests.

4. What was the hardest part about getting this book/story from the first ideas to publication?

I began writing this book about a year and a half ago, while my husband was deployed to Afghanistan. However, the idea for it first originated about ten years ago. I never had enough confidence to be able to sit down and write it though. The characters (most of them) were there in my head, but I didn’t think I’d be able to come up with a plot. One night, I put my kids in bed and started typing away. From that night on, I knew I had answered my calling to become a writer.

5. Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t attracted to the paranormal. At the age of nine, I saw my first vampire movie, The Lost Boys. From that day on, vampires held me enthralled.

As for my characters themselves, Vicki is modeled after me. Since I first started writing, she has taken on a mind and personality that are all her own. Her two BFFs are characterizations of two important people in my life. As for Chaz, I don’t know where the heck he came from, he just showed up one night. I’ve learned to let him have his way.

6. What books or authors have influenced you the most and why?

R.L. Stein’s Fear Street books had me turning the pages.

In my opinion, if you’re writing within the vampire genre, you owe an immense amount of gratitude to Anne Rice. I don’t know that there’s much more to say about that.

Madelyn Alt’s Bewitching Mysteries Series gave me the courage to open up more about my religion.

Laurell K. Hamilton is a master at what she does. Her Anita Blake books are beyond fantastic. Ms. Hamilton was the first author that made me think it might be fun to fall in love with a vampire.

7. What are your favorite books that you have read simply for pleasure?

Most of the books I read, I do so for pleasure, even when I read non-fiction. The most recent fiction books I’ve found completely entertaining have been the Miss. Peregrin books by Ransom Riggs. As for non-fiction, I’m currently reading Young Al Capone: The Untold Story of Scarface in New York, 1899-1925 by William and John Balsamo (although I guess that one doesn’t count because it is part of my research, but it’s very interesting).

8. What does a typical writing day look like for you?

Unfortunately, the writing doesn’t have much space on my daily schedule. As a mom of a four- and a six-year old, I’m quite busy during the day, even when we’re just staying at home. But I do make a point to write every night once my son and daughter are in bed. I usually end up with anywhere between two and four hours of writing time, depending on how long I stay awake.

9. Do you have strategies for getting past those days that are hard to write?

Yes, sometimes I’ll watch a movie to get some creative juices flowing. I’ll often turn to films about gangsters, or sometimes witches. Goodfellas and Practical Magic are two that I particularly like. Otherwise, there are times when I merely sit and stare at the computer screen.

10. If you took a two-week vacation in any book or story, where would you go and who would you be?

I’ve always imagined I’d make a great Mayfair witch. The Witching Hour (Anne Rice) has always been at the top of my favorites list for books. Charlotte, Mary Beth, and Stella are the characters I adore most. And come on, who doesn’t love New Orleans?


Coming August 15: Chris Mandeville will be chatting with us about her new release, “52 Ways to Get Unstuck”.

The YA Emotional Rollercoaster

Life is a rollercoaster. From youth forward, there is a steady climb to the day we are freed from home and set out on our own. We scream down that first hill into the ups, downs, twists and turns of life. No matter how terrified we are, we can never get off the ride until it is over.

The Emotional Rollercoaster: Plotting the Young Adult Novel was the premise behind a workshop I recently attended at Lighthouse Writers Workshop’s Lit Fest, presented by author Wendy Wunder. Following the graphic below, we discussed the main turning points in the YA novel. The early pages set the stage for our protagonist. It is the who, what, where, why, and when of their situation. Then, in an instant, they make a life altering decision (the inciting incident) that sends them on the ride of their lives filled with heart pounding highs and gut wrenching lows. There are two main high points for the protagonist that are followed by the floor dropping lows, and at the end our protagonist has finally learned something or grown in some way.

Emotional Rollercoaster by Wendy Wunder, handwritten notes added by K.J. Scrim.

When you are writing your next novel (or the one you are working on now) take a look at your protagonist. Do they have the highs that touch the sky and the lows that slam to the ground? Your readers have been waiting in line for a long time for this rollercoaster and they want to feel the twists and turns that you put your characters through. They want to feel the wind as your protagonist flies over the highs and dives down into the lows. Are you taking your readers on an Emotional Rollercoaster? Young adults don’t hang out in the kiddie park anymore; this is the monster rollercoaster so give them the ride of a lifetime!


~~~When not spending time with her family, Wendy Wunder teaches yoga around Boston and writing at Grub Street.  Her first story was published in The Gettysburg Review, and is the author of The Probability of Miracles and The Museum of Intangible Things. 

Ashley Bazer

Ashley Hodges Bazer

Ashley Hodges Bazer

Today we are talking with Ashley Hodges Bazer, author of the Heralds of Crown: Poison, and Asylum: The Circeae Tales.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a mom of three. My husband and I met online, and we’re going on our tenth year as a married couple. Right out of college, I worked at Disneyland as a stage manager. Currently, I’m a producer for an international daily radio broadcast. My first book, Asylum, was traditionally published by a self-publisher after winning their annual writing contest. Shortly thereafter, I rebranded my series, of which Asylum is a part, and created The Crown’s Call—a 15 novel sci-fi series. Each book stands alone, centering on a different set of characters in various time frames.

2. What are you working on right now?

I’m making revisions to the second book in my series, Fusion, which is scheduled to release in November. I’m developing the third book, Reconciliation, slated for a May 2015 release. I have two unrelated stories in the works—a sci-fi about a virtual reality system and dark fantasy which has a combination of characters from classic stories. I’m trying to market a fairy tale mash-up I’ve recently completed titled Once Upon a Heist. Think Ocean’s Eleven meets the Disney princesses. And sometime this summer, I will be self-publishing a young adult fantasy titled Checkmate about a human chess match.

3. Heralds of the Crown: Poison is your most recent publication. Would you tell us about it?

Poison is the first in my series that sets the stage for a cosmic war between good (the Logia) and evil (the Strages). The war will eventually lead to a religious holocaust. We meet Gaultier Lassiter, who is enlisted to help the Logia. He encounters a woman beaten and left for dead. She has no memory and no voice. As they discover her identity, Gaultier unlocks a much bigger mystery. His relationship with his brother is strained, and as the story unfolds, it grows more complicated. It’s a story of God’s grace told in a space opera setting.

4. What was the hardest part about getting this book from the first ideas to publication?

The hardest part for me was nailing down the timeline. With this being the first of a trilogy, as well as the first of a total of fifteen books in the entire Crown’s Call saga, I had to make certain the timeline was completely accurate. In my original manuscript, I used days as the time measurement. That was too hard to follow, so I translated it into years. As it neared publication, I went through and verified everything several times.

5. Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

I have two characters whose storylines are drawn from The Little Mermaid and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The inspiration for the story actually came from the first novel I wrote. I’d referenced a legendary character, Kincade the Space Sailor, which I completely made up. As I developed the Crown’s Call saga, I wanted to explore what this legend was all about. I started with the second book, Fusion, and after establishing the characters there, wrote the backstory, which became Poison.

6. What books or authors have influenced you the most and why?

I love reading Kathy Tyers, Lois McMaster Bujold, and C.S. Lewis. I found Tyers’ Firebird trilogy and Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga while working at Barnes & Noble. Firebird and its sequels spoke to my heart. I love how she captured sci-fi and romance together, and included a powerful message with it. I also loved the strong, yet flawed characters Bujold offers. I find C.S. Lewis’s use of allegory rather intriguing, and I try to model that in my books.

7. What are your favorite books that you have read simply for pleasure?

Juliette Marillier’s Sevenwaters trilogy. I loved those books! The series mentioned in the previous question are also favorites I return to time and again.

8. What does a typical writing day look like for you?

Oh, I wish I had a typical writing day! I work full-time, and after work, I spend time with my family. My writing day usually starts after the kids go to bed, giving me a few hours each day. I also write for work, though, which keeps those creative juices flowing.

9. Do you have strategies for getting past those days that are hard to write?

I don’t ever force myself to write if I’m not feeling it. I will usually move onto a different scene or a different manuscript, as I am not a chronological writer. I’ll think through or daydream about where I am stuck, which usually motivates me to get back to what I’m working on. I also like to crochet, which affords me time to think. If I simply cannot find the time to write, I don’t let the guilt get to me. I also carry a notebook with me everywhere I go, just in case inspiration strikes.

10. If you took a two-week vacation in any book or story, where would you go and who would you be?

I would dive into Anne of Green Gables, enjoying Prince Edward Island for a couple of weeks as the wonderful and memorable Anne Shirley—red hair, kindred spirits, puffed sleeves, Gilbert Blythe, and all!

~~Purchase Ashley’s book at:

Amazon: amzn.to/1quzPBn
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1gxXyfP
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1l7aJ6V
Currently, it’s available in ebook format. A print paperback version will soon be available.

~~Website:  http://www.AshleyBazer.com

~~Contact Information:  ashleybazer@ashleybazer.com


Coming on June 30th: Kristi Lloyd will be talking about her newly completed urban fantasy.


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