Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It's okay, I'm a writer

I've always been a little eccentric. At my job back in Sweden, people would just assume anything strange could be accounted to me. I had peculiar cars, lived in a gigantic house in the middle of nowhere, played bass in a rock band, brought my doggie to the office from time to time, and occasionally forgot to put on good clothes. (In my book Undercover -- TBR September 11 -- the main character Jenny recalls how she went to work in a pyjama top and had to wear an electrician's jacket all day. I did that. *cough*)

I spent a winter renovating this car. I called her Wilma. I got some help with the welding and paint job, but I did an enormous amount of work on it on my own. It ran well sometimes, and not at all other times. In the winter, the heat worked really well on the driver's left knee...

One day a colleague brought a horse in a trailer and parked it outside the office. They were going to the vet later in the day, and bringing it along was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. I was unaware of the opportunity to go pet a horse until someone tucked their head into my room and said, "You have a pretty horse." I said, "I have a what?"

I don't do these things on purpose, they just sort of happen. When blessed with a curious mind, you just have to try some things, to see what would happen.

As much as I try to be normal and fit into society, eccentricity has a way of shining through. A friend said, "Just tell people you're an artist." I tried it at work one day, when someone said something along the lines of, "Not even Maria would..." I said, "I'm a writer, you can't expect me to be normal." Worked like a charm, hahaha!

I got new neighbors a few weeks ago. The old neighbor was sort of used to me, and I don't think he would have cared if I practiced playing accordion with my feet in the front yard. The new owners, on the other hand, have been in for a row of surprises. Don't get me wrong -- they seem super nice and pretty cool -- they're just not used to me yet.

In the mornings, I sleep in as long as the dogs will let me, and then I try to hurry outside because they need to go do their business. Sometimes we take in foster dogs, and it becomes quite a gang. One morning, the new neighbor peeked out the window just in time to see me, dressed in a robe with my hair standing to all sides, pulled by the furry gang, headed for the back yard. I waved and smiled, and he looked positively shocked.

A couple of days later, my friend the wood stork came by. He's usually on his own, but he sometimes bring friends. If I don't see him, he peeks in through the living room window. We've taught him to catch, and he catches better than the dogs. (I think he'd like to live inside the house if I let him.)

Anyway, I was standing outside feeding him, he was about a foot away from me, catching pieces of bread, and I was telling him what a good bird he is. This time, the neighbor tried to appear unfazed but he also had a really big smile. It's hard not to be charmed by these guys.
From time to time, I think it's fun to shoot zombies in the back yard. They're not real zombies, of course, they're made of paper. I either shoot them with bow and arrow, crossbow, or some form of airgun. I have an airsoft gun. (You know, one of those that shoot brightly colored little plastic balls.) It runs on a small CO2 capsule, and it goes off with a neat little poof. Of course, last time I was out to kill the zombie, the poor neighbors were also in their yard, on their side of the fence.

I aimed for the zombie and squeezed the trigger. The poof was louder than I remembered. Big commotion on the other side of the fence. I wondered if I should call out, "It's okay, it's just me," but that felt kinda dumb. I squeezed off a few more plastic balls and exclaimed, "Ha, paper zombie, I got you!" The world is safe, the paper zombie is dead...

I wonder if I should make a sign for my lawn, "It's okay, I'm a writer." The sentence could explain almost any eccentric behaviour!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Did a zombie eat my brain?

Last week, I took a vacation. School's out for summer, and this year has been stressful, so I thought it'd be awesome to take a break from work too. (Do I miss Sweden's five week's vacation each year? You have no idea...)

I had great plans for my vacation. I was going to take the doggies to the beach, fix up the yard, clean up in the house, and get SO much writing done. Yeah, right. I didn't realize just how braindead I've been until yesterday when I started (trying) to get myself back on track. I made a list of things I should have done, and some were fairly easy.

When I reached a point that said, "Contact winners from the Night Owl Reviews summer web hunt," I thought, "This is strange, I never got the email addresses for the winners. Oh well, maybe they've been busy at Night Owls. I should drop them a mail in case they've forgotten about me."

I got an answer this morning, and I bet she was laughing pretty hard. Evidently, they sent me the list just before I went on vacation, and I answered that I would contact everyone the very next day. I have no memory of reading her mail, or writing a reply. I searched my e-mail and she's right, it's just completely gone from my head.

This might not sound like a big deal, but to me it is. I have never forgotten a thing like this. Sure, tasks/words/names can slip my mind, but they always come back after a day or so. This is a complete blank. Kinda scary. And, if I have developed one black hole, what else have I forgotten?

I'll probably be second-guessing myself all day today. I'm sure it'll be quite comical for everyone around me. Dogs, did I really feed you this morning, or do I just think I did? Better give you an extra meal, just in case.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Prequel and good review

Today, I've made up for some of the previous week's inactivity. I've written a short prequel to Kidnapped, and if my Editor in Chief approves, it will be available as a freebe just in time for Christmas. It explains how William became the leader of the resistance, how he met Isabela, and where he found the Redeemer.

I have ideas for another prequel too, but I won't get it ready in time for Desert Breeze Publishing's Christmas presents. Maybe for some other holiday, or next year. This one tells Aaren's story, he has a fairly small role in the novel, but in my head he's an intriguing character. His prequel is quite a love story.

I have a happy dance today too. There was an RT Book Reviews in my mailbox, and in it was...
...the suspense is killing isn't it...
...an awesome review of Kidnapped. The book recieved four stars, and their review system has four stars! As if that wasn't squee-factor enough, they said, "Readers will definitely find this novel to be an absolute gem."

An absolute gem. What a reward! =D

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sweet vacation!

I've had a week's vacation, and it was absolutely awesome. Normally, I type away all morning and whine when it's time to go to work - in my mind I could totally finish the chapter/novel if I could only write for another hour or maybe two. My husband always tells me it wouldn't matter, because if I wasn't interrupted by going to work I'd just think of something else to do that would take the same amount of time out of my day. I usually answer, "Pffft, how can I be a writer if I never have time to write?"

Anyway, having a whole week off, without pesky interruptions like work or school, I intended to get so much writing done. Is anyone surprised I didn't even fill a page, even though I was in a typing frenzy when my vacation started? Guess he was right... ;-)

I have pretty much stayed away from the computer. I've peeked at Facebook and Twitter, but only for a few minutes a day. I've been cleaning the house, reorganizing my office, working in the yard, playing with the dogs... Oh, I've also spent a substantial amount of time killing the paper zombie that resides in our back yard. If the zombie revolution ever comes, I'll do fine as long as they're made of paper and can be killed with a bb gun or bow and arrow.

Right now, I should go out and mow. I swear the grass in Florida grows so quickly I can see it move, but I don't want to. It'll still be there tomorrow.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Happy Joy Joy Moment!

I had a Happy Joy Joy Moment yesterday with the cover for my novel Undercover (TBR September 11). That grin stayed on my face all day today, and widened even more when I received my book contracts for 2013.

My novel Flashback will be released in June, Operation Earth in August, and Borealis XII in November. All by wonderful Desert Breeze Publishing.

It's almost a year away, but I just have to share the blurb of Flashback anyway:

Steve Petersen is a Very Troubled Man. Sole survivor of a Taliban POW camp he often thinks only parts of him returned; his sanity appears to have been left behind. He seeks solace in alcohol and drugs, but nothing helps block the images from his mind for more than minutes at a time, and he is trapped in horrifying flashbacks.

He is more than surprised when he wakes up in a bright and merry bedroom that turns out to belong to the widow Anna, a woman he has rudimentary memories of meeting. Knowing he should leave isn’t the same thing as doing it, and before he knows what’s happening, he finds himself pulled into a world with real life problems, such as folding laundry, and what’s for dinner.

Whiskey is no longer his first priority, and not being alone in his waking nightmare is a relief. That is, until Anna disappears. Steve finds himself forced to return to Afghanistan, a place where he’ll have to face both external enemies and himself.

To make things even better, Kidnapped and Undercover, both of which are e-books in 2012, will be available in print during 2013.

Do the happy dance with me, anyone?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Undercover cover

I've been sort of quiet online this last week. My brain got an idea and I started typing. Now, some 30,000 words later, the real world is still an annoying nuisance coming between me and the hopefully happy ending for my new imaginary friends. Sounds sane, doesn't it? *cough*

Something broke through this merry frenzy though: the cover for my upcoming novel Undercover. It's a romantic thriller/spy story to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing September 11. Talented artist Gwen Phifer made it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Black hole of the brain

A warm welcome to today's guest blogger, Tina Pinson!

I was writing away the other morning, my thoughts tripping all over themselves as a story wound its way across the fibers of my brain. My fingers flew to get the words down on as fast I could.

Then suddenly, I stopped.

Why? To do research? A bathroom break? No. Because I couldn't think of one little word. Perhaps it wasn't so little as it would tie my thoughts together nicely and concisely. J

I tapped restively on the keyboard. Bit my bottom lip and thought. What is that word? Here word.

And if that isn't irritating enough, the more I tried to think of the word, the more I forgot other words.

I swear… there's a deep dark hole in the back of my skull sucking up all my words, never to let me recall them again.

Now we've heard about black holes, they regions of spacetime where gravity is so strong, nothing, light included, can escape.

And light, a zap of inspiration, imagination, of something, is what I need.

Stories have been written about travelers getting caught in blackholes and warped to some other worlds or time.

I was warped right into a world of the nothingness, staring at my computer screen like a hypnotized lab experiment, waiting for the deep black space somewhere in my cerebral cortex to set my mind free.

I will myself to write. What's the word for…? (imagine the sound of a big vacuum here) It's gone.

How do you describe…? (sucking sound again) It's gone.

I can't write a complete thought. My fingers bent and poised over the keys, I stare at the screen, certain something will flash in the blue static of my mind and paint itself on the blue of my computer screen.

The words don't come.

They're there somewhere. I know. I put them in the files of my mind myself. Have used them before.

Where did they go? Why do they feel locked away out of reach?

I didn't expect my mind to open a black chasm, a word sucking void and not let my words flow forth when I needed them.

I've even done puzzles and gorged on books and information just to energize my brain. To learn. Now I feel like an orator standing in front of crowded theater who has just drawn a blank from nerves.

I have no audience to think of sitting in their underwear though, to calm my nerves and free my mind.

How does one write pithy verbiage if their mind steals all the words away?

Is this a sign that time marches on and I'm getting older? Or has my brain soaked up so much information it took a brain dump to clear space?

Doubtful on both counts.

So I continue to hunt for the words and hope that they haven't gotten lost in the black of my brain.

All I can say at times like this is… Thank heavens for the Thesaurus.

What do you do to energize your brain to help you remember? To spur your thoughts on to write?

Blurb: As the Civil War rages, Rebekah fights to keep her world intact. But loss and sorrow has seeped into her heart and mind. She sets her sights on Oregon, praying this new Eden will allow her a place of peace and a place to put her
life, and that of her son's, back together again. She travels to Independence, Missouri ready to take the train west, but is denied the opportunity to join the train because she is woman alone. Matthew battles his way through one fight after another, all the while thinking of Rebekah. The woman who holds his heart.
He longs to help her west, but fears his biggest battle lies ahead of him. Will Rebekah open up her heart to him and allow him to be the one to hold her When the Shadows Fall?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

Happy Joy Joy! @JLenniDorner at http://jlennidornerblog.what-are-they.com/ nominated me for a Liebster Blog Award. Thank you!

The rules are:
  1. Thank and link back to the person who presented you with the award. Add the award logo to your blog.
  2. Answer the eleven questions posted for the nominees.
  3. Share eleven random facts about yourself.
  4. Write eleven questions for your nominees and then...
  5. Nominate eleven worthy blogs and contact those bloggers so they know about it! (No tag backs.)

The Liebster Blog Award is given bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word meaning: sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.

Here are the eleven questions I got, and my answers:

1.) What is the most inspiring blog prompt you have encountered?

That is a good question. I'm not sure, but I'm sure it's on Patty Froese's blog, because she's awesome!

2.) What is the biggest step you have taken toward achieving your dreams.

Probably... Swallowing my fear of failure and actually submitting my material. I submitted a screenplay to the Royal Palms awards, and I am a finalist. We'll know who wins in October... I am also delighted to have a publisher who believes in my novels. 

3.) Who is your favorite fictional character of all time and why?

Data in Star Trek TNG. He's so endearing. It's difficult not to love him.

4.) What could someone say about a newly published book that would cause you to go get it immediately?

I've been thinking about this question for a while, and I don't have a good answer. If I figure it out, I'll come back to it and blog about it, okay? :-)

5.) What is the most fun activity you have ever engaged in with others online?

Roleplaying on Myspace. I was completely hooked to it for years. Writing together with others really kicked my creative side into gear. I also made some really great friends, and met my real life husband!

6.) Do you care enough to change something in the world; and if so, what is it and how do you try to change it, and if not, why not?

I want to rescue dogs. I believe we're put on this Earth to care for those weaker than ourselves. It's really hard sometimes, because there are so many shelter animals in the US, and so many of them die in spite of everyone's best efforts.

I help out at a local rescue whenever I can, give money when I can, and foster when I can. Right now, we have a foster girl for Ewenity Farms. She's the speckled one on the photo. The black and white dog is my boy Topper. He's a rescue from Georgia.

7.) What makes it all worth it?

When I write something that entertains someone. When it comes to dogs, seeing them discover a happy life.

8.) Would it be better to be world famous for a failure or to be considered the greatest but only known by a small group of people?

I'll go with greatest, but known by a small group of people. I'd rather do something good than an epic fail, LOL.

9.) Do you feel that the golden rule (do unto others as you would have them do onto you) still applies in today's online world of tweeting, Facebook fanpage subscribing, and anonymous page/post commenting?

Absolutely. If anything, I think it's more important than ever. It is much too easy to be cruel in writing, and people happily write things they would never say to someone's face. Also, misunderstandings flourish in electronic communications.

10.) What is the kindest act that you have seen someone do in the past 30 days?

Remember the foster dog I mentioned? This lady drove her all the way from Texas to Florida, so she could live. That's a pretty sweet thing to do!

11.) What does your blog offer to the world that no one possibly could?

Hahaha, I guess insight in my crazy mind.

Eleven random facts about me:

Don't eat mammals
Love cars
Play the bass
Hate King of Queens
Need coffee in the morning
Can knit
Can't sing
Science Fiction geek
Addicted to Facebook
Decent photographer

Questions to my nominees:

1. Do you have your blogging planned in advance?
2. What is your favorite book of all time? 
3. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? If yes, who? 
4. What is your favorite social network site?
5. Is there something you must have when writing?
6. If you could go anywhere (real or fictional), where would it be?
7. As a reader, what annoys you most in books?
8. Of all mythological creatures, which would you most want to see come alive?
9. If you  had a million dollars to give to a charity, what would you do with it?
10. Do you believe in life on other planets?
11. If you could be anyone for a day, who would it be?

My 11 nominations:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shaunna's Sizzling Kiss Contest

All my writer friends out there, you're not missing the summer fun of a Sizzling Kiss Contest, right? It is hosted by author Shaunna Gonzales, and besides the free promotion of being featured on her blog, there will be a prize if she gets at least ten entries.

The rules are simple:
  • Submit your "Sizzling Kiss" as an attachment to shassidy@comcast.net between July 1 and July 31.
  • Include "Sizzling Kiss" in the subject line of your email.
  • Entries should be between 100 and 500 words.
  • Sign your kiss with your first name and blog link.
Limit: one entry per blog addy.
The kiss must be previously unpublished.

Shame on Belfast City Council!

Early this morning, at 7 AM local time, Lennox was killed. I bet Belfast City Council couldn't get it done quickly enough, and they probably think killing him will put an end to the mess they put themselves in. I, personally, believe they ruined any chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of the world. While Lennox was still alive, hundreds of thousands of people still nurtured hope the city of Belfast would come to their senses and do the right thing. With this hope gone, frustration will turn into outright hate.

If you haven't followed the case, Lennox was a happy family dog up until two years ago. He served as a service dog to a little girl and never harmed anyone. One day, people came to the family's house to measure Lennox's head. They thought he looked too much like a Pitbull to be allowed to live. Lennox was not a Pitbull, he didn't even look all that much like one. Anyway, taken from the family, he spent two years in horrible conditions as they fought to get him back, and this morning, he was killed, in spite of DNA testing proving he wasn't one of the "forbidden breeds," petitions with hundreds of thousands of names, and numerous offers of rehoming.

I have followed Lennox's case from the beginning, and it is one of the most heartbreaking stories one can imagine. There's the dog, of course, held by Belfast City Council in a pen way too small for him, sitting on straw surrounded by his own feces without even a bowl of water. The issue is definitely about the dog. There's the girl, pleading to be allowed to see her dog, and employees of Belfast City Council hanging up the phone in her ear. It is also about how Belfast treats its citizens - Lennox's family. They have been denied the right to see him. The were denied the right to say goodbye to him and weren't even allowed to be with him during his final moments. From what I understand, they have also been denied his body.

The issue is about the dog, but it is also about abuse of authority and building a police state where big brother freely interrupts in your life. If it's okay to sentence a dog to a life of misery and then death based on the way he looks, what else is okay?

There is much more I want to say about Lennox, but it is still too fresh. I need a little time to sort out my thoughts to be able to write about it rationally. For now, let it suffice to say:
  • Taking a service dog from a little girl is a despicable action whether it's done by a criminal or as an abuse of authority.
  • Killing living beings based on the way they look is wrong.
  • Killing someone while hiding behind a law you yourself made up is cowardice.
Rest in peace, Lennox. I hope you're in a better place where petty humans can no longer harm you.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Good review, Happy Joy Joy!

After the initial joy of a book release comes the question, "How will people know it exists." There are hundreds of thousands of books released in the US alone every year. I send out review requests to my favourite sites and hope for the best. Sometimes they answer, and sometimes they don't. (If they don't, it's important to know it's not personal - one reviewer can only read so many books in a year...)

Night Owl Reviews is one of my favorite websites when it comes to books. I submitted Kidnapped, of course, and hoped for the best.

I just got word someone read it - and liked it! Happy dance! The review says, amongst other things, "I happily recommend this to most readers if you’d like a well-crafted story of both love and dependence, life and death, and overall, redemption."  Check it out!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Meet Ellie - new arrival from Texas

I haven't blogged for a few days, I've been kind of busy. I'm working on edits for "Undercover," to be released September 11. I saw a mockup of the cover the other day, it's fantastic. I can't show it just yet - I don't have the final, final version - but I'm eager to tell the world!

We also have a new foster dog, Erella. I call her Miss Ellie - it's much easier to say. She is absolutely gorgeous! She comes from a high kill shelter in Texas, and was pulled by Ewenity Farms with only hours left to live.

Once she got out of the shelter, she needed somewhere to say while waiting for transport, and ended up in boarding for two months. Finally, someone was able to give her a lift to Florida, and now she's with me! Happy Joy Joy!

Ellie is a young girl, and has spent too much of her life locked up. When I first took her to our back yard and took the leash off, she didn't know what to do. She stood up against me and I urged her to go check it out. She took two steps away from me, and jumped back. Once she figured out that she could move and run, it became the best thing ever.

Ellie and Topper posing for the camera.

The Universe - or is it Fate - is fickle.

If someone had told me yesterday that an asteroid would collide with Earth, that we'd have a flood of Biblical proportions, or that a so...