Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Countdown to the New Year

Last day of 2014. Hard to believe, isn't it? It's been a busy year and here are my personal highlights...

12, 11, 10, 9...

January... Signed my first book contract for Dream Hunter
February... Celebrated my husband's birthday
March... Took the boys for their first trip to Disney World
April... mmm... what happened in April???

8, 7, 6, 5...

May... Celebrated my youngest son's birthday with family from all over the country
June... Welcomed the start of summer!
July... Visited my best friend and her new baby in Vancouver
August... Family reunion/wedding in Vegas

4, 3, 2, 1...

September... Boys went back to school... Youngest started Junior Kindergarten, oldest started Grade One... Celebrated oldest son's birthday
October... Celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving... Saw The Book of Mormon
November... Celebrated American Thanksgiving... with turkey and pumpkin pie
December... Release of Dream Hunter

Happy New Year and all the best in 2015!!!


Friday, December 26, 2014

Excerpt from Dream Hunter

The air in her lungs rushed to escape and time stood still. She was aware of only him. Beyond her control, her head tilted and her whole body leaned toward him; her inner core pulsed and buzzed. He drew her in like a magnet, a moth to flame; she was helpless to resist his siren call. He emulated danger, looked like evil incarnate—black and dangerous, seductive and forbidden—and she wanted him.
When he grabbed her harshly by both shoulders, she snapped out of her lust-induced trance. “What do you think you’re doing?” she demanded.
“We must get out of here.” His words were calm, but his eyes stared right through her.
Cynthia opened her mouth to object.
“There is no time,” he announced as he tugged on her arm.
“Let go of me!” She tried to pull away. “I don’t know you.”
Holding her arm still, he stared into her eyes without saying a word.
Okay, he seems a little familiar. She gulped. “How do I know you?”
Giving her a penetrating look, he replied, “You know me. Quit wasting time.”
She opened her mouth to protest again.
“We must leave now.”
Should I go with him? She tilted her head and looked up at him. His gaze was strong and steady and made her feel safe. This is not the time to be indecisive. She thought about the threat at work and shivered despite the heat.
You will be safe with me. There is no time. We must leave now. His voice entered her thoughts like a caress in her mind and didn’t alarm her.
He was right. There was no time to analyze her options and run through various scenarios. For all she knew, every scenario without him could mean danger for her. Her body wanted to follow him, she admitted with reluctance, even if her mind resisted. Yes, she would go, she decided, even as she felt herself following him down the street.
Power resonated from his muscular build. He kept a hand in a firm but gentle hold on her elbow as they hurried down the sidewalk. Unmindful of their destination, Cynthia had ample time to study her new “friend.” He towered over her by at least a foot, wearing a black leather jacket despite the warm day, and dark jeans that showcased his narrow waist. Every beefy inch of him screamed passion and strengthhis tight clothing doing nothing to disguise the sinewy muscles rippling in his legs as he movedbut she wasn’t frightened of him. She hesitated for a minute. Should I be afraid? No, she decided. She felt eerily calm, like all her life had been leading her up to this moment in time, and she was exactly where she was supposed to be. The reason she let a perfect stranger lead her to God-knew-where.
She shifted her thick hair over her shoulder as sweat soaked at the base of her neck. The day’s temperature had yet to peak, but it was already warm enough to be uncomfortable and practically running in office attire didn’t help matters.
“I need a moment,” she said.
They made an abrupt stop. The man offered her an unopened bottle of water. After casting an assessing look at him she accepted the bottle, and took a long, welcome drink.
“Thank you.”
The man dismissed her thanks with a casual shrug.
Cynthia shot him a questioning look.
“Later,” he replied in a brisk voice. “We need to go.”
“Where?”
“We need to go,” he repeated, ignoring her question.
They had covered several blocks and, as they moved further from her office, the sights became less familiar and a tremor of fear shook through her body. Where did this guy come from? Why does he think I know him? Because I do know him. The realization hit her hard in the stomach. It’s him.
“I need
“We need to keep going,” he insisted without further explanation.
“No!” She planted her hands on her hips and her feet in the firmest stance she could manage as she wobbled on the uneven sidewalk. Then she looked down at her feet and a strange sense of déjà vu washed over her as she stared at the cobblestone path. Her mouth gaped, her breathing quickened. With dread she looked up at the buildings on the street. Her vision blurred. Everything around her spun and faded away as she collapsed into strong arms. She had a vague awareness of him lifting her. As he adjusted his hold, she bounced against his solid chest. She must be dreaming. That was the only explanation that made sense. Nothing like this ever happened in her boring, ordinary life. It’s just a dream. Swallowing her disappointment, she glanced up at the determined expression on his face. He carried her effortlessly, like she weighed nothing. When she rested her head on his chest, she could feel his heart beating steadily. She ran her hand lightly across his defined bicep. Wow. He wasn’t real, but she might as well make the most of it; from experience she knew her dream wouldn’t last forever.


Dream Hunter now available for pre-sale, to be released on December 30th.



Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My Dream Hunter Come True...

This has been a whirlwind week... Christmas, writing stuff, Christmas again, work... I thought working full time or even looking for a job was time consuming... Promoting a book is a full time job!!!

I'm venturing into unchartered territory with this one as I'm soon to be a newly published author as of December 30th! :) This week, my publisher, Just Ink Press, posted my character interview http://justinkpress.com/2014/12/character-interview-gabe-hunter-from-dream-hunter/ and my author interview http://justinkpress.com/2014/12/meet-the-author-maya-tyler/ and my pre-sale http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00REOM11G. It's an unbelievable feeling. It's beyond words.

I'm completely overwhelmed. I set out to write and publish a book and I did it. Well, as of December 30th, I did it. It's an awesome feeling!

Now, the next step is to promote the heck out of it! Without being the "follow me, buy my book, rate my book with no other interaction" kind of person. There's a fine line between aggressive and annoying. If I've learned anything, I've learned social media is for relationship building not sales. If you're lucky, then your interactions will promote sales volume. It's all about being visible. About letting your target audience get to know you.

Well I have put myself out there. I'm on Facebook, Twitter, and email. I have a blog and a website and I try to contribute regularly to other blogs. I want you to get to know me and (hopefully, eventually once I've won you over with my wit and charm) buy my book. :)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pinch me, I'm Dreaming

... and not about sugar plums, although I am quite sure they must be delicious!

All this year I have been working hard to make a dream come true... the publication of my first book, a novella called "Dream Hunter", and this dream is soon to become a reality.

On December 30th, my dream comes true, my "Dream Hunter".


I am also unveiling a new website www.mayatylerauthor.com. Be sure to check it out! Thanks for accompanying me on my journey this year. Merry Christmas and all the best to you in 2015! May all your dreams come true!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Endless Imagination... Endless Possibilities

I walked to the park with my four year old son a few days ago. We did not merely use the sidewalk, we zig-zagged around chasms, yelled "whee!" as we tumbled down waterfalls, got swept downstream in a fast flowing river, climbed mountains, avoided falling into another waterfall, and skied around islands.

I realized two things. He sure is bossy and boy was I ever tired when we got home!

His imagination is boundless! I wish I could remember when I was like that. At age four, he has a great capacity for pretend and it's so much fun to play with him. The simplest things bring him absolute joy. A cardboard box, a stick at the park, a white piece of paper... Who needs expensive toys and gadgets when you have an imagination?

Kids today have technological marvels at their fingertips. When I was a kid, there was no Internet, no Netflix, no computer tablets, no cell phones (or at least nothing resembling a 2014 cell phone). We were lucky we had cable TV! The internet materialized when I was in high school and I got my first cell phone when I was twenty. I'm actually not that old. The way technology has taken off makes me feel absolutely ancient.

I remember a time before computers and now pretty much everything is computerized. Our dependence on technology has opened up a whole slew of apocalyptic themes in books and movies. Plus it's highlighted the sad reality that a lot of kids have forgotten, or never learn, how to play. Really play. With honest to goodness toys.

I'm proud my boys have great imaginations and even though we have the gadgets and they love to use them, they'll pick a cardboard box every time...

Friday, December 5, 2014

An Exercise in Imagination

Something a little different from my usual work... sometimes it's fun to spread your wings and stretch your imagination to its outer limits...



Room 12

Sitting in the large van, I buckled my seatbelt and exchanged a look with my husband Eddie. I had a strange feeling that the phone call we'd both received at work from the elementary school our kids attended had been nothing but a hoax. Now only questions remained. Were our boys okay? And where were they taking us? I glanced around the full van at the other blank-faced passengers. I guess they didn't know where we were headed either.
The van stopped at a remote-looking plane hangar.
"Now wait a minute," I said to the driver as he tried to help me out. "Where are we? And where are we going?"
He stared at me blankly and didn't respond.
I reluctantly got out of the van. Eddie stood by my side and slipped his hand in mine. I squeezed his hand back. Everything would be okay as long as we were together. We'd figure things out and get back to our kids. I felt positive about things until the large helicopter landed.
"No," I whispered to Eddie. "We can't get on that thing."
Scary looking men emerged from the helicopter carrying equally scary looking machine guns.
"Play along, Jo," he whispered back. "We're no match for them. Right now anyway." He squeezed my hand tightly.
I knew he was right. I'd never met anyone as brilliant as Eddie. He was a highly successful chemical engineer, renowned in the non-renewable energy sector. Of course, I was no slouch either with my research into sources of renewable energy. I always said we complimented each other perfectly. Right now, I needed that reassurance more than ever. They may have guns, but they were no match for Eddie's superior intelligence. I smiled smugly to myself. Let the games begin.
We docilely followed the others onto the helicopter. It was noisy and the machine-gun men handed us bulky headsets to wear. I shuddered inwardly as I accepted the potentially germ-ridden assessory, realizing the device was a necessary evil to protect my hearing. Beside me Eddie smirked. I resisted the urge to stick my tongue out at him. I may be a germaphobe, but he was claustrophobic and we were sitting in an iron box. We'd see who had the last laugh.
What was I thinking? There was nothing funny about this situation. Panic seized me. I had to get off this thing, but it was too late. The helicopter was airborne.
I closed my eyes tightly and went to my happy place. I'm on a beach. I'm on a beach. I repeated to myself. Worry would do me no good at this point. I must've fell asleep somewhere along the way. The bumpy landing nudged me awake or maybe it was Eddie.
I looked at him, communicating silently the way only spouses can. Where are we? He shook his head slightly. He didn't know. Then he winked and I felt infinitely better. He didn't know... Yet.
They ushered us off the helicopter, roughly plucked the headsets from our heads, and herded us toward a large grey metal building. I looked around at my new surroundings. The outside had been very deceiving. It had appeared to be a large warehouse, but inside it was like a house. The front door entered into a spacious foyer with a cozy living room to the right and a circular staircase spiraling from the middle of the room. We were propelled forward into a single file line and handed a piece of paper with a number on it. Mine said 12. I glanced at Eddie's. His said 12 too.
A petite lady in a grey suit with her brown hair drawn into a tight bun silently pointed to the stairs. Tightly clutching our pieces of paper, we continued up the stairs. On the second floor, both sides of the wall were lined with numbered doors. We found the door marked '12' and went inside. It looked like a small hotel room with a double bed covered in a mustard yellow comforter. Two grey uniforms were folded neatly on the bed.
I opened my mouth to speak, but Eddie silenced me by placing his finger over his mouth. He systematically surveyed the room, examining the vents and electrical outlets.
"Just in case they bugged the room," he said quietly. "I don't see any cameras or listening devices though."
"What do you think they want from us?"
"I'm not sure. This whole thing has been carefully planned and executed. Whoever we're dealing with is cunning and connected. We'll have to proceed very carefully until we know more."
"Okay. What should we do now?'
"I suggest we both get some sleep. It's late and we need our rest."
I crawled under the covers and Eddie cradled me in his arms until I fell into an uneasy sleep.
A-ar. A-ar. A sharp horn jolted me from my sleep and I sat upright in the bed. Eddie was already awake, sitting at the small desk. He was dressed in the grey uniform and his hair was wet from the shower.
"I guess it's morning?" I joked weakly.
"Get ready and we'll go see what they have for breakfast."
I had a record fast shower and donned the grey uniform. Grey was so not my color, but it suited my mood perfectly this morning. I nibbled on my bottom lip. Were my boys okay? Out of necessity, I pushed all worry from my mind. My sister would've been called by the school as our emergency contact. She would've notified the police. I was sure they were out looking for us right now. I had to hope anyway.
"Ready?"
"I guess so." I felt reluctant to leave the small room when I had no idea what we would face on the other side.
A bell rang and the room door swung open.
"Here goes nothing," I told Eddie as we walked out into the hall.
The hall was filled with wary-looking grey uniform-clad people. We eyed each other suspiciously. The line started to move down the stairs and toward the smell of food. My stomach grumbled. I had no idea of the hour, but it must be past my normal breakfast time.
We followed the others down the stairs and to the right into a cavernous cafeteria. Whatever this place was it was certainly built to accommodate a lot of inhabitants. The cafeteria had steaming food housed under glass shields and long tables with benches. I walked into the line for food and picked up a tray. Dour-faced servers dropped small portions of runny eggs and crispy bacon onto my plate. I poured myself a glass of orange juice and a coffee at the end of the line. Eddie and I found a spot to sit at the end of one of the long tables. We ate our breakfast quickly, not attempting conversation with our table-mates. Everyone else seemed to have the same idea. The main sounds in the room were the scratching of utensils on the plates.
A man with a grey cap and identical grey uniform walked up to the front of the room. Speaking clearly into a microphone, he said in a British lilt, "I hope you found your accommodations acceptable. When you finish your breakfast, please bring your trays to the front." He gestured to a large bin. "Then make your way toward the great hall. You will find your room number on the list by the door."
"What are we doing here?" a man called from the back of the room.
"I realize you must have many questions." The man smiled secretively and stepped away from the microphone.
I glanced at Eddie. 'What was that?' I mouthed to him.
He raised his eyebrows at me in response.
I don't know about Eddie and everyone else, but I had enough of this jerking around. I wasn't satisfied to be led around by a leash and expected to obey without question. I started to stand up, but Eddie put his hand on my shoulder to stop me.
Nodding toward the side of the room where several men with guns stood watching, he said quietly, "Not now, Jo."
I balled my hands into fists at my side. "Then when, Eddie?"
"We need to figure out what's going on first. Come, on, Jo, let's check out what list we're on."
This is nuts. Plain nuts. I followed Eddie out of the room, but inside I was shaking my hand in disbelief. Only one brave soul had dared question why we were here. If everyone else was in the same boat as us... then the party responsible was guilty of several hundred charges of kidnapping.
"Be patient, Jo," Eddie whispered in my ear as he pointed to our room number on the list. "We're assigned to R&D."
"R&D for what?"
"Sector 3, follow me," a woman in a grey uniform said in a clipped, no nonsense voice.
"Are we Sector 3?" I asked.
The lady spun around and glared at me.
I guess so, I thought. This place was certainly anti-questions and anti-information.
Following the woman, we ended up in a large lab at the far end of the building. A small man with beady eyes passed us crisp white lab coats and protective eyewear as we walked in. From years of working in a lab, I absentmindedly walked to the end of the black counter and stopped in front of an elaborate glassware and apparatus set-up. It appeared an experiment was already in progress. As we had been given no direction, I was hesitate to touch anything. I assumed we were here to work, but work on what?
A young man stopped at the station next to mine. "Hi, I'm Ben."
"Jo," I offered.
"Do you know what's going on?"
"Nope. Not a clue."
"Yeah, me either. One minute I was working in the lab and the next I had a phone call saying my parents had been in an accident and I had to go to the hospital right away."
"Same here. Except the call was from my kids' school. Strange. What kind of lab do you work in?"
"Biophysical."
"Weapons?"
"No. Gene mapping."
"Curious."
"Yes, it's a very fascinating field."
"Not that, Ben, why they have targeted us."
"I imagine everyone in this room is a scientist. What is your field of study?"
"Biology."
"See. You're a scientist."
"But that still doesn't explain what we're doing here."
"Actually it does."
Jo jumped at the sound of the behind her. "Oh, Eddie, you startled me. Ben, this is my husband, Eddie. Eddie, Ben."
"Did you figure it out, Eddie? What they want with us?"
"They want us to solve a problem."
"What problem? Who are they?" I asked.
"An ancient alien race," Eddie explained.
"How do you know all this?" Ben asked skeptically.
A large hand clamped down on Eddie's shoulder. "I need you to come with me."
"No thanks, I'm a bit occupied at the moment," Eddie said crypically.
"It wasn't a request."
Another guard joined the first and I watched in horror as they dragged Eddie away.
I squeezed my eyes tightly closed.
"What just happened?" Ben asked.
"What do you think? Eddie figured something out and now he's in big trouble."
"Do you think it's really aliens?"
"Shh! Do you want them to take you too?"
"How did he know? Do you think he's right?" Ben whispered.
"Eddie is smart. I'm sure he figured it out. And we've got to figure it out too. That's the only way to find him."
"Look, Jo, you seem like a nice lady and all, but the people who have us, alien or not, they mean business. I'm not into risking my neck for people I've just met. No offense."
"No offense taken. I won't be here much longer anyway. Once I find Eddie, he'll figure out how to get us out of here."
"Now, wait a minute. If you figure a way out, I'm in."
I sent him a scathing look. "You're in from the beginning or out, mister."
"I'm in." A petite brunette stood beside me. "I'm Dana."
I stared at her hard. "Can we trust you?" I asked. I hated to be suspicious, but I was worried about Eddie and my instincts were off.
"Yes." Dana nodded frantically. "I have to get out of here. I'll do anything."
"For now, we better play along and get back to work or whatever it is they want us to do. We can meet tonight. Room 12."
Dana and Ben nodded their agreement and returned to their work stations. I continued to study the distillation set-up on my counter. Somehow I would figure things out. Just like a scientific experiment, I would use logic to find Eddie and get us home...

Friday, November 28, 2014

TGIF

I'm so glad it's Friday! You have no idea. Work has been going great (touch wood), but it's been super busy and I havent been feeling well. Same old, same old. So I drag myself out of bed every morning and punch my 7.5. Not much of a week... I'm looking forward to a restful weekend... With some turkey. :)

And hopefully a productive weekend too. Last week my editor sent me a list of author and character interview questions. The author questions were no trouble, but answering the character ones is proving to be a tad more difficult. I mean I'm a writer, right? It shouldn't be that difficult to put myself in my characters shoes and speak for them. I only did it for an entire book. Lol... So that's my plan. Finish my answers and send them back ASAP.

Plus everything else on my list that only grows... I've come to the conclusion that I won't finish my list until I'm dead and then I won't care. The stuff that needs done, gets done, and nothing else really matters.

What does matter is my family and they don't get added to my to-do list. Anyway, TGIF - make it count!




Thursday, November 20, 2014

Watch Out For Vampires

That's what my four year-old son tells me every morning when my family drops me off at my day job.

He learned the concept of vampires from a Halloween special of Magic School Bus, but what he doesn't realize is how close to the mark he hits. Not that my co-workers are blood-thirsty creatures of the night - or are they? (Insert doom music here!) My current WIP is actually about vampires. So when he says "watch out" - I agree. For nearly three months now, I have been nurturing and caring for my own special vampires. I have watched them grow and evolve during the development of the story. I have been watching out for them every step of the way.

Now their story is coming to a close. I have reached my 50k mark. I am ready to start some self-editing before I enlist the help of my writing group for feedback. Thanks in advance, you guys!!!

What a journey writing this story has been. I completely changed my strategy from process-focused to creativity-focused. It may mean a ton more editing is required, but I captured the essence of my story in less than three months.

It probably took me a year to write my 22k novella. I got caught up in the details, in the structuring of the end product while I was still developing the story. I wanted every chapter to be approximately the same length. I documented all the chronological events and planned out the next sequence before I wrote it. Talk about stifling the creativity! I needed to just spit it out, get it down on paper (screen). I've heard it described as "word vomit" and I agree. Let the words flow while the ideas are hot. Any errors can be ferreted out during the editing process.

I also omitted the use of chapters to define sections of the story, my WIP takes place over the course of a week so I used the days as placeholders and plan to add chapters during my self-edit. Without chapters I didn't need to worry about chapter length or ending each section on a cliffhanger. Do you know how hard it is not to end a chapter with your character going sleep? Especially if you know you shouldn't. If your characters go to sleep, your readers will too. The objective of a chapter is to spur the reader on to reading more. I'm sure you've read a book you just couldn't put down. Yup, that's the idea.

I also wrote the entire book using my iPad. I did periodic backup saves to my laptop after the one time I lost my story on the iPad and had to re-create 6k words. A mistake you only make once. I found the iPad was a more assessible tool and I could write more - sometimes in as short as five-minute intervals.

So I wrote like crazy and I didn't use chapters or an outline. I did correct spelling and grammar along the way because that would have drove me completely batty. And I wrote a book. An interesting book about vampires.

Every weekday morning at my house we have the same hectic schedule. We all scramble to get ready for work or school no matter how early (or late) we get up. When the kids are safely buckled into their booster seats and we are taking the five-minute drive to my office, my husband and I can finally breathe. When we reach our destination, after all the "eat your lunch" and "have a great day" comments are exchanged, my young son yells out his window as I'm walking to the front door, "Watch out for vampires!"

And now maybe you will.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Snow Days and Other Good Days to Think

I'm always trying to bring realism into my writing. One of the things I love about blogging is I basically write about whatever is on my mind. It's the cheapest therapy I've ever had and it's completely real.

I pick a topic at random. It's snowing, do I write about snow? About winter? Christmas? Are there any Christmas / holiday writing contests / blogs? Is my writing group doing anything for Christmas on The Nuthouse Scribblers? Once ideas start flowing, I am an unstoppable force.

How do I add realism to my fiction?

I pattern characters loosely after real people. Never piss off a writer... You may become the villain in their next book. I adapt characteristics I like (or not) and apply them to my creations for dimension and consistency.

I incorporate my experience. I work in an office, my character works in an office. I have kids, my character has kids. This goes along with the advice of writing what you know. If your character is an astrophysicist, you better know your astrophysics!!! Writing takes research. It does. So keep your facts straight.

Then I take all my good advice to myself and throw it out the window! I imagine my story unfolding in my mind like a movie and I capture it in words. I have complete disregard for my careful plotting. But when I review my work, I find I have included elements from my life, people and events, and what I've written has become personal and revealing to me.

Writing fiction is my therapy too. Everyone needs an outlet. I don't talk about my feelings. I have seen several therapists, but I internalize the major stuff until it manifests into a physical ailment. I do. I am guilty as charged. I don't take the time I need for myself. I have family and work responsibilities. So I write. I write until it all makes sense.

Know of any Christmas writing contests?


Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Matter of Perspective

We keep waiting for life to begin. Finish school, buy a car, get a job, get married, buy a house, get a dog, have some kids. There's always something else around the corner. We'll do this after... We'll go there when... Another repair to make, another bill to pay. A trip you want to take, something you want to buy. But it'll all be over in the blink of an eye.

This week I shared some wise words with my six-year old son. He is crazy about collecting Pokemon cards and we recently bought him three of the highly coveted "EX" cards. Every second word out his mouth is "EX" lately. He was so excited when we gave him the cards, but now he wants us to buy him more. We explained to him that the cards are expensive and we gave him those as a treat, but he continues to beg, to conjol, to charm. He wants more "EX" Pokemon cards and he won't be happy until we give in. Which we won't. Of course. So I shared some wisdom with him.

The secret to happiness is being content with what you have.

We all want more. I'd like to pay off the mortgage and go to Hawaii. But I'm happy with my right now. I know with hard work and time, we will eventually own our home. I know with planning and patience, we will eventually visit Hawaii.

I do not plan to spend my life pining after the next version of the latest and greatest. If there's something I want, I will set a plan to achieve it. And even if I never buy another "want" or take another vacation, I am happy with my life. I have a wonderful husband and two precocious little boys. This is as good as it gets. And, as the song goes, I could not ask for more.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

24 Hours

Life is busy. Understatement of of the year. Day job. Kids (if applicable). Spouse (if applicable). Pay bills. Clean house. Take out garbage. Cook dinner. Wash dishes. Sleep. Repeat. Spare time? What's that? What if you had twenty-four hours to yourself to do anything you wanted?

My husband and kids went to a friend's cottage for a night on the weekend. They left at 1 pm and returned at 1 pm the next day. I had twenty-four hours. I haven't been home alone overnight since the boys were born. Well, I wasn't all alone. I had my dog Buddy for company. It's amazing what you can accomplish with an empty house. Don't get me wrong - I love my boys (all three of them) - and wouldn't change my life for a minute. Still, I wasn't sad when I found out I'd have some time alone.

In the first ten hours they were gone, I had a coffee, wrote 3k, washed and dried two loads of laundry, watched three episodes of Hawaii 5-0, did yoga, made dinner (the frozen variety), ate dinner in front of the TV, washed the dishes, walked the dog, played with the dog, and swept the floor. Then I slept for seven hours, naturally waking up at 6:30. I spent thirty minutes checking e-mail and social media before getting up for breakfast. In the last five hours, I wrote another 2k, dusted, took out the garbage, and walked the dog. Then they were home, returning in a tornado-like fashion, dropping their coats on the floor and not putting their shoes on the mat. But I was so happy to see them, giving them tight hugs until they complained I was squeezing them too hard.

I would have liked to write the entire time, but I had to use my gift responsibly. There's always something to be done, no rest for the wicked. What would you do with a gift of twenty-four hours?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Inspiration Is Everywhere

I'm a writer, but I'm also a reader. I love to read, I love books. I'm trying to instill the same love of reading into my young boys. So far it's working.

I find my inspiration everywhere.

Part of the reason I write is to emulate the writing or genres of my favourite authors. The first book I attempted to write was a sequel to Willliam Goldman's "The Princess Bride". I was about eleven years old and had watched the movie about a dozen times and read the book cover-to-cover, re-reading my favourite parts again and again. I decided the story wasn't over when the credits started rolling and thought I would try to capture the rest. Like most of my early works, it was never finished, but I did develop quite the complex plot complete with a drawing of a map for the new world I created. Inigo Montoya became the Dread Pirate Roberts, Wesley went on a quest to find his brother William, Williams's love interest was a princess named Opal. It was full-on adventure romance.

Books I've read inspire what I write, but have also helped form the person I am. As well, when you read the same book at different stages in your life, it means a different thing. The first time I read "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch to my oldest son, I cried the entire time. My mom had read the same book to me numerous times when I was a child, but when I became a parent it took on an entirely new meaning for me.

The genres I enjoy to read are the genres I enjoy to write. With the exception of historical... I love historical romances, especially from the Regency era. I recently read the Hellion's Den series by Alexandra Ivy which I throughly enjoyed. I've written historical short stories (the latest one was posted on The Nuthouse Scribblers blog this summer), but they require an intense amount of research to get the details just right so I am content to enjoy the works of others.

I mainly read romance these days (I love a happy ending) in the sub-genres of fantasy, paranormal, science fiction, and historical. I've been reading a lot of vampire books lately which have proven the inspiration for my latest WIP. I read quite a few Amanda Ashley books over the summer, including "The Children of the Night" series. There are so many versions of vampires. From Bram Stoker to Hollywood, the 'vampire' takes many forms. I decided to throw my creative two cents in the ring adopting my favourite traits.

Even though I read everything from the edgy romances put out by Tara Taylor Quinn to the fantasy thrillers by Karen Marie Moning, I enjoy the common theme of happily ever after... Or at least some semblance of closure for the characters. In the case of Karen Marie Moning's 'Fever' series, I waited on the edge of my seat until the next book came out and then I read it as fast as I could.

And there are some books that haunt you forever because their author saw the truth of their future which is now our present. George Orwell's "1984"was assigned to me for an university English course. I didn't fully realize it at the time and I'm no conspiracy theorist or anything, but there are many parallels to the events of that book and our reality. 'Big Brother' is watching... Does it make you feel safer or not?

Good fiction makes you believe. Like good science fiction is based on good science, a good book in general can stretch your imagination but, at the end of the day, must be believable. I remember walking out of the movie theatre after watching 'The Matrix' for the first time. Enough said.

I draw my inspiration from the world around me, from places I visit, from the books I read. I want to create my own  plausible new world and invite you to visit sometime. All you need to do is believe.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Change is in the air...

Maybe it's just that time of year. Maybe it's the clocks changing or the leaves falling. Maybe it's the ongoing transition at my work. But I feel change in the air.

I switched to my light winter coat this weekend from my spring/fall jacket. Hey I live in Canada! I have about ten different coats of varying warmth. I'm not joking. Is it raining? Is it snowing? Is it freezing in the morning and warm in the afternoon? That's why coats come waterproof and in layers. Anyway, putting my lighter coats, hoodies and fleece jackets away this weekend made me feel contemplative somehow. We're nearing the end of 2014 and what have I done?

My lofty goal is to make the world a better place for my children. I foster change one step at a time. We're teaching our children to be both fiscally and socially responsible. We lead by example. But I still feel like there's more I can do.

The pen is mightier than the sword. I write. Mainly fiction. Okay all fiction except for my blog which is basically a semi unorganized collaboration of my thoughts, hopes, and dreams. Maybe writing can be a tool? Can I hope to solve all society's problems? Homelessness, hunger, poverty in general, disease, war, abuse, crime? The task is daunting. I have no faith in government to solve these issues and help the minorities. I am losing hope in churches that care less about helping people and more about maintaining their buildings and status quo.

I want to believe in the goodness of the human race. But I am no Pollyanna with rose-colored glasses. I am jaded and realistic. Still I hold on to my hope and faith that change is possible.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Guest Blog from author Alannah Harte

Today I'd like to welcome guest author and friend Alannah Harte. She'd like to tell us all about The Best Part of Breaking Up, her book just released. Also, Alannah is giving away a free ebook for every comment on this blog post... Very exciting stuff!

Without further ado, here's Alannah...



The Best Part of Breaking Up - Alannah Harte 
Blurb

Rafe McGraw is a tough rancher who spends his time farming a wild and untamable cattle ranch in the Northern Territory of Australia.
Jenna Davidson is bright, feisty, and not afraid of a little hard work. She's not going to let anyone get in the way of her dream to be a flying vet.
Rafe has cattle to get certified for export by the flying vet during his cattle muster. He is expecting his usual vet to show up but the person getting off the plane is not what he expects.
Jenna has encountered all kinds of farmers and their attitudes since starting her job, but the gorgeous, sulking, arrogant grazer is a definite challenge. If that means flying in a week of living outdoors with a sexy grazer growling at her, then she's up for it.  

Excerpt 

After eight hours, during which they moved more than sixty kilometers over wild terrain to seek out more of the herd, with general consensus from everyone they called it a day. A camp was set up beneath a glen of trees and a campfire lit. The trucks had generators and each cabin had a sleeping berth, but the men preferred to sleep under the stars and they would cook on the fire tonight.
Jenna would have loved to crawl onto a soft mattress herself in one of the truck's sleeping cabins, shut the door on all the alpha men, and get some desperately needed sleep, but that would  just be giving into what they expected of her. She was going to rough it like everyone else.
Rafe handed her a small bag with a grim smile. “Your tent,” he told her unnecessarily. 
She could see it was a tent. It was a two-man dome tent used for hiking, because it was lightweight and easily erected, but certainly not as comfortable as her bed would have been after leaning over fences all day. Jenna's back ached and the bottoms of her feet were tender, having perched on fencing poles all day.
“Get that up and you can have a good rest,” he told her, his face a study of seriousness.
I have to put up my own tent, too? Fine! 
She had put up tents before. She knew he was ascertaining his authority and illustrating his little regard for a woman who couldn't pull her weight like the rest of the men in the caravan.
“Do you think you can manage that?” he asked her.
“I can manage all sorts of things.” Jenna let her voice drawl over the words and she raised an eyebrow at him.
Rafe smiled at the corner of his mouth. “Good, I wouldn't want the boys to have to do extra work.” 
No fear of that. She had done all of the crazy work today and the men had let her. 
With a thump, the pegs and a small hammer dropped out of the bag. Jenna stepped over them and shook out the tent.
How hard could it be? She glared at the various poles that needed to be fed into the canvas to make the frame and took an educated guess at the right one. Within a few moments she had a good representation of a dome in front of her and Jenna pulled it across to a site she liked.
“I wouldn't leave it there.” The grazier's voice carried across the camp, hands on hips. He appeared to be laughing at her.
“Why ever not?” she asked gruffly. 
“You're the vet, Jenna. Surely you recognize anthills when you see them. I suggest you bring your tent closer to the campfire if you want to save yourself from being bitten.” 
Shaking her head and muttering under her breath, Jenna dragged the tent behind her, its light weight helping it to flap in the breeze. She dropped it a few feet from the campfire and on a flat piece of dried earth, clear of all signs of anthills, then she went back to retrieve the pegs and hammer. 
“Let me do that for you,” Grey the drover said. It was the first time he had spoken to her all day and Jenna looked at him with mild suspicion.
“I should really do it myself. I wouldn't want your boss accusing me of not pulling my weight.” 
“You've done more than pull your weight today, missy. I've been watching you. Never mind the boy. He's new at playing the boss and is trying to ascertain his authority.” 
“You're sure about that? I get the distinct impression he doesn't care for me. Or maybe its women in general he doesn't like.” 
Grey barked a laugh that made Rafe stare over at them, his expression dark and unreadable. The drover took the hammer from her hand. It looked like a toy in his large grip. With quick and assured strikes, he pegged the tent into place.
“He likes women enough—don't be mistaking that he doesn't. You would be just his type if he wasn't going around with a chip on his shoulder.”
“Well, that's fascinating, but he's not my type, and I didn't come out here looking for romance and certainly not with someone who had a block on their shoulder either.” Jenna wanted to ask what was Rafe McGraw's problem but she had been brought up to mind her own business when it came to the private lives of others. She wasn't about to start asking the drover impertinent questions about his boss.
“Out here in these wilds it's never about the romance, missy, it’s all about the loving.” Grey's eyes twinkled mischievously and Jenna had the good sense to blush to her roots. “But that is not talk I should be having with a lady such as you.” He continued smiling benignly at her, though she didn't believe he was that innocent at all. 
“I don't think so either,” she scowled.
“Hmm, well, we will see.” Grey returned the hammer to her, and whistling gently, he sauntered off across the camp to his own swag.
See what? She brought her hold all into the tent and rested on her knees for a minute, enjoying the little privacy the tent could afford her against the eyes of all the men outside. A cough sounded at the entrance and alerted her that Rafe was waiting. She pivoted on her knees and pushed the flap of the entrance aside. A floor mat, sleeping bag, and pillow were roughly handed in.
“You'll be needing these,” he told her gruffly.
“Such a host! You think of everything.” She felt silly for betraying her true feelings with the sarcasm dripping in her voice but the man was bringing out the worst in her. 
“Well, seeing as you're the only vet to be had around these parts, I better make sure you can continue the job tomorrow.”
“Ah, so I can do the job now then? What happened to ‘this is no place for a woman’?” She threw back his words tartly.
Rafe knelt and pushed his head through the open flap. Jenna had to lean back into the tent as he crowded the space with his large frame. 
“This is no place for a woman, but here we are and here you are, and I'm putting up with it.” 
He really does have the most gorgeous eyes. The errant thought came into her head and Jenna clenched her fists. She did not find this Neanderthal attractive, she really didn't. Of course she was still aware of him, had been all day as he straddled the top of the cattle race fencing with those trunk-like thighs of his. He had even gotten in between the cows with his broad shoulders when they wouldn't move by themselves. His jeans were ripped at the knees and he wore a black cotton shirt, sleeves rolled up to his biceps, and several buttons left undone, so that the thick column of his neck and the hint of those torso muscles were on show. He was rugged and bad and infuriatingly handsome. He was not going to distract her with it! She was determined about that.
 “You have got to be the most gracious and grateful person that I have ever met,” she said sarcastically, with a pronounced inflection, and smiled serenely back at his scowling face. Rafe's eyes narrowed dangerously and his lip curled in distaste, but instead of withdrawing as she hoped, he crawled into the tent forcing her against the back canvas. She sat down on her bottom with a bump.
“You managed fine today, Miss Davidson, but we'll see how you do tomorrow. How are your feet?” He took a booted foot in his hand, startling her as he rested it in the cradle of his thighs and began to unlace them from around her ankle.
“They are fine,” she lied, attempting to pull her foot back, but his grip was firm and unyielding.
“You're a terrible liar, you know that?” With gentleness that she had not expected, Rafe eased the heavy steel-capped boot from her foot. “Not only have I noticed you limping slightly since you came down off the cattle race,” he continued conversationally, “but you’re also taking pleasure from this foot massage.” He manipulated her foot between his two palms, and despite her best intentions Jenna sighed in relief.
Jenna's eyes widened in horror. “I am doing no such thing!” This time she did remove her foot from his grasp and pulled it beneath her bottom.
Rafe shrugged a shoulder, “Be a martyr then. Your feet won't thank you for it. I am an excellent foot masseuse.” 
“I'm sure you say that to all the girls.” 
“You know me so well.” He wiggled his eyebrows at her suggestively.
I don't know you at all. The unspoken words hung between them. For a moment they simply stared at one another. Jenna raked her mind for something sensible and straightforward to say but her brain and her body were not in a generous mood. Most of her wit and sensibility was lost in her sated foot. 
Rafe seemed to have none of those problems, much to her annoyance. He crawled backward out of the tent. 
“There is supper and coffee up for grabs. Come when you're ready, but I wouldn't leave it too long—those boys are ravenous and won't leave leftovers.” She heard him whistling for his dog as he walked away, but he was whistling as if mocking her.