Friday, February 27, 2015

The Maze Runner: Thoughts pre-review 2

Wow, a month later and we are still trying to finish this thing. In fairness, I lost my voice for almost a week, so we weren't able to read. We are now almost 2/3 of the way through the book and although my boys are getting more caught up in the story, I am still struggling.

One of the problems I am having is that the story is just there. There were some points where I started to get sucked in (first trip into the maze) and then it gets stalemated by unnecessary and unexplained drama (Gally's dramatic temper tantrum about hating Thomas for no explained reason and then disappearing).

I get very tired of wondering around in a blank mind. The teasers of memories that he dwells on is a bit exhausting. Especially because none of it really seems to be going anywhere. I get the very distinct feeling that this book is going to end in a HUGE cliff hanger leaving us not much further along beyond character introduction.

I hope the movie goes faster than the book.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Writer Ramblings: Torn

I have been a little down in the dumps lately. Between being sick, feeling the pressure of job, husband, housework, family, and career (sad that comes last) everything has been taking a toll. I started some advertising campaigns for my books and have been torn by the success/ failure of the money spent. (Success being I have "amazing" click thru rates. Failure, I have a ridiculously high bounce rate and have not seen any increase in sales.)

On top of all that frustration, Fifty Shades of Grey the movie just came out. I read the first two pages of the book just to see what all the hype was about back when it first came out. All I found was writing so horrendous that I couldn't bring myself to read more even if the story had appealed to me.  How does that trash become such a huge seller and lead to an even more horrible movie that grossed $90 million it's first weekend? I can't even make a dent.

 I have been reading about marketing trying to figure out where things are going wrong. I feel like nothing helps. So to curb that depressing insight, I have been reading uplifting posts on Linkedin and I came across one that was meant to be uplifting, but left me all the more depressed. It talked about the key to success being a singular focus. putting all of my energy and focus into my goal and letting nothing stand in my way. A great message, but for me it is so depressing. I am so torn.

Torn between marketing, blogging, writing Fresh Meat, working on the sequel for The Hunters, thinking about the next book in the Clear Angel Chronicles, content creation, social media promotion, managing my ads, trying to read and promote other authors. And that is just in my career. Looking at my job, continuing education for that, keeping up my job as a mother of two teen boys, trying to be a good wife, forget about having time for friends.

Then I read a hysterical post on Alex J Cavanaugh's Ninja News. A guest post by Elizabeth Seckman about How to Become a Best Selling Author in One Week and it put everything in perspective.

Thank you, both of you, for giving me a laugh and making me feel better! I still feel torn, but that depressing article on singular focus is just a haunting memory.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Poetry Corner: Insanity

Absolute insanity
wrought our daily lives.
It blends well with humanity
carving like sharp knives.

Families full of madness.
Cruel tricks of the brain.
Some snap under duress.
How do these people drive me so insane?

From Imgur

I come from a pretty messed up family, which I have learned is actually pretty normal. As a teenager, I didn't know that. My parents divorced when I was very young. My older siblings were all out of the home and for the longest time it was just me, my brother, and my mom.

Then for a time, most of my siblings were all in the same city. I think we wanted to be like the Waltons, or Leave it to Beaver. We were more like a mini version of high school. There were the "favorites" and the "black sheep" and it was as fluid as high school too.

I have struggled with my thoughts of what I expect family to be, and the reality of family. Even with my own little family of four, we struggle with the ideals versus reality. I really appreciate that television is reflecting real families more and more. It makes me feel less bad for not having that ideal family. Yet I am still sad not to be able to have that.

 I will never stop striving for that ideal family and in striving, it will drive me crazy.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Book Review: Tannion

I finally finished Tannion by Wayne Elsner, and it was so enjoyable!

Tannion is a fantastic anti-hero, so to speak. His character development, processing his powers, using them for good and bad, and growing into his own is relatable.

I want to think that if I were to suddenly develop super powers I would be more like Spiderman than The Punisher, and yet... I do like the Punisher more.

Not saying that Tannion is necessarily like the Punisher, but his rationale for the paths that he takes are understandable, even if I would like to think that wouldn't be the way I would go.

I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

Check out Wayne Elsner's website to learn more about the series. Get your own copy of Tannion here

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Hell School: Fresh Meat Sneak Peek Valentine's Day Ruined

I am participating in A. F. Stewart's Bloody Valentine Horror Hop with another sneak peek from my stalker series.

Talk about perfect timing!

So as I have mentioned previously, this is based on my real experiences with a stalker in high school and the way that experience has shaped my life. Here is an excerpt from the first book.

All the other girls were giddy about Valentine's day, but Sam didn't really care. Despite April's desperate attempts to pair her off with one of the guys, Sam was adamant that she wasn't allowed to date until she was 16. It was a great excuse and she wasn't giving it up just to get a silly card.

Mike joined her walking into school. "What's up, buttercup?"

Sam sighed at the silly nickname. "Not looking forward to today," She muttered, brushing a stray hair out of her face.

Mike laughed. "Aren't you supposed to be excited? It's Valentine's day!"

Sam rolled her eyes. "Seriously, do you not know me better by now?"

He grinned. "Fair enough. I'll give this to you now, so we don't have to make a big deal about it later." He fished something out of his coat pocket and handed it over.

"What is this?"

"Nothing special. I get Valentine's for all my friends." His ears turned pink and he coughed. "Don't make a big deal out of it. I gotta run," and he loped off leaving Sam with the odd-shaped envelope in her hand. She opened the envelope and pulled out a small stone. It was a tiger's eye. She slipped the stone into her pocket and pulled out the accompanying card. There were buttercups on the front with frilly writing "Happy Valentine's Day". She opened the card. In sprawling writing, Mike said. "This card reminds me of you, sweet and sunshiny like buttercups, and the tiger's eye reminds me that you are like a tiger when defending your friends. Happy Valentine's day!"

Sam couldn't help but smile. It was really sweet.

She slipped the card into her back pack and looked around for Mike, but he was long gone. Walking into school, Sam was overwhelmed by all the giggling giddy girls reminding her why she hated this holiday. Spotting Misty and Ben, she maneuvered her way over.

"Hi," Misty said a little breathlessly. "look what Ben got me for Valentine's day!" she blurted out, holding up a complete works of Shakespeare.

Sam smiled. "How sweet." She resisted the urge to point out that Ben had probably never read any of it. Clearly he had made an effort and she begrudgingly respected it.

"Yeah," he drawled. "I hear he's really romantic."  He nuzzled Misty's neck, and Sam turned away. His constant PDA really bugged her.

"Where is everyone?" Sam asked.

"Um, April and Clint got roped into helping hand out the Valentin'es day Grams during first period."

"Clint? Oh, because of Football?" Sam sighed. "But how did April get roped in?"

"I think she volunteered," Misty chuckled.

Great. Sam was not looking forward to first period. The bell rang and they headed toward class.  The giggling and chatter was more obnoxious than usual and Misty and Ben were a little absorbed in each other so Sam waved goodbye and moved along quickly.

Slipping into her desk, Sam pulled out her book and began reading. She figured that courtesy of the stupid grams, nothing productive was going to happen. There was so much chatter after the bell that Sam almost missed her name being called for attendance. Even after attendance the room didn't settle down. Ms. Smith tried to call the class down, but to no avail. Then there was a knock at the door.

In walked Wes and another football player with a cart full of candy grams. Sam groaned.  Wes spotted her and waved. Sam gave a half-hearted wave back.

"Alright, alright students!" Ms. Smith demanded. "We will not hand out any candy grams until you all settle down!" The room went from a loud roar to whispers and giggles. "Alright gentlemen," Ms. Smith nodded to Wes and the other football player. The other guy grinned and walked up to the front of the room.

"On behalf of the football team and cheerleaders, we thank all of you who participated, or who had a loved one participate, in this year's candy grams. Thanks to your generosity we have raised enough money to get new uniforms and to pay for bus trips all the way to Championships. Guess we have a lot to live up to!" The classroom cheered and he smiled. "Be sure to return the generosity!" He added as a last comment.

Ms. Smith shot him a dirty look and Wes stepped up with a basket full of candy grams. "Alright, let's get these handed out. Kendra Jackson?"

Kendra ran up eagerly and grabbed the basket.

"Kendra received four candy grams," the other guy announced.

Sam sighed. This was going to take forever! She pulled her book out and went back to reading, drowning out the hoots and hollers of her excited classmates. Sam was just getting into an intense battle sequence when the room went quiet.

"Sam..." Sam glanced up and saw Wes almost in front of her. She felt a blush of embarrassment. What was he doing? "Sam, these are for you." He had a couple candy grams and a rose in his hand. She stared up at him dumbfounded.

"Wha...." He set them on her desk and smiled. "Don't look so surprised," he whispered, giving her a thumbs up before moving back to the front of the room.

Jenna scooted over next to her. "Oh my God, you got a red rose!!" she whispered excitedly. Sam stared at her blankly. "Who is it from? That means he loves you!!"

Numbly Sam reached out for the rose and read the note attached. From your secret admirer. The world went to white noise as Sam stared at that horrible, horrible pidgeon scratch. She grabbed one of the candy grams, a handful of chocolate kisses. The note, "How I wish to sprinkle you with kisses." She recoiled in horror, dropping the candy on the desk.

He was back.

She felt hot and cold all at once. Jumping up she ran for the bathroom, sure she was going to be sick.

She barely registered the surprised look on Wes' face as she pushed past him into the hall and ran for the bathroom. The hall was spinning and she didn't think she would make it.

Slamming into the first stall, she knelt in front of the toilet waiting for the nausea and spinning to pass. Tears sprung to her eyes and she squeezed them shut. Why, why, why wouldn't he leave her alone!

Leaning against the cold steel stall wall she took several deep breaths, trying to steady her stomach. The terror and dread left a cold lump in her stomach, but the rage was building and she fanned the flames. How dare this stupid freak send her such trash! How dare he think she was the kind of girl who would welcome a complete stranger sprinkling her in kisses!  How dare he imply that he loved her when he didn't have the guts to let her know who he was, let alone talk to her! What sick weirdo could consider such a shallow obsession love?!

Thanks for joining. What do you think of this sneak peek? Let me know in the comments below.
Then go check the rest of the bloggers participating  in The Bloody Valentine Hop

Until next time,

Keep Reading!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Writer's Ramblings on Marketing

Before I get going on this ramble, I want you all to know that I am going to have a special post on the 14th as part of a sort of Anti-Valentine's day blog hop being done by several horror writers. Be sure to come by and check out my post, and then visit the link to the other authors posts. It is sure to be fun!

Alright, so on to the ramble of marketing. My "real job" is working for an advertising company promoting programmatic advertising. A really great tool. I actually took the job in hopes of being able to pay for my own campaign eventually. After a year, I can't quite afford the campaign. But I love talking to people about programmatic.
Image Courtesy of Death To Stock

I have started a sort of mini version of the campaign on my own, hoping to boost sales to the point where I can afford a full campaign with my company one day. I love doing content writing, like these blog posts. I love creating ads, setting up blog hops, getting reviews, doing book shows and many of the other aspects of marketing. I love engaging with readers on Goodreads, Wattpad, and figment.

But I have spent more on marketing than I have made. I spend more time on marketing than I get to spend writing. I feel like no matter what I do, it doesn't seem to be making an impact. If I am lucky, any single social media post gets 20 views. I can count the number of people reading any single blog post on one hand (Thanks mom!)  My all-time website hits are less than most companies get in a month. I've tried doing Youtube video reviews, but the time and effort just weren't worth the limited exposure. I need to do more research on making videos more efficiently.

I am a jack of many trades, and a master of none. Sometimes I wonder if the time and money I am investing in promotion is a waste. I wonder if I would be better off investing that time in my writing exclusively. I wonder if I should hire others to do the marketing for me. And yet I cannot invest such huge amounts of money without knowing if I will get better results than what I have achieved myself.

Despite getting very positive reviews for all of my books, I have not seen that those reviews have helped with sales. Despite starting ad campaigns through social media, adwords, and other sources, I have not seen an uptick in sales. Part of the problem is that I make so little on each book sale that it is hard to recoup that in marketing. Part of the problem is that a lot of the "free" media that once was available has been diverted to those willing to pay. (I am totally calling out Facebook here!!!)

It is hard to build a grass roots campaign. I need people to share and tell others about my work. But how do I inspire you to share? How do I get in front of you wonderful readers when there are so many others competing for your attention?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Are you wondering how you can help?  I know I am not the only writer struggling with this. You can help. Share your favorite authors. Help us get the word out about our books. Write a review when you read a book. Tell your social media fans what you are reading. Pin books. Retweet, share Facebook posts, share our blog posts, Tell us what you think.

Until next time,

Keep Reading!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Poetry Corner: Teenage Dreams

It's not enough to have a dream,
unless I'm willing to pursue it.

It's not enough to know what's right
unless I'm strong enough to do it.

It's not enough to join the crowd,
to be acknowledged and accepted.

I must be true to my ideas,
even if I am left out and rejected.

It's not enough to learn the truth,
unless I also learn to live it.

It's not enough to reach for love
 unless I care enough to give it.

I wrote this my senior year of high school, and the words still ring true to me today. I have spent the last five years years really working toward my writing career. I have been writing ever since first grade. I always dreamed of being a writer, but dreaming and scribbling wasn't enough. It has never been easy, but I keep pushing and pursuing it.

Each of these are lessons I have taught my children as well. It is amazing how these key truths have continued on in my life. Sometimes I look back on the work I have done and wonder how I ever thought it was good, and sometimes I look back and think "Wow, that was pretty insightful."

What do you think of this poem?

Share in the comments below.

Until next time,

Keep Reading!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Joys of Writing

I have been spending more time reading other budding writers and realize that there are some exceptional stories out there. Many times in the last four years I have lamented that I cannot get in front of readers and have wondered how awful stories have managed to get out there and in some cases end up huge successes despite glaring errors.
Found on Big Questions Online

But then I see these brilliant stories from budding writers and I am humbled. I want to focus on fine-tuning my craft, not complaining about stories I deem less worthy getting better reviews, or more exposure, or whatever stupid crap I come up with to assuage my silly ego. I started this venture in writing years ago before the concept of being a famous author meant making lots of money. I have lost sight of that. Not that I want to become ridiculously wealthy from writing (I mean, don't get me wrong, I would not complain if that happened.) but I have been wasting writing time focusing on all the wrong things. I lament how if I didn't have to work I could get so much more writing done. But there was a time when I went to school full-time, worked full time and was raising two toddlers and still made time. It is as lousy an excuse as ever. I was spoiled for two years able to work from home and publish three full-length novels. I need to get back to focusing on the good, building my craft, fine tuning my stories, and stop whining about not having enough time!

And with that, I am back to writing! What brilliant story have you read recently? Share in the comments below.

Until next time,

Keep Reading!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Poetry Time: Summer of 98

I found an old journal that I started using to collect all of my poetry. We all go through phases, right? Especially with wonderful high school and college teachers encouraging us to express ourselves with poetry. I started the book  in Ms. Dunker's creative writing class. I compiled poetry from over the years, scratched out on scraps of paper, and kept putting any poetry I wrote in the journal. I thought that one day I would publish a collection of my poetry. That may or may not happen.

In the mean time, I will share some of these little gems with you folks and the thoughts and feelings they still inspire in me as I read them.

This one is called "Summer of 98"

A special friendship I thought I'd find,
lustful emotions instead did bind.

I hoped for a relationship of serenity,
instead a hatred of mock insanity.

What has happened to our souls?
A lackluster fire of empty coals.

Your fantasy was so kind to you,
but my reality rang just a bit too true.

What did you expect? A pure God-dess?
Only fools would expect no less.

A silken angel of dawn tread times
made wholly immortal through a poet's rhymes.

My soul-sealed friendship was yours to take,
but you were expectant of a much better make.

A friendship stance I wanted from you;
but, lover's stance, you held aloft so cruel.

I was no goddess of lustful desire
so the friendship asked was place on the pyre,
my illusions lost deep in the fire.

No matter how far removed I am from the incident that inspired this poem, I can quote it and it still evokes such strong emotions. This experience was a major catalyst in my life. It was the time I went from the belief in a "one true love" to the need for one to love me. I became a little more jaded because of this incident and went from being a hopeless romantic to a practical person. I had spent most of my life (to that point) absolutely in love with this young man and had kept loving him even as he changed drastically (and not completely for the better).  I had never asked anything more of him than friendship, but his expectation after four years apart was romantic and then when he discovered that I was not the physical expectation he had, he wanted nothing to do with me (even though I had traveled all the way across the country to see him!)

And because of that, I married my best friend. A man who gives as good as he takes, who appreciates my practicality and admires my strengths rather than obsessing about the fact that I am taller than he is. A man who would rather snuggle with me watching British comedy, than complain about me not being "the perfect size". A man who supports my goals and dreams, while keeping me grounded.

Thank you, my first love, for teaching me so much so that I can be happy now.

I hope you are happy too.

What do you think of this poem? Tell me in the comments below.

Until next time,

Keep Reading!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Tannion: That Day- Pre-book review

I am about halfway through Tannion: That Day and I am enjoying it thoroughly. I loved this story the first time I looked at it when Wayne was looking for a publisher. I loved it then, and I am so glad to see it in print now, even though I did not end up publishing it for him.

Tannion reminds me of a grown up version of comic books. It is the story of an ordinary man who develops extraordinary abilities and this leads him to go through the moral dilemma of how to use these abilities. 

One of the things that I really love about Tannion is that he reminds me a lot of my oldest son. Not a bad guy, but not a good guy either. Very much marginalized throughout his life, he gets a bit heady with all of his power.  The semi-scientific process he sets up to experiment with his abilities without any consideration of the consequences, but taking it in as he goes along all remind me so much of my son.  It is an interesting perspective that we never really get with comic book characters. They are either inherently good and become heroes (yes, even Iron Man is inherently good, despite his attempts to come across as a wealthy playboy who is self absorbed.) or inherently evil and become super villains.  

Tannion is just a regular guy. We see him do good, we see him do evil. We don't know which way he is going to go. At this point in the story (and maybe this is some fear because of how much he reminds me of my son) I am afraid that at best he might become an antihero. But still there is hope. I understand that this is planned to be a series, and I am eager to keep reading the series and to watch this character develop in the complexity that is our true world, not clearly good or clearly evil, but clearly entertaining! Learn more about the Tannion series on Wayne Elsner's site

Look forward to my full review coming out soon.

Who is your favorite super hero or super villain? Let us know in the comments below! 

Until next time, 

Keep Reading!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Thoughts on Snow and Life

I woke up this morning super sad. Once again the snow that we were promised has not come. It was warm enough to go shopping without a coat! The whole reason I moved to Utah was for the snow! We had snow for Christmas, and for that I am grateful, but one week of that beautiful white stuff was not enough.
Snow- By James Angell

As I was going about my day, I learned that a really great friend of mine, Tim Bergfield, died Friday. My husband was shocked as Tim is not much older than us. He died from natural causes, not some freak accident. He was healthy, lively and a work horse... and now he is dead. Life, like snow, seems so fleeting and the promise as ephemeral.

My colleagues laugh at me when I get disappointed at not having snow. When we get a few flickers of white fluttering from the sky they groan and complain while I get slightly giddy.  Snow is like life, when you are only focusing on how it sucks to drive in, you have to salt and shovel the driveway, and worrying about the ice that will form after then snow is a drag. But the wonder and beauty is right there before us, the way snow has the ability to take a dull and dreary world and make it light and pure and beautiful, even if only for a brief moment... that is worth the difficulty.

The giggles and snowballs, the snowmen and snow angels, sledding, hot chocolate and fires in the fireplace; everything is made better, purer, more indelible in our memory all because of the brief joy of snow.

Tim was like snow. I worked with him at Movie Gallery and he was always cheerful and energetic when we managers would get together. While the other managers complained about new standards, he was invigorated to meet the challenge. After we both left Movie Gallery, Tim and I would still hang out. He was eager for new career opportunities. Where most people would have been frustrated at changing horses mid-stream, he welcomed the new job he had and the education he needed to get to go with it.

He always made things purer, focusing on the good. He loved and lived with all his heart. He made the mundane more memorable because he was there. You will be sorely missed Tim.

Tim Bergfield- By Stephanie Mitchell Phillips