Slush Pile: Interview With a First Reader

You’ve finished your novel, done no fewer than a hundred proof-reads and thirty revisions. Now you are ready to submit. But what happens between the moment you hit that ‘Send’ button and finally get a response can be a bit of a mystery to many writers. Who reads your manuscript? What’s the process? What gets my manuscript past a first reader and into the inner sanctum?

Sherry Ficklin is a YA author and also wades through the slush pile for Clean Teen Publishing. She was kind enough to answer some questions from the perspective of a first reader about what it’s like to be on the receiving end of so many hopeful queries.

How did you become the “Slush Slave” for Clean Teen Publishing?
Dumb luck. Really. I was at Book Expo with my publishers and they had brought a bunch of subs with them to go over, and me being me, I was being nosy and putting my two cents in. I found out later I’d flagged the same ones they had. So they decided I had a pretty good eye and wanted to bring me in as part of the acquisitions team.

How many unsolicited submissions do you read in a month?
20+ on average. More during certain times (post Nano and post Pitmad). Never less than 2-3 a week. But nearly ALL our submissions are unsolicited. It’s beyond rare that we will reach out to an author and request they send us something. It has happened, but it’s the 0.1%.

What is the process for a manuscript going from the point at which it’s received until a decision is made?
The team is made of three readers, myself included. When a sub comes in it comes to all of us. It only takes one of us to request a full. Once we have a full, we all read the first 50 or so pages, more if we like it. Once we all reach the end, we discuss it together as a committee. The biggest question, even if we love a submission, is always, can we sell this book? It takes a unanimous vote on a full submission to make an offer. And there have been books that we all loved, but didn’t accept because we felt that, for whatever reason, we wouldn’t be the best place for it. If we can’t do a book justice, we won’t take it. And that’s to the author’s benefit.

Is that process different if a writer has an agent?
For most houses, it is. But for us, not really. We look at agented and un-agented submissions just the same. They get no special treatment here (much to their chagrin).

What is the difference in the number of books that you select that are submitted by new authors as opposed to established or previously published writers?
We look at previously published authors much more closely, in fact. We full on stalk them, we look at how much/how well they interact on social media, what their other sales/reviews look like, and we look for professional web presence. Because of this, we seem to take more first time authors. We can help grow an author’s career, but an author who has already had several books out and still isn’t where they should be in any area, well it makes us question why. A successful, experienced author, however, bringing us new material, make us extremely happy. The ratio of new to established authors is probably 3-1 or very close to that. We love launching new authors and helping them build their brands and careers.

What is it about a query or first pages that best grabs your attention?
I look for a book that hooks me immediately. Something that intrigues me from the first paragraph. My biggest turn offs are:
1) When the first chapter begins with a dream or a character waking up
2) A lot of immediate and unnecessary backstory
3) Flat dialogue

Any of those in the first few paragraphs will immediately turn me away. There are RARE exceptions to that. But yeah, mostly those are red flags to me. And a tip, if you only get 15 pages to make a first impression, don’t waste 9 of them on a prologue that I don’t really need to see. Jump me right into the meat of the story. If your first 15 pages are boring set-up, then you need to scrap them and start your story later in.

What are some mistakes you see over & over when reading submissions?
The two biggest mistakes I see are, firstly, books that genre jump. For example, if I’m reading tour contemporary romance and then on page 50, out of nowhere, a paranormal element comes into play, I will immediately quit reading. You can’t set your story up to be one thing, then throw a genre curveball in later. We should know, fairly early on, what the genre is just by reading.
The second mistake I see often is the overuse of tropes. Now, tropes can absolutely work, and I’m not looking for people to reinvent the wheel, but there should be something about your book that sets it apart from others. Often it’s just the voice or the world, but if it feels too similar to something else we’ve read, that’s a bad sign.

Hooks are important. How far will you read into a query letter if your attention hasn’t been piqued right away?
I often skim the query looking for 3 things, the age range of the characters, the genre, and the page count. I don’t put too much weight on a query because, to be frank, I know how hard they are to write. I’ve done it. And I suck at it. So I let the first few pages speak for the work instead. That said, if the query is REALLY heavy in poetic or sci-fi language (ie, oddball names for planets and systems, etc) that is a turnoff for me. But those are super rare.
One thing I see, and I would heavily avoid, is being demanding in your query. I’ve seen queries come in saying things like, ‘don’t show this to anyone else at your house without my express permission’ or ‘I only accept serious offers that come with big advances’ etc. Because it earns you a big red flag and a one way ticket to the trash can.

If a query letter isn’t strong–but doesn’t contain any major errors–are you likely to read the first pages?
I read the first pages no matter what, unless the query is in a genre we don’t represent, or is rude, you get your pages read.

We hear so often about tastes being subjective. That leads a lot of aspiring authors to wonder, does the fate of each submission lie with just one person or is it a consensus to accept/pass on a submission?
As I said, it takes only one to request a full, but all three to make an offer. Each reader on the team has wildly different tastes and opinions, which works to our benefit. We had a sub come in once that I was on the fence on, but one of the other readers argued passionately for it, and once she gave me some examples of similar titles and how they were done, it was a big yes from me. I’m happy to say that book is now one of our best sellers. At the end of the day, regardless of personal preference in genre or POV or tense, we all know what has the hallmarks of a good read, and that’s all we need.

What things are on your Wish List for submissions?
I’d love to see some spicy NA, we have very few on our list, and my personal favorites are paranormal of any flavor, humorous contemporary, and of course, I’m a sucker for a good YA romance. Also historical, or fantasy with historical elements.
Our ideal submission is a book that is part of a series or that has series potential. Standalones are wonderful, but harder to sell. And I love cliffhangers. Give me those all day long. Also,keep in mind that we have an adult imprint, Crimson Tree Publishing, so you do not have to be YA to submit.

Are there any subjects that you are just “over”?
No. I really believe that there’s no such thing as a ‘dead’ genre. A great book will always find an audience, trends be dammed.

There was some recent controversy about a publisher with a similar name to Clean Teen Publishing. Also the company name might cause some writers to wonder if their work is appropriate to submit to Clean Teen. Is there anything you’d like to clarify about your books or the rating system?
Yes, what a nightmare! It is hard, sometimes, for people to understand what we are trying to do at CTP. It’s not about all our books being ‘clean’ but it’s about being able to judge for yourself what level of content you want to read. Our disclosures are done on a four point system detailing the language, sensuality, drug and alcohol use, and violence. What one person considers ‘clean’ might horribly offend someone else. So rather than trying to judge, we simply let you know, right on the cover, how much of those things you can expect in any given book. I will say, out mature titles tend to sell just as well if not better than our less mature books. We love all books, with all content levels. We just like people being able to judge for themselves before they buy a book, whether it will be right for them.

If you are curious about Clean Teen Publishing (or the adult imprint, Crimson Tree Publishing) you can follow this link the their website. You can also review their list and check the submission guidelines.

You can also find information about Sherry Ficklin and her books on her website (I totally recommend the Stolen Empire series!)

Book Tour & Giveaway: In The Blood by R.L. Martinez

In The Blood Banner 540 x 200

 

In the Blood: The Witchbreed, Book One by R.L. Martínez

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Lakewater Press

Date of Publication: March 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9944511-0-1
ISBN: 978-0-9944511-1-8
ASIN: B019X8WCWI

Number of pages: 370
Word Count: app. 122,000

 

ebookinthebloodgirl

Blurb

The Warrior

The war between Dosalyn and Roanaan has ended, but a new battle begins for prisoner-of-war, Ottilde Dominax. Dreams of her witchbreed twin sister are visions of death and betrayal. Driven by their grim warning, she escapes her captors and races across nations to save her sister.

But she may arrive too late…

The Witch

Oriabel Dominax has kept her healing magic secret while she cares for her family’s struggling estate. But the arrival of a new lord with secrets of his own, the discovery of a dark and addictive magic, and threats from a cruel blackmailer push Oriabel closer to disaster. Through it all, the Witch’s Tree calls…

Cover Artist E.L. Wicker

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Excerpt

 

“296.”

Angry hisses and mutters rippled through the assembly at the announcement of Ottilde’s number.

The guard at the front of their formation watched with a bored expression as the other inmates spat at her feet. “King Killer,” the woman next to her hissed. Ottilde swallowed and her grip on the heartstone tightened. Chroy had not been a king when she threw her knife into his throat, not yet. But he had been their future, their hope.

Ottilde raised one hand into the air. “Here.” The commotion died down after he called a few more numbers and Ottilde let out her long-held breath. She loosened her fingers from around the heartstone. They came away aching with the force of her hold.

When all the prisoners were accounted for, several inmates broke formation to walk to the dining house for breakfast. The guards, however, growled at them to remain in line, shoving some of the slower ones back into place.

Ottilde frowned at the change in routine, and peered around. Prison Chief Wilder Coomb strode towards them on the other side of the wire fence that formed the front of the yard, his adjutant close at his side. One of the guards unlocked the yard gate and stood back as the Chief entered.

Wilder Coomb was a formidable man. He might once have been handsome, but life had bullied him viciously. His shaved head sported a deep, curling scar on one side of his scalp, while his face and neck carried similar gruesome marks. One earlobe was missing, which gave his head a cock-eyed appearance when viewed straight on. A jagged horizontal line along his neck indicated someone had tried to cut his throat at one time. But Ottilde believed the most impressive scar lay behind the patch over his left eye. The silvery tail of the wound snaked down his cheek and neck to disappear in the stiff collar of his forest green officer’s coat.

Upon reaching the front of the prisoner formations, he folded his hands behind his back and swept a contemptuous eye over them. Ottilde could only imagine what he saw as he stared at them, the ragged unlucky soldiers taken prisoner during the recent Pleinour War. For a moment, Chief Coomb’s hard, dark eye settled on her and she lifted her chin, refusing to show him how much he intimidated her. But his gaze moved on, and she sensed the subtle shift of discomfort in the prisoners around her when one of them felt the whip of his gaze

He held up a sheaf of folded papers; a letter, judging by the regular creases.

“Queen Kuonrada has fled and Deauxerr has vanquished her armies.”

The prisoners shuffled and muttered. The cold air warmed with the force of their anger and humiliation. Ottilde kept her eyes on Chief Coomb’s face, though she felt a good portion of their collective rage focused on her. She knew she held blame for breaking the back of Roanaan’s fighting spirit.

“Over the last several weeks,” Coomb continued, “those with authority in such matters have considered what to do with you all. I have a list of officers and knights to be traded for Deauxerr soldiers now held by the remnant of Roanaan’s military as an act of diplomatic faith. Step forward when I read your number. You will be readied immediately for transport to the exchange point.” He snapped his fingers and his adjutant took the letter from his hand, replacing it with a single sheet of dark paper. Coomb scanned it and shouted out prisoner numbers.

Ottilde’s breathing grew irregular with hope as each man or woman came forward in answer to the prison chief’s summons. But he reached the last number on the list without calling hers. Her stomach soured as she watched a contingent of guards escort the fifty or so fortunate prisoners from the yard.

Once the yard gate had shut again. Chief Coomb’s adjutant handed him another paper. “Now, King Talin of Deauxerr has decided to offer those of you with reports of good conduct and no criminal past the opportunity to swear fealty to the Deauxerr crown. Talin has granted you permission to return to Roanaan or settle in Deauxerr; also, you will be given a small subsidy to start your new life. If you wish to accept this offer, step forward when I read your number.” He sounded off another list of prisoners. Again, Ottilde listened tensely for her number, though she knew how unlikely it was she would hear it this time.

Coomb must have called a hundred numbers or more, but Ottilde estimated only forty prisoners stepped forward. They averted their eyes from those who remained in the formations. Another handful of guards led this group from the yard.

“As for the rest of you,” Coomb said, “you are to be moved to a civilian prison facility where you will no longer be my concern.” He folded his arms behind his back. “Remember, as long as you remain in this camp, or in the custody of my staff, you will obey Lachlas regulations. Everyone will appear for morning roll every day. You all know what will happen should even one of your numbers go missing.” He gave them a last menacing glare then stalked to the yard gate.

 

 

About the Author:

SONY DSCR.L. Martinez writes fantasy and science fiction with dark edges and corners. She began writing when she was in the seventh grade when her teacher assigned a creative writing project. She lives in Norman, OK with her husband, two young sons, a mouse-killing cat, and two naughty pooches.

 

Website – http://robinlmartinez.com/

 

Twitter – https://twitter.com/RobinLMartinez

 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/robin.l.martinez400

 

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8121315.R_L_Martinez

 

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/robinlm488/

 

Tour giveaway, enter HERE!

 

1 swag pack (book, bookmark, postcard, heartstone necklace) and

 

3 ebook copies

 

Book Tour & Giveaway: Poor Boy Road by James L. Weaver

Poor Boy Road Banner 540 x 200

Poor Boy Road, Jake Caldwell Book One by James L. Weaver

 

Genre: Thriller

Publisher: Lakewater Press

Date of Publication: March 21, 2016

 

ISBN 978-0-9944511-2-5

ISBN: 978-0-9944511-3-2

ASIN: B019X3WELC

Number of pages: 251

Word Count: approx. 78,000

pbrebookCover Artist: E.L Wicker

 

Blurb

 

As a mob enforcer, Jake Caldwell is in the dark business of breaking kneecaps and snapping bones. But each job sends him one step closer to turning into the man he swore he’d never become—his violent and abusive father. Leaving the mob is easier said than done. When his boss offers a bloody way out, Jake has no choice but to take it, even if it means confronting ghosts of old.

 

Arriving in his Lake of the Ozarks hometown, Jake has two things on his mind: kill ruthless drug lord Shane Langston and bury his dying father. What he doesn’t expect is to fall in love all over again and team up with his best friend Bear, the Sheriff of Benton County, to take Langston down. Racing through the countryside searching for Langston, the web of murder, meth and kidnapping widens, all pointing toward a past Jake can’t escape and a place he never wanted to return—Poor Boy Road.

 

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Excerpt

 

“Open the door, Carlos,” Jake said, pounding the door twice. No answer, but the shadow wavered as if its owner was uncertain if it should stay or run.

Jake sighed and stepped back. With his good leg, he exploded forward, driving his heel above the knob. The lock assembly collapsed against the splintered wood and the door burst open. Carlos cried out as the door cracked his face, his wiry frame collapsing to the floor. He landed on his ass, holding his nose. Blood poured through his fingers and onto his stained, white T-shirt. Jake entered the apartment to the stench of cigarettes and fried onions, and shut the remains of the door behind him. Carlos pushed back toward a kitchen stacked with crusted plates and glasses, his wide eyes fearful.

Jake tucked the Glock in his waistband and picked up a dented baseball bat leaning against a bookcase covered with dead plants. He held it with both hands, testing the weight. Thirty-two ounce aluminum fat barrel. He walked to Carlos and tapped him hard on the leg with it.

“Where’s your daughter?” Jake asked. The last thing he wanted was a little girl to run in screaming. It happened before.

“Hospital.”

“Still?”

Carlos nodded. “They can’t figure out what’s wrong.”

“Sorry to hear it,” Jake said. He didn’t wish that kind of heartache on anyone, but Keats wasn’t paying him as a shoulder to cry on. “The two grand. Where is it?”

“Ain’t got it. No insurance and the damn hospital’s sucking me dry.”

The bat burned in Jake’s hands. He didn’t want to, but his orders were to liberally apply a blunt object to Carlos’ legs if he didn’t have the money. There would be hell to pay otherwise. He raised the bat, white knuckling the handle.

“Please, Jake,” Carlos pleaded, tears rolling down his weathered cheeks. “It’s my little girl, man.”

The brief howl of air and hollow thunk of metal meeting bone echoed in his head, a ghostly sound from long ago. The excruciating pain would rip through the man’s body, so intense he would shred his vocal cords from the screams. He knew because he dealt this punishment too many times in the past. He could feel it because he was once on the receiving end. As the bat barrel wavered and Carlos sobbed, Jake’s cell phone vibrated for the fifth time in twenty minutes. Like the previous four times, he silenced it.

He glimpsed a picture on the kitchen counter of Carlos and his daughter. Eight years old, cute as hell in a white dress with a daisy in her thick, black hair. What would happen to her if Jake broke her daddy’s legs? What would Keats do to him if he didn’t? His cell vibrated again.

Jake tossed the bat on the floor. It clanked toward the busted front door and he yanked the cell from his pocket, checking the number. 660 area code. Home, if there was such a place. He needed to think and the call provided as good a distraction as any. Jake answered with his left hand and pulled the gun out with his right, training it on Carlos.

“Dad’s dying,” Janey said. His sister’s first words to him in a year. Like he was supposed to give a shit.

 

About the Author:

Weaver photoJames L Weaver is the author of the forthcoming Jake Caldwell thrillers Poor Boy Road and Ares Road from Lakewater Press. He makes his home in Olathe, Kansas with his wife of 18 years and two children. His previous publishing credits include a six part story called “The Nuts” and his 5-star rated debut novel Jack & Diane which is available on Amazon.com. Author note: a handful of the raters are actually not related to him.

His limited free time is spent writing into the wee hours of the morning, playing parental taxi cab to his kids’ sporting endeavors, and binge watching Netflix.

You can read his blog at weaverwrites.wordpress.com and follow him on Twitter @WildcatJim2112.

 

Blog: https://weaverwrites.wordpress.com

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28121043-poor-boy-road

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WildcatJim2112

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/James-L-Weaver-1561520517509056

 

Tour giveaway, enter HERE!

 

1 copy of Poor Boy Road and swag pack

 

3 ebook copies of Poor Boy Road

Bucket List Item: The Acropolis

I’ll admit it: I’m one of those people who have made a bucket list. My list is ever-evolving and involves mundane things (actually stand on a corner in Winslow, AZ & watching Fargo while in Fargo) to more far-fetched, “never gonna happen” dreams (seeing the Dalai Lama in person!). One thing that has been on my list for as long as I can remember–even before I had a list–was to go to the Acropolis. I’ve always loved Greek mythology and it seemed to me that the Acropolis is the one place that embodies all of the amazing myth and history of the culture I’d spent hours upon hours immersed in as I devoured those stories.

Last year, The Oldest’s school announced a spring break trip to Greece. At first my son wasn’t interested or even intrigued with the idea. One day, out of the blue, he got in the car and announced that he changed his mind and would like to go if it was possible. The trip was pricey, but he had some money in the bank that he’d gotten when my grandma passed away. He started hiring himself out to family, helping build fences, buck hay and cleaning yards. He took a job last spring break, working a full time “man’s job” cleaning out irrigation ditches throughout town. And so, we made it work. And I was jealous.

“I can’t believe you’re taking my dream trip,” I’d whisper to him out of the blue.

He’d nod, with a huge smile, and say, “I know. Sucks, doesn’t it?”

After the first trip meeting my husband & I discussed some of  our concerns. It didn’t seem as though he’d have as much supervision as I would like–and maybe he would have, it just wasn’t conveyed as such–and also, the recent terrorist attacks and increasing threats. We decided that we would feel better if one of us went with him. There are a lot of families going, apparently there’s a large group in our area who travel together regularly within the school district. Once the decision was made, there was only one logical choice as to which one of us went with him, well, that was my argument anyway!

The one thing I wasn’t looking forward to about being on a Middle School trip is that the kids all room together and I would end up with a stranger as a roommate. That was solved relatively easily when, due to the state of the world and questionable supervision of her kid, my mom decided to join us as well.

And so, in 7 days I leave to knock one more item off the bucket list and my son can say he traveled out of the country…with his mom…and his grandma.

athens-acropolis

 

ADD and the Work-at-Home Mom

8:45- Makes list of tasks to accomplish before next break to get fresh water and do a social media & email check.

10:45- First round tasks accomplished. Heads to the kitchen for cold water.

  • “Yikes, there’s a lot of tupperware in here that needs cleaned out.”
  • Pulls out said tupperware to empty & wash figuring 5 minutes of work. Tops!
  • Realizes she will need a large towel to lay out the containers to air dry. Goes to laundry room.
  • “Who the hell took my whites out of the washer and left them to mildew in a crumpled heap on the floor?!”
  • Returns said whites to the washing machine, adds detergent & bleach.”What is that smell?” Goes to bedroom hamper in search of other whites to include in the load.
  • Nearly breaks a hip stepping on an errant dog toy (yes, because she is getting to the age at which protection of the hips is becoming very serious). Returns other dog toys to the proper basket.
  • Sorts laundry in bedroom hamper. Returns to laundry room with whites. Starts laundry.
  • Locates smell.
  • Cleans litter box.
  • Takes kitty crud to outside trash. “Who the hell brought Grandpa O’s old shower chair out of storage and left it outdoors?!”
  • Returns shower chair to storage.
  • Returns to kitchen. Realizes she forgot the towel.
  • Retrieves towel from laundry room.
  • Washes tupperware and leaves on towel to dry.

11:30- Back to desk. Realizes what time it is and that her break and lunch are over.

11:31- 12:01- Sits down to write a scathing blog anyway!

12:02- Realizes she is thirsty and her water is still in the fridge.  And she has to pee….and still hasn’t checked e-mail, Twitter or FaceBook.

 

On the Loss of Deputy Geer

Something is going on in my mind. For the past three mornings I’ve woken up at 4 am, unable to go back to sleep and with one thing on my mind. It isn’t a thing that directly impacted me, it won’t alter the day-to-day realities of the rest of my life, and yet I feel the need to purge myself of my thoughts and feelings. This thing isn’t mine, I can’t claim ownership of it, as it really happened to someone else—to several someone else’s, actually—and yet I’m in a community of people who are feeling the sting.

On February 8, 2016 Deputy Derek Geer, with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, responded to a call. The suspect that he contacted was a 17-year old boy. There was an altercation. Deputy Geer attempted to use his taser to subdue the suspect. That 17-year old proceeded to fire a gun—several times—leaving Deputy Geer mortally wounded.

For residents in Mesa County the shooting of Deputy Geer has been a shocking blow. Although our community has grown significantly, a large number of residents have been here since it was a small town, and Grand Junction has managed to maintain its small town personality, despite its growth. Our town is a true “six-degrees” type of community: everybody is connected to someone else in town by no less than six steps—more often only 2-3.

While we realize that we aren’t immune from the crimes and tragedies that happen in larger cities, we haven’t experienced many of them yet. The last deputy of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office to be killed in the line of duty was in 1906. Our Police Department has only suffered from one active duty loss when, in 2004, a K9 officer, Gero, was shot and killed.

Because of our size, our history, and the close ties in our community, it was devastating to find that our law enforcement personnel—valued members of our community—aren’t as safe as we imagined them to be. And, because our citizens are so closely linked together, even those who didn’t personally know Deputy Geer or his family knew someone who did know them. We knew his friends, his coworkers, and those of his wife and children. We saw how it hurt those who were directly impacted. We knew details about how his family was notified, who was with them at any given time and who was preparing them dinner that night. We saw the local law enforcement at the hospital, and later at the mortuary, standing sentry (which they may not realize that we saw, and appreciated, but lacked the words to pass on). And, we waited until the final announcement had been made, that Deputy Derek Geer had committed his final selfless act—the donation of his organs—on February 10.

On Monday, our community—and others from across the U.S.—showed up in force to bid our final respects to Derek Geer. The support was so great that several remote locations were used and the services streamed to those sites. Even with the staggering number of people watching the services, the streets of our town were crowded along the processional route with those paying their respects. It was truly awe-inspiring that our community came together once again, like the small town we still identify as, to say good-bye to one of our own. And, while I know that the loss to Kate Geer and her children is far greater than what we experienced, I am still saddened for my community in what we lost along with Derek Geer. We lost a little more of our innocence and our sense of safety. But, we also proved how strong we are and how our neighbors will pull together to support each other in the darkest of days. For that—the overwhelming sense of living a community that will stand up together to say, “you are not alone”—I am grateful.

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Derek Geer (11/15/1975-2/8/2016)

#GeerStrong

As a member of the community in the city of Grand Junction and Mesa County, I would like to offer my heartfelt gratitude to all of the members of law enforcement and EMS who traveled our area to pay their respects to Deputy Geer. I’m sure we missed some but we did note the presence of representatives from the following cities, towns, counties and agencies in addition to Mesa County, Grand Junction, Fruita and Palisade:

Adams County

Adams State University

Alamosa city & county

Archuleta County

Arvada

Aspen

Auraria

Avon

Basalt

Boulder City & County

Breckenridge

Broomfield

Buena Vista

Cañon City

Castle Rock

Cedaredge

Cheyenne County

Clear Creek County

Collbran

Colorado Springs

Conejos County

Cortez

CU Boulder

De Beque

Delores

Delta city & county

Denver

Douglas County

Durango

Eagle County

El Paso County

Engelwood

Evans

Fremont County

Garfield County

Gilpin County

Grand County

Greeley

Gunnison

Hotchkiss

Hinsdale County

Lafayette

Lake County

Lakewood

La Plata County

Larimar County

Limon

Lincoln County

Logan County

Loveland

Meeker

Moffat County

Montezuma County

Montrose city & county

Norwood

Oak Creek

Olathe

Ouray City & County

Paonia

Parachute

Park County

Parker

Pitkin County

Rangely

Ridgeway

Rifle

Rio Blanco County

Salida

Sanford

San Juan County

Silt

Sterling

Summit County

Telluride

University of Colorado- Anschutz Campus

Weld County

Westminster

Wheatridge

 

Cottonwood Heights, UT

Moab, UT

Montezuma Creek, UT

Salt Lake City, UT

Missoula, MT

Sweetwater County, Wyoming

Rapid City, South Dakota

Department of Homeland Security

Department of Fish & Wildlife

US Forest Service

United States Navy

United States Army

 

 

A Horse With No Name

I was on my way to pick up my 8-year old from school when I had the kind of experience that a person just has to share.

As I came over the hill of a busy four-lane road I had to slow to a stop. Although the light was green, traffic was barely moving at a crawl. I strained my neck, looking for the sputtering jalopy or student driver who must be trying–and failing miserably–to find first gear. My automatic response systems kicked in, along with all the names I could call the offender when I finally honed in on him. And then, I found them. Not just one, but the four responsible parties who were impeding the flow of traffic.

I saw the first one when he peeked around the corner of a truck with a camper shell. His dark mane hung over the right side of his face, his dark eyes cautiously assessed traffic as he stepped toward the center line. His errant friends galloped along the cars on the outer lane before darting into traffic as well. That’s right friends, I said “galloped”, because today, by the grace of all things good, wonderful & bizarre, there were four horses on one of the busiest intersections in town, literally destroying the timeline of some very pissed off commuters.

Adding to this glory were the men who were chasing them. Four men and a police officer, all on foot and in hot pursuit–dodging in and out of traffic. The horses were evading the law. How many times can  you say that? How many times in the short time I am granted on this earth will I ever get to see a uniformed officer involved in a foot pursuit…with a horse?

This was truly a blessed day that was gifted to me by a greater power. One who has a disturbed sense of humor and could think of nobody better to share it with. And, for that, I am eternally grateful.

Amen. 

John Krasinski:Action Star?

In case you haven’t read 13 Hours in Benghazi, it’s a good book which gives the full account of the operatives who were on the ground, and under fire, when US personnel were attacked in 2012. I had the honor of attending an engagement in which three of those operatives–Kris Paronto, Mark Geist and John Tiegen–spoke and I remember thinking immediately, “This would make a great movie.”

Several months later this is how I found out about the movie:

Someone: Did you hear that they are making a movie about that 13 Hours book?

Me: Really? I knew it *fist pump–or some other ridiculous gesture of triumph*

Someone: Michael Bay is going to direct and John Krasinski has already signed on.

Me: John Krasinski?!?! The dude from The Office? *checks the internet, certain this was a monumental mistake on Someone’s behalf*

As it turns out, John Krasinski–from The Office– had indeed been signed. (?)

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To clarify, I wasn’t horrified at the thought, but was admittedly a doubter. He seems like a nice guy, he’s cute and decent and, well, funny. How would that translate in a movie which is based on thirteen hours of intense danger, gun fights and the bad ass heroics of men who had served in the real life special forces?

And so, I waited…and waited..and waited (Dear God, it seems like I waited for this movie a lllooonnnggg time–a curse of the book to movie lover). Finally I saw a still of John Krasinski in character.

images  “Well, he looks the part.” I had to admit. (Loved the beard, by the way). But, would he be able to be as intense and serious as I imagined the role called for or would there always be a Jim Halpern gleam in his eye? The trailers rolled out and I just couldn’t tell. And so I waited…and waited…(Damn the waiting!!!). This weekend I finally got to see the film adaptation of 13 Hours in Benghazi.

13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi was a solid movie. I think it was true to the book (and, according to the men it’s based on, was also true to the actual events), Michael Bay did not go too crazy with the explosions (which, lets admit it, was a real possibility!). Most importantly though, the actors were great. The biggest surprise though, John Krasinski is great in action movies. He was serious and walked like a guy who was used to kicking ass and had made a career of it. In an early scene he had the deadpan, steady gaze of a man who was just daring someone to “Go ahead, punk. Make my day.”

imgres  Really, who’s going to mess with this dude?

So, now I have to make the official announcement that John Krasinski is my new favorite action movie actor…ok, action heart-throb too, I mean, really, now he’s a cutie and has a dangerous edge to him. Now, if only he’ll make some more action movies, because honestly, I can only stand so many Rom-Coms (blech!).

 

Powerball: Live the Dream

One point five billion dollars.

That is the current, estimated, Powerball value. Imagine that (go ahead, take a moment, I’ll wait…).

Just sittin’ here waiting..no rush…

Like everyone else, I’ve watched lottery fever grow as the jackpot reached $450 million, and then $880 million. Who can’t imagine winning even a small portion of that jackpot?

Last weekend, on one of my social media feeds, a post popped up from an acquaintance that left me feeling a little, well, judged. The person who’d written the post was essentially saying that playing the lottery is a foolish endeavor and that the only true “winning lottery” is the one you create for yourself through financial planning, sacrifice and saving. They went on to imply that the lottery is more likely a detriment to the lower and middle classes.

While I agree that people should be wise in how they spend and save their money, and I don’t think that anyone should invest large amounts of money in the lottery, I feel that this person, and likeminded others–and I know you’re out there!–overlooked one really important thing: the lottery inspires us to dream.

Dreaming (aka-wishing, hoping, aspiring, striving) is a wonderful ability that humans possess. It allows anyone the opportunity to look beyond the reality of their own existence–be it a fulfilled one or one riddled with heartache–and imagine something different or the chance to better yourselfWhen you dream, you are filled with joy and optimism, even for the few moments you are engaged in the dream. Correlations have been made between optimistic outlooks and healthier minds, bodies and spirits, so how can that be all bad?

Some people choose to pursue their dreams, but if you don’t dream first, how would you know what it is that you’re in pursuit of or the course of action to take in order to fulfill that dream? Successful artists, scientists, entrepreneurs and athletes throughout the world all started with a dream. Through the success of some people in reaching their dreams, others are then allowed to reach their own. Imagine a successful business owner who now employs hundreds of people, some of whom were previously struggling to make ends meet. Maybe the business owner mentors another dreamer who also becomes a success! It’s a wonderful and fruitful cycle of dreaming and achievement.

Now, can dreaming win you the lottery? No.

Here is what the lottery does offer though, that no other pursuit (aka dream) can: you have as much of a shot at it as anyone else. Everyone who plays the lottery is on an even playing field. The payout won’t go to fastest runner, the most skilled craftsman, a talented songwriter or the most genetically beautiful person who reaches for this dream. Successful financial analysts have the same chance as nurses, ranchers, fry cooks or a person struggling to survive on disability payments. All you have to do is pick six numbers (or let fate chose them for you with a Quick Pick) and buy one ticket. For some people, all it took to realize their dreams was $2-3.

Book Excerpt: In Too Deep

Have I mentioned that I love this series? I think I have, at least once..maybe a few, anyway, I want to be sure everyone else knows about it. You can get Book 1 for free, book two is out and the third will be released in weeks. Check out the excerpt below from In Too Deep, Book 2 in the #Hacker series.

It’s time to get #HACKED with the newest YA novel by

Sherry D. Ficklin.

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One talented hacker.
One dead body.
One explosive secret.


When one reckless night leads Farris Barnett to the dead body of a
classmate, she’s as willing as everyone else to write it off as a
suicide. That is, until cryptic messages start coming in from someone
who knows the truth, and they want Farris on the case. Putting her
hacker skills to work, she begins to unravel the life of a victim who
might just have been the guiltiest of them all.
Her personal life in
turmoil, Farris turns to the only person she can trust to help her get
to the bottom of things—a friend on the verge of becoming much more.
Together, they confront a killer with a secret not even she could have
decoded.
The biggest bombs, the ones that do the most damage, are the ones you never see coming.

Grab your copy today!

AMAZONIBOOKSBARNES_NOBLE

ebook - in too deep

Read an excerpt from In Too Deep:

The water isn’t warm, but it’s not exactly cold either. It’s the temperature of a bathtub you’ve been sitting in for too long. For a moment, I’m too disoriented to do anything but hold my breath. Then dread sets in and I kick for the surface, breaking it for only a second before a pair of hands pushes me back under. I open my eyes, but everything is blurred, bubbles and distortion.

Adrenaline flooding my veins like fire, I thrash and kick wildly, trying to pry his hands off me. It’s my nightmare all over again. My lungs burn, convulsing with the need to draw breath. I struggle, but I can feel my body growing heavy and I’m sinking, deeper into the bright blue water. The last of my breath escapes in a rush of bubbles, rising to the surface without me. There’s a sound in my ears. It sounds like the crashing of the ocean, far away and close at the same time.

Don’t let go, a voice whispers.

I want to cry because the voice is smooth and familiar. It’s my mother’s voice.

Don’t let go.

My body shudders, convulsing as it fights to find oxygen. The hands release me, but I can’t find the strength to push to the surface. My legs are stone, pulling me toward the bottom of the pool. Finally unable to hold it back any longer, I take a breath and water fills my lungs. It’s a pain like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Even as my body rebels against the foreign substance, I slip further and further away.

Don’t let go.

In the dim, fading light, I see Cole’s face above me. I don’t even know if it’s real or just the last, desperate wishes of my mind. I’m not sure how I find the strength, but I manage to reach up, stretching my hand upward in the water.

***

Book 1 In the #HACKER series is now FREE on all platforms! So if you haven’t already, grab your free e-book today!

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Book 3 in the #HACKER series releases in e-book Feb. 8th 2016. You can pre-order your copy today.

Ebook - Digital Horizon

2016: The Year in Review

I know that it seems a bit early for me to reflect on my successes for 2016, but in all honesty, I’m feeling like I may already be on the downhill slide for the year. I set some realistic goals for myself this year and have pretty much failed to dazzle myself with even a mediocre effort. 

Here is a look at some of my goals and stunning lack of progress:

1. Get caught up in my work tasks so that every day doesn’t feel like such a struggle. Given that this is the first of the year, as well as the end of a work cycle, there are a number of other tasks that have to be done, in addition to my regular duties, which he led to more things to do & pressure to accomplish them. 

2. Make time to meditate. (See #1) The work tasks have prevented me from carving out time to mediate and I find it impossible to relax when I know I have so much work waiting for me. 

3. Organize & maintain my work space. When I’m in fully crazed work mode organization falls by the wayside. (See #1)

4. Get more exercise in an effort to ease stress. Again, the crazy number of hours I’m working, prevents me from carving out time to exercise because every minute I’m not working seems to get me further behind (refer again to #1). 

5. Eat healthy. I really stuck to this, for a solid three days. And then, well (see #1). 

6. Do more writing. (You know how this goes by now.)

So, there we go. My year at a glance. I’m feeling really accomplished and healthy now. I’ve also been bathing in sarcasm, and then drinking that bath water! Oh, right, that goal–to drink more–right on point with that one! Cheers to the new year *hiccup*

Book Review: IN TOO DEEP by Sherry Ficklin

TROUBLE IS ONLY A KEYSTROKE AWAY…

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In Too Deep
#HACKER Book 2

One talented hacker.
One dead body.
One explosive secret.

Life for Ferris Barnett is, well, complicated.
Her boyfriend has moved, her father has been assigned to an active duty station in Turkey, and one impulsive act leads her to a shocking discovery. A classmate’s body has washed ashore and his death has been listed as a suicide.
Soon, Ferris receives an anonymous message indicating that the death may not have been a suicide after all, but that he was killed, and that someone in her school may likely be a murderer. Ferris once again has to utilize her amazing and seemingly innate hacking skills to solve the mystery.
This time she delves into the secret—and surprising—life of a classmate who had never seemed more than a kind and quiet high-school student.

The second book in the #Hacker series is just as good—maybe even better—than the first. Ferris is still one of the wittiest characters I’ve read lately, a true snark-master. She’s smart, tough and not afraid to do what it takes to help others. Who doesn’t love that kind of female character?
All of the computer and hacking details still blow my mind and prove how thoroughly Sherry Ficklin must have researched the subject.
In Too Deep has a good flow, the action doesn’t seem to slow, each turn of the plot flows into another. I have to admit that this time, I only slightly guessed at “who did it” but the revelation was so much deeper than I’d imagined.
But, don’t take a deep, relaxing breath when you’ve discovered what really happened to Ferris’s classmate because there’s one more bombshell waiting at the end and I am counting the days until I can get my hands on book three.

*I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. No remuneration was exchanged

 

Cover Reveal:Digital Horizons by Sherry Ficklin

HACKER SERES

The #Hacker Novels by Sherry

D. Ficklin have gotten a lot of attention since the first book Playing With Fire released in October. Clean Teen

Publishing also announced the release of In Too Deep at the end of November. Now, we are excited to

share the official cover reveal for Digital Horizon, the third book in the #Hacker

Series that will release in February 2016.  Take a look at this awesome new cover

and leave us a line or two with your thoughts on it. Also, if you haven’t started

reading this young adult mystery series, you can start today with a free digital copy

of Playing With Fire.

DIGITAL HORIZON

Ebook - 

Digital Horizon

ADD TO GOODREADS

No spoilers here. If you wish to see the synopsis for Digital Horizon start

click your mouse and start highlighting here: 

One wants justice.

One wants redemption.

One just wants revenge.

Still reeling from her devastating loss, Farris is barely

holding it together when she’s approached by a covert government agency. The IDC

is recruiting the best hackers in the country to form a team capable of tracking down

and thwarting cyber terrorists. When they make her an offer she can’t refuse—a

shot at catching the people responsible for the death of her father—she’s all in. But

success will mean forging new alliances, betraying the people she loves, and trusting

an old enemy. If she succeeds, she might finally get the closure she needs. If she fails,

the digital world will crumble at her feet, putting thousands of lives at risk and

exposing the world’s most dangerous secrets.

In the dark web, where anything can be bought and

sold, this talented young hacker just might have to sell her soul to get what she’s

after.

The question is, who’s buying?

End highlight. Did you see the text? 

PLAYING WITH FIRE IS FREE!

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AMAZON / BARNES &

NOBLE / iBOOKS / KOBO / SMASHWORDS

One brilliant young hacker. One experimental government aircraft. One chance to

keep it all from going up in flames.

Still recovering from her troubled past, Farris is no stranger to change. But when the

military transfers her father across the country to an experimental aircraft

squadron, settling in to a new life is the least of her problems. As a series of

apparent computer glitches threaten the security of the fleet and the blame falls on

her father, she decides to put her computer skills to use digging up the truth. Soon

she’s drawn into the perilous world of a hacker who is determined to ground the

fleet—at any cost.

When all signs lead to someone close to her as the mastermind, Farris will have to

burn more than bridges to get to the truth. She will have to risk her fragile new life

to uncover the identity of the cyber criminal before they can escalate from harmless

tampering… to all out murder.

 IN TOO DEEP

ebook - in too 

deep

AMAZON / NOOK / iBOOKS / KOBO / SMASHWORDS

WATCH THE TRAILER:

ABOUT SHERRY D. FICKLIN:

WEBSITE / FACEBOOK /

TWITTER / INSTAGRAM

Sherry-FicklinSherry is a full time writer from Colorado and the

author of over a dozen novels for teens and young adults including the best selling

Stolen Empire series. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a

large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other.

That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is

only seen in blurry photographs.

Sherry also writes New Adult fiction under the pen name Ranae Glass and is a

contributing writer for fangirlish.com.


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#PitchWars 2015: One Week In

(This is a post that appeared on another site in August 2015. I am slowly fazing out that site and relocating this post. As an update: I did NOT make it to the mentor round of PitchWars… c’est la vie)
Last week I, along with 1,590 other writers, entered a little thing called PitchWars. We had spent weeks preparing. We reviewed, edited, polished and then submitted a small portion of our lovingly crafted tomes to be reviewed by potential mentors. All of this was done with the hope of being selected as one of the “chosen” who will receive the guidance of another writer so that we can be sure we have a manuscript that’s well crafted and ready to be submitted to potential agents.
The wait has been long and excruciating as it is with anything that I’m excited about. First, I had to wait weeks for the submission date. Now we are waiting until September 2, when the mentors choices will be announced. Each mentor will pick one person/writer/mentee and work with them for 2 months as the mentee gets their novel revised until it sparkles.
I’m a naturally optimistic person. I’m generally surprised every time my lotto numbers don’t come up. Every time I go into something I imagine the best possible outcome in vivid detail (except for my Nobel Prize accetance speech, because I suck at public speaking and I’m sure to babble unintelligibly when the time comes).  So, going into #PitchWars I was feeling confident, prepared and like this was going to be my moment.
The Optimism DanceSLXLM

 Optimism is a tough thing to maintain though. At some point during the long wait–Day 2, I think it was–self-doubt crept in. I reviewed my novel again. Cut another 1,000 words, reorganized some chapters, and tightened up my word choice and dialogue.
Then catastrophe struck. I’d taken the word of some other writers, novice as well as published, and experimented with the “Track Changes” feature in Word. I thought that I’d hidden all of the changes and that every chapter of my novel had been saved to an entirely new manuscript. I saw a post on Twitter in which someone made the statement, “nobody really knows how to hide Track Changes”. I should have known then but it took a day or two to realize that my entire novel still had the glaring red edits that had been made. Utter humiliation.
The Dream Cannot SurviveSMXLL

Even though my optimism has taken a huge Rousey to the right temple, I’m still excited about PitchWars and the entire process…including the wait. What a great community of people, the mentors and potential mentees, alike. The feed is full encouragement, commiseration and fun. It’s nice to have 1,590 other people who are as excited about something as I am. As much as I know they love me, when I talk about Pitch Wars to my family they get glassy eyed and back out the door…
SMXLL

So, the highlight of this has been in finding a group of people, who are all in the same boat and are willing to lift each other up when needed. Mostly, I’m happy to know that there are people out there who totally groove to my kind of beat and that I’ve found them! Cheers to all of those who are chosen for the 2015 PitchWars and those that had the guts to enter.
SMXLL

 

#PitchWars 2015 Mentee Bio

(This is a blog post that was on another site which I am slowly doing away with. I am simply moving this post. As an update— I did NOT win or make it to the mentor phase for 2015)
For those of you having a “What the….?” moment, allow me to explain. #PitchWars is a Twitter contest for writers and I am creating this bio as a fun and informational way to pass on interesting (or not!) facts about me to potential mentors.
Anyone already bored?
SMXLL

 About me in general: I’m originally from Oregon but I live in Colorado.  I am married and have three boys, aged grumpy teen, sweet & surly pre-teen and spastic second-grader. I am also lord & ruler to three dogs, a cat and a semi-neurotic feline-type creature.
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Random things that may have warped my personality:
I have a well-earned fear of bears, though I find Teddy Bears to be tolerable most times. My family has been sought out by bears for most of my life and I’m convinced they have a personal vendetta against me.
SLXLM

I am a nurse. I’ve worked in cardiac care units, ER and home care.
SLXLM

I wear my sunglasses at night because 1) I am a child of the 80’s, 2) I convinced myself at a young age that wearing sunglasses reduces squinting and thus, wrinkles, and 3) because I honestly just forget to take them off
SLXLM

I am a black belt in June Fan Jeet Kune Do (Bruce Lee shout out) and am testing for my 2nd degree black belt (= 3rd black belt) this fall.
SLXLM

In my younger days I competed against–and beat–men. I once knocked an opponent unconscious during a tournement. That was long before Rhonda Rousey, yo. (I felt guilty for weeks, though!)
I possess an extreme amount of will power. I once dieted for an entire day.
SLXLM

I worked for a circus once. OK, it was one day. I sold tickets and popcorn, but being a carnie is still in my skill set.
SLXLM

I also worked at a truck stop and lived in a tent. Not a high point in my life but it was an adventure.
SLXLM

I have been bitten by humans more times than I’ve been bitten by animals (but not in a fun or sexy way).
SLXLM

About my #PitchWars manuscript and dream mentor:
My manuscript is a YA historical fantasy about a princess who was raised to be queen but finds herself betrayed by her family in their quest to overthrow another king.
I am hoping for a mentor who will be as passionate about this book as I am. Someone who can share my vision, be brutally honest about the changes that I need to make as well as what already works.
And…if chosen, I will video tape my happy dance for all the world to see
SLXLM

The Writer’s Life: Highs and Lows

(Note: this blog appeared on another site, which I am slowly doing away with, I am simply relocating the post)
I’ve learned a few things about being a writer over the past few weeks. They are things that I’ve known for a while, in theory, but over the course of two weeks, experienced in vivid detail.
The first is how good it feels to have shared my work with someone else and gotten positive feedback. For the record, it feels Uh-mazing in fact. To clarify, it wasn’t glowing praise about what a fabulous and gifted writer I am, realistically I think that someday my mom will read my novel and say those words, but I don’t expect it from anyone else. Actually, my mom’s more of a realist (a trait we share) so, even she won’t gush quite that much.
Any way, I received some very nice and enthusiastic feedback with regards to a contest I entered. I didn’t win but it was a huge thing to have someone say positive things about my work, and to be enthusiastic about it. It’s amazing how a little bit of good news can put the boogey back in your day.
SLXLM

The next week though, was a different story. I had submitted a portion (about the same as I had submitted to the contest) during a webinar. The seminar included a critique by an agent. What I got was about a 10 line response that said my dialogue was stilted, descriptions cliche and that there was no character development.
It hurts us, precious.
SLXLM

So, I wallowed, went through anger, denial, bargaining, a pint of rocky road, a bottle of White ZIn and then, finally, acceptance.
SMXLL

I emerged, ready to carry on and submit again. It’s the way of the writer, after all. There will be no hope of success if I choose to give up and give in to disappointment this early in the game. So, write on fellow aspiring authors, write on.
SLXLM

 

Book Review: Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins

Until We Meet AgainUntil We Meet Again by Renee Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Spending her summer away from her friends is not what Cassandra had in mind. To make matters worse, she and her family, are spending the summer in a ritzy beach community, a place that Cass definitely doesn’t feel she belongs, compliments of her step-dad.

One night, just when the summer seems like it will never end, Cass meets a handsome stranger on the beach. Lawrence is handsome, polite, and quotes poetry. He is also from 1925.

Through some strange phenomenon, Cass and Lawrence are able to meet, but only on the beach. Each of them must return to their own home life, and their own era, when they part.

While researching the boy who has quickly come to claim her heart, Cass discovers that Lawrence’s life is at risk and together—across the span of time—they must find out how to save him from an unknown danger.

Until We Meet Again is a sweet and enticing story. I was immediately drawn in and found myself entranced through the entire book. I am a sucker for a romance and was on the edge of my seat at every attempt Cass and Lawrence made to bridge the gap of time to be together while also trying to solve/prevent his death. Just a beautifully written story.

View all my reviews

NaNo-Why?-Mo

Every November for the past several years I’ve vowed to jump into the fray and do a little thing called National Novel Writing Month–or NaNoWriMo.

For those who haven’t heard about this little gem, each November a world full of creative and driven writers from various countries, lifestyles and representing every genre imaginable band together with one goal: write an entire novel of at least 50,000 words (or an equal word count in short stories, poetry, etc) in a month.

That’s right: an entire novel. In 30 days.

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Why? Well, the simple answer is: to win.

And what do we win? Nothing. Zip. Nada. Zilch. xtitniilwufffpf2cc

Except for the pleasure of being able to say that we, are writers, and have a nice, shiny, new 50,000 word novel to show for it.

In addition to the bragging rights, the winners of NaNoWriMo get the chance to have fun (albeit, the kind of fun that usually involves being alone in a room while lobbing encouragement at your new friends over the Internet) and to bond with thousands of people who have joined you in your quest.

It’s a combination of the quest, the success and the comradery that have always lured me to NaNoWriMo.

I’ve had several years in which I signed up, some in which I even wrote something. One year I proudly patted myself on the back and complemented my determination at having written twice as much as I had the year before. Truth be told, that accomplishment only amounted to 6,400 words, but damn-it, I’d doubled my previous word count, and that was an improvement, and nobody would tell me otherwise.

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So, after so many miserable and half-assed attempts to conquer this great white thing that is NaNoWriMo, I was determined that this year…I would succeed.
Right now, I am only half-way into my quest. The most beautiful part of this journey is that 1) I’m still writing, 2) I’m close to where I should be with my word count and 3) this amazing story I’ve had about bootleggers in the 1930’s is finally in development.

So, if you don’t see or hear from me for the rest of the month, I’m on a quest and at the end of it, I hope to be wearing a crown fashioned with the words of my latest accomplishment….

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Nightmare On Query Street 2015: #TeamMonsters

My writing journey has been full of stumbling blocks recently. While I recognize that writing, more specifically the path to becoming a published writer, is full of disappointments there are times when the “no’s” become overwhelming and overshadow all of the good feedback. The cumulative effect is that sometimes you wonder if it’s time to quit grasping at the high ropes and embrace the fall.

Despite my recent frustration (not to mention soul crushing disappointment, self-doubt and periods of wailing), I entered a writing contest called Nightmare on Query Street.

The 250 initial entrants have been whittled down to two teams of 20.
Today, this happened…(by the way, my novel is entitled THE LAMB) super secret link to amazing stuff

and now I’m all…

My optimism tank is full again. I am filled with enthusiasm. I am feeling recharged and creative. I am ready to go. I have…how many days to turn in my revised entry?

OK…this can be done. Right? No really…right?!