Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Overcoming Writer's Block: An Inspirational True Story (Part 2)

For two years, I did not write. I made due with journaling and poetry. But it wasn't the same. Sure, poetry was nice because I could write and edit the entire poem in a day or less. But it was not a novel. I wanted the drive, the writer's high, the sponge-brain I got from being creatively drained after a long day of writing. For two years, I starved for it. I had ideas, sometimes felt inspired. I'd sit down and...nothing. A few pages would trickle forth before the inspiration dried up.Where once I had a muse, now I had only wishful thinking.

This past December, I published the third Superiors Series novel and began reading over some old ya stuff I'd written. It wasn't bad. I dug through the files and inevitably landed on my favorite, the last novel I'd finished before writer's block set in. It wasn't bad, either. In fact, I got sucked in and read the entire book, editing a bit as I went. I thought I'd add some scenes between the protag and a future love interest and, to make it realistic, a few background characters.

It. Was. Like. Pulling. My. Own. Teeth.

The words did not flow. They were as hard to write as it is to read the inappropriately punctuated sentence above. Through much frustration, I forced what no longer came naturally. Then I went back to the first novel in the series, the unfinished one, and finished it. The ending wasn't great. I'll probably change it if I ever publish. It was more summarizing what I knew happened than showing the events unfold. But as I finished the few scenes, something began to happen. A bit-part character began to nag at me, circling like a mosquito. This had happened before, so I wasn't too hopeful.

Surrendering to the quiet nagging, I began to write the novel that was tentatively asking if it could be written. It petered out after a few pages, as most of my ideas over the past few years had. But my muse-troll had begun to scratch one stiff finger against the grimy, dust-covered block that had held me back for two years. Then it knocked a hole in the block and peered at me with its beady little eye. It taunted me with promises too good to be believed. I hated that thing by now. I told it to shut up.

It refused to be silenced. This story did not ask if it should be written. It demanded to be. So I began to write...painfully, haltingly, uncertainly. I made every excuse to procrastinate, distract myself, and avoid the call of duty. I spent hours pinning, unfollowing unfollowers, and exploring the creepy world of instagram hastags. I struggled through passages of my novel, rewrote, rearranged, deleted, added, rearranged again. It seemed an impossible task. How had I done this so many times before? Why was I putting myself through it again? And why on earth did I think I'd missed it?

I finished the novel last week, the first I've written in over 2 years. I'm still shaking off the dust, or, more aptly, chipping away at the block. But maybe, just maybe, I'll tear the whole thing down. If not, and this was just some sort of fluke...I've always got the backlog.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review Wednesday: The White Princess by Philippa Gregory (The Cousins War Book 5)

The White Princess by Philippa Gregory


For this review, I thought I'd do something a little different. I've never blogged a bad review before, because I like to stay positive and promote my fellow authors. However, I couldn't skip this review after I'd reviewed the other books in the series. I couldn't bear to relive the fury of reading this book by writing an actual review, so I'm posting my status updates from goodreads as I read this book. Hopefully it will spare you the pain of reading it yourself. 

Reading Progress

10/22 marked as: currently-reading
10.0% "So far, this character seems like a whiny spoiled brat. Hard to sympathize."
25.0% "It bothers me how blatantly the author takes sides. She doesn't like Henry, so she tosses in a rape to make the reader hate him. And beyond annoyed w both Elizabeths calling Henry a usurper while conveniently overlooking the fact that Richard was, too! Going to try to finish, but this one will be tough."
30.0% "Having some serious problems w how things are presented here. Why does Elizabeth force her daughter to marry Henry and become queen, only to try to dethrone the king? Makes no sense whatsoever. Don't believe it."
35.0% "the authors blatant bias towards the Yorks makes me root for the Tudors. #epicbackfire."
40.0% "Despite your best attempts to make Henry VII look completely humorless and loathsome, the historically noted rebel-turned-kitchen boy scene was included. Thank you for not ignoring a piece of factual info bc it didn't fit your fictionalized characterization."
50.0% "Okay, either Henry is paranoid that there's a York boy out there, or he killed the York boys. You cant have it both ways!"
60.0% "oh poor poor Elizabeth...her husband doesn't love her enough. Um hello! She doesn't love him at all, and roots for her brother she hasnt seen for 20 years, who wants to kill her husband! Beyond ridiculous."
70.0% "Oh, the horror! A king plans to marry off his children for political advantage! THAT'S never happened."
80.0% "According to this book, E. is a whiny, selfish hypocritical bimbo and Henry is a barbarian. At least she's trying to make them interesting."
85.0% "Let's see how many times E. can act all shocked and horrified by a marriage w a 12-15 yr age difference...after she jumped in bed w her MARRIED UNCLE! Disgusting hypocrite."
90.0% "So the Tudors only had girl heirs because Elizabeth CURSED them? BajahahaHahahHAHAAHA!!!! SO freaking hilarious."
95.0% "so illogical in every way that its just plain nonsense."
100.0% "Time to find another royal author."

Friday, February 14, 2014

This is the way that love ends.

"This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."--TS Eliot, The Hollow Men

Though T.S. Eliot had bigger ideas than love, thanks to Valentines Day, that is the topic on many minds today. And though the poem is not a love poem, it aptly describes the end of love. For most of us, this is how love ends. Not with a bang, not with heart-rending wails of loss, but with a quiet fading of affection, with the proverbial whimper. It's not as dramatic as the movies would have us believe. It's more mundane than our romantic hearts want to admit. Although some may point to the end of love as the moment immediately preceded by affairs, betrayals, and other drama, that is usually not the case. Those events cause the heart-rending wails. By the time love is gone, there is no more wailing. That requires an intensity of passion that we no longer possess.

This is the way love ends. With the realization that you no longer care what she's saying. With the realization that you would rather stay at the office a few more hours than go home to him. With the realization that your friends are more interesting than your lover. That you are more interesting.

This is the way love ends. Quietly, so gradually we hardly notice. Bit by bit, day by day, we have lost the will to put in the effort, to expend the energy needed to make a relationship thrive. We have lost the desire to please our partners, and more tellingly, the desire for them to find us pleasing. He no longer wears the sweater she bought him that he never liked but wore to make her smile. He no longer compliments her, not because he no longer appreciates her, but because he no longer notices her. She no longer wears his favorite perfume, no longer dresses up for him. She's given up on being noticed, perhaps no longer wants to be noticed.

This is the way love ends. With two people sitting on opposite ends of the couch without speaking. With two people sitting at the dinner table without speaking. With two people shutting off the lights and climbing into bed together and turning to face opposite walls. Not out of anger, but because they have nothing to say to each other, because they can't be bothered to start a conversation. Not because they are avoiding touch but because they have forgotten that the urge to reach for each other was ever present.

This is the way love ends.
This is the way love ends.
This is the way love ends.
Not with an irate lover throwing the contents of the closet out the window,
But with an obligated sigh as we dutifully trudge onwards.

For some, Valentines Day is all about chocolate and roses and sappy Hallmark cards. For others, it has a darker side. This year, some authors invited me to join their blog hop celebrating the grisly, dark side of love. Find a list of their posts by clicking on the link below.

    The Bloody Valentine Blog Hop

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Overcoming Writer's Block: An Inspirational True Story (Part 1)

I used to be quite the prolific writer. I wrote a series of 6 ya novels in seven months, only to learn that, by industry standards, each book was actually the length of 3 ya novels. Therefore, if I divided them into industry-sized ya novels, I wrote the equivalent of 18 ya novels in a span of 6-8 months. Then, though it was challenging and a struggle at times, I slogged my way through the 7 vampire novels in The Superior series in 6 months. Yes, this was during a time when I thought I was slow and uninspired. I had lots of bad days. Of course, back then a good day meant writing for 16 hours straight, churning out 50 pgs in a day, a novel in a week.

Then came a dry spell. Oh, the horror! I had writer's block. I went back and edited some of those bazillion books I'd churned out during the year. I soon found inspiration for a dystopian series, though not particularly original. I wrote 3 of those novels before running across a short story that inspired me to write 3 other ya sci-fi novels.

Wait, I'm not done yet.

That summer, I struggled through a YA novel, and got within chapters of the end before being distracted by a supporting character. I wrote a novel about her instead, and then one about her best friend, then one about her brother (also close to finished, but left without the final few chapters). This entire writing frenzy/binge/burst occurred over two years.

Now you can hate me. 

Around this time, I began dating the man I later married. But, I stopped writing. I was not inspired. I was busy, so I shrugged it off. I had lots going on in my life, and I'd had a few dry spells before. I figured it would last a month, and then I'd go back to churning out a book every few weeks.

I didn't.

As time went on, I became increasingly suspicious that my writing career was finished. I tried to console myself with the knowledge that I had a huge backlog of unedited novels to edit and publish. But as any writer knows, editing is a whole different thing from writing. Writing is creative. Editing is analytical. Writers don't write so that we will have something to edit. We write because we have stories that demand telling. Stories that will not let us rest until they are birthed from the rankest recesses of our brains.

Writers don't write to publish. While writing my first series, I didn't care that no one had read my writing or even knew that I wrote. I knew. My characters knew.

Now, I had no characters. I had no stories clamoring for release. I was barren.

I was blocked.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hearts on Fire Blog Hop

Hello everyone!

Today I'm happy to be participating in the second annual Hearts on Fire blog hop!

Here’s how to hop…
1.) Kym, Eve, and Victoria have supplied the first nine items on the list of Top Ten Favorite Valentines/Romantic movies and Top Ten Favorite “pick up lines”. YOU provide #10. Comment with your answers and email to enter for the site prize. My site prize is a digital copy of one of my three books (links on right). You choose which book!

2.) Then go to the next hop site on the list below and repeat. 

3.) Don’t forget to go here to also enter the GRAND PRIZE RAFFLE.
(20 carat lab ruby, signed paperback series of Immortals of New Orleans – Kym Grosso, and signed paperback series of Black Swan - Victoria Danann, plus a fabulous SWAG bag from Eve Langlais.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

1. The Princess Bride – Eve (because I love a giggle with my romantic fairy tales)
2. Pretty Woman – Eve (gotta love a poor girl/rich guy flick)
3. Warm Bodies – Eve (Zombies can be sexy, lol)
4. Sabrina - Kym
5. The Proposal – Kym
6. Forgetting Sarah Marshall – Kym
7. A Walk in the Clouds – Victoria
8. The Notebook – Victoria
9. Made in Heaven – Victoria
10. _______________________ What’s yours?

1. Eve’s Corny p/u lines: Did you sit in a puddle of maple syrup? Because you have a swe-e-e-t ass.
2. Eve: Do you live in a corn field? Because I’m stalking you.
3. Eve: Your lips look so lonely. Would they like to meet mine?
Note from Eve: Funny how most pickup lines are from guys to girls, and have to do with sex. lol. Then again, can you imagine a woman going up to a guy and saying “Hey gorgeous, I brought along my ten inch ruler because I’ve got a feeling you’ll measure up.” Hehehe.
4. Kym’s Corny p/u lines from movies: “Do you wash your pants in Windex? Because I can see myself in them.” ~Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,
5. Kym: “You know, it’s dangerous for you to be here in the frozen food section… Because you could melt all this stuff.” ~My Blue Heaven
6. Kym: “I couldn’t help but notice that you look a lot like my next girlfriend.” ~Hitch
7. Victoria’s fav lines that actually worked on me: (The lifeguard.) “You all might as well go home because this storm isn’t going away. (looks at me) Except you. You stay and we’ll go swimming.”
8. Victoria: “Have you seen Jeff?” “Who’s Jeff?” “Who cares? What’s your name?”
9. Victoria: “You’re my pick for student body president. Run and I’ll make sure you get elected.”
10. ___________________ What’s yours?

Thanks for stopping by. Your next stop on the hop is…


Close Encounters for the complete list.



Friday, February 7, 2014

Disaster Chef: Taco Casserole (project pinterest) (ammended Weight Watcher's recipe)

I found a recipe for Taco Casserole on Pinterest last fall, but when I went back for it, the blog was gone. Super disappointed, since it looked awesome. I really wanted to make it anyway, so I searched and of course about a hundred recipes came up. After reading a few, I settled on this one, which sounded good.

Unfortunately, it was a Weight Watcher's recipe, which stands for everything I'm against! If it works for you, my apologies, and good job. So I'm posting the recipe below, along with my NOT low-fat recommendations.

1 lb extra lean ground beef (drained or rinsed!) (...NO NO NO! Do not use lean meat, and do not rinse. Saturated fat is not the enemy! lol...seriously, regular grass-fed beef, no draining and dear lord no rinsing...are you trying to remove all taste?!)                                     
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup canned jalapeno slices, chopped (I skipped these, since my son doesn't like spicy food, but I also put salsa on top once it was done)                                           
  • 2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped or 1 (15 ounce) can diced canned tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kernel corn (drained) (I used frozen corn since that's what I had)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans (rinsed and drained) (Used red beans, since I had some cooked)                                    
  • 1 (1 1/4 ounce) package taco seasoning mix (chili powder, cumin and salt did the trick).                                          
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 3/4 cup nonfat sour cream (REGULAR)                                                  
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend, shredded (About a cup of regular shredded cheese on top was perfect)                                          
  • 1/3 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped, to taste (or less (or more) 
  • (GARNISH: I USED SALSA, OLIVES, SOUR CREAM, LETTUCE, CILANTRO)                                    

  • Directions:

    1. 1
      Brown ground beef and chopped onions in large skillet; brown 10 to 12 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, stirring constantly. Drain well and rinse with warm water to remove all fat; return beef/onions to skillet. (Please don't wash your beef. It's weird).
    2. 2
      Add corn, black beans, tomatoes, chilies/jalapenos and taco seasoning mix; mix well. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes.
    3. 3
      Meanwhile spray 12x8-inch (2-quart) baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cut each tortilla in half; place 8 halves in bottom of sprayed baking dish, overlapping slightly.
    4. 4
      Spoon half of beef mixture evenly over tortillas. Spoon sour cream over beef mixture; spread evenly. Top with remaining 8 tortilla halves and remaining beef mixture. (Cover tightly with foil & Freeze for later OR cook as directed below…).
    5. 5
      (Thaw overnight if frozen) Heat oven to 350ºF. Bake at 350ºF for 25 minutes. Remove from oven; sprinkle with cheese. Cover; let stand 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with fresh chopped lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, black olives, etc… /.
    6. 6
      Makes 6 large Servings at 6.5 weight watcher pts/each.

    It turned out pretty tasty, especially after garnishes. Without that, it was a little plain. Also, the corn I used was really sweet for some reason, and tasted a little off in the recipe. I might leave out the corn next time. But, there will definitely be a next time. It was really tasty, and pretty easy to make. It did take a bit of time, but it was worth it. Everyone liked it, picky-eater son included, though he said he'd rather have tacos next time.

    Wednesday, February 5, 2014

    Review Wednesday: Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory (Cousins War Book 3)

    The Lady of the Rivers (The Cousins' War, #3)The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This epic novel covers the life of Jacquetta, Henry VIII's great-grandmother. But if you think you're about to read a novel about an old lady, think again. Gregory always begins with the exciting romantic part of a woman's life, usually when she falls in love or gets married. This formula works well for her, and she uses it here with its usual effectiveness. The novel is a huge, sweeping romance that covers nearly 40 years of Jacquetta's life, from the young and beautiful girl who marries an alchemist who wishes to use her rumored sighting ability and becomes a royal duchess, to her life as Queen Margaret of Angou's Lady in Waiting, to her years as a disgraced Lancaster supporter and finally, a grandmother. I was drawn into the book and found it very informative. Of all Gregory's books I've read, this one helped me understand the York/Lancaster feud and the claimants relationships like no other. I finally felt like I was beginning to put it all together.
    That said, I really would have liked the books to be in chronological order. It was a bit confusing to remember which Elizabeth she was talking about--I just read The White Queen, and it was confusing to go backwards. If I had known the books weren't in chronological order, I'd have read them that way, and I'd suggest anyone intending to read the series to do the same. You will be interested throughout, and ready to move on and see what happens to Elizabeth next. This book leaves off right where The White Queen begins, so it would be a smooth, wonderful transition to move from Lady of the Rivers to The White Queen. I'd highly recommend doing that.
    That said, I still recommend this book. There is never a dull moment, which I'd commend the author for making such an exciting book about someone who is only on the outskirts of court a good deal of the time and who spends a great number of years in confinement as she is quite prolific and has, I believe, 14 children. She doesn't spend much time with them, or so it seems, and their characters aren't developed at all, except Antony a bit, when he is old enough to fight in some battles, and Elizabeth, because she arranges her marriage. Otherwise, Jacquetta seems much more interested in the scandals going on in court. While I can't say she's a good mother, or someone I'd want around me in real life, she certainly was an interesting character, and one I very much enjoyed reading about.

    Would recommend this book be read FIRST in the series by anyone interested in England's history, the Cousins Wars, or fans of Gregory's.

    View all my reviews