Monthly Archives: January 2015

My book is FREE this weekend!

I enjoyed this book BEFORE the last round of awesomefication edits. It’s even better now. Check it out!

Michelle Proulx - Author

Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It is officially free to download this weekend (January 31 – February 1).

Click here to check it out!

* * *

Here are details about the book:

Imminent Danger Cover RevealGenre: YA sci-fi / romance / adventure

High school junior Eris Miller thinks she’s having a bad day when her roommate’s boyfriend catches her stepping out of the shower wearing nothing but a towel. Then she gets abducted by scaly six-armed aliens with a strange fondness for the color blue, and her day suddenly gets a whole lot worse.

Trapped on a spaceship bound for the slave markets of Sirius B, Eris fears she’ll never see her home again. But then fate whisks her away from her reptilian captors and into the arms of Varrin, a fast-talking space pirate who promises to deliver her safely back to Earth. He claims to have her best…

View original post 102 more words

Advertisements

WIPpet Wednesday – Awkward Spoiler Avoidance Edition (and a lesson learned)

WIP it… (duh nuh nuh nuh)… W-WIP it real good!

Sorry, I was tired of getting Devo stuck in my head every time WIPpet Wednesday rolled around. Thought I’d try Salt n’ Peppa. You know, instead of “Push It”.

It’s not actually better. Live and learn. *sigh*

WIPpet Wednesday is the day where we post a snippet from a work in progress that relates in some way to the day’s date. I’ve been having a lot of trouble participating lately, because a) I’m busy, and I don’t post if I know I can’t get around to comment (though I sometimes miss a few who post late–sorry! I’ll try harder!), and b) I’m seriously running out of spoiler-free snippets from Torn.

Like… even saying who’s in it is a spoiler, aside from the obvious suspects.

So here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to share a big snippet, and I’m not going to say who’s in it. The POV character (herein referred to as “I”) is female and a Potioner, and that’s all I’m saying. The other party in the conversation is a dude, and… we’ll call him Y here.

Warning: If you’ve read Bound and really don’t want to know whether certain species are going to show up again, skip it. You’ll probably guess. I doubt anyone will be disappointed, but there you have it. 🙂

Okay, it’s super obvious. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

19 (short) paragraphs. WIPpet math: 1+1+8+2+0+1+5 = 18, plus one to grow on.

I’d only need one more ingredient. I brought out one of the daggers that my unfortunate soldier friend had left behind.

“Can I help?” Y’s voice drifted from the trees behind me.

“You’re getting quieter,” I observed. “I barely heard you coming.”

Y stood up straighter. “I’m working on it. I don’t think I’ll ever be as graceful on land as I am in [awkward redaction], though. What are you doing?”

“Trying to be prepared. You might not want to see this.”

The shadows covered much of his face, but I caught the concerned furrow of his brow. “Do you want me to leave? Whatever it is, I can handle it.”

The firm set of his jaw and the look in his eyes told me he wasn’t lying. I wondered what he’d seen in his life. Such a strange man. I couldn’t deny I was glad to have his assistance, and his company. Something about him calmed my mind, even as his presence tended to do the opposite to my body. I could ignore that, though.

“You can stay, if you want to,” I said. “Hold the bowl for me.”

He stepped into the clearing and cupped the bowl in his hands, holding it out from his body. “Like this?”

“Perfect.” I slipped off my cloak, then tried to roll up my sleeves. They were too tight. The whole thing would have to go. I thought about asking Y to close his eyes. We didn’t need to complicate things further.

Don’t be silly, I told myself. You’re both adults. He’s seen more, and probably prettier.

Y’s eyes widened as I unbuttoned my shirt, then swallowed hard as I slipped it off, leaving me in a thin under-shirt in the cold woods.

I waited for his gaze to return to mine. “Don’t [oh, so very redacted] go around naked most of the time?”

“Yes.”

I raised my eyebrows, and fought back a smile when his eyes wandered again.

“It’s just different with you,” he said. “It’s fine. Carry on. Please.”

I took a deep breath and traced the tip of the dagger over the skin of my arm, trying to decide on the best spot to get what I needed while doing the smallest possible amount of damage. I settled on the top of my forearm and stroked the tip of the dagger gently over my skin once, twice, three times, building my nerve.

“Use my blood, if you want,” Y said.

“No. Thank you. I’ve had worse injuries.”

“So have I.”

Well, my work here is done. Smoothly done, Sparkes. SMOOOOTHLY DONE.

O.o

For more and probably less awkward WIPpet Wednesday fun, scoot on over here to the linkie, and feel free to join in on your own blog. Thanks to KL Schwengel for hosting!

But seriously, guys, I think I’m out for a few weeks.

ROW80 Update

On the only goal that matters at the moment: Still editing. I think I have about eight chapters left to go, only two of which are full rewrites.

*cough*

Yes, it makes things harder. Yes, it’s more work than I thought I’d be doing two months shy of the projected publication date. It’s going to be worth it, though.

I’m done stressing about dates. Some people might be irritated if things are delayed by a week, but once the book’s out, no one will care. As I’ve said before, I’m not half-assing anything to meet a deadline.

My readers deserve my best. No shortcuts.

For the record, there will be no promises, speculation, or hints about the next book’s release date until after edits (professional, not self-edits). We’re looking at the same kind of space between books as we were this time, but beyond that, my lips are sealed.

Having a deadline is motivating, but it’s useless when it stresses you out too much to do anything.

Consider that a lesson learned.

ROW80 posts or to learn about the event, click here

 


Barking Mad

Last week, I found myself home alone for almost 72 hours. I edited. I watched Supernatural*. I edited some more. I ate quick meals, I planned, I revised, I edited even more.

It was fantastic.

How did I swing this when I usually have a husband and two kids around? Well, they went to the big city (not the one we go to for groceries… the bigger one) to pick up our new dog.

Now, I’m a little fuzzy on the details of exactly how we ended up adopting a Chihuahua from a rescue agency in Los Angeles. I remember seeing his picture on Facebook, posted by a friend who was fostering him in Hamilton, ON (Canada, guys), and thinking he was adorable. I vaguely remember my husband being quite taken with him. There were messages sent between him and said friend, and he started looking for ways to get a carry-on-sized dog from Ontario to Newfoundland. Something about an acquaintance who’s a pilot… my husband having days off work… talking about dog names… figuring it wouldn’t kill the boys to miss a day or two of classes… I know I actually consented to all of this. I’m just not clear on the details.

In my defense, all of my brain power was going toward the book. I’m sure I smiled and nodded and even acted like I had some clue what was happening around me, but it was actually all I could do to not burn the house down every time I cooked something.

Long story short, this is Bruno:

IMG_7249

He’s 6 lbs of cuddles, love, a puppyish bark, and a bad habit of eating EVERYTHING. Like, I was thinking about getting a Roomba, but I don’t think there are any crumbs left around the house for it to pick up. He (Bruno, not the theoretical Roomba) wears adorable sweaters, sometimes chases the cats (we’re working on that), and is fitting in pretty well around here.

jack and bruno

How are they even the same species?!

We must be crazy. I have a book to get out in the next few months, and edits just keep getting deeper. We’re probably moving this summer, and we have no idea where. We have a dog and three cats (one of them kind of old) already. Our family was pretty great as it was. Why rock the boat?

DSCN0408

Okay, the improved satellite reception provided by those ears is actually nice. But other than that, and having a companion for Jack when the family goes out, and giving a three year-old dog his forever home, and having another furry little buddy to hang out with…

You know what? Never mind. I answered my own question.

*I’m only on season 2. I’m told it doesn’t get really good until season 4, but something pretty is keeping my interest for now.

The scenery. I really go for creepy houses and graveyards. Yep.


WIPpet Wednesday: Oh, Dangit Edition

Hellooooooooo! WIPpet Wednesday again, where we WIPpeteers share a snippet from a work in progress that relates in some way to today’s date, and then we all get into our jammies and have sexy pillow fights.

Wait. No.

It’s just the sharing part, and also linking our posts. Sorry about that.

I think I can get around to everyone’s posts this week, which means I get to participate, hooray! If I can just find something from my current WIP (Torn) that’s not too spoilery…

Okay, here we go. I guess the fact that Aren’s in the book isn’t a spoiler. Here he’s speaking with someone who has challenged his ideas about the appropriate uses of magic. Not the first time he’s heard the arguments, but this guy is really getting under his skin…

4 paragraphs for 1/21 (1+2+1)

My upper lip curled. “You have no idea. I believe that you’re educated, that you know much about magic. But you’re sheltered here. What do you know about the world I have to survive in?” Every conversation I’d had with people who disapproved of my skills crowded in on me, fueling my anger. “You can’t possibly—” A wave of dizziness hit me, and I sat down on the bed. “What did you do?”

He didn’t respond, but watched me as he traced his finger over the rim of his wine cup.

I shuddered as a cold sweat broke out on my face. “You son of a–”

The world went black.

So there you go. For more WIPpet fun or to join in on your own blog, visit the linkie thing here. And thanks as always to our host KL Schwengel, who fears neither the reaper nor the rewrite.

You go, Schwengel.

ROW80 Update

Edits on Torn just keep rolling on. I’m getting through a few chapters a day right now, but I’m getting close to a big challenge. I’m not going to go into details, because a) spoilers, and b) I don’t really feel like pulling back the curtain and revealing the machinery that makes my books work. Let’s pretend it’s all inspiration and fairy dust, and the stories just fall from the sky complete and unchanging. It’s not like planning and building a castle! It’s like uncovering an artifact!

Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

I may or may not have the house to myself for a few days this week, which means WORK! YAY! I’m hoping I’ll be able to get through Difficult Thing #1 before the family gets back, leaving only (mostly) in-depth line edits and Difficult Thing #2 to get through in the next few weeks.

And I’m actually looking forward to the significant-yet-compact challenge of #2, so there you go.

So… it’s hard work, but it’s goin’ goooood.

Was that vague enough for everyone? Yes? Okay, then.

Oh, and I HAVE COVER ART. I can’t stop looking at it. SO pretty. I keep looking at it when I need motivation to keep editing. *sigh*

It’s only about a month until the cover reveal…

For more from ROW80 participants (A Round of Words in 80 Days to the uninitiated) or to learn more about the event (program?), click here.

So tell me: How’s your week going?


What the Monkey Would Have Missed

So. Sunday, and the great “social media sabbath” experiment.

Contrary to some people’s beliefs (*glares at husband*), I made it through Sunday without social media… almost completely. That is to say that from 9:00 Saturday evening until about 10:00 PM on Sunday, I sent exactly one work-related e-mail. We’ll come back to that.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the experience. Going a day without being “connected” is probably a regular thing for a lot of you, but for me, it’s really not. I’m on Facebook doing word sprints with writer friends, taking part in discussions on group pages relating to my work or my husband’s, talking to friends through chat, tweeting amusing things (okay, I find them amusing), and scrolling any time I have a spare moment, just in case something interesting/amusing pops up. I’m reading posts on KBoards and learning from other people’s publishing experiences, or reading blogs to keep up with news and friends.

Actually, we should talk more about that some day, because that last habit has been helpful to me, and finding a balance will be interesting.

But today we’re going to look at what I gained from taking a day off.

I put my phone away on Saturday after supper. I did allow myself one quick check at nine, just in case any last-minute messages came in from friends (nope), but for the most part it was a quiet evening. Since it was a Saturday, the kids had no homework, and we hung out. Normally I would have had my phone and been looking at that from time to time. This time, I sat on the couch, and my six-year-old brushed my hair while he sang me the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

Kind of nice to just be present for that.

On Sunday morning I did my 20 minutes of breathing, I had coffee, and I read a book. Not a whole book. I read another chapter or two of Mistborn, though, and it was good. I still got the urge to be distracted, and still wasn’t truly immersed in the story, but that’s totally my distracted brain’s fault. It turns out that Brandon Sanderson is, in fact, as amazing a writer as I had been led to believe. Though the length of the book still intimidates me (let’s just not discuss how messed up my reading attitudes and habits are right now, okay?), I started to relax and enjoy it. Progress!

After that I did some other reading for a friend, made notes and answered her questions, and fired those off without so much as glancing at other messages (really!). And while I was doing that, I focused on it, and I feel like I did a better and more insightful job because of it.

So the morning was pleasant, and reasonably quiet. Quiet as it can be with two kids running around (not to mention the dog wanting out, the cats needing the litter box cleaned out, the TV on, and someone playing something on the iPad), anyway.

I think I’d have gone a little crazy on Sunday if we’d been stuck at home all day. As it was, my husband was working and we needed groceries, so the kids and I headed out to the “big city” (45 minutes away) to take care of that.

We went to McDonald’s for lunch. I almost pulled my phone out while I was in line and waiting for the food to be ready. It’s a habit, right? But I went without, and it wasn’t at all painful. Good lesson.

Instead of using my phone while the kids went off to play after we ate, I read that book. A high stool in McDonald’s is not the most comfortable place to sit, but I read a few chapters, and the kids were happy to have extra time to play.

Grocery store, Walmart, dollar store, Tim Horton’s… Not to dazzle you all with the glamor of my lifestyle, but we made some stops. And then we came home.

I couldn’t work with the kids around. I’m not watching any TV shows right now that I could throw on while they were awake. Couldn’t sit and read blogs, or look at KBoards, because that would count as social media distractions under my rules.

So I listened to podcasts, and the house got cleaned.

It burns me to admit this, but with the phone and work put away, I found that I did, in fact, have time to do housework. I didn’t have an urgent chat going on that I had to stop to respond to. My hands weren’t busy typing. I didn’t feel like I was doing something important for my job by reading up on writing/publishing.

The house got tidied, the floors got washed, I threw in some laundry (not so unusual here– it NEVER STOPS), cleaned out the front hall closet and the messy corner in the dining room, and remembered to put a nice supper in the oven early enough that it was ready at supper time.

For the record, I would go bananas if this were my life every day. For that to happen, for me to even come close to approaching June Cleaverdom, I would have to stop writing.

The horror.

But I will grudgingly admit that laying off of the mindless distractions (and even the demonstrably valuable chats with friends who I love), as well as not working for one day, did give me some breathing space to focus on other things that I’d been meaning to do and never seemed to have time for.

What else would my monkey mind have missed if I’d been too distracted to just be present at home? A couple of rounds of Candy Land with the kids, which I actually focused on. More hair brushing and serenading. An evening of TV with my husband during which I didn’t pick up my phone once.

And a reasonable bedtime. Because guys, cleaning is exhausting.

I let myself check Facebook right before bed so that I wouldn’t be tempted to check it in the morning–I wanted to get straight to work as soon as the boys were out the door.

Know what I missed while I was away?

Two friends saying they hoped I was having a wonderful day and that we’d talk on Monday. A metric crap-ton of notifications, most of which were noise. One non-critical post about *mumble mumble*. Two notifications from people who thought I’d cheated when they saw a new post on my author page, and who were fully prepared to slap me for it.

I love my friends.

(But for the record, it was a scheduled post that I set up the night before, just to keep in touch. Ha HA! Don’t think I’ll bother with that again, though. I’d rather post when I’m around to respond to people’s lovely comments. I want to be authentic, not automated.)

Yes, I felt a little lonely without the people I’m used to chatting with every day. Yes, my brain had trouble focusing on just one thing at a time, and I itched to pick up the phone instead of washing the floors.

But I gained so much from taking a “social media sabbath.” I was more present with my kids and my husband. I got stuff done around the house that I don’t normally have time for. I was less tempted to try to get some work done, for some reason. I read a bit more than I normally would have. And miracle of miracles, I found that on Monday, I reached for my phone less. I focused on my work more. I was better able to separate computer/work time out from “taking care of the house” time.

That’s not to say I’m cured. But I’m definitely a work in progress.

 


EVENSONG: Free e-book and awesome art!

FREE BOOK! YAAAAY!

The Raven's Quill

In my last post (where, if you recall, I offered a free Meratis short story as a thank you for being wonderful), I mentioned something about a big announcement coming up. It’s here. Today. RIGHT NOW.

EVENSONG, book 1 of the Meratis Trilogy, is now FREE for your e-reader! FREE

266fb-evensong-cover-v1-lowresweb5b15d

AmazonKoboNook, iTunes

Author Jeff Powell wakes up to find the impossible has happened. He is within his own novel—summoned into the fictional world of Feldall’s Keep by a spell he didn’t write. One the House enchantress hasn’t figured out how to reverse.

When the villain he’s been struggling to write reveals himself, unleashing waves of terror and chaos, Jeff must use more than his imagination to save the characters he created—and the woman he loves.

Trapped within a world of his own creation, he must step outside the bounds of his narrative to help…

View original post 168 more words


I’ve Got the Mind of a Monkey and a Monkey of a Mind

Remember how last Sunday I set some goals for myself in terms of stepping away from social media and getting more real work done?

I thought we might take a look at how that’s going so far.

It’s been… interesting.

MONDAY: CRISIS

The project did not begin well. On Monday morning I found that I couldn’t sleep in… and by “sleep in” I mean I was wide awake at 4:30 in the morning, and decided to give up trying to sleep at five. I got up to try the whole “shut up and breathe” thing (okay, so I hadn’t researched meditation much). I decided that before I started I’d clear some space on the iPad to make room for an app that times meditation and has nice bells to mark the time passing…

I accidentally deleted Minecraft.

DISASTER. My kids are really into Minecraft, especially my older son. He creates amazing things, including giant statues of his favourite characters. He had a world he’d been working on for almost a year, putting all of these guys in, creating maps relating to other games he’s interested in, experimenting and playing.

And I destroyed it. Once the app is deleted, all of that information is gone.

I was a wreck, and obviously couldn’t think of much else while I was trying to breathe and calm my mind. That, and thinking about getting down to edits later (terrifying, I’ll have you know). I acknowledged the thoughts and gently pushed them away approximately every five seconds.

In case you’re wondering, after hours of crisis after obstacle after frustration, I got the iPad restored from a week before via iCloud. I only managed it with a lot of help from… well, from people on Facebook, actually. Go figure.

 

TUESDAY: NEGLECT

I left my e-mail alone for 24 hours, letting messages accumulate to see what it looked like. I did check it, and answered a few (because guys, TORN COVER ART!), but I let the newsletters, flyers, notices, notifications, etc. pile up.

Know what I would have missed if I’d ignored it completely?

Just the cover art stuff.

Most of the e-mails I get are useless. They’re either information I don’t need, or things I could look up if I needed the information later.

(Would this be a bad time to plug my own e-mail newsletter? Yes? Okay, never mind.)

 

WEDNESDAY: DEPRIVATION

Not really. More like sensible options management. I spent a little time unsubscribing from all of those e-mail newsletters that I never read (but that I still have to take the time to acknowledge and delete, and that still pop up as notifications), and un-following some pages on Facebook.

None of yours, I promise. Just pages/profiles of people who I wouldn’t normally interact with and groups that I don’t need updates from. I’m not un-liking these pages or un-friending these people. I’m not even leaving those groups.

But a lot of what comes up in my newsfeed is noise, stuff I don’t care about. I will interact with those pages, groups, and friends, but when I choose to, not when Facebook tells me to.

I don’t want to be like this anymore:

549302-poof-whaddya-need

Really, I just want to be my own master, you know?

So far I’m not missing any news I can’t live without. Go figure.

 

THURSDAY: PROGRESS

I was still meditating on all of these mornings. It turns out that “shut up and breathe” actually isn’t a bad way to start, as long as you’re focusing on the breathing and returning to it when you get distracted.

And man, do I get distracted.

My brain on quiet time: “I need to remember to do that blog post… what if I went back to chapter three and added a things where… shoot, I still need to get AJ to call the public health nurse about… I think I was supposed to plug the Kindle in last night… Crap, I need to fix those typos in the paperback, and I didn’t make notes. I wonder if there’s an on-line text comparison… what time is it?… Forgot to feed the cats… I wonder whether it’s going to snow… need to pay the credit card… Aren… What if Rowan… How could I make… What if… what if… what if…”

You get the idea.

But though the distractions will keep coming, I’m learning to acknowledge them and set them aside. And I’m calling that progress.

 

FRIDAY: WORK AND SETBACKS

Suddenly* I found myself able to get more work done through the morning. Where once my work schedule was maybe 2 hours of actual work fit into five hours of distractions, I was now getting through the morning by focusing on 25 minute focus sprints and 5 minute breaks. Afternoons are still shot to heck, but I’m getting more done than I anticipated. 12 chapters down, lots more to go.

But the Facebook distractions caught up with me later. Instead of using my muzzy-headed afternoon hours to get housework done, I scrolled. Not so good.

 

SATURDAY: ALTERNATIVES

With the kids home and my husband at work, there was no chance of me getting much actual work done. Plans to go to the grocery store went out the window when the weather turned snowy (do not get my started on the crappy job the ploughs are doing on the roads this year). I got some cleaning done, though, and listened to podcasts while I was doing that instead of darting back to check Facebook every few minutes. I also started reading Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (since I finally remembered to get that Kindle plugged in and had no access to it, and so went to the bookshelf to find something). It’s really good so far, which helps.

That’s right. I can’t even focus on reading these days.

It wasn’t a perfect day. I did a lot of useless stuff on the computer. My goal is to get to the point where I only need to feel connected to the outside world a few times a day, and can set the computer aside and use my spare moments for reading instead. As part of that goal…

 

SUNDAY: SILENCE

That’s right. I’m not here. I’m typing this on Saturday, and setting it to post. Sneaky, no?

I’m taking a digital Sabbath.

No phone. No Facebook. No Twitter. No checking Amazon. No e-mail. No chats with friends (and this is what’s probably killing me right now, because I have some amazing friends who I only know through the interwebs).

If you comment here, I won’t respond. If I do, smack me. If you see me on Facebook, same deal.

That’s not to say I can’t deal with technology. Maybe I’ll watch a movie with the kids, or play Mario Bros or Just Dance with them on the Wii. I’ll respond if my husband sends me an emergency text from work. I might even get a little work done, if I have time… but I’m going to take the focus off of the distractions and put it back on the things that get me closer to my goals, whether they be a happy home, relaxation, or getting another chapter edited.

Wifi is off, folks.

I’ll let you know how it went, assuming I didn’t end up in a padded room.

===

 

*My editor says I’m not allowed to use that word.


The Writer Within

Inside the world of author AnnMarie Wyncoll

mum mutter

the mutterings of a tired mum and aspiring writer

Beth Camp

Writer of historical fiction and teller of tales . . .

rogerbloomsfield

An Aspiring Author's Adventure

Are You Finished Yet?

Life, writing, books, dragons- not necessarily in that order. Home of best-selling Fantasy author Kate Sparkes.

Allie Potts Writes

How to appreciate the everyday

Ultimately Useless Stories

~ Might as well Laugh ~

The Wordy Rose

"Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing." - Benjamin Franklin

shanjeniah.wordpress.com/

Learning. Laughter. And Loving My Glorious, Messy Life!

Little Rittwolf's Book Blog

I thought having my own blog would help me....Squirrel!....stay more focused. I could be wrong.

The Sword of Air

Stunning new multitouch iBook by breakthrough author R.J Madigan

Doorway Between Worlds

Communication tips with a creative twist

CHOUETT

Read it! 📖 Spark it! ✨

Benjamin Wallace Books

Books written by Benjamin Wallace

Denise D. Young

Live Simply. Create Passionately. Dream Wildly.

chestnut book blog

Read. Recommend. Revel.

inkedrainbowreads.wordpress.com/

LGBT Book Reviews, Cover Reveals & More! We are a group designed to help promote and review LGBT et al books. We were created out of seeing a need and wanted to have that need filled. We pride ourseles of having opinionated reviews that are unique and helpful to the author. Welcome to a world of the best LGBT et al books out there!

Dionne Lister - Author

I love sharing my stories but I wish they wouldn't keep me awake at night

Avid Reviews

Fantasy and Sci-Fi Reviews For Both Self-Published and Traditionally Published Books

Author Jen Wylie's Blog

Welcome to my mind... Blog for fantasty author Jen Wylie