November 30, 2012

I'm a Winner!

I'm a NaNo winner. Validating at 50024 words on Thursday, I officially crossed the NaNo finish line with one day to spare.

But, more importantly, I actually like Chasing Memories (my working title).

Of course there's a lot of work to be done. But the skeleton is there.

I've missed blogging and connecting, and I apologize for being MIA this month. This blog will start seeing the love again.

But, for now, I just wanted to share one of the prettiest pictures I've seen in a long time...

November 26, 2012

Fleeing the Scene: ROW80 & NaNo Updates

A day late with my A Round of Words in 80 Days and NaNoWriMo updates.

But for good reason. I managed to write just under 10,000 words this past weekend. I still can't believe it.

My current NaNo word total, including what I've done so far today . . . 41,596! And I'm nowhere near stopping for the day. I hope to hit 44,000 today and finish by Thursday.

Can you hear me squealing?!

It was a crazy weekend. Characters renamed themselves, plot developments appeared out of nowhere, and I wrote scenes out of order. My muse took me on an amazing ride. I'm still processing some of it, but I look forward to blogging about it in December.

Until then, I wanted to share a funny story . . .

Mom and I went to Miami ten days ago to accept our Reader's Favorite Silver Medal. Depression Cookies was displayed in a booth at the Miami International Book Fair, so we took a cab down to walk around the fair and see our book.

We met some wonderful authors, bought several books, and talked to all kinds of professionals within the publishing industry. Before we knew it, the sun was going down and the fair was closing. Mom and I decided to walk into downtown Miami and find a place to eat. Something off the beaten path.

I guess I should mention that Mom and I are not from big cities, and neither one of us had ever been in downtown Miami before.

Are you sensing where this is going?

As we walked away from the fair, we saw a middle-aged woman walking toward us. She looked trustworthy, so we asked her where we might eat.

The lady frantically looked at her watch and never stopped walking. "You don't want to be here past six," she said, as she scurried past us. Then, she threw us one last piece of advice, pointing us toward the beach (and tourists) and telling us to hurry. I looked at my watch. 5:55pm.

All of the sudden, store owners in the area started pulling down huge metal gates and several people sitting alongside the sidewalk asked us for money. Mom and I exchanged one look and took off. You've never seen two women cover five blocks so quickly.

In my mind, every paranormal book started coming to life. I saw glowing eyes and dark figures. I even imagined men in long coats pulling us into a dark alley. Let's just say that being an avid reader with a great imagination did nothing to help me. My heart was pounding when we finally found a cab.

Just don't be surprised to read something from me that has two women frantically running through the streets of Miami being chased by . . . well, I don't want to give it all away now. Stay tuned . . .  

November 23, 2012

ThanksLiving: Feeding the Fire

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I hope your day was filled with blessings, good food, and family and friends.

This Thanksgiving I've made a vow to live with thanks in my life. As wonderful as it is to give thanks and be grateful one day a year, it is much more meaningful to live a life full of thanks.

Each day this month on Facebook I have said something I was grateful for. It's amazing how much this simple activity forced me to own the blessings in my life. It's easy to let life's challenges get us down.

I plan to continue this daily thankfulness from now to next Thanksgiving and see how it impacts my life. No, I won't fill up everyone's FB Newsfeed. I bought a journal for my daily thanks.

This last year has had many ups and downs for me, and many of those are continuing. My life is in quite a state of flux right now. My husband is in between jobs, and my middle daughter is facing a lot of challenges with her EE diagnosis. But I've found it's easy to let stress and fear rule the day.

And I've never appreciated EASY. I always tell my children that anything worth doing, worth having in your life, shouldn't be easy. If it's easy, we take it for granted and never truly appreciate it. Don't get me wrong, things worth doing shouldn't feel impossible... just challenging.

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

This Thanksgiving, I'm grateful for all the people in my life. I truly believe there is a reason for every person who enters our lives. Sometimes that person causes pain, but we learn from it. Other times, they bring happiness that makes us grow. But I'm most grateful for people who inspire my self-discovery.

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. Albert Schweitzer

A special thanks to each and every one of you who light my inner fire. Without you, I'd be a dim bulb flickering.

What are you grateful for today?

November 21, 2012

Call for Words: ROW80 and NaNo Update

Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at
There have been days during NaNo that I wanted to find this guy!

The farther I get into my story, the harder it is not to go back. I think of things I want to insert, and it makes me stumble on moving forward.

I feel like I'm in mile 9 of a half-marathon.

Side Story: I ran my first half-marathon Labor Day weekend. It was on my things-to-do-by-40 list. I trained. The first 8 miles I was feeling good. Then I hit mile 9. Something about mile 9 almost did me in. From the mile 9 marker to the mile 10 marker felt like 3 miles. But then, I finally made it to the elusive mile 10 marker. At that point, I knew I'd make it.

I'm at mile 9 in NaNo. No matter how long I write, it seems to add up to 200 words. But I keep plugging away. Every time I get frustrated, I walk away for a few minutes. That seems to be helping. But, I sure will feel better when I hit 35,000.

My new total: 27,269

Still behind, but I can see mile 10 in the distance.

What do you do when you hit mile 9?

November 18, 2012

Grateful for Writers: NaNo & ROW80 Updates

Life is full of ups and downs, so it stands to reason that writing is as well. Writing springs from what we experience. But for me, writing is also a product of the people who influence me.

When my mom and I published Depression Cookies in October 2010, I wasn't sure if I wanted to write another book. Or, if I could. Was this my only story?

Only after publishing did I understand the importance of an author platform. Before, I picked books based on covers, summaries, and book recommendations. I knew nothing of indie publishing.

Now I can't imagine my life without getting to know writers and taking chances on books. And that's only the beginning of what the indie writing community has done for me. Now I have amazing resources for all things book-related: editing, covers, publishing options, book reviews, marketing opportunities, advice, and on and on.

Most importantly, writers made me realize how much I love writing. I now know I'm not done. Not even close.

So, I found this mention on my dear friend's blog all the sweeter. Elise Fallson, my sister from another mister as I like to call her, and I bonded instantly. I encouraged her to jump into the writing community, because I knew how much it had done for me. This is what she said...

Tia, I'm sending you big hugs and I thank you for getting me out of my writers closet and for being such a positive force in this writing community.

Knowing I paid it forward means the world to me.

Also, Mom and I attended this weekend's Readers Favorite Award Ceremony in Miami. Being surrounded by such amazing authors was inspiring. It lit a major fire under my butt! (I'll share more about this sometime this week.)

I am more determined than ever to finish the follow-up to Depression Cookies and my NaNo project, a young adult book currently titled Chasing Memories. I know now that I don't just like to write... I must write.

My NaNo and ROW80 update... my NaNo project is currently at 22,204. A bit behind, but I feel confident that my renewed writing energy will get me through!

November 14, 2012

Books for the Holidays: A Holiday Sampler Event

Books make terrific holiday gifts, but finding perfect books for friends and family is always a challenge. If only we could flip through a few sample pages on our own schedules. If only if the bookstore could come to us.
Well guess what readers, World Literacy Cafe is doing just that!

Twelve amazing authors have come together to offer you an amazing opportunity to sample their latest novels just in time for the holidays—12 awesome samples and quirky holiday-themed interviews in one FREE downloadable PDF.

Whether you like to read mysteries, romance, young adult, women's fiction, or suspense—this group has a book for you.

First Snow – Christine Cunningham
After The Fog – Kathleen Shoop
A Charming Crime – Tonya Kappes
Come Back To Me – Melissa Foster
Read Me Dead – Emerald Barnes
The Halo Effect – MJ Rose
Dancing Naked In Dixie – Lauren Clark
The Last Supper Catering Company – Michaelene McElroy
The Hurricane Lover – Joni Rodgers
The Hounding – Sandra de Helen
Milkshake – Joanna Weiss
The Ninth Step – Barbara Taylor Sissel
Each excerpt is prefaced by information about the book and its author. Concluding each excerpt is an order page with clickable links to several online retailers

You can download the PDF “Holiday Sampler” here, and share it with friends by sending them this link:

So go ahead and sample these fantastic novels from amazing writers! And don’t forget to help spread the word!

Happy holidays and happy reading!
Note: For my regular readers... my normally scheduled ROW80/NaNo post will be delayed until tomorrow (which works out well, since my Sunday post was on Monday!).

November 12, 2012

First Things First: ROW80 & NaNoWriMo Updates

The lessons just keep on coming. NaNo has turned into so much more than a word churning factory. I am grateful for the words, but in the months that follow NaNo, I'll be just as grateful for the biggest lesson . . . a newfound focus on actually writing novels.

Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at
When I published Depression Cookies, I did not have a website or blog. I had so much catching up to do. It became such a focus, I forgot to write.

NaNo has reminded me that without books, what exactly is an author platform for?

I built it so they would come, but I want them to come to my books. For that to happen, there needs to be books.

I'm very proud of Depression Cookies, but it was published in October 2010. That's forever ago in the publishing world. These days, it seems like authors need to pump them out much faster.

What do you think? In this new publishing world,
are authors expected to publish more frequently?

Don't get me wrong, I do believe in quality over quantity, but I wasn't even writing like I should. I succumbed to the allure of finding my place in the online writing world. I don't regret the friendships I've made or the platform I've built, but I know I need to write. Not just want... need.

Now for my newest NaNo word count (and ROW80 update, since my only goal is to keep up my NaNo progress) . . . I hit 18,728 earlier today. My goal is to hit 25,000 before 11/15 to be just a bit ahead.

And I really like this story so far. That's the best part! (And it really wouldn't be as much fun without all my lovely writing friends!)

November 8, 2012

7-Day Evolution of Writing: IWSG & ROW80 Update

It's the first Wednesday of the month, but not just any month... November, or what I now think of as NaNovember. This year, I finally bit the bullet and signed up for my first National Novel Writing Month. It's only Day 7, and it's already been a roller coaster of emotions. The perfect material for my monthly Insecure Writer's Support Group (#IWSG) post.

I started off strong and determined, saying to myself, "I can do this." 1,667 words a day. Better yet, I decided to try for 2,000 a day so I could celebrate 50,000 words early.

I started off writing linearly, the way I've always written. I even used chapters and headings.

By Day 3, I start skipping scenes and making notes to come back later and add description. I was so terrified to stop writing, so I just didn't. I know the allure of, "I'll just pop over and look something up on the Internet real quick." Next thing I know, I've checked Twitter, Facebook, emails and a couple of hours have disappeared into thin air. 

Day 5. Monday, and my kids had the day off school. No problem. I was on a mission. I got up early and pounded out more words. By the end of the day, I had 9,000 words. I was still feeling like nothing could stop me.

Then came Day 6... Election Day. I worked at my daughter's school, a long-planned fundraising bake sale from 6:30am-8pm with a one-hour lunch break. I kid you not. I was so mentally exhausted at the end of that, but I still opened up my WIP. At that point, I decided to ditch chapter headings and just write. I quickly realized how many holes would have to be filled post-NaNo. Still, I knew I'd rather fill holes than have blank pages.

Which brings me to today... business meetings this morning. No worries. I came home with two hours to spare before kids came home. No lie, the minute I stepped into my house and turned on my computer, the phone rang. School. My sweet middle daughter was having an allergic reaction. I picked her up and went straight to the doctor (all was okay). Well played, Life, well played.

I ended the day at 10,861 words. I'd like to have more.

But, another thing I've learned in the seven short days of my NaNo experience... it's all about the writing. Some days will produce more words than others. It's as simple as that. And, as insecure as I'm sure I'll feel about this writing when I re-read it after NaNo, for now I'm proud of the progress. If nothing else, I'll have a bare bones story that needs details, polishing, and editing.

Name the work that won't ultimately need all of those!

Now, if I could only find time to write AND read blogs and continue to build my author platform. I'm hoping by the end of November, I'll have found a writing rhythm that I can take with me into the months that follow. Then, slowly I'll add back in some of the other things.

Writing comes first.

Why is it so much easier to say that than to make it happen?

Since my only real goal this month is NaNo, I'm staying on track for A Round of Words in 80 Days! (and I'm still writing book reviews for my review blog, Mom in Love with Fiction.)

November 4, 2012

Scattered Snippets from a NaNo-Obsessed Brain: ROW80 Update

My brain is so wrapped up in my NaNo project that each time I open up an empty blog post page, it freezes in some sort of rebellion.

"The words must be used for NaNo," says the strange, eerie voice in my head.

Then, I realized something. The voice was that of my main character. Guess she's the jealous sort. Good to know.

So this is quick, before her voice gives me an intense headache.

Do your characters ever try to control you that way?

First to share some writer news...

Every once in awhile, an author's work is so good that it will stay with me. Such was the case with Shauna Kelley's Max and Menna. I am not ashamed to admit I did a little Twitter- and blog-stalking after reading it. To my giddy surprise, Shauna lives in my town. In my town! When she asked me to review Don't Wake Up, I jumped at the chance.

Then, I worried. What if I didn't like it as much? What if I didn't like it all?

My worries were premature and unnecessary. It was amazing, and it launched November 1st. Here's an excerpt from my review (full review here) on Mom in Love with Fiction:

Thought-provoking and intense, Don’t Wake Up shows the slow decline of relationships under the stress of dishonesty and miscommunication. A line from the book keeps echoing in my head, “Sometimes, when something is broken, it simply can’t be fixed.” Too often, determining if it’s truly broken is intense and uncertain.

I highly recommend this book to readers who appreciate flawed characters who are finding their way and real life endings.

Then, on November 1st,
Tribute Books featured Depression Cookies as well as an interview with me. (The full interview can be found here.) An excerpt:

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Appreciate reading… books have always been a very important part of my life. They have been my counselor, my friend, my imagination, and my inspiration among other things. I can’t imagine my life without books. One of my favorite quotes: “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” Charles W. Eliot 

Okay, my time's up.

Oh, I guess I should update on my only ROW80 goal right now... NaNo. As of 9pm on Day 4, I have 7,078 words. Not bad. And, I'm about to start writing for the first time today. We had quite the fun family day, so I'm feeling rejuvenated.

My apologies for being off my social media game. I plan to spend some time reading posts tonight, after writing time is over, and root everyone on in their goals.

November 2, 2012

Distractions from Writing: NaNo Lessons

NaNo has already been a huge help for me, and not just because I've managed 6,073 words in my first two days.

It has helped me realize how I get distracted from writing...

That Perfect Word or Phrase
Do you have those moments when you just can't think of a word? I do. Normally when that happens, I jump over to my Internet and search.

But guess what... I end up getting distracted by emails, which lead me to a Google+ message or Facebook post. Then I'm sucked in and time disappears in large quantities.

Character Needs
I am writing an intense scene, and my character has to have something specific and/or saying something specific. I don't want to put the wrong date or whatever I need in, so off to the Internet again. From there, see my point above.

Character Names
I haven't written a particular character in awhile, and I need to insert them in a scene. What was their name again? Off I go to my character list, or worse... searching through the document. Wasted time, for what ends up being a quick reference.

Phone calls
Now, I put all the ringers around my house on mute. I left a note at my kids' schools to call my cell. It sits beside me, and I only answer calls that can't go unanswered. Even looking at the screen is distracting, but I have a daughter with a severe medical condition, so I can't afford to completely zone out.

But I must say... I can't wait for this election to be over. My phone rings all day, and it's mostly freaking political calls. "I made up my mind about my candidate based on their sweet phone message," said no person ever!

This is a problem for me in general. I'm hungry more often than I'm not. I keep some healthy snacks and water next to me for writing time (okay, I might have a few snack-sized candy bars left over from Halloween there, too).

Getting up to get food costs me way too much time. I'm too easily consumed by "shiny object syndrome". If I notice any other task between my writing space and my kitchen, it's over. I'm not proud of it, but it is so.

Bathroom Breaks
Okay, I haven't figured out this one. That darned water gets me every time.

(I'm sure there are more, but I'm going off the cuff to keep blog post writing time at a minimum during NaNo.)

NaNo has taught me to focus on getting the words down and relaxing about the details. Now when I face one of the issues above, I either put my best guess or XXX and highlight it in red. When December comes, I will go through and fix the red marks. Or, for future post-NaNo projects, I'll fix those spots in editing.

Writing requires focus. We all face time challenges, so wasting time is frustrating. It also takes me "out of the game" of writing. I lose momentum. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I'm sure I've lost great scenes.

This month my posts will be reflections. But only after I've finished writing for the day. After all, I wouldn't want my reflections to be another distraction.

What distractions you, and what solutions have you discovered?