"No matter how terrified you may be, own your fear and take that leap anyway because whether you land on your feet or on your butt, the journey is well worth it."
-- Laurie Laliberte
"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
-- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Truly Epic Interview

Have you ever wondered what your favorite authors would discuss if you put them in a room together? I used to.But now, since I'm living the writing/editing life myself, I imagine that their topics of conversation would be pretty much the same as mine with my local writerly friends... Just like any other professionals who work in a common field, our conversations tend to veer toward work.

Sure, we have friends and families, good times and bad, problems and advice we all discuss, but the common bond that brings us together is literature. The writing of it, the reading of it, the breakdown, structure, grammar, passion, heartache, and joy of allowing it to consume us...

But if you want a more in-depth look at a discussion between two writers, you should take a look at this five-part epic interview. My dear friends Tony Healey and Bernard Schaffer sat down for a Q&A recently. Granted, it's more a one-sided interview than it is a friendly conversation, but Tony is a master interviewer, and Bernard is an excellent interview-ee.

It's well worth sitting down with a warm beverage and your electronic device of choice to get some insight into the mind of a writer. Huh. Maybe with enough views on the sight, we can convince the boys to start a regular vlog or hangout. Then everyone could pick their brains.

Until then, check out the interview and then stop by Amazon to check out their latest collaboration.

Happy Reading!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Top Ten Writing Mistakes

I have been neglecting you all again, my faithful friends, and for that I apologize. It will all be worth it when You see what I've been up to. Some of it is still top secret, so I prefer to remain quiet on the whole bundle until I can speak freely.

I was fortunate enough; however (thanks to my pal Alex Maisey), to come across a fabulous blog post by a teacher of creative writing. So please follow this link and I'll be back next week.



Happy Writing!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Granola Helps Me Do My Job

I know it's a stretch, but hear me out. If not for granola, many (more) of my days would be wasted procrastinating by playing online and whatnot. We all have days when we simply can't focus. There's too much running through our minds; we're disorganized; we can't decide which job to tackle first. You know the drill. Heck, I'm procrastinating right now, just by writing this post. (Yes, it needs to get done, but I sh/could have waited until my editing work was finished for the day.)

Anyhow, most of the time, just by writing a to do list, I get a handle on my priorities and am able to rein in my overactive mind. But there are some days when "overwhelmed" doesn't even begin to describe it. Those are the days when I tell myself, "It's time to make granola."

It's not always granola. Sometimes it's whatever crock pot concotion I come up with when I realize the day is getting away from me, or I have too much to do in a short amount of time. You see, the crock pot becomes my timer, my count-down clock. It's a race to the finish. I know what I want to accomplish and I have an alarm that will go off when my day is done. No overtime; no excuses; no goofing off.

But granola is my secret weapon. When there's a batch of oats and nuts roasting in the slow cooker, I am forced to take breaks at certain intervals. I'm also forced to work in the living/dining room instead of at my desk. Why? Because the batch has to be stirred every thirty minutes, give or take, or it will burn. Just the change of scenery makes me more productive.

To make it easier, I work close to the kitchen. I get up when the alarm goes off, stretch my legs, stir the pot, reset the timer, then go back to work. I have yet to burn a batch. This gives me a quick stretch break, and gives my brain a rest for a minute or two. My recovery time is minimal because this practice does not afford me the opportunity to get caught up in a vacuum of social media.

Sure, an easy remedy would be to disconnect from the web altogether when I'm working, but I need access to online resources such as style guides, dictionaries, and various other searchable tools that allow me to verify grammar rules and research facts.

The granola timer also helps on days when there are household chores to do in addition to work. Yesterday, I edited about seventy pages, washed dishes (twice), dished out dinner for three (msg-free lo mein), prepped today's lunch, made three quarts of chicken stock, AND cooked up a big batch of Almond Joy-type granola (just enough chocolate chips to add some sweet, almonds, and a ton of coconut). Will you hate me if I mention I went to bed with a clean kitchen and did not work a minute past 6:00 p.m.?

Of course, now it's getting late and I think I'm going to have to throw some ingredients into the slow cooker just so I can feel I've accomplished more than a blog post today.


Happy Crock Potting!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pinterest Has Me Cooking Again!

Okay, truth be told, I never stopped. I just didn't have the time for posting about it. Some months, it's difficult enough for me to maintain my weekly schedule, let alone trying to post semi-weekly. Anyhow, I chose to take over Sunday's post for Pinterest recipes this week because the two I made this week were yummilicious and I had to share.

I'm going to begin with dessert since I make this one first, and well, dessert . . .



I really hope the blogger doesn't mind me borrowing her picture because this one didn't last long enough to take one. (I think that's a theme around here.) It was outstanding, and my roommates absolutely loved it. I, however, think it needed more oats, so I'll probably double the oats the next time I make it. Still, simple, delish, and by putting it together before dinner, I could throw it into the oven to bake while we ate. Perfect timing never tasted so good.


This is another with no picture. Sorry gang, but yesterday morning, when I made it for dinner, I couldn't predict I'd be out of the house when the hordes descended upon the slow cooker.

I have to admit, I took a few liberties with this one. First, it desperately needed pepper, so I added some at the end. Cooking pepper makes the flavor expand and you run the risk of making a dish too spicy, especially in the crock pot. Second, I used homemade chicken stock that I had in the freezer. It was left over from another Pinterest recipe that I will probably share my thoughts on at a later date.

But here's the kicker: By the time I got home, it was GONE! I walked into the kitchen around 2:00 a.m. to find nothing left of my chicken and dumplings but the broth. So I ladeled some into a mug and had an early morning snack. It was excellent.

Later, I found out the one of my roomies was wise enough to fill a dish and tuck it away so I could taste the fruits of my labor. It was even better when I had it for lunch this afternoon. And the rest of the leftover broth? We've been taking turns heating it up in mugs to stave off this unseasonably chilly weather.

So there you go, two tested Pinterest recipes that are definitely worth a try.

Happy Cooking!

Monday, September 1, 2014

I'm Polish, of Course I Like Cabbage!

Every time I see cabbage on sale at the grocery store, I fondly remember my grandmother who slaved over a hot stove every day to feed a horde of family members. Since that side of my family was Polish, and descended from farmers, the food was simple.

Babcie's cooking rarely utilized complex seasoning and layers of flavor. It was plain, peasant food prepared with few ingredients. Often fruits and vegetables had been picked from my grandfather's garden earlier that day and that freshness made all the difference. When produce is that fresh, it doesn't need layers. This is the best time of year to raid your own garden, or head to the local farm stand. You won't regret it.

This was a staple in my grandmother's kitchen, but is not exclusively Eastern European. If you're Irish, you've probably had a similar dish.


Just Cabbage

1 stick of butter (real butter, not that processed oil crap)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped into chunks
4 ounces of fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 medium to large head of cabbage, chopped into chunks (discard harder parts of the core)
salt and pepper

Melt butter over medium heat in a pot large enough to hold all of the ingredients
Add garlic and onions and heat until the onions begin to get translucent
Add cabbage and mushrooms and heat, uncovered, stirring about every 10 minutes
Allow to cook over medium heat until the mushrooms and cabbage have cooked down and the cabbage is al dente
Taste and season throughout cooking time, but go easy on the pepper as it expands the longer you heat it

Notes:
The prep time of this dish is only about 15 minutes, but it takes about an hour to cook.
Babcie would sometimes slice kielbasa (Polish sausage) and throw it in to cook with the cabbage

Admittedly, this dish isn't for everyone, but I made it for friends a couple of weeks ago and there weren't any leftovers to take pictures of. 

Happy Cooking!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

He's at It Again!

As my most prolific client (and very dear friend) Tony Healey releases the latest installment of his Far From Home series, he is also working on the next step in his newer series The Fallen Crown, among other things. Therefore, I've invited him back to talk a bit about writing in installments and his current projects.

He's also got a giveaway brewing, so read down for information on that.

I've had phenomenal success with my sci-fi adventure series, Far From Home. I always envisioned it spanning three series, told through a mixture of serial-style episodes and short novels. And thrilling as it was to start plotting the third series out, I realised I would now have time (and energy!) to write the fantasy series I'd daydreamed about for over ten years.

My first attempt at the opening chapter fell flat and I deleted it. I started again. And again. And again. It took many attempts to get the voice right, to find my rhythm. But once it was there, boy was the book a blast to write. I took my time, enjoyed the process, and by all accounts had a real hoot writing The Bloody North. I truly believed it was my best work, and I sent it off to Laurie with my fingers crossed. Was I just deluding myself? Would the manuscript come back to me criss-crossed with furious red pen?

No.

Laurie loved it and proclaimed it the best thing I'd ever written. I have some other projects to do before I can get on to the second book, The Rising Fire. But the story is right there, at the back of my mind, bugging me. I can't wait until I can sit down and continue the story I've started, widen our view of the world in which The Fallen Crown series takes place. Introduce and explore more and more characters.

From the get-go I didn't want to be writing massive tomes, dealing with multiple characters. I wanted to tell the story in shorter chunks of 200-250 pages, each one dealing with either one main character or perhaps two to three at the same time. What I've wanted to write about for over a decade cannot be told in a simple trilogy. It will take many books, spanning many years in our characters' lives, before there's anything close to an ending. Eventually, I will be finished writing the final fifteen installments of Far From Home. The Fallen Crown will then get my full, undivided attention, and I foresee readers getting a new book every two months. But until then, I really want The Bloody North to reach as wide an audience as possible, which is why I'm asking for your assistance. In return, you could win signed goodies. All you have to do is visit my site, www.tonyhealey.com – everything you need to know is right there.

Don't get me wrong, The Bloody North is doing REALLY well, both in terms of sales and reviews. 90% of feedback is extremely positive. The Rising Fire will come out at the end of this year, and readers who have enjoyed The Bloody North will be thrilled with what's in store. Of course it will feature the same gritty action as Book 1 (that goes without saying!) and tease more of what is to come whilst, at the same time, being its own self-contained story.

I'm hijacking Laurie's blog today, to get you interested in The Bloody North because I truly believe in it. It really is my very best work so far, and I want you to read it. I want you to get a chance at owning a sexy signed paperback edition (and a chapbook of a free short story, "A Man With Purpose," that acts as a prequel). I think it's rocky ground for a writer to shout from the rooftops about his own work.

But, damn it, this one deserves the added attention.

The Bloody North is also available on Amazon

I second that. Thank you, Tony.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Blast from the Past, Dreams of the Future

Three years ago this week, Bernard Schaffer and I came together to begin the Kindle All Stars. Hand in hand, we produced an anthology (Resistance Front) with the intent of paving the way for new, independent authors to find a place to showcase their work. Some have continued to write and enjoy much success; others have chosen to take different paths.

Many of us who continue to work in publishing, be it as writers, editors, or small scale publishers, also continue to keep in touch via social media. One of those writers, possibly the most impressive, is Natasha Whearity.

When I read Natasha's submission to the Resistance Front* project, I demanded that Bernard find a way to use her short story. She was a seventeen-year-old high school student from the UK whose talent, in my opinion, surpassed every other writer whose work I'd seen. There were other brilliant, creative minds who also became part of the group and have thrived, but Natasha stood out as the youngest.

So how could I not invite her to talk to you about Amazon and its affect on her as a young writer as well as her own anthology compiled for charity? This is how the Kindle All-Stars pay it forward.

We Are Such Stuff . . . is available on Amazon

You hear a lot of negative things about independent publishing platforms such as Amazon. A lot of people believe that it is ruining the publishing industry because anyone can publish anything they want to. But for me, Kindle Direct Publishing is a fantastic platform for writers, especially emerging ones, such as myself. What is great about Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing is that it gives aspiring writers and editors the opportunity to say that they have been published.

I’m not saying that publishing houses aren’t fantastic at what they do, because they are brilliant. But there is nothing wrong with Amazon allowing writers the freedom to publish their own work themselves – which is something they might not be able to do through a publishing house if their work is tossed onto a pile of no’s.

If it weren't for Amazon, I would never have had my first short story, "Endgame" published in the Kindle All Stars anthology: Resistance Front, which raised money for a charity supporting missing and exploited children. If it weren't for Amazon and that opportunity, I would never have been able to publish We Are Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On, which is the anthology of work I have just published.

Through publishing We Are Such Stuff, I have had the opportunity of not only raising money for a charity extremely close to my heart (all the proceeds made from the anthology are going to the charity Epilepsy Action UK) but I have been able to use Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing as a platform for my writing, editing, formatting and publishing skills.

If it weren't for Amazon and the opportunity I was given by Bernard, Laurie, and the Kindle All-Stars, I would never have been able to publish work, not only by myself, but by some really fantastic and innovative writers. I have learned so much from publishing this anthology, not just about how important it is to support emerging writers, but how much I love creating and making books. I hope that this project is the first of many.

You can buy a copy of We Are Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On for only £1.53 (or $2.57) and all of the proceeds go to Epilepsy Action. Not only will you support an amazing charity, but the work of some brilliant and blossoming writers.

*Resistance Front and its successor, Carnival of Cryptids, are both still available on Amazon. All proceeds benefit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Happy Reading!