About Me

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I'm a published author of short fiction for kids and adults. I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. I'm a former content writer for Spirit and Truth publishing on their Living the Word series. I've also worked as a paid book reviewer and as a student editor for The Louisville Review literary magazine. I'm a wife and mom to two great kids, three dogs, and a cat. I love books, movies, gardening, kids, and animals.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It's NaNo Time



As I think about it being NaNo time the MC Hammer song, Can't Touch This, starts running through my mind. Will this be the theme song for me this year as I participate. I don't know...maybe. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo starts in just a few days for the month of November. Worldwide millions of aspiring writers challenge themselves to write a novel in a month, or just 30 days.

It is crazy, it is fun, and it is free. The NaNoWriMo challenge is a great way to cast all those inner fears and editorial comments inside your head aside and actually write that novel you've always meant to write. And you have a community of other writers and many writers and illustrators to connect with while you do it.

Picture of my personal DVD

This will be my third year participating. My first year I wrote the novel I'm currently revising with my critique group, Dance of the Goblin. A young adult, contemporary fantasy about a girl who worries she may be losing her mind when haunting dreams and strange physical transformations begin plaguing her. But is she really going crazy? Once I finish the revisions and start sending it out for possible publication, maybe you'll get to read it and see.

This year I'm planning a murder mystery with the classic noir film Laura as my inspiration. I'm really looking forward to doing my research on this story. I've got the movie setting out waiting to be watched. :) This will be my first more adult story I've written that is novel length. Will I be a NaNo winner this year? Who knows. I was the first year, but I wasn't last year. I still have my Toad Girl middle grade fantasy on file ready to be worked on some more. I will finish it someday. But this year it is on to something new.

Did I mention that NaNoWriMo is free? It is. That is one of the best things about it. Though, I'll warn you that the NaNo shop has lots of fun items for purchase that are hard to resist. All the proceeds for the purchases go to support NaNoWriMo to help keep it free for all its participants. Are you up for the NaNo challenge? I can tell you with perfect honesty that it is fun and inspiring. If you are interested here is the link: http://nanowrimo.org/

If you do decide to take up the challenge or have NaNo stories you'd like to share leave me a comment. I'll cheer for you this November if you cheer for me!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Haunts, Haints, and Spirits



As the nights grow cooler and the days grow shorter it becomes easier to believe in spooks and the unexplained. My husband enjoys scary stuff including horror stories and movies. I don't. Generally, I prefer my scary to be based in fantasy and to have as much humor as spooky stuff. The NBC TV series Grimm is as scary as I like to go. Funnily enough, I've been told on more than one occasion that I write creepy scenes very well. I'm not sure how to take this sort of compliment. And it is meant as a compliment as readers of my work usually tell me with a smile, and a shiver they loved that about my story. I chalk this up to having a very vivid imagination that leads me to believe that some of the stuff in horror stories could be real when I awaken from a nightmare in the wee hours of the night and everyone else is sleeping peacefully. In the daytime I'm able to laugh off these things. So I suppose when I write a good eerie moment in a story I'm channeling things that lurk in my subconscious and scare me after the light begins to fade.

While I don't believe that werewolves, vampires, or goblins are real, I do believe spirits could be. If people have souls then it stands to reason that some of them don't want to leave their earthly plain or get stuck on it for some reason. Eventually, I plan to write a really good ghost story that has something to do with the Civil War. I'm just waiting to find the right inspiration for it. I'm hoping when I find it this will partially appease my face-to-face critique group who've all written stories based around the Civil War. In the mean time, I've run across a great guest post by C. Hope Clark about her experiences with ghosts or spirits. I've attached the link below. Enjoy it, and feel free to share any good ghost stories you've heard or ghostly encounters you've experienced. I'm always on the lookout for that inspiration I mentioned for the next spooky tale to weave.

The Haunts with Substance:A Guest Post by C. Hope Clark


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review of UNDER THE BURNING STARS

Photo provided by Carrigan Richards
When authors ask me to post reviews on books that are sequels I am sometimes a little leery about agreeing to do one.

Like movies, sometimes book sequels can be a bit of a letdown. A story that started out strong can wane in potency with each new book added to the series.

So far, Carrigan Richards has kept the momentum going in her Elemental Enchanters series with her second book Under the Burning Stars. In fact, I was pleased to find the conflict for the main character much less angsty than in the first book, making this sequel, in my opinion, stronger.

Ava Hannigan seems to finally be settling into her life as an Enchanter. Even better she has the boy she loves, Peter, by her side ready to join her world and become an Enchanter too. But troubling dreams are haunting Ava about her mother's death. Dreams where Ava can feel and understand what her mother's murderer was thinking at the moment they killed her. As Ava tries to piece together what happened the day her mother was killed, she makes an unsettling discovery about her mom's past. It seems there are some dark secrets hidden in her family's past that could make Ava vulnerable to becoming a dark Enchanter, intent on destroying humans or Ephemerals, instead of protecting them.

The plot of the story was very well done. The conflict and tension kept me turning the pages of this novel to figure out who the mysterious Havok is that the Cimmerians referred to at the end of the last book, Under a Blood Red Moon. I found the copy on this novel to be cleaner than it was with the last book. Overall, I really enjoyed this story and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys young adult fantasy set in a contemporary setting. This is the best time of year to read about such things as witches and enchanters. If I had a book rating system on my blog I would give Under the Burning Stars, 3.5 out of 5 stars. The only thing that keeps me from giving it 4 is the fact, that while the copy was much cleaner, there were a few places where awkward sentences or inconsistencies in character dialogue pulled me briefly out of the story. For story and plot structure I found little to fault. I also found the characters to be more likable this time around too. Though, I did get a little frustrated with Peter at times and began to almost hope Ava would lose interest in him in favor of Gabriel. I foresee a triangle possibly forming there. I won't say more, as I don't want to give too much away. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of this book, it is available in print and as an ebook on Amazon.

Photo provided courtesy of Carrigan Richards


Check out other books by Carrigan Richards which include the first in her Elemental Enchanters series, Under a Blood Red Moon, as well as her standalone novel, Pieces of Me. Also, newly released just today is her short story, When Darkness Fell, about Savina and Colden before the war between Enchanters began. For more about Carrigan Richards and her books you can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and on her blog at www.carriganrichards.com.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Magic of Mysteries



Last October I concentrated my reading for the spookiest month of the year on the fantastic. Fantasies about ghosts, witches, wizards, etc. were the flavor of the holiday season. This year I've rediscovered the wonder of the mystery genre. Starting with the anthology here, Murder by Magic edited by Rosemary Edgehill. It is a terrific collection of 20 short mysteries. They are cleverly re-imagined twists on every category of mystery you can think of, from the modern, to the genteel manor house, to the futuristic sci-fi world, and even the mystery that is unclassifiable. I highly recommend this anthology. Best of all it still includes magic in each of the stories. Sorry, I just can't help but be drawn to the fantasy element of things. October is the best time of year to delve into the mystical and eerie of the unknown.

Of my reading fair though, I haven't limited myself to just fiction or mysterious fantasy. I've got on my reading list this month a nonfiction spy piece.



George Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War

What could be better than reading about one of our founding fathers and his use and instigation of a successful spy ring to help us win our independence from Great Britain. I haven't managed to start reading it yet. But my husband, who isn't particularly a history buff or interested in nonfiction for the youthful reader, gave this book a try. He gave it four out of five stars on Goodreads. Pretty high praise from him, since he loves mainly fantasy fiction, or thriller fair such as the Gabriel Allon series by Dan Silva, or Brad Thor's popular series featuring Scott Harvath.


Other youthful reads I plan to delve into this month include: Exposure by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes, part of their Twisted Lit series, this one based on Shakespeare's Macbeth, A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron, a sequel to her Crystal Kite Awarded novel The Dark Unwinding. Another sequel to an excellent series by Maile Meloy is The Apprentices set in London post-WWII and involving magical science practiced by a very special apothecary. Other new authors I'll be reading are Jonathan Stroud with his bestseller, The Screaming Staircase a novel that has ghosts, Destiny Rewritten by Kathryn Fitzmaurice, and a novel by another Kathryn I haven't read before, a mystery involving food, Bliss Kathryn Littlewood.


For those who prefer adult mysteries here are six other books I hope to tackle this month and probably next. The final novel in Larry Correia's Grimnoir Chronicles, Warbound. The third books in two different mystery series, Unsympathetic Magic by Laura Resnick, featuring her struggling actress character Esther Diamond, and a Bibliophile Mystery, by Kate Carlisle, One Book in the Grave, which is a mystery that doesn't include magic just a love of old books. Other authors I haven't read before include: Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris and their Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novel, Phoenix Rising, as well as Shirley Daamsgaard's Witch Way to Murder, and Jasper Fforde's alternate history novel, The Eyre Affair. I'm also reading another Vintage Magic Mystery by Annette Blair, a series I'm terribly behind on, called, Skirting the Grave.

To purchase any of these books feel free to click on the titles which will take you directly to Amazon. Help me support my book addiction by ordering them through my Amazon Affiliate links. Or if you prefer to support a local independent bookseller in your area over a giant retail chain, I completely understand. One of my faves is Joseph-Beth booksellers.

Next week check back in for a book review of the latest novel in the Elemental Enchanters series, Under the Burning Stars by Carrigan Richards. Happy reading this October! Let me know what mysteries you love.