Tuesday, August 30, 2011

THE FALLS ...

Hi, everyone.

Before I begin with the main post, I'd like to welcome my new friends from the Rach's Campaign. I do apologize for not stopping by your blogs. As most of you know I am on vacation in Canada. Not much time to hop around, so I hope you can forgive me. I will be visiting soon. You can count on it.

As I promised, you will be experiencing Niagara Falls in this post. After a very long day of driving and partying with the TART, I finally arrived at the Falls around nine o'clock. Talk about bedlam. It seemed like a Saturday night in Las Vegas. A huge Casino dominated the strip as people everywhere filled the streets and sidewalks while cars honked. I pulled into my hotel and checked in.

Excited about the fact my room had a coveted Falls view, I took the elevator to the fourteenth floor, exited, and rolled endless luggage and computer crap down the long corridor. Entering, I ran to the wall to wall windows and looked for the falls. Within the darkness I could only see what looked like a trickle. Disappointed, I changed and ran to the casino next door and walked out to view the falls from the smoker's deck off the deli... My jaw dropped.

Before retiring, I left all the drapes open and crashed.

Filtered light woke me up the following morning. My eyes opened to a stunning view of Niagara lake and the side corner of the Falls.

But let me tell you friends, there is NOTHING more thrilling to be right in front of them as you will see from the pics.

Although a cloudy, overcast day, thanks to hurricane Irene, the Falls still stopped all its viewers in their tracks. By late afternoon the sun came out and I managed to capture a rainbow inside the FALLS. YAY! (Please remember friends to enjoy my pics, but please don't repost or use them without my permission. They are all originals.)

Are you now wanting me to clam up and show the pics? Okay.... HERE THEY ARE!



As if the Falls isn't awesome enough, lets add a bird in flight....  (No, there is nothing wrong with my camera... this was a very gray morning)






































Can't you just fell the rage and the spray?



A little color on this gray morning.... These lovely gardens are adjacent to the Falls.


 A hint of green as the water thunders down the rocks.


A truly magnificent view...

You just can't take a bad picture....





























MOI ...   This proves I was there.


STOP!


A bit of light really brings the Falls to life.

And now...  RAINBOW FALLS....






































Well, I hope you all enjoyed the tour... Stay tuned for more pics... Next stop Montreal.

Monday, August 29, 2011

FROM A WATERY TART TO A WATERY FALLS ...




Greeting everyone from Ann Arbor, MI. I hope you all had a fantabulous weekend; I know I did. As you all know on Saturday I left for my Canadian adventure, but first stopping off in Ann Arbor to meet the one and only Hart "The Watery Tart" Johnson.

For all of you who know our Royal Tartness, it was such a thrill to meet her in person. Not only is she witty, charming, and outrageously sweet, Hart lights up a room. After lunch an a two hour tour of Ann Arbor, I am even more of a fan of this fantastic woman. It is definitely worth a trip to visit her in person. We had the most amazing day and Ann Arbor is a gorgeous college town with classic architecture, ivy walls, art galleries, cafes, and even fairy doors.

Today's post is a quick one. I am leaving Niagara Falls today for Montreal.... an eight hour drive... Phew! So I leave you with highlights of Ann Arbor. In tomorrow's post, you MUST drop by for some of THE most amazing pics of Niagara Falls. 

Have a great day everyone!













Friday, August 26, 2011

THE WATERY TART AWAITS ...

Happy Friday everyone.


Well as our summer is almost gone, we still have two more weekends before it officially ends. Remember to pack up all your whites ... no white after Labor Day... LOL.


I hope you all plan a bang-up weekend. As many of you know I leave for my vacation to Canada tomorrow. If any of my new friends live either in Montreal, Quebec City, or Toronto, I would love to meet you! 


To start it off my day I will be meeting up with none other than Hart Johnson, EVERYONES favorite naked TART....  


Yes, Hart, I am still working on that design for the NAKED TOP: a patent pending waterproof laptop. Everyone of you naked followers wants one including me!


I was looking back over my archive posts and since many of you have become my friends after Hart's Ides of March Blogfest, I decided to repost my entry in honor of our first meeting. It is sure to give you all a good laugh and a great start to this weekend.


If you've new to the blogosphere and haven't heard of this incredibly wonderful lady, make sure to drop by her blog and say hi.

Without further ado ...


In the channel ten newsroom, a tousle-haired young woman meanders through an assembly line of cameramen and their equipment to reach a dark-haired man in the corner, sipping on a cup of coffee.
“Excuse me, Mr. Coletti. I was asked to give you this, sir.”
“Thank you, Miss—”
“Reynolds.”
The assistant’s pale face looses her remaining color. With trembling fingers, she places the message in the palm of his mitt-like hand.
He smiles, then stares down at the slip of paper as his square jaw drops. He raises his thick-browed eyes.
“I-Is this true?
The assistant nodded. A single tear splashed onto the floor.
Thank you, Ms. Reynolds. I’ll get right on it.
Mike Coletti rushes through the studio headed for the elevators. He presses the top button and is catapulted to the roof. A chopper is waiting at the top of the Chicago Times building. His perfect black hair is blown in all directions as he races to the chopper and hops inside. Seatbelt fastened they take off. 
An hour later, Mike stands in front of a modest home. His brows raise into his hairline and he shakes his head in disbelief.
“You’re on in five, four, three, two, one.”
“LIVE in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This is Mike Coletti at the home of Hart Johnson. Hundreds of Naked mourners are frozen, waiting for a glimpse of their mentor.
“Today across America, the UK, and Australia people are ripping off their cloths in honor of our dearly departed Hart Johnson, aka, the Watery Tart. 
“Hart Johnson single handedly brought nudity to a whole new art form. Writing her critically acclaimed novels in the bathtub, she started a world-wide sale on waterproof laptops. Thousands of authors are now writing in the nude, hoping for our sweet Hart’s success. 
“But right now on the lips of every NWDT minion including myself is ... Why didn’t she have one?! This NEVER should have happened!
“What was she thinking bringing her PC laptop in the tub? Did she believe she had a Naked-top? Was she loosing her mind? 
“We will never know. I still don’t understand why with the billions of dollars Naked-top computers made on Hart’s genius, they never sent her one of their waterproof creations.
“I, as well as, millions of people will hold Naked-top responsible! No longer will we enjoy the immortal words coming from The WATERY TART, naked from her bathtub.
JOIN me and thousands of others in the boycott of this product. RUSH NAKED to your local franchise and chant “Murderer! Murderer! Murderer!
FOR OUR TART ... RIP OFF YOU CLOTHES NOW!  Mike flings his jacket, loosens his tie, and  tears of his shirt, revealing a muscular goose-bumped torso. He reaches for his belt ...


HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND EVERYONE .... I will be posting pics of my vacation, so do drop by!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

WELCOME CAMPAIGNERS AND NEW FRIENDS

Hello everyone. As I am all sure by now most of you have heard about Rach Harrie's new platform building Campaign. For all the detail about joining click onto the badge to the left. 

Already I have had new campaigners dropping by to introduce themselves to me. What a great group! WELCOME! I will be by your blogs the first chance I get.

Since it is a custom at my blog to officially welcome my new friends to my blogging family, today I would like to give a virtual hug to Sarah, Mary, Brittany, Kathleen, Angelina, and Ladygwen. It will certainly be an exciting campaign reading about you and discovering you writing talent.

What I love mostly about all of this, is writers come from so many different places. All over the world we are meeting new friends and learning about their writing and cultures. It's amazing how writing styles and prose changes from country to country and even in the United States, depending on where you, our speech represented in our prose and dialogue is regional. How cool is that!

So for today, I would like to tell you a bit about my background. I was born in New York City and raised in the neighboring suburb of Pelham Manor. My parents were from a working class background and managed to purchase a small house in a very affluent neighborhood. 

It was tough being the poor kid amongst the rich. But it did open my eyes to a world of beauty and opulence. My artistic talent flourished by this influence and I quickly learned how to create stunning apartments on a budget. It's amazing what you can find in thrift stores these days if you have a good eye.

At sixteen, I was discovered by a catalog photographer and this began my modeling career. For over a decade I traveled the world and lived in many cities throughout the United states. Every place, person, and creature I met along the way influenced me. From this I have an amazing basis for my writing. Life experience is our best teacher.

How about you? What region or country are you from? How has your life experience influenced your writing? I would love to know.

Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

THE OFFICIAL NOTICE IS OUT...

Hi everyone,

Today I had to feature Rachel Harrie and the Third Writer's Platform-Building Campaign. I'm sure most of you know Rach, but for those who don't, Rach has been hosting this event know for the third time. I missed the first, but I was very lucky to be part of the second.

This event gives ALL writer's an opportunity to meet writers in their genres as well as meeting other writers from similar or totally different genres. This year Rach gives you the choice to what groups you'd like to be placed into. It is a great way to make lasting friendships and having fun through Rach's writing challenges.

So please drop by Rach's blog here. Fill in the form and get to work spreading the word. You have only until August 31st to sign up. Rach has gone to great efforts to organize this with clear cut precision, but she can use some help. If you have some spare time let Rach know at her blog.

We all know that part of being a successful writer is building your platform and making connections. This event is a fun way to do both. I so enjoyed the last event and can't wait until this Friday for it to officially launch.

Next week I will have tips on staying fit while on vacation. Yes, I will be in Canada in cities that boast some of the world's greatest cuisine. How will I do? Stay tuned to find out. Lovely French cuisine. Oh, how tempting ...

Have a great Tuesday everyone.


Friday, August 19, 2011

THE SOLUTION ...


Happy Friday everyone.

Thank you for all your comments yesterday... What a dilemma. Well after searching online, and in almost every store in downtown Chicago, I did find two new sofas... YAY! The only thing is I have tot wait ten to twelve weeks for them to be made.

I made sure the framing and support systems were solid and that the pieces are made in North Carolina. The only drawback is that they are NOT leather, but I couldn't afford to do two leather sofas in the quality I demand.

It's fine though. I am hoping I can have them made in a fabric that may not be offered. Of course, the fabric I choose in their fabric book is the one that may only be available in a different sofa. So I am thinking positive.

In the meantime, I will be sofaless for three months. I am not happy. But I do have a daybed in storage that I can use for now. What can you do, right? Life always plays tricks on us when we either don't have the time for it or the patience. At least I will have them by the holidays.

I am posting a pic to show you the place before the whisk my sagging sofa's away... LOL. These pics don't have the cool sofa table I had created but I will post new pics when the new sofas come in. BTW this is my work/living space. I do my illustration and design on the drawing table and write on the sofa.


One good thing did happen this week, I won Alex J. Cavanaugh's CASSASTAR in the Tessa Conte's HATEFEST. This will be a great escape from reality.






Any fun plans for the weekend? I'd love to hear about it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

BUYER BEWARE ... HAS THIS HAPPENED TO YOU?

Good morning, everyone.

In today's post I'd like to share with you something that has happened to me recently. As many of you know I am an interior designer by trade and am a very savvy shopper.

About three months ago I had decided to redesign my living space to make it more suitable for my design/writing work.

I had always favored traditional decor mixed with a bit of eclectic. Since I live in a hundred-year-old building, this look was most suitable. Actually after I had bought my condo, I designed the space after 1920's parlor style. Think Great Gatsby. Overstuffed acanthus leafed damask down sofa's and chairs accompanied by antique mahogany tables. The only modern piece, the coffee table, a hand wrought iron French knotted creation curved into a magnificent swan's neck on each corner, and topped with a simple round beveled glass. Definitely and eye-catching room.

After seven years of this formality, I decided it was time to enter into the twenty-first century. After all we are in the age of high tech toys and simple, easy living. I decided to go sleek and modern. Two low-profile leather sofas in a pearlized creme. For a splash of color a pumpkin, burnt orange leather studded accent chair. Mixed with the same antique mahogany tables.

The flat screen proudly placed on top of the fireplace. Something I swore I would NEVER do. But this is no longer my formal showcase. I wanted a functional and modern space and I had achieved my goal.

For the final touch, I added a cool sofa table of my own design, topped with a stunning hand blow frosted bowl, an hour glass, and hand blown glass tropical fish. The stage was set.

Enjoying my new space for the past month or so, something odd happened. Both leather sofas started to show signs of wear. After four weeks? Was it my imagination? NO. The seats sagged, the leather wrinkled, and the overall appearance of sleek sophistication, now looked aged and worn.

Needless to say I contacted the store. Immediately they sent out their repair person. He analyzed the situation and set up an appointment for the following week to repair the sagging seats.

A week later, he returned with an assistant and flipped the sofas and pulled the backing off. To my horror, the whole frame was made of particle board. Stunned, I watched the technician re-support the ELASTIC webbing with the proper industrial strength kind. We discussed the workmanship and he rattled on about how all the new furniture manufacturers today are cutting corners and using inferior products.

For the record all... these were NOT cheap sofas. I bought them from a very reputable department store. I have shopped there for years and had always been happy with their products.

After he re-stapled the backing, we tested them out. One sofa was fine but the other still sagged. He called the company and they set up an appointment to replace both sofas for this week.

Well, last night I got to thinking. Do I really want such inferior furniture in my home. I would never allow one of my clients to house such garbage, so why was I? Yes, it looked gorgeous, but the new sofas could sag exactly the same way in another month. Do I really want to have to go through this again? We know the answer to that question. NO WAY. So I called customer service.

Thankfully they will be picking up these sofas and I will get a full refund. Even the rep agreed with me a hundred percent. She was shocked that no hardwood was used in the framing of these beautifully designed pieces.

So a lesson learned my friends. Remember just because it looks beautiful and might be expensive, make sure the structure is strong and durable.

Not unlike good writing, all fluff and no substance makes for a sagging piece of prose.

Have a great day everyone.



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

FOOD TIPS AND FRIENDS ...

Hello everyone. Welcome back. It's a bright and sunny Tuesday in Chicago. I hope you all had a great weekend and Monday. I had left up my Friday post yesterday, because many of you were still commenting on Chicago and my excerpt from BG.

Thanks for all your support. I'm glad you felt the HATE in my excerpt. Since I always like to have a positive vibe on my blog, todays post will be about welcoming new friends to my blog and eating healthily while spending time at home or eating out.

I am happy to add eight new friends into the fold. Shea, Doralynn, Nina, Lacie, Kelley, Natalie, Lorelei, and Ivy. Some of you I have already got to know a bit, but I look forward to learning more about all of you.

In Friday's post, I took you all on my daily power walk along Chicago's amazing lakefront. I feel privileged to live in such a beautiful city and have such an amazing vista right outside my door.

With only a few more weeks of summer left, there is still time to get fit and eat right. Winter and the holidays are approaching and along with that comes excess weight. We all tend to crave warm comfort food when the temps drop and the winds howl. I know I do.

When I started my journey to publication three years ago, I was in shape and feeling great, but then it happened. I became so obsessed with writing my first novel that I gave up going to the gym and didn't even think what I was eating. I packed on twenty-five pounds that winter without even knowing.

Has this ever happened to you? I know it has for some of you and that is why I decided to write a weekly post for us writers to keep fit and healthy during our hours plastered to our computers.

It's really not that difficult to substitute our beloved chocolate, chips, overstuffed sandwiches, cookies, and soda for healthier alternatives. Just by changing some things can make a huge difference in the old waistline.

The best thing to do is a few times a week put together snack packs for yourself. Make your own trail mix without the added salt and preservatives of the store bough ones. Raw unsalted almonds, flaxseed, unsalted walnuts, even cashews added with dried a few dried cranberries, apricots, cherries, or apple chips is a fantastic snack to munch on while at the computer. (be careful with the dried fruit though, it is high in sugar... the pineapple especially. Use about 1/4 of the mix dried fruit.)

Also make a half dozen boiled eggs and keep them in the fridge. Whenever you need a good source of protein this is perfect. Remember if you can with each snack add some form of protein. I had also mentioned before the THINK THIN protein bars. They are AMAZING when you have a strong craving for chocolate. They have no sugar or gluten. I had also discovered a new flavor of chocolate covered mixed nuts. YUMM. It tastes just like an Old Henry chocolate bar.

If you wondering how to start out your day, oatmeal is a great choice. It's high in fiber and filling. Now we all know oatmeal takes forever to cook. Well I have a good solution. Make a lot. I buy the Quaker Oates steel cut oats. They have a more nutty flavor. I start with 3 1/2 of water and a half a cup of milk. Bring to a boil. Add oats, stir and keep on simmer with the pot uncovered. Stir occasionally. It takes a good forty-five minutes, but it's worth the time. When done add, cinnamon, a few raisons, raw almonds, and a package of Splenda or whatever sugar substitute you prefer. The best now is stevia. A bit more expensive, but a much healthier alternative.

Cool the rest and put in plastic container. The next morning, place in a bowl, microwave it for a minute and add your favorite things. It tastes just as good as fresh. I get about five serving out of mine. So I only have to make it once a week. Of course if you have a family then cook accordingly.

As a final tip for today, I'd like to introduce you all to another great source of protein that you can keep on hand. BEANS. That's right. Mixing together a bean salad is a great way to have protein handy. If you use canned beans, make sure there is no MSG or too much added salt. Mixing together red and white kidney beans, with chick peas, black beans, read beans, and fresh green beans tossed together with a light vinegarette or just plain red wine or balsamic vinegar is a great side next to you grilled chicken or turkey burger.

So the next time you reach for that chocolate, remember you do have other choices. And don't forget to move the old body for at least a half an hour of some sort of exercise.

If any of you have some great healthy choice suggestions or recipes please let me know so I can share them with the rest of our friends.

Have a great day everyone.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A POWER WALKER'S JOURNEY AND TESSA CONTE'S I HATE YOU BLOGFEST ...

Happy Friday everyone. I would like to first start out this post by sharing with you the beauty of Chicago's lakefront. I am fortunate enough to live right across the street from this glorious sight. I will be taking you on a two mile power-walking tour. I would like to dedicate this to former Chicagoans Liz Fichera and Linda Gray.


Here is my first view I pass by on my way to the lakefront after sprinting through Lincoln Park. Diversey Harbor and Chicago's downtown magnificent skyline. Not too shabby. I wish I owned one of these!




As I make my way crossing Lake Shore Drive's overpass, there's a lovely view of the new luxury residence that is being built next to my vintage building. Yes, that tiny building wedged between those two monsters is where I live. We have our 100th year anniversary in 2012! It's an amazing feeling to live in something so steeped in history.



This is where my journey begins.... I can never get enough of this stunning skyline.



This is about a half a mile closer. Notice the waves. This is not an ocean but Lake Michigan. If you follow the beach to the left you will see a structure that looks like a boat. That is where I turn back. You'll have to enlarge the picture to see it.



This is where is the view that I had just come from facing north... I am traveling south. Yes real sand ... It still amazes me that this is a lake.



Phew ... I finally made it to North Avenue Beach and this cool on land boat. It has a terrific restaurant on top too. Great for those afternoon martini's or margarita's when in the hot sun...



My final destination before turning back. One of THE most breathtaking views on my journey. What can be more beautiful than a city on an blue/green lake. Dorothy we are not in Kansas anymore.

Now that you have enjoyed my daily romp, I hope you will read my entry for Tessa Conte's I HATE YOU BLOGFEST. We need to show something our character's hate. This is a given for me. Anyone that has read any of my current novel THE BLINDED GARDENER will surely know I will have a tough time just picking one out of the dozens of hateful scenes. Don't forget to drop by Tessa's blog for more HATEFUL stories.... If you dare.


Here my entry from  THE BLINDED GARDENER:


For those of you who are sensitive to certain curse words and actions please be advised not to read this excerpt.



Dad stumbled up the stairs around 1:00. Still wide awake, I heard him press against my bedroom door and twist the handle. He cursed, then heavy foot steps staggered down the hall toward his bedroom. A moment later, a loud snap vibrated the floor after he banged his door shut.

I tossed and turned, my muscles throbbed from all the pushups. Around three in the morning I dropped off to sleep. 

My heart pounded out of my chest from a loud crack at my door. 

“Get up now!”

Dad’s voice sounded angrier that usual. I glanced at the clock on my side table. 

“Six o’clock ... is he kidding me? My appointment’s not until 8:00. What, not enough torture yesterday? Are we starting the first thing in the morning now, you mother f —?” I muttered.

The simple act of moving the sheets tired my strained muscles. I pulled myself out of bed and threw on some shorts and dragged the chair back to my desk. 

Blazing sunlight blinded me as I entered the hall. Dad appeared out of nowhere and held up hair clippers. 

No! He’s not? 

“Move.”

Shit. He is. 

Dad, my hair isn’t long. Please, Sir. Don’t do this.” 

He grabbed me by the hair and yanked me into the bathroom. “If you hair was short enough I wouldn’t be able to do this. Would I?” he sneered. “We can make this easy or hard? Your choice.” He pushed me down on the toilet bowl.

Yeah, like I ever have a choice, you son of a bitch. 

My blotched red face reflected back at me as I watched the devil sheer my crown of glory. Waves of dark brown hit the floor. In two minutes the mutilation ended. Only a five o’clock shadow remained on my skull. 

“Now you look like a son of mine.” A sinister smile curled his lips. “Clean this up. Breakfast will be ready in fifteen minutes.”

I’m not your son. No dad would humiliate and torment his kid this way. 

I scooped up he remnants of my former glory, lifted the toilet seat and flushed. My hazel eyes turned emerald under heavy black brows, never a good sign. How I wanted to crack his skull or carve him like a turkey. The thought sparked a glint in my eye

But how to do it and not get caught? Snap out of it Aidan. You’re not a killer. Yeah, but this is self defense.

After a quick shower and shave, the shock of my bald head sent waves of anger throughout my core. I pounded my fist on the vanity. “I look like a fucking skinhead.” 

Now I’ll never make any friends. And there goes my blow job from Tanya. Damn him.

When I got back to my room, a pair of slacks, a dress shirt, tie, and socks sat on top of the unmade bed. I tripped over a pair of shiny, black shoes. 

“Am I going to a funeral?” I kicked the shoes out of the way. “Yeah, my own.” 

Another eight months and three weeks. 

“If I make it.”

I decided to surrender for the moment and spend some time to regroup. After I dressed in the military crap, I threw jeans, a muscle shirt, ball cap, and trainers into my backpack. 

Tanya’s not gonna see me looking like a dweeb.

Dad inspected me the moment I entered into the kitchen. He spun me around and further twisted the knife in, to add to my humiliation.

“Enough,” I blurted out. “I did what you wanted, now back off. I can’t take any more of this!” I took a few steps away from him.

He pounded his fist into his hand. “Oh, you will take whatever I dish out, sonny boy,” he said through gritted teeth.

He stepped toward me. I stood tall and stared him down. “You’re getting careless Pop, if you leave any more marks on me people will notice.” I grinned. “They already have.”

His chest heaved. Spit dribbled from the corner of his month. He paled. “Get out of my sight. I will deal with you later.” 

I walked passed him and didn’t look back. 

“You can count on it!” he shouted.

What just happened? I stood up to the murderous marine and walked away without a scratch.  Now he knows ... he’s dealing with a man not a frightened kid. Victory’s sweet, but how long will it last?

Thank you all for your patience on this longer than usual post. I hope you all have an INCREDIBLE weekend. Enjoy SUMMER while you can ...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

THE SECRET IS OUT ...



Today I have a very exciting announcement. Our friend, Y/A fantasy author, Heather  McCorkle of Heather's Odyssey is launching her debut novel on August 15! She is publishing through Abbott Press, a division of Writer's Digest, and as you can see by the cover, they know what they're doing.... isn't it awesome?!

Like her novel, Heather is full of her own secrets. Each blog host has one opportunity to peel away another layer of Heather or her novel.     

When Heather first mentioned Eren's trials and tribulations, I immediately thought of THE SECRET GARDEN. Yes, I know there is an age difference in the mc's, but there are two similarities... the exotic locations and Eren losing her wonderful former life to go to another less desirable one. 

Michael: Did that story influence you in any way, or is it just pure coincidence?

Heather: Purely coincidental! But isn't that funny? The secret of Spruce Knoll is that there is an entire society of people that 'normal people' don't know even exist, living right under their noses. And not just your run of the mill secret society or super hero-types, these people are tied more closely to the earth than any other living creature. Only their kind can save it from dying. The deeper secret is, anyone can be one. Most people have just distanced themselves so far from their nature and instincts that they have shut off the ability irrevocably. 

Well, there you have it everyone ... the secret is OUT.

Just to wet your appetites even more, here is the blurb from THE SECRET OF SPRUCE KNOLL.

Following the tragic death of her parents, Eren Donovan moves to Spruce Knoll to live with her aunt. Little does Eren know the entire town of Spruce Knoll is filled with “channelers”~a magical group of people who immigrated to the small Colorado town when they were driven out of their own lands.
Channelers are tied to the fate of the world. As the world slowly dies, so do
they~and they alone have the power to stop the destruction of Earth. Now, Eren learns she not only lives among them, but she is one. When she meets local boy Aiden, his charm convinces her that being a channeler may not be all bad.

Heather is hosting a fantastic giveaway! To help celebrate its birthday she's doing a blog tour and contest followed by a live chat on YA Bound  August 30th with a separate giveaway. The blog tour ends August 31st. 

Here's what you can win:

1st place: 
*$50 gift certificate to B&N (or the Book Depository if you're over seas). 
*Autographed copy of The Secret Of Spruce Knoll 
*Special swag bag

2nd place: 
*Swag bag filled with:

*Autographed copy of The Secret Of Spruce Knoll 
*Spoiled by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

*Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan 
*Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick 
*A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young 

3rd place: 
*Autographed copy of The Secret Of Spruce Knoll 
*Swag bag


The Rules: You can earn extra points, but if you don’t want to, you don't have to. You can just be a follower of Heather's Odyssey and leave a comment on her post saying you'd like to enter to win. But if you want extra points/entries here's how you can get them:

+1 for being a follower of Heather's Odyssey and commenting (+1 for each blog participating in the giveaway that you follow and comment on. Winners must follow Heather's Odyssey but aren't required to follow each blog participating, you just get more points if you do!).
+2 for adding The Secret Of Spruce Knoll to your To-Read shelf on Goodreads or Shelfari.
+3 for tweeting or posting on Facebook about the giveway.
+4 for Blogging about The Secret Of Spruce Knoll giveaway.
+5 for placing a link on the sidebar of your blog about the giveaway.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A HEALTHIER YOU ... A MORE FOCUSED WRITER

Hi, Friends,

Well it's time for another post on eating right and staying healthy for those hours of focused writing. As I am waiting for my steel-cut oats to cook, BTW a GREAT way to start the day, I am planning out my day.

As we all know exercise is just as important as eating well. I can't impress upon you enough to give yourself at least a half an hour a day of leaving your desk to take a yoga class, walk, jog, or tread mill. Not only will it help you physically but it will clean out the cobwebs in your mind.

I do realize that many of you have jobs and families that steal SO much of your time, BUT you will be a better parent, employee, and writer if you take care of YOU.

Making the decision to take by my life this spring was THE best decision I have ever made. I feel so much better, I am much more productive, and I am happier.

Just imagine how much happier the people you love will be to see a happier you. This does not only effect your life, but it effects the people around you.

I know you can squeeze in thirty minutes into your schedule. Actually shoot for an hour. You can do it. You still have time to get fit. With winter approaching at record speed, it will be next to impossible to start a fitness program then. Plus with the holidays a short THREE months away you don't want to add extra weight on top of what you already have. Think about this.... seriously, everyone puts on weight in the winter. By getting fit now and eating properly you will be ready with a plan of attack by the holidays.

I have some wonderful healthy baked goods waiting to be posted in the months ahead so you will never be deprived. Remember the less processed food you eat the healthier you will be.

In previous posts I have talked about the evils of processed foods and MSG. The benefits of organic foods, and healthy alternatives.

Here are a few more suggestions when you are craving the 'wrong' kinds of foods. I have already mentioned the wonders of almonds or walnuts if you prefer. Today I'd like to take about healthy starches and fats. Yes, these can be healthy and are needed for a balanced diet.

For those Mexican craving, I have some great and DELICIOUS ways to still enjoy your favorites. Who doesn't like chips and salsa or guacamole? Believe it or not, it's not the salsa or guacamole that packs on the pounds .... it the salty chips! They are the devil incarnate. Who could each just one? I know I can't.

So instead of chips here are two great substitutes. First celery or fennel. Dip away. Celery and fennel are so healthy for you. I recently discovered jicama... this is amazing. Crunchy, delicious and a perfect way to scoop up that salsa and guacamole.

Next, enjoy those black beans.... there is no better way to get protein. Forget the rice though... this is an evil starch. Make sure to eat your food with no additional salt. Many foods have sodium naturally in them you don't need to add more. Remember salt retains water.... why bloat? It's not necessary.

Top this off with chicken, beef, or vegetable fajitas and you have a terrific healthy meal. And you can do this when eating out too. You don't have to feel deprived when friends and family are ordering those fattening cheezy items. You can enjoy going out and eating well.

Next week I'll talk more about beans... a starchy vegetable, but packed with protein. As a final note if you are a potato lover, switch to sweet potatoes or yams. I bought organic yams last week and just boiled them. The five pound bag featured smaller yams and THE perfect portion for a meal or snack. They are sweet and delicious. So forget the white potatoes and go for sweet or yams. You'll find them a wonderful alternative and you will NEVER feel deprived.

Have a happy and healthy Monday. I am off for my power walk on the lakefront. It's time for my hour!

Monday, August 8, 2011

ARE YOU READY FOR A CP OR BETA?

Hi everyone,

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. With summer half over, you don't have much time left to enjoy all the fun summer has to offer. Don't let it slip away without a day at the beach, a mountain hike, a family BBQ, or that much needed vacation.

This weekend I received an email from a treasured blogger and friend. I'm keeping her name anonymous just in case she doesn't wish to share her story. But this is a dedication to her and our other much needed and often misunderstood friends.

For those of you that are currently looking for a CP or BETA to critique your first born child or fiftieth child make sure you are ready for it. We are all emotionally connected to our works and are very sensitive about criticisms of any kind. After you've poured months, years into you new born how could you not be?

HOWEVER if you decide to make that giant leap and send out you child into the cold, cruel world, thicken your skin and expect the worst. We all want our works to be loved by ALL. But often there will be someone who won't go absolutely nuts over it. They will find plot issues, weak characters, too much description, too vague, too whatever. They will point these flaws out and make suggestions on how to fix them. That is what a CP or BETA will do for you.

My current novel THE BLINDED GARDENER had been sent out to several CPS this summer. I am still waiting for two more critiques before I will finish my final revise.

The four CP'S I sent it to mostly loved my story thankfully, but they did point out a few areas for improvement. With their suggestions, I polished my ms to really shine. Then I received the one critique I was most anxious about. I knew hers would be the most honest, and she would find even the smallest of cracks. And of course, she did.

She was so worried about hurting my feelings and coming off as too rough. She apologized in advance for the harshness of her critique.

The statement took my breath away. After four successful critiques, I was now faced with something that almost terrified me ..... almost. I dived into her pages and pages and pages of suggestions. She DID NOT rip my baby to pieces, she pointed out the flaws.

We must remember these wonderful people put so much time and effort into critiquing. THINK about each suggestion. DON'T take it to heart. Also remember they are here to help. That's the point of sending it to them before you send it to an editor or agent.

After I read through them once, I sat and thought about it for a few days. I went back analyzing each one, correcting my ms as I fixed the issues at hand.

During the process, I emailed her, reassuring her I wasn't upset and repeatedly thanked her for the time she put into this critique. I must also mention that this same CP gave me the ultimate compliment. She said to me that I was one of her favorite authors and would love to read ANYTHING I wrote. WOW, that certainly made my year!

I decided to send her my first novel. This poor baby had gone through over fifty revisions in a three year period. I have been querying it like mad with no success for partials requests or the most treasured full. I had received some wonderful feedback from two editors and critique contests, but they all seemed to feel the beginning wasn't just right. Something was off. They loved the writing, but something was missing.

My CP friend would be the perfect person for this. Her talent for function and flow is exceptional. I also sent her the COMPLETE work with illustrations and all.

I received an email from her stating how much she loved the presentation and couldn't wait to dive into reading it. Then she mentioned how sad she was. Apparently she had given critiques to two other writers and hurt them to the point that they pulled out her writing group. My email helped ease her pain. She is almost considering not doing any more critiquing, except in her writing genres only. Well, I hope I convinced her not to ever give up. Her abilities are outstanding. Sometimes tough love IS necessary.

I know it sometimes hurts to hear negative remarks about our babies, but this is proof that CP'S are here to help us. I am not saying every CP is the perfect match. I've had a few that were totally off the wall and some could be intentionally hurtful. When trusting in a CP,  get to know them a bit first. Feel out their personality and read their blogs. This is a relationship that can go on for years if you're lucky.

So before you send out your novel, make sure you are ready to take the good with the bad. We need to do whatever it takes to create the perfect novel. And if it takes a hundred revisions to get it where it needs to be than we WILL do it.

As a final note, remember how special these people really are and put your emotions aside and absorb what they have to say. You most likely won't agree with everything, but you will get enough to really take your novel to the next level.

Have a great day everyone and thank your CP or BETA for giving you their time.