Friday, September 30, 2011


My wife and I have been married for nearly four years.  We get along really well.  We never fight, and the only time there's tension is when there's an unspoken issue that we're avoiding.  We don't even avoid it for long enough for it to become a problem.  We're both so non-confrontational that we deal with our issues in a manner that avoids fights.

Sure, there are things that we've each done that bother us, but we say something in a very non-confrontational manner, adjust our behavior, and move on.  We're even closer afterward.  I don't keep track of the things she does because that's the fastest way to destroy a relationship (a tip for all of you!).  But I discovered the other day that my wife has betrayed me possibly beyond the point of forgiveness.  It began on July 4, 2011 on our way to a BBQ at a friend's house.  I didn't think much of it the first time it happened, but it continued.

Eventually I grew used to it and accepted it as a part of who she is.  Because I love her, I figured this wouldn't cause too much strife in our marriage.   But then, on Tuesday (I believe) I found myself...

Listening to country music.  Willingly.  Because my wife listens to it.  And because she's taught me to ENJOY it.  This overshadows the shame in my confession from a few weeks ago.  It is quite painful, as a matter of fact.

Don't get me wrong; I don't hate country music, and I can even appreciate quality music.  For a while now I've been listening to Bluegrass, and occasionally Johnny Cash shows up on that Pandora station.  I like Johnny Cash.  I like some of Elvis's early work.  I even like Charlie Daniels, Lynard Skynard, and some of the "twangier" classic rock bands.  But honestly.  I never thought I would voluntarily listen to COUNTRY.  I just don't like it.  Or I didn't.

Now for you country fans; don't take offense.  I have nothing against country performers, people who listen to country, or even those who choose to listen ONLY to country music.  I just don't find it pleasing to my ears.  Yes, I'm an American to the core with roots in the south, so the lyrics often speak to me (it's also something I love about Irish music.  There's Irish blood in my veins, and I'm proud of that, but I'm proud of my American heritage, too).  My dad even played in a country band before he started his A/V company.

But I prefer Fold, Irish, Rock&Roll, and even SOME Rap and Hip Hop (two very different things).  Now I guess I have to add country to that list of music that I "like".

And because I know she's reading this, I must say, "I love you, dearest wife of mine!"  :D.  I'll trade in my Honda for a Pickup, get myself a cowboy hat, and a faithful Golden Retriever.  (I'm just kidding.  I'd hate to perpetuate a false stereotype.)

On a more serious note, it's the last day of September.  Please head over to the Gary Sinise Foundation and donate to help out our soldiers.

A new Charity of the Month will be up on Monday!

P.S. If my wife's mother read all the way to the bottom, sorry if I freaked you out.  :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Moment of Silence

A couple of weeks ago I talked about my favorite day of the year.  I mentioned a hoodie that is my FAVORITE piece of clothing.  Well, yesterday I found five rather large holes in that hoodie.  I don't know if it got caught in something or if the material just wore through (though the holes look like they were cut or caught), but it's time to retire the old thing.  A moment of silence, please, for my poor dead hoodie.

Okay, that's enough.

Two more blog posts left this month.  It's really been a productive month for me!  So far the blog campaign has been working out well.  I'm finding new blogs to read, I've gained over thirty followers, and I get to have awesome conversations with more writers!  I'm very excited for what the future holds.

I have a lot to do today, so I'm going to leave you for the day.  But please head over to the Gary Sinise Foundation and consider making a small donation.  Or a big one if you like :).

New charity will be up on Monday.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Moving forward!

So as many of you know, I went to a writers conference a couple of weeks ago, and I met some great people!  I had an agent request pages from THE DRAGON'S NEPHEW, and I got some great advice on how to make my manuscript pop.  I also learned how to write an agent pitch (which worked wonders...see above).  I spent a couple of days going over THE DRAGON'S NEPHEW with a fine-toothed comb to see where I could take what I learned from the conference and apply it to the book.  I like the changes I made, and I think it'll help the book appeal to a wider audience.

But now I'm going to take a few weeks off from writing.  Sort of.  I'm a big fan of the policy that says, "Write every day."  So I'm going to do that one way or another.  But I have a book to finish beta-reading (SOOO excited about it!!!), I need to finish SUPERNATURALLY by Kiersten White so that I can review it, I have to read THE PROPHETESS: ONE by Linda Rohrbough and review THAT one (because she asked me to and I'm looking forward to it), and then I have to put together a contest.

Yes, that's right, a contest!  No details until I get the prize.  Not sure what I'm going to do for the contest itself, either.  But we'll see.

While I'm doing all of that, I'm going to return to my DEFENDER OF THE CROWN story, scrap it, and start over.  I have some ideas to make the characters and plot so much better, but the rewrites would be so extensive that I might as well start from the beginning.  I'll hold onto a few passages here and there, but I'm also increasing their age to make it YA book rather than a MG on the verge of YA novel.

What are you doing that you're excited about this week?  How do you plan to re-integrate ideas from your past into what you're doing now?

Friday, September 23, 2011

And Now: Rapping Pirates

I had a VERY long day at work.  I have nothing to say because I can't think right now.  Have a great weekend, I'll see you all on Monday.  Until then, shiver me timbers and check out this video!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Remember Where We Came From

I believe it's important for us, as writers, to remember where we came from, no matter where we are on our journey.  Often times it's easy to forget that we struggled to get where we are.  And even when we're struggling to move to the next stage of our career, it can be tempting to hold our experiences and knowledge over the heads of others in a manner that belittles them.

I'll admit that there have been a few instances recently where I looked at my book, where I am in comparison to where I've been, and I thought, "You know, I'm hot stuff!"  But then I look at where I am in comparison to where many published writers are and remember, "Oh yeah, they made that crucial step.  They worked hard, possibly harder than I have, and they moved to the next level."  The great thing about those authors is how well they treat me.  And I always want to be that author of whom all the other authors say, "You know, he's a nice guy."

Whatever they think of my writing, however many books I sell, I never want to be the author that "used to be really nice."

I've met many musicians, a handful of writers, and one or two painters ("artist" type painters who con people out of hundreds of dollars with a canvas covered in a single shade of blue... but that's another topic for another day) who treated me like dirt because I wasn't one of them.  I was still an aspiring musician or writer (never wanted to be an artist), so I wasn't worth their time.  They ignored me unless they were giving me orders.  As if their accomplishments made them better than everyone else.  And they even bragged about how hard or easy their path to success was.  Yes, some of them had it easy.  They knew people who gave them a shortcut into the industry of their choice.  But most of them struggled to make end's meat, even when they had the attitude.

So remember how hard you worked, and DON'T lord it over your fellow writers!  Use that struggle as encouragement for them.  When they come to you and ask, "How did you deal with all of the rejections."  Be honest.  Always.  Even if you only got one rejection before you got your agent or publishing deal, find a way to ENCOURAGE them to push forward.  Don't let them give up, and don't make them feel like failures for not succeeding the same way you did.

And if I EVER become arrogant at any stage in my career, I solemnly give my closest friends (you know who you are) permission to slap me across the face.  At a conference or book panel.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Awards and Mondays

I won this award from Brinda Berry.  Go check out her blog, buy her book, and tell her how great she is :).

At the bottom of the post I'll link to seven other authors who won this award.  For now, I want to talk about writing.

I'm confident in my current manuscript.  I have a friend who offered to look over the first fifty pages (and Aaron, if you're reading this, I'll get them to you shortly... sorry it's taking so long).  Overall, though, I'm happy with it.  If I need to make changes, then I will, but as it is, I'd buy this book if I found it on the shelf.  Not to sound full of myself (because I'm not... I swear).  I just enjoyed writing this book, and I enjoy reading through it.

Speaking of enjoying my books, the first book I finished is PAINFUL.  I hate reading through it.  It's a chore.  And I figured out why: it's boring.  The protagonist isn't real.  He's too good, too flat, too "meh".  And the plot is almost non-existent.  It's weak.  And I figured out how to fix it!

I know I said I had a new project to work on, but I'm not ready to give up on this first idea and universe.  So rather than jumping into a new project, I'm going to throw out the old story (metaphorically) and start over from scratch.  Sort of.  I have characters.  Granted, I have a protagonist without character flaws, but the other characters are quite fun, in my mind.  And engaging.  Yes, my protagonist has a problem, well several, but all in all, he's a messiah figure.  And that's just not good for quality fiction.  So I'm going to add some flaws to turn him into an engaging person.

I'm going to rework the plot, too.  That means that now two characters I originally planned on killing off are going to survive, instead of just one.  And the antagonist will no longer be the patsy of another man.  He'll be working alone.

So that's where I stand on my writing projects.  A new beginning to a project I thought dead.  I'm still shopping around THE DRAGON'S NEPHEW, and there may be some exciting news on that coming up.

Anyway, 7 people who won the 7x7 award:

Aaron Michael Ritchey: He's a VERY friendly guy, and he has a book coming out in December.  Go check him out.

Bree Ervin is a peach.  She's putting together a critique group, and she's been very kind to invite me along!

My friend Erik George has a fan-fiction blog that is REALLY good.  Better than most published Star Wars books.

Patricia Stoltey is a wonderful woman.  Very friendly, and she had her full manuscript requested from Rachelle Gardner at the RMFW conference last weekend!  She also writes for the RMFW Chiseled in Rock blog!

As always, I have to point you to my friend Todd Newton's site.  Go buy his book!

And, to close, I think you should go read Buffy Andrews.  She has some interesting thoughts, and her most recent post is a farewell to Borders.  A store I will miss!

Have a great Monday!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Meeting with an editor?

I always wanted to know how to write a book, and when I ran across this show, I finally learned what meetings with editors look like.  I desperately want to succeed in publishing just so I can have these types of meetings.  (And for those of you who accuse me of sarcasm, I'm not kidding.  I genuinely want to get published, and I look forward to meeting with my agent and editor to discuss changes that need to be made to my manuscript.  That's part of the biz, after all.)

Enjoy!  Have a great weekend.  I'll be back on Monday.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

10 Random Facts

I guess I got tagged in a meme.  The delightful Wendy Terrien (who I met at the RMFW conference over the weekend) tagged me, so go check out her blog, and then read my random facts.

1.  I love Southern Food.  I grew up traveling across the country, and we spent a good deal of time in Tennessee, South Carolina, and other states in or near The South.  Sure, gourmet cuisine is great, but sometimes I just want cornbread with maple syrup, biscuits and gravy, mashed potatoes, pork butts and beans, and fried chicken.

2.  I hate chicken on the bone.  It's a waste of my time.  I don't want to try to figure out which parts of the food are edible, and which ones are just chewy fat that I'm going to spit out after I nearly choke on it.  Fry it up after you've cut it up.

3.  I LOVE spam with scrambled eggs and cheddar cheese on a sourdough english muffin.

4.  I actually like English food.  A solid English Breakfast, Bangers and Mash, Shepherd's Pie, I love it!  And no, it's not boiled to death!

5.  The only authentic French food I've ever eaten is a can of Fois Gras my friend Gabe bought for me when he was in France on his honeymoon.

6.  I want to learn to make my own beer.  Homebrewing is something I've wanted to do for almost a year now.  I think it would be fun, and I know I would enjoy sampling the product, even if it sucked :).

7.  I'm more obsessed with politics than I am with food, but I try not to talk about it unless I really know the person I'm conversing with.

8.  I'd rather spend $5k on an awesome kitchen in my "dream house" than $1k on the "coolest bedroom ever!"  A bedroom is for sleeping, but food brings family and friends together!  You gotta have a great place to cook.

9.  Part of me wishes I could eat out more to sample the best cuisine the world has to offer, but most of the time I'd rather cook it myself.  There's just something about creating a product from scratch.  That's why I want to make haggis with a friend of mine.

10.  And you're not going to believe this: I only weigh 155 lbs.  No matter how hard I try (and I REALLY try) I can't gain any more weight.  And most of that weight is lean muscle.  Only in the last year have I shown signs of a bit of "flab."  That's mostly from not working full time in the warehouse.  Part time gives me more time to sit on my rear.

I don't think I'm going to tag anyone, just because many of the bloggers I know don't have the free time to read my blog AND put together a blog in response to this one.  But if you DO write one, post a link in the comments!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Post-Conference Haze

The RMFW conference this weekend was awesome.  I met a ton of great people, and in the days to come I'll point you to their blogs (if they have any).  I spent a good deal of time yesterday collecting my thoughts and preparing to follow up on contacts I made.  Not only did I find a few contacts, I truly made some new friends.  I look forward to working with them, reading their work, and sharing that work with you in the future!

I learned a lot, too.  Stuff that may move my career forward at a faster pace than I realized was possible.  I'll talk about that more in the future, too.  Like I said, I'm still collecting my thoughts.  It's been an amazing couple of weeks, what with the campaign and this conference.  I'm so delighted to meet so many new people.  It's one of the reasons I want to be a writer!

If I had a month to put together a proper post, I'd tell you all about my weekend, but I only have a few minutes.  So instead I'll point you to a few blogs that you absolutely must read.

Go check out agent Vickie Motter, Weronika Janczuk, and of course Janet Reid.

Writers you should be watching: Hanna C. Howard, Patricia Stoltey, and David Powers King.  There are dozens upon dozens of people I would love to recommend to you, but start there.  I'll have some more for you soon.

Also, make sure you head over to the Gary Sinise Foundation and donate.  They're our Charity of the Month, and they do such great work for our men- and women-at-arms.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

My favorite day.

SAD.  If there is a syndrome that is the opposite of SAD, I have it!  I love the autumn, the winter, the cloudy cold, the turning of the leaves, the snowfall, short days, long nights, and so on.  If some place in the world could give me a Colorado Autumn followed by a Colorado Winter over and over again, I would have to move there.  Forever.  I don't like spring and summer nearly as much.  Don't get me wrong, I still love them, but nothing reminds me of home like autumn and winter.

My favorite day of the year is today.  The first day since spring started where I needed to pull out my sweatshirt.  I have a favorite hoodie.  It's gray, big, with zip-off sleeves.  It's worn out, raddy, but soft and comfortable.  I've had it since I was 15.  I know I should get rid of it, but I just can't.  Call me Linus.  Anyway, today I got to pull my warm, fluffy sweatshirt out of the closet, clasp my coffee in my hands, and step into the brisk morning on my way to work.

It's raining right now, and I know it's only a matter of time before green trees turn to orange, yellow, and brown.  I get to light a fire in my fireplace.  The scent of pumpkin, egg nog, pine, and my central heater will fill the house.  I'll enjoy sweet and savory baked goods, warm coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate, apple cider, maybe even mulled wine this year.

What's your favorite day of the year?  Your favorite season?  Why?  What memories make it your favorite?

Monday, September 05, 2011

Campaign Challenge 1 Entry

The door swung open, letting a burst of cold air into the flaming limo.  Firm hands darted in and wrapped around Andrew.  Fire licked at the left side of his body, and at the age of nine, he wondered why it didn’t hurt more.  Gunfire exploded all around him, along with the whoosh of molotov cocktails crashing over the streets.

“I got ya,” a gruff voice said in Andrew’s ear.  “You’re gonna be safe.”

“Mom,” Andrew wheezed.  He reached for the limo, desperate to get his mother before fire engulfed the entire car.  People were running everywhere, screaming in anger, pain, and fear.

“She’s lost, boy.  The tribes killed her.”  Bodies, broken and bloody, surrounded them.

“Why?” Andrew asked.

The man didn’t reply.  He just carried Andrew away from the chaos of the battle in the streets.  Dazed by the pain up and down his left side, Andrew watched as a man dressed in green carried a boy very much like him over to the car.  This boy didn’t move, and his eyes stared at the sky in lifeless horror.  The green man strapped the boy’s body into the limo.  The car burst into flame as the door swung shut.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Charity of the Month: Gary Sinise Foundation

This month I want to point all of you, my readers, to the Gary Sinise Foundation.  Many of you know Gary Sinise as the protagonist in Mission to Mars.  Actually, come to think of it, most of you know him better as Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump.

For more than 30 years, Gary Sinise has been working with Military Servicemen and Servicewomen and Military Veterans.  He's given a great deal of his time and money to programs to honor, inspire, and take care of the many needs of the soldiers who give their lives to the defense of our great country.  There's a great, in-depth history of the organization and Sinise's history with the military on the foundation's website, but I think it's important for all of you to know how much he's given to our nation's heroes.

With the 10th anniversary of one of the most horrific acts of terrorism in the world taking place this month, I want to highlight another group that tries to meet the needs of our soldiers.  I have many friends in the armed forces, and both of my grandfathers served in the Korean war.  And as many of my regular readers know, this isn't the first organization that I've highlighted that takes care of soldiers and their families.

We've been at war for almost a decade, and our neighbors, our brothers, sisters, friends, fathers, and mothers are sacrificing their time and their lives to keep us safe.  Regardless of how you feel about this war, please honor that sacrifice and donate to an organization that does so much good for this American Family.

Have a great Labor Day weekend.