Friday, December 16, 2011

SPECIAL GUEST: BLAKELY CHORPENNING Author of FRAYED: A Madison Lark Novella


I’m very excited to introduce an extra special guest, Blakely Chorpenning, author of FRAYED: A Madison Lark Novella.

Fray loves being a semi-pro fighter and free spirit. However, when a deadly faction begins abducting supernatural teens in the Blue Hills of North Carolinafor excruciating experiments, she quickly learns there is more to life than glitzy opponents and late night trysts. Fray and a crew of unlikely allies must rescue the children before they are dissected alive. Being a leopard shapeshifter helps. Confronting personal prejudice and traversing feelings for a tempestuous ex do not mix. But Fray is willing to go all the way to stop her world from changing. That is, until the ultimate sacrifice forces her to realize just how overdue change is.

Her most shocking discovery: Everyone’s human. At least a little…

Before letting her tell you about herself, I wanted to gush a little bit about how much I enjoyed this novella. I began reading it the week after I finished with NaNo. I was exhausted and needed to relax. What I didn’t expect the high octane ride she took me on. From the opening page to the climactic ending, I was enthralled (I fell asleep at 2 a.m. with my Kindle clutched in my hand). I loved the laugh-out-loud, witty dialogue, intricate plot, and fully actualized multicultural cast of characters.

As an African-American woman, I found it refreshing to read book where the protagonist, Madison Lark aka Frayed, is of mixed racial heritage. This character proudly reflected my heritage (although I’m not a wereleopard, darn it) without being the stereotypical “Magical African-American Friend” seen in a lot of books and movies. Blakely also touched on some sensitive issues in regards to the prejudice in a way that wasn’t preachy. It was great seeing the character’s bias transform over the course of the story.  

All of which, leads me back to Blakely who can give you more insight into her motivation for writing FRAYED: A Madison Lark Novella

Thank you, Angie, for inviting me to be a part of your wonderful blog. I am totally thrilled to talk about Frayed: A Madison Lark Novella, officially debuting today! I guess I’ll start from the beginning.

One sunny morning in the seventies, a baby was born in a Texas hospital. That little sugar cookie was me. Okay, fast forward an insane amount of years. Good. Now stop before I end this blog hovering in a bubble while a computer records my thoughts, because that would be awkward for everyone.    

Seriously, though, I began writing Frayed a year and a half ago –My first post-daughter project from scratch. I was looking for truth, grit, and “that something that matters”, to quote one of my characters. First, I needed a heroine that could keep up. So along came Fray (a.k.a. Madison Lark), who is a dynamic, enigmatic modern woman. She lives for her semi-pro martial arts career, she’s multiracial (predominately African American and Italian), loves her family fiercely and…well, let’s just say the day ain’t over until she says it’s over. Ha.

I loved the idea of a multiracial character because 1) sometimes the world needs to be reminded that heroines (like all women) have no boundaries and 2) Fray just spoke to me as this unique, relatable woman fighting to take control of the changes happening to her world.

Hopefully Fray reminds readers of that time –that night, that year, that minute- when they were on fire in all the right ways… As well as the moment when they realized it was time to grow up a little, because some choices = no going back.

Especially when supernatural forces are at work.

All of my writing incorporates supernatural elements, some more obvious than others because I think each day should have a touch of the fantastical. However, had someone predicted that I would pen a character that *gasp* hates vampires and is, herself, a shapeshifter… Oh, I would have yelled, “Shut your mouth!” and slapped their beloved grandmamma before they dared utter the words. (Hence the inspiration for Fray’s prejudice towards other supernaturals–her largest fault.)

But I have to say, I’ve experienced true “nana-slapping-free” love all over again during this writing process. I feel just as enamored with my ‘shifters’ and ‘weres’ as I do with my beloved vamps. Especially Jack Tomas’ character, the young lion responsible for Fray’s peaking rage as well as the breaking point of her ever-pressing elitism. 

Frayed tackles a lot of heavy themes, including loyalty, family/friendship, the power to rise above, loss/grief, personal awakening, and much more. Through the storyline, Fray experiences horrific circumstances that challenge her to the core, forcing her to reevaluate the way she lives her life. In so, she finds her gateway to the next chapter of her life. But it costs her flesh, blood, and a chunk of innocence for everyone involved.

Thank you again, Angie, for this opportunity. I could go on forever about Frayed, but it was hard enough to stop myself before giving away the best parts. So I will end it here before I’m too tempted.

If you would like to immerse yourself in Fray’s world, please visit http://blakelychorpenning.com/books.html for a list of online retailers. Frayed: A Madison Lark Novella is available in print and e-copy formats. E-copies contain a prologue excerpt from my upcoming ‘new adult’ urban fantasy novel, Souled Out, while print copies contain the prologue as well as the first three chapters.  

First, check my website for these Frayed: A Madison Lark Novella debut specials running Dec. 16th-18th:

-An e-coupon code for $1.00 off all e-copies.
-Purchase a print copy and receive a coupon for a free e-copy. (Details listed on my website.)

For more antics, you can find me here:

Website: http://blakelychorpenning.com
My blog, Indiscriminate Writes: http://indiscriminatewrites.blogspot.com
Twitter: bchorpenning
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/bchorpenning

Frayed: A Madison Lark Novella excerpt:

Dome lights toasted the blood streaking from brow to breastbone, turning it to liquid heat on my flesh. The sensation thrilled like the first touch of a lover, and when I realized it wasn’t mine the pleasure spike awoke a fever calling to that part of me that was never human. I wanted to relinquish my human bonds, unleash that feral leopard energy for real, but that was against the rules. This time. Instead, I smiled like the devil and I were sharing a beer in hell and hook-punched Danica, my opponent, in the face. Scarlet splatters filled the air like tiny dancers. I closed my eyes, smiling as the fresh blood caressed my tender eyelids and the hyper sensitive pout of my lips.

This is my moment, the point in every fight when they see what they did wrong.

When they see me winning.



Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 16th is Fun Friday

I'm very excited about tomorrow.

For two reasons. The first is I have a special guest post by an amazing author. I CAN'T WAIT to introduce her, so don't forget to pop by tomorrow.

The second reason. Season 3 of MISFITS starts on HULU.

Oh yeah! I cannot wait for Friday, Friday, party, fun, yay!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

KATE EVANGELISTA'S BIG NEWS

My vow of silence has lifted.

Yesterday, Kate Evangelista announced her big news. I’ll let her fill you in on all the wonderful details and get a TASTE (LOL) of the virtual goodies she’s left for you on her blog.

What I want to convey is how proud and excited I am of her accomplishment. This breaking news has been a long time in the making; yet, I NEVER doubted this day would come. This is a testament to Kate’s level of commitment to perfecting her craft, her enthusiasm for her work, and her determination to fight for her dreams.

We’ve been friends and critique partners for two years. We’ve shared the good and bad. Without her, I don’t know whether I would be where I am right now in terms of my writing career. There were times during the course of these two years when I wanted to quit.

Kate threatened to get on a plane, and fly to the states so she could smack me upside the head. Tough love? Oh yeah, she dished it out when I needed it. Other times, she held my hand through my spurts of self-doubt. She taught me how to be a better writer, critique partner, and friend.

She’s my champion and my hero.

I’m so thrilled for her I had to share. So, please pop over to Kate’s Blog and offer her your warmest congratulations and good wishes on her future endeavor. I know she would appreciate it.





Monday, December 5, 2011

NaNoWriMo ALMOST DROVE ME INSANE, Kidding.

Or am I?

Dramatic wiggle of the eyebrows.

Would I even know if I’m cuckoo-ca-choo…huh, huh?

Surely, someone would tell me if I’ve lost it. It’s not like walking around for hours with a price tag on your shirt that everyone sees, but nobody bothers to point out…‘cause you know…hmm, bad analogy. Maybe it’s just my friends who can be so oblivious.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved participating in NaNo. I experimented writing within a new genre, new tense and duel POV’s. I love how Quest for the Golden Apple came out. Actually, I just plain adore everything about this story. I had no problems with writers block, and two weeks in, I was on track to finish early.
So why is it that on November 29th, I was at
36k. 

A few things.

The most significant and heartbreaking was that my uncle, Charles Baldon, passed away the week before Thanksgiving. He and his family live across the country, so I wasn't able to attend his funeral. I found out he wasn't doing well the day before he passed. I called too late to say goodbye.

Charles Baldon 1930-2011
My motivation waned.
The following week, Thanksgiving. I'll admit being in a turkey coma added to my lethargy. Add a Vampire Diaries marathon into the mix, and I sat on the couch with my sister and daughter for two days eating leftovers and working through season one instead of working on the NaNo project.

I really wanted to reach my goal. So bring on the insanity. I wrote 10k in two days—a fairly decent 10k, because I can’t write without editing for some reason. I threw in the towel and crashed on the 30th at ten pm. My brain felt mushy. I was afraid if I shook my head to hard, brain matter would pour out my ears and damage my keyboard.

My final NaNo word count was 46,148.

This puts my actual word court (I had to deduct 10k because I started early) at 56,148. I’m four chapters from writing the END-Hallelujah.

It’s been five days since NaNo ended, and I’ve spent my time recuperating. I’ve enjoyed recuperating, which basically means I’ve finished up the second season in Vampire Diaries and have started on the third.

However, playtime is over. It’s time to get back to work. My goal is to finish Quest for the Golden Apple by this weekend, and then I’ll put it aside to simmer. Djinni should be nicely cooked by now, so I’ll start on my edits. I’d like to have ready for my critique partners before Christmas. That way I can start editing Quest in January.

How did ya’ll do with NaNo, if you participated? Are you editing right now or letting the story simmer for a while before diving in?


Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaNoWriMo UPDATE

I’m still working on my NaNo project, which is why I haven't had any new posts. I'm totally enjoying this story. The best validation I've received for it is from my whip cracking daughter who doesn’t let me slack off.

She eagerly awaits each chapter, to the point where I have to fend her off so I can edit it before she reads it. It’s a wonderful feeling since I decided to have some fun with it by playing around with a different style, genre, tense, and pov’s.

In case anyone missed the earlier post, this is Middle Grade, and is written in present tense with dual points of views. Not a very popular style and difficult to pull off, I hear. I can't deny it's been a challenge.

I think it’s finally becoming second nature to write in the present tense without constantly slipping into past. The POV's are male and female. They are very different kids. Malik is rough and tumble, but emotionally needy and selfish at the moment. Nevan is sweet and shy, but also has a core of steel underneath her frills. They're view of the adventure they're on is completely different, yet also the same.

Now, for my project goal.

I started the project a week early. On November 1st I had 9781 words written, so I'm deducting those from my total. So while the word count is now at 35,286, I'm only at 25505 for NaNo. I hope to be able to make this up over the holidays, except Black Friday when I'll be shopping, ha ha!

So that's where I am at the halfway point.

Please, wish me luck.

Friday, November 4, 2011

UGH OH, THE TOAD


Last night my son ran into the living room, yelling, "Mom, come quick, Kiwi needs help!"

I panicked, thinking she had blood gushing from an injury or something equally horrible. I ran to their bedroom and paused in the doorway. Kiwi had her nose pressed against the aquarium, then she looked at me with tears filling her eyes.

My heart lurched as a flashback to the death of our hamster, Fredrick, filled my mind, "What's wrong?"

Her lip trembled, "I think Theo's dead. Touch him."

I looked in the bowl, and see he's curled up with his face pressed into the dirt. He's a mossy greenish color, unlike his usual gray. I don't want to touch him with my finger, so I brushed a stick lightly across his back. He flinched.

My son, expressing his usual stoicism and impatience with his sister's sentimentality in the face of possbile tragedy said, “He’s not dead, why are you crying?”

I distracted Kiwi before she could get a grip on her baby brother. Otherwise, the night might've still ended with blood gushing.

She started researching toad illnesses on the internet, but the more she searched the more frustrated she became. “There’s nothing here,” she cried, slamming her fist onto the desk. “What do we do?”

As the mom, I’m supposed to have an answer.

But, I didn’t.

I had a horrible vision of us waking up the next morning with a death to deal with before school. Not cool, especially since the kids are so sensitive. Kiwi was already struggling to stay strong and not fall apart.

“Maybe he’s dehydrated,” Kiwi said. She filled up a bowl with water, then squeezed a few drops onto his back.

Then we went to bed.

Before I left for work this morning, I asked by husband to check on the toad before kids woke up. I wanted him to dispose to the tiny body if Theo had passed in the night. I felt horrible putting such a chore on him, but I'd dealt with the burial arrangements for Fredrick last year. Then I went to work.

I got a phone call from Kiwi an hour later. “Hi Mom,” Kiwi said, voice low.

“What’s going on?” Stupid question, I already knew the answer.

“It’s about Theo,” she paused, and took a breath.

I wait for the bad news.

“He’s fine. He’s sitting in the bowl of water.”

Yes, I cried at the news that he was okay. I had to accept my softy status a long time ago. Greeting cards, commercials—especially the one where the little boy thinks the soldier is Santa Claus gets me every time.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

National Novel Writing Month

So it begins!!

I decided to go with the The Quest for the Golden Apple, my middle grade project. Last week, I was so excited about this story that I caved in. My inner plotter cracked its knuckles and pounded out 9,000 words (which I'll deduct from my total word count at the end of the month). The story flowed onto the paper without much effort. It felt absolutely lovely.

It turns out that I will have two pov characters--Malik Ross and Nevan Newquist. They're very dissimilar and have unique voices. It will be written in past tense, 3rd person limited. Although, I'm still toying with the idea of trying out present tense. I've never written a ms in this tense, so it would be a challenge.

Which is exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for in my NaNo experience.

So, yeah. Why not. Present tense it is (weird how I tend to make split second decisions while writing my blog, thereby setting myself up for failure). So instead, I'll say that I'll try out present tense and if it doesn't work for the story, I won't force it.

What about you? Are any of you participating in NaNo? What type of story are you working on? Are you trying something new and different? Is this a story you've been wanting to write for a while, but had gotten too busy with other projects to work on it? Have you participated in NaNo before? Or is this your first time?

May the muse be with you.

Friday, October 28, 2011

MISFITS Review- I Love British Superheroes


I’ve been fighting the flu this week, and I spent my sick day off watching a fantastic British television series called MISFITS, by creator and writer, Howard Overman.

Yeah, that’s right. Fourteen hours curled up in bed, watching a science fiction comedy-drama about a group of teenage juvenile delinquents who while doing community service get caught in an electrical storm and get SUPER POWERS.

After the first episode, I was hooked. The characters are uniquely flawed, sharp, witty and, okay, a little creepy. The characters powers are a reflection of their worst fears and insecurities--only majorly twisted. As the season progress, the characters evolve. What at first are flaws become their strengths. By the end of season two, I'd fallen in love with them.

I'll be honest, this show has bumped Buffy the Vampire Slayer out of it's long running position as my favorite comedy series. The lines are quick and witty. I laughed so hard I forgot I was sick. But this show is for mature audiences only (think Game of Thrones). No kiddies should be in the room when you're watching.

Season One and Two can be found on HULU,  The third season reportedly starts on October 30, 2011 on E4. I don't know if I get this station, but I plan to find out.

For a more indepth review, check out this review on Bleeding Cool.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WAITING STINKS!

I’m biting my nails.

I finished the rough draft of Djinni. Now, I’m waiting the prerequisite couple of month (which I can never get through without cheating) before I edit the manuscript. I thought I would do National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or Nano) in November as a way to keep my mind busy.

Which leads to my dilemma.

I have two stories that are vying for attention. Both are equally exciting and challenging. Either would stretch my writing skills and be a fun project. But there can be only one. Cue the Tina Turner in Thunderdome voice--TWO NANO PROJECTS ENTER, ONLY ONE LEAVES.

I’m leaning toward choosing the middle grade action adventure—think Goonies in the Hood. It’s called THE GOLDEN APPLE and is based off of a short story I wrote in college. It has a twelve-year-old boy protagonist and his friends who help him in his quest to find the golden apple.

Writing from his perspective and his voice will be a challenge. Also, I’ll have to dial back the horror a bit. Not much ‘cause it has giant spiders, mummy’s, cemeteries, fairies and magic swords. Oh, there might also be a dragon for my son. He’s obsessed with dragons right now. There's also gangbangers, drug addicts, and the love and strength only good friends bring to you when you're down and out.

The other story is YA, and it’s also a different sort of project for me in that it has four points of views--three boys and a girl. Which means four very different voices, personalities, and perspectives to experiment with. YAY! It’s a full blown horror; although, a bit tongue in cheek. I’m having fun with it as evidenced by my working title STINK. 'Nuff said.

Choosing the project is not the main issue. By November 1st, I imagine one of the projects will latch itself into my psyche like a sucker-jawed parasite and won’t let me go until it slurps my creativity dry.

No, I’m having a hard time waiting for the big day.

I wish instant gratification came in can, like cheese and whip cream. I could just eat it with crackers, or to save time, hold the nozzle over my mouth. Yeah, I really hate waiting. And to be perfectly honest, I highly doubt I’ll be able to withstand the temptation of dabbling.

Maybe for my Nano experience, I can just deduct the words I end up writing before the big day from the total word count at the end of the month. Or give up on Nano all together and do my own thing.

Well, okay then. I guess my problem has been resolved. Now that I’ve absolved my guilty conscience by busting myself out to everyone reading, I’m off to go write.

Monday, October 24, 2011

NO TOADS HAVE EVER DIED FROM BEING TOO FAT!

I finally gave up catching bugs for the Theo the toad. The weather changed, the pickings were slim, and I was sick of running around the yard with a jar and net every night. My neighbors were always very polite and asked after Theo, but whenever they walked off, I could see them shaking their heads.

Theo had grown large enough that he could eat small crickets, so I went to the local pet store. Small crickets are sold for 12 cents. Did everyone hear that...12 freaking cents. Good grief, if I'd known how cheap they were I would've gone there sooner. I bought a bag of thirty, thinking I'd feed Theo three a night.


Theo was one happy little toad. He finally had food that didn't try and fly away.

Apparently, crickets have a high mortality rate. Well, at least mine did. They started dying fairly quickly. I also have a feeling that crickets are cannibals just like tadpoles. There wasn't much left of their tiny carcasses when I did a body count the next morning. I decided it would be best to place a few extra crickets into Theo's bowl. I thought since his living quarters was more organic than a glass jar, the crickets survival rate might rise.

That night, I dropped six crickets inside his bowl. I figured he'd make them last, right.

The next morning, I looked in the bowl to see this bloated, waddling creature that only flinched when I poked him. Of course this freaked me out. I immediately put him back on a two cricket a day diet, but Kiwi told me, "Mama, no toads have ever died from being too fat."

I'm not sure where she came by this bit of logic, but if it's decreed by Kiwi, it must be so.

Theo- A bloated toad.

Monday, October 17, 2011

FRAK, STOP PUTTERING AROUND

For the last few weeks, I’ve done a lot of puttering around.

I like the way that sounds, puttering…

It’s not as controversial as the actual word I’m thinking and using it won’t make my kids banish me to the time-out chair for using inappropriate language. Always a plus in my book. Being a good role model means remember to use words like puttering or sugar, hot dog, holy cow, Dude…or my favorite, frak (the kids say they know what the BSG translation for that one means…bad Mommy).

Sorry, I’m rambling. I do that.

Back to my puttering, which included fiddling with my blog? Urgh. I think I've finally worked out the kinks—those hair pulling, hive inducing, screaming into my pillow, most frustrating idea ever issues.

Work has been super busy. It must be the crazy weather: hot, cold, sunny, pouring rain. It confuses the heck out of people, which means an increase in my workload. Once I get home the last thing I want to do is write so I've been avoiding my computer.

The new fall shows have started, and I’m all caught up on Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, and Secret Circle. I’m also addicted to a few more (The Walking Dead premiered on Sunday). I won’t waste space by detailing all my TV viewing vices. Thank goodness for DVR. I can watch my shows whenever I want and not take time away from writing.

This brings me back to my work-in-progress and the lack of effort I’ve put into finishing it. That’s actually where I am right now in the story. The last chapter. Or what I thought would be the last chapter when I started puttering around two weeks ago. I had the ending outlined in my head, but I couldn’t force myself write…The End. It didn’t feel right. I wasn’t completely invested in how the story would wrap up. So I procrastinated.

I thought about it. Daydreamed out multiple scenarios.

Luckily, I have a twenty minute commute home with nothing to worry about except whether the herd of buffalo broke through the fence and blocked the freeway again (I missed that major accident by an hour). This is the time of the day when my creativity flows without boundaries or the stressors of daily life. The idea for an alternate ending started to form, and I let it take its own shape and consistency.

Those of you who write know this feeling. The giddy relief when inspiration strikes. )

Whew.

The new ending is different from the one I had two weeks ago. It just goes to show how important it is to follow your instincts. I’d promised I’d finish by November 1st (#WIPFTW) and pushed myself toward that goal. But in trying to finish, I almost lost sight of where the story needed to go.

Live and learn, right.

So, I sat down to write it up and couldn’t do it. I waffled. I liked the idea of the new ending, but I couldn’t decide if I liked it better than the old one. So, I puttered around some more. Finally, I talked to my friend JAllen, and he suggested writing both endings. So, that’s what I’m doing. I’m hopeful that one will be more dynamic than the other and my decision on which one to use will be clear. If not, then I’ll let my critique partners take a vote and decide.

So I'm curious. How does inspiration strike you? Do you know how your book will end before you start writing, and then follow your strategically laid out plan all the way to the conclusion? Or does the story morph as you write? Do you ever dig yourself a plot hole then wonder how you will ever get out? And if you do, how do you find your answer?





Wednesday, October 12, 2011

KIWI'S COMIC CORNER


Kiwi Sandro
My beautiful daughter, Kiwi, is growing up guys.

I can't stop it. I wish I could. I still see her as a chubby-cheeked toddler. She's been pestering me for her own blog since 2007, when I started my Family History Blog.

Kiwi became entranced by the idea showcasing her writing and artwork. I kept putting her off by saying she needed to wait until she was older. With every birthday that rolled around, I’d get the same request. “Mama, can I have my blog now? Pleeeese?”

I have finally given in to the inevitable (plus,all the whining, pleading, and begging). We set up her blog over the weekend. She’s thrilled. I’m so excited for her. She’s a very talented 12-year-old. She wrote her first book in first grade--Magic Rainbow. By third grade, it had become a four book series and featured her own artwork. For her last birthday, we bought her a graphic's pad. I’m so proud of her accomplishments, and I'm glad she's not afraid to share her passion for the arts.

So, please, check out Kiwi’s Comic Corner. Leave a comment and follower her. She’ll be giddy with excitement to know that people are actually seeing her work.

Many thanks,

One proud, Mommy.

Monday, October 10, 2011

OUR BURNEY FALLS TRIP

It was the last week in September and I wanted a mini vacation before the summer ended. I planned the trip all week. We’d head up the mountains—a day trip to  McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. We’d do a little hiking. Maybe head down to the lake for a swim and picnic. It’d be brilliant.

We woke up early, dragged the kids out of bed and packed them into the car. The sky was overcast… full of mutinous gray storm clouds that mimicked my husband’s face when he realized we had a three hour drive ahead of us.

An hour into our drive it began to rain. When I say rain, I don’t mean a sprinkle or a drizzle. The sky opened up a washed away all the dirt that had accumulated on my car from my weekly commute to work.

I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked and, well, irritated. I mean what the heck? It’s Northern California. We don’t get rain in September, just scorching 100 degree temperatures that feel like your face is melting off even when standing in the shade. Luckily, I had grabbed a bunch of jackets for us just in case, because by golly, I refused to admit defeat by canceling our trip.

video
It was worth it.


We were all a little cranky by the time we arrived. One look at the falls changed all that. It was absolutely breathtaking. We walked the trail through the forest to the lake. It didn’t rain the whole time. It was a reminder of how beautiful our world is and how small a slice we get to see in our day to day lives. I'm glad my kids have this amazing memory of our family trip.
 McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park

Lake Britton

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bloggerly Opinions Needed

by Kiwi Sandro

UPDATE: After receiving a lot of wonderful advice, I have changed the blog back to my swamp photo to make it more reflective of JUJU'S CHILD. This is exactly how I picture the opening scene only with a Cyprus tree.

This morning Blogger had a new feature on my Dashboard. It asked if I wanted to try a new template. Hmm, try something new? Why not, I thought. So like a curious chimp, I started pressing buttons.

Half an hour later, I realized I'd totally ruined my blog. The formatting was off. I'd erased my swampy picture. I hated the new template. And worst of all, I didn't have a clue how to fix it.

An hour and a half later, inspiration struck.

Four hours later, this is the end product.

Do I like it?

Of course, I designed it. I used this picture my daughter had drawn for me on the computer for inspiration. After the dark colors of my old format, I think this is rather festive. However, what I think is pretty may not be practical. The object of the blog is to get people to stop by and read. That won’t happen if I scare you off.

So, I’m asking for opinions. A lot of you have beautiful blogs. What do you think? Is it alright? Too distracting?

So blinding it gave you a migraine just looking at it. Now you hate me?

Please let me know. I really appreciate any insight you have.
Thanks for your help.

P.S. If I haven't totally scared you off, and you're not a follower, please click on the follow link. Heck, even if you hate it, still clink on the follow link. I need all the constructive feedback I can get. I tally up the votes at the end of the week, then decide if it stays or goes.

P.P.S. Also, if anyone can teach me how to do those tabs at the top of the page, I’d be really appreciative.





Friday, September 16, 2011

Okay, I'm a tease.

To be fair, I did say the first chapter wouldn't be up long. To everyone who had the opportunity to read it, my thanks.

I want to give a shout out to my #WIPFTW buddies on Twitter. This wonderful group of writers came up with the idea, for those of us who needed a kick in the pants, to finish our work-in-progresses by November 1st.

I started Djinni in April, right after I finished Juju's Child. The main character Cairo has undergone quite a metamorphosis since the first chapter. She's matured from a slightly egocentric, spoiled brat into a layered and thoughtful character.

As I enter the final chapters of the manuscript, I'm quivering with excitement. I have no idea what's going to happen next. I have some idea, but this story tends to go off outline in pretty surprising ways. Luckily, I've always enjoyed the direction Cairo decides to go in.

I hope her character survives. Not everyone will (sorry Sarah, don't kill me)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Almost Dear John Letter To my Work-In-Progress

Dear W.I.P.,
I’m writing today to express my heartfelt apologies to you, my work-in-progress, Djinni. The beginning of our relationship started off rocky. I was at war with your protagonist. At the time, I feared we would never move past our differences to find a balance of mutual respect. However, with much effort we formed a bond, and we seemed to be heading into a mutually beneficial direction.

Now four months later, I realize that we haven’t been able to take our relationship to the next level. We have gotten stuck in the “friend zone” and have been unable to form a deeper union of—exclusivity.

While I feel you have many characters which I admire and respect. I feel our bond isn’t as strong as it should be given the amount of time we’ve spent together. This I fear is my fault. I know it is a clichรฉ to say, “It’s not you, it’s me,” but it is the truth. You are wonderful, dynamic, and possibly one of the best stories I’ve ever written.

Yet for all your wonderful attributes, I find I am unable to commit my heart and soul to just one manuscript at this time. To quote Sookie Stackhouse in Trueblood, “I love you both.”

For now I must be selfish and share my thoughts between you and your sibling work-in- progress, Hound of Annwyn. Who is in need of tender loving revision. I’m sorry I’m taking time away from you when you need me most. Please forgive me.

Your loving author,

Angie Sandro





Thursday, August 18, 2011

Novel Writing- Inspiration from my Family History

I once had a conversation with the amazing Mindy McGinnis, also affectionately known as BBC, regarding where we draw our inspiration. I was thrilled to find another genealogy enthusiast. See, the thing with genealogy is most people don’t find it inspiring—at all. More like the opposite. Dry and dusty. Boring. Too much work. Who cares about someone who’s dead?

Yeah, that’s how some of the family members I contacted for their family trees responded. Others didn’t bother responding at all. A small percentage—the cool ones in my opinion—are just as enthusiastic as I am, and they pulled out their family scrapbooks for me.

It takes a special (slightly obsessive) mind to enjoy the research involved in finding those hidden family stories. It’s like an Easter egg hunt. You never know if the eggs are gonna be rotten and stinky. But other times, the stories are beautiful and amazing, like my ggg grandfather who saved a drowning boy. The story of Uncle Alonzo who was interviewed by the newspaper at the age of 102 yrs, and he told how his family traveled from Illinois to Kansas by wagon train in 1880.

Talk about inspirational. When I thought up the plot for my manuscript, Juju’s Child, I'd been researching my father’s side of the family tree. My Louisiana Creole roots branched out quite a bit. I soaked up the culture and history, and included it in this this story. My ancestors spoke to me (I'm not crazy, talking to spirits or anything) through their marriage certificates, letters, actions. I'll tell ya, after learning about these amazing people who had the strength to travel across the ocean, to survive slavery, to educate their children—well, I how can I complain about my life. How can I not follow my dreams. It would be a betrayal of their pain and hardship. Of their love and hope for a better future for their descendants.

If you’re interested in learning more about genealogy, and how clueless I was when I started (yeah, it’s pretty funny in hindsight. Not so much at the time), please check out my Family History Blog. It you begin reading at the first post it chronicles my research journey. In the beginning, I was so stuck. Now have over 4,000 members on my family tree. I discovered my ancestors came from all over the world: America (Nansamond tribe), Cameroon, England, France, Italy, Germany, and Portugal (to name a few). Cool, huh!

I also have links to genealogy help websites. If you have any questions on how to start researching your own family trees, leave a comment, and I’ll be glad to help.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Year of Fun- August

Wow, summer is over.

My kids started school on Wednesday. I took my oldest to her first day of junior high. It took all my strength to let her climb out of the car by herself and watch her walk through the front doors. It’s the first time in her life that I didn’t walk her to her class on the first day, meet her teacher, and hang around watching her settle in through the window like a neurotic mommy. She’s my baby girl, and she’s growing up.

I almost made home before I started to cry. I was pretty proud of myself for holding it in. Plus the roads were full of other balling mommies also dropping their kids off. Not a safe driving environment. I almost took out a biker who kind of weaved into my lane. Normally, I’d be upset, but I understood how the woman felt. Been there.

For the next four hours, I ate a lot. I’m talking half a bag of sour cream and onion chips, two bowls of cereal, half a pack of beef jerky. I read a book, then bought another one (this time I made sure it had a substantial word count to tide me over) and glanced at the clock every ten minutes.

I arrived at her school fifteen minutes early.

When my daughter walked down the sidewalk and saw me waiting, she gave me a huge smile, waved, then yelled across the busy road, “OMG, Mama, ITWASSOGREAT!” 

At that precious moment, I let out all the air I’d been holding because I knew--my baby’s no longer a baby, but a tween. Help…

Friday, July 15, 2011

YEAR OF FUN- JULY and OPERATION AWESOME Interview with Kathleen Rushall

So you've probably noticed that I haven't posted in a while. Yeah, I know, bad Angie.
Okay, no! SCRATCH THAT. Not bad. Good. Very, very good.
This is the year of fun, and I promised myself that would enjoy my summer to the fullest.
And I am. Believe me. I've been a pool sitting, George R.R. Martin A Dance with Dragons reading, Trueblood watching, luxuriating in pure unadulterated laziness. And I love it.

However, I had to come out of my self-imposed isolation to give a shout-out to an amazing blog, OPERATION AWESOME and  Katrina L. Lantz for her interview with my equally awesome agent, Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

Kathleen was their July Secret Mystery Agent (lucky her, I'm so jealous), and she got to read some wonderful pitches. I have to say there were a couple that had me salivating with the desire to read these manuscripts--all hallmarks of a spot-on pitch.

My congrats and warm wishes to the winner and runner-ups. And to everyone who had the guts to put their pitches out there, ya'll are some brave souls. If you haven't checked out the pitches and interview, you're missing out so hop on over and prepare to be impressed.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tadpoles are Cannibals!

A couple of months ago the kids and I went huntin’. Yep, that’s right. We took our nets down to the local park, in the middle of our town, and found a pond. The water reached our ankles, smelled like rotten eggs, and the surface crawled with bugs. Little black dots swam along the edges—thousands of baby tadpoles.


I wasn’t sure what type of frogs or toads they’d become. But it didn’t really matter to the kids. They scooped their hands in the water (ugh, so nasty) and I ended up helping (even worse) and caught about eight tadpoles. We had a fish bowl at home and I, in my infinite wisdom (not), decided to let the kids learn about the life cycle of the frog.

Brilliant!

My daughter went online to research how to take care of the slimy, little critters. Youtube has lots of videos, and she learned what type of tadpoles we found and how to feed them. It turn out that toad tadpoles are black and shiny; a brown and slightly bigger tadpole that we thought might be a frog. The ginormous one the length of my pinky turned out to be a bullfrog tadpole, and it seemed sickly. It hadn't even tried to swim away when I scooped it up in the net.

Warning sign #1, ignored.

The next day, I came home from work and my daughter met me at the door with a smile.
"So," I said. "How are the tadpoles?"
"They're all alive. Even the sick one."
"Oh good." I smiled.
She nodded her head, grabbed my hand, and dragged me to her room. "See, all the other tadpoles are taking care of it. They keep cleaning it."
My stomach twisted. "Uh, no, baby. They're not cleaning it. They're...eating it. The tail half-chewed off."
Her eyes widened. "Oh. My. Gosh," she cried. "Mom, why didn't you tell me tadpoles are cannibals!"

The funeral was nice. We wished it well as we flushed what was left of it in the toilet, and consoled ourselves that the tadpole had been dying. We now knew the warning signs and wouldn't make the same mistake in the future. We'd learned our lesson.

The next biggest tadpole turned into a toad within a couple of weeks. Cute little thing. We put him in a separate fishbowl with lots of dirt, ivy vines, and fed him aphids. Which I ended up being the one responsible for catching since my son and daughter declared they were afraid of bugs (I'm a push-over). The other tadpoles were getting bigger, but not at the same rapid rate. They didn't even have legs yet.

The baby frog— I know, I said toad. I was so very wrong. Let me clarify—the baby tree frog grew rapidly with a steady diet of bugs. Then one day, I looked in the bowl and he was missing. Yikes! It happened the week my daughter went to camp so I had to break the news that her frog was on the loose somewhere in her bedroom. I think he fell back behind the dresser, which is too big for me to move.

Darn his little suckered feet. I'm hoping he's still alive, and we're just not seeing him because he's nocturnal, but I'm not holding out much hope.

Warning sign #2, not ignored.

I decided to take the rest of the tadpoles back to the pond so the kids could say goodbye and release them. They were getting too big for the bowl, and I worried they wouldn’t be getting enough oxygen, which turned out to be the cause of the Day of Mass Death a few days later. Unfortunately, the ‘pond’ had dried up, so, I guess I should call it a super, large puddle. All the tadpoles that had been in this body of water were dead. At the time, the kids and I consoled ourselves that we’d saved lives.

Sigh, the relief was short-lived.

About a week later, I woke up one morning to find all but one of the tadpoles dead. It had happened in the night. The water must have gone bad. The lone survivor had wriggled on top of a rock where it was half out of the water. He is the ultimate survivor and I love him so much.

He’s now my cute, little toad. And when I say mine, I mean MINE!

He may be in the kid’s room, but every night after the sun sets, I catch the bugs drawn to the front porch light or pluck aphids off my neighbors rosebushes (yeah, they think I’m a little odd now, shrug). Then I watch over my little Theo until he eats. He’s getting a little chunky and bumpy, but that’s okay. I think he's adorable. Look closely, at the middle of the picture. He's about the size of a penny in real life.


Oh, and don't worry, he's not dead. I touched him and he jumped off away from me.





Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Yesternight's Voyage Interview

Today I'm featured on Joyce Alton's blog, Yesternight's Voyage for my first interview--ever. It's pretty thrilling for me to have been asked, and terrifying to see the post on the blog of someone I consider both a mentor and a friend.

Many thanks to Joyce, aka Clippership, for her wisdom and kindness to a newbie writer. She took me under her sails during the Speculative Fiction Marathon (this year's marathon is in its first week, so if anyone would like to participate, the time is now) on Agent Query Connect and I've learned a ton from her over the last year.

So please take the opportunity to pop on over and scroll through the many writing gems she has posted.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Year of Fun--May (the month I found my dream agent, Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency)

May started off with a bang!

Some of you may remember my earlier post (rant) in which I designated 2011, The Year of Fun. I spent all  of 2010 writing, querying, being rejected by agents, and shelving two books. I despaired that I never would reach my goal. And boy, did I whine about it.

"Blah, blah, blah, I totally suck! I can’t do this!"

I vowed that for 2011 year, I would rediscover my passion for writing. I worked with my critique partners and finished JUJU’S CHILD. I came to adore the characters, setting, and plot. I had a blast writing this story. I decided to query agents, but not obsess over rejection. And if I found my dream agent—well, YAY!!

I finished Juju’s Child in February and sent out four test queries. The same day, I received a full and partial request. I panicked. My critique partners hadn’t finished the final edits. So busted. I threw myself upon their mercy, and Kate, Sarah, Carla, Bessie, and my dad helped me out by getting the critiques back within the week. Whew.

So, I now knew that my query letter worked, and again I have to say a big thank you to my critique partners, especially Deb who worked with me on it line by line. In the three months since I began querying agents, I received 9 full requests and 7 partials, and a whole lot of rejections. Doggone it, receiving those form letters or hearing crickets from the non-responders felt like my soul was being sucked out through my nose.

Once again, I toyed with putting aside my dream. But, the thing is, no matter how often the thought occurred to me to quit, I refused to give up on my dream. I kept querying agents and found Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency through Joyce Alton’s Yesternight's Voyage blog. In her interview with Monica B.W on the Love YA blog, Kathleen said,“Topics of particular interest to me include reincarnation, the occult, the supernatural (not in a zombie or vampire context, more psychic, or witchy, or fey), ghosts (a scary ghost story? yes, please), and psychology.” She also disclosed that her guilty pleasures are Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl. Her interests covered the plots of all three of my manuscripts.

Oh, yeah, I had to query her! Perfection.

I sent the query letter for Juju’s Child, and received a full request for the manuscript half an hour later. That night we emailed back and forth, and I fell deeper under her spell. I kept interrupting my husband’s Xbox experience to gush about this fabulous agent. Thank you my sweet, patient hubby.

The next morning, I went on a ten mile mountain bike ride. In the middle of the woods, I received THE CALL. I almost crashed my bike into a tree trying to dig my phone out of my tight bike shorts. Thankfully, I survived to hear Kathleen tell me that she loved Juju’s Child, and offered representation. I can't even describe how excited and humbled I felt. We had an even more lengthy discussion about revisions and our ideas for improving upon the existing story after I returned home. Her revision suggestions and mine meshed. I notified the other agents who were considering the manuscript and those that  I had queried, and informed them I would be making my decision in a week.

Which is today. So, I am pleased to officially announce that I  found my dream agent in Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary. Next week, I'll receive my agent's revision notes and the hard work begins. Thank you to all my friends and family. This day wouldn't have been possible without your support. I love you guys.

May is the best month, ever (singing the line like Sponge Bob Square Pants).









Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday the 13th--Curse of Blogger

Oh the pain. Crushed.

Apparently my Agent Story has been deleted due to technical difficulties, along with all the wonderful comments and congrats. If I'm lucky, it'll magically reappear the same way it disappeared.

I'm so sorry. I'll rewrite and repost at a later date.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Guest Post on Reads, Reviews, Recommends: The Anatomy of a Query Letter by Angie Sandro

Kate Evangelista, my awesome critique partner, asked me to write a Guest Post about query letters for her blog: Reads, Reviews, Recommends (if you haven’t checked out her blog, please do. It’s fantastic ‘cause she’s a blogging wizard, kinda like a female Harry Potter, so I guess she’d be Hermione).


Sorry, I'm still a little giddy. Refocusing.


At first I thought, NO WAY! I’m not an expert. How can I write a post about something that I’m still learning about myself?


I still remember how confused I was when I wrote my first query, oh so long ago, in a galaxy far, far away--called Clueless. I wrote a rambling two page letter that broke all the query rules: No hook, the book was 104,000 words and not complete, bah, I’m embarrassed to admit that I sent that piece of offal out to agents. At the time, I thought it was awesome. Then I found agentquery.com and learned how to properly format a query letter.


I learned because of the other members who gave their time to critique my query and show me where I went wrong. Most of the people who helped me weren’t query experts either. They passed along the information they learned to a newbie, and now I have a responsibility to pay it forward. Sharing and collaborating with others is the only way to learn and grow as a writer (my thanks to my awesome critique group for all your help with my queries).


Kate is one of the people who helped me out. I couldn’t say no to her request even though it filled me with nail biting terror. This morning, I open an email from Kate. All it said was, SURPRISE! And had the link to my post: The Anatomy of a Query Letter, da, da, duh, by Angie Sandro.


Thank you for such an amazing honor, Kate Evangelista, and for making me peek outside of my turtle shell and give back to our wonderful writing community.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My Game of Thrones Experience with the Kids in the House

After much anticipation the night arrived. I popped a bowl of popcorn, arranged my drink within easy reach, ushered the kids into their bedroom with the threat of losing all internet privileges if they stepped outside of the room, turned off the lights, and sat down to watch Game of Thrones in HD on our new flat screen. Decadent in the extreme.

So, wow! I loved Game of Thrones. They did a fantastic job of remaining true to the integrity of the book. I lost myself in the world HBO brought to life, and it didn't disappoint. The only thing that kept this from being the best series premiere watching night ever--my little angel.

Please, Lord. Help me survive the preteen years. I know it gets worse once they reach high school. I know, and I accepted this fact. But why didn't anyone warn me that the preteen girl-child can be just as stubborn. I know she gets it from someone--I blame my husband.

I'm pretty sure I forbade her from coming out of the room. I distinctly remember--upon pain of losing internet privileges--do not come into the living room. So why may I ask did end up yelling at my daughter (then feeling guilty when she looked so hurt, poor baby) when she came out of the room during and uncomfortable *cough* moment in the show to pet the dog.

                                          Catcher at 3 months old-2007

Really! Pet the dog. The show's only an hour, watch Netflix, play on the internet, entertain your little brother, read a book. Pet the dog after my show, please (because I don't want you scarred for life seeing people getting their heads chopped off and gutted. Let alone the graphic nudity).

Sigh. I took the kids to the park for the five hours to wear them out so I could have peace and quiet for one hour. Kids, love them to pieces, but they'll try and break you if they sense weakness. Guess they know which parent is the pushover in our family.

Wishing I could blame the husband for this one.

Friday, April 15, 2011

GAME OF THRONES


The wait is almost over. 2 Days, 11 hours, and 18 minutes until the season premiere of George R.R. Martin’s HBO series Game of Thrones. My hands are tingling, I’m giddy… so excited I can barely hold a thought that doesn’t pertain to how excited I am. I don’t think I’ve been this anxious about a series since the premiere of Trueblood (Season 4 begins June 26, 2011, and is loosely based on Charlaine Harris' book 4, Dead to the World).

So, my fellow George R.R. Martin fans--hang on. The dragons are coming.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

PROTAGONIST WAR


Prior to sitting down and writing, I outlined how I wanted to story to go. I’ve been writing the new manuscript for the last two weeks and it's been frustrating. I’ve done multiple rewrites of the first chapter, which is unusual. Typically, when I start a new manuscript the first hundred pages are easy to get down on paper. Not so this time. Why?

I’m at WAR with my protagonist!

It’s my own fault. I loved the protagonist from JUJU’S CHILD. Malaise was so easy going. She glided across the page like a ballet dancer, twisting and bending in whatever direction I wanted her story to go in. She spoiled me.

Tears well up in my eyes, as I cry, “I miss you, Mala. I’ll return soon for the sequel.”

Now, spotlight shifts onto Cairo, the most untrusting, unbending…how many more un’s do I need to tack on to properly describe this little brat. This character is fighting to keep me from getting to know her. I don’t even know what she looks like other than she’s tall, has a zit on her chin, and has curly black hair. Even that could be described better, but I really can’t visualize her. She’s not completely “real” yet (I’m not crazy, I know she’s a product of my imagination). I’ve barely scratched the surface of Cai's personality, other than to conclude she likes to do things her own way.

Sorta like me. Which makes me wonder what part of my subconsious is manifesting through this story?

So, here's what she did. Within four pages, she had totally deviated from the outline. Outline tossed in the trash! Waste of paper. Annoying, but...Cai has good instincts. The outline sucked. I couldn't see it at first, but now I do. I love the way the rewrites are coming along. My hope is that as I get further I get into the story the character will open like a little daisy--that she’ll be sweetness and light and our initial rivalry over the direction we want this story to go in will turn to mutual trust and cooperation.

Someday, I hope to say. Gosh, I love this character.

Has anyone else had this problem? I hope I’m not alone in having a difficult character ‘cause I’m feeling like I’m a little cuckoo for even writing this post.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April-Year of Fun

March is over--YAY!!

Between being sick and the constant rain, I spent most of March being stuck in the house. I used the opportunity to take a self-imposed vacation from writing and focused on reading some really excellent books instead.

This is my March reading list:

Every year, prior to the release of her newest book coming out, I reread Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series. I started with Guilty Pleasures and ended with book nineteen, Bullet. My favorites are Blue Moon and Incubus Dreams.

After learning that George R.R. Martin’s long awaited book A Dance with Dragons is coming out on July 12, 2011 and the HBO series A Game of Thrones airs April 17th, I decided to reread a Feast for Crows, the last book out in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. I think the last time I read the book was in 2008. I thoroughly enjoyed escaping into Mr. Martin’s world. Once I finished, I didn’t want to leave Westeros. The storyline is so intricate that I realized I had forgotten what happened in the preceding book, so I then read a Storm of Sword…etc. Yes, I ended up reading the entire series again—backwards. DOH. Craziness.

Next I read Jim Butcher’s Alera Codex series.
I’ve read all the Dresden books and love them. Of course. I happened to find book one Furies of Calderon on my book shelf. Maybe I bought the book or my husband did. I’m not sure, but I had never read it before. And like a surprise birthday party, WOW, loved the book and went through the entire six book series in a week

I’m a fast reader. Most books, I can read in a day, which drives my husband crazy. The above author’s have nice thick, meaty books that take me a couple of days to finish. I love that. Oh, and if anyone loves Charlaine Harris' books (my favorite is Dead to the World) and have been watching Trueblood, I found out some good news. This season will follow the book four plot in which Eric gets amnesia. I sure hope we get that shower scene!!! Check out this link. YUMMY.

Technically, with April, my self-imposed vacation is over. I’ve started working on my new YA story. It’s outlined and started a few pages, but I’m taking it slow. I don’t want to make the mistake I made last year, and spend my whole summer shut up in my office writing. I bought a laptop and I’ll use it to write at the pool instead.

Happy April, everyone.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Query Letter- JUJU'S CHILD

This is the pitch letter for Juju's Child, my debut New Adult novel, coming from Grand Central/Forever Yours. 



 Black mud oozes between my toes as I shift my weight and jerk on the rope, sending up a cloud of midges and the rotten-egg stench of stagnant swamp water…

Ripples undulate across the surface of the water, spreading in my direction. My breath catches, and I fumble for the knife. Those aren’t natural waves. Something’s beneath the surface. Something big. I jerk on my leg, panting. With each heave, I sink deeper, unable to break the suction holding me prisoner. If it was a gator I’d already be dead. But, I’m not. So what is it? Why hasn’t it attacked?

 

A flash of white from the corner of my eye—


When twenty-year-old Malaise LaCroix finds a dead girl floating in the bayou, she makes the mistake of reporting the murder to the police. She’s naive enough to think the girl’s parents will be grateful, but Mama warns her otherwise and hints at a darkness to come. Mala has always written off Mama’s interest in hoodoo as a quirk, more comical than some of her other habits. Unlike Mama, Mala thinks that believing in magic is for weak-minded fools. Until the dead girl starts haunting her.

The town believes that Mala’s great aunt was a New Orleans Hoodoo Queen, a descendent of the famous Seven Sisters. Cruel rumors have followed Mala her whole life, but now that she’s considered a suspect in the murder case, the rumors don’t seem so harmless. Even Landry, who’s had a crush on Mala for years, seems afraid to stray too close.

The girl’s desperate spirit needs Mala’s latent psychic gift, willing or not, to expose her murderer. And once the girl’s father, Reverend Prince, learns his daughter’s body has been drained of blood in what he assumes is a satanic ritual, he sets out on an old-fashioned witch-hunt. Mala knows the killer is still lurking nearby. To keep from becoming the murdered girl’s possession, or worse, Mala must accept the mysterious aspects of her family’s blood-stained hoodoo lineage. Landry proves to be an unlikely source of help. Trouble is, he seems to have his own agenda.
 


This is the query letter: 

When seventeen-year-old Malaise LaCroix finds a dead girl floating in the bayou, she crosses her mama by reporting the murder to the police. She’s naive enough to think the girl’s parents will be grateful, but Mama warns her otherwise. Of course, once folk start dying, Mala wishes she’d listened and left the girl for gator–bait.


Mala’s innocence becomes overshadowed by the pesky rumors that her aunt is an infamous New Orleans Hoodoo Queen and her mama can shrivel a guy's, well, man-parts. Even the boy Mala’s in love with is afraid to stray too close. Thing is, Mala thinks believing in magic is for weak-minded fools, until the dead girl starts haunting her.

The desperate spirit crushes the minds of those she influences and needs Mala’s latent psychic gift, willing or not, to expose her murderer. And once the girl’s father, Reverend Prince learns his daughter’s body has been drained of blood in what he assumes is a magical ritual, he sets out on an old-fashioned witch-hunt.

To keep from becoming the soul’s possession, or worse, being burned at the stake, Mala turns to the two guy’s whose own agendas don’t include helping an outcast such as herself—the cop she’s pined after since ninth grade that is investigating the murder and the ghost’s grief-crazed brother who uses Mala’s attraction to him as a weapon for revenge.

In JUJU'S CHILD, a 79,000 word young Southern Gothic, Mala Lacroix is a teenage, African-American Sookie Stackhouse who gets caught up with the supernatural--ghosts instead of vampires--romance and murder This manuscript was inspired by my rich, Louisiana Creole cultural heritage.







The Year of Fun-March

March has sorely tested my dedication to enjoying this year. I’ve spent half of it laid up in bed with bronchitis. I’ve barely touched the computer, except to check up on the queries I’ve sent out for Juju’s Child.

I discovered I made an amateur mistake on the first four pages of Juju’s Child. I had two agents request revisions due to those pages being more telling than showing.

Good grief! I knew better. It’s the first thing one learns when writing. Show Don’t Tell.

Thankfully, the agents were kind enough to point out my error. The first chapter has been revised, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. Now I’m getting requests off the query and sample pages. Yay!

The main thing I learned from my blunder is mistakes happen. They are unavoidable and you can’t beat yourself up for being human.

Learn and move on.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Psychic Journey-Revisted

So, I finished the first draft of JUJU’S Child (74,000 words), which is fantastic since for the last week, I've been fighting off some sort of ICK. I’d pulled on my big girl pants and had the flu shot back in October even though needles make me queasy, so I refuse to say that I’ve been down with the flu. That would negate the whole braving the flu shot thing. Regardless, of what I caught, it sucked me into a weird fever dream in which I was a cross between Laura Croft and Indiana Jones. Pretty cool dream—find the mystery artifact (which I never found) and kick the butts of the evil bad guys (which I kicked hard). I woke up in a pool of sweat since my fever broke and thought, whoa, didn’t I write something like this once.

I began PSYCHIC JOURNEY (silly title, so says the hubby) after graduating from college with a BA in Anthropology. I had also just gotten married, so I put grad school on hold to get some real world experience in my field of choice. For about a month, I worked for a Consulting Archeologist as he excavated a site in the Folsom, CA hills. The site was composed of prehistoric Native American artifacts: arrow heads, basalt and chert flakes, bedrock mortars, burned animal bones. The historic portion of the site was a ranch-building complex built in the 1850’s and destroyed by fire.

The rolling hills looked glorious in the spring. The wildflowers bloomed. Rattlesnakes basked on blue-green rocks. The dig site had been surrounded by a wire fence to keep out the roaming cows and horses, but the babies would stand by the fence and watch us as we worked. The place tapped into a part of my soul that believed in magic and my creativity flowed.

So did my nose. I have really bad allergies and I felt much like I did this weekend. Miserable. My dream job and I couldn’t enjoy it. Allergies stamped out my dream of being an Archeologist and once I finally gave in and accepted the fact that I would be a much happier, snot-free person if I worked indoors, I began working on a way to capture the feeling of being on a dig, particularly that dig.

Psychic Journey is the story of a Jurnee Fontaine, Consulting Archeologist who finds a rare artifact during her dig in the Folsom Hills. She accidently taps into the lines of magic traveling through the site and is transported back in time to 1868. With her knowledge of the future destruction and death of the inhabitants of the ranch in the same year that she finds herself in, Jurnee must somehow alter the course of history, or lose those she has come to love.

I loved this story when I started writing it. I love it now fifteen years later. The problem is that it is already 104,000 words and I never completed it. But, that darn fever gave me an idea. An idea that keeps wiggling in my brain and growing bigger….I have a new project to work on while Juju’s Child is being edited by the critique partners. YAY!!! I’ll keep you posted.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Year of Fun: January

Month One: Critique Partners

As I mentioned, my resolution for this year is to have fun as I evolve and grow as a writer. This comes about in many ways, but the main joy I have—other than writing a really tension filled scene or killing off one of my characters—is having others read my stories and reading fantastic stories in return.

Over the last year, I have been privileged enough to connect with some fantastic critique partners (a shout out to: Kate, Deb, Diana, Don, Sarah, Carla, Clipper, Margaret, Bessie, Jonathan, Dad, and Kiwi—yes, my little angel nitpicks my stories and for an eleven-year-old, she’s tough). I found my critique partners on agentqueryconnect.com. They live all over the world, from the Philippines to Canada and the U.S. and I love them to pieces. Each of my partners brings their unique perspective to the creative process, and I learn so much from them. I hope the feeling is mutual.

So this post is dedicated to them. I love you guys. Here’s to an exciting year.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR- Also dubbed, 2011, the Year of Fun!!

2010, the year I turned 38. I looked back on the last decade and wondered when the heck did I make the conscious choice to put aside my dream of becoming a published author. Then, I realized it hadn't been a conscious choice. I got married, started a family, and a full time job in a career I love. Writing took too much time. I forgot how much I love creating new worlds, characters that tend to take over and do their own things. I forgot how passionate--how obsessive writing makes me.

Yes, that's right, obsessive.

Pre-family (college) I'd spend ten to fourteen hours in front of the computer, lost in the lives of my creations. I didn't go anywhere. My friends, yes, I managed to keep some, had to drag me out of the house. The glazed look in my eyes as I sat in a corner at the club didn't come from partying too hard--nope, I was outlining my next chapter in my head. When lost to the creative muse, I was truly LOST. I'd forget to eat. Personal hygiene (what's a shower?). It's a miracle I managed to find a husband.

But, back then, writing made me deliriously happy.

Over the years, I tried to keep up with my writing. I have about six projects that I started when the kids were small, but never finishing them. One time-travel romance is 104,000 words. Whew, someday I'll go back and finish: cut the fat.

Then I turned 38, and had my 20 year high school reunion. Whoa, way to make a person take a good hard look at the direction their life had taken. I had everything I ever wanted-- so I couldn't complain too much or I'd look silly. But I still had my dream.

2010, the year I put myself on a deadline. Finish a book, find an agent, and get published before the big 40. Two years.

The biggest hurdle, finishing a book. Check. My husband suggested writing the ending first. Finally, I had a goal and didn't spin of on random tangents. I finished my first manuscript-a paranormal romance called DYING FOR A KISS. Started editing--kill me now! Who knew! Anyone who has ever edited their story knows what I'm talking about. Find good critique partners, buy a copy of Browne and King's "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" and a book on punctuation (still, suck at this). And study, study study.

I joined a couple of fantastic online sites for writers agentqueryconnect.com and querytracker.net. Learned how to write a query letter and the dreaded synopsis and started the long search for an agent. Meanwhile, I finished a second book, HOUND OF ANNWYN and started on a third, JUJU'S CHILD. I slowly came to realization, I'd become obsessive again. Whoops.

I'd gotten so wrapped up in finding an agent that I started getting stressed out. Writing became work, a chore that I had to complete.

So after a heart to heart talk with my fantastic critique partner, Kate Evangelista gave some sage advice and it led me to an epiphany--ha ha, Nip The Laughter.

2011 is the year when I write for fun. My resolution is to stop obsessing over finding an agent or getting published. If it comes, obviously I'll be happy. But I have great critique partners and friends and I'm doing what I love. Carpe Diem. I'm going to enjoy the art of creation while I have the chance and stop stressing over the future.

After all, I'm only 38, at least for seven more months.
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