Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Inspiration on a Rainy Day

I may be a few hours late, but I wanted to take a few minutes and write. I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed the rain. There is something magical about the rain. Though it can be a pain, there can be something wonderful about it as well.

Also, if you haven't gotten a chance to check out Artprize, it is quite inspiring. Some of the artwork you see is breath-taking. And some of the artwork is interesting. :) But overall, it is very worthwhile to check out the designs, support our local artists, and enjoy Grand Rapids.

Lastly, inspiration is a wonderful thing. You never know what will inspire you, when you will be inspired, or how you will be inspired. Always keep your eyes open and your mind available to all sorts of possibilities. I'm learning, anything is possible.

Happy Day! Til next time.

(P.S. how do you post pictures on this site? I've wanted to post pictures several times and I can NEVER figure out how do to do. Also, I haven't been able to figure out how to write, save the writing, and have it post automatically on a certain day and time. Any tips?)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fancy a pomegrante?

The myth of Persephone has always been one of my favorites. It doesn't hurt that it involves pomegranates, one of my all time favorite foods. In fact, I love both the fruit and myth so much, I decided to do my own retelling of it.

Last month, Resplendence Publishing released my short story, Does Your Mother Know?

Here's one of the first reviews (4 hearts) from Sizzling Hot Books:

Does Your Mother Know is a quick read that steams the pages! Hades has been tormenting Persephone with these sensual dreams. The dreams quickly become a promise that must be fulfilled. It was hard for me to picture Hades as a hot guy at first. The Disney character kept popping up in my head, blue flame hair and all!! But once he created this romantic seduction scene and began to pleasure Persephone, I was the one on fire!

We don’t get a lot of extra information in Does Your Mother Know due to the shortness of the story. But the author’s words and description of the scene allow you to visualize it happening around you. If you enjoy a book filled with passion and romance, without all the extras, then read Does Your Mother Know. It will give you a different perspective on the story of Hades and Persephone. Just make sure you have a tall cold glass of water to cool you off!!

Here's the blurb:

Lured from the overprotective, controlling grasp of her mother, Persephone journeys to the Underworld to meet Hades—the sinister man who’s invaded her dreams. Dark and dangerous, he brings to life desires she didn’t know existed. But in satisfying the cravings of her flesh will she lose her soul?

Excerpt:

She walked away from the snug, stone cottage nestled in the valley. With each step, the weather grew colder. The leaves around her changed from soft greens to vibrant golds, burgundies and oranges, flaming brightly against the painfully blue sky. The sky faded as the dwelling became a tiny dot on the horizon. The blue, that once hurt to look at directly, darkened to a pewter gray as the leaves drifted from the trees, becoming dry and brittle before they even touched the ground.

Her mother was in fine form today. The more she raged, the more quickly the land died.

Persephone sighed. It didn’t change anything. The woman could throw as many tantrums as she liked, but Persephone had had enough. She loved her mother, of course, but she’d been held hostage to the woman’s unfulfilled dreams for too long. Just because Demeter chose to live a miserable, bitter existence didn’t mean she needed to trap her only child within it.

Persephone drew her cloak more tightly around her shoulders as she continued to push forward. The overly sweet, sickly scent of rotting apples filled the air, clinging to everything around her. She wouldn’t be surprised if the sheep, looking for shelter from the buffeting winds, reeked of the decaying fruit.

Dark storm clouds roiled overhead, throwing needle-like raindrops to the earth. Icy wetness seeped through the thin wool wrapping her body, and she shivered beneath the increasingly heavy weight. She could put a stop to this. If she returned home, all would be forgiven as if it had never happened. In fact, her mother would pretend it never had happened then light and warmth would return to the land. But Persephone was tired of being a captive in her own home. She wanted more than to tend the gardens and fruit trees. Her mother might be content to cut herself off from physical contact, but Persephone wasn’t.

She wanted things. Things she couldn’t even name. Dark things. Things that made her body ache with needs she couldn’t describe, let alone explain. Needs that kept her awake at night and distracted during the day. Needs that twisted her dreams into writhing, pulse-pounding visions of equal parts torment and ecstasy. Needs that became more pronounced every time she saw him. Needs that made her cross from the land of the living and into the dead.



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fall Inspiration

On Labor Day I went for a walk at Ludington State Park and took my camera. While my photos are still locked in my camera, I remember walking along the path, with my family and a very active imagination.

It was easy to imagine riders on horseback pounding through woods. Elven archers passing along the paths hoping to not be seen or bandits that are hiding along a bend in the path.

The walk was a great way to spend time with my family and rekindle my imagination and motivate me to get back to writing.

Caley.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Inner Demons

I think most writers have fought the battle. The internal battle. But I'd never thought much of it until now. I've been a practicing procrastinator for ten years and recently had the brilliant insight that I'd much rather be a writer than a procrastinator! However, there was a reason my procrastinator made himself at home- setting up his tent in my mental front yard. Annoying squatter!

I refer to them as my inner demons. Most everybody is familiar with them, but they seem to battle the most with Artists, or so that's my theory. These are the "voices", sometimes loud and sometimes faint that tell you you're not good enough, that your pride and joy piece of art actually sucks, that you're too slow, and that you aren't a "real" writer. (By the way what is a "real" writer? I have yet to met a fake writer!) These are the constant streams of thought, like a tape recording- running through your mind- sometimes without your awareness. These demons can be paralyzing and I have a sneaky suspicion, are largely responsible for writer's block.

So, as I'm making changes in my life, and starting to write again, I've found these demons resurfacing full force- willing to use biological warfare if needed.

I stare at a blank page.
"There's millions of writers out there. How can you even begin to compete?"
I start anyways.
"That sounds too professional, like you're at work. You've lost your creativity."
I sigh and try again.
"Your style needs adjusting. I'm bored of it."
I finish a page.
"What?!" it taunts. "You think you're the next Nora Roberts?"
That's it. I put it away and get a bowl of cookie dough ice cream.

Score 1 for the demons.
0 for me.
The problem? I BELIEVED those voices, demons, whatever you want to call them.

It was such a faint whisper, but a couple of weeks ago, right before joining GRRWG, I heard a refreshing new voice.
"Maybe you do have some potential as a writer."
It might not sound super positive, it's a bit tentative yet, but it felt like a flash of insight because I BELIEVED that statement.

I still have bad days and battle my inner demons. I still eat ice cream. But I also have a new belief to hold onto and the murmurs of positivity are growing louder, which breeds hope and self confidence. And of course it helps that I'm doing what I love!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Inspiration is all around me!

Lately I've been obsessing over vintage sewing machines.   I even picked up 4 more to work on, while restoring my grandmother's old Singer 15 (made in 1942).  During all this work, a new character quietly snuck into my mind...this time it's a male.  Big surprise for me!  All of primary characters to date have been female or gay men.  This guy's completely different. 

I'd been referring to him as "The Scot" as he sounds a bit like Sean Connery, but he had yet to reveal his name.  Then during a fun writing exercise at our last meeting, he finally "showed" himself to me.  I'd no idea what I was going to do with him, what he did for a living, or much other than that he's somewhere in his 70's, he's a widow, and he fixes vintage sewing machines.  (Which is a really big problem for me, because if I see something "pretty" that I like he has to chime in and encourage me to "save" it).

Thanks to the questions we had to answer during the writing excercise, I now know so much more about him.  How he was/is a spy for the US, helped out pre- and post- World War II, and how his enemies have not forgotten what he'd done to them or their families.  I know what his late wife looks like, how he still talks to her, and that his granddaughter will soon be wed.  I'm not sure yet, where the story is going, but the first part is rather interesting.  I think he'll be fun to write.

I also received some very helpful feedback on my first book.  It's exactly what I needed to hear, and I'm already looking at rewriting the first chapter, and huge parts of the first book to make it better for the readers.  While I've always known the whole story, I could never tell if it made sense to anyone else.  Maybe I'm weird, but I'm thrilled to be going back into Jess' first book and tearing it apart to make it better.  That's what I like about this group, it's more than just about how to get published, it's also about fine tuning the craft.

Our conference is just around the corner and I'm eager for it to get here!  I hope to come out with a head full of chaos, new ideas, and tips for making my writing better.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's My Birthday!

Normally I don't prepare anything special for my birthday and am disappointed when the day isn't even a normal day.  It's usually one of those days where everything is a little bit off.  The kids are crabbier. They have extra poopy diapers.  The dogs are whinier and everything that can have a bump in it will.

This year I'm attempting to avert that scenario. I'm going to celebrate and try to plan for good things, so the rest of it doesn't stand out. I'm having a party and you're all invited. I'm doing a big giveaway, so check out my blog for details. (http://joselynvaugh.blogspot.com)

And if worse comes to worse, Grandma and Grandpa are coming so I won't have to deal with the bumps alone.

Hope you have a great day.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Impact of a Day

Ten years ago a single day changed a generation. I’m torn between wanting to remember the heroes and victims of that day and not wanting to memorialize such an atrocious act of terrorism against our country. Of all days, today we took my mom to the airport for her return trip to Denver from Grand Rapids. A tiny thought crossed my mind, “what if …” and I immediately squashed any idea of something happening to a Frontier flight from Michigan to Colorado. What significance could an airplane full of ordinary people have in the eyes of terrorist history except for the extraordinary effect those ordinary people have in our lives? I still prayed for their safety.

Yet, there are lessons we can remember. We never know what will happen between the time we say good-bye to those whom we love and when we see them again. Seeing them at the end of the day, after work, at the bar, in the grocery store, in car-line … all this we take for granted.

I’ve been married twice. During those years – all seven of them – I remember arguments that lasted beyond good-nights and even good-byes. But after the tears and frustration, and underlying the conflict, flowed a river of love. Never in my angriest moment would I have wished for my husband to never cross my doorstep again.

There is always a place for apology and forgiveness and I pray that we search for it before closing the door behind someone we love, whether a husband or wife, child, brother, sister, friend, neighbor.

Make time to tell someone you love them, especially if you haven’t said it for awhile. If you need to apologize, believe that the rewards are greater than the hesitation.

We really don’t know what tomorrow holds. God willing, tomorrow will not bring tragedy, but let’s do what we can to be sure that the last thoughts someone has of us are of love, not anger.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Coming Out This Month!

As I wrote the title for this blog, I thought how appropriate to use 'Coming Out' in regards to my next release. Never Letting Go is truly a coming out story about best friends, Leila and Ree.

Never Letting Go
September 21

Blurb:
Ree has been Leila’s best friend since her first day of work at the nonprofit research organization five years ago. They bonded immediately with a mutual interest in science and technology, as well as shared addictions to chocolate and Thai food. Being in the minority in a male-dominated field made their friendship even more precious to Leila. She couldn’t risk losing her best friend by exploring this new desire, but as desperate feelings of something wonderful slipping out of her reach flooded through her, she wondered how she could ever let go.

Excerpt:

“Wait! I’m not dressed yet.” Leila used her elbow to keep the dressing room door closed while holding up the front of the purple strapless gown.

“What? You think you’ve got something I don’t?” her best friend Ree quipped as she pushed her way into the small changing room.

“Fine. Since you’re here, help me with this zipper.” Leila faced the mirror and watched Ree in the reflection.

Ree’s gaze slid over Leila’s exposed skin as she raised her hands to the small of Leila’s back. A shiver ran across Leila’s skin as she considered her friend’s eyes. Was there hunger in that look?

Slowly, Ree dragged the zipper up. “Lift your hair.” Her voice was husky and sent tingles swirling in Leila’s stomach.

Leila removed one hand from the front of the gown, tilted her head and swept her long black hair to the side. As she watched in the mirror, Ree bent forward. Her blonde hair tickled Leila’s shoulder as she brushed her lips across Leila’s bared neck.

Shocked, she froze as the sensation of both watching and feeling Ree’s kiss penetrated her brain. Before she could respond, Ree finished zipping the dress and stepped back as far as the tiny square room allowed.

With a half-smile, Ree stared at Leila’s reflection in the mirror. “You’re beautiful. Patrick is a lucky man.”

Leila’s gaze flicked from the aubergine dress that complemented her olive skin to Ree’s face. Sadness swamped her. She didn’t want to wear this dress for Patrick, or for any man. She wanted to wear it for Ree, to see the appreciation that now shone in Ree’s eyes as she spun around the dance floor with her best friend. They’d make a striking couple with Ree’s fair coloring and Leila’s darker looks.

She swallowed the words she wished she had the nerve to utter. Instead, she said, “Are you bringing Tony to the charity ball?”

Ree shrugged. “I might go solo this year.”

Solo? Maybe it was time to finally set Patrick adrift if Ree was willing to take that step with Tony. They’d both been dating their men about the same length of time, nearly four months, and for the past three months, Leila had known Patrick wasn’t her one true love.

Leila turned to face her friend. For a moment, she allowed her thoughts to fly free as she lost herself in Ree’s sky blue eyes. How wonderful would it feel to surrender to this magnetism and give herself to Ree?

Then reality grounded her as she thought about what the stodgy conservatives from their office would say about two female employees attending their biggest fundraiser of the year as a couple.


Print on Demand Help

Ok, I am trying to figure out which is the best route to go in order to get my childrens books published.  I had submitted my books to 4 publishers and all of them have been rejected.  My pictures are a bit elementary - so not sure if that was an issue or not.  However, they are childrens books.  I am thinking that going "print on demand" would be a better route to take, especially since I do not have an agent.  What are the options of who is the best?  And what are the what not to do's?  Any advice would be very helpful.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor of Love for Writer

I hope you are enjoying your Labor Day. My labor will be one that I love. I’m taking a much needed break with my family but also working on my next book. At least that is my plan…

I’m cheating and writing this ahead because I will be on Drummond Island for the weekend and internet access will be doubtful. I’m combining this family time with research for my fifth book which will take place on the rural island filled with wildlife in Lake Huron. (Book 3, A CASE OF HOMETOWN BLUES came out last month) My crime reporting sleuth, Mitch Malone, will be taking vacation in this book but haven’t decided if it is forced upon him or not. Details of the book are still sketchy but will open with a body washing up on the rocky beach near where Mitch is staying. Smuggling will play a part in it but what contraband you will have to wait and see. (I haven’t decided yet. I’m waffling between using all the detail I learned about jewels over spring break and a big smuggling problem in Michigan with its sin tax. ) I don’t have all the details yet. I start with a very basic idea then the characters hijack me and take over. We will have to see what Mitch finds. Maybe it will be both.

Weather for the weekend has some rain and I’m hoping for a storm. I want to see how it blows up and what it looks like on the lake. I can picture that opening scene and a storm will be blowing in when Mitch literally stumbles over the body. If not, I might have to plan another trip. Isn’t that a terrible work-related job! Enjoy your Labor Day!

W.S. Gager
www.wsgager.blogspot.com

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Are you still here?

A few days ago I posted on my FB status: "The last week of summer vacation is like the last week of pregnancy...you just want them to get the hell out." And boy, I must have hit a common nerve for Moms! I had over 25 people Like or comment on that post.

Really, I should feel a little bad about that post because my boys are actually awesome. They almost never fight. They can feed themselves (mostly). They entertain themselves with the TV, computer games, Wii, reading!, and playing outside with friends. So why the FB post?

Because I'm ready for change.

I'm the type of person who craves changes. I stagnate when my schedule remains constant for too long. I start to feel itchy in my skin and lethargic, losing my desire to be creative or productive. I NEED change in my life, which makes working a regular 9 to 5 office job make me feel suicidal. Fortunately, my hubby loves to go to work consistently everyday while I get to do a variety of part-time entrepreneurial endeavors to add the decorative icing to our financial cake.

My latest endeavor is returning to teaching as an Adjunct at a local community college. I'm absolutely thrilled to be returning to the classroom. And get this! The two classes I'll be teaching are on the condensed schedule. Instead of regular 15 week classes, I get to teach 12 week classes! The perfect arrangement for someone like me who is "regular schedule-challenged".

So I'm definitely ready for a change in seasons, not that I want the temperatures to get any cooler though. That's one thing that I wish would stay at a constant 75 degrees.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Dog Days of Summer Gone For Another Year

Posted for Peggy Hanchar

Wow I can’t believe we’re back to September already. Summer is literally gone. In a few days the kids will go back to school, if they haven’t already, the trees will begin to turn, the final flowers in their bed will wither and die. The boat has to be taken out of the water, the dock brought in, the patio furniture stored. The pace of life seems to quicken. We begin to plan ahead.
Somehow to me, this seems like the start of the New Year! I assess what has happened so far and what I’d like to happen in the coming months. These thoughts used to center around my family and in many ways they still do. But they also have to do with my writing. Yes, I’m looking forward to long uninterrupted mornings when I can get my writing quota in. More than that, I become more active. I’m especially open to new things in the air, as I suspect most of us are. First of all there’s that age-old need to harvest the produce of God’s green earth. Apples and pumpkins and squash. The need to make a display as small as a dining room table offering to something at the end of the drive around the mailbox of pretty squashes, fallen leaves, Indian corn and even bales of hay and cornstalks and scarecrows.
These things add to my feeling of well-being. All is right with the world. There’s a rhythm in the early fall that reassures. It brings a contentment different from that felt at any other season. So I do count my blessings. I look ahead to how I’ll spend those long dry fall days, of what I’ll do on the first snowfall, (make soup of course and home-made bread).
August for all its dog days was an amazing month for me. I got a fantastic cover on my last From the Sea Series, ENCHANTED ISLAND and I finished the second in my Taste of Darkness Series, DARK SECRETS. I got a new knee, met a deadline on completing my last book and sold enough books to keep me happily at my computer for months ahead. My plans for the coming months are to enjoy the beauty of a Michigan fall, get another new knee, write like crazy and meet the deadlines I’ve set for myself, try to lose ten pounds, do more to promo my books and enjoy the sweetness of life. I hope all of you have similar plans. I hope you’re feeling the joy of being alive! Because after the dog days of August, this is a special time~

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Goodbye, Summer

It's Back-to-School month, and again I'm gearing up for another semester. I'm reviewing my text, typing up my syllabus, and looking over my class lists. My job as an adjunct professor allows me to have more time to write in the summer (especially since my kids are grown), and it's been a very productive summer for me. I got one manuscript published and another one is almost ready to submit!

But now that I'll be preparing lectures and grading papers, how am I going to keep the momentum going? I'm getting a little worried, especially because I started another project that I hope to finish by the end of October. And the novel I started six years ago is almost ready to start editing. So what am I going to do?

I guess the first thing is to prioritize. I've attended workshops on time management. I know what I have to do. I just have to do them! I really don't need to check facebook every hour to find out what everyone else is doing. I don't need to play word games on my phone. And I REALLY don't need another snack.

So now I'm going to have less "free" time. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that having more to do doesn't mean I'm less able to do the things I really want to do. Sometimes I can multi-task. For example, when I'm walking with my friend, I can get her input on plotting problems, or character development. She actually helped me come up with a title! And sometimes, having less time actually makes me work faster! If I know I've only got a half hour to write, I'll churn out a scene or a chunk of dialogue. I might not use it, but it helps me get to know the character.

How do you fit writing in with your busy schedules? I know some people record their ideas in notebooks, on their smart phones, or on sticky notes. Some people get up before dawn to write while their families are still asleep (I prefer to stay up late). Some people spend chunks of time plotting and planning so that the writing is just a matter of "putting it all together" like a research paper.

Whatever your method, I think the key is to make it a habit. Something that you HAVE to do rather than WANT to do. My way of doing this is by writing every day at 750words.com where I can keep track of how many days in a row I've written (it's amazing how motivated I am by these little badges given out for different milestones) as well as how fast, and how often I'm distracted. Once in a great while I forget to go to the website and write. And then I have to start all over. Bummer. So I start again, determined to break my record of 150 days in a row!

I guess this is my September resolution (who needs to wait until January?): I WILL CONTINUE TO WRITE, no matter how busy I get. I'll be back next month to tell you how it goes.