Saturday, June 29, 2013

You Say Skitzo; I Say Adaptable

I sometimes think I am a little skitzo, at least in possession of multiple personality disorder, when it comes to my writing. But to not make too much light of the real problems – Schizophrenia and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which is what Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) is apparently called now – let us just say I am an adaptable writer.

In my career as a writer, I have written just about everything. All worth writing; some worth reading. I have written comic book dialogue as a young child, overly simple war stories as an older child, and my first stab at fiction – bad sci-fi with naughty bits – as adolescent. In the U.S. Navy, I wrote to keep from going nuts on those long days and nights at sea. Deep love letters to a girl whose name I cannot remember; my first short story, a very bad short story, which I still have a copy of; and other poetry and prose of varying degrees of quality.

Coming out of the military, I worked my way through college primarily as a technical writer, rewriting engineering manuals for naval weapons systems for a couple firms in Southern California. The most boring work I will ever do; worse than swabbing ship decks – at least when I was mopping salt water and worse off the metal floors of the U.S.S. Decatur I was outside in the fresh sea air. Government service technical writing was, for me, nothing short of suffocating.

Then came my first journalism effort, before I left SoCal, a story on how the fruit fly was messing with crops. And for the first time I knew I could make a boring story at least readable, and that someone would pay me for doing so.

Over the years since then, I have mostly worked in print journalism, but have done some marketing and PR, and even some sports information. I have also written a bunch and published a few creative things: a ghost story, a critical essay on Norman Mailer, a humorous piece of fiction focused on gay rights and Indian food (no, really). A few poems were put to paper as well, but mostly for my wife’s eyes only as part of an annual Valentine’s Day tradition.

I have half a bloody crime novel that I may finish someday; I have (and am trying to market) a series of short stories about real people you probably don’t know, and I am in the beginning stages of a novel about a sequel to “The Quiet Man’ (again; no, really).

I have made a little money off my creative writing; beer money I like to say. And I still have hopes of making a good chuck of change off the next great American novel, or at least a story HBO makes a movie out of. My bread and butter, however, has been made from print journalism.

And I like to think I can write anything, which brings us to that multiple personality or adaptable writer issue.
In the span of a couple weeks, I wrote three things that could not be more different, two of which made me a little money and the third with the (hopeful) future potential of doing so. For I wrote covered and wrote a high school girls’ lacrosse game story. For On-The-Town entertainment magazine, I wrote a story plugging a Grand Rapids restaurant. For my sanity, I wrote a passage in an in-work fiction novel set in Ireland.

If you are still reading, and at least mildly interested, following are links to those three works. Or just skip them and jump to my conclusion.

After writing that spectrum of things – as well as a poem about an Edward Hopper painting that is a story all by itself – I thought to myself: “Is it a good or bad thing that I try to write such different things?”
And the answer is: yes it is; no it’s not.

I guess my writer’s philosophy is simply this: Write every day. Write what is in front of you. Be willing to write what you are paid to write not always what you want to write.

While some might say that sounds a little skitzo, I say I am just adaptable.

Yes I am; no I’m not.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Busy, busy, busy....and a new release.

Finally some warm weather! Yay!! The month has been crazy between real estate nightmares and hassles with my formatter guy but one of the new books is out and the next one should be out soon. What sparked the idea for this was a three way conversation about why guys had all the best roles, why was he a beast? why couldn't SHE be the beast and it snowballed from there. At the time I was finishing Run-in With a Devil but this one nagged and whined until I gave in and wrote it. I will be at ThunderCon in Alpena July 20th & 21st at the mall, I will be right next to Sci-fi author Tom Sawyer. We went last year to support John Garavaglia, who does some killer artwork in his comics and Kurt Kulka (Cardinal Comics) will be on hand, so the event is shaping up quite well. I suppose I should add something useable, there's been other posts about how to do_____(fill in the blank) But instead, I will say, stop, get your hands dirty in the garden, take a breather and recharge.Now that it's a bit warmer, I have a ritual, I grab a lounge chair and a bottle of suntan lotion and a book from my favorite romance author- Stephanie Laurens, and a pitcher of something made with rum and sit outside. As I write this the hubs is in search of my chair. This year I have to add one, Christina Dodd has a new one, Oh,and really fab version of stonehenge in her backyard that her husband created for her.( Cue the awwww)Sometimes you just have to give your brain a break.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Stress Relief

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’m Lisa Orchard the Author of the Super Spies Mystery/Thriller Series. I’m here today to discuss stress relievers. That’s right, we all have stress in our lives and there’s some great ways to relieve it before it causes health problems.

The first thing I do when I’m experiencing stress is get up and move around. I don’t know about you, but if I keep all that frustration bottled up it just seems to build upon itself until everything is a frustration. Before that happens I get up and go for a run or a walk. If I’m frustrated with a scene in a book I’ll go for a run and usually by the time I get done I’ve got the problem resolved.

I also love to hike in the woods especially by myself. That way I don’t have to participate in conversations or be social. Communing with nature seems to bring out the deep thinker in me and I always find a sense of peace when I’m hiking.  I contemplate some of life’s bigger questions and I seem to find answers when I’m out there all alone.    

But what happens when it’s winter and you can’t get outside? Well…that’s when I pick up a book. That’s right reading a book is a great stress reliever. Have you ever noticed when you’re feeling overwhelmed if you pick up a book and get lost in its world you start to relax and your breathing returns to normal?

I’ve noticed that too. I’ve also noticed that after you read for a while and you’ve calmed down, the problem that was causing you so much stress is suddenly manageable.

So there you have it, two great ways to relieve stress that don’t cost an arm and a leg. And remember if your tween is experiencing stress these ideas will work for her too!

 I’ve  also gotten together with some other awesome authors and we’ve got some great tween reads on sale for $.99!  You can check them out at my blog.

You’ll find that the first two books in the Super Spies series are on sale along with some other great reads! So stop on by and check them out. Oh and just one more thing! The third book in the Super Spies series was just released! The cover and blurb are below!

Sarah Cole and her sister Lacey are at it once again when their missing parents' cell phone is traced to Alden, Michigan. When the FBI declines to continue the investigation, Sarah takes matters into her own hands. She calls upon the Super Spies and they delve into the situation. Suddenly the teens find themselves immersed in small town intrigue and mystery involving a menacing stranger, who Sarah dubs “The Stalker.” But when Sarah finds out he’s connected to her parents’ disappearance she’s determined to find out what that connection is. The Super Spies embark on a journey that leads them into a web of corporate corruption at its highest level that leaves innocent victims in its wake. Can the Super Spies stop the greedy corporation before it’s too late?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pride, Purple, Parties and Queens

June is the "official" month of nearly 40 special causes. My absolute favorite being GLBT Pride (and I think it's appropriate for being Iced Tea month as well).  I always wear something purple for Pride, both because it's my favorite color and because Pride seems to bring the purple out for everyone.

I love Pride events, I'm like a little "energy vampire" and soak up all the fun, zany energy that flies around the events. It gives me a great burst of writing energy and creativity.

This year, Grand Rapids had it's first Pride Parade, which happened to also be Father's Day, so I missed out on that festivitiy, but I did get to go to the PrideFest in downtown Grand Rapids. The crowd was wonderful, purple was everywhere, and the energy was phenomenal! I was happily surprised by the number of allies, and their families, mixed in with the crowd and being very respectful. There were no protestors this year, which was a very welcome change.

Pride is like one big party that lasts all day long, kind of like a mini Mardi Gras.  I saw dozens of rainbow tutus, there was a kids craft tent, loads of rainbows, lots of friendly dogs and even one pet goat. Yes, a real live, cute, cream colored goat! And like any party, there was lots of flirting among the crowd, a few happy drunks, and lots of load music with random dancing. In other words, my kind of party.

One of my primary characters also happens to be a Draq Queen and while watching this year's Drag show there was a non-stop commentary going through my head as i watched Queens dance, strut, look gorgeous, and make the crowd go wild. I just wish I could have jotted down all the ideas I was getting for my character, but I had friends to see and Queens to greet.

For a few friends and family, this was their first pride and it was fun to watch it through a newbie's eyes and see how the sheer color overload could get them into the spirit of things. As for me, I came back worn out, sunburnt, and full of new ideas to use in my story lines.

The challenge now is simply to find the time to write.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Climbing Heartbreak Hill is finally here!

by Joselyn Vaughn

Time to Celebrate!! Climbing Heartbreak Hill is now available!

Professional runner, Ryan Grant, blows out his knee training for another attempt at the Boston marathon and the dreaded Heartbreak Hill. Ryan retreats home, not looking for anything more than a fast recovery, but he finds solace in the arms of his tax preparer, Tara Mansfield.
Tara’s cheerleading career ended abruptly and she faces an upward climb beating the stereotype as dumb blonde in her new calling as an accountant. Framed with defrauding the IRS during the last weeks of the tax season, Tara’s tentative confidence is shaken, but Ryan coaches her in ensnaring the true perpetrator. She cheers him on in discovering his identity as a coach rather than an athlete.
With the help of the junkyard king and a mechanical bull, can Tara and Ryan find the courage to climb Heartbreak Hill together?

A portion of my proceeds from Climbing Heartbreak Hill will be donated to the One Fund Boston to help those injured at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. 

Buy Links:


Tara tapped her foot while Ryan settled in the tank and
others lined up behind her for their chance to dunk him. A dollar
for three throws at the target. Tara reached for her purse, then
changed her mind. She bent and picked up Ryan’s coat. After a
quick search of the pockets, she found his wallet. Unfortunately, it
was devoid of cash. She flipped it closed, then opened it again to
peek behind the credit cards. Ah-ha! An emergency twenty. She
kept cash hidden to use only for an emergency, too. She slid the bill
out of the pocket and crushed it in her fist. If she didn’t let off some
of this anger and disappointment, it would be an emergency.
She tossed the crumpled bill at the attendant and stepped up
to the line.
“How many throws?”
“All of them,” Tara said, holding her hand out for the
marred softball. She rubbed her fingers over the crusty leather and
stared at Ryan. A golden opportunity lost. She wound up and
chucked the ball. It went high and wide of the target. Someone
behind her made a remark about throwing like a girl. Ryan gave
her a thumbs-up. If he thought that was a good throw, he had another
thing coming. He should think twice about encouraging her. She
needed a couple throws to get warmed up. She grabbed the next
ball and wrapped her fingers around the seams.
“You should take the job,” she muttered as she let this one
fly. It dinged the corner of the target, but not hard enough to
trigger the release. The ball ricocheted off the tank, and Ryan
almost dunked himself when he flinched.
He might have said “what was that?” but Tara screwed up
her mouth and reached for another ball. She had been through
enough this week with the stress of tax season, Chuck’s demands,
and Ryan’s stupid, stupid obstinacy. “Lead me on, did you?” She
whipped the ball at the target. She missed again, this time nailing
the acrylic glass surround with a vicious thunk.
“Somebody’s got some anger issues,” the man behind her
said under his breath.
Tara snatched another ball and whirled around on her heels.
She shoved the ball under his nose. “Unless you want this ball
blocking your next sneeze, you’ll keep your comments to yourself.”
The man stepped back a full yard and put his hands up to
protect his ability to shoot germs from his nose.
“Thank you.” Tara pursed her lips and turned back to the
tank. She tightened her focus on the red bulls-eye. This time Ryan
was hers. She whipped the ball with a caveman-like growl.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Running to the Middle of the Road

I’m a mass of m’s (Doesn’t need the apostrophe but other wise you would think I’m a mass of misses.) I’m a middle of the roader. I was a middle child of boys that garnered attention for less than positive things. I live in the Midwest and Michigan in particular and proud of it and the state I live in. 

I was a reporter for a decade but only one a couple of awards and they were for group stories that were shared with others. The stories I liked to write the best were where I could tell someone’s whole story but that wasn’t possible in the rush to be first world.  I’m the workhorse that doesn’t want the credit. I want to do my job and am uncomfortable waving the banner that says: “Buy my book.”

So why did I become an author? The voices in my head refused to be silent any longer. I started my first novel while recovering from surgery and I was so bored, I couldn’t stand it. No lifting, no carrying anything, and no cleaning. Basically I as regulated to the couch in front of the TV and I hated it. After a couple of days of soaps and talk TV, I was becoming psychotic (remember I told you I heard voices.)

Then I remember I always wanted to write a novel and I might as well begin. So I did and before I knew it my recuperation period was over and my novel wasn’t done. I couldn’t finish it unless I changed my quiet days to nights and weekend and that is what I did. After realizing I wasn’t’ cut out to do romance, I settled on…you guessed it another M: Mystery. 

My main character is none other than Mitch Malone who is anonymously given a dog, Molly, in my most recent release, A Case of Volatile Deeds. Surprisingly for someone not interested in attention, my work has won a few awards and A Case of Hometown Blues, my third in the Mitch Malone Mysteries ,was a finalist for the 2012 Kiss of Death Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.  I also won a contest that resulted in getting my first book, A Case of Infatuation, published. 

Do you gravitate toward one letter? Or do you hate alliteration?

Award winning mystery author W.S. Gager has lived in Michigan for most of her life except when she was interviewing race car drivers or professional woman's golfers. She enjoyed the fast-paced life of a newspaper reporter until deciding to settle down and realized babies didn't adapt well to running down story details on deadline. Since then she honed her skills on other forms of writing before deciding to do what she always wanted with her life and that was to write mystery novels. Her main character is Mitch Malone who is an edgy crime-beat reporter always on the hunt for the next Pulitzer and won't let anyone stop him. Her third book, A CASE OF HOMETOWN BLUES, was a finalist in the 2012 Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. A CASE OF VOLATILE DEEDS, her fourth in the Mitch series was released in February

A Case of Volatile Deeds Link

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Summer Reading

By Patricia Kiyono

Summer vacation has always had the same significance for me as it did when I was a child. I guess it's because I became a teacher and still looked forward to the three months when I could do things I didn't have time for from September through May. Even now that I teach only part-time and my children are on their own, I live on a school schedule. There are no papers to grade, no lectures to prepare, and no grandkids to babysit on a regular basis.
So now that it's June, I'm all set for summertime mode, and that means I can start reading some of the books I've collected during the school year. What's on my reading list? Hundreds of books on my ipad, plus several paperbacks I picked up at the writing retreats and conferences. So I've got a plan for deciding which books are most likely to be read.
Although I understand the pleasure of reading an actual printed book, they are pretty low on my list, unless they are written by a favorite author. It seems that my reading time is often limited to short chunks of time - waiting in a doctor's office, waiting for my mom to get ready to go wherever I need to take her, or relaxing while my granddaughter takes her afternoon nap. Lots of times those chunks of down time are unexpected, and I can't always plan to have a book with me - but I've always got my phone, and I can read one of the hundreds of books I have downloaded. Digital books that I can access on my phone or ipad are most likely to get read. Next weekend I've got an eight hour train ride ahead of me, and I'm looking forward to reading at least a couple of books on my TBR pile.
At the top of my list are books written by GRRWG members. If you've read the emails and Facebook posts lately, you know that our group has been really prolific! I've also picked up a lot of free books, including the 56 titles offered in February at Astraea Press, and books I've won by entering various giveaways. So I definitely have a lot to choose from. After the GRRWG books, I'll start on those by other fellow AP writers.

Of course, I'll be writing. I need to finish a Christmas story by the end of July, and I'm working on sequels to two other books. But summertime means time to relax and enjoy life, and since I enjoy reading, I'm going to do more of it. Besides, what better way to get inspired to write my own stories?