cotcbook3

Call of the Canyon is now on Amazon with paperback still to follow. Second in my Young Adult series, Waiting for Dusk. There. I’m done advertising. Well, not really. I’ll give you a sneak peek of what’s to come.

Two Lives…
Two Worlds…
Heartbreak awaits.

Exciting, right? Well, you have to like young adult fiction and be into romance and fantasy and time travel. If not, that’s okay.

Writing comes easy. It’s the promotion that’s hard. Trust me, I know. I’m a reviewer, too, and I see all the emails that come into the website’s mailbox. I’ll share a few funny ones with you.

One person started his greeting with he’ll take any kind of review–good, bad or indifferent. What? Really? He’s been sitting in the queue for months; no one’s touching that one. Still there, as far as I know.  I wonder why? I want someone to wish with all their might for a good review. Be sure of themselves but just not over the top.

Another person almost made it to my review folder until I got to the bottom of the email and checked out his list of rules. Rules? You don’t give the reviewer rules! Sorry, back to the main list, let someone else deal with your rules if they want.

The “Hey, what’s happening? I have a good book for you to read” is also a turn-off. Remember when asking anyone to read your book, blog, news article, be respectful. The reviewer will appreciate it and give it proper consideration.

So I’m not going to ask you to read my book at all costs, even if it’s not your genre or interests you and may give it an indifferent review. I won’t give you rules or ask you what’s happening. I’ll just respectfully ask, if it interests you, please take a peek. And if you do, I say this with tongue-in-cheek humor; I may become your new favorite author.

Read more

 

four-seasons

An end of the summer chore—the closing of the pool. Always get a little tug of the heartstrings, a funny feeling in the pit of the stomach as I watch it happen. If you live wherever there are four seasons, you know what I mean.

People have their favorite seasons and I, like Kate in my series, like summer the best. Our reasons, though, are vastly different. Mine always signaled the end of a school year and some time to reflect before starting another. It was a gift I never took for granted. Hers indicated another year was to begin. Her life in 1927 was about to start again.

Funny how people look at the seasons differently. Some long for winter and the outdoor sports that come with it. Not me. Sledding was as far as I ever went that time of year. Fall is a favorite because of the beauty it represents. Some people drive miles to gaze at autumn foliage or plan vacations around it. Spring hints at new beginnings. The buds slowly appear on the branches and flowering trees burst on the scene.

When your favorite season ends, do you get that little tug? It’s over and you have to wait almost another year until it begins again. You have those three “other” seasons to get through.

This year I’ve made a pact with myself. Find something to love about each one. It’s not too hard with fall and spring given the reasons above. Those are my favorite parts. I don’t want to say the holidays for winter as I know many of you are thinking, because there’s a lot more days ahead after they end. I’m going to try hard to come up with something and when I do, I’ll let you know. It may not be until the dead of winter and I won’t be a happy camper.

For now, I’m going out on the deck and stare at the pool, covered over and waiting for winter. Probably dreading it just like I am.

 

 

 

Read more

working_class_heroThis post is dedicated to my fellow writers…whether you write novels, short stories, screen plays, blog or secretly write for yourself…don’t give up. I recently read a sad entry. An author with my same publisher blogged she would no longer write anymore of her series. Her words were from the heart and as I read I felt the pain.

She said she wasn’t in it for the money, she just wanted some interest. I think all writers feel that same way. You want someone to notice your work.

Before I read that post, I had begun to analyze this new world of books. So much is out there…self-published books, books with small press publishers and books with the big guys. The last group gets the most attention and publicity. The little guys struggle to get noticed.

When I started feeling sorry for myself, I thought about the entertainment industry. If you think about it, movies have just a handful of stars. Some of them make two or three films a year. Only those chosen few get to make the big blockbusters. Same goes for music or any creative art. These people are stars because of talent, word of mouth, being in the right place at the right time or just plain luck.

I decided the rest of us are working class heroes. We may have to try harder even though our work is just as good or better.

Creativity is a very solitary thing. You have to look inward to find it but maybe it’s time to look around. Let’s open our eyes. Yeah, I’m guilty of reading the next best seller or watching that blockbuster movie just like the next person.

I recently read some self-published books when I became a reviewer. I never would have if it wasn’t part of the job. Some of those books were quite good, others not so much but that’s how it is for everything, right? I’m glad I was exposed to something I never would have explored on my own. It’s encouraged me to explore some more.

I try to read other author friends’ books and support them. If I feel someone would enjoy those books, I recommend them. Just a drop in the bucket, but any drop will do.

So get the word out. Tell people about new or up-and-coming authors, a blog you like or a small play you went to. Browse the internet for on-line publishers and see what books they offer. Read book reviews of other bloggers and follow through on their recommendations.

Let’s not let another author who is talented and has much to give the world, give up. I know there’s too much information out there these days. We’re in an information overload society and I think we let the media tell us what’s good because it’s easy. We’re forgetting to think for ourselves.

We are the working class heroes and guess what? It’s a very large group. We could make a difference.

 

Read more

building-48624_1280

Even though I’m not returning, as a student or a teacher, a flood of emotions still overcomes me. Readying a classroom or getting new school clothes and supplies represented a fresh start, a new outlook.

A lot of young adult books take place in school. I wanted to break free of that in Waiting for Dusk but found I had to have some scenes take place there. Makes sense because of the age of the characters, but it’s also a place everyone’s been and can identify with—good or bad.

I had parents tell me they were nervous to come back to school even as adults and some would comment it still smells like school. Funny, I always thought that, too. School has a scent! Can’t describe it, but it does.

If I go way back, my fondest memory takes place in the school yard. While waiting for the bell to ring, I would trade baseball cards with the boys. Yep, back then, it was pretty much a boy’s club.

I loved baseball for as long as I can remember. My mom told me when I was just three or four, I’d ask her to throw the ball with me. I would tell her “You be Larry Doby, Mommy.”, my favorite player on the Cleveland Indians…may be dating myself a bit!

When I was older, I started buying my own baseball cards—wish I still had them.  Roger Maris, Rocky Colavito, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle to name just a few.

I was smart out in the old schoolyard. Trades were made fast and furious and someone would try to get the best of me. My first rule was to trade my doubles, then get a 2-for-1. Lessons were learned out there just as much as inside those school walls where we stood to make our deals.

I could go on and on about favorite teachers and what inspired me to choose that profession. I’ll save that for another time. This time of year is about nostalgia, a quick trip down memory lane. I hope you have a story tucked away in yours, maybe one that has nothing to do with “reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic”, but one that taught you a great lesson. One you’ve taken on your journey through life and remember fondly. Maybe it even happened back in the old schoolyard.

Remember the days of the old school yard

We used to laugh a lot.

Oh, don’t you remember the days of the old school yard.

-Cat Stevens

Read more

snoopy

 

I’m in the middle of edits for my second book. Since I don’t drink coffee or smoke cigarettes I can’t paint you a picture of my desk filled with those things. No coffee rings or a collection of half-filled mugs surround me. A cup of tea is more my style.

Writing is a lonely job, but when I start edits, it feels like someone else is now involved in my story. First instinct is to say, “How dare you?”  After careful consideration some suggestions make sense.

Writing is subjective. What one person loves, another may not. I recently had an author friend get a not-so-great review. She sent me an email to cry on my shoulder. She was hurt. We, authors, are sensitive souls and want everyone to love our work.

I read the review, and because it wasn’t about my book, I tried to find the positives…like in editing. There were a few comments that could be turned around into constructive criticism but I came to the conclusion the book wasn’t for this particular reader. It wasn’t her cup of tea. The author’s book has 20 other good reviews, so again, it’s subjective.

Editing has a place in all our lives. Sometimes we need someone to point out mistakes and we need to fix them. Sometimes, not. I think it’s how we go about it that makes the difference.

Funny how doing a simple thing like editing can make you start thinking about life in general. How you treat people. Is it okay to edit them? Sure, as long as we accept some editing in our own lives. It’s just how you go about it.

The next time you want to write an unkind review or critique a friend’s choices or give an opinion, you may want to edit that comment before it gets put out there in the world. It’s all in the way you say it. Look for the positive. You may make someone’s day.

Read more

beautiful-160154_1280

They start off in caterpillar form and are juicy dinner for birds, lizards and even small mammals. It’s amazing they make it to the next stage, forming a cocoon. They’re in that stage for about two weeks but have the ability to stay that way throughout the winter. The butterfly emerges as an entirely different creature than its caterpillar form.

When I taught third grade, we learned about the four stages of a butterfly as part of the science curriculum. My colleague and I worked as a team so we came up with the not-so-creative idea of folding a white sheet of paper into four parts and have the children label and draw in each square. Those would proudly be displayed on the wall outside our classrooms.

One day after school, she was hanging those designs titled Four Stages of a Butterfly so they would be ready for Open House the next night. I admired the works of art as I went along the hallway. Imagine my surprise when I came across one that said Four Stages of a Buttfly. We had a good laugh and she thanked me profusely for catching the mistake.

Butterflies have always been a part of my life, whether chasing them as a child or teaching about them at school. It’s not surprising they are now important in another way. I like to include them in my books because they’ve taken on a whole new meaning.

A Monarch visits almost every August on my birthday. I’ve come to believe it’s my dad stopping by with good wishes. A few times it didn’t come and that’s okay. It’s all in my mind anyway, right? How could something like that be true?

One year, after my birthday and no sighting, imagine my surprise when one flew right at my car’s windshield so I couldn’t miss seeing it. It was as if Dad was saying, “See, I didn’t forget.”

As a writer, I like to tuck things away in my books that others may discover and wonder if there’s a little significance to their find. Butterflies are one of those wonders. And now you know why.

Read more

dentist-158225_1280There’s a character in my book that needs to get put in his place. He’s handsome, popular and good at sports…feels entitled. You know the type. Something needs to be done to put him in his place. I’ll have to talk to the author.

I have my fair share of “getting put in your place” stories but I think you’ll enjoy the one I’m about to share, especially with “Back to School” right around the corner. It happened in my second grade classroom.

Being a young teacher, I was full of ideas. I liked to think I had the best lessons planned for the day and the children would always be captivated. It’s exciting when you see many hands in the air, asking questions and participating.

After one great lesson, in my opinion, a few hands shot in the air. I called on some of the children but noticed one in particular. The dark-haired little girl’s hand wiggled wildly and her eyes sparkled with excitement. I told myself that she really got something out of the lesson and couldn’t wait to hear her question.

When I called on her imagine my surprise when she asked, “Are those teeth?” She pointed to the long necklace dangling from my neck. In my defense, wearing a long string of beads was popular back then. They were a pale yellow of smooth, unusual shapes.

I looked down at the necklace and back up at her. Was she fixated on those the entire time? Did she hear any of the great lesson I just taught?

Oh. My. Gosh. I was just put in my place. And I had to laugh. We all began to laugh that day because it was funny. Did she get anything out of the lesson? Probably not.  Maybe getting put in your place once in awhile causes one to do a maintenance check. It was a great reminder. Sometimes we need to be put in our place.

I never wore those beads to school again. Every time I opened the drawer where I placed them, they seemed to be smiling up at me, winking as a reminder.

So what did I learn that day at school?

The first was a life lesson. Don’t ever get too full of yourself.

The second was a school lesson. Don’t ever think a lesson was absorbed into children’s minds in just one great lesson. It might take a lot of smaller, review sessions to  break through or finally sink in.

And last but not least the third and final lesson. Don’t take life too seriously because you may just miss the humor of it.

I learned a lot that day. Sometimes it’s okay to be put in your place. Plus it’s never too late to learn a valuable lesson, no matter how old you are.

Read more

Today I have a guest blogger. Caroline Andrus is the webmaster and artist  of Melange Books Publishing. I’m happy to be part of this great group of people. Caroline keeps everything running smoothly at Melange and Fire and Ice YA all the while being a busy wife and mother. I’ll let her tell you about it with the following post. Welcome, Caroline!eIMG_7833

“You continually impress me with your supermom like ways!”

I stared at my laptop in stunned silence.

This was the comment a friend had left on one of my Facebook status a couple of weeks ago. Me? Supermom? The post in question spoke of my completion of my Busy Mom’s Meal Swap meal for the month and contemplation of making “The World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies” to go with. To me, this was just a once a month event. For those who are not familiar with Meal Swap’s, it’s when a group of people meet up, each agreeing to make a bunch of the same meal and then meeting up again to exchange the meals so everyone gets something different. Sure takes some of the stress out of dinner!

But back to the matter at hand. I couldn’t help but wonder, did I give off the impression of being a supermom? I didn’t feel like it. Most days I feel like I’m barely keeping it together. I am a wife and mother to two little girls, ages 6 and almost 2.

I lost my full-time day job while I was pregnant with my second daughter and opted to just stay home for the most part. I hated missing out on my first daughter’s childhood because I worked from about 9:30 am and didn’t pick her up from Grandma’s until around 6 pm. Then she was in bed by about 7:30. It was rough. Now, being a work from home mom, I feel like I get less done around the house than before, but at least I get to see my kids!

A little background about my work. I am a Jack(ie?) of all Trades for Melange Books, LLC and it’s YA imprint Fire and Ice. I am the webmaster, head of the art department (aka book covers manager and artist), I run the blog, I load books to our website shopping cart, and I format and load books for Amazon Kindle and Smashwords.com…among other odd jobs that get thrown at me! On the weekends you can often find me working as a product demonstrator at Super Target. This is my one chance to get out of the house and interact with adults.

My typical day begins either with my 6 year old bursting into my room anywhere between 7 and 9 am, usually whining she can’t get the Wii to work OR on a good day, I wake between 8 and 9 when the little one wakes up in her crib. Regardless, unless there’s an emergency—which is rare—I don’t get up much earlier than around 9. Next up is breakfast for all three of us. Followed by dishes (I’m not an evening dishes person, I’d rather do them first thing in the morning.) Sometimes we’ll go outside and the girls will play and I’ll work in the garden, other times we’ll stay inside and I’ll get to work while the kids play. On an ideal day, my 6 year old gets to run down the road and play with our friends/neighbors. My biggest obstacle, believe it or not, is Facebook. Not only do I have my own personal Facebook account which sucks my life away, but I also have the Melange FB page to manage, the Fire and Ice FB page, my personal design FB page and I created a group to interact via FB with our authors and fellow staff members.

Somewhere during the day I try to find time to pick up the endless clutter that is overtaking my life. I try to get my 6 year old to do it, but she seems to think she’s getting a free ride and throws a conniption fit if I so much as ask her to pick up the granola bar wrapper that fell to the floor during her snack. You’d think I was asking her to clean the entire kitchen floor with a toothbrush the way she overreacts! We’re working on this, and as she gets older, I hope it gets easier. I also have to fit in laundry and figure out what the heck is for dinner. It’s an endless challenge.

In the evening, my husband comes home from work, we eat dinner and typically it’s about time for the girls to get to bed. We usually team up and each take one child. Regardless of which child I put to bed, once they’re tucked in and lights out, I spend the evening on the couch, working on my laptop (website, book covers, etc.) and listening to, “Mommmmmmyyyy! I need a drink of water!” or “Mommmmmyyyy! I need mommy snuggles!” or, my favorite, “Mommmmyyyy! I tried to fall asleep but it didn’t work.”

And so, when someone tells me I’m Supermom, I’m a little flabbergasted.

I struggle daily, balancing work and house and kids, but it’s a challenge that I enjoy.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

LINKS:

https://www.facebook.com/CarolineAndrusDesigns

https://www.facebook.com/MelangeBooksLLC

https://www.facebook.com/FireIceYA

Some of Caroline’s work:

WindShadowFinal2PhoenixElite1ImmortalConfessionsFINAL2

 

 

Read more

all-my-children

I’ve been asked if there’s a lot going on in my head and if it’s getting a little crowded in there. When you write books, people tend to ask things like that. They want to know where I got my ideas or how I can write an entire book.

The short answer is, “I don’t know!” That’s not the answer people want to hear so I will try my best to explain.

They are not books to me, they are my children. I send them out into the world and hope for the best, for everyone to like them and think I did a good job raising them. If I hear bad things about them, I get hurt feelings, but also look to how I can improve my skills as a parent. When I get compliments, I burst with pride.

These kids fight with me, sometimes I win and other times they get their way. I suggest a certain outcome and they insist on going in another direction. I may have plotted their course but they seem to have other plans. I hopefully will always know the beginning, middle and end but it’s the parts in between that make life interesting.

I say them when I talk about my books, even though I have an only child out there now. Soon more will join it, as recently as September and as late as next January. Am I nervous to send number two and three out there into the cold, cruel world? Absolutely. It’s just as nerve-wracking as the first time I sent my child out there on its own.

Will there be more beyond that, you ask? How can you fit any more into that brain of yours? Well, like any good parent, there’s always room for one more. I just hope everyone will keep enjoying all my children.

 

Read more

Do yprincess-and-the-peaou ever wake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep? Your mind is going ninety miles a minute? I used to dread when it happened and called it The Princess and the Pea syndrome.

You know the old story. A wife is needed for a prince and his mother piles stacks of mattresses on top of each other. Under the bottom one, she places a pea. If the girl feels the pea during the night, she’s the next princess!

The one, true princess finally comes to town and spends the night on the mattress tower. She, of course, cannot sleep because the pea keeps her awake all night. I wouldn’t have slept for fear of falling off the bed, but that’s another story.

So now you can see why I’ve labeled sleepless nights as The Princess and the Pea syndrome. If I tell my husband that, he immediately knows I tossed and turned all night.

Since I’ve started writing my mind wakes me up more than when I taught. Instead of labeling it a curse, I’ve decided to look at it as a blessing. It’s when I do my best thinking.

My husband informed me I should keep a pad and pencil under my bed to write my thoughts down so I don’t forget. Easy for him to say as he snores away and I’m searching for my glasses in the dark. Ever try to write in the dark? It looks like a five-year-olds, who’s just learning to write. It’s crooked, overlaps and is much larger than your usual printing.

So when I have to really write something, I slip into the bathroom, flip on the light, sit on the edge of the tub or pull down the toilet seat and begin to jot down my thoughts. In the morning I admonish myself for writing like I was still in the dark.

Usually the mind calms down after writing. I also remind myself that I can sleep in now, no more alarm clocks. Sometimes it works. Other times, I think someone snuck in while I was in the bathroom writing and stuck a pea…just one tiny little one…under my mattress.

Read more
Author Pic

Nancy Pennick wrote the young adult series, Waiting for Dusk, and is now working on her exciting new series, 29.

Learn more about Nancy

Recent Blog Posts