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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Descriptive Writing Activity

If you are a writer looking to develop your description-writing skills, I just contributed a guest blog to Indie Author Culture Corner. It's a fun and easy activity that anyone can do. Click -->here<-- if you're interested!


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Three Thoughts on Exiting 2012

Picture taken at Trinity University
The end of 2012 is upon us, and inevitably, just like the end of every year, I find myself deep in thought. It's that annual time to go deep inside of myself and come to some conclusions about life. I've decided to share three main thoughts of mine upon exiting 2012:

#1) A charming personality is not the same thing as good character. The older I get, the less I care to have relationships with alluring but fickle people who have no depth, and the more I want to get to know those quiet souls who may seem reserved on the outside but who hold a great wealth of wisdom and integrity inside of them.

#2) I don't want to write anything but what I love to write. I've toyed around with a number of different genres over the past couple of years, and one of my goals for 2012 was to figure out which one I wanted to stick with. Turns out, it's the very thing I started writing back in high school: speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, and horror) and every now and then, pen some creative non-fiction. I enjoy stories that are different, stories that are a bit fantastical, stories that may be a little dark. So that's what I need to write. And if that doesn't sell a million copies because it's not popular pulp fiction, so be it. I'm just not cut out to write just for the money, and it's good knowing that.

#3) A good diet is something I want to incorporate for the rest of my life. The benefits of eating well are astounding when they come to overall health. During 2012, I challenged myself to eat more fish and less red meat, consume more dark chocolate and less pastries, drink more green tea and coconut water and less alcohol, etc. Not only have these changes kept me at a weight which I like, I also haven't gotten sick but maybe twice the entire year--and the episodes were very short-lived. I want to continue my "healthy eating habits," as Mom calls it, and save myself from bouts of indigestion every other day.


Now, let me ask you: what thoughts do you have of 2012 as we enter into a new year? Comments always welcome.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A White Christmas for North Texas!



I hope everyone had a very nice Christmas and at the very least got to talk to someone they love, eat some favorite food, or in my case, experience the first snow of the season! It very rarely snows here in Texas on Christmas Day, so it was a real treat to watch the huge flakes floating down from the sky as we ate some excellent home-made chicken fried steak at Drew's grandmother's house.

There are still a number of friends and family I still need to see, and I'll be "making the rounds" probably through half of January because as many of you know, my day job work schedule picks up when you go on vacation, making me a busy girl.

But now that Christmas is technically over, I am looking forward to my favorite holiday, (second only to Halloween), and that is New Year's Eve. I use it as a day to celebrate and reflect on accomplishments of the past year, including what goals I may have met. I also think on mistakes I may have made, and what I have learned from the experiences. And I set goals for the next year. So expect a post soon on that.

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your break if you get one! And oh! If you got a new Kindle or Nook e-reader, please take a look at my offerings in the sidebar to the right or in the "My Books" tab at the top of this blog. I write what's called "speculative fiction," which is a blanket term for Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Horror stories. Everything I have out right now ranges from about $2.99 to $5.99, so it's a good bargain.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Best 2012 Christmas Present *Given*

I don't know about you, but I enjoy finding the "perfect" surprise present for people almost as much as receiving such a gift. Every year, for Christmas or birthday, I usually manage to come across something that I know one of my friends or family will really enjoy, no doubts about it. Sometimes I even let my creativity soar and "make" the gift, whether it's writing someone a story or putting together a themed "survival kit"

This year, the Best Present Given went to my step-dad Stephen. Back in October, I found him this Pink Floyd jigsaw puzzle at a record store in Austin. Not only is Pink Floyd his favorite band ever, he also really digs jigsaw puzzles.


And he's usually a total Scrooge! 



Other highlights from Christmas with my family include letting my adopted sis Natalie help with the chicken spaghetti...






...and also laughing at my mother when she didn't watch the scary Joker parts on The Dark Knight:




Sometimes I wonder, having such a sweet little mother, where in the world did I get my sometimes dark and twisted imagination?



Merry Christmas, everybody!




Saturday, December 22, 2012

Experiencing 'The Hobbit'

Today I went to see The Hobbit. I was more than a little excited because one of the people who watched it with me (in addition to my sweet husband and cool dad) was my brother Clark. Now, for those of you not familiar with this brother/sister tradition, Clark and I went to see The Fellowship of the Ring together when it first came out more than 10 years ago. We also saw The Two Towers and Return of the King together at the midnight showings. So naturally, we had to see The Hobbit together for old time's sake.

(Note: Misty, if you're reading this, I wish you could have also been there. We missed you!)


Here we are again, bro & sis, a decade after seeing Fellowship together.


I remember right after watching The Fellowship of the Ring those 11 or so years ago, the high-school versions of Clark and myself had to walk home from the mall because my Buick wouldn't start. All the way home in the cold and rain, we played make-believe like we were kids in order to entertain ourselves. He was Gandalf, and I was Frodo.

"Gandalf!" I'd say with chattering teeth as my feet went numb from the miles of walking. (Literally miles--we didn't have cell phones then to call anyone to come get us because not everyone carried them at that time.) "Are we ever going to make it back to The Shire? My toes ache!"

"Stop your belly-aching, you fool," he'd reply in a perfect Ian McKellen voice. "Just follow me and keep up. Don't dawdle now!"

Thus began the spark of creativity we'd use to make our parodies...

I eventually acquired the soundtrack to Fellowship, and one night, he and I were listening to it, and he started reciting lines from the movie. I got the idea to grab the tape recorder because his impressions were good. He continued doing all the voices, but in a sort of Saturday Night Live spoof version of the scenes, to all the tracks on the CD, and I recorded him, trying and failing to hold back my laughter. I still have the cassette tapes, though what shape they're in I'm not sure... Those parodies were funny as heck!!

Anyway, so fast-forwarding back to 2012. Today, we have gone from being high school students living with our dad, to being "grown-ups" with kids (in his case) and a husband and dog (in my case) and having our own separate homes and jobs and lives. My how time flies. But experiencing the movie was still just as fun...

So what did I think of the movie, you're probably wondering?

Well, I found myself wanting to play make-believe at the end of the film just as much as ever. It was an amazing adaptation, more than I could have dreamed. The world was so perfectly created, a visual feast. I enjoyed seeing familiar characters as well as new, and the same went for the music: some familiar melodies mixed in with lovely new themes. Bilbo was charming (I really want to live in his house and have some of his cheese and wine). I loved the Dwarves--if there are any people I'd love to party with, it's those guys! It was great seeing Gandalf again, almost like he was an old friend. The story is basically Fantasy at its finest. No predictability. No hokey romance to help it sell. Just a pure, honest adventure and beautifully done.

The Hobbit was one of the first real novels I ever remember reading as a child. It's probably the first that I ever got "sucked into" like a magical, mental vortex. Clark told me tonight that he remembers listening to me read the book to him when we were kids, though I can't recall doing that. I might have done it though. Funny the different things our individual memories hang onto.

But back to the movie: the good thing about a movie like this is it truly does transport me to another world and makes me feel like an excited kid again. It ignites my creativity in a way that makes me itch to write. It makes me want to go play in a forest and pretend I'm a Hobbit or a Dwarf or an Elf and have an adventure of my own. It brings back good memories with my brother, whom I don't get to see very much these days because our lives have taken us in separate directions.

The downside of a movie like this is that it has to end... I have to return to mundane, disappointing, frustrating "real life." And as much as it inspires my creativity, it also throws me into despair because I start to wonder what is the point of writing anything when it'd be impossible to even come close to creating a masterpiece like that?

**SIGH**

Oh, who cares about the downside.

I'm ready to go see it again.

*****

Add C.J. Sullivan's books to your library. -->Shop here!<--

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

You Shouldn't Own a Dog If...

Hey, you all know about my little guy, Kaiser, right?




He's the first dog that I've owned outside of having a family dog. That's right. Before I got married, it was just Kaiser and I. As a present for graduating from college and moving into my very own little rent house, my mother let me pick him out of her mini-dachshund's litter. I chose Kasier. He was freakishly big compared to the others, but he was also the one who was the biggest wimp. I felt sorry for him. He was so awkward but so cute.

Anyway, after owning Kaiser for 5 years (and during that time, working for a vet and later for a pet resort,) I have come to the conclusion that many dog owners shouldn't own dogs. A reminder of this hit me this morning when I was out taking Kaiser for a walk and saw our neighbor's dog tethered to a tree. Oh, and by the way, the owners were nowhere in sight. UGH! Irresponsible much? Not only could that dog strangle itself and die, it could also break free and hurt someone, including itself. It was annoyingly trying to attack us but couldn't reach, and we still had to go to the other side of the street to get away from it. 

So that brings me to the title of my blog. Let me know if you agree with these. 


You Shouldn't Own a Dog If...


#1) You tether your dog to a tree, pole, or anything other than YOURSELF (and that should only be during a walk).


#2) You don't bother to get your dogs vaccinated with the basic shots, such as the parvo preventative and rabies preventative. (Speaking from experience, treating puppies who get parvo doesn't always work, and administering all the fluids with that giant needle through the belly is especially traumatic on the little baby dogs. But the illness can be avoided so easily.)


#3) You don't use flea and tick prevention on your dog. (Umm...yuck.)


#4) You don't give your dog a heartworm preventative. (When your dog gets heartworm via a mosquito bite, the no-guarantee treatment is super expensive. Plus, how would you like your heart to be eaten through with worms?)


#5) You underfeed or way overfeed your dog. (You don't want your dog to starve. On the flip side, dog obesity puts your pet at risk for the same diseases as obese people, for instance, diabetes.)


#6) You feed your dog a dangerous amount of table scraps that are toxic for canines. (If you're curious about what food is dangerous to give your dog, click -->here<--.)


#7) You have no extra time in your day to give to your dog and end up depriving it of any attention. (They get lonely just like people do.)


#8) You physically abuse your dog. (That one's a major "Duh.")


#9) You don't fix your fence, and your dog repeatedly gets out of the yard and runs wild. (We see a lot of this in our neighborhood, unfortunately.)



Those are the things that come directly to mind. What do you think? Have any to add to the list?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dad's Hall Closet (Before and After)

Check out this decluttering masterpiece...


BEFORE:


It stored everything from old vinyl records to obsolete camcorders.



(3 hours of sorting things, moving things, reorganizing things, and taking multiple trips to the dumpster to trash things later...)

AFTER:


It went from Catch-All Closet to Cleaning Supplies closet. Very Nice!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Creating Compelling Characters

Mystery author Joyce Strand was kind enough to host me as a guest-blogger over at her blog this weekend. I'm offering a little of my advice to other writers on how to make their characters more compelling. If you're interested, please click to be transported to her site -->here<--.

Hope everyone's having a good weekend!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Trying Too Hard


This year has been a tough year.

I have chosen to let go of some bad habits (certain relationships, obsessive modes of thinking, etc.) that were only serving to bring me down.

I have also had to admit to myself that it's time to let go of certain unmet goals I've held onto for too long.

All of this soul-cleansing, as good for me as it may be, has left me feeling weightless, wandering through a void I have found increasingly more difficult to ignore.

With all this space opening up, I've been really worried I won't do the "right" thing next...follow the "right" path...write the "right" next book...develop the "right" new goals...find the "right" new hobbies...meet the "right" new friends...strengthen the "right" existing relationships, and so on.

Today I nearly had to breathe into a paper bag I got so anxious about it.

And then, just when I felt on the verge of an emotional collapse, I had an epiphany. It was like a light-bulb came on over my head.

I realized that at just about every turning point in my life I can recall, I reached a moment where I...

#1) let go of the things that were no longer serving me, including the very thought of them

and

#2) I just stopped trying so hard to choose a direction.

And almost every time I did this, a perfect new phase of my life blossomed right around the corner. I was provided with new opportunities to live and learn and grow, many opportunities that literally came to me; I didn't have to madly pursue them. All I had to do was live each day as its own, in the present moment, and follow my intuition.

A silly but apt example of this is a time when I was in the 10th grade: I had to write a poem for an English assignment, and I didn't really want to do it, but I did it anyway, barely giving it 30 minutes of my time. I turned it in, and the teacher of my class submitted these poems to a contest. A few months later, I got word that I'd won first place out of all the high schools in the state. First Place! And I had barely even tried! I just wrote it, just spontaneously created what came to me in the moment.

When I was in college, I was taking a news writing class for my English major, and one day the professor approached me to ask if I wanted to be editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. I hadn't even known there was an opening. I didn't even know what the job entailed. But I was in the class, and the professor saw something in me he thought worth cultivating, so voila. I took the job, and it was one of the most fun and enlightening jobs I've had to date.

After breaking up with the guy I thought I was going to marry, I threw myself into the dating world. I stopped focusing on finding lasting love and instead chose to take each day and date as they came and simply get out there and meet guys and have fun. It wasn't too long after that I started dating someone I was so very comfortable with, someone who wanted to commit even before I did, and who eventually married me.

So I think I'm going to let go of the need to figure out my next step, and I'm going to let my next step come to me.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's Never Too Late to Take a Compliment!

I've been in the process of gathering some of my stories that have been published by small or digital presses over the years to display on this spiffy blog here. I just found one of them, a short story called "The Chevalier Sisters: A Tale of Voodoo." I wrote it under C.J. Sully instead of Sullivan. It's a historical horror tale set in New Orleans. Anyway, after locating it on Amazon, I was happy to discover there is now a Kindle version for only $2.99 (the original paperback is about $15).





So I scrolled down and saw that there were two reviews of the anthology, and I browsed through them to see what these readers thought of the collection and also to see if my story might be mentioned. Umm...yes, it was, and Holy Compliments, Batman! Look at what Shroud Magazine's Book Reviews said about it:


"The pinnacle of the collection has to be C. J. Sully's "The Chevalier Sisters: A Tale of Voodoo" which weaves a southern gothic narrative about Thena Chevalier, and her constant struggle in life with her physical disabilities, the emotionally heavy loss of her mother, and the antagonistic torments of her sister, Dusa. With a revelatory ending reminiscent of Poe, Sully's story is sure to capture the attention of any horror fans."


Though the review was written a year and a half ago, it was still quite an honor to randomly come across it on a quiet Tuesday evening while I sipped on some hot chocolate.

Horror fans, you can purchase your copy of the anthology -->here<-- if you like.

G'night, and remember, it's never too late to take a compliment!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

About E-books and E-readers (for those of you who are curious but too afraid to ask)

It's come to my attention that there are still many of you folks out there who don't know how e-books! The word "kindle" means nothing to you, and just the idea of reading a novel on a screen instead of paper makes your skin crawl because it's so unusual. Not to worry, though. I'm devoting this blog post to the basics of e-books/e-readers to help answer some of your questions that you might be too afraid to ask.


1) What is an e-reader?

An e-reader is an electronic device primarily used to read digital books. (Think "E" for "electronic.") Kindle and Nook are the two most popular e-readers today. Here's a commercial for a Kindle:






There's not really much difference between a digital book and a paper book, other than the fact that it's not paper. You still get the same story and cover art, etc. loaded onto your e-reader.


2) How much does an e-reader cost?

E-readers vary in price, and they are getting more affordable every year. A regular Kindle that primarily holds only books costs about $70 right now. But just like there are various types of computers and TV's, there are also a variety of e-readers, some of which have more functions. Some e-readers like the Nook HD are a lot more fancy. They can do more than show books, so they're more expensive. Here's a commercial for the Nook:






3) Where can you get e-readers?

You can buy Kindles from Amazon.com and Nooks from Barnes & Noble (online and in phyiscal stores). Other less popular e-readers like Sony e-readers (which is what I have) can be bought online, as well as in some electronics stores.



4) Can you read e-books without an e-reader device?

Yes, you can! If you have a computer (or a smart phone or an ipad) you can download free programs from Amazon (here) and Barnes and Noble (here). You don't have to spend a penny on the programs ("apps" they call them), and once you have them, you can start buying e-books and reading them on your computer, phone, etc. I have the Kindle app downloaded to my laptop, and I read books that I buy from Amazon on there.



5) I'm scared of the reading experience not being the same on an e-reader as it is with a paper book. How can it be the same?

It won't be the exact same, and that's OK. You won't have pages to turn or a physical book to put on the shelf. But I've asked people who have recently given e-books a try, and they all agree that whether you read a book on paper or on a screen, you still have the same experience of suspense, fear, love, sadness, joy that reading gives. Good stories are good no matter what. If you read them in e-book format, you will remember the stories just the same afterwards and hold them in your memory just as if you'd read them on paper.



6) What are some other benefits to reading e-books as opposed to paper books?

*It saves massive amounts of trees, thus helping out the environment in a big way.

*E-readers also have a function for people to increase the font size, so for those of you who have trouble with your vision, this is a real bonus.

*E-books never get old and dusty, so for those of you allergic to old books (like myself, unfortunately), you never have to worry about having those annoying sneeze attacks.

*E-books are often much cheaper than paper books. (Example: my book Wings of the Divided is only $3.95, which is less than half the price for a regular paperback novel.)

*You have the option to read a sample online of most e-books before you buy them.

*You don't have to leave the house to buy an e-book, and once you buy it online, you can start reading it within minutes!

*(This just added from one of my readers!) You might also point out that most e-readers have built in dictionaries and all you have to do is highlight a word to define it. Also copy and paste which comes in handy when you want to email a paragraph or two of the book you are reading to your friend. And most keep track of where you are at if you are reading your books on multiple devices. Portability is probably the coolest thing about E-Readers. You have access to your entire library wherever you are!

*The new above comment also made me think of another thing: e-readers are fantastic for reading gigantic books like The Stand by Stephen King. I started reading the hardback, but it was enormous AND dusty, so I just got a copy of it for my e-reader, and it's sooo much easier to read.


Remember, just because you choose to read e-books does not mean you have to read only e-books. I read books in all formats. I have that little Sony e-reader that I told you about, and I read some books on that. I buy new paper books, as well as used paper books. And I also have a library card, which I use to borrow both paper and e-books from the local library.


Just imagine this: at one point, telephones were brand new, TV's were brand new, microwaves were brand new, and so-on. Some people resisted these inventions because they liked cooking on a stove, for instance, or preferred to listen to shows on the radio...but they also, deep down, didn't understand the technology and were a little afraid of the new devices. Please don't be afraid of this new book technology. Sometimes change can be a good thing!


If you have any more questions about e-readers or e-books, please don't hesitate to ask. Questions and comments are always welcome!

*****

Add C.J. Sullivan's books to your library. -->Shop here!<--

Friday, December 7, 2012

Clutter Find



Whoa there! Take a look at this little gem! Hah!

That tiny tot you see is the very author of this blog. I'm striking a pose along with my dad and mom, back when they were still married. I guess they thought it'd be fun to play dress-up and get a photo taken back somewhere in the neighborhood of 1983-84. I'm glad they did. This is one of the first pictures I have memories of looking at as a child. Rediscovering it today at the bottom of a box of clutter was a blast from the past.

It kind of throws me for a loop to think that I'm looking at versions of my parents who were the same age then as I am now. I wonder if, like myself, they realized how much they'd grown in their 20's and were amazed at how many of life's lessons they'd learned. I also wonder if they, like myself, were excited and apprehensive about the next decade ahead--if they thought about whether it would prove to be such a rough but educational decade, or if it'd sail a bit more smoothly.

I don't think 30 is old at all (I'm one year shy of it, just fyi). I don't mind the aging process like some people do. I don't run away from it, don't freak out if I find a new line on my face, etc. I almost look forward to growing older. The person I am today is so much wiser than the person I was at 20. I can only imagine what I'm going to learn in the next 10, 20, 30 years of my life. Is it strange that I actually look forward to being that wise, silver-haired old lady, who is maybe a little nutty, but who still provides great nuggets of wisdom and witticisms to all the young-ins that come visit and eat her baked goods?

Sheesh, it's amazing where looking at a photo can take you...

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Little Christmas Post

I'm not as big on decorating for Christmas as a lot of people I know. (Halloween is my favorite holiday.) But I still put up a few decorations because, hey, why not? Christmas fans like it, and it's tradition.


So for you Holly Jolly people who really get into it, here's my little tree and some stockings:




I would get a larger tree, except for two things:

1) My weenie dog chews on anything that's within his reach.

2) The little tree is too convenient. I just pull it out of the box, all decorated, and voila! Two minutes of effort vs two hours. ;)


Here are some close-ups of a few of the decorations on my little tree:


Weenie dog ornament


Frog ornament


Glass flower


Ninja Turtle


You know, there's this part of me that really wishes Christmas could be more about making memories with family and friends than having to buy everyone a present--particularly buying presents for people you don't even see or talk to outside of the holidays. It's also hard having to wrack my brain for something that I want these days! I feel like have everything I want and need, as I'm just not that materialistic of a person. In fact, I've been downsizing my "stuff" to make life simpler. Just give me your time, and I appreciate that much more than a physical present.

But I don't want to seem like a Scrooge, so I will say that Christmas is generally a cozy holiday, a day of hugs and warmth during a cold time of year (although it's currently in the 80s here in Texas right now, which is blowing a lot of people's minds.) And I do like the artistic/personal side of decorating your own tree.

What about you?

What about Christmas do you like?

What do you not like?

Is there anything you do that is a unique sort of tradition, not related to the usual tree and lights and presents? Comments welcome.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

20-Question Author Interview

Indie Author News just published a 20-question Author Interview with me today. Alan Kealey asked me a nice range of questions from what my writing background was to what inspired me to write Wings of the Divided to what sort of advice I have for other authors. If you're interested, click -->here<-- to read it. While you're there, you can also check out some of the other indie books currently being advertised. :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Texas Autumn Foliage

I love the way leaves turn such beautiful colors when we actually experience the season of autumn in Texas. (Many years, it just goes straight from summer to winter with little or no in-between.) Here are a few pictures I've taken from the city and the country, in attempt to capture part of the fiery array of fall foliage we've been lucky enough to have this year.





































Saturday, November 24, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday: Vengeful Bounty

Today I'm posting as part of Six Sentence Sunday, and the book this snippet comes from is my sci-fi action/adventure tale Vengeful Bounty. By the way, this weekend marks the novel's one-year anniversary! 





I published this ebook with Untreed Reads and opted to use the pseudonym Jillian Kidd. (I've toyed around with some different pen names before finally settling on my real name's initials: C.J. Sullivan.) VB was really fun to write. It's one of the few things I've written from a first-person POV. In this story, Mina Maxwell, redheaded bounty hunter extraordinaire, narrates her journey to gain "Global Status" so she can hunt the bad guys all over the world. During her tale, she kicks some serious butt, battles with some inner-demons, and dares to let herself love again after being heartbroken by a fellow bounty hunter. 

In this six sentences from the book, she and her bounty hunting baby brother, Colt, have just arrived at a club, where they're going to nab one of the bounties on the wanted list. Enjoy!

***

"I checked my cleavage for the mini laser gun I’d secured—still in place. I wish I had been able to carry an old-fashioned bullet-firing pistol as well, but the outfit wouldn't allow it. I liked to keep one as a backup in case the laser gun runs out of energy—the batteries in those things were cheap crap. You had to keep them on the charger all night for them to be worth anything the next day.

Colt stepped out and checked his appearance for flaws in the rear-view mirror and intensely arched his eyebrows and narrowed his eyes like he was some sort of supermodel getting ready for the catwalk. Brothers, aren’t they a joy?"



***


To read some reviews of Vengeful Bounty on Amazon click -->here<--.

To read a longer excerpt at the Untreed Reads Store, click -->here<--.

Happy birthday, Mina!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"Woven"


At my dear ol' dad's request, here is the link to a piece of flash fiction I wrote a couple of years ago that got published by the online literary magazine The Molotov Cocktail. It's a super short story symbolizing the nature of greed, and it's titled "Woven." Click -->here<-- if you'd like to read it.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thanks again for stopping by.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving and Indie Author News Promo

Thanksgiving is tomorrow! I hope everyone is in a grateful state of mind--not just this week, but all the time. Studies have shown that if people see life with a glass-half-full mentality, they are generally happier or at least more content with their lives.

It's so easy to focus on what we don't have, to obsess over the way things should be instead of the way they are. But when we get stuck in that mind-frame, we just make ourselves sick and depressed.

Just the other day, I was taking a shower, and I was looking at the fancy salon shampoo and conditioner I was about to use. And I thought, How could I ever think I don't have enough? Not only do I have shampoo and conditioner, but I get to pick out the kind I like! Some people, including the kid I sponsor in Zambia, don't even have soap. They are lucky to have a barrel of drinking water with a lid on it so the liquid doesn't get contaminated.

Take things into perspective. Often. The next time you're feeling sorry for yourself, look around. How much around you is purely luxury, solely things you picked out from a store, something that you wanted, or something that was given to you as a gift? Be thankful for all this. It's more than you need. All year around, be grateful, not just one day a year. You'll be amazed at how much your view of life changes...



One thing I am thankful for today is the great job Indie Author News did on a little promo for my angel book today. Do stop by their site to check it out -->here<-- and also feel free to browse the other cool indie authors and titles they're promoting.

And thanks for stopping by today!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Car Intruders at Fossil Rim

Last year, my husband and I took a drive through Fossil Rim, which is basically an area filled with wild-life that you can look at and feed. You're not supposed to touch them, but sometimes they make it a little difficult not to... One deer in particular was quite the amorous soul. My Honda still sports scratches from his antlers, but that's okay. It gives my car character!


Here's Mr. Lover Boy closing in on my husband.




Drew couldn't get away!
You can't see me in the back seat, but I was rolling.




I finally tried to distract the deer.
Look at him scraping the side of my car to leave a lasting mark!
What a sweetie!




Mr. Zebra got jealous and had to see what was up.
This was not taken with a fish-eye lens by the way.




*Sniff, sniff, nibble nibble* Hondas taste good!



Say "Cheese"!



Click -->here<-- to check out Fossil Rim for yourselves!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I've Been Tagged!

Today I'm taking part in a fun little opportunity for writers: Authors Tagging Other Authors. I was tagged by the fascinating Mr. Gary Markwick, and I am going to keep this thing going. There are four questions below, which I'm going to answer. Then, at the bottom of this post, I'm tagging five more authors who have the option to keep the chain going, if they want, by answering the same questions on their blog and then tagging five more authors. So...here I go!


1) What is the working title of your book?

Wings of the Divided


2) Where did the idea for this book come from?

When thinking of what sort of novel I wanted to write back in college, I decided I wanted to do a story about supernatural beings that that weren't as overdone as, say, vampires. (This was 10 years ago.) I always thought angels were really interesting beings in lore, but I didn't see much mainstream movies and books about them. I wanted to do for angels what Anne Rice has done for vampires. (Big goal, I know.) Plus, I have always been fascinated by the idea of Fallen angels and how they cannot be redeemed like humans can and how that must make them feel. I also wondered if certain angels of light would remember the Fallen when they were still "good," and if they wouldn't care, or if they would be secretly sorry their brethren were now unforgivable.


3) What genre does your book fall under?

It's a bit of a cross-genre book. Best way I can think to describe it is contemporary/urban fantasy.


4) Which actors would you choose to play some of your characters in the movie rendition?

I would probably pick a bunch of unknowns for my angels so they'd have a better chance at making their roles iconic. For a couple of my main human characters, I'd pick Johnny Depp to play Jack and Michael Caine to play Max.


And now for the set of authors I've tagged:

Elyzabeth M. VaLey (Erotic Romance)

Kris Noel (Young Adult)

Diane Rapp (Sci-Fi/Fantasy)

Jen Naumann (Young Adult)

Rachel Abbot (Thrillers)


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Solar Eclipse

There will be a solar eclipse today, but unless you live in Australia, you probably won't be able to see it. Here's a simulation of what's going to happen:






In ancient history, eclipses were like these magical, feared occurrences, usually brought on by God or the gods, and they served as a sign for startling change. They were bad omens, thought by many to be a sun-devouring demon or dragon.

This eclipse makes me think of the 2006 movie Apocalypto. It's an amazing film--if you don't have a weak stomach, that is. (It appeals to my adventurous, tomboy side...that and I think Rudy Youngblood is a gorgeous guy. *Ahem*)





Monday, November 12, 2012

Unplug



If you're like me, you like to work hard. If you're a writer (or any kind of artist), you like to devote a ton of time and energy to your craft to the point that it almost borders on obsession. Also, if you're like me, you may work a day job, too, so that leaves you with very little YOU time.

Often I reach a point where I feel totally drained. I've given all of my energy to my day job or my writing. I spend countless hours on the Internet trying to respond to emails and Tweets and Facebook posts in a polite, timely manner. And I reach the point of getting burned out.

I have found that the best thing to do when you reach this burnout stage is to Unplug. If you have a day off from your day job, you don't have to spend every waking minute on your hobby. It's GOOD to get away from it all, to unplug your laptop, to (gasp!) turn off your cell phone! Just leave it behind for a little while--it'll be there when you get back; I promise.

Get out in nature, if you can. Take a walk. Or if that's impossible, go to a quiet room in your house where there's a window. Open the curtains and let the daylight in. Sit and let your mind drift away from all the things it feels chained to, and soon you might get an idea of just the thing you need to do to make you feel refreshed. Go with your instincts--unless they're saying to plug in and get back online. Don't do that. Rewind back to a time when we didn't have all this technological distraction. What did you do for fun back then? How did you feed your creativity? How did you nourish your soul?

That's what I'm doing today. I'm writing this post, and then I'm turning it all off. I'm going to clean house, maybe decorate a little, possibly go to the library. I'm going to paint my toenails and read a book and cuddle with my little weenie dog.

Don't worry, I'll be back, and probably sooner than I think. But bottom line is this: unplugging, even just for 30 minutes, is sometimes necessary. So when you feel stressed out, try having some YOU time, too!


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday: Wings of the Divided






This Sunday I'm going to share six sentences from my novel Wings of the Divided. In this scene, little Fallen angel Kiazmo is musing on his deadly comrade Laphelle, about how powerful he is and why so many of the other angels (light and dark) fear him. Enjoy!









"While many of the angels of darkness had their weaknesses, be it sex or drugs or bloodlust or any other perverted addiction, Laphelle was slave to nothing. And he never lost a fight. The reason he was not a member of the Elite was not just because angels of First Rank were forbidden to rise to higher status. Rumor had it that Lucifer especially didn't trust him. There must have been something in the way Laphelle carried himself during the parades after winning battle after battle on all those distant worlds. Something in the way he refused the pleas of women begging to bed him during those victory celebrations, something in the way his eyes searched for more than just dark victory that made even the Devil himself uneasy."


Wings of the Divided is now available.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

19!

Why is the number 19 my favorite number today? Because history was made during the 2012 US Election, that's why! Click -->here<-- to see why 19 is so groundbreaking!


Monday, November 5, 2012

Decluttering: Before and After!

I love decluttering!

Ever since my mother-in-law helped me go through my own house last year and declutter and organize it, I'm hooked on the feeling of freedom it gives! I continue to work on my own home, but I also get great enjoyment out of helping my friends and family simplify their lives with this liberating process.

What decluttering does in a nutshell is this: it clears out the baggage from the past you, in order to open up the space for the present you to live today with more freedom and energy. It also helps you not go crazy from all the clutter around you!

Last week I went to visit my long-time friend Misty for my birthday. And while I was there, we started talking. What we'd originally planned to be a relaxing, chill-out visit turned into a back-breaking project to get her house decluttered and organized! But before you feel sorry for me, thinking that my weekend was ruined, know this: I wanted to do the work. I love doing it! And now, I am proud to share some "before" and "after" pictures of some of the areas we had time to do together.



First off, Misty needed an area to store some of the things in her house that she wasn't ready to totally get rid of yet. The garage was a great place for storage. Problem was, there was absolutely no room in her garage! We couldn't even get through the door. Check it out:



So we pulled out every tote and every bag and went through them, item-by-item. I had Misty divide these items up into different categories, such as Giveaway to friends, Donate to thrift store, Keep, Trash, etc. We rebagged and reboxed all the things, according to their new categories.

I would have liked to go through everything one or two more times to see clear out even more space, but we still ended up getting rid of a lot. This is a load we had her father come pick up to take to the thrift store--an entire truck-bed of stuff:



After reorganizing the garage, we actually had space to walk into it and store more items if needed:

(Look! We even had a friendly, little orb keep us company!)


Next up on the agenda was her work space. Misty is in the process of starting a tutu-making business called Chummy Mummy. I thought, if there's anything I do before I leave, I want to clear up a space for her to work on her tutus. So we started clearing out her office area. Here's how it looked when we first walked in:



And here's what it looked like after:



There was also an enormous, old desk on the right side of the room. It was doing nothing but catching things that needed to be organized and put away:



We organized all of the things that the desk had caught, and we simplified the space with a much more efficient table for tutu-making, as well as some organizational drawers and baskets on and beneath the table:



Also, here's what the left side of the room looked like originally:



And here's what it looked like "after":



That wooden cabinet you see (above) was a great storage space. Originally, Misty had stashed all of her old VHS tapes in there (VHS tapes which nowadays are obsolete and really need to be given away or put into storage), and this is what it looked like:



The cabinet now serves as a great, functional place for her to store her Chummy Mummy tools and supplies:




That was all I was able to help with, given the limited time I was able to be out of town. But after I left, Misty continued to work on her house. She was able to, all by herself, transform her baby's room from this...




...into this:




Great job, Misty!

And three cheers to decluttering and organizing! :-D

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Costumes 2012!

I was a woodland fairy, or the season of Fall embodied. Take your pick! 

(Tutu and some accessories by Chummy Mummy)


And here's Drew with this last-minute concoction! 

(Mustache by yours truly)


Ready for a night of fun!!





Kaiser got into the Halloweenie spirit, too! What a scary shark!




...Even though he wasn't that jazzed about his costume...





Hope everyone enjoyed Halloween 2012!