Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Knowing When to Throw in the Writerly Towel

No, I'm not talking about giving up on a story you are writing. I don't give up easily on story ideas. But I am talking about goals today, and knowing when they might be too much.

I set a goal for myself to finish Altar of Reality by the end of the month and to win CampNaNoWriMo in the process. Today is the last day of the month, and though my bar looks really close, it is too far away for me to manage.

I've been plugging away for the past week with an average of 5k a day. And if I had continued my 5k a day average, I would have finished on time. But a lot of things got in the way, as they usually do with life. The same thing happened to me during the last CampNaNo as well.

So how do we know when to throw in the towel? Easy. When you are sacrificing your own health in order to meet your goals. Which is exactly what I was doing.

As some of you may know, I recently landed myself in the mother of all braces--the thumb spica splint. I have carpal tunnel and tendonitis in my left wrist, which is pretty painful. It wouldn't be so painful if not for the fact that it keeps popping, so I essentially keep injuring myself. Part of that has to do with work as well. Needless to say, it has slowed me down quite a bit. I risked writing without the splint on after I spent about an hour convincing myself the splint was causing me more pain than good, but was quickly proved wrong on that.

And pretty soon, I had to admit to myself that pushing myself to write 5k a day was not helping matters at all. I had to leave work early last night because it was hurting so bad. On the way home, I started thinking about how I would have extra time to write from leaving early. But by the time I got home and sat in front of my laptop, I realized it wasn't worth it.

Sure, I love winning NaNo. I've only done it twice in the times I've attempted it, and I really wanted to claim a third victory with my new WIP. But I have to start taking care of myself. My hands are such an asset for both career paths I plan on attempting (writing and physical therapy), which means they are invaluable and I need them to work right.

I'm supposed to get my brace off next week, but my hopes aren't high for that happening since I'm still in pain and things keep popping. But I do know that I will be making sure I actually rest my arm this time. No more 5k days. And I might take some time off work, at least for a week or so. Working at a grocery store requires both hands more than you would think, and my tendency to be stubbornly independent and not ask for help carrying things or stop bagging isn't helping the healing process.

So, in conclusion, I might not be the one-armed wonder after all. But if that means I get to keep writing with both hands for years and years, I am good with that. My well-being has to come before my words. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book Blitz: Replacing Gentry by Julie N Ford (Free!)

Who doesn't like free books? PixelPr is out there spreading the word about this new freebie: Replacing Gentry by Julie N. Ford. The ebook will be free on Amazon, but only until tomorrow. So be sure to act now! You can also purchase the paperback through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Stay tuned after the blurb for more information on Julie N. Ford and where you can find her.

When Marlie agrees to attend a cadaver ball at Vanderbilt Medical School, she did not expect to actually see any cadavers. Or, that a strange apparition would issue her a chilling message.

Despite the cadaver's warning, Marlie is married a year later to Tennessee State Senator, Daniel Cannon, and living in a plantation-style mansion with two step-sons. Add to the mix her growing suspicion that something is amiss with the death of Daniel’s first wife, Gentry, and newlywed Marlie is definitely in over her pretty Yankee head.

What begins as an innocent inquiry into her new husband’s clouded past ends with Marlie in the midst of a dangerous conspiracy.

A modern twist on the classic Gothic romance novels of Rebecca and Jane Eyre, Replacing Gentry follows Marlie’s precarious journey as she learns the truth about the man she married.

Julie N. Ford graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in Political Science and a minor in English Literature. In addition, she has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Alabama. Professionally, she has worked in teaching and as a Marriage & Family Counselor. In addition to Replacing Gentry, she is the author of two women’s fiction novels, The Woman He Married and No Holly for Christmas, published in 2011. She also wrote a romance/chick-lit novel, Count Down to Love, published in 2011. Count Down to Love was a 2011 Whitney Award finalist.
Currently, she lives in Nashville, TN with her husband, two daughters and one baby hedgehog. For more information or see what Julie is working on now, you can visit her at JulieNFord.com.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

An Amazing Day in the Writerly Life of Mara

Today is definitely one of those days. It's one of those days where everything just lines up perfectly in my writerly world. Heirs of War is with my editor. I overcame the roadblock I was banging my head against for Altar of Reality and wrote around 5k today (there's hope, CampNaNo!). That puts me at around 25k for the book (15k for CampNaNo).

And best of all? I started planning my blog tour today. Thanks to the wonderful folks at The Blog Tour Exchange, I had about two dozen different contacts to email for my tour. Couple that with the already amazing writerly friends I have, and now my blog tour is halfway booked on the first day.

Even better yet? I already have five reviewers lined up. I am totally over the moon.

Why? Because here's the secret truth about a lot of writers: We might love our characters and the stories we are telling, but we aren't confident that you will. I am terrible at blurb/query writing, and I am iffy about my first page. I'm still contemplating rewriting that cursed first page one last time in the hopes of setting up the story better.

So what was my worry? That the tour wouldn't garner a lot of interest because people would read my blurb and say "Meh.". But instead I have people offering to read it. Maybe that shouldn't be such a big deal, but I see people begging for reviews online all the time (FYI: Asking once or twice is not begging, but asking every day is. IMO), so I figured I'd have a hard time getting reviews for the tour.

This day has taught me that the writing community really is one of the best communities out there. Without their support, I think I would be absolutely crazy. Instead, I am floating on cloud nine and looking forward to what is bound to be one of the most stressful times in my writerly life: the debut of my first book.

(Be sure to check back next month for a complete tour schedule, and for the cover reveal on August 30th.)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

What Social Media & The News Has Taught Me Lately

I don't read the news. I know some people might think I am terrible and ignorant for that, but I'll admit it anyway. Reading the news has a terrible effect on me. It either pisses me off to no end, or I am so heartbroken and devastated that I want to curl up underneath my covers and disappear.

But a funny thing has been happening lately. Facebook has been making me feel the same way. Everyday I am bombarded with pictures of young white kids who were brutally murdered by a black person and captions screaming about why this wasn't on the news or why the President hasn't said anything about this. (FYI I live in the southern US, and yes, the mindset is very different here.)

I very nearly deleted my Facebook account because I was so enraged over these pictures. Why does it have to be a race issue? I keep saying. Do we have to continue to belittle the senseless death of an unarmed teenage boy for the sake of the political statement it makes?

I felt like I was screaming at the wall for all the good it has done me. People responded back with comments either dismissing mine or inviting me to delete them since I felt this way and they felt that way.

I get freedom of speech, I really do. You are entitled to your opinions. But I'm entitled to have a Facebook feed clean of upsetting comments. I get on Facebook to see how my friends are doing and laugh at the occasional funny picture they post from George Takei. I get on there to keep in touch.

But that's the problem isn't it? And that's where the first lesson from social media comes in:

We know too much about each other.

I know things about my friends, their dark little thoughts, that I didn't know or care to know before. People think random things and dark things, but now they have outlets in which to post their thoughts without a filter. My friends wouldn't call me or text me to tell me how they think the death of a teenage boy shouldn't be a national news headline because it isn't for other white kids. It might have come out in conversation with some, but I would like to think they would phrase it better.

The other lesson is from both social media and the news. Throughout this whole thing, I have not been able to understand why it is a bigger issue that Trayvon Martin was a black kid who was killed than the fact that he was a seventeen year-old who was killed. When I first heard about this, I heard about how he looked suspicious because he was wearing a hoodie. My heart broke. As someone who grew up in the era of Jnco's, I completely understood the stereotype of "sketchy" because of the clothes you wear and I was outraged. If a kid in a hoodie walks down my street, I think that a kid in a hoodie is walking down my street.

Zomg! A teenager is walking down my street in baggy pants and a hoodie! He must be up to no good! Or it must be a day that ends in "y"...

And this is where I learned something really important about myself today through social media and the news:

I don't want to believe in racism.

That's right, folks. I don't want to believe racism exists in our world today. Not this heavily. I reserve that ignorant stance for older people who came from eras where it was more common and a bigger issue. But today? We should be beyond that. I hate seeing signs of it in people I care about. I hate seeing it so much in the news. I hate to think that people are looking at me and my "twin" (Yes, she is like a real twin to me. Same birthday only she is a couple hours older than me and we are so alike it is scary sometimes. We don't even communicate in full sentences.) funny when we are out because she is black and I am white.

I hide in my little bubble, naive as it is, and pretend all is well with the world. And then I get pissed when Facebook pops my little bubble.

So what can I do about this? Stop being so naive, I suppose. But I won't. Because, honestly? I'd rather live in my happy little bubble where people see the death of an unarmed teenage boy as tragic and newsworthy because it was tragic and the circumstances made it worse. I might have to delete my Facebook to do it, but I refuse to live in the world it forces me to see sometimes. I'll take my ignorance with a side of bliss, thank you.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Ups and Downs of My Writerly World

I'm sitting here, thinking I should take a nap before I set off for my evening plans. Why is a nap necessary? Well, in case you don't follow me on Facebook, here's the long and short of it:
My doctor tells me I have carpal tunnel AND tendonitis. Because, you know, I'm an overachiever like that.
So my meds make me really sleepy and it is seriously hard to type with this thing on. But I have to wear it for three weeks. And I still have the nerve conduction study to look forward to. *grumble*

That's pretty much the "down" part of my writerly world right now. The "up" part is what is keeping me awake right now. I set my release date for Heirs of War. September 13th! The cover reveal will be August 30th. I know, I know...that's cutting it closer than most. But I have a reason for that. A reason that involves even MORE good news and excitement.

Wattpad has agreed to feature Heirs of War starting September 11th! If I could dance a jig without threatening to break something or cause myself further injury, I would. As part of their promotion, they will be doing a "Cover-Off", which will help me decide which cover to use. Because, honestly, sometimes Gretchen is just too good. Since the cover-off is the deciding factor, I won't be revealing the cover until around a week after.

And, to keep the good news rolling, one of my nearest and dearest is also setting up another marketing promotion type thing for me, which she informed me of last night. More on that as it unfolds. :)

So where will I be in the weeks before my book launches? At DragonCon, of course, waving my fangirl flag high and proud. I just found out I'll have a bit more money than I expected to spend, which means my dream of being in the middle of one of the sexiest sandwiches ever for a fangirl (James Marsters + John Barrowman....Yup: Captain Jack and Spike!!) might be coming true.

Now...what was I saying about that nap? Oh, right. Not likely! =D

P.S. I redesigned the blog, too. Hope you guys like it!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Belated Cover Reveal: Stay with Me by Elyssa Patrick

A day late, and a dollar short. With all the craziness of yesterday for me personally (going to the doctor about my arm, new massive hulk of brace/splint, working in said bulk...), I completely forgot about the cover reveal for Elyssa Patrick's new novel, Stay with Me, set to be released August 30th. You can find more about Elyssa on her blog, or you can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Check out the cover, blurb, and trailer, and stay tuned below for an excerpt to get you counting down the days until the release!

With one look, I’m his...
With one touch, he’s mine...
With one kiss, it changes everything between us...
I’ve been famous since I can remember. Singing, acting, dancing—I’ve done it all. The tabloids cover my every move, but I don’t want that anymore. I want to be normal, whatever that is.
When I leave Hollywood for college in Vermont, I’m on my own for the first time in my life. This is my chance to figure out who I am and what I want in life.
But it’s a lot harder than I expected. I can’t escape my image. Classes are hard, and I’m struggling. And then there’s Caleb Fox.
Sexy, intriguing Caleb Fox.
Caleb is the one man who doesn’t want to use me. He breaks down my walls. He challenges me. He wants me. And I just don’t know if I can give him the same—or if he’ll stick around when he finds out my shameful secret that the tabloids haven’t managed to uncover.
Dating him is risky enough, but loving him could break me.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cover Reveal: Soul Ties by Lisa Swallow

I love cover reveals. They're all shiny and new, and it's all about the excitement, knowing the release date is just around the corner. Today we are introducing the cover of Soul Ties, the first in the new adult paranormal romance series by my new writerly friend Lisa Swallow. If you would like to follow Lisa's writerly exploits, you can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. Soul Ties is due out in August, so be sure to check back here as I interview Lisa and maybe even get an excerpt out of her for her release date!

Ava didn’t expect to find terrible secrets about the fate of the souls she takes.
Or fall in love...
Soul-hunter Ava has retrieved hundreds of souls from demons, but has never been assigned the dangerous mission for a Nephilim soul. She must hunt down Keir since she needs his Nephilim soul to trade for her freedom.
When she arrives on campus and meets Keir, she also meets a strange girl, Dahlia, who has an inexplicable hold on him. Unexpectedly Ava discovers Keir holds secrets that are more valuable than his Nephilim soul – secrets she could trade for the life she wants.
When she uncovers the true fate of the souls she takes back to her superiors, and what Keir is doing to stop it, Ava’s world is turned upside down. She finds herself in the middle of a war where the lines between good and evil are blurred and she only has two choices… Betray Keir and live or join his battle and risk going to Hell.

Lisa was born in the UK and she moved around Europe with her military family before completing a BA (Hons) in English at the University of Leeds. Her home is now in Perth, Australia with her husband and three children. Lisa has written since she was a child - moving from writing poems and short stories aged nine to writing novels in the last few years. With the encouragement of her family and local writers group, Lisa found the confidence to share her latest paranormal romance series with the world.

In between running her home based craft supplies business, looking after her family, and writing, Lisa sometimes finds spare time to do other things. This often involves swapping her book worlds for gaming worlds. She even leaves the house occasionally, enjoying walks with her dog and time with her family. She loves all things from the Whedonverse and preferred vampires before they sparkled.