Thursday, January 28, 2016

Flaking Out

Hello from my backyard tundra. Behind me, my twins brave the storm despite my pleas to get back inside. Read on to learn about my hot chocolate discovery, my random deep thought and to see my snowman crafting skills at their finest.  

Some called it a blizzard. Some called it Jonas. I called it cold.

Nothing like a good old fashioned blizzard to put things into perspective. For example, while milk, bread and eggs make great french toast, you can only eat it so many times before you wished you'd instead bought ingredients for chile on that final mad rush to the store. In retrospect, I regret sending my husband on that last ditch shopping trip. He brought home the world's largest box of frozen mozzarella sticks. Pass the marinara sauce.

Flaking on the outside. Baking on the inside.  

There are several things I did manage to accomplish during our blast of 27 inches of snow. None of them involved writing, editing or - sigh - reading (I read two pages of my latest book before promptly falling into hibernation). All of them involved wishing I could go back in time and buy a snowblower, complaining I was tired from shoveling, wondering how melted snow clumps found their way into every room of the house, baking banana bread which I ate in great quantities to offset any weight loss from the constant shoveling and discovering how hot chocolate spiked with Bailey's makes everything better. 

When life gives you snowflakes by the ba-zillions ...

... make a snowman. I had a deep thought while trudging through the deep snow to help my daughter build a snowman. This onslaught of snow was actually made up of individual flakes. It reminded me of the story I was working on prior to the storm. Each word was like a snowflake. When consistently piled one after another, it becomes a blizzard of words, a complete novel. Thinking further, I figured the editing process was then like building this snowman. Then, my stomach grumbled for more banana bread, my daughter complained her fingers had turned into little popsicles and my fleeting thought melted in the forty degree sun. 

A snowman named Jonas 

The resemblance is uncanny. Don't you think?

How's the weather where you are?
Comments make me feel warm and toasty!
Saying "Hi" on my Facebook Page is like a mug of hot chocolate!
Tweet this post like warm banana bread! may cure Cabin Fever!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Finding Joy While Writing an Inherently Evil Protagonist, Guest Post by Jennifer-Lynn Keniston

Welcome Jennifer-Lynn Keniston author of Afta-U with a guest post on the emotional rollercoaster the writer rides when writing an evil protagonist. Surprisingly, there's many rewards for taking on such a challenge, both for the writer and the reader alike.

Finding Joy While Writing an Inherently Evil Protagonist
by Jennifer-Lynn Keniston

I’m here to tell you that as an author, there is joy found in writing an inherently evil protagonist. I will even go as far as to proclaim that, perhaps, there is more joy gained from writing an evil major protagonist than in writing the leading sympathetic protagonist everyone will cheer for. I know, I am just as shocked! I will tell you that the first taste of joy comes from the success in doing something you feared you might not, or could not do, such as struggling to connect with the coldness and chipped pieces inside an evil character. After all, it is someone you create and who is formed from within yourself, from outside experiences with people and your imagination, that is often fueled from media outlets, books, and, yes, from living life itself. Emotional triggers ignite and you work to put flesh on this character, and then eventually once you finish the book, you obtain a pure sense of joy: “a feeling of great happiness.” Throughout the process, you are aware that a reader doesn’t want to have the leading character(s) smoothly make his or her way through a story without conflict. You are, after all, a reader yourself.  I was stunned to discover that with the completion of Afta-U, my favorite characters are my two inherently evil supporting protagonists: Damian and Michael.

Let’s jump back to those emotional triggers. Personally, I embody the cliché of emotional triggered eating. Looking back on the day I initially went to write my first inherently evil protagonist in Afta-U, I was conflicted and commiserated with a tub of rocky road ice cream. I confess, it is a fleshly sin of mine.

Speaking of flesh: for this blog, I looked up the definition of flesh. “It is the soft substance consisting of muscle and fat… found between the skin and bones...” and then I looked up the Biblical definition: defining “flesh” as “sinful nature.”

When writing, the bones for the character are assembled first. Then, as already acknowledged, you need to put the flesh on this character. My approach you ask? Well, I feed it Rocky Road ice cream. I embrace the freezing coldness, the slippery feel, the chipped dark pieces that crumble, and the fluff that helps to build a 3-D profile. And I think of all the other fleshly sins out there in the world, while I take a spoonful at a time enjoying the guilty pleasure I’m finding along the path of my figurative rocky road that I’m surprisingly enjoying my walk along. The joy only ends when the bowl, tub, or final spoonful is empty and the final page is written.

But perhaps my greatest joy since finishing the novel, came from being told by a reader, that the day after finishing the novel, she is still very angry at Michael as if he were a real person.  Now it is time to jump on that treadmill before opening that freezer door again.

Thank you Renee Roberson, Blog Tour Manager, at WOW -Women on Writing for providing this stop of Jennifer-Lynn Keniston's tour. For more dates and stops along this blog tour, click here!

About Jennifer-Lynn Keniston

Raised in Hanson, Massachusetts, the author earned a Master of Arts degree in English, from Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a concentration in writing and a minor in philosophy, from Plymouth State College in New Hampshire. Jennifer-Lynn currently works as a project manager for a company that provides cloud software products for call centers at small, medium, and enterprise companies. In April 2014, she started her own business, Ansel Resume Resolution Services LLC, writing resumes and cover letters. She now lives and writes in Concord, New Hampshire, and enjoys teaching Spinning classes in her free time.

Twitter: @jenkeniston

About: Afta-U

Sometimes decisions made in an instant can echo throughout a lifetime.

In the pages of her new novel, Afta-U, Author Jennifer-Lynn Keniston, takes us into the heart of Jean Cartwright Rhodes, a woman who is struggling to come to grips with the heartbreaking and senseless death of her childhood best friend, Hope. Twenty-nine years after the fact, Jean fights for her very sanity as she confronts the dark web of relationships and intrigue that appear to have been set in motion by a split-second decision she made in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Afta-U is an adult mystery/suspense novel for ages 17 and older. The book is complex and sometimes dark, and filled with Christian messages.

Purchase Link:

Friday, January 15, 2016

Snow Reads: Almost like Beach Reads, but with way more clothing!

Since it's at least five to six months before I do a Beach Read list, I put together a Snow Read accumulation (see what I did there?) of books for a cold winter's eve. Grab a blanket and a steaming beverage. Here's five selections to cuddle up with:

1. Broken Grace by E C Diskin

This one comes highly recommended from my mom who usually has an eye for what will keep my attention. As much as I hate to admit it, I have a habit of starting a book only to lose interest because I disagree with the plot or choice of characters and leave it unfinished. After reading the first couple of pages, I'm thinking I'll stick with this one.

Broken Grace begins with Grace driving away from a house in a mad rush like someone's chasing her. A deer jumps in front of her speeding car. She has a horrific accident. Yet, she survives. Only she awakens with head trauma so severe she has no memory. Convenient plotline, yes. Intriguing way to begin a story, double yes. I can't wait to figure out this book's secret. I'm figuring Grace better remember something quick for her own safety.

2. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Alaska, 1920: A couple living at remote homestead decide to fend off their loneliness by building a snow child. (No, they don't name it Olaf. Don't be silly!) Here's the magical or creepy part depending on your point of view - the snow child isn't there the next morning, but a real blonde-haired girl is running amongst the trees.

Of course, the couple adopts the little girl who seems to have no one caring for her other than a red fox. I'm sure everyone doesn't live happily ever after which makes for a real page turner.

Does anyone else have a strong urge to bake gingerbread man cookies?

3. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Two sisters as opposite as they can get return home to care for their ailing mother. They think they're in for a not-so-fun, awkward family time. What they get is their mother telling them a Russian fairy tale.

Just when the sisters think their visit can't get any worse, the fairy tale turns out to be the volatile history of their mother's life growing up in war-torn Leningrad. Plus, there's a secret. Something dark and life altering. (Then, the mother tucks them into bed and whispers sweet dreams.)

Also, noteworthy to read is Kristin Hannah's Nightingale.

4. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

A writer sets up camp at a castle in Scotland in order to write a historical novel she plans to make a bestseller. The story has ties to the writer's own background. I bet she paid for a subscription to Turns out the writer starts having some unexplained past life memories. And those memories aren't all rainbows and leprechauns (especially since she's in Scotland not Ireland).

This book promises suspense, historical storytelling, romance and a dose of the supernatural.

5. Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Set in the Pacific Northwest on a remote island in Puget Sound, this story has all the facets to be a "thinker".

A Japanese-American man who spent time in an internment camp during WW II now finds himself on trial for murder. Did he do it or is he a victim of prejudice? An investigative reporter for a local newspaper seeks to uncover the truth but finds himself falling in love with the accused man's wife. Oops!

Brew up another mug of hot chocolate. This one just got interesting.

How about you? Have you read any of these Snow Reads? Or, do you have one to add to the list? Warm up this post with a comment!

Looking for more fascinating, page-turner reads?
Here you go:

Friday, January 8, 2016

We'll Make It I Swear

My New Year's resolution is to be more positive and less sarcastic. Like I won't screw that up right away.:

What's new?
You bump into someone you haven't seen in a while and they inevitably ask, "What's new?" Then, if you're like me, you shrug and mumble, "Same old. Same old. I guess." Ugh.

Gotta be somethin' new. Right?!?
It's a new year. My inbox is buzzing with newsletters and webinars pleading me to have my best year ever. Yes they promised me last year would be my best year, but it was apparently all a lie. This is supposed to be my best year ever. And it's already several days old. I'm losing time. Next year will be here before I know it and what will I say I accomplished? 

Best Year Ever (or is it?)
Oh the dilemma of where to start. Healthier body? Meditate daily for spiritual clarity? Get those finances on track? Make those dreams a reality? Yes, yes, yes just as soon as I eat every last bit of sugary, fattening food leftover from the holidays, meditate on how I spent so much money in a single month and remember what my best life dreams were in the first place.

Small Steps. Big Goals. (I already need a nap.)
So, what's new? Here's three to start:

1. This post is new. Woot! High Five! First post of 2016. Totally nailed it. My resolution is post weekly and keep it fresh. Or, uh, at least interesting. There's going to be Guest Posts - got one coming up on the 20th (Didn't see that coming. Did ya?), a new feature about Writer-Moms and how they do it (because, frankly, I need to know), book recommendations, a couple book reviews and much, much more. (Oh, the suspense!)

2. Something old will be new again. No, I'm not talking about the Backstreet Boys and the Spice Girls reuniting for a 2016 tour. My very first novel, Going Barefoot in Greener Grass, got some TLC from a professional editor and - bam - it's all gussied up and ready to find a world of new readers. Stay tuned for more details!

3. If there was Tinder for finding a literary agent, I'd be on it. Also, on the 2016 To Do list for my best year ever is searching for an agent for my next new novel, How Lucy Got Lucky. A few more edits and a fancy query letter sits between me and finding that one special person. 

Bonus - As if all this wasn't enough, I'm trying a new method for writing my next novel and it's super low tech: a pencil and a notebook. Good news. So far, I have a few scribbled pages of what's sure to be an intriguing, entertaining novel. One hint - someone say "beach read"?

So what's new with you?
Why not do something new like leave a comment on a blog? Hey, I know. What about right now, right here?
Or, make a new friend? Ooo, me! Me! Yes. Let's be Facebook pals! Or Twitter buds!
And, what about checking out a website that's new to you. Here's one:

Best year ever! (Well, until, next year anyway.)