Wanted: #Authors for Featured Author Spot

Would you like to be a featured author on my blog? I host guest authors every week – any genre, both traditionally and self-published.

The post can take one of three formats: author interview, book excerpt or a guest post on any aspect of writing, publishing, and book marketing.

I feature guest authors on Fridays, on a first-come-first-served basis, though I do have a few Tuesday openings to accommodate special requests for dates related to promotions such as book tours or book releases. Right now I have two Fridays in May (15 & 29) and one in June (26) open as well as all of July open.

If you are interested, send me a message along with any date requests, and we’ll take it from there.

O is for Once Upon a Time #AtoZChallenge

OFor the A to Z Challenge, I am sticking with my normal blogging topics – Monday (parenting), Wednesday (Quotes) and Thursday (writing/publishing). But for the rest of the days (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday), I have picked the theme of TV shows.

Once-Upon-A-TimeToday the letter is O, which is for ABC’s show – Once Upon a Time. As the author of fantasy novels, I find this fantasy adventure an interesting show. It began in Fall 2011 and is now in its fourth season.

If you haven’t watched it, the story takes place in a fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine. The residents are all characters from various fairy tales who were transported to our world by a powerful curse.

I love how they switch from present day in our world to scenes of the characters back in their own fairy tale world. Each of the characters is slightly different than you may remember reading about in the fairy tales. Snow White is now more adventurous and even a thief. And her fairy-tale romance with Prince Charming is not quite what you might remember.

I love the twists in the story, and that you never know which fairy tale characters might appear next. It has kept my interest and still on my “must watch” list. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it.

What it takes to write a Novel #AtoZChallenge

NYou have always dreamed of writing a novel. So one day you sit down in front of the computer to get started and realize you don’t know where to begin.

I wish I could say there were step-by-step directions to writing a novel but there aren’t really. I mean authors can give you ideas about how they do it but not every method works for everyone. We have authors that plan every last detail out and others who just get in there and start writing (which is typically followed by a whole lot of rewriting).

I will say that I believe you need to do some planning before you write the first word, but I by no means am in the group that plans out everything.

Here are a few things I think need to be done before you begin writing.

  • Story Idea – The first thing you need to do is be sure you have a good idea for a novel, one that can be carried out for 50,000 to 80,000 words. You should know what the problem is and how the protagonist will overcome it.
  • Characters – You also need to fully develop your main characters. This means going beyond their physical description to understand what makes them tick. You need to know their history.
  • Setting/World Building – You also need to know where your story takes place. And not just a general idea but as with characters, you should know where everything is (streets, stores, character’s home and work locations) and a general sense of time to travel to each location. If you are creating a fantasy world, then you also have to take into consideration magic, technology, religion and a whole other bunch of things.

Knowing these things before you begin writing will certainly cut back on the amount of rewriting you will have to do when you get to your second, third and fourth drafts. Yes, there will be many drafts of your book before it reaches completion.

In addition to the above, you will also need dedication and determination to write a novel. It is not easy to write and publish a novel. You not only have to think of a good idea, you have to write it, re-write section (or perhaps all of it), edit it, then edit it some more and finally proof it for grammar and spelling. All of this takes a lot of time. You have to be determined to see it to the end and not be discouraged as you work through the process.

Then you need to decide if you are going the traditional publishing route with an agent and publishing house or if you will self-publish. Each has its own challenges. But publishing a novel is a whole different area that you don’t even have to worry about until you have actually written your novel.

So you can see why many would-be authors never make it to the end. It takes a lot of work to actually produce a book.

L is for Law and Order #AtoZChallenge

LFor the A to Z Challenge, I am sticking with my normal blogging topics – Monday (parenting), Wednesday (Quotes) and Thursday (writing/publishing). But for the rest of the days (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday), I have picked the theme of TV shows.

law order svuToday the letter is L which is for Law & Order and its spin-offs – Special Victims Unit and Criminal Intent. The original Law & Order (1990-2010) was a police procedural and legal drama airing on NBC. The first half of each episode showed the police investigating a crime and apprehending a suspect. The second half is the prosecution of the defendant. Plots were often based on real cases that recently made the headlines.

Law & Order Special Victims Unit (SVU) was the first spin off in 1999. Two years later, there was a second spin off – Criminal Intent that ran from 2001-2011. Besides SVU and Criminal Intent, there were several other short lived spin-offs – Trial by Jury (2005-2006) and LA (2010-2011). There is a British version Law & Order UK that began in 2009 and I assume is still running today.

Of these, I really have only watched the original and SUV. I tried Criminal Intent but didn’t like it. I have watched this only in syndication and not when it aired during prime time. Both of these are something that I would recommend.

Keeping your cool as a parent #AtoZChallenge

KKids can be great but there is always a time when they bring out the worse in adults. They know just how to push your buttons until you want to scream. I am not typically the one to keep my cool, but I am working on it. Here are some tips that might let you do the same.

Pick Your Battles

Sometimes papicky eaterrents seem to want to control every aspect of their kids’ lives. They tell them what to wear or pick the sports or other activities such as dance or piano for them to participate in. But it is easier (and more fun for the kids) to let them have a say in the activities that they do. And does it matter if their clothes don’t match? As long as their choices are within reason (such as dress code rules, age appropriate, budget restraints), then go along with it and don’t bother them about it.

You need to decide which issues you can let go and which ones you want to stick to your guns about. Not everything is within your control.

Plan Ahead

It is helpful to know which areas – such as trip to the store – might bring up problems. Perhaps you know that your child will beg for a new toy/snack or be bored after a few minutes. If you know this, you can either divert their attention or at the very least plan out what you will do when they behave in a way you don’t want. Thinking of your plan of action ahead of time is much easier to do than while you are in the midst of aisle 3 of the supermarket.

Understand the reason for your child’s actions

Sometimes realizing why your kids are acting the way they are – Johnny is overtired or Jenny has a crush on a boy in her class – can help you maintain your cool. When Johnny is on the verge of a meltdown, you can work on taking him out of the stimulating atmosphere for some quiet time (or a nap). Understanding Jenny’s crush can give you more patience as she tries on her third outfit of the morning. If you know James is immersed in building his Lego structure, it could explain why he didn’t stop working on it right away just because dinner is on the table.

Many parents lose their cool because they assume the kids are being intentionally disrespectful or are trying to annoy us when that could be completely untrue.

Know the Triggers

Kids learn that certain words or actions can send parents into a rage – and when they succeed, you as a parent lose. You are no longer in charge when you give away the power. The key to staying calm is to recognize when your kids are trying to push your button and get a reaction out of you. Avoid the trap by not over-reacting or if possible, not reacting at all.

If you do find yourself screaming, threatening or bribing your child, the most important step to regaining your cool is to recognize that you’ve lost it. You need to stop before you do or say something that you will regret. Often when you lose your temper, the original problem is forgotten and goes unsolved.

If you lose your temper

If you feel like you are losing control, sometimes the best answer is to remove yourself from the situation and cool down. Take some deep breaths while you remind yourself not to overreact. Concentrate on how you can best handle the situation in a positive way. It also might help to talk to someone else – a friend, partner, or neighbor – to gain a different perspective.

Later, don’t be afraid to admit to your child that you were wrong and what you will do differently next time.

Hopefully these tips can help you next time you’re about to lose your cool while dealing with your kids.

J is for Joss Whedon #AtoZChallenge

JFor the A to Z Challenge, I am sticking with my normal blogging topics – Monday (parenting), Wednesday (Quotes) and Thursday (writing/publishing). But for the rest of the days (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday), I have picked the theme of TV shows.

Today the letter is J which is for Joss Whedon. Yes, that isn’t a TV show but he has put out some great ones – Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I already covered Firefly under the letter F so I will concentrate on the others here.

Buffy-the-Vampire-SlayerWhedon’s first TV show that he created was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Thankfully, it was nothing like the movie (which he also wrote.) The show ran from 1997 to 2003 (7 seasons) and starred Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers, a vampire slayer and high school student.

Angel-tv-show-25As a spin-off of the successful Buffy TV show, Whedon started Angel, which ran for 5 season from 1999 to 2004. This one followed Angel, the vampire with a human soul, who battles demons in Los Angeles, California.

Both Buffy and Angel were great series and worth watching. I suggest you check them out.

Whedon followed those two successful TV series with the short-lived Firefly (2002) which I already wrote about on April 7th for the letter F. He then went on to do another short-lived TV series called Dollhouse which I didn’t watch.

His latest TV series stems from The Avengers – the 2010 movie hit he directed and wrote. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiered in fall 2013 and is currently on its second season. While I enjoy it, I don’t like it as much as I liked Buffy and Angel but I would still recommend checking it out.