Monthly Archives: June 2012

Hob-Nobbing: Having the chance to speak with other authors

A neat thing happened the other day.  I was included, with a long list of others, in an email from a multiple-published author that I have done very moderate social networking with.

The email itself is not important.  What was neat is I looked over the list of other people who were copied.  Hmmm… She’s an author.  Oh, I read their book last year.  That name sounds familiar…

Wait?  Was I just included in an author string?

It was kind of cool… like being elevated from the “wanna be” status to being included as a published author.  It’s like the nerdy kid getting invited to sit with the cheerleaders.  I know, ***stupid***, but I thought it was pretty neat.

For the most part, I interact with people who are not published.  Being included in a conversation, and exchanging opinions with a group of published authors was pretty special.  I feel like I’ve graduated or something.

Now I just need to work my tail off to make sure I don’t end up back in school again.  On that happy note… back to my current WIP!


Biggest Mistakes New Writers Make #4: Resisting Feedback

Do you resist feedback.  Are ya sure?  Come on, now… Let’s be honest with ourselves, shall we?

At a recent NJ Author’s talk on “Getting Published” the authors (Listed and linked below) discussed the biggest mistakes they think new writers make.

 ***Don’t be resistant to feedback***

Danielle Ackley McPhail (Author of the Literary Handyman, and Editor of Bad Ass Fairies) commented during this discussion (see the other posts if you are just tuning in) that “you can’t be resistant to feedback”.  She said if you resist what editors say, and you seem resistant in general, they might not come back to you.  She said to recognize your role in the relationship.  If you won’t budge, then you won’t move forward. (And we all want that second book deal, right?)

For those of you who are not lucky enough to have publishers or editors yet, the same can be said about your beta readers.  If you have them listen to them.  You might not always agree, but if more than one person thinks something is weak, and you think it’s great, you need to consider that you might be looking at your work with blind eyes.  Take a deep breath, and LISTEN.  Be open minded.  Put your guard down, and you just might be surprised by what happens.

Jonathan Maberry:

Mike McPhail:

Danielle Ackley-McPhail:

Jon Gibbs:

Jennifer R. Hubbard:

Kristin Battestella:

A Review of the Movie “Adventures of Tin Tin” from a writer’s perspective

Very rarely do we bring a movie into the house that every member of the family enjoys.

My husband rented “The Adventures of Tin Tin” for the kids, and slipped it in after dinner tonight.  We were only supposed to watch a few minutes, and then get to our chores.  Well, lets just say the chores never happened.  The workout my husband wanted to do didn’t happen either.  Nor did my writing time.

Honestly, I was not interested at all at first.  I believe (I may be wrong) that this was a British TV series at one time.  I’ve seen remakes before, and have rarely been impressed.

This, however, was well-written, exciting, and visually stunning.

I found myself watching the movie and thinking, “How would I even write that?”  I think the answer is, that I couldn’t.  I’m not sure anyone could.  There was just too much action in this movie to be condensed down into a book.  This was conceived to be on the screen, and then bought to life with some of the best animation I’ve ever seen.  Several times I found myself forgetting that it was animated… even when looking at the characters.  Simply breathtaking.

The story is well-plotted and flows magically from one high-action scene to the next with not much more than a three minute pause to take a breath.  It never feels forced.   It just WORKS.

Every character is well defined, and you care about them.  There is a set of Keystone-Like cops that are there strictly for comic relief.  My husband and I agreed that they did not need to be there, but we figured that they were probably characters in the original series that die-hards would have missed if they were not there.  Their appearances are kept to a minimum, though, and were not over-bearing.

Overall, this was a fantastic pick for my family.

Comments after the movie:

My Eleven Year Old:  “I can’t believe how good that was.”

My Eight Year old:  “Did you see that?  When he did this, and that guy got ‘em back, and then he…”  (acting out everything the whole time)

My Six Year Old:  Fell off the couch and pretended to faint it was so good.

My Husband:  “That was one of the best action movies I’ve seen since Indiana Jones!  We need to buy this in HD so we can watch it in the Home Theater.”  (We started in it out regular living room.  If we knew what we were in for, we probably would have set ourselves up in the basement)

Me?  I’m dumfounded at the originality.  I mean, who would have ever thought to have two people dueling with cranes.  Yes, I said CRANES.  And the thing with the Plane?  We were all shouting at the screen.  What a hoot… It just didn’t stop.

To do these action scenes justice, each one of them would have taken 50 pages of text in a novel, and there were more action scenes than I could spit back into this article.

Oh yeah, super positive message at the end as well.

Yes, it’s open for a sequel, and for the first time ever all my kids said, without prompt, “When can we see the next one?”

Well, Peter Jackson and Stephen Spielberg… well done.

So, when is the next one?

Flash Fiction Friday on Wednesday – Beneath

Five minutes on the timer.  Still thinking about those stingrays.  Go!

I glide gracefully through the cold, sliding along the rock-bed, searching for food.  Yellow and blue fish circle near, wary but unafraid as my mass dwarfs them and shades their world from the golden orb shimmering above. 

A buzzing roar grinds the waters overhead.  The fish scurry—but curious—I ascend … gliding toward the strange white lines marring the surface of the water.

Pain stings and a crack stuns me.  Webbing wraps and confines, cutting into my fins and dragging me from the water.  My tail, severed, sinks into the depths.

The water retreats, dripping down my belly.  The yellow orb, no longer shimmering, dries and burns my flesh as I rise further from the life-giving ocean.

Okay, I cheated.  Six minutes.  I didn’t want to stop it at “webbing wraps and confines.”

I really hope the fishermen drop him back into the water.

Discovery Cove Ruined Snorkeling for me FOREVER

As you guys all know, I was away for a little while enjoying some R & R with my family.  One of our stops was Discovery Cove in Orlando Florida. I never intended to post anything about this, because it has absolutely nothing to do with writing, but I really feel like I need to.  And I’m even including a few videos to show how amazing our experience was.

This was without a doubt, the most expensive day of may vacation.  It was also the best day of my vacation.  This is an amazing park.

Now, I must admit that this place is right up my alley.  I am a snorkeling junkie.  Can’t get enough.  Unfortunately, though, snorkeling will never be the same for me.  I don’t think anything will be able to top this place.

In an overall review, you pay one price, and you are served a gourmet breakfast, gourmet lunch, unlimited drinks, snack and adult beverages.  The drinks were strong, and the food was awesome.  No one had any complaints there.

We upgraded and got a dolphin swim experience, but you can go to the park just for the snorkeling, Lazy River, and aviary and you will easily fill up your day.

The Aviary:  AWESOME.  Birds are friendly and beautiful.

The “not so Lazy River”:  This is what my husband called it.  There is hardly any current, so you have to swim it, and it’s very long.  It is made to look like the Amazon river or something.  You cannot tell you are in a man-made river.  You go through the aviary for about ten minutes, and the birds are flying around, and animals are walking by you.  In some places the river is ten feet deep or so, and it can take over an hour to get around the entire thing.  Beautiful.

Dolphin Swim:  Very cool being up close and personal with a dolphin.  My only gripe was that when you grabbed the fin, and the dolphin took you for a ride, is was only for about ten seconds.  I wish it was longer.

The big tamale:  The Snorkeling.

You cannot imagine how good this was.  I am an avid snorkeler.  I can stare and swim with fish for hours.  Luckily for me, my son has inherited this love, and we hung out together all day while the little ones sat on the beach digging in the sand.

Here are a few pics of the snorkeling.

The first one, we had no idea what we were stepping in to.  I didn’t even have my snorkel on, and my oldest son (The Monomaniacal Middle Grade Reviewer) started screaming.  I see what he is screaming about from above the water, since is was shallow in the walk-in point.  I just shoved my camera under the water and pressed record.  This is what I got.  This stingray is about ten feet across.

You can hear me saying “Oh my God” from above the water.

Later, I caught up with one sleeping, and I put my foot down in front of it to give you some perspective of how dern big these things are.

Two Giant Black spotted Stingrays swam right beneath me.  Awe-inspiring

Here is a view of the wonderful (not) weather we had.  The fish didn’t mind.  Also, a wave hello from myself and the MMGR from under water.  You can see the rain from underwater, which is kind of cool.  It’s another world down there.

Oh, also… it’s hard to tell, but most of these fish are a foot long or larger.

This was an incredible experience.  If you ever have the opportunity, I would highly recommend it.  This was an experience my family will never forget.  Unfortunately, snorkeling anywhere else will pale in comparison.

Hi! I’m back! Soooo, How did it go? Did the Authors take good care of you?

Oh, how I miss the roller coasters, beaches, shows… and yes, some of the best snorkeling ever.  I also got to swim with a dolphin for the first time in my life.  My kids have no idea how good they have it, I swear!

I may be cajoled into posting a few pictures once I get unpacked and see what’s actually in the cameras.

In the meantime…

How did the authors treat you while I was gone?  I am looking forward to reading everyone’s posts.  I hope you received some wonderful words of wisdom from these very talented people.  I am sure you were in good hands.

So, while I am unpacking— and driving up north to pick up my peppy poodle from her vacation at the shore with her birth family— let me ask you a few questions:

Which author post did you love the most and why?

Is there anyone in particular I should invite back?

If the author posted a book link, did you buy their novel? (or do you already own it?)

I’m mainly curious how this all worked out.  It was a lot of work bringing this all together, and I’d like some feedback as to whether it was worth your while.


Guest Post and Giveaway: “There are no limits to what you put into your stories, as long as you follow a few simple rules.” by Rosalie Skinner

Thanks Jennifer for having me as a guest today.

It’s great to be here. My name is Rosalie Skinner and I write Epic Fantasy with a twist of Science Fiction.

Why did I choose this genre?

Well, we are surrounded with science facts. Gene mapping, clones, implants, microchips, GPS and nanobots and satellites are all factual. The idea of computer obsession and total immersion virtual worlds are not so far out of our reach. So when I started writing, the temptation proved too great. I wanted to include these ideas in my epic Fantasy. Strangely they fitted in well.

My hero comes from a world where space travel is common place. His background as an obsessed teenager, totally focused on his progression through a virtual reality game, works in well with his epic fantasy quest. He must learn to survive in a world similar to those he has experienced while competing in the Game.

The world of The Chronicles of Caleath include magic, dragons, alien species, heroes and heroines. There are visitors from other worlds, but most of the characters are home grown in a world where magic happens.

Caleath’s adventures include several seafaring journeys. Book One opens when he survives a shipwreck. His plan to escape back to the stars begins to unravel soon after. He must survive being hunted by off world assassins while trying to help the people of the southern continent destroy another alien species that threatens them.

It is the little twists of combining science fact, science fiction and fantasy that has made writing the Chronicles so much fun. There are no limits to what you put into your stories, as long as you follow a few simple rules.

Keep your readers believing. Share your ideas with simple concepts, familiar ideas and common sense characters. Even outrageous ideas must have some basis for belief.

Keep your plot moving. Every scene should push the plot forward.

Keep your characters true to their nature. No matter what they face, they must behave consistently. They should grow and develop as they face challenges, but only within the realms of believability.

Have fun!!

The first four books in the Chronicles of Caleath are now available from Museitup Publishing.

You can find more about the Chronicles  at

As a special treat, one person who comments below will be choosen to recieve a Kindle version of book one of  the Chronicles of Caleath  “Exiled: Autumn’s Peril”

Thanks for dropping in today.

Rosalie Skinner lives on the east coast of Australia. When not immersed in her fantasy writing she enjoys watching the humpback whales migrating in winter and all the coastal environment has to offer during summer. There is nothing she enjoys more than hearing from readers who have enjoyed Caleath’s adventures.


Several years ago, I heard literary agent, Cherry Weiner, give a talk at a writing group. Among the many things she shared with us that day were these wisdomous words:

When you’ve finished your story,

go back and rewrite the beginning.

Up until then, I’d always written in a linear fashion. I’d start with (what I hoped was) a killer opening, then work my way through the middle to the (again hoped for) thrilling and/or satisfying conclusion at the end, after which I’d get down to the editing. The idea of wantonly discarding the first few pages of a story, or worse, the first chapter or two of a novel, seemed counter-productive. Why write a beginning at all if you’re just going to throw it out later?

But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Despite our best intentions, stories quite often head off in a different direction from the one we originally intended. Even if, like me, you use outlines, planned ideas and sub-plots get changed, added and/or abandoned as we get to know the characters and plot better during the first draft process. Besides, who hasn’t had a critique containing a big red line several pages in, along with the words ‘I think your story starts here’? Personally, I’ve found rewriting the opening almost always leads to a better fit with the rest of the story.

There’s another positive effect from knowing you’ll rewrite the beginning from the outset, at least for writers like me. I understand the benefits to be had from getting the first draft over with as fast as possible. I want to work that way, but I fight a constant battle with my inner editor during the first draft process. When you know from the outset that whatever beginning you write will (almost definitely) get thrown out anyway, it’s easier to resist the temptation to go back and polish up what you’ve already got.

How about you?

Where do you end your first drafts?

Born in England, Jon Gibbs now lives in New Jersey, where he’s ‘Author in Residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School. A member of several writing groups, including SCBWI, he’s the founder of and His blog, An Englishman in New Jersey (, is read in over thirty countries. 


Jon’s debut novel, Fur-Face (Echelon Press) a middle grade fantasy about unusual friendships, unlikely alliances, and wanting to fit in, was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award. Watch out for the sequel, Barnum’s Revenge, coming in 2012.

 When he’s not chasing around after his children, Jon can usually be found hunched over the computer in his basement office. One day he hopes to figure out how to switch it on.

Guest Post: Zombies & New Worlds & Violence, Oh My! by J.A. Belfield

Yes, I’m talking about all the titles that have been slowly flooding the book markets over the past few years.

To be honest, I’d seen all the hype for zombie fiction & dystopia/post-apocalyptic novels. To begin I viewed them with scorn.

Yes, I did.

And I apologise profusely.

Because I was ignorant.

I wondered how something like zombies could possibly make a decent novel when it’s often the horrific visuals of a zombie film that grab us the most.

I wondered how on earth anyone could be enamoured by a story with a cover that depicts the world as broken and dreary as heck, and nowhere anyone in their right mind would want to live—again, I guess, something that would have great impact in a film.

Then I listened—to other readers—instead of being so opinionated.

Before I knew it, I’d let them sway me into picking up these books I’d struggled to figure out (without having read them …. Yeah, I know, I know, don’t say it).


I pretty much can’t get enough of them.

Granted, I’m not so keen on the zombie novels—unless you count Amy Plum’s romanticised version of zombies in Die For Me.

But I picked up Hunger Games convinced I would hate it.


So happens, I went out and bought Catching Fire as soon as I could and even had someone send me Mockingjay so I didn’t have to wait to read on to the end.

Yeah, I pretty much began devouring books from this genre I’d not even given a chance.

Since then, I’ve read Divergent, too—as well as finished up with Insurgent mere hours before writing this post.

Then there are the ones that combine genres: vampire dystopias seem to be the latest craze. Andrew Fukuda’s The Hunt or Julie Kagawa’s Immortal Rules, for example. I’ve read both of those. Admittedly, they haven’t wowed me quite as much as straight dystopia has, but they were still decent reads, neither of them alike, and both had highly intriguing concepts.

So what is it about these genres that seem to be spreading like wildfire? The characters, their conflicts, the action which often horrifies due to the violence involving youths, the love story (because there almost always seems to be at least the potential for one) … or the fact that we just don’t know what the future holds for our earth and to get even a fictional glimpse of that is simply too fascinating to pass up?

How about you? Have you tried these types of novels? What do you think it is about them that’s setting the reading population on fire?

Novels/Stories by J.A. Belfield

Guest Post: Veruca Salt, or the person in need of a white jacket with very long sleeves by Kastil Eavenshade

If someone told me I’d have to pigeonhole myself and only write one genre, I’d truly believe that person is in need of a white jacket with very long sleeves. Why deny myself the pleasure of exploring a world I’ve created on my own or helping two characters find true love. I want it all.
I’m a little Veruca Salt like that.
For me, it’s not what I write but how I write it. Am I weaving a fantastic story that draws the reader in or am I making them think of wonderful it would be to watch paint dry than to read another sentence. It is my sworn duty as a writer, since I am the one who decided to wade into the muck, to entertain you with my eclectic tales.
The truth is writing is hard. Like the popular kid that picked Mary Sue over you for his prom date, you’ve got to get used to rejection. An acceptance can cause just as much anxiety. If you get lucky with a good publisher, it’s rounds of edits. They mercilessly slay your baby and do kamikaze runs on your grammar. Buck up, my friend, this is going to hurt and you’ve got to put on the big girl pants for it.
As I leave you with this small pearl of insanity, I want to share the blurb for my first YA novel in progress. Not a genre I’ve been digging into with gusto but the mood struck and it’s 90% completed. I already have a publisher interested. It’s gritty and not the bubble-gum high school side of YA.
Jeremy Riggs has spent most of his life in and out of the hospital. One month he’d be full of vigor and the next comatose. The doctors can’t explain it but Jeremy figured it out around his fifth birthday.
Jeremy’s soul is too weak to sustain a normal life. He’s become a vessel to young souls who are trapped on this earth with unfinished business. Only Jeremy can help them reach their final destination.
Waking up in the hospital, a year after being found at the county dump next to the remains of Melissa Fowler, Jeremy finds his newest spirit is nothing like the previous ones. Angry and more powerful than any spirits he’s encountered, Jeremy must fight for control of his mind and body. To make matters worse, the police want to know how he knew the exact location of Melissa’s Body.


Linkage to my blog: ((The Eclectic Zaftig Chick))

Published Works:

The Wolves of Argonne published by Evernight Publishing in their new line Naughty Fairytales.

Fate Whispers published by Golden Visions Magazine in their Spring 2011 online edition.

Unchained published by Golden Visions Magazine in their Summer 2011 edition.

The Mark of the Brotherhood, published by Pulp Empire in their Pirates & Swashbucklers Anthology.

Soul Reaver, published in Evernight Publishing’s Midnight Seduction under the pen name of Kastil Eavenshade.

Dream Weaver, published in Evernight’s Publishing’s Midnight Seduction: Manlove Edition under the pen name of Kastil Eavenshade.

Boughs of Holly published in Still Moments Publishing’s Christmas Treats, Naughty Edition under the pen name Olivia Devereaux.

The Beauty Within to be published in Still Moments Publishing’s Spellbound Hearts Anthology under the pen name Olivia Devereaux.

Mended Hearts to be published by Still Moments Publishing under the pen name Olivia Devereaux.

Death Comes published by Golden Visions Magazine in their Winter 2012 online edition.