Thursday, April 30, 2009

They Say It's Your Birthday!

My oldest turns 16 today! Sweet, sweet sixteen! Yay! I can hardly believe it - it's gone so fast, but she's an amazing girl anyone would be proud to claim.

This is her casual pic we sent with her application to the SC Governor's School for Science and Math...she was accepted earlier this month! (that's the infamous Brody with is fave tennis ball)

She was recently featured at the Teen-Seen blog for her accomplishment of becoming a published author!

And you can connect with her anytime at her own blog showcasing the characters that make up her fabulous teen short stories, btw her first release Just One of the Guys goes live tomorrow!

And what a good sport to let me tie balloons to her crutches for school today!

Both my kids are awesome, but today is a special milestone and a beacon of happiness in a rather stressful month, so I wanted to give her some face time! Of course there were moments I didn't think one of us would survive, so we must extend thanks to Aunt Melanie who kept assuring me the next year would get easier. (I'm waiting for today's call, btw!)

Happy celebrations to all!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Write Stuff Wednesday

Here's a woman who had the Write Stuff for life!

Eleanor Roosevelt
was a role model full of sage advice who personified a life of leadership and accomplishment. At seventy-six she wrote a simple guide aimed toward living a more fulfilling life, titled You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life

One of my favorite quotes from her is this:
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

When it comes to writing, I've discovered authors often have to deal with insecurity issues (no, I don't mean YOU). In my opinion (here's hoping you'll agree) it's because we spend countless hours laying out a story that is near and dear to our hearts...then we have to wait...and wait...(possibly FOREVER)...for any feedback or affirmation. It's the same with many of the arts.

But no one artist or author will please everyone all the time (not even you). You can only focus your effort on putting out your best story every time. When you strive for consistency, your confidence will grow (yes that does mean YOU) lending momentum to the areas that matter most to you and your publishing goals.

As you move forward with your writing career (or any endeavor) there will be things to learn and try, and the good news is there is always someone out there to help. If you don't understand something it doesn't make you inferior- just ask questions, do the research, and ask some more until you get the info you need to take yourself and your work to the heights you dream of.

Happy writing and learning!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's The Way You Say It

The words you choose are important, but the tone and inflection and meaning you put behind them makes or breaks the moment.

For example: as a pre-driving teen I had a little trouble on a three-wheeler while spending the weekend at a friend's place. Soft gravel road, a bridge, and my inexperience culminated with the vehicle in the creek, me dangling from the rail, the family racing to the scene and much shouting and screaming from all parties (Really. I was not the only one shrieking like a girl)

I was uncomfortable, and not just because I was hanging from the railing staring at the wrecked three-wheeler drowning itself in the creek. Naturally I felt awful for what I'd done and the damage I'd caused.

My friend's family was kind and gracious and worried more for my well-being than the certain expense to the vehicle. Aside from a splinter or two, I was fine.

Until my friend's little brother decided to comfort me. The words, "It's all right. We know you didn't MEAN to wreck the three-wheeler" and all variations on that theme were incessant in the hours after the accident. It got so bad I started wishing I'd gone into the creek and the three-wheeler had run off on its own to flatten the child...but I digress. His mouth ran so fast and long in the name of comfort his parents even sided with his sister and told him to stuff a sock in it. Honestly, those words still haunt me on quiet nights in the woods with a creek chattering nearby...but I digress again.

When offering comfort, I recommend keeping it short and simple and sticking to the positive. I had a flat tire yesterday (that I couldn't change, but that's another post) and I had to scramble the armed forces, 411, and the back up plan for carpool. Unfortunately for my daughter one of her friends decided to stay with her until I arrived. Before I could get word to my daughter about the sitch, this friend kept blurting such unhelpful comments as:

"Gee, I hope nothing's happened."
"She's never this late."
"Do you think she's been in an accident?"
"She always calls you right? Whatever could be wrong?"
"What will you do if she's hurt?"

This, is not comfort, it is exacerbation of anxiety and promotion of dramatic tendencies and we need LESS of both. So think before you speak and keep it positive, people, lest someone find a sock to silence you.

the primary reason three-wheelers went off the market-
and author of the action packed Justice Incarnate
and the YA fantasy Pixie Chicks.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Driving Excitement...or not?

It's 'Driving' week over at Teen-Seen! I remember learning to drive in the ridiculous engineering marvel known as a AMC Pacer - my friends and I called it Freddy the Fishbowl. Our Pacer was a tan color and by the way this picture from the Wikipedia page is the coolest Pacer I've ever seen.

I'm watching a hockey game while I write this and as the players slam into each other looking for the advantage, I can't help thinking about how afraid I was of hitting things with Freddy when I was learning all those critical spacial concepts necessary for driving. You'd think it would've been easy in a car with windows like Freddy, but when, as a teenager, you've got enough to worry about with keeping your own body in the right space, adding a car seems an unkind challenge.

Except it's so fun! And totally liberating to actually DRIVE - even if it's in a fishbowl.

What did you have to drive when you were learning?

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Buy my books at and Echelon Press

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Funnies

Okay, so some people have an affinity for languages. My husband for example. For me, it's not that easy, but I enjoy the attempt.

Currently the daughter is taking Spanish and fortunately her father's genes are proving superior. Just this morning we were talking about the Hulk movie when he mis-speaks and tells the bullies they wouldn't like him when he's hungry. Daughter says "I know how to say that now" and proceeds to say something that sounds like hombre to me.

me: "Isn't that friend?"
her: "that's ohm-bray, long oh, mom. Ahm-bray is hungry."

To my untrained ear they sound a LOT a like. What if all this time, the guys have been getting creative and short-cutting the language, combining friend and hunger to tell the world they're off to hang with their 'hungries'?

I like learning a new concept and blending it with what I know: A group of young men greeting and hanging out with their 'hombres' is just a posse in search of snacks. Food I get and can provide no matter the slang tossed around the conversation like nuts on a salad.

I feel so much better, and just in time to go hang with my own 'hungries'.


desperately seeking Rosetta stone
and thankfully still writing her great books in English.
Available now from Quake and Amazon

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Off the Top

of my head...

I've just ventured into After the Kiss by Suzanne Enoch. The heroine is a little hard to like at first, but Enoch sprinkled in enough hints as to WHY that I'm sticking with her. (of course a hunky tortured hero doesn't have anything to do with my decision)

And I finished Locker Shock by Pam Ripling and I thought it was great! Another Quake author, Alyssa Montgomery just gave this two thumbs up (here's the full review) and I agree! I don't have much to add to Alyssa's comprehensive review, other than thanks to Pam for a page-turning story with strong characters. It kept me occupied during my daughter's recent physical therapy appointments and I've recommended it to my son.

As for the rest of my world, I must go get with the writing and editing because we have a very busy evening ahead! Daughter (featured at TeenSeen) is inducted to the National honor society tonight and my son has his spring concert- they won awards this year, can't wait to hear it!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Write Stuff Wednesday

Today, I want to pay homage to two authors who have the Write Stuff!

My all time favorite fantasy series as a kid would have to be CS Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia. There were other books, of course, but I always went back to the Narnia adventures when I needed comfort reading. My own boxed set was a treasured gift and one that still occupies a place of honor on my bookshelf. Dog-eared and worn as it is, I can't part with it. This is the set I shared with my kids when they were ready and one day (waay into the future) my grandkids will probably wonder why this moldering old collection is still around gathering dust. Well if not this exact set, at least this exact series.

As an adult and a parent, I've read a lot of books in a lot of genres, but as fantasy goes, I'd cast my vote for Rowling's Harry Potter series. I remember how wonderful it was to discover these books and share them with my kids. I've never been one to read in the genre I write and Harry's adventures give me a much needed respite when I need to escape my reality or my fiction. For whatever reason, the cursed internal editor that often won't shut up, goes on vacation when I'm reading any book in this wonderfully crafted series. I can assure you at the end of book four I was crying because of the impact, but I was also crying because I'd reached 'the end'. These seven books will also be on my bookshelf, next to Narnia, for as long as I have a bookshelf.

So fantasy or not, what puts a book in your Write Stuff column and earns it a place on your keeper shelf?


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Reading As Fantasy

This week at Teen-Seen the theme is Fantasy and that always ties in nicely with reading, since there's so many sub-genres under that heading. Plus, as I've said, reading for me is an escape - hence a fantasy - no matter what genre (or sub-genre) I'm reading.

Lately fantasy for teens seems completely sucked into the vampire realm. While I've got nothing against vamps or weres, (especially when they're Kenyon's Dark-Hunters) today I'm most curious if adults read fantasy at all.

I remember McCaffrey's dragon riders being the ultimate reading adventure of my teen years and I eagerly awaited the day I could share those books with my daughter. Fostering her love of reading - and love of reading fantasy- paid off as she's turned me to the books of authors like Eoin Colfer, PC Cast and Kristin Cast and Tamora Pierce.

I've often wondered if the magical and otherworldly sense of a fantasy is what gives an author like CS Lewis or Tolkien the timeless appeal to bridge generations.

If you were -or are- a fantasy fan, what makes the read worthwhile?

Do you think fantasy authors have a timeless factor other genres lack?

Happy Reading!

Buy my books at Echelon Press, Quake, or Amazon

Friday, April 17, 2009

Finding New Authors

How do you find new authors, or at least authors new to you?

Years ago, I'd missed the Diana Gabaldon launch of her stunning Outlander series, until both my mother-in-law and a best friend recommended it. I was immediately hooked on Jamie and Claire and have followed faithfully, sharing theories and such with other fans, as well as recommending the series to others.

Then there was the time I signed up for a conference by Julia Quinn. Not wanting to be the only one present unfamiliar with her books, I picked up the latest in her Bridgerton series and was instantly in love with her voice and her dear stories. I've since made addicts of my daughter, two neighbors and some other family members.

At that conference, Julia Quinn said she started writing because she'd just finished the last in a series by her favorite author and wanted to fill the gap.

But if your passion for words doesn't flow to writing, how do you fill 'the gap' between releases of an author you treasure?

Do you trust your neighborhood librarian, a friend with similar literary taste, or do you surf the web for reviews or wander a book store until a cover blurb pops for you?

If you're a web wanderer, might I suggest Echelon Press, Quake, or even Amazon. If you're the sort that needs to pick up a book and review the cover copy, my first suggestion is to visit your local library. Librarians are full of information and love to help readers expand their horizons. The same holds true for independent book stores - those people know what's what about their stock and their customers. Of course I usually have good service even at the big stores like Barnes and Noble or Borders.

I've never liked to read in my own genre when I'm writing a book, so I cast a wide net to feed my need to read. What about you?

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Buy Regan Black books at Fictionwise

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Who Do You Read?

My friend Jackie Sylvan posted about celebrity authors awhile ago, and today appears to be my turn in a similar vein.

Personally, I rarely read a celebrity book and not just because I feel they blur the line between fiction and non-fiction. I'm just not that into reading what I see as a collection of sound bytes that have already well-exceeded their air time. Don't even get me started on micro-celebs -you know - those average people who catch their 15 minutes of fame and won't let go.

The last 'celeb' book I picked up was Chuck Norris's Black Belt Patriotism: How to Reawaken America. It caught my eye at the library and I added it to the stack of Janet Evanovich and Clive Cussler. When the whole family became intrigued with Norris's book I bought a copy for us for Christmas. It was clear he was passionate about the topic and he'd invested in serious historical research to come up with an inspiring and thought-provoking work. It has certainly fueled some great discussion around 0ur house.

So how do you choose who you read? Do you gravitate to celebrities and current hot topics, or do you stick with the tried and true staples in your favorite fiction genre?

Hmmm...maybe it depends on why you're reading...

Happy Reading!

author of sci-fi and fantasy books available from Echelon Press and Quake

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Write Stuff Wednesday

This week's 'write stuff' is more about the stuff that makes great writing: Life.

Think about it...what colors your imagination? What amuses you or gets your blood pumping? That's right - Life. Not just the TV show that airs on Wednesday (though I love it too - great characterization, enough mysteries to keep me guessing, and plenty of Charlie quips), but the honest to goodness day to day of living.

My best friend says there's enough fodder in my day to day life for countless novels - but most of it wouldn't be believable on paper. The bizarre is so mundane in my world I can't even come up with a concise example. I'm an Army wife with two kids, greyhounds, cats, birds and a carpeted family room- the chaos abounds.

Chaos can detract from a writer's primary focus of writing, or it can enhance the overall experience for writers and their readers. In my case, I've learned to stop fighting the inevitable distraction and just write through it. Admittedly, I'll often find odd tangents in a scene - but I cut those and put them in a file that may as well be a scrapbook of my life.

Now on Kindle

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I happen to like the texting concept, for a few reasons, not the least of which is I don't have to hear the incessant chatter of teenagers when I'm trying to read or write.

But I must say I have yet to experience the text conversation that counts as an all time favorite reading adventure (though there have been some great one-liners).

Apparently there's a teenager in Wyoming who would disagree. Check out this article and then double check your own cell contract and coverage. It's not 'great' reading but it was certainly sparked an adventure for that family.

Happy Reading

The Pixie Chicks (The Hobbitvile Saga)
now on Kindle!

Monday, April 13, 2009

A New Direction

If this blog is about a world of reading adventure, it might be handy if I spent more time on the theme of things.

So on that note, let's venture into what makes a book a reading adventure. For me, I read mostly fiction and mostly for escape. I like a book to draw me in fast, so I feel instantly transported into whatever is going on.

That's the big criteria for me no matter the genre and I love them all - almost equally. That doesn't mean I want a dozen mysteries or subplots or dead bodies in the first three pages, I like an author who can strike a balance between intriguing and overwhelming.

And I've been known to put down books that take too long to engage me, though I have more patience in this area with sci-fi and historical romance. I think overall, it's the opening character that grabs me and keeps me reading.

How about you? Is it characterization? Setting? Plot?

Author of those quirky Pixie Chicks now on Kindle
and other books available from Amazon and Echelon Press

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fabulous Friday

I'm declaring this Fabulous Friday because I've had a lousy week. Not that things are bad, worse, good or indifferent. Just lousy with all those life events you never want to deal with. Medical issues, last wills and testaments, memorial arrangements. You get the idea...

So today will be a Fabulous Friday - I need it.

How will today be better than say, yesterday when I was melt down central?

I'm changing my focus to zero in on what I can do, rather than those things that seem to elude me lately. Like peace, calm, and order. First, I'll pace myself with a good book (thanks Kresley Cole) interspersed with physical therapy, for me and my daughter, some doctor-ordered deep breathing and some essential work on my own novel...I'm always happier when I'm making progress on my own manuscripts. At this point just a single new page would relieve a lot of stress. Maybe a fight scene, or a tear-jerking moment to help me deal with my Grandma's recent death.

Then next week a fresh start with a lighter heart.

Here's wishing you a Fabulous Friday too!


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Write Stuff Wednesday

To tie into the Fashion Theme over at Teen-Seen this week, I'll address the fashion of writers today.

In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield admits to having a favorite sweatshirt he dons when he writes.

I have a seasonal approach of favorite hoodies of differing fabrics, but I'm most comfy while writing in sweats. Of course my most productive time is first thing in the morning, so that's handy, since no one expects me to dazzle or boast any flair at 6am.

What about you? Got a fave outfit, place or time for getting your Write Stuff?

author of Pixie Chicks and other great stories available at Quake, Echelon Press, eReader, and Amazon.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

In Honor of Friends

Sometimes when you think you've got it all under control - it falls apart. That's when you know who you're friends are and just why you were drawn to them in the first place. Friendship and kindness matter in every situation so I just have give a shout to those people who have helped me through an amazingly stressful week:

Sam, for sitting with me during my daughter's surgery on Wednesday. He listened to me babble for hours and never once laughed directly in my face. Thanks!

Mel, for letting me use up her cell minutes crying on her shoulder when my Grandma died on Thursday afternoon.

Alysan, for being the friend with the skills to find Grandma's body when no one in LA county knew where she'd gone. AND for kicking some tail at my daughter's hospital when I was too grief stricken to advocate anymore.

Sam again, for the courage to return to the hospital with snacks and such after the hospital cafeteria had closed Thursday night.

Karen, for being both a friend and employer of immense compassion and kindness.

Of course, my husband too, for letting me lose it - just enough - and staying home to help when we needed him most. And for the endless trips for ice!

Thanks to all my friends, near and far, for the continued prayers, assistance and thoughtfulness.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

There's Still Time register for April's online class, The Perfect Ending, sponsored by LRWA. This is a fabulous opportunity to have fun and improve your craft through watching great movies like Indiana Jones, Practical Magic and more!

I love presenting this workshop for the sheer joy of connection and discussion with writers - and it's the perfect excuse to watch movies.

Join us today!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Write Stuff Wednseday

Do you have the write stuff when it comes to humor?

It's April Fool's Day and unlike St. Patrick's or Valentine's Day, there's no universal theme or color scheme for today. Just happy practical joking.

But what if you don't get it? Humor that is...

Some authors are just inherently funny, others get lost in the set up. Or the delivery. Or they forget the punchline.

If you want to punch up the comic relief in your manuscript, there are some helpful tools out there like The Comic Tool Box by John Vorhaus. This is a great resource for both writing fiction in general and learning how to write your best funny stuff.

Happy laughing!