Monday, March 28, 2016

Strange Luck Secrets Revealed!

Fortune-telling crickets, mysterious candy, and haunted antiques?! I had a blast sharing 10 things you didn't know about Strange Luck and received such awesome feedback that I decided to share a few more secrets and elaborate on some of the ones from my post. I hope you enjoy it. And check out Loki's debut!!! He's the best sidekick ever. :)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Scary Reviews Interview


David Spell started The Scary Reviews because he's always been a huge horror fan and wanted to have a place to post his favorite horror book reviews. Not only did he see his dream to fruition, his site also features insightful horror/fantasy author interviews, guest posts, and a fabulous Women in Horror spotlight. I'm thrilled that he will be reviewing Book II in the Strange Luck series, The Nightmare Birds, as part of the Women in Horror feature in late 2016. I'm so excited!!!

Until then, you can check out my interview with The Scary Reviews, where you'll learn how many books are planned in the Strange Luck series, how I got the title, and what inspires me to write. And don't forget to check out the other author interviews, too! They're incredibly interesting and I've already discovered a bunch of new books to read as a result.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

How to Be a More Productive Writer

We all want to find the time to write more, but those darn annoying things called “responsibilities” get in the way (*eye roll). Then there are those unexpected things that tend to pop up every time you get in "the zone." You know what I’m talking about. Your allergies are bugging you, it's your great aunt's b-day, or your dog just threw up on the new carpet. Okay, some things are more urgent than others, but still, whatever the reason, finding the time to write and sticking with it is well, really freakin hard! It’s something that all writers struggle with, including me, which is why I'm sharing my biggest productivity takeaways in hopes of helping you achieve your writing goals and feel great at the end of the day. Now, let's do this thing!

1)   Identifying and Sticking to Realistic Goals: Write down your writing goals for the day, week, and month and stick to it. This can be in the form of a word count, page count, or whatever gets you motivated. If things repeatedly come up and you aren’t able to meet your writing goals, there may be a simple fix like setting different goals or slightly adjusting current goals. Still not working? Ask yourself why writing is important to you and why you want to make time to write. The pieces should then fall into place.

2)   The Power of Timing: Successful authors know what times of day they write best. They block out this time for writing and schedule everything around it. If you’re freshest in the morning, schedule your writing time accordingly. If work or school overlap with your best times, never fear, you can still find energetic hours. It just might be a little trickier. After I’ve had my morning walk and coffee, my brain is on and ready to go so I always reserve that primo morning time for writing new and/or challenging content. I also block out a chunk of time in the afternoon. Since I’m not as fresh then, I use the time to re-read what I had written and edit.

3)   Create A Routine: Block out writing time on your schedule every day and commit to it. The only way to transform your writing routine into second nature, and thus be more productive, is to follow it consistently. Here’s what Stephen King does:
“I have a glass of water or a cup of tea. There’s a certain time I sit down, from 8:00 to 8:30, somewhere within that half hour every morning. I have my vitamin pill and my music, sit in the same seat, and the papers are all arranged in the same places. The cumulative purpose of doing these things the same way every day seems to be a way of saying to the mind, you’re going to be dreaming soon.” (from Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King, via Daily Routines)
4)   Work in Increments: Group tasks into small batches instead of working for one long duration of time on one task. Not only will this help you focus, especially if you get bored easy, but you’ll be more productive because you will be regularly re-visiting your work with fresh eyes. Even if you're not sure about this one, try it out! You might be pleasantly surprised. One thing that has worked very well for me is scheduling in short blocks of time on my calendar the night before so I know exactly what I’m going to do and when I’m going to do it the next day. I’ve had to learn to accept that as much as I want to sit and write all day, I simply can’t. Although my writing time isn’t as long as I’d like it to be, I definitely utilize my writing time more efficiently.  

5)   Organize Your Space: If you haven’t done so already, designate a writing space where you can focus without interruption. Ideally, this would be your own office, but if space doesn’t allow, just make sure you avoid choosing a place where you relax like your bed or couch, which can send mix signals to your brain. Your goal is to train your mind to know when it should be in “work mode.” Wherever you choose to work, make sure that the area is well organized and free of clutter and distractions. An organized space = an organized mind. Also, getting the right space might take some experimenting. For me, I absolutely can't work without a view. A view might be too distracting for you though, so you can try facing your desk towards a wall instead. Don't be afraid to experiment. 
Here's my work space. It's simple, neat, and has a great view.
6)   Disconnect: Disable everything! I mean, everything. Close your Internet browser and turn off your cell phone (or at least the notification alerts which ping every time you get an email). Continuously being connected not only interrupts your flow, but the temptation of social media and emails can be too hard to resist. Before you know it you’ve scrolled through dozens of tweets, added five recipes to Pinterest, liked your BFF’s wedding pics, and written zero words of your book. I just read a magazine article that said the average person checks their phone 100 times a day! You don’t need it. Remember, you’ve got a book to write and all those things can wait.

7)   Skip It: If you’re still struggling to find time to write, take a good hard look at where you are spending most of your time. You’re more likely to achieve your writing goals if you skip watching shows and movies, spending hours surfing the Internet, or even reading other people’s books. You don’t need to avoid these things all the time, only when you’re struggling to focus or unable to meet your goals. I use movies as a reward. This motivates me to meet my goals because I have something to look forward to. Chocolate is also an excellent motivator. Whenever I hit a milestone like finishing a first draft, my husband and I celebrate by going out to get a piece of pie or cake.

My very own chocolate cake for completing Strange Luck. Yum!
8)   Schedule Social Media in Advance: You’ve already scheduled time to write, but what about social media and blog posts? They're important, too! Queue posts in advance and limit the amount of time you work on these things each day. You might be pleasantly surprised by how much time you’ve freed up.

9)   Motivation: It’s very easy to get down on yourself for not meeting your writing goals. It’s even easier to compare yourself to other authors and ask how the hell they’ve written fifteen books when you can barely get through one. This is another time where you might just need to disconnect. This means you need to stop looking at other authors and what they’ve done or are currently doing, and just write! When I’m having a particularly rough day and don’t want to write at all, I’ll journal or go over to Pinterest and look at some inspirational quotes. After five minutes I feel so much better.

10)   Know When to Step Away: Sometimes you just can’t get in "the zone" no matter what you do. The key here is to pay attention to your body to avoid a possible burnout. If you can, leave your workspace and do something fun or relaxing. Or both. Although it might feel like you’re wasting time initially, breaks can actually refresh your mind and lead to increased creativity. I’ve gotten some of my best ideas while doing something fun.  

Want more tips on how to write a book? Check out my other posts here.

Now you share! What tips or tricks do you utilize to increase your writing productivity?

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Strange Luck Official Book Trailer!

It's here! I've been working on a new trailer and I'm so excited to finally share it with you. Please show your support by watching and liking the official Strange Luck book trailer. Thank you! :)

I'll be posting a teaser trailer of The Nightmare Birds soon. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Lucky Cricket Is Real...Well, Sort Of

I don't know about you, but I love discovering little secrets behind a book like that Ernie Prang and Stan Shunpike, the driver and conductor of the Knight Bus in Harry Potter, were named after J. K. Rowling's grandfathers. It's so much fun discovering these little secrets, so I thought I'd share some secrets of my own about Strange Luck. Enjoy!

1.   The fortune-telling cricket is real! Well, sort of. Growing up, my parents always had a little cricket statue in our living room. When I got older, I asked where it had come from and my mom told me it was given to her by my great grandma who said it would bring their home good luck. I always thought that was neat, so when it came time for me to live in a house of my own, my mom gave me the cricket. Since then, it's traveled across the country with me and it currently resides in my living room.

2.   Although Sea Salt, CA is a fictitious town, it is based on a combination of my favorite ‘real’ towns in California - Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Pescadero, and La Honda.

3.   Daisy’s relationship with Roger started out in a similar way to how my relationship started with my now husband. We actually met in high school and became good friends, but I never thought he liked me until one day he asked me for my phone number.

4.   Roger’s dog, Millie, is based on my first dog ever with the same name.

5.   I love to antique! A lot of the antiques in the shop were inspired by real things I’ve seen or read about over the years.

6.   The idea of “collecting memories” in a fantasy world came to me as I passed by a cemetery on my way to work one day.

7.   My grandmother, Mary, died before she got to read this book, so I wanted to find a way to remember her. Her favorite flower was a daisy and one of my favorite memories was planting daisies with her. There was never any other name I entertained for the protagonist.

8.   I wrote the first two chapters of Strange Luck and then abandoned it or forgot about it for some reason. About a year later I was cleaning files on my computer and found the story and decided to finish it.

9.   I literally chose from over 100 cover designs for this book. I couldn't be happier with the result :)

10.  The Nameless world was inspired by Fantastica from The Neverending Story (book and movie) and The Labyrinth (movie).

Bonus: This book was fueled by cappuccino's and chocolate...and I enjoyed every tasty minute of it. 

Now you share! What are some secrets from your favorite books?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

TBT Writer - Good Ideas, Sometimes

It's #TBTWriter! Time to share some funny pics and things I wrote back in the day. If you’ve got a writing throwback, post it with this hashtag so we can all read your story.

When I was ten, we were given a class assignment to write our own short stories, draw the illustrations, and even include a dedication inside a bound book. The completed book would then be given to our parents during parent/teacher night and our parents would write us a letter telling us what they thought. Creative writing was my absolute favorite subject in school, but I had completely forgotten I made this book until my mom recently sent it to me. Now, I'm sharing it with you!

Oh la la!

Here she is. My first book! Check out the intricate hand-drawn cover art. Fancy, I know!

I just about fell out of my chair laughing when I read this. If you can't read my handwriting it says, "I dedicate this book to my brother "Scott" who helps me get good ideas for writing sometimes!" Not all the time, only sometimes! Ha ha ha. And, apparently I felt pretty strongly about this claim given the exclamation mark. This is so funny I just might have to do the same dedication in my next book.

My stories were all about sweets and animals. Big surprise! I'm curious why I starred the picture/story of the ice cream cone. Perhaps because dessert is my favorite meal of the day :) If you haven't read my TBTWriter story about an ice cream sundae, get ready to laugh.

And no book is complete without an About the Author section. Check out more of those fancy shapes and oh la la, a hand-drawn book in the middle. Aside from my last name and where I live now, pretty much all of my interests have remained exactly the same, especially the "she loves writing, music, and art" component.

Then, I came across this letter from my mom after she read my "book."

"You may become an author someday." Wow! I had no idea that my family saw that kind of potential in me back then. Writing was just something that I always enjoyed, but I never imagined I would write books one day. 

And this is me and my bro...and we're obviously up to no good.

Don't forget to check out my other #TBTWriter stories and pics:
What did you think of my first book, or the weird dedication? Do you have something from way back when you'd like to share with the world? Post your comments below.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Visiting Real Book Locations

I recently discovered a super cool app ~ Squirl. The app bridges the gap between books and the real world. The places you pass by become portals into the stories unfolding right where you are standing. What exactly does this mean? The app pinpoints actual places in a book so you can go and visit them. How cool is that???


As soon as I watched the above video I signed up and input the coordinates for Strange Luck. I also included excerpts from the book that describe the locations. If you venture out that way, I'd love to hear from you. Enjoy!