Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Aftermath

Now that we are on the other side of Christmas, I'm anxious to re-focus on my writing. At my last signing of the year, I sat down and ironed out on paper the remaining plot holes in THE TYRANT KING. Earlier this month, I was able to plot out the entire story of THE LOST PRINCESS. And, now that I have people literally clamoring for my next book, I'd better get moving.

My husband has a network of amazingly supportive friends where he works, most of whom have purchased at least one copy of my book. Last week, he shared a bit of a short story with them that I'd written for my mom forever ago. And his friend immediately asked when THAT story was being published.

I told him he has to stop talking about my stories. He asked why. I said, with my current schedule, there's no way I can keep up with his mouth! :)

The biggest challenge of plotting out my trilogy has been deciding who lives and who dies. Really, only a handful of characters have proven untouchable. But I also don't want to kill characters off for the sake of killing them. There has to be a purpose, or reason, for their death that makes sense from the plot perspective. And I'm kind of worried, because there are a couple of characters I deeply love who might meet their end in THE TYRANT KING. I wasn't expecting that.

There's very little death in THE PEASANT QUEEN. I mean, most of the important deaths occur before the book starts. Only two characters die in the book, and they are the bad guys. But, in THE TYRANT KING, the villain is much more ruthless, and much more deadly--arbitrarily--than in THE PEASANT QUEEN.

But, in THE LOST PRINCESS, there isn't a murderous enemy. Most of the conflict comes from internal character issues, though there is a little bit of a power struggle the characters involved are not murderous. They feel justified that they are on the side of the right, so they don't feel they should have to resort to murder. But, it's not realistic for the events that happen to transpire without costing at least one life. And, it's a big death, a meaningful one. I'm still struggling with it. All the primary characters will feel it--they will all react.

I remember JK Rowling saying once, on this topic, that she'd tried to kill Mr Weasley several times, but he kept surviving. But the Weasley family couldn't be untouched by the events, as close as they were to them, so it did cost. When I look at killing off characters, I play out the events and then wonder what the cost would be. In one instance, a character poisons someone so he can escape, but logically, as he reaches the stable to get his horse to steal out of the castle, someone is there. Someone who would raise the alarm. Someone who, if injured, would die before help would arrive the next morning.

It's amazing how much logic and reason have to go into a fantasy novel. :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

But This Is

"Jesus Child"

The star shone high and bright,
in the sky above our heads.
We tried to tend our flocks,
but followed it instead.
How far it led us, we know not.
Nor do we really care.
For we'd have trod a thousand steps
to see who we saw there.
He was so small, this Son of God,
an infant child who lay
in a manger, with Mother dear
on a bed of hay.
His eyes, so bright, just like the star
that shone in Heaven above,
looked on us with approval
as we gazed at him in awe.
Others came, but we were first
this sweet child here to see.
And we knew then, deep in our hearts
our Savior he would be.

December 19, 1994

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This is No Christmas Story

Somehow, I managed to get through high school, though I will tell you I spent the majority of my senior year on the homebound program, where a teacher visited me twice a week and left me with homework. Incidentally, if you're in my graduating class, that's where I was. I didn't drop out, I didn't have a baby. I actually graduated the same time you did. But, due to some rumors and lack of follow through, I'm not in the yearbook. Just so you know.

Shortly after graduation, we moved from the 3 bd house we were renting to a 2 bd apt. When I was 19, I applied for and got a job at a local movie theater. Free movies. Oh, yeah. I loved it.

But I promised to tell you about one of the days I almost died. So here it is. By the time I was 20, I'd been working at the theater for almost 2 years (I was a month shy of 21) and I was married to Bryan. We'd recently started trying to have a baby. I was majorly burned out working at the movie theater and had put in my 2 weeks' notice.

One Friday afternoon, as I was sitting in the box office alone selling tickets, a man walked up to the window. HI, I said.

Hi, he said.

Then he pulled the gun out of his pocket, and pointed it through the opening in the window where money and tickets pass through.

He calmly asked for all the money. I looked into his eyes. Dead calm. Intent.

I picked up the entire cash tray out of the drawer and slid it toward him. He pulled the meager amount out and stuffed it into his pocket.

Then he told me to sit on the floor and count to ten. In any other circumstance, I'd have laughed at the suggestion. But, a gun pointed at your chest is an amazing equalizer.

I got to about three before logic told me he wasn't waiting around to test my counting skills. I peeked over the counter and he was gone. So I grabbed my radio to call my supervisor upstairs.

"Michelle," I said. "We've just been robbed."

"What?" Disbelief.

I started to crack. "I've been robbed."

"I'll be right there."

That's when I started to cry.

In the moments that followed, some of the things management was grateful for was the fact that they had just done a cash drop, so what was in the drawer was less than $100. Take that, slimeball. The other thing they were happy about was that I was the one in the box office. I was the one it happened to, not one of the kids who worked there.

That's rather a backward compliment, don't you think?

I pulled myself together long enough to talk to the police and give a detailed description of the man. Think George from Seinfeld, with a few differences. Bryan was driving trucks back then, so he couldn't rush to my side to comfort me. My mom came and took me home, and stayed with me until Bryan got home.

In the days that followed, I did return to my job and work the box office the last week. I hated being home alone. And I got angry. Really, really angry at this man, because he stole something from me far more valuable than the money he got.

He took my sense of security, my feeling of safety.

The jerk.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Little More History

I've posted about all the exciting things, contests, books etc, during the last few weeks, and gotten a bit distracted from my writing history.

If you'll recall, the last tidbits I shared were in story form. Basically, I shared real events that happened to me in ways that were easier to talk about. Now I'm going to share with you how those experiences, and others, helped me write my book.

We all know that we're supposed to "write about what we know." Okay, well, I wrote a romantic fantasy novel. I don't know much about the setting and what might happen in an alternate world--never been there--but I do know something about captivity, real and figurative. I do know what it feels to be put in the role of "victim" and how I react to it.

Recently, I attended a signing where author Jessica Day George spoke about this very thing. Her books focus heavily on relationships because that's something she knows. So, while she has this fantasy setting for her novels, the characters resonate with the reader because she pours what she knows into them.

That's what I hoped to do. In my book, THE PEASANT QUEEN, Krystal is put in a position in her family where she is given an impossible choice: marry the village idiot or run away. I faced different circumstances, but a similar choice. Krystal is taken prisoner by an evil king. Okay, my captivity was more emotional than physical, and he wasn't a king, but I felt trapped just the same. And I did NOT like it, very much like Krystal.

At one point in the novel, Krystal is fighting of the unwanted advances of an older man. Been there. At another, she has genuine fear for her life. Been there, too.

Most of us don't know how it feels to look possible death in the face and the things that race through your mind in those moments. When we're granted the reprieve of continued life, we reflect on what we would have left behind.

All of this is very real for me. All of this is what I know, and what I hope to pour into my novels.

Next week I'll tell you about that day I almost died. At least one of them.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

MY GIFT TO YOU by Lori Nawyn


From the back of the book:

Trish Ingram works hard to maintain the perfect suburban household—or, at least, the appearance of one. By managing her outer world with lavish attention and rigid control, she’s able to ignore and conceal the darkness of her inner world, which is plagued by traumatic childhood memories of loss. Her terminally ill sister-in-law, Jamie, sees through the façade and reaches out in love to Trish, inspiring her to seek a more meaningful life and a more authentic self. But the childhood scars run deep, and despite Trish’s best efforts, she’s unable to be the wife and mother her family needs.

Devastated by the departure of her husband and daughter, Trish faces the challenge and opportunity of a lifetime. She desires to move forward in faith, but this desire alone cannot mend her family's shattered trust. The hollow realm of denial and fear has been her safe haven. To confront pain and transcend the shadows of her past will require a level of courage she’s not sure she possesses. This gripping story of familial love and conflict tenderly reminds us that forgiveness—of self, and others—is both a difficult choice and a precious gift.

Why I wrote the book:

“My Gift to You” is about forgiving ourselves, despite what we perceive as our shortcomings.
When we judge ourselves as less than acceptable for any reason, small mistakes can cripple us with discouragement. It becomes easy to lose sight of our potential, as well as precious opportunities for growth.

I was an only child with ample time to ponder the intricacies of human behavior. At a young age, I became fascinated by the fact that while several people in my life were happy, upbeat, and in possession of inner peace in most if not all circumstances, some seemed inherently unhappy no matter what happened—good or bad. Money and possessions didn’t seem to have a bearing, and I wondered what did.

Though I’d been baptized when I was eight, my family didn’t attend church. If I wanted to go, I had to attend on my own. It took me a while to grasp gospel concepts, and I found that most of the time I was among those who were unhappy. About twenty years ago I decided to stop asking Why me? and instead start asking What if?

One by one, I replaced negative emotions with those of a positive nature. Instead of wondering why I couldn't make everyone around me happy—and becoming despondent because nothing I did seemed to change them or their opinions—I started asking things like, "What if happiness really is a choice? What if it can be my choice, no matter what anyone else thinks or feels?"

Instead of commiserating over why my extended family couldn't accept me for who I was and what I believed in, I asked myself, "What if I could choose my own thoughts and emotions based on what I know in my heart is right and true?" In short, "What if I accept myself for who I am?"

And, "What if I forgive—knowing that forgiveness doesn't mean acceptance?"
When I began writing “My Gift to You,” I decided I wanted my main character, Trish, to discover something important about herself: I wanted her to discover her own inner strengths and worth—much like I had when I began to unravel my own life.

Some of the things I hope the book will lead the reader to consider:

What does charity mean? Why is it important we extend it to ourselves?

What can happen when we base our worth on what the world values? On what should we base our worth?

Why are women so hard on themselves? What defines true success?

What can result when we judge ourselves to be less than others? Why is important we have a clear sense of self and purpose?

Are cruelty and shallowness signs of strength, or weakness? Why can cruelty be the result of fear?

Bio:

Lori Nawyn's award-winning writing has appeared in regional and national publications including Outside Bozeman, Segullah, Deseret News, CraziBeautiful Women, and Latter-Day Woman. She is also a columnist for her local paper and a former member of Utah Press Women. One of her short stories was published in the anthology Stolen Christmas. Her first novel, My Gift to You, was released in October 2010.

Lori is currently writing her next novel, Day, about a mother’s relationship with her son. She works as a freelance artist and is the illustrator of the award-winning children's picture book What Are You Thinking? which was released in July 2010 by ThoughtsAlive Publishing. She and her fireman husband live in northern Utah where they enjoy spending time with their four children and two granddaughters, plus an assortment of dogs, rabbits, and chickens.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My review: PERILOUS by Tamara Heiner

Review Disclaimer: Sometimes a book I review has been sent to me for free by a publisher or an author. This in no way effects my review, which is my own opinion about whether the book was a good read for me, fit my tastes, and if I would recommend it to others. Other than possibly a free book, I am not compensated in any way for posting a review.


I use “wow” too much, but how do you describe a book that just leaves you reeling?

Tamara Heiner’s book, Perilous, is a thrill ride of danger and adventure. I sat down to skim it one evening after the kids were in bed, and ended up reading into the wee hours.

Intense.

Unbeliveable.

Action packed. And it all started with a bad coincidence. I'm afraid by explaining too much I'll be giving something away.

You’re going to love it. And, like me, be waiting anxiously for the next installment.

For fun, here is the information on the contests Tamara has running for this blog tour (in her own words):

Book giveaway: The winner of this contest will be randomly chosen. Every
person who comments on any post during the blog tour will be entered into
a random drawing for a book. Which I can autograph, if they want. The
contest begins on Nov. 16 and ends on Dec. 15.

Kindle giveaway: This contest is point-based and begins Oct. 15 and ends
Dec. 15. Whoever has the most points wins the Kindle. There will only be
one Kindle given away. Here are the points:
1 point: blog comment (can comment on all the blogs, multiple times, on
the tour)
1 point: follow my blog (http://tamarahartheiner.blogspot.com)
1 point: retweet
2 points: blog about the blog tour
5 points: purchase the book (ebook or paperback, must email me the
confirmation email) if they actually buy the book in the store they can
mail me a copy of the receipt.
Have them add up all their points as well as their proof (links, etc) and
email it to me at the end of the blog tour (tamara at tamarahartheiner dot
com)
People can earn an infinite number of points! I'm excited for this!

To get you going, check out the trailer HERE

And, you'll have to read Perilous to understand, but I'm really scared for Kristin.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Heads Up!

Tristi Pinkston is hosting an absolutely huge contest over on her blog to celebrate the release of her new book, "Dearly Departed." A new prize will be offered every twenty-four hours, and with multiple chances to win, you can't go wrong! Prizes include books, jewelry, perfume, movies - and the grand prize is a free night's stay at the Lion Gate Manor in Lava Hot Springs. Visit Tristi's BLOG for rules and more details.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

And the Winner is...

I'm so mean. Before I announce the winner, I have to say that you ladies are amazing. All the suggestions I received were worthy of consideration. It touched me how accurate some were, and how similar others were. Many of you suggested terms from Alice in Wonderland. Some of you really hit my heart.

I found myself wishing everyone could be a winner. But I had to narrow it down. To one. Oh, the humanity. But, my blog can have only one name.

So here's what I did: I narrowed it down to my top 5 (ok, 6) favorites, then put them in a hat, mixed it up, and let my oldest son draw the winner.

And the winner is:

From the Other Side of the Mirror
submitted by KRISTA.

Congratulations, Krista! You have one week to email me privately at Cheriwrites(at)yahoo.com with your address so I can mail your free copy of THE PEASANT QUEEN to you. Also, please let me know who you want to me to autograph the book to.

Thank you to everyone who submitted their suggestions. You really made this tough. :)

And, a huge shout out to ALL my followers. We hit 250!! Woohoo!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

WE have Arrived!!



I know it's not Tuesday, but I had to post. Just got an email from my editor, Megan, that said my book has arrived at the warehouse. Can you imagine? Sitting over in Springville are copies of my book, just waiting for their December release.

I'm so excited! I have to go wake up my husband now! :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Suggestion Box is now Closed

Just a quick post to remind you all that yesterday, Tuesday, Nov 16th, was the last day to submit your suggestions for my blog name. I will announce the winner here next Tuesday, Nov 23rd.

I'm so excited.

Remember, the lucky winner will receive a FREE signed copy of my book, THE PEASANT QUEEN!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

History in Story Form 2

I’m going to tell you a second story now. This is about Alice.

Alice babysat to earn extra money. She worked for families in her neighborhood, though there were few, and mostly advertised by word of mouth. Once, she answered an ad and ended up watching the daughters of a stripper who worked nights. Then, near her 18th birthday, Alice took a job working for a family who had a home business.

The mom had a thriving business, and two young children in diapers, and definitely needed another pair of hands. She struggled tending the kids while answering phones and planning business deals. Alice loved the kids—2 ½ and 1 ½ yr old boys. They didn’t talk much, but they were great fun.

Within a couple of weeks working there, Alice met a member of their extended family who frequently visited the kids during the day. One day, this family member was visiting when the mom came home. The older boy raced to the window to watch Mommy pull in, while Alice sat on the couch next to this man with the younger one on her lap.

Without warning, the man put his arm across Alice’s chest and gripped her opposite shoulder. He pulled her toward him, and she felt him nuzzle and kiss her neck. Alice froze. What was going on? What was he doing?

He pulled away. Really it had all been over in seconds. Alice glanced at the older boy, but he didn’t appear to have seen it. Mom opened the door, and Alice went home. Shaking. Reliving the moment over and over. What could she have done? How could she have stopped it? Why did he do that?

The next time he came over to visit the family, Alice gave him the cold shoulder. She never got close enough for him to grab her again. Then he put her on the defensive. He called the Mom while Alice was working and asked if Alice was angry with him for something. She put Alice on the phone and Alice listened to him explain that he didn’t mean anything by it; that he’d just gotten overcome with affection visiting the kids because he loves them so much.

No, Alice didn’t buy it either, but she still felt stuck. Now what could she say?

So she didn’t. She kept her silence.

For over a year. Other than her closest friends, who volunteered to instruct this person on personal boundaries, Alice told no one. In the mean time, this person showed up at her work unannounced, any time of the day or night, and sometimes at the park when she’d take the kids to play. He offered her a job once. While “chasing” her across the playground while the children played, he offered to double her salary if she’d come work for him as his assistant. He was a writer, too, he explained, and had to drive out to remote desert locations to do research. She turned him down.

One morning, she broke. Alice called her employer from her bathroom floor to quit her job, because she was too overwhelmed with emotion to move. Getting up and going to work made her physically ill. The stress and constant fear of this person showing up when she was alone with the kids was more than she could stand. They called Alice back and offered her a raise if she’d come back to work for them. The kids trusted her; they needed her, but Alice had to say no for her own sanity. She never confessed the real reason she quit. She never felt like they’d believe her word over his.

But who did her silence truly protect?

History in Story Form 1

It occurs to me, as I talk about my past, I don’t talk so much about what I wrote during this time. Let me say that in high school I wrote my first novel, started the second, and wrote a handful of deep, dark, depressing poetry (as well as some nice things). I wrote rants, also. One in particular involved a horrendous Valentine’s Day.

Today, I’m going to favor you with two posts. They say confession is good for the soul.

Now I’m going to tell you a story. I’m going to tell you about Abbey. Abbey was a teenage girl growing up in Phoenix. She had a mom and several brothers. She walked a lot. One day, while walking to the store, she saw a car drive by her slowly. This was not unusual. Pretty enough to get attention, Abbey dealt with stupid boys whistling and hollering at her regularly when she walked.

But this was different. The car came by again. Abbey felt cold shivers of dread on that warm, spring day. Again she saw the car. By then Abbey knew something was wrong. Fear gripped her. She bent down and picked up a large rock she could barely conceal in her hand. Why? She couldn’t say; her thoughts were not clear.

The car came by one last time. The driver slowed, and the man asked her if she knew where this particular street was. Abbey thought she did, and gave him directions, all the while careful not to get too close. But the man didn’t seem to understand. As he started to ask her if she’d just get in and show him, a police car appeared at the end of the block. The man glanced in his mirror, spotted the cop car, and hurriedly thanked Abbey and drove off.

She dropped the rock a while later, still shaking. What Abbey wanted was to flag down the police car and ask them to take her home. Somehow, going to the store had lost importance. But she didn’t. She continued with her plan and reached home safely.

A few weeks later, she was sitting on the edge of the couch reading the newspaper over her brother’s shoulder. On the cover of the paper was the photo of a man. Sick dread filled Abbey as she recognized him. He looked so much like the man she’d met on the road. She was certain they were one and the same, but time made her wonder.

The man in the paper had been arrested for rape and murder.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

CONTEST REMINDER

This is a friendly reminder of my ongoing contest. We're nearing the last week I'll be accepting entries, so get commenting! :) I've gotten some great suggestions so far. Here are the details:

My author blog needs a cool name. An incredibly brilliant author friend of mine suggested "Author Blog" might be a bit boring, but I literally had NOTHING--so I just put up my name. Equally boring.

I'm opening up the floor to suggestions. But, remember, keep it clean. I am a wife, mother, blogger and author of young adult romantic fantasy novels. I'd like to keep to this theme, particularly with emphasis on the writing--since this is my author blog (even if I want a better name for it).

How do you enter? Simple. Just leave a comment on my blog with your suggestions between NOW and NOVEMBER 16TH. On TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 23RD I will announce my choice.

And now you're wondering what you could win, aren't you? How about a free, personalized, autographed copy of my debut novel THE PEASANT QUEEN? That's what's up for grabs. So get brainstorming, my friends!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

History, continued

Before I delve into the past, here's a reminder about my ongoing contest. My blog needs a name! Click HERE for more details. Just a couple weeks left to have your say!

I mentioned, at the end of my last post, how writing saved my life. At the risk of sounding dramatic, this is too true. Things at home hit their lowest point while I was in high school. I was the kid who thought all the other kids my age who worried about regular things--dates, prom, grades--were stupid and trivial because I was fighting for my life every day.

I tried to escape. Truly. All I wanted was $100 from the social security check that came in my name to my mother so I could give it to my friend's mom for rent. Without that, though, I was stuck.

And I didn't get it.

At my lowest point, I wrote a suicide note. I still have it. (Note**Some authors are crazy and keep EVERYTHING) But, because I had spent a solid year sharing everything I wrote with my friends, when my friend walked into the room I handed her my note. I didn't even mean to. It was automatic. And we talked. And cried. And I lived another day.

And another. And another. A few months later I admitted I could not fix me without help, and we sought outside counseling. With therapy, and medication, I was able to live a much more normal life.

Until...well, we'll talk about that next week.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Little History

Today I'm posting a little about my writing journey. You know, what got me to the point I am today? What drives me to write?

First, though HERE is the link to my ongoing contest. I need a cool, awesome name for this blog. Keep them coming; this is getting really fun! :)

Now for some backstory:

I was an intensely angry youth, but I hid it pretty well. I know everyone has a hard time through the teen years, but I took it up a notch. My parents divorced when I was 4, and my dad remarried. He died the summer before I turned 8 yrs old. I had no coping skills to deal with this, so I internalized it.

Things got really complicated at home when I was about ten years old. Without going into details, home lost all safety for me. Even my friends' moms didn't like them coming to my house. They didn't feel it was safe for their children to be there. Not that I had a great many friends, mind you. I liked the loner status--less to explain.

But I was developing a reputation in certain circles because of my temper. Some considered me dangerous when angered. I had developed a habit of bottling my emotions. If something hurt me, or angered me, I'd stuff it into this little bottle in my mind. Except that only works for so long before the emotions start spilling out--usually at bad times.

This is how I coped. I read, a lot. I made up stories and scenarios in my head and acted them out with my dolls, my friends--whatever worked. But it wasn't until I was in high school that I started writing things down. And it was writing that saved my life.

But more about that later. :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sneek Peek at my Full Cover!

I have been sadly remiss in sharing this with you. A week or so ago, I received the full cover for my book, THE PEASANT QUEEN. Here it is:




This is not the best image, but hopefully you can read it. The copy came to me as a .pdf file, which won't upload as an image to FB or blogger.

Here is a close up of the back cover blurb:


I think it's beautiful :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Surprised, aren't you?

I bet some of you are pretty surprised to see me here, on my self proclaimed posting day, with a new post. I've been so inconsistent I know people have lost faith in my ability to maintain a steady schedule. I know I did. But, here I am!

First, I want to remind everyone of my contest. It's still going on. You have until NOVEMBER 16TH to leave a comment with your suggestion my new blog name. The prize is a copy of my book, THE PEASANT QUEEN--which went to press yesterday. Woohoo!!

Remember to please keep your suggestions clean. I've had a few already--one's a little too long (but sweet, Amie--thank you!), but I think we're going in the right direction. I want to make this a real contest, so don't be shy. Suggest away!

And now, for another poem.

Untitled

A child alone, a child lost.
In this world tempest tossed.
The tears flowed free, just like a brook
as down the mountain paths it took.
Her smiles were fewer, as tears took hold.
She never really was too bold.
Once in the darkness life had wrought
she saw more pain the more she fought.
And so her struggles began to wane;
she thought them all to be in vain.
She sobbed alone, upon a stone.
If only the poor child had known.
That all the times that she had cried.
It was the Lord who wiped her eyes.


January 22, 1995

You know, I did originally leave this one untitled, but right now, I'm thinking it should be Tempest. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More Poetry, and 2 Announcements!

Happy Tuesday! As we careen through October, I thought we'd have a little fun. But, since I don't want my fun to get mixed up with Halloween fun, I'm extending it into November.

So, how about a fun contest? My author blog needs a cool name. An incredibly brilliant author friend of mine suggested "Author Blog" might be a bit boring, but I literally had NOTHING--so I just put up my name. Equally boring.

I'm opening up the floor to suggestions. But, remember, keep it clean. I am a wife, mother, blogger and author of young adult romantic fantasy novels. I'd like to keep to this theme, particularly with emphasis on the writing--since this is my author blog (even if I want a better name for it).

How do you enter? Simple. Just leave a comment on my blog with your suggestions between NOW and NOVEMBER 16TH. On TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 23RD I will announce my choice.

And now you're wondering what you could win, aren't you? How about a free, personalized, autographed copy of my debut novel THE PEASANT QUEEN? That's what's up for grabs. So get brainstorming, my friends!

Now for my second announcement. Except for the odd book review, I will be posting on this blog every Tuesday of the week. Here's what you can look forward to in the near future: my personal poetry, tidbits from my writing journey, updates on my book's release and the odd, inspirational thing that may hit me.

And now for another poem: Happy reading!

PLAYTIME

Oh, if only I could stay,
and watch my child as she plays.
To be a fly upon her wall
seeing her; nothing else at all.
For I know that soon will come
the day when all her playing's done.
But now, in my room so quiet,
I listen to her joyful riot.
Not to intrude, or ruin her fun.
My time is when her playing's done.
My heart, though, would be full today,
if I could watch her as she plays.



January 13, 1996

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"The Secret Place"

Far away from town,
clear of all the roads.
Lies the secret place
that only I know.
In the middle of a field
under the lonely tree
stands a bench for all to see.
But only I can see it
for it lies in my mind,
this single, secret place
that only I can find.
It's where I go when life
heaps too much onto me.
I sit there, in my secret place,
or climb right up the tree.
I hope we all can find
our separate, secret place.
So this, our cold, cruel world
we can learn to face.

November 7, 1994

Friday, October 1, 2010

Does this sound Familiar?

Last night, exhausted and overly reflective perhaps, I got to thinking. Have you ever thought how much the author network of Utah resembles Hollywood?

We have our superstars--our big screen draws--if you will. These are the ones who have written books that appeal to the large, national audience. They're our Brad Pitts and Angelina Jolies. (ahem--Brandon Mull, Shannon Hale, James Dashner)

We have our "small screen" authors--those who do very well in the smaller venue of LDS literature and seem content to carve out their niche and stay there. (Anita Stansfield)

Then we have our Broadway stars--those who have national appeal but remain in a smaller venue, in a smaller realm of influence.

And last, we have those like me--the starlets, ready to break out into our first starring role and see where it takes us.

In this reflection, I find myself thoroughly pleased we don't have the worry of Hollywood gossip. I love that private lives stay private and separate from our writing lives. That is the mark of true professionalism.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

YES!!!!!

You can't see it, but I am so doing the happy dance right now!

I've struggled for a long time now over the remaining books in THE PEASANT QUEEN series. Initially, they were going to be THE PEASANT QUEEN, THE WILD QUEEN and THE TYRANT KING. While TPQ and TTK have been rich, fantastic stories to tell, TWQ has been like a constant plague, the kind that makes you want to go into accounting or something. There's a great story there, but it lacks a solid, satisfying resolution. And the main character, or at least a primary character, vanishes 2/3 of the way through the book. That mystery is never solved. In fact, the bad guy is never unmasked, and gets away scott-free.

HOW can this be a satisfying story?

In truth, it can't be. Or it would take an author way, WAY more talented than I am to bring it to life.

But, part of the story of TWQ is told in THE PEASANT QUEEN. Another part of the mystery is revealed in THE TYRANT KING. And, at the end of THE TYRANT KING there is a character that the readers don't really get to know, someone with tons of angst and conflict who has a story to tell.

She is THE LOST PRINCESS.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My review: The Stone Traveler by Kathi Oram Peterson


I had not read any of Kathi's work before, so when she contacted me to do a review I have to say I was excited.

First, a description of the book: Sixteen-year-old Tag can't believe he's in this much trouble. He's not actually a member of the gang known as the Primes-all he did was spray paint some graffiti that caught their attention. In all honesty, ever since his dad and brother left, Tag just wants to be alone. And it's certainly not his fault that the Primes nearly beat up his goofy cousin, Ethan. But his mom is furious about these gang-related activities and insists that Tag spend the whole summer at his grandpa's lakeside cabin, which is not Tag's idea of a good time. So he does what any self-respecting teenager would do: run away. But he doesn't get far before he encounters three strange men carrying an even stranger object-a stone that glows with radiant light as bright as a thousand sparklers. Tag doesn't steal the stone-not exactly. He feels like he is supposed to take it. But he doesn't expect the stone to transport him through space and time to a place he's never seen before-a place that looks an awful lot like the ancient lands described in the Book of Mormon. And he definitely doesn't expect to join Sabirah, the entrancing daughter of Samuel the Lamanite, on a quest to rescue her father and brother from the evil King Jacob. And he absolutely doesn't expect to be captured by Jacob's minions and prepared as a sacrifice to the evil idol of the city. But just as Tag faces his death, a terrible storm begins to break, and the ground cracks into jagged pieces. And he's not sure which event will impact his life more: his captor's knife coming at his body, the violent tempest sweeping the land . . . Or the men who later appear, glowing even more brightly than the traveler's stone.

My thoughts: I found this book to be quite engaging. I knew Tag had a deep, dark secret that he'd blocked out, but it was hard for me to be patient until near the end to find out what exactly he'd hidden from himself. And Sabirah, who is also a primary character, was absolutely delightful. I found her completely believable as a young, righteous woman fighting with all she had to bring her father and brother home.

The Stone Traveler felt real. I could picture Tag, how he saw himself and how others saw him. I understood Sabirah and her struggles. I saw the evil and it creeped me out. And in some parts, where the characters weren't sure which direction was right, I found I wasn't either. And, of course, for those of you looking for it, I did cry at the end--okay, near the end. There were a couple of very touching scenes that made my eyes leak.

I did find a section near the end where it seemed like Tag was speaking formally and it didn't sound quite like him, but overall the book had good character distinction. Most of the time I didn't need to check at the top of the section to know which--Tag or Sabirah--character's thoughts I was reading. And I will say that I found one particular section dealing with Christ to be difficult for me to read. Not because of any failing on the part of the book or author, but a personal preference and feeling all my own.

Those things said, I had a great time reading The Stone Traveler, and I bet you will too.

Don't forget to click HERE and take part in Kathi's exciting contest! Contest ends September 30!

Don't have a Heart Attack...but I'm Back!

If ANYONE has been paying attention, it's been over a month since I sent out a new blog post here. I think about all my blogs and my followers every day, and wonder who is out there hanging on my every post and waiting, hoping, praying, for more bits of wisdom.

Then I wake up lol. :)

But, seriously, I haven't felt the inspiration needed to post for so long. It's frustrating, but I don't want to post just for the sake of doing so--I want to actually have something to say.

So, here it is: I have never read The Hunger Games series. There, I said it. And now, I will explain why.

I'm unearthly, unreasonably, unseasonably stubborn.

I'm going to take you back in time. It's 1987, and the movie The Princess Bride is in theaters. My friend calls me up to tell me she just saw the movie, and I HAVE to go see it. It's my kind of movie--sword fighting, princesses, etc. And so FUNNY! And we hang up.

My first thought--why? Why should I go see a movie just because someone tells me to? Sure, it's pretty popular and she just loved it, but so what? I hate doing things just because other people do them. So I didn't. I wasn't mean or anything about it. I just never went to see the movie.

Then one day I saw it on video. Yeah, that was before DVD. And, of course, I loved it.

But that didn't really teach me anything. A few years ago, a friend brought me Twilight. I think the third book had just come out, and I was barely reading the first. Why? Because every one else was. Same with Harry Potter, but I did jump on that band wagon way sooner than with any others, simply because my little (at least she was at the time) stepdaughter was loving them.

And now, it's Hunger Games. I still wouldn't be reading them except my new book club has chosen Mockingjay for their book next month, and I hate reading a series out of order.

Someday I'll figure out what this stubborn-refusal-to-follow-the-crowd makes me. Aside from the obvious. Am I a maverick? I like the sound of that. Trailblazer? Well, maybe not so much. Original? Definitely. Frustrating? I'm sure, to some. :) Fortunately, they love me anyway.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My review: HOMETOWN GIRL by Michele Ashman Bell

**ATTENTION** Michele is running a contest in conjunction with her blog tour. If you are interested in winning a $50 Visa gift card for use anywhere, click HERE to be directed to her blog to enter. Michele will only select winners who have entered on her blog.

From the back cover: Jocelyn Rogers’s life is in a rut. Maybe she should step outside her comfort zone and move to Milford Falls, where she has inherited her grandmother’s house. With the encouragement of the other Butterfly Girls, Jocelyn musters her courage and starts a new life.
However, when she arrives in the small town that holds both good and bad memories for her, she discovers the house in worse shape than she expected, and getting repairs done is anything but easy—especially when it comes to dealing with Jack Emerson, a man who seems to be agitated by Jocelyn and everyone else within a fifty-mile radius.
To make matters worse, she has begun to worry that moving back to the place where she once spent a troubled summer will expose the deep personal secret she has kept hidden for fourteen years. But Jack also has a hidden secret that has prevented him from getting close to anyone in a long time. And now it seems that interfering neighbors may prevent both Jack and Jocelyn from moving forward with their lives.

My take: I’ve only read two of Michele’s books, but I’ve really enjoyed both of them. In fact, this one had me up until 2am because I couldn’t put it down until I knew what had happened in the end. I didn’t find Jack nearly as crusty and unapproachable in the book as he’s made out to be on the back cover, however. I liked him from the start, but that could be because I knew I was reading a romance, and he was THE GUY.

Jocelyn’s secrets are big, and they run deep. So do Jack’s, which is why I think I enjoyed watching them work their way to one another. So much of this book reminded me of my own life. I could, at this moment, move to a small town (with my family) and take up residence in a grandmother’s house—that is also likely in need of a great many expensive repairs. I have moved recently, and found—like Jocelyn does in the book—a friendly, welcoming ward who also seem to be everywhere I go. And some of the moments she shares with Jack remind me of my husband.

I’ve learned I’m an emotional reviewer. If a book brings an emotional response from me, then I’m going to like it. Even if it makes me cry. Hometown Girl had several touching moments, but enough laugh out loud moments to keep me going. I had a great time staying up all night to read it—even if I was a zombie the next day!

You can hit up your local bookstore for a copy, or try AMAZON.COM, DESERET BOOK
or SEAGULL BOOK.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Move over, Sloth.

Okay, I'm actually doing it this time. I'll be participating in Tristi Pinkston's JULY WRITING CHALLENGE. Click on over and check it out. She keeps it pretty simply--you set the goal and then post on your progress.

Since I have so much work to do STILL on The Wild Queen, I thought it's the perfect opportunity to get this monster finished and sent off. So, that's my July goal: Revise and submit The Wild Queen.

I know I can do it. Just watch me. ;)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My Review: Loyalty's Web by Joyce DiPastena


This isn't a new release or anything, but I wanted to share my opinion.

I admit it, I'm a total sap for the time of knights, ladies, warriors, kings, lords and castles. But with that in mind, it took me a little while after buying this book to actually start reading it.

That's okay, because from that moment I was hooked. I even stayed up past my bedtime to finish it. I just had to know what Clothilde's mother had done to her. And she's not even the main character.

I sympathize with a younger sister who is constantly compared to the beauty of her older sister. It's been done in other books I've read, but I found the harshness of the mother's treatment of her younger daughter, Helene, believable. She (the mother) has a valid point. Without a large dowry, her daughter has nothing but her appearance and ladylike accomplishments to snag a husband.

The cool thing about Loyalty's Web is you can tell by reading it the author has done her research of the era. So much rang familiar from my own research. And it's not far fetched that a mother, knowing the harshness of their world and lack of options, would beat or torture a reluctant daughter to get her to agree to a marriage. It's sad, but factual.

Now on to the meat of the story. Forbidden romance, several near death experiences and a truly evil enemy--Loyalty's Web has it all. If you love romantic stories that are not grossly explicit, you definitely want to check it out.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Back on the (Writing) Wagon

I don't think I've ever had two characters who caused me so much frustration before. Some of you have been introduced to them, though I noticed I've gotten a few more followers lately. Cool.

Anyway, I'm talking about Lucien and Roweena. Roweena, of course, is the main character in The Wild Queen. Or is she? Can you have a character that is the TITLE character without being the MAIN character?

I ask myself this a lot, actually. Funny thing is, I do the same thing in The Tyrant King--because who on Earth would go for a tyrannical protagonist? That would be some seriously misunderstood dude.

But Roweena and Lucien have driven me in circles, tied me in knots, and made me crazy. Ideas pour into my brain like water, but writing them becomes struggled and stilted. Ugh. My first problem? I had a "Wild" queen who really wasn't wild. She was in her early youth, untamed and all, but once disaster struck and she married she became quiet, docile--not at all "my" Roweena.

And I have a sneaking suspicion Lucien is the main character, because he's the one who sees the narrative through from beginning to end. But I always write about girls for girls. Now I'm writing about a boy for girls. I'm going to need a LOT of male perspective, here.

There's nothing wrong with Lucien. I quite like him. He's flawed, but brave. Noble but insecure. Handsome, but--no, he's handsome lol.

The worst part now is that I set myself a goal, then let frustration and life interrupt me, and now I feel bogged down because I know I won't turn out a quality narrative AND reach my goal. And that just stinks.

Have I mentioned it's June 16th?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My review: REBOUND by Heather Justesen



About the book: Lily's life is perfect--a perfect lie.

With a successful husband, a gorgeous home, and a growing family, Lily Drake has it all. But when the FBI shows up, she realizes her husband is not the man she thought he was.

Meanwhile, Lily's friend Curtis is about to be drafted by the NBA, but he suddenly feels pulled to find his birth family, and no one is prepared for what he'll discover. With so many obstacles in their way, Lily and Curtis must learn to rely on each other if they're ever going to find peace and learn to love again.

In this heartwarming family drama, Heather Justesen, author of The Ball's in Her Court, weaves a stirring story of hope. Reunite with your favorite characters and discover how determination, love, and faith can overcome even the toughest trials.

My review: Heather's a genius. Seriously. And she writes the sweetest kissing scenes. :)

I read The Ball's in Her Court last December on my way from Alaska after visiting family. I'm sure it looked kind of funny to the other people on the plane to see me with my nose in a book and tears streaming down my face. Fortunately, Rebound only made me cry once. But I loved it just as much.

Lily's life really is perfect, until it all comes down around her ears. My heart broke for her as everything she thought she knew about her life turned out to be a lie. And then she has to pull herself together and move one, which not only takes an exceptional amount of character (no pun intended), It also takes amazing strength. Readers will love Lily--she's so human. So real.

I also really love the basketball themes that are throughout both of Heather's books. I am not a sports fan of any kind--never have been--but Heather really writes as though she knows what she's talking about. In fact, I finally learned what "ninth in the draft" actually means.

You can pick up a copy of Rebound at your local bookstore, or HERE online.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

At least this isn't you.

McKenzy didn't look up from her iPod as the car drove past. She glanced up at the time display before tapping the screen with her finger. Stupid card game had her completely hooked. She slid the card across the screen to make another match before glancing in her rear view mirror.

The couple in the car had started arguing. She could hear them from her position under the blossoming peach trees. McKenzy reclined the driver's seat a little farther, so they wouldn't think she was listening. Who pulls into a church parking lot to have a fight?

Without warning, two sharp, snapping sounds sliced the air. Fireworks? Did the car backfire? McKenzy raised her head and twisted a little to see behind her van. She watched, horrified, as the passenger door opened and someone fell out. They didn't move.

The door slammed shut and the car rocked into motion. It made a wide circle and came up along side McKenzy's minivan. She caught a glimpse of the driver before the gun in his hand registered in her mind. Instinctively, she ducked. Bullets striking metal, a sound she'd never heard before but would never forget, pierced the air. McKenzy flinched each time.

The engine roared to life and she heard the car speed away. Still, she hesitated before lifting her head to look around. Then she fumbled for her cell phone and flipped it open to dial 9-1-1.

"What is your emergency?" the voice on the phone intoned.

"Help, please," McKenzy said. "Someone's been shot." She glanced back at the body. "I think she's dead."

"What is your location?"

McKenzy started to shake as she rattled off the cross streets. She glanced down at the school a half mile down the road. Now she really was going to be late picking up her kids.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Feeling Accomplished

My sis in law, Mel, and I both agree our first ever contest went fabulously! That's in large part to all of you--all of our followers and friends. So far, we've been able to deliver two of our prize packages--though I only know for certain that one was received. :) (Melissa C. if you're out there...:)) Tomorrow I will have the very nice lady at our local post office help me find a box to fit our final prize and get that sent off.

I just wanted to send all of you following a huge THANK YOU for your part in making our Spring Into Reading Contest a success.

As we meander closer to summer, please remember to check both mine and MEL'S BLOG for updates on our writing ventures, contracts, signings, etc. My book, The Peasant Queen, is still scheduled for a release of Dec 1, 2010. I'll be posting updates as they come.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

We have a winner! Or two! Or three!

Congratulations to our three winners: Melissa Cunningham, Hannah Rohan and Falen (aka Sarah Ahiers).

Our winners need to email me at CheriwritesATyahooDOTcom by Friday, or we will go back to the drawing board, literally. 

Starting with third prize, our winner is Hannah Rohan! Congratulations! Hannah’s prize include the three Josi Kilpack culinary mystery books: Lemon Tart, English Trifle and Devil’s Food Cake, as well as Annette Lyon’s grammar book, There, Their and They’re and a sweet pen set.

Second prize goes to Melissa Cunningham!! Second prize, if you’ll remember, is the Romance Prize. I’ll Know you by Heart by Kimberly Job, Summer in Paris by Michele Ashman Bell and Loyalty’s Web by Joyce DiPastena—as well as Annette Lyon’s grammar book There, Their and They’re and a $15 gift card. Melissa, when you email me, please be sure to tell me which store’s gift card you would like.

And , finally, our First Prize winner! This is our Fantasy Prize and it goes to Sarah Ahiers (Falen). This lucky lady gets Lisa Mangum’s books The Hourglass Door and The Golden Spiral as well as Karen Hoover’s The Sapphire Flute. On top of the autographed books, she will also receive the Writer’s Blocks and a copy of Annette Lyon’s There, Their and They’re book.

Remember, winners, in order to claim your prizes you will need to email me at CheriwritesATyahooDOTcom so I can get your address and ship off your prizes!

Congratulations and thanks for following!
Cheri and Mel

It's almost time

With Mothers Day and all, I didn't post this earlier. But here you go. Just one more day and you'll have your answer: did you win one of our fabulous Spring into Reading Prizes?

Mel and I are doing the tallying and drawing tonight. You'll know in the morning.

Good luck to all of you! And thanks so much for following!

Monday, May 3, 2010

GIVE AWAY!!!!! Woohoo!

That's right! My sister in law, MEL and I have reached 100 followers each. So, as promised, we're having our Spring Into Reading Give Away.

Okay so here is what we're going to do:

1 Entry if you have followed this blog after May 3rd.
2 Entries if you have followed this blog before May 3rd.
2 Entries if you follow both me and MEL.
1 Entry if you Tweet or post on FaceBook.
1 Entry if you post about it in your blog.

Tally up your entries! Post them in the comments section. (Either hers or mine, no need to do both, we read each other's stuff. ;) ) Then check either of us out on Monday, May 10th to see if you have won!

Okay, here are the prizes:

First place: Fantasy ~ Three books: The Sapphire Flute by Karen Hoover, The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum (autographed) and an ARC of The Golden Spiral by Lisa Mangum (autographed). PLUS Writer's Blocks and a copy of Annette Lyon's book There, Their and They're.

Second place: Romance ~ Three books: I'll Know You by Heart by Kimberly Job (autographed), Summer in Paris by Michele Ashman Bell (autographed) and Loyalty's Web by Joyce DiPastena (autographed). PLUS a $15 gift card (your choice within reason! :D) and a copy of Annette Lyon's book There, Their and They're.

Third Place: Mystery ~ Three books: The first three autographed books in Josi Kilpack's culinary mystery series Lemon Tart, English Trifle and Devil's Food Cake. Guaranteed to make you hungry! PLUS a copy of Annette Lyon's There, Their and They're and a pen set.

*Please Note: While MEL and I are related, we live states apart. As in Utah and Alaska lol. We'd like to give you a choice in the genre, but that's going to be difficult for us, so we apologize in advance. Look on the bright side if you don't like the genre, you have early Christmas presents. ;)

Okay! So there you have it everyone. Again, tally up your entries, post it in the comment section of either her blog or mine and we'll draw names. Check back Monday, May 10th for the winners!

Friday, April 30, 2010

My review of THE THORN by Daron D. Fraley



The full book title is The Thorn: Book One The Chronicles of Gan by Daron D. Fraley.

From the back cover: Three tribes are at war on the planet Gan, unaware that the sign of Christ’s birth on an unknown world—Earth—is about to appear in the heavens.
During a bloody skirmish with Gideonite troops, Jonathan of Daniel spares Pekah, a young enemy soldier, gaining his trust forever. These two distant brothers from estranged tribes covenant with each other to end the war being waged by a self-proclaimed emperor, and soon discovered the intentions of a far more dangerous foe—a sinister general bent on ruling those he can bring into subjection and destroying all others.

This was my first sojourn into speculative fiction, and LDS speculative fiction no less. Color me pleasantly surprised. I liked it. I found The Thorn to be compelling and interesting.

I'm not going to give away too much. But I will say while reading The Thorn, I drew visuals of Bible stories and Book of Mormon stories. After I put the book down I had to separate in my mind what was real scripture and what was Fraley's fiction.

Fraley has created realistic characters. Then he went and set them in a world full of vivid description and unique style. The man has a gift, and The Thorn is only the beginning.

Snatch your copy HERE. Before it's too late.

Z is for...

ZANY!

Outside of my writing, and sometimes in it, there's lots of zany. I credit most of the zany in my life to my kids. Seriously; they're nuts. Before I had kids--and the people in my life before can attest to this--there was very little zany.

But I like the zaniness in my life. I needed more laughter in my little world. It's not always laughter, but I appreciate their contributions nonetheless.

For this post, this final Blog Challenge post, quite a few Z words came to mind. Zephyr, as in the west wind. Zenith, as in the pinnacle or top or utmost. But zany seems to fit best. I'm not too sure what that says about me and my reality, but there you have it.

There's already quite a bit of ZANY in my memoirs. :)

This has been an intensely fun and challenging A-Z Blog Challenge. I had a great time coming up with posts, giving glimpses into my books, and meeting new people. Thanks to everyone who has visited and/or posted on my blog.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Y is for...


YA, or Young Adult.

Why have I chosen to write for the YA genre?

You might say it chose me. In today's world, it seems that there is very little interest in a novel for grown ups (notice I don't say adult books lol) that doesn't have swearing, sex and violence. The problem is, I'm not the only one to have noticed this.

Years ago, when I WAS a young adult, or a teen, YA books were pretty much limited to a handful of classics and Sweet Valley Twins books. There was so little to read most of us just jumped up to grown up books.

Now, the YA market is inundated with books. I mean, there's really tons of them. Most authors I meet these days write YA. Granted, many of them are still unpublished--but they're all working toward publication. I don't see this as a bad thing. After all, how many of us ever read only one author? There's nothing wrong with a little market diversity.

But I don't consider myself a YA author. Perhaps 4 or 5 of my titles are YA. Recently, the projects that have hit me really hard have been middle grade fiction. For the time being, since we live in the now, my current projects are YA fantasy so I am a YA author.

I bristle at this. It feels like pigeon-holing and I've never been a fan of being categorized--good or bad--by any title. Maybe that's why my other age group projects have so much appeal. I even have a couple of grown up projects in the works--okay, the idea stages. One of the problems of having a prolific brain is I always have ideas, but not always the time to see them through. Gah. Some days I get up and already feel like I've fallen behind.

I'm glad the YA novel market has come so far. And I'm also glad that many people find comfort in reading books marketed to youths--even well into middle age and beyond. We shouldn't be limited to what is considered appropriate for our age level. I've already told the newest reader in our home, my 6 yr old, that she can read anything in my library.

But then, I don't go for those ADULT types of books. :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

X is for...



XENOPHILIA/XENOPHOBIA.

I honestly don't know why blogger and word both believe xenophilia is spelled wrong. That's the spelling straight from my dictionary. Stupid programs. Ah, well. Moving on.

Xenophilia is defined as an attraction to or admiration of strangers or foreigners.

Xenophobia, conversely, is defined as a fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners or anything foreign or strange.

Off the top of your head, can you name any xenophiles you know? How about xenophobes?
I bet you can.

As a writer, I have a natural interest in anything foreign or strange, since I write fantasy and the unusual plays a heavy part in designing a fantasy world. But in my life, I have tended to shy away from strange or foreign things. Is it possible to be both a xenophile and a xenophobe? Interesting thought.

Aren't we all full of contradiction?

I've grown quite a bit, most noticeably since I have taken my dream to be a writer to the next level--that level being to stop dreaming about it and actually work to make it happen. It's a long, slogging, uphill battle where I often feel as though I'm sliding backward more than inching forward.

But then, what's that great quote again? "The harder I work, the luckier I am."

So, what's your dream? And what are you doing to work toward making it a reality?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

W is for...

The WILD QUEEN, of course!



You've met Roweena in my R post, so you know who The Wild Queen is. Personally, I love that title for a book. But then, that shouldn't surprise you. I chose it after all.

The Wild Queen is the second book in my trilogy. It's the story of Gregory's parents--mostly Gregory's mother. What makes her wild? In this case, wild means untamed, headstrong, not easily broken. She is not a child of the wilderness--Roweena was raised by cultured parents to someday be a queen.

Right now, The Wild Queen is the bane of my existence. I'm in the process of revising my draft to turn it into a manuscript worthy to send to my publisher in the hopes they will want it.

I realize the idea of putting The Peasant Queen ahead of The Wild Queen is a little George Lucas (because the events of TWQ come way before the events of TPQ), but I felt the readers would connect better to the story of Gregory's parents if they'd already met Gregory. The Peasant Queen just seemed to me to be the best introduction into my little world.

Now, back to those revisions...

Monday, April 26, 2010

V is for...

Voltimande. This pic is Arnold Schwarzenegger and Wilt Chamberlain from Conan the Destroyer. Sure, the setting of my book is different and, because of that, Voltimande would be wearing more clothes, but this is the best the internet could do for me.

Not many people would dedicate an entire blog post to a minor character. Or a secondary character. No one can call someone as large as Voltimande a minor character. In The Peasant Queen, Krystal first meets Voltimande accidentally. He is a guard in Gregory's castle. But, as it turns out, there is more to Voltimande than there seems to be.

This is Michael Clarke Duncan (left) from The Scorpion King. He's another Voltimande contender.

Voltie (sorry, couldn't resist) is the only son of the palace healer, Gerta. She's a wise woman, and probably the only woman Gregory actually respects--because her skill and experience cannot be replaced. I describe Voltimande as the largest, darkest man Krystal has ever seen. Truth is he towers over everyone, but as a background character. He does come to Krystal's rescue at a certain, crucial moment--but then she turns around and rescues him right back. There's that spunk again.

I adore Voltimande. He plays pretty heavily in the third book, mainly because I just think he's the coolest character I've created--primary characters not included, of course. He's brave, courageous, noble--and is happy in his place. He has no ambition to be the king of the universe (for once). And he becomes a vital member of the castle's family.

My favorite scene is in The Tyrant King, when Krystal finally makes good her threat and throws up all over Voltimande's boots. :)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

My review of SECRET SISTERS by Tristi Pinkston


Occasionally I receive books to review free from the publisher. This in no way affects my review of the book.

From the back cover: Ida Mae Babbitt, president of the Omni 2nd Ward Relief Society, didn't mean to become a spy. But when visiting teaching stats are low, and she learns that one family under her care is in financial trouble, she'll do whatever it takes to make sure they have what they need. If that includes planting surveillance cameras in their home and watching them from a parked car in the woods . . . well, isn't that what any caring Relief Society president would do?

With the help of her counselors, Arlette and Tansy, Ida Mae soon learns that there's more to the situation than meets the eye.

"The persons depicted in this book are professional fictional characters. Do not try this at home."


And if that's not enough to clue you in that you're in for a great ride, you don't read enough.

Sure, Secret Sisters is in a niche market. Unless you're LDS, much of what is discussed by the main characters may be confusing. But considering the millions of LDS Relief Society members, that's a nice sized niche. So, what did I think of this book?

In all fairness, I adore Tristi Pinkston's writing style. I've read all of her books and they make me laugh, cry and keep me reading--sometimes all night long. I found Secret Sisters to be up there among her best work. From the beginning, when I first stepped into Ida Mae's world, I felt like I was right by her side experiencing everything she did. It's a special author who has a talent to queue you into a character's thought processes, but I could with Ida Mae. At times I laughed. I also smiled--a lot. And, at one point, she made me hungry. (Chapter 13 has chicken enchiladas. Consider yourself warned. Oh, and her cookies, and brownies--man, I may have to go bake something.)

Secret Sisters is a delightful, face-paced read with something going on at every turn of the page. And, as you can see from the picture, it's a beautiful book too. Pick up your copy HERE. And get ready to giggle your socks off.

U is for...



United States of America!

I just want to start out by saying I LOVE my country. I love our history; I love our diversity and I love patriotism. (of course, we all know anything--good or bad--can be taken too far. I'm in reality for this post)

My youngest came in two times this past week to tell me she was red, white and blue. She had chosen to dress in those colors for the day. It's easy when all she has is white socks lol.

My three boys are scouts and know how to raise and lower the flag. I can't tell you the depth of emotion that wells inside of me when I watch them do it.

People have gladly fought and died so we can enjoy the freedoms we have. I have nothing but respect for that sacrifice, and for their willingness in doing so.

God bless the U.S.A!

Friday, April 23, 2010

T is for...


Theatrics and The Tyrant King.

First, let me explain. Theatrics. As I mentioned in my S post, I am raising 2 daughters. Theatrics are a way of life. In fact, my youngest girl was in her first play last fall. In her age group, she had the only speaking part. Not that I'm a proud mama or anything. :)

But, really, let's be fair. My boys have a penchant for theatrics as well. One of my sons--ironically the one who had surgery at ten months of age--is the biggest boober of them all. Slight scratch. The smallest pinch. And he yowls like there's no tomorrow.

My girls really keep me hopping. It takes some time to sift through the theatrics and figure out what the real, underlying issue is. And, since they're 8 and 6, I'm pretty sure this has only just begun.

Now, as for The Tyrant King. If you've been reading my blogs since the beginning of the month, you'll automatically assume I mean King Gregory. Sadly, no. This particular tyrant is Donovan Vincent Gildresleve--Gregory's son.

In my third novel, the last of the trilogy, I continue Krystal's story with the introduction of the long-lost son of King Gregory. Donovan is a fascinating character and has been a TON of fun to write. He makes his daddy look like a misbehaving little boy.

The Tyrant King does not have a cover yet. But when I think of it, I envision the Chateau D'If in France at sunset. Imagine the picture above with red, gold and bronze streaking the sky. Oh, baby. :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

S is for...

SILVER! SISTERS! SECRETS! AND SETARRA!

Why silver? Silver is easily my favorite metal. My wedding colors were silver, royal blue, royal purple and white. Beautiful, no? I wear silver better than gold--I have a gold allergy and silver simply looks better on me.

Sisters. Ah, well. I did not grow up with sisters. All I had were those dang four older brothers. But I have sisters now. This is Mel--my hubby's brother's wife--my sister in heart. If you can read that tiny type, she's an author too. :)

Here are a couple more of my sisters in heart. I'd post them all, but I don't have all their pics. Sad, huh? Jen and Tawnya. I used to change their diapers, giving me the unusual feeling of what it felt to be an older sister lol.

And here are my favorite sisters--my daughters and my stepdaughter. We had this drawing of them done in Disneyland.

Years ago, I married a divorced man with a child. The first thing this child asked of me was to give her a brother. So I did. Well, as I like to remind her, she DID pray for him. And even before he was born, she would kiss him goodnight.

Then, she asked for a sister. But she didn't pray for one. She got twin brothers. I'm just saying. :)

When she was almost 10, she got that long awaited sister.

But I didn't want my little girl growing up as an only daughter, like I did. Her Sissy lives in another state and is 10 yrs older. They love each other to pieces, but it's not the same as growing up together. So we tried one more time.

Sometimes it's funny the way life works out. Like it's all part of a grand plan. Oh, wait. IT IS! :)

And lastly, I'll mention Setarra. Setarra is a character I wrote about half my life ago. Setarra is the Daughter of the Goddess of the Twin Moons, "born" in the Kabiliste wood and raised by the Keepers of the Unicorns. There's a whole world, magic, quest, and a prince to be rescued in that story. One of these days I'll actually finish it.

Oh, and Happy Birthday Dad. He was born 4/22/42 and died 5/9/83 at the age of 41. I've been told he smiles down on me. Yeah, I can deal with that. :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

R is for...

ROWEENA! Or, in this case, my daughter dressed up as Roweena last Halloween.

Roweena is the featured character in my second novel, The Wild Queen. She is extremely noble and headstrong and, because of that, often misunderstood.

Just as an aside, these are not the final covers for the books. But note how awesomely they complement one another?

As a child, Roweena tries to be a good daughter to her parents, the king and queen of Norvallen. Her childhood is laced with tragedy, as often happens, and she doesn't always get what she feels she needs from those around her. She struggles to control an almost overwhelming desire to act out--and often fails.

At fourteen, she is entered into a marriage contract with Lucien of Demarde. They are to marry after she turns 17.

But real tragedy strikes; the kind that redesigns Roweena's past, present and future. Desperate, she turns to Lucien for help. As King of Demarde, he has connections.

Roweena becomes a mother--I believe I've stated this before in my blogs. She's Gregory's mother, the very same Gregory who is controlling, despotic and tyrannical in The Peasant Queen. Then she has Falina, who grows up to become Jareth's mother. (see my J post if you don't recall him)

After that, Roweena's life takes another unexpected turn. It's this event that ends up shaping her son, and her daughter, into the people they become.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Q is for...

With books like The Peasant Queen and The Wild Queen, what else would you expect me to post about today? That's right! QUEENS

Let me start out by saying, though, that in reading other bloggers' posts, I feel bad that I've lost out on commenting on some of them. We had a rash of sicknesses go through the house--and like any other mom I work through mine but lose ground in blogland when I take care of my kids. Sorry to those I have missed.

As I gingerly stepped into the world of Google images to look for crowns for this post (You have to be careful when googling images of queens lol), I found a few that were simply odd and others that were delightful. I chose the one pictured above because of it's simplicity. I look at it and see QUEEN.

I introduced you to Krystal in a previous blog. She's my peasant queen. This picture is a close up of my youngest daughter dressed up as Krystal for Halloween. It's pretty funny how that came about, but I can guarantee you the idea of dressing up as my invented characters was not mine.

Now this delightful little creature is my older daughter dressed up as Roweena. You'll meet Roweena in tomorrow's post. She is the evil king Gregory's mother, and my wild queen. As you can see, Roweena has gallons and gallons of hair. Not quite to Rapunzel standards, but it's a healthy amount to be certain.

Like most queens, Roweena and Krystal are princesses first. Roweena is born into it. Krystal is recruited, or assigned, the title. And though they are a couple of generations apart--and not related in any way--they have a similar trait or two. Stubbornness comes immediately to mind. Hmm, wonder where they got that? ;)

Monday, April 19, 2010

P is for...

Thank goodness my kids are out of diapers, or this might be a totally different P post.

For your reading pleasure, we have PEGASUS. Or Pegasi. Seriously, how do you pluralize that?

Now why, you may ask, am I blogging about a Pegasus? Well, see, the thing is--in The Peasant Queen, Krystal has a Pegasus. But not at first. I mean, how and why would a peasant have a Pegasus?

Peasant, another P word. Krystal starts out as a peasant, the daughter of a dead farmer. She's thrown into a world of royalty and magic, and introduced to White Lightning. White Lightning, in this case, is not moonshine. She is a fully grown captive Pegasus. Which by itself is both awe-inspiring and heart breaking.

White Lightning's story is familiar. She was just a baby when her mother was found by Queen Falina (Jareth's mother, for those of you paying attention lol)in the enchanted gardens of Fayterra. White Lightning's mother was dying. Though Falina tried, nothing could be done. But the filly could be saved, so that's what the queen did.

When Gregory turned Fayterra upside down, White Lightning could have become collateral damage. But for reasons only he (okay, and I) understand, Gregory spared her. Perhaps the Pegasus reminded him of his sister. Perhaps he kept her alive because she has monetary value. After all, if magical creatures exist, it stands to reason there is some sort of black market for them. The interesting thing about people is what motivates them is essentially the same, in any given setting or time.

White Lightning grows up in the enchanted gardens Falina cultivated. When King Gregory gives her to Krystal, the first thing Krystal wants to do is set her free. But can she, while still a prisoner herself?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

O is for...


ONOMATOPOEIA--the use of words whose sounds reinforce their meaning. Yeah, here's a word we don't use very often but--when reminded--we go, OH YEAH! lol

This isn't a word post, but as an aside, how many of us wonder how on God's green earth some of these words originated? Sheesh. Like, why is the word DYSLEXIC so dang hard to spell? Especially for a dyslexic person. That's just cruel.

I am not a poet--at least, I don't consider myself one. But I appreciate a good rhythm and really do love onomatopoeia when used properly.

Another O word I thought would be good for a mention is OVERWHELMED. Yes, I know I'm the only person to ever feel like they've bitten off more than they can chew--or that the issue or issues they face are more than they can ever manage. Like my 5 children. Or, on any given day, one of them. My writing projects. Maintaining a healthy, productive relationship with my spouse. And sometimes, just getting up in the morning.

But, with God, all things are possible. Surely He has borne our griefs.--that's from Handel's Messiah.

I'm so glad we don't have to walk our individual paths alone.

Friday, April 16, 2010

N is for...

NOT what you might think!

My original N post was going to be on NUMBERS. Not the show, actual numbers. I was going to start with my age--34--the number of books I've completed--7--my poems--60. The number of unfinished stories I have--70 (guesstimate--about 10 yrs ago it was 50) And maybe go from there to some personal stats. Like my husband's age--42. His daughter's age--18. The number of kids I've given birth to--5. The number of miscarriages I've had--1. How many sets of twins I've had--1. Number of pregnancies I've had--5. Then my kids' ages--12, 10, 10, 8 and 5. And their ages this time next week--12, 11, 11, 8 and 6. Number of brothers--4. Number of stepbrothers--2. Number of blood-related sisters--0. Number of sisters in heart--6. Number of sisters in law--5.

Seriously, there are a lot of numbers in my life.

But, then I got to thinking. Really, my N post should be about NAMES. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE names. Seriously. I have name books (plural) and most of my kids have names that have meaning. As do my numerous characters.

When I choose a name for my characters, I have several criteria. First of all, the name has to sound right for the character. Unless I'm really wanting to confuse my readers, I won't give my villains names that sounds heroic, or my heroes names that sound villainous. Many times I will research the meaning of names that appeal to me for that character to decide which one seems to fit best. And lastly, the name has to feel right. And that's a big one. Like with my kids, it has to be a name I can say, read or spell over and over without coming to loathe it. Some of my primary character names are: Krystal, Jareth, Gregory (obviously), Roweena, Kendrick, Cassandra, Deyanna, Lucien, Aiden, Miraya, Calum, Demetria, Caresse, Kytarina, Phelan, Chloe, Nicholas, Shannah, Donovan, Khiley, and Julienne. That's a mix of heroes, villains and secondary characters. There's even a handful of pirates in there.

That said, I hated my name growing up. My given name is Cheryl Lynn, though from birth I have always been Cheri. Except at school and church, where I had to choose to either let the teacher call me Cheryl (shudder) or correct them and insist on being called Cheri. I swore once I turned 18 (another number lol) I'd change my name. Except I never found one I really liked, or that I felt fit me. Plus by then I was writing, and needed to be consistent when it came to choosing a name that would be on book covers.

Then, in August 2006, my cousin died at age 34. She wasn't just any cousin--she shared my name. She was named Cheryl Ann, and always went by Cheryl. It suited her. It fit her. And now, I don't mind being called Cheryl so much anymore. But I still prefer Cheri, because that's who I am.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

M is for...



Monkeys!

Ok, not really. I just think he's cute. :)

As an author of fantasy, I love reading about myths and mythology. Not a personal fan of Zeus, mind you (philanderer), but I do appreciate the stories.

Then there's the mystical stories--legends, fairies, unicorns, etc. All of it has been looped into the same magic heading these days, but in reality it's not the same thing.

What I find interesting is how the perceived facts about legends are manipulated throughout history to suit an ideal. Vampires come strongly to mind here. The sun kills them. No, not really--it just makes them glimmer. They can't stand crosses. No, actually, the cross does nothing. They stay away from garlic. Actually, they love Italian food. And so on. Werewolves. That's all I'll say about that lol.

Unicorns, for instance, are seen as the symbol of purity. In some circles they are likened to Christ, though generally in those comparisons the unicorn is a solitary creature--and not seen as a participating member of a herd.

I have always loved unicorn myths. Growing up, I had a picture in my room my 3rd grade teacher had found in a magazine. Someone had tied a horn to a white horse and taken pictures to prove the unicorn was real. I don't have the article, but I still have the pictures. They were pretty good, considering it was the 80's. I've got books--stories, legends, etc--because I love drawing comparisons. Everyone seems to have a slightly different variation. No two stories are the same.

Which, of course, is true of life and writing. Even when I do my edits on existing stories, I never do the exact same thing twice. There's always a slight variation.

It's like magic. :)
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