Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Kick Ass Girls of YA Blog Hop + Empowering Women - Gal Gadot aka Wonder Woman

Kick Ass Girls of YA Blog Hop

Hosted by Libby Heily. Visit other participants HERE.

The kick ass girl I want to highlight is Gabi Hernandez from Gabi- a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero. 

I fell in love with Gabi while I read this book. She's so refreshing because she's not cookie-cutter perfect. Gabi is sixteen years old and facing many of the things that real kids face nowadays. Her best friend Cindy is pregnant, and her other best friend Sebastian is coming out. Her father is a meth addict, and her mother is strict. 

She is Mexican-American but feels as though she's not Mexican enough for her family and not white enough for Berkeley. What we're reading is her diary. She talks about race, ethnicity, gender, weight issues, bullying, rape, and sexuality in a real, though-provoking way. She also finds passion in poetry. My favorite parts of this book was reading Gabi's poems.



Every month I am highlighting an empowering woman. This month it is:

Gal Gadot

Image from Wikimedia
License Author Gage Skidmore

Gal Gadot played Wonder Woman in Batman Vs. Superman. Everyone loved her performance and said she was the best part of the whole movie. So, it’s no surprise that they decided to do a Wonder Woman movie (set to release June 2nd). Before she became an actress and had her break out role in the Fast and the Furious franchise as Gisele Yashar, she had a far more fascinating life.

Gal Gadot is Jewish and was born in Israel. When she was 18, she won the 2004 Miss Israel Competition and competed in the Miss Universe Pageant. Two years later, she served two years as a solider of the Israel Defense Forces.
“You give two or three years, and it’s not about you. You give your freedom away for a while. You learn discipline and respect. The things I’ve been through as a soldier prepared me to deal with career things as well.”
Following her time in the army, Gal studied law.

If you’re still doubting that she’s a bad ass, how about this: She’s a motorcycle rider and did most of her stunts in the Fast and the Furious movies. On top of that, she’s a mom and the second-highest paid actress in Israel.

The fact that she’s the first non-American to portray Wonder Woman makes me love Wonder Woman that much more.
“It is so important for girls and boys to have a female, strong superhero to look up to.”

 Inspiring Song

This song is about bullying by Elise Estrada. Listen to it! The song and video are dedicated to Amanda Todd who committed suicide when she was 15.

QUESTIONS: Who is your favorite Kick Ass Girl of YA? Do you like Wonder Woman? Did you watch the Fast and the Furious movies?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Using the A to Z Challenge to Market Your Book / IWSG

Not on Goodreads?
The IWSG book club is a good reason to join.

Don’t do much on Goodreads?
This is an excellent way to dip your toes in a little more.

Not enough time in your day?
We read one book every two months.

OUR GOAL: The Insecure Writer's Support Group (Book Club) is for writers to read/learn about the writing craft. In this book club, we will swap back and forth between non-fiction writing books and fiction books that demonstrate how to do certain aspects of storytelling. 

No promo. No review or beta reader requests. 

Just writers reading books and discussing those books with other writers.

The book we're reading for April/May is Chapter After Chapter: Discover the Dedication and Focus You Need to Write the Book of Your Dreams by Heather Sellers.

**The discussion will start on May 17th.**

For more details and to join: Book Club

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a safe place for insecure writers.

April Question:
 Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?

Of course, I have! Why not???

The very first year I participated in the A to Z Challenge, I used it to network. My blog was in its third year with very little readers. By the end of the Challenge I had 32 new followers!

In 2015, my theme was disasters after my Disaster Crimes Series, which got a wonderful response. A couple of times I promoted Hurricane Crimes in my posts. Then, later in April, when Ghost of Death came out, I shared the cover art, blurb, and links for it at the end of each post. 

Last year, I did not participate in the Challenge, but Seismic Crimes had it's release day in April. As a matter of fact, it came out on S day. How perfect! I set up a Google Form and asked if any bloggers participating in A to Z would like to add a little promo for my book in their S post. I don't remember the exact numbers, but I had around 20 (+) bloggers sharing the info for Seismic Crimes in their A to Z post that day.

When there's something like the A to Z Challenge, or even IWSG Day, you SHOULD use it for marketing and networking!

What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

Reminder: The questions are optional and meant as a prompt if you struggle with what to post. You don't have to answer a question if you don't want to. :)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Reactivating My Creative Self / Monthly Mishmash

Reactivating My Creative Self: 

I finished writing Flaming Crimes (Book 4) in November with the push of NaNo, but I haven't started book 5, or edited book 4. I haven't written anything (other than emails and blog posts) since mid-November. The reason for this is depression and stress, a deadly combo for creativity. 

But I've been working on reactivating my creative self slowly.

I've been doing a lot of reading and research on areas of interest:

- writing/writer's block
- organic cleaning
- how to make your own beauty products
- gardening
- Irish myths and lore
- Wicca

All of these topics have helped to awake my brain. I still haven't started writing or editing my books, but I've acquired new motivation when I had ZERO motivational drive for months. This is GOOD news!


I purchased a digital camera from a pawn shop. It's a slightly older model, but it's the kind I've wanted for years. I've been learning the ins and outs of this camera and photography in general, another passion of mine (aside from writing).

Spring Cleaning:

I got a new desk. My old desk was wooden, and I couldn't move from side to side without rapping my knees. Ouch! My new desk is glass with room for me to move. 

To prep for my new desk, I went into a cleaning and organizing frenzy. I threw out A LOT that I didn't need. I often asked myself, "Why am I keeping this?" 

Looking at my desk now, I am amazed at how sparse it is. Doing this cleaning made me feel so much lighter.

My new desk.

I used the glass from my Hurricane Crimes Cocktail recipe for pens.

This box has the little odds and ends from my desk, like my calculator.

My new desk has three glass tiers attached to it. This is on the bottom.
The notebooks I need are organized in a mesh box I got from the dollar store.
That big binder is my mom's book, which I've been helping her with.

This lil guy has my computer paper, envelopes, and other office supplies in it.

I also used the same paper for behind my bookcases. And, yes, I do have two
witches' broom sticks. I made them for Halloween.
And, yes, again I do love pumpkins.

Note: I didn't put my old desk on the side of the road, though. I moved it into my living room. It now holds the books, board games, and school supplies I keep for my nephews. :)


I ended up shredding a TON of papers, which I stuffed into paper bags and put into my recycling bin. You're welcome, Mother Earth.

Do you have old ink cartridges? will pay for your used ink cartridges and the shipping, too! It's even free to sign up. I created an account, printed out my free shipping label (after verifying how many I had and the type through email), put it on a manila envelope, and sent off my ink cartridges. The kind I have is worth .25 each. You need to have a total of $5+ before they'll send you a check. They prefer to get 8+ when you mail in your empties.

Do you throw out your used pens?

I've known about The Pen Guy for years, and I've been saving up pens to send his way. The Pen Guy collects pens (even markers and highlighters) and creates amazing works of art with them. After my move a couple of years ago, I forgot all about the box of pens I had been saving, but I found them during my cleaning spree and I'll be sending them to The Pen Guy. I'll also start saving them again. 

Can you imagine how many pens writers throw away? Yikes!


I've been prepping for gardening (which I do in April). And I've started to build a spot in my backyard to use as a peaceful "getaway." It's been rewarding being outdoors and seeing the progress I've done.

Book Club:

I also created a book club for IWSG. You don't need to be an IWSG member to join. And you don't need to be a book writer, either. All types of writers are welcome. Join HERE!

QUESTIONS: What are you researching (for fun, work, or your book)? Do you recycle? Have you done any spring cleaning?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Diverse Characters - E + F + G


There’s been a lot of talk about adding diverse characters to fictional books. Most of the time, this is about including people of color if you’re a Caucasian writer, but all writers can add diverse characters to their books. And why stop at race? In this series, I’m going to list all sorts of diverse characters.

Note: I'm not knowledgeable about all types of people, so I'm skipping my usual tips in favor of letting others share their knowledge. See below 

**I won't be able to list them all, so here's a list of ethnic groups...with a list of even more lists at the bottom of the page. lol

Here are the diverse characters for E:


Image from Pixabay



Image from Pixabay

Eskimos (Arctic Natives, Inuits, Native Alaskans)

Exotic Dancers


Here are the diverse characters for F:



Finns (Individuals from Finland)

Individuals with Freckles

French Individuals

Foster Children/Foster Parents 

Here are the diverse characters for G:

Gay Individuals






Ghanaians (Individuals from Ghana)


Giants (Fantasy)




Gothic Individuals 

Image from Pixabay


Image from Pixabay


Image from Pixabay

SHARE: If you can come up with more diverse characters that start with E, F, or G, let me know and I will add them to my list.

QUESTION: Do you have tips or Do's/Dont's for one of the characters I mentioned above? Share your advice for writing about those characters in your comment.

Have you written about a character from my list?

Monday, March 13, 2017

IWSG Book Club on Goodreads! + Books for Writers - Writer's Market

Not on Goodreads?
The IWSG book club is a good reason to join.

Don’t do much on Goodreads?
This is an excellent way to dip your toes in a little more.

Not enough time in your day?
We read one book every two months.

OUR GOAL: The Insecure Writer's Support Group (Book Club) is for writers to read/learn about the writing craft. In this book club, we will swap back and forth between non-fiction writing books and fiction books that demonstrate how to do certain aspects of storytelling. 

No promo. No review or beta reader requests. 

Just writers reading books and discussing those books with other writers.

**The first book will be announced on April 1st.**
**The discussion will start on May 17th.**

For more details and to join: Book Club


The one book all writers should know about is…Writer’s Market. I have told many aspiring authors about this book when they ask me how they can get published. It truly is the “most trusted guide to getting published.”

Every year, a new edition comes out. Each book has a comprehensive list of book publishers, consumer and trade magazines, contests and awards, and literary agents. In the beginning, there’s also articles from bestsellers and industry experts on how to develop your author brand and promote your book. The articles’ subjects are different in each edition.

One thing you can always count on is their sample query letters for fiction, nonfiction, and articles. They offer real query letters that worked or didn’t, and they explain what caught their attention or ruined the query for them. I love to see these query letters.

Another book like Writer’s Market is A Guide to Literary Agents that also comes out with an updated annual version. If what you’re looking for is an agent, this is the book for you! The agent section in Writer’s Market is tiny, but you can be sure that A Guide to Literary Agents lists all the agents in every genre. I’ve used this book many times to build my list of agents.

These two books are priceless for writers.

For UK writers, check out Writers' & Artists' Yearbook.

There's also:

Poet's Market
Children's Writers and Illustrator's Market Book
Novel and Short Story Writer's Market

Note: I don't buy these books. I check them out from my local library. ;)

QUESTIONS: Do you use these books? 
Will you be joining the IWSG Book Club? :D

Monday, March 6, 2017

Empowering Women - Lady Gaga

Every month I am highlighting an empowering woman. This month it is:


Image from Wikipedia. Source marcen27
Tony Bennett & Lady GaGa 6 License

Lady Gaga wasn’t always understood when she first rose to musical power. Her outfits were crazy and her performances and videos were controversial. I always liked her, though, because I appreciated her creativity and what she was doing.

Remember the legendary meat dress?
“If we don’t stand up for what we believe in, and if we don’t fight for our rights pretty soon, we’re going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones. And, I’m not a piece of meat.”
Then there’s her first MTV VMA performance for Paparazzi. At the end, she’s lifted into the air, bleeding and convulsing. 
“I just knew I had to bleed to death for four minutes on TV…I wanted to say something about how the celebrity sort of has this inevitable demise that we love to watch. But are we killing them or are they killing themselves?”
In 2011, she debuted her song “Born This Way,” a song about love and equality. From the beginning, she fought for LGBT rights. She wrote “Born This Way" in ten minutes and recorded it around the world on her tour bus. This song isn’t just for the LBGT community, though, but for people of all races.

 What about the video and that egg she journeyed in down the red carpet:
“…birthing a race within the race of already existing cultures of humanity—that bears no prejudice and no judgement.”
She started the Born This Way Foundation to help teens struggling with depression and to feel comfortable in their skin.

In recent years, she gained considerable recognition for her tribute to Julie Andrews, her National Anthem performance at Super Bowl 50, her tribute to David Bowie, and her role as the Countess in American Horror Story: Hotel, for which she won an Emmy.

This year she did the Halftime Show for Super Bowl 51, and in my opinion it was the best Halftime Show ever. She opened it by singing "This Land is Your Land" while a fleet of drones created the American flag behind her. And it was neat to see the dance moves from her music videos come back to the stage. 

At the 2016 Oscars, she performed “Till it Happens to You,” her song dedicated to victims of sexual abuse. Gaga was sexually assaulted when she young....
“I didn’t tell anyone for years because I didn’t tell myself for years. And my soul was burnt out until it was gone. And then you have to admit you were in pain, and that you died in a way, but you are in control to bring it back, and there are people in the world who’ll help you.”
Please watch her Oscar performance. Every time I’ve seen it, I’ve been reduced to tears.

Inspiring Song:

So whether you understand her in the moment, you have to admit that she has a way of getting her message out there.

QUESTION: What do you think of her performance?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

IWSG Twitter Pitch / Reworking an Old Story

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group
Twitter Pitch Party!


July 27, 2017

8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Time

All writers and authors are invited to participate in our very first Twitter Pitch. Invite your writer friends and your publisher/agent. 

Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On July 27, Tweet your pitch. If your pitch receives a favorite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query.

For the rules go to: IWSG Twitter Pitch

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a safe place for insecure writers.
MARCH QUESTION: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

I certainly have. I've shared this story before, but I'll do it again. :) When I was twelve, I started writing a book that flourished into a series. At the age of seventeen, I had reached Book 4 when writer's block hit and hit me hard. I didn't write for months. I felt a total disconnect from my characters and my plot. It took me a long time to realize was because I had matured, and so did my characters, but I wanted them to be older than when they started. So, I set about rewriting the entire series from Book 1. 

For years, I slaved over these stories, and I have finished all 4 books. But I was never completely satisfied with the first book. I kept tweaking it, redoing the beginning, editing it and editing it. It wasn't until 2015 when I asked for beta readers to read the first 3 chapters and the wonderful Yolanda Renee helped me to whip the book into shape. I love it now! 

I actively sought representation last year and only received rejections, but I'm not going to give up on it. I do have to rework Book 2 to fit the changes, and I still have to revise/edit the final two books, and I will...when it's time. :)

OPTIONAL APRIL QUESTION: Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?

Reminder: The questions are optional and meant as a prompt if you struggle with what to post. You don't have to answer a question if you don't want to. :)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Authors for Autism / Black History Month - Monthly Mishmash

My Little Absence: I was slow last week in returning blog comments. My mom had a fall on Monday and needed my help. She's okay. Banged up, aching, with a splint on one wrist, but it could've been worse. 
NEW Anthology: I am a part of an anthology to help raise awareness for autism. Pieces of the Heart came out on Valentine’s Day. My mom is also in the anthology! :D

The story I contributed to Pieces of the Heart is Cancer Can’t. I wrote it for two women I know. The first inspired the initial idea when I got to know her (through Facebook) and learned about the cancer diagnosis she defeated years before. She told me about how she would crack jokes while receiving chemo, how she would yell at her doctors if their opinion wasn’t positive, how she refused to back down. I wanted to write about a character just like her. The other woman this story is dedicated to also conquered breast cancer and I wanted to honor her as well with this story, so I wrote about Harley, a tough woman with a heart of gold who takes on the big C with brass and class.


Fifteen incredible authors have come together with stories of love, passion, pain, and triumph in support of Autism research. Pieces of the Heart by Authors for Autism is a collection of romance short stories of various genre and styles. Contemporary, fantasy, comedy, historical, and drama, all combined in an assembly of sweet short reads to fill your heart with emotion. All of the proceeds of every sold copy of Pieces of the Heart will be donated toward Autism Research. This is a cause near and dear to every author involved in this project, and they are all excited to share these beautiful stories with all of you.

Contributing Authors:

Don't forget to order your copy ASAP!

Black History Month:
I’ve been reading a lot of book for Black History Month. One book I read really hit me in a good way. Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery chronicles the real story of the youngest person to take part in the Selma to Montgomery March. While I read it, it was as though she sat across from me, telling me about her passion, her fight for freedom, and her fear following Bloody Sunday. It is a great story.
So, Lynda Blackmon Lowery is also my empowering woman for this month along with Michelle Obama. :)

 At the end of the book, we are told about the three individuals killed before and after Bloody Sunday, two of which were white advocates:
- Jimmie Lee Jackson was murdered during a march at night. He tried to shield his eighty-two-year-old grandfather, who was badly beaten, and his mother. A trooper shot him in the stomach.
- Reverend James Reeb answered Martin Luther King’s call for religious leaders. He participated in a peaceful march in which the marchers prayed and then left. Reverend Reeb and three ministers went to a cafĂ© for dinner. When they left, a group of white men attacked them with baseball bats and clubs. Reverend Reeb died.
- Viola Gregg Liuzzo was a homemaker who came to Selma from to Detroit. After the big march, she helped out by driving marchers home. On her last run, with one individual, the KKK forced her off the road and shot her in the head.
The young man with her (the author’s neighbor) used the woman’s body to cover himself, so the KKK thought they had killed him, too. He was nineteen when he ran for his life. He never returned to Selma.

Blogging: I will continue to post every IWSG and on Mondays, but I've decided to suspend the Friday feature for The Wild Rose Press authors. I've been struggling with low blogging motivation for a while now and decided this is best. I apologize.

Question: What are you reading?

Friday, February 24, 2017

D - Dylan Newton - Werewolves, Ghosts and Witches. Oh My!

To support my fellow authors from The Wild Rose Press I will be featuring one author for each letter of the alphabet.

Please help me to welcome the author for D . . . Dylan Newton!

1. What was the first book you contracted through The Wild Rose Press? Tell us about it.

My first book with TWRP was “Despite the Ghosts” in 2010, and features a psychic heroine who is attempting to solve a ghost’s mystery—a quest which lands her in the arms of the spirit’s brother who is a rich tycoon, hot as hell…and a complete skeptic. I like to quip that she’s endowed with psychic abilities, and he’s simply…endowed, lol!

2. Share your acceptance story for that first book.

It makes me feel old, but back then (2008), we submitted via snail mail with an actual query letter! I submitted to a few publishers and agents, and heard back from a few asking for partial manuscripts. The Wild Rose Press was one that asked for a full manuscript, which I sent to the editor. About six weeks later, I got the call offering me a contract for DESPITE THE GHOSTS. I remember my knees actually went weak when I got the offer and I had to sit down!

3. Tell us about your newest release.

Since my first book, I’ve written three others for TWRP:

ANY WITCH WAY features a graduate student with a devastating curse who encounters a Wiccan with a secret of his own. Together they battle an ancient evil, struggling to save their lives and their new-found love.

DESPITE THE FANGS is a paranormal romance that delivers the unexpected—a foul-mouthed, werewolf heroine with overactive follicles, a mysterious hero who’d do anything for his son, and a world that— for the time being— doesn’t know they exist.

PIPER’S PIPING is my newest release and it’s a holiday story with a paranormal twist! As her Irish honeymoon turns nightmarish, werewolf Aribella Lupari must choose between her man, or recusing the pack’s missing were-pups. Santa’s not the only mythical creature working overtime to save this Christmas!

4. What would we find in your heroine’s purse if we went snooping?
Ha! That would be an interesting snoop. Aribella is an Alpha werewolf, so you’d probably find Cheerios (her fav after-hunt snack), breath mints and pepper spray.
5. What is your heroine’s biggest weakness?
Aribella believes because she’s the werewolf leader, that means she shouldn’t need anybody’s help. Ever.
6. Is the hero a bad boy or a gentleman?
Mason is definitely a rebel and as a genetically-modified soldier, he’s been taught to be bad. But he knows how to treat a lady. Even if that lady is a werewolf!
7. What is the silliest thing you ever did while writing a story?
There’s a scene in “Despite the Fangs” where Aribella sticks out her tongue at Mason, the hero, and he catches it. He won’t let go of it, and she speaks around the impediment, so I had to hold my own tongue and see how the line would sound if someone were holding my tongue! (Here’s the line from the book—see if you can hold your tongue and hear what Aribella is asking Mason: “Weeyyyy babing?”)
8. Have you ever experienced something unusual that influenced a story?
The impetus for my first novel, “Despite the Ghosts” happened when my cat’s cold nose touched my toes, waking me up, but I thought it was a ghost. Then I wondered what would happen if it was real, and ghosts regularly poked me awake. Which led to why they’d want to poke me awake, which led to my heroine being a psychic who solved ghosts’ murder mysteries! J
9. Do you listen to music while you write?
I like to listen to heavy rock music when I write. Bands like Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, Godsmack—all on my writing playlist.
10. The universe has flipped and now you’re in one of your books, which book is it and what kind of character are you?

That’s easy! I think it would be awesome to be an Alpha werewolf, and if I could be one of my heroines, I’d choose Aribella Lupari, my heroine in “Despite the Fangs” because she’s a world-class human tracker, she delivers amazing one-liners and she kicks ass and asks questions later. J

TV Show – “Scorpion”
Movie – “Gone with The Wind”
Book you’ve re-read – “The Stand,” by Stephen King.
Ice cream flavor – Pralines and Cream
Pizza topping – Mushrooms, onions and green peppers
Drink – Margarita on the rocks, no salt.
Outdoor activity – Running.
Hobby – Do writers have time for hobbies?? I’m jealous!


Dylan Newton was born and raised in a small town in Upstate New York where the local library was her favorite hang-out. Despite earning a degree in English Literature, Dylan spent more than a decade sidetracked by an executive position in corporate America where she swears she contracted testosterone poisoning. After leaving, she dedicated herself to more estrogen-rich passions, like motherhood, writing romance novels and her never-ending quest for the perfect date night.

Dylan married her high-school sweetheart and they are busy living out their own happily ever after in sunny Florida with their two incredible daughters. 

Author Links:

Thank you for being here today, Dylan!

Please leave Dylan a comment. :)

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