Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Next Big Thing


Two writer friends of mine , BK Walker author of  Immortyl Kisses: Warrior Rising and Aya Katz author of Vacuum County, tagged me in something called a “Blog Hop,” which is a cool new way for writers to talk about their work, support other writers, and help readers find new writers they might not know about. So, in the spirit of self-promotion AND goodwill to man (and woman), I happily accepted the baton, so to speak, and will play along. To do so, I will begin with adhering to the format, which appears to be posting the Blog Hop title, the rules, the questions (with answers) and the links:

BLOG HOP — The Next Big Thing
The rules for the Blog Hop are as follows:
1. Give credit to the person/blog that tagged you
2. Post the rules for the blog hop
3. Answer these 10 questions about your current WIP (work in progress) on your blog
4. Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:
What is the working title of your book?
Hush Baby

Where did the idea come from for the book?

There was a newspaper report last year in December, about a 2 year old boy who had gone missing.  After an extensive search the mother came forward and confessed to killing him.

What genre does your book fall under?

Reality fiction.  Is that a genre?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I would choose Ryan Reynolds to play the part of Kyle Rushton, Charlize Theron to play Sylvie Rushton, Kristen Stewart as Marlene Twigg.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When a father investigates the death of his son, he unearths secrets that were best kept hidden.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Definitely self-published.  It is too difficult to find an agency when you live in the wop-wops like I do.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’m still busy with the first draft.  I hope to have it done by the end of January.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’d probably compare it to Defective, Not Telling and The Case of Billy B, some of the other novels I have written.  I enjoy writing and reading reality-type stories.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
My brother and his twin boys.  I love being around them and was thinking about what it would be like to lose them.  How would we cope?

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
People who enjoy reading stories which could be real, psychological thrillers and who enjoy books that look at how people handle stressful situations, will find this book of interest.

If you won fifty million dollars in a lottery, what is the first thing you would purchase?
I’d buy each one of my three children a house.
So that’s it, my official first Blog Hop blog entry. It was fun to do, especially the casting the movie thing. Thanks again to BK Walker and Aya Katz (don’t forget to check out their books and blog) for inviting me to play along. Please check out these other writers’ work and blogs as well.
Karoline Barrett
MaryLynn Bast
Aya Katz
J'aime Rubio
Sheri Swift

Cindy Vine is the author of Not Telling, Defective and C U @ 8, available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the Apple iStore.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

How did Breast Cancer Awareness Month start
The first National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) took place in October 1985 and was intended to increase awareness of breast cancer issues, especially the importance of early detection.
During NBCAM, women are encouraged to educate themselves about the disease, perform regular breast self-examinations, and schedule an annual mammogram.
The pink ribbon symbol
The first known use of the pink ribbon was in the fall of 1991, when the Susan G. Komen Foundation had handed them out to participants in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors. In 1993, Evelyn Lauder (of Estée Lauder Inc.) founded The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and used the pink ribbon as its logo, popularizing the symbol and its association with the disease.For the past two decades the world every October swathes itself in pink and turns attention to a deadly disease. In the U.S. alone a quarter of a million women are diagnosed while nearly 40,000 die from breast cancer each year.  And that's just the US!
Stars That Battled Breast Cancer:
Kathy Bates, Maura Tierney, Judy Blume, Ann Romney, Edie Falco, Suzanne Somers, Olivia Newton-John, Giuliana Rancic, Wanda Sykes, Christina Applegate, Melissa Etheridge, Robin Roberts, Kylie Minogue, Sheryl Crow (list from the Huffington Post
What Breast Cancer means to me
My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer way back in 1969 and had a mastectomy.  In those days they didn't worry about reconstruction or leaving a nice scar.  They just hacked off the breast in the most brutal way.  I remember as a child going to visit her in hospital, and seeing her hands tied to her neck to stop her from touching the wound where her right breast used to be.  She used a bag of bird seed as a breast prosthesis.  One day after quickly taking washing off the line when the rain started, the seeds in her prosthesis started to germinate.
My own story with breast cancer started in 2003.  You can read about it here.  I had reconstruction done at the same time.  My problems from the tram flap reconstruction were not pleasant.  In my hub I write about the pros and cons of it.  My second bout with breast cancer was in 2011.  I went for an implant but that has not been without complications.  In August this year I got breast cellulitis and had to have the implant removed.  My breasts have proved to be a curse.  What I once thought was my best feature became my enemy.  excess, have always been a conservative social drinker.  I have never smoked or taken drugs.  I breast-fed my three children for a total of 5 years.  I did everything right, so why did I get breast cancer not once, but twice?  I have come to realise that sometimes bad things just happen to good people.  There doesn't have to be a reason, it can just be in your genetic make-up.  It can also just be shitty rotten luck.  Whatever the reason, you just have to deal with it as best you can.  Be grateful it was picked up early.  Be thankful that you are one of the lucky ones that survived.
Cindy Vine is the author of the novels Not Telling, Defective and C U @ 8.  They are available on, Barnes and, Sony and the Apple iStore.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why you need Beta Readers

I've just been reading a great book by Stephen King called On Writing.  In it he speaks about the need to find a special reader whom you trust to read your book and be a critical friend.  He uses his wife Tabitha.  Author T.K. Harris, author of Phantom Dreams, shares her insights in getting beta readers.
T.K. Harris was born in California and lived a gypsy sort of life traveling the world as a military brat. She has been writing since she was a child and as had several short stories published by various magazines, including one in Woman's World. She currently lives and works in Colorado as a Senior Solutions Architect and IT Instructor and has recently had her first novel, Phantom Dreams, published. She is looking forward to her next two books, already outlined and partially written. You can find out more at:
Beta Readers.  Get Some.
Why You Need Them and Where to Find Them
But that doesn’t work as well for a novel.  First off, they are right when they say don’t let anyone read a novel you are currently writing.  You're either going to get great feedback that will probably go to your head and make you lazy or you're going to get so much constructive criticism that you may become discouraged and give up.   The only time you want to receive feedback while writing that first draft is when you’re stuck and just need something to pry you out of whatever corner you wrote yourself into.
Once you’re done with that first draft, you put it away for a month or two, then pull it back out and edit. And edit. And edit.  Its mind numbing.  It may drive you a little crazy.  But it has to be done.  And it’s probably the hardest part of the entire venture, next to marketing your baby.  (But that’s another story.)  But now, you need readers.   Readers to help you find the holes in your plot, or to tell you the places where your brilliant novel becomes boring or confusing.  But also readers to tell you what you did right!
For those of you who already have dedicated readers willing to wade through what is, inevitably, a manuscript still in need of major repairs, good for you.  I’ll try not to be jealous!  For the rest of us, we know that no matter how much our friends and family say they may help, getting them to finish, is like pulling teeth.  (Although I’ve never pulled teeth, I hear it’s quite difficult.)
So where do you find them?  I tried book clubs, college students, etc.  No luck. But then I decided to try something a little different.  I posted an ad on Craigslist.  I know you’re thinking “brilliant” right?  Or, more likely, “Are you crazy?  What if they steal your book?!”  Well, it’s a risk.  And it didn’t happen. 
I basically asked for 5-10 people to read my novel, answer a few questions, and I’d send them a ten dollar Money Order.  The response was overwhelming.  In fact, I had to turn people away.  For those that responded, I outlined the questions, explained that once I got the answers back, I’d send the money.  And, most importantly, I gave them a two week deadline.  Once they agreed to all of this, I sent them the book.
What I got back blew me away.  The comments devastated and inspired me. 
They didn’t like my main character.  She was boring. (A result of writing late at night no doubt).  They got confused in the beginning and at the very end. They couldn’t put the book down in the middle.  In fact, one lady said her interest was so caught in the middle that she sat in her car outside of her gym, until she finished it.  (How cool is that?!)
I used the comments to plug the holes. I rewrote and started the book with Jack, instead of Kathy. And, when I became discouraged, I read and re-read the comments that told me how much they liked the book and would be willing to read it again once it was ready. 
It was an amazing experience that helped me make an OK story so much better.  I will definitely be doing the same for my next book!  And I hope this was helpful!
I’d be happy to send anyone the actual Craigslist post and the questions I sent the readers.  Simply contact me at: and go to the contact page OR my Phantom Dreams page on Facebook and leave a comment requesting the information. 
You can also just stop by to say "hi" or ask another question! 
T.K. Harris
And you can find Tamara's books here: 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Did I ever mention that I hate flying?

Flying has got to be my least favourite activity.  I mean I enjoy travel and the holiday at the end.  But the actual flying part, nah.  I'm hanging out for the day when we just teleport everywhere.
Today was my worst flying experience ever.  Even worse than when our plane got struck by lightning in Southern Angola during the civil war and we had to make an emergency landing in rebel territory.  Even worse than flying into a typhoon over Hong Kong sitting next to a morbidly obese man who poured himself into half of my seat and suffered from the nastiest flatulence that ever ventured past my nostrils.  Even worse than the pressure valve going and us having to return to the airport wearing oxygen masks.  Even worse than the pilot coming in too fast, over-shooting the runway so he had to yank the plane upwards quickly before we crashed into the national road on the other side of the fence.
I'm sure you realise by now it was pretty bad.
I can't believe I survived.
Actually, the bad part only lasted for ten minutes of a two hour flight.  We flew into a storm that was so severe, it threw our plane around the sky rather like a pigeon on crack.  One that over-indulged on the crumbs of the xmas cake that had been soaked in a mixture of rum, brandy and whiskey.  The pilot had no control as first the plane dropped and then took off sideways, bouncing its way through the storm clouds.  My ears couldn't decide what they were supposed to do, popping like champagne corks at a wedding.  People were screaming.  Ten minutes of being blown around the sky, but the dropping parts were the worst. The poached eggs I'd had for breakfast this morning scrambled themselves and made their way into my lungs.  Last night's fat-free ice-cream curdled inside me and entered my brain through some internal pipe or other.  The terror must have been frozen on my face, rather like when a crazy boyfriend takes you for a motorbike ride down a steep hill at speed.  Maybe the pilot was on speed.  I wish I was on speed.  It might have dulled the fear.  I thought I wasn't afraid of dying.  I was wrong.  Did you hear that?  I'm admitting I'm wrong.  That doesn't happen too often.  I told you my brain has become curdled fat-free ice-cream.
Ten minutes of the worst rollercoaster ride in the world.  I also happen to hate rollercoasters.  It felt like it lasted several lifetimes.  There are definitely more grey hairs on my head.  They probably come in fifty shades of grey.  In fact, it's aged me so much I think it has brought on menopause as it caused my ovaries to seize.  Gripping the chair so tightly, sitting so ramrod-stiff, caused my back and my left leg to cramp.  Now, several hours later, my back feels as if I built the pyramids all on my own, carrying each block by myself, struggling to walk under its weight in the thick desert sands. 
Above the screams you could hear a group at the back of the plane laughing raucously at each drop.  What were they trying to prove laughing while the rest of us were screaming?  Maybe all the free wine they consumed on the plane had taken away all their fear.  Drunken skunks.  Savages.  I hate them for laughing.
Did I ever mention I hate flying?
Cindy Vine is the author of Not Telling, Defective and C U @ 8.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

As NaNoWriMo approaches...

October to me only means one thing.  It is the month before November.  November is the craziest month of the year.  No it's not recovery after Halloween or the start of frantic Christmas shopping.  November signifies NaNoWriMo.  The month when you drop everything and write.  I have written 4 novels during NaNoWriMo time.  It gives you that kickstart you often need to get that novel out of your head and onto your computer.  Teresa Trent, author of A Dash of Murder, shares her experience with NaNoWriMo.

Crazy Days With NaNoWriMo

by Teresa Trent

    Have you heard of it?  National Novel Writing Month?  The goal is to write at least 50,000 words in one month.  That works out to 1676 words per day.  Every day.  For an entire month.  Let's travel back in time to my life about a year ago.  I was writing, but not daily.  I had published my first book and was slogging along on my second book, but not daily.  I had characters, plots, subplots all coming along nicely, but my fictional garden was growing weeds between work sessions.  I decided to join National Novel Writing Month just to see if I could do it.  I went to the site and signed up for my month of fun.  Now, the rule is you cannot have a single word of your novel written before November 1, so the novel I had been working on had to be shelved temporarily.  I had to start at word number one, so I created another story.  Here are some guidelines for the weeks before NaNoWriMo.

    Setting Up Your Book:  You can't write any chapters or scenes, but you can work on your outline prior to NaNoWriMo.  Not only can you, but if you want to succeed, I highly suggest doing this.  Work out your plotlines, research your settings, write up your character and setting sketches.  Imagine if you were going to paint a portrait.  You would need to prepare your paints, choose your colors, get the right size canvas, find your model and set up your work schedule to get it done in a certain amount of time.  This is what you do before NaNoWriMo.  If you go in with nothing prepared hitting that 1676 words daily can be harder than you ever imagined.  That being said, once you are into the flow of writing that novel be flexible to make changes where they're needed.  Many times I plan events out in a book  and then find a hole in my plot. For example- If character A is doing this here then character B needs to hear it.  I'll need to write them in or write a scene that sets up a clue for the reader.  Don't be so rigid you can't let your story breathe.

    Ready Start Write:  This part seems so easy in the beginning.  A little less than 2,000 words?  Piece of cake!  Then you realize you are in what month?  NOVEMBER.  The month of preparing and having one of the biggest family gatherings of the year.  Last year I was writing on my ipad to and from Louisiana trying to make my daily word quota.  Did I hit it every day?  No.  I admit it.  I took Thanksgiving off but then tried to double up on the weekend.  It took me several days to really get back on track with the book. 

     Picky Writers-Chill:  If you tend write and then rewrite-that's good.  Doing this during the first draft process, though, is time consuming.  There will be plenty of mistakes in your manuscript in the first draft, but that is what the second draft is for, right?  Too much backing up and fixing will ruin your thought flow for writing your story.  Go, Go, Go.  Need I say more?  Get from beginning to middle to end and then start all over again and correct your mistakes in December. 

    Don't Give Up:  So there I was, on the last night of NaNoWriMo with 47,000 words and an important choir rehearsal to go to at my church.  Did I mention the end of November also coincides with the beginning of all the Christmas crazy scheduling?  It does.  I was ready to give up.  I could cling to the fact that I had done so much in one month, and I just felt like I was out of story to tell.  Other writers write books that are hundreds of thousands words long and someday I hope to be one, but for right now I am what I am.  I was trying to write but ~BLOCK~.  Then it hit me, probably as I drove  to choir.  Let's hit somebody in the head with a frying pan!  That's right.  I visualized an old German beer glass my father had with a lady hitting her inebriated husband on the head with a frying pan.  That image stuck in my head and I rushed home and wrote that scene at 9:30.  The contest would end at midnight.  By 10:30 I had the scene in and uploaded my novel. 
    (Trumpet Blast).  I had achieved NaNoWriMo.
    Before you get too excited, you don't get any major prizes for winning NaNoWriMo except for that 50,000 word novel you now have to work with, submit and/or publish.  Even though you have to upload your novel, the NaNoWriMo people aren't reading your words—just counting them.  After writing this book, which is my second mystery novel, Overdue For Murder, it still took me until around Easter to finish the rewrites.  I have to admit that once I was out of NaNoWriMo my work slowed down, but one thing I learned from my experience was consistency is the key.  If you want to write, then set a goal and WRITE EVERY DAY.  If you stop, then you will lose that precious thought thread going on in your brain.  As November rolls around again this year, will I NaNoWriMo?  Can't wait!

Teresa Trent wasn't born in Texas but after a few glasses of sweet tea and some exceptional barbecue she decided to stay. With a father in the Army, she found herself moved all over the world, settling down for a while in her teens in the state of Colorado. Her writing was influenced by all of the interesting people she found in small towns and the sense of family that seemed to be woven through them all. Teresa is a former high school teacher and received her degree from The University of Northern Colorado.  Teresa is presently working on the third book in her Pecan Bayou Series.  Her second book, Overdue For Murder, came out in June of 2012.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How to avoid the rejection blues

It always amazes me how many women there are out there, who for some reason or other are trapped in abusive relationships.  For every one of us who escapes a terrible situation, there are many more who are unable to escape and face daily abuse.  Nobody should stay in an abusive relationship.  You are worth more than that.  You deserve better.  In fact.  You deserve the best.
Senica Evans escaped an abusive situation, and like I did with Fear, Phobias and Frozen Feet has written an inspirational book about her experiences and her escape.  It is very cathartic to write about what you went through and use the drama to help others get through a similar situation.
Just as you learn to cope with rejection in your life, as a writer you also have to know how to handle rejection.  Senica Evans shares her thoughts on How to Avoid the Rejection Blues.

Rejection, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is the act to refuse to accept, recognize, submit to, believe, make use of, consider, or deny. Rejection is inevitable in life especially in the creative business.  If you want to experience any degree of success you must first get comfortable with NO. On the other side of comfort is greatness. Find comfort in the uncomfortable.
Hearing NO is not only uncomfortable; it brings the grey cloud of negativity. You’ve heard the song with the low melodic beats and snazzy snarls. The tune carries you down the reminiscent lane headed straight towards the place where the blues is felt in every word a person speaks. You know those blues… rejection blues.  Although you’re drawn in, avoid this place in order to reach your ultimate destination. Here are a few tips on avoiding the rejection blues;

Acknowledge. Refusing to acknowledge the ‘NO’ will only allow the associated feelings of negativity and self-doubt to fester and grow. Once negativity takes root, look out, it takes over. The best response to a ‘NO’ is not to take it personal because the response isn’t about you.  It might be bad timing, not a good fit, or some other reason that has nothing to do with you.
Acceptance. Hearing NO comes with the territory. You have to develop thick skin and remember NO has nothing to do with you. No’s don’t indicate your writing skill. They indicate another’s preference, timing, or preferred style.  Accept the NO as part of the job and keep pressing forward. Perfect matches for your work are out there.

Embracing. Have fun with the No’s. I’m sure that sounds sort of weird but… you might as well get used to them since they are a regular part of a writer’s life, or any creative for that matter. Expect them, welcome them, embrace them… they’re just bumps along the path.
Let Go. Move on and quick. Let go of any associated negative feelings of self-doubt, worry, or not being good enough. You are just fine and are the best version of you. Take your NO in stride then let it go. Allow yourself daily reminders (incantations are a great tool) of your effort and greatness.

The longer you wallow in rejection blues, the more difficult getting back up and out there becomes. The rejection blues is akin to being swept away by the currant taking you off course. Stay active and let the momentum propel you forward. Remember, the best version of you is already good enough.

Senica Evans as author, relationship coach, radio host, and speaker is passionate about helping women overcome the destruction in their life to reveal their true beauty and greatness. As a survivor of domestic violence, sexual assault, and destructive relationships, Senica founded SennySen to be a guiding light to women and teen girls. Senica is the author of Married to Him, an autobiography of the destruction she faced in her abusive destructive marriage.  Senica is preparing to release her second book later this year; Woman Free Yourself: A Guide to Healing from Divorce or a Heart Wrenching Breakup by Starting Over, Rediscovering You, & Crushing Bitterness, Anger, and Resentment. Visit her at .
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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Not everyone will like what you do and that's okay!

The curtains go up, the music starts, the audience begins to laugh and applaud, and I run off the stage crying.  Granted I was five years old at the time.  And today if I was in that audience I would also have laughed.  Five year olds dressed in nothing but a pair of shorts, topless except for balloons cellotaped in strategic places, must have looked quite hilarious.  Especially when some balloons popped as the curtains opened.
It took me years to recover from that experience and get over my stagefright.
Writing a book and publishing it is a bit like going out on stage.  You put yourself out there for everybody to see and comment on.  You stand there completely exposed, at the mercy of your audience.  Sometimes the balloons pop and your audience see more than what you bargained on.  Occasionally they find mirth in something that should have been serious.  Some love to tear everything to shreds, not quite distinguishng the fine line between being critical and just being a bitch.  Others identify with your characters and love what you do.
Here's the thing.  You can't please everybody every time.
We are all different, unique, with different experiences which shape our opinions and perceptions.  We don't all like the same things.
For me cucmber in a salad is a fate worse than death.  I always gingerly fish them out when I happen upon them.  Other people might like cucumbers so much, they even, horror upon horrors, eat it before it even goes into a salad.  Standing in the kitchen nibbling on pieces of cucumber while they prepare a meal.
You don't have to like what everybody else likes.  Not everybody has to like what you do.  So it stands to reason that not everybody has to like what you write and that's okay.
Cindy Vine lives at the foot of Kilimanjaro and is the author of Not Telling, Defective and C U @ 8.