Monday, December 17, 2012

So Much in so Little Time...

This has been the busiest two weeks in quite a long time.  I had my ultrasound and found out the gender of my baby, went to see the Hobbit, threw a Christmas Party, and celebrated my stepdad's birthday as well.

First of all, the ultrasound went very well.  So far the baby is developing perfectly and seems very healthy.  It's a girl!  I didn't have a preference in gender, but for some reason I was surprised.  I thought it would be a boy.  Still, it's nice to know and now I can start narrowing down the names.  I think that we're probably going to make the middle name "Melissa" but nothing is written in stone yet.  I have a feeling it's going to be hard to pick the first name.

I went to the RPX showing of the Hobbit on opening night, and as difficult as this is for me to admit, it was worth the extra money.  The seats of the theater were very comfortable and leather like those of an expensive sports car.  Even though I'm not a huge fan of 3-D usually, the 3-D was so smooth that it felt natural.  The action scenes were easier to see for the effect, instead of blurry like I was expecting.  Also, the increased frame rate made everything seem smoother.

Normally, I would write a long review for any new movie that I went to see, but I really can't find anything wrong with this movie.  It stuck close enough to the plot while adding scenes from notes within Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion, etc., that I feel it did Tolkien's work justice.  There is a little more comedy within this movie than in Lord of the Rings, but there's also some dark themes and even some fairly scary scenes that set off the comic relief nicely.  (Also, keep in mind while watching this film that the Hobbit was written as a children's book.)  The acting was great, the effects were beautiful, and if you haven't gone to see it yet, then you should go.  

I'm also pleased to say that the annual pot luck Christmas Party went very well.  The food was great, there was plenty of it, and we had a pretty good turnout of about twenty people in all.  I got to see some of my old friends that I don't get to see often enough, and spend some time with a few of my new friends from the writing group.  I think it was the best one yet.  We played Rock Band, watched and heckled old Christmas films, and talked until 4:00am.  (I also learned a valuable lesson; I can't stay up that late anymore if I don't want to be a zombie until about 9:00pm of the next day.  At least, the rest of my family was exhausted for various reasons as well, so Joe's party was mostly relaxing and quiet and I didn't feel too bad for my sleepiness.)

I'm looking forward to another busy weekend coming up.  I have a steak night this week, a romantic Christmas date with my husband on the weekend, a family Christmas Party on Sunday, Christmas Eve with my parents, and then Christmas Day with Joel's parents.  I'm looking very forward to spending more time with my whole family.

I haven't been writing or reading as much as I usually do.  I think sometimes it's important to slow down and enjoy the holidays.  After all (though I know I've said this before, I will say it again), living life, making memories, and having new experiences is how you become a well rounded person, which will benefit your writing in the long run anyway.  Plus, I haven't made it any secret that other than Jesus (and to me Christmas is a religious holiday), my family and friends are most important.

Still, I'm hoping this week to make a few notes on "Blood God," book three of the Blood Rain series, and the urban fantasy changeling story that I mentioned a while ago.  I'm actually getting pretty excited about the changeling project because I have some new ideas that I think will make it a better book.  I've fleshed out the main character, come up with some interesting ideas about Arcadia, and have an idea for a unique twist for the ending.  Still, I have a long way to go before I can start actually writing it.  Wish me luck, and the ability to somehow manage my time well enough to write at all.  (After all, I'm having a baby in April.  There's quite a bit on my mind...)   

In the meantime, I'll try to do better about keeping up this blog.  Keep reading and writing!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Finished Blood Moon and my 100th Post on this blog...

Hello everyone,

Sorry I've been so quiet lately.  This is a special blog since this is the 100th entry.  YAY!  It's kind of hard to believe I've written on this blog 100 times.  It makes me feel good to know that I kept up with it for so long.  I do enjoy blogging, and hopefully I'll write at least 100 more. 

As you know, this month is National Write a Novel Month (NaNoWriMo), and I'm pleased to say that I've finished "Blood Moon."  I still need to proof it and send it to my test readers, but it came out to a decent 90,000 words and I'm pleased with it.  I also have enough notes to officially begin "Blood God," the final book of the trilogy.  I wrote 30,000 more words in "Blood Moon" this month.  Hopefully, I'll reach my 50,000 word count by the end of NaNoWriMo, but I don't plan to stress out over it.

It was never my goal to "beat" NaNoWriMo this time.  It was my goal to finish the second book of my trilogy, and I did reach that goal.  (If I can "beat" NaNoWriMo as well then even better, but I believe in quality over quantity in my writing, so I was taking my time instead of rushing through it.)  I really like my "Blood Rain" trilogy and I really like the main character.  I want to see her through to the end of her journey before I begin anything else; to do anything less would seem like abandoning her.

I feel that if I start on the third book, I'll probably come up with more ideas and at the very least be able to finish the notes by the end of December.  My goal is to have the final book done by the end of January or February.  I think that is a realistic goal, especially if I finish the notes.

This has been a good Thanksgiving holiday.  I spent time with my family, some quality time with my husband, and USC beat Clemson.  I took a little break from writing and that was enough to rejuvenate me, making the day that I decided to work hard on my ending for "Blood Moon" a very good one.  I am a firm believer in occasionally taking a little break so that you don't burn yourself out, but not a break long enough to make you lazy  Still, I do plan to take another during the Christmas holidays if at all possible.

There are many things I'm thankful for this holiday.  I'm thankful for my baby's health and for my husband's constant love and support.  I'm thankful that my Mom is still free of breast cancer.  I'm thankful for everyone in my family.  I'm thankful for my good friends.  I'm thankful that I was able to finish my book.

And, above all, I'm thankful to Jesus for his sacrifice and for looking after me and those I love.  I know that despite our financial strain this year, things will work out with prayer, patience, and hard work.  We've been given many blessings, more than we deserve.

As for the next project after the "Blood Rain" series is over, I'm not sure.  I have a lot of different ideas, though.  We'll just have to see.  I was planning on writing my changeling urban fantasy story, but I've come up some different concepts in the last few weeks that are promising.  I'll keep you posted.

I also might start doing a little bit of data entry work in my spare time to make a little extra money.  Since the baby will be here in April, any extra money I could get between now and then would be helpful.  Still, no worries.  I'll find time to write.  I always do.  (Also, after my appointment on December 10th, I should actually know the gender of the baby.  That's exciting.  I'll keep you posted...) 

Even after the baby is born, I still plan to write when I can.  I believe changes in our lives strengthen us and make us better writers because they give us more experiences to draw on for our stories.  Having a baby will be a great adventure.

In the meantime, as per my usual advice, keep reading and writing!  I hope that you had a happy Thanksgiving holiday.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Surprise! I'm pregnant.

Well, I promised to blog about the "surprise" so here it goes.  I'm pregnant and am almost done with my first trimester. 

After the unfortunate incident with my first pregnancy, I was trying to wait to tell anyone the news.  That was incredibly difficult.  Still, I can spread the news now, so I will.  We're not out of the woods yet, but I still think the chances are better that this one will work out, especially now that the first trimester is nearly over.  Even if it doesn't, I'm not going to give up, but I'm hoping and praying that everything will go smoothly this time.  We don't know the gender of the baby yet, but from what we saw on the ultrasound he or she certainly is active. 

Currently, we have a few names that we like for girls and boys, but we may end up changing our mind when the time comes.  Disclaimer: none of these names are after something/someone in particular.  They're just names that we've always liked.  Many of them were on the list years and years ago.  Any family names will probably be middle names and we have a few ideas for those, but that will be a surprise if we decide to do it.  Our current favorite first names for boys are, "Christian", "Nicholas," "Roman," "Skylar," "Caleb," and "Abel."  The current favorite girl names are, "Evangeline," "Lydia," "Ariel," "Gabrielle," and "Alyssa." 

Truthfully, we've had more trouble thinking of names for girls than boys for some reason.  Evangeline and Lydia are my two top choices for a girl for now.  As for the boys, I like all of those names, but we have some time to think about it since we won't know the gender until another ten weeks.

Anyway, that's the big news.  Please be praying for me.  I'm allowing myself to be excited now.  Seeing that baby move was amazing and he/she is beautiful.  I'm very, very happy, and truthfully a little bit nervous.  Still, I think I'm ready for this now.

50 Shades of...Oh My!

Well, I promised that I would write this review about the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy before I thought better of it, so here it goes.  I'm going to try to explain what is good and bad about these books, and I'm going to try to, above all, be fair.  Initially, I was going to make this more amusing and poke a bit of fun at it, but I've noticed from others who have read these books that the reviews tend to totally trash them.  There are actually good things about these books and I think being that harsh with a new writer is rude.  So, here is what I hope is a fair assessment.  Let's get the bad over with first...   

First of all, I'm not sure what all of the fuss is about.  These kinds of stories have been around for a very long time.  Just look up BDSM short stories on the internet and see what comes up.  I assure you it'll be ten times worse than the 50 Shades of Grey series.  I think the "big deal" is that this one was marketed towards a normal book store as opposed to where you would normally find a book like this.  Also, many people never were exposed to this lifestyle before reading these books.  However, despite the fact that the books are mildly pornographic, the scenes are no worse than those of any other trashy romance novel.  There's a lot of sex in the trilogy, to the point it eventually gets to be repetitive, almost boring, but clearly there is a market for that sort of thing.

The biggest problem I saw with this series are problems that stem from the fact E. L. James is a new writer.  She repeats words and phrases throughout the entire book series.  Word variation is one of those things that's important because a reader literally gets bored when you use the same words over and over again, and it makes it seem that you don't have an extensive vocabulary.  I think E. L. James can do better due to the use of words like "mercurial."  (Though, I have to admit, "mercurial" got on my nerves.  I had never heard that word before I got these books and by the end of them it was ingrained in my head.)  Also, let's just say George Takei ruined the phrase "oh my" for me.  Every time there was an "oh my" in a love scene, I heard it in the George Takei voice and saw him saying it.  Kind of a mood killer...

There was another problem with the third book that the other two didn't have that I feel needs to be mentioned.  At the beginning there are a series of flashbacks.  The flashbacks occur every other chapter until about page eighty.  Never put that many flashbacks in a book, especially in the beginning of one.  It was hard to get into "Fifty Shades Freed" because I was interested in what was happening in the "now" and when we backtracked it derailed my interest.  Too many disjointed flashbacks is a common problem for new writers as well.  I've done that before, but not every other chapter like that.  Truthfully, there is a long flashback in the opening of my new book, but it isn't disjointed.  It's jarring to go from flashback to present, flashback to present, flashback to present.

Finally, I do take issue that this was a Twilight fanfic.  I somehow managed to look at it from an unbiased perspective, but occasionally, I just couldn't.  I felt more needed to be changed for me to appreciate it as a work that stood alone.

Still, there are several good things she did to make it stand apart.  The back story for Christian Grey was good (it actually reminded me a good deal of the back story for "Dexter," making me wonder if she was inspired by that as well).  The characters weren't as annoying as those in Twilight either.  I could actually identify with the main character, even though she was VERY naive for her age, something I had trouble doing with Bella, Edward, or Jacob when I read that series.  (I'm not even going to bother to review that one.  The story falls apart when you realize that Edward is over a hundred years old and falls in love with a teenager.  I'm thirty and I hate angsty teenagers now.  Also, he's practically starving on the animal blood, and she smells like a steak--he would've eaten her.)  Anyway, Christian Grey was a very interesting character that had emotional depth.  Even though we're seeing things through Anastasia's eyes, Christian is the main character of the series, which I thought was a kind of interesting twist.

Also, for being a "dominant" Grey actually is a pretty likeable character.  If you've ever read anything else like this, most of the time the men are complete and utter scoundrels with no redeeming qualities.  If you are just learning about this sort of thing from these books DON'T read Anne Rice's "Sleeping Beauty."  I've read stories like this before, and I couldn't get sixty pages into that book because the man was such a jerk I wanted to kill him.  Grey is different.  He actually does have redeeming qualities, but you do need to keep an open mind and give the series a chance for them to come into play.  Also, this is a story about redemption and overcoming the things from his past that make him the way that he is.  By the end of the series, he's changed a good deal and so has Ana.
The stories themselves were actually pretty addictive.  There was enough action going on in the background that I found myself skimming some of the sex scenes because I wanted to see what happened next.  Even though it was "convenient" for one of the villains from Christian's past to come up randomly by crossing Anastasia's path, I think that's a plot device that all of us are guilty of using every now and again.  And, I know from experience, the world is a lot smaller than I'd like it to be, so that's one of the complaints about these books I don't agree with and found actually plausible.

Long story short, I actually liked these books.  The action (I mean the story not the ahem...action) kept my attention and I read all three.  The writing style needs work, but I think E.L. James could be a much better writer with more practice.  By the third book many of my complaints except for the additional one were already getting better.  She's extremely lucky to have her books catch on like wildfire, but I think she knows that, and I'm happy for her.  I'm legitimately happy for her.  It was a pleasant surprise at the end of the series that she had a large, all caps "Thank you so much for reading," blurb.  She appreciates her fans, and that's a good quality in a writer.

J.K. Rowling said, when she found out how well this book sold, "maybe I should've had Harry be more creative with his wand."  What a smarmy thing to say about someone else's work when Rowling was just as lucky to have her work catch on like it did.  The witch and wizard school concept has been done before.  The first time I was exposed to it was from the Disney movie "Worst Witch."  I swear, the more I hear about that woman the less I like her...don't get me started on the "resource book" case.  She's a good writer, but I'm becoming convinced that fame has gone to her head and being a good writer isn't everything. 

My point is, I think we're all being a little harsh and I think it stems more out of jealousy than legitimate complaint.  We try and try to do everything right so that our books will get published.  We strive to make our books less cliche, make sure our grammar is impeccable, not repeat our words, and someone came along who broke those rules and is now a millionaire with the biggest audience base a book has gotten in a very long time.  It actually gives me hope.  I think that means that if there's a market for a certain type of story, your audience will forgive you for your stylistic shortcomings.  Thank goodness for that, because I know I have a long way to go.

And that's my review.  This has been pretty long...oh my!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

So close to sending query letters...

Hello all,

I know I promised an amusing book review, but I'm not quite done with the last one of the series yet, so it'll have to wait.  In the meantime, I thought I would blog a quick update about what's new. 

First of all, I finished making the changes on "Blood Rain" and am almost done with a one page synopsis.  I feel better about this synopsis since it focuses on the main plot and seems to flow pretty well.  We'll see, though.  I think it still needs a little work, so I'm going to run it by my friends who have read the book and those who haven't. 

I still have a good feeling about "Blood Rain."  I might even be able to start submitting my query letter to agents early next week.  That would be nice.  Either way, I need to hear the opinions of my test readers first to make sure the changes I've made are adequate.  Once I've submitted it to as many agents as I can that are into young adult fantasy stories, then I'll probably finish up book two.  If I work on book two again soon enough, I really might be able to finish it before NaNoWriMo and then work on book three during that time.  Wish me luck.

No luck on the Tron costumes for the Halloween party.  Long story short, we've run out of time to order a costume, try it on, and then send it back if it doesn't fit.  Also, none of the Halloween stores around here are selling them this year.  Ideas that I'm throwing around now are Sweeny Todd and Mrs. Lovett, Luigi from Luigi's mansion and a ghost, or a zombie bride and groom.  Still, I'm trying to be flexible.  We still have a little time to buy a costume, so we'll probably go shopping this weekend.  I'll figure something out even if I have to recycle a costume from a previous year.  Still, I'd rather get a cheap new one if possible.

Looking forward to Halloween as always.  I've got lots of fun things coming up.  There's my a birthday party for one of my friends, Rifftrax Live, the Doobie Brothers in concert at the fair (I grew up listening to the Doobie Brothers, and I haven't been to the fair in years), and my Halloween Party.  I'm also planning to cook up some new treats this year such as caramel coated apples, deviled eggs, and two new flavors of punch.  Totally psyched.  :-D

Anyway, I should have that review for you by the end of the week or the beginning of next week.  In the meantime, I'll be writing, proofing, and sending query letters.  I also have a surprise to announce later this week.  I might send something out about that tomorrow...

Monday, September 17, 2012


I know, it's been over two weeks since I've said a word.  There's a reason for that.

First of all, DragonCon was awesome.  It was everything I hoped it could be.  I have tons of pictures of people in interesting costumes, a few pictures of celebrities (though admittedly not many in comparison), and I saw some really awesome panels.  I got to see a question and answer session with various stars of Lord of the Rings, a question and answer session with Burt Ward and Adam West, and a very awesome panel of voice actors from various cartoons that I love.  My husband and I dressed in steampunk regalia for one day and that was fun as well.  We also got to visit my mother and father in law.  They seem to have settled into their new house in Georgia.  It was nice seeing them.

The writing workshop was very, very useful.  I found out that my dialogue style leaves something to be desired, so I'm going to have to rework several sections of Blood Rain before I send it to anyone.  Also, I discovered that my main character doesn't come across as sympathetic enough in the first chapter, so I've reworked that chapter as well.  From my test readers, I found out that the end of the book kind of fizzles, so I'm currently reworking that section.  I hope to have my revisions done by the end of the month so I can send it back to my test readers and then start sending out query letters.  I still have a good feeling about this book.  Jody Lynn Nye's review of my work was very insightful.

It was very inspirational meeting Jody Lynn Nye and Todd McCaffrey.  (Todd McCaffrey rescued me by showing me to my class.  I was hopelessly lost as usual.  He's a very nice guy.)  The other two guest speakers also had useful information.  They helped me realize that I really need to work on my synopsis.  An editor from Bane books explained that a synopsis is basically what sells your book to the publisher.  I've always had trouble writing a good synopsis, but I'm going to try to change that for Blood Rain.  I'm going to trim and rework the entire synopsis before I send it out.  That could take me a few weeks in and of itself.

When I got home from DragonCon, I was exhausted and had lots of laundry and housework to catch up on.  Still, as soon as I was done, it was time to babysit my niece and nephew for over four days.  I had a lot of fun spending time with them.  We should do that more often.  We swam in the pool, watched lots of movies they hadn't seen yet, and it gave me a small taste of what parenting will be like.  Still, I was also exhausted (again) when I got back home and had just as much laundry and house work to catch up on.  I was going to see Neil Gaiman speak this weekend, but my husband got sick and I wasn't feeling too good myself, so I didn't get to go.  Long story short, I desperately need a break, but I'm not going to get it anytime soon.

Currently, we're getting the house ready for renovations.  We're getting new carpet, new linoleum for the bathroom, a double vanity, and painting the bathroom as well as probably part of the front porch.  We're going to have a deck built in the back yard and the front porch screened in, hopefully before the Halloween Party.  This involves reducing the clutter in the house--enough said.  I am going to try my best not to go insane.

And, that catches us up to today.  If I seem quiet, now you know why.  I hope to have more to tell you about renovations, revisions, and (hopefully) relaxation in the future.   Until then, keep reading and writing.

Oh, and I might have an amusing review for you in the near future about a certain trilogy of books that have gained a lot of popularity recently.  50 shades of popularity in fact...   

Friday, August 24, 2012

Halloween Party

Okay, I couldn't wait until I got back from DragonCon to think about the Halloween Party.  Joel and I have decided that, assuming the costumes fit, we're going to be "programs" from Tron this year.  We're going to get the costumes for Tron Legacy, some glow paint from a craft store and paint the white strips within the costume either blue or red to glow under black light.  We would love to actually buy the strips of light that you can use to light up your costume, but that's just too expensive.  We think the glow paint will get mostly the same effect.  We're also going to buy Frisbees and paint them to look like data disks.  The inflatable data disk that comes with the costume just didn't look good enough.

The general theme of the party will be 80s, (though no one has to dress that way or use that theme for their costumes) so we'll primarily be watching 80s horror movies.  Still, I do want to watch Trick R Treat, a very good independent horror film that came out fairly recently.  I might make an exception to the theme for that movie.  Still, there are plenty of good ones from the 80s to choose from.  I'm thinking "Poltergeist" because it's so damn scary, "Gremlins" because it's campy and classic, "An American Werewolf in London" because, honestly, I haven't seen the whole thing yet, and "Evil Dead" or "Evil Dead 2."  And of course, the "Lost Boys."

I like to vary it by scary, not scary, scary, etc.  Still, nothing is set in stone yet.  I just want to actually have a list this time because last year we couldn't decide on anything to watch.  I kind of let people put on what they wanted, which basically meant that nothing stayed on for a long period of time.  Someone would be like "this reminds me of that movie" and then we ended up not watching anything at all.  Not again.

I'm going to try to think of ideas for 80s themed pumpkins as well.  If anyone has a good one, please leave your ideas in the comment section.  I could use them.  I've seen some very good carvings of gizmo from "Gremlins" and David from "The Lost Boys."  Whether I actually have the skill to pull off those designs, though, is yet to be seen.  I like to think I'm pretty good at pumpkin carving.  I've had some very good ones in the past, but I'm nowhere near competition level, so those designs might be too challenging.  If they come out well, maybe I'll post the pictures on the blog.

Other than that, probably we'll do the usual.  Rock Band will be set up in the blue room, the kitchen will be for refreshments, movies will be in the main room, and people can mill around as they see fit.  Hopefully it won't be raining if anyone wants to sit on the porch to talk.  I would like to have access to board games and table top role-playing games, but we might not be able to because we actually have a room-mate in the extra room this year.  Maybe we can clean up the office and put the games in there.  That might be better anyway so that if people want access to the extra computer.  We'll see.

Anyway, Happy Haunting.  Keep reading and writing.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Glad to Join the Wrimos

Hello all,

I finally got to meet up with a few of the SC writing group involved in National Write a Novel Month and I'm pleased to say that it went very well.  It turned out that I had a good deal in common with them, and I think this is going to be a very good and rewarding experience.  It's very nice making new friends, especially those that are involved in writing. 

Being part of this group has also has made me get into the spirit of "competition," (I only say that loosely...we try to beat each other on word count, but that isn't the main reason we do it.  It's just another motivation that helps us continue to write.) and I'm actually working harder on my writing than I have in a very long time.  It'll be nice to have more people to run ideas by and it feels very good to try to help other people come up with ideas as well.  Getting stuck in writer's block is very easy to do.

"Blood Moon" is up to 80 pages and around 25,000 words.  I think that I can probably hit thirty thousand by Monday if I set aside a little time to write and finish up the chapter that I'm working on and start the next.  If I continue to write at this rate, I'll definitely be done with "Blood Moon" by the time I go to DragonCon.  It's hard to believe that will be coming up so soon. 

This month has flown by.  It occurs to me, I've been so preoccupied with preparing for DragonCon and with writing that I haven't even thought about the Halloween Party.  I usually start planning it several months in advance, but I'm not even sure what I want to be this year.  We'll just have to see.  I'll try to concentrate on that as soon as I get back from DragonCon.  By then, most of the annual Halloween shops should be open, so hopefully I can find a costume ahead of time.  Wish me luck.

Well, I guess that's about all that's new.  Anyway, take care and keep reading and writing. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Busy, busy, busy!

Hello everyone,

Sorry I missed blogging last week.  I'm going to try to do better.  I joined the WriMo group for South Carolina and I have to say it's really motivated me to write.  I've been a writing machine for the last two weeks.  So far, I'm at 20,000 words in the second novel of the trilogy, "Blood Moon."  I hope that I can keep it up.  Wish me luck.  It really does help me to have my novels planned out and to have a deadline that I'm trying to keep.

I also am getting geared up for Dragoncon and am very excited that I'll be able to attend the writing workshop.  It sounds like Jody Nye got my manuscript and everything is set up.  I'm also planning to pack my steampunk outfit for the masquerade ball.  This party is going to be epic.  :-D

Other than that, there isn't much new to report.  I need to take a look at my website and update a few things.  I'll probably do that later this week.  I also need to make sure that I keep up my housework and get back into my exercise routine.  While I have been working very hard on writing lately, other things sometimes get pushed back, which I don't like.  Still, I don't think you can have everything.  I'll keep you posted on anything new.  Hopefully, I'll have the intro to the new book on the website soon as a writing sample.  Keep reading and Writing!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Great News and Great Progress

Did I mention that my husband is the best?  I think I tweeted something like that.  If you'll recall, I didn't think I was going to get to attend any of the writing workshops at DragonCon because of the fact that I wouldn't have the money.  Well, as things turned out, as I voiced my concerns to my husband one evening when we were looking at the events at DragonCon, and he offered to pay for it.  He told me that he thought the writing workshop would be an opportunity that I shouldn't pass up, so if there were any spots left he would pay for me to go.  I was lucky.  Out of the twenty spots available there were a few left, so I'm going to go to a two day writing workshop being taught by Jody Lynn Nye, Todd McCaffrey, David Gerrold and Toni Weisskopf.  I'm so excited I could burst.  And, that's not all.  Jody Lynn Nye is going to critique the first 7,000 words of Blood Rain. 

I'm working very hard to try to network now.  I think I have a book that people will enjoy that is better than the others that I've written.  I can definitely tell that my style and grammar have improved as well.  I've decided that I'm going to also try to join my local NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) group and try to contact some local authors.  I definitely could use the support.  Sometimes, I feel like I'm on a little island by myself waving to passing ships that are too busy to look at me.  It seems, I need to make a little extra effort to swim out to them, so that's what I'm going to do.

Today, I also finished my notes for "Blood Moon," the second in the fantasy series that I'm working on right now.  I probably will start writing on it next Monday.  I have a feeling that this book will be better than the first.  When I'm done with this series, I think I might try my hand at some Urban Fantasy.  Many of the books I've read recently are Urban Fantasy, and it might be nice to give something like that a try.  Still, I'm trying to take things one day at a time, so I'll probably be working on "Blood Moon" for the next month or two and then finish off the trilogy with "Cold Blood" after a short break.  Wish me luck.  Keep reading and writing.


Friday, July 20, 2012


As promised, I'm reviewing Mistborn today.  This book is still pretty fresh in my mind.  For those of you who have never read my reviews, I try not to put spoilers in, so no worries.  I start with about the same sort of synopsis you would find on the back of the book (with a little more pertinent information) and go from there.  I will have to detail the magic system in this review though, since it's one of the things that sets this series apart.

This book is about a young girl named Vin who started life as a criminal on the streets of the city of Luthadel.  Vin never got a chance to improve her situation because she was one of the skaa, a race of people that once defied the "Lord Ruler."  The Lord Ruler is the ruler of the realm who is worshiped as a god.  Meanwhile, a thief named Kelsier is on his own mission to overthrow the Lord Ruler and to incite rebellion from the skaa that have been oppressed for so long. 

When their paths cross, Vin becomes involved with the rebellion and learns that she, like Kelsier, is a "Mistborn."  By swallowing metals she harnesses the power within them.  This is called "allomancy."  There are ten basic metals they can use, but they must be of a pure alloy.  Iron pulls on metals, Steel pushes on them, Tin enhances senses, Pewter enhances physical abilities, Brass soothes emotions, Zinc riots emotions, Copper hides allomancy, Bronze reveals allomancy, and Gold lets a person see what would have happened in the past if things had remained unchanged, while Atium (a rare, valuable metal) allows one to see a few seconds into the future.  There supposedly is also an eleventh metal with mysterious properties.  Still, Vin has to keep her abilities secret.  Nobles can be Mistborn and are considered valuable if they are, but skaa are hunted down and killed for that ability.  It means they have noble blood in their heritage, which is against the law.

Vin impersonates a noble to incite a riot among the noble houses, and becomes caught between the worlds of the skaa and the nobility.  She learns the dark secrets of the nobility, and secrets hidden about Lord Ruler himself, and eventually overcomes her distrust and learns what it's like to feel loyalty and love.

Character development was excellent.  This is one of the best examples of good character development that I've seen.  Each of the main characters undergoes a very drastic change throughout the course of the book.  Vin is entirely different by the end of the book than she was at the beginning, and the change is definitely for the better.  Each of the main characters are likeable in their own way and you do become attached to them.

There is an interesting use of religious symbolism in the book, which actually is mostly non-offensive.  It's not preachy about the points being made, but the symbolism is there.  I won't give away much about the plot, but you'll know what I'm talking about when you get to it.  Still, it wasn't a predictable element and I also liked the way it was executed.

The setting was interesting and felt very fleshed out.  (The book also included map at the beginning, which I liked.)  The creatures relevant to the plot, such as the mist wraiths, were very original and well described.  I really liked the concept behind mist wraiths because the creatures were scary but somehow seemed natural.  The setting is captivating because it feels as though each city and place has a history.  The different factions of the government, the nobles, obligaters, and inquisitors, are all very distinct and hold intriguing secrets.  City districts are described and very distinct from one another, as are the keeps of the nobles.  The description of the Lord Ruler's castle is very intriguing as well.  One thing that you'll notice as you read is that Sanderson is very descriptive and you can literally picture the places and things he describes perfectly.  

The magic system was original and very interesting.  I mentioned the way it works in the plot synopsis above, but it's a little more complex than that.  Most characters can only burn one of the various types of metals, only the most powerfully gifted can burn more than one.  The metals are related to one another (which you probably noticed from the description).  Some work externally by affecting the world around them, while some work internally by improving one's own abilities.  The characters can practically fly when they burn Steel and Iron, pushing and pulling themselves along windowsills, fire escapes, etc.  Also, when they burn Pewter, they can push their bodies well past their limits and run at super human speeds.  Still, tricking the opponent and using the abilities in creative ways is often what saves Vin throughout the book.  It's great that the magic system is simplistic enough to follow but there are other tricks to using it that allow a the characters to hold their own against obviously more powerful foes.

The only real drawback to this book is it was a very long novel at over six hundred pages.  Be sure to read it when you have the time because you won't want to put it down.  (It's killing me too, because I want to read the other two books of the series, but I don't have the money to buy them currently and I also don't have time to read them before the convention.  I was hoping to read them all in case I get to meet Brandon Sanderson, but I can still gush over this one.)  Anyway, this was an excellent read.  Pick it up if you like fantasy, intriguing political rebellions, or good, realistic characters.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Back from the Beach

Wow, that was a good trip.  It was a great Independence Day and I got to spend a good deal of time with my family.  Oddly, I even managed to finish "Blood Rain."  I also finished a great deal of notes for the second book in the series, "Blood Moon."  Even though I finished a great deal of work, it didn't feel like working.  I was also having a lot of fun and I got some much needed rest.

To sum the trip up, we stayed at my Aunt's beach house.  I took several boat rides down the inlet, though I didn't have time for any fishing--maybe next year.  I also got to spend a day at the beach body boarding on the waves and lying in the shallow water soaking up the sun.  We also saw the new "Spiderman" movie, which was very good, and saw a laser light show.  I also went bowling, and was as terrible at it as ever, but still had fun.  I have an issue where my wrist twists around when I try to let go of the ball.  I need to get over that.  (We did have some car trouble that required us to spend some money, and my stepdad got into a car accident, but thankfully he was okay.)

We watched a massive fireworks display on the fourth, attended a neighborhood party next door, and this time we got to see the boat parade.  We also went out to eat seafood one evening and hibachi another.  During the time we spent at the house, I mostly took naps in the sun, wrote my book, played video games, and watched movies.  The trip was just what I needed.

I'm looking very forward to DragonCon.  I just finished Brandon Sanderson's "Mistborn" and it was an excellent book.  I knew it was probably going to be good.  I've been doing lots of research and reading books so that I can utilize the chance to meet so many great authors all at once.  So far I've liked every book that I've read.

Still, this book really impressed me and I'm planning to write a review of it next week.  Please, read this book if you like fantasy.  The magic system is new and original, and the universe was very well developed and interesting.  After reading this, it makes me want to read some more of Robert Jordan since I never finished the whole series and Sanderson is writing the final book.

Yeah, I'm probably going to act like a fangirl a little when I meet Brandon Sanderson.  I just hope that I don't clam up and get too shy to give him a business card and talk to him about his writing.  I hope I'll even get to talk to him about his writing at all, but there's a chance he won't have the time to talk to me.  There are writing workshops offered at DragonCon being taught by good authors, but, sadly, I don't have the money to attend any of them.  I'm paying for the trip, and even that is financially straining.  I can only hope that maybe I'll run into him after the book signing is over.  Please, be praying for me.

Having very little money is one of the prices that I pay for staying home and trying to break into the writing industry.  Hopefully, one day, I'll be able to contribute to my home income, but in the meantime, I make up for it by keeping things clean, orderly, and making my house feel like a home.  I owe a great deal to my husband for letting me stay home to follow my dream.

He told me recently that he believes when I finally do attract an agent and my work gets published, that people will like my stories enough for them to become best sellers.  He also said that I tell good stories and have a good writing style.  That really meant something from him, because he's also my biggest critic and is very discerning about the books that he likes.  He tells me bluntly how he feels about my work, and that helps me to improve.

Well, I've made this a long blog post, but I had to make up for missing a week, didn't I?  Hopefully, I'll get to write that review next week.  Keep reading, writing, and (as I learned last week) always leave some time to take a break and relax.  It can be quite inspiring.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On Schedule

I'm pleased to say that somehow, last week at least, I managed to stay on schedule.  I finished a template for my business cards and ordered five hundred.  I also finished the website and published it (

I do plan to add some pictures to the website eventually, possibly some from Dragoncon.  We'll see.  In the meantime, it's mostly just written information but I think it turned out well.  What I need to do is get a better picture of myself.  It would be even better if I could get one professionally made.  Maybe when the money is there...

My last goal before Dragoncon is to finish my book.  I think I'm well on the way towards doing that.  I've written 75,000 words and have about three chapters to go.  It might be a little longer than I anticipated, but not much.  I've also started the notes for the second book.  I usually write a couple of pages worth before I go to bed.

I'm getting very excited about my fourth of July beach trip.  I can hardly wait.  It'll feel very nice to get out of town and relax, especially after achieving so many of my goals.  Sometimes, just a change of scenery can do wonders for creativity and renewed energy.  

The only thing that would make it better would be to finish the book before I leave Sunday, but I don't think that will happen.  I'm certainly not going to rush it.  Still, other than cleaning up the house, that's my last goal.  I plan to work on it this week at the very least.

I probably won't get to write to you next week since I'll be out of town from Sunday to Sunday, though I might tweet a little.  So, have a happy Independence Day!  I'm confident that mine will be very nice and I hope yours is too.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Anne McCaffrey and Me

I just remembered something from my childhood the other day, and I thought I would share it.  I started reading novels at a very young age.  I probably was ten or even younger when I read "Dragonsong," Dragonsinger," and "Dragondrums" by Anne McCaffrey.  I remember sitting on the porch at the beach and watching the fireworks around the forth of July and imagining the smoke left behind to be the detrimental silver threads that fell from the sky in the Pern universe.  That was so long ago now that I had forgotten.

Anyway, the memory made me start to think about what a big impact her novels made on me when I was young.  Her novels are part of the reason I started drawing dragons and partly why I became so interested in fantasy in the first place.  She might be part of the reason why I'm a nerd now (which is a very good thing, because being a nerd makes me very happy).  In essence, her work shaped mine a lot more than I realized, and it shaped me as a person more than I realized as well.  I'm sad that I won't get to ever meet her to tell her now.  I'm afraid there might be a lot of writers that I respect that I'll never get to meet.  And I feel bad that I honestly didn't even know that she had died until very recently when I found out that Todd McCaffrey is going to be signing at Dragoncon and that she had passed the torch to him.

Well, anyway, I hope that I can tell him this story while I'm there.  I think he would like to hear how much his Mother's books meant to so many people, and he might be interested to know that it inspired one little girl who's hoping to become a novelist one day herself.  Rest in Peace, Anne McCaffrey.  Thank you for your work and creating such a vivid world. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Almost There

Good news, everyone,

It looks like the website will be finished very soon.  It might not be done by the end of the week, but I'm down to just the finishing touches.  I think that it's turned out pretty well, and I hope that you all like it.  As soon as I finish, I'll add a link to the website on the blog and there will be a link to the blog from the website as well.

Currently, I'm working on "Blood Rain" and I've written nearly 75,000 words.  It's very close to the end.  I think I have about three or four more chapters to go.  I've got the teaser intro to the novel under writing samples in the website.  I hope you enjoy it.  When I'm done, I'll take a little break and start writing the notes for the second book in the series.  My goals are to get the book, the website, and the design of my business cards, done by the time I go to the beach in July.  (My family always goes to the beach around July 4th, kind of a little tradition that we have, and I don't want to be stressing out over anything.)

While I'm at the beach, I might do a little work.  I was thinking I could work on those notes for the second book, as well as read, read, read.  I've already read three and a half books by four different authors over the past two months or so.  I'm trying to expose myself to different writers and different writing styles.  I love Jim Butcher to death, but I do need a little variety in who I read.  For a long time, I was reading the Dresden Files and the Codex Alera, so I didn't have time to vary my authors much. 

I finished The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman recently.  I highly recommend it.  It is extremely dark for a children's novel and is a very interesting rewrite of The Jungle Book.  Like I said, I've been reading lots of books lately, so I can't do an in depth review of all of them right now, but I probably will in the future.  In the meantime, here are some mini-reviews. 

I read Laurell K. Hamilton's "Guilty Pleasures" and really enjoyed it.  It's an urban fantasy story about Anita Blake, someone who raises the dead and hunts vampires.  I enjoyed the personality of the main character immensely, and the book was a very fast read.  I was extremely sad when one of my favorite characters died in the book, but I'm not telling you who it was.  Spoilers aren't fun for anyone.  I'm hoping to read another of the Anita Blake series while I'm at the beach.

As a change of pace, I also read a romance by Sherrilyn Kenyon, the first of the "Dark Hunter" series.  I don't read romance very often, so I might not be the best person to ask to review it, but I did enjoy the book.  The universe that it is set in is very interesting.  The characters remind me of the White Wolf game "Scion."  The male love interest was an immortal man working for the Greek goddess Artemis to kill the corrupted sons and daughters of Apollo.  The only way to get his soul back from Artemis was to put his trust in the love of a woman, something that had burned him before.

Currently, I'm reading "Mistborn" by Brandon Sanderson.  It took me a little time to get into it, but I really like the way magic works in his universe.  I'll probably be reading more by him in the future as well.  I might write a review when I'm finished.

Well, sorry I talked your ear off again.  I need to get back to work on my writing.  Wish me luck on meeting my personal deadlines, for once.  ;-)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The New Bedlam Project - Going to Print

For anyone who likes horror, insomniac writers, and a small town named "New Bedlam," please make a donation to this cause.  There are lots of good stories in these anthologies and a certain author named "Nancy Gray" appears in Volume 2 for the story "Sleep Like the Dead."  I know her personally and she would appreciate the support.  ;-)  It sure would be nice to see these stories in print...

Website Under Construction

Hello everyone,

Well, I'm pleased to say that the writing website is coming along nicely.  I hope to have it finished by the end of next week, but we'll see.  Right now, I've got the domain "," reserved for my use.  I'll let you know when it's ready.  Right now, all it will say is "Under Construction," but please know that I'm working on it as quickly and thoroughly as I can.  I don't intend to publish until I'm sure that I'm satisfied with each section and the website feels finished and polished.  Still, if I keep working hard on it, my goal of finishing it within the next few weeks should definitely be attainable.

Currently, I'm looking for short story writing samples and excerpts from my finished novels to include on the website.  I'm planning to put a free short story or two on it as a writing sample as well, so please enjoy.  Even though these are good short stories, I've never found homes for them, and I probably won't be concentrating on publishing short stories again for a long time.  The well has far from run dry, and I can write more stories if I decide to concentrate on that again.  In the meantime, I want these to be read and to act as an example of my ability.  Who knows, maybe an agent will read them and like them.  (Yeah riiight.  In your dreams, Nancy.  Still, I suppose if a writer can do anything, it's dream...)

I was going to save it as a surprise, but I think you deserve a sneak peak since I've been so bad about keeping you updated lately.  The stories will probably be "Waterspouts" and "Scavenger."  Both stories are very different from one another and should show the different ranges of my writing style.  "Waterspouts" is written in a similar fashion to a work of Lovecraft, and "Scavenger" is a mixture of cyberpunk and Gothic horror focusing on a shape-shifter.  In fact, I believe that I have excerpts from these stories on here already, but the full story will be available on the website. 

Also, I plan to put the first few intro pages from my books and a simple blurb about the plot under the sample work category.  The plot blurb will be very similar to a teaser in a query letter.  Sorry, but no free novels, just the introduction.  After all, I'm still trying to pitch those to an agent and I'm not going to give away an excerpt that would spoil anything from the book.  Still, I don't think including the introductory pages will really hurt anything.  So, if you're interested, that will be there as well.

By the time I'm finished, I'm hoping to have a way for you to contact me by e-mail, the blog linked to the website, samples of my writing, and ::gasp:: I might even start using Twitter and link it to the website as well.  I never really understood twitter, but apparently it's very addictive.  If I do start to "tweet" be prepared for randomness, because that's how I roll.

Keep reading and writing.  I'll try to stay focused and do the same.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Nancy Gray's Writing Logo

Hello all.

Well, so far so good on the writing this week.  I'm up to 67,000 words in "Blood Rain" and I think I'll be able to hit 80,000 by the end.  I might have more to say later in the week, but for now, I wanted to show you my new writing logo.  I'm going to have it up on the website, once I'm done with it, and on the business cards that I'll be passing out at DragonCon.  I hope that you like it.  "RavenQuill" sounds be a good tag line for something since it's kind of what the logo is, though I probably won't use it.  After all, it looks like it's already close to the name of a publishing company and I don't want to step on anyone's toes.  Still, I think this logo itself is a pretty good representative for me and my work.  I came up with the idea because a raven is often associated with dark themes and creativity, and since most of my books have dark themes, I think this logo works.  Here it is.

  Me Gusta.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Half a Year of Hard Knocks...It Got Better.

Sorry it's been so long since I've written, but a lot has happened in a short amount of time. My life became complicated and depressing and I wasn't blogging. In fact, I wasn't even thinking about it. I also wasn't writing and got into a boring routine. I guess I'll start with the bad things that happened so that I can end on the good.

I mentioned that  my Grandmom died a few posts ago, but I didn't mention that a few months after my she died, I got pregnant. I was very excited, but it wasn't meant to be because I miscarried about a month later. I basically had just enough time to start feeling an attachment only to have it just sort of go away. From what the doctors said, it probably wouldn't have been a healthy baby since the pregnancy didn't take. I think that everything happens for a reason, so I have to know that it was probably for the best, but I still was depressed for several months. Incidentally, I haven't given up on having a baby one day, but I need to get on medication to do so. (On a side note, during this time my salamander that had lived fourteen years also died, so it just sort of felt like icing on the cake.)

At the beginning of this year, my Mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Still, I'm very proud of how well she handled it. She was very brave and did what she needed to do to get better. Thankfully, my prayers were also answered. She had a lumpectomy and they were able to treat the cancer with radiation and without chemo. There were no complications and she didn't react baldy to the radiation. So, she was very lucky and she's better now. This cause has become important to me now that it touched me in a personal way, and I'm going to try to keep all those suffering from breast cancer in my prayers.

So, long story short, as you can see, things have been special the last part of last year and the first part of this year. But, things have gotten much better as they always do. Always remember to hang on during difficult times because there's always hope and always a reason to persevere. Now to count the blessings.

First of all, my husband and I are on an aggressive program to get out of debt, and it's working. We've started listening to the Dave Ramsey "Financial Peace University" program and it actually works. I'm not being paid to say this, I'm being serious when I tell you that we've managed to get an emergency fund saved up which has saved us from car trouble, a hole being blown in the house during a storm, and other disasters that happened (that weren't listed above) during this time. Also, if we continue to stick to our budget, we'll have all of our debt paid off by next year. For those drowning in debt, I highly recommend this program. Just paying off bills really makes a person have a better outlook on life.

Also, I've become inspired to write again. I've got a fantasy novel nearly completed that I'm going to post a sample from very soon. This is the first book in a trilogy and I have a very good feeling about it. I also recently went to a publishing class at the SC Book Festival and I'm buckling down and becoming serious about getting my novels published. I've created a logo for myself and am working on a website this weekend. I'll post a link once it's finished.

I'm also going to Dragoncon in August. It'll be a lot of fun and a great opportunity to meet other writers who have been successful in the genres that I prefer. The goal is to have business cards ready by then to hand out. I also hope to attend the writer's workshop. It'll be a great time to network and to get to talk to many writers that I respect. I'm going to take lots of pictures. I might post one or two of those as well.

And, finally, this might be a small thing, but I'm starting to take better care of myself. I'm eating better and have gotten back on my exercise routine and have already lost seven pounds. I had a birthday recently and turned thirty years old, and I've determined I like the age thirty. I'm looking at this birthday as a new start in life, and I'm excited about the future. My goals for the coming year are to get an agent, to move into a bigger house (with our debt paid off, we can actually do that), have a baby, and keep reading and getting in shape. There's a lot to look forward to, and this time I'm keeping up the blog to keep you posted. Sorry for so many months of silence and solitude, but I needed it.

 To new beginnings. Cheers.