11/24/13

Guest Blogger Sherry Isaac

HOW SHALL I BE REMEMBERED?

When Maggie asked if I’d share a post on Five For Fiction, I picked November because I thought picking five things I’d want to be remembered for would be easy. I mean, I know what I don’t want to be remembered for: Garlic breath, poking people in the eye with sticks, arriving at a party with a roll of toilet paper trailing after me.

A list of things I want to be remembered for should be actions I’m proud of. For one who only takes her foot out of her mouth long enough to stick the other foot in, this list proved itself a daunting task. Alas, after four months of tapping my forehead, I have my list.

I also have a small bruise on my right temple.



1. I don’t want people to see how clean my house is. I want them to feel that they are welcome.

These words are not mine, they belong to a woman I once babysat for, a wife, a mother of two, and a fighter, locked in a battle with kidney failure. I realize now that in her quiet way, she was my mentor, and her wisdom has come to bear at times when I’ve been to focused on less important baubles.

~

2. Elegance will never keep me from working in the mud.

In many ways, Dear Hubster is a 12-year-old connoisseur of toilet humor, but every now and then he comes through. This was one of those times, and he, quite seriously, provided hit #2 for this list.

That’s right. My DH thinks I’m elegant.

Snort.

~

3. I know you! You’re the one with the great shoes!

A few weeks ago I met a group of fellow writers for dinner. Last to arrive (not late, just last), I sat next to a woman whose name rang familiar but whose path had never crossed with mine. We compared a few notes, and discovered we’d both been at RWA Nationals in Atlanta. Then her mouth dropped and she pointed to the floor. I had been duly identified. Silly to be remembered for shoes, but who can tell where this foundation might lead?



Okay, those are attributes I can lay honest, if not perfect, claim to. Now I acknowledge two gems I’d like to be known for, but at the moment, haven’t quite mastered.

4.  Zipping the lip when the lip needs zipping.

Blame it on the A-type personality, blame it on the brain programmed in sass, but I have a hard time keeping ideas to myself. Yes, I know you have an idea, too, but wait--my idea is better. Like any good character arc, mine could use a twist: Listen to the other idea, because my idea may be all right, but yours may be genius. What a novel idea.

Novel idea. I’m a writer. Ha! Sometimes I crack myself up.

~

5.  Letting go when the go needs letting.

This is a hard one. Even as I set my fingers to the keyboard, a sigh trembles in my chest. I’ve made some strides, it’s true. Item number one, for example. A few dust bunnies never hurt anyone, and yet, when the rumble of tires on the drive announce an unexpected visitor, I run for the Windex . Letting go of past hurts, letting go of expectations, letting go of problems I can not solve, letting go of the to-do list to bask in the pleasure of a sunny afternoon, a walk to nowhere, or the company of a friend. This is the rich goal to which I aspire.


Raised by Nancy Drew and Miss Marple, Sherry Isaac’s novels and short stories feature heroines who, like wildflowers, appear fragile, yet thrive in the harshest conditions. Sherry weaves love, life and forgiveness into tales that transcend all obstacles, including the grave.

The Forgetting earned the Alice Munro Short Story Award in 2009. In 2010, her novel, Homecoming, earned Honorable Mention in the Georgia Romance Writers’ Maggie. That same year, the Heart of Denver’s Molly contest declared her heroine, Hannah Marsh, ‘Unsinkable’.

Sherry believes in romance, identity, and the depth of the human soul.


Follow Sherry on Twitter, Like her on Facebook, Subscribe to Psychological Sizzle, Become a Fan on Goodreads or Visit her page on Amazon.

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11/16/13

Leaving a Legacy...


"Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain, but I'd of had to miss the dance." Garth Brooks

I think there have been times in my life when those around me have said "just what the heck is she doing?" I've done a lot of things in my life that I am very proud of and some things that I wish I could bury forever in the depths of the ocean. I was single until in my later thirties and I think that gave me some liberties to try things maybe others would not have tried. I have always loved animals and especially whales and dolphins, so I studied up on a trip and headed off to New England, where I taught the crew of a whale watch boat CPR in exchange for passage to see Humpback whales. Then I took off for a five week training course to learn the art of sailing and I am still a certified keel-boat sailor. I chased the band Alabama around the country with a group of friends for twenty years and it's a wonder we didn't wind up arrested on some of those excursions. I've snorkeled off a catamaran in Mexico, danced with the islanders of St. Maarten, took a cruise to Nova Scotia with the one man on the planet that I love like no other--and yes I am still married to him. I've had the baby that more than one doctor told me I'd never have and I traveled through two years of paperwork to bring home another daughter from seven thousand miles away. Now I am finally off and chasing a long time dream of becoming an author and I'm sure there are still some folks thinking "just what the heck is she doing." My grandfather once told me I was a lot like him and he called it being off on a "new jag." I guess he was right. Life has it's ups and downs, but leaving a legacy isn't about how much money you have, how far you have traveled or the great things you have accomplished. I think what I hope more than anything is that people remember me for doing just what I wanted to do, in spite of what others thought. I hope if nothing else that I leave my daughters the ability to do the things they want to do in their own lives because life is short and sometimes chances only happen once. I hope they will follow their own hearts and know it is all right to chase their dreams and passions. I've always said my motto was to live and love with reckless abandon. Go for it girls!




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11/4/13

I'll remember you...


... you will be there in my heart. I'll remember you. That is all that I can do. But I'll remember.

That's the chorus of one of my favorite songs (and, incidentally, the theme song to my all-time favorite television kiss). Depressing? Meh. Maybe a tad. But since I don't think anything in life is intended to last forever -- including life itself -- I kinda dig the sentiment. Until such time as we can figure out mortality (and I sincerely hope I'm not around for that), the most important thing we can do is create something worth remembering. So what do I want people to remember about me once they've met me?




1.) She doesn't care what people think. I refuse to live in the shadow of other people's expectations or standards. Mine are probably higher than theirs anyway :-)




2.) But she does care about people. Not the same thing, you know. I think everyone deserves a fair shot and nothing infuriates me more than unfounded prejudice. And I really do want world peace.


3.) And she is a warrior for good. Please God when something needs to be done and I'm the one called on to do it, never let me shrink back, no matter how difficult or unwelcome the task.


4.) Plus, she taught me something that mattered. That's pretty much what it boils down for me. I don't hoard knowledge or skill. If I learned it, it's my job to share it. Period. 



5.) But she's also hilarious. I hope to be the Queen of dichotomy: approaching my responsibility to the world with all due solemnity without ever taking life -- or myself -- too seriously.  




It's been a fun run and I hope this blog has given you something to remember. Hope to see you in my new space in December: rantsandwrites.com.

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11/1/13

Remember Me


Well here we are in November. Where did another year go already??

It's funny that we decided to spend this month talking about the things we most wanted people to remember about us, because this is going to be our blog's last month.

Don't worry, we all still love each other and all. But some of us are just too swamped to blog right now and some of us need a different platform.

We hope you'll continue to join us this month and that you've enjoyed Five for Fiction as much as we have!

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10/16/13

The Spider Slayer...


Seriously, when I sat down to think about what I truly fear, most match the usual things. Critters that slither, creep, crawl or consume humans. I fear a lot of things, but for the most part I've always been able to overcome my fears and do what needs to be done. There is however the one true thing that makes me stop in my tracks and completely lose it. I have been known to clear four lanes of Atlanta traffic because a spider was crawling on me inside the car--while I was driving. 

SPIDERS

So instead of listing the five things that cause me fear, I will go over my list of just how to handle the eight legged creatures, with multiple eyes that seem to show up when I have not invited them. 

1) The cup method: If the spider isn't so scary that I run, then I gather enough strength and trap it under a clear glass--so I can keep an eye on him. Then is it my husbands job to rid us of the thing however he sees fit. 

2) Scream loud: The spider is larger than I am willing to deal with. I leave the room in a heated rush and again leave my husband to the duty. 

3) Grab a broom: There are times I am brave enough to deal with the likes of a spider when my husband isn't there to do it for me. I realize it is better to do this, than to wonder just where the spider is off to later on.

4) Spritzer or level ten hairspray: It stops spider that is too close for comfort by freezing them in their tracks. Then I can send in the clean up crew.

5) The vacuum cleaner: Yep, with a long wand, I suck that unknowing spider right to the bag and leave the vacuum on for a nice long time. That way he can't crawl back out. 

I know some of you must be laughing, but these are tried and true things I have learned in order to survive on the same planet with spiders. I did however, have a very good victory over a spider once. My oldest daughter was about two years old and she was climbing on her tricycle outside. I noticed the biggest, ugliest spider I'd ever seen was hanging just off the handle bar grip she was about to put her hand on. My life went into slow motion and I had to fight the kind of fear that stops your heart. I could not speak or move and in a split second I had to decide if I loved my baby more than I feared the spider and somehow the mama bear won. I knocked that spider, which was bigger than a fifty cent piece, right off the tricycle with my bare hand. Let me say that again...bare hand. Afterwards I could barely stand up my pulse rate was so high, but I did the rebel yell and announced: "Kim Turner---SPIDER SLAYER!!!" Don't try this at home. 

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10/13/13

Guest Blogger Cecilia Dominic


Thank you to the lovely and wonderful Five for Fiction ladies for allowing me to guest post this month!

I have a recurring dream in which I'm flying, but power lines get in the way of my soaring to my goal. I either have to go high enough to fly over them or go through them and try not to touch any or I'll get electrocuted and drop to the ground. Building enough energy to fly over them is impossible, so I try to go through them, but as I approach a promising gap, it narrows, and I have to stop short.

My urban fantasy novel The Mountain's Shadow debuted last week. Since Cheryl and I decided way ahead of time that I would be guest posting this month, I had the opportunity to observe my own fears as I went through the different stages of bringing a novel to publication and pitching and writing its sequel. It's only in the past week while thinking about this post and putting it through may iterations that I've come to realize my fears are the power lines in my dreams, and the only way through is through.

So here's my timeline. I first received my contract offer at the end of January for The Mountain's Shadow. Most of the editorial work took place in late April to mid-May. I pitched the sequel Long Shadows in April, received that contract offer in June, and wrote it over the summer. The Mountain's Shadow came out October 1.

Of course, being a psychologist, I couldn't help but observe and categorize my fears as they came up, and I came to realize a lot of them look familiar. Here are the five main fears that arose during this process:

1. I'm not going to be able to get back into the main character's head for the edits.

To give you some context, I started writing this novel when I was on internship and finished it during the early years of my career. My heroine, Doctor Joanie Fisher, has just been fired from her highly respected research job. In a sense, she represented my greatest fears – that I would somehow fail incredibly during that transition time, and I would fall with no warning. No, I had no reason to think so at the time.

2. They're going to reject the sequel and decide the first one wasn't that great, either, and I'll lose my original contract.

Insomniacs make up the bulk of my clientele, and I've identified a certain common personality type:  the anxious overachiever. I've seen doctors, lawyers, businesspeople in C-level positions – pretty much anyone you'd think would have high confidence – but many of them have said they worry that others will find out they don't really know what they're doing. All objective measures point to their expertise, but they never measure up to their own standards, which often include unrealistic and perfectionistic expectations.

My secret? I can relate well to overachievers because I am one, and I occasionally have Imposter Syndrome, or the fear that I'll somehow be found out as a fraud. 

This brings me to fear number two:  perfectionism. Yes, fear of not being perfect. It definitely relates back to number one, the Imposter Syndrome. Intellectually I know that I can never be perfect, and that not everyone will like what I do or what I write, but darnit, I have high expectations of myself and my work, and I want it to do well. I have to remind myself that "well" and "perfect" aren't the same thing.

3. They're going to reject the other series, and this will be awful.

When my Samhain editor told me she wanted to see my other work, I sent her the first book in a different Urban Fantasy series. She sent it back to me as a revise and resubmit, not contracted, work with clear suggestions as to how I could improve it. It was actually the nicest rejection I've ever gotten.

So to get back to that Imposter Syndrome, part of me feared this would be the novel that would make them find me out. Also, I needed to have three major acceptances in a row to meet those high standards, right? Because truly great authors never get rejected.

I can hear my author friends laughing from here.

4. The book is going to flop upon debut. Related:  I'm going to get poor ratings/reviews.

This doesn't have anything to do with the idea that my book is my "baby," and I want everyone to love it because if they don't they'll think I'm a horrible person. I've read enough stuff I don't like by people I do like to recognize that sometimes what comes out of a person's head is unrelated to who they are or their worthiness as a human being. This is also a lesson I've learned as a psychotherapist:  sometimes you just don't "click" with someone, and that's okay.

This fear gets to something else I see in my clients and my third theme:  the need to be in control. I felt very anxious the weekend and Monday before my release, and it's because I knew that marked the boundary beyond which I had any control over what happened. Sure, I can promote, as I've been doing with guest blogging and social media, but in the end, I can't make people buy my books. This is another aspect echoed in my heroine Joanie, who's a scientist and wants everything to be predictable and make sense. She's stunned when faced with evidence that what she's been studying as a behavioral disorder is something much more, and some Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome sufferers actually do turn into werewolves. She also struggles with her attraction to the sense of wild freedom represented by the handsome werewolves because it's the opposite of her controlled and predictable existence.

5. I'm going to be totally blocked for guest blog posts and/or future writing projects.

This one gets back to the Imposter Syndrome. Also, I've been distracted, likely because I want to know how my book is doing, but the avenues for finding that knowledge are limited. I have the urge to check my Amazon sales ranking and my Goodreads ratings, so I have to make myself focus on what I'm doing. Otherwise I'll bounce between those two sites and my social media platforms.

So there are my newbie author fears. Of course they've proven to be irrational. It was easier than I'd anticipated to get into Joanie's head. My editor liked the sequel. It wasn't a catastrophe that she didn't accept the third one on my first try. I got my first one-star review and was okay with it, and I'm finishing this blog post, which has gone through many drafts, but it's finally done. Maybe the next time I have the power lines dream, I'll blast through them.

When you look at your fears as a writer, what are the themes?




Author Bio

Cecilia Dominic wrote her first story when she was two years old and has always had a much more interesting life inside her head than outside of it. She became a clinical psychologist because she's fascinated by people and their stories, but she couldn't stop writing fiction. The first draft of her dissertation, while not fiction, was still criticized by her major professor for being written in too entertaining a style. She made it through graduate school and got her PhD, started her own practice, and by day, she helps people cure their insomnia without using medication. By night, she blogs about wine and writes fiction she hopes will keep her readers turning the pages all night. Yes, she recognizes the conflict of interest between her two careers, so she writes and blogs under a pen name.  She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with one husband and two cats, which, she's been told, is a good number of each.

You can find her at:
Web page:  www.ceciliadominic.com
Wine blog:  www.randomoenophile.com
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/CeciliaDominicAuthor
Twitter: @RandomOenophile



The Book

Some mistakes can literally come back to bite you.
The Lycanthropy Files, Book 1

First it was ADD. Then pediatric bipolar. Now the hot behavioral disorder in children is CLS, or Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome. Public health researcher Joanie Fisher was closing in on the cause in hopes of finding a treatment until a lab fire and an affair with her boss left her without a job.

When her grandfather leaves her his multimillion-dollar estate in the Ozarks, though, she figures her luck is turning around. Except her inheritance comes with complications: town children who disappear during full moons, an irresistible butler, and a pack of werewolves who can’t seem to decide whether to frighten her or flirt with her.

Joanie’s research is the key to unraveling the mysteries of Wolfsbane Manor.  However, resuming her work means facing painful truths about her childhood, which could result in the loss of love, friendship, and the only true family she has left.

Warning: Some sexy scenes, although nothing explicit, and adult language. Also alcohol consumption and food descriptions that may wreck your diet.




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10/4/13

Fear Factor

I'm not really into fear. 
Well, except in the way of horror movies and haunted houses and scary tales.
My personal and oft-repeated motto is:
 "If it can't get you killed, committed, or incarcerated, it's not a big deal. And we can deal with the last two."
But in terms of real-life apprehension, I just don't dig it. That said, I definitely have a few things I'm leery of:


1.) Snakes. Satan in the flesh. All I'm saying. 


2.) Heights. 'cause I get vertigo and I actually might fall off.


3.) Burning. Number one way I don't want to die.

4.) Making the wrong decision. Not for myself; that's fine. But I end up in a lot of leadership roles where me screwing up screws someone else over. Not a fan.


5.) Fear. You knew this was coming, right? It really is the only thing we have to fear. 
I stand by that. 
Except for snakes. Those are valid.


And you? What raises the hairs on the back of your neck or keeps you up in the dark of night?




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10/1/13

Fear Factor


We love October around these parts. Ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night. And while we're big supporters of the No Fear School of Writing, we each have things that make the hair on the back of her neck stand up. Join us this month and find out what makes us tremble in our boots!

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9/28/13

Tot, Tween, Teen, Twenties and Today.

Let's get right to it. Five Favorite books in Five minutes.


TOT: As a young child I believed all stuffed animals were real. I told all my dreams and wishes to a life size rag doll, Beverly, so the book Velveteen Rabbit struck a song in my heart. Still does. 










TWEEN: I tip-toed through every mystery with Trixie Belden and her friend, Honey Wheeler. I couldn't wait to read the next in the series. My best friend loved the Nancy Drew series and we would trade the books back and forth. However, I related to Trixie more because she was closer to my age. 













TEEN: I traveled many times as a teenager, but never through time. I loved this book and when I found out it was part of a series I saved up my baby-sitting money and bought the rest of the series. I wonder if these books are still at my parents' house? Hmm...














TWENTIES: I must have read this book a gazillion times. Though I now own all the books in the Earth Children Series, this is the one I keep closest to my heart. I named my daughter after the heroine, Ayla. So yeah, a favorite series of all time.












AND BEYOND: A Restless Knight by Deborah MacGillvray, inspired my "baby,"Jewel of Ramstone. I never dreamed I would actually become friends with the author ten years after this book was released! (She's a wonderful and modest soul. She set my star-struck adoration straight and said, "Jeannie, I'm just me. Like you are you.")

The Dragons of Challon Series is filled with knights. strong heroines, and adventure. What more could you want? 







J.M. Powers has an alter ego named Jeannie. She lives on an island inUpstate New York where she tolerates the harsh winters and relishes rare sunny days. She proficient at gluten-free cooking, embarrassing her kids by wearing skinny jeans to the grocery store, and juggling time between work, play and writing romance novels. Though days can be hectic, and her schedule is full, everyone survives without broken bones or hearts. 

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9/24/13

Brilliant Bonus Blogger ~ Rie Warren

Rie Warren


Hey, y'all! When the fabulous ladies here invited me to guest blog, I took up the challenge of naming my top five books. Why did I do that? How did I ever think I could name only five out of the thousands I’ve laughed over, cried about, and fell in love with? So, to save myself a road trip to the loony bin, I’m gonna narrow it down by genre.




1. EROTICA: But wait! There’s BDSM, contemporary, historical… Okay, okay. I’m focusing. My number one erotica book is Natural Law by Joey W. Hill. Take one Alpha male, homicide detective named Mac Nighthorse *giggles* and one diminutive, soul-stirring Domme, throw them together in a fetish club during a murder investigation and you have pure win, people. The power play, plot, and hold-onto-your-seat heat in this novel is phenomenal!

 2.     LITERARY: I’m gonna choose a novel I haven’t talked about for years: The Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills. When I first read this, I was living in the UK, and I totally soaked in the dour, dry-wit and sarcasm of this book. Two long-haired, rock music-fan, fence-building dudes sharing a tiny caravan while living quid-to-quid are hilarious without seeming to be. And then they start accidentally killing people…

  3.   MALE-MALE: I recently finished a book, couldn’t get the characters out of my mind, and read it all over again immediately. It’s Special Forces, by Marquesate and Aleksandr Voinov. This was such a graphic, violent, brutal novel set in Afghanistan during the Cold War, and then it became the most beautiful, haunting and romantic story I have ever read. Vadim is a Soviet spetsnaz officer, Dan is British SAS who thinks he’s as straight as they come, so right from the beginning you just know there’s no way they can ever come together, not in this political climate, in the middle of a war where they fight for opposite sides.

 4.  PARANORMAL: I have to choose something from JR Ward, there’s no other way around it. Lover Awakened wins for me! Zsadist’s history was captivating and so anguishing I couldn’t put the book down. It’s another one of those ‘there’s no way they’ll ever reach an HEA’ story…and yet they do.

 5.    YOUNG ADULT: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater was a novel that transported me to this other world--a windswept island with a Celtic feel—and into the life of Puck. This teen girl is losing the last of her family, and is fiercely determined to keep them together, even if it means being the only girl to ever take part in the Scorpio Races amid the terrifying, man-eating water horses other racers ride.

There you have it! I hope I’ve piqued your interest with the variety I wrote about. The only thing I love more than reading and talking about books is writing them. Anytime you want to chat, you know where to find me!

*WEBSITE*   *FACEBOOK*   *TWITTER*

  


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9/20/13

Cheryl Hart's Most Beloved Fiction Books

The smell of apple pie always takes me back to a summer night at Mamaw's house, watching The Carol Burnett Show while eating the tart pastry and a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream.

Studies show that certain aromas conjure detailed memories from our childhood. Scents are linked to the first time you experience them. 

In a round about way, this relates to books. My most beloved books are those I read as a child—discovering new places, ways of life, role models, and imagination companions. No matter how many incredible stories I’ve read, I’ve yet to find one that's made a greater impact than those I read in my younger years.



5. "B" IS FOR BETSY
This was my first chapter book, and I remember how proud I was to complete a big girl's book. I was painfully shy as a child, and like Betsy, was fearful of going to a new school. I was a military brat (Air Force) and went to six different elementary schools, so Betsy was a much loved and needed companion of mine.


4. LITTLE HOUSE BOOKS
I got my first Little House book when I was seven. To say I was obsessed would be underplaying my involvement with the Ingalls family. Especially Laura. She made it okay to be short and to have freckles and an overbite. I even wore my hair in braids and was given the nickname half-pint by my favorite teacher.



3. TRIXIE BELDEN MYSTERIES
I inherited many of the Trixie Belden books from my big sister when I was nine. This series had me exploring for secret treasures and solving mysteries with my girl's only club friends. I'm glad I lived in a time where play time was filled by our imaginations, rather than video games.

2. GONE WITH THE WIND
At sixteen, I asked Mom, "What's that incredibly-thick-and-boring-covered book about?" 
"What? You don't know about Gone With the Wind?" 
"Uh...no." 
"Read the first chapter. If you don't like it, you don't have to finish it," she said in a you-don't-have-a-choice-in-the-matter kind of way.
Frankly, my dear, I loved it. 


1. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
This book makes me sigh. It started out as a dreaded required book in high school. Yes, another reluctant-teen-not-wanting-to-read-what-they're-told books. But, once again, I fell in love. I was moved me to tears and awakened to the harsh realities of the civil-rights era. I wanted to be as brave as Jem, as spunky as Scout, and to marry a man as good, fair, and kind as Atticus. (And I did.)  

So what books do you hold dearest to your heart?



Cheryl Hart creates tender, evocative stories--often with a spiritual, southern, and nostalgic flair. She writes in varying genres and voices, but each story has an underlying theme of hope. Her heroines learn (the hard way--of course) to overcome internal and external struggles, and anticipate a better tomorrow.

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