Thursday, September 30, 2010

Words & Images to Inspire You!

LOL - One way or another!

This is also for Yvonne at Welcome to my World of Poetry who commented the other day “I wish there were more poets about as sometimes I feel a wee bit out of my depth with such established writers.” Well, Yvonne, I am not a poet. This poem/song is about thirty years old and certainly not the best thing I’ve ever written - so now, YOU are the expert!!


Dreaming peacefully
A gentle fantasy
A place so far away
Yet so very near
One day I shall go there

Dreaming of love
A warming hope
A love so very true
Yet so unreachable
Just beyond my touch
One day I shall find it

Dreaming happily
An intense joy
A feeling of bliss
Yet so very remote
One day I shall feel it

Dreaming endlessly
A never waking sleep
A vision of the unknown
So very beautiful
Just beyond my life
One day I shall live it

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Winners and Big Changes

First, the winners of my 300 Followers Giveaway. Thanks to all who entered and helped to spread the word.

The winners:

First place with her choice of three books - VR Barkowski (VR has selected Books II and IV and Overcoming Obstacles with SPUNK!)

Second place with her choice of two books - Hart Johnson (Hart has selected Books II and V.)

Third place with her choice of one book: Beverly Stowe McClure (Beverly has selected Book V.)

Congratulations, ladies!

I'm also visiting Marketing Tips for Authors today!

Now for the changes…

After years of blogging, I’ve decided this site is due. Part of this comes from the fact the book series I was promoting has come to an end. Part is due to a shift in interests. Since my passion isn’t for novel writing at the moment, I need to shift my focus.

There’s so many things I’ve learned on my author journey that I can share with other writers and beyond just book promotion. There’s other areas, such as speaking, and I’m going to expand into new topics over the coming months. I’ll delve into the publishing industry and genres, and how things are changing, for better or worse.

I’d also like to do more with my photography. (Like to do more in my real life, too.)

So, here’s a rundown of topics, new and old:

The Sunday Sillies will become The Weekend Sillies. You guys might lynch me if I discontinued the LOL Cats!

Author guest posts. And I have several coming up:
October 4 - W.S. Gager
October 20 - Marvin Wilson
October 27 - Alex J. Cavanaugh
November 18 - Stephen Tremp

Book industry situations and conditions - got some wild ones for this.

Photos to inspire.

Tips for authors beyond just writing books.

Inspirational posts revolving around the keys to success.

That’s the plan! Hope everyone continues along for the ride.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Creating Compelling Characters

Today is the Great Blogging Experiment - Creating Compelling Characters, a blogfest created by Elana Johnson, Jennifer Daiker, and Alex J Cavanaugh.  Please visit their sites for a full listing of participants.

How do I create memorable characters? I start with a character sheet. Now, I teach a characterization session in schools and there are several steps to the process. Probably the most vital are the background and the personality.

In order to appear real, characters need detailed backgrounds. They need a detailed history. How were they raised? Did learn right from wrong and develop strong morals? What was their financial situation? What about schooling? Did they have parents and siblings? What were some of the major events of their past? All of these things affect those characters today.

I’m a big believer in the personality types as outlined in Florence Littauer’s Personality Plus - choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine, and melancholy. These often line up with the four birth orders as well - oldest, middle, youngest, and only. Each personality possesses its own unique strengths and weaknesses, which guides the writer. Once a character’s personality is decided, his or her reactions, behaviors, and goals become easy to determine.

Subsequent steps in the process involve appearance, hobbies, and current situation.

All of this adds depth and realism to a character. And a believable character is a compelling character!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Best Book Festival Ever!

I’ve attended many book festivals over the years, but Book ‘Em remains my favorite.

The Book ‘Em Foundation was started by my buddy Trish (author p.m. Terrell) and Officer Mark Kearney. It now appears in three cities and Mark continues to expand with more locations. The Foundation’s slogan is “Buy a book, stop a crook!” and fights illiteracy.

The event attracts a wide variety of authors, including several from other countries. (Notable appearances include Ellen Hopkins, Janet Evanovich, Catherine Coulter, and Chris Crutcher.) There are talks and panel discussions throughout the day as well.

I’ve participated in two panels and every year I give a talk. I also visit several schools on Friday to do my characterization session, and the kids love it. Many of the authors come in early to visit schools.

This year’s Waynesboro Book ‘Em is October 16. A full list of authors appearing can be found HERE

There’s still time to join the fun! We have a blast every year at Book ‘Em. Contact Mark at if you are interested.


Don't forget my 300 Followers Giveaway! Several chances to win - ends this weekend.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Top 10 TV Shows

Today is Alex J Cavanaugh’s Top 10 TV Shows blogfest. Check out his site for a full listing of participants.

My Top 10 in no particular order:


Never missed an episode - I was an X-Files junkie! The mythos was interesting, but the stand-alone episodes were the best. And yes, I wanted Mulder and Scully to get together SO bad!


The man you love to hate! He’s so terrible. Great group dynamics, although I’m bummed Cameron and Chase didn’t work out.


The original is still the best of the series. Miss William Petersen, but Laurence Fishburne is a great addition.


A childhood favorite. Loved the first incarnations of the show, but Scrappy-Doo ruined it for me. I agree with comedian Eddie Izzard - “Scrappy-Doo? Magnum. Boom!”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

This series is not a Trek fan favorite, but it was mine. Excellent writing and I loved all the characters. Got even better once Worf showed up!

Mystery Science Theater 3000

This was a Saturday night staple! Who doesn’t like to make fun of bad movies? Loved the show even more when Mike replaced Joel.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus

My Friday post isn’t named after one of their skits for nothing! Silly, twisted British humor - gotta love it! John Cleese steals every scene for me.

Ground Force

Surprise garden makeovers - how cool is that? Loved the neat ideas, although I’d never attempt any of them - I just want these guys to visit my backyard and surprise ME!


Such an original concept and series! Loved all the quirky characters, although Chiana was my favorite.

The Muppet Show

I love the Muppets and the original show, with a new guest each week and zany skits, was so much fun. Best episode - Alice Cooper!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What on earth do I put in my Media Kit?

Yesterday, Stephen at Breakthrough Blogs talked about the Media Kit - what does one put in it? Since my reply was rather lengthy, I decided it would make a good post topic for today. (Thanks, Stephen!)

The media kit comes in two forms - physical and online.

You’ll rarely need a physical kit, but it’s best to have one ready at all times. It needs to be in a very nice folder or thin binder and appear as professional in quality as possible.

The online media kit is more essential. This needs to be a full page or more on your website. Be sure this page contains high resolution photos of you and your bookcover - at least 300dpi.

What goes into a media kit:

Media release (press release - the most current one)
Sell sheet (one sheet page with your book’s information, synopsis, cover art, short bio, publisher, ordering info., etc.)
Media pitch/topics (if you were interviewed for your expertise, what’s your angle - how can you help others be healthier, wealthier, sexier, or save them time?)
Interview questions (make it easy on reporters and hosts - list questions and your answers)
Business card, bookmarks, brochure, postcards, and other promo items, including DVD if applicable
Review copy/final copy of book (if applicable)
Book reviews (and if you’re sending out your media kit before you have any reviews, guess who writes that first mock review?)
Articles written or a sample article
Notable previous appearances
Excerpt or sample chapters (if applicable)

Obviously there’s differences between the physical and the online kit. A video online of one of your talks or speeches takes the place of a DVD. You can also link to several articles within your website. And of course, your website should contain links to purchase your books..

Keep this in mind when building an online press room - if a reporter finds your website, is there enough for him to do a complete article without ever contacting you? Because if not, he will move on to someone whose press room IS complete…

Any other items you would include?

And just because this card my husband gave me for my birthday this year is just so darn cute!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

WHY Were You Inspired to Write Your Story?

I often hear the question, "What inspired you to write your story?" When asked of other authors though, I want to know more. WHY did that inspire you?

We're inspired by events, locations, people, situations - but why? What is it about that moment that sparked the story?

Almost everything I've written was inspired by a dream. A vivid dream will haunt my mind for days. I'll continue the storyline after I wake, pondering the path. It's not the visuals that stick with me, though. It's the accompanying feelings.

My five book YA series began as a dream. I saw Book I's Lori and Jason, knew she was a swimmer and he a football player. But what sparked the story were the emotions involved. I felt Lori's isolation and loneliness; felt her desire for Jason. I felt these two characters coming together. The story that poured out of me was sparked by those emotions, and as I wrote, the feelings of the secondary characters fueled four more books.

That's why I was inspired. Why did your inspiration motivate you to write your story?

Friday, September 10, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different...

He's a lumberjack, and he's OK!


Talli Roland is taking on Amazon December 1st! Visit her blog and sign up for the Blogsplash and take on Amazon!

VR Barkowski has an agent!! Congratulations!

Steph the Bookworm is holding an Int’l giveaway contest for her blogiversary! Visit her site for details.

The second annual Blogmania is coming September 15-16! Visit Luxury Reading for details and list of sponsors and happenings.

Alex J Cavanaugh is hosting a blogfest - Top 10 TV Shows - on September 20. Visit his blog for details and to sign up.

Shoveling in a Jo Storm is having a CSN $70 Store giveaway contest!!

Blogfest 2010 is this weekend, September 10-12. 200+ blogs are hosting giveaways!

Which leads me to…


It’s been yet another crappy summer with my mom in the hospital and several trips across the country. I’ve written next to nothing and some days even failed to check my blog.

But by some miracle, I have finally hit 300 followers!

Thank you, everyone. Spunky’s been a bad bloggy friend and commenter, but I am trying to get back into the groove. Hate it when I lose my groove!

How can I top my 200 followers giveaway? I gave away all five books of my series last time!

This time, instead of one winner, there will be three!!!

Leave a comment with your email address.
New followers - 1 point
Old followers - 3 points
Tweet, Sidebar, or other mention - 5 points

Three winners will be drawn at random. First person gets their choice of three books, second gets choice of two, and third gets choice of one. Sound fair?

This giveaway is open from today until September 26. Winners will be announced on the 28th.

Good luck and thank you everyone!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Characterization - Get Real!

I wrote this article a couple years ago and teach a characterization session in schools based on these ideas.
 (Side note - yes, I realize I finally hit 300 followers! And good new - my mom is now at the assisted living facility! Also a BIG finally!)

If the plot is the backbone of the story, then the characters are the heart. Creating believable characters that your readers will identify with is crucial to a good story. Your characters must have depth, personality and the ability to evoke an emotional response from your reader.

Before you can formulate a riveting story, an interesting character must be devised. Many writers envision the setting first and the people inhabiting that world second. This often results in shallow characters. Developing a character in depth, complete with flaws, will give you a basis for your narrative. It is easier to build a plot around an individual than force that character into unrealistic situations.

Two factors will determine your character – their background and their personality type. Both are equally important and require some thought. Humans all share similar feelings and needs, but how they respond to those depends on their upbringing and their basic, fundamental personality. You need to be aware of these factors when writing your story.

Backgrounds are as varied as humans themselves. Race, culture, religion, and economic status all contribute to one’s development as a person. A person’s moral compass is easily affected by their upbringing, and you need to keep this in mind when creating your characters. A person raised by a loving family on a farm and someone raised on the streets of New York will not react the same! Flesh out your character with a family history, interests, and experiences.

Become familiar with the four basic personality types – choleric, sanguine, melancholy and phlegmatic. They will also determine how your character reacts in any given situation. (“Personality Plus” by Florence Littauer is an excellent book for researching these personality traits.) A bold, first-born choleric would likely take charge in a situation, while an introverted phlegmatic would step aside. You need to be aware of these personality traits in your character or you will find them responding in a dubious fashion.

Avoid the temptation to create a perfect character! People are flawed creatures and the more imperfections and internal conflicts your character possesses, the more intriguing your story. Give them weaknesses, impulses and unresolved issues. Negative aspects of your character might improve and eventually vanish, but this needs to be developed slowly during the course of your narrative. Life altering moments happen for us all, but a sudden change for no apparent reason will be looked upon as a mere plot contrivance.

Characters will always be the drive and focal point of any story. By putting a great deal of thought into your main characters, you will form interesting, relatable people. Once you have established this foundation, you can begin creating an intriguing tale!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Photo Tuesday - Inspiration!

Today's selection of photos is just meant to inspire your creative flow. Enjoy!

And if that last one inspires you, please share the story!

Friday, September 03, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different...

“Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam ... spam, spam, spam, spam ... lovely spam, wonderful spam ...”


Laura at Wavy Lines posts Monday Quotes every week - check them out!

The Next Blog Book Tours class starts soon - sign up NOW!

Shannon at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe is holding a giveaway for copies of The Grey Griffins Series. But, it ends Sept. 5, so enter now!

And only two more weeks to register for The Muse Online Writers Conference!!! This conference is huge and every year it gets better. So many chats, forums, and opportunities to pitch to publishers!


Ready for list mania?

Online World Newspapers - newspapers online
On The Radio - radio stations
Book Connector - book reviewers
FSB Media - book blogger reviewers


Spunky says - thank God it's Friday! I'm beat.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Who Are You?

There's many ways to answer that question. Now, one's profession shouldn't define a person. Who we are is much more than our careers. It's even more than our hobbies. It's who we are inside - the part that shines through to the rest of the world.

So who are you?

I'll start:

I'm an author. See the page tab above for a list of my six books.

I'm a professional speaker and NSA member. See also page tab above for a list of my topics.

I'm a professional photographer with over twenty years experience. I've posted pictures here and my fun gallery is on my Deviant Art website.

I'm an animal lover and a vegan.

I'm a roller coaster fanatic.

I'm a wife of almost 20 years.

I'm Spunky - an often naive, overly optimistic, hyperactive person who wants everyone in the world to achieve their full potential.

Now, who are YOU?