Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Writing Milestone

On March 18th I found out that I made it to the second round of the Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award Contest! I wrote a pitch that got me to the second round. The judges will read four chapters of A Dozen East for the second round.

I was so excited when Amazon announced authors who made it to round two. I could not believe my eyes when I saw my name and my book title. I road on that high for several days. I printed out the announcement and highlighted my name and book title. I know it is only the first round and there are several more to get through. I, however, am taking the time to bask in this small milestone.

Here is my pitch:
A group of twelve boys named East reside in a Florida Everglades reform camp. They are held captive by cruel leaders and an electrified, orange fog force field. The fog shifts with the arrival of a brazen woman, Breeze Morgan.

In 2042 Breeze lands at Maverly Wilderness Camp to pay back a debt. During her two day interview a boy busts her nose and Breeze humiliates the program director. Somehow, she is still offered the job and she accepts. Breeze soon discovers the camp's cruel and hope-stealing culture. She considers leaving, but the dozen delinquents steal her heart.

Breeze mingles with a biker gang named Wings, attracts inspectors from headquarters, kisses the Vice President and throws punches with a co-leader. The camp’s program director tries everything in his power to push Breeze down, but Breeze perseveres. Each boy survives in his own way and like Breeze has their own reason for why they landed in this camp.

Despite their dark past and dreary future, most of the East boys still have a shard of hope. Breeze awakens that hope costing her much more than the debt she already owes.

A DOZEN EAST is HOLES meets DANGEROUS MINDS. It introduces a possible future system where many children are left behind. The Florida Everglades provides a harsh setting to an even harsher prognosis for the boys.

 This author spent four wonderful years working in a wilderness camps with at-risk youth. The camp portrayed in this book is the evil step-brother to this experience. Also, the author has time traveled to the year 2042, thus adding to the settings accuracy. The book is aimed at younger readers and can be enjoyed by most ages. It has great series potential.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pinked by JC Mells

A week ago I finished reading Pinked by JC Mells. It is part of the Pierced Series (Pierced, Escaped, Pinked, Perfect). I think JC Mells is the first independent, self-published author that I have fallen in love with her books. This is my third post about JC Mells see my JC Mells Interview. It is a Paranormal Romance and that is even further out of my comfort zone.

I am not sure what draws me to these books. (I will be careful not to have any spoilers here.) One thing that draws me to it is the character of Pierce. I love her internal three-some dialogue, her witty humor and her bravery. I love that she does not have all her stuff together but is trying the best she can. She doesn't come as a flawless fighting machine. She makes mistakes and does her best to claw back to good.

I love the uniqueness of taking culinary breaks. Read the book and you will get what I mean. JC Mells is the first author I have connected with on line. It is refreshing to send her emails and to hear back from her. It is nice to see her growing and expanding and publishing book after book.

What is next? I am going to read her next book Perfect. (Once I complete a Beta read and read Divergent before I see the movie.)

Also, look out for this months interview with JC Mells.
Check JC Mells and the Pierced Series out. Her books are well-worth the money.

Potential Writing Adventure

#AmtrakResidency: Application FormLast night I applied for the Amtrak Residency along with probably 10,000 other writers. Amtrak is giving 24 writers a 2-5 day residency on one of their trains. The 24 lucky, selected writers get a private room, a desk, a window and inspiring scenery. Here is an the Amtrak Residency Official Application.
I know that it is a long shot. I would have to stand-out among 10,000+ writers but a girl can dream.

The application required me to write why I want to do the residency, how it would benefit my writing and to submit 10 pages of one of my writings. I worked hard at being witty and trying to submit something worthy of a residency. In the end, I wonder if being a self-published, newbie writer would be my Achilles heel.

It would be nice to have some time just for some writing, be surrounded by strangers to inspire writing, have some sites to take in and to be alone. To me it sounds like a distraction free environment filled with food for my writing.

Since it is a long shot, it got me thinking about other writing retreat opportunities. I would love something rustic enough to be simple but still having access to the Internet and electricity. Having my dog Cali as a companion would be stellar. I am inspired to check on-line of writer's retreats or cheap, cheap places to stay.

One of the best trips I ever took was on the Green Tortoise in 1999. We did a national parks loop for 14 days. We started in San Francisco and hit Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Arches, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. It was a trip I did solo and lived on a bus with 30+ strangers mostly from other countries. That sounds too crowded now for a writing retreat but that was inspirational.

What about a campground tour? A cabin on a lake? A tree house? It would be a bonus to have a live-in chef.

What has been your best writing retreat?
What kind of trip would you like?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Amtrak Residency

I recently saw a post about travel and I am itching to travel again. I mean traveling more than five hours from my home. I usually have plenty of time to use up for vacation time from work. The issue is finding something affordable and conducive to the family.

I stumbled upon articles about Amtrak Residencies. Some authors were tweeting, blogging or writing about wanting an Amtrak Residency. Then Amtrak granted a few. Now writers are all a buzz about trying to get one. Read this  LA Times Article and another article with the Huffington Post.

All the logistics are not ironed out, but that seems really cool. The concept is to give authors a free round-trip ride on a train. The writer then write during the trip. They also ask that the writer Twitter or post something. Sign-me-up for that! FREE one of my favorite words.

I have never slept in a train bed. I would love to take a train round trip coast to coast. There is something about trains that is so freeing. Trains are somewhat intrusive going through people's yards, cities and through the country side.

It makes me want to read some Paul Theroux books. He is an American travel writer and novelist who wrote The Great Railway Bazaar in 1975 and recently a 2013 travel book.

Would you do an Amtrak Residency?
Any of you want to sponsor me to ride the rails?
Anyone find an RV for me to borrow?

Life Inspired

I read a post 20 Things Everyone should Do at least Once. There is a list that someone thought were NEED to DO things. I have done 17 of them. I have not designed my own house, driven coast to coast or lived in another country. What does this have to do with writing?


I guess it depends on your state of mind. Some writers travel the country or the world trying to inspiration. Others are of the mindset that you just have to stay put and immerse yourself in the culture.
Bryce Canyon on the Green Tortoise Trip 1999
Ten years ago I used to travel a lot. At one point I could fit all my possessions in an '82 Honda and drove around the east coast of the US visiting friends and camping. I have driven up the coast of California. That is how I found my first wife (long story). I traveled on the Green Tortoise travel bus. That was one of my best traveling experiences but it is not for everyone. You have to not mind sleeping close to others and be able to tolerate others. I have lived in Florida, NJ, PA, MA and NC.

That was before I got married and acquired kids. I am not one of those people who think that you can't travel once you have kids. It just gets a little tougher. It cost a lots more to travel with 5 instead of 1 or 2 people. Also, we have a house and pets including a dog. That requires someone to watch the pets or find somewhere that allows a dog.

Cali and Taz
Writing this, I realize that I have a travel bug (not the geocaching kind) and need to find a way to do it. I love my dog Cali and it is hard to leave her for any part of time. I care about the family cats but they are more tolerable of vacations. I think that I would love to head out west. I think my kids might be at an age that can appreciate the sites.

I just have to find a way to do this. My number one thought is an RV. I just need someone to loan me an RV and loan me a credit card to pay for gas. Any takers?

I think that experiencing new, exciting, and challenging things is the foundation of my writing. I would like to visit friends, travel, learn a new skill, etc.

What are your thoughts on travel and writing?
What is on your list of things someone must do in their lifetime?