Emma’s Blog

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Finding Nano

I’ve had one crazy week. Last Friday, I received an official “You’re hired!” email from a new employer. At 8:10 am on Monday I got a frantic phone call stating, “You’re not even in the system yet, but we need your help so can you be here at 8:30?” On my drive to job A from job B, I realized that this was it: I would be working seven days a week most weeks until the summer.

On Thursday, I signed up for a *free* creative writing course. That’s right. FREE! Not only that, but it’s set up like a master’s degree class. Free class that is at my level and will help me hone my craft? There is no way I was turning that down. My first paper is due December 5. Wish me luck. 😉

IMG_0555Friday evening was spent coercing my little person to help me bring in the Christmas decorations while it was still fairly warm and dry. Christmas is my absolute favorite and we went to Florida last year, so there was no tree, no decorations, no gingerbread house. But don’t worry… I’m making up for it this year.

Which brings me to today. Saturday. Normally, I would’ve spent the day at work, came home, made dinner, family time, etc. before sitting down for an hour of writing. But instead I took a vacation day and traveled with the fam to a swim meet. More specifically, a gargantuan eight hour event with a couple hundred swimmers.

It was fun. My little miss is getting more competitive and hubby more involved. We have a great swim family and I had a nice conversation with a swim mom friend.

So why am I telling you this? 

Because I haven’t written for Nano this week. Not a word. 

And I was getting discouraged. There’s only twelve days left, and I’m not even at the halfway mark. As the days without writing piled on, I became more certain of my pending doom in the Nano world.

joanstilkestake
This isn’t me- I don’t *actually* think they’ll burn me at the stake.

 

Since I’ve been social with the North Central Ohio NanoWriMo group, I was imaging their utter disappointment. Like burning me at the stake as a sacrifice to the Nano gods at the TGIO party.

They say that inspiration comes at random times and from unexpected places. They’re right. There’s a swim mom acquaintance that I exchange pleasantries with at every invitational we both attend. Her daughter swims with Little Miss in the summer and on an opposing team in the winter season. The last time I saw her I noticed she was wearing a NanoWriMo shirt.  Our conversation had already ended, but I made a mental note to ask her the next time I saw her.

Today was that day! She seemed surprised that I asked and told me that she was, in fact, participating. We talked word counts, writing environments, and our novels. She’s writing a medical thriller… I think I might sign up to beta read when she’s ready for that.

So now I’m at home, listening to inspirational music, and working on my word count. In the world of writing, you have to do the same thing all those swimmers do:

Just Keep Swimming Writing. 

JustKeepSwimming

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Murder: An Apology Letter

To My Latest Victim,

Listen, I’m sorry I did this to you. Honestly though, I didn’t ask for you to come into my life. It just happened. And I promised myself that it would be different this time. At first, it was. But then one day I looked at you and realized I was slowly torturing you to death.

Remorse set in.

I tried to make it up to you, I really did. It was too late. Deep down, I already knew I’d killed you, but I hoped for a miracle. Maybe this time I would wake up to see that you’d perked up overnight. When you were even more ragged than the day before, I started digging your grave.

Please understand that your death wasn’t personal. I’ve murdered at least a dozen before you. Didn’t I warn you that I was serial killer when you came into my house for the first time?

Your unmarked grave sits in the midst of many just like you. And for that, be grateful. Some end up in a plastic bag, thrown away like common garbage. I have more respect for you than that.

I can’t explain why I’m a killer. It’s definitely not hereditary. My grandmother was great with your kind. She played music for them and doted on them as if they were her own children. Sadly, it’s all I can do to remember you exist… until its too late. So now I’ll bury you and send you back to the ground from which you came.

Maybe the next time someone gives me a house plant, I’ll actually remember to water it.

Posted in Uncategorized, young adult

The Librarian

I promised you a short story, and now I’m going to deliver. I wrote this for a YA short story competition on Scribophile.   The prompt was 500 words or less ending with “we didn’t talk after that.” Oops… guess that’s a spoiler alert.  😉 I hope you enjoy the story anyway.

Librarian

My sister yanked on a strand of my hair with a tiny fist. “Mama.”

 No. Lulu. Call me Lulu, Sissy.” I gently unfurled each finger and shoved a teething ring in her hand.

A woman coming down the aisle stopped at my seat and clucked her tongue. I slid over to make room. She looked from Rose back to me. “How old are you, child?”

I sighed. Here we go again. “Fourteen.” 

Fourteen and having babies. Lord, what has the world come to!” She shook her head and glanced around the bus, but I knew this was the last seat available.

She’s my sister. My mom works late. I pick her up from daycare.”

Mm- huh.”

Excuse me, Ma’am. You can have my seat.” An elderly woman with a flower covered hat placed a gloved hand on the woman’s arm. “I was just giving my granddaughters some space, but I’ll sit with them.”

The woman eyed her. I knew she didn’t buy it. We looked nothing alike. “Oh, all right.” 

The small wrinkled woman plopped down on the seat and smiled. “Name’s Grace. Pleased to meet you.”

I shook her hand. She smelled of lilacs and looked like she’d worn the same Jackie Kennedy knock off since 1962. “I’m Lucy … and this really is my sister, Rose.” 

Grace perched her handbag on her lap and laughed. “I know she is. I see you reading to her every day. And you don’t read to her like you’re her mama.”

What’s that supposed to mean?” I clutched Rose a little tighter and glanced at my book, tucked between the seat and the wall of the bus.

I mean that she’s a baby, and babies don’t care to listen to stories about wizards and vampires, or the latest teen couple in love.”

How do you know what Rose likes? And I though reading to babies was good for them.” I narrowed my eyes at her. Maybe the woman who thought Rose was mine would have been better. She would have at least been silent in her unfounded judgment of me, instead of vocally criticizing my reading selection.

 “I am – was – a librarian. I know what everyone likes, or doesn’t like, to read. And your sister needs small books with colorful pages. She’ll love them.” For a moment, she looked wistful and her gray eyes gleamed with a tear. 

Oh. Um, thanks for the advice. I’ll keep it in mind the next time I make it to the library.” I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I just wanted to ride home in peace.

Don’t you have a Mother Goose book from when you were a baby? Surly your mother read to you, you’re such an avid reader now.” 

Mother Goose?” I figured playing dumb was better than explaining to a complete stranger that we had moved five times in the last five years and any item I had as a baby was long gone. 

Yes. Cat and the Fiddle? Humpty Dumpty? You’ve heard those stories?” She opened her rather large purse and dug through its contents.

I don’t know, maybe?” I shrugged and glanced out the window.

Here.” She held out a book with a picture of three pigs standing near a brick house. Grace scrawled her address on an old receipt and pressed it in the pages of the book. “Return it to me at this address and I’ll give you Mother Goose, okay?”

Rose squealed and plucked the book from Grace’s hand. “I guess that’s a yes.” I muttered. 

***

I clutched the book in one hand and rang the bell with the other. When a tall man with broad shoulders opened the door, I pulled the slip with Grace’s address out of my pocket and glanced at the numbers over the bell.

“Sorry. I’m looking for Grace.”

She said you’d come. The girl with the book.” His eyes locked on the title in my hand, and I realized that they were red and rimmed with tears. “Keep it.”

What? I usually give them back to her on the bus, but I haven’t seen her in a week, so I thought I’d deliver this one.” I didn’t mention that every time I traded her books on the bus, she told me to stop at her house the next time.

Mom’s gone-” His voice cracked and he cleared his throat. “She said you could keep the book. In fact-” He stepped back and motioned to a row of boxes. “She has an entire box of books for you.” I spotted a box with “Lucy from the bus” scrawled on it in black marker.

Oh.” I walked to the box and ran my hand over the words. I felt a pang of guilt for not coming here sooner. “I can’t take your mom’s books. Besides, I can’t carry this box home. It’s too heavy.”

 “Where do you live? I’ll carry it for you.” He reached for a jacket hanging behind him.

You don’t have to do that. I live three blocks away.” 

Mom said you were her last random act of kindness. You made her feel like a librarian again.” He strode across the room and knelt in front of me. “Can I hug you?”

I guess.” I glanced at the door, still ajar. He wrapped his warm, muscular arms around me and squeezed slightly. I supposed that this must be what it felt like to be hugged by a brother, or maybe a father.

Thank you,” he whispered as he let me go.

He motioned to the door and picked up the box. We didn’t talk after that.

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At Long Last

To All My Readers,

Some of you may have noticed my silence for over a year. At first, it was purely accidental. The intention was there but then my mind would slip to other thoughts and never return. The first time I felt run down, I was certain I was catching a bug. Called it a late summer cold until I never developed a cough or stuffy nose. I began to forget things, like how to drive to places I’d been to a thousand times. A mist that started at the edge of my cognitive skills slowly thickened until it completely encased my brain, rendering my synapse useless. Most days required all the energy I had just to survive a workday.

As weeks passed, I realized that I couldn’t write anymore. I would sit at my computer and struggle to complete a paragraph. When I read it, it was incomprehensible.

Last August, I was told that my problem was vitamin deficiencies. In October I was told I was “being dramatic”. December’s appointment resulted in a suggestion for meditation and relaxation to help with my “depression”. By February I had to make a visit to the emergency room.

Butterfly Shaped Thyroid Word Cloud

April was when I had a turning point. I was diagnosed with Diabetes, Hashimoto’s, and “spots” on my thyroid. In June I had a biopsy. It came back cancerous in July. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised. I’d become a zombie who’d randomly cry for no apparent reason.

What was the most heartbreaking was that I couldn’t even read. I tried once and read the same paragraph four times. I still can’t tell you what it said. There were some long days in August I was sure that I’d never be able to write again.

Now, four weeks after surgery, I feel the best I have in a long time. I’m cancer (and thyroid) free. My life now revolves around scheduled meals, medications, and supplements but I’m beginning to work things I love back into it. I read a novella this week. It was my first steampunk romance and was delightful.

Before I got sick, I had many irons in the fire. All of the irons have been cast aside haphazardly, collecting dust and cobwebs.Only the hottest and slowest burning of those embers remain.

I’ve decided to dust off my first (and favorite) iron and start writing again. I’m going to start with a short story, posted here, and go on from there. I don’t know when the story will be ready, but I hope some of you will be waiting.

Until then, take care of each other

Emma

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10 YA Books to Read This Year

Looking for some new YA?

Kelsie Stelting

Did you know that there are MILLIONS of books for sale on Amazon? Literally. Millions. That’s not even counting the books for sale on Nook, Apple iBooks, Google Play Books, and the downloadable PDFs hidden in the scarier – and dustier – corners of the internet. So, if you’re like me and all of these options overwhelm you, look no longer! Here are 10 books packed with action, adventure, fantasy, and characters you will fall in love with.

1 – Destiny Revealed by Cris Pasqueralle

Cris-Destiny

In the first book of the Destiny Trilogy, twins Jack and Maddie Austin have just finished celebrating their thirteenth birthday. They are given a gift by their Uncle Benny that changes their world – at least their perception of it – forever. Will their family survive? Will they defeat the magical leader of the end of the world? Will they find out that the one person…

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Posted in Author Highlights, Uncategorized, young adult

This is Me ~ A Review~

I’ll admit it. I’m a huge fan of C.E. Wilson.

This means I snatched up the chance to get an ARC of her latest book. Check out the cover:

This is me (1)

 

So… was it everything I’d hoped for? Yep. And more.

This Is Me feels a bit futuristic, but more like an alternate universe.  It has a sci-fi feel to it that I love. Speaking of love… it has some great romance in it, too. That’s right. A well-blended work  that appeals to my geeky girly side. *Insert squeal here*

This is Me Teaser 4It starts out at your typical “working girl in the big bad city” but with a twist. Chloe has an A-SIST. That is, Rogan, her custom made AI bodyguard/companion. He walks her to and from school, he fetches her coffee, and he even goes to her open mic nights with her. But when Chloe meets Niven Adams, her life begins to change. He’s adorable and a smokin’ singer. At the encouragement of her best friend, Chloe dates Niven and for a while, they have a good thing. In the background of Chloe’s life is Rogan, and he’s jealous. Can robots get jealous? Is it jealousy at all?

This is Me teaser 1All Chloe really knows is that Rogan’s different. And it confuses her. Her best friend, Monica, assures her it’s all in her head and that Niven is the man she’s been waiting for, but Rogan’s friends (yes, friends) tell her she should explore her feelings for Rogan. In the end, she has to decide for herself and ask the age-old question (well, for this world, anyway): Can robots feel?

This is Me Teaser 3If you like futuristic romance, this is for you. There are AI and even emergency lines and clinics for AI beings. Remember back when sci-fi works were optimistic and the world was a better place instead of a disaster zone? There’s no war in this novel. If you like those types of sci-fi, this is for you. Want to read a great story with an underlying theme of equality? Then this is for you. Want a fun romance with quirky characters? Rogan’s friend is a seven-inch tall ASIST with a spunky attitude. This book is for you.

 

Want to get this book for $.99? Get it here, but hurry. I don’t know how long she’s keeping it at that price.THIS IS ME PRE ORDER ICON

 

About C.E. Wilson:

C.E. Wilson is 32 years old, grew up in Millersville, Pennsylvania, and has been living in Pittsburgh since 2009. For the first few years living in Pittsburgh, she was an English teacher. Her first book, “Oath of Servitude,” was published in 2012. In 2013, she quit teaching to be a full-time author and hasn’t looked back since. She loves spending time with her daughter and husband.

Like I said, I’m a fan. I’m part of her Facebook street team. Would you like to join?

Join us!

…Or you could always sign up for her email list: http://cewilsonauthor.com/

Want other places to check out C.E. Wilson?

Facebook

Goodreads

Twitter

Instagram

 

 

Posted in Beasts and Savages, Blogging, Uncategorized

Don’t Marry a Feminist

My birthday was a short week ago. We won’t discuss numbers; I’m not a math person 😉

Anyhow, my mom took me out to lunch this week to celebrate. I was excited. I don’t get to spend as much time as I’d like with my parents. The only consolation was that my daughter and niece went, but really that was okay. They’re about the same age and can entertain each other without much adult intervention.

While I was enjoying our conversation and my soup/salad combo, I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation taking place at the booth behind ours. It was one of those conversations that’s just background noise until your ears pick up on a certain word. And then you listen to the entire thing whether you want to hear it or not.

It was a conversation that I didn’t want to hear. Why? Because it infuriated me.

A group of adult women was coaching a boy who looked to be 11 or 12 about finding a girlfriend, and later, a wife.

“Isn’t that a good thing, Emma? That women in his life are giving him relationship advice?”

On the surface, yes. But it was the advice that set me on edge. This is what they told him:

“Don’t marry a feminist. You don’t want to marry a girl that’s mean to you and pushes you around.”

“Oh, lord, please whatever you do don’t marry a feminist. No one has time for that drama.”

Mean? Drama? *Insert record scratching sound here*

Here is Merriam Webster’s definition of feminism word for word:

Full Definition of feminism

  1. 1:  the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

  2. 2:  organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

I don’t see anything about being a bully nor a drama queen in this definition. But, for whatever reason, these women identify all feminists as one, the other, or both.

So, what did I do while listening to these women spew hate about feminism while taking advantage of freedoms feminists of the past fought to give us? (There was no adult male escort with them, they were wearing modern tank tops and shorts, at least one of them had to have a driver’s license, and I’m willing to bet at least one of the three was a registered voter.)

Nothing.

 

 

NotMyCircusI’m part of the “not my monkeys” camp. Too many people today feel the need to insert themselves where they aren’t invited. Sure, they were having the conversation in a public place, but that doesn’t give me the right to go to their table, barge in, and tell them why I feel they’re wrong. And last time I checked, freedom of speech was NOT directly followed by “…unless it offends someone.”

End of story then, right Emma?

Well, it would’ve been… until I listened to this podcast today:

Stuff Mom Never Told You: NOW & Then: A Feminist Movement Grows Up

This was the first podcast I’d listened to by Stuff Mom Never Told You, and while I’m certain that Cristen and Caroline are perfectly reasonable people, as I listened to them talk proudly about waving an “angry feminist” pennant, my mind flashed back to the women in the restaurant.

Now, I’m imagining that day in college when all the clubs set up booths on the quad and new students sign up for activities, jobs, whatever.

A scowling woman approaches waving a bright red pennant that reads “angry feminist” and yells, “Injustices are all around you! Come! Get ANGRY with us!”

Guaranteed I’m going to back away slowly as to not provoke her.

Now, if that same woman approaches me, smiling, and says, “Did you know that of the 28.8 million small businesses in the US (source), only 9.9 million are owned by women (source)? That’s 34%. We’re working to make that statistic closer to 50%. Would you like to join us?”

Not only would I be willing to join, I’d be willing to do my own research on the inequality of start-up lending. 

Which type of feminist do you think the women in the restaurant must have had experience with? So what are they teaching their next generation? Feminists are Drama Queen Bullies. Is that really what we want to be perceived as?

 Get to the point, Emma. You’re wasting valuable Poke-Go time.

One of the greatest compliments I ever got on Beasts and Savages was: “This reads like one of the feminist scifi books I used to read in the ’70’s.”

Guess what? I wasn’t angry when I wrote that book.

I’m not angry now. Anger leads to hurtful words and actions.

Passionate, yes. Passion can inspire people to make positive changes.

I’m a feminist, but I’m not a bully. Or a drama queen.

The only time I’ve ever pushed my hubby is during a race to our only bathroom after a longish road trip. He still won. All’s fair when you have to pee. 😉

The only drama I like is on a stage or in a movie. Re: Not My Monkeys.

So, to the boy in the restaurant:

Don’t marry a feminist. BE a feminist.

Nowhere in any dictionary does it say that a feminist has to be a female. (Pretty sure it’s not a law, either.) Do you want a wife that works just as hard as you do to be paid less (re: less houshold income) because she’s a woman? What about fair child care practices for your children? Do you want the same  educational/scholarship opportunities for your sons and daughters? Lastly, do you want the women you love to be objectified, talked down to, or denied the feeling of safety by others?

It’s 2016, and these things still happen. 

And I can ask you to join our “club” without anger, without yelling, and without waving anything in your face. I’ll even smile. Whadda ya say?

*********************************************************************

So, do you want to read my “feminist scifi” Beasts and Savages?

Beastly Book 1

You can get it on Amazon here. (Currently $.99 and part of KU)

Want to read it for free? Sign up for my newsletter and it’s yours:Join my newsletter 🙂

 

Posted in Beasts and Savages, The Beastly Series, Uncategorized

Indie Pride Day

TC-Banner-for-IndiePride-Da.jpg

Have you read an indie book lately? If you haven’t, why not?

You’ll probably give me one of the of the following reasons why you haven’t delved into the world of indies:

“I can’t find a book/author that I like enough to buy.”

What?! There are over 4 million titles on Amazon. 45% of those are indie books. (Thanks, Author Earnings Report.)

Recently, I’ve read a story about a girl who gets trapped in a world of giants, one about a town’s women getting kidnapped and left to die in a pool of ice, a historical romance about two people who raised to hate each other but fell in love anyway, and several non-fiction that range from people’s perspective on the world, to nutrition, to writing and marketing. Once (before I was an author) I read an indie book and didn’t even know it!

If the “buying” is your problem, then search for free books. Hundreds of indie authors give away ebooks for free throughout the year. In fact, I’m giving away Beasts and Savages to anyone who signs up for my mailing list. (Which you can do here.)

special delivery

 

“I only read print books.”

And? I read indie print books. There are thousands out there and I also publish my books in print. Here’s a suitcase full of my first book in paperback:bags packed

“Indie books are nothing more than terribly written stories full of typos.”

I think this one is the most uninformed and unintelligent “status quo” statements I’ve ever heard.Sure, there are self-pubbed authors who really have no idea and hit the publish button a little too soon. And ones with thin skin probably never publish another book. The remaining indie authors learn from their mistakes, and fix them, too. I’m one of the latter. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve updated my first book, and my second is on its third go-round with an editor. I’ve even gone so far as to list the editors on my Amazon page and in the copyright info. Why? Because one typo in my story means someone, somewhere will scream, “This is why I don’t read indie!”

But aren’t there terrible books from trad-publishing? These photos say there are:

 

James Patterson’s book has a 2.3-star rating on Amazon, and that last photo is making fun of Fifty Shades, just in case you didn’t know.

As for typos and formatting errors, they can happen in any book. I think it’s all about perception. Take this picture from Ally Condie’s Matched:

IMG_3513

Is that space and lack of indentation supposed to be there? I’m sure someone will say, “It’s only the style of content break the publisher chose to use.” Okay, maybe it is. I really don’t know. BUT, what would happen if I chose to use the same style in my self-published work? At least three someones would be crying, “Poor formatting! This is why I don’t read indies!”

Now that I’ve proven that “reasons” are really “excuses” for not reading indie, are you going to give an indie book a chance? Or are you going to continue to let “The Man” tell you what to read?

Posted in Uncategorized

Think You Couldn’t Possibly Lose Your Amazon Publishing Account? Think Again.

Interestingly, I just took Beasts and Savages out of KDP this week and am doing a wide relaunch the first week of July.

The Active Voice

There’s this indie author I know a little bit from the Kboards.com forum. Her name is Pauline Creeden, and she’s an ordinary midlister, like so many of us. I remember PMing her some time ago and gushing about how particularly beautiful one of her book covers is — the one for Chronicles of Steele: Raven.collection Here, I’ll include an image. Gorgeous, eh?

Anyway, today I tuned in to Kboards and noticed that Pauline had started a thread. It contained what’s surely the worst news possible for an indie author: Amazon had closed her publishing account. All her ebooks had been taken off sale. Permanently. Here’s the email she got from Amazon:

We are reaching out to you because we have detected that borrows for your books are originating from systematically generated accounts. While we support the legitimate efforts of our publishers to promote their books, attempting to manipulate…

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