Research Part 4-- Prove Facts Wrong

I studied the labels on old medicine bottles
and ended up using one in one of
my books. It was hilarious!
"Heals wounds on man or beast." Hahaha
Yeah, I plan to prove that one right!
I haven't done a research post in awhile and I felt it would be fun. We've gathered facts HERE. We've proven them right HERE. We've organised them HERE. Now it's time to PROVE THEM WRONG!
Yeah, you read me right.

By proving the facts wrong, you will deepen your knowledge on the subject which in turn will set your imagination free, you will deepen your characters, which will give them a new life, and you will enrich your plot.

So in your research, you come across a letter written by a priest. This letter is blatant discrimination against an entire race. This priest is going to be your new bad guy. Why not? He's perfect for your theme.

In earlier posts I mentioned proving things three times. So... it might be a good idea to prove three more times that he is the jerk you believe. Really, anything else you dig up on him will simply deepen his character, right?
What if digging deeper proves...
that he was trying to save them from a horrible death? Huh?
Wait, all by itself the letter really does make him look like a jerk, but it turns out that when you dig a little deeper, it's one of ten letters. Oh. The other letters tell the tale of his journey and his mission. Really, he's still a jerk in your mind, but in his mind, he was a hero on a mission and the letters explain why he feels this way.  His character deepens. Your opinion of him no longer matters. He is a bad guy with a vision, a reason, a mission full of passion. You have to allow him to tell his side of the story.
Can you feel the magic?

I still haven't figured out how to
blow this distiller up.
But it must happen.
Prohibition is a fact that is easy to prove three times. There was no booze being sold, bought, made or distributed. Yeah right. Digging to prove this wrong will bring up all kinds of bootlegging. Now, proving that bootlegging was going on is a little harder. But each time I prove it, my plot deepens. I find new ways for people to get their hands on booze, new characters that excite me. I find myself in tunnels, on trains, in a gang war! Or, just blowing up illegal distillers.

I desperately tried to find something exciting that happened in Saskatchewan 1917.
Can you smell the history?
 Why? Because what really happened is boring. I needed to prove these facts wrong. I never did. BUT! My research did give me a good feel of the anger and desperation the farmers were feeling in this time. They could have protested grain prices. They had reason to, they were organized, they were pissed off enough to do it... I never found proof that they did, yet...

I write fantasies, right? You see where I'm going with this, right?

*I can get creative.
Thanks to my research, I have it all set up. And so the riots in Saskatchewan begin. I'm going to rewrite history and it's going to be nasty. If I have the rail line cover it all up afterwards, well, that'll explain why I never found proof...

Now this is my example, but really, what if you prove that those scientists cloning sheep are cloning a few other things? Oooo... I feel a sci-fi or a horror story coming on.

My point is that if you LOOK for the opposite of what the facts prove, you might be surprised at what you turn up. There's a magic in that. No?

*Of course, this rule only applies to fiction.

So... prove any facts wrong lately? It's fun!

Other research posts:

First Memories

Pulling the pot out of the cupboard without Ma catching me is my first memory. I planned to bring it to Pa, since he was cool about the whole pot thing. Mom was a little stressed about it. Yup. That potty was pink. I hauled the sucker beside Pa and sat down, ready to commit to this whole diaperless world Ma was trying to convince me rocked. 
Actually, if I think really hard, I have one memory before that, but it's kinda like an episode from a horrible comedy show, so I'm not sure how real it is. I asked Ma about it once and her eyes got huge and she said, "You remember that? Yeah, the bears were bad up north." That was her only comment on my twisted memory. huh.
This is what I remember and how my mind plays it back for me. It involves me in a highchair watching my dad make an ass of himself. Yes, my exact thoughts. He was on his hands and knees with a cigarette in hand, although I was pretty sure he didn't smoke. Ma had her hands on her hips, getting ready to tear him a new one for touching her secret cigarettes. "What are you doing?" she demanded.
“They said it’s burn proof, I’m gonna try it out.”
"You're not burning a hole in my new linoleum."
She dived at him to get the cigarette, but he raised a hand and gave her that winning smile that could stop a bull on a rampage. "Trust me," he said as he pushed the cigarette into the middle of the kitchen floor. Even I knew better than to do that.  
I waited for Ma to say something logical, since she was the brains of this operation. “At least pick a spot that we won’t be able to see, in case it’s not burn proof.” She ordered, clearly too late.
“Look at that— see nothing- oh shit.”
“Now, what did you do?”
Just at that moment a giant bird to my left squawk “Oh shit now what did you do?”  I really liked that bird, but Pa gave it a dirty look so I did too.
"Maybe they only meant if you dropped a cigarette on it." Now he was repeatedly dropping the cigarette.
To my right, a sea of suds was creeping at me. Scary stuff and I wasn't sure what to do about that so I cried.
The front door opened and in came Pa’s best friend. He had a wicked cool name like Bruno or Brian and he owned the bird. I was glad he shut the door quickly, because there was a bear out there, I knew that and it always surprised me when people showed up not eaten alive. Then again, this guy was as big as that bear. I cried louder though, because I didn’t want him to take that bird away, and the white foam to my right was getting closer. No one was paying me attention though, because as Ma started to tell Bruno or Brian how foolish Pa was, the washing machine down the hall made a deathly sound. That's when they all saw the white terror creeping at us, and I apparently was in my right to freak out, because they did too. The suds came at us much quicker now, and within moments, they covered the burn mark.
"I thought you fixed that!" Ma yelled at Pa frantically, sloshing through the mess, heading to the bathroom for towels. Hopefully not mine. He had fixed it. I was there, but honestly I only remember that thought, I don't remember actually fixing it. The tools had been cool though, and he let me mess with them.
"Oh shit now what did you do?" The bird squawked again when we were alone in the kitchen, watching the men freak out on the washing machine down the hall. Yup. I loved that bird and offered it the cracker I was supposed to eat, but it was too far away so I chucked it at him, regretting it instantly. What was I gonna eat now?
Welcome to my world, it really doesn’t get any better than that, does it?
What's your first memory? I got reading a memoir last night, and really, don't real world characters just rock?

A Review of my Critique

Okay, I must admit, I'm glowing today. Another writer said wonderful things about a read I did for him.

Sharing my work is hard. I like to edit my own work until my eyes bleed. But! I did lay it lovingly in the hands of other writers. Several times this year. And! Guess what? The best part about letting other writers read my work is that they might let me read theirs. Now that is fun.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the wonderful writers who let me read their WIP this year and who returned the expertise and read mine. I worked with some incredible talent, and each time it brought me, as a writer to reach new levels, to push myself a little further. 

I really enjoy reading the drafts of other writers, more than this, I enjoy studying their work and how they saw mine! Studying a finished, published novel is one thing, studying a WIP is another. How and why they wrote things, where the plot was going, and how these word choices made me feel.

I got to get inside the wonderful minds of Liz, Robert, Reece, Richard, Torrie, Vicki, and Valentina. Each one is very different from the other and each one taught me something incredible about my own writing. So yup, it's been a busy year, but as part of the journey it wasn't only fun, I was lucky enough to pull a couple crit partners out of the deal and a few great friendships emerged. So next year will be just as interesting, I'm sure.

You get any useful feedback this year? Do you like getting a critique back or giving them out? Feel free to share, thank your posse, or just vent about how you can't let your work go until your eyes bleed.

Need a crit partner? Need a reader? If you don't write, do you want to be a reader? Everyone can play this game!

Storytelling Magic

I'm told stories are everywhere, and since I've never been lacking a good story, I believe this saying to be fact. Life is one big story, and just because writers find a creative way to tell them, doesn’t mean that everyone isn’t a storyteller.

I’ve had a busy month which is why I haven’t been blogging lately. Not only did I attend a funeral of someone very dear and close to me, I spent a few days in the hospital.
What amazed me was the storytelling going on. At the funeral, everyone wanted to share stories; colourful, bold, funny, and moving ones. It was endless and it felt wonderful to share these magical anecdotes about our loved one. Most of the storytellers held my hand while they talked, and they’d get a dreamy look in their eyes as if reliving it right in front of me. These stories made us laugh, cry, but most importantly, they brought us together.
At the hospital it was almost a competition to see whose stories were the most out there or got the most chuckles. I was practically climbing on that stupid rolling table I was so excited by what I was hearing and learning. These storytellers paced the room around my bed and used their entire face and body to make their stories come alive. They forgot where they were supposed to be or where they were and just relished in the captive audience that was me, and sometimes a few others. They told tales about fairies and gnomes. They told real stories about their life and people or places we had in common. All were magical tales that brought us closer.
I learnt so much about total strangers; how their stories are told, and how they hold an impact on my life. I met people who knew my loved ones-- at both places. I met people who love life-- at both places.

I always say we need to write every day, but sometimes we need to listen to stories too. Magic like that brings us back to our childhood and our roots. It teaches us something that other art forms lack.

After all, storytelling is the first magical craft we all master. Before we could draw, before we learnt to write or read, we told stories about our day, about how we saw the world. Snuggled in bed at night, my daughter and I used to rewrite her favourite movies. She rewrote The Lion King so Mufasa didn't die. It was a wonderful tale. My son is six and tells me magical stories about how he saved the world today. Not one word of it is true (I hope he doesn't own a jet pack anyway) but they are pretty fun stories to listen to, sci-fi at their best. 

Was it the first craft our ancestors mastered too? What more could they do but sit around the fire at night and share stories about their day? Learn from each other in a magical way? Storytelling is a tool to entertain, bond, grieve, and teach. Somehow this craft loses weight in the social media world I've suddenly tumbled into, but my experiences this month brought me back to the basics of my beliefs; 

I believe we all have a story to tell 
and we each have a way of telling it 
that brings it to life in a magical way.

It's not in the audience that the storyteller finds the purpose behind their stories.
It's not from the storyteller that the audience will get the entire truth.
There is a magic that happens between the two that makes storytelling powerful nonetheless,
and both are left with a sense of truth that brings purpose to their life.
You hear any good stories lately? Where were you? What makes a good storyteller? Is it the plot, the characters, the way the story is told? Or is it the audience listening with their entire body that makes a great storyteller?
Have you told a story today? Stop reading, stop drawing, stop writing, and tap into your storytelling skills. Make someone laugh, cry, or just stare at you in awe. Just share the magic. It’s a blessing to be able to remember your tale, and no one will share it quite like you. Before you know it, you'll be the audience. amazing.
Have fun storytelling today.

What Does Toothfairy Do With Those Teeth? The Truth. Finally.

Well, Toothfairy has been eagerly waiting to come by our place for a few days now. But! The tooth in question was just holding on for dear life.

Then suddenly it was gone. Gone without a trace.

Oh no. My first flash was back to my childhood. I did not believe in Toothfairy. No. Way. In fact, I was dead set on proving my storytelling dad wrong. So I shoved my freshly fallen tooth under my pillow without a word to anyone, then I sat on the steps in front of my room, watching Dad work on the wood stove, determined to catch him sneaking upstairs to exchange monies for the tooth. Finally, he slumped into the recliner and said, “Huh. If I’m not mistaken, that sounds like Toothfairy to me.”

Rolling my eyes, I made my way to my room. Nope, no Toothfairy, but under my pillow was a shiny quarter. Magic.

I wanted to give my son that magic, but without a tooth, it just felt... impossible.

Well, all sorts of other things went wrong, not only were we missing a tooth, someone told my son that he might have swallowed it. Well... the idea horrified him. “No,” he said, trying to convince himself more than anyone, “I probably lost it in the sand at the playground.” I quickly went hunting for it, seeing how important this was to him. To us.

A few others suggested we write a note for Toothfairy, but that wasn’t really the problem (and let’s be honest, if Toothfairy gives monies for letters, that’s just not... magical.) He wanted his tooth. He waited for that sucker to fall out all week and now he didn’t have anything to show off. All he had was anxiety that he might have swallowed it. It really wasn’t fair, and it definitely didn’t feel magical.

Now, as I checked the sand, I got thinking about how Toothfairy left me the first tooth he lost after she exchanged it for monies. I never told anyone I had this tooth. To me, it was a gift from Toothfairy. One I had no idea what to do with it ... but I had it in safe keeping, just because I’m weird that way.

You see where I’m going with this, right?
When I produced a tooth *clears throat*, his eyes lit up and I was the hero! He showed it off proudly to everyone, telling them a magical tale about how he lost it by the red slide and I found it in all that sand, because, well ... his mom is that magical. Huh. I hadn’t said a word. But! The boy is a great storyteller and he absolutely believes in Toothfairy-- no test required. He gets both qualities from my dad.

Anyway, he did ask me if there was a way we could make sure it was in fact his tooth and not a rock. (Ah yes, the paranoia he gets from me. Which is fine, all things magical should be questioned, then accepted as such. Right?) I told him to take a good look. He announced it was for sure his tooth, (and it was) then he flashed me his adorable grin, (ya know the one with the missing front teeth... aww...).

Everyone says you can’t pull a fast one on Toothfairy, yet he got two bucks for that sucker. Makes me think that Toothfairy knows these things happen. Why else would she leave me that tooth, right?

You got a tooth fairy story to share? Tell us the truth.

A Peek Into Your Life-- Tori Knightwood

A peek into your life, is a segment spotlighting authors, specialists, and friends who brave my countless questions day in and day out. It's the best way I can share with you all, the many people who taught me the bizarre things I know, who satisfy my thirst for knowledge and adventure, and who keep me motivated.

I'm so lucky to have met Tori Knightwood! She's a very energetic and adventurous writer. She likes to challenge me and push me to try new things, which really, is a lot of fun-- writing wise.

Cripes, I was excited when I heard she published a little sample of her work. Zanzibar Dream is a collection of love scenes and poems. Ah. Such a fun read. I enjoyed the romance. Heck, the breakup was even thrilling. Oh my. And all are neatly tucked in around some powerful poetry that intensifies the connection.

Bella and Antonio share a special magic, deepened by the African setting. Only problem? It left me wanting more. Hope they find themselves in another city, another romance. Hint, hint...
So who is Tori Knightwood? Let's take a little peek.
First off, we have to... just have to, tell them a little bit about your new release to Kindle ebooks-- Zanzibar Dream. Which love scene was your favourite to write? And why?
Wow, that’s a toughie. I feel a connection to each scene and each poem, especially since I visited the setting of each scene. But, since I wrote all but one scene back in the days when I lived in East Africa, that one scene may be my favorite. I wrote the final scene when I put the others together to form a story and it was one of the easiest pieces of fiction I’ve ever written. It flowed right out of me.

I just loved The Loudest Silence, what was the inspiration behind this poem?
Once upon a time, I dated a guy who wrote me poetry. *swoon* He wrote me a poem to tell me he was falling in love with me and he wrote me a poem to express how he felt about having to leave. I wrote The Loudest Silence when I was too afraid to tell him how I really felt.

So which poem holds special meaning to you?
That would be The Sun That is You. I can remember so vividly how I felt when I wrote that, sitting in my bedroom in northern Rwanda, staring out the window through my tears.

Bella and Antonio share an exciting bond intensified by the exotic setting, have you yourself been to these places?
Yes. I worked in East Africa for a couple of years when I was in my 20s, and I visited all of those locations (and then some). I still have a few places up my sleeves for future books.

Oh so you love to travel, eh? What are the best things about visiting new countries; besides the great characters and stories you find there?
One reason I love to travel is for food. I love to try the real specialties in a country, the kinds of things you can’t get at home (although, you’re much more likely to find exotic foods now than 15 years ago). In Rwanda I tried roasted goat, manioc, and dried fish, in Zanzibar I ate a lychee, and in Uganda I ate matoke (steamed green banana mush) with groundnut sauce and peas. In Mexico, the list of foods I tried and loved is just too long but among my favorite dishes are cochinita pibil and carnitas. In France, my aunt makes this delicious vegetable soup with just about every vegetable you can imagine, including lettuce, and we eat it with a dollop of crème fraiche and, of course, a crusty baguette. Oh, now I’m salivating.

Thanks for having me, Tanya! I love to chat with friends. Next time over a cup of tea, okay?

Oh yum. After all that, tea just might not cut it, we're going out for supper! Thanks for stopping by Tori!

Symbolism; Another Backdoor

Adding any kind of symbol in our lives is like giving ourselves a life line, isn't it? From ball caps to support our teams, to dainty pendants. Each one can tell a story, each one can hold a memory that's just for us.

Lately, symbols are everywhere in my life, in my writing, in other people's writing. I can't escape them, and quite frankly, I'm finding it interesting to study them. Especially how they work and play on emotions. Anyway, maybe I was just blind to them before and suddenly I have new eyes.

Being nudged by a good symbol is like seeing the Grim Reaper. It triggers a gut reaction that we can't control. 

So what I've discovered is that if we use symbols properly in our writing it saves us time and heightens tension at key points. Our readers discover emotions we want them to experience without us having to retrace our steps. Don't you just love short cuts? A backdoor like this is magical.

Here is one easy way that works for me:
1) Introduce the symbol in a casual way or in a way the reader can't forget;

Didn't he know that was a woman's pendant he was wearing?
2) An emotional explanation of the symbol so we feel something when we see it again;

"How did you two track me?" he demanded.
My brother smiled and pointed to the pendant peeking out from his shirt.
"Damn it. You used the one thing you knew I'd never give up unless I was dead? Who had the gonads to whisper to my mother's necklace?" He glanced at me and I snuggled up against his warm chest, fondling the pendant.
"Of course it was me. I need a way to find you. You should be thankful my magical whispers worked. We just saved you."
"No. What you did was put yourself in the line of fire and I won't risk your lives. This is my fight." 
3) Bring the symbol back when it becomes important, yet you don't have time to explain why;

"I'll find him. One whisper and I'll have a location."
"Not this time." My brother tossed me the necklace he'd been clutching. My heart sank when I saw the familiar pendant.
4) Closure. Leave the reader with a sense of satisfaction or another emotion if you roll that way;

I was alone. There was no one around for miles. The pendant sank slowly at first, melting into the current, and then it snuggled into the mud for eternity.  

Another easy way, is to use symbols that the reader can identify with. These need no introduction and should be so subtle the reader doesn't even know you just used symbols to get your way. Actually as the writer, I sometimes don't even know I'm doing this. But! Now that I'm paying attention to symbols I found some fun examples where a writer can play on our emotions by simply referring to something we find emotionally symbolic.

Here are a couple examples of what I've read or done that jumped out at me;
  • The break up scene in Zanzibar Dream by Tori Knightwood; he's about to make a clean start and she says he smells like hotel soap. I just love that! I really felt like he was ready to move on. It was closure for me at a point where I really needed it. It took me awhile to figure out what the writer had done and how she'd created this magic. Soap. So simple.
  • In my own writing I found that I make my guys smell earthy when I want them to come off fatherly. Doesn't a guy who smells like leaves or pine trees just give you a warm sense of who he is? Of course I do the same for the women. They smell like lilacs or fresh bread, one tasted like apples when he kissed her. Then again, the bad guy had onion breath! lol
  • I even brought in a butterfly to sit on a dark character to prove there was good in him to the reader. It was like flashing a sign of hope before them.

There are so many examples but these are a few I saw this week. Now that I'm looking I'm seeing them everywhere and the magic and power behind choosing just the right symbol is incredible. Of course, I also see many lost opportunities. Why mention a letter and not bring it up again later as a symbol?

How have symbols invaded your life? Any other tips on how to use symbols properly in our writing? Have you read or noticed any symbols that have stuck with you? Please share them.

Oh... Here are a few other links about symbolism in writing, of course they take a somewhat different approach then I do;

Have fun writing today!
and Nicola Marsh is hosting a cool contest.

When Terror Attacts

We were staring at the tiny locker when the teacher flew by and directed us into the classroom. My son was told to empty his things into his desk. I followed. You know, for moral support, it being his first day of school and all.

He tossed his bag on his chair with a heavy whoomp. The first sign that Terror was coming. I'd been there myself about thirty years ago, I knew the signs. Still, all a mother can do is wait it out, stand there for moral support. The next few moments were a blur of things flying into his desk and whoomp again as the desk slammed down. Terror had won. His binder was hanging out the sides, his jacket was even shoved in the desk, and I'm pretty sure his lunch was in there too, a mangled mess.

He wouldn't meet my eyes. Of course not. I was just there for moral support. Really, Terror is something you have to face on your own. Trust me. I know.

Looking back, I didn't handle Terror well. Terror gripped me long before we entered the classroom. I was hardly out of the car. It took Mom carrying me from the car to the school to get me that far. But once there, I grabbed the railing. Held on. I. Was. Not. Going. Any. Further. Terror wasn’t letting me through those doors. Mom stood by for moral support as I clutched the railing, refusing to go in. If she spoke to me, persuaded me, Terror erased her words.

School was well under way when the teacher came to dislodge me from the railing and dismiss Mom. Mom had her own form of Terror happening by this time and she erased what the teacher was saying. She stayed, for moral support, because really there isn't anything a mom can do against Terror is there? Or a teacher for that matter, but this one tried.
She tried to pry me from the railing, and if you can imagine a tiny little girl gripping a railing for dear life while a nun pulled her by the feet... yeah, that would be the image. Terror held firm and I’m sure my screams echoed the streets for days.

Finally, she picked up my things and went inside. Mom left too. I was left alone. Alone. You don’t ever want to be alone with Terror. That is far worse than going to school. So I went inside.

I feel this same pang of Terror every time I go to send out one of my books. I've published plenty of non-fiction but for some reason this fiction beacons Terror. I thought I'd be smart and overcome Terror by being prepared; I am ready, I did all I could, and I am surrounded by moral support. But! Terror knows my weaknesses better than I do.  He nags that maybe I didn't do it right. That maybe I did do it right and I suck anyway. That just maybe I should go back and do it again now that I'm a few days older and wiser, ya know?

So I grip the keyboard and force myself to hit send, because there is no other option-- Terror cannot win and I refuse to sit here alone with Terror breathing down my neck.

When did Terror find you? How did you overcome it?

Kidnapped, Cheating, and a Contest! Phew!

KIDNAPPED: Okay so I'm not exactly kidnapped. I'm just over at Reece's place and we're having a chat. That's right, I took time to kick back and talk about myself with one of my talented writing buddies and crit partners, Reece Hanzon. CHECK OUT OUR CONVERSATION HERE

I'm just a click away, don't miss me, join me!!

CHEATING: What are some of the wonderful things we're discussing? Well... writing of course!!!
Oh let's see... here is just a taste;

Reece says:
What do you do to counteract writer’s block?

Tanya answers: (in her oh so honest way)
I cheat.

For me it’s not so much that I can’t find the words, but that I can’t steal the time. So when I tell you that I write full time every single day, that I do not ever ever miss a day (this is the Writer’s truth too I never do!)-- not even when attacked by a dog, down with a sinus infection, and enduring flu-like symptoms (yeah on the same day), know that I... might......... be cheating a bit and my writing time might actually have involved letting a steamy fantasy sweep me away (which I later reviewed on my blog).  

Oh??? The secret is what to count as writing. You should count everything that furthers your writing career. Think about it.... all that reading you do, critiquing, blogging, agent hunting, editing, rewriting, reviewing, the workshops, the research, the public speaking, the radio, newspaper, or Internet interviews, oh yeah, and the actual writing. It all counts. I bet you write cheat as much as I do! Why not count it?

So when faced with a block; put down your pen and do some other form of writing that you’re great at, and kick butt! You’re a writer, cheat write dang it.

Of course, don’t make cheating a habit. Only do it when you must. But it is nice to know that you can shove aside your keyboard and still do something “writerly”, no?

Reece says:
 Sorry have to come by to find out.  Life's like that!

Hope you join us at Reece's, but before you go, tell me what you to do cheat those writing blocks?

THE CONTEST: Now on top of this!!!
Reece is having a contest.
Holy tractors is this one you want to enter! Trust me he's my crit partner!
 Submission guidelines:
  1. 500 words minimum, no more than 3,000
  2. Double-spaced 12pt Times, Garamond, or Georgia font
  3. No profanity, no graphic sex or violence
  4. Bonus points for complete action/reaction format. For more information, visit Shallee McArthur's blog.
  5. Short stories or chapters from your WIP (or finished books) are welcome.
  6. Please no poetry, music, or artwork
  7. Only one submission per participant to reece(dot)hanzon(at)gmail(dot)com and include the words "contest submission" in the subject line.

    3 kicka prizes: The first place winner gets a free book and a complimentary critique of up to 5,000 words. The books available are: Sabriel, by Garth Nix; I Am Not A Serial Killer, by Dan Wells; Trading in Danger, by Elizabeth Moon; and Skulduggery Pleasant, by Derek Landy. The second place winner gets a critique of up to 3,000 words, and the third place winner gets a critique of up to 1,000 words.
What more can I say? Doesn't a contest like this just give you goosebumps? I just love the homework section. Don't worry it's easy, something all writers should be doing anyway. Well get cracking- get him something to read!

A Peek Into Your Life-- Kinley Baker

A peek into your life is a segment spotlighting authors, specialists, and friends who brave my countless questions day in and day out. It's the best way I can share with you all, the many people who taught me the bizarre things I know, who satisfy my thirst for knowledge and adventure, and who keep me motivated.

Even the cover is sexy eh?
Kinley Baker is the author of my new fav fantasy romance RUINED!!!
I met her during a blog tour game hosted by Crescent Moon Press during which I WON this way  HUGE COOL scrapbooking gift basket. Yes I won! I know I say I don't win many things, and then I blog like every month about all the things I win, because well, life's just like that sometimes! And well, every time I win sometime I have to balance out my karma and so I'm caught in an endless circle of winning and giving back. Funny, I know. But Kinley gets me, and so it's fine.

So... when her book arrived in the mail, I was in fact sick in bed for the day. I had nothing better to do but cough into it, feel sorry for myself, and read. All of it. Yup, just gobble it up. It was a nice remedy. No, it didn't heal me, (magic like that would be cool though) but it eased the wounds. Although, I must admit, I did have to skip ahead to the ending because I was somewhat heartbroken midway and needed reassurance before I could go on. Sick people are like that so forgive me. I don't normally do that. I was sick, okay? Shhh.

Let's see, what can I say about Ruined? Oh my. *Deep sighs of orgasmic passion.* I repeat, oh my. I did want to crawl into this book several times and kick Vale in the shins because for a smart proud man he is a dumbass when it comes to Jessa. Still, he knows how to satisfy his woman. Oh my, I do like men like that, I do. Other than that, wow, this is my kind of book. I am a Kinley Baker fan. Oh my. I love the world she swept me into. It's such an easy fantasy to enjoy and the magic is killer. The romance was fun. Oh my. Her ideas, the characters and the world kept me well entertained. I read this in two easy sittings (and did I mention I was sick? Yeah, I'm looking for pity here.) I do recommend this book for all romance lovers, fantasy or not, you'll be hooked. Ohmmmy.

But, of course, you are here to meet Kinley and not feel sorry for me or listen to me go on about fantasy sex, oh my.

So... Welcome Kinley.

I’m so excited you enjoyed reading Ruined, Tanya!

Enjoyed, oh my, who wouldn't enjoy this book? There are some hot scenes tucked away in this baby, Kinley.  What was your fav scene to write?

Thank you, Tanya! My all-time favorite scene from Ruined is probably the bond of shadows scene (I won’t give more away on this, but if you read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about). I smile every time I read the scene because it really shows Vale and Jessa’s deepening connection before more bad stuff happens. I also love the ending and the epilogue.

I must confess, I actually read the bond of shadows scene twice. I read it once, and then I went, "Okay, that was really cool, and I have no idea what it was, and someone grabbed someone's something too many times to count and I want an instant replay of that because I'm sick in more ways than one and I need a little pick me up!" Lol. 

Ruined hints at a possible series to me.... Are there new projects we can look forward to? 
I am so excited about the second book in this trilogy! I’m just finishing up the story. I hope to submit it to my Editor soon. The story is about Caleb, and I must say, I love this man. I had a soft spot for him in Ruined (his people’s history is truly tragic), but his character grows a lot during his book. His heroine is fantastic! I actually just recently decided I needed to rewrite book 2 and went in a whole new direction. Caleb’s heroine burst onto the page, and I’m so thrilled. During book 2, you’ll also see more of Verity, discover new details about the Gaspar, and observe glimpses of Vale and Jessa’s continuing world through other characters’ perspectives. Oh! And I’m super excited about some of my new characters. You’ll meet some interesting people, and see more of the non-royal side of living in the Shadow Shifter Kingdom.
Let's take a little PEEK into your life... share Six Random Facts J

1.)    I live with my husband in the Pacific Northwest. My Sister-In-Law said in her speech at our wedding that she never thought her brother would find someone who shared his sense of humor. Everyone at the wedding laughed because they knew what she was talking about. Lol. That’s a little look into our relationship.

2.)   My dog, Joker, is a terrier who thinks he’s royalty. Since we don’t know who his parents are, it could be that he’s a lost prince.

3.)   I find inspiration in the rain which is why there are quite a few storms in Ruined.

 4.)   Occasionally my husband does things like ban my Netbook and Kindle when we go to football games like we did last Saturday.

5.)   I rarely only do one thing at a time, except for when I’m writing.

6.)   I’m a romance fanatic. There’s nothing I love more than getting lost in a great love story.

I really enjoyed visiting today, Tanya! Thank you for reading Ruined and spreading the word! I appreciate it. J
Thank you so much for Stopping by Kinley and letting us peek into your life!
Hope you all enjoy Ruined as much as I did. Oh my!!
Leave your questions, Kinley will get back to you-- yes, she is that great!!!

So Did You Slap Your Tour Guide?

I love Moose Jaw. It's my fav city. So naturally, I set many of my stories there. What a better place than one with tunnels, and old hotels, and a history so magical? Plus, this means, I get to explore it, tear it apart. So this is what I did this summer.

Moose Jaw brings out emotions in me that just make me want to write, get creative, try new things, get in touch with my past, find out things, and tell you about what happened here on the prairies while people pretended the world around them was perfect. There are no secrets in Moose Jaw, yet everything is a secret. They say Al Capone was there, maybe. They say they used Chinese slaves to do the laundry and they hid them underground in opium dens. Weird what we are proud of here on the prairies. And wow, those are just a few of the secrets they reel you in with. Once you start to dig into the history of Moose Jaw, it's endless, it’s powerful.

During my last tour deep in the underground Moose Jaw tunnels I was lead by a very energetic young actor. It was his first day. I love those guys! Always try to get those guys when going on a tour like this!! He moved me to tears, he made me laugh, and... well here’s the image;

We’re deep in the tunnel in a room that serves as both a living and a working room. It smells like lye and sweat. It’s hot and stuffy. Crowded. Dark. Damp. Scary. He’s telling us how we won’t see daylight again for years. How we’ll be giving half our day’s wages to live here, and we’ll sleep when tired. How our food will be locked up and how we’ll piss in a pot in the corner. When I ran my hand over the carving of a Chinese woman on a bed frame, all entranced by the love in the image, the tour guide came beside me, playing his role and screamed in my ear, "Coolie! I told you not to ruin the bed! Bloody inconsiderate!" I just about slapped him. hehehe. I know he was just playing his part, but damn, he played it well. Ever slap your tour guide? lol.

Yeah, Moose Jaw is magical. So much fun. What cities did you visit this summer that inspired you? And did you slap your tour guide?

Would You Really Have Let Go?

Even as a wee thing she
had a thing for cats and
couldn't even look at them
or she'd go nutso with the thrill.
My dog and I aren't speaking. Really, I'm not sure why she's ticked at me, but I think it was the moment the vet injected the thermometer you know where. My reasons have more to do with a cat and happened about ten minutes before the you know what.

You see when we arrived at the vet today she was running late so I thought we'd take a stroll, around the block instead of being cooped up in the vehicle. About one minute into our walk-- one minute-- a cat walks by all... catty. My St Bernard LOVES cats. Just adores them in every possible let-me-tear-after-them-please-please-please-please way. So I ordered her to sit. Now, she knows the only possible way she's going to handle this excitement is if she lays down, so she does. Just trembling with anticipation.

She is actually doing my daughter's homework here. Lol. It was
a project about cats, so she went straight to the expert!!!
This cat just plays the role of all-things-feline-and-annoying too. She takes her sweet kitty time walking around the corner and my dog just keeps vibrating in anticipation. Now, the minou in her brave-take-that-sorta way must have peeked around the corner and gave us the paw or something because suddenly, without warning, my dog bolted after her.

whoosh. I was air born!
I could have let go of the leash but I tried to get control, because that's what desperate fools do. Somewhere in someone's flowerbed, I did. I was covered in slobber, mud, and grass, but I was back in control of a happy dog who was nudging me like we won some victory. Idiot.

I didn't look around to see how many people were laughing, but I'm sure I made the paper. When the facebook photos roll in, I'll post one, because if you can't laugh at yourself-- heck, who can you laugh at?

You ever get pulled by a crazy dog chasing after a cat? You see here's the thing, this has happened to me before, and last time, I vowed to let go of the leash and just let her have fun. She never actually catches the cat because she's slow and they are not. And she always comes back happy.
So why didn't I let go? Life's little mysteries.
Innocent fun, right? okay, how can I stay mad at that face?

So you Think you Can Handle Any Book? Think Again, Pansy.

That's right. I found a book that has me speechless, yet I shove it at you with my eyes wide open in horror. Not because it sucks. Oh contraire, mon ami. This book is fantastic!!!!! (Yes 5 exclamation points-- FIVE!) I’m afraid words will ruin the magic! Let my eyes tell the tale.

But! It is not a book for you pansies who like happy endings. Yet... the ending is about as happy as it can get, really it is. I was never so satisfied by a morbid ending in my entire life! Ah.... magic. Have I got you curious yet?

I do just want to share it with everyone but I do it with a warning, because this is a story about a devil of sorts who takes over a little girl. And more than once it turned me into a monster. I wanted to reach into Don’s world and kill the innocent heroine myself. Don's writing is just that powerful. It consumed me, made me forget that it was just a story. I wanted to save her from herself and just end her miseries.

When you walk away from Cambrian it’s with a deep breath, because even days later you’re still praying that nothing like this will ever happen to you or those you love. 

I can't recommend this book to anyone who wants to live in their happy fantasies. Sorry boys and girls, this is a story of a little girl who is about to go to hell and back again, and somehow, she'll survive even when she doesn't. Make sense? Oh hell, just read the damn thing will ya?


Visit Don over at to view is act of Insanity. For more details see my previous posts on the subject, as it's clear, I'm slightly obsessed with the lunacy of his idea. ;) Don Britt Shares, A Peek Into Don Britt's Act of InsanityThe Drunken Bliss of a 1st DraftUpdate On Inside a Writer's MindInside a Writer's Mind!!!

Read anything with a horribly dark ending that still made you happy it ended that way? That is some good writing eh?

Pick up Cambrian, it was a fun read.
"My blood is in you now.
Until now she had looked on those words as nothing but a threat. A kind of vicious promise, meant to torture her. But now, for the first time another possibility occurred to her.
She thought of vampires and of the dark gift they bestowed, the ability to do new and frightening things.
My blood is in you now.
What if these words were more than a threat? What if they spoke of a dark gift she had been given? A gift that gave her the power to visit strange worlds."- Cambrian by DJ Britt

How Winning a Critique Built my Confidence- Thank You Angela Ackerman

Recently, I won a blog critique and a 5000 words critique from THE BOOKSHELF MUSE. The friendly and wonderful Angela Ackerman herself blessed me with the prize. I can sum it up in one word;
I mean damn. The entire thing was like a magical carpet ride. First, I had to find these vaults to enter the contest. And if you've ever been to their site; they have an impressive thesaurus on the sidebar. For the contest we searched it to find these hidden vaults. There were only 25, and I had to find 5. I had about 15 minutes before work. Really, the odds were against me, right? Right? Well, for fun I tried a word. And the first one I tired I found a vault. The third one another. The fifth one, and so one. I had all five in fewer than six minutes.

Magic like that is fate.
So I entered.
I won.
I won a contest.

Not just a contest. I won a critique of anything I wanted by Angela. Yeah. I stared at the screen shocked for awhile on that one too. What to send?

Not only that, I won a critique of my blog. Yeah. (By the way, doesn't my blog look neat?) hahaha! I laugh because her changes were so subtle, I bet no one noticed, yet they've made my life so much easier, and probably yours too. What? She knows magic like that, you say? She does.
I will share one little tidbit;
" see you have your captcha on. This is something I would consider removing. Because blogger has a spam filter now, it will 'catch' your spam before it ever hits your comments... I know it seems like a small thing, but a lot of the folks I see in your comment box are ones that comment on a lot of blogs. Removing your captcha saves them time and they will appreciate it, trust me. :) If for some reason... spam gets through, you can always slap it back on, but I would give it a try and remove it--your readers will be happier. :) " --- Aka Genius
Now onto the critique. OMG It came at the perfect time for me. Of course, I always have something sitting here to critique, edit, beta read, publish, throw in the trash , rewrite, and cry over, but still... if I wanna call it fate, you'll let me, right?

You see, thanks to her clear critique, I brought my piece to a new level. I liked my intro as was and without her critique I wouldn't have changed it. However, for fun, I gave it whirl. The change-- in my daughter's estimation-- is about a trillion times better than the last intro. Wow eh? "Gee Mom! Talk about improvements." Funny how small things can make all the difference.

And! What really won my heart over was when she referred me to Lydia Sharp's site. You all know how her critique changed my series! If not, see So Close to the Project you're Stupid.

Now of course, I couldn't use all her comments, but they did make me reflect on how others see my work. And, if I turned down her suggestions after she helped me improve my blog and my intro, do you know what that means? I HAVE CONFIDENCE IN MY OWN WORK! Now. That is something I have never been able to say.

Today, I stand before you a Writer with confidence, no more hidden addiction.
No more drowning alone in a sea of paper. I have come ashore to get down to business. You ready for this?

Thank you Angela for helping me see my work with new clear eyes, for showing me that I can make improvements to things that I like and turn them into things I love, for reminding me of those who help me along the way, and mostly for giving me the confidence to trust my own words. Finally, I can say, I am a Writer, and I can send my MS off to face its first rejections. ah... the magic in it.

I could say thank you all day. The Bookshelf Muse already has 2000 followers, and more, but if one isn't you, you are missing out. This girl is incredible, and she isn't alone over there!!

Now I know it was a prize and I should just say thanks and smile all pretty, but I really feel like I owe the universe or something for introducing this Canadian Chicky to me. So please, I'm giving everyone here a chance to recall one moment that changed your life or one person who helped you in a way that you can't repay. Leave it in the comments so others can see how lucky you are too and how magic is at work all around us, in great people like Angela who work so hard to help other writers become their very best.

Oh, did I say thank you Angela? Because really, this post is dedicated to you and to all the great friends and writers like you who have helped not only me, but other writers build their confidence so they too can get rejected properly. Thank you for being so nice to me too! It's a small thing, but sadly, not everyone is.

One day, it won't be a rejection and then what the heck will we do, eh? lol I guess, I'll come back and thank you all again! hahaha! Can't wait for that day!

Auntie B's Book Club Contest

Brendra Lee Drake is Hosting A Contest Click HERE for details.

Last week, I won Miserere by Teresa Frohock from Brenda's site so I owe her a HUGE thank you! The book sounds so AWESOME!

Anyway, this is the contest I decided to enter this week. Yup, try my luck again over there. It's fun because the judges are 4 college students. Now. They want the first 250 words of anything that has characters between the ages of 12 and 25. So everything I write qualifies. Since the prize is for a synopsis critique I'm going with a MS that could use a synopsis critique; Finding Balance.

Now, no one has read the intro to this piece yet, so it might need work, that's why I'm posting it. If you feel it needs love, please share away!! The point of the contest is to grab the interest of 4 college girls so they'd pick up my "book" in a bookstore after reading the blurb and the first 250 words. (Honestly, that's always the point of what I write. Isn't it?) I have more words than needed, but I assume that will change as the love rolls in, so I'm going with.

35 word Pitch: Addicted to drugs and sex, Watcher isn't sure if She-devil Sly's entrancement will kill him or save him. He needs balance fast, but everything stands in his way from dark whisperers to his future self.

Title: FINDING BALANCE from the Notebook Chronicles of 1917
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Thanks for your help, and good luck to all the participants, I hope you have fun!!

Kids as Beta Readers? huh.

So after a year of nagging, I broke down and wrote something my kids would enjoy. I read them the first draft, because let's face it, they're a little different then the audience I've targeted for the past fifteen or so years.

It wasn't my intention to turn them into Beta readers, they were just naturals. They gave me very honest feedback. Since I know their body language well-- perhaps too honest. All the shifts of boredom and rolling eyes sent me back to the drawing board with new energy. Plus, they know me very well, and were able to tell me how much it sucked without making me cry. Yay!

I came back and tried again.

Now, I'd like to say don't try this at home, because I almost feel like I should warn the writing world. Kids are blunt, and they will blurt out things that will leave you wondering whose children these are. But in the end, the benefits were too much! If you write for this audience try this at home-- go for it! If you don't have children, send your MS my way, I will pass it by my very honest children for you.

So what brilliant comments did they leave me with? These two were my favs, so I share them with you, even if they have no benefits whatsoever. You just can't make stuff like this up; (Keep in mind they're 11 and 6.)

"That's not where I'm getting my tattoo."     
"Why not? It's where I'm getting mine."

"Can I play Boysenberry when this is a movie?"
"Hey, I want to be the guy with the tattoos. No wait. I want to be the guy who flies."
"That is the guy with the tattoos. Pay attention or you won't get a part."

Ok, so I can't use those comments, but there were many I could use. They were quick to point out if things were unclear, repeated, boring, without action, or involved too much thinking... Yeah. They were very helpful in all the ways my usual Beta readers are. 

How did I go about it?
  • I read out loud, they raised their hand to interrupt. (So politely! This was their idea, mine was to leave them speechless-- no such luck.)
  • I recorded it to catch the chuckles, the gasps, the things I couldn't mark on the text.
  • We did this at draft one and five, and I plan to do it once more at draft 8 (what will hopefully be IT!) See me grin :)) They are excited about this final read. me too.
  • I had my notebook open and made changes as I read and as they gave me their suggestions. They got to see the magic in action. They liked that-- it made them feel like part of the process. They were impressed with the changes from draft one to five. Very impressed, but they made me change one thing back, and they were very firm about this so I agreed to it. So far, their change back has been a hit, so yay!

Have you ever had kids Beta read your work and how did that work out for you? Any tips?

One Sweet Award and One Versatile Award

The one thing I LOVE about blogging is passing on the awards. Of course I can't do that unless I win one!!! Well, lucky duck, I won TWO!!
Thanks MARGO at Writing at High Altitude. Be sure to check out her great blog because she won these awards first!!

The rules are:
  • Thank and link to the person who nominates you- check.
  • Share seven random facts about you.- check 
  • Pass the award along to 5 new-found blogging buddies.Contact those buddies to congratulate them.- check
7 things about me that prove I am versatile or irresistibly sweet or maybe not;
1- I live on granola bars, oreos, hot chocolate, and fruit and nut bars (the chocolate kind). -yum, this is the foundation for all things sweet, is it not?

2- I wrote 20 000 words for my new MS Soulmates of Freedom during 3 consecutive work days (not at work- let's make that clear).- yup juggling life and writing; oh so sweet, oh so versatile.

3- I once broke an egg on my brother's head because he pissed me off and when he told my mom on me, I convinced her that egg yolks were good for hair, and I was looking out for him because I loved him so much. - See how sweet I can be?

4- I once came face to face with a fox when I was running cross-country, and decided to let him pass. Softy that I am, I went another way. yeah.

5- I held a conversation with over a hundred different people at the community St Jean Baptiste Celebration last week, including their kids. yes i did. Yet! I haven't spoken one word to my neighbour in 2 years.

6- I no longer cut out the newspaper articles I submit, but I do make an effort to cut out any photos of my kids if they get in the paper. And at work, I scrapbook any photos or articles involving anyone from our community.

7- I wore mismatched socks for three days in a row. I doubt the wash will sort out my problem as my kids are doing laundry for the summer break. I don't have time to fish around for pairs in the morning, but no worries, I'm so sweet, no one is brave enough to comment on them anyway. ;)

5 6 new blogging buddies who inspire me because lately I really feel like NOT writing and just going to the beach with the other rockstars;

Reece Hanzon His writing is so powerful it gave me goosebumps on top of the goosebumps. Thanks for the inspiration.

Samantha Sotto Her stories and photos always give me the fou-rire- is there a word for that in English? (It means uncontrollable laughter that has you giggling like a nut on the floor and dialing all your friends to check out her site asap because it is just too perfect.) Thanks for the inspiration.

Richard Hughes from Writing and Living He always gives me something to think about, talk about, research, and write about. Thanks for the inspiration.

Summer Frey of Twenty Something She always makes me feel young again. Thanks for the inspiration.

Valentina Hepburn She always makes me smile, laugh, and man, does she tell freaking funny stories. Thanks for the inspiration.

Brooke Rousseau She writes great stories my kids love, and keeps me motivated to write my own, even when I'm pretty sure it'd be easier to pack up and go to the beach. Thanks for the inspiration.

Oops that's one too many! LOL. I could go on and on. You're all so sweet and versatile and these are just a FEW of the great bloggers out there who have kept me inspired these past few months!!! Thank you all so much for your great posts, your kind words, and your gentle nudges.