Thursday, January 15, 2015

Want Inspiration? Let's Go Outside!

If you know me, you know I like to be in seclusion . . . a lot. 
And if you didn't know, well now you do. You're very welcome.

I'm a happy introvert. I'm also friendly and can be a people's person when required. Heck, I even enjoy the human race from time to time . . . but in small doses. Crowds are "eh" to me. But hey, as a writer being a hermit works for me, ya know? 

I like to close myself off and write in solitude. 

The thing is, as a writer it may work, but who wants to be "just a writer" when you can be a "great writer"? Not me. And in order to become a better story teller I have to check out the outside world every now and then. I must engage with others in person. And I must see and take in my surroundings. How else would I know I'm making the right descriptions, conveying the right feelings, or doing my written world justice?

Sure, I can hide behind thoughts such as: "I can make it up" and "it doesn't have to be a  real place or person" or "my CPs will guide me." But that would be a silly move. A really silly one. Besides, watching people can be fascinating. Especially if we know nothing about them. They offer diversity, excitement, and inspiration. Who doesn't see a couple maybe having an argument and trying to make up a story behind their actions and body language? Probably all writers do. We get a lot from their mannerisms, the expression in their eyes, and the tone of their voices even if we can't hear the words clearly. Don't believe me? Imagine a woman yelling and the man offering a soft whisper in return . . . sigh.

If you're anything like me, I ask you to visit the outdoors. 

We can benefit from seeing and exploring different settings. Even a familiar place we go to all the time takes a whole new feel when we stop and really look. Let's pay attention. The way a waiter may sway while working, the mom crying when she receives a hug from her child, the dog sniffing for food on the street? These are all authentic, complex . . . and most importantly they're alive.

We want our writing to be alive. 

Staying put is great when we're working these ideas into full stories, but to get unique situations its good to go out and explore. We need to connect with reality in order to make up our worlds. Otherwise we just end up writing the same characters with slight differences or same settings in different colors. Sure, we'd be a little more creative than that and not actually write the exact same things, but I'm going for dramatic right now, okay? 

So what do you say?

I invite you to join me and go out and explore the outside world this year. Let's be more social, and while we're at it we might as well use our senses and take in all the details. Then later we can pour it all on the page. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Meet Author C. Lee McKenzie . . . Through Her MC's Eye!

Today, I'm happy to have a very special guest: Cleo Brown! 
Straight from New Release SUDDEN SECRETS. Take it away, Cleo!

I’m really excited about being here on your super blog, S.K. Frankly, I’m kind of glad that author of mine is busy. That keeps her out of my hair. I mean she's nice and everything, but she can be way- over-the-top bossy.

She keeps putting words into my mouth and deciding what I should or shouldn’t do or wear. It can be annoying. Even my mom doesn’t do that, not since I was five.

And then once Lee starts fiddling with the manuscript she just doesn’t seem to know when to stop. We’ve had a few “disagreements.”

I guess I should tell you about Lee’s  new book, Sudden Secrets. I mean, if I don't she'll go off in huff and I won’t hear her keyboard clicking and clacking for a long time.

Everybody asks her about the title. They want to know what all this secrecy is. She always plays her cards so close to the chest that she didn’t even let me in on that last secret until the end of the book. And I’m the star in it—the Main Character for heaven sakes!

Sorry. It’s just that my family’s in a big mess. That’s Lee for you. She takes a perfectly good situation, then turns it upside down and all the people with it. We started out a tight knit group: mom had her  museum curator job, dad was doing great things as a top archeologist, we had Aziza, and Pop lived in his own place with his pet (I’ll get back to Clyde later), and we were happy.

Then Lee shreds us. Makes us miserable. I can’t talk about Aziza yet. But I can say something about Pop moving in with Clyde—that’s my grandfather’s pet boa. Yes. A snake. Can you believe that? Imagine what Nefertiti has to go through every day. Oh, forgot. Nef is my cat.

A major part of this story is what happens across the street. The secret over there is as big and bad as my own. One thing Lee did do that I have to give her credit for is she let me have some friends. At first, I didn’t think that was going to happen, but she came through. I kept her awake a lot at night and added small doses of guilt while she wrote.

Well, got to go and see if I can find my author. I think she's in a writing slump. She pulled on her boots and said something about going to hunt down her muse. Sometimes she's very dramatic.

Bye and thanks for letting me get some of this off my chest.


Cleo Brown

* * * 


one Secret
Cleo has struggled to heal after her baby sister’s death, but the flashbacks to the accident won’t go away. With the move, she vows to keep her tragedy a secret and avoid pitying looks.

one Mystery
Something’s strange about the abandoned house across the street—flashes of light late at night and small flickers of movement that only someone looking for them would see. 
Everyone says the house is deserted, but Cleo is sure it isn’t, and she’s sure whoever is inside is watching her.

another Secret
In one night, Belleza’s life changes forever. So famous, her only choice is to hide her secret from the world so she can silence small town bigotry. 

Then Cleo happens.

* * *


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Organizing New Ideas — IWSG (18)

So for the first post in the IWSG group we were asked to write an introduction of ourselves. Lucky for me, I already had one ready . . . my bio. Yes, I'm cheating and not writing a new one, but but but I'm tweaking it a bit. It already says what I want it to say and in turn I get to use that little extra time to use for brand new words for my work. Win-win, I say.


I'm a writer, a reader, and a make-stuff-upper. I live in New York with my husband and toddler twins. I'm a wine connoisseur (which just really means I know I love it) and a caffeine addict. When I'm not busy with my family, I find myself being transported into the world of imagination. Well, either that or running away from spiders . . . I'm convinced they are out to get me!

Speaking of writing new words . . . 

Brand new year. Brand new plans. Lots of new ideas are yet to come for all of us. Exciting new notes are to be taken. I like having several notebooks, pens, calendars, to-do lists, etc. The problem is as much as I enjoy writing down my ideas and plans, I'm not big on outlining or pre-planning. I'm a pantser and while it worked for me in the past I wouldn't say its been very effective for me lately, so here is where you come in. I'm always fascinated by how different each writer is and what they find important when working on their books.

What process do you use for organizing your notes? 

Do you make lists? I do, because I like to check them off as I go . . . it makes me feel productive. Do you keep a word count goal (weekly, monthly)? If you outline, what are the first steps you write down: premise, summary, or just key points? Sometimes I write all sorts of ideas/notes in one journal, BUT I use Post-its and a gazillion pens . . . color coding can make or break a story sometimes, ya know? Err . . . anyway . . . pick and choose what you wanna answer o_O lol

 What are the most important steps when preparing for your new projects? 
And go!

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group hop.
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!  Posting is first Wednesday of every month. Click here for more info.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Release: 25 ROSES By Stephanie Faris (& Giveaway!)

25 Roses
Stephanie Faris


Mia moves from the shadows to the spotlight when her matchmaking plans go awry in this contemporary M!X novel from the author of 30 Days of No Gossip.

Mia is used to feeling overlooked: her perfect older sister gets all the attention at home, and the popular clique at school are basically experts at ignoring her. So when it’s time for the annual Student Council chocolate rose sale, Mia is prepared to feel even worse. Because even though anyone can buy and send roses to their crushes and friends, the same (popular) people always end up with roses while everyone else gets left out.

Except a twist of fate puts Mia in charge of selling the roses this year—and that means things are going to change. With a little creativity, Mia makes sure the kids who usually leave empty-handed suddenly find themselves the object of someone’s affection. But her scheme starts to unravel when she realizes that being a secret matchmaker isn’t easy—and neither is being in the spotlight. 


Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism, she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing.

Stephanie is the author of 30 Days of No Gossip and 25 Roses, both with Aladdin M!x. When she isn’t crafting fiction, she writes for a variety of online websites on the topics of business, technology, and her favorite subject of all—fashion. She lives in Nashville with her husband, a sales executive. 


Buy (Autographed)

Buy (Amazon)

Don't forget to enter the GIVEAWAY:

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy 2015!

Hope everyone had a great holiday season!

Me? I'm still stuffed I believe. Lot's of great F words were part of my enjoyment: food, family, friends, fun, and flu . . . bummer for this last one, eh? Sick kids & sick me. But that didn't affect the good times too much, thank goodness. 

Now on to the new adventures 2015 has in store for us. 
Who is excited? I know I am! 

I'm not doing resolutions because ugh, the pressure for something I might give up before the month is over just sucks. BUT I'm working on a doable realistic plan for the year and stick to it as much as I can. Accountability without adding too much to the plate might be key for me and my tiny little bosses. Either way . . . 

Let's make this year one to remember, shall we? ;)