Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Susan and Superstitions

Susan Oloier is a mother of two children—one with special needs.  Yet she found time to critique my manuscript and help me with a school project.  And she writes. A lot.  Now Susan has published her third book—her first YA.

Here's the blurb:

Ellie’s mother walked out on her a few years ago, and she refuses to believe her mom won’t come back. To make matters worse, her dad is marrying another woman and her best friend Kyle dumped her for cheerleader Tiffany Sheldon. But when Ellie meets quirky Alexander and learns about his map, his quest, and his background, she finally discovers a way to heal.  

Sounds good, right?


Available in ebook at 
Amazon and Smashwords for $3.99

Also available in paperback through 
Create Space

Friday, August 24, 2012

Olympics and Oracle

I’m excited for J.C. Martin. We belong to the same on-line support group, and I watched her hustle to find a publisher for this book, so it could be published in time for the Olympics.  Then I cheered when she received a contract from JT Publishing!

If you miss the Olympics and like murder mysteries, read on:


With London gearing up to host the Olympics, the city doesn't need a serial killer stalking the streets, but they've got one anyway.

Leaving a trail of brutal and bizarre murders, the police force is no closer to finding the latest psychopath than Detective Inspector Kurt Lancer is in finding a solution for his daughter's disability.

Thrust into the pressure cooker of a high profile case, the struggling single parent is wound tight as he tries to balance care of his own family with the safety of a growing population of potential victims.

One of whom could be his own daughter.

Fingers point in every direction as the public relations nightmare grows, and Lancer's only answer comes in the form of a single oak leaf left at each crime scene.

Purchase Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble

About the Author

J.C. Martin is a butt-kicking bookworm: when she isn’t reading or writing, she teaches martial arts and self-defence to adults and children. 

After working in pharmaceutical research, then in education as a schoolteacher, she decided to put the following to good use: one, her 2nd degree black belt in Wing Chun kung fu; and two, her overwhelming need to write dark mysteries and gripping thrillers with a psychological slant. 
Her short stories have won various prizes and have been published in several anthologies. Oracle is her first novel.

Born and raised in Malaysia, J.C. now lives in south London with her husband and three dogs.

Contact: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grammar

Jenny Baranick has great hair, 

and the best sense of humor.

Today, Jenny is here to teach you a little about grammar:

Fifty Shades of Grammar

I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey because why would I want to read about something that so closely mirrors my own life? Gorgeous men buy me cars all the time. I just signed like my fiftieth sex contract. And I am so sick of private helicopter rides. But another reason I am boycotting the book is that I heard that upon its release it was riddled with spelling and grammar errors. Apparently, the publisher fixed them and re-released the book, but I hold grudges—especially grammatical ones.

I scoured the Internet for examples of the errors, but I couldn’t find any. So I decided to take quotes from Fifty Shades of Grey and make my own grammar errors. What’s wrong with these excerpts?

1.     You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince.

A.     A lot should be one word.
B.     Prince should be lowercase, unless she means that we can all find our own star of Purple Rain.
C.     Your should be you’re.

2.     He kisses me, forcing my lips a part with his tongue, taking no prisoners.

A.     A part should be apart.
B.     I appreciate a passionate kiss, but a kiss that “tak[es] no prisoners” seems like teeth would get chipped.
C.     The first comma should be a semicolon.

3.      “The more you submit, the greater my joy – its a very simple equation.”
“Okay, and what do I get out of this?”
He shrugs and looks almost apologetic.
“Me,” he says simply.

A.     Worst deal ever!
B.     Its should be it’s.
C.     The comma after me should be after the quotation marks.

4.     My subconscious is furious, medusa-like in her anger, hair flying, her hands clenched around her face like Edvard Munchs Scream.

A.     The titles of works of art are put in quotation marks, not italicized.
B.     Munchs needs an apostrophe.
C.     It’s a bit much to include a Greek mythological character and Norwegian Symbolism painter reference in the same sentence.

Good luck!

For more fun, Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares can be found at:

Visit her BLOG

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Go for the Gold!

“We know that we’re competing in a dying sport.”

- Leshinda Demus

       I’ve been watching the Olympics nearly every night.  Sometimes I like the stories about specific athletes, while other times I just want to see the events.  But one story made a light bulb go off in my head.  I made a connection between Olympic hopefuls and writers. While few of us writers can boast the physical strength and killer-bodies (I want those abs) of these athletes, we do have a few things in common:



No guarantees

         These athletes work most of their lives for the long shot of winning gold—or at least a bronze medal.  They put off normal jobs, salaries, and lives. 

        And what do they get if they win? How many wind up with small compensation and a shiny medal to admire?  They know the odds.  But many of them keep on going.

Isn’t that what’s in store for us? 

Competition is fierce.

We can toil for years and never “qualify” (unagented)*. 

We can qualify (agent), but not receive a medal (publishing contract).

There might be rumors of steroid use (bad reviews) or false starts (plagiarism).

We can receive a medal (publishing contract), but it’s only bronze (small advance, which we don’t make back).

Receiving a silver medal (midlist author) isn’t too shabby.

But receiving GOLD (big advance, which we make back, and appearing on the New York Times Bestseller List) is the ultimate achievement!

Then what?

Do they appear on CNN as commentators (radio/TV interviews)?

Do they get to be in commercials (film adaptation)?

Do their names get placed on products (character action figures)?

Do they compete in the next Olympics (second book)?

Do they coach future Olympian-hopefuls (teach creative writing at a local college)?

Bottom line: few talented people make a big living off their talent.

Here’s my Olympian example for hard work with no guarantee of payoff:

Leshinda Demus

This profile doesn’t tell you anything:

This is more revealing:

        When she was nine years old, she told her teacher she’d be in the Olympics someday.  She still holds the record for Hurdles at her high school.  She continued to run in college and won championships.

        Leshinda Demus qualified for the 2004 Olympics, but didn’t advance to the final.

        She got pregnant.  She was upset her pregnancy could derail her dream and guilty she felt derailed by her pregnancy. She had twins.  She struggled to lose 50 lbs. She didn’t qualify for the 2008 Olympics. 

          She’s made a comeback since then, winning more championships.  On 08/06, I watched Leshinda as her four-year-old twin boys cheered her on in the stands.

Leshinda Demus qualified...

What drives her?

Will she succeed on 08/08?

What will she do next?

Writers, what keeps you writing against all odds? 
Keep going for the gold.

* And let’s acknowledge those families who sacrificed everything for the Olympic Hopeful (packaged mac ‘n cheese or takeout, dirty laundry…)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Anticipation and Experience

“A great source of calamity lies in regret and anticipation; therefore a person is wise who thinks of the present alone, regardless of the past or future.”

- Oliver Goldsmith

       My childhood was filled with negative dog experiences.  My maternal grandfather had a “crazy” dog.  I remember hearing him, sequestered in the basement, barking and scratching. My aunt had a French poodle that jumped when people first came into the room.  Imagine 4-year-old me looking at a large dog with its paws on my shoulders.  When I was 6, a dog chased my friend and me down a driveway.  My friend was faster.  The dog bit my calf. 

But my paternal grandmother had a nice Beagle mix.

       My daughter LOVES dogs.  When she was 2-years-old and full of Shirley Temple curls, she’d tell a giant golden retriever to sit in what she thought was a tough voice.  It didn’t work.  If that same dog passed by and knocked her down, she’d laugh.

Over the years, she begged for a dog. 

       I said, “I’d rather have another kid.  At least they’re potty trained after 2-3 years.”

       At some point my husband said, “Of course we’ll get a dog.” I told him it would be harder than he thought and that my daughter would do less than he believed. 

       The two of them broke me down. I agreed to get a dog once we’d moved to a bigger place and she was 10.

We moved in June.

She turned 10 in July.


I had a long dog wish list:

Not too big
Not too energetic
Doesn’t drool
Doesn’t bark
Doesn’t lick
Doesn’t jump
Doesn’t shed
Needs little grooming
Has a BIG bladder

I knew dogs would be a mix of breed, temperament, and training. 

But it’s hard for me to not control everything.

When I worried about owning an out-of control dog, my husband reminded me that our kids weren’t out of control.  We’d have similar expectations.

I hoped he was right.

       We visited two shelters before we found a potentially right dog for us.  He was a two-year-old beagle that loved people.  We asked to meet him.  We completed adoption paperwork.  We were interviewed.  Because of a technicality we were told we couldn’t adopt him that day, so we might be better off not meeting him.

My daughter still wanted to meet him.

I braced myself for her future tears. 

       He was sweet, scooting backwards to sit in laps.  We were told he was low on aggression (yay).  He’d also scored low on activity, which is rare for beagles.

We liked him.

But we couldn’t take him home.

       This was good for me.  If I’d just been able to take him home, I would’ve had an anxiety attack.  The situation made me (slightly) regretful instead.

The employee saw how well we’d bonded and was able to figure out a solution.

       My daughter named him Milo, after the main character in The Phantom Tollbooth. When we took the dog home, my husband and I had the same disembodied sensation we’d experienced when we took home our son from the hospital after he was born. We’re in charge now?!?  We don’t know what we’re doing!

       The next few days were overwhelming for my husband and me, but not because Milo was “bad”. Neither my husband nor I had ever owned a dog before.  My daughter and I read books to prepare. When I had a question, I’d scour the internet.  But it was an adjustment. 

       A week into owning Milo, we fell into a routine. My son had become a huge help. Our poor cat was warming up. A little. I’d boasted how well things were going to a group of people. They proceeded to explain to me how the dog was being good because we were in a honeymoon stage. They warned there’d be exuberance and howling.

I freaked out inside.

It was like “veteran” mothers scaring pregnant women about childbirth, or how their kids won’t sleep through the night or behave in restaurants.

       Afterwards, I told my husband we’d taken on too much, and couldn’t back out now because our children would never forgive us and I wished I could go back a year and say no to getting a dog and how this dog would be our responsibility when the kids went to college and I missed my cat… 

We calmed down.

       The next week was our biggest challenge. My kids and I were going away. My husband would be in charge of the dog all week.  He’d leave the dog all day while he worked.

Would the dog destroy the house?
Would the dog hold his bladder?

Only time would tell. 

I’m happy to report nearly 3 weeks in, Milo's list:

Not too big
Not too energetic
Doesn’t drool
Doesn’t bark
Doesn’t lick
Doesn’t Jumps rarely
Doesn’t shed
Needs little grooming
Has a BIG bladder

And the cat is back snuggling with us on the couch.

The dog has learned:

to sit
patience when the cat is eating
to stay off the couches… at least in our presence

I’ve learned a few things too:

I need to relax to be a good pack leader.
When all four of us chip in, it’s not so much responsibility.
Walking dogs is good exercise.
Like with raising kids, keep expectations high.

And, as with almost everything, anticipation is worse than experience.

Have you ever feared anything
that wasn't as bad as you thought?