Thursday, July 31, 2014


There are numerous authors that have shared advice about writing and one of the biggest items always included is the importance of reading. Stephen King said that if you don't have time to read then you don't have the time nor the tools to write.

I have always enjoyed reading. I of course have had my preferences in genres but I have tried to branch out and of course through the classes I took in school I was required to read books I probably wouldn't have picked up in the first place.

We read classics, poetry and anthologies. I studied texts about difficult cultures. I explored the world in my mind. As with most authors this not only was an adventure for me but inspiration to create magic with words. I wanted to take readers on an adventure of my own design weaving a tapestry of rich settings interesting dialogue and heartfelt characters.

While I was in school I read anything and everything I could get my hands on, even discovering an author that has become one of my favorites. I went through different worlds. I became numerous people and I tried my hand at sharing a few ideas of my own. However in the last part I faltered a bit.

The only ideas of other worlds and different story paths I could come up with always led back to something I had read. I had no experiences of my own to draw from causing me to quickly become discouraged. I would jot something down occasionally but generally only if assigned and I could always tell my heart wasn't in it.

As I got older I struck out. I was determined to have a life full of the interesting experiences that I would later share with the world. I travelled. I ate new things. I talked to people and learned about their lives which would always give me insight and perspective on mine. Then a few years ago I finally felt I had lived an adequate amount to begin spinning my tales once again.

I recently published my novel Never Give Up and have a flood of ideas that I swim through everyday now so it is safe to say my traveling and exploring paid off. I write at least a few days per week now and still do my best to learn about and from people and the new things I try as often as I can. There is just one problem. I have stopped reading.

I either feel like I no longer have time because it is taking up what I would be using to write or work. Or I feel it is unproductive to make my way through someone else's incredible work instead of dedicating myself to my own. I need to find a way to mesh the two worlds because as much as I love my own characters I am ready to reenter the worlds created by those that inspire me.

Monday, July 28, 2014


The voices I wrote about in a previous post still haven't stopped so I have decided to let the one yelling the loudest out for a bit. I want everyone to meet Annora. She hasn't told me her last name and to be honest after everything she has been through I am not sure she even remembers it anymore.

What I can tell you about her isn't happy. She had a typical childhood for the first twelve years of her life. Her parents divorced while her mother was pregnant and shortly after she was born her mother found the true love of her life and settled down with Annora's stepdad. Both her mother Bethany and her stepfather Richard loved her fiercely but her biological father did his best to stay in the picture.

Unfortunately he was not the devoted parent Bethany and Richard were so even though he fought for custody he was denied most of his requests. He was granted visitation rights but after she returned home with bruises and became withdrawn at the sound of his name her mom went to court to keep him away from the family. Less than a year later her mother was killed in a hit and run and while he denied any involvement suspicion fell on her stepfather.

Both adamantly stated there was no way he could have done it but the eye witness reports mentioned a vehicle identical to his and one person even got a partial matching license plate. He was arrested and she was placed with the only parent or at least parent figure she had left, her biological dad. He came prepared to show he had cleaned up his act and gained temporary custody of Annora.

She was miserable about the judgement and vowed she would find a way to help her stepfather. She moved in with her dad but kept her distance from him even when he attempted to try and be her friend. It just never felt like home to her and she would cry herself to sleep every night.

Shortly after moving in with him she was walking home from the bus stop after school when a van pled up beside her and grabbed her. She was driven away before anyone could get a clear description of the men and the plates had been removed. Her father put out a message that he would offer a reward for her safe return but there was never a ransom call and no leads ever developed.

Her stepfather was found innocent and all charges were dropped when his alibi was confirmed and he was ultimately released from jail. He filed notice immediately to get Annora back only to be told she was gone. Her father picked up and moved without any forwarding information and there was no one keeping her case from going cold. He made a public plea but no one knew a thing.

Meanwhile Annora's kidnappers had sold her to a human trafficking ring and she was being kept in a dungeon one of her owners had built under his house. She fought tooth and nail in order to survive unmanageable. She just fought harder to prove she couldn't be broken.

She was abused and used as a personal toy by some of her captors and she could hear other children come and go from her prison. She struggled to free herself and became truly scared for the first time when she overheard one of the men saying they were organizing a big sale and getting rid of some loose ends. She knew she would be on that list. She plotted her strategy to attempt and overpower the man that would come for her. She was just afraid that after everything they had put her through she may not have the strength to succeed.

There is so much more but I just wanted to give a taste of what she has told me and I am beginning to look forward to sharing more of her story with my readers.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hearing voices

I have been feeling very scattered recently having multiple projects jockeying for position in my head. All of my characters are talking and because they all have so much to say it is more of a migraine than a conversation. They all want attention and to be able to get out and meet readers. I am just struggling to get any one set of characters to talk long enough without interruption to be able to make much progress.

I have therefore decided that even though I have done some character bios before I am going to do a brief introduction of all the ones talking to me and a blurb about their books in order to get them to calm down for awhile. Hopefully letting them each speak their piece in a sort of town hall meeting will satisfy their need for attention.

First is the novel I am editing called Breathe. This is my first romance novel and while it is not sappy and it was actually originally intended to be more of a drama Kelsey Matthews decided for me and every time I would try to add a suspenseful element she would turn it back and explain how much she  needed a relationship. She was such a loner and I had been under the impression that she liked it that way but as I got to know her I learned more and more how lonely and miserable she was. Even when I gave her someone to care about it took a very long time to see if there were any mutual feelings. As I edit this book I am continuously surprised but the things I learn about her.

The next book I should be working on is Sharing Strength. In this book there is a support group for people suffering from PTSD. Each character has their own personal issues. Again I am learning more and more about each one of them and I am both inspired by their fight and heartbroken to watch their struggles. As I write I am constantly getting to know them and I am starting to suspect that a few of them may have individual novellas about what led them to Sharing Strength in the first place. I am excited though somewhat fearful of getting to know them on an even deeper level. 

Annora is the next character screaming at me. She jumped into my mind simply from seeing the word freedom. I have asked many people what the word freedom means to them and most have come back with military stories while a few others simply described their perfect day off or favorite activities for retirement. For me seeing that word immediately created Annora, a 15 year old girl that was sold into human trafficking by someone she should have been able to trust. She is a fighter and while she lives through hell for several years before she is able to finally attempt an escape she is never completely broken. She is defiant and struggles every chance she gets. She is often sold from one "owner" to another because she is difficult to handle. She even had one or two that threatened to kill her. She will be an interesting but emotional girl to get to know.

Sabrina's Story is the follow up prequel to Never Give Up, my debut novel. Sabrina only has a bit part in Never Give Up but there have been people asking if the story is autobiographical and if Sabrina is based on a dance instructor I had in my life. The answer honestly is, yes, sort of. Kaylie is definitely based on me in many ways including the injury though I was injured in a drastically different way and Sabrina is based on a combination of my first dance instructor and my dance coach and teach from high school and there is most certainly a story for her to share as well.

Once you get past those four books there is a family that takes up residence in an eight book series. The Syn series is the story of Persephony Syntel and her daughters. Book one is all about Persephony and is the introduction of the curse and turmoils that falls upon her family. Then each of the girls Asmara, Lucasta, Beatrix, Belicia, Maryn, Samiya and Levana all have a story of how they use their powers passed down from the curse from their mother.

Last but not least I have a storyline for a twist on Jack the Ripper and I badly need to come up with the marketing and cover ideas for Rescue Me and continue promoting Never Give Up so Kaylie won't feel forgotten. Hopefully giving them all an intro will give me some peace of mind so I can concentrate on one at a time.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Different kind of writing

Taking a departure from the usual dark and dramatic emotional topics I generally write about, I wanted to touch base on another subject I have been working on. I love my novel writing and while I am very proud of the work I have put out I am excited to expand my horizons.

I have always enjoyed reading a series, eagerly getting my hands on the following book as soon as I finished the last one. However I have never had the ability or even desire to create one of my own, until now. I am working on an idea for an adult series following the 7 deadly sins but that is not the series I am most excited about.

I am writing a children's series. It is part entertainment and part education but for me is completely fun. It also highlights fathers in a new way. There are so many mommy and me books and I am fortunate enough to know several fathers that are always there for their kids so I wrote a quick book for one of them and his daughter.

She loved it so much he thanked me publicly prompting another friend to request one for his boys. I of course obliged seeing as how they are my friends. It went over amazingly well with his sons and the idea snowballed. I have since created nearly thirty books in the series with many more to come and I am about to enter into the process hopefully of getting them published. The series idea has also been nominated for an award that would mean the world to me.

Even though I do not have children I know the importance of getting them interested in reading as well as learning and if I am able to create something to help future generations appreciate the field I love so much then it is completely worth it. I will share a small excerpt once I have found my publisher but I hope that any of my friends with or without children would enjoy the series.

Reaching beyond my comfort zone and stepping into an entirely new world has been a blast so far and I cannot wait until the day I have enough confidence to reach so far beyond my current realm that I can create an entire world of my very own.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Writing what I know

Yesterday I wrote the overview of how one of my characters, Rachel, was a rape victim and then bullied literally to death. She committed suicide because she couldn't handle having no support to get through what was one of the most painful and humiliating experiences of her young life. It took me more than an hour to write the post from last night because I cried the entire time.

Rachel is, in part, based on me. She suffered at the hands of someone she thought was a nice guy that took advantage of her and her naiveté. She was ashamed and afraid, then when she tried to defend herself from the backstabbing lies no one believed her.

 I went to the police. I told my parents and my boyfriend but the charges ended up being dropped so he was never held accountable for what he did to me. I am still alive but I had the support I needed, especially after he was let go.

Every word I wrote brought back my own memories. It still hurts a decade later and when I wrote the part where she died I almost couldn't get the words out. She lives in me every day and I am killing a part of myself when she dies but for me it is killing the part of me that blamed myself for what happened.

Yes I am a victim but I am also a survivor. I made it through and while it has taken me years to have the strength to share what happened to me, at least in part, I hope that it may help someone else to know they are not alone.

After Rachel dies there is a scene in the book where Jasmine and Kyle sit at a park talking and she reveals that she thought about killing herself as well but couldn't go through with it. Rachel's death becomes one of the driving forces for Jasmine and destroying that shamed and painful part of me I am hoping will become a stepping stone to finally moving past the frustrations of my past.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bullying Rachel

I have written about my character Rachel before. She is from one of my current works in progress called Sharing Strength. In the book there are several characters that are all part of a support group for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Rachel is the youngest at only seventeen years old. It is assumed that she will be able to overcome her stress and move on to a happier life.

Rachel was a high school student, a state ranked swimmer and a rape victim. She attended a party thrown by the boyfriend of her best friend and teammate. Most of the people at the party were drinking and some were experimenting with drugs but being the avid athlete and good girl she was raised to be, Rachel abstained.

She was asked by a boy if she could give him a ride home since he was drinking. He seemed to be friends with the one throwing the party so she figured he was probably a nice guy and she didn't want to say no causing him to try driving in his inebriated state. She agreed and got him back to his place but he was having trouble walking. So offered to help him get inside but once away from potential witnesses he showed his true colors.

He actually was barely buzzed, certainly not drunk and he over powered her. He pinned her down and raped her on the bedroom floor in the eerie and unforgettable light from his fish tank. She stared at it, crying out for help but there was no one home to come to her rescue. He kept telling her she wanted it and that was why she had driven him home. Deep down she wanted him and this is what she had been asking for all night.

He finally let her go and she ran. She wanted to run back to her friends and explain what happened but she was ashamed. She drove home intent on telling her parents but when she got there she sat in the driveway bawling unable to even get herself out of the car. When she finally managed to go in the house she snuck into her room and stripped off her clothes throwing them away. She took a shower not even thinking it would wash away evidence. She lay down and cried herself to sleep.

The next morning she slept in and when she emerged from her room she found her mother waiting in the hallway furious with her. The boy that had raped her had called his friend, her best friend's boyfriend, and told him all about it. He claimed she seduced him. Then, just to ass insult to injury, he told him all the reasons why she wasn't even good  in bed.

He told his girlfriend and by the time Rachel was awake everyone from the party knew about it. Her mother screamed at her that she had been raised better than that. She said they were a God fearing family and they would not be disgraced by having her out whoring herself to anyone she damn well pleased. Rachel tried to plead her case saying that she was raped but her family would have none of it.

She hid the rest of the weekend and when she returned to school on Monday she hoped things had blown over, they had not. She was bombarded with insults. Called slut and whore the relentless torture was so intense that she left school at lunch and went to the local pool for the rest of the day. She swam laps for hours wishing to clear her mind.

She eventually calmed a little but when she was climbing out of the pool one of the staff members greeted her by the nickname she had acquired back in junior high, fish. She burst into tears, running for the locker room. She slipped on the wet deck going hard to her knees and that made everyone there laugh. No one came to see if she was ok. No one wanted to help her at all.

She drudged through nearly two weeks of torment without break before she found the ad placed by Dr. June. She called and got the information about the group and did her best to explain that her parents wouldn't pay for therapy so this was her only option. She did attend meetings seeking anyone that would help her, support her, care for her. She found a friend and protector in Jasmine but even that could block out the constant sorrow heaped upon her outside the walls of the meetings.

She lasted only a month attending just three meetings before it got to be too much. Her religious family blamed her. Her so called friends antagonized her. Even her team laughed when she cried at being called fish. She couldn't escape the flashbacks and nightmares. She ate to hide her heartache gaining weight and having to give up swimming.

Rachel committed suicide because she was bullied to death. She wanted to belong. She wanted to get help but one hour per week with a supportive group of strangers wasn't enough. She was lost and alone and in the end she felt it was her only means of triumph from those that pushed her over the edge.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dark Emotions

Many people see things and are inspired. I have known artists that can hear a piece of music and create a painting that will take your breath away. I have also know musicians that can channel the emotions of a piece of art. I once heard a man describe sipping a wonderful wine as creating a beautiful song on his tongue. I too as a writer am inspired by many things I see around me.

I work in a casino and am exposed to people and their stories everyday and that lends itself constantly to new ideas. I have always taken parts of my life and used them for inspiration as well. It is here that many would question me. In Never Give Up I wrote about the despair of losing your dreams and feeling lost to the point of alienation those that love you. I am working on a very serious book about a support group for people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I put my heart and soul into the pieces I write and tend to take on difficult and dark subjects. I have been working to be a part of anthologies partially to get my name out there as a writer but also as a way to branch out and write things that aren't exactly in my wheelhouse. I recently looked at the monthly theme for one of them and no big surprise the theme for July is freedom.

Many would have seen that and immediately thought of our freedom as a country and possibly from that created a story or poem about the military but for some reason the first thing that came to mind was a young girl trapped in a dungeon fighting for her life. I couldn't shake the image of her sitting there in the dark. I fought it but she kept creeping back into my mind.

Finally I stopped hiding from her and gave her a voice. I learned that she was kidnapped and is part of a human trafficking ring. My heart aches for her and the subject is dark but there is something about her that makes me have to know her story. I know it is dark and a subject few would want to take on. I am not sure I want to but any writer can attest to the fact that sometimes you have a character that won't let go of you.

Akaylia in Never Give Up, Kelsey in Breathe, Jasmine, Rachel, Brian, James, Craig and Kyle in Sharing Strength and now Annora in an untitled story of her life. I also have a series I will be working on soon involving sister and I can hear them rumbling in the back of my mind clamoring for attention.

I am working hard to finish up Kelsey's story and working with the gang in Sharing Strength to get their story told as well but my heart goes out to Annora and while I anticipated taking on the series next or the follow up to Never Give Up or even my twist on Jack the Ripper it looks like she will be my next book. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014


One of the most important things about becoming a successful writer or any kind of artist is to get your name and your work out there. There are several ways of course to do this such as being a leading expert in the field you are writing, being a celebrity always comes with a large following and having a tie to a trending topic. Then there are those we all strive to be, the ones that create a world and characters that capture the hearts and imaginations of millions across the world.

I will openly admit that I am not a celebrity or leading expert in the world of dance and I missed the huge trend when Dancing With The Stars and So You Think You Can Dance were at the peak of their popularity. I do not have any of professional dancers endorsing me and the city of Chicago has not publicly gotten behind me or my books. I am relatively unknown at this point so I am reaching out and doing any signings or shows I can get into.

I am asking my friends to spread the word by posting reviews of my book on Amazon and Goodreads any chance they get as well as simply telling people about my book. I have done the social media thing though being that my novel is not a trending and popular genre I am struggling in that arena. So I am now reaching out to any readers here as well, please comment and let me know any ways you hear about and become in new books? What can I do to grow my readership and get my name to reach beyond the current readership of friends and family I have created?

I am fairly confident I will be able to get my name out further with later books but this one is just as important to me as any future projects. I have possible endorsement for Sharing Strength and Rescue Me is partnering with a wonderful charity and I am working on a Children's series that is currently nominated for a fantastic award. I do not want to sit back and say oh well the next one can be the one to  get my name out, I am looking to do the leg work on an unknown piece so that future books and series have a leg up and can enjoy a greater readership.

I have lofty goals including certain sales numbers for this debut novel and hopefully winning the award for my kid's books. I am determined to make the New York Times Bestseller list someday and to be considered successful in the field. I want to be able to write full time and focus on meeting my readers and finding my inspiration in the lives of myself and those around me as I always have. I deeply desire to grow as an artist and create realms beyond my current limits.

The most important thing I have learned in life is that whether it is solving a problem or improving a life situation or in my case growing both personally and professionally it takes more than just yourself to do it. It is such a cliché but it really does take a village in order to move ahead. I look forward to hearing ideas and hopefully creating a discussion about ways to reach more wonderful readers like yourselves.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Changing Paths

When I came back to the world of writing I thought I was ready for all aspects that came with the pursuit of publishing. I would simply write the first draft, and then reread it for errors. Next I would  send it off to a few agents with an awesome query letter I wrote and then I would simply wait for the acceptance letter that would be followed by a contract from a publisher.

I read through the draft and fixed a few spots I saw that needed polishing up. Once I was satisfied I sent it off to a beta reader who enjoyed the story though it needs to be stated that she was aware of the majority of the plot points going in. Once she said she liked it and gave me a few more spots to work on I created the query letter I knew would sell the book and started sending it off.

I sent more than thirty initial letters and sample chapters to various agencies and within a few weeks I started getting responses. Many were form letters while some were more personal but all of them had one thing in common, the word no. No one wanted me or my book. I read the query letter again and was ready to send off a more detailed synopsis if I got the request but while I was waiting I sent off more query letters but they either went unanswered or garnered the same form letter rejection as the first batch.

I started looking at self-publishing as well as indie publishers and ended up going with Pure Ice Publishing. After seeing the editing and the suggestions made as well as the synopsis and hooks created by the publishing team I realized just how far off my original attempts were. I have worked on it and am definitely improving my skills.

I am still learning how to do the sales part and have set a goal for myself for this debut novel but I have significantly higher hopes going forward. I am currently working to get an agent and traditional publisher for my second novel titled Breathe.  A contemporary adult romance I am hoping that I have improved my query and synopsis writing as well as the novel skills in order to travel the traditional route this time.

I have enjoyed my time with Pure Ice and I am partnering with the Very Inspirational Kate Marie Robbins for my charity book Rescue Me. I am beyond excited about that project but I hope that she and everyone else will wish me well in my endeavor for a traditional house for my next project.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Breathe Excerpt

Breathe. Kelsey closed her eyes and let the hot water drizzle over her. The shower heating up she felt the steam engulf her and transport her to an isolated world. Even as her skin began to redden from the heat she blindly reached for the nozzle to turn the temperature up. It didn’t matter how high it was, she couldn’t feel it anyway. She was in shock. It had been an incomprehensible day and as the steam built up past her numb wet body billowing over the top of the shower doors, she inhaled deeply and reminded herself again; breathe.

            The tiny bathroom filled with thick moist clouds causing the glaring fluorescent to fade to an uneven haze. Kelsey leaned back allowing the scalding water to wash across her face, stinging her eyes, but still she felt nothing. Behind her unopened eyelids she began to see. The faces floated up coming into focus, staring at her. Faces she knew. Faces she would never forget. The fear, pain and disbelief mirrored there contorted them into horribly disfigured creatures watching her. Her eyes shot open and looked forward at the shiny tiled of the wall in front of her. She looked at it, through it, unseeing. The wall wasn’t there, all she could see were the faces.

            Her hands shaking she clutched the washcloth and scrubbed at her raw, pink skin. Rivers of soapy bubbles coursed their way down, tracing the curves and contours of her body mixing with the blood spatters and mingling around the drain and the bottom of the tub. The blood, it was everywhere. She saw it rinsing off and even as she watched it streaking away she could still feel it. She wondered if a part of her would always feel it.