April Wrap-Up

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Back in January, I set some hopes and goals for the new year. While it’s only the end of April, I am really happy with how things are going. This is the first time I have kept up with my goals so far into a new year. Each month I am making progress and/or crossing off items off my to-do list.

Writing: I joined Camp Nano this month. My goals were wide and flexible. As far as the writing part of my goals went, I edited a short story, wrote notes on existing ones and started a new piece. My Camp Nano goal was to log in 35 hours of  time, and I have managed to get in 36! So I am really happy with how things went.

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Reading: Another part of my Camp Nano goal was to catch up on some articles and blogs about writing. I also read a collection of short stories by Sherry D. Ramsey as well as the newest novel in Candace Osmond’s Darktide series. If you want to check out either amazing author, you can buy their stories wherever books are sold. Some of Sherry’s books such as One’s Aspect to the Sun and Candace Osmond’s Darktide Series can be found on Amazon. (Links attached to book titles).

Blogging: I have been posting, sometimes more then I thought lol. This blog has been a great place for me, especially recently. Sometimes you just need a place to get out what you’ve been feeling. I have also been slowly learning new blogging tips. Either way, I am happy and thank YOU for being here.

The Book Pile: I have now read 7 out 15 books for the year. So I am almost half done according to Goodreads, and also ahead of schedule. Considering I barley read the last few years, I am really happy with how I have been doing.

Positive Vibes: Learning how to manage my negative feelings and focus on the good stuff has really come in handy. Even on a blue day or a day I feel like a writing impostor, I don’t dwell on what’s making me feel like crap. I allow myself to feel it, because that’s important. Then I am able to move forward. I still make a note in my journal every day, about something good that happened.

So, how was your month? I hope that May treats you all well!

 

Book Review: The Pirate Queen by Candace Osmond

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Yessssss. Just. Yes.

I have been an eager beaver to get my hands on the sequel to The Devil’s Heart. I pre-ordered The Pirate Queen right away and I was literally counting down, being patiently impatient.

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I was very anxious to see what was going to happen to Dianna, Henry and her crew. Candace is such a great story teller, I was very curious to know what was going to become of this beloved crew.

The story opens with Dianna being back in the present. She remembers the image on Henry’s face as the threads of time opened up to take her back home. Her need to get back to Henry is deep. After being taken to hospital, she finds out she is carrying his child. The need to get back to him  grows stronger.

Once back in her parents home, Dianna is trying to heal from injuries while frantically looking for a key to get her back to the past. She doesn’t want to be without Henry, and can’t stand the thought of him not seeing their child. Finding a clue, key or a glimpse of hope sends Dianna on a mission, making her aunt worry. Finally, her aunt gives her a journal. But not just any journal. It belonged to her mother, who had time traveled herself.

Dianna, with luck and magic, finds herself back in the past. She makes her way to an inn, and after getting a mysterious letter is reunited with Finn, the big burly Scotsman and friend. While staying at the inn, she makes friends with Lottie. I love this new character. There is much more to her then meets the eye. She is full of secrets and surprises!!!

Dianna and her friends are on the hunt to save Henry. While doing so, we discover some fun twists that send the story and events into another direction. Leaving us with more questions and also the anxiousness of wanting a character to succeed and discover the answers.

I won’t give the whole book away. That would spoil the fun! But Dianna is such a strong character. There needs to be more female characters like her. She is strong, independent and smart. There is no doubt as to why her friends, crew and Henry love her. Lottie is such a fun new addition to the group. There is growth of characters, like the cranky Gus. And deepening of other relationships, such as her friendship with Finn.

The ending also left me a little worried about Henry and what the effect of his past life had on him. He once turned himself into something dark and dangerous. Will Dianna’s love be enough to keep that tortured part of his soul at bay? (Gosh I frickin hope so!)

I have quickly fell in love with these books and characters. I must add that the author, Candace, is such a sweetie and I am a total fan and fangirl. She loves hearing from her readers so if you enjoyed this or any of her other work, she would love to hear from you.

Well, guess it is time for me to check the calendar and start the count down to book three, The Blackened Soul.

Here are some places you can get your copy!

Amazon US

Amazon CA

Kobo

Nook

 

7 Ideas for The Journaling Junkie

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I love to write. Not just fiction. My mom introduced me to journals when I was eight years old. While I haven’t been perfect at keeping them over the years, I do enjoy it. It wasn’t until the last few years that I started keeping alternative journals. So, if you keep a diary/journal or if you don’t but want to, here are a few fun journals to do. (Note: I keep all of these)

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Photo by Dariusz Sankowski. Found on Unsplash.

1- Positivity Journal. I started keeping this journal when the new year came in. It was a way of helping me change my mindset. Last year when Mr. C went away for work, I had to try harder to look on the bright side of things. It isn’t easy being apart from your spouse. I realized before too long that I was feeling better and my way of thinking was changing. So I took out my Wonder Woman journal on January 1st, and wrote down one good thing about my day. And I have done so every day since. Not only does it keep me on track, but at the end of the year I can read it and remember all the good stuff.

2- For the Bookworms. A reading log. I love this one. I started mine back in 2015. I write the title, rate the book, write a mini review and write some quotes. It’s a fun way to look back on books I have read and keep track of my yearly reading goals.

3-Book of Lists. I started this one last year. I am a lover of lists. So I thought I should put them all in one place. I have everything from what I need to do when I spring clean to what movies I want to watch. I tend to make notes on scrap paper when I want to read a book, buy something for home or have a random idea. But the thing about that is I tend to misplace those scraps of paper. So this journal helps keep my scatterbrain in check…somewhat. 😉

4- For the writer. I have journals set aside just for anything writing related. Character ideas, name ideas, plot ideas, story notes, etc… I take this almost everywhere I go, just in case I have an idea I want to jot down or a scene I want to work on.

5- Smashbooks. You can make one themed or have one for whatever randomness you wanna “smash” into it. These are a great place to keep  a memento like doodles, tickets, photos, etc…I have a few of these kicking around.

6-Dream Journal. I used to be really good for keeping one of these in the past. I plan to start one again soon. I dream a lot and I want to start marking these down again. They have helped for story ideas too…sometimes anyway haha.

7- Family Memories. Since my dad passed away, I am trying to hold onto the memories i have of him, but also the stories he told me about growing up and my grandparents. Someday my mom will be gone and I will struggle to remember things she told me. So I recently took out one of my many unused journals (I don’t write in them until I have the perfect topic for them) and began writing down these things. And if I ever have a child, I will pass these onto them.

So, what journals do you keep? Which new journal would you like to start?

Writing: That Impostor Feeling

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You know that voice you hear when you’re writing something and it says things like “Omg this is total crap”, “You really should go back and edit this before you write another word” or “This is worst thing ever written”. 

That voice is the inner critic. The voice that makes you doubt your idea, your story or that last sentence you just wrote.

I learned to tune that asshole out a few years ago. My first time taking part in Nanowrimo, to be honest. There wasn’t any time to listen to him. I couldn’t stop and edit because I had to get to that 50k word goal.

Well, now I have a different voice in my ear when I write. It’s the inner critic’s big brother. The voice that makes me feel like I’m an impostor. A fraud.

This goes beyond the inner critic. This isn’t a matter of writing a horrible paragraph. This is the voice that says “Why do you even write at all? Your stories are garbage and there are soooo many great authors out there. Why are you even trying?”

This asshole is hard to tune out. But I’ll do it.

The last few days I feel like I snuck into the the cool kids house party, but nobody has realized I’m there. I came in the back door, been hanging out by the snack table when I am not hiding in the darker corners of the house.

And it’s only a matter of time before I am caught and thrown out.

Last night I went for coffee with a friend of mine, who is also a writer. She has a number of novels published, short stories published and she is a fantastic story teller. The night before we got together for coffee, I was thinking about how prolific she is and how I wished I could have her talent. While having coffee, she told me she wished she was more prolific. And I had to laugh, and I admitted that the night before I wished she was as prolific as she was. It just goes to show, every writer is hard on themselves, for one reason or another.

When you have these self doubts, ignore them. It’s hard at first, trust me. The easy way would be to quit doing what you love. But then the bastard in your ear wins. And who wants that?

My friend shared this article last night, How to Keep Writing even when you feel like a fraud. I found it really helpful.

So, if you have this impostor feeling, don’t give up. I know I won’t.

 

 

Why I Started Blogging

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I honestly never really thought much of the ‘why’ until recently, believe it or not. When I first started I had a little blog for a year or so called From The Bear Cave. When I started it was because a number of my author friends had blogs too, so I thought, why not?

But it wasn’t going in the direction I really wanted it to. So I put blogging aside for awhile. It was probably a year later (maybe longer, I don’t really remember) that I came back with The Geeky Book Lady. This allowed me to have the freedom I wanted. I am a huge geek who loves to read and write fiction. I felt really good, like I had a do-over.

I blogged the odd time but not as much as I wanted. Life got in the way, and I was dealing with depression and shit in general.

But this year I have gotten back to it, more serious then I have ever been. It isn’t because I am looking for a thrill or validation when I get post likes and a new follow. It isn’t because I am looking to be a popular blog. And it certainly isn’t because I think I have lots of great things to say and everyone should listen.

I think the real reason I started blogging, was to make friends and connections in the writing community. To find other people to nerd out over the newest Marvel movie or bitch about a problem with a current WIP.

I’m from a small place, with not much going on. I love Cape Breton, don’t get me wrong. I just find it hard to find like minded people. One of the reasons I love going to a comic con is because I am totally at home with my peeps. I chat to people everywhere and have even made some friends.

Another reason I started blogging more is because I am trying to be a better writer. That won’t happen if I don’t write. And my mind tends to be one big cluttery mess. So sometimes “word purging” on here helps. It organizes my thoughts or if I have something on my mind, I can get it out and move on.

And one last bonus: it has been helping me keep myself on track with my goals for the year. I love my wrap up at the end of each month because I look at it and think ” fuck yeah I accomplished something.”

We all have our own reasons why we blog. What is yours? 🙂

 

 

A Letter to My 18 Year Old Self: On Writing

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Dear Kid, (cuz yeah, that’s what you still are)

You’re a daydreamer. And good news: that doesn’t stop. Bonus points: it pays off someday. In the not to distant future, you’re gonna get published for the first time. How great is that?!

But here is the thing…you gotta KEEP writing. Even when it is shit. ESPECIALLY when it is shit.

Don’t throw out any of your work. That’s a pain in the heart you can’t get back. Every bit of writing should be kept. Just in case. If anything, you can see how you’ve grown. Or have a good laugh.

Backup EVERYTHING. Anything you save on a laptop, save in other places. Hell, email it to yourself. Because when the time comes and you don’t do that, you will hate yourself. Trust me.

Write more. Put writing at the top of your priority list. Fill those note books with ideas, dreams, scene and plot ideas. Write more short stories. Start those novels. Finish them. Even if it is just ten or twenty minutes a day, write something down.

Read more. Not just fiction. You got that pretty covered. Read books on writing. Blogs on writing. There is lots of great (and not so great) info out there.

And when you get the chance, go to that writers group. Don’t be nervous. Trust me, it’s one of the best things you will ever do.

And last but not least, don’t beat yourself up. When writing isn’t going well or you feel like your idea is stupid, don’t get frustrated. Just keep going Kid. Books and story telling have been in your heart since day 1.

Love,

Your future self

My Personal Writing Tunes

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Every writer has their own method to their madness. Some write at the crack of dawn, others do their best work at night. Some need coffee to get their writing mojo going, while others don’t. (I’m not a coffee girl but I love a good iced coffee…especially when I am sitting down to write). And other authors need silence while some need music blasted while they work.

My writing playlist changes. It depends on my mood. It also depends on the type of piece I am writing. Angst/pain ridden scenes are usually when I listen to Seether. Fight scenes I usually listen to AC/DC or Metallica. Again, all depends on what I am feeling at the moment.

Here are some of my fave tunes to play while I write.

  1. The Devil and The Huntsman by Sam Lee and  Daniel Pemberton. (This is from the King Arthur: Legend of the Sword soundtrack. I love the entire thing, but this song especially. Great for when I am working on one of my fantasy stories.)
  2. July Talk- Push + Pull. I have recently discovered this song thanks to my hubby. Most of the time I write to fast songs, and this is at the top of my playlist when I sit down these days.
  3. Love me like you do  by Ellie Goulding. I love her voice and this song is usually playing when I am writing some sort of romance.
  4. Star ships by Nicki Minaj. Again, fast songs are big on my playlist.
  5. Thunderstruck  by AC/DC. Another fast song and one that’s perfect for action scenes.
  6. Turbo Lover by Judas Priest.
  7. Drown  by Theory of a Deadman. These guys are one of my fave bands, and I got to see them in concert two years ago. I always have a few of their songs playing when I write. Drown  is one of my all time fave songs by them.
  8. Anything by Rhianna. I am not listing her songs simply because most of them are on my playlist. I tried to pick a fave for this list but that’s like asking me to pick my favorite book in the world.
  9. For Whom The Bell Tolls by Metallica.
  10. Crazy Bitch by Buck Cherry.

So, what’s on the top of your writing playlist? I would love to hear them in the comments! Maybe I will find some new faves to add to mine! 🙂

Camp Nano: The Road So Far

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I decided to set my sights at being more writing focused this month. Not just writing new projects, but editing old ones, being on top of my blog, reading more articles on writing, etc…

I also set my camp goal for 35 hours, which I thought was a reasonable goal. My husband comes home soon and I know writing and writing related things will go to the side just a bit.

So far, things are going along great. As of writing this, I have put in 16 out of 35 hours so far. But by the time you read this, I will have logged in a bit more at the very least.

I have been writing and scheduling blog posts, edited my last short story, started a new project (not sure yet if it will be a novel or not), read a number of articles on writing that I was putting off and have made pages and pages of notes, for new stories and unfinished projects.

I am really happy with how things are going so far and I will do the same goals for next camp.

How is your writing life going? How is Camp Nano going for those of you taking part?

Book Review: The Apprentice Files by Sherry D. Ramsey

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This morning I finished what is now one of my favorite short story collections. I say ‘one of’ because a bookworm can never pick just one. 😉

Book Blurb:

Many things can go wrong when you’re apprenticed to an absent-minded, sometimes crotchety wizard, and all you really want to do is learn a few new spells! Follow Albettra as she faces magebattles, murder, and a halfhigh stalker in this light-hearted collection of four short fantasy stories.

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I loved every aspect of these stories. The characters, setting, and the writing were all wonderful.

Albettra is a wizards apprentice, and her master and mentor is Nissio, who can be cranky at times and sometimes a bit absent minded. She loves learning and is very eager to practice as many spells and talents as she can-if only Nissio would give her more!

She is very witty and intelligent and she works with what she has. In Little Things, Albettra is able to stop a Magebattle with just a few simple talents that she knows. This story had me laughing the entire time…I think the fact I pictured an altered version of Gandalf and Dumbledore added to that fact.

In The Halfhigh Vexation, Albettra gets herself an impish stalker, who follows her home and makes life very difficult for her. Nissio tells Albettra that she must handle it herself and find a way to rid the halfhigh. She makes a new friend in the process who is there for her in a later story.

Nissio Lost starts off with Nissio literally vanishing before Albettra’s eyes. Once she gathers herself, she goes to his spell book to see what she can do. She needs her mentor back after all. She finds Nissio and then encounters another issue: a wizard is trying to gain control of the high council. Albettra, a male apprentice she met named Brand and Nissio must work to save the day.  In the end, Nissio thanks  Albettra with a new gown and most importantly, a new spell.

Summer of widows is the final story in the collection. Albettra discovers a dead body of a peddler she and Nissio both know. Since Nissio is busy creating a new spell and enjoying visits from a trio of widows knocking on his door and their baked goods, he tells Albettra she must solve the murder on her own.

Each story was lighthearted and fun. I often wondered how she would either solve a problem or get herself out of a situation but she always manages to do so using her skills and smarts. The stories are all very consistent with how they are written and the flow. I hope that there will be more stories in this series…and that Nissio will have taught Albettra a few more spells. 😉

 

 

 

Author Interview with Sherry D. Ramsey

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I am thrilled that my next author interview is with my friend and best selling author Sherry D. Ramsey! I have reviewed some of her books in the past and will be again soon enough. Right now I am reading her collection of short stories, The Apprentice Files. 

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Sci-fi and fantasy author Sherry D. Ramsey.

Me: Hey Sherry! Thanks so much for stopping by! So let’s get to it! For anyone who hasn’t read your Nearspace series, what can you tell us about it?

SD: Well, the series is set about 250 years in the future, and in that future we’ve expanded through space through the use of wormhole travel. So there’s lots of spaceships and aliens and other worlds. 🙂 But it’s also about a woman, Luta, who is in her 80’s, but hasn’t aged physically past about 30, and she doesn’t know why. This non-aging has a profound affect on her relationships, and she’d like to understand it and what it means. She thinks it might have something to do with her mother, who was a genetic researcher, but disappeared when Luta was around 14. There’s also the corporation her mother worked for, who thinks they might have a proprietary interest in whatever’s making Luta the way she is. The series starts in One’s Aspect to the Sun with Luta’s search for answers, and different story threads carry on to other books in the series.

Me: I have loved these books and I plan to get book three soon! One’s Aspect to the Sun recently hit the bestseller list! How exciting is that!?

SD: It was pretty exciting! I have a lot of screenshots saved to my computer as it rose up the charts! And I’ve had some really lovely new reviews of both that book and the series lately. They are always nice to see because it means someone genuinely enjoyed the story.

Me: I would have screenshots too! 🙂 That’s awesome, I am really happy for you! Your third book in the Nearspace series, Beyond the Sentinel Stars, came out late last year. Do you plan to go beyond book 3? Or keep it as a trilogy?

SD: I’m actually working on a fourth book in the series right now. I do try to keep them standalone to some extent–no real cliffhangers–but people who like series will also enjoy a sense of continuity throughout the books, I think. This one takes place about a year after the end of Sentinel Stars.

Me: Oh that is awesome! *writes down another book on the To Read list*  So I am curious, which character has been your favorite to write? Why?

SD: Ooh, that’s a really tough one. If we’re moving outside the Nearspace books, there are two characters who were just super fun to write. One was a talking cat in The Seventh Crow, because she gained the ability to talk by accident and really didn’t want it. She has a very prickly and sarcastic voice and she doesn’t have much patience with humans. The other, coincidentally, is also a talking animal, a goose from The Murder Prophet. He’s fun because he also has a very distinct personality, kind of goofy and easily excitable. It’s interesting to channel him and try to stay true to his character. He plays a large role in the next book in that series, which I’m working on concurrently with a few other projects, so it’s fun to see him grow and change but still keep those essential personality traits.

Me: Those characters were funny! You have a way with talking animals 😉 What does your writing area look like?

SD: I’m very lucky to have my own office at home. It’s not terribly large, but it holds a sitting desk and a treadmill desk, and a lot of books and plants. A lot of artwork on the walls and too much paper in general! Probably also too many bits and bobs and little writing talismans. I guess it reflects my mind–usually too cluttered up with too many things! But it’s my own sanctuary and I really appreciate having it. There’s one extra chair for someone to visit me and also a door I can close. Both very important!

Me: Yes both are important. It’s great when you can have your own little writing sanctuary. You have both novels and short stories published. Which do you prefer to write?

SD: That’s also a tough question. I like the compactness and focus of short stories, and of course the lesser demand on writing time to finish one. But I find it difficult to write very short pieces–my stories only rarely come in under five thousand words or so. Novels allow for much greater exploration of ideas and complexity, and character development over time, so they’re great to stretch those creative muscles. I’m starting to think my very favorite length to write is novelette/novella. You can get a little more complex than in a short story, but still write them fairly quickly. Sadly, there’s a much smaller market in traditional publishing for those lengths.

Me: Seems I have a knack for asking the hard questions. 😉  You write sci-fi and fantasy. Which one is your favorite to write?

SD: Lately I lean more toward sci-fi and urban fantasy than other flavours of fantasy. I’ll write in any of the speculative genres if I get an idea that fits, though. Even horror, occasionally.

Me: If you were going to be stranded on an island, which 3 books would you want to have with you?

SD: Well, these days I’d just have my ereader, loaded up with enough to keep me going for a long time! But to choose three…difficult. And I could give you a different answer tomorrow. But today I’d choose To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Hopefully I won’t be stranded for too long…

Me: I know, it isn’t easy for book nerds to choose their three fave books. Mine would also change on a daily basis. I know you are a creative person. What sorts of creative projects do you do when you aren’t writing?

SD: I like fiber arts, like knitting and crochet, as well as machine embroidery and sewing. In the past I’ve made wire and bead jewelry, although I haven’t done much with that lately. I can’t wait for spring to get out in my garden, which might not strike some as creative, but I think it is. And I mess around with various forms of art, on and off the computer. My approach to creative or crafty things is basically that I’ll give anything a try. 🙂

Me: Can you tell us a little something about what are you working on right now?

SD: I’ve just finished up a new novelette in my Olympia Investigations series (urban fantasy) called “Dead Hungry,” which will release on the 15th of April. I’m juggling the fourth Nearspace book, a paranormal romance (a genre I haven’t written before), another urban fantasy novel and a couple of short stories. That sounds like too much, I know. But that seems to be how I work!

Thanks so much again for stopping by for a chat! You are welcome to pop by anytime!

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Sherry D. Ramsey is a speculative fiction writer, editor, publisher, creativity addict and self-confessed internet geek. When she’s not writing, she makes jewelry, gardens, hones her creative procrastination skills on social media, and consumes far more coffee and chocolate than is likely good for her.

Her books include the middle-grade fantasy, The Seventh Crow; three books in the Nearspace series, One’s Aspect to the Sun, Dark Beneath the Moon, and Beyond the Sentinel Stars; the urban fantasy/mystery The Murder Prophet; and two short story collections. With her partners at Third Person Press she has co-edited six anthologies of regional short fiction and a first novel. Every November she disappears into the strange realm of National Novel Writing Month and emerges gasping at the end, clutching something resembling a novel.

A member of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia Writer’s Council, Sherry is also a past Vice-President and Secretary-Treasurer of SF Canada, Canada’s national association for Speculative Fiction Professionals.

You can visit Sherry online at www.sherrydramsey.com to find free stories and more,  connect on Facebook  and keep up with her much more pithy musings and glimpses into her life on Twitter and Instagram @sdramsey.