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Originally posted on Vengenz Graphics:

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I stumbled upon a never worn, out of print It’s Not Easy shirt in my collectionits-not-easy

Save one of the above St.Paddys Day VU graphics and post it on twitter. Include @vengenz1 and @vengenzgraphics and #VUluckotheirish in your post. I’ll select a winner at random to get the shirt as well as some stickers and other goodies.

*the shirt is mens XL. But as you know, size doesn’t matter. Be creative if it doesn’t fit ;)

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I’m a bit late to this musical party but I just discovered Lost in the River: The New Basement Tapes.  Now, I’m trying to find some place to purchase/watch the documentary that aired on Showtime last November.  In the mean time, thanks to Spotify, I have the CD.  And my goodness is it good.  The group consists of Marcus Mumford (of Mumford and Sons), Elvis Costello, Taylor Goldsmith (of Dawes), Rhiannon Giddens, and Jim James.  Someone unearthed lyrics Bob Dylan wrote back in 1967 and brought these guys together with producer T Bone Burnett.  If you haven’t listened, make sure you find a copy!  I’ve been listening to it all weekend and watched as many of the documentary bits as I could find on Showtime’s YouTube.

Another thing I’m pondering today: how time flies.  I have a niece who just turned seven.  She’s my oldest niece and I remember holding her for the first time when she was a week old.  Now, she’s blossomed into this sassy seven-year-old, full of creative spirit and hopes and dreams.  Our conversations have changed from digging for bugs to talking about her favorite shows, movies, music, and more.  She loves to show me her latest drawings or tell me about her latest book she’s ‘published’.  She’s very much like her mother, too, which is neat.  The other night, I was watching her and she came out in flip flops to play in the yard.  I told her go put shoes and socks on.  I went in to supervise and she was quick to say “you’re annoying me”.  I had to laugh, because that’s what her mother says, too, about some people.  Then, in the next turn, she wanted to give me a great big hug.  Her favorite birthday present was her very own, pink, sparkly stapler.   Someone get me the last seven years back, okay?  It’s fun watching her grow and I can’t wait to see where she goes in the coming years.

Here’s a quick preview of things coming on the blog this month and next:

A review of Rhonda Helm’s “One Broke Girl”, a book that left me grinning from ear to ear.

Musings on this journey I’m taking as a writer.

Rejection: it sucks but it’s part of being a writer.

And, of course, other random musings as they strike.  If you’ve been reading for a while, you know I’m terrible at keeping to a blogging schedule, so if you’re new, be patient =). These things will come, but it might take me a while. I’m a little slow on here sometimes.

I did not get a spot or request in either of the January contests.  This did not surprise me, because 1. I write adult novels and 2. Most contests are very kidlit-centric.  Now, this is not a bad thing.  I read PB, MG, YA, and NA sometimes.  Kidlit is hot right now, YA, MG, and the like are flying off shelves.  But it definitely creates a challenge for us adult writers.  There is a contest specifically for us: AdPit, a pitch day that runs a couple times a year.  This year, AdPit was expanded into a chance for critiques as well and there’s a bigger version coming in June.

But how do adult writers survive in this kidlit climate?  When agents are snapping up books for a younger crowd?  Simple: keep putting yourself out there.  For me, because my book is a contemporary LGBT m/m, I’m hitting the small press route for a couple of tries.  Then, I’ll try for an agent again.  And maybe this isn’t “THE ONE”.  Maybe there’s another book that will get me in the door of publishing.  But we adult writers can’t give up.  Keep entering contests.  Keep querying.  The more we get out there, the louder we get, the better our chances of being recognized.

I’m currently waiting for the results of two writing contests: Sun Vs. Snow and Agent Match.  Sun Vs. Snow has had some fun “Twitter Parties” lately, one of which asked participants on the Twitter feed for their editing tips.  There have been some fantastic ones in the feed, so I thought I’d share some of mine.  Keep in mind, you have to find what works best for you, but this works for me.

The best thing I ever learned was to read the book aloud.  I use a free text-to-speech program called http://www.naturalreaders.com/download.php.  You only get one voice but it’s not the voice that matters.  It’s hearing your words, which allows you to find the errors, wrong words, missing words, etc.  This has been hands-down one of the best things I’ve ever downloaded.

Another thing I’ve found helpful is in drafting.  I’m 100% a pantster.  No plotting or outlines for me since I never follow them anyway.  So what works for me is to get the idea down, first and foremost.  I call this pounding out the idea.  Once I’ve pounded it out, I let it sit for a while.  A week, a month, a year, however long it takes for it to call me back.  Then, I do a big picture edit.  Fix all the stuff that’s wrong, weird, or not working.  Then, I let it sit.  I do another edit for “stupid stuff”.  This is bad spelling, wrong/missing words, tense shifts, punctuation, etc.  The stuff I know how to do correctly but when pounding out ideas, falls to the wayside.  From there, I draft to fix plot, structure, characters, etc.  Some of my books/short stories will go through five or six drafts, some three or four.  It all depends on what needs fixing and what I don’t like.  After that, I always do a couple of final polishes before deciding if I’m going to enter the book into contests or query it or enter the short story for consideration.

One of my big things is rules.  I know there are many for writing.  Words that are frowned upon (like just or that).  I’m a rule breaker.  BUT I’m also not opposed to those rules.  If I think I need a “forbidden” word, an adverb, whatever, I’m going to use it.  But if I read it through later and realize there’s a better way to say something or that I don’t need a “forbidden” word, I’ll fix it.  I’ve recently tried http://editminion.com to see passive voice, etc., and I highly recommend it.  Someone in the Twitter feed mentioned it.  And even a rule breaker like me can see where following the rules is important.  I’ve really spruced up my most recent novel, which I’m getting ready to query, thanks to that website.

So, those are a few of the things I do.  It’s important to use CPs, betas, and stay open minded.  You don’t have to like or take every suggestion you get.  But really read things over, consider their notes, and think about your story.  Querying is all about putting your best foot forward.

Happy writing and happy editing!

I apologize for being such a poky blogger =). Life’s been busy and it doesn’t look to being slowing down any time soon.

I’m about to hit the query trails this year. “Rescue Me”‘ has been spit-shined and polished and once I give it one more going over, I think it’ll be ready. I’m nervous, because so far it’s been all rejections (plus one partial that got rejected), but I think there’s someone out there for it. I’m currently researching LGBT agents and wondering if a couple accept re-queries. I don’t have a dream agent or even a top ten; I simply want the person who is right for this book. And I’ll know who that is when we talk…I’m that kind of writer, I suppose.

I hope 2015 has been good for everyone so far. It’s early in the year, so we have plenty of time to make things amazing. If you’re hitting the query trail, good travels and good luck and if you’re writing/revising/plotting good luck and good words! I’ll try to blog more often and try to get you updated on my query journey once it starts this year.

If you’re looking to get published, heading into the slush soon, or just want a set of eyes on your MS, here’s a great giveaway:

http://kisawhipkey.com/2014/11/28/announcing-the-2014-holiday-giveaway/

Michelle Hauck is hosting a blog hop! Click the link to sign up. Once signed up, you post the first 250-ish words of your novel and then critique others first pages. Feel free to give me the good, the bad, and the ugly here. This has been revised and revised and revised some more!!

***
Rescue Me
Commercial Fiction (it’s a genre bender…)
Adult

(note: was I too obvious in the first paragraph to why Jacoby’s trying not to think the worst? It’s an important aspect to what comes after, but I don’t want to be too obvious, either.)

Based on feedback, here is a revised opening page:

I nearly spilled my coffee when the back door slammed open and my husband came barreling through the kitchen.

“It’s legal, Jacoby! Iowa finally came to its senses and made it all legal!!”

His shoulders heaved, his hands trembled and his pupils were so dilated, the blue was nothing more than a thin strip. He’s a former drug addict and these were usually warning signs. I didn’t want to think the worst, so I chalked things up to excitement. I put my mug on the counter and snatched his phone, wondering what was so damn exciting. Then, the one headline I thought I’d never see filled the small screen: Gay Marriage Legal in Iowa.
I sucked in a breath, reading the headline again to make sure I’d read correctly. The phone skidded across the floor as I grabbed Jimmy in a hug, smashing my lips against his. Breathless, I leaned back. Jimmy grinned.

“When are we going to get our license?” Jimmy settled at the table, finally drawing in a calming breath.

I smiled as I read the article. “I don’t know. If we wait ’til our anniversary, maybe we can have Pastor do a renewing of the vows for us.”

Jimmy yanked me down into his lap, attaching his lips to mine. I pulled back and smiled at him, his curly, black, shoulder-length hair brushing my hand.

“I can’t believe it. Finally, our marriage is going to be legal,” I said, blubbering. I leaned over and picked up Jimmy’s phone, the headline still filling the tiny screen. “It’s legal. It’s finally legal.” I stood, pulling his hand. “Let’s go upstairs and celebrate.”

My first Guest post is by N.N. Light, author of Princess of Light! Please make her feel welcome!
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Top Ten Reasons Why I Wrote Princess of the Light

One of the first questions people ask me is why did I write Princess of the Light. Truth be told, I wrote it for several reasons. So for fun, I came up with a top ten list like David Letterman. Without further ado, here it goes:
1- A chance encounter with a homeless man. Three years ago, I was walking to the grocery store in the snow and I saw a homeless man across the street. There wasn’t anything particularly special or eye-catching about him. He looked to be in his mid-fifties and his skin looked weathered. He was sitting on the curb looking up at the sun with a smile on his face. He looked at peace and I wondered what his story was. Who was he?
A voice entered invaded my thoughts. “What if you could help him?”
“What could I do? I’m just one person.” I shrugged.
“So was Mother Teresa and look how many people’s lives she changed.”
I stopped in my tracks and thought about it. He was a homeless man who looked so alone and yet had such a contented look in his eyes. “Could I really help him?” I whispered.
“He is the forgotten man and you are a gifted writer. Write his story.”
When I got home, I started writing. For the next nine months, I told the Walking Man’s story. His story is one of second chances, forgiveness and redemption. He is the inspiration behind Princess of the Light.

2- Inspire others to give time, money and non-perishable items to food banks. During my interactions with the Walking Man, I learned a great deal about hunger and the need for food banks. I started writing a blog and sharing my thoughts with the world. If every person gave time, money or canned goods to their local food bank, there would no longer be a hunger epidemic. It takes no effort or energy to help others and the result is nothing short of a miracle.

3- Share my love story with the world. I am married to the love of my life and soul mate, MR N. Our love story is amazing and it has everything a Hollywood movie dreams of: attraction, misunderstanding, love, pain, heartbreak (twice by me), reunion, falling in love, engagement, wedding and happily ever after. So many of our friends told me to include our love story in the book; I was nervous at first because hey, true life. But the more I thought about it, the more I knew the world needed to hear it. Everyone deserves happiness and love.

4- Share my vision of Spread the Light. When I was querying Princess of the Light, I knew a strong hook was the key to being a published author. Spread the Light was born. We all have the Light inside us, no matter what your spiritual beliefs, and the act of spreading our Light is the message of my book. When I was helping the Walking Man, I didn’t talk down to him or preach at him. I reflected the Light by offering him a kind word and deed. Kindness is one of the attributes of the Light and we can all be kind.

5- Create a new female role model, one who kicks butt and is spiritual. I am a huge Joss Whedon and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. When the show was on television, she became my role model. When the going got tough for Buffy, she didn’t back down. She approached life in the same way she approached her slaying of vampires: with everything she had because tomorrow she could be dead. I knew I wanted to incorporate that mentality to my main character, Mary. I wanted her to kick ass without fear but with a spiritual bent. I wanted her to be like you or me but instead of vampires, demons and darkness were the big bad. Mary is the carrier of the Light, vanquisher of the darkness and champion for all.

6- Bring to life spiritual warfare in a story relatable to everyone. Spiritual warfare is very much alive and well. You only have to look at the news to see just how real it is. Mothers killing children, kids killing kids in school, cops shooting innocent citizens in the name of justice, etc. I could go on and on but you get the point. There is a spiritual battle going on and our souls are what are at stake. Imagine if you were destined to save a stranger from a demon. Would you? Would save a homeless man in order to give him hope again? These questions and more are the exact questions Mary faces in Princess of the Light. I just wrote it to be universal and relatable.

7- Write the story that has been burning inside my soul for years. I am a storyteller and I have had bits and pieces of Princess of the Light rolling around my head for years. A scene here, a conversation there, it wasn’t until I met my writing mentor, Josh Pahigian, that it started coming together. He helped me weave the bits and pieces into my story in addition to encouraging me along the way. At the end of the day, I am very proud of my book and being able to tell my story.

8- Write a book I would want to read. I read a quote a long time ago that if you didn’t find a book you wanted to read, write it. I took this to heart and the result is Princess of the Light. I am an avid reader and yet, I love reading Princess of the Light. Every time I read a passage, I get excited to read more. I have read it over thirty times and I still love reading it.

9- Spotlight the growing hunger issue in America, Canada and the world. As I said above, through my encounter with the Walking Man and donating at my local food bank I really uncovered an epidemic. There are hungry children in many of the richest countries in the world and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a travesty. Hunger is an epidemic and we have the opportunity to cure it. Apathy will not make it go away and you have the power to help. I hope my book inspires people to help their neighbors and not turn their head, pretending not to see it. Banded together, we can end hunger!

10- Fulfill my life-long dream of writing and publishing a book. Ever since I was a little girl, I have the gift of words. I am a storyteller, weaver of words and now a published writer. It took me a long time to achieve my dreams but I have done it. Best part is I have only just begun.

POTL Book Cover Pic

I thank you for spending a moment with me and learning all about Princess of the Light. I am so grateful to Kelly for having me on The Nook today. I hope you will go out and buy my book. It is available in e-book and print. Not only will you enjoy the story, you will be helping many hungry people like the Walking Man. Part of the proceeds of my book go directly to my local food bank. The more books I sell, the more I can donate. With only 7,500 books sold, I will be able to set up an endowment for my local food bank.

Blurb:
Mary Miller never thought much about destiny until God’s Archangel and Messenger, Gabriel, appears. Gabriel reveals she is destined to vanquish Darkness by spreading the Light and she has a revelation: she is the key.
Her first assignment is to restore the soul of a homeless man known only as the Walking Man. She’s thrust face to face with evil all the while losing her heart to her new love, Joe Deacons. Can she win the battle the Lord placed her in without losing all she loves?

Buy Links:
Smashwords
Barnes and Noble
Amazon
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK
Kobo
Indigo
ITunes

Goodreads

Newsletter:
Sign up for my Princess of the Light newsletter to get exclusive content on all things book and writing related: Newsletter

Author Bio:
N. N. Light was born in Minnesota, lived in Southern California only to move to chilly Ontario, Canada to marry her beloved husband MR N. She is blissfully happy and loves all things chocolate, books, music, movies, art, sports and baking. Most of the time you can find her on Twitter or getting new ideas on how to spread the Light on Pinterest.
I’d love to connect with you either via email or via these various social media sites:
N.N. Light Website
Blog
Goodreads
Twitter
Pinterest
Email
Facebook
LinkedIn
Google+
Triberr
Amazon Author Page
Independent Author Network

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Anyone else have a pitmad hangover? =)

Yesterday was pitmad, a fantastic Twitter pitch contest hosted by the wonderful Brenda Drake. Authors got to pitch their books and hope for a “bite” by an agent or editor. I pre-scheduled my pitches since I had to work and lost the ENTIRE morning because I forgot the hashtag *facepalm*. But, I fixed it over the dinner hour and resumed pitching in the afternoon. I wasn’t expecting anything, since it’s going to be an uphill battle to find a home for my book.

But, lo and behold, I got a favorite from an editor. I did a happy dance, squealed a little (thankfully, I was in a sound proof production room at work…) and then took a deep breath. It’s always advisable to research the folks who favorite your work, so in between projects at work, I did just that. This editor was with a press I’ve wanted to work with, so that was already cool. She seemed like a really cool person. So, before I left work, I gave everything a once-over, and submitted.

Now the hard part starts: waiting.

If you didn’t get any favorite in pitmad, don’t despair! Not every agent and editor around was participating. Not all pitches were seen (I heard there upwards of 19,000 pitches before noon!). And some agents/eds don’t take Twitter pitches. You can still query and, if you want it bad enough, you’ll still find a home for your book baby. Don’t give up just because you didn’t get any attention in a Twitter pitch contest.

And if the ones who did favorite you don’t work out, that’s okay, too. Keep trying!

I’m excited to reveal the cover for young-adult, action-adventure, science-fiction Untaken, by J. E. Anckorn, which is scheduled for release October 16th, 2014. The stunning cover was created by the talented Amy Chitulescu.

Untaken, by Jen Anckorn - CoverAbout Untaken:

It turns out that a real alien invasion is nothing like the Sci-fi shows 14-year-old Gracie loves. Not when it’s your own family who are swallowed whole by those big silver ships. Not if it could be you next.

In her search for her family, Gracie meets Brandon, a high school dropout who would never have been caught dead hanging out with a dork like Gracie before the world ended. Gracie isn’t too crazy about Brandon either, but he has one thing she doesn’t: A plan.
Brandon’s uncle has a cabin up in Maine, and If Gracie and Brandon can survive long enough to get there they can hide out until the Space Men pack up their ships and leave.
Until the army guys come to rescue them, says Brandon. Brandon is big into army guys.

Gracie has to admit that Brandon’s Awesome Plan probably would have worked out great if wasn’t for Jake.

They found 5-year-old Jake, laying half-dead under the remains of someone’s ranch house. He’s a good kid, even if he won’t-or can’t- talk.

But Jake has a secret, and when Gracie finds out what it is, the fragile new life they’ve started to forge looks set to break apart.

When the people you’ve been counting on to put the world back together start hunting you down, alien invaders are the least of your worries.

Add Untaken to your Goodreads ‘to-be-read’ list.

J.E. Anckorn, author, writing,About J. E. Anckorn:

J. E. Anckorn has been an artist and writer ever since she began to surreptitiously doodle on school supplies instead of learning about practical things, like osmosis and mathematics.

After barely surviving a freak mathematical osmosis disaster, she set out to travel the world, living in New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong before returning to her native Britain- just in time to marry an American and leave for the U.S.A. She still failed to learn anything about osmosis, but did manage to cultivate an accent that is unintelligible to almost everyone. (It happened through a mysterious net movement of information from the outside environment into her brain. If only there was a word for that!)

This led to her development of a new language, based almost entirely on polite yet uncomprehending nods. In between these adventures, she has worked as a toy designer, copywriter, and freelance illustrator. She lives in Boston, with a small grumpy dog, and a large, slightly less grumpy husband.
Find J. E. Anckorn Online:
Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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