Sunday, April 29, 2012

Facebook Posts

Why do people think it's okay to post life events on Facebook BEFORE telling immediate family members?

This has happened way too often in our family. Imagine finding out someone important to you has died on Facebook.


Are we that pathetic? What has happened to us that we can't pick up the phone-even it if it was just text someone the information?

A while ago, one of my in-laws posted that one of her family members died. It wasn't someone I knew. I saw her status and let my husband know. He immediately called her up and we gave her our condolences.  It wasn't but a few weeks later when someone else in her family died. This time I didn't see it. Why? Because I have a whopping 250 people on my personal Facebook page and my news feed moves fast. She got upset because we didn't call her. Well, how the hell we were supposed to know? You can't expect people to know what all of their Facebook friends have going on.

If that wasn't bad enough, just recently, one of my grandparents passed away in the middle of the night. It was like 4am. What did my aunts and cousins do? Posted it on Facebook immediately. Can you guess what happened? Other family members that were not awake at 4am found out when they got up at 6am or 7am or whatever and were checking their Facebook. No call. No text. They found out on Facebook. Not cool. Thankfully, my mother knew better and called me right away. I however did not wake my children up to tell them. I waited a couple hours until they got up for school to let them know. And thankfully my 14 year old had her iTouch taken away from her so she couldn't get on Facebook. Her texts and Facebook are the first things she checks in the morning, I have no doubt that if she had her iTouch, she would have found out on Facebook first.

Now this just applies to immediate family members and important things. Pregnancy, giving birth, death, marriage, ya know... important stuff. I told my husband, mother, and kids about my last pregnancy before announcing it to the rest of the world. Same with giving birth. And even when my grandparents died, I made sure my kids knew before *I* posted it on Facebook.

For those of you who don't understand what I'm saying...think about how you would really feel if you found out something 'big' on there. Whether it was your husband losing his job, your teen or your mother's pregnancy, a death of a family member, even a boy breaking up with you - imagine getting that news on Facebook. What if you got fired on Facebook? What if your doctor told you that you had cancer on Facebook? Not cool.

Think before you speak (or write). Pick up the phone and tell someone your news.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Indie Chicks - Melissa Smith

Writing Out the Grief
Melissa A. Smith

A common question people ask a writer is what made them decide to sit down and start writing in the first place. For me, it was grief.
While in high school, I wrote. I had taken journalism and the teacher loved my writings. Two pieces of my work had been published in two different school publications. I was also asked to join the staff for the school paper, but declined. I just didn’t like writing the things wanted for a paper. I liked creating stories to take you places. Inventing new worlds and people to live in them. I stopped writing after getting out of school and didn’t start again for several long years.
December 2008 had started like any other December before it. I was out shopping for those perfect gifts for each member of my family, and loving every minute of it. By my side was my shopping partner. My mom. My best friend. This year was a little different, as we made our rounds trying to get most of her shopping done earlier than her normal pace of slow (she was known to be out shopping as late as Christmas Eve), because she was set to have her final knee replacement surgery on the 19th. That day was also the last day of work I had before school let out for Christmas Break.
We had almost done everything she’d wanted to have done, done. But there were still a few things to gather, like stocking stuffers and things of that nature. She went in for her surgery and everything went great! The last time she’d been in the hospital, for the first knee 6 months prior, she’d contracted hospital-acquired pneumonia. Her doctor, wanting her to be healthy for the rigorous knee therapy that follows two days after surgery, released her the following day. The 20th.
Wanting to forgo giving you all the details, I received a phone call early on the 21st. A phone call no one wants to get. My father, who’d awoken to find his partner for the past 34 years gone, couldn’t make that call. The responding police officer had to do it for him. Pneumonia had taken her from us.
So started my decent into grief.
We were supposed to do some shopping before I took her to physical therapy that day. We were supposed to do a lot of things during my break, because she too had it off for recovery.
Instead, I had to help my dad organize a funeral.
During the year and a half that followed, I read over 230 books. All while working full time and tending to a family.
It was the start of summer vacation in 2010 when I’d run out of books to read. I dove into spending time with my boys and vegging at the pool daily. I thought it had been long enough, and maybe the grief wouldn’t be so sharp. I was wrong. Without having someplace for my mind to wander, to live in, I was a mess of tears.
It was then I’d woke up in the middle of the night, leaving a dream that made my brain buzz. I tried to shake it off, leave it where I found it. In my dreams. But it wanted to be let out. So I sat down in secret and started writing.
At first when my family noticed my switch from books to the computer and all my constant typing, they asked what I was doing. I lied. I told them I was writing to my sister who lives in Texas. At first they bought it, but as the typing went on, they were puzzled as to why I didn’t just call her and talk to her. Again, I lied. But this time I said she’d asked me to write down some things about our mom.
While they still were puzzled by all the clicking going on at the keyboard, they left me alone.
Three months later, I’d written and finished my first novel. Cloud Nine. During that time I also started on another story which I finished and released four months later.  
While writing started out as therapy for a grieving soul, it is now something I must do to keep all the exciting characters quiet. I love it! I only wish it could have developed without such dark beginnings, but nonetheless, my mother would be proud.
This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble
for the wonderfully low price of Free! To read all of the stories, grab your copy today!
Also included are sneak peeks into 25 great novels!
My young adult paranormal romance, Cloud Nine is one of the novels featured.

Want to find out more about Melissa and her books?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Indie Chicks - Michelle Muto

That's what I've been calling The Book of Lost Souls, the book that started my path to publication. I’ve always loved to write. I’ve always loved the way imagination and words blend on a page, the way they transport a reader to faraway worlds, or right next door, where witches live. From the time I was very young, books were an amazing world to me. There was no greater joy than going to the library with my mother whose love of books knew no measure. When I was very young, my mother read to me every night. As I grew older, we’d talk about the books we were reading.

Even as a young child, I knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. But, writing wasn’t what paid the bills. I got a regular job and life went on, although I still dreamed of writing. My father always told me to believe in myself and to never give up on what I firmly believed in. A few years after his death, I took up writing again. My mother, who was now ill and who had moved in with my husband and me, was happy to read what I wrote, or to set the table in order to give me a few more minutes of writing time.

And so I wrote and edited and revised. Just before the book was ready to send to agents, my mother died. I set the book aside. Writing was too painful, too full of memories.

But, the stories in my head wouldn’t let up, and so after a few years I started writing again. This time, I wrote about a teen witch named Ivy and her life in a small town, and I quickly fell in love with the story and the eclectic group of characters. I think of it as Buffy meets Harry Potter. When I typed the last line, I actually felt a pang of sorrow—I didn't want to say goodbye. Ivy and her story became The Book of Lost Souls, and after polishing it up, I sent it off to agents. Plenty were interested and requested the full manuscript. Unfortunately, most of them thought the book was too light. Too cute. Too Disney. They offered to read whatever else I had, as long as it was darker. Darker sells! Or so they said.

So, after two revisions for two separate agents that eventually didn't pan out (they said the book still had a lighthearted feel to it that wouldn't appeal to publishing houses), I set The Book of Lost Souls aside and started working on an outline for a much darker book.

It was around this time that the economy began to collapse—hard—and I was given the pink slip on Friday the 13th, right after I had completed a project that saved the company $400,000 annually. Say goodbye to eighteen years of loyal service! Suddenly, writing a darker, more dystopian book about the afterlife on top of losing my job seemed too much to take. Still, I recalled my father’s wisdom of believing in myself even when no one else did. I wrote and finished the next book, Don’t Fear the Reaper, in about seven months.

Still unemployed despite literally hundreds of applications, I began to worry we would lose our home or deplete our savings before I found a job. My career in IT was gone—off shored as they call it. I also wondered if I’d ever see any of my books published. I was so close to getting an agent so many times. Agents wrote back: You’re a strong writer. Or, The Book of Lost Souls is a great story and is well-written, but it’s not for me.

Nearly every morning, my inbox was filled with rejection letters from jobs and agents, yet I tried to stay positive. I kept repeating my father’s words to believe, to never give up. For every rejection, I sent out twice as many applications, twice as many query letters. I just tried harder.

I had been querying Reaper for about three months when I got an editorial letter from one of New York’s biggest literary agencies who'd had The Book of Lost Souls for nearly a year. A year! But, the letter was so enthusiastic about the story and my writing that I sat down and made every last revision they suggested. I turned it in and waited. Months went by. In the end, they rejected the story—not because they didn't love it, but because in the year and change they’d had the manuscript, another client had submitted a proposal for a story about a teen witch. Conflict of interest, they called it.

And that was that. My novel, the book that was finished, was dumped for someone else’s book that hadn't yet been written. Somewhat angry and depressed, I set The Book of Lost Souls aside. Again. By now, I was at the end of my rope. I was still unemployed and out of unemployment benefits. The only work I could find was the occasional short-term computer job, some tech writing gigs, or dog-sitting. Nothing full-time, and certainly nothing we could count on.

If the near-miss with Super Agency wasn’t enough, I found myself running into similar situations with Don't Fear the Reaper. Now, agents were saying, Too dark! But, you're a talented writer and we'd love to see other work. Or, You’re capable of incredibly incisive scenes—the opener is still one of the best things I read all year. And, my personal favorite, In this economy...

It was then that I learned about self-published authors such as Karen McQuestion and Amanda Hocking. I decided to go indie as well, starting with The Book of Lost Souls. What did I have to lose? A lot if I didn’t figure out a way for our household to stop hemorrhaging money. The only problem? I had no idea where to start. I sent an email to Ms. McQuestion, in the hopes she could point me in the right direction. She was so incredibly kind! Not only did she reply, she sent me a wealth of information on self-publishing. Today, she shares all that information on her blog. I’m incredibly grateful to her.

I got a cover I could afford with the help of another indie, Sam Torode. Two editor friends went over my work. Finally, I formatted the book and the rest is history. I uploaded The Book of Lost Souls in early March, and it’s been getting consistently great reviews ever since. As for being too lighthearted? I receive emails all the time from people who love that the book is funny, upbeat, and clean.

Within my first five weeks of self-publishing, I hit three best seller lists on Amazon. Me. An indie author without a publicist or a big agency or publisher behind them. Just me, my computer, my loving husband, and the devotion of two dogs at my feet.

I’ve been asked if there will be a sequel to The Book of Lost Souls. The answer is yes. Two more books, maybe a third. I just haven't thought that far out yet.

And the other, darker book? After some revisions, Don't Fear the Reaper debuted in late September 2011. On its first day, the book reached lucky #13 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases, Children’s Fiction, Spine-Tingling Horror. 

I’m only sorry that my parents aren’t here to see this. I took my father’s advice and my mother’s faith and reinvented myself. I still dog-sit and take on small computer jobs and tech writing gigs to help keep us afloat financially. But one day, I hope that my hard work will pay even more of the bills. Until then, I’m at peace with the way things are. 

Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Great advice. And so, The Book of Lost Souls, the book that nearly wasn’t, became the little book that could. I’m a firm believer that hopes and dreams are something to hold onto and fight for. Believe in the magic that is you. Keep your dreams close, and set your imagination free.

I’d like to dedicate my section of this anthology to readers everywhere—words alone cannot express how much I appreciate you believing in me. You’re every bit as much a part of the magic as Ivy herself. 

So, thank you, Dear Reader. Sincerely. Because, every author with a story to tell writes with you in mind.

Come connect with me. I’d love to hear from you:

Where to find my books:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Baby News - Monday Mom Post

Okay, I'm late in this too. Our baby boy was born two weeks late. My midwife said I had to be induced a day or two before the two week overdue mark to be able to have the baby at the birthing center. So, I said okay. We left to go to the birthing center at 7am. My midwife broke my water at 8:45am. I didn't have any pitocin or IVs or any other method of induction.

My contractions weren't real regular. They were more intense than they had been for the past few weeks, but nowhere near intense enough for me to think they were doing much.

I was 3cm when I got there, 5cm by 2:30 when my midwife suggested I get into the Jacuzzi. I didn't think it would help, in fact, I thought the Jacuzzi would make me too relaxed. I stayed in the tub for an hour and fifteen minutes. When I got out, the contractions started coming harder and closer together.

Around 5pm, I got in the bed and found out I was almost completely dilated and just needed my body to push this baby out.

Luke was born soon after after a few pushes. He really is a boy and I am completely in love with him. He's almost always in my arms. I can't stand putting him down. I will get back to writing, but it might be a month or so. I am in the last stages of writing another book with Julia Crane. Once that is done, I hope to write a YA drama and have it out before the end of the year. But, it all depends on how I feel. This is our last baby and that is a very emotional feeling. I want to cherish every minute I have with him.

Me in the room I gave birth in. Look at that awesome blue room, with ocean pictures, a big bed, and a Jacuzzi. So much better than a hospital setting. I'm all for giving birth outside of the hospital if you're not high risk. We got home at 9pm. So, I was gone for a total of 14 hours (the birthing center was an hour away - so I was there for 12 hours - not bad at all!)

This is my little guy shortly after he arrived.

And here he is all cleaned up.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Roots and Wings

Roots and Wings is the long awaited sequel to The Ultimate Sacrifice. Roots and Wings is the second in The Gifted Teens Series.

Roots and Wings has been uploaded to Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Although it takes about 2-3 weeks to go live on Apple and a couple days to go live on B&N.

I know it took me a lot longer than I originally said to get this book out to you. For that, I apologize. I had wanted it out around Christmastime, but being pregnant knocked me out this time around. Then I decided, I wanted this book to be the best it could be. So, I sent it to a professional editor and then a professional formatter.

I hope that fans of The Ultimate Sacrifice will like this sequel. As always, I love to hear from my fans. Feel free to leave me comments here or email me (taliajager at att dot net).

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Indie Chicks - Julia Crane

Julia Crane

Moving to the Middle East

Separation was normal in my marriage. My husband was in the military, and usually gone six months a year. We had adapted quite well to the schedule. Of course, we had the normal period of adjustment when he would return, but that was part of the lifestyle. We were looking forward to his retirement, and being able to spend more time together as a family. That didn’t work out quite as we expected. My husband was offered a job in Afghanistan that would set us up to really retire. The kicker? It would last a year. We thought the sacrifice would be worth it, so off he went. One year became a year and a half.

While he was gone I took care of our small business, running a gym. I loved it. It was very time-consuming, but it was also very rewarding. It started to wear on me only when my pre-teen children complained that I was always at the gym, and never had time for them. Finally, I told my husband that it was time for him to come home.

He put in his notice and started a stateside job. Though the new job still required him to be gone for six months of the year, the absences were in manageable blocks of two weeks. When he was home, he would take care of the gym and I would have time off. It was perfect.

Then he got a call from a friend, with a job offer that was just too good to turn down…in Dubai. We discussed it, and decided he should take the job, even though we had a new one-year-old.

Not long after my husband left for Dubai, I was at the breaking point. I felt trapped with the business, our teens, and a one-year-old always needing my attention. I had no personal space, and I’m a person that requires time alone, or else I get cranky.

As luck would have it, the new job offered to bring family members over to live in Dubai. My first thought about moving to the Middle East? “Yeah, right.” However, I researched Dubai and was surprised at what I found. The country seemed very modern, and the schools sounded good.

So I told my husband, “Ok, we’re coming.” While I was both nervous and excited, I was ready for a change, and moving to the Middle East sounded like just the adventure I needed.

When we got off the plane in October, the hot air hit my face and it felt like I had walked into a sauna. I thought, “Uh oh, what have I agreed to?” Yes, the heat is hard to handle, but you learn to live your life around it. We do most things early in the morning or after the sun sets. It is very much a nighttime culture. The city is beautiful and the Arabian Sea is breathtaking. I have grown comfortable living here, and easily call it my home. Though I can now see myself here for a few years, there are of course many things that I miss about America, and most of them involve food. Some things are just impossible to find: I’ve searched high and low for a Butterfinger, with no luck.

After a couple of months of enjoying my newfound free time, I eventually started to twiddle my thumbs. I was used to being busy, and with all the free time I needed to find something to fill the void. I saw an article that went into detail about how e-books had flung open many doors for writers. I thought that was interesting, and I mentioned it to my husband and he said he had also seen many articles saying much the same thing. I jokingly said that I was going to write a novel. My husband, who believes I can do anything, thought it was a great idea. I have always enjoyed writing even though I had not written much since having children. As a teen, I used to mail short stories to magazines and such, and like most avid readers, I always dreamed of someday writing a novel. Now I had my chance.

That same night I sat down to write, and the story quickly formed in my mind. I knew I wanted to write a young adult novel that would involve my Irish roots. The story just seemed to form itself: I would get ideas at random times and rush to write them down. It was frustrating at times, because I need relative quiet to focus. As you can imagine, with two teens and a two-year-old, finding quiet time is not easy. I wrote most of “Coexist” late at night when everyone was asleep. It took approximately three months to write the first draft, while the revision and editing process lasted longer than the initial writing.

A great part of the writing process for me has been interacting with other writers. I have met some amazing people from online writing groups and chat rooms. I learned a great deal in a short amount of time. I don’t think this undertaking would have been nearly as fun without the community I have found.
Moving halfway across the world has allowed me to have both more time with family, and the ability to pursue a dream I’ve had since a child.
This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To read all of the stories, buy your copy today.
Also included are sneak peeks into 25 novels!
My paranormal romance novel, Coexist: Keegan’s Chronicles #1,
is one of the novels featured.
All proceeds go to breast cancer research.

Coexist: Keegan’s Chronicles #1