Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Dawn Herring

Moving Forward

by Dawn Herring

Whether spoken or written, they have the power to harm or to heal.
The power behind words is vast.

This is where I start: with words.

My desire is to inspire, energize, enlighten, refresh and provoke thought with vignettes of my daily experience on topics relevant and universal.

I used words in song lyrics and essays at an adolescent age as I dealt with cultural, emotional, and spiritual issues that had deep relevance to me.

As the spiritual dimension of my life was heightened with entering adulthood, it continued to showed in the topics I wrote both in my essays and note taking from spiritual sources.

Journal writing was incited as I experienced a new and growing relationship with Bill, who would later become my husband. My entries were sporadic but detailed.

I found my use of words to be more prolific when emotions and feelings ran high, making writing a great creative and expressive outlet for me.

Once we married and had children, journal writing took on more significance, due to the dimension of motherhood added to my every day experience, writing to my first born and then to my second born, each in their own journals as well as my own.

When I chose to home school my children, I became a student myself as I began to digest all I could from books, magazines, and other writing sources to better my craft and learn about the publishing world.

As I continued to keep a more regular journal, both spiritually and personally, I received the seed to a novel that, at first, came in fits and starts. But with a move to a new neighborhood, my novel occupied my attention even more so as it took on a life of its own.

We were also in the process of starting up an electrical contracting business. The office work became my new job, so I had to learn to balance the time I spent on my novel versus on paperwork. For a time, I struggled with this issue and even put the novel aside for a couple of months so I could be loyal to the office work and not have it compete with my writing life although I continued to journal regularly and write the occasional essay. But, after much thought and consideration and discussion, I decided to return to my novel, with office work as priority over my writing.

A computer entered my world, making my writing even easier, and with the discovery of the Internet, my blog began its debut as I wrote for friends and family and anyone else who might stumble upon it. The vastness of the Internet, being the World Wide Web, felt huge to me, concerning exposure of my writing to those who found it.

Another move put my writing off for a couple of months as I packed and unpacked. But I managed to get back into the swing of things, still keeping the office work in the top slot and working more in the late afternoons on my novel, which was slowly progressing. I also continued posting on my blog, sharing tidbits of life from family and personal experience.

Then I discovered social networks, hearing about Twitter and then Facebook. As I waded through the in and outs of gaining friends and followers, I learned a lot along the way. I began to find so much information about publishing and writing, I was amazed. Newsletters and websites were a gold mine to me. I began to answer questions from the writing and home schooling online newsletters I received in my inbox and found my answers being published, which I celebrated.

I began to keep track of these publication credits, and I looked to garner more opportunities to share from my life experience. I submitted work to a writing newsletter where I was later published. I also published clips in my city newspaper which felt like my biggest accomplishment yet.

As I continued to work on my novel, I also began to write memoir pieces from my childhood as I discovered the memoir genre on line and in book stores. I was fascinated with reading what folks wrote about their personal lives. I also began to write poetry again, as a response to emotional and spiritual events that took on great importance in my life. I enjoyed using metaphoric imagery to express my feelings.

As I made more contacts and friends on line, I discovered chats on Twitter, especially one for writers called #writechat. I met many wonderful folks there and enjoyed the camaraderie with other writers. I was encouraged and inspired to keep working on my novel and my memoir as I chatted with new friends and shared my experiences on line.

I set and met the goal to complete my novel manuscript by Thanksgiving weekend in 2009. I was so excited! I knew I still had a lot of work ahead of me, but it was a great experience to share my accomplished goal with friends and family.

My blog has gained regular readers and friends who I appreciate, who inspire me to keep posting as I continue to write in the essay format.

My journal writing continues to be a major source of inspiration, often the framework from where much of my writing gets its start.

My goal is to be a continued source of inspiration and refreshment as I share samplings from my personal experience that I hope will encourage someone in a way that will truly make a difference.

I host and moderate a new chat on Twitter called #JournalChat for all things journaling. It's a place where those who journal can share the benefits and techniques they enjoy while those who are just getting started can be inspired and encouraged to begin their own journey into journaling. The chat takes place every Thursday at 2 EST/11 PST for one hour.

Here's a link for more info: Facebook/DawnHerring

You can follow me at @JournalChat on Twitter for updates, links, and more.

Dawn Herring is a freelance writer and avid journaler. Her website is and her blog is

Thanks Dawn for being this week's Writer Wednesday guest and thanks to all of you who taken time out of your day to stop by.

If you would like more info about this series, or would like to be a guest please follow this link Writer Wednesdays: The Intro .


Kristin : )

Friday, June 25, 2010

Book Giveaway

It's officially summer here in CT! Since my book, The Truth Lies in the Dark, has been called "...a great beach read" by reviewers, I figure why not do a summer book giveaway? So here it is...

I will be giving away 4 copies of my book The Truth Lies in the Dark to 4 people on Twitter. The terms are easy, and if you're not on Twitter you can still win. I'll tell you how right after I explain the Twitter terms.
  • All you have to do is RT the following message on Twitter.

RT to win a copy of The Truth Lies in the Dark & a beach surprise (via @KCBOOKS)

  • Or RT any of my posts about book giveaway to be entered.

Winners will be chosen on Sunday morning (eastern time) or when I have hit 2000 followers, which ever happens first. 4 winners will be announced and contacted by Sunday evening.

NON Twitter friends: I will also give away 1 copy of my book here. So if you don't have a Twitter account or would rather enter on my blog, please leave a brief message in the comments. One winner will be randomly chosen out of the comments on Sunday evening (eastern time) and will receive a copy of The Truth Lies in the Dark and a beach related surprise.

GOOD LUCK TO ALL! And thanks for stopping by.

Kristin : )

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Jo Lynne Valerie

I guess you could say being a writer pretty much permeates every facet of my life. I write books full time and I adore every aspect of the writing life. Love of my career has inspired my children. Two of them are avid readers and fiction writers; one has her own book review blog. My third child is a musician, song-writer and singer. I like to say we are a household of creatives.

For us, an enjoyable afternoon or evening out doesn't usually include a trip to the movie theatre or an amusement park. Don't get me wrong; my kids love movies and park rides! It's just that all three of them would choose a book store, preferably one with a cozy reading area for delving into new finds or cups of cocoa.

Readers, I'm incredibly grateful. I'm so very grateful my children love books and the whole bookish life as much as I do, because as an author, it is ever prevalent in our lives. In other households one might overhear a child saying, "What time is mom getting home from work?" Around here it's, "Did mom meet her deadline?" Other kids may exclaim, "My mom just got a raise at her job!" My kids are more apt to exclaim, "Mom sold big at her signing event today!" They know when the Low Noise Zone sign is on my office or bedroom door, I'm writing and therefore would like quiet. Because respect is reciprocal here, I likewise honor the request for no noise when my daughter is writing or recording a song, when my other girl is typing up a book review, or my son is penning a new poem.

But writing is only the beginning for today's authors. Hard-core dedication and work is required if one is to sustain in a crowded and competitive industry. Gone are the days when an author could simply write and then recline while editors, publishers and publicists took things from there. Today, all authors, whether big pub or small press, must promote, publicize, build a readership and ideally create a connection with fans.

What does this take? It takes all of the dedication required of a second job. Today's free social media tools and sites are clever and powerful aids. An author may create her own profiles for sites such as twitter, facebook and myspace. She may further connect on linkedin and she may promote videos and book trailers on youtube. Of course, the extent to which these tools are used depends upon the personality and willingness of the author. Not everyone likes to engage; not everyone is comfortable promoting and not every author understands the subtle but powerful differences between promotion and selling.

I didn't do it consciously, but I seem to have created a daily schedule for my writing and online connecting. It evolved in a very organic yet workable way. I start most days of the week with salutations to readers, friends and fans on my SM sites and then I usually get right into the cosmic energies for the day. With my background in metaphysics and paranormal studies, building my ParaGoddess brand has been a great way to provide readers with extra information that is both useful and fun. Having written for spiritual publications, I am all about positive energy, and I share that abundantly online, too. From there, as mornings are my most productive time, I move into whatever work there is for the day. That could mean editing, straight-up writing new material, or revising. Any given day may find me signing and shipping swag or books, writing up blog posts (an excellent way for the professional writer to maintain a connection with her readers is through regular blogging) or engaged in the hard core business end of being an author, which could mean taking inventory, balancing accounts, monitoring sales or scheduling book events.

My kids understand this is what I do for my career and it's who I am, but children are only young once, and I will always be a mom before all else. So I always break to pick them up from school, and we eat dinner together every night. When they settle down to do their homework or relax with some television or reading in the evening, that's when I return to writing. For professional writers, living the life is just that - a lifestyle. For me, writing is not a hobby and it's not a job. It is the manifestation of who I am... and I am blessed to be able to live this writer's life.

Jo Lynne Valerie
Award-Winning Paranormal Author☽♥♥☾

✯2010 - Next Indie Excellence Finalist Award - Romance Category
✯2010 Indie{Pendent} Books "Author To Watch"
✯2009 Winner - Great Book Video Contest
✯2008 Best in Paranormal Fiction - Silver Ravenwolf Contest

A good story can be magic... let me show you.

Follow Me on TWITTER!
Let's be FACEBOOK friends!
Friend me on MYSPACE!
And please visit my blog! It's sexy, spiritual, cosmic, literary, caffeinated and often Riesling splashed. In short: FUN!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you Jo Lynne for being this week's Writer Wednesday guest and for inspiring other writers with your positive approach to writing and to life. This is what this series is all about, sharing why we write and inspiring each other. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to stop by today.

If you would like more info about this series, or would like to be a guest please follow this link Writer Wednesdays: The Intro .

Thanks Again,

Kristin : )

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Dan McNeil

I didn’t start out wanting to be a novelist. The truth is, I wanted to be a songwriter. I play music, I write music, I love music. It seemed to be a natural – write songs. However, after about a decade of creating pop ditties with my cousin and song writing partner, I realized that that particular dream wasn’t going to materialize any time soon (too bad – some of the tunes were pretty catchy.) It was then that I got the idea for “The Judas Apocalypse.”

Okay, I thought. Let’s do this. Let’s write a book.

Now how the heck was I going to do that? Song writing was tough enough and now I want to do this? Man, I wasn’t a novelist. I didn’t even know the first thing about it.

So, being a creative masochist, I forged ahead.

The plot was going to span two thousand years, so it was clear that I was going to have to do a ton of research – both historical and theological - for this story to make any kind of sense Research? That was like school work and as I recalled, I was a horrible student. What was I thinking?

Forget it, I said to myself. You don’t have the dedication to pull this off. Who are you kidding? So I put away the idea of being a writer.

The problem was that I thought the idea was killer. It gnawed at me and I thought that it should be written. I ran the idea past anyone who would listen. On the surface, I thought that maybe they would tell me how fantastic it was and that I should write it. Secretly though, I was hoping someone else would run with the idea and write it instead of me.

Of course that didn’t happen.

Since no one was taking me up on my subtle plea to write it, I decided (damn it!) that I would have to do it. Who knows? Maybe I could pull this off. With a deep breath and much trepidation, I started to do the research. I hoped it would take me a couple of weeks to research and about the same amount of time to write it.

Oh man, I can be an idiot sometimes. What was I thinking? For about a year and a half (actually way more than that, if you count the time from the actual idea inception) I pored over books, magazine articles and websites about the Cathars, the Knights Templar, the Nazi obsession with the occult, and the Crucifixion. And that was just the tip of the friggin’ iceberg. Song writing was starting to look good again.

Finally I was finished with the research. I had everything that I thought I needed and it was time to begin the actual writing process. All I had to do now was start.
Well, that was easier said than done.

After a few (many) false starts, I began. I soon found that I could write better in the morning, so I would get up early and try to write for about an hour before I had to get ready for work. It was tough for the first couple of weeks, but by now I had fallen into some kind of “writing rhythm.” Once I had the first few chapters out of the way, surprisingly the whole process seemed to take off on its own.

I was writing. Maybe I could pull this off after all.

For close to a year I wrote, edited, polished, re-wrote, re-edited and re-polished. I wrote during lunch hours, before dinner, before bed, even at work, thanks to a poorly thought out schedule that gave me an hour a day where I was doing nothing – every available second of the day was used (maybe I was more dedicated than I thought!)

Finally at the end of May 2006, I typed “The End,” hit “save” and printed out a copy for posterity. I asked some of my friends to check out my efforts. To my delight (and surprise), they told me that they liked it (even the hard asses were enthusiastic). Then they ruined it by asking me if I was going to try and have it published.

Published? Now, I’ll admit that the thought had crossed my mind a couple of times, and I had checked it out, but it sure wasn’t something I was really interested in pursuing. Getting songs published was impossible, but getting a novel published? What’s harder than impossible? Initially I shrugged it off but after much cajoling, I decided to take a look at this publishing business. I began to look up agents online and saw I needed a query letter and a synopsis.

Oh wow - writing the damn book was way easier than writing those two things.
So I wrote a query letter. Then I re-wrote it. Then I re-wrote it again. Why is this so hard? The funny thing is it was easier to compose the query letter than the damned synopsis. Once these heinous jobs were complete, I began to flood agents with the queries, requests for chapters and synopsises (synopsi? What’s the plural for synopsis anyway?)

For a long time it was a predictable exercise in futility. If I printed out all the rejections, I could have wallpapered the bathroom (with extra to replace the roll of Royale.) Was I discouraged? I suppose if I hadn’t been prepared from my earlier song writing endeavours, I would have been, but nevertheless I continued this increasingly quixotic-like pursuit.

Eventually I came across a website for a publisher holding a contest for novel manuscripts. Since I hadn’t gotten anywhere taking the agent route, I thought I’d give this a shot. At least, I thought, this way I can get a realistic critique of the book. With no real expectations of winning, I fired it off, and then promptly forgot about it.

In March 2007 I received word that I had won. My story was going to be published by I Publish Press.

I was stunned. It was to be published in print, as an e-book and even an audio book. How cool was that? I was going to be an actual published author. Now I could sit back and rest on my laurels.

Over the next few months we corresponded, discussing edits, changes, title possibilities more changes and more edits. What happened to sitting back and resting on my laurels?

I didn’t know it yet, but now the real job had begun – we needed to whip the book into publishable shape and that was going to take another eight or nine months.

If I had known that this whole process from beginning to end was going to take close to four years, would I have even done it? Looking back, it’s quite probable that I wouldn’t have, but then I would have missed out on an incredible experience. I wrote the book just to see if I could do it and much to my surprise, I found that I could. It was a tough, tiring and at times, a really damn frustrating job but ultimately it was immensely satisfying. And it’s kinda cool to say I wrote a book too.

I remember when I got the first copy. As I held it in my hand, I was asked if I was going to write another one. After all the trials and tribulations I went through, the long hours, the constant re-writes, the rejections, I said I would have to be crazy to do all that all over again.

So I must be crazy – I’m shopping the second one right now.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thanks Dan for being my guest today and thanks to all of you who took time out your day to stop by. More information about Dan and his writing can be found through the following places.

Twitter: @DanMcNeil888

If you would like more info about this series, or would like to be a guest please follow this link Writer Wednesdays: The Intro .


Kristin : )

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A New Kind of Challenge

Today started off horribly. Our new puppy kept me up all night whining to go outside. Once out there she would sit in the rain or try to play. By 4:00AM I was sitting next to her crate, to keep her from waking the entire house, reading a dog training book in the dim glow of a night light. The rational me knew there was no quick fix to training, but the exhausted me was desperate to find some command, trick, word to hypnotise, or even a puppy safe vulcan pinch. Anything to quiet Scout down and allow me my much needed sleep.

After my long night I awoke to the sounds of a tween meltdown as my son suddenly realized he had a project due TODAY and he wasn't finished. As I break the bad news (tough love) that I'm not letting him finish and then driving him in to school late my daughter enters the scene. She can not make her lunch, or even stand in the kitchen because all of the end of the school year excitement and changes are wreaking havoc on her nervous stomach. As if this is not enough, my oldest comes home from working all night and proceeds to play with the equally tired puppy. She gets over excited and begins biting EVERYONE, happily, because we are her walking chew toys. The sooner we accept this, the better it will be :) I swear that's what she says with her eyes every time I say no.

There is nothing like a morning like this to make you feel alive, get your blood pumping, and pretty much give you ulcers. Thankfully, I have a good support system. My husband, who looked a little too happy to skate off to work has been calling and making jokes, trying to gauge just how close to popping I really am, and I know I can always call my mother. But this morning I took my stress to twitter.

To anyone who says Twitter friends are not real I say you're very wrong. What is a friend, but someone you share commonalities with, laugh with, and cry with. My Twitter friends were quick to offer smiles and encouragement and it was just the pick me up I needed this morning.

In addition to a mood adjustment I also stumbled upon a very intriguing challenge on Twitter. It's called 21.5.800. Strange name, but amazing concept by Bindu Wiles. The 21 day personal challenge combines yoga (5 days a week) with writing (800 words a day). This is a great way to jump start both your exercise and writing routines, both of which have been pushed to the back burner in my life lately. Not to mention that both of these activities are very good good for the soul and stress reduction. After the morning I had it didn't take much convincing to say, "I'M IN!"

Are you? You can find more information about 21.5.800 on You can also follow on Twitter @binduwiles . And don't forget to check out the hashtag to read updates and stories #215800

I'm always here if you need to vent and please let me know if you plan to join the 21.5.800 challenge.


Kristin : )

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Elissa Stein

The Road to Writing

Last fall, before my latest book was released, a friend in PR suggested I join twitter, building a community to share the experience with. My initial goal was to hype FLOW’s release but conversations and interest quickly evolved. Not only did I chronicle events as they happened—the launch party, press mentions, TV appearances, radio interviews—I shared the emotional highs and lows. The thrill of 100 books at Rizzoli’s dwindling down to nothing as I signed copies for hours. Seeing my name on a dressing room door backstage at The View. Hey, hugging Whoopi Goldberg who thanked me for writing the book. I talked about the post pub crash. The waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the next big thing to happen and finding nothing. My obsessive google searches and amazon sales rank checks. I shared it all.

Early on, somebody asked what my writing practice was.
I didn’t have one.

My eleventh book was about to be published and I didn’t have a regular writing routine. In fact, I didn’t consider myself a writer. I’d been a graphic designer for years, working mostly in publishing, and I had (have) countless ideas. Through determination, contacts, and luck, one book (an anthology of vomit stories) led to more (pop culture histories for Chronicle Books). My proposals were usually a few paragraphs, well designed, art liberally sprinkled throughout. I was more about the big picture, never actually writing until I was paid. And then? Panic. I struggled with every sentence never confident I was doing a good job, always shocked when an editor would send something back with minimal changes. But FLOW was different. For months I had to submit a chapter, 5000 words, a week. It was the most intense most insane, most painful work experience I’d ever had. When I was done, writing for any reason was the last thing I wanted to do. Having said that, that writing practice question gnawed at me. And so, last October, I challenged myself to blog for 40 straight days. It’s called a sadhana in yoga—the thought being that if you commit to something for 40 days it becomes part of your routine.

The beginning was brutal. I’d wake up in the dark to write when everyone was still asleep. It would take hours for me to feel comfortable enough to hit the publish button and share my thoughts with the world. And while no one was actually reading anything I wrote, I worried. I worried about what I was writing about, how it sounded, did I need to make a point, what the point was. Every time I sat at my laptop, I struggled.
But, I kept going.

And going. It’s been seven months and, except for a few days over Christmas when I was on a cruise ship with no wifi, I’ve written every day. I’ve gotten better. I’ve gained confidence. I discovered my voice and that I have a distinct point of view. People follow my blog and are interested in what I have to say. I started posting on Huffington Post and then, last month, was asked by a friend at if I’d like to do a guest post for them. I now have blogging privileges there and am reaching a completely different audience. Ideas for pieces pop into my head, fully formed sentences appear out of nowhere. Words have become my means of communicating. Words by themselves, without the design and art crutches I relied on so heavily before.

Now, when someone asks me what I do, I say I’m a writer. Without apologies, explanations or hesitation.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you Elissa for being my guest and for sharing your writing story and thanks to all of you who have stopped by today. More information about Elissa and her books can be found at the following places.

Twitter: @elissastein


Thanks Again to all,

Kristin : )

If you would like more info about this series, or would like to be a guest please follow this link Writer Wednesdays: The Intro .

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Randy Susan Meyers

"Don't let Daddy in the house." That's what my mother said to my eight-year-old sister one Saturday afternoon. Then she went to take a nap. She may have warned me as well, but I was barely five at the time and can't remember.

Years later, as adults, when my sister and I began exploring our childhood in the way siblings do, comparing scars and recollections, piling up wrongs and shining up our funny stories, my sister mentioned this as though I knew about it. "Remember when I let our father in the house and he tried to kill Mom?" She swore I was there (where else would I be at that age?) but I didn't remember any of it. As the years went by, and my sister fed me more details, the scene took root in my mind and became my memory also. I heard my father sweet-talking his way in and the echoes of my mother's screams.

Maybe this is why I ended up working with violent men for many years, men ordered by the courts to the Boston-based Batterer Intervention Program where I ran groups. Maybe this is why I wrote The Murderer's Daughters, a story of sisters who witness their father murder their mother.

My clients represented the whole continuum of ferocity toward women. They bullied, hit, smacked, punched, and broke bones; some had murdered. When asked where their children were during these incidents, almost all answered the same way: they were sleeping.

Children do not sleep through these traumatic moments. Some freeze. Some bury the horror so deep it can't be accessed. Some get stuck re-creating the incidents in their own lives (like so many of my clients had.)

Many become strong at the broken places and as adults are teachers, nurses, law enforcement; the helping professions are full of them.

When talking with batterers and speaking with their victims, I thought of my own parents. I couldn't ask my father what happened; he'd died when I was nine. My mother wouldn't discuss the past under any circumstances and hated to hear my sister and I examine it from every angle, rolling her eyes when we did made old troubles into humorous anecdotes. We didn't dare ask about the time our father threatened to murder her.

However, I kept asking myself, what if? What if my sister hadn't been brave enough to get the neighbors? What if the neighbors hadn't raced upstairs? What if the police hadn't come in time?

What if my mother had died?

Writing is like that for me, a chain of "what if" after "what if." When my sister and I were young, after being forced to turn out the lights, we'd pretend to take imaginary books off imaginary bookshelves and ask each other: what are you dreaming tonight? Somehow, my waking dreams were always part nightmare, giving the truth that macabre twist we all fear. I suppose The Murderer's Daughters is a story from that childhood shelf.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Randy Susan Meyers is the author of THE MURDERER'S DAUGHTERS, released in January 2010 by St. Martin's Press. Her family drama is informed by her work with batterers and victims of domestic violence, as well experience with youth impacted by street violence. This post was also published recently in the Huffington Post.

Thank you Randy for being my Writer Wednesday guest this week and thanks to all of you who have stopped by today. More information about Randy and her work can be found at the following places.