11.01.2017

Happy (belated) Halloween! And my crazy plans for November... #IWSG

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month and encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts today are:
 Tonja Drecker,Diane Burton, MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass!


Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional! 

November Question - Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

pumpkins  

Hey there! 

This past weekend my kids, husband, dog, and I went to my dad's for our annual pumpkin carving afternoon. It's always a sad(dish) day without my mom (She passed away in 2015.), but it's also very nice to carry on the tradition and to hang out with Grandpa. 

Here are the pumpkins we carved (From left to right: My dad's, My husband's, My eldest son's (carved mostly by Grandpa, based on my son's design), My youngest son's (carved mostly by me based on his design), My middle son's.) 

While they carved, I took pictures and discovered this editing feature on my husband's phone, which is why you get this artistic picture of our pumpkins instead of the one where they look normal and orange. :) You can see a couple of the other pictures I posted on tumblr

Many of you know I ran a half-marathon in September and that it's nothing new for me to run that particular race (I've been running it since my oldest son (who's almost 12) was born, but I can't remember if I told you that my feet hurt (unusually so) for a couple of weeks afterward. No worries, however, they feel fine now. I'd just worried I'd done permanent damage. Learning nothing, I agreed to run another with my cousin at the end of November. 

Since I knew I'd have to log some miles to train for another half this month, when my friend Monica tagged me in a Facebook running (log your miles) challenge, I figured why not? However, I found out it's a bit more involved than simply run when you run and keep track of your miles kind of a thing. There's payment and buying items for charity and group running involved... 

Luckily, the ladies (that I just met via one private Facebook message the other night) seem very kind. One is going to shop for us all and I think they'll be understanding if I'm unable to be a part of the group runs. 

Trying to fit in anything extra this month is insane BECAUSE, and this is the most important part of the post: I'M PARTICIPATING IN NANOWRIMO2017. What does that mean? IT'S NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH, so crazy creative writers frantically pen at lease 1,667 words per day in order to get a 50,000 word novel written during the month. 

Most people spend the months prior planning out their plot so the writing will come much easier and their plot will be organized. 

I spent the previous month finishing my novella, After the Ashes. I still need to find time to complete revisions so I can send it to my editor. 

Which brings me to another thing I plan to do this month. Release book 1.5 in my Kingdom Come series. How I planned for Nanowrimo2017:
  1. Bought candles
  2. Have my trusty phone with music on it next to me
  3. Took a long run and "plotted" out some of the action and dialogue for When Fire Rains Down (book 3 in my series)
Wish me lots of luck. I think I'll need it!

I plan to do brief daily posts on my progress (on Cecelia's blog), so stay tuned. I'd love it if you'd cheer me/her on there, on twitter, tumblr, instagram, email, facebook (@authorcecelia)... anywhere you can find me!

To answer this month's question: YES, I won Nanowrimo in 2015 and plan to publish it next year. It's a contemporary YA so it will be a fun break from the angel fantasy I've been working on for what feels like forever now!

I'll let you know when After the Ashes is released. Until then... it's All Saints' Day, so here's a link to some fun Halloween history and a quote from my current favorite saint that just happens to do with writing, along with a link to learn more about her. Read about the Origins of Halloween .

“I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God Who is sending a love letter to the world.” --Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Mother Teresa (Learn more.)

10.04.2017

#IWSG: Yes, I have... been laughed at.

  
Hello Writers! Time for another IWSG monthly post.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!


Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 


The awesome co-hosts for the October 4 posting of the IWSG are Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Jennifer Hawes, and Tamara Narayan!

October 4 question - Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

I have, both accidentally and on purpose, though I think the accidentally is getting less and less the more I write. When I first shared some of my writing with family members and friends, they'd laugh and list off all the ways the character(s) and settings were "totally" me or my family or the town we live in or near. And since it stuck out at them and made them laugh (Nothing they laughed about was intended to be comical.), I learned to watch my writerly self and cut that out real quick.

And... I'll tell you some examples of ways my personal information has slipped into my novels later today... Sorry, I didn't leave enough time to write this morning.

To be continued....

Okay... lunch break. :)

some personal tid bits that have sneaked their ways into my stories over the years:

my main characters are always a little anti-social and goal-driven, which makes them unlikable... that's a little bit me as I'm an introvert and can close up pretty tightly. it takes a lot to get me to leave my house sometimes! i need to venture out as a writer in the personality department!

my main characters are usually runners (like me!)

sometimes characters say something that friends and family think are "so me" and my phrases (gah!)

my novels usually have a small amount of faith-based issues in them (my faith is important to me) in my current series, my dad spotted some scenarios from my real-life childhood (he read the bible to me growing up, he left notes for me before going to work, etc)

my very first novel was set in a house that i'd visited during a local parade of homes (i'd wanted that house!)

i may or may not have modeled a main character's love interest on an ex-boyfriend...

i named a character's mom after  a favorite soap opera character from my childhood

i modeled a bowling alley after a real life bowling alley in my town

i've started using friend's/family member's names in my novels for their amusement and enjoyment :)

current readers of my books have found these similarities in setting:

shady creek, wi (fiction) is similar to black creek, wi (a real life nearby town that really was not on my mind when i created the fictional town)

a character is taken to st. elizabeth hospital (a real life hospital in our city)

i'm sure there are more, but i'm out of ideas at this moment!

back to work!

On a side note... I also really miss Erica, and I don't think she's ever coming back to me. But she was the funny one of us. (She's fine and well and doing amazing things. She just doesn't blog anymore and we don't chat as much as we used to... which used to be multiple times, daily.) Man, those good ol' days of blogging back in 2010-11.  We had some fun times!




9.06.2017

#IWSG September: Surprise! It's fantastical!

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. (Check out the link for the IWSG for other updates, too, including an anthology contest and special post in October!)

The awesome co-hosts today are Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant, and Beverly Stowe McClure!
September’s optional question - Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?

(Sorry I missed August and was way late posting today. I'm a first grade teacher, so last month was all about prepping my classroom for school, which began yesterday... it's a brand new year!)

YES! I have tried a genre I wasn't comfortable in... and then decided to publish it OVER the genre that is "mine" (meaning what I feel I write best). But I do plan to publish in my "real" (winky face) genre next year... and look forward to it. In fact, I MISS writing it very much. That said, I am SO glad I can now switch back and forth.

I'm the type of person that gets bored easily. When I run or drive, I leave one way, and return another, always finding a cyclical route so I don't have to go the same way twice. Each school year, I completely mix up my schedule and rearrange the bookshelves, reading area, and my desk space. Publishing has been another one of these "cyclical" "mix-it-up" experiences. It's not just write, revise, edit. I can also design covers, market, format, and find new ways to engage readers. Although, I am finding it hard to find the writing time I used to and so I'm at a lull in wordage! (Starting a new school year is not all that helpful either!)

Which genres do I write, do you ask? I began writing a paranormal/fantasy about a girl who could see auras and travel through a portal to another dimension, but then gravitated toward contemporary young adult fiction and that felt WAY more comfortable. I wrote about teens who had romance, friend, and family troubles. Then, I migrated toward griefy contemporary fiction for young adult and really found my place, writing lyrical prose inspired by Jandy Nelson (The Sky Is Everywhere) and Tahereh Mafi (Shatter Me) and Maggie Stiefvater (Shiver). That's my kind of writing. Then, somehow I fell into angel books and started my own series (Christian Fantasy) and have been there for a while now, publishing and completing my series. It's a fantastical world and cast of characters. Sometimes I feel nervous letting my imagination go enough to make my stories paranormal enough. Readers and critique partners and reviewers have said that my books are fantasy well-grounded in reality... and you know what? I take that as a huge compliment, because that's what I enjoy reading and that's who I am as a writer.

I've hit a rough patch, however, and haven't written much in the past few weeks. Here's my advice to myself (and anyone else in an unwriterly phase):

1) Give yourself a break. I know to be a writer, a paid writer, one should write even when not in the mood, but... It'll come. It'll return and then you'll be even more productive. Trust in yourself and your writing.

2) Read. Relax and read. You'll be rejuvenated, re-inspired, and love the process all over again. Reading will help you. I have complete faith (in you and this advice).

3) Get some exercise and some sleep. Seriously. Your body and mind need them.

4) Spend time with friends and family. Boat. Camp. Take a hike through a forest. Shoot a bow and arrow. Play human fooseball. (How do you spell that?)

5) Don't give yourself a timeline. Let your writing self breathe without a deadline.

What do you think? What do you do when you have stress in your life that kills the writer in you? How do you find your motivation and inspiration again?

I've been reading instead of writing (and have done the other suggested activities). I've read Shearwater (Derek Murphy), The Siren (Kiera Cass), Insidious (Victoria Evers), Fallen and Tormented (Lauren Kate), Lady Midnight (Cassandra Clare), and maybe a couple more that are escaping me right now (even though I know I enjoyed them!).

Take care this month! See you in October!

Christy





7.05.2017

#IWSG JULY: There will be ups and there will be downs.


It’s another IWSG posting day when we share our insecurities and encourage each other. For today’s hop, Captain Alex’s trusty helpers are Tamara Narayan, Pat Hatt, Patricia Lynne, Juneta Key, and Doreen McGettigan.


What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

There will be ups and there will be downs, but all along the way, there will be people to help you up, to tug you along, to help you see past--and hurdle--the upcoming challenges and frustrations.

Writers are encouragers, and we need one another to talk us through giving up, to talk us out of packing up and going home.

Even John Green, an author who reached enormous success, had a down period. I know this, because he's like many of us--he shared it. He was honest and open and he admitted to feeling scared, to hitting a low point in writing. He'd had so much success that he ended up with writer's block, afraid to fail. He felt he would be measured against his previous novels, and then couldn't bring himself to write-- because of the possibility of writing poorly and failing.

But, I heard recently he has another book coming out! So, he faced his fears and is willing to face his readers again with something new.

We need to do the same.

We need to face our fears and look failure in the face. It's the only way to find success again.

Now, each of us will have a different measure of success and failure. We all have goals, and, while our end goals may be the same, our daily, benchmark goals are probably different. My current goal: I want to have consistent sales. For many that may be 25 sales per day. For me? I'm happy if I sell 1-3 books per day. My goal right now is consistency, and I'm not meeting it. My sales fluctuate, and consequently, my Amazon sales rank continues to fluctuate also (between 19,000 and 300,000).

Do I look at authors who sell consistently and have sales rank I envy? Yes. Do I imagine they don't have days of failure? Yes. But I'm assuming that can't be true. I'm sure they see another goal in the distance and, therefore, while working to meet it, they must also have days where they feel like they are failing. Or, at least, they may feel they haven't found the success they are working toward--yet.

When our goals are not being met, when we are in a down period, we may need to make changes.

The ups and downs may mean being reactive. Making changes. Researching. Learning. Being malleable. Knowing we'll never know everything--no, accepting we'll never know everything. Allowing ourselves to learn little by little. Listening to others. Taking chances. Growing and evolving. Celebrating small successes and looking forward to larger ones, even when in a valley of doubt, insecurity, and failure. Taking those failures and turning them into successes, because we've gained knowledge from them and allowed them to help us move another direction. Or, to keep someone else from falling in that same pit.

Watch, listen, and learn from other authors.

Other authors can serve as our role models. Many are open with what they've tried. What's worked. What hasn't. Pay attention, and give their suggestions and advice a try.

While my success (1-3 sales per day and 1,000 page reads per day) may be seen as failure to an author who's found greater success than that, it's my current place on my journey. It's not my starting point, I'm a couple months past that, and each week has brought new challenges and new successes and my goals continue to evolve.

An author whose advice I follow is Derek Murphy. One of the things that draws me to his advice is that he's humble and willing to admit when he's messed up. That is what has given me confidence to try new things, because he's hugely successful and yet, his road hasn't been perfect. Sometimes he's impulsive. Sometimes he tries something new and it doesn't work. But much of what he does DOES work, and he's open and willing to share it with other authors.

Be patient, but know when to move on. Know when something is or isn't working.

Marketing has been my biggest challenge, and learning to be patient, as well as making changes, is what I'm working on right now. Sometimes I'm too impulsive and I make too many changes too quickly.

Sometimes I don't know what the problem is.

Right now I'm changing direction, changing gears, and trying something unknown and scary, but what I was doing wasn't moving me in a new, more successful direction, so it's time to make a change and see what happens next.

Get organized.

I also need to better organize my spending and income. My husband told me that unless I am keeping detailed track, writing is still my hobby and not my business.

I have my excel spreadsheets now, but I still need to work on consistently updating it.

Be smart. Be strategic. Have foresight.

I've been working on making sure my books match the genre they fit into and recently changed my e-book covers.

I took my first book out of the Kindle Unlimited program this week, which is a scary, scary change for me. I was finally reaching 1,000 page reads per day and now I've eliminated that income for this month, BUT I know I need to find my readers. And so, I'm including it in Book Funnel giveaways with the hopes that readers will find me and my books, and though I'm losing income this month, finding readers will help my business down the road when I continue to release book after book in this series.

I hope.

Share the knowledge.

I'm pretty low on the pole of author-know-how and I'm pretty fresh at publishing and marketing, but I've learned since I started out, and that means I have info and strategies and resources to share. I'm a first grade teacher, so sharing and teaching is who I am, but I also feel like I'm failing when I'm not sharing. I wrote a So You Want To Be An Indie Author (part one) post MONTHS ago, and every week I plan to write the part two and part three, and at this point, part four. But I haven't yet. So, a goal for this month is to get those posts out there.

I couldn't be more grateful for the other writers and authors who are transparent with their journey, so I need to be open and honest with you all out there too. Just in case there's someone out there in need of a hand or a word of encouragement. Because my know-how posts will NOT tell you how I've done everything perfect and right or how I became a best-selling author overnight. No, my posts will tell you what I've done, what a new indie author might expect to do or sell or experience. What NOT to do, what to try, what has worked and what has not worked for me. I will share the questions I've had and the resources where I found the answers.  I will share how even though I'm NOT, nor anywhere near, making my same income as teaching, how I still plan to--someday.  And I'll make a plan to learn how to get there. With your help. Because you're someone who makes a difference and helps me get through the constant ups and downs of writing and publishing.

So, thanks. For being here. Or for being there for someone on their journey.

And whether you are currently at an up or down point on your journey, keep going, and never give up.

#IWSG rocks.

~Christy










6.07.2017

#IWSG June: Just Keep Writing, Just Keep Writing... but not marketing.






I can't say that I ever wanted to quit writing.

I know I wanted to quit querying and doing twitter contests and this week I may have considered quitting publishing, but never the writing itself.  Of course, without all the other things, I'm not sure what I'd be writing FOR. I'm not one who is writing stories purely for my own enjoyment anymore. I want others to read them.

So I need to keep writing and publishing and writing and publishing.  Because that's the route I've chosen for my current paranormal angel series. (I never queried it, because every time I looked at MSWL for my contemporary realistic books, I saw most agents had NO angels and demons on their lists... so that was that!)

I'M NOT GOING TO QUIT

My eleven year old (who has been expressing lately that he's sick of me writing, because I just released a second book and the last two weeks were less than pleasant as I wrapped up a school year and formatted the paperback (w/o vellum!)) asked me yesterday, "Mom, what happens if you just don't write the third book in your series?" I said, "I wouldn't do that. I have a business with a product to deliver, and I will deliver it." He said, "But has that ever happened? Has anyone said they were going to have a series, but then quit in the middle and not publish the rest?" I said, "I'm sure that's happened." I'm not sure that it has, but I could understand if it has! I mean, I'm exhausted right now, and if I had to put the next book out this month, I wouldn't be able to do it! But I'm going to take a week or two to recharge, read books I've been waiting to read for months, write something different to give my brain a break, and THEN I'll get the third book out to readers.

Just keep writing and publishing.  This is the business route I've chosen, and though tired at the moment, I'm loving it. 

The marketing, however, is another story.

I'M GIVING IT A YEAR (and five books)

I'm having the darndest time finding my readers. Teens who read clean angel fantasy. That's who I need. I'm a teacher, so the middle schoolers have been devouring my books. I sold about 70 paperbacks (in person, through Amazon, and through one bookstore that's carrying my book) and maybe around 400 (off the top of my head, I haven't checked recently to double check this number) e-books between sales, page reads, and free days (this is for book one that's been on sale since January).  Lately, though, even with a new release... crickets.  I had 31 pre-orders for book 2 and about 6 e-book sales since and 10 paperbacks so far.  (Book two released May 31.)

WHERE ARE MY READERS?

I'm doing a book blitz via blogs and social media... Zero sales have come from it, though MAYBE the readers who are adding it to their TBR really will decide to read it in the next weeks/months and not forget about my book once the $15 Amazon gift card prize is over and done with...

I NEED HELP :)

I clearly don't understand how to best utilize the 7 keywords on Amazon, though I've read countless posts on why this is important and how to zero in my niche.  Nope, unless someone tells me the magic keywords for my books, I guess it's not going to happen! Though I did add paranormal angel romance to my title yesterday to help reach my niche readers...

I have a newsletter with about 500 subscribers (1000 more to be added this month through a Ripley Patton giveaway), but I'm not sure THEY even read what I write.  I had a survey and about 15 responded and they prefer paranormal to realistic fiction (good there) and free/cheap books, mostly paperbacks, though... so they're library readers.  One, I repeat ONE subscriber wanted to join my street team and THREE joined my ARC team. One of those readers reviewed book one for me.  Not the hundreds Derek Murphy recommends.

I have my book up for reviews on the same site running my blitz... so far nothing coming from that either.

The first book in  my series is free today, so I'll see if that gets readers for book two, but I put it for free last month on the first day book two was up for pre-order and those 200 readers haven't reviewed or moved onto book 2 (Well, except for the 31 that may have been the ones pre-ordering.)

I'M TAKING A BREAK

So, for this month, in addition to reading and blogging about the books I'm reading, I'm going to try to be more transparent about my self-publishing journey, blog more on my author blog, work on a free book in my series (book 1.5) to give away to my subscribers and try to reach out to readers more about books in general and less about my series specifically.

I'm done doing giveaways and tours and plopping sale images up on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

Do you have any other suggestions for me?

Anyone else struggle with finding, and keeping, your readers?

So, I'll keep writing and publishing, but not "marketing". I'm going to reach out to readers by reading and sharing the books I'm reading and reaching out to other authors who are taking the same path I've decided to take, to share what I've learned along the way, to share the resources I've saved up.  My time will be better spent and the outcome more fulfilling.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Christy

What is the Insecure Writer's Support Group?

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional!

June 7 Question: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

The awesome co-hosts for the June 7 posting of the IWSG will be JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner!








5.31.2017

Happy Release Day to YA Author Cecelia Earl!


When Smoke Rains Down is available in paperback and e-book TODAY!

In the aftermath of an explosion and Homecoming battle, Julia tries to form some semblance of a routine: work, study, visit her brother. Unable to confide in anyone about her double life of being both human and angel, and fearful she'll bring death and destruction to those she loves, she pulls away from her family and best friend.

When demons once again start to show up at every turn, seemingly bringing about her brother's deepening depression, she demands her sword from Nicholas. Ever the stern Guardian Angel, he forbids her from using it. Isolated, she takes protecting her brother into her own hands.

Thrust into a dark world of conspiring demons, Julia is in more danger than she ever imagined possible. To stop evil from spreading and overtaking those she loves, she’ll have to seek out the one person she mistrusts most.

Enter a complex world where humans, demons, and angels collide, all battling to rule the Earth. For readers who enjoy young adult paranormal romance and dark fantasy. Fans of City of Bones, Hush Hush, Unearthly, Halo, and Hidden Wings will be captivated by this unique take on angels and demons.

When Smoke Rains Down is Book Two in the Kingdom Come series. Book Three, the final installment, will be out Summer 2017.

“An AMAZING sequel that leaves me DYING for the next one!” ~ early reader of When Smoke Rains Down



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cecelia Earl graduated with a degree in education and has been teaching ever since. She’s a wife, a mom of three boys, and an owner of a magical laundry pile that never stops growing. She lives near enough to Green Bay, WI that her refrigerator is always stocked with cheese, and the first colors her children learned were green and gold. She’s a teacher by day, a mom always, and a writer in her sleep, but that’s okay because being an author is a dream come true. She writes angel books for young and youngish adults. If you feel young, she writes for you—whether or not you feel particularly angelic.

Receive forthcoming book updates, access to giveaways, and exclusive bonus content if you're on Cecelia's email newsletter list. Sign up HERE!


When Smoke Rains Down Excerpt

Chapter One

The smoke clears. A quick scan of the room proves no customers are disturbed, and this disturbs me even more than having to douse flames already this morning. Apparently, they're all so accustomed to Travis's daily mishaps it no longer fazes anyone. It's like everything's the same… except the part about me being part-angel.

"Unplug the toaster, Travis," I tell him. "We don't need the place to burn down a second time."

His eyes fly up to meet mine, and his face reddens. "Oh, yup, got it." He yanks the toaster cord from the wall. He dares to handle the no-longer-inflamed pieces of bread with two fingers, tossing one after another into a trashcan.

I sigh, hand him a pair of tongs, and clap him on the shoulder. "Save us from paying for your employee medical bills for burnt fingers, please."

I hoist a tray up on my shoulder, steadying the mugs and plates, and notice the empty mugs in front of the customers at the counter. I pivot to grab a jug of regular coffee and pour, filling one mug after another.

"Julia, let me do that. You're going to drop your tray."

As if. "I've got it, Trav."

"Really, that's a heavy load on your shoulder."

"Nope. Thanks, though."

And that's when two customers walk in wearing masks. I realize it's Halloween, but at their entrance, my wings threaten to emerge and my nerves go on high alert. I'm pretty sure they're not here for the coffee.

Then, between their smiles distorting into fang-filled grins, and trying to keep my wings from flying out and knocking down every dish and appliance nearby, I jolt, and the tray and pot of coffee all go crashing down. I've still not figured out the trying-to-stay-a-transparent-human-angel thing, and I don't trust Nicholas's promise that it'll just happen on its own, but now I've disturbed the customers.
Customers seated comfortably at our newly remodeled granite counter top upon newly purchased metal-backed swivel chairs jump up, shrieking. Probably burnt by scalding coffee.

The entire place is in disarray.

And the demonic-clad Halloween duo have disappeared. They weren't wearing masks; they were real demons. To the other non-angel customers, they appeared to be just two men like any other that came in for coffee or a meal. If only humans knew the invisible danger that lurks around them.

"Julia, I told you I'd help." Travis is now shaking his head at me disapprovingly. At me. And not the other way around.

Mom comes rushing in from the kitchen in the back, faster than I'd like to see her move only weeks after her release from the hospital. "What happened? Travis, what did you do?"

He throws his hands up innocently. "Nothing. It wasn't me. It was her." He points at me. "She was trying to handle a full tray and pour coffee at the same time."

"Julia, you're not an island. It's okay to accept help." She looks around at the counter and floor, now covered in coffee and shattered glass. "In fact, you have to start accepting help. Don't try to do everything yourself all the time. It'll only end in disaster. Clearly."

I sigh. There's no use explaining I would've handled everything fine had demons not come in to taunt and threaten me.

For weeks, there'd been no sign of any angel or demon drama, but little by little in the past couple of days, I've started getting glimpses of that other world again. And my back pain has been acting up.
It's like it's all starting to happen again.

And Nicholas won't let me have access to my sword.

"Go back and finish making the food, Mom." I grab rags and start mopping up the mess, starting with the customers. "I've got this."

"Let Travis help you, for crying out loud." She tightens her lips, but heads back to her stove.

"Is everyone okay?" I check over the customers waiting to return to their soon-to-be-dry chairs. "Steve? Monica?"

"We're fine. Just got spooked," Monica says. She's in her thirties and recently moved into town with her kids after being hired by none other than Mr. Luca Star. He's started up some new business and now employs half the town. And that's in addition to the business in which he offered me a job.
And when I turned him down, he showed up at my high school dance looking less like a businessman and more like… the devil.

While I mop up the coffee, Travis collects the glass pieces. It doesn't take long to get the place back in order. Perfectly toasted bread is served and coffee is poured into unbroken mugs.

"On the house, everyone. I'm really sorry about the disturbance."

All is right with the world again, but I can't stop looking over my shoulder for warped faces and tar-dripping fangs every chance I get.

I know trouble can't be far away, not with my wings twinging and the stone in my necklace blazing with heat.

It's only a matter of time before everything goes awry again.

Only this time, I will be ready.

And nobody but the demons will be hurt.




5.30.2017

When Smoke Rains Down– An Excerpt From My Favorite Chapter

excerpt2


Book Two in my Kingdom Come trilogy will be released TOMORROW! I'm nervous and excited to have it out in the world. I'd never written a sequel before, and the writing process had all sorts of scary factors. Namely, I didn't want to disappoint readers. I worried I'd forget about something they might want to read more about from Book One, or that I'd take the story in a direction they wouldn't like, or do something with a character they wouldn't approve of. But, it's done now... so nothing left to do, but wait and find out.

Here's an excerpt from When Smoke Rains Down.

My Favorite Chapter

Nicholas is doing pull-ups from a low-hanging tree branch and doesn't acknowledge my arrival, so I follow suit. I squat and leap up to grab a branch. I'm getting stronger. He used to have to hoist me up to reach. I've also doubled the amount I can do before taking a break to do lunges and squats.
"Sprints," he calls out when I've finished all the sets of arm and leg workouts.

I race back and forth between two of the tallest tree trunks while he times me. It's apparent why I've been eating so much and obvious how much strength I've gained. Yet the stony expression on his face remains. This workout will make me ache for days.

When finally I'm dripping with sweat and fatigued, he walks over to me.

"Time for your lesson." Then he walks to the center of the clearing without waiting for a response.
I allow myself two seconds to close my eyes and take a deep breath.

"Now, Angel."

I push out my wings and push up off the ground and glide over to him, lowering myself gently behind him. He turns and narrows his eyes. I put my wings away, proud of myself even if he's not. Flying had been rocky at best the first few times I'd tried it. I'd had no control and crashed into more than a few branches—and one bird. Poor thing.

"Summon the bow and arrow we worked with last time," he orders.

Bow, I think. Nothing happens. I reach my hand out into the air. Bow. A spear materializes in my closed fist. I growl. "It's all I ever get!"

"Calm down. Try again."

I let go of the spear and it disintegrates. "Bow," I yell. The spear is back in my fist.

He sighs. "The spear is the lowest of the weapons. You have to work your way up."

"I know this," I say through gritted teeth. "Spear, bow, rope, chains…" I don't bother to mention my sword. I've stopped asking for it.

I try to calm down. Spear, I think. I get the spear I've pictured. One that's longer and narrower than the one I'd been conjuring up. I let it go and take a deep breath through my nose. Bow. The same short, thick spear materializes.

Nicholas reaches into the air and pulls a bow and arrow from it with ease. He hands them to me. "Show me how to set the arrow and aim for the target."

Nicholas had explained the reason the demons had overrun the hospital was most likely because of Noah, either because they're after him, or after something he has. He wants me to be ready the next time I'm faced with a hoard of demons on my own. He wants me to be able to get rid of demons from a distance by sending an arrow across a space, and though I can't summon the bow and arrow, my aim is pretty good.

"Bullseye," I say after striking the center of the target three times in a row.

"Pride will get you nowhere," he says, retrieving the arrows and returning them to me.

Rather than aim the arrow at the target, I aim it at a knot in a tree and strike its center.

"Julia, focus," he shouts, his voice stern and reprimanding. I can't stand the annoyance that flares to life in his eyes when I don't just do as he tells me. He's so bossy and controlling. More than once, I've nearly rammed him alongside his head with a metal object. After half an hour more, he relaxes. "Better. Now…"

He doesn't get a chance to finish his command, because Michael has entered the clearing. Twice before he's come to oversee either my progress or Nicholas's training technique. I'm not sure which. Nicholas is that much tenser when he's around, like he's trying to prove himself or something.
And sure enough, he straightens and his shoulders go rigid. I guess he's been loosening up around me, because the difference in his personality is laughable. His face is all hard angles and his hands move at lightning speed. He won't look me in the eyes.

I summon a spear and defend myself as Nicholas comes at me. We continue lunging at one another and defending jabs until Michael leaves with a nod and a "Good work."

Nicholas gets up off the ground where he pinned me and brushes off his clothes.

"Wouldn't it serve you better to cool it when he's here? Let me win and pin you or something?"

He looks up from buttoning his overshirt. "No."

"Well, I mean if you want to look like this almighty trainer, then wouldn't it benefit you to make it look like I'm able to fight well?"

He strolls over to me where I'm still standing holding my weapon. "No. If you want to overpower me, then you have to earn it. Do it authentically. I don't play games to win. Or lose."

I nod, chewing on my cheek, and then he adds, surprising me, "You are able to fight well."

I'm almost touched by the compliment, so touched that I lunge forward, kick Nicholas's feet out from under him, and land on top of him. I push the long metal rod across his throat and pin him to the ground.

"Thanks," I say.

He looks at me and whips me around, pinning me with the edge of a blade to my throat. "You made that too easy. Stay on the offensive and pay attention."

He lays the dagger down in the dirt and holds himself above me with his palms on the ground, looking at me. His breath is on my face, and suddenly it's a gazillion times hotter and harder to breathe. He's so beautiful to look at when he's not scolding me and bossing me around. I realize how very much I needed to hear that compliment come from him, how very much I wanted to make him proud of me. He runs his tongue over his bottom lip. I take in a sharp breath. His eyes are on mine a moment longer before he pushes up off the ground and jumps to his feet.

"We're done for today."

Once again, he strides off, leaving me to show myself out.

"Sword," I demand of the air around me. A bow and arrow appear in my fists. "Gah!" I shout at the trees.

I let the weapons drop into the shimmering dirt and stomp off through the trees.

5.20.2017

Win a copy of When Smoke Rains Down!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

When Smoke Rains Down by Cecelia Earl

When Smoke Rains Down

by Cecelia Earl

Giveaway ends May 28, 2017. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

#MARKED BEAUTY by S.A. Larsen, Digital Cover Reveal Information

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MARKED BEAUTY by S.A. Larsen, Digital Cover Reveal Information

Title: Marked Beauty
Author: S.A. Larsen
Publisher: Ellysian Press
Release Date: October 2017

Uncovering hidden secrets can sometimes kill you . . . or worse, steal your soul.

Anastasia Tate has a secret. She can feel the emotions of others through their life energy auras. Not a welcome gift for a teenager. Especially when a sinister presence begins stalking her.
Viktor Castle also has a secret. He’s tasked with protecting humanity yet cursed by an ancient evil to destroy it.

After Viktor saves Ana’s life, her abilities grow stronger. Drawn together, she senses Viktor has answers to lifelong questions. Only he shuns her at every turn, knowing he has saved her only to put her in more danger.

As Ana struggles with her attraction to Viktor, he tries everything to bury his unexpected feelings for her. But they must find a middle ground. For only together can they combat the dark forces threatening both their lives . . . and their souls.

ADD to GOODREADS

About the Author
S.A. LARSEN is the author of the award-winning novel Motley Education, the first book in a fantasy-adventure series for middle grade readers. Her work has appeared in numerous local publications and young adult anthologies Gears of Brass and Under A Brass Moon by Curiosity Quills Press. Marked Beauty is her debut young adult novel. Find her in the land of snowy winters and the occasional Eh’ya with her husband of over twenty-five years, four children, a playful pooch, and three kittens. Visit her cyber home anytime at www.salarsenbooks.com.

Connect with her on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog | Goodreads

Giveaway
kindle_e_reader_MarkedBeauty

This is a #hashtag giveaway, where two lucky winners will receive a FREE eBook of Marked Beauty upon its release.

To participate:
  • Share one of the premade images via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Or write up a blog post using one of the images.
  • Include #MarkedBeauty in your description.
  • Optional for extra entry: include Add to Goodreads (with link) in your description.
***Posts MUST contain the hashtag #MarkedBeauty for entry into the giveaway or we won’t be able to find you.

Pre-made tweets (you add the image)

"A lust 4 life energy. An ancient curse. One soul's journey thru death 2 find the cure." #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal http://bit.ly/2qdE0q0

"Uncovering some secrets can kill you, or worse ... steal your soul." #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal http://bit.ly/2qdE0q0 #YAlit

An ancient race. A timid girl. And a journey to the in-between. #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal http://bit.ly/2qdE0q0 #YAlit

The giveaway begins May 17th and will be open until May 23rd. Winners will be announced May 24th via social media.

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5.05.2017

Special Pre-Launch Book Sale

Hi,
When Ash Rains Down is FREE on Amazon today and tomorrow and When Smoke Rains Down is available for the special pre-order price of $0.99. The price will go up after release on May 31, so grab your copy today!



5.03.2017

#IWSG What do angels, universities, and diseases all have in common?

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional!

May 3 Question: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

The awesome co-hosts for the May 3 posting of the IWSG will be Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Michelle Wallace, and Feather Stone!



Hi,

It's May and that means I have only one month left of school!!! I have the first grade teacher May crabbies. That means I'm impatient and tired of reminding the kids to walk and be quiet in the halls. And I'm most tired of reminding them "Kleenex, not fingers."



What do angels, universities, and diseases all have in common? I've researched them for the young adult stories I've written. My characters are often 17-18 and considering which college to attend, so I've researched universities that specialize in music (which an editor told me was clichĂ©) and the surgical field, mainly organ transplant surgery. For NaNoWriMo 2015 I wrote 'my grief book' and included a lot of details from my own journey through losing my mom, but didn't want to write about her specific illness, so I researched an alternative.  Most recently I researched the nine choirs of angels for my contemporary fantasy novel. In addition to using the information in the story, I created a quiz for readers, What kind of angel would you be? and most recently created a page for my author website about the types of angels in my story and about the characters who play them.  That page is here if you're interested in reading it.

I'm sure today will hold many, many interesting answers to read about! And now that book two (out May 31) is with my editors' team of beta readers, I actually have time to come around and visit more of you! I know, promises, promises. You'll believe it when you see it!  Sorry for being so MIA.

Christy

P.S. I just have one word for you: Vellum. I'm madly in love with Vellum. I recently purchased (for $1 per hour) mac in a cloud so that I could download Vellum and use it to format my e-books. I couldn't love it more! Only a month or two before Vellum comes out for formatting paperbacks! I CAN'T WAIT! (Need it now!)

So, if you've yet to try it or have been on the fence... DO IT! You won't regret it.

4.25.2017

Cover Reveal: When Smoke Rains Down

zyz kindle fire
Available May 31, 2017


In the aftermath of an explosion and Homecoming battle, Julia tries to form some semblance of a routine: work, study, visit her brother. Unable to confide in anyone about her double life of being both human and angel, and fearful she'll bring death and destruction to those she loves, she pulls away from her family and best friend.  When demons once again start to show up at every turn, seemingly bringing about her brother's deepening depression, she demands her sword from Nicholas. Ever the stern Guardian Angel, he forbids her from using it. Isolated, she takes protecting her brother into her own hands.  

Thrust into a dark world of conspiring demons, Julia is in more danger than she ever imagined possible. To stop evil from spreading and overtaking those she loves, she’ll have to seek out the one person she mistrusts most. 

Enter a complex world where humans, demons, and angels collide, all battling to rule the Earth. For readers who enjoy young adult paranormal romance and dark fantasy. Fans of City of Bones, Hush Hush, Unearthly, Halo, and Hidden Wings will be captivated by this unique take on angels and demons.  

When Smoke Rains Down is Book Two in the Kingdom Come series. Book Three, the final installment, will be out Summer 2017. 

“An AMAZING sequel that leaves me DYING for the next one!” ~ early reader of When Smoke Rains Down
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4.05.2017

#IWSG April...It's always the same complaint from me....

I'm seriously like a broken record on these days. I always end up blaming time for everything. Looks like I'm not giving advice, but I'll take some!



The IWSG posts the first Wednesday of each month. We answer an optional question or share insecurities, successes and advice. It's a blog hop. Click the image above to find the other participating blogs.


April 5 Question: Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?

The awesome co-hosts for the April 5 posting of the IWSG will be Christopher D. Votey, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Fundy Blue, and Chrys Fey!


Years ago, Erica and I participated in the A to Z Challenge, but then we fell off the face of the blogosphere and I'm just recently trying to bring us back. I hope Erica joins me again some day!!! Erica, I miss you! At the time, we had nothing to promote, but man, we loved getting to know everyone!

So...no.  But I look forward to learning more about how this all works!

Is it too late to join in this year? I think that it would do me wonders to blog every day and to do so in terms of my series. The creative look into my world and characters would be a ton of fun. Even if it's too late, maybe I'll try to catch up anyway for the fun of it!  I think I have a little fear of blogging. What do I say? Who will care? What should my topic be? So...the A to Z challenge kind of takes care of that part for me. It would help me conquer my fear and help me establish a blogging routine.

It would also help me with reaching another goal. One of my biggest goals right now that keeps getting put on the back burner is making and maintaining connections. I need to establish a routine that adds time in my schedule every day for blogging and visiting other blogs. Huge question: How much time do you spend doing these things each day?

The way I handle my to-do list is that I go full force with the top item until it is complete, then move onto the next in the same way. Meaning, I don't know how to make time each day for other priorities. If I have a manuscript due, then that's ALL I work on until it's done. I can't critique for others, blog, visit blogs, read novels for enjoyment, etc. I can only focus on one thing (for the most part) at a time. Mainly, I think this is because I only have short amounts of time outside of work and parenting to devote to my writing and publishing life. I just turned a manuscript into my editor, so the next priority was getting my third quarter report cards finished (due today). Though, I did take a night to read a book I'd begun forever ago. Next up: critiquing for critique partners who worked hard to get feedback to me before my deadline. After I spend the next 3-5 days critiquing, my editor will have my ms back and I'll work on revisions for the next round of edits. While that's being critiqued, I'll need to finalize my cover and work on getting it up for sale. I can only focus on one thing per day. Advice for me?

Anyways, one of these months I'll post something informative and helpful! But this was not the month.

Tell me, please, how much time each day/week do you devote to writing blog posts and visiting other blogs?

Have a wonderful month. It's finally starting to warm up here in Wisconsin. It's always a refreshing time of year. I'm looking forward to summer and it's only two months away!

Christy




3.28.2017

Ten YA Fantasy Spring Break Reads

I'm a teacher on spring break this week. My "final" revisions and edits on When Smoke Rains Down (out this May!) were due to my editor yesterday. I didn't make my deadline. She gave me a one week extension. So now I have this week to finish fleshing out some additional chapters and readingthe story through to make sure I'm happy with how it flows, to make sure my characters are consistent, and to add in sensory and setting details. I wouldn't be as far as I am without my gracious critique partners who read and provided feedback quickly for me. I went through each section of my manuscript 4-5 times in the past two days to incorporate all their suggestions and tidy up the messy parts. I even skipped sleeping.

In addition to finishing those revisions and hanging out with my three kiddos (and maybe taking a nap!), I plan to catch up on some VERY overdue reading. My spring break reading list includes these fantasy titles. As I finish them, I will come back and let you know my thoughts!

(I'm being overly ambitious, as I tend to be in all that I do, but what I don't read this week, I'll read over the course of the next few months. In addition to several other titles on my TBR list. Some I've added to my pen name's Goodreads shelf if you want to see what else I'm looking forward to reading soon!)

What books are on your TBR for this spring and upcoming summer?











3.01.2017

#IWSG Post: Be a Writing Pack Rat




New to IWSG? Here are the details:

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Remember, the question is optional! 

March 1 Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

My Post:

I haven't, and by really old I'm thinking years and years. Since I've only been writing since 2010 (which, I guess, DOES feel like a really long time) it seems hard to say something I've written is really old. I did write two novels after the one I "pulled back out" to publish two months ago, so may be that counts? 

And when I'm "done" with the series I'm publishing, I look forward to going back to the other two contemporary young adult manuscripts. They really do need a reworking, one way more than the other. I miss those characters and the writing style I used in them.  Hopefully that will work out, too. My plan as of right now is to query them to small publishers, but it seems that more and more are now requiring agents, so I may have to take that route first. We shall see. It may be a while.

Like I tell my first grade students, never throw any writing away. Even if it's not exactly what we're trying to write (I have a student who's struggling to make the switch from our personal narrative unit to our non-fiction text unit) and even if it's not the text you're choosing to publish, KEEP IT. You may choose to go back to it and revise and edit it for publication later!

My very first manuscript (that I will never, never go back to) had a million different beginnings and I'm quite certain that I saved every. single. one of them. Anytime I cut a scene or rework a chapter, I always save the old version somewhere.

I'm GREAT at saving, not so great at being organized about it. My documents folder (and kitchen counter) is a MESS!

So...the lesson here: Save everything. Be organized about it right away, because you WON'T really go back later to clean it up. And you never know when an old muse will come calling. You may want to dust off that ol' ms and spruce it up. It may end up being the most successful piece you've ever written! OR you'll have great outtakes to give away to your readers for free. :)

The awesome co-hosts for the March 1 posting of the IWSG will be Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson!