#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!



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?


#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!


#IWSG Just keep writing (and reading...if you can!) and #WIN an #Amazon #GiftCard

 Sign up to join the fun or to find all participating bloggers HERE!


Every first Wednesday of a new month, a group of writers takes time blog about their fears and insecurities without fear of being judged or ridiculed.

In fact, we write about our innermost doubts to join our peers in shared worries and struggles, because we've found that we all suffer from the same concerns, weaknesses, and nerve-wracking experiences.

And we've also learned that many have overcome these same insecurities, so we can blog about our successes and triumphs, too. Many blog to share encouragement and advice, because writers are the most generous, helpful group of people you'll ever meet.

We all want to see each other succeed and don't want anyone to have to reinvent the wheel. If there's one thing writers all need more of, it's time, so when one person has spent countless hours learning something new, the writer will share it with everyone else to save them time!

Sound amazing? It is. And we have the generous Alex J. Cavanaugh to thank for all of this camaraderie.

Need more encouragement and writing buds? Find the IWSG on Twitter: @IWSG and #IWSG

Each Month we blog about our doubts or accomplishments OR we can write about an optional monthly questions. This month's question is:

February 1 Question: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

I still feel like a newbie posting on these Wednesdays, but this month I'm co-hosting, so I look forward to meeting MANY more of you than I have in the past few months!  My response to this month's question is: Man, I've heard writers talk about this a lot. And I have to say, writing has changed my experience as a reader to some extent.

I've always had a harder time getting into novels.  I usually give a book until the fiftieth page to suck me in. In some ways, writing has made this WORSE. It's much harder for me to lose myself in a character and her world because I'm paying attention to the WRITING. I'll reread the first sentence multiple times, and then the first page. I'll consider the premise, the hook, the first pages, the characterization, the goal, obstacle, antagonist...basically I'm trying to reverse outline the dang beginning.  Talk about ruining a good thing! BUT if the book is good enough, I do eventually let go and enjoy the story. That being said, I am constantly aware of phrases I adore and want to save as quotes or strategies the author uses to develop her characters.  Before writing, I'm quite certain I read a book cover to cover and didn't think twice about any of those things.

Also. I think I'm more aware of authors. Before writing, I chose a book based on the cover and title and maybe the blurb and first few pages, but NOW I choose based on author, and genre, of course. I also read a variety of fiction now. Years ago I stuck mostly to adult mystery/thriller series, though I threw in the occasional literary fiction, romance novel, and historical novel...whatever Oprah had been recommending at the time. I didn't venture away from the same ol' same ol' much at all.

For the MOST part though, I'm still a reader, and I'm a writer, and I enjoy the two in different and distinct ways. Unfortunately, the writing takes up a lot of my reading time. I feel scolded when authors tell me how much I should be reading when I'm not, but honestly, during the school year, I have to choose. I either spend a couple of hours reading or I spend a couple of hours writing. And when I have a writing schedule and deadlines I'm holding myself to, well then, there isn't much of a choice. Which, I suppose, is why I devour three books in a week during spring break and the first week of summer. I just can't make it happen even though I KNOW it's important to read a lot to be a better writer. I know, okay?

(Adding this in now that the day is half over...I DO take my Kindle to bed with me every night and fall asleep after reading a page or two of fiction, but that just doesn't feel much like reading to me since it's not long enough to get into the book or enjoy it (even when it's an amazing story...I'm just TIRED). I also read for critique partners when I make time for it, especially when they have deadlines, so I DO read their fiction as well.)

How much time do you dedicate to reading and writing per week? How do you make time for both? I'd love to hear how you make it work. Share any advice you have in the comments. And I'll be by to visit you when I'm done teaching today!

But before you comment and take off...

Today I'm also being featured at the extraordinarily talented author Crystal Collier's blog talking about my pen name's new release. Visit her to discern two truths and a lie about yours truly. 

Last week YA Bound Book Tours hosted a blog tour for my new release and in honor of the tour and my book, I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! And you're in luck because there are still 11 days to enter! 

Good luck!

When you leave here, be sure to visit this month's co-hosts as well as all the other bloggers listed on the hop! 

The awesome co-hosts for the February 1 posting of the IWSG are Misha Gericke, LK Hill,Juneta Key, Christy (that's me!) and Joylene Buter!

And also welcome new IWSG Admin Heather Gardner today!

And... one more tiny thing! (Now that I've written it, it turned really long....Bear with me. It's such HAPPY news!)

I have one really wonderful writerly thing to share. I teach in a PK-8th grade school, and even though I chose a pen name to be all secretive, word got out that I released my first YA novel, and ever since I've been showered with happiness because of it. Parents and their daughters stop me in the car line (while I put their children in the cars at the end of the school day to send them home) to tell me they LOVED my book and that they got nothing accomplished over the weekend because they couldn't stop reading, or that their mom is reading it now because they enjoyed it so much, or that they wrapped it and gifted it to a friend. And THEN I walk down the hall and see middle schoolers reading my book, and when they see me they're so excited.

(Here's the really, really happy part, so if you skipped the rest READ THIS--->>>) BUT THE BEST THING happened the other day when an eighth grade boy who's struggled with behavior and motivation in school since kindergarten approached me to ask about my book and to tell me that he wants to be an author. He told me he wrote a short story that wasn't very good. AND I THOUGHT OF ALL OF US! And I swatted at the air and said "Every writer writes stories that aren't very good at first. I've been writing for six years. Keep writing." And his eyes lit up and he said, "Okay." So I told him to write that night and over the weekend and pledged to get a few chapters of my own done. And since then he's stopped me to tell me that he started a new story. And he's so excited about it. And we've been holding each other accountable for at least fifteen minutes of writing each night. YOU GUYS. I'm tearing up right now just sharing how happy it made me to find a student writing buddy that I can share my love of writing with, and I'm so overjoyed that he is so excited about writing, too. Writing is  such a PASSION, and once we take hold of it and it takes hold of us, we can never let it go, no matter what the world tells us. And THAT'S what this group is all about.


Thanks so much for visiting with me today!



Guess what?!?!?

I wrote a book, and now it's published! You can, like, buy it and read it and everything! AND PEOPLE ACTUALLY ARE! And if you're curious, or love angel books, you can too!

99 cents 
Free with Kindle Unlimited
$8.99 paperback

$8.99 paperback

So...this month I'm making a few rounds to chat about, gasp, myself and my writing and MY BOOK! If you're interested in learning more about my writing process or behind-the-scenes information about When Ash Rains Down, visit these two lovely ladies who invited me to their blogs this month!

Author Diane Burton interviewed me...find out just how badly I messed up my first manuscript and what my go-to genre is (isn't it paranormal...??)!

Author Hart Johnson interviewed me...find out how I successfully, or un-successfully?, balance out how much faith I put into my non-Christian genre books AND MORE, like who inspired my characters, is Shady Creek, WI a real place? and what's NEXT in my series?

The week of January 23 there will be a BLOG TOUR hosted through Ya Bound Book Tours. You won't want to miss it. There will be fun content shared through blogs you may not have seen before, plus, and this is the scary part...reviews. And while some have reviewed my book already on Goodreads and Amazon, some are holding out for that week.

Oh, and I know how it is with book blogging and reading and writing, mostly you'll want to hop around to the blogs that day because...

I'll be giving away a $25 gift card for Amazon!  
Yeah, I thought you might like to know about that. I'll post again that week so you don't forget to enter and win, because I'd love to give that to one of my friends!!!

So, if you have time today or this week, please visit Diane or Hart and leave them a comment, and I won't forget to remind you to enter the giveaway in two weeks!

Happy reading and writing!

Christy (ahem, Cecelia)