Monday, December 9, 2013

CheersFest 2.0!

I am so very, very excited to be co-hosting the CheersFest 2.0 this year! The other co-hosts are Mark KoopmansDavid Powers King, Stephen Tremp and our own celebrity, Alex Cavanaugh. The 2013 recipient as you know is the FABULOUS Arlee Bird.

To join in on the fun, sign up on the linky list below. For the "rules," click here. :)

Now on with the roasting!

Four Questions:

Why did Lee come up with the A-Z Challenge? Definitely because Lee knew Madman Mark would come up with the "Got Green?" bloghop, so Lee had to make a splash before Mark outshone him.

If someone dreams about being a juggler, what does it mean? Ooo... I love dream questions. I think it means your life is in absolute chaos and it's time to a) join the circus b) create an insane month-long bloghop or c) wear lots of Hawaiian shirts, straw hats, and sun glasses ;-)

Is a post by Mr. Bird worth two in the bush? Absolutely! And more. Lee is so REAL. He definitely is a strong motivating force in this community. I enjoy all his posts.

Who could play Lee in a documentary? Hmmm... let me go google a few names... Okay I'm back. I'm thinking Sean Connery or Richard Gere?

100 Word Flash Fiction: (Using the words: Bird, Juggler, Challenge, Brown Jacket, and Tossing)

Mr. Bird took a whiff of his cigar and kicked back in his recliner chair. He was ready for his next challenge. Already he had bested the blogging community into thinking he was the notorious Alex Cavanaugh. But it wasn’t enough. He wanted to be more. More than a juggling ninja.

He smirked to himself. If only everyone knew the other identities he hid from them. “Michael” in Chicago. “Gary” from Canada. He needed one more identity to rule the blogging world. Tossing the cigar over his shoulder, Mr. Bird jumped up from the chair and smoothed down his brown jacket. He knew exactly who he would be next...

And lastly, my caption for Lee's Facebook picture:

The Writer's World Version of a Pin-Up Guy
This was SO MUCH fun! Enjoy the roasting, Arlee! You've done so much for this community so I hope you can somewhat enjoy the attention. :)

And I hope you guys are all doing wonderful. It's been quite the end of the year. Can't wait to catch up.

Red. Head. Out. :) 

Monday, November 18, 2013

CheersFest 2.0! (If your name is Gary, do not read this post...)


Have you ever attended a Christmas party where you bump into the ONE person who was always there for you during the past year? You'd thank them for being such a RockStar, right??? 


If you remember last year we all roasted our Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh in the first ever CheersFest.

This year, we decided to choose a new victim. (Er.. roast-ee) 


The 2013 recipient of the CheersFest is none other than Arlee "Lee" Bird!!!!! 

On his main blog, “Tossing It Out,” Lee describes himself, in part, “as a writer, speaker, entertainer, music lover, collector, husband, father, grandfather, friend, traveler, seeker of truth and wisdom.” He majored in English while at the University of Tennessee, has blogged since 2008, and currently has six blogs that delve into his diverse mind.

The original brains behind the annual A to Z Challenge, Lee can be counted on to pay it forward and is a well-respected member of the blogging community.

Hosted again by Mark Koopmans, Me, David Powers King, Stephen Tremp and The Ninja Captain himself, CheersFest 2.0 will go LIVE! Dec. 9, 2013.

In order to proper cheer (or roast) Lee, here are four questions for you to answer on CheersFest Day, but please keep the retorts short – (no longer than 20 words each):

  • Why did Lee come up with the A-Z Challenge?
  • If someone dreams about being a juggler, what does it mean?
  • Is a post by Mr. Bird worth two in the bush?
  • Who could play Lee in a documentary? (Living or dead.)

In +/- 100 words, (excluding the title) write flash fiction using all these prompts:
  • Bird
  • Juggler
  • Challenge
  • Brown Jacket
  • Tossing

For Bonus Points:
  • In +/- 40 words, can you come up with a caption for Lee’s Facebook picture? 

As usual, the Very Demanding Rules of CheersFest include:

  • Join the Linky List *below*
  • Have fun
  • Post your 200 (total) word contribution ON Monday, Dec. 9, 2013.
  • No, seriously. Have Fun!

Two winners – chosen by Lee – will each win a prize:
  • An autographed color photo of Arlee Bird appearing as the Court Wizard in the World of Fantasy Players. Also included in the first prize pack are an assortment of promotional materials from Lee’s show biz days with a personal letter and a brief history of his entertainment career.
  • A personalized graphics design from Jeremy at Being Retro for the winner’s blog. (Jeremy will design a header, badge, button, banner, or whatever might appeal to the winner.)
Excited to roast and toast our blogger buddy, Lee?
If so, the Linky is now open. Sign up and we’ll see you on Dec. 9th

Red. Head. Out. :)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Boy Who Loved Fire...

I am so, so, SO VERY excited to be part of Julie Musil's cover reveal for THE BOY WHO LOVED FIRE! Julie is my agent sister and easily one of the kindest people I've ever met. If you don't follow her blog, it's a must. She is always helping other authors by sharing writing tips and is a huge support to this community. I can't wait for this book to come out! Who doesn't love a little YA contemporary with a splash of ghosts???

Here's the cover:

Manny O’Donnell revels in his status at the top of his high school food chain. He and his friends party in the mountains on a blustery night, sharing liquor and lame ghost stories around a campfire. The next morning, as a wild fire rages in those same mountains, Manny experiences doubt. He was the last of the drunken crew to leave the cave, and he’s uncertain if he extinguished the flames. Within hours, he becomes the number one arson suspect.

Santa Ana winds + matches = disaster. You’d think he would've learned that the first time he started a fire.

As he evades a determined arson investigator, Manny, a modern-day Scrooge, is visited by ghosts of the past, present, and future. He’s forced to witness the fate of his inadvertent victims, including Abigail, the scarred beauty who softens his heart. Manny must choose between turning around his callous, self-centered attitude, or protecting his own skin at the expense of anyone who gets in his way.

Julie Musil, author of YA fiction, is a chocoholic and obsessive reader. As the mother of three teen boys, she’s immersed in teen speak, drama, and gym socks. She loves to chat! Connect with her on her blog, Twitter, or Facebook

Isn't the cover lovely? Totally not cliche and definitely gripping. Can't wait to get my hands on this, Julie!!!!!

Any other news? I've been working on my next project and loving the October air. I need an update from you---anyone doing NaNo? (I respect it, but prefer to write at my own pace) Who else writes better in the fall? Hope you guys are well. :)

Red. Head. Out.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Chris Savino, Special Guest for IWSG this month...

It’s not often that I get to have a celebrity on my blog… okay, so this might be the first time. But Chris Savino and I go waaaay back. Like, I *think* a year ago he might’ve favorited one of my tweets. Maybe.

Most of you have probably heard of Chris or seen his work without even knowing it. The guy has done EVERYTHING. He has written, directed, or produced numerous episodes of Johnny Test, Kick Buttowski, The Powerpuff Girls, The Ren and Stimpy Show, My Little Pony, Dexter’s Laboratory… just to name a few.  I mean, the dude has been nominated for 3 Emmys.




He’s also developing his own live-action series, Bigfoot & Gray: On the Run. I’m pleased to have Chris here today to talk about what inspires him, how he’s survived in the business, and his current projects. I figured he could share so much more than I could for the Insecure Writers Support Group this month. (Thank you, Alex!) So I hope you gain the same kind of inspiration I did from reading Chris's story!

    1.)   So Chris, I want your life story—start from the beginning. How did you go from Michigan-born-dreamer to fast-paced-LA-living-Emmy nominee? In 140 characters or less. Go! (Kidding…)  

>> I am number 9 in a family of ten. Yes, 10. 5 boys. 5 girls. It’s easy to get lost in such a big family so therefore it was easy to hide in my room (which I shared until I was 17) and draw. I’ve been drawing since the age of 4, copying Peanuts from the comic pages of the newspaper (what’s a newspaper?). My whole life I wanted to have my own daily comic strip (still do) and didn’t consider animation as a career until my senior year of high school. Sure, I watched cartoons all my life, but I never thought about them in that way. It didn’t help that most people saw cartooning as a non-career path. 

2.)  I know you’ve talked about getting a big break at age 19, tell us about your journey from that point on. Were there moments where you doubted your ability? Or has it been a smooth-sailing ride? How have you changed from that nineteen-year-old boy?

>> I was lucky enough to get hired on a show called Ren and Stimpy. Leaving Michigan for  Los Angeles for that job was the first time I had ever been on my own. I was scared, but I knew I had to take this once in a lifetime opportunity. Here I was, a fresh faced kid from Michigan who thought he knew a thing or two about cartooning, and then there I was sitting amongst the biggest names in animation and I quickly realized I knew NOTHING. Since I did not go to school for animation like most had (going to art school was not even an option for a lower middle class kid from a family of 10) I knew I couldn’t screw up my big break so I made a vow to myself to absorb every aspect of cartoon making that I could. I’m still absorbing to this very day. 

I doubt my ability on a daily basis and freely admit that sometimes even I fly by the seat of my pants. I do believe that this doubt keeps me on my toes and keeps me constantly learning and growing as an artist and director, and I never (okay, sometimes) let the doubts stop me from doing my job to the best of my ability. Besides age, (I’ve now been at it for 22 years) I don’t think I’ve changed that much. The vow I made way back when still holds true today as it did then, even more so now because I constantly have to adapt to the changing tides and tastes of the viewing public as well the fresh young kids with fresh new ideas flooding into the business keeps me on my toes and always making sure that my skills and experience always remain viable.

 3.)   What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on to date?

>> It may sound cliche, but every project holds a certain place in my heart. Not only the good times but the bad as well. I suppose I am holding out for that “favorite project” when said project is one that I have created and sold to series. :)

 4.)   Tell us about your baby, Bigfoot & Gray: On the Run. I’ve followed quite a bit of the process on you blog, and it’s fascinating. Where did the inspiration for Bigfoot & Gray come from? And are you more like Bigfoot or Gray? ;-)

>> We all have that one project that no matter what people say about it or how people react, we believe in it so much that we cannot fathom letting it go. For me, that project would be Bigfoot and Gray on the run. I won’t go in detail about what the project is (I’ll assume you will post some links), but I can say it is 100% inspired, in tone, by my favorite cartoon, Rocky and Bullwinkle (as well as Super Chicken and George of the Jungle) which was produced by Jay Ward studios. The smart writing, the visual gags and of course, the puns (I am proudly known as the “Pun King” to my peers and my jokes have even earned the name “a Savino”, as in I totally made a Savino joke the other day...) all resonate with me and certainly influence my own style. 

As for the characters themselves, I have always been interested in aliens, and ghosts and bigfoot and creatures of lore so when the idea popped into my head about an alien and a bigfoot buddy comedy I naturally went the route of and paid homage to Jay Ward cartoons. As you can see by my blog, I didn’t stop at live action. I also tinker with BF&G as an animated show, a comic, and also merchandise. And to answer your last question, I believe I am an amalgamation of both characters as the words that come out of their mouths are words that I would say if I were in their situation.

 5.) Your job has got to be stressful—so many projects at once, while trying to launch BF & G. How do you stay motivated and inspired? Do you still feel magic with each new project? Or has it simply become a job? 

>> Yes. The job can be stressful at times. Fortunately, I work well under pressure and am quite good at multi-tasking. On occasion, it can feel like a job and it loses some of its luster, but when the final product comes out it erases all of that and I am left with a sense of pride. I try to always remember that the mere fact that someone is actually paying me to draw cartoons for a living is as crazy as it sounds and that I am extremely lucky.

6.)   Is there a defining moment in your life that has made you who you are? An event you can always go back to that drives you forward?

>> Not ONE moment per se, but I seem to recall so many times a kid that friends, family and other adults were always impressed by my drawings and would always encourage me and never made me feel like what I was doing was not going to amount to anything. It’s the times where I am at my lowest in both confidence and security in my ability that I recall those times and continue to press on as I never want to let those people down.

    7.)   A little bird also told me that you’re working on a low-end MG/ high-end chapter book. How different is your short film writing experience from novel writing? And do you think your animation writing/directing has given you a leg up in the biz? 

>> Cheep cheep. It’s true. It’s one of those projects that kind of sits on the lazy suzan of projects and when ever it comes spinning around I pick it up, dust it off and add a little bit more to it. Because of my background in cartooning I knew I wanted to have drawings in my book and it seemed chapter books was the proper venue. Because animation is a visual medium and writing is more “in the head” I wanted to find a way to bring the visual gags of animation into reading as well as incorporate a sense of timing and surprise through words as I might through editing in a cartoon. It’s a process I am still developing and I find quite difficult on occasion, but I am totally up for the challenge.

8.)   With any form of art, rejection is always part of the process. Any advice for us writers who are trying to forge on through rejection? You’ve obviously had an incredibly successful run thus far!

>> Ugh. Rejection. As you know I very recently experienced a rejection that really bummed me out. It makes one question not only their ability, but giving up altogether. Why, when it hurts so bad do we then pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start the process all over again, knowing full well the chances we get rejected again are far greater than acceptance? There’s no one answer, but I feel that there’s something inside us that needs to get out and regardless of the pain it causes, we must do whatever it takes to get it out. Now,  because what we do is a commercial art that thing inside us that we must get  out is not for us per se, but for everyone else, we are left to the whims of an executive or a publisher or a test group or a passing fad or what’s “hot” at the moment. The truth is, no one really knows what the audience wants and ultimately it is a crap shoot, but regardless, we are going to keep trying so we must learn to not take rejection as a personal reflection on our ability.

Rapid Fire Questions:

Ghosts or Aliens? Yes.

Pizza or Mexican? Yes.

Notepad and pen or computer? Computer.

Cartoons or reality TV? Cartoons.

Gymnastics or Football? Curling.

Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla.

Romney or Obama? (I’m kidding!!!)  Who?

LOL! Thanks so much, Chris, for being willing to let me pick apart your brain. For someone so successful in the business, it's neat to be able to get inside your head. And I love your thoughts on rejection. To read more about Chris's journey, here are links to his:

Any other news? Enjoy Chris's interview? It's October, my favorite month, so time to write! Hope your projects are going well! 

Red. Head. Out.  :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Alex Cavanaugh Answers My Question...

How's that for a title?

It's not often that one can ask the Alex J. Cavanaugh (it's strange to use his last name, because it isn't needed... everyone knows who Alex is), a personal question and get an answer. Alex is an enigma, so anytime we can get an inside peek through his ninja exterior, it's a momentous occasion.

Here was my question:

What was your lowest point in your writing journey and how did you overcome it?

Alex's answer:

This might surprise you, but after completing CassaFire, I went through a period where I had no ideas and no inclination to write. My publisher began requesting a third book, and I just had nothing in me. I wasn’t sure anything would come to me, but I decided not to stress over it. Little by little, ideas began to hit, spurred by some great science fiction movies and shows. (I believe John Carter was one of those.) I started working on an outline and soon was writing the final book. It also helped that during that time other areas of my life were prospering, which kept things in perspective.

Thanks, Alex, for sharing that with us. It's comforting to know that even ninjas have down moments. ;) 

Now it's time to celebrate CASSASTORM's release!!!!! 

By Alex J Cavanaugh

From the Amazon Best Selling Series!

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

“CassaStorM is a touching and mesmerizing space opera full of action and emotion with strong characters and a cosmic mystery.” – Edi’s Book Lighhouse

“…mesmerizing story of survival, personal sacrifice, tolerance, and compassion. It’s a rare jewel that successfully utilizes both character and plot to tell a story of such immense scope and intimate passion…” - Nancy S. Thompson, author of The Mistaken

$16.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera
Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Find CassaStorm: 

Book Trailer: 

A little more about our ninja captain (and where you can find him): 

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.


Sooooo excited for you, Alex, and all of your success! You do so much for this community and it's a neat thing to watch and see so many people support you. :) Any other news? It feels like it's been a while since I've had an update from some of you--I'd love to know what's going on. 

Red. Head. Out. :D 

Monday, September 9, 2013

TWO Awesome Topics in ONE post:

Remember this time last year when there was a mysterious fest that ended up being the blogfest of all blogfests? How we all surprised Alex and launched the Cheers Cavanaugh Blogfest?


That was fun...

Oh wait... (I think I hear Madman Mark saying something. What's that? Oh? We're doing it again? Except this time there's going to be a NEW person who's roasted? Sweeeet.)

The hosts:

Mark "Madman" Koopmans

Alex "Clone me a" Cavanaugh

Morg "the Borg" Shamy  (Really, Mark? That's my nickname?)

Stephen "Wormhole" Tremp

David "Don't Mess with the" King

Here's the catch:

YOU get to vote. For the next seven days, you can vote in my comments (or any of the host's) who you think should be the face for CheersFest 2013. (They will have a blogfest just for them!) This should be someone who is a constant presence, is positive, possesses integrity, is involved in the online community, is supportive of others and is a major force in the blogging community.

The Roastee will be announced at least three weeks out (Fest will take place DECEMBER 9th) Linky list will be posted later for the roasting posting. ;)

I'm excited for this. I think it's a neat thing to be able to give back to those people in the community who do so much to uplift and support. I can think of a dozen people right now I'd love to highlight. So go vote!


And next...

I'm SO excited to have Lisa Cresswell here today. She is one of my FAVORITE writer friends and extremely talented. She's here to talk about her newly released book, HUSH PUPPY (Which I've read and LOVED). Here she is:

Hi everyone!

I’m so excited Morgan’s letting me guest blog today about my new young adult novel, Hush Puppy.  She and I met at a 2010 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators retreat in Ashton, Idaho, and she was one of the first people to ever read Hush Puppy. Our little critique group branded itself the Wildcats and kept in touch ever since. Morgan is a brilliant writer and I feel lucky to know her.  Just a bit about the book to orient you~

Corrine Lamb is a studious black girl living in a rural North Carolina town with her grandmother because her mama can’t seem to stick around long enough to raise her. Corrine wishes more than anything to go to college so she can travel the world and get away from her small town life.  She meets and falls in love with Jamie the summer before her senior year.

Jamie is a white boy who’s dropped off to stay with his redneck dad until his mom can find a new job. Jamie loves to read and keeps a notebook which he fills with poems, lists of books and journal entries. His dad insists he try out for football and pushes him to play. He’s good at football, but he’d rather just be left alone with a book. He asks Corrine to keep his notebook hidden for the summer to avoid complications with his dad finding out. The two become secret friends.

When Jamie is involved in the accidental death a wealthy white girl and is terrified his abusive father will kill him if the cops don’t. Corrine devises a plan to report the body found while leaving Jamie out of it, but rumors start that Corrine murdered the girl and her life becomes a living hell when even Jamie seems to abandon her.

The characters in Hush Puppy are absolutely based on people I knew growing up in North Carolina in the 1980’s. Jamie is based, in part, on a boyfriend I had when I was fifteen. I was crazy about him, but he was terribly, utterly flawed. That was a real heartbreaker to realize the person I thought was the bees knees is really just a human being, and maybe not even a very good human being at that. But I made Jamie better than that guy. I made him my ideal boyfriend, but with a huge flaw, because we all have flaws. 

A lot of Corrine is based on me at that age. I had the map with the push pins in the places I wanted to
Isn't Lisa beautiful?
go. I was the world traveler wanna-be. I still am. I think a lot of teenagers can identify with that, of wanting to grow up and do something special with your life.  Everybody’s “special” is a little different, but it doesn’t mean we don’t want something more for ourselves.

I do want to point out that none of these characters is based 100% on any one person I knew, but they do represent the gambit of experiences I had growing up in North Carolina. I didn’t necessarily set out to write a book about race, but you can’t write a story about black and white kids and not have it come up.  That wouldn’t be true to life if I ignored that.  But I wrote it more to explore that issue of falling in love with the “wrong” person, or who society says is the wrong person, and how you can be hurt or saved by that person. Shakespeare made it tragic, but I prefer to be more optimistic.

I had a lot of fun writing about the people and places I grew up.  I even made a pin board, just for fun. You can see it here: and if you’re interested in reading Hush Puppy, hop on over to my website for links  

Thanks Red. Head. Wildcat!


Thanks, Lisa! I hope you guys will all go check out Lisa's work. She is wonderful. Also, don't forget to DROP A VOTE (!) who you think should be the official face for CheersFest 2013!

Red. Head. Out. :D

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

IWSG: Battling Demons and Relief

(As always, thank you, Alex, for being the head of this awesome group)

Have you ever had these thoughts?

Why try?

What’s the point when nothing positive is happening?

I work and work and work, and all I get is slammed in the face. I thought I had talent, but I must be wrong. I’m delusional. Why am I doing this again? Everyone around me is making it happen, having success, but I seem to be the only person who struggles. Maybe I’m not cut out for this. Maybe I’m not strong enough.

Am I that awful?

But do you also have thoughts like this?

know I can do this.

So many little things have happened in life that tells me I’m supposed to do this. Look how far I’ve come since I first started. I’ve grown leaps and bounds! It really is the people who stick with it and keep trying who make it. I do have that extra something it takes to create magic. It doesn’t matter what’s happening with anyone else, I know my work has worth.

I’m not completely horrible.


I think for the most part, I’ve come to accept the demons inside my head—mostly because I’ve learned it’s normal as a writer. I’ve learned to ride the wave… there are awesome “up” moments (that last fleetingly) before the long waves of hard work set in. And that’s what it comes down to.

Doing the work.

Simple as that. :)

No, I’m not where I want to be yet, but I also know that the only reason I’ve learned what I’ve learned and accomplished the things I’ve accomplished so far is because I’ve WORKED. I wish it were as easy as dreaming… as having enough passion to just will things to happen. But at the same time I don’t because it wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying in the end. It’s a twisted thing, living inside the writer’s mind. ;)

Now this is the part where I usually say we can't let these dark thoughts eat us up. How they're so easy to give in to, and dwelling on the negative only paralyzes us and stifles our creativity. But I'm still kind of in a funk, so I'm going to skip that part and share with you something that quickly reminds me what is really important. 

This is a song sung by my brother, Clayton, and accompanied by my other brother, Marshall, and his friend Steve. There's something about this song that makes me forget all the trivial things in life and makes me really zone in on what's most important. Few songs do that, but this does. I hope you enjoy. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Death and Writing Perspective

It’s been an interesting week.

I’m sure all of you have shared your condolences to Jeffery Hargett, who recently lost his wife. His words “It took just over 48 hours for me to go from concerned husband to grieving widower” haven’t been able to leave my mind. I can’t sum up how beautiful his post is, but if you haven’t read it, click here.

My grandfather passed away this week. And though it’s not near the amount of pain as losing a spouse, it’s been pretty devastating. And even though I’ve had trauma in my past that I thought would prepare me for this, it hasn’t. We’ve had a bit of death in our family as of late, and quite a few close calls, but for some reason my grandfather passing has affected me in a way I couldn’t predict.

Maybe it’s because I feel like my grandpa really cared. He always asked me about my writing when no one else did. He always encouraged my dancing and was always in the background watching and silently supporting. He was a fascinating man with amazing war stories. He was brilliant in his field and I always loved to hear him talk about his adventures and the way life used to be.

Thinking about how the Navy folded the flag and gave it to my grandmother while a bugler played “Taps” quietly at the cemetery is a moment that won’t ever leave my memory. It has me crying now thinking about it.

I think it’s good for us to get a dose of reality every once in a while. I think as writers (and I may be only speaking for myself) we tend to forget what’s really important sometimes. We get SO caught up in querying or being on submission or writing the next best seller or worrying about our next review that we may push aside moments that we can never get back. Our happiness level tends to revolve around what is (or isn’t) happening in our writing lives. And that's too bad. 

I’d do anything to speak with my grandfather again. His death was so unexpected. And the evil selfish part of me is sad that I wasn’t published before he died. To be honest, there’s a part of me that writes because I wanted to make him proud. There are other areas in my life I didn’t succeed with, but I felt that by succeeding in writing that I would make him proud. So that hurts. 

But I know what’s most important. I do. And I’ll keep pressing forward, with writing and with life, doing the best I can.

Red. Head. Out. :D 

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Anti-Blogfest Gary Fest!

Welcome to the Anti-Blogfest Gary Fest!

In honor of Mr. Anti-Blog Hop himself, Gary at Klahanie.

Hosted by:

Mark "Madman" Koopmans
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
Rockin' Robyn Engel
"Life is good" Tina
And... ME. (Did I just link myself?)

The rules: 

Create the titles of three PG-13 blogfests you would never join--and then add a descriptive sentence or two.

My three blogfests I would never join: 

The Romney/Obama Bloghop -- Who did you vote for and why? 

The Bragadocious Bloghop -- Top 10 reasons why I'm cooler than you! 

The Gary-don't-let-your-friends do bloghops Bloghop -- Er... 

I've only recently gotten to know Gary, and he's quickly becoming one of my favorite bloggers. So glad we can honor him in this way! You participating in this "hop?" Do you follow Gary? And would you participate in any of the hops above? ;-)

Red. Head. Out. :D

Monday, August 5, 2013

2013 SCBWI LA Conference Recap:


Here we go:

If I haven’t expressed it in the past, I have to now. If you’re a children’s writer/illustrator, I can’t tell you enough how important it is that you join SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).

This organization is amazing. And it’s done so much for my career up to date. I just returned from the 2013 LA Conference—my third year in a row. I can’t imagine not attending this conference.

There’s something about this organization that stands out from the others. I’ve been to other conferences, but all of the events that SCBWI puts on are definitely miles above. Not only do they provide the best keynote speakers from the most revered people in the industry, but there’s a personal vibe in the air that unites all of us—regardless of status, genre, or age.

You’d think that being around so many agents/editors/well-known authors would create a standoffish vibe, but it’s completely the opposite. Even when you have a table war with the amazing Arthur A. Levine… right, Michael Pierce? (A long story)  J

Before this conference, I felt myself falling into a funk. But emerging from the other side, I have such a clear head with what I want to accomplish next—not only with my next project, but with how I want to keep my mental perspective. Something changed in me this year… some sort of renewed strength that gave me a long term POV, rather than just the present.

Too many highlights to name, but aside from the wonderful classes, I enjoyed:

The gorgeous Karen Grencik
Breakfast with my amazing agent. I met her here two conferences ago, and I can honestly say I haven’t met a more brilliant woman. To get the full story, click here. 

Meeting up with writer friends. You guys are my sanity! It’s so much fun to get together and talk the same language. Some pics:

 Ryan Dalton and Jolene Perry

With Jerry Bennett, amazing illustrator
 Evelyn Ehrlich
Michael Pierce

Christa Desir         

The great thing about SCBWI is that you don’t need to spend loads of money to travel to the bigger conferences. There are smaller chapter retreats in your area that are amazing too. Every writer needs a community. And I know I’ve found a home with this one.

Red. Head. Out. :D



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