Heather Hummel's Blog, page 3

March 19, 2013

Did you know that the rejection rate from agents and editors averages 96%? Flip it around, and it can be said that only 4% of authors land an agent. Take a few minutes and read through Writer's Market and you'll see that right along with an agent's address is their acceptance rate. Read enough of them and you'll see exactly what I'm saying. The reasons for rejection can vary from author to author, but generally it comes down to these reasons:1. Problem: Submission guidelines were not followed.Each agent has their own, specific submission guidelines. Not following these guidelines will often put your query letter in the trashcan, either the virtual one or the real one, faster than a shooting star goes out of sight.Solution: Read each agent's individual website and their submission guidelines in detail. Do they want a query letter only? Do they want a query and 5 sample pages? Do they want a query and the first 25 pages? Do they want a query and the first three chapters? Do they only accept queries via e-mail or via snail mail? Both? Are the submission guidelines the same for e-mail as they are for snail mail? You won't know these answers until you carefully read an agent's specific guidelines. When you do, follow them to a T.2.Problem: Genre confusion. In dating, not all men like blonds and not all women prefer tall, dark and handsome.  With agents, not all agents want whatever genre you're selling. Sending a query for romance novel to an agent who only accepts nonfiction genres is a huge waste of time for both of you. This is an extreme example, but I use it to make a point. Hearing the name of a popular agent and submitting to them based on their reputation, but without finding out what genres grab their attention, will only set you up for rejection. Solution: Use resources such as Writer's Market or AgentQuery.com and perform a search of agents who represent your specific genre. From there, go to the agents' websites and verify that their bio matches what the resource says. Sometimes the agent information from an outside resource will differ compared to the agent's website. Always go by the agent's website.3. Problem: Let's Face It: Your Letter Sucks. Maybe that's a bit harsh, but in a recent informal survey I did on Facebook, 10 out of 10 people said they hate writing query letters, cover letters, and proposals because they're no good at writing them. They thought I was beyond crazy for actually enjoying it. Well, yes, perhaps I am a bit crazy for enjoying writing query letters. But, I mostly do it as a service to the clients I ghostwrite for, and I embrace the challenge. In one case, a client sent me her query letter that someone else had written for her. I won't reprint it here, in order to protect the innocent, but within the first paragraph I found multiple issues. Even more issues carried on through the entire two page query. Rather than feeling bad for her, I took the two page letter, scrapped 80% of it, and rewrote it to fit into a concise, one page query letter that she was more than happy with. In her case, it was fiction. Most of my clients are nonfiction, and I'll address that in a minute. But first, the solution to a bad query letter:Solution: A rock solid query letter needs a few components to grab the attention of an agent. The opening paragraph should not rave about how your book is the next (fill in the blank famous book/author). Instead, the opening paragraph is meant to stylistically make a pitch regarding your protagonist and book in a way that the agent fall in love with them. The second paragraph ought to provide the synopsis...however, and that's a BIG however, this does not mean you should include every little detail like the color of the protagonist's hair, what day of the week she gets her manicure, or all the friends she meets along the way. The synopsis is meant to express the plot and the essence of the obstacles she overcomes. Stick to the big picture details and the hurdle she has to jump that would challenge even Jackie Joyner Kersee. Inform and intrigue...those are your goals.The third paragraph is all about you. What relevant credentials, honors, and awards have you or your books achieved that's going to grab the attention of the agent? Do you have huge numbers (i.e. social media followers) that will make them pick up the phone and dial your number? In other words, why you and not the next author in their inbox?  Lastly, the closing paragraph should recognize their submission guidelines, state why you picked them as a possible agent, and leave them with an action to take...i.e. request the full manuscript. Then, sign off with a kind salutation, of course. Note: Be sure that all of your contact information is included: address, e-mail address, and phone number.4.Problem: Nonfiction is a Different Beast than FictionAs a ghostwriter, the clients who come to me want me to write their books for them. My first question to a new client is, "What publishing route do you want to take?" At least 80% of the time, they want to go traditional. In fact, all of my current clients want to go traditional. The reason I ask this question is because of the answer I know is coming, "I want to go traditional because..." What they don't know prior to calling me is that rather than hiring a ghostwriter to write their entire book, what they really need at first is a complete book proposal, three sample chapters, and a cover letter. A book proposal is made up of many components that I won't go into here, but I will say that they run at least 10 pages and have a number of sections that need to be written.So, the problem in this case is that they don't know that they have to go an agent with only three chapters, not the entire manuscript, and a complete proposal. Once the book sells to a publisher, the rest of the book is written.Solution: If a nonfiction author is going to go it alone rather than hire a ghostwriter, they're best served educating themselves on how to write and pitch a proposal to an agent. Then, go back to numbers 1 and 2 of this post and be certain they've done those properly as well! Alternatively, they can hire a professional ghostwriter to write their proposal and sample chapters. If they hire a notable ghostwriter, include their bio in the proposal, as it will likely bode well. 70% of nonfiction books are ghostwritten. Agents and editors expect a nonfiction author with a big platform to hire a ghostwriter for their book(s). 5. Problem: Spelling and GrammarI shouldn't have to state this, but I will because it still happens out there. If you're submitting a query letter to agents, be sure that all spelling and grammar issues are resolved. This industry thrives on the written word and your ability to master it is clearly what an agent wants to see. Typos are a turnoff. This isn't text messaging.  Solution: Hire a professional (not your Aunt Rose) to read your letter. A second pair of eyes is a must.  Following these guidelines ought to help increase your odds of landing an agent. Patience and persistence are a huge part of being successful in this industry. I'm sure you've read enough about all the big authors who were rejected, yada yada yada, but, it was their persistence that paid off in the long run. And, good writing!  *** Heather Hummel is an award winning, bestselling ghostwriter for public figures, corporations, politicians, and individuals. Her books have appeared on television, including: the Today Show and several regional shows; in newspapers such as: Publishers Weekly, USA Today and the Washington Post; and in magazines that include: Body & Soul, First, and Spry Living, a combined print circulation of nearly 15 million. Visit Heather's Websites:
Books: www.heatherhummelauthor.com
Facebook Fan Page Photography: www.Facebook.com/HeatherHummelPhotography
Facebook Fan Page Author: www.Facebook.com/HeatherHummelFanPage
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/#HeatherHummel
Photography : www.HeatherHummelPhotography.com
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Published on March 19, 2013 17:42 • 467 views

March 11, 2013

Special Guest Post by Author Cari Kamm:
The Making of Chloe Kassidy
“It was much easier to control the outcome in photography. Heartbreak couldn’t be retouched.” – Chloe Kassidy
As someone who has worked in the beauty industry for over a decade, who has a master’s in clinical nutrition from New York University and currently works in corporate social media management with clients in the beauty, fashion, and restaurant industries . . . how the heck did I create a character that’s a professional photographer?  I can say that I did pull it off considering my editor is a Photonovelist! Heather Hummel gave me the seal of approval.
Life inspires me to create a character. I don’t necessarily “hear voices in my head” as someone that would require medical attention. Ha! My imagination is always alert. It’s on twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. Yes, even when I’m sleeping.
In an instant, I can go from sipping my cappuccino, to walking along a tree-lined street, while sitting in a movie theater, to having lunch with a friend, if inspired by a sound, a person, a smell, or even a shadow, my mind will wander off and absorb something specific in a moment. That moment can lead me into a story idea or a personality for a character.
My protagonist Chloe Kassidy has just been accepted into one of Manhattan’s most exclusive art exhibits, Love Through Light. However, with her singular dedication to her career, she soon realizes that in sacrificing her personal life, she has never been in love. A hopeless romantic who is terrified of heartbreak, Chloe begins to enlist the help of her circle of friends to learn about love through their very different stories and experiences.
So why a photographer? I felt it would be a creative career that would allow the story to be told through the lens and allow Chloe to remain safe. To create a photographer, I had to declare myself as a photographer. For almost six months, I researched online photography and equipment blogs. I attended gallery openings, watched YouTube videos, and did several searches on photography terms and definitions. I highlighted words that could also be applied to love. Finally, I pulled out my Canon (I could finally use!) and behaved as a photographer. I walked the Brooklyn Bridge, through Central Park and sat in restaurants to create the voice of Chloe Kassidy. I took pictures everyday! Throughout my own daily life, a moment may capture me and I think, “Wow... my character would eat that, do that, say that, adore that.” All of the scenes in FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY were shot throughout the two years it took to write it. Lastly, I have family members that love photography as a hobby and one that is a professional photographer. I asked them personal questions such as “What do you feel when you’re shooting?” or “How does it feel when you’re capturing a moment?”
Chloe Kassidy and I shared similar feelings of failing, of not finishing, or not getting it right. She prepared for her exhibit opening and I work to complete the novel.
FOR INTERNAL USE ONLYwas inspired by the notion that women grow up with ideas of true love and destiny, For Internal Use Only approaches those ideas with a decidedly twenty-first century viewpoint. By incorporating problems inherent with today’s dating world, this book is meant to enlighten readers to stop chasing fairytales and start creating their own. My goal was to write a humorous love story with an edgy and dramatic twist that gives each of us a new fairy tale to look forward to: our own.

Cari Kamm has worked in the beauty industry for over a decade, building brands, working behind the scenes, and even selling her own skin care line. She has a master’s in clinical nutrition from New York University. Kamm currently works in corporate social media management with clients in the beauty, fashion, and restaurant industries. Living in New York City with her mutt Schmutz, Kamm loves finding inspiration in the most unexpected places, being a novelist, and convincing her fiancé that ordering takeout and making dinner reservations are equal to cooking. More information can be found on her website, CariKamm.com. To check out the book trailer, click here: http://tinyurl.com/bdr7bfn.
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Published on March 11, 2013 22:30 • 71 views

February 28, 2013

Here's what I know will be an unpopular post regarding Amazon ridding the Tag and Like features, but here goes:
I was happy when Amazon got rid of tags because they were overly abused by the masses, which lead to defeating the purpose of them.
The Like feature's purpose was to help Amazon identify what books you like so they can continue to make recommendations to you.
Indie Authors piled up and Liked books for fellow authors, whether they read them or not, and this skewed the purpose of the feature.
I know this won't be a welcome thought, but rather than trying to manipulate a system (aka Amazon), I wish more Indie Authors had focused on good writing and promoting authentically.
I always felt all those manipulations were just that - manipulations. Honest RTs and sharing posts on FB like many of us do is FABULOUS and how it should be done. Trying to manipulate Amazon's system, well...I honestly don't blame Amazon for getting rid of those features. I don't see them as "out to get Indie Authors" as much as Indie Authors manipulated their system, so...if these features aren't working as intended, Amazon has the right to remove them.
Lastly, Amazon used the Like feature on all their products. It's no longer on, for example, the Canon EOS T3i - or any other product. It's not all about authors, Indie or otherwise, in the Amazon world. 
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Published on February 28, 2013 13:18 • 55 views

November 13, 2012

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One of my favorite authors and people, Cari Kamm, invited me to join her in the latest blog craze, My Next Big Thing. Cari's second novel, FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY, releases in December 2012, and not a moment too soon. Many, many readers have been awaiting her second release after reading FAKE PERFECT ME, her debut novel. And, I hear she's working diligently on her third.

Cari has asked about my forthcoming novel $1 AND $100, which begs the question, how do you relate to money?
Where did the idea come from for the book?I wanted to write a novel about money and how we all relate differently to it. I took it one step further by making it pretty much the protagonist in that it is the one constant throughout the book and it drives how each person handles it when in their hands. I also wanted to use both a $1 bill and a $100 bill because they draw and don’t draw different responses from different people.
[image error]What genre does your book fall under?While my Journals from the Heart series is chick-lit/women's lit, this one is straight up literary fiction. It will appeal to men, women, and most demographics. Well, anyone who can relate to money should be able to relate to $1 AND $100!
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?There are several characters throughout different periods in life from a mother and son in the mid-seventies to a divorced, wealthy man and a high school girl in the 80s, to a college aged couple in the 90s. Think LOVE ACTUALLY and I could probably use that cast.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?How do you relate to money?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?I've been both traditionally and independently published, and I'm considering submitting this one to agents just because of its broad appeal and to see if an agent would be drawn to it.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?This is one I'm still working on. I work on it when I'm not ghostwriting for clients, so the time I can devote to it ebbs and flows. However, I just joined a great writing group and that alone is encouraging me to plug away on it.

 [image error]What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?Perhaps THE LAST CONVERTIBLE. 
Who or what inspired you to write this book?Anyone who has held money inspired me! Also, I'm always guided by a higher power when I come up with ideas for and write my books. I am considering doing a documentary on the same topic where I'd interview (on camera) different people about how they relate to money. So, people of all demographics and locations inspired me. 
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?My goal is to make people think about how they relate to money. What their beliefs are around it. What they learned about it from parents and elders and other influential people in their lives. My intention is to start a dialog through fiction about something that impacts our lives on a daily basis, for good or not.###The great thing about this blog event is passing the torch onto other writers. I've chosen three very different, yet equally fabulous, authors to pass the torch on to…[image error][image error] 
Van Heerling:
-As a writer-
I don't just make stuff up.
I imagine new worlds and the people within them. And then quietly and with a curious eye, I spy on them to see what they will do next.
Van Heerling is one of the great literary novelists out there today as well as being one of the most original thinkers I know. Check out his website at: www.vanheerlingbooks.com/
[image error] Jewels Moss is a published author of science fiction books, and paramormal romance novels. She keeps her true identity a secret because it is fun to be Jewels. This is why she created her for her naughty side. She enjoys writing erotica, especially if she can create erotica from a story you wouldn't expect it from. Her works include The Siren's Song, Naughty Tales, and the soon to be released Why Yellow Jackets can't find the Hole. She enjoys being an author with Midnight Fire. Check out her website: http://naughtytales.webs.com/jewelsreleases.htm
[image error] Paul Hoffman was born in Madison, Wisconsin and was raised in Wauwatosa, a suburb of Milwaukee. He is a 1981 graduate of Wauwatosa East High School and attended both the University of Wisconsin - Madison and the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, graduating in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications (Radio/TV) and a minor in English.

His nearly 30-year career in journalism consists of working as a sports writer at the Milwaukee Sentinel; assistant sports editor at Pioneer Press newspapers in the Chicago area; sports editor and news editor in Shelbyville, Indiana; news editor in Columbus, Indiana; and has been special publications editor at the Daily Journal in Franklin, Indiana for the past 12 years. Paul is a member of the Wauwatosa, Milwaukee County and Wisconsin historical societies. He is married and lives in Columbus, Indiana. He has three daughters, a son and two stepdaughters. Visit Paul's website at: www.paulhoffmanauthor.com
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Published on November 13, 2012 05:00 • 55 views

October 30, 2012

Greetings from High Atop
the Rocky Mountains!

Guess What?
November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)!
In honor of it, I'm offering a special on eBook formatting!
Just $75 bucks till Nov 30th!

Did you know that eBooks require special formatting? They don't use headers or footers or page numbers, but that's just the start. To have your book on Kindle, Nook or other eReaders, it takes special care and attention to make it an enjoyable read. Having formatted dozens of eBooks for clients, I've learned the ins and outs of eBook formatting. If you've got a manuscript that's ready for publication, now's the time to get it done!
In celebration of all the authors who reach their NaNoWriMo goal, I'm offering a special on eBook formatting! When the blood, sweat, and tears of writing is done, pat yourself on the back! The $75 rate is good till November 30th (that's $50 bucks of savings in your pocket).
Email me if you're interested (Heather@HeatherHummel.net).

p.s. The banner image is one of the latest from Heather Hummel Photography

Did you know that I wrote WRITE FROM THE HEART during NaNoWriMo? It continues to be a favorite among fans. This NaNoWriMo, I'll be finishing either the third in the Journals from the Heart series - WISDOM FROM THE HEART - or my latest novel $1 AND $100, which is like no other I've ever written. 

"After reading Heather's first novel in the Journals from the Heart series, Whispers from the Heart, I jumped at the chance to read her second.  And I'm happy I did. Write from the Heart is a beautiful story about a writer, Samantha, who finds herself down in the dumps after a hard breakup. Samantha learns, with the help of her therapist and through the use of journals, how helping guide yourself to happiness is the only way to truly obtain it. I love this theory and push it often, so this story really touched me." - Lost in Literature Book Reviews

 "I have said it before... Author Heather Hummel is a true talent with words! WRITE FROM THE HEART is a wonderful story on the power of positive thinking and a reminder how we have the power to control our own destiny." - Cari Kamm, Author, Fake Perfect Me
Read more reviews on Amazon
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Published on October 30, 2012 14:50 • 56 views

September 12, 2012

She is the proverbial salt of the earth, and now Jen Tucker's latest memoir, The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt , (is that cover not the best!?) has officially launched! I'm the lucky and honored one who gets to host Jen on my blog today. We decided to do something a little different because, well, that's how we are...so, with that, I turn the table, sans the salt, over to Jen...

­­Yippee!  I’m so excited to kick off this blog tour for The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt with you, Heather.  Thank you very much for hosting me today.  For those who do not know, Heather and I are not only dear friends, she is also my editor.  Thank you, HH, from the bottom of my wine glass.  Heather and I batted around ideas for me to blog about, when she suggested I tell you about a little place that means a lot to me.  Why I haven’t opened up about it before, I have no earthly clue.  Enjoy!    
Home of the Great Indoorsmen[image error]     It never fails.  When my husband, Mike, and I meet new people, they’re curious to know where we first met.  When we divulge the tidbit we met in a bar, we’re usually met with a pleasant smile and nod of the head.  Similar to the look I imagine receiving if I told them we met in prison.  After revealing the small detail that we first laid eyes on each other at Harry’s Chocolate Shop, my how the tables turn. We are the recipients of slaps on our backs, jovial smiles, and sometimes utterances of, “Hey!  I love that place!  That’s where I met my wife too!”  All of a sudden, somehow meeting your true love in a bar isn’t as shady as previously determined, is it?
[image error] Mike and I may have—ahem—changed over the years, but one constant remains, and that is Harry’s itself.  Photos of Purdue University legends such as Bob Griese and Drew Brees, gaze down from the walls to observe the shenanigans of students on any given evening.  Graffiti from days gone by litter walls and the ceiling, like little time capsule tattoos of graduating seniors bidding their favorite watering hole farewell.  The Go Go’s, Eric Clapton and Bon Jovi still blare away on the jukebox, and the bartenders still skip those songs every chance they get so they do not have to listen to them.  Bartenders continue to wear shirts, which encourage you to, “Go Ugly Early.”  This has a debatable meaning, yet every alumni thinks they own the secret decoder ring with the translation.  Owners Herschel and Mary Cook can be found chatting with loyal patrons and enjoying conversations with returning alumni whom they welcome back with open arms.  Last, yet never least, we have the legendary Fishbowl.  The Fishbowl table, located in the front window, is usually occupied by a group of newly minted, legal-aged drinkers attempting to “go Indoorsman.”  Going Indoorsman means you park at this particular table, facing a large picture window were a passersby can gawk at you while you drink massive quantities of beer from 11am until last call.  May God have mercy on your livers, young lads.    [image error]    Mike and I attend a reunion that takes place each fall at Harry’s called, Kramerpalooza.  The best of bartenders, barflies, and waitresses who once slung and sloshed drinks in this establishment, descend upon the place and take over the top floor.  Through the years, our dear friend, Jen Kramer (Gorgeous, right?), has worked her tush off to bring us all back together for one night of sin and debauchery.  Okay, okay it’s not that seedy.  It’s more like a bunch of forty-somethings, who complain about their mortgages, joint inflammation and taxes, while trying to prove they can still handle endless glasses of Jack & Coke.       We reminisce over each other’s glory days, relive über embarrassing moments, and tell soapbox tales of nights that shall forever live in infamy.  We lay it all there, for everyone to see, without fear of judgment or rejection.  This group has witnessed the best of times and the worst of times together since our twenties.  Although many of us have traded in barn dances for diaper duty we remain closely devoted to one another.  We are a crew, who knows where all the skeletons are buried in each other’s shameful college years, yet would never tell another soul outside of these plastered walls.  In laymen’s terms; we are family.
[image error]                        [image error]                         [image error]          And as a family, for the first time, we buried one of our own this year.   George Owen lived a long and full life alongside his bride, Mary.  They were surrogate parents to numerous students that attended Purdue University over the decades, including me.  Including our entire gang.  On summer evenings, George and Mary sat across the street from Harry’s on a park bench so they could chat with as many students as possible.  They welcomed us into their homes for cookouts.  They attended our weddings and baby’s first birthday parties.  You could confide in George, but make no mistake.  He loved making you the butt of a good joke, and it was always meant with love.  He was a man among men, who contributed his heart and soul to each member of our little Kramerpalooza group in some way, shape or form.        There was no funeral; no graveside service this winter when George left this earth.  Instead, he was remembered as his final wishes dictated.  A gathering took place, with those who loved him dearly, at Harry’s Chocolate Shop.  Friends arrived from across the miles to raise a beer in George’s honor.  We said goodbye to the gentle giant, with the boisterous laugh and bigger than life personality, just as he requested.  It was difficult for me to bid farewell to George, who entered my life when I thought I had it all figured out at the ripe old age of 21.  Gosh, was I dumb back then, or what?!       Kramerpalooza will commence this October; our 19th anniversary.  Rather than shed tears for George, or pine away for moments long gone, we will again honor his memory by simply occupying the same space as we do each year, and raise our glasses in remembrance.  Then it will be back to the festivities at hand.  We’ll tell the same old stories, relive the same old moments of foolishness, and continue to love each other as we have for over two decades.  They say you can’t choose your family.  I believe in this case, we have chosen.  And we’ve chosen wisely.
Jen Tucker has never met a gluten free cupcake that she didn’t like.  A former teacher and educator, she worked with children in school, hospital, and enrichment settings for many years. In her years at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, it was Jen’s job to bring the “hands on fun” into the visiting exhibitions in the galleries.  Jen broke away from writing children’s books and thematic units in 2011 with her memoir, “The Day I Wore my Panties Inside Out” which was a semifinalist in the humor category in the 2011 Goodreads Book Awards. She is a monthly guest blogger at the website, Survival for Blondes. Jen lives in West Lafayette, Indiana with her husband, Mike, and their three children. You can purchase Jen’s latest book, The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt, here .  You can also find her on Twitter , Facebook , her blog or on her website at Princess with a Pen .

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Published on September 12, 2012 03:00 • 100 views

August 9, 2012

 "Each storyline weaves together to make a literary cloth that you are likely to wear in your mind for years to come."
I don’t write book reviews that recap the story. The book description serves that purpose. I rather prefer to share my reaction to the book and how it grabbed or didn’t grab me. This one was a grabber. It’s been a long time since a book has touched me as deeply as MY TEMPORARY LIFE did. The irony was that I chose to read this particular book in order to be in a literary world far removed from the reality of daily life. Surely a storyline about a young lad growing up in Scotland would be about as far removed from my life as a forty-seven year old writer living in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Well, indeed, it was far removed from my own life. But, still the author, Martin Crosbie, found a way to subtly, and at times not so subtly, lure me into Malcolm’s world in such a way that made me think a lot about my own. And that’s just part of what makes this such a fabulous read. Crosbie’s writing style is engaging and crisp. Each word is purposeful. Each character is developed in a way that the book wouldn’t be complete without them. Each storyline weaves together to make a literary cloth that you are likely to wear in your mind for years to come.The premise is about doing the right thing, and if you don’t do the right thing, how you may or may not move on with regrets. Starting with tough decisions as a young teenager right through is adult years, Malcolm is faced with having to do (or choose not to do) the right thing in some pretty intense situations. Malcolm is not the only one faced with the painful reality of retreating versus reacting, and in each case, it makes you think, what would I have done? Crosbie does a wonderful job of developing Malcolm’s relationship with each and every character, be them friend or foe. Through this, Malcolm’s character and personality are defined brilliantly. This is a book is an enriching one that appeals to a wide range of demographics. No matter where you live, whether you’re male or female, whether you like coming of age, get captivated by suspense or are a sucker for a love story, this book has it all. But most of all, this is a book that will change the way you think, and perhaps even the way you act.
With over 130,000 downloads of MY TEMPORARY LIFE, there will be a bunch of us readers anxiously awaiting his second novel, MY NAME IS HARDLY.
This review is posted as a standing ovation with 5 Stars on:
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. Visit Martin Crosbie’s website.

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Published on August 09, 2012 12:27 • 97 views

August 1, 2012

First - I'm so sick of the skinny vs. voluptuous campaigns.
My issue with these campaigns is that they're focusing on comparing the SIZE and LOOKS of women rather than the CHARACTER. Who cares whether we're skinny or full figured as long as we're HEALTHY? I've been 5'8" 122-130 my entire adult life. I work out 5 times a week because I love cycling or hiking or whatever gets me outdoors and off my laptop for a while. It's how I'm built and how I live, but I don't expect to be criticized for being naturally thin and athletic any more than I would criticize a plus sized woman for her looks and lifestyle. Can't we just be PEOPLE and not judged by the scale and tape measure but by character!?
I've had women say some pretty snarky things to me for being thin and it's campaigns like this that compare body types and pit women against each other that continue to encourage body size being a factor instead of focusing on character. I can also guarantee that the women in the Dove ad were Photoshopped just as much as the Victoria Secret women...I see no cellulite or stretch marks, so how does that make them "real"?
As for the young girls and body image everyone is so concerned about: my question would be...are the ad campaign execs who put this stuff out there in the first place parents? Talk to THEM.
Second - Why don't we see posts like this comparing men and their builds? Answer - because no one cares.
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Published on August 01, 2012 07:23 • 1,889 views

July 24, 2012

“The Universe provides us with two wells to dip into: love and fear. What one do you draw from to create your life? The answer to this question is critical because thought is the first part of creation. As we think, we create; and therefore, our lives are the reflection of our thinking on all conscious levels.” – Gabriel
As a firm believer in metaphysical science, I spend much of my days, and definitely my bike rides, pondering the theories that encompass the practices of the metaphysical world. Through my pondering and studies, I am constantly reassured by the Universe of its structure through signs and confirmations of its concepts. Core concepts such as: 1) our thoughts create our reality; 2) although we live in a fear based society, love based decisions should be made over fear based decisions; and 3) if you let something go — even for a moment — having your energy off of it will draw it to you if it’s meant to be. Of these three concepts, the fear based versus love based decisions is one of my favorite topics to ponder because it can be so crystal clear, and once recognized, is one of the easiest metaphysical concepts to explain and to master.When a faced with decisions, the choices at hand are driven by two primary emotions of the Universe: love and fear. You’d think that having only two choices would make it fairly easy to decide, yet many are caught between love and fear, and sadly end up blindly choosing the fear option over the love option. Fear based decisions are often chosen over love based ones on a subconscious level, a level that controls many more of our thoughts than we are aware of. We are programmed by our parents and society from birth to behave and think in a way that nurtures fear. Fortunately, the more spiritually evolved we become over our lifetimes, the more we begin to recognize that we can’t function in that linear capacity. Hence, we learn to create our own world — a new, brighter world where decisions are made from the heart, not fear created by the mind.The response I receive from people who know about my career shift is the ideal example. Everyone who thought it foolish that I gave up a “stable” career as an English teacher to “chase the dream of becoming a writer” was basing their opinion on fear. What I know is that by being truly passionate about your dreams, believing in yourself through thought and action, and following your path...your dharma, the Universe will provide you with all that you need to reach that goal. The trick is your own undeniable belief.I don’t take offense to people thinking I was imprudent to quit my steady teaching gig to become a writer. Why?  Because I’m confident enough in my beliefs and my path that I am not worried about having to defend my actions down the road. Nor do I preach what I practice to those who seek my advice about their own careers. (Why they ask me in the first place is interesting…maybe they want me to convince them that they too can take a leap of faith?) I don’t preach it because the trick is to leap with faith. Not all have faith…not all are ready. As one friend often tells me, “People don’t do things until they’re ready.” When they’re ready, they’ll take the leap.My passionate belief in this topic inspired me to write this poem. Leap of Faith
Toes dip in the cool lakeRetracting rapidlyIs it too deep?
Is it too cold?
A glance around the lakeThe reflection shimmers prospectsAre they too far reaching?Will it be safe?
Another toe dips inAnd stays a moment longerMaybe I can do this?Maybe it will be okay?
On all tippy-toesArms stretched outJust do itDon’t look back

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Published on July 24, 2012 13:16 • 60 views

July 19, 2012

Romance novelists are the lucky ones who get to put good looking, bare chested, long hair guys on their covers! So, I asked Michelle Miles to stop by and fill me in on the writing life of a romance novelist who gets to create such characters as knights and princesses.

HH: You became a writer in 2006...how have all of the industry changes impacted your role as a writer?
MM: Well I think it’s certainly given me more choices. I was lucky—I got published with Samhain when they were a new company looking for new writers. I think it was an excellent way to break in and dip my toe in publishing. I still look back on that first book and am amazed at all the sales it’s done. Talk Dirty To Me is still my best-seller. Now, I think there are so many opportunities for writers out there, so many different ways a writer could take his/her career. I love seeing all the indie folks out there who are successful.

HH: It's evident that you love princesses and knights! Did this carry over from childhood?
MM: I guess you could say that. :) I think it carried over from a love of movies! LOL I’ve always been a huge fan of princesses (I mean, who doesn’t love Princess Leia! She was smart and strong). I think the fascination with knights came from me watching the 1970s version of Excalibur. I thought Arthur was sexy as hell and Guinevere was an idiot for wanting that troll, Lancelot. What was wrong with her?

HH: With your two novels, ONE KNIGHT ONLY and ONLY FOR A KNIGHT, did you have to do a lot of research? Is a third in the works?  MM: Actually, yes. I spent a lot of time researching for ONE KNIGHT ONLY. Since it’s set during the 14th century at a jousting tournament, I had to get all the details right. I wanted to know what they ate at banquet and everything. I even found a great online research for “ren speech”. (Have I mentioned I love Renaissance festivals? No? That’s another post…) I had a blast researching about medieval jousting knights and loved that I could incorporate that into the novel. Since my hero, Finn, has a gambling problem, I also researched medieval card games and dice games. Hazard was a popular one of the day (which eventually became what we know today as Craps). I also learned all about the suits of cards and how the evolved over the years. It was fascinating reading.
For ONLY FOR A KNIGHT, I didn’t research as much. The entire book is set in the Otherworld, the Fae land where Derron and Elyne live (the two Fae characters from the first book). Their world is in danger of being destroyed. This book features Elven characters as well as a few dragons. I loved writing this book. I loved living in that world.
And yes, I have a third in the very early stages, tentatively titled A KNIGHT TO REMEMBER. I have the idea but I haven’t fleshed out the full story yet. I can tell you it will be about Maggie’s dad (Maggie was the heroine in ONE KNIGHT ONLY) and Queen Maeve, Elyne’s mother, who has been a recurring character in the other two books.

HH: I love learning about where people write! What is your writing space like? (I don't dare call creative spaces "offices"!)
MM: This is a hard question for me to answer, because I’m new at this writing full-time thing. I currently write in a home office at a desk that is falling apart. I have some inspirational things above my desk and on it that keeps me motivated. A couple of Celtic candles, a knight, Lord of the Rings book ends that are replicas of the statues from the first movie and a mini Minis Tirith from the second. I also have a pewter dragon and a pewter fairy. Above that, lots of inspirational signs (I’m attaching a photo).
I try to keep my favorite reference books handy. I use the Character Naming Sourcebook, Building Believable Characters, and The Romance Writers’ Phrase Book a lot. Behind me, I have a bookshelf crammed full of reference books, magazines, etc. All stuff a writer needs.
My view is the front yard and my commute is about ten seconds. ;) Plus I have easy access to the snack machine (pantry) and soda fountain (refrigerator).

HH: Writers can be quirky people: what is a typical Friday night like for you?
MM: LOL! It is totally NOT exciting. My husband is ready to start relaxing by Friday night. We usually have dinner out, especially if I’ve been cooking all week. If there’s baseball or hockey on, you can guarantee that’s on the TV. (We love the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Stars.) If not, then we watch hours of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Sometimes we play cards, if the mood strikes us.

HH: Thanks so much for stopping by! Where can readers find you?
MM: Thank you so much for having me today, Heather! I had a blast.
Readers can find me:
Website: http://www.michellemiles.netEmail: michelle@michellemiles.netTwitter: http://www.twitter.com/MichelleMiles Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MichelleMilesRomanceGoodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/MichelleMilesYouTube: http://www.youtube.com/mlmiles21
Michelle Miles found her love of writing buried in the fantasy books of Patricia A. McKillip and the beautiful romances of Victoria Holt. It wasn’t until her high school years she decided to take up the pen and try her hand at writing. She created faraway lands, space adventures, and even princesses who just wanted to be saved. Never learning to plot, she always believed that jumping in feet first was the way to go and has since become a self-proclaimed Pantser, writing sexy contemporaries, sizzling paranormal and sweeping fantasy.

  Plotting PrincessesA Native Texan, she loves hockey, baseball, drinking coffee, cross-stitching, and shopping for shoes and Coach handbags. Follow her daily writings and weekly guest features at her blog, Ye Olde Inkwell. Michelle is also a regular contributor to Pop Culture Divas  and Plotting Princesses.

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Published on July 19, 2012 12:38 • 70 views