Monday, December 19, 2016

Happy Holidays

Greetings and salutations.

For me it's Christmas time, but for you it can be anything you want as long as you enjoy it.

Winter break came a little early this year for my school district which means I have a full week to prepare for Christmas. Usually it's a mad rush over a couple of days and then it's over and the tree is down and where did time go ohmygoshit'sFebruary. Not this year. I'm going to marinate myself in all things Christmas and love it.

On that, I actually have a little time and that means WRITING WILL BE ACCOMPLISHED. Facebook, sewing, and naps will not get in the way. In fact, I am writing this blog post to start the writing juices flowing and tap into my muse (which apparently seems to be meat based on all my metaphors thus far - not a bad muse, really).

So on that note, have a wonderful holiday season. I'll update you with some good news shortly.

And this image came up when I searched "Christmas meat." 
Could be a lot worse.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Imitating Myself

My writing style has changed since I finished my first manuscript, Courtly Love, ten years ago. I am less passive and trust myself to break grammar conventions for the sake of the story. I think about pacing and the way sentences read and flow. It's not just about having a solid plot and character arcs, but about how I show the story evolve.

That said, in rewriting Courtly Love, now Courtly Pleasures and an entirely different story, is painful. It has to fit with the following two manuscripts, Courtly Scandals and Courtly Abandon. The problem is that I don't write like that anymore. What I am, in effect, doing is imitating myself.

And it's not easy. In fact, it's coming out a lot like Frankenstein,a whole made out of different parts that don't quite fit. My critique partner said I should scrap it and start an entirely new book with the same characters and let it grow but if I do that it won't fit with the next two.

I have called this book my white whale but I intend to conquer it. I just wish I could write with the excitement and energy of watching a story unfold. My carrot on a stick is that I will be able to finish Gillian and Liam's story in Call of Echoes as soon as I'm done with this beast.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Positive Consolidation of all the Self-Righteous Rants I Stop Myself from Posting

Right now American society is exploding. We're doing this to ourselves and blaming everyone but ourselves. As this happens, consider the following:

1. Some of the rhetoric the media has promoted has become ingrained as truth. Before you parrot anything from the media in support of or against, double check what was actually said rather than the media interpretation designed only to create emotional response.

2. By the time the election happened, I didn't know what either candidate actually stood for. It was refreshing to read their plans. Here is Trump's plan for his first 100 days.

3. People assume I support Hillary because I am a woman. People assume I support Trump because my husband is a small business owner. Because my job is in education, Hillary. But I'm white so Trump. Stop making massive generalizations.

4. We are currently still in the Obama administration.

5. Not liking something doesn't make it false. Truth is not predicated on whether we like it or not. Don't assume. Research. This goes back to point one.

6. Using the violent protesting Hillary supporters as representatives all Hillary supporters is not fair. Neither is lumping all Trump supporters together as racist rednecks (or basket of deplorables). This is EXACTLY the same as saying all Muslims are terrorists.

And that brings me to my main point:
7. Be kind. Ultimately the success of our country, our culture, depends on the actions of each one of us. If we are open to learning and tolerant, if we help when we see the need instead of blaming, we can be a people that are worthy of respect. Don't let fear fuel your decisions. Be proactive, not reactive and be your best self. If we all do this we will create a legacy we're not ashamed to pass to our children.

And since my blog site is technically about writing, one more piece of unasked for advice:
8. Anything you write in anger that seems righteously glorious in the moment, don't post it. Stop. Think. Reconsider. Help be a solution rather than adding fuel to the problem. I say this based on experience with my own knee jerk reactions. We need each other and to celebrate what we have in common instead of using differences to create isolation.

Just for fun, I leave you with something that always makes me smile.

Friday, September 23, 2016

I'm All Over the Place

It's true. My brain is a plate of spaghetti and I'm at least a touch ADD (attention deficit disorder) so is it any surprise my blog is so inconsistent?

I started this blog when I first joined in with the online writing communities and started growing my craft. Since then my craft has changed. I have changed. But, I still have a handful of books I want to promote and I continue to write forward in various genres.

It's been quite a journey toward finding my identity as a writer. Each time I think I know, something changes and, being a fan of organic growth, I go with it. As a result, the last ten blog posts have been about redefining myself again and again. And again.

And then I cam full circle back to writing Elizabethan historical romance. When I first started this blog, it was called "Doing it Elizabethan Style" thanks to my husband and then changed to "Hold on to Your Bloomers." It's gone through a few evolutions to the current title, "Spocktastic," which is more indicative of me rather than my writing.

The point of this blog post is to own it. It's who I am. I get distracted by shiny things and squirrels. I have moments of genius followed by moments of sleeping. Such is the nature of me and, therefore, my writing.

That said, I like to think my writing is good and entertaining. Right now I'm, as I said in the last post and it's still true, working on bringing Courtly Pleasures back to life. In the meantime, I have posted my paranormal romantic thriller, Possessing Karma, on Inkitt and it is consistently in the top romance novels with over 700 reads. While there's a big part of me that cringes that I'm just putting it out there for free when I feel like it's totally publishable, another part loves that people are actually reading my work.

And that's all for now.

Friday, September 16, 2016

My First Love

I pursued my bachelor's degree in history because of my love of historical costume. The way I'd learned history in high school, dates of wars and political events, did not speak to me. But the way I learned history through theater did. I loved how you can find out so much about a person based on what they wore. Social history, the people that led us to the world as we know it, still fascinates me.

I particularly fell in love with the Elizabethan/Reformation era courtesy of Shakespeare and renaissance fairs. The nuances of dress, the widening scope of the world, changing cultures, this was my focus in college. Because I felt history was a underwhelming subject in school the way it had been taught in my experience led me to becoming a teacher.

This era also led me to start and finish my first manuscript, then called Courtly Love. I've addressed this poor, overworked, Frankenstein of a book many times, but this time it's different.

This time I have a reason to make it right.

There is interest.

I'd stopped seriously pitching my historical romances a few years ago because I could predict the responses: the market is saturated and Elizabethan era is better suited to historical fiction than historical romance (and any other variation on this theme). I stopped even thinking about my historicals. I compartmentalized all the story lines that had built up in my mind and stored them away for another day and concentrated on thrillers. 

But interest, oh, that changes everything. The floodgates are open and I am in my element again. My musings are full of grand manors and small villages, court, dancing, gowns, changing social norms... and the stories refuse to be ignored.

So, back to Courtly Pleasures go I. My challenge there is to smooth out the seams. I rewrote it because it was more women's fiction than romance and the two books that followed had more of a romance vibe so they didn't match. My mistake was not rewriting 100%. I tried to salvage parts I liked from the original but my writing style had evolved. Now I'm remedying that error and hope to finish with a manuscript I am proud of once more.

And on that, back to work.


This is my eldest, age 4ish at the time the picture was taken.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Inkitt Writing Contest

I have posted my full manuscript, Possessing Karma, on Inkitt for their Story Peak contest. I feel ambivalent about it because if it does well, I'm still not certain that this is the route I'd like to take. But then I don't have high expectations. It is an interesting format to get your book read and, ultimately, that is what I want to do. Yes, I want to be paid, but that's secondary for now. The longer my books go unread, the worse they become in my estimation. As I uploaded chapter by chapter of Possessing Karma I gained confidence in my abilities once again. There's some good stuff there, if I do say so myself. :)

Anyway, to read a free digital version of my paranormal romantic thriller go to the link below.

Think Bones meets Witching Hour, set in New Orleans where the past and the present overlap.

Addendum: it seems like every time I edit and republish, I get pulled out of the competition. That said, I still want to have a quality product out there (which is why I've been so reticent about self publishing) so if you notice anything that pulls you from the read, I'd love to know. Your comments can only make me a better writer. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Introducing Call of Echoes

This work in progress has been on the back burner for a long time. In fact, I feel confident in saying that putting it there is what crippled my writing. It was the first moment of me not writing the story of my heart and, instead, writing what I thought would sell.

Newsflash: nothing sold AND I have not finished a manuscript since I put this one away. This one has haunted me. I thought it was the ghost of my dearly departed first book that held me back, but it was this one. This story is so intensely personal in that the wood I describe is the same wood where I lived as a child. The longing and the full sensory experience is so real. As for the story as a whole? Not even sort of based on real life.

My biggest struggle with this story was whether to build the romance or the paranormal element as the primary story. I like to think they're balanced and, ultimately, it's about a woman who realizes she deserves happiness (as are all my stories. So whether it's a paranormal romantic thriller or a paranormal thriller with romantic elements will remain to be seen.

Thank you to Raquel Byrnes for the title. I've been calling it Sexy Trees (because there are trees in the book and there's sexiness, but not sex with trees - different genre) and finally have something a little more respectable.

Just for fun, here's a sneak peak at the prologue.

            Pain of fusion, heat, pressure, and the sudden chill of wind and rain seared my first memory into being. Mother beneath me heaving and stilling only to surge again and again, pressing me higher into the emptiness above, left me solitary. Sense of purpose filled me, my granite roots deep and joined with my brethren. Together we were one with the core. We pulsed with power born of raw elemental violence. Always united but each alone, dark night and misty morning. Surrounded by empty earth, I longed for more, to feel the warmth of the burning star and to taste the dew. With each burst of my energy, the land around me awakened and blossomed, new life twining inexorably my channel to the beating heart of earth. Vibrant and fertile, life and death surrounded me and became woven into my very fiber. I nourished my children, the five reaching higher and broader, sending out shoots of their own until the land around me teemed with my progeny. Awake, aware, and embraced, I felt the world above as never before and I felt joy. 
            Man came late, leaving footprints, proof of their ambition and determination. They needed me, the safe haven of my bower. They called me sacred, god, goddess, Aine, menhir, and my children the Duir, the oak. In return, man paid homage to me with ritual and respect. Together my children and man flourished. I reached out to know them and found one who accepted me—a child. Open and innocent, our beings joined and her people called her the guardian. Our bond was as sacred to them as the life I gave, the grove I bore, the beams of moonlight that joined me to all. I gave the guardian access to the pulse from within my core to protect my children and that guardian gave their breath to upholding our bond. I treasure the guardians, once called Druids, who gave themselves to me. I am the bone, my oaken children are my nerves, my veins. The guardians, for there have been many, give me their pleasure and their pain. Through them I have sight and scent, taste and sound. They sing to me and I hold their memories within my immortality.
            Man seldom seeks me at the glade now. Those that dare, only take and never give back. I feel the tendrils of my influence shrinking and their apathy kills all I love.
           I have been and will continue to be the lifeblood of this land. I will do whatever necessary to protect what is mine. We will flourish no matter the obstacle. I will never allow anyone or anything to interrupt the cycle held deep within the roots and boughs I have born. I know this as I know the winds and rain that wear my skin, the moss that absorbs my warmth. My children with thrive again because the guardian has returned.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Hello Summer!

As a teacher, summer is a sacred time dedicated to sleep and emotional healing. Without said healing, it is impossible to have the optimism necessary to approach a new school year full of hope. To be more specific, if you open your classroom doors on that first day of fall and are already thinking of your students as assholes negatively, the year is doomed.


Today I slept until noon and, in order to not feel like a total slob, did put on clean clothes including a bra. Why? Well, I hope to be productive with writing today and actually being dressed helps me NOT play World of Warcraft because I am a serious author. Right? Right.

I also now have slightly more than a month to prepare for Romance Writer's of America's national convention. I am financially blessed that this year is in San Diego, just an hour or so away. This means instead of it being a $2000 or more commitment, it's only (only! Oy vey) $500ish. This does not mean I get to slack. No, sir. I am on my home field and need to kick some pitching-my-books butt this year. I did not attend RWA15 in New York last year for financial and emotional reasons (there's only so many times you can smile and keep a professional-yet-creative face on while you get rejected). I spent the summer piddling around with different writing ideas but not really writing forward. A lot of false starts and revisions. This summer I am going to be a writing machine. I know the stories are in me, I just have to convince myself that I can really write them.

My point? Writing, actually writing something that I get to look back on and say, "I wrote that!" with pride is emotionally healing for me. During the school year I have a lot of small successes, but many of them come with redefining what success means for each student individually. Sometimes it's hard to put my finger on and really see the progress. But when I write, I can see that word count grow. I can't wait to write more, almost like I'm not writing but I'm reading something that leaves me feeling like I can't wait to see what happens next. I get this incredible sense of accomplishment that comes from within (it has to, since I have yet to find that elusive agent who believes in my writing) that is so, so very validating. I've had this feeling from my costuming and when my daughters Irish dance dresses, but it's not the same. With those, I thrive on compliments. With my writing, I am proud of myself whether or not I sell, or even if my critique partner quirks a brow and tells me she doesn't understand my direction.

So there, I've shared a part of my rambling soul in this not very cohesive post (does that make it a horcrux?)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Come, Nerd with Me

Having the last name of Spock does not automatically make me a Trekkie (or Trekker). Spock is Polish, not Vulcan, and I married into the name. I started life as a Kane and the Star Trek influence came courtesy of my physicist father and my own extreme Captain Kirk crush in the third grade. When Star Trek: The Next Generation came out, I reserved judgement and only was won over by Michael Dorn who I missed from Misfits of Science.  I watched Deep Space Nine and Voyager (I still call Captain Janeway Mrs. Columbo), but only made it through a few episodes of Enterprise, and that due to residual Quantum Leap loyalty.

When I started playing World of Warcraft, Micheal Dorn once again gave his seal of approval, telling me to, "go with honor." WoW lead to watching The Guild (increased in credibility by the presence of Wil Wheaton (who will always be Wesley to me (can I have multiple parenthesis within parenthesis?))) and that, in turn, gave the nod of "yes, that's worth my time" to Supernatural (Felicia Day).

Yes, I've been on a disjointed, pop culture journey.

I bring this up because I write historical and supernatural romantic fiction. My entire entertainment history implies I should be writing Science Fiction or Fantasy. My adolescence was built around Xanth, so,why romance? Peirs Anthony described the sexual act as rolling around together and waiting to see an ellipsis appear in the air.

I'm currently listening to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and am so into it I'm holding myself back by reserving the listening experience to my commute. Ready Player One is set in a dystopian future that takes the escapist nature of entertainment technology to a new level. It's compelling and hilarious and I feel like I'm with my people. Could this genre be where I belong? Why am I writing (unsuccessfully) romance?

Let's go back to my Kirk crush. I never thought boys had cooties. I always was in love with the idea of love. Romance, the fantasy of that happily ever after, is my carrot on a stick. And there it is.

Realization: I need to write nerdy romance. Bam. Mind blown.

Now I just need to finish two works in progress, possibly three, so I can explore this new world.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

My White Whale

I am wrestling with Courtly Pleasures (formerly known as Courtly Love) again. Why? Because I'm insane.

Also, it's current state of unpublishability (word?) makes me angry.

Courtly Love was the first manuscript I ever wrote. When I finished it, I was certain it was the BEST BOOK EVER! I expected immediate publication and to be lauded as author extraordinaire. I did get some positive feedback, but ultimately the book had some big problems.

1. It wasn't genre specific. It was too much of a romance to be historical fiction and too much historical fiction to be a romance. It was almost chick lit, but didn't delve deep enough to be a journey of discovery.

2. It was history lesson for era politics and costuming. All my readers told me that there was too much about the clothes but I dismissed them as not able to discern how really necessary that clothing description was to the story. By the way, it wasn't necessary.

3. Basic writing skills. The feedback told me I was too passive. I went through and search all "was" and came up with everything being good English. Nope. Reading it years later I found so many examples of "she was sitting at the table" and changed those to "she sat at the table." Little things that make the story faster paced.

4. It was more of a story about my female lead. We hardly ever saw the male lead and even then it wasn't enough to care about him. If it is romance, you need to fall in love with the guy a little. So I rewrote it once, and gave the male a bigger part, but then my female lead became unsympathetic. Damned if I do... you know the rest.

I am, yet again, tackling Courtly Pleasures. Why? Because I have Courtly Scandal and Courtly Abandon and really feel like they need to be a trio. In the rewrite (which is only a little bit Frankensteined from the original) the love story is central. Then I get frustrated with it and wonder if I should just own the chick lit nature of the book and make finding and accepting love thread secondary and re-brand. And then I think I need to go into unique faces of Queen Elizabeth's court and re-brand as historical fiction. And then I get mad at the whole thing and play World of Warcraft.

This book is holding me back on all the other projects. Having it left in limbo has hobbled me as a writer. Solution = get it done. Get it done now. 

My critique partner shakes her head whenever I bring it up, but it must happen. This is my Moby Dick and may well be the death of me.

Do you have any projects that you cannot shake?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Judgy McJudgerton

I volunteered to judge for a contest for unpublished romance writers. This is the second time I've done this and I'm in awe of the unpublished talent out there. This experience leaves me with two vastly different impressions:

1. There's some good stuff out there in the unpublished world. If I number among their ranks, I should be proud. So many are books that I wish could continue reading. They are clean and professional. The ones that pull me out of the read with errors or plot issues just need some more fine tuning. None of them, so far, have been anything any writer should be ashamed of. In fact, it's obvious they're not ashamed--they hope to win this contest so they have confidence in their manuscript. They are my peers. Go team!

2. Who the hell am I to judge a contest? I'm just one of the gazillions of unpublished authors out there with only my failures to guide me. Good grief! Are the people judging my manuscript(s) schlubs like me? If so, where do they get off liking or not liking my writing? And why should I give any weight to the results?

Luckily the positive response dominates, but the negative one peeks through here and there. I guarantee it will come to the forefront of my defenses when I get my own results (unless they're good, in which case my judges were fellow geniuses).

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