Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Gift

What do you do when you receive the most amazingly thoughtful, personal gift that any one's given you in a long time? Well, if you're a writer, you blog about it, of course.

One of the most amazing outcomes of joining Twitter last year has been the unexpected gift of real friendships that have blossomed. As a writer with trust issues, I have a totally crazy over-active imagination and I automatically think that every one's either a serial killer or a pervert. And while most people are...there are a few good eggs out there too!

One of those good eggs is my new friend Dylan. Since we're both girls, I'd say we're having a Tweetmance since I guess we can't technically have a bromance. We come from different back grounds and ethnicities, and I have a good 15 years on her, but in a very short period of time I feel like I've found a platonic soul-mate. 

I won't go on and on about her and make everyone puke from my admiration. But I will say she is an amazing writer and an amazing human being. Oh, and did I mention, she also happens to be a truly gifted artist?

Among other things, we share this in common: we both lost a grandparent who was more like a parent and best friend to us. The relationships ran deep. Her loss came ten years ago, and mine three. {Her grandpa blog post / my grandma blog post : caution, get tissues first.}

In my blog post I shared one of the most personal pictures I have with my grandma: me holding her hand while she was in hospice dying. I am wearing the navy-blue watch she asked me to hold when she went into surgery just days before. You can still see the indents from where her wedding rings lived cushioned for more sixty years. And on my wrist is my personal mantra: I choose. {You can see the original picture in my blog post, Walking In Her Shoes.} 

And here is the magnificent gift that awaited me in my inbox this morning:

How can you even thank someone properly for the love, time, thought and personal care that went into such a loving gesture?

Except to tell her that I see her own magnificence. That I appreciate the woman she is today for the journey she's traveled. That finding her friendship has meant the world to me. That I believe our souls were meant to meet and be touched by one another. That she inspires me daily to keep on writing, to live authentically, and to also follow my own dreams.

And that every day when I'm getting the kids ready for school or enjoying my morning coffee, I have to smile when I find one of her sweet, sunny, funny, happy, heart warming Tweets waiting for me.
 
So while the sketch speaks volumes, this is the real gift I've been blessed with: friendship. I never thought I'd say this, but thanks Twitter for changing my life.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cover Reveal: Dominio della Morte

It's not often that I do a cover reveal. When I do, it's because I truly believe in the writer and know that my readers will enjoy their work too. So, I'm happy to introduce you to author Dylan J. Morgan.

Morgan (currently based in Norway) is a supremely gifted, graphically descriptive horror/speculative fiction writer who's releasing his newest book March 1. Dominio della Morte, a collection of 19 short horror stories, is "a place where you will find your fear."

Here are a couple of story blurbs from the book, just to whet your appetite! These were just a few of the lines that ran shivers down my spine while reading them:


In a diseased and broken world, man is no longer on top of the food chain...
 
Not even death can stop a serial killer... 
 
A talented artist adds the final piece to his macabre exhibition...
 
 
Dominio della Morte
 Release date: March 1, 2013
 
 

Cover by artist Karri Klawiter. 
 

Connect with author Dylan J. Morgan and find out why I'm such a huge fan of his writing! Find him on: * Twitter * Goodreads * Website *

You can click here to see the entire wrap-around cover and click here to get the latest update on the book's release schedule, see the table of contents, and review blurbs to see what others are saying about Dominio della Morte.

Thanks, Dylan, for sharing this gorgeous cover reveal with us today!

Readers, I'll also be reviewing Dominio della Morte this March, so stay tuned!

Monday, February 18, 2013

And Then There Was God ~ Monday's Writing Prompt

Here it is again, my precious little readers: writing prompt Monday. This week's writing prompt is brought to us by the lovely and talented Stefanie Gaither at The Secret Life of Writers. Because of their juicy little writing prompts, I now look forward to Mondays; I mean, who doesn't like to get their creative juices flowing?

Some *rules* to keep in mind as a reader. The image given is meant to inspire anything--a thought, a line, a title, a poem, a song, a haiku, a short story. Whatever inspires. Then, you go from there: attach your wings, study the muse, and soar!

It's not meant to be poured over and fretted upon like you might the start of your novel. Or critically edited and over-analyzed like you would before submitting. It's just meant to be fun. So here is how it inspired me today. Please don't fret too much. Just enjoy!




"And Then There Was God" ~ by C.M. Albert, 2/18/13
 

The cleaning fumes are overpowering, but don't distract me from my mission. The scent of pine and leather lingers in the air, reminding me of where I am and what I'm about to do. It drapes more heavily on my shoulders than if Father Joseph had been standing directly over me giving me the lifetime of penance I would surely receive for the dark thoughts racing through my head.

On my knees, I can feel the knots from the aged, wooden floor burrowing firmly in my flesh. I relish the pain it delivers; it matches the ache that's nestled deeply inside me. The coldness that surrounds me races through my veins and feeds my heart. It's the first time I've felt full inside a church for years.

My eyes remain closed, but I can sense the stream of light trying to break through the gloomy air, forcing its way into my line of vision. I will not turn toward the light. It's too late for that. The darker corners of the church are what beckon me now.

I don't even know why I came here.

The lie drapes itself across my tongue like the silk that hangs loosely from the crucifix staring down at me from the highly polished pulpit. Mocking me. Daring me. Screaming for me to open my eyes. To be present. To look into the eyes of Christ and tell Him the dark and grievous act that dances along the inside of my temples, pushing for release.

I am tired. Only nineteen, but far too old and tired for my age. For this body. For any body to bear on earth. Life. It once beckoned to me: sold me on its sweet fragrant gardenia; with the joy of racing down a hill on my beach cruiser, aerodynamic against the wind; filling me with the luxury of a crunchy, red apple's juice before it trickles down my chin.

Those are luxuries I lost months ago. With a simple act of violence so betraying it ricocheted from my body to my heart and settled deeply inside of my brain, haunting me every waking minute. I couldn't walk the halls of the university without seeing his face. I couldn't sit in his class without shame and disgust creeping along my skin; it sent me straight home to shower, rubbing my legs raw until they bled. Even now, I can still smell his woodsy scent on my skin. No wonder I can no longer tolerate the sun. Or trees. Or the sound of gravel crunching beneath my boots as I hike. What used to make me feel strong now makes me jump inside of my skin; terror warming my body as it crouches in fear. I will fight next time. 

The chapel's bell chimes loudly, echoing off the silence that envelopes me. There will be no next time. I came here for the peace it once brought me. Before man turned to monster. When I still had all my youthful, ignorant faith inside my heart.

This is his special place. The place he used to bring me late at night. We would hold hands in the dark recesses of the church's sacred pews. His voice warm and gentle, telling me stories of the prophets and saints who stole his heart and led him to religion. His path had not wed him to preach from a pulpit, but to create a sense of mystery from the safety of his classroom. A mystery so enticing it wove its way into my sense of wonder, raping the holiness that had already lived there.

Now his church is my special place. The last place I will draw a breath. The last place I will be rejected. I hold no misdirected hope that God will do anything but reject me; I'm ready to accept the darkness that already fills me. There is no more light left for God to see or for him to find me.

My soul is consumed with bitter anger. It trembles in constant fear. It has wilted under the tarnish that brands me anew. There is no savior for me. He abandoned me once; even as I abandon him now.

I can feel my body succumb to the pills I had thoughtfully mashed together. A toxic blend of powder, scattered like ashes across the communion table's marble slab. A place reserved for holiness and dreams; the pure of heart. I took joy snorting from a spiritual place, sending death deeply into the recesses of my darkness. 

Curled on the floor of the alter, I open my eyes toward the light now streaming in. Darkness crowds my vision, but still the light creeps past those tiny glass panes and one last time, finds the last secret corner of my heart held for Christ and light.

And then there was God.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Love Is In The Air

In honor of Valentine's Day and the fact that I hit 1,000 followers on Twitter this week, I've decided to release a peek at some of my work as a small thank you to those of you who believe in me and my writing. I am forever humbled and my heart is full of gratitude, truly.

The following scene is from chapter twenty-five and is written from Isabella's perspective. I can't give away all of what came before, but let's just say that her and her friends are in a *little bit* of trouble and things keep escalating. Just a few hours before this scene, Isa's boyfriend Ben quietly admits that he's in love with her. She didn't have even a minute to let her heart flutter or absorb the news. 

Fast forward to them sitting in Ben's truck while Grey waits in the car behind them. They're having one last quiet moment together before she and her best friends seclude themselves and start looking for the answers to some pretty serious questions.

*****

Ben turned to face me. "Are you going to be okay, Isa? I'm worried about you. You and your friends have been through so much these last few days." He gently brushed his fingers along the line of my face, concern clouding his eyes. "I meant what I said back there, Isa. I'm in love with you. And I'm afraid for you. Too much trouble has been following you lately." His eyes went to the rear view mirror, glancing in Grey's direction.
I jumped to her defense. "It's not Grey's fault, Ben! Promise me you won't blame Grey for any of this. She's still in shock from everything. I need to be here for her and help her work through this over the next few days, okay?"

I could see the tension that set in Ben's jaw. Clearly, he was not okay. He blew out a lung-full of air, causing his bangs to lift. I couldn't help but giggle. I leaned in toward him and cupped his face.
"Benjamin Charles Harper," I said as I stared directly into his eyes.
"Isabella Victoria Adams," Ben replied, his smile disarming. Something stirred deep inside, tugging in hidden places. "We've established our names. Now what?" he whispered.
I pulled him toward me. The fear, tension, anger, and confusion that had been churning inside of me for the past two days melted away when my lips met his. Our kiss was long and slow. Both demanding more, both making promises for later. I went deeper still, trying to communicate how much I loved him in return and how much I would need from him as we trudged through this awful mess. My hands went to his hair and grabbed on for dear life. I began to sob, breaking the kiss short. 
My voice, husky from the thick emotions swirling around in my heart, came out in a whisper. There was a first for everything. 
"I love you too, Ben." 
*****

I can't wait to share more with you in the future and I'm dying to hear what you think of this short, but hopefully sweet, scene. It's the first time I've shared any of my work with readers outside of my crit group. So be gentle!

Hugs, happiness, and everlasting love to you all.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love Blooms in Many Ways

I believe in everlasting love.

There, I said it. And it's okay if you don't. Love is something that crosses all boundaries and shows no prejudice. I believe you love who love. Be it a sweetheart, a friend, an animal (a pet, you pervs!), your family, or whatever god you find comfort with inside your heart.

I believe when you truly love someone, you accept them for who they are and don't try to change them. You give yourself fully and (gulp!) love whether they return it or not. Because your heart just loves.

Despite being very sentimental about everlasting love, I'm actually not a girl who is big on celebrating Valentine's Day. My soulmate brings me flowers all year long. He always has a Three Musketeers bar hidden so that when I can't stand it anymore and "must!have!chocolate!" it's there for me. He takes the kids for me after he works a long, hard day so that I can go for a run or get some me time. He's a good father. A patient friend. So, I don't need anything special on Valentine's Day to feel that I am loved. I feel that all year long. And yes, I know that I'm a lucky girl.

This Valentine's Day for me is about celebrating different kinds of love and all of the unique ways it presents itself.

This morning, on his own with no prompting, my son got up early--full of excitement--and made his "Valentine" a special gift bag full of things he thought she would like: a Tinkerbell pin, stickers, a "wand", chocolates, a squishy ball with hearts on it, and a stuffed lion. During our normal breakfast routine we usually watch the sun come up together. This morning I said, "Oh, look at how pretty the sunrise is today." He didn't even turn to look. Instead, I got "Yeah, Yeah, Mom." I joked back with him, saying, "Yeah, Yeah, Mom? What's that!?" He said, seriously, "I'm sorry! But I'm just thinking about Jada! I really like her A LOT!" Sigh. My first taste of heart break as my six year old son pulls away and starts realizing the allure of another woman. His heart is full of love though, and I am just grateful that he was thinking of a way to make her feel special today.

I'm also full of love and gratitude for the community of writers, readers, and friends whom I've begun to really get to know on Twitter. I was determined to be a hold out and not dive in to the wonderful world of Twitterverse. But I'm so glad I tested its waters to find out what the appeal was. Leary at first, I slowly began making friends and acquaintances. What surprised me the most though is how deeply and sincerely friendships can form with people you've never even met. How those friendship lines can cross all boundaries (age, race, religion, gender, location, sexual orientation, professions) and perhaps that's what makes them even more special in my heart.

Many of you know my stance on equality and human rights. We may not all agree on the issue of same-sex marriage, and I'm not asking for you to or even trying to push my beliefs on anyone else. You have the right to believe what you believe.

But I do believe in the right for every person to marry the person they love. Whatever way that love manifests itself. I pray in my lifetime that same-sex marriage becomes legal across the nation, just as interracial marriage finally got its due. I want to see my brother walk down the aisle someday, with the man of his dreams. I want him to know the everlasting love that I have found, and to be able to celebrate it in front of his friends, family, and in the presence of God--who I truly believe is accepting of all forms of love and compassion.

One of my favorite quotes of all time is from the TV show Numbers. Agent Don Epps said: "Where ever God is, I'm pretty sure he's in how we're there for each other."

So I leave you with a request today: look for love all around you. See how it's present in the way we treat strangers. Find it on a walk. See love and joy through your children's eyes. Hug a friend. Send a happy note telling someone what they mean to you. Share a box of chocolates with your sweetheart. Love yourself fully, with no conditions.

Happy hearts and hugs day, my friends!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cover Reveal: Click to Subscribe by L.M. Augustine

I am so honored to reveal to my amazing readers the cover for author L.M. Augustine's new book Click to Subscribe. It is a gorgeous cover and I know you'll love it as much as I do!


Click To Subscribe
Author: L.M. Augustine
Genre: YA romance
Release Date: April 2013
Designer: Allie Brennan
(who is fantastic and brilliant and totally recommended by L.M.)

 
Book Blurb:

1,135,789. That’s how many subscribers sixteen-year-old West Ryder has on his web vlog series. But he only has eyes for one of them.
As one of the internet’s most prestigious video bloggers, West talks about high school relationships under the name “Sam Green.” As far as he knows, no one from school, not even his best friend, Cat, has seen his videos. But the highlight of the whole thing is Harper Knight, who comments every day at exactly 2:02 in the afternoon. He doesn’t know anything about her aside from the occasional deep philosophical messaging on why pizza tastes so delicious, but as stupid as it sounds, he might be falling for her. So when they finally agree to meet in real life, West’s hope for romance seems more and more in reach. But that all changes as soon as he arrives at their meeting spot and sees Cat walking toward him, wearing the same “I <3 Sam Green” T-shirt Harper promised she'd have on.
To his alarm, West realizes he is falling in love with the best friend who has always been a sister to him.
 
 
Add it on Goodreads.
Author: Blog  Twitter  Facebook
 
Bonus:
To celebrate the cover reveal…there is a giveaway! Note: ARCs won’t be ready until late March/early April, but if you win one, you will be the first to get it. (All of the winners will be emailed a day after the giveaway ends.)

For those of you interested in the book, check the author’s Facebook page and blog (links above) because he will be posting a number of excerpts of CLICK TO SUBSCRIBE throughout the week.
And to anyone reading this: thank you! Your support seriously means so much to me. (Me = the awkward author, L.M., who has raided this blog for the day. MUAHAHA!)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Firing Up Those Neurons

Remember when you were little and loved to run? And it was easy? Yeah, those memories are pretty distant for me too. I've had an interesting past with sports in general. I never liked team sports as a child, though I enjoyed tennis, walking, hiking, biking, yoga and swimming. I also took gymnastics, but only recreationally. 

It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I discovered running. After doing the MS150 Bike to the Beach for charity, a friend told me I had the endurance to run a marathon. Obviously, I looked at him like he had two heads. At that point I'd never run more than two miles, indoors, on a treadmill. Run 26.2 miles? Outside? With hoards of people? Hmmmm...

So, of course, I did it. That got me hooked, and I ran a series of half marathons and smaller runs over the following years into my thirties. I also became a walk coach for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. I love walking and run/walking, so this was a perfect fit to help other first time marathoners believe that they could accomplish the same goal.  

Then, I had my second child. Screeeeeech! Yes, that was the sound of my running career being put on hold. Did it have to? No. Many new moms still run. But I wasn't one of them. After aggressively walking when my daughter was first born, I got a stress fracture that laid me up for 8 weeks. I was still dealing with grief and depression from the loss of my grandmother. My husband was traveling to India on business back then, and the primary care taking of our two children was done by moi. Sure, I exercised during that time. Even trained for a mud run. But it was easy to get out of the habit and make excuses. Even though I felt better when I did it.

Sound like the writing process? 

The best way to keep those neurons fired up and the creativity flowing is to write as consistently as possible. I'm not saying you need to write at the same time or in the same place every day. But the more you write, the easier it is. The blank page isn't quite so intimidating. The ideas flow. You avoid the awkward, "Would you like to dance. Who leads?" feeling as you sit there staring down the computer. I truly believe that the more you write, the more you read, the more you think creatively, the better you get. Yes, practice yields stronger results. But it's more than that.

It's taking yourself seriously. Remembering that you are an author - and not being afraid to do the work. Just like running. The more you run, the more you see yourself as an athlete. And sometimes, that mental image is the biggest hurdle to overcome to achieve your goals. But every goal worth achieving starts with the first step, the first key-stroke. But it doesn't stop there. One step doesn't equal a marathon. It takes guts, determination, perseverance, belief, and training. 

When you're writing a novel, it's not an easy 5K, or even a 10K. It's a full on marathon. It takes time, consistency, practice, and yes: guts, determination, perseverance, belief, and training. 

So this week, I've laced up my sneakers and created a training plan for my upcoming 10K. But I didn't stop there. I committed myself to a training schedule for the rest of the year. Because my goal isn't the 10K. It's better health. It's the ability to run consistently and not need to start from zero every time. Thankfully, your muscles don't forget. They rejoice in warming up and relaxing. They long for the consistency of movement. They like to be used, and used some more. 

Just like your brain. Even if you're starting writing from zero again, just start. Your memory recalls your creativity, your voice, your passion. Neurons fire up and say, "Thank you! Thank you for sparking my creativity again. I remember and I love this!"

So let's lace up our shoelaces and commit to good health. Let's shut off the TV, put down the book, take a few minutes each day, and stare down that key-board, together. It's time to become writing athletes - one word at a time.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Dissipation ~ Monday's Writing Prompt

From The Secret Life of Writers ~ Kelsey's Writing Prompt Monday
 
Every Monday, on The Secret Life of Writers' blog, they are offering a writing prompt to engage the writing community and just have a fun time! I thought I'd pop over and see what others were up to, but I got drawn in the instant I saw this picture. The image was so vivid and real to me, I had to write it down - and fast! (Keep that in mind, please!) While the initial image remained untarnished, the story and characters took on a life of their own. I hope you like this little story I created based on the prompt. Me thinks I'd like to bring these characters out to play a little more one day soon! Thanks Kelsey and The Secret Life of Writers' blog for starting Monday Prompts off with such a great one!
 
 
"Dissipation" ~ by C.M. Albert, 02/04/13

 


 
From the time I was six, I began dreaming of this day. I could see the antique, creamrose pearls laced among the loose chignon, while mad auburn tendrils tried breaking their cloistered hold. I would lie in bed at night, looking up at the old, weathered ceiling boards that had left me bitterly cold, all the way down to the bones jutting from my slender, childish hips. The ceiling cracks left just enough darkness in for me to see the light radiating around my own personal constellation; the Phoenix watched over me nightly to ensure the dreams that I had remained mine.

Back then, my little visions had brought about clear blue skies for our wedding day. It was cold and would be snowing in November, but we would be bundled up in our crimson colored Bentley with our cream-colored, fox-fur capes.


We would be cocooned until we reached the ancient castle's grand entrance. Gliding slowly through the brick and wrought iron archway, we would stop to wave at loved ones before leaving the sanctity of our car for the last trek across the snow-dusted, gravel-lined drive to the castle's chapel, where we would become soul-bound Infinites, an oddity amongst our kind who rarely mate and marry for life.  

In my vision, we'd been as giddy as we were the day we'd first met as schoolmates. His tug on my pony tail had both aggravated and pleased me. Some emotions never die with time. 
 
I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw diamonds reflecting off snow and tears; light pouring through the small Volkswagen filled the small space with a warmth that no longer existed in my soul. I was bones again, just as I'd been when the visions first came.
 
As a Seer, one would think that I could have foreshadowed this sooner. Except that's not the way it works when the visions are about yourself. Then, we have only our spiritual intuition to guide us and cannot rely on our second sight.
 
The car door creaked open as I hefted yards of silk and tulle from it's gutted innards. It felt like I was being rejected into the snow to find where my vision was leading me. I didn't think; I couldn't look. I closed my eyes and felt. I waited patiently for the sight of his indigo vibration to call me to him. That's when I saw it. 
 
The cold-gray stone lay flat and lifeless against a church that was not ours. Its energy field was warped together in a swirling mix of warmth and cold; love and death - though only I could see it calling. I hiked up the wide girth of ivory silk covering the hoop of my wedding dress and ran - sprinted, really. Giving up, I kicked off my Manolos and dashed barefoot through the wet and dense snow, to find him. To take him back.
 
I saw his trail first; a liquid spreading of his signature indigo waves.  Waves of energy that make up who he is this time around. They form him, mingling together, like a signature scent created just for me. It allowed my own violet soul to seek his in my visions; trusting me to wrap my energy around his and protect him.
 
But they didn't. Because I couldn't see this time. What good does being a Seer do when it leads you to the man you love, but then cannot show you a protected future together? Perhaps as Seers we are meant to create our own lives, and not rely on the preordained destiny we see for others. This is the lesson I fear is bearing down on me as I chase the indigo stream bleeding deeply into the virginal snow.
 
Finally, behind the church, under the shadow of its metal, kiss-shaped dome, he's mine again. I drop to my knees in the freezing slush that coats this holy, sacred ground and lay myself down upon his black tuxedo jacket. But it was not soon enough. He lost his last bit of indigo; it slipped right from his body, passing through mine on its way home. As it lifted, I watched it dissipate into the brightest white of the departed, his soul mingling with the fat, soft snowflakes that began to rain down upon me. 
 
I raised my head to the sky with a grief so intense I willed myself to to dissipate with him. But I was a Seer, a visionary for our kind. Without me, we would all be hunted down and executed this way. Instead, I opened my mouth to let the flakes land gently on my tongue.