Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Break

Image: hinnamsaisuy /

Update 8/21/11 - My break's going to be a little longer than I thought. Due to some unexpected commitments, I'll come back September 8. I can't wait to catch up with everyone then!

I'm going to be taking a few weeks off to spend time with extended family while my kids are off school for the summer. I plan to return in early August. Okay, so I'm not actually going to the beach, but I can dream, can't I?

I'll miss you all - have a great July everyone!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Guest Post: J.C. Martin

I'm so excited to be hosting J.C. Martin today as she begins her blog tour to promote Stories for Sendai. Stories for Sendai is a collection of 20 uplifting and inspirational short stories and poems about the strength of the human spirit. All proceeds from sales will be donated to charity in aid of victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami. Today J.C. will be discussing a subject I know absolutely nothing about: compiling an anotholgy. Take it away, J.C...

Thank you, Susan, for hosting us! :)

When I first decided to put together this anthology for charity, I knew there would be a lot of work involved--what I hadn't realised was just how much that was! Luckily for me, the wonderful
Michelle Davidson Argyle graciously stepped in as co-editor, and with her wealth of experience and expertise, we managed to get the project off the ground much sooner than I would have fumbling about on my own!

In the course of compiling the anthology, I’ve learned a lot about the process of publishing a collection of written work from contributing authors. Hopefully the information will be helpful to anyone considering doing the same.

Step 1: Decide on a Theme

This one was easy. I intended to compile the charity anthology in aid of victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, so I’m looking for uplifting stories of hope and survival, of the strength of the human spirit, stories that will offer a silver lining in the dark clouds.

At the same time, I also decided on the charity the anthology would benefit. I settled on
Global Giving because the charity disburses funds to relief efforts at ground zero that need it most, including International Medical Corps and Save the Children.

Step 2: Call for Submissions, Deciding on a Time Frame

Our next step is to get the word out to as many writers as possible that we’re open to submissions. For this purpose, I set up a website for the anthology at, and Michelle and I directed everyone we knew to the site via our own blogs, Twitter and Facebook. The website contains information about the project, as well as our submission guidelines, which includes details like word limit, font, layout, etc. I also set up a listing on Duotrope Digest, which is free to do. I know we received at least one submission from the site, so it was worth doing it!

We also needed to impose a submissions deadline. As we wanted to release the anthology as soon as possible, before the plight of Japan got overshadowed by other news, we decided on a short turnaround time: a two-month period for submissions, from mid-March to May 15th, with the anthology being published on June 30th.

Step 3: Publicise, Publicise, Publicise!

We continued to publicise our call for submissions through different online channels. I was in a mild state of panic in the first few weeks, as we got few submissions for the anthology, but Michelle assured me that people will tend to submit closer to the deadline, and sure enough, she was right! Panic over!

Step 4: The Selection Process

This was my chance to feel like an agent/editor for a few days! After the deadline, it was time to read through all the entries we received and to pick our favourites to be included in the anthology. One small problem: the standard of entries were so high, we were forced to be mega-picky! In a nutshell, we looked for stories that reflected our chosen theme, were well written, and that touched our heart in some way.

I felt bad having to decline some really good submissions—I wonder if real agents feel that way when they reject a manuscript?

Once we announced the final list of accepted entries, the real work truly began!

Part 2 of compiling an anthology will deal with the publication process, and will be hosted tomorrow by Charity Bradford @
My Writing Journey! See ya there! And do follow the rest of the Blog Tour de Force: check out the schedule here!

Oh, and don’t forget to buy your copy of Stories for Sendai when it releases on June 30th! If everybody buys a copy on the same day, it’ll help boost the book’s rankings on the Amazon charts, and further increase our exposure! Apart from the obvious fact that the more copies we sell, the more we can help Japan, we’re also running a prize draw! Visit the
Stories for Sendai site for more details!

Thanks so much for visiting today, J.C.! And I hope you'll all check out J.C.'s blog and Stories for Sendai!

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Poem From My Dad On Father's Day

In honor of Father's Day, I wanted to share with you a poem my dad wrote for me when I turned 16. I still have the yellowed, wrinkled paper in a frame in my bedroom. It was typed on a good old-fashioned typewriter, and his signature is almost too faded to see. My mom told me I'm the only person he's ever written a poem for besides her. This is something I'll treasure all my life.


It only happens once,

Sue is sixteen.

From diapers and Mom's concern
To journalism and the track's many turns,
From the Covell Kid to the Sailor's Port,
She's come a long way through Speech and
Spanish, baby sitting and sport.
It only happens once,
Sue is sixteen.

She is the child who came along later,
The one who is the little sister.
But her delay simply made the love greater,
And when she's absent we all know we miss her.
It only happens once,
Sue is sixteen.

How can we say it?
What muse can inspire?
She invokes headaches and affection, praise and ire.
It only happens once.
Sue is sixteen.

Our feelings for her words may not always reflect.
But - she is special.

It only happens once,
Sue is 16.

To Sue with love,

Thanks, Dad - I love you! And a happy Father's Day week to you all!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I'm Irresistibly Sweet!

I received the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award from Iris Blobel, Deniz Bevan, and Amy. Thanks, Iris, Deniz, and Amy!

To accept this award, I need to list seven random facts about myself:

1. My favorite TV shows are Big Bang Theory and House.

2. I watch movies while I run on the treadmill. Right now I'm watching Life as a House, one of my all-time favorite movies.

3. My favorite books are the Hunger Games books.

4. My favorite food is coconut cream pie (yum!)

5. I love horror movies, especially in the summer. No idea why I enjoy them more in the summer, but I do.

6. I live with my husband, three kids, a dog, a cat, a fish, and two frogs.

7. I have a BS degree in electrical engineering, but I haven't worked outside the home in fifteen years. Sometimes I'll do something not-so-brilliant, and my husband will say, "Michigan State called, they want their degree back. " Yep, he's a charmer all right.

And I'm supposed to pass the award on to 10 other awesome blog buddies:

1. Tracy @ My Thoughtful Spot

2. Trisha @ WORD + STUFF

6. Stephanie Haefner @ The Writer's Cocoon

7. Cindy Borgne @ Dreamer's Perch

9. Beth @ Of Muses and Meringues

How about you? What's your favorite movie/tv show/book/food? Do you like horror movies?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Guest Blogger: Raquel Byrnes

I have a special treat for you today. Raquel Byrnes is stopping by on her blog tour to discuss why you should enter a writing contest. Raquel is celebrating the June 3rd release of her book, Purple Knot.

Why You Should Enter a Writing Contest
If you aren’t an active part of a critique group or have some Beta readers giving you feedback on your manuscript, assessing how you’re growing as a writer can be difficult. One of the best ways to do this is by entering a writing contest. Now, it may seem intimidating, but here are three reasons why you should go ahead and fill out that entry form.
• It will help you learn to follow directions. This may seem like a little thing, but it is surprising how many people burn an opportunity with an agent or editor simply because they didn’t check the submission requirements. Check them. Follow them to the letter. To. The. Letter. A contest, much like submitting a query, is a winnowing process and you don’t want to end up on the threshing floor before they even read your story.

• You learn to work with a deadline. All contests have a date at which submissions are no longer accepted. Writing to deadline is something that you will eventually have to do and learning how you deal with this during a contest is a lot better than freaking out when an agent gives you one. Do you need to get more organized? Do you need specific writing times to be productive? A contest deadline will reveal how you work under pressure.

• You learn how to take critique. Even if you blow them out of the water and final on your first try, you will get back suggestions for improvement. Taking criticism graciously is an essential part of being a writer. Learn how you handle it from a contest and you can be sure you won’t break down later on when dealing with a publishing editor. Do you argue? Do you get hurt? Do you throw up your hands and walk away or buckle down and improve? Contests can help you see how you deal with this.

There are a lot of inexpensive contests out there with wonderful professionals willing to look over your first 50 pages and give you honest feedback. The types of contests available span the genres, from romance to flash fiction, there’s something out there for your style and story.
Many writers’ guilds offer contests as well as their local chapters. Romance Writers of America and Writer’s Digest Magazine both have excellent opportunities to get your work in front of professionals. Take care to enter contests that only charge a nominal fee. Around thirty-five dollars is the norm. Anything that charges a hefty entrants price may not be reputable.
Contests can be exciting and helpful if you enter them with the right attitude. Who knows, you might take the trophy.

Thanks, Raquel! I'm not one to enter contests usually, but Raquel's certainly given me some good reasons to start! Do you enter writing contests? Why or why not?

And be sure to stop by Raquel's blog and tell her congratulations on Purple Knot's release!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

It's All Fun & Games Blogfest

Today I'm participating in Alex J. Cavanaugh's It's All Fun & Games Blogfest. So here are my top three favorite games (not in any particular order) and why:

#1 - Ticket to Ride is one of my newest favorites. It reminds me somewhat of Settlers of Catan (another one of my favorites), but it's a little simpler and easier for kids to play. Try to complete as many "trips" as possible by filling in the tracks with your train cars. This is a great family game.

#2 - Loaded Questions is a great game to play with a group of people you know well. Try to match up the answers with the people who gave them. How well do you really know your family and friends?

#3 - I've posted about Balderdash before because it's one of my all-time favorite games and a great game for us creative types. You get to make up and try to fool others with your own word definitions, bizarre laws, movie plots and more.

Those are my top three. To read the rest of the It's All Fun & Games blogfest entries, click here.

What's your favorite game?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Lenny-Lee Fest

Today I'm joining several bloggers around the blogosphere in spreading some Lenny Lee sunshine! I wrote this poem for my favorite young blogger who likes raccoons, Matchbox cars, mangoes, hugs, and smiley suns: Lenny Lee!

Lenny Lee and his pet raccoon
Got in a rocket and flew to the moon.
He ate swiss cheese
And said, “More please!”
And then it was time to go home.

Lenny Lee and his Matchbox cars
Got in a rocket and flew to Mars.
He met men who were green
And a little bit mean
And then it was time to go home.

Lenny Lee and his mango gum
Got in a rocket and flew to the sun.
He stayed for a while
And made the sun smile
And then it was time to go home.

Lenny Lee knew love’s true worth
So he got in a rocket and flew to Earth.
He hugged his family and friends
And the love never ends
Because Lenny’s so glad to be home.


If you haven't met Lenny yet, you really should! He's a wonderful little boy with a huge heart! Please click here to pay him a visit and say "hi!"