Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Special Guest Post- Danyelle Leafty on her Kindles for Kids drive

I'm a little delayed with my post, since I've been sick. This is what happens when I let myself get run-down between emergency apartment moves, missing cats, and work insanity.

Today's post came about because of the awesome Danyelle Leafty. Danyelle is the author of the Fairy Godmother Dilemma series. I follow her on Twitter, so when I saw posts about her Kindle for Kids drive, I had to get the scoop.

I asked Danyelle to share a little about the idea behind Kindles for Kids as well as how it all works. Here's her guest post:

What exactly is Kindles for Kids?

Kindles for Kids is my way of paying it forward. My goal is to raise enough funds to purchase 10 Kindle Fires for the pediatric unit of a local hospital in UT.

How does Kindles for Kids work?

From March 12th-31st of 2012, I will be donating the *royalties I make on THE FAIRY GODMOTHER DILEMMA: CATSPELL--both in paper and e-book form--toward the purchase of the Kindle Fires.

Royalties are paid a month to two months after the fact. Factoring in that as well as putting in the order, receiving them, and getting them ready, I will be delivering the Kindle Fires to the hospital in June of 2012.

How can you participate?

If you are an author (published) or a writer (unpublished), this link will explain it more. A more detailed link can be found here. In short, I'm hosting an open call for donating **books you have the rights to for the hospital. One book per Kindle Fire. You can also participate by writing a ***short story for a fairy tale anthology I'm putting together for the hospital. If you're a reader, this link will give you a few ideas on how to help spread the word.

How can you help?

The greatest help of all is to help me get the word out. You can do this by talking to people--online and in real life, posting about Kindles for Kids on forums, groups, on your blog, and by printing out and posting fliers. More detailed link here, as well as details for a photo contest. Link for the flyer here.

I can't do this without you, so thank you to all who participate in any way they can!

*Royalties up to 249,000 copies. After that, I have to buy an extended license for the photographs I use for the cover.

**All books will be vetted by me personally for both formatting and content. Since the Kindle Fires are going to the pediatric unit, I would ask that any donations are formatted and edited well, and that they go no higher than a PG rating.

***As with the books, please keep the short stories at a PG or G rating. Again, all stories that are chosen for inclusion in the anthology will be vetted by me personally. Also, because digital copies of the anthology will be donated to the hospitals, and there will be no money made off of them, neither the editor (me) nor the authors will receive payment or money for them. However, everyone who is included will receive a digital copy as either a PDF, a kindle file, or epub.

What a fantastic idea, Danyelle!

As a way to drive traffic to the site (hopefully getting more to participate and therefore more Kindles donated), she's hosting a fantastic giveaway. You can read more about it here. You can check out the first book in Danyelle's series, CATSPELL, here. Love that name!

Let's help get the word out for this great cause!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Everything I Need to Know About Goals I Learned From My Cats

Some people would call me a crazy cat lady, and they’re probably right.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hoarding 100 cats and avoiding relationships with people.  But, I do refer to my three cats as my boys, talk to them, and post way too many pictures of them on Facebook.  So if that makes me a crazy cat lady, then hey, I own it. *

There’s nothing funnier to me than the cat craze that has swept the internet.  It started with LOLCAT pictures (what is an LOLCAT? See here), specifically this little guy:

Simon’s Cat continued the cat obsession with its adorable videos here.  Heck, when you type in “cat” on You Tube there are 1,760,000 results!  Then there’s the awesome collection of cat-related posters and comics on The Oatmeal (If you don’t know The Oatmeal, you must drop everything and run over here, then please come back and finish reading.  GO NOW I SAID!!)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of all animals, but obviously I’m not alone in thinking cats are hilarious.  A big reason why is cats are pretty entertaining when they’re curious about something.  A cat’s goals are generally simple: get food and attention, play, sleep, and chase things.  But while they may be simple, a cat’s goals are just as important to him as our goals are to us.  People can learn a lot about goals from cats, even so-called “dog people”. **

Take Cat 1 for example.  He’s built like a linebacker, and no one would call him graceful.  He’s also one big mess of fur (I threaten to turn him into a dustmop so he’ll earn his keep).  Being klutzy is a handicap for a cat.  It results in lots of skidding across tables, rolling off couches, and climbing half-way up the tree trunk before freezing and sliding back down slowly.  I feel bad laughing when he tries to jump on the coffee table but glides across it and lands on the other side.  Really, I swear I do. ***  But even when I laugh, Cat 1 ignores me.  He’ll jump right back up on the table and plop down in his favored position.  He does what he wants to do, even if he doesn’t get it the first time.  If he can’t climb the tree right now, he’ll wait a few minutes and try again.  If it’s still not happening, he’s back the next day.  Cat 1 pushes himself but also accepts that he won’t meet his goals all the time.  Often, he’ll fail miserably, but he doesn’t give up and won't let criticism affect him.

Cat 2, on the other hand, is borderline reckless.  He lacks fear, so it's fortunate he’s super strong and graceful. Everything he does looks choreographed.  He flings himself out of trees onto rooftops.  He leaps onto my shoulder from the top of a bookcase.  He stares down large dogs, raccoons, and possums and convinces them to run away.  This makes for some awe-inspiring viewing (of course never when I have a camera handy).  Cat 2’s brain is always working the angles.  He studies, calculates, and plots.  It reminds me of the scene in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movie where Holmes envisions every second of the fight to come in great detail and then executes it flawlessly.  I once watched Cat 2 sit on the landing of my staircase and analyze how to make it around the room without touching the floor.  His head moved back and forth, eyes focused, as he studied each piece of furniture to determine a path.  A few minutes later, he stepped out with no hesitation onto the back of a chair, the treadmill, a bookcase, the tv, another bookcase, the fireplace mantle, another chair, an end table, the sofa and another end table.  He then leaped onto the stairs and started the process again, probably to see if he could do it faster.  It’s rare that Cat 2 doesn’t meet a goal, but I often see him repeating something or doing it in a different way.  He is always striving to do things better and more efficiently.

Cat 3 is still a kitten, so he’s not 100% comfortable in his own skin yet.  At times he’s just as klutzy as Cat 1, careening off the couch or dangling from the kitchen's pass-through bar because he misjudged the distance.  However, he can be as graceful as Cat 2, shimmying up a tree and leaping from branch to branch with no effort.  When he executes one of these amazing feats, he runs to me looking for praise.  If I’m not quick with it, he gives me a certain “rolling” meow that increases in volume to get my attention.  It’s the feline equivalent of a kid yelling “Mommy, Mommy” and shoving a picture he drew in her face. ****  When Cat 3’s efforts to meet a goal fail, he heads straight to me and cries with a certain high-pitched squeal.  This one’s like a kid crying for Mom when he falls off a bike into the grass, more wounded in pride than in body.  He isn’t good at gauging his limitations and strengths yet, nor is he good at figuring out ways around them or learning from his mistakes.  Cat 3 has ambitious goals, as any kitten does, but he wants to jump headfirst into achieving them without the preparation needed.  Sometimes luck is on his side, but often he’s not quite ready and fails over and over since he won’t adjust his technique or expectations.  After several tries, he’ll sulk off and attack one of the other cats or my feet in irritation.

Sometimes I’m like Cat 1, fumbling and making lots of mistakes but plugging along trying to accomplish what I desire.  I occasionally make a fool out of myself.  Sometimes I figure out I’m not quite ready and need to regroup.  However, I often meet my goals.  Like Cat 1, I don’t let it get to me and keep trying until I get it.

Other times I’m like Cat 2, refusing to accept that it won’t work and fearless in taking something on.  I’ll leap out and grab what I want with both hands and not let go.  Confidence carries me through sticky situations just like it carries Cat 2 across the divide between tree and roof where failure means a long drop to the ground.

With my writing, though, I’ve often been like Cat 3.  For the longest time, I wasn’t comfortable in my writing skin at all.  Like lots of new writers, I looked for praise and when I didn’t find it, I’d get discouraged.  If I tried something and failed, I’d beat myself up and whine.  I couldn’t accurately gauge when to make a leap, and my lack of preparation would drag me down.  Sometimes I’d get lucky and hit the target, but usually I fell just a bit short.

I might never be 100% comfortable in my own skin as a writer, but I’m growing into it, like I know Cat 3 will do.  I’m at the point where I recognize my limitations and difficulties and am finding ways to work around them and improve in those areas.  I know I have issues with certain aspects of my writing, so I’m working around them by using critique partners and doing revision passes to look for these issues.

Just like Cat 1, I need to recognize my limitations but not be afraid to keep working towards my goal even when I fail.  Just like Cat 2, I need to keep my confidence in my abilities high but recognize there is always room for improvement.  And, just like Cat 3, I need to remember that sometimes I need to curl up in a corner, have a good cry, and lick my wounds.  The tricky part will be to learn to balance all three.

So what about you? Are you more like Cat 1, 2, or 3 in your life and/or your writing?

Hope you enjoyed this post.  See you next week!

*DISCLAIMER: As much as I love cats, I would get a dog also if I didn’t have a crazy schedule and had an actual yard.  I heart doggies.
** “Dog People” isn’t meant to be an insult, it’s just a handy reference for people who prefer dogs as pets.  Please see disclaimer above.  Dog people rule too.
***Laughing when your cat does goofy things is not animal cruelty, so please don’t send me any nasty messages.  You can, however, ask me to post videos on YouTube for a fee.
**** Yes, I compared my cats to your human kids.  As anyone with pets (cat, dog, rabbit, ferret, etc.) will tell you, taking care of pets is often not that different from taking care of children.  Many will even talk back to you.  I’m not saying I’m better than you, busier than you, or work harder than you.  I am, however, much more likely to grab my passport and fly off to Paris at a moment’s notice unencumbered by anything other than changing the cat litter and dumping a bunch of food and water into bowls.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Blog Relaunch with a FABULOUS Cover Reveal!

I've been a very bad blogger.  *hides face*

So recently, I made a commitment to myself to relaunch my blog. I'd planned to start again at the end of the month, but then I saw a post from one of our Houston YAMG members about her upcoming cover reveal...  What better way to kick off my new and improved blog! I'll be tinkering around with the format a bit over the next couple of weeks, but you can count on a blog about some random subject at least every Monday.  Once I get that down, we'll see about other days!

In the meantime, I'm so happy to announce the cover for Rachel Harris' MY SUPER SWEET 16TH CENTURY! I'm so excited for Rachel, and I cannot wait to read this book!


MY SUPER SWEET 16TH CENTURY by Rachel Harris releases September 11, 2012. It's available for pre-order on: Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Also, be sure to add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads!

Be sure to connect with Rachel at:

Here's an excerpt from the book:
I hear their muffled whispers and understand every Italian word. Every witty comment made at my expense.
It’s like my brain is automatically translating.
I bunch the soft fabric of the dress in my hand and then reach up to feel the ribbon in my hair. I lightly skim my fingers over my chin and feel my lack of zit. I take in the costumes of the crowd, the stench of the animals, and the Italian I can now speak and understand. And suddenly it hits me.
Reyna must have pulled some kind of gypsy mojo.
Maybe this is one of those nifty “change your life” magic scenarios like in the movies. I mean, mostly I’m still expecting to blink and be right back in the midst of overpriced, gaudy tourism, but for now, the gypsy-time-warp explanation is infinitely better than thinking I’ve lost my mind. As I decide to go with that option, I feel my frantic tension melt away.
The growing crowd seems to notice my change in demeanor and begins shooting one another amused looks, but I don’t care anymore. A smile stretches across my face. Evidently, I was wrong earlier; Reyna is a psychic mind reader, because if this is her special brand of bibbity-bobbity-boo, then she made my exact daydream from earlier in the courtyard come to life.
The long red gown, the braided hair, the Italian merchant’s daughter, the time period. I am in Renaissance Florence.
I stare dumbly at the ground, the words and reality sinking in.
I’m in Renaissance Florence!

So cool! Major congrats to Rachel!  The cats give it three paws up since it's set in Italy... they're demanding Rachel take them in her suitcase when she does research for the sequel.
See y'all next Monday!