May 29, 2017

Prepping for My First Book Event and Signing / Monthly Mishmash

Book Club: The IWSG Book Club will be reading for June/July....

This book will demonstrate characterization, which was voted #1 by our members for what they want to learn how to do better. Even if you've read this book before, reread it with fresh eyes, paying attention to characterization.

Whether you read a book is up to you. 

Whether you join the book discussion is up to you. 

Though we do hope for both. ;) 

And you can join any book discussion, even if you don’t read the book.

Our book club is not a strict one. 

Join us and participate when you can.


Upcoming Book Event: I will be going to my first book event on Friday, June 2nd, which will involve workshops, mingles, and more. On Saturday, June 3rd, I'll be part of a massive book signing. 

One of our very own, M.J. Fifield, will be there, too! She actually told me about this event last year. Thank you, M.J.!

Book Signing - FREE to EVERYONE
Saturday, June 3rd, 2017
10:00 am - 1:00 pm EST
Manatee Ballroom

2017 Event Location:
International Palms Resort
1300 North Atlantic Avenue
Cocoa Beach, FL 32931

If you are in the area, or can travel, come visit me at the signing on June 3rd (Saturday). My table will have a palm tree on it! :D


Here's how I prepared for this event:

- Figured out what decor I wanted on my table.

- Figured out what SWAG and promo items I want to hand out.

- Bought a tablecloth, just in case I need one, and small table-top easels to hold copies of my books.

- Hand-painted sea shells for SWAG.

- Ordered more bookmarks from Vistaprint.

- Ordered two addition packs of postcards for swag with the covers and blurbs for Hurricane Crimes and Tsunami Crimes.

- Ordered a 10-inch Hurricane Crimes cover printed on a glossy tabletop easel with a stand. (Since Hurricane Crimes is in ebook format only.)

- Bought a balloon pump for a blow-up decoration I got for my table. I'm so excited about this!!!!

- Bought a small, dry-erase white board to write down my book prices.

- Bought a rolling cart to carry my books.

- Bought a money lock box. (I don't have an iPhone for a credit card square, so I'll only be accepting cash.)

- Bought a clipboard for newsletter sign-up sheets and a 1/2-inch white binder for short reviews people can read at my table.

- Bought new black pants to wear to the signing.

- Ordered 12 copies each of Seismic Crimes and Tsunami Crimes.

- And updated EVERYTHING on my website.

Now I've had to do a lot more planning than that, though:

- What will I have as a giveaway (a basket on my table) to get people to sign up for my newsletter?

- What can I give special to people who buy a copy of my books?

- Figure out where I'll crash for one night. (With family.)

- Set up an ebook sale (for all of my books) to immediately follow the event.

- Get change for big bills. (My books will be $10 ea.)

- Have money for meals.and books!

And then there's what else I'll have to pack:

- My leather planner with a new pack of paper for note taking.

- Protein bars and water (The signing goes through lunch.)

- Breath mints...cuz, you know...just in case.

- Pillow for my chair. (My bad back demands one.)

- Lint roller (For my new black pants.)

- Duct table..cuz, you never know.

- Blanket and pillow for my sleepover.

- Necessities like toothbrush/paste, makeup, etc.

I still feel like I'm forgetting something....

The good thing is, I'll have an assistant to help me. My mom. <3 She wants to experience this so she knows what it'll be like for when she has a table. :)

I'll be stepping out of my shell, so...WISH ME LUCK!

P.S. I'll share how it went in my IWSG Day post on June 7th. 

May 26, 2017

Joplin Deadliest Tornado Outbreak / Guest Post by Tamara Hart Heiner

In May 2011, more than a hundred people died in the deadliest tornado outbreak this century.

In fact, it was the deadliest tornado outbreak in the modern era. In this day of forecasts and tornado sirens and weather alarms, most people can get to safety before a tornado hits. 
Last night, May 18, 2017, my city was once again under a tornado warning. I was reminded of that night six years ago when we were under a tornado warning the same time as Joplin. Joplin was the perfect recipe for disaster, and when the mile-wide tornado struck, the city wasn't ready.
The night of that tornado, my little city forty minutes away was also under a tornado warning. I spent the night in the bathtub downstairs with my little babies, completely unaware that less than an hour away a city was being decimated. When I learned of the disaster, I wondered what on earth I could do to help. My husband was deployed, I had three children under the age of six, and I'm a small-framed 100-pound woman.
It came to me one morning as I drove to a book signing that took me through Joplin. I was listening to the radio, and the deejay said, “We have your help and your support now, but remember us in six months. We will still need you. Remember us in five years. In ten years.” I realized how true that was. Joplin’s recovery would take a decade, but in the face of the next national disaster, no one would give Joplin a second thought.
And I knew what I could do. I could write a book. I could memorialize what happened, permanently etch the survivors' words into history, and donate all the proceeds to Joplin.
And that's exactly what I did.

I’m not a meteorologist; I’m not even a journalist. I’m a fiction writer. So the first thing I did was contact the National Weather Service and ask them if they could direct me. They did. They put me in contact with Steve Runnels from the Springfield, MO weather center. He kindly sent me official documents and reports of the incident, accountability reports they had to make explain the disaster, to show what they did to prevent it and what could be done in the future. He also patiently answered all my questions as I stumbled through the weather jargon and attempted to translate the legalese to layman terms. Next I contacted various professors and meteorologists to have them read over my interpretation of the data and make sure I got it right (the hardest part was that they sometimes contradicted each other on what they thought was correct). It was painstaking and I frequently broke out in a cold sweat when I worried about getting something wrong. But with their help, we got it together. The first third of the book is a technical explanation of what happened, but written so that the average person can read it and understand.
The last third of the book is a treatise on emergency preparedness, and again I had many kind professors to thank for conducting interviews with me and helping come up with a concise plan any citizen can follow.
The meat of the book, however, is where the heart is. Rather than just have a piecemeal of several different people talking about what happened to them during the ten minutes the tornado ravaged its way through Joplin, I wanted to give an intimate picture into the lives of a few people. I need a snapshot of their day from beginning to end, and then the reconstruction afterward. I conducted dozens of interviews and found women were much more willing to talk than guys. Not only that, but they could usually remember the kinds of details that give an experience flavor. Being a fiction writer, I wrote in the narrative nonfiction style so that the interviews read like a story rather than a documentary.
Thus the book became about the women who held their families and neighbors together during and after the tornado. I wanted to show more than just the sensational, dramatic event. I wanted to show how such an event affects the entire community. I also wanted the book to be inspirational, to focus more on the tender, nurturing, hopeful side of humanity rather than the dark, pillaging side that often emerges in a crisis. The book was picked up by Dancing Lemur Press, a press that often publishes inspirational nonfiction.
This book holds a special place in my heart. It was by far the hardest book I’ve ever written, and I doubt I will ever tackle a project like it again. 100% of the royalties go straight back into helping Joplin rebuild, and when Joplin doesn't need it anymore, I'll pick another city that does.I hope that if you read it, you will feel some of that thriving, irrepressible human spirit, that fire that refuses to give up. The book is available here  through all major online retailers and is also available on audio!
Don't forget. Whether it's Joplin or Baton Rouge or somewhere else, help where you can. When you can't, thank the Lord that you have what you do and pray for those that don't.


Tamara Hart Heiner is a mom, wife, baker, editor, and author. She currently lives in Arkansas with her husband, four children, a cat, a rabbit, a dog, and a fish. She would love to add a macaw and a sugar glider to the family. She’s the author of several young adult suspense series (Perilous, Goddess of Fate, Kellam High) the Cassandra Jones saga, and a nonfiction book about the Joplin Tornado, Tornado Warning. 

Connect with Tamara online! 

May 22, 2017

Diverse Characters - H + I + J


There’s been a lot of talk about adding diverse characters to fictional books. Most of the time, this is about including people of color if you’re a Caucasian writer, but all writers can add diverse characters to their books. And why stop at race? In this series, I’m going to list all sorts of diverse characters.

Note: I'm not knowledgeable about all types of people, so I'm skipping my usual tips in favor of letting others share their knowledge. See below 

**I won't be able to list them all, so here's a list of ethnic groups...with a list of even more lists at the bottom of the page. lol

Here are the diverse characters for H:







Homeless Individuals

Hondurans (Individuals from Honduras)

Here are the diverse characters for I:

Icelandic Individuals


Indians (India)


The Irish


Islamic Individuals 



Here are the diverse characters for J:

Individuals from Jakarta


Japanese Individuals

Japanese Americans

Jehovah's Witnesses 

Jewish Individuals

Jordanians (Individuals from Jordan)

SHARE: If you can come up with more diverse characters that start with H, I, or J, let me know and I will add them to my list.

QUESTION: Do you have tips or Do's/Dont's for one of the characters I mentioned above? Share your advice for writing about those characters in your comment.

Have you written about a character from my list?

May 19, 2017

Reasons to Read and Write Short Stories by Tyrean Martinson / Hero Lost Blog Tour

Reasons to Read and Write Short Stories
(In the Wild or At Home)

by Tyrean Martinson

1. Interruptions: I’ve had four in the time that I intended to write this guest post. 

With a short story, we can quickly pick up where we left off and know that we haven’t been interrupted “too long” to enjoy reading or writing them. 

2. Limited Time or In the Wilds (anywhere but at home)

Reading: Short stories fit in limited time spots – on a lunch break or a coffee break, in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, in line at the grocery store, or anywhere else where we find ourselves “in between” things. 

Writing: The same principle applies with supplies we can easily take with us. Use the talk-to-text feature on a phone to talk a short story into life, type up a hint fiction or flash fiction story in the notes section of a phone, or bring a notebook and a pen wherever you go, and voila – writing space! Write any story that springs to mind or use the surroundings or surrounding people to jumpstart a short story. If we’re at home, a short story can fit into the time that it takes dinner to cook (although I have burned a number of meals this way), or they can even fit inside commercial breaks during a beloved TV show – although I only recommend hint or flash fiction for this super limited time frame.

3. Discovery of New Places

Reading: I’m madly in love with the world of story – anywhere fictional or simply not my regular reality where I can sink in and experience something new. Short stories allow me to plunge in for a short while and come out ready for whatever’s next in the real world.

Writing: I love to write about something new and sometimes something “new” can be explored more easily in the tight confines of a short story. Plus, if I have a shiny, new idea, a short story is a good place to give it a quick run before I commit the idea to a longer space of time and length. In the Wild world outside of home, anything seems possible and this principle applies to discovering new places in new ways (what if a warrior like Xena stopped at the local coffee shop for a cup of joe?). 

4. Discovery of New People

I admit it’s taken me most of my adult life to enjoy meeting new people. It’s still not my best skill set. However, I do like to meet new characters in fiction when I read and I do like to create new characters when I write. If I use my “out and about with short stories” idea, I can find new “characters” to work with pretty easily. I look in other people’s grocery carts or eavesdrop for character ideas – I know this is probably terribly rude, but I’m a writer so I consider it research.

5. Creating a Deep Understanding of Narrative

Reading helps us become better writers. When I read (and re-read) short stories, I am memorizing the story form. It’s true that there are many different styles of writing, but short stories give me an easy way to study these different styles without committing to read a full novel in some forms that I’m not sure I’ll enjoy.

Writing short stories gives me a way to explore new writing concepts and styles. There’s no reason not to finish a crazy dialogue writing exercise from a writing craft book by turning it into a short story that I might, just might, be able to get published somewhere.

After many years, I convinced my mom to read short stories and she is growing to like them. She says, “they’re just enough to give me something to think about.”

Do you read or write short stories?

Daydreamer, writer, teacher, believer – Tyrean Martinson lives near the Puget Sound with her husband and daughters. With her B.A. in Ed. and English, she teaches writing classes to home-school teens and she writes speculative, contemporary, poetry, experimental hint fiction, and writing books.
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Of Words and Swords

In a time of dragons and dragon-slayers, Maud has lost his taste for battle. He wants only to put his swords to rest and follow his life-long dream to become a bard.

Hero Lost
Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Can a lost hero find redemption?

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!

May 15, 2017

Empowering Women - Alyssa Milano

Every month I am highlighting an empowering woman. This month it is:

Alyssa Milano

Alyssa Milano came to fame playing Phoebe Halliwell on Charmed. Phoebe was an advice columnist who once channeled Lady Godiva and rode naked on horseback in San Francisco to protest against a restaurant owner’s treatment of her sister when she was breastfeeding her baby. I find this interesting considering this is a fight Alyssa has fought in real life.

She has two children and has openly discussed breastfeeding, something that all women do to nurture their babies and give them life. Once, her breast milk was thrown out by airport security. “Every ounce of milk I’m able to produce for my child is nothing short of a miracle, and to watch that milk be thrown away without any regard for my baby was heartbreaking.”

Public breastfeeding has become a hot topic of debate lately with people strongly being on one side or another. For or against. Alyssa has raised a question: "why it’s okay to show a photo of Miley Cyrus wearing only two suspenders covering her breasts, but it’s not okay to share images of nursing mothers."

She also pointed out how breasts have been sexualized away from their natural purpose. “Biologically, they’re not made for sexual things, that’s what we’ve done to them.”

Alyssa has argued against even using a blanket to cover up, prompting if you’d eat under a blanket and adding that women shouldn’t have to hide their nursing babies.

She’s famously shared her breastfeeding journey with her kids on Instagram.
“When I post pictures of me breastfeeding Bella, it’s not that I’m trying to be very outspoken about breastfeeding, it’s that it’s a very special moment in my life.”

QUESTIONS: Did you ever watch Charmed? It was one of my favorite shows. What do you think of breastfeeding in public?

Inspiring Song: 

May 08, 2017

Books for Writers: Bird by Bird / Books for Writers + #IWriteBecause

NOTE: I'm coming down with a cold, so it might take me some time to return comments.

Reedy's #IWriteBecause goes live today!

Hop on over to Twitter and use the hashtag #IWriteBecause to share why you write with us.

Let's get trending!

I submitted a video for their campaign and explained why I write. My video was only 18 seconds, because I am nervous doing recordings, so I'll share a little more here. 

Ever since I was a child, I've loved to write, especially after my mom would write children's stories and read them to us. I started writing was my destiny. A story idea came to me in the strangest way when I was twelve, and the rest Is history. lol 

As a disabled adult, writing is the one thing I can do. Thanks to the steel rod screwed into my spine, I often deal with back pain and restrictions that limit me from working normal jobs. Having the freedom of a writer gives me a purpose, a way to express myself, and it makes me feel like I'm doing something. It may not be a "real" job, but it's my job. It's my life.

#IWriteBecause it's my FREEDOM.

#IWriteBecause it's all I know.

#IWriteBecause I can!



One of my all-time favorite books written by a writer for writers is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. The subtitle: “Some Instructions on Writing and Life” is on par. If you don’t like how-to books, this isn’t one. This book is charming, funny, witty, and real. We get a glimpse into Anne’s life, family, and writing as well as sage advice about writing…and life.

Some chapters you’ll encounter are “False Starts,” “Plot Treatment,” “How do you know when you’re done,” “Broccoli,” “Someone to read your draft,” and “Writer’s Block.”

I jotted down many quotes from this book, and I want to share them:
“One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches and trams around.” 
“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” 
“The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.” 
“…my writing is like a person to me—the person who, after all these years, still makes sense to me.” 
“…other than writing, I am completely unemployable.”
“You are probably going to have to let bad things happen to some of the characters you love or you won’t have much of a story.”
“Just don’t pretend you know more about your characters than they do, because you don’t.”
“Of course, there will always be more you could do, but you have to remind yourself that perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.”

QUESTIONS: Have you read Bird by Bird? What's your favorite book by a writer for writers?

May 03, 2017

Submit a Video to Reedsy! + Hero Lost Release

May Question: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

I've researched MANY things for my books, but the weirdest was for a zombie WIP. I researched voodoo, viral diseases, and things that made me cringe. 



Reedsy is doing a video campaign for writers to share their #IWriteBecause stories. For every writer who shares their story, Reedsy will donate $10 to Room to Read — a non-profit organization that seeks to provide girls in Africa and Asia with access to education.

Take a 30-second or less video and submit it here: #IWriteBecause on Reedsy

Their video campaign will go live on Twitter on May 8th!

There's a simple Google form for you to file out. TIP: Click the link they have to submit the file for your video first before submitting your completed form.

This is a cause I believe in, so I submitted my story, and so should you. 


My Writing Life Update:

I still haven't started writing the final book in my series, but I DID edit Flaming Crimes (Book 4) and submitted it to my publisher. I went through it once and didn't even use a beta reader. That's how confident I was (still am)!

I have done a tiny bit of writing, though. I wrote a rhyming picture book. It's less than 500 words, but that's something! I'm submitting it to agents just for fun. That's how I'm going to look at submitting projects from now on. It's for fun. :)



Hero Lost
Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Can a lost hero find redemption?

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!


OPTIONAL JUNE QUESTION: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

Reminder: The questions are optional and meant as a prompt if you struggle with what to post. You don't have to answer a question if you don't want to. :)