Friday, January 27, 2012


Welcome to the Author Inquisition. This is when I get to interview authors and kinda pick their author-brains for all the good stuff. Today I have Cindy Williams in the hot seat. Hello Cindy.
Cindy: Hi, Tina
I hope you find the chair comfortable, Cindy. What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?
Cindy: Believe in yourself and follow your heart not someone else’s suggestions.
That sounds like really good advice.
Cindy: Yeah. Nobody knows your story like you do.
Yeah, don’t rub it in. Tell me, what’s your favorite activity when you’re not writing?
Cindy: Playing with my family. Playing my harp and reading.
I had a hard time carrying my viola to school—I can’t imagine carrying a harp. Those things are heavy!
So, do you do these when you experience (whispers: writer’s block), or do you do something else?
Cindy: I love doing those things, but when I’m experiencing writer’s block, I write a letter from the character to myself.
Oh. (looks from left to right) You believe your characters are real, then. Like Santa Clause. Well, I hear the price of stamps is going up. Just saying.                                                                     
Now to the good stuff. Do you snack when you write?
Cindy: No. I’m a purist. I do drink water, but food is too distracting.
I agree. Water caused my computer to short out, and I don’t eat when I write—well, Skittles aren’t food, are they? Or chocolate kisses?—other than that, I just can’t hold food and type. (It goes more like this: eat, type, eat, type, eat …)

I know you’ve published a children’s picture book. Tell me about it—did you go with a traditional publisher, or did you go Indie?
Cindy: Chase McKay Didn’t Get Up Today, is my first book published. My publishing history is a yes to both traditional and indie. The first two printings came out under a small partner publishing that went out of business last year. I created my own LLC called Planet Play Productions and now I own all the rights including the ISBN#.
Wow, that’s ambitious! Are you working on other children’s books, or do you also write in other genres?
Cindy: I break the rules and write in a number of different genres. Children’s Picture books, two more complete, one being illustrated and the other in the query market. Non-fiction: I’m on staff for The Beehive, and have a short story out about my father and Alzheimer’s. I also am looking for a home for a book of essays on mothering. Middle Grade, with a fantasy series sent to both the East and West Coast, fingers crossed. Two YA books in progress write now. Last but not least, I do PR campaigns and write Press Releases, and just received a new calling as a Public Affairs Director of Media in our Stake.
Favorite flavor of ice cream?
Cindy: Black Raspberry ripple.
How do raspberries ripple? And, I thought raspberries were red?
What’s your favorite writer’s memory?
Cindy: When a mother told me that my children’s book was the first book her autistic son ever read alone.
Favorite way to get the word out about your book/s?
Cindy: School visits and book signings.
Where do they put the book signs? Near the school? Haha. Not really. That was just a little writer-joke.
Do you have a book coming out?
Cindy: I have a short story that has been accepted for an anthology on surviving hard things, a middle grade fantasy complete and looking for a home, two children’s picture books in various productions stages and a book on mothering looking for a home.
If so, what is the name, release date, and please share a short blurb. Release dates will be in 2012 and 2013. Here is a blurb from my middle grade fantasy.
Thundertail’s Tale: The Legend is a story about the human and magic worlds colliding in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona when ten-year-old Chase attempts to rescue a dog from death by barbecue at the hands of the creepy school janitor. Instead, Chase frees Sparkin, the only un-shiny dragon and a guardian of the 13 Powerstones that protect the planet. Chase is forced to face his fear of heights and Sparkin, his lack of confidence, in an explosive adventure to escape the evil janitor who is out to rule the world as a member of the sinister Gatekeepers of Shadows. Chase and Sparkin discover a shocking link to the ancient legend of Thundertail, the Greatest Dragon since time out mind, as they battle for their lives and the future of both worlds.
Sounds really good. I hope Chase finds a home soon. (Makes it easier to write him letters.)
You can find Cindy at:

Friday, January 20, 2012


In an effort to eventually becoming a published author, I’ve been reading a book called, Story Engineering, Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of successful writing, by Larry Brooks.
I must admit that at first I was a little skeptical, but hey, I’m not published yet so what did I have to lose? I’m not quite finished with it yet, but after I got a little over halfway finished, I couldn’t wait to apply what I knew to a novel I’d been working on.

Story Engineering has been quite helpful, actually.

I learned that in my effort to have the inciting incident right up front—which is what I understood that I should do from reading other books on writing—it set my pacing off. While we (as writers) need to have an interesting and enticing first chapter, it does not need to be the inciting incident.

What the first chapter needs to do most is introduce us to the main character in such a way that we, as readers, will want to invest our time in finding out what happens to him/her.

The things that we (as writers) include in our writing should always have something to do with the novel at hand. In other words, don’t include a scene with the MC (or anyone) having a great day at the amusement park if it has nothing to do with anything. If we want to include the scene at the amusement park, then we need to add something to make it relevant—one of the characters meets someone there, or something happens on one of the rides, etc.

We do need to have the “1st and 2nd doors of no return” (so named by James Scott Bell), as well as a midway turning point where the character’s focus changes. As well as a plethora of other little interesting tidbits along the way to set them up and support them.

While I’m no Orson Scott Card or Stephanie Meyer, or JK Rowling, hopefully one day I will find my way into this literary world.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Well, it's time for another Dinner and a Movie segment. Tonight's movie is a clip of ventriloquist Terry Fator, and Kermit the frog. It's rated G. I hope you enjoy!

What better to follow a ventriloquist than something cheezy? For tonight's dinner, serve up a helping of Crockpot Cheeseburgers although I must disclose, these don't have to go into the crockpot, rather it can be a one-pot meal.
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
8 oz. Velveeta cheese, cubed
2 TBSP milk
1/2 C chopped onion
1 lg garlic clove, minced
8 hamburger buns
your favorite condiments for hamburgers--pickles, mustard, ketchup, sliced tomatoes etc.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, cook ground beef w/ minced garlic and onion. Drain off excess fat and transfer to a 3 1/2 - 5 quart crockpot. Add cheese and milk. Cover and cook on LOW for 5 - 7 hours. (My crockpot doesn't cook low enough for this small amount of food that's already pre-cooked, so I have to watch it.) Serve over buns w/ condiments.
NOTE: to use as a one-pot meal, cook beef, garlic, and onion, drain off excess fat. Turn heat to low. Add cheese and milk. Warm until cheese is melted.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Welcome to the Author Inquisition. This is when I get to interview authors and kinda pick their author-brains for all the good stuff. Author Jolene Perry is in the hot seat today. Hello Jolene.

Jolene: Hi, Tina. Thanks for the invite.
Save your thanks for later, Jolene. This is serious business and we’re going to get right to the nitty-gritty of writing success today. What’s your favorite snack when you’re writing?
Jolene: Me, snack? Never!

Come on, I know you’re a snacker, I can see it in your eyes. Spill the beans.

Jolene: Well, I do drink Pellegrino.

That hotsy-totsy carbonated water from Italy?

Jolene: (smiles slyly) The very one.

That’s hardly worth mentioning. Come on, give me more.

Jolene: Okay, okay! You’re relentless. While I’m drinking my Pellegrino, I like to nibble on dark chocolate almonds.

That’s better, but you’re still holding out on me Jolene.

Jolene: (gives exasperated sigh) Potato chips. They’re my weakness. I live and breathe for those crispy slices of potato salted to delightful perfection.

(Nods head in approval) Now we’re getting somewhere. Now that we’re speaking the same language, I can ask a more writerly question like; do you have any writing advice?

Jolene: Don't forget that writing should be FUN :D

Fun? I heard that writing was like opening a vein—how can that be fun? (shuffles papers) Let’s go on to something easier. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? 

Jolene: That's hard—not easy—and completely depends on the weather and my mood. I love to go hiking, love to sew, love to play the guitar, love to take my kids to the museum . . .

(Whispers over shoulder to no one in particular) If that was hard, I don’t know how we’ll finish our interview, but the writing public has a right to know, so I shall persevere.

WARNING: For those of my readers with tender feelings, I advise you to cover your ears.

I’ve got to ask about the four-letter word for every writer. Writer’s  block. (Not technically four letters, twelve actually, but two little words that instill terror in every writer nonetheless. Jolene, do you have something that helps?

Jolene: When I'm stumped, I don't write, I run. Works every time.

A running writer? Hmmm.(thrumming fingers on cheek) That almost sounds like science fiction. Or fantasy. What genre do you write?

Jolene: Almost exclusively YA. Within that genre - contemporary, or maybe ever-so-slightly paranormal. I'd LOVE to do a historical, but I'll need to be at a point where I'm ready to really do the research. 

Do you have a favorite writer’s memory?

Jolene: My favorite memory is when I hit page 100 on my first novel, and I knew there was a lot of story left to tell, and might actually be able to write a whole book.

And you did write a whole book. Good for you. (claps politely) Who is your publisher? 

Jolene: Cedar Fort. And I have an agent now too.

You can’t mention that you have an agent unless you’re willing to tell who he/she is. Are you going to? 

Jolene: No. (zipping her lips)

It’s as I thought. What’s the name of your book?

Jolene: The Next Door Boys. It hit bookshelves last month.
I’m assuming that you mean figurative, and not literally. Tell us a little bit about it. Your book, I mean. Tell us a little about your book.

Jolene: The Next Door Boys is about a girl who goes to college after a year home with cancer. She's determined to be independent and to not fall in love. She's half successful.

(Whispers to my computer: Meaning of course that she never learned to become independent.) Poor girl. Some days I don’t feel like being independent either, but that’s a different kind of story altogether. What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Jolene: I’m not much of an ice cream lover. 

Sacrilege!!!! Who doesn’t love ice cream? 

Jolene: I do love Moose Tracks.

Is that even a flavor of ice cream? It sounds like something you’d find along the trail in the Alaskan wilderness.

Jolene: (Jumps up and runs out the door) THANK YOU TINA!!! She shouts as she disappears down the hallway.

Jolene? Jolene! (Standing up) I still have a few questions.  

You can visit Jolene Perry on her blog: