Writers Workshop – “Lions, Witches, and Wardrobes…”

The Hampton Roads Writers Group offers a monthly workshop through The Traveling Pen Series.  I was fortunate to be able to attend Saturday’s session – “Lions, Witches and Wardrobes…Oh, My! – Writing Paranormal and Fantasy” presented by YA and Paranormal Author, Vanessa Barger.  The 2 1/2 hour workshop was $20 for non-members ($10 for members) but was well worth the price.

As a writer of young adult fiction, I am always looking for fresh ideas.  Nothing against vampires and werewolves, mind you, but in my humble opinion, they are a bit overdone.  Barger presented each participant with a mythical creature, complete with the general description and instructed us to make the creature our own.  I received a Wendigo.  For those unfamiliar with this beast, he appears in Algonquian legends and seems to discourage cannibalism (apparently, those individuals who consumed human flesh were at risk for turning into the monster).  For the exercise, I decided that my wendigo would indeed eat people but only those that were evil and needed to be eaten…  He/She would prefer to live in solitude, in order to minimize chance encounters with said evil people.  Just by changing a couple of details, the possibility of a new story emerged.

Downtown, Suffolk, VA
Suffolk, VA

As the workshop ended at noon, my husband and I drove over to Suffolk, VA. We visited the downtown area and had some amazing she-crab soup at a little place called The Baron’s Pub and Restaurant.

With the sun shining and a nice breeze, we did a little sightseeing.

This particular church caught my eye.  I love the windows and the ornamental details.

And I couldn’t help but wonder what stories this church would tell if it could only talk…

Disney & My Electric Fry Pan

Many young families are financially challenged.  Mine was no exception.  I look back on those years with fondness as they contain some of my most precious memories.

The Commons Getty Collection Galleries World Map App … Flicker.com

When you are financially challenged (poor), you get very creative. While other families are going off on expensive vacations and wonderful weekend trips, we were firing up the charcoal at the local park or gathering the necessary gear (a box) for a frog hunting expedition.  Our kids loved the outings but we wanted to be able to give them a Disney experience.

We set our goal. We scrimped and saved until finally we had enough.

Image – https://tvcinemaemusica.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/michael-chabon-vai-escrever-o-roteiro-de-the-magic-kingdom/

After loading up our Isuzu, we headed south.  Staying on Disney or even close by was out of the question.  Instead, we stayed at a Motel 6 about thirty minutes away.  As our budget was very tight, we realized we’d only be able to eat one meal a day in Disney.  So, I packed a cooler full of prepared foods.  All we needed was a microwave and dinner would be served.

Being from the south, I grew up believing that Pop-Tarts were okay but sausage was better.  I pulled out my handy-dandy electric fry pan (You read that right – I carried my electric fry pan with me on vacation as I wasn’t sure the motel room would have a microwave – we are talking Motel 6, twenty years ago) and started cooking the sausage.  It never occurred to me that this might not be the best idea…  I’m sure you can imagine our panic as the smoke detector started blasting and there we were desperately trying to disable it – so that the sprinkler system didn’t activate!  At this point, I must admit my Ohio born husband wasn’t feeling the love for my backwoods ways…

We spent two wonderful days at Disney.  On our way home, we stopped at a rest area – had a picnic and tossed a ball around.  During the last leg of our journey home, I asked our boys what their favorite part of the trip had been. I was sure they’d choose Space Mountain or maybe the dinosaurs from Epcot.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  They unanimously agreed that the rest area picnic was their favorite part.

I was floored.

My husband muttered, “After spending all that money, all we needed to do was drive to a rest area and have a picnic?”

The moral of this story – It doesn’t cost a lot to make kids happy – they just want your time and attention… And it’s a really good idea to avoid frying sausage in a motel room.  In fact, make sure to leave your electric fry pan at home.

High-Heeled Shoes and Me

I have a love/hate relationship with high-heeled shoes – especially since I can no longer wear them.  If you were to follow me into a shoe store, you might find me eyeing a pair of strappy high-heeled sandals, imagining how they’d look with a certain dress.  Then, I’d sigh and move on in search of a more hip-friendly pair (flats or low heels).  Yep. That’s me, the conflicted 40+ year old woman who can’t seem to get past the fact that as far as I’m concerned, high-heeled sexy shoes have gone the way of the dodo bird.

Originally posted on no-dont.blogspot.com

I’ll be honest, I’m really more of a flip-flop/running shoe kind of girl.  Always have been.  So, it came as a surprise when I found myself missing these beautiful torture devices.  Seriously, who in their right mind misses the toe pinching, arch-aching experience that is high-heeled shoes? I’ll tell you – those of us who want what we can’t have…

The more I think about it, the more I think the love of high heels must be embedded in our DNA.  Don’t think so?  Watch a three-year old ~ a mega watt smile on her face as she steps into those too big pumps and walks/trips across the room.  You’ve seen it.  Seriously, we love pretty things.  We slip our feet into a pair of peep toe heels and we’re instantly transformed into Cinderella on the way to the ball.

And then there’s the movies…

Is there anything that gets under my skin more than the hapless female running in high heels as the bad guy closes in?  I don’t think so.  It’s the one time I’m yelling at the screen – “Take off the d@#% shoes!” Not only will she be able to run faster,  she’s now armed with four-inch spiked weapons.  Hmmm.  That’s an idea – a female pulverizing a bad guy with a patent leather pump.  That would be a twist – might add a little pizzazz to the standard “girl is gonna die” scenario.


Book Tour – TRUST by Tim Mettey

I’m thrilled to be participating with the virtual book tour for TRUST by Tim Mettey.

Young Adult Sci Fi
Date Published: October 2013
Nicholas Keller has come to terms with his Thusian heritage and has finally achieved some normalcy in his life. But when new neighbors move in next door at the beginning of his junior year, everything changes. He is launched into an impossible search, uncertain of who to trust, and this time it’s not just his own life that hangs in the balance—it’s the lives of countless others and everyone he loves. 


It had been nearly three months since I was told that I was part of an ancient group called the Thusians, the secret guardians of mankind destined to sacrifice our lives at any given time. I would have thought that after finding this out everything would have become really complicated for me, but it hadn’t. It was nice and quiet.

Everything I went through to get to this point was worth it, because now I had Elle. I still couldn’t believe how such a wonderful, amazing girl ended up with me. We were inseparable during the summer. Unfortunately now I was keeping more secrets from her. It was for her protection, but I still hated it.

Elle and I were lying in my front yard under the shade of the towering oak trees, enjoying each other’s company like we had done most of the summer.

“Nicholas, what’s wrong?” Elle asked for the hundredth time.

“Sorry, I’m just preoccupied today.”

“It’s okay. I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t me.”

How could it be her? She was nothing but wonderful, my reason for living.

“Elle, it’s not you. You know that. I’m just thinking about the last interview I did. It wasn’t very good.”

Last year when I confronted the mob of reporters at the school’s entrance, I told them if they would leave me alone I would do interviews. To my dismay, Cora, my aunt and guardian, made sure I did every interview they requested. It had now become the thing I dreaded most. I had to relive the worst day of my life, the 10-10 Earthquake, like it was some recurring nightmare from which I couldn’t wake up.

“Sorry, Nicholas, I know how much you hate doing interviews, but at least that was your last one until next summer.”

In addition to me only doing interviews in the summer, Cora had told the media that I would only answer questions over the phone. She also required that they never say where I live or where I go to school, even though they were camped outside of my school last year telling the world all of that information. Cora thought, better safe than sorry.

Cora had even talked to Ester Theasing, the head of the Thusian Council and a friend of ours, about doing the interviews to make sure it was safe for me because of Xavier and the Seekers who were trying to eliminate me and any other Thusians. Ester didn’t have a problem with it.

Chase Letterby started visiting us more midway through the summer. After the attack last year he left as soon as his doctor talents were no longer needed. No one had heard from him for a while. Even his regular TV appearances had stopped. But as more time passed during the summer, he started to frequent our house again. Cora didn’t seem to mind his company, despite his countless attempts to get her to go out with him. He was fixed on the one woman he couldn’t have, Cora.

Elle and I continued to lie beneath the trees. She went back to reading her book while rubbing my head. Her hand moved slowly through my hair, making me forget all of my worries. With every pass, a wave of relief went through me. I had positioned myself on her lap facing our driveway, so I could watch my new obsession. A large house was being built next door. It was hard to believe that the lot had been completely wooded just a month ago, and now the house looked close to being completed. Cora was not happy about the new house and the new neighbors that came with it. She still wanted our privacy, and the trees surrounding us had given us ample protection, but now they were gone. She even tried to buy the lot, but it had been sold exactly a week after we moved in last year.

The workers swarmed over the site like ants working hard on their hill. It was amazing to see such a large home being built so quickly. For some strange reason it was fascinating to me. I had no interest in design or architecture, but it still captivated my attention.

Cora and I had been in five different houses in six years, but never a brand new house—one freshly built just for us. Our new neighbors were about to get the fresh start I had wanted after the earthquake, but never got. Maybe that was the reason for my obsession.

Meet the Author:

Tim Mettey serves as CEO and Disaster Relief Coordinator at Matthew 25: Ministries, an international humanitarian and disaster relief organization. Tim uses his many experiences and expertise in responding to disasters around the world to set the background for his The Hero Chronicle series. Tim struggles with and has overcome his learning disabilities with reading and writing to create this series, and hopes his journey can be an inspiration to others. He says, “Our disabilities do not define who we are, they make us stronger.”

Connect with the Author:

Website: www.timmettey.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tim.mettey

Twitter: @TimMettey

Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/timmettey/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6562334.Tim_Mettey

Buy Links

Book Covers – Getting It Right

Of Dreams and Shadow, book coverIt’s been almost a year and a half since I published my first novel.  I love my cover.  The graphic designer worked up something that was not only beautiful but unique.  I loved how she incorporated the forget me not with the shadowy background.

The one thing I worried about was that the cover didn’t actually scream Young Adult.  Everything I had read about design discouraged having a person on the front cover (think Divergent, Twilight, and The Hunger Games) so, I chose to follow that advice.

Now – I’m not so sure.

I’ve recently had a new cover designed.  I think the designer did a wonderful job of capturing the feel of the story.

ODAS200x300Before I decided to go through with the change, I asked multiple people which cover they preferred. Without fail, each person chose the new cover.   I don’t know whether it will help my book sales but I thought it was worth a try.

What about you?  Have you changed covers? If so – do you think it helped?