Featured Guest: Author Greg Turnquist

For this very special edition of my blog, I have a rather interesting guest. This is an author who has published several technical (computer) books that, quite frankly, I have no interest in. (Sorry, Greg.) But a couple of things have brought him on the blog today: first, he is trying his hand at fiction (sci-fi dystopian fiction, to be exact) and, secondly, he is my husband and I have been so very eager to give my readers a peek into his work. So without further ado, let’s jump right in 🙂

Welcome to my blog, Greg. Glad you could finally come on and tell us about your fiction work. Let’s get started. Tell us a little about this novel of yours.

Snitch, a young woman who grew up on the streets of Kelmar as a thief, has learned something terrible. The regime’s evil military ruler has learned the hideout location of the resistance she joined and ordered an all out assault. Combined with the captain of the disbanded royal guard, a political prisoner, a duke’s daughter, and an old advisor, can her team survive and free Kelmar?

Interesting. Everybody loves an underdog. What was the inspiration for Darklight?

When I was a kid, I had this idea about an entire world below ground, underneath the manhole covers of the sewer system. Having read exciting books like Dune and Doctor Strange comic books, my mind started weaving tales of people overcoming a hostile environment while facing extinction.

So did you always want to be a writer? Or what did you think you would be?

Not really. I’d always been into computers, even at a very young age, which is why I became a software developer.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When a friend introduced me to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, I became an instant sci-fi fan. I read everything I could find. And then one day, this idea of a world hidden below ground kind of popped into my head.

I’m sure that even as a technical writer and novice fiction writer, you already know that it’s not all puppies and sunshine, this writing thing. There are parts to the process that are not fun. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Editing. Going back for the nth time and making another sweep is tiresome, and I hate STILL spotting mistakes.

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Get out and do it. Make time to sit down and write, or it’ll never happen. There are no excuses. You either write or you don’t.

Good point. I think it’s important to make time for reading others’ works too. So, what are you currently reading?

Attack Planet by Mars Dorian and Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child

I always listen to music to get into my writing groove. What about you? What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

Anything by Rush as well as the soundtrack from Tron: Legacy

Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

Either when I’m on a writing date with my wife, or at night, when everyone else is asleep.

How long does it take you to write a book?

It usually takes me about 4-5 months to write a tech book, but I’ve been writing Darklight going on seven years now. I’m hoping to find the right publisher.

Do you have any current projects your working on? Care to share?

When I finished Darklight, I had all kinds of ideas for a sequel. I wanted the main character thrown into new challenges, so I started drafting Neophyte. What would you do if you had to defend the Earth but had no training?

Enjoy an Excerpt

Snitch moved as fast as she could in the dark toward the southern edge of the city-state of Kelmar, desperate to not draw attention to herself. Fortunately, rain had caused a haze to fall.

He was coming. Snitch couldn’t believe it. Could they make it?

Snitch knew this part of the city, but she had to steer clear of rival gangs. As she exited an alley a gust of wind made her clutch the edge of her coat and pull it tight. She steeled herself and pressed on.

He was coming, she’d heard from one of her contacts. What were they going to do?

She approached a familiar corner and slowed when she recognized members of the Raiders. She looked back and knew it was too late to find another route.

“Snitch,” Marlon boomed. “What are you doing here?”

He was the Raiders’ second lieutenant or something. She couldn’t keep track of the ever changing titles.

“I didn’t know you guys had moved into this block,” she said. “I was trying to stay off your turf.”

Tall and dark, he crept closer, eyeing her, the others drifting in behind him. “You haven’t answered my question.”

Snitch knew Marlon wouldn’t take kindly to any sort of brush off. She’d heard enough stories, and the last thing she wanted was to become another story.

“I was hooking up with one of my associates to hit a shop. No moonlight, hazy night, perfect opportunity, right?” Snitch had an offer to work such a job. Two weeks ago.

“You know, I believe you. You do shoot for easy hits like that. But you still crossed onto our turf.”

She knew where this was headed. Gang respect was so juvenile…and expensive.

“I have to maintain control or Boss won’t trust me. What kind of job are you doing?”

“A pawn shop. Cheap stuff, but easy to fence. Maybe worth a couple thousand credits,” Snitch said.

“The going rate when you cross turf is 10%,” Marlon said.

“I don’t have that much on me. And the last time it was 5%.”

“You trade sharp. I tell you what, Snitch. you haven’t crossed us and your jobs have fed us in the past. Give me a hundred credits, and we can ignore this.”

Snitch fumbled in her pockets, when Marlon stepped up next to her with a short blade. Sweat beaded up on her forehead.

“Watch it there. You’ve been good to us, but there is still a proper way.” He snapped his fingers and shouted, “Green, get over here. Check her pockets.”

Snitch pulled out her hands and held them up. Green rifled through her pockets and found bits of junk along with a hundred and twenty-five credits. He handed them over to Marlon.

“I remember you coming up short last time. This should cover it. Now get out of here.”

Green pushed her to the side, and Snitch huffed, having been licked.

The Raiders laughed and talked to each other as she stumbled away. After getting around the corner, she picked up her pace. At first, her mind repeated “you came up short.” She added up how many jobs she needed to make up for this.

Snitch stopped. It wasn’t important. Not like it used to be be. Snitch had always been good at what she did, but now she was part of something bigger, the Undergrounder’s resistance movement. There were more critical things than the next job.

More About Greg

Greg has read sci-fi since he was a kid including Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Bret Saberhagen, and Lester del Rey. Years ago, the idea of a futuristic world reduced to a medieval existence began to bounce around in his head. He also loves slinging code as a software geek, and has written several non-fiction books. He lives in Middle Tennessee with his wife and family.

Connect with Greg and his books

Website: http://greglturnquist.com

Book: http://greglturnquist.com/darklight

Twitter: https://twitter.com/gregturn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gregswritingcorner/

Email list: http://greglturnquist.com/list

FEATURED GUEST: Author John Theo Jr.

Happy Friday! And thank goodness it’s FRIDAY!!!! It has been a crazy busy week for me, how about you all? I am excited to introduce you to my guest today – author John Theo Jr. He is here to talk about his latest release with Clean Reads.

Welcome, John. First, would you tell us a little about your novel?

White Mountains’ False Flag is a conspiracy novel that takes place in the Great state of New Hampshire.

Ransom Doniphon is a Park Ranger working in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. While on a helicopter search-and-rescue mission he spies a make-shift shelter deep within the woods. When Ransom and his partner investigate there is a shootout leaving three men dead. What at first appears to be a mobile drug lab hidden in the woods turns out to be a home grown terrorist cell with roots that run deep into state and federal government.

What was the inspiration for White Mountains’ False Flag?

I’m a Christian and a Libertarian. This novel was written from a point of view of frustration with both parties of Congress. Many of the storylines in White Mountains’ False Flag are pulled directly from news headlines over the past few years. For example, quantitative easing to infinity, government shutting down monuments and parks to force congress to raise the debt ceiling, spying on citizens using smart technology are just a few of the headlines incorporated into WMFF. I also predict where I think the government over-reach could go in the future such as drone strikes on US soil (against US citizens) by the government. I was also inspired by the great state of NH. It’s literally the last true free state along the northeast seacoast. You drive up there from Massachusetts and it’s vastly different.

I gotta be honest, this is right up my husband’s alley. In fact, I think I’m going to download your book for him right after this interview. But back to you… When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

One day in high school, I started writing down a story and kept writing. After I finished I had another story idea, and another. It’s been a long (slow) path but fun.

I always have to ask this next question because I know there are parts of the writing process we all love (or we wouldn’t do it) and parts that we don’t like as much. Is there any part of the process you dread?

Probably the 3rd to 8th round of editing. By this time I’m burnt out of the story. The honeymoon is over at that point, but as the old saying goes, writing is re-writing.

“Honeymoon is over”…that’s a good way to put it! Editing is a necessary evil indeed. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

I have two pieces of advice. 1. Find a mentor. It can shave years off your learning curve. 2. Stay out of debt. This will give you a lot of latitude with how you spend your time = more time spent writing. It’s also just a good life lesson.

You are sounding more and more like my husband…he’s a numbers guy and a one time padawan of Dave Ramsey. Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Authors are known to vicariously put themselves into their characters, which I’m sure I’ve done. However, I vicariously purchased some fun toys in this novel for the characters. The protagonist lives in a log cabin on the side of a mountain and has a small farm with a trout stream running through it. He drives an old pickup. The firearms he carries and the RV his buddy have are also some cool toys I geek’d out on.

Too funny! Do you have any current projects your working on? Care to share?

I just finished the first draft of a novel that will be the sequel to my dystopian sci-fi Mission Trip.

Well, John, thanks so much for being on my blog today and sharing your thoughts, advice, and inspiration. And with that, I will segue us to what we’re all eager for: more details about White Mountains’ False Flag.

White Mountains’ False Flag

 

Ransom Doniphon is a Park Ranger working in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. While on a helicopter search-and-rescue mission he spies a make-shift shelter deep within the woods. When Ransom and his partner investigate there is a shootout leaving three men dead. What at first appears to be a mobile drug lab hidden in the woods turns out to be a home grown terrorist cell with roots that run deep into state and federal government.

 

Enjoy an Excerpt

The man outside the tent had a bowie knife in his hand and a 1911 handgun in a kydex holster on his right hip. There was a high probability the guy in the tent was armed as well. It was clear that he would need backup. Ransom started to sneak away. His stomach dropped when he turned to face another man. A third man. He was in his fifties and held a bolt-action deer rifle which he pointed directly at Ransom.

Buy Links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Smashwords

Also available on iTunes

More about John

John received an MFA in creative writing from Pine Manor College, in Chestnut Hill MA. He has a long publishing history in non-fiction. White Mountains’ False Flag is his fourth fiction novel. John lives in Massachusetts with his family and teaches screenwriting at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Connect with John and his books

Website: www.johntheo.com

Twitter: @Theolotics5

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/White-Mountains-False-Flag-167654810343975/?tsid=0.24224753457482173&source=typeahead

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_tXTp-mEENYHe2Ex3LJeXg

 

The Heart of the Matter: Characterology

I have been in the practice of writing now for quite some time. I have been to numerous conferences and sat under the tutelage of very gifted authors, both at these live events and in my study of craft through books and blogs. One of the key things I have come to discover is that character development is pre-eminent in the novel. If the reader doesn’t care about your characters, they won’t hang in there for the story. So, your characters are what drives it all.

Discovering Your Characters

Every author has their own method for character development. I personally think it’s important to take time BEFORE you start writing the story (or even outlining) to get to know at least your main characters (at least those who will have scenes told from their point of view). Some writers “interview” their character. I have a profile sheet that has a list of things I feel I should know about my character (physical appearance, mental abilities, socioeconomic level now and as a child, sibling/parent relationships, etc.). Look up some character profile sheets, come up with your own. But I would recommend including Goals, Motivations, and Conflicts (External and Internal) on your sheet.

Digging Deeper

These are all sort of surface sort of things, however. I also LOVE Susan May Warren’s “Story Equation” (or “SEQ”) where you break down the character’s Dark Moment Story (something significant that happened in their past that made them who they are today). The Dark Moment Story will lead to character flaws, the lie the character believes about him/herself, the character’s competing values, and so much more. These deepen your understanding of your character which makes the character deeper for the reader. Something that is important to note here is that you may not want to put EVERYTHING you develop about your character on the page. It’s a “tip of the iceberg” kind of thing. Whereas you show the tip of the iceberg, but you (the author) know the entire iceberg that is under the surface. This makes the character more three dimensional and more real.

Having Fun With It

I always try to “cast” my characters too. It helps with visualizing my characters throughout the book and makes them more real for me, too. I keep a Pinterest board on each of my books with photos of who I would cast in each of the roles as well as a variety of other photos of places, food, and photos from that period/place that relate to the novel. It’s just fun to play around with. You can find my pinterest boards here.

At the end of the day…

Characters are people too. They are only as real as you make them. And they are only as real to your readers as you make them. It is worth the time and effort to put the work in on the front end (in my experience). Give it a go and see what you come up with!

Happy creating!

FEATURED GUEST & GIVEAWAY: Author Krysten Lindsay Hager

Hello again! I have another great blog for you today – a guest author, Krysten Lindsay Hager. She is here to tell us about the last book in one of her series, Landry’s True Colors Series. And she will be giving away a signed copy of a book from her other series, Competing with the Star. So, without further ado, let’s get to the interview…

Welcome to my blog! First, Krysten, tell us a little about your novel.

Landry in Like is about a fourteen year old girl who is dealing with frenemies, mean girls, anxiety, and having her first boyfriend. Landry is now getting the opportunity to do TV interviews because of being on an Internet reality show competition, but while it looks impressive to be doing those shows, she’s not getting a lot of modeling jobs so she feels insecure. High school is around the corner and that’s making her nervous as well—especially as she sees one of her best friends, Ashanti, hanging out more and more with a new group of girls on the cheer squad.

This is the 3rd book in the Landry’s True Colors Series and I have gotten such an amazing response from readers in my inbox. It’s so rewarding to hear from girls and mothers who say how Landry has helped them (or their daughters) deal with their anxiety or come to a parent with an issue their having at school or dealing with grief and stress. Just recently a grandparent told me her granddaughter was able to finally share how much her grandpa’s death had impacted her after reading about Ashanti losing her grandma in the book. This reader had internalized everything that happened at her grandpa’s funeral and for months she was acting different and her parents just chalked it up to growing up. She read the section where Landry’s own mother shares she gets uncomfortable going to funeral homes and saw that Ashanti and Landry were open about being uncomfortable and she finally felt like it was okay to admit that. She had been holding onto those feelings for months and it was like a weight lifted off her shoulders.

Wow! How wonderful to have readers responding so positively. And walking away with so much! What was the inspiration for Landry in Like?

In this book I wanted to show how Landry had grown as a character as she dealt with more challenges. In the first book, True Colors, it’s hard for Landry to stand up for herself as it is for many of us. As the series progresses, Landry is learning to appreciate her differences and accept who she is and not try to be someone she’s not. While the other girls are into this teen dance club, she realizes that’s just not her scene and she’d rather be at home playing video games with friends and baking cupcakes and sleepovers. At first she thinks she must be uncool to not be comfortable at the club, but she finally tells her friends and boyfriend that she’s not into that place and finds out one of her best friends isn’t either and that her boyfriend respects her more for being honest and being herself. I think this book really showcases how accepting yourself and being okay with who you are is so freeing.

Wonderful message. You seem so natural at putting out your themes and messages…that is, your readers are picking them up rather well. Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

When I was in first grade I wanted to create a soap opera—a whole world where I came up with the setting, characters, and plot. Looking back I realize that I knew I wanted to be a writer, but that I didn’t quite understand the relationship between creating these worlds and writing books. So I’m pretty much living out the dream I had since I was a child.

While I’ve always enjoyed writing, doing this as a career was not something I thought of as a child. I’m a bit later to the game. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Take literature classes, even as non-credit classes. It will help you so much in putting together a novel and learning about theme, etc. I took extra lit classes in college as both an undergraduate and as a grad student. I actually extending my time in school to do that because it was so beneficial in helping me write. I would recommend that more than anything.

Like those classes, I know that reading helps authors, too. So much of what we know about writing is intuitive. (Not that we don’t need to stretch those craft muscles in classes or at conferences.) What are you currently reading?

I just finished Autumn Falls. I’m reading Lysa TerKeurst’s Unglued right now with a group of friends.

I just finished one of TerKeurst’s books. She’s fabulous! I get in the mood for writing by developing/listening to a playlist. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I don’t listen to music as I write, but I listen to it before and during brainstorming and daydreaming sessions. I always post playlists for my books on my website. Here are 2 of my latest book playlists:

For Landry in Like: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/landry-in-like-playlist.html

For Competing with the Star: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/competing-with-the-star-playlist.html

Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

I like to write in the evenings and very early morning. I either write in my office or living room. I’m not the kind of person who can write in a coffee shop, but if I’m on a road trip, I can often write in the car. It’s weird, I don’t like music playing when I’m writing at home, but it doesn’t bother me if I’m in the car writing.

I’m the same way about writing in the car. Long road trip, here I come! But I do find, for me, I’m more productive in a coffee shop than in my office. Maybe I should rethink my office arrangement…

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

In March I will have a young adult book coming out called, Dating the It Guy, which is about a teen girl named Emme who starts dating a popular guy from a very prominent political family and how it throws her life out of balance. It’s funny, sweet, romantic, and heartbreaking. I’m also working on a new adult novel and another YA one.

Again, Krysten, thank you so much for being on my blog today. Landry’s True Colors Series sounds great and I look forward to hearing more about it…

Landry’s True Colors Series

Excerpt

Then the most beautiful sound in the world came along—the final bell. I grabbed my bag and rushed out the door to my locker, where I ran into Reagan O’Hara, Nick’s gorgeous ex-girlfriend. “Watch where you’re going, spaz,” she said, glaring at me. “Exactly where are you in such a hurry to get to anyway? I can’t imagine that you’d have plans.”

I could have said, “Off to meet my boyfriend, you know, the guy you used to badmouth me to,” but no, I took the high road and said, “Excuse me,” and kept going.

“Whatever, loser,” she said. My shoulders tensed. As I tried to ignore her and tell myself it was just jealousy, I couldn’t pretend that her words didn’t hurt. I had been considered kind of a loser at my old school in Goodacre. I had had one super close best friend who I did everything with, Lexi Irvin, and when she moved to Dallas, it was as if I had been abandoned. So yeah, I had felt like a complete loser in Goodacre, but now I was here in Grand Haven, with new friends and a new positive outlook on life. I had a new best friend, Charlotte Lidstrom, and had become friends with former teen TV star Simone Hendrickson and her best friend, Asia Milanowski.

It could be intimidating hanging out with Simone since she was popular, pretty, and famous. Sometimes I felt invisible next to her, and unfortunately, hanging with Simone sometimes meant spending time with people like Reagan or Simone’s other friends, Pilar Ito and Morgan Kemp. Morgan was the ultimate mean girl. I swear, even if she told me she loved my outfit and was hooked up to a lie detector test saying she was telling the truth, I still wouldn’t want to risk it and I’d go home and change. But today I was not going to worry about Morgan, Reagan, or any of that. I was just going to focus on my first date with Nick…Until I rounded the corner and ran into Simone, who was waiting for me at my locker with Morgan and Pilar.

“Hey, Hadley,” Simone said. “Wanted to return your lucky bracelet. Let’s hope it helped me pass my math test.”

She handed me my heart and natural stone charm bracelet and I slid it on my wrist. Morgan looked down at my hands and made a face.

“Why are you wearing such dark nail polish?” she asked me.

My face got warm. “I thought the color was pretty when I saw it in the store. I’ve never seen this shade of purple with so much blue in it.”

“Guys aren’t into weird nail polish colors,” Morgan said as she fluffed her long curly blonde hair with her red polished fingers.
Great, so even my nail polish was wrong. Could I do anything right?

“Here comes Nick,” Pilar said, and the girls all got quiet.

“Hey, guys,” he said, coming up and nodding at them. I started to curl my fingers under so he wouldn’t notice my dark polish—the color that up until a few minutes ago I thought was unique and beautiful was now making me feel like a little oddball.

“Cool color,” Nick said.

“Huh?”

“I like the blue. It’s very you,” he said, and then he reached over and intertwined his fingers with mine. Take that, you dark nail polish haters.

“So are we all heading over to Scoops together?” he asked.

Simone played with a strand of her long blonde hair, but didn’t say a thing.

“Yup, we thought we’d go over with you guys,” Morgan said, smiling up at him with her gleaming white teeth.

Wait, what? No, not cool. This was our first date and I knew I’d feel awkward talking to him around a group—a group judging me on what I said, did, and apparently even the colors I wore.

Buy Links

Amazon US paperback: http://amzn.to/29gsqPw
Amazon US ebook: http://amzn.to/29tp2EF
Amazon UK ebook: http://amzn.to/29mv46L
Amazon AU ebook: http://amzn.to/29umy7d
Amazon CA ebook: http://amzn.to/29umCUm
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/29oFynI
Barnes and Noble Nook: http://bit.ly/1S5wUuk

More about Krysten

Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2). Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book. Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek News, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.

Connect with Krysten and her books

GIVEAWAY!

Now that you’ve been introduced to Krysten Lindsay Hager and her writing, she would like to offer a giveaway! A SIGNED copy of the second book in her Star Series, Competing with the Star.

Just comment on this blog post to be entered to win the book. The winner’s name will be drawn from that pool. Entries will be accepted until Monday, January 16, 2017 at 11:59 pm.

 

 

 

 

A LITTLE OFF TOPIC: Depression Hurts

I am starting a series called “A little off topic”. This is because my blog is primarily about writing, craft, and my own journey through the muddled waters of what it means to be an author these days. But there are other topics that are very personal to me that I think may be relevant for others, too.

Depression…a nice topic, huh? Well, I will say that I could be the poster mom for Postpartum Depression. I experienced Postpartum Depression after each of the births of my children. And, while my psychiatrist and obstetrician worked to do what they could to “head it off”, it became worse each time. (This is not to say that this will be the case for everyone. PPD (postpartum depression) has a recurrence rate of about 40%.)

I know what that darkness is like. I know those places that hurt so bad you can’t imagine continuing or putting your family through your illness anymore. But, friend, if you are in that place, I hope that there is a voice in your life that delivers TRUTH. The TRUTH is that your cognitive filter is messed up. You are not able to process emotions and thoughts properly. You need a voice of clarity at this time. And the TRUTH is that your life is necessary. You have a purpose. And there is a light at the end of this dark place. And it is beautiful.

First, let’s all make sure we’re on the same page…

What is Depression?

(borrowed from the National Institute of Mental Health‘s website)

Depression is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.

Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances, such as:

  • Persistent depressive disorder (a.k.a. “dysthymia”) is a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for two years to be considered persistent depressive disorder.
  • Perinatal depression is much more serious than the “baby blues” (relatively mild depressive and anxiety symptoms that typically clear within two weeks after delivery) that many women experience after giving birth. Women with perinatal depression experience full-blown major depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression). The feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that accompany perinatal depression may make it difficult for these new mothers to complete daily care activities for themselves and/or for their babies.
  • Psychotic depression occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false fixed beliefs (delusions) or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations). The psychotic symptoms typically have a depressive “theme,” such as delusions of guilt, poverty, or illness.
  • Seasonal affective disorder is characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. This depression generally lifts during spring and summer. Winter depression, typically accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain, predictably returns every year in seasonal affective disorder.
  • Bipolar disorder is different from depression, but it is included in this list is because someone with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of extremely low moods that meet the criteria for major depression (called “bipolar depression”). But a person with bipolar disorder also experiences extreme high – euphoric or irritable – moods called “mania” or a less severe form called “hypomania.” (There is a milder form of Bipolar Disorder called “Bipolar II”.)

The Stats

  • 9.5% of the population in the US (that’s roughly 21 million) are afflicted (and this is probably an under-reported number) – YOU ARE NOT ALONE
  • Women are 50% more likely than men to suffer from depression and other mood disorders (again, is it that men are less likely to talk about it with their doctor?)
  • Only 50% of diagnosed mood disorders are treated – and that’s diagnosed conditions…imagine all of those who suffer in silence!
  • 1 in every 5 Americans has first hand experience with depression, bipolar disorder, or another mood disorder

The Journey Out of Depression

This is my journey and how it looked. Yours will look different. But there are elements we have in common…the darkness that seems to weigh on your being, dragging you down. And that there is HOPE.

I have struggled with depression/PPD for 7 years. And for me, I found myself in a Behavioral Health Hospital…twice…before it turned around. But it did. This is where God met me and spoke into my heart. The light broke through. Was I instantly better? No. It was a slow process, with the help of medication and counseling, but I was determined that I couldn’t be in that place any more. Did I work hard every day? You know I didn’t. There are days, will be days even in recovery, where you take a step back. Those days a shower seems like too much. Days that life outside your bedroom seems to much to face.

It’s real. It’s hard. But it’s not forever. And you are not alone.

Ease the Hurt

  1. Lean on your support network. Your friends and family do care about you, no matter how it feels right now. Find at least one friend who is a good listener and talk to them. Your darkest thoughts only have power over you when they are in secret. Trust me.
  2. Find a good mental health provider/doctor and counselor (and follow their suggestions). Do the work.
  3. Plan something each day that you think you would enjoy. Even if you don’t feel up to it. Or you don’t enjoy the things you used to. Sometimes, action precedes a change in mood.

I would love to continue blogging about this in the future. There are many facets to my journey and to my depression yet to tell. My desire is to help others who are struggling. To share light and hope. And so that you know someone else has been there, too.

 

FEATURED GUEST & GIVEAWAY: Author Jane McGarry

Happy Friday! I hope this blog finds you well and enjoying the end of the first week of 2017!!! I have a fabulous blog for you today – a guest author and a giveaway!!! Author Jane McGarry is here today to talk to us about her recent release, Unexpected Rewards. This is the second book in a trilogy. But if you haven’t read the first book, no worries. Keep reading and find more information about the giveaway at the bottom. It might be your lucky day!

Without further ado, let’s get to Jane McGarry…

Jane, first tell us a little about your novel.

Unexpected Rewards is the sequel to Not Every Girl. Now that Olivia’s mission is complete, she expects to be knighted. Instead, she is made a lady-in-waiting to the queen. Thrust into palace life where intrigue abounds, she must use her training and instincts to protect the King from a new threat, all while trying to ensure her love with the Prince Liam will prevail.

Interesting twist…what was the inspiration for the Not Every Girl series?

Many books I have enjoyed over the years have had a strong female protagonist. I wanted to write a feisty, resilient heroine who didn’t spend her time waiting to be rescued by the hero. Girls need positive examples of characters with strength and courage to help them feel empowered in life. Hopefully, Olivia achieves this in some way.

I agree. I enjoy writing female characters who have some spirit to them. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I have always loved writing stories for myself, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I actually gave the idea of publishing a novel any serious consideration. I had worked for 10+ years in the pharmaceutical industry before leaving to be a stay-at-home mom. Writing soon became an escape from the daily grind of child rearing. Then, I had the idea for Not Every Girl and things took off from there.

What a career change! I know there are things about writing we all enjoy, but there are also parts of the process we don’t like so much. What part do you dread?

Dread may be a little too strong of a word, but the most tedious process is when you get into the nitty gritty of editing. Writing the first draft is a very organic flow where I do not give much thought to the actual structure of the words. Then it is time to concentrate on the rules of grammar, which is a much less creative endeavor.

That is true, it is less organic, more tedious. I find that reading is an important part of writing. We intuitively learn from others. What are you currently reading?

The Beauty of Darkness (Book 3 of the Remnant Chronicles) by Mary E. Pearson. I have enjoyed this trilogy. The first book has a great twist that has kept me hooked for the series.

Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

My favorite time to write is when my house is quiet. Usually, this means my kids are at school. I sit in a big comfy chair in the living room with a nice hot cup of tea if possible.

Oohhh, that does sound nice! Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Olivia is sure that she will not fit in at the palace or find any meaningful way to pass her time. However, through a series of events, she winds up meeting someone who teaches her a valuable skill and gives her life in the castle purpose.

Thanks for giving us that little insight! One more question…do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

Right now, I am working on the final installment in the trilogy. Olivia finally discovers the true culprit behind the plot against the king. Now she must race against time to prove her theory is true before it is too late.

Jane, thank you again for coming on my blog and talking about your newest release. I know I’m certainly intrigued!

Unexpected Rewards

Olivia Davenport is looking forward to her future. After all, Prince Liam has professed his love and King William has promised her a reward for her role on a recent mission. She fully expects to continue her knightly training while enjoying a blossoming romance with her Prince. The King, however, has other ideas, appointing her as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Helen.

Thrust into unfamiliar territory and left to fend against the malicious women of court, Olivia feels awkward and confused. With the help of her new friend, Kat, and her sister, Anne, she tries to find her footing among the courtiers, their protocol, and the added complication of Jocelyn Crawford, a lady who has her eyes set on becoming Liam’s bride.

When, a disturbing prophecy puts the safety of the King in question, fear spreads through kingdom. Intrigue abounds at the palace with an enigmatic witch and a strict Friar at the center of the controversy. Olivia must use her training and instincts to unravel what is truly going on in order to protect the King. Through it all, she questions if she will ever be able to fit into Liam’s life and if, in the end, their love can prevail.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Excuse me, Sir Davenport, Lady Davenport,” says a voice, and suddenly Liam stands beside us. “But I would very much like to have a dance with your daughter.”

“Of course, Your Highness,” Mother replies in awe, dipping into a curtsey.

My acknowledgement is a much stiffer bow of the head. The moments with my family had briefly smothered my worry, but now it hurtles back full force. He takes my hand and I follow him onto the floor, silently praying my knees don’t give out from the terror that rises in me like the tide. One hand fits on the small of my back, the other grasps mine. His palms are uncharacteristically sweaty.

Something is definitely wrong.

I look into his beautiful, blue eyes. They swim with misery. Now that I am going to find out the reason, I am not sure I want to anymore.

He clears his throat. “I didn’t want to have to tell you in public, but I can’t let the night pass and deceive you.”

Not good.

At my silence, he continues, “Somehow Jocelyn has influenced my father. He wants me to court her, to give her a fair chance, because he considers her a more suitable match.”

There she sits now, right next to King William, her usual smug expression in place. Our monarch absently surveys the room. The monarch I saved—who praised me for it—stabs me in the back without a second thought. I should have left him to die in that escape tunnel.

“And what do you think of that?” I ask pointedly.

“Naturally, I protested…abundantly, but…” He stops, won’t meet my eyes.

But? But cannot be good. But can only be disastrous.

I stop moving and we stand looking at each other like mannequins while couples rotate around us.

“But what?” I whisper, the cacophony of music and chatter turning into an otherworldly buzz while my senses brace for the impact of his answer.

“But…my father told me if I did not give Jocelyn a fair chance, he would not only send you from the palace, but ship you down to Prescott and arrange a marriage for you there. I don’t know what to do, Olivia. I don’t know how to fix this.”

A barrage of thoughts leap to mind, none of them in any way accepting of this information. Send me away? Ship me to Prescott? As if I were livestock? And arrange a marriage? So many protests, I hardly know where to begin.

The music ends and couples saunter off the floor. Liam and I stand alone in the center.

Eyes will be upon us soon if we remain here like statues.

With every ounce of composure I can muster, I curtsey and hear my voice say, “Thank you for the dance, Your Highness. I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening.”

Then, I walk away.

Buy Links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Smashwords

Amazon Canada

More About Jane McGarry

Reading was always a big part of Jane’s life. Over the years, creating stories developed out of this love. Finally, she decided to try her hand at writing a novel and that was when Not Every Girl was conceived.

She lives in New Jersey in a house full of boys, including one over-indulged cat. When she is not running around with her family or writing, she can be found curled up with said cat and a good book.

You can visit her online at: www.janemcgarrybooks.com .

Connect with Jane and her books

Author websitehttp://www.janemcgarrybooks.com/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Jane-McGarry-Author/712005068914626

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/JMcGarryauthor

Instagramhttps://instagram.com/janemcgarryauthor/

Pinteresthttps://www.pinterest.com/janem0378/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13857680.Jane_McGarry

GIVEAWAY

Interested? I know I am!! Haven’t read the first book and want to? Well, here’s your opportunity! Jane McGarry is giving a signed paperback copy of her first book Not Every Girl!!! Please click on the link to enter the giveaway!

Rafflecopter giveaway

***WINNER WILL BE DRAWN FROM THOSE WHO COMMENT***

My apologies. I understand that the rafflecopter isn’t working. So, if you wish to enter the drawing, just comment on the post. I will draw the winner from among those names. Entries will be accepted until Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 11:59 pm. Thanks!!!

It’s a New Year, Time to Set Goals!

Welcome to 2017, readers!!! How is the new year treating you thus far? For me, it’s been incredibly busy! Already. And we’re only three days in! (Today just so happens to also be my birthday.) But it’s important, I think, to take a step back and set goals for the new year. Where do you want to be in 6 months? In a year? What do you want for your career? For your writing? For your home?

Why even bother with goals?

I believe goals (not resolutions for change) are important because they allow us to chart progress. How do you know where you are headed, or how far you have progressed, if you don’t have goals? If not for goals, I image you must be living aimlessly, day to day, in some kind of rut…going through the routine of it all…now that must get old quick.

What kinds of goals should I set?

There is no set plan. But I think there should be goals in the different areas of your life: career/writing, family, home, personal, spiritual. And set goals not just for 2017. Set goals along the way as you feel they suit your situation. For my writing, for example, I set goals for each month to keep me on track. Then I set 6 month, year, 5 year, and “blue sky” (long term, dreaming sort of) goals with my other shorter term goals reflecting the steps to reach the longer term goals. My daily “to do” list even should reflect how I reach my set goals.

Example:

For my writing, one of my goals is to get my current novels published in the next three years, but I’m always working on something new at the same time. So my month goals look like this for now:

JANUARY

  • self-edit “The Lady Bornekova” sequel
  • gather feedback on sequel from beta readers
  • Develop characters for NOVEL Q (in planning stages)

FEBRUARY

  • fold in feedback from beta readers
  • submit sequel to publisher
  • begin self-editing “Trail of Fears”
  • Sketch out plot for NOVEL Q

MARCH

  • fold in beta reader feedback for “Trail of Fears”
  • start writing NOVEL Q
  • professional edits for “The Lady Bornekova” sequel should come in sometime this month

And so on and so forth…

Now it’s your turn…

What kinds of goals do you need to set? Grab a pen and paper (or open a fresh word processor document) and get started!