Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I soon realized that I couldn’t possibly fit all of the things that I’m thankful for into 140 characters, so I decided to post here. *stretches* Ah, plenty of space…
So, to make it more epic, I’m going to put it in poetry form… To make it interesting, I’m putting it into Acrostic poetry form. For those of you who don’t know what an acrostic poem is, it is basically a poem that spells out a word with each letter in a line. For instance, my poem is going to be Thankful, the first line is going to start with the letter T, the next line H, the line after, A, ect. Yay! Okay, here goes.

Thankful for the parents
Having them there for me.
And also for the presents
Next month, I’ll find them under the tree.
Kindness in my life, I’m thankful for
Forward moving is what I’ve been given
Ultimately for blowing all these doors.
Lastly, for keeping me goal driven.

Of course, this isn’t all that I’m thankful for, but this poem covers the main things that I am the most thankful for. On a side note, I’d also like to include a list of the ten things that I am thankful for:
1. My parents
2. My opportunities
3. My family
4. My friends (literally all of them, even my crazy, stalker friends)
5. My fans
6. Music
7. My voice
8. Paint
9. That seven eight nine… (I’m sorry, I had to!)
10. That cheesecake that wants me to eat it…

What are you thankful for? Leave a comment below and let me know!
There really isn’t anything to be ungrateful for, at the least, the annoying stuff provides emotions you wouldn’t feel without it. Be grateful for that.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mother Nature

Hello readers! It’s starting to finally feel like autumn over here in Arizona. I’ve heard the weather is changing in many areas - whether it be turning into a frosty winter or a nice, hot summer - the weather is definitely changing.

Mother Nature frntcvr2Just in time for this spectacular weather, Renee Sherkness brings you her second book, The Day Mother Nature Decided to Paint Her House. This fascinating tale for young readers features classical characters such as Mother Nature herself, and Father Time. It teaches - in a subtle way – about all of the different seasons while captivating readers with a thought-provoking story.

I pulled Renee Sherkness away from her wonderful writing long enough to ask her a few questions:

Heather: When did you first realize you wanted to start writing for publication?

Renee: First thank you, Heather, for allowing me to be interviewed on your blog. I greatly appreciate all you have done to help make my books come to fruition!

Heather: Thank you for allowing me the honor of helping you with your great books!

Renee: As an educator I always saw a need for children’s stories to be educational, fun and also informative while sparking an interest in our world. My view is that society has put our environment on the back burner for quite a while and wanting to do something to raise awareness to the connection we all share with nature was the main reason I began to write. My grandchildren and my husband were somewhat inspirational in my decision to publish my writings. They enjoyed my writings and encouraged me through the joy I saw in them from reading my stories. This encouraged me to begin the journey of publishing to share my message of connecting ‘with care’ to our world with others.

Heather: It’s amazing how an idea can turn into something great! How do you deal with writer’s block?

Renee: Good question. I’ve learned not to fight the writer’s block I sometimes have but embrace it as a message to slow down, walk away from my writing for a bit and take a break. Unfortunately by doing this I also have had times when I have had to embrace when the inspiration to write as well even at times that were less than convenient.. like 1:00 am in the morning!!

Heather: I can relate to that. When inspiration happens, you’ve gotta embrace it! What do you usually do while writing?

Renee: I try to put myself in my characters shoes. I think about what my characters would say, how I want them to be perceived in my story and I also try to stay focused on my message I am trying to convey. Also sipping coffee and water while writing helps.

Heather: Ah, having a drink sure does refresh the mind! What do you use to write with (i.e. keyboard, pen, pencil)?

Renee: When I first started to write I’d use a pen and notebook. But as I began to write more I opted for a keyboard to write my stories. But I still jot down ideas as they come to me with a pen and notebook I carry all the time - especially on my walks in the park.

Heather: One thing is for sure, you just can’t carry your keyboard around absolutely everywhere. What if they outlawed writing?

Renee: My passion would be stilled and I think I would have to find some other way to get my stories out there.

Heather: What is your favorite character (of your books)?

Renee: That is a hard question because when I am writing a story the character in that story becomes my favorite at that time!

If I had to choose I would say he would be Winston in my next book coming out Winston The Whale And The Blanket Of Darkness. He has an inner strength in him I admire.

Heather: Winston sounds like an epic character! Who is your hero?

Renee: Such a thought provoking question! A tough one to answer.. I think when we are little it is so much easier to name our heroes. I am sure my Grandson would quickly state “Buzz Light year” when asked with no hesitation. Yet as we get older it is a little harder to identify. I think we all have heroism in us and display it when needed. Look at the after math of 911 and the everyday heroes who helped strangers in horrific circumstances. Most of these people would not be identified as heroes in normal circumstances. Yet they were heroes when tested. So who can say who is or isn’t a hero? For me I guess I see heroism happen every day in the young and the old in simple ways. My daughter has come through some daunting challenges as she was growing into womanhood and I’ve watched her maneuver through each obstacle, overcome them and not let them engulf her. I say she has shown heroism in a way to me. My husband has often times been my hero with an encouraging word even when he didn’t even know he was doing it! My parents, my friends all have been heroes at one time or another. But I think I have come to the conclusion that to find a hero in my life I will always need to look “up” to a higher power and hope he allows the hero in all of us to be revealed when called upon.

Heather: Very thought provoking answer! Where did you find the inspiration to write The Day Mother Nature Decided to Paint Her House?

Renee: I have to take an excerpt from my book’s dedication to answer that question:

From The Day Mother Nature Decided to Paint Her House:


During rush hour, I was driving my granddaughter, Kyla, back home from a movie

(Where the Wild Things Are) we had just seen.

As you can imagine, my five-year-old granddaughter was not happy

with the traffic delay we were facing, and neither was I, for that matter.

Since it was fall, I tried passing the time by pointing out the different colors of the leaves.

Then my granddaughter asked me, “Nana, how do the leaves change their colors?”

And that’s how this story came to life!

Therefore I dedicate this story to my granddaughter, Kyla, and my grandson, Chase, for all the questions I have answered and for those they will continue to ask, which constantly remind me how magical life can be.

Heather: It is wonderful what can inspire! Do you have any books in the works?

Renee: Yes I do:

Coming in the spring 2012: Winston The Whale And The Blanket Of Darkness

It tells the tale of Winston, a humpback whale and the perils he must face because of the pollution contaminating his home.

Other stories I hope to publish in the future include: Malachi. The Caterpillar Who Was Always Late about the monarch butterflies and their journey and one little butterfly’s lesson learned from slowing down and enjoying life.

Xzavier and China. A Story Of Care And Cooperation about two very different creatures learning to exist and get along with care and cooperation.

Yoga cover capitalsBook already released: Stories That Come Alive Through Yoga a fun instructional book on yoga and practicing yoga through fun kid friendly stories for children, families and yoga instructors.

All stories are from the Nurturing Nature Collection: connecting “with care” to our world. These books are a collection of fun, educational and entertaining stories that teach ways to create a healthier “us” and a healthier” world”.

All stories include a summary filled with educational information on the stories topic as well as a glossary and educational resources and web sites to educate and help our environment.

They can be purchased in print and e book on, Barnes and Noble,, and apple I pad. Visit web site for more information:

Heather: Thank you for allowing me the honor of interviewing you, Renee! I know I look forward to watching your stories come to life and put on bookshelves!

Readers! It’s prime time for holiday shopping (or soon will be… I know I’ve all ready started my Christmas shopping), and if you have a young reader, check out Renee’s website and consider grabbing a copy of her books. They make great gifts!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

NaNo is a Go

zombie-hiHello readers! I feel like a zombie - just in time for Halloween too. In fact, that’s exactly what I’m going to be… unless I can find a fake wound so I can be a vampire victim, so I’m still between costume ideas. Still, I’ll be one of the two. But this is all absolutely and completely irrelevant!

So, I have a lot of things in the works, I’m setting up online classes, getting ready for a big Halloween party, and two big things are going on this November.

First, is NaNoWriMo (if you haven’t heard of it, click it). I wasn’t sure that I was going to have time to participate this year because of school and work, but I’ve decided to give it a go. Hopefully with a few cheerleaders (I’m adopting NaNo cheerleaders, by the way) I’ll be able to pull through to get my 50,000 words.

What am I going to write this year? Well, I’m cheating - a bit - because I’m not starting a book from the beginning, I’m going to be continuing two novels that I started a few years ago. One is a genuine NaNo novel that I started last year Howl, and the other is the second book in The Artifact Series. Both require about 25k more words to be called complete, give or take. So it seems kind of perfect to do… okay, you can flog me now for not starting entirely fresh this year.

Oho, and you’ll also be able to read Howl and keep up with my progress on Smashwords, I’ll be uploading what I write everyday for your viewing pleasure (and to hopefully cheer me on, because I’ll need it)!

The other thing that is going on in November is Adopt an Indie Month. I’m an indie, and I’m still waiting to be adopted.

1197105542213523276antontw_Black_Cat2_svg_hi*Presses nose against window and looks awfully adorable*  

From what I hear, those who adopt an indie have the chance to win a big, professional, blog makeover. So, if you’re interested, you could adopt me… I don’t chew rugs or shoes and I’m housetrained.

For this last bit of info, I wanted to let you all know that I just updated my Facebook author page – – if you want to keep up with me (and cheer me on for NaNo) this is the place to do it.

This really isn’t a big deal, you’re just opening up a can of worms and turning it into Texas. (Howl quote)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Few Formatting Basics

Hola readers!
1194993859534275110calligraphy_svg_medI just finished my school work (for the most part) for this week and now am able to do my work while I listen to Christina Grimmie’s new album (links for her work is at the end of this post).
Before I get to my work, I decided to drop in and give you all a short lesson in book formatting, which doesn’t just apply to book formatters but writers as well.
So, when you’re writing a fictional story, here’s some simple things to remember:
  1. Don’t use Bold! I mean, ever. Don’t. Use. It. When you want to convey something with power, we don’t use bold. It’s annoying. We use exclamation points and italics. No bold.
  2. Don’t use ALL CAPS! Don’t do it. I have seen this used – rarely – in some books – but only single words, NEVER FULL SENTENCES or PHRASES. ONE word only, if you MUST.
  3. When indenting your paragraphs, don’t use tabs and don’t use the space bar! You will enrage your formatter. If you don’t know how to set the indent spacing on your word processor (i.e. Microsoft Word, Word Perfect), then don’t use indents at all. Just double space your paragraphs. It’s so much easier than having to go through and remove all of the tabs (by hand!) or spaces. So either learn how to indent your paragraphs (if you don’t know how and you want to learn, you can message/email/contact me and I’ll give you a hand) or just don’t indent.
What I just did above… don’t do it. That’s why I did it. I’m hoping you’re the learn-from-others’-mistakes type of person.
The difference between formatting fiction and nonfiction is that the rules that I mentioned above, don’t necessarily apply to nonfiction:
  1. You can use bold. You should use it sparingly still. I mean, if you can’t convey your message powerfully without the help of bold, italics, or underlining and all that, then you should be rewriting that message, not covering it up. Can you use bold in nonfiction? Yes.
  2. You can underline words. Again, use it sparingly. Only when you really need it. I once formatted a nonfiction book where each numbered paragraph started like this one. With the underlines. It was scary and I couldn’t actually focus on what I was reading.
  3. The ALL CAPS rule for nonfiction is the same for nonfiction. It isn’t exactly a good idea, but you can let one slide rarely. By rarely I mean, once per 500 page novel.
  4. If you are using Bold, Italics, AND Underline in one article or chapter – you seriously need to reconsider. Take out everything you can. Replace it with the classic exclamation point when you want to make – well – a point.
Right now, I’m reading a great nonfiction book for my theatre class: Theatre Arts: Fundamental Theory & Practice by Frank Pickard. There are some severe formatting issues with it… I mean some things that really bugged me. But one thing that is extremely right in the book is the *lack* of bold italic and underline usage. It has more of a continuous read feel to it.
There’s some bold and plenty of italics, but everything that I’ve just discussed in this blog post is very right in that book. So, take a peek at that if you want an example of how to do it right.

(Who the heck is Christina Grimmie? Latest YouTube singing sensation, her new album was released last June.)

If all the world were to form one human, he would be perfect, because there is at least one thing that each person does perfectly.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What a Weekend!

So, for all of you who haven’t heard (meaning those of you who aren’t following me on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere else), this week my laptop died… last week my flash drive disappeared. So, that would conclude everything that I’ve ever saved anything to… nice.
Last night, I had a big adventure going out at midnight to Walmart to get me a laptop. Walmart was out of laptops, so I had to drive all the way across town – where I did get the last one of this kind in stock. It was a three hour endeavor, but it was successful.
Oh yeah, I got a kick out of the clerks in both stores. The first clerk at the first store says to my mom: “I understand how kids are.” Insinuating me. It’s a little more than a back-to-school, I’m-being-picky-and-annoying thing. But okay. The next clerk says to me: “Now that you have this, go home, take a nap, and then you can open this up and check it out.” It was a little weird, I hadn’t been spoken to in quite awhile like that. But it’s refreshing to be treated like my age for once.
Anyways, I am attempting to install all my programs. I have a bit of an M.I.A Microsoft Office issue. So, I’ll be having to get me that and get it installed. Until then, I’ll be doing my work that requires that on the “Main” computer, which will be a pain and will slightly slow me down. It’s so much easier having everything in one place (yes, I’m spoiled).
On the bright side, there is hope that I will be able to retrieve all my info off my laptop. So, all is not lost… entirely… just massive portions of it.
The point of the post? Oh, yeah, there are a few. First: I’ll be a little bit slow in getting my work out (Sorry!). Second: Sometimes backing up your flash drive to your computer isn’t the safest option. Pretty much everything I have left is what I posted online. Third: My Twitter followers, Facebook stalkers, and blog subscribers (you) are really great and epic people and I love them!
Computers eat lives.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

New Book Covers

Hello readers!

So today - one of my only days off (of school. School is the new work now, haven't you heard?) - I got back to work, and discovered that I really, absolutely love my work. I'm only able to do it on Saturday and Monday now, and I really miss it. Being a graphic designer is amazing, and I can't imagine having any other job... well, that's not entirely true. But the point is, it's an job. And, way easier than school... kills less brain cells than school.

Oh, anyways, on to the point! Today, I finished a new book cover for Elysabeth Eldering's first young adult mystery novel, Finally Home. It's scheduled for release this October. So be on the look out for that - it will be in both eBook format (for you fellow techies) and print.

Anyways, that is the latest and greatest book cover... over there... above this paragraph... Thoughts on it?

So, about two weeks ago, I finished another gem. Water by Terra Harmony. It's the first book in a series of five. It was supposed to be released as an eBook on the 17th of September, but I don't actually have the links for that - sorry!

I am working on more covers, and will be posting them as soon as they're completed.

Another note: I'm starting to get into the whole YouTube thing, and will be posting some videos on there in the near future. So, remember to subscribe - - and like my blog, I'll be posting random things. Just whatever I'm into at the time.

Remember to stay creative!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Monsters of Fantasy

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
Recently, I've been getting into the books about zombies. I haven't actually read any zombie books yet, but they're definitely grabbing my interest, and as soon as I clear out my reading list a bit, I'll be reading one of these things... of course, I'll probably give myself nightmares, but it sounds fun anyways. I hear Amanda Hocking has some zombie books, maybe I'll read those (I'm open to suggestions, so feel free to do some shameless promotion in the comments section if you're a zombie author).
This isn't the point of the post, so don't get lost. This just got me thinking about the other monsters of the fantasy genre. You know the ones I'm talking about, the ones that are so popular that they can pretty much be in their own category - vampires, werewolves, zombies, shape shifters, etc.
Obviously, vampires are the most popular, but what do you think will be next for this evermore popular fantasy genre? Maybe paranormal romances with ghosts? Or a more extreme lochness monster trilogy?

But those are my ideas. I want to know what you think. What monster of fantasy will be next to rise to popularity?

Zombies aren't THAT different from vampires. I mean, they were both human, and now they're dead and have an uncontrollable hunger.

The newest song on my playlist and what's playing in my ears right now is Colbie Caillat's "Brighter Than the Sun". 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

So Now, Apparently, I'm Destined to be a Millionaire

I thought it was about time I'd update you on why I haven't been posting to my blog so often. Now that I have broadband - amazing, I know - I thought I'd be posting to my blog more often; however, I also just started my first semester of college... some... few weeks ago. I don't recall how many. My brain is a little bit mushy.

So what have I been doing, while you have been awaiting my next post (I mean, assuming you were waiting for my next post...)? I have been embedding another language into my brain, learning what's under the hood of a computer (everything still looks like green and lines and boxes to me with the occasional shiny thing), and learning what being a leader means (and the possibility of big event planning).
Which takes up an insane amount of time. A little more than I was expecting, but I'm really enjoying every bit of it. And no, it's not just because my class took a vote today on how long it would take for me to become a millionaire. Last time I checked, I wasn't a superhero. I can recall, off hand, over 30 people who do more than I do.
What started all this? I mentioned that I'm an author. Oh, the common misconceptions. As a reminder to people, I'd like to point out that most authors aren't celebrities.
Anyways, over the next few weeks, I'll still be getting familiarized with my classes. Still, I'll be attempting to make regular blog posts, hopefully, at least, one a week. So stay subscribed and be on the lookout for more soon!

For those interested in the "Millionaire" poll results, the majority voted by the time I'm 20. A few votes for by the time I'm 18. And one vote for by the end of the semester.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Taco Bell

It took a lot of effort on my part to not write the title of this blog post in all caps with many, many repeated letters followed by many, many exclamation points. Why? I'm a Taco Bell obsessive. That's why. I admit my problem.

My family is glad the nearest Taco Bell is 25 miles away (times like these, I hate my small town). If I lived closer, I'd have myself a fourth meal every night. Never. Ever. Ask me what I want to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, whatever. Never. I may bust your ear drums. I may highly annoy you. You may even wish real life had a "Block" button. Since I first stepped foot into a Taco Bell, I never have suggested anything else for any meal.

When I pass by a Taco Bell in the car (when I'm not driving), I feel compelled to break through the glass or strangle the driver. Kind of like a rabid vampire visiting a blood drive. Or Alice Bonham in Flutter (My Blood Approves Series), when she takes a visit to the JFK airport. And it's not fair that there's a Taco Bell on every corner, but none near my house.

For this reason, I believe that Taco Bell should deliver. But they don't. And despite the pleas I've seen from other Taco Bell obsessives on Twitter, they are still a walk-in only restaurant. But that's okay. I still love Taco Bell, and I have this theory, that one day Amazon will actually sell Taco Bell's Beefy 5-layer Burritos, and I will be able to choose 2-day shipping at the checkout. Hey, it could happen!

I could go on forever, and to be honest, this blog post is really quite pointless compared to a lot of posts I've done in the past. So, I'm reigning myself in. I'm stopping here, and just going to casually mention that I just created my very first ringtone, and... I'm sure you can guess it's theme.

The Insane Taco Bell ringtone will soon be available for download free at -

And you can listen to it on my Tumblr page here -

Also pending a YouTube version of this ringtone - with video.

Signing off for tonight. May your obsessions run deep!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Old Things

Have you ever walked through a swapmeet or yard sale and noticed things from way back when, or other unidentifiable objects that are obviously not from your time?

Recently, I've noticed quite a few old things cross my path lately. For one, an old coffee maker, which - get this - has no buttons! This amused me to no end, and still does. I've no idea how old it actually is, I'm guessing it may be a 1960-80 model, but it still works quite well. I couldn't figure out how to make it work, but I've seen it in action. It has a switch on it, and a little mini-clock to set the timer.

Today, I noticed wall clocks, and I realized oddly, that there are a lot of inventions created in the 1900s that we don't really need anymore. Who needs wall clocks to tell the time when we have cell phones constantly at our side with the correct time? The same with digital clocks. It seems every piece of electronic device now has a clock, and I don't remember the last time I had to search around just to find out what time it was.

Rendering clocks, unnecessary.

I was watching my brother shread cheese today as well, and something about that made it seem incredibly old fashioned. Cheese is preshreaded now. We but it in bags, not blocks... well, unless you enjoy slaving away in the kitchen. I almost rendered blocks of cheese unnecessary, then I thought of my favored encheladas and marked that off my list of "Too Old". Shreaders/graters could be made invalid though, as we have all those nifty electronic gadgets to shread and gunk for us. So I added them to the list.

I had a laugh about those old dial-phones earlier with a friend of mine. Here's my post from Facebook - "Oh no, don't start on the old phones! I look at my shiny, touchscreen phone now and can't even begin to comtemplate how slow texting would be on one of them dial things!" Who, in the 1930s, would have thought there would be a such thing as a "Smartphone"?

How about the days when a TV was a TV, no HD (High Definition) or SD (Standard Definition) labling? SD TVs - and the SD movies that rode in with them are on the "Too Old" list.

Cameras that have film in them - like the kind my grandmother still uses (how amazed she must have been when she found out it was a waterproof camera!) - has also been added to my list. We use digital cameras now...

What's next? I'm quite eager to get rid of snail mail. The world isn't quite ready for that yet, but we recieve all our letters from family and friends, our bills, everything really, via email - for free nonetheless. I'll be happy to get rid of this form of communication from the castle ages. Get rid of the USPS blue boxes on the street corners. It's weird.

No books in print. This does bring a touch of sadness to me. But this is something that definitely will happen, and is fast approaching. It is in the interest to the environment - and saves on the bookshelf space issues as well. eReaders are here, and they're not leaving, the creation from B.C. is - print books.

What is ready to go now?
What can't you wait to see go extinct in the future?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Beat the Heat with a Baseball Bat

Growing up in Arizona, if there's one thing I know, it's how cruel and unusual the desert can be. Right now, the summer is getting into full swing - and not just in the southwest.

So, pretty much everyone I talk to claims that the humidity kills 'back east' and is nothing compared to AZ's heat - even my father who was born and raised back there. And yes, admittedly, we are lucky 80% of the year with horribly dry weather, which makes frying more of a possibility than melting. BUT! With monsoon season approaching in little over a week, I do feel the need to clear up that it isn't this way for the other 20% of the year. I'm talking about an average of 109 degree temperatures plus enough humidity to melt a turtle.

I did some research a few hours ago, and did find that the average humidity percentage for Arizona is 56% - that's the average for the whole year. So, it isn't quite 70% humidity or even 60% as I previously guessed, but it's probably more than most people would think.

But let's combine those infamous 112 degree temperatures with that 56% humidity.

Now how about that 'back east' weather? Their average temperature in summer is 80 degrees. Their average humidity percentage is 80%.
So, by looking at the statistics, both pretty much average out to being equally horrid and filled with a bunch of ick. The difference is 30 degrees more or 30% more humidity.

Now, the question is which is worse? What you can handle?
The heat or the humidity?

*Note: My vote is to move to Alaska during summer seasons... btw... so I'm like... Switzerland.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Do You Use Morals?

Do You Use Morals?
By Stephen Tremp

Do you use morals, ethics, and social matters in your stories that manifest in a lesson learned at the conclusion?

This is a topic I love to discuss. As a writer, I think it is vital to weave into the plot concepts of morals and ethics that challenge the characters to do things they normally would not do. They will need to somehow find a way to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. The result will be some kind of lesson learned. Many great authors and poets do this, some to a larger degree than others. Often (not always, example is the movie Se7en) we witness good triumphing over evil. However, a suspense thriller or a fantasy adventure should incorporate more than merely a battle of good vs. evil, where good ultimately triumphs in the end. Yawn.

There are a plethora of issues a writer can use, such as economic, ethical, human, legal, moral, religious, rights, and social matters that can question the core values of your character(s). These can be fantastic opportunities to introduce conflict, and conflict is necessary to drive the plot forward.

Question: as we address one or more of these matters, do we subtly incorporate some kind of lesson or question our present value system? And if so, what happens when we approach the end of our story? Do you tend to forget about your threaded morals and ethics, or are there consequences to your characters’ actions? Think back on what they did, conspired, and manipulated. What did they sow? Will they reap the whirlwind? If not, then you may be making your ending anti-climatic. It could be boring. Predictable (the worse scenario). Nothing special.

I note everything my bad guys think, say, and do. Ultimately, they will have to pay for their sins. They will need to be held accountable for their actions, either in this life or the next (think the ending of the movie Ghost where the bad guys are killed and their souls drug off to hell by dark evil spirits). So think about what you weave into your writings. Will they manifest at the end of your story in the form of judgment? If not, then what good is introducing morals and ethics in the first place?

Question: Do you use morals and ethics to achieve a lesson learned? Do you think about the consequences for your characters actions at the conclusion? Do you mete out justice and judgment, such as a guilty verdict in a court of law, the bad guy being killed by a cop, or the antagonist ending up dead and ultimately in a place of eternal torment?

Or do you feel lessons learned are too preachy and the lines of ethics and morals are too blurred to come to definitive conclusions? Or perhaps life’s not fair, so why try to tie a nice pretty red ribbon around the ending.

Stephen Tremp is author of the action thriller Breakthrough. You can visit Stephen at Breakthrough Blogs.

Friday, June 17, 2011

To-Do List Apps for the Busy Party Person

So, when I updated my iPod Touch, many of my apps went missing. The two main apps I used - Songbook and iProcrastinate - disappeared and it was quite tragic. Just ask my Twitter followers. They were there through my turmoiled tweets (is turmoiled a word?), they know.

Anyways, thankfully, I had recorded most of my songs in Songbook or had written them down before I thought it was a brilliant idea to put them all in an app without backing them up. But, I would have gone absolutely insane without my precious to-do list app. Turns out, the creator of iProcrastinate got too busy to update it. *sigh*

So, I had to go searching for a new app to keep track of my ever-changing tasks. I'm not too picky when it comes to apps, but I needed something to get the job done.

What was I looking for? First, it had to have scheduling capabilities (AKA that feature where you know when your tasks have to be finished by).

Second, it had to have "Badging" capabilities, which was quite important so I can see how many tasks I have to see how busy I am and exactly how much more I can take on without having a breakdown. *Bigsmile*

Finally, I wanted an app that screams at me when something is overdue (Which I didn't realize was a requirement until quite recently). Not literally screaming at me, but I wanted something that would turn red and be all exclamation-point-like when a task was overdue - or at least something similar.

So, where did I start? Like all info I need - I started on Bing (which is losing it's high status in my book due to their "pop-up-crazy-user-reward-ad-things" that keep popping up everytime I try to search something). I searched for the most popular to-do list apps and found that the most popular free to-do list app was DoBot ToDos.

The name, DoBot ToDos sounded epic. At first glance, I could see it's simplicity - easy on the eyes, plain, and very iPod-like. There was the feature of adding several lists, which was fine (often this feature gets in my way, since I only need one list). Inside the lists, there were sorting options and view options, but no other options, which bugged me a bit. It had the swipe-to-delete feature that I loved for quick deletion as well as a check-mark-for-completion thing that I never bothered figuring out to use.

This app said "Overdue" when tasks were past due, but it kept the blue text color for the dates no matter what. Which was okay. I may have been able to live with it... BUT! Then I realized... no badging. Which also would have been fine if it told me how many tasks I had on the inside of the app... which it didn't. So this app was marked off my list. Very nice - but not right for me.
I rated it 3.5 stars.

Next, I took a look at To Do. At first glance, the app had a "watered down, washed out" feel to it with it's light gray app color against white. Then, going inside the app, I was even more disappointed to find the same "washed out" tone throughout the entire thing with dark-gray task bars and light gray dates against an even lighter gray background. To say the least, it was painful on my eyes and didn't make for an easy-to-glance at to-do list. I really had a hard time seeing the dates. But, it had the basic features - scheduling and even badging.

I was preparing for my one week vacation, so I decided this app would be good enough until I returned. I inputted all of my tasks into this app, but I hadn't realized how crucial a good to-do list app was when vacations were involved. I scheduled everything around vacation and came back from my vacation to a big mess. I knew I had 11 tasks, I just didn't realize 7 of them were overdue! Turns out, this app has absoultely nothing that says when a task is overdue. It just had the date on it... date and time, which is a nice feature, but not good enough at all.

It has different colors for different priorities, which I appreciated, and even notes capabilities. But that definitely didn't make the cut for me. Not only was it ugly visually, it harmed my schedule - I just thank God my tasks were flexible. I couldn't use this task manager unless I checked it carefully everyday - wasting time rather than saving it.

I gave this one 2.0 stars
(Yes, part of it was from a vendetta I have against it for harming my schedule).

Recently, I took the search to iTunes for myself, tired of searching for suggestions. I was hoping for a free app (like iProcrastinate), but I was willing to pay a few dollars (NOT TEN! I don't care how fancy your app is. I'd rather visit Taco Bell with my family). Right away, I found a few nice apps.

I downloaded SeizeTheDay - a very nice little app that was instantly appealing to my eyes, gifted with both simplicity and style. I had a fondness for the organization system even though it was a bit more than I actually needed. There were plenty of settings, and I liked that. There was even a search feature - another bonus. From the homepage, you could easily add a task without having to navigate to the list you wanted to put it on. It had focuses for the tasks you wanted to do today, the upcoming tasks, and even a folder for those you don't want to put a due date on. At the same time, there was an option to view all of these tasks in one easy folder.

It did have badging. There was also a calendar view of the tasks - which was a neat feature that was neat even though I'd probably never use it. There was a reminder option (optional) - which I never had, but it sounded amusing. For each task you add, there was a set of advanced options, which including adding a note as well as tags. It gathered the tasks that were due on that day - and overdue ones in the "Today" folder. Which was nice, but it still didn't actually say that the task was past due. Which made me put this one down almost right away.

I gave it 3.5 stars.

Then I came across this fine little app titled Errands. I think I was in love with it before it even downloaded, and I knew that was what I'd been looking for. Sure enough, it had badging - but not just badging, it had badging options! Who would have known? When I exit the app, it leads me back to the same screen I was at when I left. There are several folder/screens, All Tasks, Focus, Unassigned, Work, Home, and Errands. All of my tasks are unassigned as I said before, I don't need folders - just all of them to be gathered in one place. The only thing that would have made this app better would be the option to add or delete these extra folders, or to rename them. 

Anyways, it was quite userfriendly and easy to use. It had a bunch of extra features, but what I liked most about it is how flexible the app it. It had the features I needed and extra features I probably wouldn't use - but everything had options. 

There are quite a few different view options: a condensed view, and a calendar view. You can add pictures to your tasks, you can add scheduling, alarms, due dates as well as due times. You can add notes. There are a variety of ways to delete or "mark-as-complete" your tasks, by touching a blue check box, by swiping and deleting, or by touching the "edit" button at the bottom of the screen.

This app had features that most paid apps had - I'm talking about the expensive $10 apps that I refused to look at after I saw the price. Still, the "Past due" didn't jump out at me like I was hoping. Didn't change color, but it did get astricks before and after the date when it does get overdue. But with all of the alerts and the features, I'll have it alert me before it does get past due. All ready it's helping me catch up.

OH! And! Another feature, which I loved was being able to schedule reoccuring tasks - which I do have.

What really won me over was the ability to customize not only the color of the text, but the font type too!  

So, this is a very flexible app. So flexible that I would say it would suit your needs whatever they are. If you're a busy person, this app probably has the features you need - and the option to veto or completely ignore features you don't.

I'm giving this one 4.5 stars.
Almost perfect, but could use a few tweaks. Way better than DoBot ToDos.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Touch of This, a Sprinkle of That...

... Has gone into the creation of The Old Man Anthology, which will be realeased in only a few weeks.

For those of you living in a social hole, the Old Man Anthology is a creation for Father's Day inspired by the Mother's Day anthology, For You, From Me. It is - quite frankly - what it says it is: an anthology for your old man. A creation to hold the attention of your old man on Father's Day.

So, the book cover is in place. Me and my editor are going over the entries a final time, and after that, I'll be formatting the book and it will be ready to go. So, the release date set is May 25th. Watch my blog for future updates!

Want to reserve your copy signed by H.C.Paye? Contact with 'Reserve' in the subject line.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Author, Reviewer, Superhero in Disguise - Mayra Calvani

Today, on my blog, I'm posting to announce that it is officially Mayra Calvani day. So, I'll spare you my babbling, and just say - I have a bunch of goodies from her today for your reading pleasure... (okay, I lied, I am going to babble) See, Mayra Calvani is a superhero in disguise, she has something no other author has. She has...

The Ten Commandments of Book Reviewing

By Mayra Calvani

1. Thou shall have no other gods before the reader.

The review is not about the author, nor the publisher, and especially, not about you, the reviewer. Reviews are all about the reader. Don’t try to impress with pompous words in an attempt to glorify yourself or appear scholarly. Give readers simplicity and clarity. They’ll appreciate it. If they want verbose and fancy, they can read Shakespeare.
2. Thou shall not lie.

Honesty is what defines your trade. Without it, you’re nothing but sell copy. When you give facile praise or sugar-coat a book, sooner or later readers will take you for what you are: a phony. Furthermore, if you give facile praise to a poorly written book, you are perpetuating a bad writer's career, lowering the chances that a good writer may be published instead.

3. Thou shall not offend the author.

Just as honesty is important, so is tact. There’s no need to be harsh or mean. A tactfully written, well-meant negative review should offer the author insight into what is wrong with the book. Instead of saying, “This is a terrible novel!” say, “This book didn’t work for me for the following reasons…”

4. Thou shall not eat the evaluation.

Some fledgling reviewers write a long blurb of the book and leave out the evaluation. The evaluation is the most important part of a review. A summary of the plot is not an evaluation. Saying, “I really liked this book” is not an evaluation. The evaluation tells the reader what is good and bad about the book, and whether or not it is worth buying.

5. Thou shall not reveal spoilers.

Nobody likes to be told the ending of a movie before having watched it. The same thing is valid for a book. If you give spoilers in your review, not only do you lessen the reader’s reading experience but you also risk being sued by the publisher or author.

6. Thou shall honor grammar, syntax and punctuation.

Don’t be one of those reviewers who are more in love with the idea of seeing their name online than making sure their reviews are well written and thorough. Your reviews may hang around on the internet for years to come and will reflect on your level as a writer. Run a spell check, edit, revise and polish your review as if you were posting a short story. Get a good book on grammar and punctuation, take an online course or listen regularly to podcasts such as The Grammar Girl (

7. Thou shall honor deadlines.

If you join a review site where the turnaround for reviews is 3 weeks, then you should respect that agreement. If you promise the author to have the review ready in two months, you should honor this too. Be honest and straight forward from the beginning. If you’re so busy your turnaround is six months, make sure to let the person know. If for any reasons you cannot meet the deadline, contact the person and let him know. It’s your responsibility to maintain a doable schedule.

8. Thou shall not be prejudiced against thy neighbor.

Don't assume that a self-published or small press book is poorly written. Give it a fair chance and let it speak for itself. Likewise, never assume a book published by a major NY house has to be good. You'd be surprised by the high quality of some small press books by unknown authors as opposed to those written by big name authors whose titles are often in the bestseller lists. In general, most subsidy books are mediocre, but there are always exceptions. If you've had bad experiences with subsidy books, then don't request them nor accept them for review. If you decide to review one, though, don't be biased and give it a fair chance.

9. Thou shall not become an RC addict

RC stands for Review Copy. Requesting RCs can get out of control. In fact, it can become addictive. You should be realistic about how many books you can review. If you don’t, pretty soon you’ll be drowning in more RCs that you can handle. When this happens, reading and reviewing can change from a fun, pleasurable experience into a stressful one. If you’re feeling frazzled because you have a tower of books waiting to be reviewed, learn to say NO when someone approaches you for a review and stop requesting RCs for a while. Unless you’re being paid as a staff reviewer for a newspaper or magazine, reviewing shouldn’t get in the way of your daily life.

10. Thou shall not steal.

Remember that the books you request are being sent to you in exchange for a review. Requesting review copies and not writing the reviews is, in one word: stealing. You'd be surprised at the number of 'reviewers' who, after having requested several books, suddenly 'disappear.' These people are not legitimate; they're crooks, plain and simple. If you have a valid reason for not reviewing a book, let the review site editor, author, publisher or publicist know.

The same goes for piracy. Do not risk being fined for posting a full ebook you have received on any site whether for free downloads or resale. This is theft and the law is quite specific. When you receive an ebook it is meant to give you the right to read it only, but it does not imply that you have the right to rob the author of future sales by your actions. This labels you as a thief. Using electronic transmission is only another way to send a book, like getting one in the mail which would not give you the right to reprint it for sale or distribution.

Integrity is part of the code of honor of a legitimate reviewer.

© Copyright 2011 Mayra Calvani.

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. Her nonfiction work, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing was a ForeWord Best Book of the Year Award winner. She’s had over 300 stories, articles, interviews and reviews published. She reviews for and is co-editor of Voice in the Dark Ezine. She also offers book reviewing workshops online. Visit her website at For her children’s books, visit You can find Voice in the Dark at

See? Told you she's a superhero. This article proves it. Now, I've read her book The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing and I'm proud to post my review - which, I must admit, I was a little nervous to write since if I didn't get it right I would be in big trouble since I just finished reading a book that shows you exactly how to write a professional review. Anyways, here it is:

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing

By Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards
Twilight Times Books
ISBN: 1-933353-22-8
Copyright 2008
Paperback, 190 Pages, $16.95

Do you lack reviewing skills, but love to let others know what you think? Are you a seasoned reviewer, but would like a quick refresher and trusty reference? Inside, you’ll find how to write a review for many different kinds of books and articles, how to start your own review website, how to avoid over-criticizing or sugarcoating your reviews, and everything in between.
“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be the number one reviewer on Amazon, for instance,” Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards writes, “But if your reviews become ‘generic’ and begin to sound the same, then maybe you should pause and consider the following: what is more important—quantity or quality?”
The authors clearly show you what to avoid and what to aim for with actual examples of what the reviews should look like. There are plenty of explanations to keep you out of the dark, and even shows you the difference between reviews, press releases, book reports, and critiques. Everything on the subject is simplified and well-explained in this 190 page book. Great for those who are entirely new to “professional” reviewing. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by H.C.Paye

And there you have it. So, since it's Mayra Calvani day, go to her website - - and find out a little more about her. See what she's done... what she's created... whom she's saved.

*shuts down computer*

I've done research. I'm telling you, she's a superhero.

*walks out of room*

You know I'm right.

*flicks off light*

Monday, February 21, 2011

A New Book Cover

I got busy and got a new book cover out today! This one is for the anthology I'm putting together for this upcoming Father's Day titled Old Man Anthology. I'll be accepting entries until March 31st at 11:59PM MST. If you're interested in getting your story/ies in the anthology, head on over to the website and click "details" it'll tell you all you need to know!

Here's the cover:

Want me to do a cover for you? I charge wonderfully low rates -

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Are You a Mother Hen?

     Today, I have some great reading material for those aspiring writers, coming straight from the wonderful VS Grenier. She has an important lesson to get across - and it's quick, so listen hard and listen good.

Heather: VS, take it away!

VS: Today I went for a mile walk around my neighborhood with my son and dog, Taz. We were doing well until Taz decided he could not walk anymore and started chewing at his leash. At first I did what any dog owner would do . . . I chocked up the leash and started encouraging Taz to keep walking. At about the half way point, Taz sat down and refused to take another step. Now, I could have done what most don trainers tell you to do . . . pull the dog along and make him walk. But I didn’t. I went right into mother hen mood. I picked up my dog and began to carry him the remaining half mile to our house.
After I got home, I sat down at my computer and posted about our walk on Facebook. Then I turned to my WIPs. The ones I have been working on for a little over a year now. Then it hit me. I am treating my WIPs like my dog!
Okay, so you are wondering how in the world are my WIPs like my dog. Well, they both give me comfort, but that’s not what I’m talking about. No, what I am talking about is how once my WIPs get too tired, unsure of themselves, or lose their way, I pick them up and carry them around in my mind. I make up excuses as to why they are not ready to be sent out. Just like the excuse, I gave on Facebook about my dog needing to lay off the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
What I realized today is I am afraid to let my WIPs go. I am afraid their not ready for an editor, publisher, or agent’s eyes to look them over. Does it mean my WIPs are not ready to be sent out? Maybe, but most likely not. In truth, many writers do this. They work on a manuscript trying to perfect it. Trying to make it the best manuscript ever written, but the fact is . . . you will never see that day! Why?
Because all manuscripts will be a WIP until they are published. This means they will go through many more revisions, edits, and rewrites before a publisher will put them on the printing press. It means once you’ve had your manuscript critiqued, proofread, revised, critiqued again, revised some more . . . you need to find the right time to send it out into the world. To let your baby fly with its own wings. You may get some rejections and some may even be helpful to help you prefect your WIP a bit more. But if you do not set your manuscript down and let it walk on its own feet, it will never be strong enough to walk the whole mile to publication.
So stop being a mother hen. Let your manuscripts leave your arms and take flight! Or in the case of my dog, Taz . . . walk.

Want to learn more about VS Grenier? This is her second visit to my blog (you can't keep the good stuff away for long) so you can check out my previous posts on her, or you can visit her blog The Writing Mama.

Contine your writing discoveries with

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

J.M.Levi is Doing Great Things

J.M. and I got busy with the creation of her very first book trailer (first one I've created. More power to the author if she trusts me with such valuable things) for her very first novel MoonZeLent.

MoonZeLent is scheduled to hit stores this summer. It is a vampire novel with a classic feel. I really haven't read anything like it before that puts the perspective on a person who is entirely new to the whole vampirism scheme, but he finds himself becoming one.

Now, take a look at the trailer!

Find out more about MoonZeLent by clicking here.

For all ye newbies, you can find out more about me here and here. Just drop me an email if you want me to make you a trailer.