Thursday, February 28, 2013

Quote of the Day

Life's not about waiting for the storm to pass...It's about learning to dance in the rain!
~ Vivian Greene

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Happy News Announcement

Today, I wanted to share with you all a happy announcement. My husband and I have closed on our first house last Friday! We are very excited and looking forward to moving in a few weeks, once all the minor renovations are completed.

Things I'm looking to the most when living in the new house:

1. Peace and quiet when coming home after work. Although I'll still be going to the Dojo a few nights a week to teach and train, the nights that I will be going straight home will be super special.

2. A writing nook. I'm really looking forward to making a writing space for myself, although I'm sure I'll end up writing all over the house, including the living room couch and outside on the deck when it gets warmer.

3. Hosting parties and having friends over for dinner, coffee, girls' nights and anything in between. It's been a long while since we could do that. I'm looking forward to cooking for our family and friends and enjoying their company.

4. While the commute to work is going to be a little bit longer for me, it should be a much more pleasant commute, and I'll always get a seat - which means more reading time!

5. In the immediate future, I'm looking forward to picking out paint colors and deciding on furniture and decorations for all the rooms. And that in itself is a fun little adventure! :)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Contests & Giveaways in the Writing World - Week of Feb. 25th

Happy Monday and here are some great Contests and Giveaways in the Writing World to make your week  

All Things Urban Fantasy is doing a Mega Giveaway of Ten copies of BETWEEN by Kerry Schafer. It ends in 5 days, so hurry over there now!

Today on Brenda Drake's blog, author Shannon Duffy is a guest, critiquing love scenes (one of a series of such posts). She's also giving away 3 e-book copies of her book Gabriel Stone And The Divinity of Valta (MG).

Writer's Alley is running a great giveaway that includes a $20 Amazon GC, as well as Ciara knight's books in teh Neumarian Chronicles.

Candace's Book Blog & CBB Book Promotions is hosting a stop-over on the blog tour of Lynda Hilburn. Part of the guest post is a giveaway of Lynda's book, Blood Therapy. The giveaway runs from February 21st to March 6th.

For a chance to win a $20 Amazon GC, enter the Giveaway on Aobibliosphere and also get your free copy of Reinventing Claire by Darian Wilk (free this week only!)

Enter to win a copy of Weather Witch by Shannon Delany on Goodreads (only 3 days to go) or on Live To Read Blog (ends in 17 days)!

*As always, please contact me for the inclusion of your contests/giveaways into the Monday Contests and Giveaways in the Writing World posts.

Have fun and good luck! 

Also, don't forget to become a follower of this blog to make sure you catch giveaways coming soon!

Quote of the Day

Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894);

Friday, February 22, 2013

Quote of the Day

Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.
~ Swami Sivananda

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Quote of the Day

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
  ~ Lao Tzu

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Dragon Empire Blog Tour

Today we're celebrating the release of Heather McCorkle's fantasy novel, The Dragon Empire! For today's stop Heather is answering the following question:

What was the hardest part about writing this novel?

Heather: The main character has been bullied his entire life and lives in constant fear of beatings that are getting so bad, they may one day kill him. At twenty years old, that's a long time to put up with such abuse and it has severely damaged his self-esteem and confidence. Writing that was hard, and heartbreaking in many ways.

Here is a bit about it:

On Yacrana dragons are the advanced species. But advanced doesn't always mean civilized...

There's trouble in the Dragon Empire, the kind that could start a war between dragons and the races of people. Hidden factions of dragons believe they should rule the lesser races, not simply stand aside and allow them to develop as they will. Having lived so long in peace, the Emperors turn a blind eye, many oblivious that such attitudes even exist.

Despite being only an architect class, emerald dragon, Grendar is willing to risk banishment and death to stop that which his rulers refuse to see. The hope of peace lies not within the scaled breast of a dragon however, but within the hands of a group of people. But if the hidden factions have their way, these people won’t live to fulfill such a destiny. With a reluctant seer at his side, Grendar must leave his precious Empire for the outside world to save those that will one day save his kind.

While The Dragon Empire is for ages young adult and up, it does contain mild violence and some difficult subject matter. 

 Heather is an author of fantasy, in all its many sub-genres. Helping other writers and supporting fabulous authors is one of her many passions. When she's not writing or surfing her social networking sites, she can be found on the slopes, the hiking trails, or on horseback. As a native Oregonian, she enjoy the outdoors almost as much as the worlds she creates on the pages. No need to travel to the Great Northwest though, you can find her on her personal blog four days a week, on the IS Foundation's Environment page once a month, and Monday night's on Twitter where she co-moderates the #WritersRoad chat.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Quote of the Day

(Credit: Yelena Casale)

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.
~ Albert Einstein

Monday, February 18, 2013

Quote of the Day

We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.
― Carlos Castaneda

Friday, February 15, 2013

Quote of the Day

A warrior does not give up what he loves, he finds the love in what he does.
― Dan Millman,
Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Facts, Customs and Superstitions

Today, Valentine's Day is celebrated all over the world, although it remains the most popular in US and Great Britain. While much of this holiday in our times is extremely commercialized, it is still a beautiful day for expressing love. Although many (myself included) believe that love should be expressed every day. But I've always been interested in the origins and customs of various holidays, and Valentine's Day holds special appeal to me as a romance writer.
The origins of Valentine's Day are not very clear. According to Christian tradition, it is a day named after a saint who lived during Roman times. The legend says that when the Roman Emperor Claudius realized that men didn't not want to be drafted into his armies, but wanted to say with their wives and families instead, he got mad and decided to outlaw marriage. Couples in love were desperate to get married and a priest named Valentine was the only one who went against the decree and performed wedding ceremonies in secret. Eventually Claudius found out and ordered the priest arrested and executed. The execution took place on February 14th, which was also coincided with the Roman festival of love.

Here is where the traditions mix and,  most probably, the origins of the holiday go much further back to the times of pagan Rome. Certainly, many of the customs and superstitions seem to be steeped in ancient times, though many other ones developed over centuries.

Here are the most popular customs, traditions and superstitions of Valentine's Day.

  •  During the Middle Ages, people believed that birds found their mates on February 14th.
  • During the Middle Ages, people believed that birds found their mates on February 14th.
  • According to English tradition, the first man an unmarried woman saw on 14th February would become her husband; 
  • If the names of all a girl's suitors were written on paper and wrapped in clay and the clay put into water, the piece that rose to the surface first would contain the name of her husband-to-be.
  • If a woman saw a robin flying overhead on Valentine’s Day, it meant she would marry a sailor. If she saw a sparrow, she would marry a poor man and be very happy. If she saw a goldfinch, she would marry a rich person.
  • In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week.
  • In Wales wooden love spoons were carved and given as gifts on February 14th. Hearts, keys and keyholes were favorite decorations on the spoons. The decoration meant, "You unlock my heart!"
  • In Denmark, people send pressed white flowers called snowdrops to their friends.  The men also send valentines called a gaekkebrev, which means a joking or fun letter.  Instead of signing his name, the sender uses dots for each letter in his name.   In Great Britain, some people also send valentines signed with dots.
  •  If you find a glove on the road on Valentine's Day, your future beloved will have the other missing glove.
  •  If you see a flock of doves on Valentine's Day, you will have a happy, peaceful marriage.
    It was thought that birds chose their mate for the year on February 14. Doves mate for life and therefore have become a symbol of loyalty and love.
  • Red roses symbolize love and passion.  12 red roses are traditionally the ultimate declaration of love.
  • In Medieval times, those who could not write were allowed to sign documents with an "X". The signer placed a kiss upon the "X" to show sincerity.  And so X came to represent a kiss.  

Are there any other customs and superstitions you know about Valentine's Day? Do you find these interesting? Do you have any personal Valentine's Day customs?


Quote of the Day

If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

― Stephen King

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Quote of the Day

Whenever a warrior decides to do something, he must go all the way, but he must take responsibility for what he does. No matter what he does, he must know first why he is doing it, and then he must proceed with his actions without having doubts or remorse about them.

- Carlos Castaneda

Feeding the Muse! - Guest post by Melinda Collins

Today, I have the pleasure of having the lovely author Melinda Collins on my blog, talking about helping the muse through music. Music is a huge part of my every-day life and inspires me in many ways, so it's a topic that's very close to my heart. My playlist is very eclectic, and includes everything from Depeche Mode and Enigma to Muse and Metallica and everything in between.

Melinda, take it away!

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Yelena! And for allowing me to indulge a bit in one of my all-time favorite topics: 
Music, music, music! 

Music is a universal language that can bring a person, a small gathering of people, or a large country to its knees with emotional truth. It’s also a universal language that can bring all of us together with a singular and common goal. 

As most of us know, music enhances the very fabric of our writing. If we’re writing a scene where the hero decides to finally grow a pair and stick it to the bad guy, then we may decide to write that scene while listening to Godsmack in the background. If we’re writing a scene where the hero and heroine *finally* give in to the attraction they’ve been teasing us with for a hundred pages, then we may decide to write their love scene while listening to Sex for Breakfast  by Christina Aguilera. 

See? Music is a universal language! Music can express love, heartache, physical pain, anger, misery, depression, happiness, and so on, and so on, and so on. So today I wanted to share with everyone some tunes that you can turn the dial up on when you need to dive into those hard-to-write emotional scenes.
I personally have to create to music with lyrics because it’s the lyrics and the emotions behind the voice that drive my creative side. However, when I’m editing, I absolutely cannot have a singer in the background. The only reason I can think of as to why is because when I’m editing, I feel as though I’ve already got arguments happening in my head, sometimes two at a time, and adding just one additional voice seems to distract me. *le sigh* I know, you’d think it was the opposite. 

With that being said, I’ve put together some small playlists for a select set of emotions. :)  This was easier said than done! When I discovered I was having a difficult time narrowing down these playlists for this post, I wanted to know why. The answer? Well, let’s just say that I *might* have over 8,000 songs in my inventory. *Might* 

Okay, who am I kidding. I have exactly 8,726 songs stored in my external hard drive. And you’ll never believe it, but being a writer allows me to utilize every single song!  *bounces happily in seat* THIS is why I believe music to be the breath of creativity for just about every writer out there. 

So without further ado, I give you my ‘mini playlists’ for scenes surrounding sadness/defeat/heartbreak, confidence/determination, anger/hatred, and … love/smexiness. AND! As a bonus, I’ve also suggested some amazing movie soundtracks/scores that are perfect for editing (and for creating, whichever floats your muse’s boat *grin*). 

For Scenes Drenched in Sadness, Heartbreak and/or Defeat:

Hello by Evanescence

Nobody Knows by Pink

Broken by Lifehouse

Haunted by Kelly Clarkson

Who Wants to Live Forever by Queen (Breaking Benjamin has a great cover of this song also)

Love/Hate Heartbreak by Halestorm

We Are Broken by Paramore

Into the Light by In This Moment

For Scenes Painted with Ass-Kicking Confidence and/or Determination:
Until the End by Breaking Benjamin

Uprising by Muse

Now by Paramore

Thunder Kiss ’65 by White Zombie

I Will Not Bow by Breaking Benjamin

Night of the Hunter by 30 Seconds to Mars

Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes

For Scenes Blinded with the Redness of Anger and Hatred:

Enemies by Shinedown

Alone and Waking the Demon by Bullet For My Valentine

Points of Authority by Linkin Park

Lights Out by Breaking Benjamin

Seek & Destroy by Metallica

For Falling in Love and/or those Steamy, Smexy Scenes: 

Madness by Muse

Break In and Private Parts by Halestorm

Kiwi and Secret by Maroon 5

Desire by Ryan Adams (video link is for a fan cover that I love)

Everything by Lifehouse

Aim, Snap, Fall by The Spill Canvas

Bound to You by Christina Aguilera

BONUS Playlist: AMAZING Movie Soundtracks/Scores: 

Total Recall, The Blade Trilogy, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter (personally, movies 5-8 have the best soundtrack), August Rush, Casino Royale and Skyfall (No, Quantum of Solace did not make the cut), The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, The Dark Knight Rises, Game of Thrones (TV Show), The Hunger Games, Pearl Harbor, Van Helsing, and Salt.

Your Turn: Do you listen to music while writing and editing? What type of music inspires your muse? Are there any favorite artists you’d like to share?

Happy Listening and Happy Creating! :)



  Melinda Collins lives in North Carolina with her freakishly tall husband – AKA: Lurch – two black cats, and drunken muse. Growing up in the south with an imaginary friend meant Melinda relied on herself for entertainment. Thus, the bug for making up stories – ones that don’t get her into trouble – bit her in the ass in the gnarliest way. She grew to love the paranormal and fantasy worlds while her muse grew to love Grey Goose vodka (she loves him regardless). When not writing or stuck in a corner listening to a never-ending, story-driven playlist, Melinda can usually usually be found on
Facebook and Twitter. You can also visit her blog.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Quote of the Day


  ~ Aristotle

Contets & Giveaways in the Writing World - Week of February 11th

To help you feel a little happier on this rainy (at least where I am ;D) Monday, here are a few contests and giveaways!

Jessabella Reads is giving away a Book of Choice under $20 as part of the Romance Is In the Air Blog Hop Giveaway

Writer's Alley is giving away Flutter of Luv by LM Preston - 1st book in the Luv series as well as a $20 GC from Amazon!

Lit Reactor  is hosting a sci-fi writing challenge, TELEPORT US. Sounds very intriguing! While the prize haven't been announced just yet, there's something for both writers and readers:
If you're a writer, you have a month (until February 28th) to submit your story following the prompts we handed out in the beginning of January (which is right here, in case you missed it).
If you're a reader, you can read and rate stories that have been submitted. There's a bunch already waiting for you.

Artist Syd Gill is doing a Facebook Giveaway. For your chance to win a $50 Gift Card towards graphic design services, like this Facebook Page!

*As always, please contact me for the inclusion of your contests/giveaways into the Monday Contests and Giveaways in the Writing World posts.

Have fun and good luck! 

Also, don't forget to become a follower of this blog to make sure you catch giveaways coming soon!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Quote of the Day

You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.

~ Henry David Thoreau

Friday, February 8, 2013

Quote of the Day

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. 

  ~ Rita Mae Brown,
Alma Mater

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Quote of the Day

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Book Review - Shadow On The Crown

 I have just finished reading Shadow On The Crown by Patricia Bracewell, courtesy of NetGalley.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this historical fiction, the first in the trilogy of novels about Emma of Normandy. It is well written and engaged me from the first page to the last. It is often hard to keep a balance in historical fiction between providing hard and cold facts of history and making the story flow. Patricia Bracewell seems to have found a good balance. There were many interesting details of life of the time, including life in court, but not so much as to overburden the reader. The details were well placed and did not overload me as some of the other historical fiction novels do (where I want to skip pages at a time). There was quiet a lot of action that kept the story moving along and a nice pace throughout. Most of the characters were well developed and interesting. I like to read about women who are able to shape their destinies and are strong characters, even in times when they were not allowed to be so. Emma certainly seems to be such a character, at least she's growing into being one.

The novel is written from four points of view: Emma herself, her husband, king Æthelred, his oldest son, Æthelstan, and the scheming daughter of a powerful nobleman, Elgiva. The one major flaw that I found with the story is that Elgiva's point of view seemed unnecessary. Her story didn't lead anywhere and didn't really add to the plot. It seemed almost completely separated from the rest in many ways. Since this is a trilogy, however, it is possible that it will have more meaning in the rest of the books and there will be sense to where her story is leading.

I would definitely recommend this novel to any historical fiction enthusiast.

Shadow on the Crown is coming out on February 7th. A special thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read it ahead of time!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Quote of the Day

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
~ William Arthur Ward

Teaser Tuesday

Here are the rules:

1. Post 2 sentences from the current book you're reading. You can either

a) open the book and share 2 sentences from anywhere on that page or
b) share your favorite 2-3 sentences from the book (they have to be in a row)

2. List the page #


3. List the name of the book and the author

"But why would a nonhuman want to strangle a human with wire? Hell, most nonhumans could achieve the same result one handed. 
Unless, of course, our killer didn't only want death, but pain as well.
Which would certainly account for the bitter taste of vengeance in the air."

p. 9 (Nook edition)

by Keri Arthur

Share your teasers in the comments or give a link to your blog if you're running a Teaser Tuesday

Monday, February 4, 2013

Quote of the Day

I’m not looking for absolution, forgiveness for the things I do, but before you come to any conclusions – try walking in my shoes.
~ Depeche Mode, Walking In My Shoes

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Art & History Feature - Images of Spaces/Cosmos

Images of space always fascinated me, way before I met my space obsessed and Star Trek (the original) fan husband. Something about the images of cosmos touches us on a very primal and mystical level. Below are a few of my favorite photos and art images of this last frontier that I hope you'll enjoy.

Horse Head Nebula

Ryan Bliss, image courtesy of Digital Blasphemy

Do you enjoy looking at images of space? What attracts you to them?
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