Rivers and Oceans

This weekend, my roommate and I headed to Santa Cruz to soak up the ocean air and put our toes in the sand. The beach was my favorite place to think about the things that I’m grateful for in my life. When we arrived, we went straight down to the beach and bypassed all the activities on the Boardwalk. We kicked off our shoes, plopped down in the sand, and stared out over the small waves that broke a few feet away. The day was overcast and the breeze was brisk, but it was perfect. I didn’t realize how much I missed living close to the ocean until that moment.

We sat in comfortable silence, enjoying the moment together as friends, and watched the sea life play in the ocean. About fifty feet from the breaking waves, seals and sea lions dove for fish, dolphins jumped out of the water, and seagulls dive bombed anything swimming beneath the surface. See why I write about the Peninsula? It was the ideal atmosphere to reflect on the mistakes I’ve made, what I’ve accomplished over the last few years, and the plans for the future.

One thing I realized was that I feel the most at peace when I’m by the water. The ocean was once my favorite, but there was a time when the forests and rivers were my sanctuary. It was a time long before I lived on the Monterey Peninsula, but it had such a strong impact on my life that it will always be a part of me. Thankfully, I’ve moved to a place similar to my upbringing, where several rivers meet, and I enjoy them every weekend.

The rivers became a huge part of my life because I grew up visiting my father in southern Oregon. He worked for the US Forest Service, reforesting the Siskiyou National Forest. I was one of those weird children that had posters of Woodsy Owl and Smokey the Bear all over my room. When I visited, we’d spend weekends camping, hiking, swimming and rafting. He always knew the best spots. My love for anything concerning water and nature came from the experiences my dad gave me.

It always amazes me how nature can bring peace to your soul. I know I’m sounding all hippie-esque right now, but it’s true. I just wish I had realized it earlier. Somewhere along the way, I became an outdoor girl trapped in an indoor girl’s life. I became more interested in going to Disneyland, taking a cruise, or spending a weekend at a spa than taking a walk or riding a bike. I still enjoy the trips, and hope I’ll have the opportunity to do them again, but when you’re starting your life over, those things definitely aren’t within the budget. And that’s okay. What I realized sitting on that beach in Santa Cruz was that I’ve found a peace that doesn’t require fancy things and luxurious trips. It never was what made me happy. It was only a distraction and something to look forward to when life wasn’t so great. What I find value in now is completely different because I’m happy with my life, satisfied with the things I have, and grateful for the people in my life. Everything that comes along now is just extra icing on the cupcake.

Until next time…

Annalyse

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Boring Tweets = Dead Tweets

Let me just preface this in saying that if you’re reading my blog then this lil’ rant probably isn’t about you, and if you think it is then maybe you should take a look at your own twitter feed and make some changes.

Sooooo …

I’ve been off the social networking stuff for a while. When I was on it before I remember fun posts and interesting conversations with some of the greatest group of ladies I’ve ever met. Over the last couple of years some of them have moved on, others are still around, but have changed their interests, and others have changed their tweets to be more business related and less “fun.”

As a new author, I thought it would be a good idea to follow those that support my book and see what these people might have to say. I found that I was disappointed in some of them because all they tweeted about were book reviews, cover reveals, excerpts from their own book or information about someone else’s story their pimping. Yes, I think every writer should support who they can, but I think they’ve missed what twitter is really about and the fun that can be had if they’d just come out of their business box for two minutes and actually make friends. You can still be supportive without being boring. Besides, when all you do is post about books, how many people are really listening? I’m an avid reader, but I can only see so many book recommendations before I tune you out. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I have a few authors that I follow that I enjoy immensely. Why? Because they tweet about everyday stuff. They tweet about the silly things their kids do or say, post pictures of how cute their kidlet is *winks at KS*, inspirational things that they’ve learned throughout their lives, pictures of McHotties that keep them inspired as they write, the stupid stuff they did or saw that day, and so on. Not every post is about books. They relate to their readers in a way that I think many authors forget to do. They banters back and forth with people who are not only interested in their stories, but in their lives. I’ve met some pretty awesome women through social media; women who have changed my perspective, helped me with my stories, and been there when I’ve needed a shoulder to cry on or laughed with me over something stupid I’ve done or said. Yes, my writing may have brought them to me, but it was our chatting on twitter and other social sites that kept us together. If I didn’t respond and chat with them then I would’ve missed out on some amazing friendships.

I know that in this day and age you have to be careful with social media, but let’s face it, being too careful can be boring. If I’m going to waste my time on Facebook or Twitter then I want it to be fun. I’d much rather read about the funny story you had while walking your dog than where your book landed on the Amazon top-selling list. I may follow you because of your book, or your support of my own book, but what keeps me around is if you’re interesting and have something interesting to say that relates to me personally.

So, if you think you may have a boring twitter feed (and I’m sure I fall in that category sometimes since trying to get back into the groove) then make some changes and entertain. You write romance/erotica/comedy/suspense/mystery/etc. so there’s no excuse. Entertaining your readers shouldn’t stop with your novel.

Until next time…

Annalyse

P.S. Read this and adapt it to fit your needs if you need more thoughts about what to tweet. http://sironaconsulting.com/2013/04/30/what-should-i-as-a-recruiter-tweet-on-twitter/

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Where have I been?

What a crazy couple of years!!! Most of you that follow my blog have been with me for a while. It all started with a crazy little fanfiction that exploded and changed my life forever. What most of you don’t realize is where my life was at when I started writing it.

I started writing Holding Out For You (now Ready to Love Again) when I knew my marriage was over, but didn’t want to admit it. HOFY was my escape from reality. Not only was writing therapeutic, but the friendships I made online sustained me and probably kept my marriage together longer because I had a place to escape where people understood and supported me. Nobody knew of my struggles because I was an expert at being a Stepford wife. Failure wasn’t an option in my opinion and I would push my shoulders back and handle every situation with a smile.

A few months after I started writing the story, my husband lost his job and being the dutiful and supportive wife, I put on a smiling face and pretended everything was perfect. I had people commend me on my faith and positive attitude while inside I wished someone would notice things weren’t as perfect as they seemed. I know now that I was too prideful to admit that we were floundering and worse yet, that my marriage was failing.

I cried many nights over what I perceived as my own selfishness. I told myself that I had to keep my family together despite my unhappiness. I came from a divorced home and I didn’t want my kids to bounce from one house to the other. I rationalized that I could continue to manage my marriage until they were grown and then I could move on. Besides, I was stuck. I was married at eighteen and had my first child at twenty-one. I worked as a teenager and college was never discussed while I grew up, so I just figured it was just something rich kids did. I had no education and hadn’t worked since I decided to be a stay-at-home mom at twenty-two. I thought I had no other options.

I struggled with my feelings of leaving for months before an event in my marriage made me realize I couldn’t do it anymore. I would do whatever it took to find a way out and leave as little of an impact on my children as I could. Don’t ask what happened between my ex and I because I will never badmouth him. Ever. He was a good father while we were married and provided for all of us. We just changed after twenty-two years of marriage and I couldn’t live with the changes anymore. He was also offered a job back in Monterey and I knew that if I moved back then I would lose the support I had in Sacramento. I had a small window of time to make a decision and I did what I’d been thinking about doing for years. I asked for a divorce.

As many of you know, who’ve been through a separation/divorce, emotions flare like an uncontrollable forest fire. It was nasty and things were done and said that can never be undone or forgotten. Twenty-two years of a marriage turned into a battlefield where there were no winners. I was a mess. I tried to manage my divorce the way I managed my marriage and there is no managing anything when feelings are hurt and pride is bruised. My health spiraled downward and I developed debilitating panic attacks. The only thing I could do to keep myself together was to cut everything out of my life that didn’t matter at that moment. I tried to keep my kids out of the middle of our drama as much as I could and sacrificed the things I loved to help them through the transition. So, I withdrew from writing and social media. I left the fandom, my involvement in A Writer’s Collective, and the people that I loved because my kids needed me more than my readers did.

After the hoopla from the divorce died down, and we came to an agreement, I contacted Amanda from TWCS Publishing. As some of you know, Amanda was my very first online writing friend. She helped me plot out Lady of the Knight, Holding Out For You, Devil’s Angel, and almost all of my short stories. We would talk every day for hours about characters, plots and stories we were reading online. She, and our mutual friend Katie, invested so much time as my sounding boards for stories that I always felt they were almost co-creators. When I told her I was ready to consider publishing Ready to Love Again, I could almost hear her say “It’s about damn time.”

So, I’m on the publishing road. Why? Because the story is close to my heart. It sustained me through a difficult time. The emotions of the characters are feelings I think we’ve all felt at some point in our lives. It’s a story of overcoming hard times and how we endure the trials in our life. In this writing adventure, the only thing that means more to me than this story are the readers and friends who helped it become what it is today. Thank you for supporting me and helping me share this story with others that may need it like I did.

Until next time…
Annalyse

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Cover for Ready to Love Again

SUMMARY

After a bitter divorce, Katie Rodriquez moves with her nine-year-old son, Shawn, to California to take a job at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. A fresh start is exactly what she and her son need. However, a fateful stroll on a Carmel beach turns her world upside down when she meets a handsome doctor who is struggling with his own past.

Dr. Chase O’Donnell had everything a man could ask for when a tragic accident changed his life forever. Tortured by his memories, he locks away his grief to care for his two children, refusing to face what his loss has done to him and the people he loves most.

Katie’s son is a rowdy child with a good heart, so it is a bit of a surprise when Shawn befriends the quiet and thoughtful Tony O’Donnell. Tony’s love for baseball draws Shawn into his world, and from then on, they are inseparable. It is only a matter of time before they bring their parents together again in a surprising twist of fate. However, Tony’s older sister, Liz, doesn’t like the new boy who is prone to catching critters and teasing girls. Liz isn’t very happy with the idea of her father having a new girlfriend, either. Loyal to a fault and haunted by the fear of abandonment, she lashes out and refuses to accept the new woman in her father’s life.

Katie and Chase must find the strength to rebuild their lives while juggling the demands of careers and single parenthood. When Chase’s daughter lashes out, they soon discover that the price of their romance is too high. To heal his family’s pain, they both must risk losing each other. Facing unresolved guilt and anger, will they have the courage to learn to love again?

In bookstores and eBook August 7th.

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Ready to Love Again Cover Reveal

I know I’ve been MIA lately, but that’s all about to change. Tomorrow is the cover reveal for RTLA and I hope to see you all back here to see what a great job was done on the cover. My absence will be explained over the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

Annalyse

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First Draft!

I’ve finished the first draft to my cowboy novel! WooHoo!

Now the real work really begins. It’s been a long hard road. 75% of it was completed during NaNoWriMo in November and then I spent December and part of January finishing it. Now that the first draft is done, I can sit back and breathe (for a minute O.o). Sometimes it’s a good thing to take a break and remember why you loved the idea of the story when you started writing it. That’s basically where I’m at now. I’ve spent the last month pondering what I want to change and signed up for the Fictionista writing collective. If you don’t know what that is, and you’re a writer, you’re missing out. It’s an amazing opportunity to get fantastic critique on your original stories, free of charge, and all you have to do is put some time in to critique another author.

Anyway… Here’s the short synopsis of my new story.

Cherie Wagner has come home to Columbus, New Mexico to settle her father’s estate after a horrible riding accident. She had no idea that the high school sweetheart she had left after she graduated would still be interested in rekindling their romance, nor did she anticipate her client, the self-absorbed A-list actor that was running from the papparazi and hell bent on seducing her, to show up on her doorstep.

Dalin Davies, the foreman at Wagner Ranch and an undercover ATF agent, didn’t need the distraction Cherie brought when she pulled up in her little sports car. He was determined to bring Butch Wagner’s murderer to justice and the deceased rancher’s daughter was too much of a distraction. It would take all of his training and patience to keep them both alive while he tried to uncover her father’s murderer.

This story is a long way from being complete, but I’ve been working hard to get something to my readers soon. Stay tuned!

I’ve disabled comments, so send me an email if you’ve got something to say. I love hearing from my readers.

Thanks!
Annalyse

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Howdy Hi!

Hey there guys!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I thought I’d give everyone an update for those of you who may have wondered where I’ve been.

A few months ago, the GREAT CRASH of 2011 wiped my computer clean. According to my husband I had a faulty harddrive and it was like it reformatted itself. Meaning…”say goodbye to everything!” *sigh* After crying, throwing things, and finally coming to terms with the fact that most of my edits and rewrites to my manuscript were gone *gasp*, along with all my pictures and other important documents, I invested in SOS Online Backup so that won’t happen again. I know, I know, I should have been backing my stuff up from the beginning, but I thought I was. For some reason my computer stopped doing backups almost a year prior. *points to self* TECHTARD!

Since the Great Crash, I haven’t installed twitter on my computer and I have to admit that I like not having the distraction. I can still see tweets on my phone, so I sometimes chime in on a conversation or answer my @’s, but even though I don’t play on there as much as I did in the past, I’m still around. So, if anyone needs to get a hold of me then the best way is through email.

Fictionista started a fresh new round of workshops that I’m a moderator in, along with helping the new authors adjust to the stringent demands of honest critique. So, between revamping my computer, Fictionista, and my writing, I haven’t had much time to wipe my nose, let alone post on my website.

When I started this website I had lofty goals of puting out a newsletter that focused on writing, reading, critiquing, reviewing, interviews with guest authors, book reviews, etc. However, that was quickly put on the back burner when I became more involved with Fictionista. My goals changed and I figured I could be more help to new authors by working closely with them in a more formal setting. If you are an author, writing original fiction, and want to know more information about Fictionista, please drop me a line and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have. The experience has opened my eyes to why most manuscripts hit the slush pile and how to avoid it. Let’s just hope that I’ve learned enough to keep my own manuscript out of that pile of despair.

I am also participating in NaNoWriMo next month, in which I plan on beating the snot out of my friend Erica in word count. Yes, this is just a bit of friendly goading, and for some reason the more smack we talk to each other the more motivated we become. LOL. If anyone else is up to a friendly little competition for NaNo, then shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to whip your tushy, too. *wink* My goal for NaNo is 80,000 words, which is pretty dang lofty since I’m only writing M-Fri, but I’m going to try really hard to meet those goals. What are yours?

Thanks for still sticking around through my absense. I promise not to disappear for another seven months. Next time I post it’ll be about something more interesting than a boring ol’ update. Now that I reread it, this post reminds me of one of those stupid Christmas letters you get from Aunt Marge every year telling you how her cat is doing. :) I promise to do better in the future.

Toodles,
Annalyse

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Fictionista Workshop Applications Are Open!

As most of you may know, I’m involved with Fictionista Workshop. There has been some confusion as to what FW actually is, so I thought I’d clear that up right away. Fictionista is a group of ladies dedicated to help authors improve their writing through honest and productive critique. They have several programs to accomplish this goal, but the one I’d like to bring to your attention today is the workshop.

The workshops are critique groups where an author submits their completed, original manuscript to a team of five. The team consists of an editor, characterization participant, dialogue participant, analyst participant and research participant. Each focuses on a specific area of the manuscript, but can also add more comments in other areas if they see something out of place. Everyone is accepted that applies, however, writers are limited to how many participants sign up. Which is why we need your help!

Even if you don’t write or know anything about writing, we could still use your reading expertise. Have you ever read a book or other fiction writing and thought…”There’s no way that would happen.” Or “What the heck is wrong with that character? Normal people don’t act like that.” Or “I’ve worked in the medical field/lawyer/accountant/etc. for XX years and that person would be arrested for what they’re doing.” If you’ve answered yes to any of these thoughts, then you can do this job. When I was the analyst participant in the first round of workshops, we didn’t know what we were doing and we still managed to help the author grow and improve her story. So, what I’m saying is that no experience is required to participate. You’ll learn as you go.

Applications are open on the Fictionista website until April 15th. The application should only take about 10 minutes to fill out. I’ve submitted my latest manuscript, so you might even end up on my workshop if it is chosen. The workshops will run for approximately twelve weeks and have a weekly time commitment of a one-hour skype call and however long it takes you to read and critique a maximum of 7500 words a week. THAT’S IT! Easy-peasy.

I know that several of you are writing original stories. Is it finished? If so, submit it to the workshop! I can’t stress enough how much it helped my writing and turned Ready to Love Again into something I was proud to post. If you are in the process of writing a story, and it’s not complete, join the workshop as a participant. The experience will help you become a better writer and also help you know what’s expected when/if you submit your manuscript later.

 What Fictionista is looking for:

  • Writers – of original fiction who have completed stories between approximately 35,000-130,000 words.
  • Participants – who are readers, observers, and constructive critics, with an eye for detail and knowledge of what makes a good story.
  • Editors - who have a keen understanding of the English language, to review and edit the writer’s work while offering additional comments as needed to improve the story.
  • Moderators  – who can direct and lead a group of individuals while maintaining a respectful and professional atmosphere.

If you have anymore questions then send me an email.

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A message from a new friend

I have had the wonderful opportunity of getting to know Laura over the last month, and she’s an energetic and passionate woman. Her enthusiasm for writing has propelled her to publishing  several stories, along with focusing her time and expertise as the project manager at FictionistaWorkshop for the new Writing Collective that we are launching next week. 

I hope you take the time to check out her new book and help a worthy cause.

Ann

Hello Literary-Folk!

My name is Laura Kreitzer, and I’m the author of the Timeless Series and the Summer Chronicles. This week I would like to alert everyone on a colossal crisis that’s gone unnoticed in the world: human trafficking. That’s why I’ve asked hundreds of blogs to be involved with spreading the word on this issue that’s become close to my heart.

As an author, and someone whose life is put in the spotlight, I keep most people at a distance. Only a handful of my friends know the whole me and the events from my past. But this week I’d like to share with you a part of myself that the outside world doesn’t see (and a part of me I don’t like to share). I was emotionally abused for five years by someone I thought loved me, my mind beaten into submission. Though the turmoil I went through doesn’t penetrate as deep as someone forced into slavery on the worldwide market for human trafficking, I can sadly relate in some ways: imprisoned, my life dictated down to what I wore, ate, where I went, whom I spoke to, where I worked, when I slept, bending to his every whim. He did not sway, even when I cried through some of the more traumatic things he had me do. I was a slave in my own home. In my desperation for freedom, I held out a gun and asked him to just end my suffering. I was desperate.

I can’t even imagine how many women (and men) in the world are in a similar situation. What’s even worse, I had it mild compared to the children that are sold for labor or sex. Surprisingly, the good ol’ U.S.A. is reported to be the host to two million slaves. Did you know this? Because I certainly did not; not until I was preparing to write my newest novel: Phantom Universe. The main character, Summer Waverly, was stolen as a child and sold as a slave to the captain of a modern-day pirate ship. From a loved child who only knew “time-out” as punishment, to being whipped into silence was something I knew nothing about. So I researched deeply into human trafficking and the psychological effects of torture of various types that one would endure in these circumstances. I felt shaken at my findings and knew I had to tell Summer’s story. (Read a sneak peek here.)

A storm began to brew in my mind; transforming, morphing, twisting, and expanding into this massive, black cloud. I had to bring this tragic atrocity to the forefront. My own emotional experiences, mixed with the research I did on human trafficking, made me feel an intense connection with Summer, and to all women who’ve been through this kind of brutality. The cloud ruptured and rained all over my computer one day. It took one month to write Phantom Universe, the first in the Summer Chronicles. I was so consumed by the story that I wrote nearly nonstop, only breaking for necessary tasks like eating, showering, and occasionally—very occasionally—sleeping.

Though the book I’ve written would be classified as Science Fiction, or as I’d like to call it, Dystopian, the emotions and psychological aspects are not Science Fiction—they’re real. Reviewers have said many amazing things about Summer, this character who is so real in my mind and who I cried along with as the words poured from my soul onto my screen.

“I admired Summer’s strength and ability to adapt,” says CiCi’s Theories. “I felt tied to her emotions,” Jennifer Murgia, author or Angel Star admits. And Tahlia Newland, author of Lethal Inheritance, remarks, “Summer is strong and smart in mind [. . .]”

Through her overwhelmingly horrendous past, Summer goes on more than just a physical journey in Phantom Universe, she goes on a psychological one as well; growing beyond her mute state to persevere and survive in a new world beyond the whip she’s so frightened of.

Now that the release date is here, I’m excited and terrified to share this story with everyone. I’m emotionally tied in every way to the words I’ve written, because they’re more than words. More than just a story on a page. Beyond the fictional aspects, there’s a real issue that needs to be addressed: human trafficking must be stopped. We shouldn’t sit idly by while this continues to plague us. Our world’s children—our nation’s children—are being affected. It’s time we take action!

Earlier this month Phantom Universe hit Barnes and Noble’s top 100 Best Selling list. I’ve decided to donate 10% of my sales from Phantom Universe, until the end of February, to the DNA Foundation.

“DNA hopes to help abolish modern day slavery, deter perpetrators, and free the many innocent and exploited victims. We are committed to forcing sex slavery out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

Freedom is a basic human right and slavery is one of the greatest threats to that freedom. No one has the right to enslave another person.”

—From DNA Foundation’s Website

I ask that you spread the word to everyone you know. Look around on the DNA Foundation website and find a way to get involved in ending human trafficking. Take action today. Everyone has a voice—you have a voice. Will you have the courage to use it?

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Writing Collective

I’ve been MIA lately and want to apologize. I’ve been wrapped up in a few projects that have taken my time, which have left me almost no time to update my website. Besides working on my own writing goals, there is an awesome project I want to share with you today. As some of you may know, I’ve been involved with Fictionista Workshop, in one form or another, for almost a year. It is a wonderful website devoted to help women authors succeed in their goals to become better writers. The workshop has been an amazing experience and I would encourage anyone to sign up and participate in any capacity that they can. You can learn more about the workshops HERE. What I want to share with you today is a new program that they are launching called the Writing Collective. Here is a little bit of information on this new and exciting project that you can sign up for.

The Writing Collective

The Collective will include writing groups of three authors paired together based on writing strengths and weakness. Everyone involved in a writing group will gain valuable knowledge, edits, and feedback on their writing with no cost to them. Every week advice, resources, and ideas will be provided by FW. Our objective is to motivate authors so they are productive and reach their writing goals. The Collective offers different avenues for writers depending on where each author is in their writing process.

How it Works
Groups are paired so each person contributes something to the group. Authors will be paired with those who have strengths in the areas they are weakest. After the writing groups are chosen, each group will receive a more solidified schedule for their group. Every week during the Collective, Fictionista Workshop will provide a PDF or link to a new lesson in the Writing Classroom. At the end of the week, each author will anonymously send in their weekly writing for the others in their group to read, edit, analyze, and critique. A schedule will be set for weekly online chat sessions (meetings) where the group members can get together (anonymously) to discuss what they’ve written and read from their fellow group members during the following week.

Where to Sign Up
Fictionista Workshop wants to implement the best, most helpful writing experience possible. With the Writing Collective, FW will provide authors an outlet for when they feel discouraged or have no one else to turn to. To apply for the Writing Collective, please CLICK HERE.

You can read more about the collective by clicking HERE.

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