Archive for September, 2014

The Greener Forest 300 dpi cover Every time I discover a new review of my books, my hands sweat and my heart thumps quickly. It’s always a little scary to see what a reader thinks of the worlds I’ve created. Perhaps they won’t like my story or language or characters or… Well, you get the idea.

I really appreciate my readers, and I try to not only please myself with my tales, but also, those people who part with a few dollars and open the (real or virtual) pages of my books. I’m thankful for readers and for their support, both when they purchase my books and when they take the time to review them.

Here are some Amazon reviews of The Greener Forest:

“A fantastic collection of short stories about the hazy boundary between our world and the hidden faerie world, with roots in archetypal fables (the good get rewarded, the bad get punished), but with branches extending into a more modern setting. Judging by the cover, I gather the author is also an accomplished artist, but sadly the interior illustrations were not made available in the Kindle edition. I wish I could have seen them.” – Mark Taylor  (Sorry Mark, Kindle versions usually don’t include illos. You can see some of the illos included in The Greener Forest on my website).

“Mrs. Crist has a wonderfully vivid imagination which is brought to life in these poems and stories. She is both an excellent writer and an extremely talented artist. The imagery in the poetry is beautiful, such as in “The Greener Forest”, “Late Winter,” and “Key.” What makes the stories truly touching and memorable are the relationships between the characters. “Birdling” reminded me of traditional stories of faeries and how tricky they can be. In “Appleheads” and “Blood of the Swan” the bonds of friendship and affection are truly magical and deep. In “Scarecrow” one is reminded to accept friendship no matter who or what it is from, and to do what is right despite what others say or think. As also in “Blame it on the Trees” we remember to look beneath the surface at what is within. Finally, we learn to respect the natural world, for it is very much alive, and the home of many creatures. Some of the other stories were very short and I wanted more from them, but nevertheless they were still imaginative and well-written. Well done Mrs. Crist. Well done. ” – AM

And a link to a post with earlier reviews of The Greener Forest Intrigued? Why not buy a copy?

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Owl Light back cover This is the sixteenth blog in a series of owl-focused posts to promote Owl Light, my new YA-friendly collection of stories featuring owls. Each post features a mix of owl art, facts, folklore, quotes, and links to owlish sites. If you’re a fan of owls, or know someone whooo is, follow my blog, buy my book, and be kind to these beautiful birds.

Owl art: One of my owls from Owl Light.

Owl fact: Burrowing owls can imitate the rattling sound of an angry rattlesnake. This is a good defense when predators are around.

Owl saying: “The owl thinks her children the fairest” (Danish)

Owl quote: “Moon light and star light, owl and moth light,/ Glow-worm glowlight on a grassblade./ O Light Invisible, we worship Thee!” – TS Elliot

Owl link: Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife sponsor an annual Burrowing Owl Festival (next one in February 2015) and also provide information on their website including a chance to sponsor a Burrowing Owl. In addition, not to be missed is a video of Burrowing Owls.

And, of course, here’s a buy link for Owl Light.  Or buy it from The Owl Pages and help out owls.

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I love this blog’s point of view on the subject, because it lists 10 non-writing related ways to become a better writer. Sometimes, I think writers become so focused on the writing world we forget that there are many lessons to be learned from just living.

Do you have any other ideas for non-writing ways to become a better writer?

I hope you’re enjoying my blog posts and links. Want to show some love? Visit my Amazon page and consider buying a book. 🙂

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Cardinal in Holly “Use what talent you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sang best.” — Henry Van Dyke

I think this quote is one of my favorites. Not everyone will write the “Great American Novel,” but there are lots people who enjoy writing and create worthy poems, stories, plays, and books. Not everyone will stitch a blue-ribbon quilt, but there are many quilters whose hours of cutting, piecing, and stitching result in beautiful quilts. Not everyone will paint a “Masterpeice,” but there are countless people who find joy in art. The same can be said of playing the piano, dancing, singing, crafting, carving…the list is endless.

The most important thing is for each of us to use what talent we’ve been given. The beauty of an orchestra or choir isn’t the soloists — it’s the combined sound of different voices and different instruments.

I urge my readers to use your talents, and celebrate the talents of those around you.

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tiffany c Thanks to author Tiffany Carmouché for stopping by and sharing the inspiration for her Alaskan Heart Saga, including her newest book, Blood of an Angel. Enjoy!

Pushing Past the Pain – Bestselling Author Tiffany Carmouché Tells How She Used the Nano Challenge and Turning to the Arts to Learn How to Live Again.

In reflection of the recent tragic suicide of Robin Williams.

When you are young you dream of fairy tales. Of Princesses and castles and happily ever afters. When I married my high school sweetheart I thought I would live out my dreams but soon my fairy tale became a nightmare.

I will spare you the bruises, the drunken rages, the lies and the details of how after many years of marriage, I woke up to the family business being closed, the bank accounts emptied, the house in foreclosure and the fact I had to figure a way to pick up the pieces alone and find a way to keep a roof over my daughters’ heads.

I’m not going to lie, I was a hot mess. And as I now search for answers as to why someone as talented, rich and amazing as Robin Williams would take his life, I remember the time in my life I didn’t have much to live for and I myself contemplated ending the pain. Depression— such a nasty beast.

Thankfully I had two wonderful daughters who made life worth living. I knew for me, suicide would be the easy way out, but if I was gone, it would be my daughters who would have had to collect all the fragments. I had to be strong.

I had to pick myself up and dust myself off and tell life, “You hit like a bitch! Bring it on!”

During all of the turmoil my Niece, Deanna, told me about the Nano Write a Book in a Month Challenge. I hadn’t written in years and knew I didn’t have a book in me, but I challenged myself to write 10,000 words.

What the hell. It was certainly healthier than spending countless hours planning how I would hunt down my ex and hang him upside down by his toenails. I have to say it was a little embarrassing, sitting in church as my ring tone went off incredibly loud. I tried to look innocent in the pew as, “I dug my key into the side of his pretty little supped up 4 wheel drive, carved my name into his leather seats…” sang from my purse. Yes, at the time Before He Cheats was my theme song. That and Pink’s “I lost my husband I don’t know where he went.”

Maybe, I was a little upset, just saying…but somehow I convinced myself instead of planning my revenge, I would write about the time I escaped the abuse and went to Alaska with my best friend. And then I began to think…“What if…”

I wondered what life would have been like if I hadn’t come back home to marry him. I began to relive the beauty of Alaska and what it felt like to be in my early twenties and leave everything I knew to travel to a place half way across the globe. And then I remembered… the stalker I had to escape from. “What if…he was a serial killer?” Perhaps writing about the serial killer was a form of displaced anger, LOL, but somehow it did the trick.

Best selling author copy Instead of spending my time feeling sorry for myself, I bleed on paper. I allowed myself to disappear as I scribbled words to life in black and white and you know what? I didn’t have time to care who he was sleeping with. I didn’t have time to worry what he was spending our money on. I didn’t have time to worry where he disappeared to. Sure my troubles didn’t go away and I had a lot to figure out, like how to keep the lights on, but when I wasn’t solving a problem that COULD be solved, I wrote. And before long I exceeded the 10,000 word count and I challenged myself to write even more each day.

I loved the little widget in NANO that would grow as I got closer to my goal and it kinda obsessed me. Instead of getting locked up for going mad, or getting even, I wrote a book. I didn’t just write the 50,000 words of the challenge, I wrote 80,000 and The Impostor, the first book in the Alaskan Heart Saga, was born.

Was it ready to be published at the end of that thirty days? Hell no! That is really when the fun began. FUN? What? Edits Fun?

YES! It is all about your attitude. When you finish your book it is like giving birth, but you still need to feed it to watch it grow. Please do not kid yourself into thinking you are finished unless it’s poetry. There is certain rawness and pureness to the words that you release in a poem and often the muse pours the words out as they should be written. But a novel, no matter how good of a writer you are, needs to be edited and countless more hours need to be spent in revisions.

I try and think of it as it is more time I get to spend with my characters. And sometimes they do the damndest things! Soon my suspense became a suspenseful romance and my 10,000 word story expanded to 100,000 for the first book, The adventure I had with my best friend many years ago has sparked a Saga that has been read all over the world.

The fifth book, Blood of an Angel will be released this October in honor of Domestic Violence Month. The book is written and ready to be released but there is a certain beauty in releasing the book during a time to honor all the people who have fallen victim to cruelty as a means of reminding us there is life after abuse.

The series is a about a woman who escapes an abusive relationship to find herself again and provide a better life for her daughter. (Yes, there are hot guys and romance woven in, but the books are a reminder of our strength) Many times we find that as we stand up, we are often tripped again or even straight up pushed down to what we think is our breaking point.

We need to remember the story is only over when we say, ‘The End.’ I am still stunned at the news Robin Williams committed suicide. Such a tragedy! If he had lived, he was such a talented man, there is no doubt he would have brought much more entertainment and laughter to us. But because he took his life his gifts will never again be shared. Internationally we grieve his loss. I can only imagine the sorrow of his family.

If I had taken my life, I would never have had the honor of knowing the fans all over the world whose letters bring smiles to my face! I wouldn’t have seen my daughter Rochelle get married or my daughter Martina leave for college!

Did the Nano challenge save my life? Maybe that is stretching it a little bit, but I know that writing the book in the month was the beginning stage in finding me again. I have since rediscovered the artist, the dancer, the adventurer…I am learning to live again, step by step, and you know what? If I hadn’t made that 10,000 word goal, perhaps my saga would have never been written. My mission is now to help others find their essence. In words, in dance, in brushstrokes…in life…BE BOLD! Be Brilliant! BE YOU!

For even broken, we are beautiful…pick up the pieces…just look at the beauty in a stain glass window next time you question your magnificence. Find your essence. Let your light shine. And do what brings YOU LIFE!

Make each breath count. ~Tiffany Carmouché

PS Join me in participating in #HOLDON2HOPE, to spread awareness for ending suicide this September held by Author Rochelle Maya Callen.

PSS I do love to hear from my readers. Please do not hesitate writing me if you have read any of my books. I enjoy hearing what you think. Some readers write me as they are reading my books. That is so much fun, especially when they say, “No!”

PSSS If you have escaped an abusive relationship and would like to be a part of the Out of the Shadows book or Conference, please contact me to get more information.

PSSSS ( I used to do this as a kid on my letters.) Sign up today for my newsletter for news, contests, interviews and more! Be the first to see the cover reveal of the next book in the series and be the first to know the release date of Blood of an Angel!”

Want to learn more about Tiffany Carmouché and her books? Visit her web page and Facebook page.

Tiffany’s books are available at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble.

Thanks again to Tiffany Carmouché for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, Owl Posts, blogs from me, and occasional Readers & Writers Recipes. Have an inspired day! – Vonnie 

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It’s always fun to see what people 75 years ago thought the future would look like. This Fashion 2000 post from 1939 is a perfect example of how our forefathers and foremothers got somethings right and others wrong. The old Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and other science fiction movies of the past are fun to watch for the same reasons. It makes me wonder what 75 years into the future from today will look like, and how right or wrong the predictions of 2014 science fiction writers and movie-makers will be. Any future predictions from my readers?

(And thanks Baltimore Science Fiction Society for the link).


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Even as I typed the title of this blog post I cringed. It’s extremely difficult to promote and sell a book published (as mine have been) by a small press, much less self-published. And remember, self-published is not a dirty word as long as the book is well written, edited, and produced. Professional presentation and quality is the key.

Readers, do you really care who published a book as long as it’s a good read?

I hope you’re enjoying my blog posts and links. Want to show some love? Visit my Amazon page and consider buying a book. 🙂

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mermaid My story collection, Owl Light, includes several reprinted tales along with brand new stories. In order for a reader to read the reprinted stories in their original versions, he or she would have to hunt for, locate, then purchase various anthologies and magazines.

One of the reprinted tales, “By the Sea,” was an L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Honorable Award Winner,  released as an eShort (no longer available) as well as being included in Tales of the Talisman. It was also voted one of the Top Ten SF/F Short Stories in the P&E Reader’s Poll. Though it has been updated, the storyline and mermaid theme remain the same. I thought readers might like to read 2 brief reviews of “By the Sea.”

Author Robin Bayne: “I really enjoyed this lovely tale. The story was short but conveyed an interesting world and characters you could care about.”

Editor/author WH Stevens: “”Ms. Crist’s story, “By the Sea,” will take you to a land of seaside delights and carnival excitement. Bordering on a dreamy current of fantasy and reality, the story of Dusana, the 17 year old sideshow mermaid will keep your attention for a fast, easy read. The characters, so real you can see them, the sights of the neon lights and the sound of the calliope will transport you to Dusana’s world where she dreams of being a normal person. And the poetic, smooth language will engage you and seep into you like the ocean itself. The charm of the merfolk, candied apples and sideshow barkers will draw you to a touching and unexpected conclusion. Welcome to the fantasy world of Vonnie Crist. This is her moment and it is a fine one, indeed.”

Like mermaids, boardwalks, and sideshow? Buy Owl Light, then turn to “By the Sea.” (And if you’re a fan of shape-changing sea creatures, the next tale in the book features a selkie).


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According to this article, I’d have been hung for being a witch a few hundred years ago. Yikes!

But it’s still fun to speculate how you would have fit (or not) in a society of the past.

Alas, my independent, inquisitive, and sometimes out-spoken nature would have gotten me into trouble in Salem or a similar town during the 17th century witch-hunting years in the USA (or for that matter, in the UK and elsewhere in Europe). Being a woman during those times was challenging at best, and in some cases, a deadly flaw.

How about you? Would the witch-hunters have grabbed you, too?

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Thanks to author-editor Katherine Pickett for stopping by and sharing some information about agents. Enjoy! (In case you didn’t see it, last Monday, Katherine stopped by with a guest post about writers and writing communities. Not to be missed!)

To Sign or Not to Sign with an Agent – Excerpt from Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Industry Like a Pro by Katherine Pickett

© 2013 | Kristina Sherk Photography | www.Kristinasherk.com “’Do I need an agent?’ I hear this question frequently from aspiring authors, many times with a tinge of fear in their voices that I might say yes. Agents mean having an expert on your side to get you noticed and to assist with negotiations. But they also mean adding one more gatekeeper to the mix. Can’t you get your book published without one? That depends on which publishing route you choose, which genre you write in, and which publisher you approach. Nonfiction writers have a slightly easier time getting a publisher without an agent than fiction writers; if you are writing fiction, you will almost certainly need an agent if you want to go through a publishing house.

While some university presses and small publishing houses are open to unagented manuscripts, they are becoming fewer and farther between. The so-called Big Five publishing houses—which include Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, and Simon and Schuster—don’t accept anything without an agent. Each of these companies owns a dozen or more imprints that have their pick of books to pursue, and agents serve as a filter for the thousands of books that are submitted to them.

But what if you don’t want to work with an agent? You’re determined to find that small press that is willing to work with you as an individual. You don’t want to add the six months or a year that it can take to find an agent before you even reach a publisher, and you don’t know what the point of an agent is anyway. You are going to approach publishers directly. This is a viable option, and one that has worked well for many authors. But before you rule out agents entirely, you should know what signing with an agent means for you.

‘Generally speaking, an agented project will be picked up or rejected by most publishers within two to three weeks of submission,’ write Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato, authors of Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction—and Get It Published.  That’s compared to six months for a response for unagented works. Agents get your book noticed, and they get personalized responses. This kind of attention can speed up the acquisitions process considerably. There are many other pros and cons as well, as shown in the following list.

You should know that agents:

-Have established contacts within the industry
-Know best practices for preparing a proposal
-Are likely to get you a larger advance than you could get on your own
-Can negotiate terms of the contract that you may not entirely understand (e.g., foreign rights, subsidiary rights, royalty structure)
-Track your royalties and ensure you get paid
-Act as your advocate if problems arise between you and the publishing house

-Are another layer of gatekeeping
-Can add six months to a year to the process
-Take 15 to 20 percent of your advance

Beyond the cons listed here, fear of rejection seems to be one of the biggest holdups for aspiring authors. For whatever reason, it is less scary for many authors to skip the agent and go straight to the source. The decision is yours to make, but I have always felt, what is the harm in testing the waters? Your ultimate goal is getting your high-quality, highly marketable book in front of readers, and an agent may be able to help.

Pinpoint the agents most likely to be interested in your work and see what happens. Maybe agents aren’t interested in what you have to offer. But you might be surprised. If agents respond to you, you can decide from there whether you want to pursue the professional relationship. If no one responds, then you have more information about the amount of work you need to do to self-publish or to find another route. And while you are doing that, you can continue writing and polishing your manuscript.

I must note, however, that it is false to think that any agent is better than no agent. There are predatory agents out there. Protect yourself by educating yourself and working only with people you trust. You should not sign with someone who wants money up front, whether he or she calls it a reading fee, an evaluation fee, or any other name. Reputable agents do not get paid until they sell your manuscript. The article “How to Find a (Real!) Literary Agent” by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America advises that good agents will list recent book placements on their website; are accessible by means other than just e-mail; and won’t try to sell you on other services. Membership in the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) , the trade group for US literary agents, is also a plus. AAR has a searchable database that you can use to determine if your prospective agent is a member.”

PerfectBound-cov1-600x900 Katherine Pickett is the owner of POP Editorial Services,  and the author of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro from www.HopOnPublishing.com  Since 1999 she has edited more than 300 books in a wide range of topics and genres. She is an active member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and the St. Louis Publishers Association, and is president of the Montgomery County chapter of the Maryland Writers’ Association.

Want to discover more about Katherine Pickett and Perfect Bound? Visit her blog and follow her on twitter.

And you can purchase Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro on Amazon.

Thanks again to Katherine Pickett for her informative guest post. Make sure to check out last Monday’s post on writing from Katherine. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, Saturday Owl posts, blogs from me, and more. Have a great day! – Vonnie

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