Monday, July 25, 2016 | By: Angela Brown

Energized by Memories

This picture was taken with my Chipmunk a few summers ago, 2013. It was the year of adventure. Earlier that year, she and I lucked up on taking a trip to Universal Studios with a few friends, then we went to California to visit family and Disneyland during a summer trip. Later that year was the IRC - Indie Romance Convention - in Tennessee...which I thoroughly enjoyed and met some wonderful authors and readers.

It was the year I released Frailties of the Bond, Atone, and They All Fall Down (Shadow Jumpers II). Looking back, I'm not sure how I did it all: writing, self-publishing, traveling, social media presence, working full time, being a single mom. Sleep happened in their somewhere lol!

I'm glad for pictures like this one that remind me of what is possible.

Through this and many other memories, I am energized to pick up the pace. I may not return to the beast-mode schedule I was pushing at that time, but I'm feeling it again, that joy from writing a story I really want to share. Especially the one I'm working on. I've got a 10 month deadline according to that grinning cutie in the picture. And I don't want to disappoint her.

Any memories you can recall to energize you? Are you already energized? What do you have going on in your reading and/or writing world?

Friday, July 15, 2016 | By: Angela Brown

Challenges of the Writing Journey with C. Lee Mckenzie

 The Adventure's Here Now

I can't believe Sign of the Green Dragon is really going to be published. I started this book years ago, set it aside, worked on it a little, then set it aside again. My critique group read at least three versions. I had at least three titles. I just could not pull this little story together, then it happened.

One night I pulled up the file, deleted almost half of the book and wrote until I saw the story come to life.

Why is it that some stories fall into place right away and others, like Sign of the Green Dragon, don't? It's not as if this were a complex literary work. No. It's a book designed to entertain young readers.

Ahhh! Of course, there's the answer. Writing for young readers may seem like a walk in the park, but that is not the case. I knew that, but knowing it and understanding what was blocking my progress are two different matters. I just needed to wait until I'd mastered a little more in the writing craft department.

Looking back at this book from start to finish, I can see where I made the wrong turns.
  • I didn't start the book where it should have started. I did the classical bad newbie thing and had my young MC arriving at his new home. 
  • I set up a ton of backstory. Guess where? Yep. In chapter one! 
  • I didn't move the story forward quickly enough from the first dragon encounter. Instead, I took the reader (who was now snoring) on another long trip to the next destination. 
  • I didn't have any surprises to keep the middle from sagging. Talk about deadly dull.
  • I didn't wrap up the ending so that it was satisfying and still left some questions about what might happen next.
I learned a lot from starting this book to wrapping it up, and I learned it by writing and reading more. Have you ever had a book that just would not come down to the page the way you wanted it to, and then viola! There it was. You'd finally discovered how to write it.

What's this story about?

Three plucky sleuths. A crumbling skeleton. A buried treasure.

After six months in a new school, Sam’s finally fitting in. He’s the one kid with enough talent to hit the winning home run and bring the baseball trophy back to Haggarty Elementary. But Sam’s guardian is shipping him off to boarding school before that can happen.

When his teammates, Joey and Roger, hear his bad news, they plot to hide him until the big game. Their secret cave is a perfect place until an earthquake shatters a wall and reveals a wooden chest with a red-eyed dragon carved into its top. And the chest isn’t empty. Inside, a crumbling skeleton clutches a map with a cryptic note, promising treasure if the finder reveals the truth about an old murder and returns the remains of the victim to China.

Is the note a hoax? Maybe. But what does Sam have to lose? He doesn’t have a real home anymore, and his uncle already treats him like a nuisance. With Joey and Roger, he sets off to track down the clues and hopefully discover treasure. When finally some puzzle pieces make sense, they become lost in a labyrinth of underground tunnels, trapped by dangerous thieves and sealed inside an airless tomb. 

Sign of the Green Dragon is a middle grade tale with fantasy elements of Chinese mythology. If you like intrepid would-be knights on impossible and dangerous quests, you’ll love this story. As one reader says, this book, “has more twists than a dragon’s tail.”

Buy now and jump into the adventure.

Connect with C. Lee at her Website

This is C. Lee McKenzie’s third middle grade novel. Her first was Alligators Overhead, her second The Great Time Lock Disaster, Sequel to Alligators Overhead. She also writes contemporary-realistic young adult and has four published. She offers gifts to her website visitors. Visit today and see what she has for you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 | By: Angela Brown

IWSG and Something I Realized

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First Wednesday of the month means it is IWSG time:
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

There's a question being posed and here it is:

JULY 6 QUESTION: What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?

I've had other writers share with me that they enjoyed my stories and the worlds I introduced them to like the Withers, Harvestors, and Cleansers in the Shadow Jumpers series.

I've had a young man tell me that he could picture the story unfolding in his mind and hoped I could one day take the novel to the big screen.

But the cutest thing, and what grabs at my heart remembering it, was my daughter's recent demand that I had ten months to get the second Fable Ranger book published or she was going to go crazy.

Thinking about this question really made me realize some things that I've always known but need to share with others as often as possible. 

You see, 2015 and 2016 have proven to be my least productive writing years. When I dove into this in 2012, I understood that the only thing I would have in common with JK Rowling was that we were both struggling single mothers taking chances on our writing dreams. I did not and still do not wish to have enough money to own a castle in the Isles or to pay off the debt of a small country. I did, however, hope that my stories would find readers and slowly increase a fan base with time.

After wrestling with the demons of disappointment, doubt, and despair that accompanied the NO increase in reader base and some negative things happening in my life, I couldn't help noticing how much I needed writing, even if it was journaling, making little notes of inspiration to remind myself to smile each day, or even writing then tearing up tear-streaked letters venting my frustrations. I'd always known writing was a big part of me, but I hadn't really considered how deeply embedded it was, as if tattooed on my soul. 

What about you? After you consider the question above, what other things come to mind?
Saturday, July 2, 2016 | By: Angela Brown