Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014

It's late March once more.  In two days, my brother would have been thirty-one years old.  I think of him often, but more so around this time of the year.

TMNT always brings back fond memories of my little brother.  When he was about seven years old, he'd tie a cloth belt around his forehead and run through the house yelling, "I love being a turtle!"

His favorite was Raphael.  He watched the TMNT movie on VHS and practically wore the tape out.  At times, he wanted to wrestle and be Raphael while I, being the older brother, was the evil Shredder.  He loved that he always got to win, but that was just part of the fun.  He was so excited when he got the Raphael action figure, and he played with it all the time.

I remember when the second TMNT movie (The Secret of the Ooze) came out just days before his eighth birthday in 1991.  Each time he saw the movie preview on television, he was so excited that he raced through the house with his bandana tied around his head, shouting, "I love being a turtle!"

Sadly, he never got to watch the movie as he died on July 8th, 1991, almost three months after the movie's release.  Forever eight years old.  I have his Raphael action figure. I would never part with it.  In my brother's memory, my computer background is a picture of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I cannot turn on my computer without being reminded of him.  I truly miss him and wonder what he would have become had his life not been cut so tragically short.

A new TMNT movie is set for release in August 2014.  Will I be there?  Yes, and I hope that my brother is too, in spirit. Cowabunga, little bro!  RIP Bubba. I miss you.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Introducing Fellow Kentuckian Author: Mara A. Miller


Hi all,

I'd like to introduce you to a new prolific (daily word counts are AMAZING) author, Mara A. Miller.  I've asked her to guest blog today and tell us more about her and how she writes.  Here's Mara:

"I’m weird about blogging. I can’t format anything since I’m lame at it so I haven’t made my own blog yet, but Leonard is a friend, so here we go.

I was going to go into this big long thing about how I got bullied and that drove me to reading more, but I’ll keep it short: I started reading a ton when I was nine, got bullied because I have dyslexia and was placed in “special education” classes.  Mom handed me my first romance novel when I was 11, and I was writing my first “novel” by the time I was twelve. I also discovered and fell in love with writing it so it kept me busy until I started getting original ideas. I wrote and finished my first novel when I was 19, something I named The Ancients, but I’m not sure I’ll ever publish it. I participate in NaNoWriMo almost every year, and next month I’ll be working on my newest novel for Camp NaNoWriMo.

Having a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing helped me to start writing more original stuff. I read so much I can’t remember everything but The Solace of Open Spaces really struck me for some reason. I have an anthropology degree too but quickly learned that as much as I love archeology I didn’t want to be an archeologist.

P.N. Elrod and Nora Roberts are some of my favorite authors. I read so often I couldn’t possibly name all my favorite authors, though. Harry Potter is a favorite (J.K. Rowling is my idol), but I also adore Colleen Hoover and Jasinda Wilder. Colleen Hoover’s Slammed series is my favorite…those books made me cry. Hard. Fiction doesn’t do that to me too often. I’m not a crier (although my best friend might beg to differ). Jane Austen and Edgar Allen Poe are favorites too…oh! And I love Frankenstein. Mary Shelley also wrote my favorite short story, The Mortal Immortal.

I don’t really have a writing schedule or anything. I write when I feel like it but typically it’s early in the morning or late at night. I work at home and live with my mom, and I’m also single because I choose to be, so it frees up a lot of my time to focus on writing. I moved back home so I could save money on rent and something about living in this mountain in Estill has always driven my writing into overdrive. I schedule my work week around certain days to have off so I can write more. I never outline. Well, okay, I outline, but usually I end up not following it. I have a disorganized notebook I jot ideas down in that I never look at unless it was something really important.

Shortly before Maime, my dad’s mom, died she told me I needed to write romance (she and mom eventually started talking again). I was eighteen. Her reasoning behind it was that I was a good writer and sex always sells. I had my ups and downs with that woman, and so did my mom because of the way Maime treated her after my Dad died, but she couldn’t have given me better advice. And considering the fact I’ve read so many romance novels? Kind of a sign I should write it, don’t you think? I love writing romance since I finally decided to listen to myself and my grandmother.

I want to keep writing them. I want to touch people. An evil part of me might want to make them cry, but if my love of romance (both reading and writing it) moves someone, I feel like that is incredible. I’m moving away from fanfiction—and keep getting reviews from my readers there where they’re telling me to keep writing because they don’t care what I work on—and it’s been a hard, but good, decision.

I write a crazy amount. I just finished a 93k novel that I’m now going to soon rewrite in first person. I wrote 50,000 words this past November during NaNoWrimo (I’ve been participating since 2007). I have some of my fanfiction, All This Time (about 119k words) published along with my first novel, Cheap Guitars (a good 60k). Typically I like to write 4,000 words (if not more) a day. More if I write another chapter to a different story (and usually I do). 20/25 pages between two chapters for two different stories isn’t unusual for me.

The reason I was listing off my word counts from my work? Let’s ignore the fact that I’m a word count whore-I’ve written about 322,000 words since I started All This Time with my friend in late 2012. I can’t even begin to imagine how many pages that is (although Cheap Guitars is 240 pages, and Head Over Hoof, the story I just finished, will be about 490 pages). I was in a really bad writing rut before that, part in due to a marriage ending and the other being that I was so busy with school. I only had time to work on short stories. I truly believe that after a certain point something just clicks in a writer’s brain and then it’s hard to stop writing because it just comes so naturally (anyone who begs to differ? Go write a novel during NaNoWriMo and don’t give me any bad excuses about how you’re too busy because I managed my first one in the middle of taking 15 credit hours at EKU, having a pretty solid social life, a part time job, and the new freedom of being able to drink whenever I wanted wine since I had just turned twenty-one—keep going ‘til you hit that 50k). I tend to work on two stories at a time now and sometimes I’ll pull out two chapters for two different stories. Right now I only have Petrova Blood (All This Time sequel…gotta finish that one last one then that’s it for fanfiction) to worry about and it’s making me itchy. Since I wrote through that rut and work on more than one story a day I’ve prevented myself from having a really bad writer’s block by working on more than one project. It hinders me now if I’m only working on one story at a time.

You know, if I’m not procrastinating by knitting or playing with my rabbits. Or writing guest blog posts (haha).

And hey! Knitting isn’t just for little old ladies! I’ve knitted some beautiful stuff. And it gives my characters a hobby since I understand how it works.

Self-publishing wasn’t an easy decision to make. For the longest time I was under the impression I wanted to submit to Harlequin to get a publishing deal but then I realized how much more rewarding it would be to myself if I became my own publisher (not to mention you get far more in royalties). I think it’s changing now but some of the creative writing professors at Eastern Kentucky University frowned upon it (it doesn’t matter if they don’t think it’s a good thing; they have amazing writers teaching there nonetheless) so that was another issue I had to struggle through in order to finally talk myself into publishing.

Also sort of helps I have a fairy godmother whispering in my ear to publish (she’s an old friend of my mother’s). It was nerve-wracking, but so rewarding, and I getting ready to do it all over again. Mick (brother) won’t read my stuff, but he still snarked at me that I needed to publish, too. Well, I listened, and now I might become addicted to seeing my books on my bookshelf.

I actually should get to writing and hush.

No. Really. I’ve got Scrivener up and I’ve spent enough time babbling to people who don’t know me at all. I want to work on Cheap Tricks, my next novel in the Cheap series.

If you want to read Cheap Guitars you can find me on Amazon published under “Mara A. Miller.” Here’s the link: Cheap Guitars for Kindle is $2.99 and the paperback is $8.99. I’m planning to release that novel I just finished, Head Over Hoof, sometime in September or October (I have to rewrite some of it before it’ll be ready…and maybe find an editor).

Don’t make fun of the odd formatting if you get the physical copy of Cheap Guitars. I screwed up the page numbers on the physical copy (SO learned my lesson!)."