Nikki

Guest Bloggers Are Coming — Keep an Eye Out!

During one of our chats at The Creative Alliance, one of our members mentioned guest blogging on each other’s sites, which is a great idea because it exposes our readers to new voices.

So the other night I sat down and brainstormed topics to write about with fellow TCA member Patrick. We came up with a pretty cool topic, so we’re excited to share each other’s posts with all of you.

If you are interested in guest blogging, you can reach me at nicole@nicoleireland.com.

Funny Stories About My Kids

Whenever I sit down to write a blog post, I try desperately to find something really funny to say, but who the hell am I kidding? I’m not some comedic genius filled with profound insight and an ability to make everyone laugh. It’s just not me, and I’ve come to accept that. Don’t get me wrong, if any of you have some magical dust that you could sprinkle on me that would make everyone laugh at my jokes, great. Let me know.

Now my kids, on the other hand, are a completely different story. They’re incredibly funny, and I’m not just saying that because they’re my kids. They seriously are. My dad’s wittiness skipped me and was passed onto them.

So today, I’m going to regal you with a couple of stories about these two because, well, I can. I’m their momma and extremely proud of them, so if you don’t like reading stories about kids, GO AWAY!

The first stories I’m going to share with you are about my 8-year-old daughter. I love her to pieces, but she is seriously the most warped child I have ever met. I don’t mean that she walks around looking for mice or whatever to roast on a spicket. I mean, she finds things funny at her age that most adults don’t find amusing. Just ask my mom.

Ms. Thing also has the knack for cracking jokes that leave the rest of us looking at her, wondering where the hell it came from. We then, usually, start laughing to the point we have tears in our eyes and the need to pee.

So sit back and enjoy!

Story number 1: Just a couple of weeks ago, my mom, dad, Mini Me and I all went to New Hampshire to visit my brother and his boy toy. So we decided we’d go to the park not too far from the mall. As we driving through Dover Point to get there, we passed a cemetery, which inspired my daughter to say, “Oh look, a dead zone.”

The truck got real quiet while we stared at her and then we just started laughing. She looked at us, all straight faced and said, “What did I say?”

Now that may sound like a really corny joke to all of you, but you have to remember, she’s only eight, and the timing was perfect.

Story number 2: About a year and a half after my son’s birth my daughter came up to me and asked if we could return her brother to CVS. (At the time I was standing in my mom’s kitchen chatting with her about nothing.) My mom and I just looked at each other, trying to figure out where the conversation was headed because, when it comes to my daughter, there’s just no telling.

I finally asked my daughter, “Why do you want to return your brother to CVS?”

And I will NEVER forget her response or her logic. “Since that’s the place that you bought the white stick to pee on so you could get pregnant, that’s where he came from. So we should be able to return him.”

I was stunned. I’ve always been amazed by the way a child’s mind works. The way they connect ideas is amazing to me, so the fact that she thought I got pregnant from a pregnancy test from CVS cracks me up.

Of course, I returned with, “Well, we could try. But I think that return policy expired 30 days after he was born.”

The last two stories are much shorter and have to do with my son.

Story number 3: Over the past six months, my son’s vocabulary has flourished, and I’m a bit ashamed to say that some of his new words aren’t appropriate.

I have a horrible potty mouth when I drop or spill things. Usually “son of a bitch” comes out. Well, Mr. Smarty Pants figured out quite easily how to say it, so one day, he accidentally spilled some juice or milk on the kitchen floor. He looked at it and said “Oh, son of a bitch.”

I tried really hard not to laugh, but the look on his face after he said it was priceless, so I, of course, couldn’t control my laughter.

From that day on, I’ve really had to watch what I say around him because he has no problem with swear words.

Story number 4: I, like a lot of moms these days, attempted to breast feed my son. Long story short, I made it about two weeks before the doctor’s said to me it was best if I stopped because I wasn’t producing enough milk to feed the little monster. Ever since then, though, he’s been a bit obsessed with my chest, which according to other mom’s that I’ve talked to is pretty normal.

Yesterday, I was sitting on the floor, playing with his trains with him. He looked at me, patted me on the boob and said, “Lake likes yo boobs.” (Lake is how he refers to himself since his first name is Blake.)

When he said that, I could not stop laughing. So I guess that’s a good sign that he’s going to be a boob man when he’s older.

Jennifer Hudock Blog Tour

Dark Journeys Blog Tour

I know it’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything,but it’s not because I’ve been lazy. I’ve had a sick little one to deal with on top of setting up my new site, so it’s been a bit crazy for me. More so than normal.

If you’ve taken the time to look around, you’ve probably noticed some formatting issues with my posts. All the posts that I imported from Blogger are messed up, so I have to fix each one individually. Not fun. Until they are all in tip top shape, please ignore their sad state.

And now for the fun stuff. As you know, I’m a huge fan of author Jennifer Hudock. In the year and a half or so that I’ve known her, she’s become a dear friend of mine, providing me with advice and support when I needed it most.

Her and I have had many talks about our dreams and what our futures hold. I remember her once telling me that she would love to freelance write for a living. And at that time, I thought if there’s anyone I know that can do it, it’s her. Jenny has an amazing amount of determination and ambition, so I knew great things were in store for her. And I wasn’t wrong.

Ms. Hudock has been working very hard on not only freelance writing, but her fiction writing, as well. And as a result, she is participating in a blog tour to help promote her work. Throughout the tour, she’ll stop by and either take part in a written interview or a podcast where she’ll discuss Goblin Market, the Dark Journeys collection and so much more. So make sure to keep your eyes open. (You can find the first interview below.)

May 2010

May 14, 2010: Jim – Yes, THAT Jim (Posted)

May 17, 2010: Edward G. Talbot

May 19, 2010: Morgan Elektra of Trickster Moon Productions

May 21, 2010: Ramblings of English with Chandra Jenkins

May 24, 2010: Paddy’s Wanderings with Patrick Pillars

May 27, 2010: Drew Beatty

May 29, 2010: Scrivener’s Circle with David Sobkowiak and Laura Frechette

Ms. Hudock is still finalizing blog tour dates for June. (Mine is the 19th, I believe.) If you would like to participate in the blog tour, but have not signed up yet, you can contact Ms. Hudock at jennybeanses@gmail.com.

My Red Sharpie is My Best Friend

Over the past few days, I’ve become really close with my red sharpie. We worked together and attacked my short story in an attempt to make it perfect. While I’m still not sure that it’s as good as it can be, I do think it’s one step closer. Or maybe I’m being too hard on myself. It wouldn’t be the first time.

The hardest part about editing this particular story is having to deal with these emotions it evokes in me. There were times over the past couple days that I balled my eyes out as I read what I wrote. It’s common practice for me to read the dialogue out loud, almost as though I’m acting it out, to see if it’s believable. I figure if I end up crying, laughing or whatever, then I’m doing something right.

On a good note, a friend of mine told me that as soon as I publish this story, she will buy it, which was nice to hear. I can’t wait to see how others respond to it.

To be honest, though, I’m scared because most of my friends are writers of fantasy and/or horror, and while I’m huge fan of those kinds of stories, my own is nothing like theirs, so I’m worried that it’ll pale in comparison, even though it comes from my heart and is filled with little pieces of me. So I’m crossing my fingers that the story finds a home in other people’s hearts and gives them hope and let’s them know they aren’t alone.

Only Us

I wrote this poem about five years ago. Shortly afterwards, I put it together with pictures of my daughter.

As you can see, I’m sure, there are TONS of errors. There are definitely parts that should be rewritten. However, since it’s Mother’s Day, I’d thought I’d share it with all of you. It reflects the relationship I have with my Mini Me.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even take the time today and rework “Only Us.”

A New Dark Journeys Tale From Ms. Hudock

This week my good friend Ms. Jennifer Hudock released another Dark Journeys short story. The newest installment, entitled Ahoy, Matey, is a perfect read for those who were once tormented during their high school years. (Like moi!)

Ms. Hudock was kind of enough to post the following excerpt on her official site:

Ahoy, Matey!

“It’s that damn reunion,” Todd said. “It’s all you’ve been able to think about for the last week.”

Sondra’s mind ebbed against the blank shore of memory. Had she been preoccupied about the reunion? She supposed she was a little. She hadn’t seen a single person she went to school with since graduation day. After high school she went to college in upstate New York. There she met Todd. They’d gotten married and settled in Buffalo, and she hadn’t gone back to that godforsaken Pennsylvania town since.

She was looking forward to showing them that she’d become something far greater than anyone ever expected, and she was no thing to be teased or tormented.

“Have I really been that bad?” she asked.

Todd squeezed her shoulder and shook his head, “Nah. I just don’t understand why you’re letting yourself get so stressed out over this whole thing. They’re just people, and I’m sure most of them are fatter than they should be, half-bald and not near as interesting as you once thought them.”

“I guess,” she shrugged. “I just really want to walk into that thing and wow them, you know? Show them that there is more to me than meets the eye.”

He leaned down and kissed her cheek, “Then be yourself.”

She leaked air through her teeth like a flattening bicycle tire and pressed her back against the sturdy frame of the chair. “I suppose,” she said, but she didn’t mention anything about the longing for revenge that continuously cropped up in her mind.

God how she hated them, every last one of them.

She shouldn’t even go to the damn reunion, she hated them all that much, but it was the drive to show them she was better than them now, that she had married well and her husband loved her just the way she was. She wanted to see, like Todd had suggested, how pathetic and uninteresting they all were now, and the worst part was that a part of her was so angry with herself for being petty about it all.

She wasn’t fifteen anymore, and the Pirate’s Treasure label hadn’t described her for more than a decade. She was Sondra McCabe: hip librarian, loving wife and she had a beautiful body thanks to plastic surgery.

But still… she wanted to crush them all. Smash their heads against the concrete and tear their brains…

Sondra shook off the hideous imagery of her own mind and pressed her back into her husband.

“I really wish you could come along,” she told him.

“Me too, Babe,” Todd squeezed her shoulder once before patting it with his hand and stepping away from the chair.

“I mean, it really makes it difficult for me to show off my stunning sex god of a husband without him by my side.”

“I tried to get someone to cover for me, but Dalton wasn’t having it. I’m his star man,” Todd’s curls rustled when he shook his head. “The only one who can get the job done.”

Sondra imagined tearing that self-righteous windbag Dobbins’s head clean from his shoulders and cracking it open on the sidewalk like a ripe summer melon filled with warm, oozing brains. As soon as she caught herself thinking about it, she stifled her gag reflex, and pinched her lips tight together.

“Why must you always be so goddamned reliable?” she distracted herself with the jest, elbowing the top of his thigh, which still rested behind her. “I suppose I’ll go it alone.”

“You’ll dazzle them, I swear it.”

She’d rather destroy them, she thought.Tear them all limb from limb with gnashing teeth. In her imagination she was a rabid animal, some wild, lycanthropic beast, only there was no full moon, and she felt wholly driven to devour their brains. Maybe she ought to just stay home, she thought. Maybe no one would even notice that she hadn’t shown up.

“I wish I felt as certain as you did.”

“Be the confident and beautiful girl I know you are,” Todd said, “and they will all fall hopelessly in love with you.”

Sondra bit her tongue to keep from admitting that she had no desire for them to fall in love with her. Or maybe she did. Maybe she wanted more than anything to be the center of their attention the same way she was in high school, only instead of the object of their mutual disdain, she would be the object of their desire. She wanted them to want her, to swallow hard against their disbelief when she walked into the room, but more than anything, she wanted to destroy them all.

Todd kissed her on the cheek before he slid out of the room to start dinner, and Sondra felt momentarily reassured by his comment and her own inner-dialogue.

She’d gone hundreds of places without him since they’d been married, made dozens of friends and acquaintances over the years. She was stronger and more confident than she had ever been as a teenager, so what did she have to worry about?

Sondra’s eyes scanned the reflection in the mirror, her own reflection. Her eyes flittered across the pronounced rigidity of her collarbone in contrast to the soft, firm mounds of flesh that hovered atop her chest. The bruise was still there, still hideous in its coloration, and a broken vein had veered off from it and crawled the length of her milky white shoulder. It was darker, almost black beneath the skin. Both disgusted and fascinated by it, Sondra wondered if something ruptured inside her, maybe one of her implants was leaking.

No. Denial leaped quick in response, as though something beyond her own mind triggered the impulse. It placated, rather than disturbed her.

“It’s just a vein,” she traced her finger along the river of it, toward her shoulder and into the loose tendrils of her hair. “Nothing to get excited about.”

Besides, no one would see it anyway. It wasn’t like she was planning on flashing the whole entire graduating class of 1997.

If you would like to read Ahoy, Matey in its entirety, you can purchase a copy through Smashwords or Amazon for less than a dollar. So head on over and get your copy now!

An Interview with "Dream Wanderers" Author, Paula Brown, Part 3

Thank you all for stopping by again today to read the final installment in the Paula Brown interview. If you haven’t read Part 1 or 2 yet, please make sure to do so. 

Q: What are your goals? What would you like to accomplish next? 

A: I want and need to finish my sequel. The story is done, I just need to find the time for one more look through it. I will probably have one more book in that series and there is another series that has been bugging me for a long time that I just haven’t done anything with. 

Q: What advice do you have for other writers?

A: Write for yourself. Don’t do it for others and don’t do it expecting to become the next famous author, because it won’t happen. If you write for yourself then you just may end up with something that you are proud of, like I did. 

Q: How do you feel about content mills? 

A: They have their place, I guess. I do work for them because it gives me a chance to write and get paid for it. What I don’t like about the content mills is that readers will assume that the author is an expert, which most of the time they aren’t. I wrote one “How To” type of article a while ago that I STILL have no idea of what I was talking about. I also wish that some of them had higher standards as far as grammar is concerned. 

Q: Are there any you’d recommend over others? 

A: I love Word Gigs! They treat their writers with respect and really listen to us. I have also have a love/hate relationship with Demand Studios. When things are going well with them they are fantastic but in my opinion they don’t have a good enough communication system set up.

Q: How you do you balance your writing with being a mom and wife?

A: I gave up sleep. Okay, kidding aside, I try to get a couple of hours of writing done in the morning when I have some time to myself. I also will work a couple of hours in the evening. The rest of the day I just try to grab a few minutes to write here and there.

One of the most important parts of my day is the daily walk that my daughter and I go on. We walk about five miles every day, rain or shine, no excuses. We have been in several 5, 8 and, 10K races, and we even did a half marathon. It’s become an important part of our lives and it’s been a real bonding experience. 

Q: Do you find it hard to fit in time to write? 

A: The hard part for me isn’t finding the time, it’s forcing myself to write when I have the time. It’s just too easy to make excuses.

Q: Do you feel a mother should be able to follow her dreams? And if yes, how should they go about balancing it all?

A: That’s a very interesting question because becoming a mother always was my biggest dream. The moment that my daughter was born I felt like a missing piece of me was suddenly there. Past that, though, following a dream is important and mothers should do it. It should just never be at the expense of her family. (The same goes for dads.)


I guess that the best way to balance it all is to schedule and to share responsibilities. A wife and mother does not have to do EVERYTHING, even though many of us feel like it is all up to us. Wives and mothers need to learn to delegate some of their responsibilities. The kids can help out, and Dad can too. If the dream is something that can be accomplished with the family then she should definitely go for it. If the dream is at the expense of the family, then that’s a different story. 


* Thank you all, again, for taking the time to read this 3-part interview. (Hopefully I’ll be able to post more like this in the future. If you’re interested in doing an interview, please feel free to contact me.) I also want to thank Paula for making this possible.

An Interview with "Dream Wanderers" Author, Paula Brown, Part 2

Here you go folks! This is the 2nd part to the Paula Brown interview. Part 1 was posted last night. 
Q: What successes have you had since? 
A: I’ve co-written a series of books on Walt Disney World. As I already mentioned, I have a novel called “Dream Wanderers”. The sequel is getting closer to completion. And I have written probably thousands of Internet articles for varies companies.
Q: Who would you say influenced your writing? Who do you look up to?

A: I have two major influences. My first one is A.A. Milne. I have loved Winnie the Pooh my entire life and some of my best childhood memories are sitting in my father’s lap and reading the books together.
My other major influence is my sister, Nancy Holzner. Nancy is a serious writer and makes a living full time at it, as does her husband. She has written several computer books under the name Nancy Conner, and she has had two novels recently published with well respected publishers. She has encouraged me and helped me out every step of the way. I never would have done any of this without her.
As far as looking up to someone it would be my parents, who always put their kids and grandchildren first (they still do), and my late grandparents…simple the most incredible people that I ever knew. 
Q: How did you find your publisher?

A: This is kind of a strange story. I am a huge fan of Walt Disney World and am a member of some fan sites. One day I received an email that there was a publisher who was looking for people to write reviews on various rides for a series of books on the parks. I wrote to him and asked if he needed someone to write about Star Tours. The next thing I knew I was writing ride reviews left and right, enough that I got my name on the covers of the books.
In talking with the publisher I mentioned that I had written a novel, and he asked if he could take a look at it. The next thing I knew he wanted to publish it. It’s a very small company, but he really believes in me and that has made a huge difference in my confidence level.
 Q: What part of the publishing process was the hardest?

Since it is a small company I was responsible for getting the manuscript print ready, and I kept having all these blank pages! That was hard for me to figure out; computers confuse me. The other part is the promotion of it. I’m not very good at self promotion, and it is really hard to get the name of a new book out there.
 
Q: Is there anything you would do differently in regards to getting published?


A: I don’t think so. I would rather have a small publisher that likes me than a large one who always tells me everything that I do is wrong.
 
Q: How do you get over submission nerves? How do you handle rejections? Any advice?

A: Since I didn’t exactly find my publisher by the normal route, I didn’t really have to deal with rejections there. Before I found him I was looking for an agent and ran across someone who was rather cold. I took a deep breath and just kept looking. The trick, I think, is to not take it personally, which is next to impossible because writers put a little bit of their soul into their work. 
*Please check back tomorrow for the final installment where Paula discusses future goals, writing for content mills and following your dreams.

An Interview with "Dream Wanderers" Author, Paula Brown, Part 1

As some of you know by now, I’ve been working from home for several years. Over the course of that time, I’ve met some truly amazing people who create works of art from their words alone. Paula Brown, the author of Dream Wanderers, is one such person. (You can purchase Paula’s novel through DriveThru SciFi.)

Recently, I asked Paula if she would be interested in answering some questions regarding writing and working from home. She said yes, and the answers below are the end result. We hope you enjoy!

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?


A: Sure, I was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in Western Massachusetts and will always consider myself a New Englander, no matter where I live. (As I write this I live in Virginia, but we’re moving to Florida in June.)

I’ve always been into the arts. I’ve played the flute since I was 10, and I studied theater in college. I eventually became a disc jockey at a radio station in Western MA. I was offered a job with a station in VA and took it. I met my future husband in the station parking lot. (We will have been married for 21 years in September.) I left the station when my daughter was born in 1991 and never looked back.

Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to write for a living?


A: I never really realized that I COULD write for a living. I would write because I loved to write. I’ve always enjoyed making things up. Sometimes I would write them down and sometimes I would just play them out in my head. I never really thought about it as a career of any type until I found out about places like Demand Studios. 

Q: Have you always wanted to share your work with others?


A: No, pretty much the opposite. My fiction has always been very internal, and I was always scared to let anyone read it. When I wrote “Dream Wanderers”, though, something was different. I was happy with the way it came out, and I loved the ending so much that I wanted to share my work for the first time.


Q: Where do you get your ideas from? What inspires you?


A: They just kind of come to me. I’m a huge Star Wars” fan, and I have always loved the idea of creating an entirely new universe.
 

 Q: When did you publish your first piece of work?


A: The very first piece that I consider published was a poem that I wrote for the official website for the original “Battlestar Galactica”. I don’t write poetry and this was very much a tongue in cheek piece. I had included the words “A Very Bad Poem” in the title, but they removed that when they put it on the site. The site has changed drastically, though, and I don’t think it’s there anymore.
 

*This marks the end of part one. Please check back tomorrow to read more of the Paula Brown interview.

A Must Read From Jennifer Hudock

One of my goals in life is to help other’s find success and see their dreams realized. It’s important to me to pay good deeds forward, so that is one I’m doing today.
If you’ve never read a Jennifer Hudock story, you don’t know what you’re missing. She is one of the most talented and gifted people that I know, and I’ve been hooked on her writing since the first time I read one of her short stories. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a huge fan of hers and will do what I can to support her.
If you’re looking for something new and exciting to read, then here is your chance! Ms. Hudock just added Dark Journeys #6 ‘The Faerie’s Kiss’ to Amazon and Smashwords for $.99. If you purchase a copy of ‘The Faerie’s Kiss’ and take a snapshot of your receipt, she’ll even grant you access to the podcast version of the upcoming seventh installment in the Dark Journeys series.
If you would like more information on the Dark Journeys short story collection, please visit Ms. Hudock’s site where you’ll find links and information on the previous installments in the collection.