Wednesday, April 30, 2014

End of the Month Stress Buster

It's that time again. The month is almost over, and it's time to work on getting rid of that stress that's built up over the last thirty days. So how are we going to deal with it this month?

For this month's stress buster, we're talking about giving that stress out into the universe through meditation. One thing I want to make sure that everyone feels comfortable with is that meditation doesn't have to be a religious or spiritual exercise. It can simply be something that allows you to find your inner calm once again.

In order to do this month's stress buster, you'll need a quiet place. If you're fond of nature and the weather is nice, take a blanket and head outside under the sun. If you're staying inside, you'll need something comfortable to sit on and something to play some calming music. I would highly suggest anything on Enya's CD Paint the Sky with Stars or this noise generator that can be found here. Both have a lot of music and sounds that are highly relaxing. 

To get the most out of this stress buster, you want to give yourself time to relax and time to spend alone. You'll need some privacy just to get yourself into a calm place for yourself. 

Here's what to do for this month's stress buster:
  1. Get comfortable sitting wherever you are. Sit on a blanket or a pillow to make sure that you're comfortable.
  2. If you're playing music, adjust the sound so that it is low enough that you can hear it but not so loud that it's going to interfere with being able to relax and concentrate.
  3. Close your eyes and relax your body. Find a comfortable position.
  4. One at a time, imagine each of your worries or stressors as colored marbles that you're placing in a basket. As you place each one in the basket, name the stress and give it a color. The darker the color, the more this stress is making you worry. Use blues, purples, and reds for highly stressing subjects. 
  5. Once you've placed all your marbles in the basket, imagine that you're mixing the marbles together and that they're turning into shades of paint. 
  6. Imagine pouring the paint out--mixed into a thousand colors--and watching it flow away in a river. Let the stress go down the river into the universe and allow it to flow out of your body.
By naming your stress, it gives you a way to make them into a form that you can acknowledge and deal with. It helps to make your stresses manageable. 

I hope this stress buster helps to relax you and get rid of some of the stress that's built up over this month. I know it helps me to deal with stress to do this meditation visualization. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Learning to Tweet

One of the things I've had to learn as a writer is how to use social media and other things like that to be able to spread the word about my books and myself. I suppose the biggest thing I've used to promote things is Twitter, and I've had to learn how to use that platform in order to get my words out there.

It was hard to figure out what to Tweet and how to use it. One of the things that I did at first was to follow a lot of writers and see what they tweeted about. It was a good way to see what kind of things should be put out there when it comes to my writing. And what I found out was that the writers that I followed tweeted about just about everything. It wasn't all about the books or things like that. So that meant that I had a bit of an open forum to use Twitter.

For a while, I tweeted a lot of links about this blog and other things like that. And I definitely tweet to the other authors that I follow when I read one of their books and I just love it. I've made a few friends on Twitter in other independent authors. And it means a lot to me when they talk about their books and ask about how mine is going.

Sometimes I go a few days without tweeting, but that might not be the best thing. Especially when I want to make sure that I've got a presence on social media to keep my name out there. Doesn't mean that it's always on everyone's lips, but it's good to at least keep myself out there.

So here are a few things that I learned about tweeting:

  1. Be consistent and tweet often
  2. But don't be obnoxious about it
  3. Tweet about those things that are important
  4. Use Twitter to thank the wonderful people who support you
  5. Be honest and make it fun

Monday, April 28, 2014

I Need a Home Office

The longer I spend my time working and writing, I start to think about the things that I should have in my house. And the one thing I'd love to have is a full fledged home office.

In the house I live in now, there really isn't space for a real home office. There aren't enough rooms and there are too many people for me to have a space all my own for writing and all that good stuff. Right now, I have a little space in my bedroom that I'm using as an office area. But it seems like I spend very little time in that space because I'm always somewhere else in the house.

I'd like to have my own room where I can set up a little library space with a few bookcases and a desk with all of my writing materials all in the same area. A space where I can go and turn on some writing music and be able to get a lot of work done.

Maybe I feel like that would make me a more legitimate writer. But I know it would make me feel more organized if I could have all of my writing books, notes, and things all put together somewhere on the desk with my computer and everything else. Because right now I'm writing on a little desk that I can carry around my house, and I don't like it so much. Mostly because I type relatively fast and the desk wobbles whenever I get going on a roll.

Yeah, I think my goal is to be able to have my own home office.

I suppose that means that I'll have to find a new place to live. And that might not happen for a while.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Style

Have you ever looked in the mirror and wondered who you really are? Why you talk the way you talk or dress the way you do? Or maybe even just tried to figure out why you go through the things you do and how that's shaped your view of the world. 

Sometimes I try to take a step back and figure out who I am and how the things I've gone through have made me become the person I am--both in my writing and in my life. And I wonder how those things have fed into my style. My life style, my writing style, and everything that goes along with that. 

When it comes to clothes, I'm slightly emo. I like to think that I'm a little bit rocker chick and a little bit girl next door. I'll wear flip flops with jeans, but a shirt and a scarf covered with skulls. Lots of chunky jewelry that draws attention. And I love shoes with big heels and lots of accessories. I have a pair of boots with little rivet spikes on the front that I just love. And I have LOTS of skull jewelry. I love that stuff.

Maybe it's because I work in an anatomy lab in my day job.

When it comes to my writing, I guess it's a whole other ball game. I'm not entirely sure what's going on sometimes--I just get into a writing zone and it doesn't stop easily. Sometimes it's like I put a little of myself in the writing, and the characters come out something like me and something like themselves. Other times, the characters are like people that I've never met and I'm trying to figure them out. It's like moving to a new place and knowing that you have to assimilate quickly or be an outcast forever. 

Most of my novels are written in the first person, although I've gone through a period where I wrote in third person. Somehow, that just doesn't feel like me. It doesn't seem like it's my writing style. I like to be in the mind of my characters, feeling what they're feeling and seeing what they're seeing. That's the best way.

I guess my style is something that is uniquely me. 

And that's just the way it's supposed to be. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Cover Designing

One of the things that comes up with self-publishing authors is the fact that we have to do nearly everything by ourselves. There's little that we can send off to others to do--mostly because of the fact that we don't have the time or the money to pass on some responsibilities. And we want to keep a tight hold on our babies since we've been working on them for so long.

Something that I've had to learn how to do is to design my own covers. It isn't the easiest thing to do--even though the platform that I am publishing through has a wonderful cover designing template--since you have to get everything just right. There's spacing issues and a thousand other things that have to be considered when you put together a book cover.

More than anything, it has to fit the story that you're trying to tell. It has to draw attention and make the reader want to pick up the book to read it. And that's something hard to do, especially when you're so tightly attached to your book that you don't know how to step back and make it new and interesting.

I have to admit that I loved designing the new cover, though. It was a new skill that I could pick up and a good way for me to find a new angle to think about my story. I had to step back and figure out what was really important about the book. What was so unique that I had to put it on the cover? And how would I make it look?

There was some trial and error involved, but I think I finally got it right in the end. Sure a professional could have done something different, but I think what I've got is a pretty damn good try for a newbie. And I think it makes a great connection to the way that the story goes.

I've already started looking at the covers for the last novel in the series and the cover for my newest series. With a sister like mine who can help to pull the graphics together, I think it'll all turn out just fine.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Dreams, Naps, and Getting Bored

Sometimes I feel like all I do is sleep. That's what I like to do. If I'm not reading, and I'm not writing--I want to be asleep. I guess that's because I run around so much trying to do fifty different things at the same time. Or that I'm just lazy sometimes.

And that's okay.

I prefer to sleep just because I'm relaxed, and I don't get to relax very much. I feel like I'm doing a thousand things all at once, and I never get to relax. So when I get the chance to sleep, I will. And I sometimes have some very strange dreams.

I wish I was one of those writers who saw their stories in their dreams. Or who could turn their dreams into new stories. I tend to hear things on the radio and get an idea for a story. Or have these little "voices" in my head that tell me the stories.

There are times when I get bored pretty easy. Sometimes it's when I'm writing. Sometimes it's when I'm just hanging out watching television. And most of the time when I get bored, I do one of two things--sleep or eat. Honestly, neither one of them is the best idea of things to do. At least not on a long term basis.

Sometimes I wish I could have really vivid dreams like other people do. It would be great. I would be so happy with it if I could. I know one person who has such vivid, real dreams that sometimes she can't tell if she's awake or asleep. What do I have to do to have dreams like that?!

In fact, right now I'm tired. I wish I could go back to bed.

Sleep would be good.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Clothes Shopping and Plus Sizes

I'm one of those people who absolutely hates clothes shopping. And that's for several different reasons. Mostly it's because I just don't have the patience to go through a store and look at fifty thousand different things. I much prefer to shop online or do something like that.

But most of all, I hate having to shop in the plus size section.

I know I can fix that by losing weight, but everyone knows that's hard. And I like food just too much.

It isn't so much about the fact that I'm seen in the plus sized section, because I really don't care about that. Honestly, anyone can look at me and see that I'm plus sized. Period. My real problem is that there are never any "good" clothes in the plus sized section.

The clothes are either way too big and make me look like I'm wearing a tent, or they're too small and make me look pregnant. What am I supposed to do?

I used to shop at Cato's, which has a decent selection of clothes in plus sizes. But the problem was that Cato's was really dressy and catered to a more "mature" clientele. Every once in a blue moon there might be something that was up my alley as far as fashion was concerned. But that was a rare occurrence.

Then I discovered this wonderful store known as Torrid. It's a sister company to Hot Topic, and they are fantastic. They cater to younger women in the plus size range. And it is a fabulous place to shop because the clothes are cool, the workers are the same shape as me, and I don't feel ashamed when I go shopping.

So sometimes it doesn't suck so much.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My Dream Vacation

With my week long vacation coming up soon, I started thinking about what my dream vacation would actually look like. I can't say that it would ever happen, but I would love to be able to spend a few days in London. That would be a wonderful vacation.

I can see it now. I'd arrive at Heathrow and go straight to my hotel in order to get over the slight jet lag. I think I'd go to London a day early so that I'd have a day to adjust to the time difference and everything. That way I could spend my entire week going around the city to see everything that there was to see.

There are a lot of places in London that I would like to see. Of course, there are the big tourist draws--London Bridge, Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London. But I think I'd go to a bunch of other places around the country as well. I would go to visit the graves of the Princes of the Tower. I would want to see the battlefields of St. Albans and Tewksbury. I'd ride the London Eye and take the train to Cardiff to see Wales.

And who knows, maybe I'd take a day and travel across the Channel to France and visit Harfleur and Agincourt because I'm such a history nerd. I don't want to see Paris or the big cities. I want to see the oldest parts of the country--the parts that were tied up in English history as well.

That's my idea of a dream vacation, but I don't think it would ever happen. I'm just not that lucky as far as having the funds or the time to go on such a trip. But I can't say that I wouldn't absolutely enjoy it.

In fact, it would be the best thing that could ever happen to me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Places I Would Most Like to Live

I have to admit, I've never been one of those people who think where I live is the best place in the world. True, North Carolina is a beautiful state. But the weather is crazy and sometimes it's so hot that I just can't stand it. And when it rains, it freezes me to death even though I prefer the rain over the sun.

So I started thinking--mostly when I was scouting out locations online for similarities for my next book--what other places would I love to live? Where else in the world would I be willing to settle down and start a new life?

Here are my top ten places to live other than where I live right now...

1. Anywhere in England
2. Paris
3. Rome
4. New Zealand
5. New York City
6. Hawaii
7. Los Angeles
8. San Fransico
9. Boston
10. Seattle

Monday, April 21, 2014

2014 Book Challenge Update

This is the first year that I've taken part in a reading challenge, and I have to admit that I'm really enjoying it. I set the bar kind of high with a goal of 60 books for the year, which I now think that I'm going to be able to hit with no problem since I've started the review blog.

I'm actually almost a third of the way through already. As of Sunday, April 20, I have read 19 books. Which is pretty impressive when you think about it.

I'm pretty impressed with myself as I've finished a majority of the books within a few days. Although there were some real world things that came up that threw my reading schedule off. I hate it when things like that happen, but I'm still on par to get through the books by Halloween I think. Because at the rate that I'm reading, I should be two thirds of the way through the list by the end of the summer.

Of the 19 books that I've read so far this year, I have to say that my favorites have been the two available books in the All Saints Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. The two books were right up my alley with plenty of paranormal elements, romance, and tons of history. It was brilliant. And even though I enjoyed reading it, my least favorite was Slither. It just didn't fit very well with me.

I look forward to the other books that are on my list. And it's going to be a good year trying to hit that goal.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Okay, I love my Kindle

I swore a very long time ago that I would never EVER get a Kindle or any kind of e-Reader. Mostly because I enjoy the physical feel of paper and book board in my hands. I like the smell of book glue and ink.

But I have to admit that I love my Kindle. I love, love, LOVE it.

True, it's an old first generation that I got from a friend, but I don't need it for games or anything like that. All I need it for is reading. And this makes it so much easier for me to read eBooks that are sent to me for reviews. I can take it with me and catch up on reading as I go through things. And it doesn't mean that I have to carry a laptop with me everywhere to read on my Kindle App on my computer.

I suppose I'm old fashioned. Mostly because I've grown up with physical books, and I want to die with physical books. But I guess e-Readers aren't so very bad. Especially when the only format I have the books in is digital.

There's nothing fancy about my e-Reader. And that's just the way I like it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

My Guilty Pleasure: Marriage Boot Camp

If you've followed my blog for any amount of time, you've probably realized that I am a big fan of reality television. Talk shows. Dramas. Whatever... I like it. Who knows why, since I haven't quite figured it out myself.

One of my guilty pleasures--one show that I never miss no matter when it's on or how many times I've seen it--is WE TV's Marriage Boot Camp. It's a show about the couples who were on the show Bridezillas who are now having issues in their marriage. It's a therapy show where the couples go through different drills and challenges to attempt to fix the problems in their marriage.

I love this show for several different reasons, but mostly because the problems are so real. Infidelity, anger, alcoholism, all of them are problems that are smack in the middle of the human condition. What real people go through on a daily basis. I suppose that's why I love reality television so much. Because it shows the worst of human behavior, but also the best sometimes.

Marriage Boot Camp, although I'm acutely aware of the fact that it is reality television, comes across as incredibly real. These couples are having real problems. True, there are big personalities and a massive dose of editing to really play up the drama. But the show gives an insight into the way relationships go right and in the way they go wrong.

I guess reality television makes it easier for me to write because it gives me a new insight on how relationships work. Especially since I don't have a lot of experience in them myself.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fire's Princess Cover

Since the new book is coming out in the next few months, I thought I would share with you the cover of the new book. It was a long process of trying to figure out what the new over was going to look like. My sister--my lovely graphic designer--put together a few covers to see what we could work with. But none of those really fit. But this one... the one that we finally agreed upon, it was perfect. And it fit.

So here is the cover of The Fire's Princess, which will be available on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon on June 4.

Rose has lost everything she's ever known. 

 Her father has been murdered. She has fled her home in the Forested Land to take refuge with King Andrew Rivers in a foreign kingdom.  Her home is under the control of a tyrant king, one who will stop at nothing to see Rose and all of her family dead. She has to fight to stay hidden, stay alive, and find a way back home.  Now Rose must find a way to organize a rebellion to get back to her homeland, as well as win the hearts of a kingdom that doesn't know her. With lords scheming with hidden agendas and her own secrets threatening to be exposed, Rose must face enemies she never expected and find a destiny she never planned for.  In the stunning sequel to The Forest's Heir, Ley Hayley takes readers on a journey through court intrigue and matters of the heart. The Fire's Princess truly is a fiery ride!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Agent Search is On

I've done this whole process before. Searching for an agent is something that every writer will do at least once in their career. Most, I think, do it multiple times or over a long period to find just the right fit between your project and the person who is going to fight for it.

Sometimes that part takes a long time.

I've been on the hunt for an agent for a long time. More than once, I've gone out searching for agents and trying to figure out how best to pitch my work to someone. It's difficult to figure out how to put information in a form that will make people get excited about something that I've spent the last year and a half of my life writing, fixing, and polishing.

Perhaps the hardest part of the agent search is hearing "no." I think that's the hardest part because people think that saying no is a simple thing. I've done it as a reviewer, and I know it isn't an easy thing to do. It's hard to tell people that you aren't interested in something that they worked so hard on. I know it has to be hard for the agents to say no to projects, but it's hard for me to hear it too. I don't like being told that something I worked so hard on isn't good enough for someone.

But that's their job, and I have to learn to live with the word "no." It's a part of life, and it is certainly a part of writing.

So the agent search is still on... and one day I'll find the right person to fight for my writing.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Blood, Sweat, & Tears

Sometimes, I think this is everything that is built into being a writer. In everything that you do that you're passionate about, there's an element of putting so much of yourself into it that you bleed for it. You cry for it and about it. Sometimes I feel that if you aren't tearing yourself apart for the project, then it doesn't seem to be something worth doing.

I know that it seems kind of strange to hear something like that. But I'm one of those people who think that if you're going to do something, then you might as well do it the best as you can. Anything worth doing is worth doing right, as they say.

I've been working on my projects for over two years now, and I'm trying to get them to the point where I can really make them the best they can possibly be. And that's all about bleeding and sweating and crying for a project. Putting everything that you can in a project and letting yourself and your desires bleed out over the page. That's the kind of writer I want to be. I want to be one of those writers who people say is passionate about writing. Who makes their characters and worlds come alive because I breathe my own life into them.

Maybe I'm a bit too passionate about writing. That might be the problem. But it doesn't matter to me. It's all about being who I am and making it work for me. And for me, I have to be all or nothing about something. I'm in it, or I'm not.

It's that simple.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Second Blog Tour Update

The next blog tour is coming up quickly since the second book is about to come out in a few months. I'm getting ready for the next blog tour, trying to figure out which blogs are going to pick it up and how I'm going to promote things this time.

It seems like things are going much more slowly this time than for the last time. Maybe it's just because I've been so busy with my new job. But I'm going to get to work and bring in a few more blogs before the tour kicks off at the end of May. It'll be fun.

I'm looking forward to this tour and the second book launch. In honor of it, I've opened up the book on Smashwords. And the second book will release on Smashwords on the day of the release as well.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Short Hiatus

As you may have noticed, I haven't posted any new blogs in the last few days. I'm sorry about this, but I just haven't had the time. I've barely had the time to write anything! I just got a new job, and I've been working almost non-stop to get ready for it. 

So I'll be on a short blogging hiatus (I'll probably be back on Monday the 7th) until I get things situated for the new job.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Playing Pranks

April fool's day has never been one of my favorite holidays. I suppose it's because I'm not very good at playing pranks. I'm usually the recipient of the jokes rather than the perpetrator. That doesn't mean I don't like pranks. I just like funny ones, not ones that hurt people.

Here are my top five favorite pranks that I've either played on someone or had played on me.

  1. Gluing everything down on someone's desk 
  2. Ketchup packets under the toilet seats
  3. Putting maple syrup in someone's shampoo
  4. Stealing all of someone's toilet paper from their apartment
  5. Underwear in the freezer at a sleepover
I think my favorite prank is the one where myself and a few of my roommates glued everything down on someone's desk. That happened during my first semester at university, and we did it to a couple of the boys who lived in the dorm across the quad from us. It was kind of this ongoing prank war between our room and theirs. Eventually it escalated to where our RAs told us we couldn't do it anymore, but it was fun while it lasted. No one got hurt, and there wasn't any real damage to anything since we didn't use superglue.

We sneaked into their room while they were in class and used Elmer's glue to attach everything on their desks to the wood. It took forever, but it was fun. Especially because we very nearly got caught when one of them came back to their room to grab something for a class. We had to hide in the closets to keep from being caught.

It was fantastic. And I absolutely loved it. It's one of the best memories I had from university.

Edited by - Stephanie King