Thursday, December 27, 2012

While I Drink My Mocha

The year is almost over
and so are my posts on balance.

For your enjoyment
here is 
Laurie Cameron

I love writing. When I’m stressed out, which seems to be a disproportionate amount of time, I write. Or I think about writing. Just the idea of being a writer has intrigued me since I was about 10 years old. I always envisioned myself with a cool typewriter and a big wooden desk, in a cozy den with a great view. Perhaps I’d sit at my desk and write wonderful stories, pausing to look out at the woods – or maybe the ocean – just beyond my window.

Have you ever noticed how movies portray writers? They often have such a romanticized life, hunkering down in a quaint coffee shop and penning page after page while sipping a cappuccino. How dreamy. I love those movies. I pretend that that is the type of writer I am. I’m wearing a very stylish sweater, with a scarf knotted smartly around my neck. There is a pencil tucked behind my ear, and the words pour onto the paper effortlessly while I drink my mocha. At a glance of my watch, I notice that it’s almost time to pick the girls up from school. My son is just waking from his nap, and he stirs a bit. I’ve just put in two glorious hours of work on my latest novel, and now I can spend some quality time with my kids. How fabulous!

Reality check. I look down and recall that I’m wearing my husband’s college sweatshirt, faded with age. The dryer has just clicked off, a reminder that I can now switch the laundry, and I have several stacks of papers to grade. Yes, I am a writer. But, I’m not the kind that you might envision if you’re thinking of one of those glorious films. Nope, I’m a full time working mom with a house to keep clean (if you call the constant pile of laundry and the obstacle course of blocks, cars, and dollhouse furniture clean), and bills to pay. I make time when I can to squeeze in a few minutes of writing, though this generally makes me feel guilty because I always feel that I should be doing something else.

Then again, books are my passion. I think they always have been. I want my kids to have great books to read, adventures to whisk them away, stories to bring them comfort. So, I write them. My writing partner and I discovered, almost simultaneously, that there was a serious deficit in great adventure/mystery stories for kids in a very pivotal age group. So, what did we decide to do? Write some.

But when? How? I get home from an exhausting day of teaching and try my hardest to be energetic for my kids. I don’t look or feel the part of a real writer. For this reason, I pretend. I imagine myself the author that I always envisioned. Then, I pull on my sweats and a t-shirt (which I pretend is a very artsy/writer-like outfit), grab something to drink in a plastic cartoon character cup, and plunk down on the living room floor – my own quaint cafĂ©. Then, I write. Sometimes, it’s during the wee hours of the night. Everyone else in my house is sleeping. I don’t feel guilty. I’m not shirking any of my duties. This is an okay time. I crank out a few pages, and can barely hold my eyes open. Sleep calls me. Tomorrow night, same place. I’ll be here.



Laurie Cameron was born in Montana and moved to the Washington, D.C. area after completing her advance degree in Economics. There she met her husband and took up the nomadic life in the U.S. Foreign Service. For more than twenty years, she has lived and traveled throughout many parts of Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. She has two sons who are both in the Peace Corps.
Laura Meagher was born and raised in Plainfield, Illinois, and continues to reside in that same Chicago suburb today with her husband, Joe, and three beautiful children. She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and her master of arts in teaching. Laura is currently in her thirteenth year of teaching in the public school system.

Laura is Laurie's husband's sister's daughter (phew!). In other words, she is Laurie's niece. They have been writing together since 2008. When they started, Laurie lived in the Dominican Republic and Laura lived and continues to live in the same Chicago suburb where she grew up. Since then Laurie has resided in Honduras for four years and is now living in Sedona, Arizona. 

For this reason, all their writing happens over the internet. First Laura writes a chapter and e-mails it to Laurie, then Laurie writes one and e-mails it to Laura. The chapters aren't always sequential. If one of them is inspired to write a particular chapter, she writes it. They worry about putting it all together later. But each chapter provides inspiration to continue.

Laurie and Laura co-authored The Ghost at Old Oak Way, published by Untapped Talent, Inc in 2009. The Ghost at Judy Creek Station was published by Acorn Mysteries in 2012.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Son; My Muse

The Holidays are with us.
And things are getting busy.
Balancing now is even more of endeavor.

Introducing author,
Michael Sussman

I stayed home with my son, Ollie, until he was three. Around the time of his birth I was planning to record a solo CD of my own piano compositions, but Ollie wanted my undivided attention and didn’t tolerate any piano practicing. The only time I had to practice was during his naps, but I didn’t want to wake him.

So I shifted gears: stopped focusing on music and began writing. I’m a clinical psychologist and had already published two books for therapists: A Curious Calling: Unconscious Motivations for Practicing Psychotherapy and A Perilous Calling: The Hazards of Psychotherapy Practice. But during those at-home-dad years, I started writing fiction.

Since writing was quiet, I was able to pursue this endeavor during my son’s naps and in the evenings after he went to bed. By the time he was three, and I separated from his mother, I’d completed my first novel, a comic mystery. Unfortunately, it was never published, and I returned to working as a psychologist.

By the time Ollie was five, I had read him hundreds of picture books. I felt most of them were mediocre at best, and decided I could do better. So I began writing stories for young children, and in 2009 my debut picture book—Otto Grows Down—was published by Sterling, with illustrations by the fabulous artist Scott Magoon.

As Ollie aged, I started writing for older kids. He had a lively imagination and became something of a writing partner. He came up with ideas of his own and gave me invaluable feedback on my stories. He was even a good editor.

I never expected my marriage to fail, and raising a child as divorced parents presented many practical and emotional difficulties. Still, Ollie flourished, and the shared custody arrangement actually made writing easier. When we’re together, my son continues to want my undivided attention, and I’m more than happy to give it to him. And when he’s staying with his mother, I’m free to write!

When Ollie was eleven, I began working on a young adult novel. Being precocious, he was already reading some YA novels himself. Once again, he was of enormous assistance in constructing a plot, developing characters, and refining the manuscript. The result, Crashing Eden, will be released by Solstice Publishing as an e-book and paperback in May. I dedicated the book to Ollie. In truth, his name should accompany mine on the cover.

Visit Michael Sussman on-line at:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Everyone Else Puts Up With It

Now I'm loving Tuesdays
as well as Thursdays.
Here is another author
I'd like to share with you,
Alana Woods

I have a perfect writing and life balance.
I write and everyone else puts up with it.
Just kidding.
Let’s jump back several decades.

In my youth I wrote short stories as and when I thought of one, so it wasn’t a scheduled regime.
A schedule of sorts happened when, after reading an appallingly-written bodice ripper (does anyone remember them?), I threw it down in disgust and said ‘I could do better than that.’
(I always remember that book, among others, when people scorn the so-called poor quality of indie published books).

But to get back on track ... my husband happened to overhear me and came back with ‘Why don’t you.’ Something I think that if he were really honest he might in hindsight have been a bit more careful with.

Twelve weeks later, with me scribbling at all hours and in all places into a notebook with a pen, he asked ‘Haven’t you finished yet?’

Fast forward 30 years. The question he now asks is ‘When are you going to start making money?’
Back we go again in time to when I had a full-time job and children still at home. When the children were young I negotiated two nights a week with my husband for writing. When they were past wanting my attention I renegotiated the two nights to all day Sunday. During the rewriting stage I also pulled in the two nights.

I imagine others do the same sort of thing. My husband has always been extremely supportive but I’m conscious of not letting the writing take over to the point where he would start to resent it.
And you know the saying that if you want something done ask a busy person. I think that can be extrapolated to this situation. By that I mean that I found it easier to find time to write when I had a full-time job and a family to care for. I now work at home as a part-time editor, so you would think I have plenty of time during the day to also write. Wrong. 

So many other things of a computer nature now draw me in. 

Every indie author alive will know what I’m talking about. The marketing, the blogging, the promoting, the looking for promotion and marketing opportunities, not to mention keeping all of my social network sites current, as well as interacting on other blogs to get my name out there in the blogosphere. 

Every day I wake up saying ‘Okay, today I’m going to ignore the 50 or so emails that come in. Today I’m going to write.’ Then I log on, download the email and something always catches my attention and ... groan ... I’m gone.

If I have a paying job then I work on it to the exclusion of everything else.
And then there are the family duties such as collecting grandchildren from school occasionally.
So as you can see actually getting creative can be difficult. In reality I tend to work in bursts. When I’m in the thick of writing I try to put in the afternoons. When I’m not, it’s a bit more of a scattered approach.
Alana Woods’ bio
My family emigrated from the UK to Australia when I was four.  I grew up in the coastal suburbs of Adelaide but now live in Canberra.  It’s where two of my children live. We (that’s me and my husband John) also spend time in West Sussex with our oldest daughter Simone, also an author.

I’ve been a professional editor for over 30 years. I’m no longer in full-time employment—haven’t been for about six years. Most of my time now is taken up with my own writing but I continue to contract edit part time.
I have four books published. Two are thrillers, Automaton and Imbroglio. Another is a short story collection, Tapestries and other short stories. And the fourth is non-fiction, Family medical history, which is a journal for families to keep a record of everything that happens of a medical nature. They are all available on Amazon.

I’m currently working on a writing guide for aspiring authors which enlarges on advice I’ve given to young writers who have asked for my help over the years.

I’m also working on a third thriller.

 Alana Woods is a thriller novelist, short story and non-fiction author and editor.
Her books are available on Amazon:
Tapestries and other short stories
Family medical history

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Writing Into The Wee Hours

I'm so very busy these days.
Guess it's good that I have the balancing act
figured out.

Today's featured guest is
 Shirley Ouw
 Why do I write?  And why do I  write science fiction or speculative fiction (fantasy), whatever you call it.  Is there such a thing as enjoy doing it?  People look at me kind of funny when they ask how was your weekend, by which they usually mean to ask what have you been doing in your spare time away from the office and I tell them,oh, I spent the time writing and making amazing journeys through the sight of my mind. Always that quick look of disbelief and condescension that can be interpreted as "you must be joking" or "what the heck is she talking about?" or "she must have a few screws loose".

Yes, people, I write because I enjoy it. Being presumptuous or not, I enjoy dreaming up new worlds and impossible situations to put my characters in. I'm thrilled the way that in the course of the story process, heroes and villains take a life of their own, and choose a path different from that I have plotted in the beginning. Of course I am not a scientist and my stories mostly are planetary romance and deal with social issues. 

Even so, the hard reality is that simply loving to write doesn't put bread on the table. Not for this author anyway.  Thus, I have to stick to my daytime, full-time, job and it is a busy one in a law firm. After wrestling with legalese all day, 5 days a week, my brain is mush. Still I write maybe a few lines each night, while multi-tasking and connecting with my online buddies.  The best time to write is when everyone is asleep in the house, including the dogs, writing into the wee hours.  I love the nights because of the quietude, but I have to get up early to go to work, so night writing is not a habit I can stick to, except on weekends and holidays. 

Still, to write you need a certain peace of mind, even while you're plotting death and destruction of worlds, and of people and creatures. The situation at home as it is, on which I won't go into details, has upsetting moments, that throws your focus off balance. 

But write I shall, and write I have tried in face of distress, keeping watch over a dying mother, in hospitals and in the nursing home, with my laptop on my knees, wedged on a hospital chair of discomfort between the sickbed and the wall. Write I continue  while somewhere in the house someone breaks things, drunkenly amok.

I am not in any relationship but my sister is, a relationship that I wish had never, never come about. 

But so I persist, and write I shall and Jessie, my dog, is my favourite companion while I, propped up with pillows on my bed, spin my stories on the Netbook and she lies beside me snoring, and twitching as she goes on her own adventures in the canine dreamworld. And I wish I can see into her dreams and what a story that would be. 

Shirley currently writes under the pseudonym of Sterren, under which pen name she has written RESONANCE and ENGELINKYN: THE WINGED HEMISPHERE (both available at Amazon).  THE WINGED HEMISPHERE is the first part of a trilogy that will be concluded with ENGELINKYN:  THE JEWELS OF HUEMANCY and THE TOWERED HEMISPHERE. The series are finished except for some further editing for the last two books

She is currently on a new series DIM STARS IN THE BRIGHT of which the first two books, A PRIDE OF GEMS and DEMES OF THE WREATH are in the first rough drafts.  She currently lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ask Me Tomorrow

Today's featured author is 
June McCullough
Read on!
Write on!

This is one of my favourite subjects, because one of my greatest beliefs is that most times it is not what you do, but what you do too much or too little of that can cause the fall. This is with all things in life.

I honestly don’t remember when I started writing. Even as a young girl I wrote. It is my release. It is my therapy. It is my joy. I am convinced that I have lost more of my stories during my many moves than most people have written. So, how do I balance the writing with everything else in my life? Well, I must admit that sometimes writing does get in the way of my life, but not to be ignored, sometimes my life gets in the way of my writing. How I balance it depends on the stage in my life.

As a young girl I sat on the couch with pen and paper writing while the rest of the household slept. Years went on and being a wife and mother took more of my time and writing was something I did only a few times a year. Later, as a single mom, it is something that I did only on occasion.

Now, even with the children grown it is difficult to find the time to fit everything in. How can I have and do it all when I am only given so many hours a day? I’ve tried setting aside an hour each day to write, but the problem there is that I find it hard to quit if I’m ‘on a roll’. Or I find it hard to start when events of the day are still on my mind or the phone rings.

So to write my first published novel On the Other Hand I wrote anytime I could manage to steal a few hours alone. Also, I would book a week of vacation each year solely for this purpose. During that vacation, I would let everyone know that I was unavailable and I would write from morning to evening. As you can guess, this didn’t allow much time and it ended up taking me a few years before On the Other Hand was written and re-written until finally it was ready for publication. One month before my 58th birthday On the Other Hand was made available to the public.

Now, I am fortunate that I have been able to go from full time employment to only working three days a week. I thought this would allow me more time for what I really love to do – write - but I find that I am busier than ever marketing and going to book signings. Somehow I did publish a second novel, Home to Stay, and I did start a third book. I was hoping to have the third book published by the end of 2013, but I have been asked to write a novel based on a true story about a Canadian who was arrested in a foreign country and is still fighting to get his passport back to return home. It seems that now my writing is even getting in the way of my writing.

So, how do I balance my time for writing? Ask me tomorrow; maybe I’ll have it figured out by then. 
June McCullough grew up in the three most western provinces of Canada; although her family never lived in one town or city long enough for her to consider any of them her hometown. In 1989 she moved back to central Alberta with her two children. She set down her roots and has lived there ever since.
Writing is something that June started so long ago; she can’t remember the first time she took pen to paper to write her first story. June is a firm believer that you can make your dreams come true. Two of June’s lifelong dreams were traveling and becoming a published author. At the age of 43, she used her passport for the first time and one month before turning 58, her first book, On the Other Hand, was published.

June loves to hear from her readers. You can contact her through her website, or her blog

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Desireable Point

The first Thursday in December.
Can you believe it?
I can't. 

Today I have author,
Matthew Hayduk
Read On!
Depending on what type of balance you are looking for, Wikipedia defines the metaphysical definition of balance as a desirable point between two or more opposite forces. If I were to take my writing and put it on one side of the scale, the necessities of my life would be far outweighed. On one side of the scale I’m a rookie writer at the age of 50 looking to achieve something similar to Grandma Moses but in a literary sense. On the other side of the scale I am a recovering alcoholic, a father of three sons, a husband, an employee at a large chemical storage company and a son to a mom with moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease. That’s the necessary stuff. There is a lot of peripheral stuff that I can add to that side of the balance but I need to draw a line somewhere. 

As you may begin to see, there really is no desirable point between the opposite forces in my life if you look at the necessities versus writing but if I take the things that I need most and divide them by six. I can give an equal amount of time to each one. Maybe not an equal amount but compartmentalize each component and address each responsibility as needed.

The most important part for me is this recovery business. Without that I can’t be any of the other titles that I listed. I learned that important lesson almost 25 years ago. The spiritual values are what gives me that desirable point between two or more desirable forces. When I maintain that balance, then and only then, can I have the emotional balance to not only put things in my life but also be able to handle life on life’s terms. I attribute those spiritual values in helping our family get through one of “life’s” most difficult moments when we buried my oldest son after a valiant fight with leukemia.

Being a responsible productive member of my family is paramount to my writing. It has a track record of providing the material things needed to sustain my family’s life. I don’t want to mislead anyone here but my writing has not made a mountain of cash yet. I would love to write for a living. I had the second most successful book signing by a local author at our little local bookstore here in Manasquan NJ. I consider that a huge success because I was second to Mary Higgins Clark. Not too shabby for a rookie author who may not have literary balance but has some figuratively. 
Husband and father of three, Matthew Hayduk spends his summers in Spring Lake Heights as well as his springs, winters, and falls. Matthew is a kinder, gentler, United Steel Worker, heavy equipment operator. Local 397! An aspiring author with his wife Nancy, and their two boys, they share their home with a rescued golden retriever named Belle and her dog therapist another golden retriever named Mack. Having been a friend of Bill Wilson’s for well over 20 years, Matt felt a need to share his experience on dealing with his loss and grief of his son Matt. His mission is to bring some hope and comfort for those daunted by the task of caring for a terminally ill loved one. Readers need not to be in recovery to relate to this book. Matthew wrote this for people that suffer from grief, loss and those that watch Crossing Over on demand. In his spare time Matt is obsessed with surviving one more round of zombies and going for really long bike rides along the Jersey shore.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

You Have To Have Support

Today I have a special,
Rona Simmons

I consider myself fortunate in that though it has taken me thirty years to get here, my real life is one of my own making. Three years before I retired from the black and white corporate world, I began planning what my next steps would be. Leaving the carefully and intentionally structured world of work for the many shades of grey was not stress-free. To overcome the anxiety, I turned to familiar territory: to what I knew and to the skills I had developed over the course of my career.
Organization and planning were two skills honed over at work (some might say they were more than honed, perhaps even bordering on obsession -- but that’s another story. Ah ha! See how these flashes of inspiration appear as if out of nowhere ... let me jot that down before I continue.). So, it was a natural transition for me to organize and plan my post-work life. I created a schedule for writing, committing to set days and times to start and stop. That worked for close to a year. I was faithful to my schedule. On days when I struggled for inspiration, I did not give up and do something else. I stuck with it and alternated writing with the research I needed to do for my novel. Again, my former life of note taking and filing came to the rescue.

Now, just over a year after retiring and embarking on my self-imposed scheduled life, I have allowed myself a bit of leeway from the schedule. After all, retirement is also about having time for friends and family, for traveling, for attending all those concerts or classes that never seemed to fit into the daily grind before. Still, I more or less adhere to my original schedule. I don’t even feel guilty now when, on occasion, I allow myself to switch a day of writing for a day of some other pleasure. In fact, I have found that having taken an unscheduled break, I not only feel refreshed but am anxious to return to writing when Monday morning rolls around.

One last item worth mentioning is my “support system”. Oh dear, I think those words might be another hangover from corporate life. In any event, it has been tremendously helpful to have the support of my family -- a husband who is very supportive of my pursuing my interests, though he hates to read himself, a sister who is a former language major and avid reader and has volunteered to serve as an initial reader and editor, another who is an artist and has been down this road before who has provided tips for websites and presentations, and of course my father who without hesitation pulled $0.99 from his wallet to be the first to purchase my recently published eBook.

 Ms. Simmons recently retired from thirty years in the world of corporate finance to pursue the call of her long suppressed creative side, including creative writing and photography.  Though having written countless memos, letters, and reports and published business articles throughout her career, she is enjoying the freedom and creative aspects of fiction.  In one short year, she has published two articles, one showcasing her photography, completed and submitted one short novel for potential publication, and is working on the second draft of a general fiction novel.  She lives with her husband outside Atlanta, Georgia on eight wooded southern acres that provide inspiration for both her writing and photography.

Rona Simmons
Author of: Meryl's Commitment, a contemporary, southern romance novel
Sample or purchase Meryl's Commitment at: