Saturday 31 December 2016

Looking Back... Looking Forward

With less than nine hours to go before 2017 dawns, I suppose it is natural to want to reflect on the past year. It was an up and down year for me, or rather a down and up year.
The Sad
Having my mother pass away in January was definitely not the best way to start the year. It was hard, and to be honest, it still is. During the launch of JOURNEY earlier this month, I declined to read from my story, Galen's Hope, as I would normally do at such an event. While the story is about grief, it is not about my mother. The hard part was the reminder that I started writing it just before my mother passed away, so I always associate that story with her. To this day I still cry when I read it, making it impossible to read it out loud during the launch.
The New Year's Resolution
Linzé Brandon, self-portrait, art, pen and ink sketch
Self-portrait: pen and ink
But things were not always sad for me. I made a resolution (the first in many years, because I don't keep to them, duh!) to do more art. My resolution was to spend one weekend each month only doing some kind of art project. And I did! Trust me, I am surprised too. Upon reflection, I think the reason I kept to my resolution was to put a measurable goal to it - one weekend every month. There was no pressure to do this project or finish that project - the goal was to do art. To enjoy the creativity and the relaxation of the process.
The Bad
Like many people, I also wanted to lose weight. I was well on track until my mother died, and once the comfort food came out.... Well, needless to say, that resolution did not work out so well. The only good thing that I have to mention is that I didn't gain more than where I started from. Something to be grateful for.
But the weight loss effort has taken a turn from vanity to necessity. Yes, I am overweight, but I have never been one to fuss about the way I look. Until I was put on medication for high blood pressure on top of having an ulcer. I had to rethink the way I live my life and deal with the extreme stress that comes from my job. More about that a little later.
The Achievements
Linzé Brandon, book cover, print book, Negotiating the Maze, non-fiction
On the writing front, I managed to finish several first drafts and publish two books: Negotiating the Maze and JOURNEY. I also let myself down with the final editing and publication of my fourth novel, Waiting for Adrian. I am however not stressing too much right now, as it will just be the first book to finish in the new year. This book has been a particular struggle for me, but after the cover design was finished, things started to look much brighter.
Those drafts I mentioned were part of the 232k words that I wrote this year. At an average of 635 words per day, it wasn't my best year, but then again it wasn't my worst year either. I joined a Facebook group where we set ourselves a target for the year and then are held accountable to achieve that. I set myself a goal of 750 words per day for 2017, amounting to 273k words for the year. More about that later.
The Surprise
As a writer, I also love to read. I finished my 80th book of the year yesterday. If you take into account the fact that I don't read during April, July, and November (for obvious reasons) it comes down to reading two books per week for the remaining 40 weeks of the year. Trust me, I was surprised at the number since I don't have a reading target. Never have. Probably never will, since it is the one activity that I can never get enough of.
I still have a few books (mostly non-fiction) that I haven't finished yet, but that's okay, they will be on next year's list.
The Challenge
If you have been following my blog, you will know that I am a student of Tai Chi Quan and have been for the past two years. I am presently learning the 40 forms, and while doing my daily practice, I came to the realisation that I am already on my way towards my goal for 2017: to live in balance.
The New Year...2017
I will be blogging about my journey to bring my life into balance: health, work, writing, and art. Creativity has always been a major element in the way I define myself as a human being. But to keep myself accountable, I am going to tackle this journey in public. For that, you need to know what my goals are and for my journey to be a success, I need to report on my progress - not for you, but for me.
So I am taking a deep breath, and making a list of what I aim to achieve to bring my life into balance in 2017.
Here we go:
  1. I need to get my weight down from 127kg (weighed myself yesterday morning) to 100kg. It is approximately 2kg per month and not an unreasonable target. Trying to lose weight faster will mess with my blood sugar which I have to keep a close eye on for various reasons.
  2. Secondary target to the above is to get off my high blood pressure meds.
  3. I mentioned my word count target for 2017 - 273k words. Very easy to measure, although sometimes tough to keep up.
  4. I have five books on my list for publication, which include two full-length novels.
    They are:
    • Waiting for Adrian (4th book in the Nations of Peace series),
    • We, the One (a standalone novel),
    • Richard's Choice (the second story of the Last Gryphon trilogy),
    • Breathe (the fifth book in the Third Gender series), and
    • Galen's Destiny (the third story of the Last Gryphon trilogy).
    Having so many is a challenge, but three of the five are in the final stages of editing, while the first drafts on other two are almost complete. I drew up a project plan, and I will divulge more details soon.
  5. My resolution to do more art still stands, and I plan to continue to dedicate one weekend every month to draw, sketch or paint. My present painting project turned out to be more work than I anticipated (and that is not a bad thing) but if I work at it as planned, I will be able to finish it in three or four months. I have many ideas and more things to learn and cannot wait to get working on that.
  6. Master at least 20 of the 40 forms in Tai Chi with daily practice. This martial art has opened my eyes to the joy of movement and the focus associated with meditation. I cannot attend a live class, but the video course is a very close second choice. As someone who dislikes exercise, I find this martial art to be the perfect alternative for me. And after having stiff muscles for two days after my second video lesson, I can safely say that it is exercise!
  7. The last on my list does not have a target. Reading. All I can say is that I will read as much as I can. It will never be a goal to read a certain number of books each year. Why bother to set a goal for something that I love so much?
I do not have a single word for next year, as many people say you should have, but that's okay - for me it will be to Live In Balance in 2017.
So join me, and share with me, an amazing new year.
Happy 2017!

Monday 5 December 2016

Book Feature: DIVINE LEGACY by CJ Peterson (and 2 free ebooks)

New Release and Free ebooks!

New Release!
divine legacy, CJ Peterson, christian fiction
The Holy Flame Trilogy and the Grace Restored Series come together in the exciting and much anticipated next generation series: Divine Legacy Series.

As the children of Nico and Kit Sullivan: Joshua and Rachel Sullivan, along with Mark and Casey English’s children: Jon, Jesse, and Angel English, make up the original members of the new A.N.G.E.L.s Unit. Their job is to gather their remaining teammates. While this should be a simple task, the adventure is anything but effortless. In the process of acquiring the two members listed in the United States, they run across a situation that isn’t on their agenda. Amber Jones was in need of miraculous intervention, and God answered her call with the next generation of A.N.G.E.L.s. The A.N.G.E.L.s find some unique help along the way, and learn valuable lessons that will change how they function and see the world from that point forward. Read along as the next generation picks up the torch, claiming their Divine Legacy.

Joel 1:3
Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.

Hebrews 13:2
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!

Link for all books:

Ebook Links:

Free 5 to 9 December 2016

the call to duty, CJ Peterson, christian fiction
"We all know emergencies never take a day off. We all know for each one of us claimed, another has to step up to continue taking care of our fellow citizens. Our job is to protect and to serve. Our job is to care for the injured, to help those who need it, and to take down the beast known to us as fire. This beast tries to claim whatever and whomever it can. We all have a call to duty, which we have sworn to perform." 
Courageous. Brave. Fearless. Valiant. These synonyms are often used to describe firefighters/paramedics, police officers, and military personnel. They face danger and lay their lives on the line when they leave for work. What are their struggles? Could that hinder their job proficiency? Who is taking care of those who are taking care of the citizens of this country? 
Casey Carter is a 'newbie' to the firefighting family of Engine Company 15. Not only does she have to prove herself as a probationary firefighter, but she also has to battle misconceptions of females within her newly chosen profession. As situations begin to arise, can she count on the firefighter brotherhood to have her back? Will she be able to pass the tests placed before her, or are there aspects that she was not even aware existed?
Often in life there are two realms in play. There is the physical realm - what is right before you; the other is the spiritual realm - what is unseen. Each can directly affect you, whether you believe they exist or not. Can Casey keep them in balance when she is not exactly sure what she is fighting? Can a group of men help her see what cannot be readily seen, hear what cannot be readily heard, and be able to overcome what she never knew existed? Will they be able to show Casey her true Call To Duty?

Ephesians 6:12-13:
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Link for all books:


seasons of change, CJ Peterson, christian fiction
Katie MacKenna experienced one storm after another in her life. When Leukemia stole her mother from her and her father, Katie was only seven-years-old, and her father didn’t know how to cope after such a catastrophic loss. His response was to shut down and become abusive. The overwhelming devastation which surrounded Katie throughout her journey in life forced her to shut down just to survive as well.

Trust is a difficult thing for many people, but for Katie it’s virtually impossible. Every life has Seasons of Change. Will those seasons open Katie to new opportunities or will they forever isolate her in survival mode? Will she be able to overcome the storms that have surrounded her to answer a call for help?

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4:
1 To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

Link for all books:


Sunday 27 November 2016

Linzé's Mischief: 27 November 2016

It has been a tough month, but I finally made it. Never had such a struggle, but I suppose there is always that first time, isn't it? Well, it's done and now I can relax and look forward to some new challenges in December.

Linzé Brandon, NaNoWriMo winner certificate, 2016

Monday 14 November 2016

Book Feature: GOING ALL IN by Kristine Cayne


Men of Boyzville, Book One

Life has been tough on Harry Cooper. Rejected by his best friend, abandoned by his family, Harry spurns relationships, settling instead for backroom hookups and one-night stands. Out and proud, he scrapes by selling drinks in gold lamé trunks while struggling to make a name for himself as a musician. Desperate for a change, he and his roommate take a trip to Vegas, where Harry finds himself getting more than he’d bet on.
Fragrance chemist Ashton Montgomery is the man behind the Ashton George line of perfumes and colognes. He is also a gay man hiding behind the façade of one of New York City’s most eligible straight bachelors. After a failed paternity suit against him, he sneaks off to Vegas to celebrate his freedom. But is he really free, or is he locked into the future his parents have mapped out for him—CEO to the family business and married to a society woman of their choosing?

A chance meeting at a rock concert in Sin City catapults Harry and Ashton into an adventure where each man comes head to head with what he fears most. Can they learn to trust each other as a couple, or is undeniable lust all they have? When all the cards are on the table, they each must decide whether to fold or go all in.

About the Author
Kristine Cayne's books have won numerous awards and acclaim. Her first book, Deadly Obsession, was an RT Book Reviews Top Pick and won Best Romance in the 2012 eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards. Her second book, Deadly Addiction, won two awards at the 2014 eFestival of Words and 1st place in the INDIE Awards, Romantic Suspense Category (a division of Chanticleer Book Reviews Blue Ribbon Writing Contests).
Her book
Under His Command won Best BDSM Romance at the 2012 Sizzling Awards and was a finalist in the 2013 eFestival of Words and 2013 RONE (Reward of Novel Excellence) Awards, and her book Everything Bared was a finalist in the Erotic category of the I Heart Indie awards.

Going All In is Kristine’s second gay romance.

Sunday 13 November 2016

Linzé's Mischief: 13 November 2016

Tweet bird, NaNoWriMo, week 2 text
I learned something about myself this past week: I hate being behind and needing to catch up.
This year is my fifth year doing NaNoWriMo and it is the first time that I fell behind the daily word count target. By week 2 I had been ahead all the previous times, and laughed at the 'dreaded week 2' warnings that everyone dished out.
Only this year I was a victim of week 2, and I have to say, I did not like it one bit. Of course, the were extenuating circumstances (there always are, true?) but dammit, it is not as if I am a rookie at this. I should have seen it coming!
But I didn't. And that I think is where the true danger lies. We get so lost in the speed of life, that before you have a chance to blink, three days have passed. A few years ago, I set myself a personal target of 100k words in November. I made the target, but I learned something very valuable: taking care of myself, especially my hands. They were really hurting and I promised myself not to do that again. I write everyday, so why should I punish myself by overdoing it one month of the year? Not that 50k is what I normally do in a month, but still. I need to care for my hands. I only have one set, and I do like them just the way they are.
So stuck in the misery of week 2, I had fallen behind far enough that I was wondering how I could possibly catch up, without going through that pain again. And it hit me - voice recognition. So I put on my trusty gaming headset (thanks, Francois) and started dictating my words.
Only until I caught up those numbers that I was behind on, since I still prefer to type my words. I caught myself laughing a few times - at myself. Dictation requires practice and like writing you have to be 'fit' to do it, and I had forgotten that. Some of the words the computer wrote down...really had me going. Thank you, editing. Those words will really need a hard edit before this year ends, otherwise I will never remember what I wanted to write. But that is for after November.

So now I am caught up, a little ahead to be honest, and I can relax. Not completely though, since I still have a few thousand to go. But to my mind I am no longer a potential loser, I am a potential winner. And that makes all the difference, doesn't it?

Friday 4 November 2016

Book Review: Dream Crusher by Natacha Guyot

I volunteered to read and review this book.

Amazon buy link

I love science fiction, but this book turned out to be a fantasy story rather than science fiction. Mentioning space travel does not science fiction make. There are no other science based elements, soft or hard core, in the story.
Crystals and mystics and alien races with supernatural powers are the realm of fantasy and I would rather classify it as such.
The story is rather thin on the ground in the action scenes. Very little details on what happens and the reader is left with a feeling of dissatisfaction. Whether the battles are won or lost, it wasn't possible to get into the action when it was underway. Only the mystics' reactions to the crystals were explored.
I liked Vahika. The priestess was no pushover, and the subtle undercurrent of attraction between her and Morden felt realistic in the scenes where they interacted with each other.
I also liked the way Sorred, one of Morden's team members, was portrayed. He had a temper. It made him real.
The character that impressed me the least was Morden himself. It was a surprise that his characterisation as the main character was not as one would expect of the leader of a group of soldiers. It took a few chapters to realise that Morden had no flaws. He had issues, but he was portrayed as a perfect character.
He was the hero. He liked children; they liked him. He was considerate towards his team members - rather foregoing sleep than bother theirs by snoring. He didn't even swear or get angry. Explicit text is not required to understand a character's internal dialogue.
It was difficult to relate to him. He was just too likable, too nice, and nothing made me root for him. He had no inner conflicts to resolve, and the battles themselves were too vague to really grip my attention.
When one of the group was killed during a battle, there were no emotional reactions from any of the main characters. Even experienced soldiers would have had some reaction to the event, whether they liked the victim or not.
Internal and external tension was lacking throughout the entire book.
Their so-called rogue mission didn't create too many sparks either. It was listed as the primary conflict in the synopsis and yet there was little to draw the reader's emotions. Their boss accepted their decision, and the anticipated fall out didn't realise with the expected level of conflict.

The story was easy to read, but I find it difficult to recommend it, even to readers of YA fantasy books.

Linzé's rating

Thursday 3 November 2016

Book Feature: DECEIVING BELLA by Cate Beauman

Ethan Cooke Security and their bodyguard team return to action in Deceiving Bella – book eleven in Cate Beauman’s Bodyguards of L.A. County series.

With over 7700 reviews and a 4.4 rating for the entire series, see why the Bodyguards of L.A. County is a multi-award winning series.

Buy It Now!

New to the series? No problem! Each book in the “Bodyguards” series is a stand-alone title. Although reading the books in order is preferred, it is not necessary. Each title features brand new primary characters and limited overlapping secondary characters. Don’t hesitate to jump right in!

Deceiving Bella by Cate Beaumont, book cover
Isabella Colby has always yearned for normalcy. Now that she’s settled in LA, she finally has it. Good friends, a pretty home, and her thriving career as the Palisades’ top skincare specialist are a dream come true. Bella is content until she meets her hunky new neighbor, but her attraction to the blue-eyed cutie is the least of her worries when contacting her long-lost father threatens to destroy her happy life.
Reed McKinley is more than ready to forget the past. His seven-year stint as an NYPD detective nearly got him killed. His wounds have healed and he’s starting over as Ethan Cooke Security’s latest recruit. With sixty-hour workweeks and little time to himself, the last thing on his mind is a relationship. Then he bumps into the gorgeous woman next door.
Reed and Bella become fast friends. Before long, Reed discovers that Bella is keeping dangerous secrets. Bella may have the answers to decades-old questions he’s been searching for. Reed will risk it all to uncover the truth, but he soon realizes that the deeper he digs, the direr the consequences.

The Unofficial Deceiving Bella Soundtrack

I love music! I can’t imagine a world without catchy tunes playing, especially when I’m writing. Music is inspiration. Melodies, beats, and the mood of each song help me portray emotions and feelings as I tell a story. It’s a rare day when I don’t have my headphones in place, bopping my head, while my fingers race across the keyboard. You can listen to the “soundtrack” for each book on my website

The soundtrack, of sorts, for Deceiving Bella:
  • Favorite Song by Ben Rector
  • Lay It All On Me by Rudimental w/Ed Sheeran
  • Into You by Ariana Grande
  • Cake by the Ocean by DNCE
  • Truth by Steve Moakler
  • Any Other Name by Thomas Newman
  • Rock Bottom by Hailee Steinfeld
  • All I Want by Kodaline
  • Crash by Usher
  • Stand By You by Rachel Platten

Cate Beauman “Fun Facts!”
  1. Most of my story ideas come from watching hours of crime television/documentaries.
  2. Music is a major part of my writing process. Great songs are very motivating—kind of like when you find an amazing jam to exercise to.
  3. I like to try recipes I think my characters would want to eat.
  4. I often dream that my finger is stuck on the delete key or that I’m rewriting scenes that are perfectly fine.
  5. When I’m writing the first draft of a new book, I hardly sleep.
  6. My husband reads every word I write and critiques my stories.
  7. When I get writer’s block I take a shower. For some reason it seems to get ideas flowing again!
  8. I usually fill an entire spiral notebook with additional ideas for a story by the time I’ve completed a novel.
  9. At some point during each novel, I’m certain I don’t want to be a writer any more. Then I finish the book and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
  10. I keep notebooks in my car, purse, etc. because I never know when an idea will come to me.
Read an excerpt from Deceiving Bella:

They kept a slow pace, strolling in silence as the breeze plastered their clothes to their bodies and the constant sound of waves hypnotized, lulling Reed into relaxing by degrees.
“Thanks for coming with me tonight. It’s nice having company.”
He looked at Bella, staring at the fading light playing off her eyes. “The water smells better than a bunch of sweaty guys.”
“Your gym.” Her brow creased ever so slightly as she held his gaze. “What do you do for fun?”
“Work and box.”
“Sounds…like a good time.”
“I like it.”
“Do you smile?”
He frowned. “Huh?”
“I was wondering if you ever smile—or laugh. I haven’t seen you do either since we met.”
He sent her an exaggerated grin.
She laughed.
He smiled for real this time, finding her laughter infectious.
“You do smile. I wasn’t sure if you had some sort of facial paralysis we hadn’t discussed yet.”
He grinned.
“You should do that more often.” She hooked her arm through his.
He almost missed a step as the warmth of her skin met his, surprised by her casual gesture. He wasn’t used to people being so touchy-feely. “I do it plenty.”
“I’ll have to take your word for it.”
How was it possible she smelled even better now that they stood so close? It had to be her hair. “I don’t know what to say to that.”
She stopped abruptly. “Are you seeing anyone?”
He studied her, not sure that he liked where this was going. “No. You interested?”
She shook her head. “You’re not really my type.”
He tried to ignore the direct hit to his ego. “You’re not mine either.”
Another smile warmed her face. “I think we could be great friends, and I like projects—love them, actually.”
His frown returned. “And that means…”
“It means I like you. And I love that you don’t seem to have any interest in getting into my pants.”
Years of concealing any and all facial expressions kept his eyes from popping wide. “Wow.” He ran his hand through his hair, speechless once again. “Okay.”
She laughed. “I’m a big fan of honesty—putting it right out there.”
He chuckled as he settled his sunglasses on top of his head. “Clearly.”
They started walking again.
“There’s something about you that feels…safe.”
He raised his brow, taken aback. He’d been called many things, but this was a first. “Safe?”
She nodded. “Safe. It’s a good thing, but you’re pretty serious. We need to lighten you up. You need to play more.”
“I play plenty. I box.”
She scoffed, “Beating someone’s face in can’t lead you down the road to happiness.”
Her side brushed his with every step. He imagined he should ease away, break their connection, but he liked the way she felt, that she trusted him. “There’s more to boxing than beating someone’s face in.”
She looked at him as if she wasn’t so sure.
“I’ll have to show you—” He glanced over his shoulder when he realized they hadn’t seen Lucy for a while and laughed as the dog lay on her back in the sand with her front paws in the air. “What is she doing?”
He laughed again, shaking his head. “I’ve never seen anything like that.” His eyes met Bella’s as she stared at him. “What?”
“You have a great laugh.”
To his surprise, he was having a great time. It shocked him further that he liked Bella as much as she seemed to like him. Being here with her was exactly what he’d needed. “How long do you want to stay?”
“The sun sets soon. It’s the best part.”
The sand wasn’t bothering him much, and he couldn’t remember the last time his shoulders felt so loose. “I don’t have a blanket.”
“We can sit on our shoes.” She tossed hers down. “We can plunk ourselves right here.”
Lucy rolled to her side, stood, and ran their way.
He shrugged, dropping his flip-flops to the ground. “I guess this is as good a place as any.”
“It’ll be spectacular.” She took his hand, pulling him down next to her. “You won’t regret it.”
“We’ll have to remember a blanket next time.”
She smiled. “You want to come back?”
He stared ahead, petting Lucy when she curled up next to him, breathing in Bella with each inhalation. “I could see myself doing this again.”
She gave his shoulder a bump. “Good. You can be my beach buddy.”
He nodded, liking the idea. “Yeah, sure.”
“Great.” He crossed his ankles in the sand, his foot brushing Bella’s as they settled in to enjoy the show. It had been too damn long since he watched a sunset.

Did you enjoy the excerpt? You can read the first chapter on my website,, or you can finish the whole book with the links below!

About the author:

International bestselling author Cate Beauman is known for her full-length, action-packed romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Her novels have been nominated for the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, National Indie Excellence Award, Golden Quill Award, Writers Touch Award, and have been named Readers Favorite Five Star books. In 2015, JUSTICE FOR ABBY was selected as the Readers' Favorite International Book Award Gold Medalist, while SAVING SOPHIE took the Silver Medal. SAVING SOPHIE was also selected as the 2015 Readers Crown Award winner for Romantic Suspense and FALLING FOR SARAH received the silver medal for the 2014 Readers' Favorite Awards.

Cate makes her home in North Carolina with her husband, two boys, and their St. Bernards, Bear and Jack. Currently Cate is working on her twelfth full-length romantic suspense novel.



For a limited time: new subscribers will receive a free copy of Morgan’s Hunter and Falling For Sarah, books one and two in the Bodyguards of L.A. County Series!

Follow Cate

Amazon Author Page

Social links:

Sunday 30 October 2016

Linzé's Mischief: 30 October 2016

stress, work, life, balance, worry, fear

How do you stare fear in the eyes and win?
What is holding me back from chasing my dream of writing full-time? I have been asking myself this question for many months now and I still don't have an answer.

The facts:
  • I cannot make a living from my writing.
  • I cannot expect my husband to support me financially. It would be grossly unfair to him since it is not his fault that my writing cannot pay my share of the bills.
  • My day job is incredibly stressful and my physical health is suffering because of it. Thanks to my writing, I do cope well from a mental health point of view. Something I am grateful for.

Considering my options...
The obvious choice would be to find another job. And it turned out to be more difficult than I thought it would be. I am employed as a senior project manager. Outside of the military industry, I am unable to find the same job, because I don't have experience in software development where most of the project management jobs are these days.
Nor do I have the qualifications for the second most number of jobs in project management - construction. You need to have a mechanical or civil engineering background; I have an electronics engineering degree and it is not in software development.
Yes, I am an engineer, but I have been out of that game for almost ten years. Also not sure if I want to go back there.
The third choice would be to take a pay cut. And unbelievably, everyone in this country seems to think the only reason to find another job is to make more money. Yes, for most people that may be true, but I am not most people. So that option is clearly an impossibility, to my greatest frustration.

Plan A, because it worked before.
So I am back to staring at the monster in my life: what do I do? If I was ten years younger, plan A would have been to start my own business (again) and just go for it. I know what it entails since I had been down that road with success. But that was engineering, and yeah, that ship has sailed.
Ten years on and I am thinking about the issues involving retirement. Can I afford to retire? Thankfully, retirement is not the financial mountain I had feared (thanks to good advice when I was young). I am not going to live in the lap of luxury (not that I do that right now), but abject poverty has been averted because of listening to the aforementioned advice.
But I am too young to retire, so that isn't much of an option right now.

What about Plan B?
Plan B would be to start another company that has something to do with writing, my passion. But would yet another publishing company survive? There are already so many out there.
I registered Muses and Broomsticks (Pty) Ltd, and yes, it is a publishing company albeit with a slight difference. And so the fear remains.

Plan C?
In my immediate future, I am going to do NaNoWriMo, edit and publish Waiting for Adrian, and move on to writing the fifth novel in the series. So the status quo continues...and with it a victorious monster. For now.

It took me so much longer than usual to hit 'publish' on this post. But I managed to slay this monster. I will slay the big one too. One day.

Until next time!

Saturday 29 October 2016

Nine Things to Help Make your NaNoWriMo a Success in 2016

NaNoWriMo, 2016, National Novel Writing Month

November is around the corner, and NaNoWriMo is already taking centre stage in many of the social media sites where writers congregate. If you plan to take part this year, make you are prepared for what is install for the 30 day, 50k challenge.
  1. Tell your friends and family that you will be taking part in NaNoWriMo. Explain the time commitment. Say ‘no’ when you have to. December is time enough to catch up with them again.
  2. Week 1: Get ahead of the word count target as soon as you can. Writing 1667 words per day requires a 1.5 to 2 hour commitment from you depending on how fast you write.
  3. Make a backup of your work. You will spend hours writing. Don’t be stupid and take the risk of losing it with computer problems. Backup! Backup!
  4. Week 2 is the most difficult week of NaNoWriMo. Be prepared for things to interfere with your writing. See point 1 and 2.
  5. The people in your life will not take you seriously if you don’t take yourself seriously as a writer.
  6. Week 3: Focus and make sure you are keeping up with the word count target. If you get stuck, ask for help/support. Take part in word sprints and word challenges to help you to keep going. This is not the time to give up!
  7. Week 4: Dig deep. Keep calm. Keep writing, even if you feel like giving up. Even if you feel you are not going to make it. Keep writing!
  8. Week 5: Start validating your word count. Backup your novel/short stories. The NaNoWriMo website will not save your file for you. It is your responsibility.
  9. Don't forget – enjoy the challenge!
Do you have any special tips that work for you in November? Please share in the comments below.

See you at the write-ins and support groups!

Monday 24 October 2016

Spotlight: SCORCHED SOULS by Jeff Altabef and Erynn Altabef

Welcome to another exciting Spotlight Tour with Novel Publicity. Today, I’m sharing the spotlight for Scorched Souls, the final story in the Chosen Trilogy by Jeff Altabef and Erynn Altabef. Don't forget to enter for your chance to win some great prizes including an Amazon Gift Card, a Paperback of Scorched Souls and a dream catcher!

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Here’s an Exclusive Excerpt:
I lean back in my chair; he’s dumped a bucket of ice water on my head, and the chill settles into my bones. “So the Chosen were set up to fail. You’ve planted a bomb on the planet to explode when the Deltites take over.”
He nods, a smug self-congratulatory grin on his face. “A Heart Stone to be precise. It was the only logical action to take.”
Bile burns my throat. “But billions of humans live on the planet.... They will all die. They have souls.”
Still, my father’s logic is undeniable.
“Another complication has developed.” Two different human faces materialize above us and hover in front of the image of Earth. “The woman’s name is Summer Stone. She’s what humans call Native American, and is the mother to the Alpha among the Chosen. The man is not from her tribe. He’s what they call Irish.”
“So?” Why does he care?
“The calculations behind the Chosen were extremely advanced and fragile.” A third face joins that of the others. “The Alpha’s name is Juliet Wildfire Stone. She was supposed to be born from a union between two members of the same Native American tribe. That genetic combination was the only way humans could produce a Chosen strong enough to be an Alpha and draw power from the other three. The secret order had specific rules regarding this, yet they failed to heed them. Fools! I can’t predict what the outcome will be of this particular pairing.”
I study the faces and notice that Juliet has inherited much of her physical appearance from her mother: the long straight black hair, the caramel colored eyes, brown skin and high cheekbones—all but her sharp nose, which resembles her father’s.
Her eyes seem to sparkle, but I shake my head. These are only holographic images. I can’t read too much into them or let my imagination cloud my reason. “I don’t understand the problem. Either she is powerful enough to be the Alpha, or she isn’t. Since you want them to fail, why do you care?”
My father bores his gaze into me, and an icy blade carves into my chest and twists. “There is a third possibility.”
My body turns weak. I’m lucky I’m already sitting. It’s unthinkable, but it’s the only thing that might frighten my father. “You’re afraid she’s an... abomination.”
“I can’t rule it out. Even if she is, she won’t be strong enough defeat an Elite, but we can’t take any chances. I want you to go to Earth. Make sure the Chosen fail and never find out about our plans. They can’t tell the Deltites about the Heart Stone I’ve planted on the planet. If they retrieve that crystal, all would be lost, and they could use its power against us.”
“Me.” I point to my chest. “Why me? Why not send someone else, someone who has already proven—”
“I trust no one else with this! You will succeed and return to Alpha, and when you return you will take the final test. This way we have an excuse for your... reluctance to finish the final exam.”
Two small discs fly into his hand, and he hands one to me. “This one is programmed with my brainwaves. You will use it when you have succeeded. I will keep the second here, so I can contact you... if need be.”
I sense the implied threat in his words and bow my head. “Yes, father. As you command.”
If pure evil exists in this universe, it’s sitting next to me, and I am this monster’s son. What does that make me?
I glance at the hologram of Earth above me. It’s a beautiful planet.
He’s sentenced billions of humans to die, but can I carry out the punishment?

About The Book:
Fate and destiny clash in the explosive, heart-pounding conclusion to the award-winning Chosen series.
Survival is not enough.
Alliances will be formed.
Loyalties tested.
A choice made.
My name is Juliet Wildfire Stone and I’m not just a Chosen, I’m the Alpha… and the fate of Earth rests in my hands.
When I finally met the Prime Elector, he wasn’t anything like I expected. He was supposed to be our mortal enemy, a monster I needed to destroy to fulfill my destiny, yet he was nothing like that—he’s young, brilliant, and looks like an angel.
Caught in the middle of a conflict between two ancient foes, which threatens to rip Earth apart, I must do what is right at all costs. To choose my fate, and Earth’s future, I will need to navigate a new path, form unlikely alliances, and solve ancient mysteries forgotten for centuries.
Yet I cannot do it alone. Will the other Chosen follow me? Do I have the strength to make the right choice, or will the people of Earth be enslaved for all time?

About the Authors:
Jeff Altabef is an award-winning author who lives in New York with his wife, two daughters, and Charlie the dog. He spends time volunteering at the writing center in the local community college. After years of being accused of “telling stories,” he thought he would make it official. He writes in both the thriller and young adult genres.
Jeff is very happy and proud that his co-author for the Chosen Series is his teenaged daughter, Erynn Altabef. Wind Catcher, the first in the Chosen Series, has won the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal for Coming of Age Novels, the 2015 Beverly Hills Book Award for Best YA Fiction and a Mom’s Choice Award.
As an avid Knicks fan, Jeff is prone to long periods of melancholy during hoops season. Jeff has a column on The Examiner focused on writing and a blog designed to encourage writing by those who like telling stories.

Connect with Jeff on: 

Erynn Altabef
Erynn Altabef is an avid reader, dancer, and community activist. Some of her favorite authors are Veronica Roth, Joelle Charbonneau, and her dad! (That would be Jeff Altabef.) She just started her freshman year at Connecticut College is proud to be a camel!!!

Connect with Erynn on:

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