Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What's Up Wednesday; May 28, 2014

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime and Erin Funk, to help connect writers on this writing journey.  If you want to join the fun, you can sign up here.

For those of you who are new to WUW, here are the headings we are using:




I'm putting this first because it's so huge!!! Alchemy made it on the list of 50 Self Published Books Worth Reading! We're such unknown authors, I never thought it had a chance, but there it is...clocking in at #42, which is also the answer to the life, the universe and everything, so that seems fortuitous. I don't know if having a book on this list will change my life in any way...except that I'll be able to call myself an award winning author...but it couldn't hurt anything, right?



I just finished reading These Broken Stars, and I loved it! It's the story of Lilac Laroux, the richest girl in the universe, and Tarver Merendsen, the soldier she ends up with on a lonely planet. I'm a huge fan of survival stories, and I'm a huge fan of romance, and this struck exactly  the right chord with my heart.

Next up--Scarlet. Yay!


I feel like I'm getting redundant in this category...I'm working on Pyromancy Part 1. Not as intensely though. We're nearly done. Last week I sent 2/3 of the book to my friend Jessica. She was Alchemy's biggest fan, so she gets the honor of letting us know if the story line of Pyromancy works. We're nervous about it. It was meant to be 1 book, not 2, but it was soooo long, and it split down the middle so felt like it had a whole story arc, but now I'm second guessing myself. Still, we're lining up beta readers and hope to have Jessica's suggestions (whatever they may be) implemented by June 15. 

And on to Pyromancy Part 2.


This challenge. It's been raining pretty steadily in Maine lately, and life has been crazy hectic and more than a little discouraging. I found this challenge at exactly the right time in my life though, because, when I go to your blogs, I just soak in your enthusiasm and zest for life and for this writing journey. Oh yeah...this is supposed to be fun. It's such a good reminder. Thank you!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Melanie's Stories Recieves the Coveted Liebster Award!

I'm excited to announce that my blog was nominated for a Liebster Award! This award allows fellow bloggers to spotlight blogs that haven’t yet built up a large following. Kristen Smith from Swords and Stilettos nominated me for this award. I met Kristen during the A-Z Challenge, and I'm so glad I did. Someday we're going to go to a writer's conference and meet for real, and then the world had better watch out.

The current rules for accepting this award are:

1. List 11 random facts about myself.
2. Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated me.
3. Nominate 11 more blogs who have less than 200 followers and let them know they’ve been nominated.
4. Post 11 new questions for those bloggers to answer (if they wish to accept the award — it’s completely optional).

So, here we go!

11 Random Facts About Myself

1. I let a blob of brown hair dye sit on my forehead for 10 minutes this morning.
2. I was late to my daughter's play because of #1. I kept my hair artistically draped over the spot, so hopefully no one noticed.
3. When I got home I ran a series of experiments to find out which internet method for removing hair dye from skin works the best. The results were inconclusive. Fun times.
4. My two oldest children started driver's ed yesterday.
5. I went in for a lyme disease test first thing this morning.
6. We have tickets to see Matilda and Les Mis on Broadway this summer.
7. I sing while I drive, and I don't catch the eyes of the drivers in the vicinity. If I can't see them, they can't see me. Right?
8. My goal is to walk all the carriage trails of Acadia National Park. I'm almost done, but haven't made any progress this year.
9. Watermelon may be my favorite food.
10. Or perhaps Hood's Fenway Fudge icecream.
11. Wesley Sneijder is my favorite soccer player. Unless we're counting high school players. :)

11 Questions Asked By the Person Who Nominated Me

1. What are your favorite pizza toppings?
 ham and pineapple

2. Who is your favorite superhero?
Adam from Lab Rats. Although Chase is kind of awesome too.

3. If your house were burning down, what would you take and why?
My kids. They'd all be rushing downstairs to grab the 72 hour kits. I can't seem to get it through their heads that the emergency packs are not for fires. So definitely NOT 72 hour kits. That would be my main goal in a fire.

4. If you had a time machine, what year would you travel to and why?
All the years that are awesome in books would be pretty miserable in reality, I think. But I would love to go back to the 80s, because I would love to see how dependent I've gotten on technology that didn't exist when I was a kid. Plus I miss big hair.

5. What are you afraid of?
Ledges. Once we went to the Tower of the Americas in San Antonio, Texas, and when we got off the elevator I made it exactly one step. My body was so sure walking forward was going to tip the whole thing over that my rational mind could not convince it that there wouldn't be restaurant there if it was that precarious.

6. What's the best book you've read in the past year?
That's' a tough question because I've read a lot of good books this year. Probably The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. Or maybe The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. 

7. What is the best vacation you've ever had?
My favorite vacations are the ones where we go to my in-laws cabin in Northern Maine and sync ourselves to camp time. Even washing the dishes becomes a ritual to enjoy, and there's always time for a kayak excursion before lunch. Plus, if I want a s'more, some kids bound to have already started a fire.

8. What's your biggest pet peeve?
Today, my biggest pet peeve is teenagers who say "don't worry about it" whenever someone else speaks. Writing it down doesn't do justice to how annoying it is. You'd have to experience it first hand.

9. What's your favorite love story? (movie or book)
It sounds so awful, but I think my favorite love story is the one in the book I'm writing right now. It's so beautiful and real and I'd call it sexy and Sheena would call it hot, but use whatever word you want that means steamy but clean.  :)

Other than that, I'd say Persuasion by Jane Austen, the book or the movie. 

10. What is the best thing you've done in your life?
Raise my children. I see my faults and my strengths in them. Their love of humor, their compassion for other people, the way they sing in the car--those things come from me. Plus I gave them their dad, who is my polar opposite, and I see him in them too: his love of the gospel of Jesus Christ, his ability to put work first and his goofy sense of humor. We're so imperfectly perfect, with curves and edges and all that other good John Legend stuff.

11. List five adjectives to describe yourself.
compassionate, obsessive, creative, lighthearted, interested

11 Questions for the nominees to answer (should they choose to accept):
1. What is the most interesting thing you have done today?
2. What is the best book you've read in the last year?
3. What are you reading right now?
4. What is your favorite TV show?
5. What is the best vacation you've ever taken?
6. Who is your hero, and why?
7. Why did you start your blog?
8. Who is your favorite author and why?
9. What inspires you?
10. How would you describe your hometown to someone who has never been there?
11. What is your favorite food?

Nominate 11 bloggers: (or 7...  :)

2. Connie at Screwing Up Time
3. Miss Cole from Miss Cole Seeks Publisher
6. Sabrina from The Prosers
7. Allison from Allison's Book Bag

Friday, May 23, 2014

Six Word Saturday May 24, 2014

For Six Word Saturday, we post 6 words that sum up a piece of our life each week. We can add pictures or explanations if we feel so inclined.

They flushed the fire hydrants yesterday!

It sounds ridiculous, but this is one of my favorite parts of living in a neighborhood now. We have fire hydrants! They flush them twice a year, and all the kids on the street (and me!) hurry over for some fun.

Get ready...get set....Go!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What's Up Wednesday May 21, 2014

What's Up Wednesday is a blog hop created by Erin L. Funk and her sister Jaime Morrow. If you want to join the fun, you can sign up here.


Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Even though I have enjoyed every steampunk book I've read, I'm always leery to try another one, so I'm a little late to the Cinder party. That's OK though because I am really loving this book, and I don't have to wait for the sequel! Or the book after that!


My co-authors and I are hoping to be done with the deep edits to Pyromancy by Saturday. Hopefully my home and family will survive that long. It's going to be a close call.

I've also been daydreaming a lot about my story set in the home of a hoarder. It's my go-to daydream for when my house starts looking particularly awful. Add a deathly ill prince hiding from enemies who want to kill him, and suddenly cleaning up seems a lot less mundane.


My great aunt just sent me a message on facebook. She said that she finished reading Alchemy and tried to give it to her grandson and his WHOLE CLASS had just finished reading it as assigned reading! I have no idea how his English teacher found out about Alchemy but HOW COOL IS THAT? It's like we're Shakespeare, or Thoreau! Thank you wonderful English teacher for making me so happy!


What else have I been up to??? Um, um, um...

Lots of driving, and lots of lifeguarding the trampoline. A little cooking...Some cuddling...and a few more facebook personality tests than are absolutely necessary.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Six Word Saturday May 17, 2014

Yikes! I've been trying so hard to not annoy everyone with requests for votes for Alchemy that I nearly missed the deadline! May 18th is the day the contest closes. You can vote 5 times, so even if you've already voted, will you consider voting again??? Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Here's the llink:

For Six Word Saturday, we post 6 words that sum up a piece of our life each week. We can add pictures or explanations if we feel so inclined.

Getting in shape for New York.

We are going to New York City when school gets out. We've never planned a vacation like this ever, ever, ever, because my husband hates big cities, except Boston and Washington D.C. I don't know why that is, except perhaps that he loves their history and he understands their public transportation.

I've tried to imagine what it might be like, trying to keep up with my active family on the streets of New York City, and realized that I had a problem. I am SO out of shape. So all this week, I've been exploring all the trails near my house. Yesterday, I'd walked nearly four miles AND mowed half my lawn (with a push mower) by 9:30 in the morning. 

In Pyromancy, Ana's gym teacher tells her that she can't undo a lifetime of inactivity in  one short month, and she replies that she's giving it her best shot. Sometimes life imitates art.

(Ticonic) Two Cent Bridge - Waterville, Maine

I haven't been taking pictures, so I got this one from flickr. 
This is a pedestrian bridge on one of the trails I've been exploring this week.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

What's Up...Thursday???

What happened? How did I miss Wednesday?  For a few minutes, let's pretend like today is really yesterday and like I didn't miss anything. (Except the chance to link it up, which is kind of sad, but that's what I get when I start skipping whole days like that.)

What's Up Wednesday is a blog hop created by Erin L. Funk and her sister Jaime Morrow.


Hardly anything. Shampoo bottles, lotion bottles, that sort of thing. I don't know how to not read, but I'm trying to not read for a week or two. 


Yesterday I wrote two pages of a book that wasn't Pyromancy. It was for an old Nanowrimo project that I haven't thought about for months, but yesterday on a walk a much better opening chapter fell into my head fully formed. That particular book is number five or six on my list of books I ought to be writing, but suddenly it looks so tempting.

But mostly I'm working on Pyromancy revisions. It isn't fun. Knowing what I know about the way the book ends makes the first half of Pyromancy especially emotional for me. Writing has never taken me on such a roller coaster ride before, and I'm not sure it ever will again. I kind of hope not. My poor family does not understand where my morose moods are coming from.


Walking has always inspired me. Yesterday I walked along the Two Cent Bridge. It's a pedestrian bridge across the Kennebec River in Maine. This is the new starting place for my untitled book, except what's happening on either side of the bridge is much more interesting than in real life.
(Ticonic) Two Cent Bridge - Waterville, Maine


My husband and I spent the weekend in Boston, and it was amazing. Our hotel had a sauna, and I adore saunas. We ate dinner on the North End, and spent Saturday at the LDS temple. Good times.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Tagged: My Writing Process

Author Kristen Smith tagged me in a blog tour.  I'm to share my method for generating ideas, mapping out those ideas and eventually writing those ideas down. Today, I mostly focus on the "writing those ideas down" piece.

Kristen writes contemporary romance. We "met" during the A-Z Challenge, and hit it off immediately. I'm waiting impatiently for the publication of her first book, Letting Go, which is the story of a young mother struggling to raise her four small children after the death of her husband. You can find out more about Kristen and follow the blog tour here.

My Writing Process:

What am I working on now?

As most of you know, Sheena Boekweg, Sabrina West, and I started a crazy collaborative project that has grown completely out of control. I created a nice, normal character named Ana, Sheena created a lady's man named Sam and Sabrina created grumpy Juliette. Then we set them loose at a school for students who have been infected with a magical virus. The first book, Alchemy, was released in October of 2013, and we've been working nonstop on the sequel, Pyromancy. It is SO MUCH FUN. I can't even tell you. We're at the not fun major editing phase right now, and even that is SO MUCH FUN.

By the way, Alchemy has been nominated for a spot on the list of 50 Self-Published Novels Worth Reading and  you can vote right here!   (pretty please?)

How does my book differ from others within its genre?

First of all, there aren't many books written by three authors, where each author is completely in control of the actions of one character. We got the idea from Sorcery and Cecilia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, so it has been done before, though they only had two authors, not three. Many reviewers said that they thought they would hate skipping from character to character and were shocked because that turned out to be their favorite part of the book.

Second, the idea that magic is a deadly virus is pretty unique. If you survive the infection and recover from the resultant insanity, magic can be pretty fun, but magic is dangerous enough that mages are quarantined and shunned by society. The conversations we've had to create this amazing world have been priceless. I don't know how I'll ever go back to world building all by myself.

Oh, and third...I might be a little biased, but I think we just wrote the most believable romance in the history of the world. Believable yet steamy. Steamy yet clean. I hope the world loves it as much as I do.

Why do I write what I do?

Because I love romance and kissing and all of that fun stuff. If it wasn't for my incredible co-writers, I would forget all about the plot and the magic. It's just filler to get to the kissing. Oh, gosh, Sheena and Sabrina are going to die when they read that. Sorry my friends!

How does my writing process work?

I have two different writing processes now. One with collaborators and one by myself. The one where I write by myself is pretty rusty, so here's how I write with collaborators. 

You can read about the process of collaboration in Alchemy here and here.

The writing process has changed quite a bit in Pyromancy, so I have new things to say. In Alchemy, I was terrified to write scenes with Juliette or Sam in them, because those characters belonged to Sabrina and Sheena. I still did it, but it was awkward. 

In Pyromancy however, Ana, Sam and Juliette are best friends, and there is no avoiding scenes with all of them in it. It's scary stuff, writing fiction with characters that don't belong to you. But we're all getting pretty good at it. This is what happens.

I want to write a scene. I might send my idea via facebook to Sabrina or Sheena to make sure they are on board. But sometimes I'm really brave, and I just write it. When it's done, I'll send it to Sheena to "Samify" or to Sabrina to "Juliette-ify" it. They'll tell me what Sam and Juliette would actually do, fix up their reactions and their dialogue. If I'm way off, then we'll talk, and if it's a tricky scene we might even get on google docs and write it together. We're doing so much more writing together now, but we're super careful of each other's voice.

Here is one example out of many:

Weeks ago, Sabrina wrote a scene with all three of our characters (plus Zach and Seb) in it. When I read it, I immediately said, "Stop! Ana wouldn't do that. She absolutely wouldn't do that." Over the months we've become comfortable saying things like that to each other, because we know that it is quite possibly the most important thing we can do to make the book good. 

The trouble was, having Ana act that way imparted a lot of important information seamlessly, and both Sabrina and Sheena liked it. It was such a small scene, you might have thought I would let it go, but that's not the way any of us work. Neither of them would want me to betray Ana like that.

So I wracked my brain for a way to create a situation where Ana might act that way, but it just didn't exist. Instead I wrote an alternative scene, several pages earlier (still in Juliette's POV. I am so gutsy!!!)  that I thought might take its place. Eventually, my alternative was accepted. But if it hadn't worked for Sabrina, then we would have kept hammering it out. We're getting pretty good at writing each other's characters, but even better at changing things. I love it though, because the finished product is so darn lovable.

I hope when I eventually go back to writing on my own that I can incorporate this into my process. It will be time consuming to get into every character's head in every scene, and it may eventually drive me insane. But boy, it really makes the characters shine. 

What's your writing process like?

Continue following the Process of Writing Tour and see how others hammer out their stories.


Connie Keller, Bryce Moore, and Sheena Boekweg

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

This is the first time I am participating in What's Up Wednesday. I've been on the lookout for a meme that fit with my personality, which was harder than you might imagine, but the minute I found this one, I knew it was a perfect fit.

What's Up Wednesday is a blog hop created by Erin L. Funk and her sister Jaime Morrow.


A few months ago, my daughter came home from a book sell and proudly handed me an old library edition of The Bourne Identity. Jason Bourne and I have a tumultuous history, so I thanked her, but privately thought it would just sit on my bookshelf...I was wrong. I'm deep in the middle of rereading it, and I'm just as enthralled as last time, and I don't know why! The writing swings from purple to stark, and the character development is superficial, but that non-stop action makes it impossible to put down.


My co-authors and I are deep in revisions of Pyromancy. Yesterday we got together to fix one of the least favorite scenes in the book, and ended chopping over 5000 words--most of them mine. When I look at the scene from a distance, I know it's so much better than it used to be, but that doesn't stop my brain from whimpering that I just deleted nearly 5000 words--some of them really good ones. Do you know how long it takes to write 5000 words? I'm feeling a little bit flayed.


The last two minutes of season 5 of The Office. (I know I'm way behind on that bandwagon.) To avoid spoilers, I'll just say its when Pam twists her ankle at the company volleyball game--holy cats, people! The scene is completely silent, but the expressions on Jim's face--wow, that was some good acting, and that's exactly the way I want my writing to make people feel.


Last night I went to Jessica's high school Choral concert. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, but not for the reason you might think. Once or twice a week, Jessica volunteers at a class for adults with disabilities. They  do all sorts of things, from attending basketball games to making crafts, and last night the whole group came to listen to her concert. She loves this group of friends so much, and it made my heart swell with pride to see them all there to support her. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Alchemy and the 50 Self-Published Novels Worth Reading

Alchemy had been nominated for a really awesome award--a place on the 50 Self-Published Novels Worth Reading for 2013/2014. The list will include the 5 self-published fantasy books with the most votes. It was an honor to be nominated, but we were going up against some much better-known books, so I didn't think we had much of a chance. But I just got an email saying Alchemy is currently NUMBER 6 ON THE LIST! It is doing SO much better than I ever dreamed, and so now, I kinda want to win...Please take the time to vote. You can vote more than once too, though I'm not sure what the limit is. May 18th is the deadline, so please vote, and then tell your friends, your family, your children, your classmates, your facebook friends, your twitter followers, followers of your blogs, your neighbors, the librarian and the checkout clerk at the grocery store (assuming she's read Alchemy of course . Thanks!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Six Word Saturday!

We've been married for 19 years!

Yesterday was our 19th anniversary, and you'd think I'd be expecting it by now, but I stuck to the "buy each other a card" rule, and he bought me a new computer desk. And yet he still signed up for another year. I'm a lucky woman.

This was the day we met. That's me in the green at the back. Right below me is my date, and right next to him, with the leather jacket clung over his shoulder, is Roger. What a cutey, huh?