Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sample of my Writing in High School

I've been doing some spring cleaning lately.  Because, it is after all, Spring. FINALLY!

One delicious discovery I came across was a file folder filled with old writing assignments.  In a moment of pure lunacy, I've decided to share one of  them, in all its glory
.  Enjoy!

~ P.S. Remember, I was still a novice. And this was high school (9th grade).  Have mercy!

My Bedroom

As you walk into my bedroom you see a revolting pigsty that looks like a parent's worst nightmare.  My bed is trapped in the corner of my room by a set of old blue bunk beds ominously waiting for someone to bump into them during the middle of the night.  Clothing surrounds the bed except for a narrow pathway leading from it, two feet wide, and cleared so that no junk will be stepped on in the middle of the night.  With shadows that overwhelm the corner, the variety of colors and textures from pants, shirts, and underwear, socks, coats, skirts, and sweaters appear to be a blob piled halfway up to the ceiling. Shirts sleeves and pant legs infest the edges of the bed where they hang lifeless, waiting to be put away.  Papers from previous assignments suffocate unnoticed under the weight of the clothing.

At the foot of the bed the majority of the ghastly mess becomes bunched up and wrinkled.  Another blob consisting of a baby blue, fuzzy, electric blanket and a light blue quilt, with tiny white flowers covering the top of the quilt, infest the middle of the bed. Resting at the head of the bed lies a lone, white teddy bear.  The only splash of color it carries is his red paws and matching red bow-tie with dots of silver sparkles.  A grey, overstuffed pillow sits under the teddy bear. Next to the pillow, my red, blue and white baby blanked with holes worn through it as an attempted sewing job along its edges - performed by me before I knew how to sew - waits to be snuggled during the night. As you walk out of the room, you look back at it and shudder to think that any form of life could exist in there.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Mystery Behind My Name

Butch and Susie - AKA Barbara and Gary Sawey
Butch and Susie
Right now, I'm simultaneously submitting my Contemporary YA novel, Unleashed! to literary agents and publishers, editing Courting Disaster, and co-authoring Define Normal with three of my sisters.

A current topic for me and my sisters is my name.

If you asked my mother how she and Dad chose my name, she would say it was because her childhood nickname was Susie.  Her brother's nickname was Butch.  So her parents would call them Butch and Susie.  Mom said her nickname never stuck when she grew older, but she always loved the name, and therefore wanted to name one of her daughters Susan.

If you ask my father, the story is considerably different.  He wanted a daughter named Susan Age. That way, he could nickname her sewage.  And that, my friend, is my father's humor in a nutshell.

To add a another dimension of interest, here's a crazy little fact:  My middle name is Lee.  Lee is my father-in-law, my mother-in-law, and brother-in-law's middle name.  Needless to say, they welcomed me with open arms when they realized I, too, was a Lee!  But wait! It doesn't stop there. One of my daughters married a boy whose last name is Lee.  His grandfather, and my father-in-law are cousins!

Somewhere, somehow, we are related. Don't worry. My daughter was very thorough about making sure she wasn't too related before she married.

In my next blog, I will begin discussing the significance of specific character names in Unleashed! You'll learn who the characters are named after, and why I chose them. Starting with the main character, Aleasha Summers.


Please take a moment to sign up for my newsletter and get True or False: 64 Secrets about Unleashed!

Interested in learning more about the Crazy Cady Sisters and our book, Define Normal? Sign up HERE to be on our mailing list. Or visit our website HERE

*This Blog was cross-posted on the CrazyCadySisters blog located at

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Unleashed is Finished and Ready To Publish

I have finally put the finishing touches on my Contemporary YA Novel, Unleashed!  

    Black Widow meets Mean Girls

Here's the blurb for the book: 

17-year-old Aleasha Summers was groomed to become a spy and never even knew it. That is, until her family died in a car accident and the Agency sends a handsome agent to collect her.

Tasked with infiltrating a high school and its seedy underbelly, Aleasha finds herself caught in Cecelia’s cross hairs.  But Cecelia is no ordinary high school bully. She's a child of the Mexican Mafia hell-bent on controlling the city and destroying Aleasha in any way she can.

When her boyfriend, her family, and Agency members are kidnapped, Aleasha must take on the Mafia to save her new spy family and the family she has come to love, or lose them and leave the city helpless against the Mexican Mafia’s reign of terror.

Interesting Facet #1:  Aleasha Summers is modeled after a girl I actually know. The girl ON THE COVER!  

There's so much to tell; so many tidbits to include about Unleashed!  And I'm so excited to finally be able to share them!  So take a moment, sign up for my newsletter so I can let you in on the secrets too. By the time Unleashed! completes the publishing process and is on the shelves, you'll feel like you already know her.  I guarantee you'll love her as much as I do. 

And, if you want to read the first five pages, head on over to my Website, and download them!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

How Writing Affects Me

Rosario Beach: A popular spot for pondering
 during the NW Writers Retreat 

In the world of writing, I'm a newbie.  I've only been at it about three years.  I don't have a degree in English, and I've never been published.  I'm working on my sixteenth (and FINAL) draft of my Young Adult novel. Every single draft was absolutely necessary. Believe me.

Before writing, I was pretty self-contained.  I worked hard, kept my head down, and got things done. But, aside from a job well done, I had nothing to show for all my hard work. When I talk to my older children, they have few memories growing up.  There are even fewer pictures, and no journal entries.

Somewhere along the line, I got bit by the writing bug.  In addition to my first story, I have completed first drafts for three other books in this series, and am 1/3 of the way through a first draft  in another, paralleling series. All of my books are based off my children, their personalities, mannerisms, and even funny things they've said. Then I turn them into action stars!

What I'm most surprised by, though, is how writing affects so many other parts of my life.  All of the sudden, I'm writing a spiritual journal, updating three blogs, planning a book of family memories with my sisters, and a short story detailing how my husband and I met and got engaged (in three days).  Plus, I have dozens of other story ideas popping into my head at any given time.  I'll be busy for the next 30 years, and then some.

Seemingly incidental moments in life take on a whole new light.  Thoughts that would have flitted in and out of my mind turn into ideas to be examined, considered, written down, and remembered.

Moments with my children turn into vignettes and short stories.  Random events morph into writing prompts or scenes within books.  My life seems to have become one giant story, waiting to be filled with words by articulating thoughts, emotions,and moments onto paper.

Being a writer helps me to pause and take stock of my life.  Moments no longer speed by in an endless feed. Experiences that would have otherwise been skipped over are recognized as what they are: a blessing from our Father in Heaven. They're recognized as milestones and opportunities to connect with my family; memories to be told and re-told.

If I never publish my stories, that's okay.  Because by taking this journey, I have gained so much more than I could ever have imagined. I have re-gained my life, my family, and my testimony. I  have gained perspective.

Friday, December 4, 2015

I Survived NaNoWriMo and Lived to Tell About It

For writers, November 1st is much like January 1st is for the rest of the world. November is our month of resolutions. Many of us dig deep, take a deep breath, and resolve to write an entire novel in one month.

I don't know about you, but NaNoWriMo is a process for me. This year, I spent weeks pouring over different story ideas I'd jotted down, trying to find just the right one for November. Then, I plotted out in my mind where I wanted my story to go. I only have a month, after all. Every minute is precious and I'm certainly not going to waste those valuable moments sitting at the computer wondering what to write next.

Then, I declare to the world I am doing NaNoWriMo, in hopes that by declaring my intentions, I will somehow solidify my resolve to spend inordinate amounts of time typing away on the keyboard while the rest of the world buzzes on around me.

Next, I make sure to have each of my favorite writing implements. You've gotta have a notebook and at least 37 pens. You know, in case the other 36 quit working. And a pencil in case it decides to rain inside the house, or we have a Spokane, Washington...300 miles away. Well, a person can never be too prepared.

Then there are the snacks. Bottles of water, veggies, fruits, and a stash of comfort foods for the really difficult scenes when a cucumber just won't do the job of filling the gaping hole I just ripped into my heart when I killed off one of my favorite characters. And don't forget the tissues. Oh, and a garbage can, for said tissues and food wrappers. And pages ripped out of the pad of paper because all sixteen variations of the story were decidedly stupid and I decided to start over.

On the first night of NaNoWriMo, I donned my favorite pair of sweats, put my hair up in a messy bun, and locked the office door. For hours, all the family could hear was the pitter-patter of excited fingers tapping away at the keyboard. I think I finished nearly 7,000 words that first day. Wahoo!

I fell into bed at three in the morning, only to be woken up by my five-year-old three hours later to start the day. He pulled me out of bed, dragged me to the kitchen, and insisted I actually feed him breakfast. Seriously? Didn't he realized I was up all night? The nerve of that little boy! I let him live only because he's so doggoned cute. And because murder is frowned upon in certain circles.

That night, I managed another couple thousand words before I found myself falling asleep at the keyboard, leaving several rows of unintelligible characters on the screen. Sweet little five-year-old Jake was kind enough to wake me at four thirty the next morning. He must've known I had work to do. By the time I sat down at the computer that night, my eyes were crossing, and I felt a cold coming on. I logged 12 words.

Then there was the wind-storm heard around the world. 189,000 houses without power. My husband, an employee at the local utility company, logged 100 overtime hours in a week. I got to see what it's like to be a single mom. I do not recommend it. I bow in the general direction of any woman who has to raise children on her own.

And whose idea was it to put NaNoWriMo in the same month as Thanksgiving? Don't they realize there's relatives, and baking, and cleaning, and vacations from school, and children running around, and chaos to be had by all? Someone clearly did not consult me when choosing NaNoWriMo.

For whatever reason, it seemed all of my efforts to sit and write were thwarted by some unforeseen, and a few totally expected, but ignored-until-it-was-too-late, event. By the end of the month, I logged in a paltry 24,211 words. A far cry from the number I was shooting for, but it is still 24,211 words more than I had when I started. I am right where the story gets exciting, and I try to add a few hundred more words per day.

I may not have “won” NaNoWriMo this year, but I did break through my writer's block, gain several new writing buddies, finish nearly half of my story, and managed to avoid any scenarios that would necessitate the use of my pencil. In all, I'd consider the month a success!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Getting Organized As A Writer

I've decided that this is the year of the novels.  I've written two in my series, and am half-way through my third novel.  Book one has been edited, and I'm beginning to concentrate on query letters synopsis' and networking.  Book two is in it's second draft/edit group (I do not recommend this method, but it does force me to keep moving at a steady pace to keep up with deadlines).

I have made it a goal to have novels two and three ready for submission by the time I go to the ANWA writer's conference in Arizona at the end of next year.

The thought of presenting the last four years worth of work to a complete stranger to shoot down terrifies me.  But I'm also painfully aware that this is the next step in the progression of what it takes to become published: Risking rejection.

 Adhesive cable clipsIn my efforts to finish my books, I've invested in a laptop so I can type when I'm away from home, or the other two computers are occupied by other family members.

For my main PC, I've decided the best way to achieve my goal is to organize my desk, which quite frankly is a rat's nest of chaos because it's the hub of everything.  I have papers from my transcription work, bills and finances, medical  bills and statements (that another sordid story in and of itself), books I'm reading and/or reviewing, printing and paperwork from my mystery game business, and a bevy of other projects I'm working on at any given moment.

In an effort to organize my writing work spaces, I opted to try several items for free in exchange for an unbiased review.

One of the biggest hang ups I have with my PC workspace (aside from the paperwork) are the cables.  My feet are constantly getting tangled up in one cable or another.  So I ordered some cable clips.  

 They're a simple concept, quite frankly.  They're clips used to bunch several wires/cables together rather than letting them run loose in a maze of chaos behind the computer and my desk.  Why some engineer hasn't mastered the art of wireless technology for computers and their peripherals is way beyond me.  But here I am, with my 3-month-old computer, clipping wires together to achieve some semblance of order and organization.

When I bought my laptop, I quickly realized that I needed more charger cables.  I have a cable next to my bed to charge my phone while I'm sleeping, one for my PC, one for my laptop, one next to the recliner so I can read on the Kindle App without draining the battery, and another in the car when I'm driving around.  We have three Apple Iphones in our house, so if I'm not using the charging cable, someone else is.

 Charging cablesI ordered a package of three charging cables, varying in sizes from three feet, six feet, and nine feet.  These are fantastic. First off, the piece of metal you slide into the phone is stronger than that of the cable you get when you purchase an Iphone.  Secondly, the sizes are great!  I use the 9 footer in the suburban, so the kids in the back seat can use electronics on long trips without the battery dying.  The 6-footer is used in the living room so that I can be charging my phone while using it in the recliner, or reading books for hours at a time.  And the 3-footer is next to my bed for charging the phone at night. The only time I haven't been able to use these is for my youngest's Ipad.  He has a LifeProof case, so there is a small opening for the charger, but the head of these new cables are too large so I can't get them through the tiny hole.  That means the Apple-issued chord is reserved for the Ipad only.

And finally, I got a second portable charger.  My 15-year-old son stole my first one (which, by the way was hot pink) as soon as it arrived in the mail, and he has used it non-stop for the last several months.  So, I decided to get a second charger (this time it's red). And again, another child (my 19-year old daughter) grabbed it before I could even get it out of it's box.  (sigh) One of these days, I'll get a charger for myself - even if it kills me!!!
 Gnome Workshop Charger
Regardless, my office space now looks more organized, and I'm one step closer to being productive enough to reach my goal of being able to offer up three books in my seven-book young adult action series when I send out my query letters and pitch to the agents and publishers.

I'll keep you posted as I progress!

*I received these products for free in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion

Monday, July 6, 2015

Book Review: Bridges of the Heart

I had the opportunity to read a book called Bridges of the Heart by author Joan Sowards this weekend.  She and I became acquainted through the ANWA Writer's group and she sent me a copy for review.  

I've never been a big historical romance reader, but I gave it a try and was impressed with the story.  Maybe it's because I have a soft spot in my heart for family history and genealogy.  My parents and a few sisters are/were avid genealogists.  We estimate my parents submitted more than 300,000 names before they passed.  Imagine THAT welcoming committee on the other side! ;)

Or maybe it's because the story line was different from so many that I've read in recent months.  I don't know.  Except that over the couple of days I spent reading this book, my mind would often wander back to the place I was at, wondering what would happen next and pondering the turn of events in the story.  

It was easy to get lost in the pages and the time period with the less-than perfect (although spot-on for that time period) dialogue, and little reminders that life in the 1800's were so very different from today.  At times I'd catch myself smiling at the pages, and toward the end there were tears steaming down my cheeks.  

I think what I enjoyed about this book, though, was the gentle reminder of how intertwined our destinies are with one another in our families.  I love how the author illustrates that who we are is because of our ancestors, and how those same ancestors depend on us, their future generations, to cement in heaven what was started here on earth. 

I was enlightened, inspired, and finished the book feeling a strong sense of belonging in the universe. If you are looking for a book that encourages and uplifts, mingled with a dose of gospel doctrine and a look into the eternities, this is the book for you.   I highly recommend it. 


 Bridges of the Heart Book by Joan Soward
Click on the picture to go to the Amazon Page
Bridges of the Heart is about the power of love and forgiveness and the eternal nature of families. Twenty-one-year-old Rachel's life falls apart when her mother becomes ill and passes away. To add to her confusion, Maxson proposes on the evening of the funeral. Rachel escapes to Utah to think and take time off from the relationship. After returning to Arizona, Rachel finds Maxson in a relationship with Paige—Rachel's rival throughout high school. With time, Rachel convinces herself she is over Maxson, but a strange Southern visitor named Jonathan tells her that in the eternal scheme of life, she was always meant to marry Maxson. Jonathan insists it is her responsibility to apologize to Maxson and set things straight. But Rachel refuses, and because of her stubbornness, she is whirled back in time to 1820 to learn that families are eternal—not only through time forward, but also the past. Latter-day Saint women of all ages will enjoy Bridges of the Heart. With a heart-warming, unique perspective of the early-nineteenth-century American South, Bridges of the Heart is a story about the power of love and forgiveness.