Monday, December 3, 2012


Christmas is right around the corner. By now, my decorations would be up, the smell of the tree making a sweet fragrance throughout the house. This year none of those things have happened. It’s not because I’m behind schedule, but because we’re spending this year in Florida with my in-laws. My parents live on island, but my husband’s commute between Florida and North Carolina. This means alternating Christmases. One year in Cayman and the other in the US.
I love it, because it gives me a break every other year.  My mother-in-law is highly organized, so everything is usually done by the time we get there. The only thing to do is cook dinner, bake cookies, and make a ginger bread house; my favorite things.
Growing up in Cayman, my Christmas was a lot different than it is now. We put up decorations on our fake tree with horrifying, pain in the butt, tinsel. We didn’t bake cookies, but had what we call heavy cakes (cake made from cassava and yam) or fruit cake. YUCK! Instead of turkey, we had local beef with coleslaw, rice and beans, baked macaroni and cheese and potato salad. For entertainment, we visited family and friends, and went to various houses on island where their Christmas lights was an event. Santa, food, the works. 
When my mom married my step-father we started to make some of our own traditions. In came the turkey, stuffing and steamed veggies. I started to bake cookies, tarts, and sugar balls. (Get your mind out of the gutters ladies. You know who you are.) That was a tradition I picked up from my best friend, Katie.
When my son was old enough we tried a new cookie recipe each year (along with the easy bake ones from the supermarket) specifically ones that were kid friendly and easy to make. After I got married, more traditions came and with the birth of my daughter, I’m sure there will be more again. Some of the original traditions remain, while others fell by the way side for one reason or another.
What about you? What are your Christmas traditions? Have they changed over the years or remained the same.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lost Chapter Teaches Organization Lesson

Ok. I’m not the most organized person in the world. I know, that’s a shocker for anyone who knows me *snorting here*. But last weekend, going through a revision, I discovered I’d lost a chapter. Really. It was nowhere to be found.

I was reading along about half way through the story, turned the page from one chapter to the next--and went into an entirely different place.

The heroine had been preparing for dinner, at which time she would confront her betrothed—a man she’d just met. She’d girded herself for battle, so to speak, and the chapter ended on a hook (I’d hoped.) Breathless to see what I’d written, I flipped that page—and found myself in the middle of a storm at sea.

Hummm. I checked the rest of the manuscript. I’d printed it off because it’s easier for me to check continuity that way. The story continued right along, with no more interruption and no out-of-place pages that I might have gotten mixed up. Didn’t find that chapter. Had no memory of what happened in the missing link.

I was so upset, I had to get up and get a cup of coffee and a peanut butter cookie.

Let me explain that part. Last weekend I went on a write-in sort of getaway at a campground several miles away. Seven women were there, along with an employee of the organization that owns the camp who cooked for us Saturday and again Sunday morning. OhMyGosh!! Food was homemade and So good. But I digress LOL.

This manuscript was one I finished at the end of 2011 and was so sick of, I hadn’t looked at it since. Last month, I decided to haul it out and try to get it in shape to send out at least once or twice. (It had done pretty well in contests last year.) I’d gotten through about half and decided to take the last half to the write-in for editing and revision.

That’s when the error was discovered. Saturday, I spent a good deal of time searching the computer and finally found the problem. I’d picked up the wrong file when I merged chapters. After a few whispered prayers of ‘Thanks,’ I realized the blame partly lay in my writing process.

I write in chapters, then merge them all. I’d revised that particular chapter, saved it under another name, but picked up the old chapter when I assembled the whole book. I was so relieved I celebrated with another peanut butter cookie.

That scare taught me a valuable lesson in organization, and my writing process will be structured differently from now on. 

What about you. Have you ever ‘lost’ a piece of your story? How do you organize a WIP?

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Unconscious Obsession

Daniel Craig
On the heels of Cecily's "Crush" post, I finally became aware of my obsession recently, and even though I've retraced my steps, I cannot find where it all started. As I edited a manuscript scheduled for release soon, I noticed my male character was blond haired and blue eyed. In the past few months, I've written a couple of stories in which the hero is blond and blue-eyed. 

Simon Baker
Sean Bean
One day, I posted a pic on facebook in my readers group of Simon Baker. He's blond and blue eyed and oh so dreamy to stare at. Then there's Chris Hemsworth, Paul Walker, Connor Trineer, Daniel Craig, Sean Bean, and my new cover crush whose face adorns my facebook cover, my business cards and my banner... you get the idea. (insert cheesy grin here) I don't even want to say his name, you know to protect my precious... *ahem*

Chad Kroeger of Nickelback fame has blond hair and green eyes. Eric Dane boasts the green sparklies.

Chad Kroeger

As I wrote this post, I thought back to high school when the blond haired, blue eyed new guy sat near me in math class. An older guy coming back to finish up high school, he frequently asked me for test answers. Did I give him those answers? Damn skippy! Hey - he was hottie and although I was well aware he was using me, one flash of his grin and I'd turn a fetching shade of red, and my ears would burn 'til they were purple flames. I loved the ill-gotten attention. *hangs head in shame*

Sam Worthington
I have had a couple of trysts, let's say, with men who were either blond haired and blue or green eyed. At least this time, I knew the female power I possessed and had only to flash my t-- teeth (you know big, sweet smile? get your mind out of the gutter people!) to capture their attention and turn them into putty in my hands.  Can't say as any of my time was wasted with either of them!
Henry Cavill

Jason O'Mara
Julian McMahon
Perhaps it's not even the blond hair. Jason O'Mara, Henry Cavill, and Sam Worthington have darker hair, but amazing blue eyes. I fell in love with green-eyed Satan himself, Julian McMahon on Charmed. And who could forget Gerard Butler?

Gerard Butler
What is it about a pair of green sparklies or baby blues that mesmerizes me? Is it because I feel like I'm staring into the soul of my savior, or because I see the devil inside that wants to be set free?

Alas, I don't know. But I realize this "eye thing" at the very least is an obsession. An unconscious one, but still, perhaps a little therapy is in order. Admitting I have a problem is the first step to getting help, right? But I don't see a problem here, do you? *skips off to google*

How about any of you? Any "obsessions" you care to share?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Awkward Crush

So, I've been thinking a lot about crushes.

I mean, I get it.
It's a crush.
It's not supposed to feel good, exactly.
It's more like that epic moment before orgasm, when you're perched at the edge of madness, writhing in agony, waiting for the bliss you're sure is coming. The problem with crushes is that their fate is more often like roses than firecrackers.

For example, a few weeks ago I couldn't sleep (no news there) so I went into the living room to browse the DVR and eat potato chips out of the bag (also not a shock). At random, I selected an MTV show called Awkward (research, obviously, since I write YA).
The show was pretty cute. Funny, too, if you like that kind of thing.
But that's not why I kept watching for ten hours straight until my children woke up demanding breakfast (please don't ever tell my husband that).
I kept watching because of this guy:

Beau Mirchoff.

He's twenty-three and plays a sixteen-year-old. (Okay, twenty-four in January. . . Not that one year makes me less pervy, but at least he's legal. Sigh.) With that in mind, here's another photo from his shirtless stint on Desperate Housewives.

I know, right?
He totally wants me.

Anyway, here's my dilemma:
Obviously, we're meant to be together, but I have this rule, you see. I won't eroticize anyone for whom I could have concievably changed diapers. And this tasty snack of manness is twenty-three, ergo, well within babysitting limits for me.

I can't even look at him.
So, so wrong.
And yet. . . LOOK at him!
I keep waiting for the crush to do it's usual thing. . . wither like those grocery-store roses boys bring you on Valentine's day. And sure, so far it's decreased from drool-dripping, lip-biting, heart-thumping obsession to a mere crush.
But come on!
I need to sleep, okay?
I can't be stalking the DVR at all hours, waiting for MTV to re-run Awkward Second Season, Episode 3 so I can watch him take his shirt off again. (Admittedly, the fact that I made notes on this boy's shirtlessness is embarrassing in its own right. Don't tell hubs that either.)

So here's my new rule:
If I could have given birth to a boy, I can't eroticize him.

That opens up a lot of doors for me. I can still have Chris Pine, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Channing Tatum and Ian Somerhalder.
But now I get Beau Mirchoff, too.

Yeah, I'm sure you're all as relieved as I am.

Now, what about y'all?
Who are your dirty little crushes?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Come and Git It!!

Come and Git It!

Or at least that's how we perceive the Chuckwagon Boss calling the cowboys to dinner. His voice ringing out against the clank of a "dinner" triangle…. Is that how it happened??
While some form of the kitchens in wagons had existed for generations, the term chuckwagon or chuck wagon is credited to Charles Goodnight, a rancher from Texas who introduced the concept in 1866. He modified a Studebaker wagon, an army supply wagon, to suit the needs of cowboys driving cattle from Texas to sell in New Mexico. He added a "chuck box" to the back of the wagon with drawers and shelves for storage space and a hinged lid to provide a flat cooking surface. He then attached a water barrel to the wagon and canvas hung underneath to carry firewood.
Chuckwagon food typically included none-spoiling or easy to keep items like beans, salted/ cured meats, coffee, and ingredients to make biscuits. Food would also be gathered as they traveled.  On the cattle drives, it was common for the cook ,"cookie",  to run the wagon and to be second in command -- only to the trailboss. The cookie would often act as cook, barber, dentist, and banker.
The term chuck wagon comes from "chuck", a slang term for food.
Here is a really fun link that tells what kind of supplies a family headed West might pack for their cooking on the trail. It's a very interesting site J

Monday, October 8, 2012

Change of Times, Change of Tastes

It’s funny how things change within a lifetime.  No, I’m not talking about my hair color.  Although, my hair colorist does amazing work and I keep her quite busy.  No, what I’m referring to is how I once found certain things important, I no longer value; or what I originally believed to be boring, I actually find exciting.  Sound familiar?  So, I guess it’s more accurate to say my perception of things change over time.
Well, let me start with the example of seasons.  I remember how I loved the summer time.  It was my favorite season of the year.  When I thought about it, I realized my infatuation with summer came from school being out of session.  Now, my favorite season is most definitely, fall.  I despise the heat and humidity from the summer time.  I love the leaves changing colors during the fall season.  Watching football is a plus as well. But the thing I love most about the fall…cooler weather.  I much rather wear layers of clothes and have the luxury of taking something off or putting it back on in case I get too hot or too cold.  When it’s the summer time, you’re pretty much stuck with taking clothes off to a certain point unless you want to get arrested. If you’re a nudist, I guess taking more clothes off isn't a concern for you; however, I am not a nudist and don’t plan to be either.  With that being said, I really don’t want to spend my summer vacation in a nasty jail cell with other hot, sweaty people because I over heated and stripped down.  No, not happening and I’m sure you all are silently thanking me as well. 
Anyway, what I’m trying to convey is how our likes and dislikes change over time.  Our reading tastes may change along with other things in our lives, too.   At one time, inspirational stories bored me to tears.  Yet now, they offer encouragement when I need it most. 

When I was a child, I loved reading Dr. Seuss and Nancy Drew.  As I grew up, my love my books and reading matured along with my reading material.

When I was a young teenager, I remember reading the young teenage romances from Sweet Dreams and First Love from Silhouette lines. I believe those were my first dose of romance.  Later on, I learned to appreciate the classics such as ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘The Scarlet Letter’, and ‘Dracula’.

During my late teen years and early twenties, I focused more on my social life than any recreational reading.  Sadly, the only time placed on reading was within the academic field.  I put aside any reading for fun and relaxation for almost five years.  Then one day, I picked up Susan Johnson’s, ‘Golden Paradise’.  It sparked a deep desire within me for romance again. 

Now, it seems I read depending on my mood as well as my taste.  For example: During this time of the year, with the cooler weather and earlier sun set, I love reading fantasy, paranormal, and epic tales more than other stories.  When I read stories such as ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Harry Potter’, and ‘Black Dagger Brotherhood Series’, they definitely set the stage for me on a dreary fall’s day.

As the time gets closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas, I tend to reach more for holiday ‘feel good’ romances or general fiction.  One of my favorites is John Grisham’s ‘Skipping Christmas’.  Each time I read it I double over from laughing so hard.  Another favorite is Charles Dickens, ‘A Christmas Carol’.

I mentioned earlier about Dr. Seuss and Nancy Drew.  Although they were childhood favorites, at times when I am feeling nostalgic I find myself going back in my collection to read one of those.  That’s one of my favorite aspects about books.  No matter when or where I’ve read it, I have the opportunity to enjoy the story repeatedly if I so desire. 

So how has your reading tastes changed over the years?  Does your mood determine your reading choices?  I love to hear if and when your taste in book genres change. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Visiting the Future (Or, the Pitfalls of Living in the Moment)

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. ~Buddha

Forever is composed of nows.  ~Emily Dickinson

Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee.  ~Montaigne

It is only possible to live happily-ever-after on a day-to-day basis.  ~Margaret Bonnano

Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  And today?  Today is a gift.  That's why we call it the present.  ~Babatunde Olatunji, a similar version is also attributed to Alice Morse Earle

If you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.  ~Author Unknown

Pile up too many tomorrows and you'll find that you've collected nothing but a bunch of empty yesterdays.  ~The Music Man
Quotes and attributions found at Quote Garden

Photo from
These quotes all have one thing in common: they urge us to live in the moment. One day at a time. Seize the day!

What they don’t tell us is that living in the present all the time can be detrimental, too. You see, I’m rather an expert at living in the moment, much to my OCD, Type-A, anal-retentive husband’s frustration. I’m his complement. I keep him from getting too stressed out about certain things, and since he’s been in Alcoholics Anonymous, he’s been trying to adopt some of my ways. But I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m glad he hasn’t been able to do it entirely. Not the drinking—he hasn’t had a drop in years. I’m referring to his inability to let his anxiety about the future go.

Strange, right? Well, I have a pretty good reason. Living in the moment causes me to procrastinate. Why do today what can be done right before the deadline? Yes, I procrastinate, and yes, I cut deadlines to the wire. That works for me. Mental blocks seem to melt only under the pressure of “one more hour left.” I’ve tried to do work earlier, but then—oooh, shiny! My life is so much in the present that most events sneak up on me, regardless of my calendar staring at me from the wall.  

I’ve talked about hobby ADHD before. This is part of my problem. I get distracted by all the cool new stuff I could be doing, and put off what I should be doing. My one saving grace is that I get things done on time. Mostly. Budgeting is a struggle. If not for my husband, I’m certain creditors would be all over me for late or missed payments. For some reason, billing deadlines filter right out of my brain (unlike other types of deadlines, like when papers were due in school, or when I have to get papers graded to my students; those I remember). A solution I've adopted is using the task reminder in MS Outlook. I have it synced to my phone and iPod (never can have too many bells chirping, right?) and set up the reminders for DAYS in advance. So far, it seems to help.

My point is one of moderation, even with One Day at a Time living. Don't spend too much time in the past or future, but make sure you visit them both. For short durations. This is something I’ve yet to master, but I keep trying. Hopefully, I’ll get the hang of it soon. 

Do any of you struggle with living too much in the past, future, or moment? How do you handle it?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Some Days I Just Want to Be a Unicorn

Tonya Kappes, author of Splitsville.comthe Charming Series of books, and many other entertaining reads, posted, "Some days I just want to be a unicorn," on her Facebook Street Team wall, and it resonated with me.  In reality, I don't want to be a unicorn (though there's something to be said for being a mythical creature beloved by many and highlighted in shiny sticker collections everywhere).  But, the truth is, I write because I can't be a unicorn.

I know, I know, where is this going?  Stick with me a minute.  I'll make it clear...crystal clear.  Is there any other kind?

I'm a writer, which means, I use my brain as a tool to mesh reality with fantasy.  It's not just something I want to do.  It has pretty much been a compulsion of mine since I can remember.  Every toy of mine had a personality and a story line.  Couldn't help it.  Just the way my brain worked.

Sure, I've been accused of being a daydreamer, a little weird, ADD, anti-social (whatever?), and maybe at times, I'm all of these.  Yet, I'm also creative, imaginative, and slightly humorous.  Combine these and you get someone who gets to be a unicorn some days.  Maybe it's all in my head, but that's okay because I'm a writer.

Some days I might want to be a competing chef going against her ex-boyfriend in a televised cooking competition. This is the premise for my contemporary short story, "Into the Fire."

Some days I might want to be a teenage girl disguised as a boy in a futuristic, dystopian society, just trying to fit in and protect my baby sister from the monsters outside the wall as well as the human ones inside.  Sound interesting?  Check out Edge of Mercy.

Whatever I am today, it's just the way my brain works, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

What about you?  What do you want to be some days?

Happy Reading and Writing,

Cherie Marks/C. C. Marks

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


When I set out to be a published writer from the age of twelve, the last thing on my mind was how it worked. All I knew was I wanted to write stories with characters people could fall in love with like I feel in love with the H/H I read about. As I wrote my stories, I had fantasies of getting that letter or phone call (I started submitting before emails and the Internet were used for submissions) from an editor saying they wanted to publish my book. My advance would be enough for me to quit my job, and before the book was released, a director from Hollywood would discover it and want to make it into a movie, making me rich beyond my wildest dreams. The publishing company would promote my book while I traveled to do research on my next bestseller, ask for my input on the covers, and tell me when to show up for book signings.

Over the past four years, I've learned more about the industry and quickly realized I was a little off base (okay, a lot of base). Don’t get me wrong I am in NO WAY complaining. I’m ecstatic that someone wants to publish my book. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wish I’d taking those classes on publishing at the conference I went to, or even an online course so I was better prepared. (I’m a planner and prefer not to play catch up.) Or that I was more tech savvy so my blog and other social networks rocked. That said; I do know people who can make them rock and that know everything there is about the industry. 

So, a shout out to networking, and meeting wonderful people to make the journey with on the road to a successful and happy writing career.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Not only am I humbled by friends and family and their continued support with my writing and self publishing journey, but I'm also humbled by new readers (ones I haven't had to recruit myself-but rather, ones that have seen my book on Amazon and have decided to read it). It gives me a flutter of heart happiness to see their reviews on my book, and their curiosity to see when the next books are coming out. :)

I'm also humbled by the move of the book itself as it reached the #21 spot, and the #111 spot on the Amazon Bestseller list! That was thrilling! And even though the book is now going back down to normal position, all of those readers who bought it are leaving reviews...that I'm thankful for...and I hope it continues!

So, now I'm almost finished with my set of edits for Drake's book, HER DRUID DESIRE, and hope to have it to my editor really soon...then it's off to the races for that one. Can't wait to learn all the new things that I have to do for e-publishing AND getting it to print!

Thanks to all of you angels for your help, support, and most of all, for your tips and expertise in this field. I am proud to call you all friends, and writer buddies! :)

My question: Do you all look forward to the process of getting a book out there, or are you a more behind the scenes kind of writer, you rather do the edits, corrections and the go between with you and your publisher?


Monday, August 13, 2012

The Olympics of Life

Last night most of us watched the Closing Ceremonies for the Olympics - well, I say most of us because I didn't actually watch it. My kids wanted to watch a movie so I snuggled up with them and did that instead. Anyway, back to my real discussion...

I'm not a sports fanatic by any means. The only time I watch sports on television is when the Olympics are on. Why? For me, it's about the world coming together in the name of sportsmanship to see who will reign supreme until the next four year cycle. As a former elite gymnast, I appreciate the dedication, perseverance and determination of the worlds athletes. And who doesn't like to watch their own country compete, pride for their fellow man echoing in their heart?

As I religiously watched the artistic gymnastics competition, both mens and womens, a sense of awe permeated my being. The sport has changed so much since I competed. When you consider what athletes were doing skill-wise in the '70's as compared to now (I competed in the '80's and 90's - I'm not that old!), the sport has come a long way. I'd love to say I have a favorite event to watch, but as I watch the gymnasts tumble, vault and fly around the bars, not to mention leap along a four-inch wide beam - I can't pick one. I am amazed by all of it. What fills me with pride is not only watching what they can do but how they react to the outcome.

In the Olympics, like in life, sometimes you're the athlete collecting the gold at the top of the podium, and sometimes you're the one who didn't even make top five. I was so proud of our Canadian womens gymnastics team because even though they didn't bring home a medal, they were fifth in the world which is the best standing they've had for some time.

Often in life, we get down on ourselves because we didn't get the number one spot, or second, or third. We forget to appreciate how far we've come in a short amount of time. Watching the Olympics, seeing countries participate who were not allowed to before, watching as sports are added to the roster, reminds me of how far we can all go in our lives with a little determination, perseverance and the belief we can do anything.

Now that the Olympics are over, let's not forget that spirit of togetherness that for two weeks brought the world together to witness the best the world had to offer. As the highs and lows of life reach us, let's remember to be grateful for those who coach us along in life - our friends, our family, our fellow writers, our publishers, our readers - and give thanks for another day to give it our best shot.

And because today is my birthday, I want to give everyone a treat! I will give away a paperback of REBOUND to one lucky commenter (Canada and the US. If you're from overseas, I'll let you choose another ecopy.)
REBOUND is Book 1 of the Love and Balance series based around my love of the sport of gymnastics. Book 2, The Perfect Score is available now as well, and I'm revealing the cover for Tumbling Hearts which will be Book 3 available this fall. I also have a new sweet, paranormal romantic short story that just came out LOST IN HER MIND. I'll also give away a pdf copy of that to a lucky commenter! So TWO prizes and I'll pick a winner at the end of the week :)

Visit with me at:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

This Stuff Ain't for Sissies! by Lori Leger

Self-Publishing and Promoting...A quick trip to Insanity, but what a HELL OF A RIDE!
As a self published author, here are just a small portion of the questions running through my "Abbie Normal"mind on a daily, if not hourly, basis... (feel free to ask if you don't get it and I'll explain...)

When should I release my next book?
Should I spend money on an editor or keep rolling like I have been?
Do I want to think about submitting to an agent/editor or keep rolling like I have been?
What should I name the next books in the series?
Should I start a new series?
What do I want on the cover this time around?
How am I going to find time to blog?
Can I really afford another writer's conference this year, both time and moneywise?
Should I drive or fly to Atlanta in October?
Should I enter contests?
Should I volunteer to judge contests? If so, how many?
Am I posting enough to Facebook...Goodreads...Twitter?
Should I start Pinterest? Would I even have the time to start something new?
SHOULD I blog more?
Am I doing enough to promote my books?
Should I start my own publishing company? If so, what does it take?
Should I make it exclusive to Amazon to take advantage of free days and the lucrative lending library income?
How much is too much to spend on ads or promo packages?
Trading cards or book marks?
Do I have enough humor in the new book?
Do I need more conflict?
Did I miss my turn at blogging on the Ass Cheek Angels? (Uh...YEP!)

Okay...I know I'm not special...I KNOW all of you ask yourselves some of these same questions. Right? Or is it just because I'm self-pubbed? I've never been traditionally pubbed so I don't know. But, it can't be just me losing my mind, right? THIS is why I resigned my job. No way...No way in HELL could I continue the full time job and the publishing end of the business. Writing was one thing, but the time it takes to publish...the rewriting...over and over...the tedious task of endless rounds of editing...over and over and over again (and I still miss the obvious, sometimes). All so time consuming.

So I get it's OUT to promote it. Good God Almighty, I only THOUGHT writing was time consuming. Promoting is the real time thief. And distractions...I'm like that dog in the movie "UP" ... SQUIRREL! and I'm off on ten different tangents. I've checked both of my emails..twice...pulled up facebook and goodreads...updated the website...updated my Amazon author page, and answered two tweets--and STILL haven't researched police procedures...the entire reason for connecting to the internet thirty minutes ago. Honestly, how does one succeed when one has the attention span of a gnat? Sigh...

Getting a book published is like having a child...nobody tells you how difficult it's going to be. But in the same's totally fulfilling when you can pull up a website and see your books out there...or hold the copies in your hands, and you're getting messages from real fans (not your family or classmates) and they love your stories and thank you for wasting their day because they couldn't put the book down.'s like Kellie said just a couple of days ago...What a difference a year makes!

Writing and ain't for sissies, ladies...but it's a hell of a ride if you've got the stamina for it!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Writing First to Vent, Then to Create

When I'm stressed from the day's events, writing can be quite therapeutic for me.  Yet at times, there's too much craziness when dealing with the chaos in the world; so fulfilling my creative outlet can become quite daunting.  Honestly, those are the times which I would love to crawl into a hole and hide away.  Thank goodness my inner voices reel me back into focus.  If those fail, I also have the encouragement and support from my fiance to help get me back on task.  Ironically, sometimes the one thing that assists me with writing fiction and riding myself from the black despair of a "creative dry spell" or "writer's block" is actually writing about the day's crappy events.

You see, when I pen down on paper about the rude lady in the check out line or pound away at the keyboard about the asshole who cut me off in traffic, those little 'vent' sessions unclog and drain away all the nasty sludge from the day.  In turn, once it's left my brain and entered the writing pad, my mind has become free to explore the unknown and drift into the world of fiction without feeling guilty.  I don't need to continue examining my feelings because I've dealt with the issues of eating that second piece of chocolate cake once I typed my regret out onto the keyboard.  There's no need to beat myself up over and over again.  I've released any feelings of pain, anger, regret, or sadness out into the universe.  Those feelings along with the hurt from past or present relationships; such as from an ex-boyfriend, a parent, or a former best friend, can all be used on paper to heal your heart.

When times I've hurt the most, writing in a journal gets rid of the bitterness and anger.  It also aids me with getting my creative juices flowing once more because I don't have all that mess cluttering up my thoughts. My subconscious can truly roam free without the extra baggage of all the unwanted visitors.  Plus it's always a great way to twist those vent writing sessions into a new plot line for your next story.  Just remember to change the names. Lol.  Seriously though, what techniques do you use to help get rid of the world's nasty bits and focus on the fictional side of life?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Taking risks, in life and in writing

It all started in college. I was an undecided major, and went through a couple of changes in major (as well as a few changes in minors). I blame my interest in so many different areas. My husband calls it "hobby ADHD."

Even after I graduated with my Bachelors, I thought I knew what I wanted to do and spent the next four to five years getting my doctorate in clinical psychology. I was going to be a therapist.  During the fifth year, I tried something different, something I never considered before (because of my unease in speaking in front of people): teaching. And I loved it! I switched majors and ended up getting my doctorate in Educational Leadership.

Fast forward eight years, and I'm thinking of a career change again. Maybe it is hobby ADHD. This time, it’s not even in the same general area, but it is related to my eventual minor in college. However, this move may mean going back to school for another degree. The government doesn't really want their money back, do they? 

The thing that's holding me back is fear. Many of us are afraid of change, because it includes unknown factors and we're not comfortable with the unknown. Even if our current lives suck for one reason or another, we're not always willing to change it because we'd rather deal with known expectations than take a risk. In my personal experience, risks I've taken have worked out, but every time I'm faced with the option to try something new, I freeze up again.

Fear is a common motivator we don't acknowledge all the time. When I ask my students what motivates them, a lot of them will answer "family." But you know what? I suggest it's not their family that motivates them, but fear. Fear of disappointing someone. Fear of losing someone (in the case of not having the income needed to support a family). This fear is what drives them to come to class and turn in their work. 

Writers talk about fear, and there's a great video of Elizabeth Gilbert, where she talks about fear in writing. 

The trick is to go on, despite your fear. Take a deep breath, put on your big girl panties, and just do it. What's the worst that can happen? You fail?

Well, there is that.

But I'm also one of those people that has no regrets. Even my mistakes were learning experiences. I believe they happen for a reason, and sometimes that reason is simply to make me who I am today. I like me.

Writing a story when I knew absolutely nothing about creative writing was a risk. Letting other people read my writing is a risk. Sending my work out to agents and editors is a risk. Going to conferences alone is a risk. Talking to other authors, editors, and agents at said conferences is a risk. Letting characters talk me into writing stories outside my normal genre is a risk. But you know what? I've done them all with pleasant consequences. I've met some fantastic people, made lifelong friendships, and actually enjoyed  doing all these things. If I had the funds, I'd attend every conference physically possible. The writing risks I've taken by listening to random characters became some of my better work. I've stretched my creative process by stepping outside my comfort zone.

I urge you to do the same. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to research Graphic Design schools. *grin*

When have you taken risks? How'd they turn out?

Monday, June 18, 2012

What Makes a Good Beach Read?

My family and I are prepping for a week at the beach.  Of course, we are making the usual packing lists--clothing, beach toys, golf clubs, lots and lots of sunscreen--you know, all the essentials.  But the most important list for me is the list of beach reads I've been so excited to finally crack open.

Life is busy most days.  The day job gives me a little extra time off in the summer, but inevitably we fill it up with activities.  Of course, I've also dubbed this the "Summer I Publish My YA," so I've been working on that non-stop.  Yet, this vacation will not be a working one.  Instead, I'm ready to load up on some of the books in my mountainous TBR pile. That means narrowing the list down to about five books, at the most.  Impossible, right?

The good news is I have e-readers.  I own both a Nook and a Kindle (it's probably a sin, but there ya go.)  So, gone are the days of juggling three books down to the beach, only to cart them back up.  Now, I'm a little more careful about water and sand than I used to be, but believe me, the accessibility to a number of books at once makes a difference. Yet, that doesn't solve my original problem of what to read.

Well, I've worked out FIVE characteristics to help me choose the best possible books for vacation.  Here they are:

1.  It Must Be Entertaining

Of course, this is subjective, but for me, I like a book with a little action, a little romance, and a fast pace.  I like to be pulled so into a book that when I finally look up from the pages (or screen), I'm a little disoriented by my surroundings.  It should be as much of an escape from reality as the vacation is.  And even when I'm off doing other fun beach stuff, I'm still thinking about getting back to my book.  Usually, I can tell by the blurb, the first few pages, and my experience with the author's previous books whether I'll enjoy this one or not.  That's always a good place to begin.

2.  It Must Be Light

I enjoy deep thoughts as much as the next gal.  Sure, there are times when a real tear-jerker is cathartic and meaningful, but when I'm on the beach, I don't want to be attempting to solve the world's problems or blubbering like a leaky faucet.  I want something that will bring me just to the edge of emotional, but won't drop me over the cliff of despair, if you know what I mean.  I want to laugh, cheer, maybe feel a slight edge of anxiety for the characters, but I want to know that in the end, all will be well.

3.  It Must Be Proven

As previously mentioned, I usually stick with authors I've already read and enjoyed for beach reads.  I have occasionally been disappointed by a beloved author who misses the mark (for me), but I'm usually easy to please, and will always come back for more from an author I like.  The only other way a book can be proven for me is if it comes highly recommended from a friend I'm confident has a similar love of books as me.  If he or she has bookshelves spilling over, four e-readers (okay, I was holding out on you.  It really is sinful, I know), and a book in his or her hand every time I see 'em, then I will take their word for it I should read the recommendation.

4.  It Must Be Something I Can Put Down If I Have To

As much as I love books (okay, it borders on obsession, people), I'm realistic enough to realize I will be expected to participate in the "FAMILY" vacation.  There will be games of catch, sandcastles to build, waves to jump, and other various fun times to be had.  Though I want a read that will be entertaining enough to draw me back again, I also want it to be something I can set aside but still jump back into without rehashing all the story information before I go on to the next chapter.  This is not the time to prove to the world that I really can "make it all the way through War and Peace" in one sitting.  Revisit number 2 for clarification, if needed.

5.  It Must Be a Quick Read

I'm all for educating oneself through books.  The importance of constant learning should never be underestimated.  However, on the beach, I don't want a dictionary at my side, and I don't want to have to do an internet search to decipher all the symbolic references and allusions to history, art, and other literature.  I do that enough in the day job.  In other words, a beach read should be one I can flip through without brain pain caused by the effort of comprehending the story.  It should have a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter, and pacing  that is quick throughout the rest of the book.  Speed is good for some things (racetrack, boring lectures, the DMV line) and not so much for others (awesome music concerts, engrossing television, the bedroom), but on the beach, I need a quick read because, let's face it, I got at least four more waiting their turn--and not too patiently I might add.

These are my five characteristics for choosing a list of books for the beach.  Did I miss any?  What books would you recommend as great beach reads?

I got to get back to packing now.  Thank goodness for the e-reader.  Gone are the days of packing an extra bag just for books (okay, you got me, two bags).  Now I just sneak a few more paperbacks in the toiletry bag and the kids' entertainment bag.  Did I mention my obsession with books?

Happy Reading and Writing,

Cherie Marks

My flash fiction piece, "Mercy" can be downloaded for free at SmashwordsKobo, or Barnes and Noble.

Into the Fire Amazon BuyLink:
Into the Fire TWRP BuyLink:



Wednesday, June 13, 2012


There are several favorite writers of mine that switched genres in the middle of their careers. They went from writing historical romances to writing thrillers or mysteries, leaving me scratching my head and wondering how they could go from one to the other, since they were so different, not to mention leaving me heart broken when they stopped writing romance. I’d been writing romance for years and never had the urge to write in another genre and just didn’t understand.
When I returned to the world of writing, after being absent for several years, I was surprised by how the romance genre had taken on a life of its own, breaking into so many sub-genres that it boggled the mind (my mind). 
Two years ago, while watching documentaries one night, I was inspired by two stories: one about a little girl who was sixteen, but had the physical appearance of a four year old, and the other about children of serial killers. Although sad stories, my mind started asking what if questions, and low and behold, two new stories were born. Much to my surprise, one is shaping out to be a thriller, and the other a medical suspense. Both have strong elements of romance, so far, but more importantly, helped me understand why writers chose to write in other genres. It’s not so much a conscious choice (although I’m certain some writers made that choice), but the stories or characters that reveal themselves and writers can’t and shouldn’t ignore them. After all, it could be the one that gets us published, our names on the map, or the next best seller, so how can we resist?
How open are you to writing in other genres? Are there stories or characters that moved you into a genre or sub-genre you never thought you’d find yourself?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

To Clean or Not to Clean--What's a Writer to Do?

Alert: Yes, I know we must consider writing our work and give ourselves permission to do it. Still for the past days, I’ve struggled with that.
Now that it’s summer, I had great hope of accomplishing lots of writing. I can be home more, don’t have to get up and out at a certain time each day; I can get right to the keyboard and start on the story….
It’s not working out that way.
I’m the first to admit, I’m not very domesticated. I hate to clean, I hate to cook. But I like a clean house and decent food (although Lean Cuisine has some tasty stuff) and I can’t afford a maid.
OK, so knowing that about myself, I am totally surprised that, now I’m home consistently, I can find more things to do around the house than I ever thought possible. Good grief. I’ve even wanted to scrub floors (and actually did! Twice last week.)
Now when I sit down at the computer, visions keep popping into my mind of things that need doing around the house. Laundry—how does it pile up so fast? A load every morning—really? Dishes—that dishwasher gets fuller faster than ever. And where does all the dust come from?
I honestly don’t see how you all who have retired or who work from home do it. I realize that when we work outside the home, there is less time to do housework, so we relegate it to certain times of the week—usually the weekend.
It works then. Why doesn’t it work now? Now I feel guilty letting anything slide so I can write.
But even as I say that, I know it must be an excuse. Especially if a part of the story is giving me problems. So easy to pop up and say, “Better start a load of laundry” than to stay put and work it out. (Although I must admit, sometimes getting away from the keyboard seems to free-up my mind, and when I come back, the problem’s solved.)
So I guess I just have to impose a schedule for the rest of the summer—set specific time for housework and specific time to write. I’ll try.
Right now, though, I have to unload the dishwasher. Then I need to switch out the candles in the livingroom to something less heavy for the summer. After that, I really need to….
Does anyone else feel guilty for writing when housework is tapping its toe for attention?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Musical Inspiration

As an author I get asked quite often whether or not I write with complete silence or with background music. Sometimes it depends if I'm trying to get into the "mood" for a scene. Sometimes I need silence to just let the words flow.

However, music is a big part of my life. I love listening to instrumental music just to soothe my soul. Anything that has romantic undertones is great. Sometimes I love a good raunchy rock tune, and I always like a song that inspires me in some way or speaks to something I'm going through. I've provided links to some of my favorite songs at the moment so please listen, or just comment if you are familiar with the song.

One current fave is Katy Perry's Part of Me
"This is the part of me that you're never ever going to take away from me"
Throw your sticks and stones, throw your bombs and blows,
but you're not going to break my soul" 
POWERFUL! Love it!

Another fave, Kelly Clarkson's Stronger
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger,
stand a little taller, doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone,
What doesn't kill you makes a fighter,
footsteps even lighter,
doesn't mean I'm over because you're gone"
Words every woman should remind themselves after a break up!

Nickelback's Lullaby is a great song for those who feel they are alone - a good reminder that we're not!

"I know the feeling of finding yourself stuck out on the ledge,
and there ain't no healing, from cutting yourself with the jagged edge,
I'm telling you that, it's never that bad,
take it from someone who's been where you're at,
laid out on the floor, and you're not sure
you can take this anymore
Just give it one more try..."

Let's kick it up a notch, shall we?
I refuse to be a Belieber, but I grudgingly admit that there is something I like about Justin Bieber's new song Boyfriend (sorry everyone, LOL)
"I'd like to be everything you want, Hey girl - let me talk to you.
If I was your boyfriend, I'd never let you go,
Keep you on my arm, girl, you'd never be alone"

So, perhaps this choice speaks to my hopeless romantic side (hopeless being the operative word) who does want to find that special someone who won't let me go ;)

Now that I've made you gag, how about I propose a break up song? This one of the best I've heard. In fact, I bought their entire album because I love their unique sound.

Gotye's Somebody I Used to Know
"But you didn't have to cut me off,
make out like it never happened and that we were nothing,
I don't even need your love but you treat me like a stranger
and that feels so rough"
Great duet!

Let's really kick it up a notch with some sexy!

Chuck Wick's Hold That Thought - I know this isn't a new release but I still love how sexy this video is and the romantic words in the song.
"Close your eyes, picture this,
lying in bed in the candlelight, 
we start to kiss
pulling your body in close to mine,
pictures us - that moment before we make love"
*sigh* *swoon* Oh yeah, baby - I'll hold that thought ;)

And the last song I'll torture you with is Jennifer Lopez featuring Pit Bull Dance Again
What a sexy dance tune and even though I'm not a huge Pit Bull fan, but when he whispers "Make love to me", I'm about ready to get naked and jump on the bed!

All right - I've given you a few of my faves. What are you listening to right now? Share your playlist with me and the other Angels.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Comparison Shopping!

Okay ladies...I realize it's been awhile since I've shown you girls any flesh...not mine, of course, but masculine, male flesh...worthy of the Angels blog. As I was scouring the net looking for luscious hotties to post for y'all, I got to do today's actors compare to the men of old. And I say MEN literally...because the actors I grew up watching (you know, the ones who are either dead or in their 60's, 70's or 80's?) they were REAL MEN. They fought in wars, were wounded in battles, loved hard and lived hard. Although we have lots of pretty boys these days...when you stop and think about it, who would you want defending you, Zac Efron or Robert Mitchum?

Zac Efron

Robert Mitchum

Do you think Bradley Cooper can stand the test of time against...say...Gary Cooper? Some of you out there probably don't even know who the hell I'm talking about since the latter died before most of you were born. So here's a luscious example of these hotties:

Bradley Cooper?


Gary Cooper?

Let's see, who else can I compare? There's Gerry Butler..admittedly, not a great hair day for him, but no need for computer help on THOSE abs!

up against Brando...yes...Marlon Brando...BEFORE he gained a person or two. To quote my daughter when she saw him in an old movie..."! WHO the hell is that good looking hunk of meat?" I know, right!

I'll just throw a few more out there for eye candy or deep thoughts, whatever you're inclined to today. Just wanted to prove that there's always been men out there to inspire us to either behave ourselves, be just a little bad, or outright devilish! Enjoy!

Hugh Jackman (YUM!)

James Dean...also long deceased...

Elvis...has left the building!

A YOUNG William Holden. How about that for an erotic historical book cover?

Joe Manganiello (Alcide)


John Wayne

Who's blue eyes do it for you/

Paul Newman?


Brad Pitt?

Who turns you on...Steve McQueen or Lightening McQueen's Owen Wilson? Young or Old? Has been or has not?
Let me know who your faves are...Now and Then!

Until next time!


P.S. Just a few more...I couldn't help myself. :)

James Garner: My fave...wish I could find the pic I saw of him modeling swim trunks as a young'un. Talk about a body!
Ryan Gosling
Or the sons of Katie Elder's Tom Selleck and Sam "My Man" Elliot?