Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sample Chapter


I just thought I'd share a chapter out of the book I'm working on. Drama Queen is the third book in my Middle Grade/YA series. What happens when a slightly overweight teenage girl pushes beyond her boundaries to overcome her insecurities? A lot of drama, that's what! The question is--Will the universe align so Charley can have her moment of fame in the spotlight, or will everything crumple around her?

 I've submitted to a publisher, and I'm just waiting to hear what they say.




Chapter 1

I refuse to be invisible.
At least that’s what I told myself as I stood on the roof of Lockwood Academy, dotted with excess glitter, and leaning over the waist-high barrier, daring anyone below to look up and see me. I straightened my shoulders and stretched myself as tall as my frame would allow—something I usually did to make myself look thinner. Not that I was really fat. But for a fourteen-year-old attending a private school for performing arts, I wasn’t at ideal weight either.
I had been equipped with curvy thighs and a round bottom that refused to conform with exercise—which is why I liked my Lockwood uniform. The white blouse and red jacket and pleated skirt hid my size well. But not well enough today. I needed to make a good impression, so I had gone the extra mile and had stuffed myself into a pair of control-top pantyhose. Which for me was like stuffing a king-sized pillow into a pocket purse. It felt like I was about to bust a seam, and with the wrong move, all my voluptuous curves would burst free. Still, squeezing myself into a nylon vice was a small price to pay if it got me the votes I needed.
“I knew I’d find you up here.”
I turned around and saw George Hollister. His back-to-school-look was limited to his hair style because there’s not much that can be done with a uniform. Today he slicked his short mouse-brown hair into a ridge so it looked like a small ocean wave cresting above his forehead. It was cool. The other cool thing is that George was the only other student that knew how to get on the roof (which in my book, made us instant friends). People that share a secret automatically become allies, so it didn’t matter that George was two years younger than me. 
At eleven years and seven months, he was the youngest student boarding at Lockwood. Which was saying a lot because he was here last year too. Not that he was a performing arts prodigy or anything. His mother was the Headmistress of Lockwood, and his dad was Dean of the music program, so apparently the minimum age requirement of twelve didn’t apply to him.
George shielded his eyes from the morning sun to look at me. “Meeting up here on the roof should be our back-to-school tradition.” He paused and dropped his gaze to the poster I held in my hands. “What are you doing?”
“I’m working on my campaign.” I tipped the poster board over the edge of the roof, dumping the excess glitter off. Glimmering flecks of gold fluttered down past the ivy-covered walls and landed on the sidewalk creating a glittery carpet for the students climbing out of the endless line of limousines.
The first day back from summer vacation was always a mad rush. A back-to-school-circus of three hundred of the most talented teens from New York and beyond, all hurrying to find their friends. Soon they would plaster their half of a dorm room with posters and bright bedding, stringing their personal belongings around like confetti. I’d arrived at Lockwood two hours ago, so I could get ready for the election.
George’s footsteps sounded behind me. “You know you’re breaking the rule—Be invisible.”
No one below was even looking up at me. I was tired of being invisible. “That’s a stupid rule.” I turned around and thought about sitting down on the rough concrete roof, but that would probably be the move that made my control-top lose control.
“What do you mean—stupid rule?” George pointed at me. “You’re the one that helped make up the list.”
 He couldn’t really call it a list because we only two rules. 1) Never tell anyone where the roof access door is—although anyone who walked to the back of the custodian’s room would find it. And 2) Be invisible. Which pretty much meant don’t get caught.
“No one saw me.” I didn’t know what the punishment was for being on the roof of Lockwood Academy, but I didn’t want to be invisible anymore. “This is my year,” I said. “Great things are going to happen.” And I wasn’t talking about getting my braces removed. That would happen in three months, but I had bigger things planned for this year. I turned my poster around so George could see it. “What do you think?”
He straightened his red tie with the Lockwood crest embroidered on it. “Charlotte Callahan for Drama President.” His face scrunched up, and for a second I thought he didn’t like my swirly letters or my glittering border.
“What’s wrong?”
He shook his head. “It doesn’t make sense.”
I frowned and looked at my poster. “Charlotte Callahan for Drama President. What doesn’t make sense?” Lockwood Academy for Performing Arts had three different course programs—Drama, Music, and Dance. George knew I was enrolled in the Drama Program. And it was my ninth grade year. All ninth graders could run for their program’s student government. “It’s clear as day.” I jerked my chin toward my poster. “I’m running for Drama President.”
He used a finger to scratch his head, careful not to mess up his ocean wave. “Yeah, but it says Charlotte. Everyone knows you as Charley.”
I turned the poster over showing him my first version. Charley for Drama president. I frowned at it and flipped it back over. “I think Charlotte sounds more professional.”
He shrugged. “But how will people know it’s you?”
“Because I’ll be sitting behind the poster.”
He stared at me like he still didn’t know if that would make a difference.
“You’ll vote for me, won’t you, George?” He was in the Music Program, but voting for the different presidencies was open to all students. Seventh through ninth grade voted for the junior-high presidencies, and the upper grades voted for the senior presidencies. 
“I don’t know.” George picked up my portfolio that was sitting next to my container of markers. He lowered his voice as he started to read it. First was a list of the various stage roles I’d played. “A tree in Little Red Riding Hood, a pig in The Big Bad Musical, a horse in Cinderella.” George looked up at me, one eyebrow cocked.
“Keep reading, it gets better.”
Before he even got to my role as a nun in the Sound of Music, he flipped the page. “Workshops and classes.”
I nodded, encouraging him to go on. This was the impressive part of my portfolio. Most kids just took the performing classes here at the academy, but I went above and beyond, taking every class and workshop I could find. 
George scanned through the list. “I thought your parents sent you to California to go to a summer technology camp, but it says here that you took a Shakespeare acting class.”
My expression fell. My parent’s lack of confidence in my career choice was like a thorn in my side. Maybe I wouldn’t get rich doing theater, but it’s what I loved. “I did go to the tech camp, but I took online acting classes in my spare time.”
George closed the book without reading the rest of my credentials. “I’ll vote for you.”
I wanted to ask him if it was because my portfolio was so kick-butt-amazing, or if it was just because we were friends, but then the sound of someone singing floated up to the roof. Being at a school for performing arts, this wasn’t uncommon. People were always singing. Me included. I could practically sing every song from every mainstream musical that had ever crossed a New York stage. But this voice, floating up to us, was different. It was soft and sweet, moving effortlessly through the complicated stanza, and showing all of us what a real superstar sounded like.
George crouched low as he walked over to the edge and peered down to the courtyard below. “You’ll never guess who it is.” The girl’s voice moved up an octave, holding a high G long enough to defy the laws of physics.
I turned away from George and folded my arms across my chest. Of course, I knew who it was. I had grown up with that voice. I couldn’t get away from it. My sister, Eden, was a year younger than me, but she was admitted to Lockwood at the same time I was last year. It was a dark spot in my memory, a time I tried not to think about—how she had hijacked my audition. Eden had never shown interest in going to a private boarding school, let alone starting a career in performing arts. But Mom insisted that she come with us when I had my audition at Lockwood.
I was nervous that day. (Ok, more like terrified.) I wanted to be accepted to the school so badly, I had tried on every outfit in my closet before I settled on the perfect one. Eden had tagged along in a pair of jeans and a Disney princess T-shirt (which was definitely too babyish for a twelve-year-old). I had memorized a four-and-a-half minute dramatic monologue and had worked for weeks on my musical theater performance—I have Confidence from The Sound of Music. (Ironic, I know.)
But apparently Mr. Perkins and Mrs. Mapleton—Lockwood’s acquisition personnel—had more confidence in Eden than me. Everyone always seemed to like her more. People were just attracted to her. She was soft spoken and sweet. I was dramatic. Plus, she was better-looking. Platinum blonde hair (mine was straw colored), tall, slender, with elf-like features. Me, I had braces and control-top pantyhose.
It didn’t take long for Mr. Perkins and Mrs. Mapleton to comment on my cute little sister. I was relieved when Eden left to use the bathroom, but then the worst thing ever happened. She started singing as she walked down the hall. Eden was blessed with a beautiful voice. Me, I had to work for every note, tone, and pitch. But not her. As soon as she got back in the room, all the attention was on her. How old was she? Did she want to audition too? Would she like a scholarship?
Eden and I used to play well together as kids, but for some reason, things have been harder since that day. It’s not that I’m not proud of her accomplishments. I am. But I also get a bad taste in my mouth whenever I think about how amazing she is. So I try to count my blessings whenever it crosses my mind. Like: I’m thankful that Eden is in the Music Program instead of the Drama Program. (She can play piano too.) And I’m thankful that I’m older than her. Although most people can’t tell. Sometimes I just want to tell everyone that at least I wear a bra and she doesn’t yet.
“Your sister is AMAZING.” George leaned forward, resting his arms on the roof barrier and looking dreamily down at Eden. I’m pretty sure the Be Invisible rule was the last thing on his mind. I rolled my eyes and refused to join the Eden-admiring-moment. Instead, I let my gaze move across the school grounds, past the dorms, past the dance building and the Bell Tower, past the trees, and over to the back side of the old abandoned Lockwood mansion.
    All at once, my breath caught in my throat and all kinds of creepiness moved down my spine, somehow working its way past my control-top pantyhose, and moving right down to my toes. I dropped my poster and blinked to make sure I wasn’t imagining before I grabbed George and pulled him next to me. “You’ve got to see this!”

Monday, December 12, 2016

Theme Your Christmas

Creative people add themes to everything. And I'm talking EVERYTHING. Even Christmas. Since Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them came out, our love of Harry Potter surfaced again, inspiring our theme this year. Here's my video about how I infused our Christmas season with everything Harry Potter.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4yRxfMf4Zw

I've placed links to all of the printable items from this video in the description section on YouTube. The Snitch ornaments and the tree skirt instructions are below:

SNITCH ORNAMENT

I bought 4 containers of 5 plastic bird ornaments (for the wings of the Snitch). Basically I walked into the store looking for anything that had wings, or something that could resemble the wings of a snitch. 4 packages was enough to make 10 snitches. I also bought a package of plastic, gold ornaments about the size of a golf ball. These came in packages of 12, so I had 2 left over that I just threw away. 


Using scissors, I cut off the part of the wing that I wanted to use for the snitch. Leave a little nub of plastic on the end so you can use this to glue into the ball.


Heat a flat-head screwdriver over the flame of a candle then press it into the plastic ball. It will melt through and leave a little hole where you can stick the end of the wing. 


Stick the nub of the wing into the hole and superglue it. Hot glue might work too, but I used an industrial strength superglue which worked perfectly. 





MARAUDERS MAP TREE SKIRT

I bought a cheap felt tree skirt from Walmart. The color doesn't matter because it will be covered.  You'll also need an old beige or light tan sheet. 



My tree skirt had scalloped edges, so I cut it off to a smooth circle. 



Using the felt tree skirt as a patter, cut out a circle from your sheet, leaving it about two inches bigger, so you can fold the edges over. Use a spray adhesive to stick the sheet to the felt tree skirt. Remember to fold the edges over and glue them too. 




I hit the edge of my tree skirt with a light brown spray paint just to give it that old Marauder's map look. Use any printout of the Marauder's Map for inspiration and go to town with a black marker. I used a tracer and projected the image onto my tree skirt so I could trace it, but  that was kind of tedious.  I ended up free handing the rest of it. I made things up as I went, and the words I put on it are completely gibberish, but no one will know. The best part was adding the footprints and labeling them with the kid's names. They got to pick where they wanted to be on the map. 
video 

I hope this inspires you to go out and add a theme into your holidays.

  


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Starting a Video Blog on YouTube

So . . . my blogging habits have been . . . How would you say it? Non existent. I'll admit it, I stink when it comes to posting regular. I can't explain it, but when I'm writing my books, I'm like:


And when I'm writing blog posts, I'm like:
So, I'm going to try video blogging. Something new, fresh, and exciting (hooray!).  I'm focusing each video around a writer's advice to living creatively. So, if you're looking for little ways to add some pizazz into your life, then check it out.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovRQFE4MpuY


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Anthology: Love Unexpected A Story Book Romance

I have really mixed feelings about this post, so I'm just going to eat a Lindt chocolate truffle and dive into it.

A long time ago...in a galaxy far far away, I was asked to be a part of an anthology. Woohoo! I was so excited and knew it was an amazing opportunity, so I jumped on board. To make things even more incredible, I was a total fan of the other two authors participating. Just thinking that my name was going to go next to theirs gave me chills. I had a story idea brewing in the back of my mind (He Loves Me Not) about a girl who fell in love with her boss because he kept giving her flowers. Only one problem--he already had a girlfriend. I wanted the story to be lighthearted, and I wanted to inject a lot of humor in it. It was challenging to fit it all into 8 short chapters, but I did it. I had a great time writing it, sent it off to the publisher, and everything was great in author land.

Fast forward to book release time. This was another woohoo moment. I loved the cover! I loved the stories! I loved seeing my name next to women I admired! Then the reviews started coming out. And...OUCH! I hadn't thought about this side of things--that I was place next to two AMAZING authors, and that my story might be the one to get the: "My least favorite of the three stories was...." kind of reviews. Three different stories, three different styles, and I guess it is what it is. I did get some good reviews too. "Next up was He Loves Me Not and I loved that one, too!" And some readers seemed to enjoy the humor saying that they laughed several times. But over all, mine seemed to fall short of the other two. I know I can't please ever reader, and I've had my fair share of negative reviews during my writing career (one person gave me a poor rating because she didn't like the paper the book was printed on). Those things I just let roll off. Go with the punches. And eat chocolate. This one was tough though. Maybe because it was a side by side comparison with authors I aspire to be like, and I realized that I'm not quite there yet. For whatever reason, it was a little painful. Which explains why it took me so long to even blog about this book being out.

Anyways, I live and learn, and I'm trying to improve. I am working on another book, and I think it's going to be AMAZING!!! But as for this book--go check it out! It 's a great book and totally worth reading. My story might not be your favorite of the three, but that's ok. And go ahead and post an honest review. Just keep in mind--you might be contributing to my chocolate addiction.

Love Unexpected-A Storybook Romance 
    


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cover Reveal - Bonds of Loyalty by Jennifer K. Clark & Stephonie K. Williams

To post this Cover Reveal (html) and add your Social Media to the Rafflecopter, email us at prismbooktours(at)gmail.com with "Bonds of Loyalty" in the subject line!


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for:

Bonds of Loyalty
By Jennifer K. Clark, Stephonie K. Williams
YA/Adult Historical Romance
August 2014 by Covenant Communications, Inc.






"It shall be the son, the firstborn in the new monarchy, who shall quiet the fears and unite the nation again."

The infamous prophecy declaring that the firstborn would be a boy is the last thing Sarah wants to deal with. As if being newly engaged isn’t difficult enough, she’s still coming to terms with the fact that the first eighteen years of her life were a farce. The prophecy—the reason she had been secreted away from her family and her royal heritage to begin with—wasn’t supposed to disrupt her life any more than it previously had. But when unexpected events force her to leave her fiancĂ©, Prince Alexander, Sarah must return to her home country of Kyrnidan to face her destiny. 

Reunited with her royal family, Sarah is thrust into the political turmoil that surrounds her ancestral home. To make things worse, her arrival has upturned the long-held prophecy.

As the voices of dissension mount against her, Sarah turns to her bodyguard, Luther, for protection. But Luther’s protection comes with a price. Propelled into a plot that threatens her life and the welfare of the entire kingdom, Sarah must determine where her love and loyalty truly lie. Torn between two men, she will now have to face her fears and undertake a journey of self-discovery that will change the fate of a nation….

Mark of Royalty is the book previous to this. Although Bonds of Loyalty is the continuation of Sarah's story it is a stand alone book.

Mark of RoyaltyMark of Royalty
by Jennifer K. Clark, Stephonie K. Williams
YA/Adult Historical Romance
January 1st 2011 by Covenant Communications


At a time when royal infants are marked at birth, a royal advisor makes a terrible misstep — and an infant princess must be secreted away to save her life. Named Sarah by Miranda, the woman who agrees to raise the child as her own, the girl is unaware of her royal heritage — even though Miranda has done all she can to pair Sarah with the king's nephew, Lord Chad. But unexpected events prevent the expected betrothal.

Determined to fulfill her devoted mother's wishes, Sarah reserves her heart for Chad despite her growing affections for another man. But as plots against the crown unfold, someone accidentally discovers Sarah's mark of royalty — setting the stage for discoveries that will shake the kingdom to its core.

You can find a music video for Mark of Royalty here and a book trailer here.


Jennifer K. Clark and Stephonie K. Williams are sisters by chance but became friends by choice when a year of rooming together at college taught them how to get along. Now “play”-at-home moms, separated and living in different parts of the country, they stay in touch and support each other in their individual projects.

Jennifer K. Clark lives in the small rural town of Wellington Utah, as much as her husband wishes it was Wellington New Zealand. After years of entertaining her three children with infamous made-up stories, she decided to put her imagination to good use and became an author. She likes to add a touch of romance to her novels along with a healthy dose of adventure. Fueled by Lindt Chocolate Truffles and Sour Patch Kids, she now spends a copious amount of time with the characters in her head. In her spare time she likes to create science experiments with the ingredients in her potions cupboard, debate which Doctor is her favorite (currently the 10th…or maybe the 11th), and—when she has time—watches the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice.



Stephonie K. Williams makes her home in a quaint farming town in eastern Iowa with her husband, three cats, and a budding ninja. Two of her favorite things in Iowa are the fireflies (aka lightning bugs) and cows, especially the calves. Despite having lived there for 15 years she still misses the majesty and tranquility of the mountains of Utah where she grew up. She has a vast collection of fortune cookie fortunes because she has yet to determine if it is unlucky to throw them away. She also loves to quill, the art of rolled paper, not to be confused with quilting.

Stephonie is passionate about education and enjoys visiting schools to teach classes on creative writing. She has written poetry, short stories, and dissertations, although Mark of Royalty was the first of her work that she was brave enough to submit for publication.



Giveaway



$25 Amazon Gift Card
Open internationally.
Ends July 16th.




Monday, March 3, 2014

Writing in Multiple Genres



Writing in multiple genres—To be or not to be, that is the question.

For me, I’m hoping the answer is: To be.

I hope it’s fitting that the title of this post contains a famous phrase penned by Shakespeare.  After all, he wrote in multiple genres, which is something I would like to do. As a relatively new writer, I admit I’m a little nervous about branching out especially when there is so much hype about author branding and establishing yourself with your readership. I know, I know—the “hype” is justified. When your readers pick up a book they want to know what to expect. I get it, and I’ve already been pressed into that mold. My first two books: Mark of Royalty and The Knight of Redmond, are both renaissance romances with strong moral undercurrents. I actually love that genre and will continue writing in it. In fact I have a book coming out later this year in that same genre, and another one playing around in my head—waiting its turn to be put on paper while I finish up my CONTEMPORARY novel, A Heart of Coal. Yep, I said it. I’m writing a contemporary romantic suspense.  This is where I go “Yikes” and question my sanity. 

To be honest—I’m a little timid stepping into new waters. At the same time, I think it’s a great time to do it. Isn’t this the golden age for authors? We have so many publishing options, marketing outlets, and tools available in which we can gain huge readerships in multiple genres. With today’s technology, readers are only a mouse click away in searching out the books they want to read in the genres they’re craving. There are plenty of customer reviews, endorsements, and even links to the author’s website so readers know what to expect when buying a book.    

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with Carla Kelly—which was awesome, by the way! She has over 30 novels tucked under her belt and has won at least a dozen awards for her writing. During our discussions about the writing world she kept advising me to “write my book”.  Not the book I think my publisher wants, or what I think other people want, but the book that is inside me—my book. For me that means I’ll be writing in different genres.  

So, yes, I have a contemporary novel I’m finishing up. I’ve also written a children’s science activity book and have other children’s books I’d like to write, along with keeping up my renaissance romances. But this one—the contemporary novel: A Heart of Coal—is a big step for me. I feel like It’s a jumping off point and I’m really praying my readers will be open to it. Here’s the blurb:  

Raised by an abusive father, 23 year old Haley Carter breaks into the forbidden man's world of coal mining as she tries to prove she can hold her own amongst men, but when someone tries to kill her—can fellow coal miner, Jake Hunt, help her uncover the truth and perhaps rekindle her faith in men?
 


Sample Chapter

I just thought I'd share a chapter out of the book I'm working on. Drama Queen is the third book in my Middle Grade/YA series. Wha...