Sunday, January 29, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday- Clothing Optional


September of this year is not only my birthday... it is the release of my sexy story, Clothing Optional with MuseItUp Publishing. Clothing Optional is a menage story of two guys and a gal who end up in a resort that invites them to explore things they had not dared to back home... well, I will let my six sentences tell you the rest.

“Clothing optional. Well, you would think they would list that in bold letters or something.”

Brie burst into laughter and Andy flushed red, she assumed in embarrassment at his mistake. Seeming flustered, he dragged a hand through his hair. “Well, the rooms are non-refundable. How about what happens in Florida…”

“Stays on Facebook?”


Happy Writing!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The smell of DaFeet


I love baby feet. They are so tiny and super soft.

My youngest son currently has feet you can literally smell from across the room.

I did say that I loved baby feet.

I brought up the subject of feet because I got a rejection yesterday.

I had such mixed feelings about this particular rejection, it triggered a blog. And spaghetti sauce. Lemme start at the beginning.

I have four contracts right now. Four. Not shabby for an author who, on December first, found out her publisher was closing it's doors and that in this case, loyalty equaled putting all my eggs in one basket... and my basket had just broken.

I am also an editor and a reviewer. And a full time college student. And a single mom of three kiddos, two of which go to a charter school at home.

To say that things have been hectic this January would be a bit like walking outside during a blizzard and saying, "Hmm... Look, there is a snowflake."

So seeing the letter regarding a synopsis that I had sent out on a book that I am nearly done writing (Read: Have not finished writing not to mention polished as much as I personally prefer before my work sees daylight so gaaah!!), I said out loud, "Shit!"

If they had accepted it, then I had to finish it up fast and shove it out the door, polish be damned.

And then I read the email. They had (very nicely, I might add, in a really thoughtful manner) rejected it. And I said, "Thank God."

And then the usual mess of authoremotions kicked in. "Why did they reject me? Maybe I am not good enough. Gah, I suck. They knew it. I know it. Hells, it is for the best. At least my massive suckitude won't be released on the public for them to tear me to shreds as I so deserve..."

Yeah. I mentioned it was sort of a mixed bag of emotions? It was. Really.

So I plodded out to the kitchen, still in my jammies, and made spaghetti sauce.

I am Italian and my grandfather, Guisseppe Sabatina, came over from Italy (or so my mother has told me) and married his little Dutch girl. My mother put red sauce on everything. There was something soothing about the familiarity of the gestures-- frying the meat, adding the spices... tasting the sauce.

And I called my best friend. She pointed out that our motto is that everything happens for a reason. My plate right now is filled to overflowing and I have other projects I have to work on. Deadlines I have to meet. More time to work on this one was a blessing, not a bad thing.

Between the smell of the sauce and the sound of her voice and it was like the miasma of mixed up feelings lifted.

The smell of dafeet wasn't too much to bear. It wasn't a defeat, not really. To quote Damon, from Vampire Diaries, "It is right. It's just not right now."

Why am I telling you guys all this?

I know you all get rejected, too. And I know it sucks. This wasn't my first rejection--far, far, far from it. And it is easy to say don't take them personally. Don't take bad reviews personally. Just keep going.

But if you are having a bad day or whatever... and it happens... it isn't easy to shake off.

Not for anyone.

Find the thing that helps you find your center.

Make the spaghetti sauce. Or play basketball. Or a video game. Or have sex. Whatever trips your trigger.

And then look at it again.

Because then you can keep going.

Okay, Happy writing!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sick kids vs. productivity


This week, I had the joy of sick kiddos. Projectile vomit, for those of you who have no kids, is actually projectile. And it hasn't ceased to amaze me, after nearly fifteen years of being a mother, to see a child shoot anything the length of their body. The muscle control... Yeah, no wonder their stomach hurts afterwards.

I guess I didn't go to enough parties in college. Probably I would have learned how amazing the human body was earlier had I just gone to more keggers.

That said, I still managed to get an epic amount of work done. Which brings me to my point...

If you train yourself to expect certain things daily, you will expect them in times of adversity as well.

What the hell do I mean? No worries. I fully intend to explain.

A runner gets up and trains their body to expect to run. If they skip that run, they will feel as crappy as I would if I tried to run five miles. Their body wants that run, that adrenaline rush. Without it, it complains.

The same thing goes for your writing and productivity in whatever goal you set for yourself. If you set the bar about yeaaah high. Every day you hit the bar...

You will find that on days when you feel like crap or when life gets in the way, you are driven to at least hit that bar.

The secret to being a writer, the real secret, really is writing. Every day. Something.

Even if it is just a blog. Even if it is just editing what you wrote yesterday. Even if you are just writing something inane. It trains you to do it and do it daily.

No one that I know of can write an 80/90k book in a day. (And believe me, I know some people with some crazy prolific daily word counts.) But most anyone can write 1k. A lot of people can write 5-7k.

If you do that everyday, how many days before you hit the 90k?

Your first book might just suck.

Really, just like your first marathon run might be challenging just to complete. There is a chance no one will buy it. And even if it doesn't suck and someone buys it, maybe it needs lots of technical stuff overhauled.

But if you fix that stuff and keep writing, you will continue to suck less and less. Until writing is something that comes as naturally as breathing.

Most of my blogs are about 1k long. If you sit and ponder that a little, it sounds long. Daily writing 1k about whatever is going on or writing advice...

But that is what I do. I write.

And you can, too. But it has to be something you are willing to work for.

Okay, happy writing, all.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Writing is Easy (a job?)


Someone (who shall remain nameless) recently said to me that it must be nice not to have to work and just go to school.

Well, I have to agree. That would be nice.

Unfortunately, I don 't know a thing about it.

For today, I am going to focus on just one of my jobs (since, although this person didn't realize it, I have more than one) to simplify the focus of the blog.
I am an author.

If you don't think this is a job, then you have never done it. Or perhaps you haven't done it the way I do it. The following post is full of my opinions on the craft and my advice. I can't cite its credibility. I can tell you I have won some awards, gotten some awesome reviews and hit a bestsellers list using these tools but I don't know everything. (That is the cool thing about being a writer... You get to learn something new everyday. Best job on the planet. Just yesterday, I learned about death erections. W00T!) If that isn't enough credibility, there is a red x somewhere floating to the far right corner of your screen. Click it. (sorry. first cuppa coffee. muahhahahaa...)

What is an authors job?

The simple answer is to tell a story. But if it really was that simple, everyone would do it. To tell a story well, your story has to flow, have believable characters, have understandable terms, move the characters forward in some way and leave readers feeling like they have gone on a journey with you.

Sounds pretty easy, right?

Flow

If your editor tells you that something doesn't flow well, this is a huge problem.

Example:

The acrid burn of the smoke and the crackle of flames was a living thing, churning like a red sea around Marcy. Crawling on her hands and knees, she choked and thought of the ocean. The ocean had pretty waves that broke on sand. Sand was gritty. Gritty like the air around Marcy. If she could just get out of this hellhole, she could find her son.

Okay, I think I made it pretty obvious in that passage where the flow breaks up and throws the reader off track. If not, let me remove part of it and tell me if you can see how it flows better with some of it taken out.

Example:

The acrid burn of the smoke and the crackle of flames was a living thing, churning like a red sea around Marcy. Crawling on her hands and knees, she choked. If she could just get out of this hellhole, she could find her son.

Flow can be even more dramatic than that example but the point is that it throws the reader out of the story you are telling. Anything that jars the reader, taking away from the story you are telling, is considered a disruption of flow. It can even be an awkward word choice. Like this example:

Darcy's hands fluttered like lead balloons. Lead does not flutter. Neither do balloons-they float. Your reader's head is tilted sideways and they are thinking, "Huh?" And you lost them.

Believable Characters

Believable characters are one of the hardest things for an author to accomplish. The art of breathing life into words and turning them into people that you could actually fall in love with, hate, laugh at, be friends with... that is nothing less than magic.

But you have to do it on two levels as an author. It is your job to not only breathe life into your human (or alien or animal or... whatever) characters but also your setting. Worldbuilding is just as important as telling us that your main character has brown eyes and likes ice cream.

It is a balancing act. You can't dump all of the info on us. (I will do another post another day on the disservice of an infodump.) But you have to know it so intimately that we can see it with you. Which brings about the key to giving us those believable characters...

Show, Don't Tell

You can't tell me that she has brown eyes or that she is hurting. Show me those brown eyes leaking tears of agony and have her scream her pain to the stars. Tricky. But if you distance me, the reader from your characters by telling me what they are doing rather than showing me...

I am bored. I have just been jarred out of the story. You lost your flow. You didn't do your job, author. And I, the reader, am suffering because of it.

And while you are doing this, you have to do it in understandable terms...

What the hell are understandable terms? Good question. Understandable terms are things that your reader are familiar with. I know, making a reader learn something new is great. I try to write in something that will teach at least one tidbit in each and every story I tell--even my shorts. I love to learn and I love to teach. Tossing a moral in or a chance to get on my soapbox... I love that shit. Especially if I can sneak it in.

But that is why we have context clues. Your job as an author includes giving fragments of information when introducing new terms so that the reader can keep on seamlessly reading without cranking out the dictionary or googling every other word.

Now, this does NOT hold true for academic writing or non-fiction. But for fiction writing, the goal is to take the reader away on a journey and you can't do that if you lose them. You want to take them with you and you have the tools (words) to do that. Make sure you give them the breadcrumbs they need to stay with you.

Move the characters forward

Allowing room for growth is important. If your character starts the book off afraid to get into a relationship because her last one was with an abusive SOB... she has tons of room for growth. If your male lead is emotionally retarded because he doesn't believe in love and is stupid enough to tell her that, GREAT! But remember, they have to move forward from that point. And you can't have them do something so unredeemable that your readers pitch the book across the room, done with the characters and done with you as an author.

A balancing act

All in all, it is a balancing act. You are juggling characters. You are juggling social networks. You are juggling publishers and editors and other author friends. You have a real life, too.

And sometimes people in your real life will comment that you need to get a real job... *giggle*
Because... y'know... writing isn't any work.

Happy writing! And juggling.

From the mixed up files of Virg: How I edit my own work


I got an interesting email on one of my loops about editing and it got me to thinking about one of the steps of the writing process that I haven't shared with my up-and-coming author friends.

So yes, this is another one of my very popular How To Be A Writer Posts.

(You are giggling but if you saw the number of views that these posts get, you would agree that they are very popular indeed. *wiggles fingers at writers*)

Editing Your Own Work

After you write something, we all know that you should go back no less than a thousand times and edit it to death. Then you should let it sit for a week or a month or some other lengthy amount of time and then edit it again.

And then your work is perfect.

No, it isn't.

You then need another set of eyes (or ten) to look at it. Me, personally? I send it out to my beta group. I am a lucky gal. My beta group consists of a group of dedicated readers. I have posted what a reader is before on another blog. A reader is someone who is able to see a story for the storyline and tear it to bits. Why did your character talk through a door? Why did they hop in the shower and start blow drying their hair? (Yes, I once electrocuted a character by having them blow dry their hair in the shower. It actually made it through three rounds of edits and got caught in copyedits... but I digress.)

Then I send it out to three professionals. In my case, professionals means people who are either a. also authors so they are just as anal as I am or b. also editors so just as anal as I am. They aren't going to tiptoe around my feelings and treat me like a mamby pamby sissy girl. They are going to make my manuscript bleed. And I like it when it bleeds.

But they are honest and that is why I like the blood. It is good, healing blood. It will get any poison that is making my manuscript sick out and let it be what it could be.

I do the changes, fix it and then...

I send it to three other people.

So, yes, I send it to an ARMY of people. *hellooooo beta world!!*

And then I write a query letter. And I send THAT to an army of people. And they shred my query.

(Are you getting that this whole writing thing isn't the solitary process you were thinking it to be? Yeah, the network you are building? It is an incredibly useful thing. And not just for bitching at 3am about lack of Starbucks delivery service. Although, they are good for that as well.)

And then I submit it to a publisher.

With the full knowledge that if they chose to accept my manuscript that they will then put my work through at least three rounds of edits and one of copyedits. And that the editor might have completely different views and opinions from mine and from the people who beta'd for me.

I once rewrote a book three times while in edits. The editor had me change the point of perspective THREE times throughout the editing process.

And here is the key...

I did not tell off the editor.

Your editor is your friend. Their goal is to help you make your book better using all the tools in their vast arsenal. Not worse. No editor has ever (that I know of) sabotaged a book. Why in the hell would they do that?

Have I always agreed with everything my editors have had to say. Nuh-uh. But they didn't know that.

It has become ritual for me to open edits and a bottle of wine with my best friend and any edits that frustrate me are duly yelled at and told off the first day I get them. With as colorful of language as we can come up with. (Points for creativity are awarded on a scale... meh, we won't go into it.) And then I put the wine bottle away... (Okay, it goes in the trash because it is empty. Don't judge.) and I get serious and do the work. The editors never hear any of those colorful comments. Because that isn't professional. But it is fun to rant and rail-- In the privacy of my home over wine and with my friend.

One of my currently dear friends edited one of my books and I can tell you right now she probably was frustrated as hell with me. She probably was telling me off from her editors chair... which makes me giggle. *wiggles fingers at friend in question* I have a really bad habit of starting out books in first person perspective, changing to third and staying in third. My voice is in third, for the most part. But when I am finding my characters, getting to know my world... I start out in first. And then I catch my stride and fall into third. I ALWAYS do this. I don't fucking know why. But I do. You can literally tell when I get immersed in my story because everything literally smooths out, makes sense and flows... and the red edit marks magically stop. But those first few chapters are always a struggle for me.

Not every editor has known how to deal with that.

But each one I have worked with has taught me something. I have learned bits about blocking from one that I didn't know before. Another gave me priceless information about showing and not telling. Another editor really brought home the value of action modifiers vs tags.

I hit ARe's bestsellers list. I have won awards.

I wouldn't in a million years THINK of self pubbing a piece of my own work that was not EDITED EXTENSIVELY.

The value of editing is something I cannot promote enough. You are too close to your work. You have read and reread the same passage so many damn times that you can probably recite that shit in your SLEEP.

An editor is a fresh set of eyes that can see what you wrote vs. what you think you wrote. An editor can see what your reader will see.

Okay, moral: Edit. Be open to edits. Your work is not as perfect as you think it is.
Drinking wine and playing games that involve coming up with colorful insults is good.

Happy writing!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

STRIKE

http://sopastrike.com/

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Heather Brewer Mini Contest



Heather Brewer, bestselling author of the Vladimir Tod series of books, held a mini contest for who could draw her as an anime/manga character.

The pictures you see over here
<-----

Were done by JFab Brown, a 12 year old artist. I am sharing them here so that she can enter the contest.

Best of luck JFab!!

Heather Brewer-- Pick me!!


As you guys may know (if you follow me over at facebook), my daughter is a HUGE Heather Brewer fan. Some might even call her a member of the minion horde.

Being an author, reviewer, book blogger and *ahem* sort of a fan myself, we were excited to read that Auntie Heather (as the minion horde is fond of calling her) will be giving away an ARC of Soulbound to some book blogger out there.

PickMePickMePickMe!

So, just wanted to drop a blog and let Ms. Brewer know that she would be most welcome in the land of Odd Stuff. And this is that blog.

*wiggles fingers at Heather Brewer*

If you don't understand our deep and overwhelming love of all things Brewer, then you should probably get your tooshie over to her blog/website here. Or maybe just pick up one of the NYTimes Bestselling Vladimir Todd books here. Y'know... so you can understand the coolness.

Or even, preorder Soulbound once it becomes available (it comes out in July.) Cuz that would be cool as well. :)

Happy writing!

Friday, January 13, 2012

I'm in LOOOoooOOOve...


I'm in LOOOoooOOOve...

(Insert hearts and flowers and butterflies and shit here, if you will.)

This past year, many of you dear blogophiles may have noticed that I have been considering the different forms love takes in our lives. I think it is necessary as an author to be a weird combination of philosopher and people watcher. I think it adds to the dimension of our characters and our ability to bring them to life for you readers out there. I can't make you feel punched in the gut with emotion... make tears clog up in your eyes or have you snarf coffee all over the screen if I, the author, am not feeling the emotions as I paint with my palette of words.

I certainly can't turn you on and have your face flush if I don't understand passion.

That said, I have always thought that I have a lot in common with Jane Austen--when it comes to romance, anyway.

I don't believe in love at first sight. I never have. Lust at first sight, okay. Chemistry at first sight, sure.

Love? Yeah, no. I don't believe it. I know some of you are enthralled with the idea of it but me, personally, no. I believe that love, real love, is something that is built up over conversations. Love is built up over time when you see that person, really see them for who they are... and still care.

That person might not be a knight in shining armor. He might not always make the right choices. He might not always look like a cover model from a romance novel.

But there is something about them...

Once I fell in love with my best friend. Which was funny, really, because I had REFUSED to go out with him. He was a dork. He wasn't my type. I had a thousand reasons to say NO. Lucky for me, he was a stubborn asshole who kept nudging and nudging until I finally caved. And then he bloody well ignored me. Seriously. He would take me to movies and dinner and talk up a storm...

But he never held my hand or tried to kiss me. This shit went on for MONTHS.

It went on exactly the right amount of time for me to realize that I LIKED him. (Which reminded me of a line off Vampire Diaries last night. "It's right. It's just not right now.") Not just as a friend. It let me get past myself and see him for who he was and that I liked it. It got me to a point that I couldn't help but smile when he grinned and his eyes crinkled just so...

And also to a point that I had firmly decided (because I am sometimes psychic... But my amazing psychic abilities are for another post) that he didn't like me like THAT.

So when he finally got around to kissing me, my head shot off my shoulders and my heart leapt to my throat and all in all, I fell harder than I had ever fallen before.

Y'see, if they are your best friend, it is next to impossible to guard your heart from them.

Which was a hard lesson to learn. I bet you were hoping that this was the part where I told you we went off into the sunset and lived happily ever after and have been married now for x-amount of years and some other great stuff like that.

Nope.

Oh, I can tell you more goopy romantic stuff though. He once Cinderella'd me. I refused to go to the ball. Refused. I had about a hundred excuses. So, once he had battered down enough of them, I went with more mundane excuses on the day of the ball. "I don't have a dress."

He produced a dress, perfect, and in my size. So now I am standing there, scraping the bottom of the excuse barrel. "I don't have shoes. Or underthings for a dress and..."

He pulls out shoes and underthings. Me- How did you know what SIZE???

Him-grin.

"Well, I can't go to a ball without my hair fixed." shrug "Or a sitter. So you see it is really IMPOSSIBLE for me to go to the ball."

You know that man had a HAIRDRESSER lined up? *wiggles fingers at HC* It was downright devious.

Anyway, he also once tried to give me a ring... Which I also rejected with a panic attack kind of reaction. I refused to open it until he had ensured me it wasn't THAT kind of ring.

(Are you getting from this that I am not the easiest woman in the world to DATE? I fully expect the comments section below to be FULL of offers from men needing more rejection in their lives. Cuz, man, am I a keeper or WHAT??)

But like I said, this story doesn't have the happy ever after that I am sure you expected. Because in real life, sometimes shit happens. People, no matter how gooshy and sugery and sexy it all may have been, find ways to make it all fall apart.

Here's the deal, though. If it hadn't fallen all apart, I wouldn't be who I am today. I wouldn't have learned--ever--how independent I can really be. I would have spent my life leaning on his strength. I would have known, every day at any hour, that Mr. Knight in Shining Armor-even-if-rusty would come and save the day.

But knowing that the Knight wasn't there allowed me to find out I am resourceful. I am stubborn, too. (Probably I should have realized that before... yeah, I am stubborn about realizing I am stubborn, too. Go fig.) I had people who controlled my life when he was around. I never would have sloughed those chains loose if I knew that he could scrape my ass out of any hole I fell in.

So my happily ever after was that he left. That I found out how kickass I am. That I can survive anything.

I wouldn't have found any of that out if I hadn't lost him. Because losing him (and a few other things that kicked my ass... deaths of people I loved and such) was one of the hardest things I ever survived. I don't think I have ever cried so hard as I did when I realized it was over. That it could never be like that again. That it was really, and truly done.

He is still around, by the way. He will never read this but others will read it and know who I was talking about so I am calling myself out in public big time here. *wiggles fingers at HC again*

But I am doing it to make a point.

Yes, my dearies, here comes MamaVirg's moral for the day...

You hear that saying all the time. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

And it sounds so damn trite. And if you are hurting, to be honest it doesn't make you feel one little bit better.

But it is true. I really wouldn't be who I am today if I had never loved like that. Just like I wouldn't be who I am if I hadn't lost like that. I could have a whole conversation just with my eyes with this man. He could turn me on with a glance. He could make me feel like no one else had before him.

Because he made me get past ME and go outside my comfort zone. When I said something stupid and talked out my ass, he knew when to shrug and not argue and let reality prove him right. And he made me learn to live without him. Again, get past what I thought I knew and see the world without the rosy glasses I like to wear.

I HAD to break to become whole. Too many pieces of me were broken when he was around for me to keep going the way I had been. I had to break to put the pieces back in an order that I could live with.

Sometimes losing someone is just as important as falling in love.

You won't find that between the covers of a romance novel. But I really think it is true. Sometimes you live your life happy the way you are even if the way you are is a little broken. A little askew. And it takes someone breaking that askew bit, and you resetting the bone, so to speak, for you to really heal.

Does that mean that I don't sometimes miss my friend... a lot?

Hell no. I am not some kind of superhero. No one is ever happy to lose a friend, especially one who really knows you, even the icky bits, and cares anyway.

But I can see that life had to work that way.

Fall in love whenever you can. And don't be afraid of falling out of it either. Because everything happens for a reason.

Even if you can't see the reason past the sheen of tears.

Okay, told you today was going to be deep and meaningful shit. *waggles brows* I called myself out on my own blog. But I hope you get the moral behind it. I know a few hearts out there are hurting... feeling alone and like the world will never again look right without that one that they loved.

This blog was for my broken hearted friends. You can go on. You will.

And it will all be for a reason.

Keep waking up in the morning. Keep healing. And always...

Believe in love.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Back to school...


A new semester has begun and, like so many other college students, I went back to class this week.

The last class I went to today had a small physical room and a large number of students attending.

It was like a human sardine can. You never notice how people SMELL unless you are attracted to them... Or if you are shoved into a sardine can with them.

That said, I noticed something about that class. Everyone entered somewhat awkwardly, as if they knew that the moment they stepped in the door, twenty or thirty other peoples eyes immediately trained on them. No one looked comfortable entering this room full of strangers.

I assume a few of them at least are very secure, confident adults. And yet... That moment of awkwardness.

People are fascinating to me. I had a chat this morning with an author friend of mine and we discussed the writer propensity for people watching. Watching each of the people entering that room lose whatever confidence they had before coming into that room was fascinating for me.

Why is it that we might be the most outgoing, comfortable person in the world but still we let a roomful of strangers throw us that far off our game?

If it was a roomful of people we knew (therefore one would assume that we care about them and should care what they think...) would that same lack of confidence come into play?

I don't think so.

It sucks to be the new kid. I get that. I moved around so much when I was a kid that I have a hard time listing all the schools I went to. But WHY does it suck to be the new kid? Why is it that people who don't matter... Strangers... have more control over how we behave than our loved ones? If they rejected us, scorned us, why the hell would it matter?

Okay, that was my neat tidbit I learned about human nature today. (In a history class... which means I probably should have paid more attention to the lecture. But, to be honest, he lost me at WWII. I am hoping he recaptures me but he started off with Greeks and Romans and had my interest piqued... and then he said we wouldn't be discussing them and lost me... *shrug*)

Okay, virgrant over.
Happy writing (and people watching)!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Get your copy of Sleeping Garden for FREE!!

Sleeping Garden, written as Virginia Ashley, is a YA Paranormal...

Blurb:

Olivia didn’t plan to find her mother dead when she came down for breakfast. She never would have dreamed that the summer before her senior year would be spent in a house that looks like a museum rather than basking on the beach with her friends. If you had tried to tell her that she would instead spend her time gardening, trying to find out why someone would lock a garden and juggling two attractive boys, she would have fallen over in laughter.

But when her life changes in a heartbeat, all of this and more challenge this strange young woman.

A fairytale told with a modern edge, this story is a retelling of the classic Frances Hodgson Burnett tale, A Secret Garden, but with a paranormal twist.

Yesterday, Coffee Time Romance and More gave it 5 Stars!!! "Sleeping Garden takes the original fairytale further as the characters explore a world of paranormal beings, mystical curse and new friendships that blossom into more. The overwhelming emotional boundaries hit upon in this book have the reader feeling as if they have been punched right in the gut, leaving you breathless. The details throughout this novel are extremely rich and vivid, and I found the words painted bold pictures in my mind as I read. This is an amazing tale by a very gifted author that will leave you wanting another taste of Virginia Ashley’s work."
(Read the whole review here...)

And now, it is available on Amazon for only $2.99

For Amazon Prime Members... FREE.

What do you have to lose? Pick up your copy here today!!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sleeping Garden reviewed by Coffee Time Romance



I don't even have words for how thrilled I was to receive this review of my YA Paranormal, Sleeping Garden!!! (Sleeping Garden was by me, writing as Virginia Ashley)

It was only out for about a week (due to the closing of SBP) but...
THIS REVIEW IS AWESOME!!!

"Ms. Ashley explains that The Secret Garden was one of her all-time favorite novels as a child and she really gives the original work credit when writing this tale. Sleeping Garden takes the original fairytale further as the characters explore a world of paranormal beings, mystical curse and new friendships that blossom into more. The overwhelming emotional boundaries hit upon in this book have the reader feeling as if they have been punched right in the gut, leaving you breathless. The details throughout this novel are extremely rich and vivid, and I found the words painted bold pictures in my mind as I read. This is an amazing tale by a very gifted author that will leave you wanting another taste of Virginia Ashley’s work."

Read the whole review here. And thanks to Coffee Time Romance Reviewer Danielle for making my year!!

Stop Bullying Where it Matters


Our schools have a zero tolerance rule about bullying. I think that this has led to a new kind of bullying.

Stealth bullying.

Back when I was a kid, bullies were always HUGE. I remember one such bully plowing through the hallway, shoving people into lockers. If you watch TV, bullies were always giants, lurking with their troll breath over some poor scrawny kid wearing big glasses and Urkle pants.

But zero tolerance has taken that bully and ended them. My son is one of the biggest kids in his grade. He, though, is a gentle giant. He reads (he loves Stephen King and Goosebumps books), does origami, and draws comic strips.

All around, he is a swell little guy. At both his regular daycare and his backup daycare, they consider him a helpful kid, fun to be around and always getting along well with others. He has friends still that he has had his whole life. He befriends underdogs. He is just... a nice guy.

And he is begging me to pull him out of the brick and mortar and homeschool him.

"He calls me a gay fag. He told me that I should just die since no one likes me. He told me that he can tell me how to kill myself if I was too stupid to figure it out by myself."

When my son, who is usually very soft spoken and never cries, yelled these words at me with tears pouring down his face...

My heart twisted in my chest. Why him? Why was someone picking on him? Why would anyone say things like that to another kid?

And there was more. Apparently this child has come to school gloating and educating others on words like 'teabagging' and other phrases that I would love to say my kid didn't know... but he does now. Free education... I guess.

It got me to thinkin... How is all this going on without the school knowing?

I asked if he was bigger than my son-- Bullies, as I said, are supposed to be big enough to kick your ass. He isn't. He actually has called both my son and daughter (according to her) fatasses. (Neither of my kids are even a little overweight and regular doctors visit verify that they are growing up very healthy... leading me to believe that perhaps this child is very small...)

Bullying today isn't like it was when we were kids. No tolerance has lead to a new kind of villain and a new kind of victim.

Stealth bullies.

Whispered words and notes... things teachers can't see or regulate.

And it is sad, really.

Because the biggest victim, in this case as in so many cases of bullying, is the other child.

I am supporting my son. I am behind him 100%. If it needs to happen, I will pull him out of the brick and mortar and he will come home and they won't be able to touch him.

But that other little kid...

Do you realize the kind of environment he must live in? What has he seen... what insecurities is he masking with his attacks on other kids? What has he heard that led to his vast knowledge on topics that no sixth grader should know about (Teabagging, for example)?

How scary is the mental picture of what he goes home to every night?

My stomach is clenching just thinking about it all. I honestly believe that there is no such thing as a bad kid... There are bad parents. There are bad circumstances. But I cannot believe that any soft, sweet warm bundle of life is born BAD.

And though my son is dealing with this, we will get through it. He will be stronger, someday, for having made it through this.

That other kid? It is terribly, terribly sad.

And if I end up having to bring my middle son home...Who will be the next target? Bullies don't stop because the one they were bullying is gone. They find someone else... someone else that will take the brunt of their anger and frustration.

I have asked the school for help. It is the most that I can do. But if your child goes through something like this... If your child is bullied...

Please, I beg of you, remember that the 'monster' is a child, too. Something is making this kid do this.

Kudos to those of you who raised kids who care. I am sorry if you have to deal with something like this. But who speaks out for the bully?

It may not work. But if you can save one kid...
Isn't it worth a shot?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sneak Peek! Hypnotized ~ Adult Only


Sneak Peek- adults only- Hypnotized
Coming soon from Virginia Nelson

My internal ranting came to an abrupt halt when I entered the room hung in velvets and sparkle. It was such a jarring difference from the modern fa├žade, the elegant waiting room, that it had me dropping my phone.

Scrabbling to pick it up, a pair of shining black shoes came into view.

Following the line of leg up, I took in dark jeans that hugged legs that looked firm and tempted me to reach out and touch. Spending too long considering his package, I wondered if he was really that endowed or if he was padding his… er… bits.

Face flushed with embarrassment, I forced myself to shoot the rest of the way up, almost toppling on my stylish, if knockoff, heels.

And I only came to his chest.

A fine chest it was, too, with shoulders at least twice as broad as my own holding up arms as thick as my thighs.

Again, worried to be caught ogling some strange man, I tilted my head back to look him in the eyes.

And I was mesmerized. He had probably the most fascinating face I had ever seen—strong, male, dusted with hair that no razor could ever fully tame. The eyes that met my own were a striking grey—almost metallic— and all of it was framed with curling black hair.

Holyfuckingmancandy.

Clearing my throat, and wishing that I could clear my blush as easily, I tried for a smile.

It probably came out a little sickly around the edges. My pulse was pounding and liquid heat had turned my body into a keg of lust that was primed to ignite.

Happy Writing!!