Are you a Part-Time Writer Looking for Inspiration for 2014? You’ve Come to the ‘Write’ Place!

I’m starting of the year with a guest post from Nikolas Baron, from Grammarly.com. Have you heard of them? It’s a great site for writer’s who need help proofreading their work. From blog posts to essays, they’ve got the tools you need! But first, get inspired to start 2014 off the ‘write’ way!

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The Part-Time Writer

part_time_writerBeing a writer is, for many, a lifelong dream. Writing for payment is a thrilling accomplishment, but it’s usually soon followed by the realization that most writers do not make a living from writing alone. In fact, many writers pursue a separate, unrelated career while writing part-time, whether as a hobby or as a secondary source of income. For the part-time writer facing deadlines, a quality online spelling, grammar, and plagiarism checker can be a valuable tool. Saving time is just one aspect of creating success as a writer, however. Writing takes dedication, patience, and a willingness to learn the craft.

Being a writer is an admirable goal, but it’s not a realistic one. How does one become “a writer”? There is no pill, no bottled potion to be ingested, that will magically bring about the transformation. Becoming a writer begins with picking up a pen; but, having taken that first crucial step, the aspiring writer will discover that the journey has just begun. First, the writer must decide what type of writing he or she wants to do. Fiction or nonfiction? Short stories?

Articles? Novels? Each type of writing requires a unique skill set, and there is a distinct path to follow to the individual definition of success for every writer. It’s important to study the craft and read within and outside the genre to become a well-rounded reader and a better writer. Wanting to be a writer isn’t enough. It’s important to decide upon a genre and a style that best suits the writer’s individual dream. Becoming a writer is a dream. Transforming an abstract desire into a concrete success takes deeper thought.

Once the budding writer has decided upon writing mystery novels, for example, the next step is to set some goals. Novices may want to keep the goals reasonable, setting themselves to the task of writing for a set amount of time per day or obtaining a certain word count, depending on the time that can be found in between other obligations. Some professionals suggest that writing every day is critical to success, while others claim that a certain amount of time must be invested. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Time and discipline are important, but the definition of success is an individual one that only the writers themselves can create. Goals create personal milestones, giving the writer a measuring stick against which to check progress. Setting the goals is entirely up to the writers themselves.

Time can be a precious commodity in our fast-paced world. Between work, family obligations, hobbies, volunteer work, and other commitments, the idea of finding time to write might seem out of reach. However, it can be done. It may be necessary to write out a simple schedule, noting work, family obligations, and other time constraints, and then consider the blocks of time that are not already committed to other pursuits. Television viewing might have to be sacrificed. Getting up a little earlier in the morning, for a morning person, or staying up a little later in the evening, for a night owl, might be an option as well. Moreover, a shorter lunch break might provide some time to indulge the muse.

Time, however, is not always the only consideration. Many writers need to “warm up” to the page, to shift gears from their day jobs into the mental work of writing. It is necessary not only to find time to scribble a few words on a page but also to find long enough blocks of uninterrupted time suitable for writing. Indeed, protecting the quality of one’s writing time is as important as finding time to write in the first place. If writing is not a priority and if the commitment is not as firm as the Saturday-morning golf game or the monthly martini lunch with the girls, it will never get off the ground.Marjorie Facklam, author of numerous children’s books, began writing while raising her five children, with several still in diapers. If a harried mother of five can find time to research and write rhyming science picture books like Bugs for Lunch while chasing toddlers and maintaining a household, any writer can find time in their schedule. Often, the question isn’t one of time, but of commitment.

Connect with  Nikolas Baron on Google+      Plagiarism Checker

nick-Grammerly Guest posterAbout the Author:

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

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Getting to know your Community: A Chat with Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman, Director of The Virtuous Women, LLC

On August 17, I had the opportunity to speak at The Author’s Workshop, a community event held by The Virtuous Women, LLC in Lithonia, Georgia. The event brought together local authors who shared their publishing experiences and why they chose to write with the community. The goal: to inspire those who may have a story to tell but not know how to do it. I met some wonderful people that night and decided to share a bit more about the organization to those of you in the Atlanta, Georgia area who may be interested in joining in future events.

Let me share a little bit about the organizations director, Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman.

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman is a Special Education Teacher with the Dekalb County School System. She currently serves as the Department Chair of the Special Education Department. Dr. Harris-Coleman has over nine years of experience working with special needs students. Prior to working with the school system, she worked for the Department of Juvenile Justice in the capacity of the statewide transfer coordinator where she was responsible for the assignment of students to specific learning campuses throughout the state

TVW Pic

MJ:  Welcome, Dr. Harris-Coleman! I’ve visited your blog site and see the idea for your organization stemmed for a get together with your family. How did that turn into reaching out to the community?

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman:  It went from a chance to get to know the newest member of our family, my sister-in-law, into a big event when one of my sisters who helped plan the party invited over 20 friends. In turn I invited a few people who own small businesses. We had jewelry, massages, and a few more things available for the guest. In the end we had over 60 people squeeze into my home. By the end of the night, people were asking when was the next event. We prayed on the matter and decided to do it again. We found a location to hold it in. Later, I began researching the term ‘virtuous women’ and discovered it had to do with health and wellness, which has become what we strive to promote with each event.

MJ: That is amazing! What is the general message or goal of the organization and how long have you been around?

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman:  We officially had our first event in June 2013 which was on Women and Safety where the Dekalb County female officers came out to share safety tips for shopping, going on vacation, and home. July we did a Taste of Dekalb which featured different food vendors. The latest event was The Author’s Workshop. We are looking to reach more than the men and the women in the community, and strive to provide events that are good for the entire family as well. Our focus is on how to better the whole body, mind, and spirit. Each event is geared towards these themes.

MJ: How does your organization assist the community and its businesses?

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman:  We help small businesses by inviting them to participate in events where their product compliments the event theme. The interaction with members of our organization gives  them the opportunity to test out their business ideas to see if it’s worth pursuing, and if it is, allows them to reach a customer base.

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The Author’s Workshop Participents: (From left to right) Dr. Harris-Coleman, Coach William “Buck” Godfrey, Studio Stefanie, Twala Meju, Earline Buchanan-Pitts, Terrance Ross, M.J. Kane

MJ: What has been your most memorable event?

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman:  The last event held, The Author’s Workshop which was co-sponsored by Barnes & Noble. We had a lot of positive feedback and have been asked by those who were not able to make it ask when the next event will be held. Learning the truth behind why authors write was very touching. It’s not the same as reading about the author on the back of the book. I also enjoyed watching the children’s reactions and how they were in tune with what they learned.

MJ: I must say I really enjoyed being a part of that event and am happy you invited me to participate. You know I will happily do it again in the future! Are you looking for volunteers? If so, how can they get in touch with you?

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman:  We appreciated having you! And yes, we are always looking for volunteers! Those interested can call  404-820-9210, or reach me by email at beverly@thevirtuouswomen.com. We need volunteers to assist with vendor set up, signing up potential members, and greeting members at events. Communicating with members and vendors between events would be a huge help as well.

MJ: You host events monthly and feature the calendar of events on your webpage. How can a vendor or someone interested in becoming a member find out more information?

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman:  Visit the website for detailed information for membership and to sign up as an event vendor. We encourage people to become members for as little as $10 per month. We have been hosting one monthly event, but are looking to do events twice a month. Joining as a vendor gives you the option to host an event at the location as well. Keep an eye on the calendar to keep up with the events. More information is available on the website, or people who are interested can contact us by phone or email for more information.

MJ: Are you looking for sponsors?

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman:  Yes! Anyone interested can contact me at the above information.

MJ: What is the next upcoming event and how can people find out more information?

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman:  In September we will be focusing on relationships. We have been blessed to have Life Coach Robin May come and speak to the group about Women and Relationships. We would like to incorporate vendors that are geared towards the event theme; so again, anyone interested can contact us via email or call.

MJ: Dr. Harris-Coleman, it has been my pleasure speaking with you today, and I applaud what your doing to strengthen the community, and look forward to participating in future events. 

Dr. Beverly Harris-Coleman: Thank you for having me!

The Next Community Event:   

website-mays-flyer

 

 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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#SampleSunday- Foot massages, Conversation, and Mr. Ed

The reality of relationships is that regardless of race, worrying about how your lover’s family will view you arrive. Today’s #SundaySample is from Brian’s point of view as Ebony tells him about a phone call to her sister.

Excerpts:

“What’s new with you?”

A funny look passed over her face as she rested her feet in my lap. “Work is okay, I guess. I talked to my sister the other day.”

I fought the urge to let my curiosity be obvious. We had barely talked about her family since our first couple of dates. She’d made it known they probably would not approve of our relationship. To counteract that negativity, I made sure she met mine. My mother adored her. Every time we talked, one of her first questions was about Ebony. Were we still seeing each other? Was I happy? To each of those questions my answer was a resounding yes.

“How’s your family?” My focus stayed on her foot.

“Okay, I guess. The conversation dealt more about me than her.”

I risked a glance and saw her staring down at her fingers. Uh oh.

“I told her about us.” Her gaze met mine.

“And?”

“And…she thought I had gone crazy. She called Trevon, and well, it was a very interesting phone call.”

Nervousness grew in the pit of my stomach. I’d been down this road before, and the consequences had not been good.  A fact I had yet to share.

I held my breath while she continued.

“Trevon said he predicted I’d end up dating a white man.”

I creased my eyebrows. “Are you serious? How did that happen?”

Ebony lips turned up, her eyes brightened slightly as she giggled. “The night before my family drove me out to L.A., I was in my room stuffing every article of clothing in my suitcase. Well, he walked in as my bag popped open and my underwear fell onto the floor. I’m a tomboy, remember?”

I nodded, giving her eyes, and her foot, my full attention.

“The year before, Shana talked me into wearing thongs, something I hated. Well, to my surprise ­ and embarrassment ­ thongs of a variety of colors fell onto the floor. Tre picked one up, a white one, and makes this crazy joke. Now that I think about it, I’d rather not repeat it.” Her face screwed up as if she’d said too much.

“Oh no, you don’t. You brought it up, and now you’ve got to share.”

“No, never mind it’s stupid.”

“You said he predicted our relationship. I want to know how that happened.”

Ebony covered her face and groaned. “You’re not going to let this go are you?”

“Nope.” I put on the most evil grin, which made her crack a smile.

“Okay, fine, you asked for it.” She paused and took a deep breath. “Do you know who Mr. Ed is?”

I thought about it. “You mean the talking horse? My parents watched reruns of the show on Nick at Night years ago.”

She bit her lip. “Yeah, that’s the one. He said since I wore thongs, I would get a boyfriend named Mr. Ed because I was studying to become a veterinarian. And since Mr. Ed was white…” Her voice trailed off as she chewed her lip.

“Since the horse was white and I’m white, that makes me Mr. Ed?”

She nodded.

I laughed so hard I could barely breathe.

She snorted. “Are you okay?”

I held up a finger and nodded as I regained my breath. “When can I meet him? I like him already.”

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There are only 11 days left to get your copy of A Heart Not Easily Broken before the sale ends!

AHNEB Sale with seal pic 450 

If you haven’t read the Amazon Bestseller, A Heart Not Easily Broken, buy your copy today! It’s  available for Kindle, Nook, iTunes, and on Smashwords. If Paperback is what you prefer, find it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble! 

Ebony is a smart, sexy, career-oriented black woman who wants nothing more than a summer fling with a man who challenges her mind and body. What she doesn’t expect is a blond-haired, blue-eyed bass player—who won’t take “no” for an answer—to accept the challenge.

When Ebony’s attempt at a brief fling turns into more, despite negative reactions from friends and family, she finds juggling love, family, and career are nothing compared to the ultimate betrayal she endures. Now her dreams spiral into lies and secrets that threaten her future and her best friend’s trust.

ONE CLICK for REVIEWS, FREE CHAPTER READS, ALL SALES LINKS!

For more information on The Butterfly Memoirs Series and a sample of the next book, Jadedvisit this link! 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

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#Guest Post- Hearts in Exile by Mysti Parker

Cover

Somewhere, hidden in the waters of the Southern Sea, lies an island unlike any other. Within the amber glow of its pyrogem-laden cliffs, legend says the very heart of the dragon god Drae keeps the island, and its occupants, alive.

Loralee Munroviel, daughter of Leogard’s High Priestess Arianne, had no idea what she would face when she arrived by boat ten years ago and was left alone in exile. All she knew about Draekoria’s inhabitants was written in one tattered notebook. Now, her life revolves around keeping Drae’s descendants happy. Never in her life did she imagine being a Dragon Keeper.

Captain Igrorio Everlyn, known as Sir Robert to his unit of Holy Paladins, has faced his share of hell, battling the evils of Emperor Sarvonn’s tyranny and the dark god Tyr’s abominations. But none of that compares to the ten years of hell he’s been without Loralee, presumed dead.

One freak storm changes everything. Now the two of them must fight to re-establish the delicate balance of the island before the dragons take things into their own hands. Through it all, they discover the secrets that kept them, and their hearts, exiled for a decade.

Amazon USA      Amazon UK

Excerpt From Chapter Three:

After a shipwreck, Sir Robert wakes up in a strange cottage, only to find Loralee, the love of his life, whom he thought had been dead for a decade…

“I don’t understand. What is this place?”

“It’s an island. Very few know of its existence.”

I shook my head, trying to clear the fog of this confusing dream come to life. “But, why would you be here, and why would you be sorry? Unless…”

The words wouldn’t come. My racing mind pitched in to help. Unless she didn’t want to marry me after all.

Wrenching pain I’d kept tucked inside broke free, and I clambered to my feet. Loralee followed suit, backing herself into the small dining table.

I tried, but could not hide the bitter anger in my words. “How could you do this to me? Do you have any idea what I’ve been through?”

Her eyes widened. She clutched the table with one hand and her robe with the other. “What you’ve been through? I didn’t want this. I was forced here.”

“What do you mean, forced here? Where are your shackles?” My voice roared through the little cottage as I gestured around me with one arm. “Where are the bars? This looks like no prison I’ve ever seen.”

Her voice cracked the air, rivaling with my own. “I was betrayed, forced into exile. Don’t you understand? I never wanted to leave you. I never wanted anything so much as I wanted you.”

Pacing away, I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. I had to calm myself, to let the weight of this discovery, the improbability of her explanation to sink into my water-logged brain.

I couldn’t bring myself to look at her just yet, so I stared at my bare feet instead. “Why didn’t you tell me, write to me?”

“I tried. I begged the supply ship crew to bring my letters to you. They always took them, but never brought one in return. I suspect they destroyed them, but I had no way of knowing.” She sucked in a shaky breath as though trying to hold back her tears. “I never stopped loving you.”

Turning back to face her, I felt like a mindless beast. Here I was, raging against the love of my life when she’d all but been brought back from the dead.

“Loralee.” I eased toward her. She cringed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Without a word, I leaned in and pressed my forehead to hers, allowing myself to breathe in her scent for the first time in a decade. We stood suspended like that for a while, lost in time, and emerging from a purgatory neither of us had imagined ten years ago. I would have been content to stand like that forever, but Loralee burst into tears and wilted to the floor.

I followed her down and opened the quilt to wrap us both inside. I held her tight while she cried.

While I cried.

I finally got enough breath to speak again. “What did you mean by forced here? They told me you were…” I couldn’t say it, not with her warm and so very alive against me.

“I know.”

The weight of it all came crashing down on me. “This is my fault, isn’t it? You’re here because of me.”

She made no attempt to wipe her cheeks, but shook her head and stared at the rafters as though entreating the gods. “No, it’s not your fault. Not at all. There is so much to explain, I don’t know where to start.”

I couldn’t comprehend any of it, so I focused on the here and now. “You found me on the shore?”

She nodded.

“The crew, Francis…did you find anyone else out there?”

“No, I had Xax-, I mean, no, I searched but didn’t find anyone else.”

The familiar weight of grief squeezed my chest, and a few more tears escaped before I could stop them.

She pulled me close and whispered, “I’m so sorry. I know how much you loved him. We all did.”

“We all grieved for you. You’ve been here…all this time?”

“Yes.”

“By the gods, Loralee, I’ve missed you so much.” I put my wet cheek against hers and pressed my lips to her soft skin. “Part of me died the day I thought you… please…just tell me how you ended up here.”

Loralee took a few deep breaths and finally pulled away from me. She caressed my cheek and smiled weakly.  “I’ll make us a pot of tea. And then, I think we should start at the beginning, back to the Great Plague and when we first met. Do you remember that?”

Smiling past the sadness, I covered her hand with mine and closed my eyes. “How could I ever forget?”

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Mysti Parker is having a contest along with her virtual book tour for her latest book, Hearts in Exile. For anyone who buys a copy and forwards their receipt to her at mystiparker@yahoo.com, she’ll enter you into a drawing to win a really nice pack of prizes valued at ~$50!

 ***To see photos of the prizes, you can click on this Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/519253418129437/***

Mysti Parker author pic

About the Author:

Mysti Parker (pseudonym) is a full time wife, mother of three, and a writer. Her first novel, A Ranger’s Tale was published in January, 2011 by Melange Books, and the second in the fantasy romance series, Serenya’s Song, was published in April 2012. The highly anticipated third book, Hearts in Exile, has already received some great reviews. The Tallenmere series has been likened to Terry Goodkind’s ‘Sword of Truth’ series, but is probably closer to a spicy cross between Tolkien and Mercedes Lackey.

Mysti’s other writings have appeared in the anthologies Hearts of Tomorrow, Christmas Lites, and Christmas Lites II. Her flash fiction has appeared on the online magazine EveryDayFiction. She has also served as a class mentor in Writers Village University’s six week free course, F2K.

Mysti reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication, and is the proud owner of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.

 Blog     Facebook Page      Twitter      Goodreads

Tallenmere Series:

 A Ranger’s Tale, Tallenmere #1     Serenya’s Song, Tallenmere #2      Hearts in Exile, Tallenmere #3

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

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2012 Georgia Statewide Honor Orchestra Features Two Students from Clayton County

Kristoffer and Emily warm up before rehearsal starts.

It’s 8:55 am on April 14th.


While most students are home sleeping on a Saturday morning, Kristoffer Caine and Emily Dunn are wide awake, tuning their instruments in preparation for rehearsal to begin. The moment Professor Emeritus, Dean Angeles, walks onto the podium, the music stops and all talking ceases. He instructs the principle members of each section of the orchestra to lead the members in tuning their instruments. Once that is done, he introduces himself and informs them his latest direction was of the New York State All-State Orchestra.
Then practice begins.
This group of orchestra members was comprised of high school students ages 15 – 18.  Students of various ethnic backgrounds and from all over the state converged at Sprayberry High School in Marietta, Georgia, some from as far away as Savannah.
This gathering was the first time a Statewide Honor Orchestra was formed. The orchestra was made up of students who auditioned for the Georgia All-State Orchestra. It was not an easy road. First round auditions for the All-State Orchestra started back in late September, early October of 2011, and were held at Mundy’s Mill High School in Clayton County. Hundreds of students from across the state auditioned. The number decreased and competition for the available spots grew fiercer as second round auditions approached in February.
Professor Emeritus, Dean Angeles, directs the orchestra. 
The number of talented students vying for the positions must have been close, because for the first time, a Statewide Honor Orchestra was put together for students who did not make the cut for All-State Orchestra. These students are being recognized for their stellar playing abilities. As a result, they were offered the opportunity to come together for one day of practice, to socialize with their peers, and to perform for friends, family, and the community.
Parents arrived early Saturday at Sprayberry High School to drop off their kids. Some waited all day, while their son or daughter practiced, until it was time for the performance later that evening. For six hours, the kids practiced, taking two breaks for lunch and dinner, as well as short breathers to stretch their legs, and at times find their focus again, before returning for the intense practice the director put them through. Professor Emeritus, Dean Angeles has conducted the Loyola University Chamber and Symphony Orchestra as well as coordinated a comprehensive string program for the organization from 1980 to 2006. Most recently, he was inducted into the Southwestern College Fine Arts Hall of Fame in Winfield, Kansas in April, 2011.
Minutes before taking the stage. 

Clayton County had two students who were invited to participate in the All-State Honor Orchestra, and amazingly, both students are from the same school. Junior, Kristoffer Caine, and Freshman, Emily Dunn are both students of the Fine Arts Magnet Program at Mount Zion High School, under the direction of Krissy Davis. Both play the Bass. For both students, being selected for this orchestra was a major achievement. For Kristoffer, who made the first round for High School All-State Orchestra last year, but not the second, it was an accomplishment. Emily participated in the Middle School All-State Orchestra, last year, as well as High School All-State Honors this year, so for her, this is a glimpse of great things yet to come. Once during practice, the director paused to compliment the Bass section, saying they were by far one of the best he’s worked with in years. Never once did he have to work on any part of the music with them. He was impressed since they have the hardest instrument to play.

After six hours of practice on music most kids had only received five days in advance, they were ready to perform on stage.
Before a note was played, the director made this comment to audience: “To put an orchestra together in six hours…you don’t even do that with a professional orchestra. I am so very pleased with these young people for what they’ve done….I’m impressed.” The first piece played, was Serenade for Strings, by Edward Elgar, a three piece movement lasting ten minutes. When it was done, he turned around and said: “You have no idea how difficult that piece is. I have some of my university students in the Atlanta area that teach (and) played that piece, and rest assured, we had at least 6 weeks to put that together. These young people had six hours…It’s very impressive.”

 Congratulations to Kristoffer Caine and Emily Dunn for representing the Fine Arts Magnet Program at Mount Zion High School and the Clayton County School System. Programs and opportunities like this are yet another example why music should be kept in our schools.
*Side note, I am so proud of my son and his musical accomplishments this year!*

Written by,
M.J. Kane

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