Courtney S. Barr

Welcome to My Kingdom!
Join me, the Princess, on my Royal Adventures in the Land of Writing!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mermaids & Teddy Ruxpin...Gossping with "Dangerous Depths" author Karen Amanda Hooper

Hey Hey Hey Royal Court! We are blessed to have the AMAZING Karen Amanda Hooper joining me in The Royal Courtyard for a sip of sweet tea and some juicy gossiping…us Southerners LOVE a good story…in this case we are gossiping about some people quite close to her heart…the characters of her latest novel Dangerous Depths.  Before we jump into book two in her Sea Monsters trilogy, lets make sure everyone knows our darling guest!

So Karen, welcome, welcome, it is always a pleasure to have a friend stop by for a visit.
Karen Amanda Hooper (KAH): Thanks so much for having me! *sips tea* This is delicious.
The Southern Princess (TSP): I have been extremely blessed to have ‘known’ you around the blogosphere for quite some time now.  Your love of all things Disney has on many previous occasions linked quite well to my own love of the Happiest Place on Earth.  Of all the things we share in common, this one has always been my favorite: people watching at Disney. When I lived in Orlando it was the best location for character research and development. Do you often catch yourself building characters based off of those you encounter in and around the Disney parks?  If so, is there a favorite place in particular in the parks that you enjoy people watching the most?
KAH: Oh, yes. Epcot is my favorite park and there’s a pretty pathway along that water near the back entrance/exit of the World Showcase. It’s awesome for people watching, especially during Food & Wine Festival right after Illuminations when people are leaving the park. You’ll see some real sights after people have been drinking all day. So far I haven’t based any characters off anyone I’ve seen at a Disney park, but it’s bound to happen someday.
Also, my fav spot for relaxing is a hammock on the beach at the Polynesian resort. I can hear many of the sounds from Magic Kingdom as I drift to sleep while swaying in the breeze.
TSP: I mean, honey, if you tell me you saw Treygan wandering near the entrance to the Jungle Cruise, my hubs might not let me go back down there alone…ever.
KAH: *Karen giggles* I did see a guy who resembled Treygan one time on the monorail. I tried to snap a pic with my phone but I wasn’t quick enough. He was fast like Treygan too!
TSP: As for favorite ‘watching’ spots I am pleasantly surprised and thrilled to know that we share the same spot! There at the Gateway to the Worlds (the Boardwalk/Epcot entrance) I also have sat upon benches/low concrete walls that are shaded by the trees in the heat but allow an interesting viewpoint into those traveling between the worlds. You are so right about the drinkers…France and England being right around the bend means wine, champagne and beer…oh how fun it can be! I know those hammocks too, you are right they are lovely.
TSP: I recently was posed a question by my young niece; she asked me “What was your very first book you loved when you were little?” I extend that question to you…
KAH: The first books that I can really remember (and don’t laugh) were my Teddy Ruxpin books. They each came with a cassette tape so Teddy could read me the story, but I preferred the books. The Wooly Whatsit book was one of my favs because of the fobs and Rainbow Falls. *cough* What? Coincidence that I have a rainbow waterfall in my books too?  Yes, total coincidence. ;)  And yes, I still have Teddy stored away in my closet. And some of the books. And my Wooly stuffed animal. And Grubby. *blushes* Next question!
TSP: Lol! I love it…you and my hubs share a love of Teddy Ruxpin (don’t kill me my love)
TSP: Okay before we jump into Dangerous Depths, here is a Random Royal Question from a member of the Royal Court– What character from any movie (any franchise/production company) would best describe your personality & why?
KAH: This is a tough one. Maybe Hannah (Emma Stone) from Crazy, Stupid, Love. We look nothing alike, but her personality in that movie is similar to mine. That awkward but sexy scene between her and Ryan Gosling when she’s no longer bold and confident, but becomes a nervous, rambling mess, that’s so me. Or maybe I just really wish I could make out with Ryan Gosling. ;)
TSP: Ah…yes, that scene is awesome. I always thought he was cute, but that movie did me in – he is hot.
TSP: So, now we are settling in, the cool Southern fall is all around us and we are ready to talk hunky mermen, brooding selkies and the amazing land they all call home.
TSP: There are SO many characters to love in your stories. I really just connected with Yara and everyone she surrounds herself with. Pango is a lot like some of my Southern family. His vernacular, his mannerisms, his demeanor has a pleasant Southern hospitality feeling every time he is in a scene. Is he modeled after anyone in particular?
KAH: I love Pango. And yes, he was inspired by a friend of mine who has a larger-than-life personality. My friend is Cuban and I haven’t seen him in years because we live hundreds of miles apart, but he was such a sweet, warm, bubbly personality that I will never ever forget him.
TSP: In Tangled Tides I really enjoyed the various POVs. Did you find it difficult to add in yet another with Nixie’s POV replacing Treygan’s?
KAH: It wasn’t hard to add Nixie, but it was tough to NOT write Treygan’s POV. Many scenes were itching to be told from his POV, but I knew 4 POVs would be overdoing it.
TSP: This journey that the characters are on is so much more intense than the first (and it was crazy intense in Tangled Tides) for me. I was more on pins and needles with this one. I won’t give anything big away for those who are just now starting this series, but I have to say in Tangled Tides their purpose was a valiant and worthwhile goal – it was perfect, especially for Yara just discovering her lineage. In this story, with the characters more settled in their ‘skin’, they are facing even more tragic and terrifying unknowns, their faith in each other and the bond of love comes into question more than once. How difficult was it to transition into this darker territory where the losses have the possibility of being fewer but might have a greater impact?
KAH: I actually had nightmares! lol. I dream vividly, so while it was fun to write those Harte scenes, it was not fun to experience them in dreams. Especially because one particular nightmare, no one survived. And their deaths were horrific. I actually woke up in tears with my heart racing. It’s much easier for me (and easier on my state of mind) to write the happy, rainbows and butterflies scenes.
TSP: The best theme in the world is love. Here you have it in spades. The love between Treygan and Yara is beautiful.  The yearning Rownan has for Vienna transcends time, but it is the familial bond between Treygan and Rownan; Yara and Nixie; and Lloyd with his two boys and Yara that I loved the most in this one. They are all connected in very different ways and yet they love each other as though there is no difference between them – no selkie vs mer vs siren vs gorgon/human vs Yara’s mottled genetics. It is a pleasurable thing to witness this kind of love.  Is there a relationship from your own personal experience that helped to really tap into this type of connection? If so, would you mind elaborating?
KAH: I think everyone I come in contact with, or even just observe (professional people watcher that I am) has the potential to influence my stories and characters. I’ve had  some really great relationships and some really bad ones, and while I wasn’t consciously using any of my own relationships to write Tangled Tides or Dangerous Depths, I’m sure bits and pieces snuck their way in. To sum it up, I’ll use a quote by Chuck Palahniuk... “Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everybody I've ever known.”
TSP: I am a sucker for quotes! That one is a keeper…
TSP: Okay, here is the reader in me itching to know about what’s yet to come…Are you able to see an ending for this series?  Is it something you already know in your gut? If so, are you happy with what you see? (mind you these Q’s are cryptic in their own way – I in no way want any details, the writer in me knows the sacred vows when it comes to our work, the reader in me is hoping to enjoy this world for as long as possible)
KAH: I’m pretty sure that book 3, Sacred Seas, will be the end of Yara and Treygan’s story. I’ve had a few requests to write a sexy adult spin-off series about the kraken, but I’m not sure where I’d find the time. I have a half dozen other story ideas waiting in line for their turn to be written.
TSP: that is the perfect answer for both versions of me! Lol I love that this will tie up their story but also love that you not only have more offers, but that you have more stories. As a writer there is nothing better than to be flooded with the ideas in our minds and get to explore them. I happily wait for book 3 and the many other exciting things yet to come!
TSP: One last question, if you were Yara, what gift/ability would be your most treasured from her various genetic blessings?
KAH: I can’t choose just one! That’s why I gifted her with so many. lol. I mean, how awesome would it be to be able to breathe and communicate underwater and even see clearly? But then there’s also the awesome ability to fly. And then the whole experiencing other people’s memories as your own? That would be amazing too. I’d treasure all of them.
TSP: I cannot express how fabulous it has been to have you here in the Kingdom!  I am so happy to share in this exciting time for you and cannot wait to read book 3! I hope that you enjoyed this little gossip fest and that you are having a blast visiting everyone’s sites. We are all honored to share in this adventure. It was a pleasure chatting with you. You are welcome in my Southern Kingdom of Gift any time!
KAH: It has been absolutely fabulous being here. Thanks so much for inviting me to the Kingdom. I had a wonderful time. Let’s meet at Epcot soon for people watching! :)
TSP: Yes! We must! It is a small world and as you told me, we might have sat right near one another, watching people unknowing of each other. Hopefully we will get to do it side by side one day and really enjoy the view!

Okay guys, as you can probably tell I LOVE this series. There is not enough to say about the world Karen has created.
My official review:
Dangerous Depths by Karen Amanda Hooper will take you on an adventure that might change your entire view of the world around you. Set within the magical worlds of Rathe, Harte and yes our lovely Earth; Treygan and Yara are thrust into yet another life changing, mind boggling journey. This time they are surrounded by the magical sirens, mer people, gorgons and the scariest villains you may ever encounter between the sheets of paper – these villains hit you where it hurts, they attack without mercy and they take you down in really the worst way possible: from the inside out.
With souls on the line, a love that transcends time, new families, mythology and beautiful scenery Karen carries you beyond the simple sand beach of Eden’s Hammock and directly into Harte, a hell that no one should ever have to encounter. Rownan is determined to bring his wife Vienna back from Harte. It sounds simple, go there, find her and bring her back. But Harte is not your ordinary scary realm. Sure there are monstrous animals, black lakes, no stars, but it is the toll on your soul that makes this journey one that only one other has ever taken & returned. Treygan and Yara could just stay back, let Rownan go, hope for the best and relax enjoying their triumphs, but no. The love exposed in this adventure, the deep bonds of brotherhood, the idea that through faith in one another & hope we can change everything fills each page. Even in their darkest hours, trust me there are dark ones, you hope for them to make it through. This book is worth reading, it will make you laugh, you will chew your fingernails off, have nightmares of Harte, smile at love that is so powerful it can feed the soul and discover whether or not your favorite makes it home or if the whole group stumbles into a darkness where light seems impossible.

Get your hands on this one. Find out if they make it out. Find out if love prevails. Find out what kind of strength can help you conquer your worst fears. Find out if the tide will be your guide...

Okay Royal Court Here are all the important links to make your adventure begin...

Okay, Okay, I know now you are wondering where do you find this book?
Well here are the online links to purchase:

BUT Can I share a Royal secret...? Karen, amazing as always, is GIVING away some copies!!!! You read that right, like as in, you can WIN this fabulous prize package:

~ Signed paperback of Tangled Tides & Dangerous Depths 

~ Two Beautifully Disney nail polishes 
(Ocean Mist--sparkly green, and Diva of the Deep--sparkly purple.)

~ A box of assorted yummy "sprite" treats from Fairy Tale Brownies 
(in honor of the new sprite characters who star in Dangerous Depths.) 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Kingdom Reviews "Reality" by Dani Hart

Happy Weekend my Royal friends!

So today is going to be a little different. I have the honor and pleasure to present to you my review of Reality by Dani Hart! But before we get to this new cast of characters, let me share a little bit about Dani:

My passion for writing started at a very young age. It started with a multitude of diaries as soon as I could write well, then poetry, then short stories. I received my BA at USC in Theatre with an unofficial minor in writing. While at USC I wrote my first screenplay and post-graduation I was hired to write another screenplay, which I did successfully. I have since started several books, but have never had the courage or time to finish them. I missed it, but I was discouraged from my years in the industry and I was scared to go back, so I had convinced myself I was too busy and it would be a waste of time. Then I started reading again which reignited my passion for writing. I started writing a story that had been brewing inside of me over the years. The characters were slowly developing and itching to break out onto paper, so in the summer of 2011 I wrote the first two chapters. Life got busy again and my passion was pushed aside, but then I met an amazing person who loved my story and encouraged me to start writing again. With that said, I am in a happier place now. I am fulfilling my inner desire and passion to write while raising a family and living life. Thank you so much for your support! And I hope to keep the stories coming!!!

I am Arie Belle and up until my mother’s unexpected and mysterious death my life had been pretty simple, but then things became dark and, at times, hopeless. Even my uncanny ability to communicate with nature had turned its back on me. My only saving grace is my lifetime friendship with the boy next door, River, whom I had always thought of as my soul mate up until my eighteenth birthday when everything seemed to change. My body tingles with heightened sensations and my emotions veer out of control. They are further tested when Ashe, a beautiful stranger with a powerful draw, enters my life and challenges my heart and soul. Amidst the rush of feelings after years of numbness, my true destiny slowly unravels and my journey to find out what I am, to find my mother’s killer, and stop my own death becomes a frantic rush before the next full moon. 

This powerful story encaptures the true meaning of love and the dark corners of life that can either suck you in or save you.

My thoughts: This book is a cautionary tale of forgiveness, sacrifice, a mother’s love, friendship and heartbreak. Arie isn’t normal… She has always known that there was something different about her, about her mother and about the world that exists around her. Diving into her story is a tricky thing, she knows nothing about who she really is and yet the answers are everywhere around her.  She is captivated by her best friend and love, River. He is handsome, strong, supportive, understanding and most of all loyal to a fault. They are connected in the most intimate of ways while still maintaining their innocence. She loves him deeply but their love is not simple nor is it metaphorically bulletproof.

At first the book opens not slowly but because you are walking in her footsteps you, the reader, have the same aggravating ignorance as to what is going on. Her mother is a beautiful and ethereal presence; loving, happy and at her best when surrounded by nature. Arie is much the same yet tragedies that are beyond her control try desperately to twist her outlook and to bring her into a depressive state. We travel along Arie’s journey of self-discovery and encounter friendships, loyalties, betrayals and a triangle of lust & love that crosses more than just border towns…just wait until you encounter Ashe! For most of the story we are learning and discovering. There is still a large amount of questions to be answered. Her reality is complex and in the nature of its variables we find that Arie has a long road ahead before she will find what she is searching for.

I enjoyed this story, it was definitely unique in many ways. Dani does a great job of making sure the reader is impacted by Arie’s conflicting emotions. There is just enough danger to make it exciting but at its core this is a story of love – all aspects of the word. Every decision made by each character has some basis of love.
If you are looking for steamy hot guys, friendships that would do anything for one another and the journey of a ‘chosen one’ this book is for you! 

Check out these excerpts (these are the tip of the iceberg, by the way - this book is full of emotion):

“I felt like a butterfly with broken wings, and River was trying to mend me back together. But after a butterfly’s wings are broken it was destined to live a life without flight, and fate’s destiny for me was not to fly. I would never soar above the sorrow and be free from the guilt of those surrounding me whom I would drown in pain.” ~Reality

“He brushed his fingers through my damp hair and then unexpectedly pressed his lips on mine. It instantly felt like he was breathing new life into me. As I inhaled his kiss, my lungs burned for more.
I grabbed the back of his neck and forced him on top of me. He responded hungrily. His hands explored my hips and thighs as our intimacy deepened. I was breathing so hard now that I could barely catch a breath. He made my whole body feel alive with every touch. I found the bottom of his shirt and pulled it over his head. He willingly accepted where this moment was taking us. I outlined his perfectly chiseled abs with my fingers and reached down for the button on his jeans. He squeezed my hips in anticipation. He released his lips from mine and followed the contours of my cheekbones to my jawbone and playfully nibbled, which caused me to dig my nails into his sides, immersed in pleasure.” ~Reality

Where to find Dani and her lovely writing…

Purchase this enchanting story here…

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Character Design & Coffee Flavored Moonshine...

"You can tell its good if you light it and a blue flame comes up; that means its good moonshine and it won't make you go blind."
-Johnny Knoxville
 Just a hello, I've been on a few adventures lately & I wanted to pop in...

I've never been a big drinker. I will, on occasion (define: when a client is in town & does not want to drink alone), imbibe on a fruity (preferably frozen) cocktail. It must be sweet enough to hide the liquor, pretty enough to make me smile and at the right temperature where I feel like the Caribbean should be in front of me when I open my eyes after the first sip.

This past weekend I journeyed to Puerto Rico for a girls getaway weekend. Yes, you read that right, a girls getaway. There were 3 of us. We have known each other since before we were born; i.e. our parents were friends way before conception. One of my lovely friends was needing an escape, the other was excited to go somewhere without her two young boys in tow and I, well, I just love to travel. 

We arrived, we definitely experienced, we laughed and we danced. We ordered the island's poison on more than one occasion - in fact I spent most of Saturday lounging beside a pool in a 'bed', reading magazines, talking, eating cotton candy & viewing the beauty of the Caribbean with a grin on my face and pink cheeks. I have not done that in years, possibly never to this extent. I enjoyed every flavor of frozen, exotic concoctions that the swim up bar could serve me. The sugar rush had me on high alert and the characters around me are now committed to memory. I often sat in the refreshing cool water of the pool and watched as people from all walks of this great earth enjoyed their vacation. I looked at bodies - all shapes, sizes, colors, designs. I saw hair - long, wavy, short, frizzy. I listened to accents - Australian, New Jersey, New York, Colombia, Southern. It was a plethora of character options. 

There was a moment when I watched a man, easily in his 70's - but moving like he was in his 40's - dance to every song the DJ blared beside the pool. He lost himself in the sounds of contemporary music. He grinned at young ladies, whistled at a few; he high fived the staff and boogied next to the patrons. In my own dazed state of sugar, rum and sun formulation I found myself in awe of his confidence. He moved to his own rhythm, he laughed at himself when the beat changed too quickly, he smiled the entire time. I love this man. He gave me an idea for a character & I am so pleased that in my slightly drunken state that he was able to leave such an imprint...if I had seen him a short 4 hours later I might not remember him as well.

4 hours after the dancing man I sat in a carillo restaurant named Casa Lola in Condado with a shot glass in my hand, numbness in my lips and a grin on my face - as we 3 girls cheered each other on, toasted to friendship, grinned at the nice waiter and then tipped back some Cafe Luna (coffee flavored moonshine) burned but in the moment all I could think about is that sometimes it can be rewarding to step away from everything, try something completely new, re-focus, observe life and the people within and hopefully find a moment to see someone else enjoying how fabulous this life is...oh and of course to pray that the moonshine won't make you blind - it sure would stink to miss out on all these interesting facets of life..... 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Life and Loss...

I'm never sure about life. I guess that's a naive statement. It implies I should be, well sometimes I think we feel that curveballs are to be expected but we do assume we'll be prepared enough to have a glove or bat handy. Unfortunately we aren't often even standing at the plate.

My community lost someone yesterday. A tragic loss that leaves another family member in critical condition, fighting for her life. It was an accident, water + tires + 0 traction and life becomes a blur snapped away all too quickly. 

He was a man who played Santa Claus for young children, a man I've known my whole life, whose children are like extended siblings and in the past year a man who's soulmate moved on to streets of gold and heavenly views. I had wondered how long he would be here - their connection so beautiful that for it to be here while another is in heaven seemed destined to be short...however short is a relative term and this small minute in time between losing one an now the other felt cruel when first learning of his passing.

Today with fresh eyes and aching heart, I realize how he must be smiling down with her. Sending his love, his guidance, his wishes for speedy recovery of a daughter in law he loves. I ache for his children, who in recent months had come to see a father coping, smiling again, enjoying grandchildren and activities again. It is a beautiful sentiment that they were able to see him smile see the beauty in life after loss. 

He remains a shining person in my mind. A man of a generation where love is sacred and shown with a careful hand. He made so many people smile, he fathered fabulous children and he loved a woman - one who saw the good in him, saw the power in his presence and loved him until the very end of her life. What a mark to make...

I'm writing today. My characters have sarcasm and wit, they are experiencing confusion, shock and fear...yet in their darkest moments I hope my fingers are able to show their brightest light...their capacity to care, to love. It is what I want in life, a life where death is merely a memory and life is the moment we exist and yet simultaneously cease to exist. It is in that fragment of time that we have left our imprint. we live beyond the physicality if science, existing in memories, photographs, stories, the curve of a nose, the light in the color of someone's hair....Because though we are destined to leave this earth our imprint here remains - make it bright, make someone smile, make every second count, even in death we treasure that it is a beautiful life...

Saturday, August 3, 2013

My character lost her car keys and ate her pants...

Good Afternoon Blogging World of Writers, Readers and Lovers of Words!

I am writing this entry via the keyboard on my new personal computer. It is not a tablet. It is not an iPad. Nor is it a gargantuan desktop. It is a laptop that I am in love with. The keyboard makes me grin, the feel of the buttons under my fingers makes typing a breeze (keyboards are what sell me on computers - there is a certain feel to the board that I have to acquire in order to purchase one). My old computer(s) (a netbook and a laptop) had become entirely outdated and well to be honest...heavy. The keyboard will get me out the door with my purchase but the weight will move me faster. I like that technology is able to provide us with these amazing machines that can be so lightweight and built for processing my quick mess-ups and happy days.

This particular computer had me at hello. Yet, I did my research. I have computer gurus who are friends/family, I read the blogs, websites and reviews of technological companies. The competition is fierce in our ever expanding techno enhanced world that going in blind would either be silly or extremely adventurous & trusting.

So today I am playing. Learning the latest version of Windows and discovering that I don't hate it. In fact, thanks to my Apple/iPhone for years of apps & my nieces for having Windows based phones; navigating the app style start menu is a breeze and quite! It is a touch screen laptop - no real idea why this is necessary since it does not separate from the keyboard - but I do like freezing the track pad and using my finger to maneuver through some of my favorite apps. Who knew?

Ah well, I promise a more writing centric post soon. I felt the fundamental of my writing process begins with the keys so why not share my excitement of once again loving the feel of them beneath my fingers...and not wanting to throw an electronic device out the window because the keys on the old ones jumped around all willy nilly...yeah my characters occasionally found themselves in 'sorrible hituations' and 'crabbing old of the sindow sill'. no joke. So the novel will hopefully survive and keep on trucking and the characters will quit fussing at me when all I did was hit cntrl and somehow she lost her car keys and ate her pants....true story.

Have a lovely weekend....

Saturday, July 27, 2013

What a Royally Fabulous Blitz it was....

I'm not sure what to say. People were everywhere in the Kingdom yesterday!!!! Like....all over the place! Wow.

 I've been participating in D.L. Hammons Blog Blitz this summer. It is quite possibly one of the coolest things I've ever done. So far I have added to my blog roll some of the coolest blogs and I'm itching to visit the remaining ones. I also had the supreme pleasure of adding his wife Kim as a friend on Facebook when we blitzed her on her last day of treatments. 

Yesterday I had the unbelievable treat of being Blitzed. So far 132 comments are on my last post - a post where I was promoting another of D.L.'s great ideas (Write Club). I cried when I saw them start coming in - my email began truly understanding what Blitzkrieg is all about.

Yes we make a note on another bloggers site; saying hello and happy blitz. However what I had failed to understand by being just a participant is the emotion of seeing all these people who I respect so much saying those hellos and sweet messages as the recipient. It surged through me like a new breath and I found myself crying, smiling and laughing. I guess I thought as a participant it would just be a quick "oh how nice" when it happened to me, boy was I wrong. I have 132 replies to make and goodness almost that many blogs to add to my roll AND I WILL VISIT THEM! Lol

I do need to return to blogging. It is a creative outlet that allows me to keep my juices flowing and it never ceased to make me smile. I am pleased to let all of you know that I have been writing. My novel is coming along well. My CPs are itching for the next chapters and it brings a smile to my face to have so many people to share my love of words with. Please don't be strangers, my little Kingdom welcomes everyone, my Royal Family is quite inviting and loves to entertain....

I again am honored to have you all come into my Kingdom, to meet you all, to share with you all and to D.L. who may never realize how amazing, inspiring and uplifting this little experiment truly is...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


soooo...yeah...D.L. Hammons is hosting WRiTE CLUB again... have you heard about it?


Well lets just say its a battle...not of fists,  not of martial arts crazy kicks, not of ninja stars, greased watermelons or even's a BATTLE OF WORDS!!!! Yeah, baby!

What? You still aren't sure about it...well let me tell you a few details then you can scoot over there and  check everything out:

  • The modest writing competition whose inspiration was derived from the movie FIGHT CLUB is ready to go another round, and this year it’s leaner and meaner than ever!
  • the winners are determined by fellow WRiTE CLUB members alone!
  • This year the submissions will be cut-off on June 30th. A panel of ten judges will read all of the entries we receive during that time and pre-select 32 of the best writing samples to climb into the ring. Those 32 participants will then be randomly matched to compete over the next eight weeks, each of them hoping to make it into the play-off rounds and moving towards the ultimate goal – WRiTE CLUB Champion. 
  • Again this year, the most exciting part is the winner of the final round will be chosen by a panel of publishing industry professionals! Agents, Editors, Publishers, Marketers, and published authors
So yeah....go check it out...maybe submit...maybe just follow along...either way - this is one title bout you don't want to miss!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

So, Sally Slick...You are looking GOOD GIRL!

The amazing, talented, hilarious and well outstandingly sweet Carrie Harris has ONE EXCITING treat for me to share....


TA DA!!!


Here is some info (just in case you have a second after staring....I know its hard not to conjure up all kinds of adventurous images...DECEMBER IS TOO FAR AWAY!!)

Release date: December 3, 2013
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions
Ages: 12 and up

Jacket description:

Every hero has a story. This one starts with a girl and a racing tractor.

Sally Slick knows she’s meant to be more than a Midwestern farm girl. What she wants more than anything is to be an inventor when she grows up—and she has the custom-built racing tractor to prove it. But good girls in 1914 don’t go off to the city in search of adventure. Everything changes when Sally’s big brother comes back from Chicago with a robot in hand and mobsters on his heels. With the help of her friend, wannabe hero Jet Black, Sally will risk everything to protect the people she loves.

Those bad guys are about to get a giant wrench thrown right into their plans.

So if you have never visited Carrie's site or if you have yet to grab one of her books, well, then what are you waiting for?! It's 6 months until this drops - you have time, catch up on Carrie's talent by grabbing Bad Taste in Boys, Bad Hair Day or Bad Yeti ....nevermind...get them ALL!!! I mean Bad Yeti? If that doesn't suck you in then, well, you need a new hobby!

Now go, spread the news, talk about the cover, ponder the adventure of Sally & Jet...or you know for goodness sake READ HER OTHER BOOKS!! ;) It's a Royal get outta here!

Friday, June 14, 2013

You don't read a book because you like it...

Headphones? Check.

Favorite Writerly Playlist? Check.

Fingers Flexed? Check.

Beverage? Check.

Mentally Ready to Attack all Plotlines/Characters? Err…yeah, that ‘character’ hollered at me last night…she’s mean.

Are you prepared for today’s mind blowing truth: Writing is work.

There is definitely nothing like putting words to page, whether for your personal, private enjoyment or for a story you hope to share with the world. But don’t let one single writer fool you. It takes work.

I sometimes wander the aisles of book stores and get completely suckered in by how many books one author has penned. I find myself pausing, reading titles, looking over covers and exploring the plot lines of each trilogy, stand alone, or series that he/she has birthed. I wonder about the hours, the pulled hair, and the scared dog under the couch, the husband/wife begrudgingly asleep while the glow from the computer urges them to wake up, and of course I wonder about the state of mind the author is in NOW. Are they content with these works? Did they want to share so much of themselves or did the domino keep pushing?

I wonder at their brilliance. Yes, I know people can easily say that every single book is not award winning, life changing prose, but for someone, somewhere the words in each book published struck a chord. Isn’t that why we write?

I watched a movie just this week while being stuck at home sick, drugged and definitely not ready to fight that mean girl character I mentioned above. In the movie a main character hates a certain teenage set of books, he thinks they’re dribble. He even questions the girl he has feelings for because she found pleasure in the book. He proceeds to say “You don’t read a book because you like it.” I burst into laughter during this serious onscreen argument. He is a literature snob and well she calls him on it.

After calling him a snob she defines her reason, but not in detail. She, his love interest, does not defend the book on its prose, plot, or structure instead she simply explains “It was fun to read, an escape. It was enjoyable.”  He is baffled by this. She tells him “You think it’s cool to hate things but it’s not. It’s boring. Talk about what you love and keep quiet about what you don’t.” This, this line, this singularly brilliant line brings me back to my topic of writing is work.

Yes, it is, it is hard, it is time consuming, mind boggling, and honestly there is nothing else that will press your mental limits like words on a page. BUT it discovers, it explores, it grows, it denies, it proves, it inspires, it creates, it destroys, it saves, it reminds each and every person who turns the page that life is about change, about seeing things, about believing and about our individuality.

If you read it because you must then you end up liking it, is it a bad book? No.

If you read it because the populous love it and you don’t like it, is it a bad book? No.

Someone loved it and wrote it. Someone read it and shared it.

Someone worked until their eyes were red and dry, they toiled, and they spent grueling hours on characters that you may never know, who died before finding the first page.

They worked. They worked until they were spent.

The girl in the movie is right, ‘talk about what you love, keep quiet about what you don’t.’There is so much cynicism and negativity in this world, we often let it filter into our craft, to spread like a virus and perpetuate stereotypes of hateful, rude, arrogant writers. We are all working to create something we love and can be proud of, why waste words complaining? Every part of the process should be enjoyed, even if you have to enjoy it ironically, because someone out there is aching for your story, yep, they want to read your words; so yeah the work is hard but man is it worth it.


Friday, May 31, 2013

WIP it GOOD!!!

The fabulous DL from Cruising Altitude is co-hosting a DEVO inspired blogfest with Elise Fallson. Yep, you read that right...we are all "whipping" our WIP into shape!
There are some fabulous WIPs being created out in the writing universe, DL's is awesome btw, and I am honored to be a part of this amazing collection of bloggers!

So here is mine...

WIP Title: The Story of the Stars (definitely a WIP title)
Word Count (projected/actual so far): 30,400
Genre: YA (toss up between YA supernatural and YA fantasy)
How long have you been working on it? 4 months

Brief Synopsis (300 words or less): In this town no one new ever stays and the locals are here for life. People talk of leaving, but rarely do. Those who leave never come back and never contact anyone left behind. It is a simple town, with simple people. 

Andrea Callum wants nothing more than to graduate and get out of Barbours. She's made all the right choices: perfect grades, good friends, plans for her future. 

The last week of school was supposed to be easy, no surprises; then one afternoon Andrea meets a guy with silver eyes and a voice that has plagued her dreams. He says he just needs a ride - nothing more.

One ride in a town she thought she knew by heart and her whole world collapses. Visions of grotesque murders, confusing ancient symbols and prophecies surround her. Andrea discovers that she is more than a good student - she is a talisman and her family has secrets that go beyond the limits of Barbours - secrets that go beyond the limits of the universe. For the first time in her eighteen years she is faced with the opportunity of leaving Barbours. 

Leaving is the one thing she wants - to do so she has to choose who will be left behind facing darkness and who will travel toward the light.

Are you looking for a Beta Reader? Once this round of revisions is complete - then for sure!

Be sure to check out all the other WIP-its!!!!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Do you Write as an Outlaw or to Survive?

“Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will not write to be outlaw heroes of some underculture, but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.”
-Don Delillo
I never thought of myself as an outlaw. But then again I often find myself trying to skirt boundaries, so it may not be a stretch at times. No, really, the truth is in the freedom.
I write because I cannot help it. It is a being trapped inside me that is eager to share its ideas, stories, nightmares… I dream vividly. I always have. I don’t think there is a part of my brain that would let me not dream in story form; so many of my characters began/begin in dreams. I see faces in my dreams – and no they are not family members or people I know. There have been times that my scientific friends tell me it is people I see on the street, yes it’s very possible, but I often like to think that they are truly organic -that my imagination is mine alone to share.
That is where I am the outlaw. My characters definitely don’t play by the rules. They are often obstinate, difficult, exasperating, hilarious and terrifying. They surprise me as well. Just today I was thinking of one of my female “friends”, she is in a state of shock and turmoil; a state where she should be falling apart yet resolution came to me swift. She will make it through this; I won’t have to tell her goodbye. That is wonderful. There are others though who skirt the rules and I have to watch them go. They are the outlaws, pushing their limits, losing their minds but they have a purpose, they have a reason and freedom is often the lead cause.
I write to survive. I write to see if the outlaws survive. I write because their stories, no matter if they are big or small within the context, are important and to ignore their stories is to create my own personal prison, where lockdown is madness and there is no recreational time. So yes freedom from mass identity, from personal prisons, from madness…it is all avoided so that survival is first and foremost in my mind each morning.
I write because I must.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.
-Lewis Grizzard
That is one powerful yawn this year…
Spring began last week. Yep, you read that right. I know, I know you don’t believe me, well I was pretty sure it was still January too until I realized Easter was this coming up weekend. Peter Cottontail better be careful, those Reese’s commercials where the bunny ears and booty of the chocolate rabbit ‘disappear’ might be attributed to frostbite rather than small, excessively excited hungry egg hunters.
Don’t get me wrong the sky outside my window is lovely; a beautiful, bright blue with cotton candy clouds and the soft glow of sunshine filtering through. Yet when the door opens and the air rushes into the room the perception alters…biting cold breeze, chilling air thrusting around your face, you imagine dead trees, gray clouds and dull monochromatic color schemes. My cheeks sting with the pinch of wintry fingers and I am afraid that sighing will give way to frostbitten tonsils.
Yeah, that yawn might need to just hurry up and close its trap before a frozen bumblebee slips in to sting it all the way into summer.
Cold weather or not, the season really is upon us. I have open toed sandals dying to be loved. Flirty dresses that want to sway in the breeze and lungs that dream to breathe air in one swift movement rather cough every half second.
So today I am just popping in, begrudging the weather a bit and sending happy Spring vibes out to the world. It will be lovely again soon…I know it. IT MUST!
Happy Tuesday! Have some fun blog hopping today:

Friday, March 22, 2013

Focus - do you struggle as well?

“It’s not what’s happening to you now or what has happened in your past that determines who you become. Rather, it’s your decisions about what to focus on, what things mean to you, and what you’re going to do about them that will determine your ultimate destiny.”

-Anthony Robbins


Yes. Focus.

We hear this from the get go. We must focus on the task at hand. What we don’t often hear or process is which task truly deserves my focus?What we choose to do with our time. The selection of the task is such an important thing, that the moment that we discover perhaps another task would be better or that we should shift our focus we find it easy to get a little lost. When a task is complete, yes that feeling of accomplishment is phenomenal but then we are met with that beginning question all over again. Each time the question leads us into the direction that determines who we are.

I often focus on the wrong thing, then have to turn re-evaluate what means the most to me. I over analyze and question myself too often. My decision of focusing on things that are mundane can be devastating. I feel like I’ve lost time, I’ve wasted opportunities, and that I’ve let myself down. I see those signs that say to “make each moment count” and for a fleeting moment I feel like I messed up & my moments become worthless.

As a Type A/Creative person this is beyond annoying. I cannot explain the frustration with wanting to focus, complete the task all the while this huge part of me that relishes creative freedom tells me to just relax and let it all go. What a war my own mind wages daily…comical if you relish the highly confused, over organized, lackadaisical writer.

However, just recently I took one of those moments to focus on “focusing”. I pondered how I often get sidetracked, how I allow self-doubt to slip in and how I know that I have every bit within me to accomplish my dreams and I found something…You see making each moment count is great, but really, my newest epiphany is that for me it’s the fact that I must accept that each moment of my life is inherently valuable. I don’t need to focus on making each moment count, they already matter. I just need to remember that focus as a verb is one exceptional word: (of a person or their eyes) Adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly.

So long as I adapt to see clearly, then my focus is spot on.

Monday, March 18, 2013

TOP 10 MOVIE BLOGFEST...a little late but still loving the challenge...

Okay, I am a bit late to this party, but what a shindig to swing by!  Alex Cavanaugh is hosting the most awesome blog hop!!!
So my top ten…really? Just 10? In all honesty this list is a summary of the ones that cling to my frontal lobe at all times, but others sneak in here often, so if asked again at a later date you may find substitutions…Oh and I won’t apologize for my weird and eclectic list purely because the hodgepodge is me from top to bottom. ;)

1)      High Society – Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra & Louis Armstrong. My old soul says “enough said” after that cast list. But it is more than the beautiful faces & voices of this cast. The glamour in this movie is stunning and the love triangle one for the ages of writerly romances.
2)      Empire Records – The cast is one of misfits unlike any other. They are quirky, weird, unique and altogether perfectly combined. Its storylines are very teen angst but the setting of a record store, the kind that are beyond few & far between these days, is the perfect backdrop for rebellious attitudes against “the man”. Considering the fate of record stores, it may evoke melancholy outlooks, bewarned.
3)      Emma – Gwyneth Paltrow is by far one perfect player for this matchmaker of doom role. The classic story is funny, sad, and worth every minute. The landscape is gorgeous and the costumes are lovely.
4)      EASY A – The references to classic romances Can’t Buy Me Love, Say Anything, Sixteen Candles or the Breakfast club alone have this one in my top 10. Emma Stone however delivers a snarky teen with morals, opinions and charisma in a way that I thought was lost amongst young actors today. Stanley Tucci as her father is refreshing and to see Lisa Kudrow as such a “villain” (if adultress chlamydia wielding makes you a villain) is quite entertaining.
5)      The Usual Suspects – Set aside a couple hours and just watch it.
6)      The Parent Trap – Original with Haley Mills – first of all the split screen for the capture of the twins, Disney magic at the time, is awesome. But there is a sweetness to this movie within all the mischief that evokes childhood days of outside, laughter with my siblings and the idea that parents sometimes do need to listen to their kids.
7)      McClintock – John Wayne, the wonderful Maureen O’hara (she’s fantastic as the Bostonian matron no matter what movie) deliver quips, laughs, shocks and utter fun in this western comedy. John Wayne’s tough demeanor is breathtaking when the façade slips as he speaks to his daughter about what she will inherit one day.  A must watch.
8)      Troy – I know, I know, Brad Pitt, shirtless, half naked – it should be the only reason, but honestly it isn’t why I love it. I love this movie because when I watch it I don’t see Brad Pitt, I see Achilles in all his tragic glory. I see this movie and I believe it is what happened. For a war movie with mythical implications of strength and bravery, that is saying a great deal in my book.
9)       That Darn Cat – (original 1965 version) yep. You read that correctly. Disney made this one based on a lovely cat caper book series and well something about this one has me giggling every time I watch it.  Dean Jones had one heck of a contract with Disney and this one had to have been a doozy. He is hilarious as the FBI Agent dealing with a cat as an informant. Animals are not expressed to be easy to work with in Hollywood and I imagine cats top that list. However Disney did quite a few feline movies, so hats off to the days of cat wrangling.
I had to make 10 a 3 way tie…these three just won’t let me select just one:
10)   North by Northwest (1959) – Cary Grant carries me off every time I watch this one. The simple story of mistaken identity is taken to a level only Hitchcock could do so effortlessly.
10b) The Princess Bride – As a young aspiring writer there is nothing like this fairytale to bring all fairytales to life. The cast aides in creating a world that little girls dream of being the princess within and the tale ends as though the last seconds of your dream are just slipping away. I love this movie. The costumes, the sets, the hilarity, the twists and some of the best lines of all time.

10c) Super 8 – it has been a long time since I went to the theater to watch a SciFi/possibly horror-esque movie. This one teased me enough to have me wanting to go at midnight. Alas I went at 8 p.m. on the opening day and went I stepped out of the theater I was grinning from ear to ear. I loved the cinematography, the acting was superb and the suspense was perfect.  JJ Abrams, well done.
So there we have it. My list. It is ever evolving but these ring true as top faves.

Thanks for visiting; I hope I gave you some new redbox/Netflix/amazon prime selections to add to your queue. If not, ah, well to each his own.


So long as a person is capable of self-renewal, they are a living being.

-Henri Frederic Amiel


How satisfying to know that I am a living being.

My dreaming self has been in turmoil for the past few months. At night I find my mind has deep crevices of ideas, desires, nightmares and untruths. You see a very sneaky self-doubt has continued to creep into my current state of mind.

However for the past few weeks I have been on a trek, a journey, a walk where renewal is the theme. I am working on being a better Courtney; a woman who finds relief in the simplest aspect of life & realizes that the mundane is unimportant. Mundane must not be taken lightly. It is a term that can be used to reference the earthly part of our existence – lacking in spiritual depth. I don’t want to be that writer. The spiritual side of me, no matter what your beliefs, is what has kept me above the water’s surface rather than just treading it.

Faith has been a consistent topic on my blog in the past and it is because I am strong within it. I am not Catholic but I do choose to participate in Lent every year. It is purely because I feel that self-exploration and acknowledgement of habits/vices/addictions is healthy.  My “fast” this year is a bit odd and has definitely met the challenging aspect of Lent. I gave up two things: caffeine & cursing. Sadly for your Royal Writer over here, the cursing is the hardest. You just don’t realize how often those horrible words feel the need to escape into the air. They appear to be trapped “beings” within you and when they are free they elicit a shiver of excitement. Yet they don’t earn any awards or accolades or honest smiles from those around you. Granted I do feel there have been some instances where words of the vulgar manner seem to be the best responses, yet I have refrained. Faith has kept me on my path; the knowledge that the journey is worth it – a journey in which I am renewing the woman from the inside out. Even though dark, doubting thoughts try to get me to stray. They try to make me give up.

You see I lost my way again, I really need a map. I lost my moment of clarity and decision. In all honesty, I let it slip away; I allowed my inner being to become something that I no longer see as healthy or beneficial to my dreams & goals. Self-Doubt has held court for too long. It is as though my Royal Advisor has been talking truth but instead I have been listening to my nemesis’ lies.

So today I return to this wonderful world that has always welcomed me with open arms. I am a living being, capable of self-renewal, capable of believing in her talents, capable of using her strengths, capable of selecting what is best, what is silly, what is useful, what is important and what is pure fun. The map I need is really right here. It resides in this place of renewal, in this path of light; where self-doubt is banished by the knowledge that faith will lead me home.