Thursday, December 4, 2014

FREE Cover Design

Every writer daydreams about the perfect cover. The one that speaks to the audience and yells, "BUY ME!" Well, folks, I'd like to make that cover for you.

For the past year or so, I've been interested in cover design. I've made quite a few poor attempts at an amazing cover, but I have yet to make a home run.

What I feel like I lack---more than anything---is experience. I've daydreamed plenty of my own covers, but I have yet to work with an author one-on-one and think outside of myself. This is where you, dear reader, come in.

I'm giving away a FREE cover design, or re-design.

This is not going to be a drawing. This is going to be about whoever is interested in working with me as a serious cover designer. I want to take someone's vision, bring it to life, and tweek it until they find it satisfactory.

Whomever accepts my offer is under no obligation to use the cover I create. It's about me gaining experience in a field I'd like to capitalize on, someday. Just like writing, I want to make sure I'm a pro first.

Here's a sampling of covers I've made, to give interested takers an idea of what I'm best at.

 If you're interested, or know of an interested party, please leave a comment below. And spread the word. I'd be really sad if I didn't get to do any cover designs. Thank you!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Something Wicked Bloghop

It's been like FOREVER since I've done a bloghop. I just happened to see this one on G+, being hosted by my two favorite Krista's, and I thought, why not? Here's the deets:

Share 400 words or less to about a real villain, one you created in a novel, or a flash fiction. Your villain doesn't have to be necessarily a murderer or stalker, but any anti-hero in your writing will work just fine!

I decided to go with Flash Fiction since it's been a while. Really, it's good to exercise that part of my brain. Win-win.

“Did you really think it would be that easy?” Hunter says, dangling the watch in front of my face.

I hold my breath. One wrong move and the watch could break, destroying our time. Hunter knows that better than anyone, but he swings it anyway.

“I’m sorry,” I say, falling to my knees. 

Dust puffs from the floor, a rat skittering to its hideout. All the clocks in the room start to ring. Their phantom song dwarfing all conversation.





Hunter smirks. “I warned you. Time is fragile. You can’t use the watch without consequences.”

“Not this,” I say, my breath coming faster. “Anything but this.”

Hunter snatches the watch back into his gloved hand and steps into the light. Shadows wave over his half snarled face. 

He tips his neck back so I can see his grotesqueness more clearly. “This should’ve been warning enough.”
I lower my head, my brown hair falling around my peripheral vision. He’s right. I knew the second I took possession of the watch I was asking for trouble.

“All I ever wanted,” I whisper, “was for him to live.”

Hunter squats, caressing the place under my chin so I have to look up. “And he will, but this is the price you have to pay.”

I loved Jameson ferociously. Each moment we spent together was more passionate, more dangerous than the last. When he died, I died too. 

I thought if I could travel through timeif I could just stop him from walking out into the cold nightI would be whole. Hunter warned me. Told me there were drawbacks. I just never thought it would be this.

“Sweet, sweet, Chastity,” Hunter says, tipping his head in a bird-like fashion. “How ironic someone with so much darkness in them has a such a pure name.” He laughs, flipping my chin up, and standing.

“You already had your chance, Chastity. You made your choice the second you went back in time.”

That's when the anger hits, hot in my belly. If I have to endure this, I want bring others pain too.

“Now he’s alive again, yes," Hunter says, "But he will never, ever know you existed.”

I wanted Jameson to live, and instead I created my own personal nightmare.

If I can’t have Jameson, no one can. I’m pretty sure that makes me the monster.


Hope ya'll have a safe and spooky Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2014

There are Characters Everywhere

This past weekend, my husband's uncle and his family came to visit us. Houston is HUGE and there's a lot to see. We gave them a list of ideas and let them decide what they wanted to do.

Sunday morning came, bright and clear with prefect temperatures. They really wanted to see NASA, and I suggested we could walk the beach in the evening.

Not everything works out as planned. We arrived at NASA, pulled over to the little park out front, and had a conference. It dawned on us in that moment just how expensive a day at NASA would be and how beautiful the sunshine was. So instead of walking around indoors and looking at cool space stuff, we decided to go straight to the beach.

Because the excursion was mostly unplanned, we came unprepared. We didn't have food. We didn't have water. We didn't have sunscreen. None of us had brought our bathing suits. Some of us were in long pants. Some of us were in long sleeves, but we went anyway.

It was kind of silly, going to the water fully clothed, and playing anyway. There was a moment---after my toddler hadn't slept all day, and had a diaper full of sand---when I went for a walk (pushing a stroller) with nothing but my thoughts to occupy me.

Galveston is as diverse as the seashells that line the shore. I couldn't help but notice all the characters as I strolled. Here I was in jeans and tee, come to play in the water. I wasn't the only one in that situation.

There was a man in a full out business suit sitting on a concrete bench, contemplating the horizon. There was another lady with long braided hair throwing crumbs to a hungry pigeon. A homeless man pointed out a girl in a bikini to me, though I'm not sure why.       

It got me thinking, what were these people's stories? What brought them to this beach on a clear day in October? Was it to escape? Was it to breathe? Was it just because they knew that sun and surf is perfect combination to rejuvenate?

Whatever the reason was, I wanted their stories to be known. Maybe that's why I write. To put true human emotions on a page and share it with the world. That's the amazing thing about books. Even though we can't know every story, we can share in other lives for a short time. What a truly precious gift that is.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Visualization: Writing in a Way that Brings the Scene to Life

I don't profess to be an expert in writing. I've learned a lot over the years, but I believe there's always more to learn. Each time I sit down to write, I'm constantly asking myself questions.

Do the words flow? Is this the right word? Does this make my point clear? Is there enough mystery? Is the mystery so thick the reader is lost?

I have my own methods to keeping my writing strong, but my way doesn't work for everyone. The brilliant thing about reading is that there are so many differences in the way people write, you can be transported into a character's head and consider the world in a way you never would've before.

However, it never hurts to have tips about how other writers improve themselves. Even if the advice isn't spot on, it can generate ideas about new ways to look at things.

That being said, we'll move on to the meat of this post--visualization.

I recently finished reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I got completely sucked into her world. I kept trying to put it down, and I physically couldn't. Every time I was forced to walk away, I was still living in the fog of her words.

As I read, I asked myself questions, just as I do when I write. What can I draw from her example that will allow me to have the same hold on future readers?

A memory came to me while I was pouring over the pages. Two years ago, I was standing in line for lunch at the Pikes Peak Writer's Conference when I heard two people behind me discussing the last class they went to.

"Apparently," one of them said. "Metaphors light up a different part of your brain. They bring visual understanding in a way similes can't."

Since I didn't go to the class I don't know everything that was said, but that thought stuck with me. At the time I didn't know how to apply it to my writing, but after reading Fangirl I finally understood.

"Her skin sparkled like gold."

It's not a terrible simile. Pretty much everyone knows what gold looks like. On top of that, gold brings thoughts of luxury and refinement. But what if that simile was a metaphor instead? 

"Her skin was gold. Just as soft as twice as radiant."

With one little change, it went from pretty good to beautiful.

I don't think it needs saying, but from now on I'm adding the word like to list of things to check during an edit. Who needs similes anyway?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Letting the Little Things Go

Last week my youngest had a birthday. Piled among the gifts was a car from his Nana---a Lighting McQueen that will run on it's own after it's been shaken.  Perfect gift for a two year old, right? Especially for a little boy who loves engines like my guy does.

He's been roaming around the house with it clutched in his hand, driving it around, and basically having the time of his life. Every time I catch him with it though, I have to laugh. The wheels are spinning on their own, but he's still holding the car as tight as he can.

I kept telling him, "You have to let the car go." I eased it out of his hands and placed it on the floor, demonstrating the full potential of the toy. Yet, he still insists on driving it himself.

It only took me a couple of tries to realize he had to figure it out on his own, and I couldn't help him unless he wanted to be helped.

The experience made me stop and think. What am I holding onto that would work better if I just let it run?

Since I'm sitting here writing this post, I'm sure you can imagine my thoughts led me to writing.

I like to think I can be funny from time to time in my stories, or least I try to be. In fact, it's those silly/embarrassing moments I like to write the best. So when it comes time to edit, those are the scenes I have the hardest time letting go.

Problem is, all of my wit---no matter how funny---might not serve the story. I cling to my favorite parts the same way my son clings to his toy car. Sure, I can drive the story myself, but how much faster might it go if I let it fly?

Who knows, hidden potential might be found in a cut scene. I just have to remind myself that it's okay to let go.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Self Publishing is not for the Weak

I'm gonna start this post out with a confession: I'm a scaredy pants.

Confession number two: I will NEVER self-publish a novel. At least not until I've traditionally published first.

Why? Refer to confession number one.

All you self-published peeps out there, I give you major props. It takes serious guts to put your work out there all on your own.

There's so much to think about. The right cover, the right title, the right hook. Finding reviewers, finding a good editor, finding your audience. MARKETING.

Traditional publishing has a bit of comfort behind it. You find an agent - validation. You sell your book - validation. All the other little details are taken care of for you.

But here's the thing: either way, it's a risk.

Just becasue a book is traditionally published doesn't mean it's going to sell well. It might tank.

Traditionally publishing might be even riskier becasue other people are banking on you. What if you end up being a big. fat. failure?

Okay, so publishing in general is pretty scary, but I'm still more afraid of the self-publishing route. If it fails, then I'm the only person I can blame.

That proposition is frightening.

To all you self-published authors out there: I think you're awesome for being so brave. Rock on!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Real Thing by Cassie Mae!

Time to party!

The Real Thing releases today (whoop whoop!) and Cassie's giving away a swag pack full of goodies.

The Real Thing postcards
A froggy loofah
Oh the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
The Real Thing Samsung Galaxy S3 Phone Case
A Cassie Mae pen
A collection of select Cassie Mae/Becca Ann signed books

Rafflecopter right below the excerpt and book details :)


“All right, all right,” he says, smiling and holding his palm up to stop me. Tomato juice is dripping from the top of his head down his cheeks, getting caught in the smile lines by his mouth. I can feel it running down my face, too, and I should be gagging, but I’m not.

I open my mouth to tell him how cute he looks even with juice all over him, but a light ploof! hits the center of the tub between our bodies, and I stare down at my froggy loofah, now covered in red.

“Oh no!” I frown, plucking the sponge up by the froggy’s arm, then looking up to the shower caddy over Eric’s head. Our splash war must’ve knocked my poor froggy right off his little perch. “My loofah.”

“That’s what it’s called!” Eric slaps the top of his knee, getting more juice on both of us. “I’ve been staring at that thing since you moved in, trying to remember what the hell people call it.”

A small bubble of laughter escapes through my slight frown. “Why?”

“That thing is creepy.”

I gasp. “It is not. It’s cute.” My lip pokes out as I look at the juice soaking into the blue frog’s face. “And now it’s ruined.”

He takes the loofah from my fingers, an adorable pinched look on his face.

“I don’t know how you can wash yourself with this,” he says, pulling at the leg poking from the big green sponge part.

“It’s soft on my sensitive lady parts.” I laugh as his face goes red again. I expect him to drop the loofah back in my hand—or throw it at me—but he doesn’t. He keeps pulling at it as if it’s the weirdest, yet most fascinating thing in the world.

“Is it really ruined?” he asks, tone suddenly nowhere near his usual playfulness. He actually looks worried about my sponge.

“It’s like a buck, Eric.” I adjust in the tub again as the juice creeps into nooks and crannies of my body I had no idea existed till now. “I can get another one tomorrow. Maybe an even creepier one just for you.”

I try to wink, but I’ve never been good at that. He sort of laughs, but his eyes go back to the froggy. He runs his thumb over the eyeballs, wiping the juice from it. I thought I knew Eric pretty well. But as I watch him stare at my loofah, head slightly cocked to the side, I realize I have no clue what he’s thinking. And that’s totally okay. The anticipation of finding out is better.

“Only a dollar?” His eyes lift to mine.

“Or two. Depending on where you go.”

His lips purse and he nods, then plunges the sponge into the juice. Before I can smack him for that, he pulls it from the bath and wrings it out over my head. My jaw drops to my knees.

“Oh, you are so dead.”


Buy Me!
In this electrifying novel from Cassie Mae, two close friends surprise themselves by shifting from platonic love to sexual attraction.
Eric Matua has one friend—his best friend and childhood sweetheart, who needs a place to stay for the summer. Mia Johnson has thousands of friends—who live in her computer. Along with her email chats and Facebook notifications, Mia also devours romance novels, spending countless hours with fictional characters, dreaming of her own Romeo to sweep her off her feet. When she starts receiving supersweet messages from a stranger who thinks she’s someone else, Mia begins to believe that real love is possible outside her virtual world.

When the two friends become roommates, Mia finds herself falling harder than she ever thought she could. But Eric keeps his desires locked away, unsure of himself and his ability to give his best friend what she deserves in a boyfriend. As her advances are continually spurned, Mia splits her time between Eric and her computer. But she soon realizes she’s about to lose the only real thing she’s ever had.
Advance praise for The Real Thing
“Cassie Mae is awesome! The perfect balance between laugh-out-loud funny and achingly poignant, The Real Thing is the ultimate escapist read. I didn’t want it to end!”—Lauren Layne, author of Isn’t She Lovely
“Watching two best friends figure out how to fall in love makes The Real Thing a summer read of swoon-worthy perfection.”—Jolene Perry, author of The Summer I Found You
“Cassie Mae’s The Real Thing made me want to close out every social media app and electronic device I have, but I couldn’t manage to stop reading!”—Rebecca Yarros, author of Full Measures

About the Author

Cassie Mae (who dawns the name Becca Ann on occasion) is the author of a few hundred... okay, maybe not that many... books. Some of which became popular for their quirky titles, characters, and stories. She likes writing about nerds, geeks, the awkward, the fluffy, the short, the shy, the loud, the fun.
Since publishing her bestselling debut, Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend, she has published and sold books to Random House, Swoon Romance, and Spencer Hill Press. She has a favorite of all her book babies, but no, she won't tell you what it is. (Mainly because it changes depending on the day.)
Along with writing, Cassie likes to binge watch Teen Wolf and The Big Bang Theory. She can quote Harry Potter lines quick as a whip. And she likes kissing her hubby, but only if his facial hair is trimmed. She also likes cheesecake to a very obsessive degree.
You can stalk, talk, or send pictures of Dylan O'Brien to her on her Facebook page:


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Depression and the Creative Mind

I admit it, I've said the words tortured artist in a joking manner. Poking fun at the cliche of someone who's a creative that also suffers from depression or anxiety or a similar mental illness. I regret the time I said those things, because now I understand.

I'm not personally depressed, but I have gone through periods of depression, some serve enough to contemplate suicide. I've seriously thought my kids would be happier and my husband would be free if I just left this world. Obviously, I haven't acted on those thoughts, but it frightens me when I'm low enough to consider those things.

Time to talk about Robin Williams for a minute. Yes, his shocking death is the reason I'm compelled to sit down and write about the creative mind and mental illness. Robin Williams was talented, I'm not the only person who enjoyed his comedy. He gave characters life in a way few other actors have. As a writer, I appreciate that.

As a writer, I also understand how hard it can be.

When I was a kid, my parents constantly asked me if I was in la-la land. Like, at least once a day I'd get that comment from some adult figure. I didn't really understand what it meant at the time, but now I know I have a bigger imagination than most. It's easy for me to get lost in it.

My imagination is a gift. It's given a boost to my writing. Writing is a portion of my purpose in life. It's a piece of my identity. However, that imagination comes with distortions in how I view the world. Sometimes, without warning, I hate myself. Sometimes, in the most random situations I lose sight of my individual worth. I quite often feel as if no one cares about me and I have nothing to offer the world.

As hard as it is for me admit all of this, it's important that I do.

Back to Robin Williams and his talent. I wonder how many times he said the words I suck. I wonder how many times he told people he wasn't good enough. I wonder how many times he got that age old response, "I think you're great". I wonder if he ever complained, only have to people tell him he needed to suck it up. Because he's Robin Williams and people love him.

The thing about depression is that doesn't make sense. Someone who's depressed can have a wonderful life. Lots of friends, monetary success, stability is life situations. They can be Robin Williams and still struggle.

Please do me a favor. If someone is having a hard time, don't try to ignore them or change the subject. If they've been having a hard time for months and you feel like all they do is complain, still listen. That doesn't mean you have to feel sad with them. It means you have to empathize. Don't one up them with your own problems, just recognize where they're coming from, and support them. Even if it seems stupid.

One person trying to understand another person can make all the difference.

Depression isn't rational, but it is real. Hug your friends tighter today. Go out of your way to make sure the people around you know they're loved. It could change a life.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Crossing the Line, When Writing is no Longer Fun

Those who don't know what it's like to be a writer can't understand the struggle of writing when you hate it, curse it, and even find it miserable.

"Why are you torturing yourself?"

They may not say it aloud, but it's in their eyes. In fact, I've even asked myself the same question. Didn't I start doing this becasue I love it? So why am I still here when I feel like everything I write is contrived and meaningless?

Usually when I come to that point (becasue I've come to that point a lot) I step away and scrutinize. I have to ask myself how it would feel to quit trying.

My answer always starts out cynical. "Wouldn't that be freeing?", "Geeze that sounds wonderful." But when I take more than five seconds to think about it (and I always do, becasue I think about writing a lot) I come to the conclusion that I wouldn't be satisfied with myself if I quit.

I feel like I'm meant to do this writing thing. Like God gave me the gift of writing for a reason. That's not to say I think I'm amazing, just that I was born with the desire to be a writer and fortitude to follow it through. I truly believe God's given everyone something like that, if not more than one something. But that's a different blog post.

One of  things that's held me back for so long is the feeling of inadequacy. Not being good enough, not having a perfect story, perfect grammar etc. but I discovered something in my time away from blogging.

All those feelings are wrong.

Yes. There are critics. There always will be. My writing is not something everyone will enjoy or love, but does that mean I'm not good enough? I've been consistently working on and improving my writing for three years. I had to have made some progress in that time.

It's not easy to see people I started writing with (i.e. Cassie Mae-love you sissy!) have so many books out and have a margin of success I think is unachievable for myself. 

 Frankly, those thoughts take the fun right out of writing. 

Why is it we're so ready to focus on the negative when there are countless others cheering us on?

Yesterday I had a girl tell me I was her favorite author. She read my drivel that I wrote purely for FUN. I didn't even do a serious edit. I re-read the first chapter of a story she'd seen and inwardly cringed. I had to laugh becasue it seemed like she's gone crazy.

It took me a few hours, but I realized I was criticizing a positive note on my writing. No wonder putting pen to paper tortures me so much.

The first time I posted a fanfic online I got one negative comment. It was in the middle of a story and I'd gotten hundreds of likes, even more views and a generous helping of encouraging comments. One person. One. They said a simple thing:

"Worst POV character, ever."

I believed them. After all the praise, all the love, I believed this one person who had nothing constructive whatsoever to say about my writing. What did that even mean? Were they mad it was in first person? Did they hate my voice, or did they not identify with the character?

Yet, I can't believe someone who tells me they enjoy my stories.

Writing isn't fun anymore when I've gotten so focused on improving myself I no longer see the good in it.

If you're feeling the same as me, here's a challenge:

I dare you to write something, just for fun. It doesn't have to be long. Then post it online. Let people read it. Then take all the compliments. Ignore the haters. Find your writing balance again. Discover the reason you took the first step, and don't let negativity slow you down.

That's it. The truth is, writing isn't just fun. Fun is good. But writing is about saving your own soul. It's about sharing stories so others can find strength, and truth, and courage. 

Writing is freedom.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer is Hard

If you've been following this blog for any amount of time you know I try to get a lot done every day. I have writing goals, goals with my kids, goals for personal well being, etc. But you know what? Sometimes you have to allow for a little give.

Adjusting to life in Texas has been a huge change for me. Some days I still feel like I'm living on Utah time, which makes it that much harder to get up in the morning. Plus, summer in Texas is a lot like winter in Utah. If you can avoid going outside, you do. It's not just becasue of the heat (which I don't mind. I think the heat is wonderful.) It's more becasue of the mosquitos and the rainstorms which can hit at any moment and drown you from the store front to your car.

Combine that with kids home ALL THE TIME and you have zero productivity. You know what though? It's okay. I'm allowing myself to do what I can and be happy.

Yes, I'd love to have written more than six thousand words last week.

Yes, I wish I had lost weight instead of gaining two pounds.

Yes, I wish I had taken my kids on more adventures instead of staying at home and letting them watch too much TV.

The fact is, I'm not stressing about it. Because I already know. Some days I'll balance everything and feel like a rockstar and some days the most I can do is make sure my kids haven't died.

That doesn't mean my books will never get finished and my kids will grow up to be vagabonds. It just means I'm not the girl who puts out four books every year, has a sparkling clean house, and somehow fits into a size two.

What I am is someone who has control over the big things and peace in my life. Which is what really matters in the long run.