Show or I’m Telling

I’m posting to let you know that it has been a great month so far. Both of my special projects are off the ground! 

The Inkwell Council has completed its first manuscript review and we’ve posted a blog about our experience that includes some great writing tips. 

Personally, I’m discussing show vs. tell and why it’s not really one or the other, but how to use both. If you’re interested, check out the Roundtable

I hope everyone’s New Year is going strong! 

Guest Post: The Real Story Behind Creation

Hello all! First, I want to apologize for not being a timely poster. These days, while working on cleaning up my main book and preparing it for submissions, I have been figuring out what needs to be done on a rewrite for another book, and simultaneously brainstorming two projects, one of which will become my Nanowrimo project in November. So, my time has been used elsewhere, and I apologize for my inconsistency. An original post from me is forthcoming. In the meantime, I’m preparing some guest posts for you. Today, I am joined by the lovely CA Morgan, who is here to discuss, aptly, what goes into the act of creation. I hope you enjoy her post!

Woman writing in red notebook

Success is elusive. It’s true – and it stops most of us in our tracks on our way to “becoming” all that we could be. We cower before the doors of destiny, knocking timidly, if at all, offering only halfhearted attempts to enter into the lives we were meant to lead.

But, here’s the thing: Those doors only open inward. You have to push to get through. How could it be otherwise with all the frightened, huddled masses blocking the way?

“Not everyone is born for greatness,” you may argue. “Some of us belong right where we are. We don’t want to push. We don’t want to change. We don’t want to grow. If we don’t try, how can we fail?”

Failure is inevitable – this is true, too. Some time, some where, we all fall short. Everyone has within them the potential to be more than they are, yet not one of us fully lives up to it. We are human beings, after all, not gods. But, that shouldn’t keep us from striving to be better human beings.

If we are really content, why then is there still so much need and discontent in the world? Why do people grumble about their lot in life, the have-nots begrudging the haves and vice versa? If we were all our best selves, wouldn’t everyone have enough?

I think, perhaps, we all know we could do better.

Some of us see those who succeed as a threat to our mediocrity, as if we are being graded on a bell curve. We despise that student who gets the “A+” because we know we didn’t put forth our best effort. Or we work and work, and feel like we still don’t measure up. On the flip side, some of those top-of-the-curve students resent sharing the fruit of their labor, and hide it away, not grasping that basic tenet of childhood: Good kids share and play fair.

Also true, not everyone wants more for themselves. And that’s just fine. But in a world that has such great need, we should at least want more for others. We should want to create a world where bell curves are unnecessary. The best way I know how to make that happen is for ALL of us to try, to push forward and give it our best. It may not be required or even expected, but it’s sure to be appreciated by someone who needs what we have to offer the world…

…and that’s what makes it worth the effort.

CA Morgan

C.A. Morgan is a wife and mother of five, author, illustrator, singer, performer, music & art teacher, blogger ( and formerly and is currently working to put kids thru college — in other words, a very busy woman! An avid reader and self-taught writer, she earned her degree in Commercial Art from Michigan’s Ferris State University eons ago, but now calls Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom home. She is currently working on a prequel and sequel to round out her YA Fantasy Emrysia series, along with several other projects including picture books.

Visit the Author on FaceBook: or her Amazon Author Page:

Learn about CA Morgan’s Three Sisters Trilogy:


Welcome to Emrysia

Step into the light and you’ll see them… Forget everything you think you know about fairies, mermaids, and fauen – pretty little tales to put children to sleep. Enter the magically shifting landscape of Emrysia, where sentient swamps and ancient forests enchant disobedient daughters – to death! Journey with three youngsters: Aryelle, a winged healer with an amazing gift; Lureli, who shimmers with secrets as deep as the sea; Eleanor – she has horns, even if you can’t see them! Three “sisters”, separate races, one common destiny. Enter their world, part fairy tale, pure fantasy, but not for the faint of heart! Because here in the light, the shadow is growing…

From Emrysia: Awakening:

Awakening Cover
Defying her father Elazaryn’s wishes, Aryelle – luminarie maiden and heir to the Seat of Ka’Andharra – empathetically “assumes” a wounded messenger who arrives bearing portentous tidings. In response, Elazaryn sends Aryelle on a two-fold journey of self discovery, charging her with the care of her younger cousin, Karril. They are joined in ancient Wellwood Forest by Lureli of the Mer and her four mute slaves, as they seek to overcome the Reign of Shadow by attending a Summit meant to unite the varied races of Emrysia. Overwhelming obstacles challenge the trio along the way, including a run-in with three ancient, cannibalistic hags. These “Omniscients” – the keepers of the Swamps of Dire – unwillingly offer the key to conquering the present darkness. With the help of Eleanor and her foster father Nodd, fauen of the Aurrac clan-herds, the youngsters finally ascend Mt. Cor only to find that the Summit is a sham. Borrac, Aurracan Head Chieftain, shows his true colors, which are as black as his beard. The luminaries, along with their new companions, Rona the praircat and a handful of others, escape with their lives, if not spirits, intact. But at least one of their number is not to be trusted as they begin the perilous journey homeward…

From Emrysia: Lament:

picture3Barely into the homeward journey, disaster strikes as Lureli’s servants vanish and her precious transformation potion is lost. Tensions rise and the group splits up, reaching Rona’s warren separately. But before they can query the Stone of Seeing or even witness the birth of Rona’s pups, they are swallowed in a timeless void. Traveling through what they come to know as the Connectedness Locus, they encounter Lydian shape shifters, an angry Dezrot, and Lureli’s evil former mentor, Japhra. Alone, but now certain they are the Chosen who must save Emrysia from the Reign of Shadow, Aryelle, Lureli and Eleanor go their separate ways until fate calls them together once again.

From Emrysia: Endurance:

Endurance Cover
Sent home by Mandelbrot to prepare for their role as “Chosen”, each of the Three Sisters finds herself in unexpected circumstances from which there is no easy return. Will they learn what is required and be able to reunite in time to save Emrysia?

10 Things To Know About Me…Er…If You Want To…

Hi all!

waving hello
Mini-fact: There is always a hair-tie around my wrist. It rarely matches my clothing.

When I started this blog, it was titled Pieces of the Puzzle, and the first thing I did was give you a breakdown of my life and where it was at the time. It’s been years since then. In some ways, my life is completely different. In other ways, it has come full circle. So when I saw a prompt on Pinterest requesting 10 things to know about you, I decided to run with it. Some of these things, you may not know. Others, you’ve read enough blogs to guess at. Either way, I hope you get something out of reading this and getting to know me a little better.

  1. My first dream job was to be a performer. All my life, I have enjoyed singing and acting, and in high school, performing was my entire life. I very nearly launched a career in it. I still harbor a weird little hope that I will be discovered, but I could never pursue it full time. It’s such a drain on your well-being. So much is based on how you look physically, and I’m really not the glamour type. For more on my love of performing, you can check out these other posts:
    Performing on Demand
    Alma Mater Hail to Thee
  2. I got my writing start working on fanfiction. When I first started writing, I didn’t create my own characters. I started as a writer working with fanfiction, because I was always intrigued by the places a story didn’t choose to go. I got my experience working with other people’s characters in other people’s worlds, for fun. I wrote Stargate stories that shocked me by winning awards, and that’s when I started to feel like maybe I could do this. I also wrote fanfiction for several Kelley Armstrong stories. Then, once I felt like I’d learned all I could learn, I decided to start playing with building my own worlds and my own characters. While I love working on my own stuff, I still get an itch to play in other worlds sometimes. I won’t say if I do. 😉 For more on my fanfic work, you can check out these other posts.
    Write Like a Fangirl
    4 Misconceptions About Fanfiction
    You can find all my fanfiction here.
  3. While my main series is a YA Fantasy, I also have adult fantasy novels, romantic comedies, and a literary novel in the works. A story really needs to have a strong hook, something that makes it different from anything else I’ve ever read, for me to latch onto it and chase it, but other than that, I’m comfortable writing anything. As long as it’s not inherently normal. Too much normal, and I get bored.
    I Write Weird Stuff.

  4. I love working with other authors, and would pretty much do that as a full-time job if I could. I absolutely love brainstorming ideas, talking through problem areas, and just generally helping people on their road to becoming a published author. I’m one of those people who doesn’t want to go anywhere unless I’m helping pull others up along with me.
  5. I do have a different, paying job as a legal assistant, and I love it. I work with some of the best and, simultaneously, most laid back people in the field, and while it doesn’t have the excitement of dagger fights and magic spells, it’s still a cool place to be. Plus, it actually pays me money and that’s a very hard thing to get as a writer. So….
  6. My husband, Ismael Manzano, is a writer, and I have worked with him through every step of all of his projects (and vice versa). We consider ourselves a team. You know that thing I said above about loving to help authors? I learned that from working with him. We read each other’s work, debate aspects of our work, and pretty much live in each other’s work worlds so we can help out whenever the other is stuck. It is a genuinely rewarding partnership on all of the many levels we work together on and I’m very grateful to have it. To learn a little about our work relationship, check out these posts.
    On Common Ground: My Marriage to a Fellow Writer
    You, Me, Doug and Leah

  7. I have a son named Logan, and together with my husband, we have plans to start a geek-related YouTube channel, because we are all very geeky. It’s only a matter of time before it is released. Right now, I’m just discovering that every time I think I’ve figured out something and it’s ready to go, I hit another roadblock. But it is coming soon, and it will be called Geektastic! And we are excited to share a glimpse into our geeky world. To read more about Logan and me as a Mommy check out these posts. Keep it Simple, Stupid: What My Son and Twitter Taught Me About Writing
    Mommy Guilt

  8. My body is kind of a mess. I had spinal surgery when I was fifteen years old to correct scoliosis. I suffer from migraines, ADHD, depression, anxiety, and I’ve recently been told I might suffer from a mild form of Dyscalculia. This results in two things: 1) Writing is a great way to get out your frustrations about a few things and having all of these experiences gives me a lot of writing material; and 2) some days, I can pin the chores on the boys. 😉 To read a little about how my health has affected my writing, read these posts.
    Too Close for Comfort
    Organized Chaos: Writing with Mild ADHD
    To read the blog post that made me realize I had Dyscalculia, read this.
  9. I am not a domestic goddess. I can’t cook. It’s bad. My house is not sparkling. I am not a perfect housekeeper, or wife, or mother. Most days I just feel like I’m scraping by. People tell me that makes me human, but I beat myself up for it all the time. Aren’t we supposed to have it all? Why can’t I balance that? These are questions that I constantly mull over.
  10. I’m a huge NY Mets fan. Since I was a child, rooting for the Mets was in my blood. It still is. I go to a few games a year, root them on from afar otherwise, and just generally love them even when they are awful. What does that mean? I always root for the underdog. I identify with the underdog because I often am one, trying to make my way through a writing world with my strange little stories. And also…my dad was a Mets fan and so was my sister and brother. So, without all the sentiment, there was probably no escaping it anyway.

Okay, that’s all for this week. Join me next time, when we have some fun with iTunes shuffle.

Guest Post: An Intro to Wattpad

Hi all,

Today I have invited guest blogger, author Gaby Cabezut, to pop over and talk a little about Wattpad, a great place for writers and readers. Check out her experience with Wattpad below. Enjoy!

Snapchat-3647355642347251211-01First of all, thank you, Justine, for inviting me to talk a little bit about the place where it all began for me, Wattpad.

What is Wattpad, though?

It’s a community where creative minds join together with one love in common–books.

The key word in the whole equation is the word community. Wattpad is a great place for readers looking for free stories, writers who are only starting, or established writers looking for a fan base. The best part is how those readers interact with you throughout your story. They can vote and comment and, let me tell you, those comments are like gold.

I’d like to tell you a little about my own story, so you can understand how Wattpad works. I found the app as I randomly searched for free books in the App Store about five years ago. I was bored out of my mind and to be honest, a bit short on cash, so when I saw that it was free, I didn’t think twice.

I downloaded the app and started to read one of the recommended stories. It was about a girl who falls in love with her teacher (who happened to be in a gang). It was so good, that I didn’t sleep for that night until I finished the book. Then, I followed the author and read the rest of her stories. Turns out that it was written by a 16-year-old girl, something that blew my mind because it was really well written.

I read different stories for about a year and a half, and I found myself itching to write my own, but I was scared that no one would read it. Besides, I’m a stay-at-home Mom and my first language is not English. That little fact, the one about my language, made me feel brave about posting my story. Writing in English was a sure way to assure that no one that knew me would read it.

My hands were shaking so bad when I clicked that “Publish” button. I didn’t expect anyone to read my story, and I was sure it had more than a gazillion mistakes. I was wrong, sort of. It did have errors, but I learned that as I read other stories, and voted and commented on them, people actually went to my own book and started to read it and give me comments.

I even wrote to a few popular authors, not asking them to read my story, but to give me advice about how to start on this. Out of the six I sent questions to, only one girl who had written an amazingly popular story about a girl and a quarterback answered me. She read my one chapter and sent me a few links on how to start writing and such.

1436305542113One chapter turned into ten and those ten turned into thirty, and when I was about to finish that story, I started a new one, about this girl who meets a prince, because who hasn’t dreamt about meeting a real-life English prince?

I didn’t care if it was believable or not. I wrote it for me. I wrote it because I wanted to read a story like that.

And guess what? For some unknown reason, people started to read it like crazy. I didn’t realize how big or how fast everything was happening at the time, but my story started to rank on the what’s hot list, and every time I updated, I had over 30 comments. In one day.

It even ranked on the number one spot several times, and nobody in my real life knew I was doing this. I started a Facebook page and people started to show up there. As I was busy and I only wrote in my free time, it took me almost three years to finish the story, but every time I updated, people would be there for me. One day, when the book was almost finished, I got a message from a girl from the Philippines. She asked me if she could submit my story to her boss, and I didn’t know what to say, I mean, are you talking about getting it published? Me? A complete nobody? It seemed too good to be true, so I went along with it. Then, I got a message from someone on Wattpad. They wanted to talk to me.

Talk. To. Me.

Things sped up from there. I talked to Wattpad HQ a few times. Turns out that the Facebook girl I messaged with, was working with one of the biggest publishers in the Philippines. Wattpad knew about them, they even worked together.

It was time to come clean with my family.

I still remember my husband’s face when I told him that I’d found this app and I wrote a book and guess what? I’m getting an offer to publish it!

Two years have gone by since then. I’ve got a published book with Pop Fiction Books, I’m part of the Wattpad Stars and Wattpad Ambassadors programs and I have a new series getting published with Limitless Publishing (Book one, Hopelessly Imperfect is already Limitless publishingout).

I’ve found the best friends a girl could ever ask for, and even though we don’t live in the same country, they’re really supportive and they understand me better than anyone. I’ve met absolutely talented people, best-selling authors willing to share their secrets with you, readers who have been touched by your stories, who thank you for letting them forget about their problems. We’re not competing against each other, we help each other.

It all happened because of Wattpad.

1471321587161-life-is-made-of-moments-but-its-up-to-us-to-choose-what-kind-of-moments-we-have-itNow Wattpad is growing at an extremely fast pace. They have over 45 million readers each month. They’ve opened up Wattpad Studios, a partnership with TV and film studios ,and they just launched Wattpad Futures, video ads in between the chapters so the author can get paid and the app can stay free for everyone else.

I’ve met authors who are wary about the platform, and I always tell them that even Colleen Hoover has a profile there and she posted a new story that hasn’t been published. That’s how big it is.

Can people copy your stories? Well, that can happen even if you’re not on Wattpad.

Wattpad is about writing with your heart, building a strong base, getting your name out there.

I love writing and even though I don’t know what the future will bring for me, I know one thing:

I’ll always be on Wattpad.

It changed my life, it made my dreams come true and I’ll always be grateful. Plus, I’ve found a place to be myself and to meet wonderful people.

If you’d like to grow your fan-base, then you should definitely give Wattpad a chance.

Gaby Cabezut is sappy and sweet like a box of chocolates. She believes that we could all do with a bit of romance and magic in our lives. She loves to write romantic, emotional stories that will make you laugh, and sometimes cry. She’s evil and loves cliffhangers, too. Ask her readers. But she’s not that bad, she can sweeten your life with a batch of Nutella cupcakes or brownies.

Prince with Benefits:
Hopelessly Imperfect:

You can find her here:

Amazon author page:

Gabs logo tiny

Surviving Social Media Part 3: Oversharing and Spiritual Blackmail

IMG_5301 2Welcome to Part 3 of my Surviving Social Media Series. You can read Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.

Today, for breakfast, I ate apples and peanut butter. For lunch, I had a salad. For dinner, I had chicken and mashed potatoes. Scintillating information, isn’t it? As a matter of fact, I would bet that you don’t care even one tiny little bit. And yet so many people share things like this on social media.

I tend to live by the rules of ‘my page, my posts’. This is also known as ‘I don’t care what you think’, but things have changed a bit. I’ve got a publishing deal now, and with that comes the need for a little discretion on my posts so as not to alienate half of my potential fan base (that’s a little explanation for those of you who may have noticed I never talk politics anymore). I hate every minute of it, if I’m honest. I like speaking my mind, but I am careful about what I say.

Now, it’s true that it doesn’t matter what you post on your page, because it’s your page. But that doesn’t mean that people have to hang around and read it. So, much like freedom of speech, you have it, but nobody has to listen to you talking.

Personally, I don’t care what you say as long as it’s something I want to know. Things I don’t want to know?

  • Every single thing you eat: There are exceptions to this rule. If you go to an amazing restaurant? Sure. If it’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten? If you’re a terrible cook, but finally managed to accomplish something? SURE (I put that one in just for me). But that sandwich you made? Really? A sandwich? I’m good.
  • Your bodily functions. I don’t want to know about them. I don’t want to read a celebration post about the fact that your child is no longer constipated. That’s great news that I’d rather not know. Congrats though…
  • Your sex life. Unlike other people, I have no problem seeing pictures of happy couples being lovey dovey with each other. It’s sweet! I’m a hopeless romantic and I love it. However, I don’t want to know anything at all about how you get down. NOTHING AT ALL. Please don’t share. I don’t have nearly enough brain bleach to correct that.
  • Things that you don’t want to tell people. I used to be occasionally guilty of this. If you’re going to talk about a thing, talk about it. If you have no intention of talking about it, don’t post about it. But definitely don’t vaguebook. It’s annoying. If you don’t intend to tell the story, don’t bother posting. It’s just annoying to try to guess.

So, that’s one problem–oversharing YOUR life. But there’s another kind of post that grinds my gears when it appears on social media. And that is a little thing I like to call Spiritual Blackmail Posts. It goes a little something like this:

The poster finds something they feel passionate about. That’s cool. You should be passionate about things and when you are passionate about things, you should post about them. But the problem lies in the moment the poster comes across a post like this (Disclaimer: I am not making fun of animal abuse. I am making a point. Please don’t think I support anything like that, because in truth, if I saw you kick your dog or something, I’d probably punch you in the face without thinking): “Like/Share if you hate animal abuse! Scroll if you don’t care!” with a picture of a sad dog face looking up at you.

You know what? F**k that! I don’t jump through hoops. I don’t participate in spiritual blackmail. You don’t post things to make me feel guilty if I don’t share them. Never mind the fact that posts like those are probably like-farms designed to gain information about you. This is just like the posts that say “like and copy this into your status if you love me”. While I’m sure some of the people on social media are, in fact, twelve, we aren’t all twelve. Why does me liking and copying your status prove that I love you? Wouldn’t you already know that without this? If not, your relationships are a little sad.

It all plays in with posting abuse pictures on your wall. It’s all the same thing. Every step from part 1, 2, and 3 are part of the same clusterf**k that we can’t avoid when it comes to social media.

LOOK AT ME. And in some cases, it’s wonderful. It’s self-esteem building and business building. And in some ways, it’s just a sad attempt at gaining attention. Talking to people, sharing things you find interesting, telling stories about your life, even the much maligned selfie, are all acceptable ways to say “look at me” in a public sphere. It’s like saying hello in a room full of friends and telling them a story. The other stuff? It’s like jumping up and down in a room full of strangers, screaming “HELLO! MY NAME IS JUSTINE MANZANO AND TODAY I ATE HAM.”

Nobody wants to pay attention to that person.


Surviving Social Media Series Part 1: Boundaries and Anonymity

social-1206612_960_720.pngSocial media. We all use it, and chances are, if you’re reading this blog post, you found it on some form of social media. But everyone finds little things about social media annoying. And if other people find it annoying, chances are you’re doing something that sticks in someone’s craw. In an attempt to make all parties a little more comfortable with their time on the good ole’ world wide web, I decided it was time for a survival series about social media.

A couple of weeks ago, I sent out a call on social media (ironic, I know), to find out the most annoying things about social media! And boy did I get a lot of answers. So I’m going to start here.

Topic 1: Boundaries and Anonymity

A lot of people had big problems with the lack of boundaries on the internet, and some for different reasons.

One complaint came from a fellow fangirl. People don’t seem to respect the boundaries of celebrities they have contact with on the internet. I have seen this phenomenon happen myself. Now that celebrities and content creators have twitter accounts and have become increasingly available to fans, fans have started going crazy. There was even just an article about the increasing entitlement of fandom as well as this spot on rebuttal

Most fans are able to contain themselves and show the general level of excitement and fun that is reasonable when you are able to chat up an actor or musician that you respect. And then there are the bad eggs. The ones that demand contact. We’ve all seen them. “Blanky McAuthor never wrote me back. He’s such an asshole.” No. NOPE. You are not any more deserving of anyone’s time than the ridiculous number of other people talking to them. When you tweet at an author, you have to keep in mind that there is a large chance you are talking to yourself.

But it’s not just that. People do that all the time. It’s the new era of everyone being available to you. At the risk of sounding like the old lady shouting at the kids to get off her lawn, I still remember the days when you had to leave a message on my answering machine and I’d get back to you when I got home. Now, we can be reached EVERYWHERE. And that means people believe we should be.

Take that feeling and multiply it by a thousand for celebrities. Once a fangirl/boy goes off the rails, demanding attention, it has the potential to go to the other creepy place. You have fangirls talking about how much they’d love to have a guy like that actor at home…to the actor. Or worse, his wife! You have this douchenugget who scared the hell out of Amy Schumer by coming up to her in the street, demanding she take a photo with him because “it’s America and we paid for you”. 

This is a symptom of a larger problem. ANONYMITY. Online, we get to hide behind a persona. Even if we are relatively close facsimiles of ourselves, we’re not bound to talk about that one time we hormonally freaked out because the pizza store was out of our favorite rolls, or the time you screeched like a banshee because someone spoiled the season finale of a television show. We’re all cooler versions of ourselves on the web. Because we have that internet device between us, keeping us safe from having to face many of the people we’re talking to.

This leads to internet bullying. Being safe behind a computer gives people the boldness to call someone a bad mother, gives them the ability to tell someone to f**k off and die, kill themselves, or more of the terrible things I’ve seen in comment sections on articles. It also gives people with social anxiety the ability to reach out to people they never could have reached out to in person. See? There’s a good side to everything.

So the moral of this story? If you’re using social media for making friends, if you’re using it for promotion, if you’re using it to gain insight into celebrity lives, or if you’re just using it because you’re bored out of your mind, please remember that the people on the other side of the mobile device are people too. They have their own lives, their own schedules, their own insecurities. They aren’t cool computer game characters you can mess with. They are people, and they are affected by what you do.

Always remember that we don’t know what is going through another person’s mind at any given time, and we don’t know what anybody is dealing with. Always give people the space to handle things in a way they can live with, and always be kind.

If you’re confronted by an internet bully impressed by their own anonymity (and probably pretty uncool in the real world), apply the block button liberally. And if someone thinks they’re entitled to an inordinate amount of your time? Dump them. Your life will run smoother that way.

I’ll leave you with that. Stay tuned for next week when I dive into what people think your social media types say about you, and why we share SO. DAMN. MUCH. See you then.