Chance to Win a Query Critique …

From yours truly.

That’s what this blog post is about. Yep. You see I promised one to those that played for #AdPit and #KidPit back on April 6th. That doesn’t mean that the participants from those pitchfests are the only ones that can join in the fun now though. So, if you need/want a pair of fresh eyes on a query that’s been bothering you, read on.

How many query critiques are up for grabs: 3.

When are we doing it: Right now, this week.

Who can win: Anyone.

Here are all the fun details for you:

Starting today and lasting through next Monday (April 24, 2017), I will be accepting submissions from everyone who would like a query critique.

Here’s what you have to do to be eligible, I’m posting a prompt at the end of this post. To enter, all you have to do is write a 250 word story that follows the posted scenario/prompt into the comments section of this post.

*In an effort to slice spam out of the comments section, I will be leaving the filter on where I have to approve all comments – but no worries, if you’re posting an entry it will be approved to be posted.

Here are a few rules to make sure you follow, or your entry will be rejected.

1.) You are allowed to write your 250 word story in ANY GENRE and for ANY AGE.

2.) Your entry MUST BE 250 words or less. (Yes, I’ll count.) Each entry must be a complete story. That means that it MUST HAVE a beginning, a middle, and an end.

3.) If you participated in either #AdPit or #KidPit, let me know in your entry and you’ll go into a different group.

4.) Your entry should be posted as such:

– Your name or pen name

– Add it here if you participated #AdPit or #KidPit on April 6th

– Your story’s genre and targeted audience age

– The 250 word or less story

5.) Each person is allowed ONLY ONE ENTRY EACH.

Failure to follow any of these rules will result in me tossing your entry out of consideration.

In an effort to save time, you will not be notified if your entry is rejected from consideration. If you have any problems posting or have questions, please contact me on TWITTER. There are only five rules. I’m not asking too much, I promise. Just double check your entry before adding it to the comments section.

Depending on how many entries I get, it may take me up to ONE WEEK from the last day (April 24th) to post the winners. So, winners will be posted by May 1st. In the winners post, I will have further information on where you can email me your query for your critique.

I will pick three overall to win a critique. One from those that participated in #KidPit. One from those that participated in #AdPit. And, one from everyone else. I will pick the winners from my favorite entries. Yes. I will personally read them all.

Remember I want to see full flash stories. Why? Because writing flash fiction allows you to learn to focus your writing. It helps teach you how to cut clutter and slice out unnecessary words. Yes, I do care about grammar, but don’t worry if you have a comma or hyphen out of place. I’m not a monster. I just want to see the best you can come up with following the prompt.

As for the critique, I will critique whichever query the winners want to send me. No. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with the prompt for the contest. If you’re getting ready to start querying agents or editors, send me that query. Or, send me the query to whatever your current work-in-progress is.

So, without further ado….

The prompt for your 250 word story —-


Two characters are arguing as they navigate a twisty road when suddenly an animal leaps out in the road in front of them.





A Journey for a Monday

This morning I awoke to the horrific news of an explosion on a subway in St. Petersburg, Russia. As I last read, at least nine people have died because of it.

So, I opened my Twitter app to see if I could find any first hand accounts on what I was sure would be a trending topic. It was, but what I found horrified me.

Normally, I try to avoid politics on social media. Yes, I actually majored in International Relations in college, but social media and politics is an explosion waiting to happen in its own right. So, I avoid them – but today, I just couldn’t.

Yes, I’m all to aware of all the Russophobic sentiments whirling around the globe today via media outlets of all fashion. I however, am not (and in no way will ever be) Russophobic. To judge someone by their nationality is just as wrong as judging them based on sexual orientation, religion, race, creed, disability, gender and etc…

But what I saw in the timeline for St. Petersburg this morning was the opposite of that. While there were those that expressed their sorrow and support for those affected by the blast – there were others that chose to politicize it. Their tweets ranged from (no, these aren’t direct quotes, and I will not be calling out names) cheering the explosion to taking political stabs at Russia because they are well, Russia.

This is not okay.

I’m not here to tell you what to believe. If you want to be steadfastly opposed to Russia that is up to you. I will say this though for those that make the choice to politically dig at someone else during a tragedy are monsters. You can hate Russia, but before you decide to take a turn with them remember this – your cruel words will not help heal the injured. Your cruel words now won’t bring back the dead to their loved ones.

Those people are no more responsible for their government’s actions than American’s are for Trump’s (or Obama’s or Clinton’s or Bush’s) actions. Those people have families too. Every, single person that died or was injured in the St. Petersburg’s blast was a mother, sister, brother, husband, father, wife, cousin, uncle, aunt, or even just a friend to someone. Every single one of those people hurt or killed today have loved ones crying now.  By hurling cruelness toward them, you are proverbially rubbing salt in their wounds – and think. How would you feel if it was here and your sister or brother was on that train? Would you want some cruel entity on the other side of the planet jeering at you?

It’s time to start putting people before politics. A human life is a human life – period.

However, having been so affronted by the monstrosity of some man-kind today – I’ve made a decision to start a new journey. You see, I’m a deep thinker. I take nothing at face value, and always look deeper into a situation than just glazing the surface. Sometimes I think this is a curse, but I’m beginning to realize that having the ability to  see below the surface, to be able to shred and discard the top layer of things, is a gift. It’s a gift to be able to find the heart of a matter, problem, issue, etc… And sadly, it’s a gift that fewer and fewer people have now.

As a researcher, I also have made a hobby out of delving deeper and deeper into media stories, religions, politics, and everything else I question. As a essayist, I often write down my research, comparative theories, and thoughts in a notebook. I have to, or my head would pop. All of my research and all of my deep thinking are all crammed into a handwritten compilation of monstrous proportions. Granted sometimes my logic may be skewed from the norm, and this happens frequently, but nonetheless I write. I have never shared any of them with anyone outside my family, but I’m going to change that.

I’m going to start a monthly blog called OUTSIDE THE BOX. If you are easily offended this will probably not be a good blog for you to read. I have torn down some of the most infamous theories and recreated them logically, especially in regards to politics and religion. I’ve shredded mass media stories and their fearmongering too. Though, you should understand, I am neutral in all things. Humankind as a general rule, does not appreciate having their blemishes pointed out to them.

I’m sure you’re wondering how the blast in St. Petersburg correlates to OUTSIDE THE BOX. To be honest and in the simplest of terms, the hate-filled Russophobic responses to the loss and damage of human life was the final straw. I’ve debated for years whether or not I should post my writings on things. I mean I’ve left a Catholic priest of nearly 60 years speechless and questioning how much he actually knew. That’s how intense some of my writings are. Yet today, I decided to open my Pandora’s box of thoughts to the general public.

All the same, my thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the blast in St. Petersburg’s subway today. May your hearts and bodies heal quickly, and may justice be served to those responsible.

(Though they do not yet know what caused the blast according to Russian President Vladimir Putin they are looking into all possible causes, including terrorism.)


Have you heard yet?

I signed a publishing contract for my debut young adult novel!

And, I know a lot of you would like to know more about my journey. So, here we go!

The gritty basics:

1.) My novel is a historical set in Ancient Rome.

2.) The temporary title is RUNAWAY SAGE (this may yet change as I’m still working on final bits with the publishing company).

3.) The publishing company is BLACK ROSE WRITING.

4.) My release date, or my book’s birthday, is May 18, 2017.

5.) Yes, I have a whole slew of things planned to celebrate my novel’s birth with all of you.

My journey:

RUNAWAY SAGE took me five years to research, plan, write, revise, and query. As far as queries go, I queried for over two years. Then, I had nothing but rejections. I did stumble upon an agent that worked with me for over a year on revise-and-resubmits, but in the end, I got a form rejection. I was disgusted. That’s when I stopped. I stopped querying. I stopped pitching it in the innumerable Twitter pitchfests. I shelved it.

In my frustration, I tossed away the paper where I had listed all the agents I submitted to, but I can remember there were a bunch. In fact, I had pored over numerous agent websites, Writer’s Digest Market books, writing websites, and everywhere I could look for an agent, but I had submitted to all of the agents I could find that represented both young adult and historical fiction. I’m sure I missed some – positive that I did but at the time I made the decision to shelf this title, I’d done all that I could.

Then back in October of 2016, I stumbled onto a website called I was leery of it. I mean, I’d read horror stories about people that posted their work online and it was stolen or worse. I researched around on the site, and found legitimate agents and publishers used as a means of submission. I hadn’t really considered small presses much until then, as most of them seem mostly interested in romance titles – and I didn’t have any submission ready romance wips. Still, I figured I had this title just sitting on a shelf, so what difference did it/would it make? So, I posted it and submitted it to two suggestions that the website sent me. One of those rejected it a mere month and a half later – no, I wasn’t surprised. I just assumed that it would happen with the second suggestion too. But, in early February I got an email from Black Rose Writing, offering me publication.

I really didn’t know much about Black Rose Writing up until then, so I started researching them. I found some interesting information on a few writers message boards about them, but they were dated from several years ago. The newer posts were a lot more positive, so I decided to take the chance. After all, if all the novel did was sit on my shelf then no one but my family and I could read it. Sometimes the decision to take the jump is singly the most horrifying thing you’ll do for your writing career.

So far I have been extremely happy with the gang at Black Rose Writing, and I feel like it was the right decision to take the plunge. My contract is legally legit, and they even negotiated with me to improve the contract for me. I understand that by going with a small press I’ll be doing a lot of marketing and such for myself, but that’s okay.  I have a background in book marketing, having worked for a few small presses myself in the publicity departments, and I even worked as a freelance publicist for authors for a bit.

In a nutshell, this is really happening. My dream to be able to hold my own novel – that I wrote – in my hands is coming true.

Thanks for reading!

~ H.R. Norrod

Wizard Russian Lesson Two

Lesson Two


Today, we’re going to work on improving our vocabulary in Russian. Since everyone is familiar with apartments, let’s learn some of the words that go along with an apartment. Also, as you learn these new words it may be beneficial to you to put notes up around in your own home to remind you of these Russian words. As research has shown, submersion in another language is really the best way to learn it. We are also going to learn our numbers zero – ten. Shall we get started…


КВАРТИРА  {kvarTIRA}                     —>                             An Apartment


Дверь {DVYER}                                   —>                             Door

Коридор {kariDOR}                             —>                             Hallway/Corridor

Кухня {KUKHnya}                               —>                             Kitchen

Холодильник {khalaDILnik}                —>                             Fridge

Духовка {duKHOFka}                         —>                             Oven

Плита {pliTA}                                       —>                             Cook stove

Кофейник {kaFYEnik}                         —>                            Coffee pot


Ванная {VAnaya}                               —>                            Bathroom

Ванна {VAna}                                      —>                            Bathtub

Душ {DOOsh}                                      —>                             Shower

Раковина {RAkavina}                       —>                              Sink

Туалет {tooalYET}                            —>                               Toilet

Зеркало {ZERkala}                           —>                              Mirror

Полотенце {palatYENtsye}              —>                              Towel


Гостиная {gaSTInaya}                    —>                              Living Room

Диван {diVAN}                                  —>                              Couch or Sofa

Диван Кровать {diVAN kraVAT}   —>                               Sofa Bed

Стол {STOL}                                        —>                             Table

Стул {STUL}                                         —>                             Chair

Телевизор {talaVEEzor}                    —>                              Television

Окно {akNO}                                        —>                              Window


Спальня {SPALnya}                         —>                              Bedroom

Шкаф {SHKAF}                                   —>                              Closet

Кровать {kraVAT}                              —>                               Bed

Подушка {paDOOshka}                     —>                               Pillow

Лампа {LAMpa}                                   —>                               Lamp

Before we go; let’s learn to count to ten …


     0.)      Нуль           {NOOL}

  1.     Один          {aDIN}
  2.     Два            {DVA}
  3.      Три            {TREE}
  4.      Четыре    {cheeTYRye}
  5.      Пять         {PYAT}
  6.      Шесть       {SHEST}
  7.       Семь       {SYEM}
  8.       Восемь   {VOsim}
  9.       Девять    {DYEvit}
  10.       Десять    {DYEsit}


That’s it! Congratulations! Now you can name some things in your home and do Sudoku in Russian, plus two extra numbers. 😉 But, really – count to ten in Russian the next time you’re angry, instead of in English. The more often you use these words; the quicker they will stick in your brain. Pick up a home interior catalog and point out and name the things you just learned in Russian. Practice writing the Russian words next to the English in the catalog. Make yourself some flashcards with your new words and flip through them while you’re waiting on that meeting at work to begin. There are so many ways you can integrate your new vocabulary words in your everyday life, be creative, be consistent, and practice, practice, practice…
Next time, we’re going to learn some meet and greet dialogue so you can surprise your friends and co-workers… See you then!

New details and a new THING for #Adpit & #KidPit…

I’ve posted updated information regarding the April 5th, 2017 #AdPit and #KidPit joint pitchfest on their pages here on this blog…

If you have a completed manuscript and are interested in pitching, please see the new details and a surprise for this round….

Follow the links below….

Write for/ Pitching a New Adult or Adult manuscript

Write for/ Pitching a Picture Book through Young Adult manuscript 



Introducing the Cyrillic Alphabet

Wizard Russian’s Alphabet Lesson


Congratulations! You have decided to learn the Russian language, and you already deserve a pat on the back. Russian is a very rewarding language to learn. Neatly folded in the confines of a family of Slavic languages which also include, Czech, Ukrainian, Polish, Bulgarian and several other languages found in Eastern Europe.


However, unlike Polish and Slovenian and a fair few others, Russian uses the Cyrillic Alphabet which is different than the Roman Alphabet you are familiar with in English and Western European languages. So, for this first step in learning Russian, allow me to introduce you to the 33 letters that make up the Russian language.


Want to sing the alphabet song in Russian? Here are the letters in alphabetical order…

Аа, Бб, Вв, Гг, Дд, Ее, Ёё, Жж, Зз, Ии, Йй, Кк, Лл, Мм, Нн, Оо, Пп, Рр, Сс, Тт, Уу, Фф, Хх, Цц, Чч, Шш, Щщ, Ъъ (hard sign), Ыы, Ьь (soft sign), Ээ, Юю, & Яя.


Русский Алфавит


Hard Vowels

А – A as in sofA

Э – E as in Echo

Ы – Y-glide makes a sound similar to the word we

О – O in cOld

У – OO in tOOl


Soft Vowels

Я – YA

Е – YE as in YEt

И – EE as in lEEk

Ё – YO as in YO– yo

Ю – YU/U as in YOU or Union



Б – B as in Bank

В – V as in Vote

Г – hard G as in Goat (never, ever pronounced as jee)

Д – D as in Dog

Ж – ZH as in meaSure

З – Z as in Zap

Й – OY as in boY

К – K as in Kayak

Л – L as in Lamp

М – M as in Mat

Н – N as in Nap

П – P as in Puppy

Р – R as in Rat

С – S as in Sun

Т – T as in Tea

Ф – F as in Family

Х – KH as in loCH or German’s iCH (This is a very hard H sound)

Ц – TS as in caTS

Ч – CH as in CHurch

Ш – SH as in SHeep

Щ – SHCH as in freSH CHeese

Ъ – hard sign – not pronounced

Ь – soft sign – not pronounced


Pronunciation Guide:  

  • A consonant is hard unless it is followed by a soft vowel (refer to the list above and memorize the soft vowels). A soft Н (N) is pronounced like the N in the word oNion.
  • Only pronounce an O sound if it is stressed. When it is in an unstressed syllable pronounce it like the A in the word sofA. I will mark stress on new words as we learn them, by capitalizing it in the pronunciation brackets – like this; Группа {GrUppa} – Group
  • Consonants become voiceless at the end of words, or before voiced consonants. Memorize these; Б –> П, В –> Ф, Г –> К, Д –> Т, Ж –> Ш, & З –> С.
  • The soft vowel Ё (ё) is ALWAYS stressed but in writing, Russians rarely add the two dots over ё. Also, in dictionaries the words that begin with this letter are listed under the letter Е (е). Best advice I can give you is to memorize these words and spellings as we come across them, or as you do in your own studies.   

Obligatory New Year’s Post…

So, we’ve put 2016 behind us, and are now looking forward into 2017. For me, this has been a trying and absolutely horrifying transition. I’m normally fairly optimistic with the new year that’s coming in, so I’ll try to get back on that horse for this post.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen where 2017 is going to bring about an overhaul of this blog. If you don’t follow me, I won’t hold that against you. But also now you know.

Here’s what I’m going to do…

I’ve been going utterly loco trying to keep several blogs up and going for a while now. I write the Critic Croc Review Blog. I write The Polyglot’s Guide to the Universe Blog. I write the Madam Money Blog. I also write the Wizard Russian Blog. That’s a LOT of blogs. When you include this one, that’s five. As a ‘side effect’ there are times when each and every one of these blogs have been neglected. I’ve been a terrible Blog Mama. And, I aim to clear that up. After all, no one wants to be a bad mother.


Starting this month – Every Monday there will be a new post on this blog. Those posts will vary between the five that I have, so in an essence, I am funneling all of these blogs through this one. I hope to eventually be able to separate them again, but unless the FDA allows human cloning soon that may take a while. It’s hard work being an entrepreneur and trying to balance all the other things too. I already work like a fiend. That being said, here’s the breakdown of each of the blogs listed above…

1.) Critic Croc Reviews

– Be wary because here, I’ve been labeled a scathing critic. I give HONEST, no frills, sometimes acid-tipped tongued reviews of products, apps, books, films, and everything in between. I do NOT sugar coat things. If I don’t like it, I’ll tell you I don’t like it and why. If I do like it, I’ll tell you that and why. There is a reason I named this CROC. Sometimes, I bite.

– If you have something you’d like me to review (your book, your app, your software, your product or anything in between) feel free to contact me via TWITTER or EMAIL. Click the links…

2.)  Madam Money

– This blog is devoted to personal finance and shopping savvy. I help you understand your money better, and try to help you live a happier financial life.

– I’ve been a single mom for the entire length of my kids’ lives. (One’s 18 now and the other’s 16.) I’ve spent copious amounts of time working in retail, saving money, and trying to make ends meet – I know a bit about personal money management. I’ve raised my kids on less than a $1000/month or less for a big part of that time.

3.)  Wizard Russian

– This blog was intended to teach others the Russian language, the culture, and even the food. As so many of the Russian learning texts and apps on the market today teach archaic Russian from the distant past years of the Soviet Union. Hate to tell you this, but the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 90’s and the language and culture of the Russian Federation has evolved with it. More should be done to update all the Russian language learning ‘help’ that’s out there. But it’s not. Sure, you’ll find books, ‘new’ books even, that boast updated information, but take a look at the copyright dates – and you’ll find a huge percentage of them hail originally from the 1950’s. Dudes, even America has changed since the 50’s. I am happy to note though, it seems like a few learning paths are starting to recognize this. ( A tad bit of my Critic Croc is showing here.)

4.)  Polyglot’s Guide to the Universe

– This blog is my curious and wondering blog. I speak seven languages, and have been exposed to a great number of world cultures throughout my life, starting from my childhood. I think I look at the world differently because of it.

– I spend a ton of time on multiculturalism and acceptance of people with different points of view and backgrounds on this blog.

5.)  This blog

– This blog will remain the same. I’ll still have all the writing helps, tips, and tricks.

– I’ll still have all of the #AdPit and #KidPit information here. If this interests you, you may want to note that the next #AdPit and #KidPit joint pitchfest will take place on April 5, 2017. I’ll be changing things up a bit this round to try and help your completed manuscripts gain as much exposure as possible. That being said, the new rules will be up sometime in early February, as I’m still finalizing the details.

I hope that by spreading my wings you’ll decide to stay with me. I just like to think that I have a voice, and can possibly help the planet with it.

Thanks for reading,

~ Heidi