Friday, January 4, 2019

Happy New Year!


I started the New Year with a mean head cold. I’m grateful that I was able to make it through the holidays before it hit. But even with my fuzzy, cold-medicine compromised brain, I’ve made sure to keep working on Julie Hedlund’s 12 Days of Christmas for Writers. I really love this series.
On day 10 Julie suggests that you choose a word or affirmation to repeat to yourself every day this year. This word will set the tone of your mindset toward your journey for the year. 
Last year I chose JOY. I wanted to find the joy in the writing process again.  I'd been putting a lot of pressure on myself to finish my novel and to get another book published. I worked hard. It was stressful and I did not publish last year. I did, however, find joy in writing every day. I also met a new critique partner by the name of Joy, who sent me a copy of Jane Yolen’s book, Finding Joy. This was no coincidence.

This year, my word is YES. 

Yes, to more opportunities.
Yes, to giving myself a break. 
Yes, to better health. 
Yes, to trying new things. 
Yes, I am a good writer. 
Yes, I am worth it. 
Yes, I can do this! 
I will have more YES in my life this year.
I encourage you to choose a word to live by this year. It should be something personal that you want to have more of in your life. Make it the star by which you navigate your journey in 2019. 

M.A. Cortez lives with her family in Colorado. She spends her days drinking gallons of coffee, reading, and writing or wishing she was writing.


Y.A. Romance

Y.A. Suspense, Supernatural, and Mystery
Watch the trailer:

Holiday Short Story



Instagram@ bookwormyxoxo  

Friday, December 28, 2018

12 Days of Christmas with Julie Hedlund .... Listing my writing successes for this year.

Children's author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year's resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity - what DIDN'T get done or achieved in the previous year.  Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! Here is my list for 2018. 

My Writing Successes in 2018

  1.  I wrote almost every day this year.
  2. I entered writing contests and placed in 2 of them!
  3. I did a book signing.
  4. I earned royalty checks!
  5. I wrote poems every day in October.
  6.  I submitted to agents and or publishers every month.
  7. I joined a rhyming critique group.
  8. I did lots more blogging this year!
  9. I was active on Twitter and reached over 1000 followers.
  10. I completed The Artists Way. 
  11. I wrote over 12 picture book drafts this year.
  12. I participated in twitter pitch parties and pitched my books.  
This is the second year I've done the 12 Days of Christmas with Julie and I highly recommend it. It quick and easy and fun. If you're interested, just click on the link in red and join the fun. Or just list your own successes from 2018. You'll feel better about yourself.

M.A. Cortez lives with her family in Colorado. She spends her days drinking gallons of coffee, reading and writing or wishing she was writing.


Y.A. Romance

Y.A. Suspense, Supernatural, and Mystery
Watch the trailer:

Holiday Short Story



Instagram@ bookwormyxoxo  

Friday, December 7, 2018


Another holiday, another contest entry. This time Susanna Hill's Annual Holiday Contest (her 8th) challenges us to write a 250-word a children's story about a holiday hero. The act of heroism can be on a grand scale or a small one.
Here's my entry. I hope you enjoy reading it. Here's the link to Susannah's blog and the contest rules.  There will be a ton of fun stories to read on her site, you should check it out. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think of this one.

by M.A. Cortez

Lupe hung Chico’s blanket on the fence.
“You don’t need it.” She told the little burro.
But Chico pulled it off.
He’d been so excited when Lupe told him he was chosen to be a part of Las Posadas the traveling play that lasted for nine nights leading up to Christmas Eve.
Lupe was his best friend. Chico wanted to make her proud but the new blanket was scratchy. Wearing his old blanket helped him feel safe.
Lupe pulled the reins. Chico shook his head and pawed the ground. He wouldn’t budge.
Lupe sighed. “I guess we can cover it with this fancy new one.”
Before the procession began Mary was lifted onto Chico’s sturdy back.
At each stop, the people asked for shelter and the answer was always no.
That was how the play went. Lupe had explained that it would have a happy ending. On the last night, the Holy Couple would be welcomed. They would place the baby in a manger and everybody would celebrate the birth of baby Jesus.
Chico’s ears perked at the ninth house Mary and Joseph walked to the stable to place the baby in the manger.
The baby cried.
Mary looked around for help.
Chico pulled the fancy blanket off his back. He took his soft old blanket and placed it inside the manger.
 The baby cooed.
Everyone cheered. Mary scooped up the baby and led the procession inside for the party.
Lupe hugged her friend. “You’re the best burro ever.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

THE WICKEDLY GOOD COOK Halloweensie Contest entry #2

I really wanted to challenge myself this year so I wrote two stories for the contest. One rhyming and one prose. So here's my second entry.

THE WICKEDLY GOOD COOK      By Mary Ann Cortez

Maddie filled her new super deluxe CroakPot.
“Just like on BooTube. That blue ribbon is as good as mine.”
She went to the store and left it to simmer.
But when she returned the CroakPot was cold. “My chili is ruined!”
 Granny’s rusty old cauldron shook and shivered on the shelf.
“That’s it! Halloween stew.
Fire-toad broth.
Mealy worm eyes.
A smidgeon of magic will win the grand prize.”
She jumped on her broom and zoomed lickety-split to the Wickedly Good Cook contest.
“We have a winner.” The judge pinned on the blue ribbon. “Now, that’s howling good stew!”


M. A. Cortez

Instagram@ bookwormyxoxo  

Monday, October 29, 2018

Check out My Halloweensie Contest Entry

Hi All, 
It's time for Susanna Hill's Annual Halloweensie contest. This is my second year and I'm hoping my writing has improved since last year. In any case, it's loads of fun. The rules state that it must be a Halloween story with a beginning middle and end. It has to be kid-friendly (for kids 12 and under) and be 100 words or less. The title is not included in the word count. There are three words that must be included in the story. This year those words are shiver, cauldron and howl or a variation of those words. Illustration notes are not allowed. Thanks for looking. 


by Mary Ann Cortez

On Halloween night, October thirty-one.  

Ghouls, ghosts, and goblins all gathered for fun.

The lead singer howled. The band played a tune.  

The boneyard was rockin’ beneath a full moon.

The skeletons shimmied. The trolls rocked and rolled.

A witch stirred a cauldron of slimy green mold. 

A horrific sound flew like bats through the air.

They’d run out of candy! (The worst kind of scare.) 

The Mummies unraveled. The Vampires flipped. 

A whole horde of zombies crawled out of a crypt.

This shivering scene became frightening and more. 

Till somebody’s Mummy returned from the store.

If you are interested in entering the contest or reading other contest entries here's the link.

                                Happy Halloween! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


I LOVE Halloween. I love the decorations, the scary movies, the candy, hot apple cider, the candy, carving pumpkins, dressing up in costumes, and did I say candy? Something about the mystery of this holiday makes me grin like jack-o-lantern. My fingers itch to start a new spooky writing project. Sometimes I find my way back to an old that one I've tucked away to rest. This year I put those itchy fingers to work by writing a few Halloween poems and I'd like to share them you. 


By M.A. Cortez

A chilling gust

stirs graveyard dust

Dark shadows loom
above a tomb
Where Creatures creep

awake from sleep

And witches fly

                     across the sky
                     There’s no reprieve
                      On Hallows Eve

Trick OR Treat

By M.A. Cortez

Goblins make mischief

‘Round fires ablaze

Carved pumpkin lanterns

With yellow-eyes gaze

Witches and black cats

With cackles and moans

Bestial creatures

Who’re craving your bones

Broomsticks and poisons

Amid bubbling pots

Candied confections

To feed costumed tots

Ghoulish green monsters

Appear on the scene

Don’t be afraid, Dear

It’s just Halloween


By M. A. Cortez

There was a girl named Winnie Boos

Who wore a sheet and blood-stained shoes

She clanked her chains against her bed

With hollow cries, each night she said

“Give me my furs. Give me my pearls

I want to be like other girls”

Winnie Boos was dead of course

for that, I’m showing no remorse

I hope you enjoyed those.

 Looking for something to read this Halloween? Check out my Sister Sleuth Series


Available on Amazon or Barnes and

Do you have a favorite Halloween costume or memory you'de like to share? Leave it the comments below and it might show up in my next Halloween project. (with your permission of course)

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Halloween!

Follow M.A. Cortez


Instagram@ bookwormyxoxo  

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Guest Author Kimberlee Gard talks about her debut picture book and her experience as a new author.

I know I'm late in celebrating but it's still back to school month.
All those kids donning new backpacks excited to meet their teachers and start a fresh year of learning and making friends gets me right in the feels.

What better way to celebrate back to school month than introducing a new children's book author.
Kimberlee Gard shares her debut picture book. THE LITTLE i WHO LOST HIS DOT.

 Kimberlee has agreed to let us take a peek into her world of writing. And... (drum roll) ...she's giving away a free autographed copy of the book to one lucky winner. Just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of this post to earn entries.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

When my oldest son started pre-school, he struggled while trying to learn the alphabet and remember the sounds each letter made.  This gave me the idea to create a story that was not only fun and engaging but would also help children learn the alphabet and letter sounds.

Any chance of a sequel?

Actually, YES! As of now, there are three other books that will be released in this series all featuring the Little Letter characters.  Next fall, readers will meet the Punctuation Brothers and see how they help make sentences complete.  There will also be a book featuring the vowel characters, and Little e gets a book of his own- sharing his secrets of how he has the power to change words.

What are you working on now? 

I’m working on another picture book- this one is about numbers.  And I’ve got two middle grade novels in the works.

As a new author, what is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process? 

The publishing process has been amazing, and each milestone has been a true victory from finding an agent to signing the first book contract and selling the manuscripts.  I’ve loved seeing how a book is made from start to finish and seeing how the text comes alive with the illustrations.  My illustrator, Sandie Sonke, is beyond talented and created the most amazing and fun illustrations making each letter a unique character.  Plus, I am blessed to work with the most amazing team at Familius.

Least favorite? 

I think the thing writers don’t really realize is the amount of time it takes to learn the craft of writing and climb the ladder into the publishing world.  My son, who I originally wrote the book for when he was in pre-school, is now in his third year of college and got married this past summer.  The other thing I’ve learned is you have to revise… and revise… and revise!

Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

I struggled as a reader when I was a child, so I often would open a book, look at the pictures, and make up my own story.  I think that is when I first fell in love with storytelling.  Beatrix Potter books and Cicely Mary Barkers Flower Fairies series were among my favorites.  I was always wishing I could escape into the pictures.

You can find out more about Kimberlee Gard by following these links.

a Rafflecopter giveaway