Monday, October 24, 2016

Life is Interesting

I was struck anew at how much there is to see and do in the world. I've never been one to get bored when I'm alone. There are so many projects waiting my attention. New recipes, a stack of jigsaw puzzles, a new cross-stitch project, tons of books to read and of course, my own writing. And cooking and exercise and...

Let's start with a great interview on IWSG about hybrid writers with Catherine Ryan Howard. So many writers are taking this path to publication, both new writers and though who have been around for a while.

My friend Demi Stevens pointed me toward this video, Charlie Day giving a commencement speech. It was years ago but it is so true. Take risks. Trust yourself. Failure will happen but you keep trying. If something isn't working for you, move on.

In other news, some of my writing friends have been talking about Google and their attacks on copyright laws. Here's an article that explains some of what has been happening lately. Will artists be able to protect their work? For how long?

More controversy on schools and how so many are no longer teaching cursive writing. I have mentioned many times on this blog the importance of writing by hand. And cursive writing is so much better than printing or typing. I have a sister who suffers from concussion syndrome. One of the things her doctor requires of her is to write in a journal every day and write letters to other people. After years of keeping in touch via phone or email, we're writing to each for her good health. This article gives Ten Reasons People Still Need Cursive. Very interesting.

On a more personal note, this article is about Title IX. It turns forty-four this year. Politicians and the media love to talk about gender inequality. It certainly exists and it's a battle that will no doubt go on for many generations. Past generations of women and the men who supported them have already won some battles. Title IX was one of them. Schools didn't automatically give girls equal rights when it came to athletics. Facilities and equipment in those early years weren't even close to equal. Uniforms were cheaply made and ugly. It was a struggle I lived through. Here's to all the girls and women still fighting to good fight. This interesting article is about how females tend to drop out of sports when they reach their teens compared to males. Lots of reasons are suggested.

Next Wednesday is Insecure Writer's Support Group Day. The question this month is:
What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

Are you a hybrid writer or planning to be? Is Google going to take over the world? Are they determined to make pirating work easier? Do you still write by hand? Do you think it should be taught in schools? Have you ever had to fight for your rights to equal treatment?

Monday, October 17, 2016

One book event out of the way and two more to go in 2016. I haven't participated in this many book signings ever. I'm so happy to be part of the writing groups I am for many reasons. But one of the big ones is the group of us finding venues to showcase our work. With fewer and fewer bookstores around, arranging a book signing can be a challenge. This past week, the York Book Expo, was all about books. The crowd wasn't as large as last year but the people who did attend were there for books. It was a successful day.

I had a highlight moment at the book expo. A young couple who had purchased two of my books last year came back just to see me. The young woman raved about the book with her husband adding tidbits about her delight. They attended to see me and purchase more books. It made my day, week and month as a writer.

I noticed at the book expo yesterday that three different writers had their own version of 'How to Self-Publish' for sale. I have no idea on how accurate their advise would be but there are lots of similar books out there. And a lot of people offering classes or workshops to teach you how to self-publish. Probably many are legitimate but I hope new writers investigate first before laying down money for someone to tell you how to do something you can learn for free.

Speaking of opportunities, the countdown is on to enter the IWSG anthology contest. Get your fantasy, short story sent in before the end of the month.

My children often recommend books to me, and they know what I like. An author my daughter introduced me to is YA writer, Leigh Bardugo. She has two fantasy series that tie into each other. I like her unique world of magic but what makes me love her work is the way she creates such flawed, but lovable characters. Her people live in a harsh world filled with tragedy but somehow they can still make you smile between bouts of tears. Highly recommended. I'm reading her latest, Crooked Kingdom now.

I'm enjoying the new show, Pitch, and finding the return of The Flash and Supernatural satisfying. Not sure about any other new shows though I've watched a few and am giving them a chance. Once Upon a Time, one of my long time favorites, is okay so far. I do get a lot or writing done with the lack of distractions. I did catch the final season of The Musketeers on Hulu last week and it was very satisfying.

"I'd rather take coffee than compliments just now." Louise May Alcott

I need a lot of coffee while working on a bunch of rewrites for the recently completed first draft. It's very ugly. Timeline problems and some things that don't make sense because I changed other things. Sigh... That is why we do more than one draft. I'm still flying high on the return customers.

Have you read Leigh Bardugo? Have you had a particularly wonderful experience at a book event? Have you watched The Flash? How badly did Barry mess up the world? Ouch. I'll end with an answer to a question we've wondered about for a long time.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Happy Day

Happy Thanksgiving Day to our neighbors in the north. We love you, Canada. Happy Columbus Day to everyone in the US of A. I used to enjoy this day as a teacher as it was usually a holiday. There aren't that many holidays in the fall so every one is precious.

I haven't heard all the news of damage brought on by the hurricane, but my friends and family have all reported in safe and by now have their power back on.

My local chapter of RWA is starting the second 50/50 event for 2016. For this writing encouragement event, the goal is to write at least 50 words everyday for 50 days. Fifty isn't a lot of words and all most everyone writes more than that. And you can miss a day here and there but never more than two days in a row. One of our members keeps track of the numbers that we report every day and then adds them up for an amazing group combined number and we can each see what we did ourselves. The second 50/50 also coincides with NaNo so it helps encourage those intrepid souls. And the reward? Our chapter president makes everyone an amusing, really cute magnet who completes the 50/50. Fun times.

This Saturday, I'll be in York, PA for the second annual YOTB Book Expo. This book event is run by Demi Stevens. She is an amazing organizer and really involved in the book industry in so many ways. She was a recent guest on IWSG so check out her post on putting together a book event. It was a great time last year and hope for the same this year.

Keep working on that fantasy story for the IWSG anthology. You still have time to submit your writing. It makes a great publishing credit.
Me, speaking to the TV news.

With the depressing political mess that someone only gets worse, I'm going to try to think of some pleasant things each day. Like at some point today, we'll find out whether the grandchild we're expecting will be a boy or a girl. That will be fun. Chilly nights but the days are still warm, so I can't complain about winter yet. (Don't be concerned that I'll forget to do that for four or five months this year.) The geese will fly over soon. I love that. There is lots of things of beautiful things to look upon with wonder in this world. I'm going to enjoy the sunshine.

What do Canadians eat for Thanksgiving? Do you do the turkey and pumpkin pie thing? Did the Day Job give you off for Columbus Day? What is currently bringing in some sunshine to your life?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

IWSG: October Version

Happy IWSG day. This brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh is a bloghop that happens the first Wednesday of every month. Join us as we share our worries, victories and offer encouragement to each other. I'm co-hosting this month and posting on the IWSG site. My co-hosts this month are Beverly Stowe McClure, Megan Morgan, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Viola Fury, and Angela Wooldridge. Please go to the list and visit as many people as you can.

This question this month is: When do you know your story is ready?

Well, I could go on all day. I have a list of things, some detailed and some not. There's a difference between a story being ready to go to beta readers as compared to being ready to go to my publisher or if you're self-published, ready to put it out into the world. Rather than take all day, I'll give a few big points I check for before letting anyone else read it.
Is every scene necessary or is it just filler? Does it move the story forward or impart important information?
Does the story make sense or do parts confuse the reader?
Are my characters interesting and do they have depth?
Does each chapter ending lead the reader to continue to the next?
Do I start the story where it should start?
Is my ending satisfying?

Those are only a few of the things I search the manuscript for before I consider it decent enough to take the next step.

My plans for this week. I want to finally watch Luke Cage on Netflix. I want to walk outside if the sun ever comes out again.

And to share some wisdom with the world.

Ideas should be clear and chocolate thick.  Spanish Proverb

"Minds are like parachutes-- they function only when open." Sir James Dewar

Don't forget to visit more IWSG blogs and get your anthology submission ready. And in a slight change to submissions guidelines, the length of your short story can be between 3,000 and 6,000 words. Get writing!

How are you dealing with the insanity of election season? Is fall bringing you some cooler weather and some pretty leaves? Want to add to my general checklist?

Monday, October 3, 2016


Michael D'Agostino hosts the Question of the Month on his blog A Life Examined. He went for a deep one this month.

“What’s a decision you’ve made in the past that you know, logically, was the right decision to make, but which you still feel guilty or regretful about?”

I guess we all feel guilty about some things. And life if full of regrets. But I've been a forward looking person. I tend to 'move on' from things and hope I've taught my children the same things. Earlier in my teaching career, I sometime regretted that I switched my major from pre-med to education but not anymore. I would have been miserable spending all that time in classrooms. I would have missed all the joy working with young people brought me over the years. I made the right decision for having a happy life. It's not easy to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life when you're young.
This is what my kids say.

Visit Michael's blog for the list of others answering this interesting question.

Don't forget IWSG day is this Wednesday. The question for the month, should you care to use it:
When do you know your story is ready?

The George RR Martin Legacy: All men must die.

I read as much as I can. Usually in the hour before I go to bed and sometimes on my stationery bike. My daughter convinced to read some Sarah J. Maas books. She has two series going. I like one better than the other. Both series have one book left. As usual in a series, the penultimate book left the heroes in big trouble, separated and making desperate plans. I'm excited for the last books. But will the heroes die or survive? Will they win or win at a price they didn't want to pay? I've never finished a series by this author, so I don't know how much like 'Martin' she is.

You see the Martin effect in books in ways you didn't used to. In Tolkien's LotR, the heroes survive though they are changed. But read any fantasy today and there's no guarantee who will survive. TV shows have taken the same turn. Not even main characters are safe. Sometimes fans get very upset and vocal, claiming a death was only for to shock or draw a spike of viewers. But the reality, hopefully, is to advance the story.

Do readers and viewers now expect shocking deaths in their fiction? Do you write them into your stories? What TV show shocked you with the death of a character?

What regrets do you have about decisions you made?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Banned Books Week

Here we are in the middle of Banned Books Week, 2016. It's always interesting to see the list which you can read here. It seems this year, the closed-minded are worried about sexual diversity the most rather than too much sex or profanity. Not so many people are worried that Harry Potter will lead young children to demon worship. So baby steps for humanity. As a writer, remember if your book is ever honored by being on this list, you're probably in for some really great sales.

Today on Insecure Writers' Support Group, Demi Stevens is sharing some ideas on how to organize and run a book event. Demi is a super energetic lady who is involved in every piece of the book business. Demi is the force behind Year of the Book and the upcoming event held at the York, PA Fairgrounds. I'll be signing my books again and hope to have a successful and enjoyable day like last year. Demi has a lot to say and she's very encouraging on Twittter is you'd like to follow her.

I hope you're working on that entry to the IWSG latest anthology contest. Get all the details on the IWSG site. Can't wait to read them all. This group is so talented, I expect lots of great fantasy stories centering on the Hero Lost theme.

So glad some of the new fall shows are here. My daughter and I enjoyed the first episode of Pitch. But will the next episodes keep me interested? Once Upon a Time returned last night with their unique take on fairy tales. This Friday, Luke Cage is coming to Netflix. Hopefully, it will be as good as Daredevil and the entire season will be available all at once.

The nights are cooler and arriving sooner. I actually get more writing done when there's a little less daylight so I'm hoping. I'm finishing off my tomato plant today. I could probably keep it going a little longer but we've given away hundreds of little cherry tomatoes. That one single plant has produced more than 1500 little red spheres. What can I say. When the zombie apocalypse happens, I'll keep my family alive with my farming skills. But fall is welcome so I can stop farming for a few months.

Barnes and Noble offered 20% off to all their card carrying members this past weekend. I heard they had a really bad quarter. It makes me sad to think soon I might not have a big sprawling bookstore to hang out in. All our independent bookstores nearby are used book stores and only one has a cafe. That one is in the city of Harrisburg so you're talking limited parking in a not so nice part of the downtown. I've heard reports that Target and Walmart as now leading booksellers. I'm sad.

Have you ever tried to organize a book event? How many of the books have you read on the most recent banned list? Do you want my secret to growing tomatoes? Sorry, that is a banned subject.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Amazon Again

I read a recent news article about Amazon opening more physical stores across the USA. They're not going to carry many books but will likely promote Amazon's electronics line, like their tablets and phones. The monster expands. I saw another stat that said of readers who pay attention to reviews, 46% of them list Amazon reviews as the ones they pay the most attention to. No other review source had more than 10% saying they took note of them.

Anna Simpson, a member of IWSG, wrote a post about another publisher biting the dust. She's feeling some of the same frustration I went through last year when two of my three publishers closed. Stop by and give her some encouragement. It's a tough business.

Peace flourishes when reason rules.  American Proverb

Wednesday is International Day of Peace. If the above proverb is true, it makes sense that there is so little peace in the world because there certainly is little reason. Some days I feel like there is a viral infection spreading across the globe. It causes the loss of common sense, human decency and any sense of compassion for others.

"Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe." H.G. Wells

Don't forget that Thursday, the 22nd, is the Autumnal Equinox. The days are really getting short and fall will be here for real.

"To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring." George Santayana

Went to a street craft show in local town with my daughter. It was a lot of fun though the two of us mostly looked. We each only bought one thing. The two of us have become real conservative in our purchasing of 'things.' Except for books. We always buy books.

And I need to add a happy thought today. Books!

What do you think of Amazon's stores? Do you own any Amazon electronics? Do you think peace will overtake Earth on Wednesday? Have any of your publishers closed recently? Is there a 'thing' you buy whenever you can like I do with books?