Friday, September 28, 2012

Whata Week!

My delight overflowed this week. A week ago, the show Haven, started its new season on SyFy channel. A few of my favorite network shows had their fall premieres. Hawaii Five-0, Person of Interest, and tonight, Bluebloods. Then of course, there was the release of Avengers on DVD. How many times can I watch that before I'm tired of it? Don't know yet.

My oldest son moved a few years ago from the ranks of college football player to high school football coach. His team has started out the year 4-0. He's happy but the best part for me is having my high school students take the time to tell me Coach Gourley is the best coach they've ever had. I know they appreciate his knowledge, dedication and personal drive to win. It's fun to watch the team play and win.

Book #4 of The Futhark Chronicles is going well. My favorite part of being a writer is working on a new book. If only I could do only that part and leave all the rest to someone else.

My son from Penn State will be home this weekend. He's always fun to have around, managing to keep everyone in a great mood and I'll have someone to cool for. So my week is going great!

What's going well with you? Fun plans for the weekend? Have you been looking forward to any of the Fall return of favorite shows?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

When I Retire List

If you're a regular follower of this blog, you might get tired of all the times I refer to 'when I retire' throughout this next year. But here's another vow I'm making to myself.

I'm going to be a better follower of my bloggy friends. I try to make sure I comment back to people who comment on my blog. And I have my list of friends on my sidebar so I can easily see when they've updated their blogs and make sure I visit them.

But I follow a lot of other blogs and don't get to them nearly often enough. I love blogfests but then I feel guilty when I don't get to visit everyone participating. And beyond the guilt, I know I'm missing out on lots of interesting and useful posts.

So when I retire and become a full time writer, part of every day will be spent keeping up with all those I've not been giving my fair share of attention to. I'm going to visit all over the place.

And I'm sure between now and then I'll discover even more blogs. I hope those new friends make it easy to follow them by putting their follow buttons near the top of their blog if they're using blogger. I hope they turn off word verification to make it easy to comment.

When I retire.....

So is it just me or are those word verification scrambles getting harder to read? It nearly always takes me two tries to get it right. Do you make it easy for someone to follow your blog?

Monday, September 24, 2012


I was just a child during the rowdy years when Rock and Roll started taking over the world. Actually, it started a while before I was born. I remember my sisters putting on their Dave Clark Five records and The Beatles when my parents weren't at home. My mother and father had no tolerance for that 'noise,' preferring their Johnny Cash and other country and gospel favorites. My dad had a pretty fancy stereo system for those days.

It was during those years, I first heard the term, generation gap, often referring to the different tastes in music between teenagers and their elders. It was also applied to clothing, attitudes and hair styles. A while ago, I read an interesting article claiming there was no longer a generation gap in music. Parents and their kids listen to the same kind of music.

I've known for years that I liked the same music as the teenagers I teach but this article proposed it wasn't just me, but mostly everyone. Rock and Roll has closed and made obsolete the gap.

Last Monday, Alex Cavanaugh, hosted Favorite Genre Blogfest, where one of the genres was music. Except for a few blogs I visited, most people selected Rock and Roll of some style or decade as their favorite genre. The Rock and Roll generation is now almost all generations.

There were also a lot of bloggers who said YA books were their preferred genre. I know my teenagers read the same 'adult' fantasy books as I did, but I also read some YA my daughter recommends. No generation gap there either?

What do you think? Is generation gap an obsolete term? Do you see it in a certain area but not in others? Are you rock 'n' roll forever?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Weekend!!!! Yeah!

A very hectic week on the day job but now it's finally Saturday. Some good things are happening. Check on TBR Blog. This weekend is the any genre blurb fest. You can post a blurb of your book in the comment area or just read all the blurbs and fill up your TBR pile. Admit it, it was getting a little small with only a few hundred books on it. 

Also for the rest of September, I'm still the featured author on TBR. Thanks much to Cate Masters for asking me.

Thanks to PAGAN who gave me a nice review on Amazon for Beneath the Mountain. Hope I can get a few more.

I'm going to spend part of the weekend catching up on visiting blogs including so many from the Favorite Genre Blogfest that I didn't get around to visiting.

I've mentioned my upcoming retirement a few times and this past week I've added so many things to my 'next year' list. There are lots of book events and festivals only a few hours from me. I could go to those weekend ones while I'm still teaching, but then I'm exhausted the next week at work. I need my weekends to regroup from school. But 'next year' I'm going to attend a bunch of these. Maybe I'll be able to sit on a few panels and get more involved that way.

In the meantime, I'm working on Book#4 of The Futhark Chronicles, Heir of Futhark, and hoping I can get it ready for publication before the start of the New Year. If the world doesn't end in December.

Have you attended any writing events lately? Any in the Mid-Atlantic region you recommend for me for 'next year?'

Monday, September 17, 2012

Genre Favorites Blogfest

Thanks to the creative Alex Cavanaugh, I didn't have to try and come up with something clever to say in my Monday post. Today is Favorite Genre Blogfest and you can search out all the participants on Alex's Blog.

What usually happens with me is I come up with what I think are my favorites for one of these bloghops, but then when I check out all the other great choices, I think I should have made a different choice.

Favorite Genre of Movie: This has to be fantasy/scifi movies. This broad categories includes Transformers, The Avengers, Lord of the Rings, and dozens of others.

Favorite Genre of Book: Of course it is the same as my movie preference. It's also the genre I write, ranging from epic fantasy to fantasy romance. Give me a Brandon Sanderson or Terry Goodkind novel and I'm staying up all night reading. Most fantasy I read is medieval epic subgenre, but I do like some contemporary fantasy and also futuristic scifi.  I like some contemporary scifi that crosses over towards horror also. Dean Koontz does that with his Odd Thomas series.

Favorite Genre of Music: This is the most difficult genre for me. I listen to all kinds of music but I guess the stuff I jog to on my iPod has to be my favorite. Even that playlist is varied. Give me lots of Maroon Five, some Plain White Tees, and a little Train, 3 Doors Down. Can't forget Adele or Daughtry, David Cook, and Five for Fighting and Green Day. What genre is that? Pop rock? Alternative Rock? I don't know.

Guilty Pleasure from One of the Group?: I can watch hours and hours of light-hearted or darker non-network TV shows. White Collar, Leverage, Hell on Wheels, Suits, Justified, Perception, just to name a few. So many of those shows depend on character interaction and chemistry rather than deep plots or mysteries that I can just enjoy them purely for entertainment.

So are you joining in the blogfest? Have your favorites changed over the years?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Share the Spirit

The school nurse sent an email around this week, taking a poll of who would like to receive flu shots this year. Teachers have to pay for them, but the nurse can give it to you at school. I never get one. I'm one of those lucky people who never seem to get the flu even though teachers are exposed to tons of germs from all those sick, dedicated students dragging themselves to school instead of staying home. But it is the season of contagion coming up. If you know me, you know I'm using that as a lead in about writing.

Good news and successes are contagious in this business. Every time one of our writer friends share their successes, it recharges our desire to work harder. Our own success looks closer. Our enthusiasm gets a jolt of recharging energy. The community of writers I feel a part of, through this blog, support each other. We route for each other. We give advice and cheer for victories.

So spread some of the good stuff this year. Not your cold, not the achy flu, but your good news. Give the infection of success to all those around you. Work harder, cheer louder and let the enthusiasm of your friends sweep you along with them to reach your goals.

To help the epidemic along, I'm going to share some places where you can catch some enthusiasm too. Siv Maria over at Been There, Done That, tagged me in a game where you can talk about your WIP. Hers sound really interesting and her blog has lots to share.

Natalie Damschroder has been a writing friend of mine almost from the beginning of my start in this crazy profession. She has a new release, Under the Moon, and is running so many great contests during her release party you have to visit her blog, Indulge Yourself, to check out the long list.

Alex Cavanaugh's latest blogfest, Favorite Genre, is on Monday, September 17th. It's going to be fun. You can still join.

So does hearing about others' success fire up your enthusiasm? Are you getting a flu shot this year or taking your chances? Are you doing any blogfests this fall?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What's In a Name?

We all learn as we go in this business. Fortunately, there are plenty of helpful people to help with the many questions and problems that arise as one navigates the path to publication.

I've worked with four different indie presses and I'm still with three of them. I've also self-published the one series I reclaimed from one of those publishers. With all my books out there and a three more that will be out in the next year, I've yet to have an editor suggest I change a title on a manuscript.

My very first published book, The Greater Good, has the perfect title to fit the story. I loved it. My publisher said nothing about changing it and viola, a novel was published with a wonderful title. Three words that are sooooo common. I still think it was a good title. And the second book, The Lesser Evil, followed the common saying thing enough to link the series together. 

But if I had known then what I know now, I might have tried a different title. I should have googled the titles. It can be difficult to think of a title for a literary work, let alone make it somewhat original. If someone had advised me to check out my title before I used it for that very first book, I might not have changed it. The Greater Good isn't a phrase that leads to something unsavory that I would hate to have connected by even the thinnest thread to my book. But what if it had and I discovered it after the fact?

Or what if a awesomely famous author had recently published a billion copy bestseller by the same title? What if there was an XXX-rated movie by the same title? I should have googled the title first. Beginner's or fool's luck.

So have you ever made a mistake selecting a title for a book? Has your editor ever asked you to change it? Do you google a title before you decide to use it?

Monday, September 10, 2012

What's Your Chocolate Blogfest?

I joined this blogfest hosted by M. Pax, Laura Eno, Brinda Berry,  and Ciara Knight as an opportunity. Please don't abandon me when I confess that I'm not a huge chocolate fan. I'm ducking now.

But I know lots of my writer friends love the sweet, smooth flavor of that dark treat. Here's another confession. I live very, very close to the Hershey Chocolate Factory. I have family who work there. We have Hershey stuff, all the newest test treats, readily available.

Now I won't turn down a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup or a Peppermint Patty, but I seldom buy them. I don't crave chocolate. I don't like mocha flavor coffee. But I'm not entirely missing the chocolate love train.

As the night cools in the fall, I love me a cup of hot chocolate. I don't even need the marshmallows. I've spend many nights at sporting events over the years, football, field hockey, cross country, and warmed my insides with some half-stirred cups of hot chocolate from concession stands across central PA and even some out of state venues. I used to make it by the pot when my kids were little and heading out to play in the snow. They had the cheap stuff. Now that many of them are settled into their own little corners of the universe, I buy the really good hot chocolate mixes for my husband and me. He usually doesn't want any, so more for me. And in the ultimate tribute to hot chocolate, it played a vital part in my second futuristic romance, The Lesser Evil. My kick-butt heroine had a real weakness for the brew.

I'm avoiding the temptation of posting some pictures of hot chocolate here I snagged off the internet. I'm too worried about copyright issues.

So what is your favorite form of chocolate? Are you a Hershey fan? Mars? I do like M&Ms though they make creepy commercials. I hope reading everyone's favorite doesn't change my views on chocolate.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Insecure Writer

Stereotyping has a bad reputation. We try not to do it in our everyday lives to the people around us. I believee we fight against stereotyping because it is human nature as we strive to make sense of the world around us.

We see a certain type of dog and think it might be vicious. With people, we see the way a person dresses or notice their tattoos and we think something. I think my experience as a teacher has taught me to judge a person by their actions and not by their appearance. The outside package isn't always a true advertisement of what is inside.

In writing, stereotyping can make a story boring. I have some lists I picked up at a conference once that compile all the personality traits of heroes and villains. But a reader doesn't want the protagonist to be too perfect or their antagonist to be without any redeeming qualities. But it's more than that. Memorable characters are often those quirky ones.

What if the alpha male in your contemporary story always read the society page before the sports page? Could the popular mean girl in YA please not be a beautiful blonde? In how may YA dystopian novels are the main characters orphans?

So check your own writing? Are you writing stereotypical characters? What quirks do some of your main characters have?

Monday, September 3, 2012

First Monday Health Tip

The first Monday of the month is when I step away from being a writer and use this blog to promote something associated with my first career. So sit back and enjoy your Labor Day Holiday while I give some advice.

 I know writers have a wide variety of 'day jobs.' One of my favorite, James Rollins, is a veterinarian. In my other life, I'm a health and PE teacher. For many years I worked in the evenings as a fitness instructor and I spent a few summers working in health clubs. I'm not a doctor or nurse, but I feel confident in these monthly offerings to promote some healthful living.

This month, I want to encourage you to share your health with others. Give blood. Someone needs it. I started donating blood on a regular basis in college and have continued whenever I could. I had some months off when I was pregnant or breastfeeding one of the brood, but I always get back in the old reclining chair and let those blood bank workers poke me with needles.

I'm a great donater. I have excellent veins that fill those plastic bags in just a few minutes. I was disappointed to get turned away last time because my iron was too low. That was the first time I'd been turned away for that. In college I couldn't give sometimes because my blood pressure was too low. I added some iron supplements to my routine so I can donate later this week.

How about you? Do you give blood? Afraid of those needles? Please take a few minutes and save a life.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Starting a New Chapter

Sometimes simple little things slip by a new writer. When I sold my third romance book and started working with a new editor, she pointed something out that I hadn't noticed. I had two chapters in a row that started with the characters in the same room, having a serious discussion. Even though many days had passed between the two chapters, the scenes were way too similar. The editor pointed out how important it is to start each chapter differently.

Don't start each with an action scene or a love scene. Don't start with an intimate discussion or the very worst, with your main character waking up in bed.

I think this can apply to many things in life. Today I won't be visiting many blogs because I'm in Boston, dropping my daughter off at college. For over eighteen years, the two of us spend most of our hours together when I wasn't working. We've traveled hundreds of miles together, just the two of us, visiting family and colleges. I have five sons, so it was always the two girls against all those guys. We definitely had them out numbered. Now she's moving on to the next part of her life, and I am too.

 I'm going to have more time to write. The house will be quieter. I'm going to read a good book and not be able to go lay on her bed while we talk about it. She's not going to be bugging me to check out some cool picture on Pinterest. But it's all good. I'm going to feel more like a nearly full time writer. I'll have more me time. I'm going to start a new chapter and it's going to be different than the chapter before.

This month, I'm the featured author over on the TBR blog run by that paragon of energy, Cate Masters. As a reader, you find some great stories on the blurb fests and by meeting some great authors each week. Please stop by and visit. If you might be interested in being featured, check with Cate.

So have you started any new chapters in a different way, either literally or figuratively? Are you prepared for the change of seasons? Are you taking a late summer vacation on this Labor Day weekend?