Wednesday, February 3, 2021

IWSG: February, 2021 Edition


 It really can't be time for the monthly IWSG blog hop, can it?  Apparently so. Thank you, Alex J. Cavanaugh, our founder, and all the admins who keep this group of supportive and inspirational writers joined in the sometimes frustrating and sometimes uplifting career.

This month's optional question:

 Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?

Of course. I expect the timing of this question isn't coincidental to the upcoming blog hop honoring Jo Wake this Saturday. I still choke up writing her name. I won't talk about Jo here, but I know anyone who visited her blog often considered her a friend and an inspiration. I feel like I've known some of you who visit my blog for years, and it has been years. I've purchased and read your books. Benefited from your expertise and learned from your experiences. I always feel like I've received more from you than what I've given. The loss of Jo really brought home to me how much the blogging community has come to mean to me.

"You’re never wrong if you love and help people." Maxime Lagacé

I'm busy with editing. Actually, going over the last edits that Jo Wake returned to me. I'm lingering over her comments and suggestions. 

My romance publisher is creating new covers for my one series to re-launch them. Small presses are really struggling and being strangled by Amazon. It's been a while since anyone I know has had book sales to crow about. Writing is a tough way to make a living, or even enough to pay for the coffee and wine needed to keep going.

I hope some of you have been able to get the Covid vaccine. I'm not even qualified in any way to get in line. I'm thinking summer at the earliest. My husband is old enough, but he hasn't been able to make an appointment yet. What a mess.

I'm busy working with Pennwriters, the statewide multi-genre writing group I'm currently serving as President. It's been a stressful year. We had to cancel our large conference last May and recently made the decision to go virtual this May. We knew it was a possibility, but the disappointment is real. And now there are a lot of moving parts to organize despite everyone's recent forced education in online learning and virtual meetings. 

"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Good news: I have a number of guests scheduled over the course of the next month. Some authors I really respect and admire. I've been doing more reading than writing or watching TV, so I'm always on the lookout for some good books and new authors.

Have you made friends through blogging? Have you received your Covid vaccine? Have a spare dose? Are you spending more time online for work or education?

Stay safe, friends.




Jo Wake, Love and Friendship


If love and friendship had a name, it might be Jo Wake. I tear up even writing this now. Jo was a strong, amazing woman. We've all heard that getting old isn't for sissies. Jo was no sissy, though I hate that term. She remained independent right up until the last few days of her life.

Her interests were so wide and varied, one can not name them all. She was a life-long learner like we all should strive to be. I can't tell you how many shows and musical videos I watched because she recommended them. She also loved to recommend books.

I was one of the fortunate ones for whom Jo read and edited my books. She was excellent at it. But once or twice every book, she would suggest an edit that was changing my American wording to something British or Canadian. It always made me smile.

Jo loved to cook and experiment. She convinced me to buy an instapot so I could try some of those delicious recipes. She encouraged me to start with something simple and sent me her Mac-n-Cheese recipe. It's delicious.


Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
 
This macaroni and cheese is every family's favorite comfort food pasta recipe made easy in the Instant Pot!  You can have creamy, mouthwatering, homemade mac and cheese for dinner in about 10 minutes!
 
8 oz Uncooked Elbow Macaroni
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 Tbs Butter
1 tsp Hot Pepper Sauce
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/4 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1/2 to 1 cup Milk
 
1. Add the uncooked macaroni, chicken broth, butter, hot sauce, garlic powder, pepper, and salt to the Instant Pot.
 
2. Place the lid on the pot and set to sealing.  Cook on manual function, high pressure for 5 minutes.  Then, do a quick release.
 
3. Stir in the cheeses and milk until smooth.  Season as necessary to taste.
 
4. Notes
 
5. NOTE:  The cheeses listed in the recipe have produced the best flavor that I have found.  Feel free to use your family's favorite cheese combination.
 
6. NOTE:  For the milk, start with 1/2 cup and add up to one cup if you find it needs to be thinned out a little bit more.
 
7. IMPORTANT: Empty pot before sitting down to eat otherwise it will be difficult to clean as cheese sticks.
 
Servings: 4

I cherish my friendship with Jo and will never forget her. My instapot won't allow it. Cheers, Jo. I think heaven is eating a little better with you there.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

IWSG: January 2021


 We're finally here in 2021, though not much has changed from last week. Some things staying the same is good like the IWSG. Still led by our intrepid founder, Alex J. Cavanaugh, we can share our woes and victories monthly. Find the entire list of participants here. Not to say the IWSG is in any way static. Lots of things going on all the time like the Twitter Pitch coming up on January 20th. Get the details on this page.

As I did last month, I apologize for not visiting more blogs. I've had to have my comments on moderation for a while. I was going to undo that this month, but sure enough there were four spam comments among the rest.

This month's question:

January 6 question - Being a writer, when you're reading someone else's work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people's books?

I love this question. First and foremost for me is liking the voice of the author and then liking the characters. If I don't care for the main character, I put the book down. If I don't like the voice, I not only put that book down, but I won't pick up another by that author. I'll usually give an author up to 100 pages if those two things suit me. After that, there has to be something happening by page 100. It can be action, suspense, mystery, or romance, but it has to be something. Reading page after page of a character's internal thoughts will put me to sleep. One last thing that will throw me out of the story early is a YA book where the teenagers don't act like teenagers, either too mature or too immature.

On my own writing front, I finally finished my WIP on New Year's Eve. My husband fell asleep so I wrote and wrote while sipping champagne. Haven't gone back to look at it yet, but I don't think the bubbly had too much influence on my writing. Like many of you, we celebrated alone.

I worry about my family and friends, including the virtual friends, with all that is going on. Not just health wise but financial distress also. I hope you all can get the vaccine soon if you're willing to take it. I believe I'll be in the last group to get it. My husband is older than I am, and all my children work in jobs that are considered essential. Stay safe in the meantime.

One of my sons bought me a terrific jigsaw puzzle for Christmas. I'll post a picture when I'm done. It's very relaxing to work on such a difficult puzzle. I've read a lot of books recently so feel free to send me some recommendations. I love the library but they've had to cut hours recently for financial reasons. 

TV is no fun. I'm looking forward to the return of Prodigal Son and Evil. The Expanse is giving us a new episode on Amazon once per week but that won't last long. They only have ten episodes per season.

Hope there is some positivity happening in your neck of the woods.

"I dwell in possibility." Emily Dickinson

What makes you put a book down? Did you down your champagne alone on January 1st? Ready for a Twitter Pitch.





Wednesday, December 2, 2020

IWSG: December 20

 Welcome to the last IWSG blog post of the crazy year, 2020. Thanks to all the admins at IWSG for all the work they've done and continue to do to keep this group dynamic and informative. And special thanks to the leader of the band, Alex J. Cavanaugh. To find a list of all the participants, visit this page.

This month's question?

Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why?

What a perfect time for this question. I had prepared my apologies to all of you for skipping last month and visiting so few blogs since the end of the summer. My excuses are lined up;

1. I've been so busy as president of Pennwriters, a statewide writers group, that I'm buried.

2. I'm spending so much time on Zoom meetings and keeping in touch with my family, that I can't do one more minute in front of a screen. (Do those blue light glasses actually work?)

3. My granddaughter is so full of energy as a 3 year old that I'm too exhausted to blog.

All pretty good and true reasons. Or call them excuses. I know what my problem is. I'm a little blue like I'm sure a lot of you are. I don't mind staying at home. I actually love it. But I'm worried about some members of my family who are also alone and may not like it so much as me. Then I'm feeling the absence of my only daughter even if we do Facetime nearly every day. Not the same as sharing a glass of wine and watching a movie together. I miss sitting in a coffee shop to write. I miss the face to face writers meetings. But most of all, I miss the friends and acquaintances that are not around for a number of reasons. The details are too sad.

I know why I'm blue and while I chide myself because there are others dealing with worse than I am, I can't quite help it.

I also know I'll rebound from this. I'm forcing some words onto the WIP. I expected to finish it in July and now have a desperate hope to finish before the end of the year. I'm walking more even though it's starting to get cold. And I'm reading some great books. I'm making sure to stay in touch with family and friends, as much for them as myself.

"When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it." Henry Ford

Enough of my whining. I loved the end of Supernatural though I cried for the last 30 minutes of the finale. I'm looking forward to the next season of The Expanse on Amazon later this month. There's really not much new stuff on TV unless you like contest or reality shows which I don't. There is one I might watch on HBO MAX, 12 Dates of Christmas, because one of my son's best friends is the male lead contestant. He's done some modeling but this is his first acting job. If you watch it, Chad Savage is the young man.

Most of all with this post, I wish all of you a joyful holiday season. I know many of us won't be able to spend it with family as usual, but I pray you're safe and happy. Take care of yourself and be careful not to take on the job of caring for everyone else. Take some me-time. I'm going to try to go into 2021 with a fresh energy and with hope for peace and health.

"Hope is a waking dream." Aristotle

Has 2020 been a good season of writing for you? Do you ever feel those blues and how do you get past it? What are doing for entertainment in this time of lockdowns?





Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Liftoff by Tyrean Martinson

Welcome to Tyrean Martinson. Enjoy her post and follow the rest of her blog tour.



Science Fiction Tropes and Popcorn Movie Influences: Aliens and Humans Mix

In science fiction, some of the interactions between aliens and humans have become tropes. Tropes can be symbolic and helpful for our understanding of plot and character in a fast-paced movie or show. We can use them, bend them, or try to avoid them.

For alien-human interactions, we have the classic tropes of:

·         War of the Worlds type aliens who want to kill/enslave humanity and takeover Earth. There are so many variations on this one it’s hard to name them all, but here are a few: Independence Day, Annihilation, Avengers, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Spectral, Pacific Rim, Starship Troopers, Edge of Tomorrow, Predator.

·         There are the peaceful, more advanced and powerful aliens who want to help humanity. Examples include: Arrival, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

·         Avatar by James Cameron offers the rare depiction where the humans are the aggressors.

·         Aliens who spy on humanity or pass us by, not considering us worthy “yet” of their attention. Examples of this include: The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Cat from Outer space.

·         Aliens and humans struggle to understand one another. Examples: Star Trek, Men in Black, Guardians of the Galaxy, Galaxy Quest, Babylon 5, Farscape, Stargate.

·         And sometimes, aliens and humans fall in love. Examples: Mork from Ork, Starman, John Carter, Superman, The Host, Earth Girls are Easy, and Captain Kirk in nearly every Star Trek television episode.

What kind of alien-human interactions do you like best in science fiction movies and television shows? Have any movies/shows to add?

 

LIFTOFF RELEASE INFORMATION FOR THE BOOK BLOG TOUR

 


 

Title: Liftoff

Subtitle: The Rayatana Series, Book 1

Blurb:

A spaceship in disguise,

An Earth girl searching for a sense of home,

And a Thousand Years’ War between alien races,

All collide on a summer afternoon.

An old movie theater welcomes Amaya in and wraps her up in the smell of popcorn and licorice. But one sunny afternoon during a matinee, the movie screen goes dark. The theater rumbles.

Amaya gets trapped in the middle of an ancient alien conflict. Angry and frightened, Amaya entangles herself in a life-changing cultural misunderstanding with Sol, a young alien who keeps omitting key information, even while they’re on the run from his enemies.

What will it take to survive a battle between alien races involved in an ancient war?

Liftoff is a fast-paced read for fans of Code 8, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Cobra Kai.

 

Release Date: November 10, 2020

Paperback ISBN: ISBN: 978-0-9889933-8-9

Ebook ISBN: ISBN: 978-0-9889933-9-6

Copyright Tyrean Martinson November 2020

Publisher: Wings of Light Publishing, Gig Harbor, WA, USA

Professionally Edited by Chrys Fey

Cover Art and Interior Design by Carrie Butler

LINKS: Kindle           Barnes and Noble                  Kobo               Smashwords                Goodreads

 


About the Author: Tyrean Martinson is an author and teacher from Washington State. As a former fencer and kickboxer, she enjoys writing fight scenes in fast-paced novels and novellas. As a teacher and writing tutor, she loves to get students writing and reading comfortably by any means: talk-to-text, short writing assignments, short stories, novellas, and adventures. She wrote her latest novella, Liftoff, for herself during COVID, but realized it also fits a dream she’s had for a while: to create a short, fast-paced read for teen/YA readers who love popcorn movies, adventure, and sweet romance.

Author Links: Blog     Newsletter       Instagram        Twitter             Facebook

 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

IWSG: October 2020 Version


 Hello fellow IWSGers. It's October already and fall! Hope you're joining the IWSG blog hop today. Thanks to Alex J.Cavanaugh and the admins at IWSG, we can all share our victories, woes, and ask as well as give advice. Find the entire list of participants here.

This month's optional question was about the description of a working writer versus an aspiring or hobbyist writer.

This is just my opinion, but I feel that a working writer is someone working toward publication. It doesn't have to mean that they are making money with their writing, but they're trying to. An aspiring writer is a working writer who isn't published yet. I feel a hobbyist writer doesn't care if they are ever published. Again, only me trying to define something that allows for opinions rather than something concrete.

I'm still plugging away (slowly) at my WIP. Other responsibilities have taken over my writing time. I hope it gets less hectic in a few weeks.

I used to hate fall, mainly because it meant a return to school. Now it only means my granddaughter is with me everyday and I can really enjoy the pleasant days and cool evenings. I can enjoy raking leaves again and watching the geese fly over. Welcome fall!

"A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows." St. Francis of Assisi

TV is so useless right now. No new content and the news is awful. I'm re-watching Evil on Netflix. It's even creepier the second time around. I enjoyed Enola Holmes. I found it cute and fun. It doesn't hurt that I know the writer of the book it was based on. And my husband is glad to have football back. I'm glad he's entertained also. We're surviving the pandemic restrictions without driving each other bonkers.

Good news, though. Supernatural is back on tomorrow. The final episodes. I don't want it to end, but I can't wait to see how it does. If you've been watching The Boys on Amazon, you know it's crazy and wild. I can't think of a good word to describe it.

I got my flu shot even though I've never had the flu. It seems like the smart thing to do. I hope you are doing all you can to stay healthy.

Do you enjoy fall? Do you write as a hobby or as work? Anything good to watch on TV, Netflix, or Amazon? What are you doing to stay healthy?


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

IWSG: September 2020

 


Welcome to the monthly blog hop of The Insecure Writers Support Group. This dynamic group started by Alex J. Cavanaugh and led by a group of amazing administrators, posts once a month to share our insecurities, knowledge, and to encourage each other.  Find the entire list here.

This month's optional question: If you choose one author, living or not, to be your beta reader, who would it be and why?

That is a tough one. First, I would be completely intimidated by my choice. Brandon Sanderson is my likely first pick. He writes big books and I would love to see his series bibles for all his different series. He writes epic heroes, but they are perfectly flawed and often insecure. They make so many human mistakes, and he conveys their inner voices so well.

2020 has flown by and yet few of us can wait for it to be over and done with. Not that flipping a page on a calendar really wipes away the previous months. The stresses are many and the escapes few. It's easier for people like me who are mostly content to stay home, write and read, and who need only occasional trips to the grocery store. Though I still have to worry about my family as they all continue to go to work each day. I hope you all are doing okay. Remember to reach out with a phone call or email to someone who might be feeling alone. It will lift your spirits also.

"If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else." Booker T. Washington

I'll be perfectly happy to never attend another Zoom meeting. But I have two this week and more in the days to come. I can't imagine what it is like for students and teachers to spend all day on it. On the 12th, I'm attending a virtual writers conference. We'll see how that goes.😕

I'm looking forward to The Boys returning for season 2 on Amazon in a few days. I'll also check out the new HBO offering, Raised by Wolves. There is so little new things to entertain. Good thing I enjoy books!

My granddaughter starts pre-school next week. Just two mornings each week, but I feel like I'm throwing her into the wild. LOL  It didn't bother me at all to send my own children off to school. Being a grandparent is really different. Though I'll miss having my little shadow by my side for 8 or 9 hours per day, I'm excited for her to spread her wings and learn her way. She is three and a half. About time she gets going.

"It's great to arrive, but the trip's always most of the fun." Malcolm Forbes

Who would you like as a beta reader for your work? How are you entertaining yourself and family during the restrictions? Are you keeping in touch with friends and family?