Friday, February 28, 2014

So Long, February

I thought I would enjoy my first winter as a full time writer a little more than I did. Don't get me wrong, it was way better than teaching. But I lost count of how many times I shoveled snow this year. How many times has the weatherman said 'record lows?' So I'm glad to wave farewell to February though I hear another snow storm is coming our way on Monday.

There are many things to look forward to in March. I have some guest blogging spots coming up throughout the month. Some here and some where I'm visiting elsewhere. A couple of blog hops and of course I'll be preparing for A to Z challenge.

By this time next week, I'll have the third and final book in my Recon Marines series in the hands of my editor at New Concepts Publishing. Also good news, the second book, The Marine's Heiress is now available on Amazon Kindle.

Tomorrow is the monthly meeting of my local writers' group and that always gets me pumped up. I need that now as I'm gearing up to start my next series. I have three different ideas and I need to settle on one. It's always exciting to start out fresh.

Are you glad to see February end? Have plans going for March? Have you shoveled enough snow yet?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


One of my fellow CPRW writers wrote a great article for our monthly newsletter. It has been almost two months since most people set their 2014 goals or maybe you dared to call yours resolutions. We know what happens to most of those.

Elizabeth Delafield suggests you don't through that list away. Redo it. Rework some dates. Revise your goals. The start of March, one sixth of the way through the year, maybe you have a better idea of how reachable those goals are.

Maybe your goal is no longer as important. Maybe you've already achieved it. Perhaps due to circumstances beyond your control, you can't meet your original time frame. Sometimes a third party interferes with your ability to meet your goal.

So take the time this weekend to adjust and reload. You can redo or rewrite those goals. They belong to you so take charge of them.

On another note, last week for the Ubuntu blogfest I wrote about Penn State's Thon that raises money for the Four Diamonds Fund that battles childhood cancers. They trended on Twitter all weekend so I hope you noticed that. Check out the pictures. One of their total raised for this year and the other one my son sent me at 2:00am Saturday from the floor. As you can see, they raised over 13.3 million this year alone.

So how are your goals going for this year? Need to reset a few? Didn't bother to set any?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Always Something

Today is a good day to remind myself that there is always something I can be doing to help my writing career. My pesky sore throat, probably the flu, is dragging me down physically and I don't feel even a little bit creative. But there are other things I can do besides sip hot tea and huddle under blankets.

Today Alex J. Cavanaugh is a guest at How to Write Shop. Lori Devoti runs a site that has so much information I can spend hours there reading and learning. Please visit and check it out. You'll want How to Write Shop as a resource.

Also today I've posted 10 Signs You Might Be a Professional Writer at the IWSG blog. I hope you'll stop by and visit. There are more resource links on this blog than you can visit in a week. But find the right page and narrow your search to what you need to help you along.

If I'm still not up to par I can troll through the giveaways on Goodreads and score some free books. Or I can read some of the great free books I have on my Kindle already. I don't need a lot of energy to read good stories.

I also want to thank Michelle Howard for her shout out for The Marine's Queen on her website. I wish I could bottle up her enthusiasm and use it for myself.

So today I'll probably be visiting blogs and generally taking it easy. Have you visited How to Write Shop? Did you check out your sign on the IWSG blog? Do you know Michelle?

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Old and the New

When I'm writing I almost always have a movie or TV show playing, mostly as background noise. I grew up in a large family and have six children myself so quiet is too strange for me. Anyway, yesterday I had Star Trek playing on the DVD. Stargate, the movie or the show, Firefly are also among my favorite noises. Since my WIP is the last book in my Recon Marines science fiction series, the futuristic nature of those flicks hit the right note.

One can't help but think of how fictional a lot of science fiction is or for how long it will be fiction. Smart phones and 4G tablets, genetic engineering ... how long until we have transporters and wormhole travel? If you're old enough to do so, compare the technology of fifteen or twenty years ago to now.

But as I sit here preparing this I'm battling a sore throat. At my right hand is a cup of hot tea with honey and lemon in. The same thing my mother would give me when I was a child and her mother before her. For lunch, I'll probably have some chicken noodle soup, also the traditional remedy for flu-like symptoms.

Fifty years from now, I expect my children will give their grandchildren hot tea or soup when they're sick. The treatment will be just as effective and never go out of fashion. The only difference is they might use a hover cycle or maybe one of those transporters to go get the soup.

Can you think of anything you would have thought of as science fiction years ago that is now available? Do you have family non-medicinal remedies for illnesses? Do you think a genetically-engineered guy like Kahn would develop a god complex or would he be a super efficient, duty-bound soldier like my Recon Marines?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ubuntu Blogfest

Michelle Wallace over at Writer-In-Transit is celebrating her 3 year blog anniversary by hosting the Ubuntu Blog Hop. Here's the description in her own words.

What is ubuntu? "In Africa, there is a concept known as UBUNTU – the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others; that if we are to accomplish anything in this world, it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievement of others." – Nelson Mandela.
So in the spirit of ubuntu, I invite you to join me in celebrating my 3rd blogoversary!
Date – 18th to 21st February. I've allowed 4 days to make it easier for you guys, since some people only post once a week… save the date that coincides with your blogging schedule!

You can join on her blog. The details are there and it's easy with lots of options. This is perfect timing for me. Every year around this time a wonderful, heartwarming event takes place at Penn State University. Penn State has received some bad press(lots of it deserved) in the past few years, but none of that minimizes the wonders of the annual Penn State Dance Marathon to raise money for the Four Diamond Fund at the Hershey Medical Center.

The Four Diamonds Fund, started by a family that lost a child to cancer, has made its mission to conquer childhood cancer. The fund insures that no family will suffer financial difficulty while their child faces cancer. They pay EVERY cent of medical care not covered by insurance. They do other supportive things for the families and now fund research also. The Penn State Dance Marathon, lovingly called 'Thon' by everyone connected in any way to Penn State, has raised more than $101 million dollars for the Four Diamonds Fund.

If you speak to a Penn State alumni, one of their warmest memories of attending the sprawling university will be of Thon. So many students want to participate, they can't all fit on the floor. My youngest son, who is senior, is excited to have his first chance to be on the actual dance floor this year.

The students work all year to earn money. They come home on weekends and stand at major intersections to beg money from cars stopped at red lights. They canvas business for pledges. During the weekend long Thon, cancer patients and their families give inspirational talks, thanking the students. There are tears by the buckets. There are families who have lost their children to the dread disease, there to thank the students. This year one of them will be our very close friends who lost their son last spring. Nick had been a speaker at previous Thons.

The Penn State Thon reminds me of all that is good and compassionate in the world. Sometimes as we age, we worry about where the younger generations are going. If you ever witnessed Thon, you would find comfort in the sight of all those young people working so hard for no personal gain. This week at PSU it's FTK, for the kids.

Thanks, Michelle, for the perfect timing of this hop and congrats on your blog anniversary.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hard Science vs. Soft Science

My most successful books have been my science fiction romance books. Some writers of science fiction caused quite a dustup across the web about a year ago. I'm not going into that, merely giving my opinion of hard vs. soft science fiction. I'm not sure there is an official defining line between the two.

But I'm not talking about it here. Visit me over at Your Daily Dose where Robin has kindly offered the podium of her entertaining blog to pontificate on the genre of science fiction. Not as exciting as 'Here's to You, Thursday,' but stop in and comment if you have a moment.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Enough Already

I could be speaking of the weather. Really, winter, you may exit my neck of the woods anytime now. Not only did you interfere with my recent trip to Boston, you visited a blizzard on us there, and then a surprise white-out conditions on the way home. We managed to have a fun visit but we didn't get to do everything we had planned. Though Boston University did a wonderful job cleaning snow from their walks, just about every other sidewalk was a mess. I think people are just giving up. Winter, you win.

Beacon St. outside my daughter's dorm

Harvard Square

But the 'enough already' I'm wondering about is the many different things I've taken on in the last year. I've joined in a group blog and signed up for more blog hops and fests in the past six months than I have all put together before then. Not only have I signed up for the A to Z blogging challenge but I volunteered to be a minion this year. And I signed up for a few online classes. And now I'm considering taking on another duty with my one writing group. I don't think it demands a lot of time, but it's still another responsibility. All these things are about the writing business but none of them are helping me get words on a page. So I'm wondering if I'm doing too much.

I hope you'll join me tomorrow at Your Daily Dose as Robin host me in a brief discussion where I'll talk about how we define science fiction. Join me, please.

Don't forget to visit the Monday post on IWSG blog for some new, great advice.

So how many 'other' writing things are you involved in besides the writing part? Have you ever held an office in a writing group? Have you had enough of winter yet?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Best Job

If you've been with my blog for any length of time, you know I retired from teaching last fall. I highly recommend retirement. It's the best job I've ever had. I miss my students but not enough to wish I was still teaching.

The other best job I have is writing. I'm busy working on the last book in The Recon Marine
The old and the new side by side in Boston
s Series. I have goals for finishing up though the deadline is of my own making. What's better than being your own boss.

With another storm in the forecast, I very glad I won't have to worry about all those makeup snow days this year. It could mess up with my Valentine Day's plans. My husband and I have a date with my daughter and her roommate in Boston for dinner. Now if only we don't get that foot or more of snow they're predicting and even more for the Boston area. I think there's a glacier forming in my backyard.

And another word of wisdom from my Old Farmer's Almanac Planner. It's appropriate for Valentine's Day if you're wondering if you love someone. From English poet George Meredith, 1828-1909, "Kissing don't last, cookery do."

Don't forget that today is Abraham Lincoln's real birthday. When I was in school, we always had this day off. Now I have it off again.

I won't be posting on Friday as hopefully I'll be traveling. I'll try to visit everyone over the weekend. What are your plans for Valentine's Day? Are you in the path of the next white-out blizzard mega storm? Is your job as wonderful as mine?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Pick Your Spots

Last Saturday I went to the first book signing event I've attended in over a year. I definitely had ambivalent feelings about it. On the good side, it was an opportunity to spend time with my local writer friends. It was also a chance to interact with readers in person.

On the down side, book signings can be so hit and miss. The last few group signings I've attended have been less than successful with most of us selling only one or two books. The last two of those signings were in bookstores. So I didn't expect much in the way of sales on Saturday but I dutifully packed my bags and even a second one that I left in the car in case by a miracle I ran out of the few I carried into the venue.

One of the writers in our group, Natalie Damschroeder, had an in at the large gift shop/greenhouse where the staff welcomed us with a great set up. Large crowds surrounded out table before we even unloaded out books. They were interested and many purchased books. Others snapped pictures of our books with their phones for future reference or added them to their Amazon wish lists on their phones. They picked up cards and bookmarks.

I had just about decided to give up on book signings. Instead, I came home from the event energized and enthusiastic for more. A few key things played into the success. The great venue attracted a large crowd. The timing of the event close to Valentine's Day added to the promotion of the event with its link to romance writers. The large group of us involved meant a lot of online promotion. The word got out to a lot of people and the venue did its share of advertising. All combined to make a great day. So I haven't given up on book signings yet.
My pine tree

The really good news was that I did have to out to my car for that second bag.

Bad news. Snow again yesterday. More snow on Thursday. I think the Gourley family motto may have to be changed to the same as the Starks. Winter is not only coming, it's decided to stay.

Don't forget to visit IWSG for the Monday post. Have you made up your mind about A to Z challenge yet? Tired of shoveling snow? Planning something romantic for Valentine's Day?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Not Rain or Snow or Dark of Night

The weather played havoc with my blogging this week. Power outages meant no internet for long periods of time. A few extra trips to the store to resupply certain items and we won't even talk about my husband running over his phone after he dropped it into nine inches of snow. Ouch. Spring is only 41 days away.

But a lot of good things happened this week and I'm taking the time to mention my friends even as I'm so thankful it's Friday. Don't forget you can pick up CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh on Amazon for only .99 for this week only. Great deal for a great book.

My friend, Misty Simon, has a new release, Making Room at the Inn, available for free for a limited time. Everyone likes a free read and Misty is so entertaining.

Also check out this great review I received for my latest fantasy, First Dragon. It's one of the books I'll be signing at the big Valentine's sale this weekend at Ashcombe's Farm and Greenhouse. I'll be there along with fourteen other authors hoping to convince some of those shoppers looking for a romantic gift for their loved ones. It's a big place and so much going on we're really hoping for a big crowd.
  1. Ashcombe's gift shop

Did the weather witch get you this past week? Do you think my husband's phone can recover from being run over? Did you pick up CassaFire or Making Room at the Inn yet? Do you shop for those special Kindle sales for .99 or free?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

More Than You Think

Time again for the Insecure Writer's Support Group monthly sharing of our insecurities and the offering of support to each other. This group is the brainchild of our Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh. You can also join in the fun and find links to all the participants on the IWSG website. Hop on over there and be part of it.

I belong to my local chapter of RWA called Central Pennsylvania Romance Writers. We meet the first Saturday of every month, sharing news and helping each other with whatever questions we might have. Sometimes we have guest speakers. Last Saturday one of our authors shared what she'd learned at a workshop on pacing. She did a terrific job, providing us with an outline and going over lots of information and giving examples.

I love taking notes. As I sat there with pencil poised, I waited for those lovely new ideas that would help me improve my writing. A strange thing happened. As she shared the information, I realized I was doing or at least trying to do everything she talked about. As I silently tested my WIP, comparing it to the information given, I found it fit the suggestions. Though I didn't consciously think about those exact pacing parameters, I was doing it correctly. What is my point?

I'm a rather confident person in most areas of my life, except for my writing. I just don't feel I have expertise in any part of this business. But once in a while, I find out that I know more than I think I know. And most of us struggling along in this up and down business also know more than we think we know. Lots of us have some expertise to share. Think about what you knew when you first sat down at that keyboard and typed the first sentence of you novel or story with what you know now about story structure, pacing, editing, publishing, marketing and many other things. You know more than you think you know.

What areas of writing do you feel confident in and which are not your area of expertise? Would you feel comfortable teaching a class in one of those areas? Have you visited the IWSG blog and some other participants?

On a bonus note today, if you want to read a perfectly paced novel, check out this special week long sale of CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Only .99 for this week.

Monday, February 3, 2014

To Newsletter or Not To

Last Wednesday, Carolyn Howard-Johnson guested on the IWSG website. She offered lots of great information but one item that really caught and held my attention was her advice and opinion of newsletters.

Last year during the A to Z Blogging Challenge, my theme was a long list of things I was going to do or try to do when I became a full time writer. One of those things was starting an author newsletter. I know some writers put out regular popular publications and receive a few of them myself. As Carolyn mentions, the most successful newsletters are those that share more than promotion including her own, Sharing With Writers.

What I've decided is I'm not ready to make the time commitment a good, helpful newsletter would require. Even without the day job, keeping up with my blog and the other promotion I've been trying to do takes up a chunk of my writing time I don't like losing. I'm not saying never but for now I'll gratefully take advantage of the newsletters other writers share. Perhaps in the future, I'll revisit that thought.

I forgot to share any great little tidbits from my Old Farmer's Almanac planner last week so here's one for the season. "While creating its den, a groundhog typically removes over 700 pounds of soil." I guess that excuses them for eating all my cucumber plants last year. They needed the energy.

Do you write a newsletter? Do you receive any newsletters from writers or other professionals? Have you decided on a theme for A to Z yet?