Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Full Steam Ahead, Fall Back

I'm sooo busy. My job on the board with Pennwriters is keeping me busier than I want to be. Keeping up with this blog and putting in appearances in on Twitter and Facebook now an then takes up a good bit of time.

The husband still needs my help on the big paint job he's working on. My mother's birthday is today and I knew my sister and brother would visit her in the long-term care facility she lives in so I went yesterday. She's turning ninety today. I bundled her up and took her for a walk out in the residential streets where we could run her wheel chair through the leaves. It was a good time and helped pull up a few of those quickly disappearing memories of the past. Her smiles made the long trip worth it many times over.

The new WIP is coming along and the characters are becoming real people like they're supposed to. It's at the point where it's on my mind all the time. Good thing.

And there's still lots of outside work to be done. Some flowerbeds need a little loving before winter jumps us.
Facebook group for BC awareness

Later this week I'm going for my mammogram. Did all you old ladies get yours this year? Did you guys remind your wives and mothers? Be aware.  Not a fun thing but better to get rid of that one worry.

From The Old Farmer's Almanac trivia:
Tomorrow, October 29th is the birthday of the ballpoint pen, first sold in 1945 for $12.50 each.
In medieval England, apples and nuts were believed to have magical powers and thus were eaten on October 31st.

And I saved the best two things for last. You still have a few more days to send in your short story for the first IWSG anthology contest. Get the details and send it by November first.

Second thing. Turn your clocks back Saturday for the ending of Daylight Savings Time. An hour of sleeping in though it does mean it gets dark around 5 p.m.

Be save for Halloween. I'm staying home.

What has you busy? Any Halloweening in your future this year? Do you like when the time changes? Would you pay that for a ballpoint pen? I wonder how much that would be with today's inflation rate taken into account.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Listing My Way

Thanks to Bish Denham and Alex J. Cavanaugh as they host the first ever 'listing' blog hop. The Listing Blog Hop celebrates eight years of blogging for Bish and a bunch of us are helping her celebrate by sharing a list of anything. The list should be between 5 and 25 items long.

I don't make lists of favorite movies, TV shoes, bands or foods though I enjoy reading what others think. Often that gives me new ideas of things to watch, listen to or try. My lists are always of things to do and always about my writing. I actually buy small tablets just for this purpose and make a new list every Sunday. I make myself feel better by checking off things I've accomplished. This past week I did all of them except for one. But that list is boring and meant only for me.

If you've read my blog over the past few years, you know how much I despise winter. I complain (okay, I whine) about it frequently over the course of the cold dark months. So, I'm going to try and list my winter issues today and then maybe I won't repeat them over and over again later. But I probably will.

*Winter is cold! I hate being cold. Give me sweltering temperatures any day.
*Snow and ice. Sure, they look pretty on the trees, but one has to be shoveled and the other makes the world a dangerous place.
*The heating bill goes way, way up. We hit a record for one month last winter when we had so many sub-zero nights.
*The hours of daylight are very, very short. Still dark when you rise in the morning and it's dark again before dinner.
*It's basketball season. Don't get me wrong, I played basketball in high school and all my boys played, but I can't stand to watch it for hours on TV. But my husband can!
*No swimming pool! I love my pool and spend some of nearly every day in it in the summer. Usually to cool off after lawn work or walking.
*Exercising outside becomes a battle of wills between nature and my desire for health. Sometimes nature wins because it's TOO cold.
*Fresh fruits and vegetables are more difficult to come by. And the fruit smoothies I make aren't as much fun when I'm cold.
*Poor drivers descent into something worse than bad driving in the winter.

You know me, I could go on and on about the evilness of winter but I'll stop there. A good thing about it is Christmas and the other holidays during the otherwise darkest time of year.

Don't forget you have this week yet to get your short story in for the first IWSG anthology. Deadline is November 1st and the details are here.

Visit Bish Denham or Alex J. Cavanaugh to find the rest of the list of list-ers. And you can help me out on my list. Show solidarity about winter with me or point out some of the good points of winter that I may be overlooking. Are you a list maker? Have you been blogging as long as Bish?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Plan Ahead

My husband has a lot of sayings he uses as a painter. My children quote them all the time. One he uses a lot is "Plan your work and then work your plan." When painting a room or an entire house, there is an order to things so everything comes out looking good. You also want to work efficiently, painting everything that is one color first before you clean brushes and start another color.

I always like to say I don't set goals. I make plans. Sometimes those plans are written down somewhere though usually they're sitting somewhere in my mind at all times. I know what order I need to do things in to get everything done. For instance, I had to get this blog ready for today, so I wrote it Tuesday night before I went to work on my newest WIP. This had to be done today. The WIP is still in the infancy stages and there's no deadline on it so far. In the efficiency department, I usually outline what I want to include in a post and open windows to all the links I'm going to use before I start typing. For my WIP, I always have a scene outlined in my head or on paper before I open the document. Much more efficient than staring at a blank page wondering what is coming next.

My painter family also has a term called, negative painting. Negative painting occurs when you mess up and have to back track or redo. Serious negative painting occurs when someone spills the paint or steps in the paint tray. Other examples are using the wrong paint, leaning against a wall that is still wet or bumping the roller pad against the ceiling or trim when you're rolling the walls. Negative writing is when you keep redoing a scene or continuously edit the first draft so you never get to the end. I believe in pushing forward through the doubts and crappy first draft. All can be fixed in the second and third drafts.

"Inspiration exists, but it must find you working." Pablo Picasso

Enough painting analogies.  On the TV front, I'm loving the new season of Fargo and Blindspot is keeping me interested as is Limitless. I gave up on Minority Report already and might give up on the Bastard Executioner. Doctor Who was good last week after what I thought was a weak start to the season in the previous episodes. Once Upon a Time has been terrific. That show made Peter Pan the bad guy two seasons ago and this time around it's King Arthur being the nasty. I love the creative spin on fairy tales they do.

I know we all have people we enjoy following on Facebook and Twitter but I'd like to recommend an entertaining writer who makes me laugh every day on Twitter. Brain Rathbone writes epic fantasy and he says so many clever things on Twitter. Check him out if you want to add some humor to your social media.

"Humor is by far the most significant activity of the human brain." Edward de Bono

Still ten days to get your short story in for the IWSG anthology. Speaking of epic, this venture is going to rock.

Have any sayings to fit the way you approach your work? Have you done any negative writing lately? Any show capturing your interest this season? Who makes you laugh on social media?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Slow Down, October

The month is more than half over. Have you submitted your short story to the IWSG short story anthology contest? You still have until November first. Read all the details here.

Ready for more confusing statistics about book sales? Here are some numbers and analysis from the Association of American Publishers. One good point they made was that in 2014, there was a huge bump in sales of children's and YA titles because of the Frozen craze and the last book in the Divergent series. Once again, like previous reports this accounting only includes reports from the the members of AAP and these are only for the first part of 2015. People are still buying lots of books. They're just buying more self-published books.

Last Saturday's Book Expo in York, Pennsylvania ranged from a medium to great on a success scale. Great was the atmosphere. Lots of enthusiastic writers and artists. Hundreds of readers, many of them children. I met some new writers and chatted with long time friends like Cate Masters, Allison B Hanson, Heather Heyford, and Don Helin. That was the success part. At an event like this, authors pay for their table space. You have to sell a lot of books to even break even. I'm happy to say that I sold enough to pay for my table and a little bit beyond that. Not bad because the table was expensive. Beyond the books I sold, I also handed out a lot of cards and had a number of people who snapped pictures of my books with their phone or looked them up right there. So hoping that means some additional digital sales. And it was fun.
Me, taken by Cate Masters

On more news from last week front, I received a new contract for the first book in my newest space opera romance series. Title isn't set in stone yet, so I'll share it later. I'm busy with the second one and happy with my word count if not sure about the pacing of the contents.

I have so many lists of things to do on my writing desk that I'm thinking of making lists of lists. I'm trying to get those done in between raking leaves and doing some major house cleaning. I've mentioned many times that I don't like the cold but the one weather condition I really try to avoid is wind. And it's been so windy. I'm thinking of just raking the leaves out of the flowerbeds and from under the trees and hope the wind carries them all into the woods or into the neighbors' yards.

A few of the things I enjoy about fall weather is the crunching of leaves when I walk or jog. The sound of geese flying south. The brightness of the stars on a clear cold night. The change of seasons is a beautiful treasure with mysterious of science and the grace of God giving me an appreciation of what I've been blessed with. So slow down, October, and let me enjoy it a while longer.

"In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia." Charles A. Lindbergh

"It is not easy to walk alone in the country without musing upon something." Charles Dickens

Are you working on that short story? Ever make a list of lists? Do you enjoy a change of seasons? What do you think of my nefarious plans to send my leaves on their way to another land?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Not Writing Every Minute

I've very excited for this Saturday when a ton of authors will be participating in the York Book Expo. It's the first year for the expo so we're hoping it does really well and can become an annual event. Oh, and I hope I sell enough books to pay for my table. If you're anywhere near York, PA, stop in and see us.

Though this blog is usually something about writing, I really don't spend every waking moment writing or thinking about writing. Lots of other things are going on around this house.

I've mentioned this before. It's a big house. Finished basement, six bedrooms on the third floor and four big rooms on the first level. One of those rooms is my perfect office. But it's a lot of square footage to keep clean. Then we have an acre and a half of property outside that I do 100% of the work taking care of it. Keeps me busy.

My husband is a painter as in home and commercial painting. He has a pretty good reputation for perfection. Recently, he has had so much work backing up that he has had to call in reinforcements. You guessed it. I'm not as skilled as he is but I'm very patient. This week, I've already spent 17 hours removing wallpaper. Ask a house painter what he hates and he'll say wallpaper. Removing it is my specialty but this job is challenging even my vaulted even keel.

I read every day, even if only for 30 minutes. Not only do I enjoy it, but as a writer, I think it's part of my job.

Unless I'm helping my husband with his work, I walk/job at least 60 minutes every day. Not looking forward to the cold weather.

I only watch a little TV in the evenings. Once Upon a Time on Sundays, Scorpion on Monday, Sleepy Hollow on Thursday and I have to add Fargo to the list. Friday nights in the fall, I go watch my son coaching high school football. Anything else I watch is usually on-demand days after it airs and I do that in the morning when I'm doing social media stuff.

Being a full time writer and working from home, even with my own office space, it is so easy to be distracted by all those other things. Add laundry, shopping and cooking, and it's very easy to put in a full day without ever sitting down at the keyboard. I usually write later at night and weekends, a habit holdover from my teaching days. But for the next 48 days, my local writer's group is having a 50/50 competition. It started Monday and each participant writes at least 50 words per day for 50 days. That's not that many words and most people once they start write many times more than 50. And everyone is so encouraging as we post our daily totals on our forum. Which is exactly the point. And getting that habit of writing every day is highly recommended for people who want to make a career of it. But not every minute.

"True friendship is a plant of slow growth."  George Washington

Don't forget you have until November 1st to get your short story in for the IWSG's very first short story anthology.

Do you think about your writing even when you're not actually sitting at the keyboard? Do household chores take away a lot of your writing time? Every participate in something like our 50/50? I know NaNo is coming up soon.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Salem's Daughter by Stephen Tremp

Thank you Susan for hosting me on my Salem’s Daughters Blog Tour. This post I’m spotlighting a particular character named Madelyn, one of the thirteen disembodied witches inhabiting the bodies of cute little kitties that terrorize a bed and breakfast called Murcat Manor. 

Madelyn is the youngest and a very shy girl (compared to the twelve extroverted witches) and has a different and unique gifting. She’s a genius with an incredibly high IQ. Black circles of fur around her eyes look like thick rimmed glasses giving her a nerdy look. She uses tablets and laptops when Bob and Debbie Stevens sleep to research science and technology, helping explain some of the witches magical abilities and increase their gifting. Here’s Madelyn explaining to her sisterhood: 

“With Bob’s touch screen devices, I can touch and swipe and move to any site. And I can key in words. It’s difficult, but I can do it. I punch in the first few letters, and the computer completes the word or phrase—and most of the time it gets it right, just what I wanted. This information age is nothing short of amazing.” 

This is important to the coven as the other twelve, originating in Colonial America in the early 1700s, never progressed past elementary school and had no desire to educate themselves during their previous five lives. 

Understanding E=MC2 is a cinch for Madelyn. She helps Esther, another witch, employ a new trick; creating energy bursts from water vapor in the air. Esther had always been able to cause small explosions but never understood the incredible potential she had. Madelyn teaches her to focus on converting hydrogen from water molecules in the air into helium and energy is released. The result is much smaller than an explosion, but still another very effective toy to help terrorize the guests at Murcat Manor. 

Madelyn also benefits herself from access to the Internet. As the story progresses, certain people begin to make connections that there’s more to these thirteen lazy cats than meets the eye. The witches are locked in numerous deadly battles with these characters and often it’s Madelyn who use logic, not magic, to defeat those who challenge the cats and their mystical powers. 

Madelyn is one of my favorite characters in Salem’s Daughters. It was a challenge to develop her since she doesn’t have an ability like the others, but after much perseverance, I think I ended up with a real winner with the nerdy introvert. 

Short Blurb: A four hundred year old evil is unleashed when the daughters of those killed during the Salem Witch Trials find a new generation of people to murder at a popular modern-day bed and breakfast. 

Stephen Tremp writes Speculative Fiction and embraces science and the supernatural to help explain the universe, our place in it, and write one of a kind thrillers. You can read a full synopsis and download Salem’s Daughters by Clicking Here
Nerdy Me Hard at Work Writing Salem's Daughters

Stephen Tremp posts weekly blogs at his website Breakthrough Blogs

Next Stop: Tuesday October 13th Stephanie Faris for How I Use Kids in Salem’s Daughters. To kill, or not to kill. That is the question (and that's not really me hahaha).

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IWSG October Edition

First Wednesday of October, ALREADY!  Please join this terrific blog hop started by our creative leader, Alex J. Cavanaugh. You can join us by signing up on the IWSG site and/or join our Facebook group. Come and share your victories, your advise or ask for help. There's answers and support to be found.

I just finished the third draft of my first novel in a new space opera romance series and sent it off to my publisher. By the end of the week, I'll be working on the next one. One of the things I work on in the second and third draft is to make sure all my scenes have a reason to exist. If you've studied the craft of novel writing, you're heard the term, saggy middle.

The middle of the novel should build the tension, develop the plot and if it's a romance novel, develop that too. Many writers know how to make the beginning of their novel exciting and the end is always fun and fast-moving. But you have to keep the reader turning pages through the middle so they get to that finely crafted ending.

Here's a few things I check to make sure things stay interesting in the middle. Don't have too many scenes in the same location. Writing space opera romance, it would be easy to have my characters having scenes on the bridge or making love in the captain's cabin for all the romance scenes. But I have to mix it up. They need to make stops on different worlds or space stations.

Your story probably has a big conflict that you're building up to from the beginning of the story. Add some complications. Make it tougher for your protagonists to solve their problem. Add another complication to the romantic relationship.

If you have trouble with a sagging middle problem, the best solution may be to cure it before it starts. Plot it out. Plot those scenes that will keep your story moving along. And then edit, edit, edit when you get to the second, third and fourth drafts.

This coming Friday is Leif Eriksson Day so how about and Irish proverb.  A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.

Don't forget your short story ready for the IWSG anthology. Read the details here.

How do you deal with a sagging middle in your novel? Do you have your short story ready for the anthology? Have you ever caught yourself writing too many scenes in the same setting?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Question of the Month

The first Monday of the month is when Michael D. Agostino hosts the blog hop, Question of the Month. You can find him at his blog, A Life Examined, and join into this fun easy hop. The question this month:

"Who would play you in the movie of your life?"

I asked my children this and they suggested Linda Hamilton as she was in the first Terminator movie as Sarah J. Connor. But I see myself more as Patricia Heaton as she played Raymond's wife in everyone loves Raymond. All those silly males and the one sensible female putting up with them, that's me. My dear husband even admits to being more than a little like Raymond when it comes to fixing stuff up around the house. It doesn't usually turn out so good. I think Patricia could portray me with the endless patience I've needed as a mother and a high school teacher.

Don't forget this Wednesday is IWSG and I hope you're participating because it's fun and because it qualifies you to submit your short story to the IWSG's first ever anthology. If you're seriously pursuing a writing career, having one of your stories selected in a contest could be just the one little thing that encourages an editor or agent to take a longer look at your query. If you're self-published, it's the chance to have an entirely new group of readers learn of your existence and fall in love with your voice. Don't miss the opportunity. You have until November first.

Have you heard of this? Text neck? A real and growing health issues is striking smart phone users, some of them quite young. Early arthritis, herniated and bulging discs, muscle strain and pinched nerves. Did you know that your head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds and the angle you bend your neck to read that smart phone raises that pressure on your upper spine to up to 60 pounds. Of course, the best way to prevent is limit use of your cell phone. Lots of people will agree to that, won't they? But you can do some gentle head and shoulder rolls to relieve the tension in your neck. Looking down at our tablets and laptops adds to all that strain.

And some wisdom from The Old Farmer's Almanac in case you didn't win the lottery last week.

If you spend one dollar every second, it would take more than 31 years to spend a billion, 

Wisdom consists of 10 parts--nine parts of silence and one part with few words. Arabian Proverb

Are you having some pain in your neck. Or being one? Who would play you in he movie of your life? Are you ready for IWSG on Wednesday. Can it really be October already?