Monday, December 19, 2016

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year

Today I'm posting over at the IWSG site if you'd like to stop in and visit. This post will close out my blogging for the year but I'll be around on Twitter and Facebook now and then.

2016 was a rough year for a lot of people. Within our family, we had ups and downs but through it all, we stuck together and supported each other. I trust that we'll be of one heart going into 2017. We're rich in all the right ways.

"Contentment lodges oftener in cottages than palaces." Thomas Fuller

We had a bit of snow and ice at the end of last week but I'm trying to have a better outlook on winter this year. We'll see how long that lasts.

"Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart." Victor Hugo

I'll use my first post after Christmas to talk about this year's writing progress and my plans for the next year. Some good news and some not so much.

I do want to thank all my faithful readers of this blog and especially those who leave comments. You make me smile and sometimes laugh out loud. To all of you, I wish the very merriest of holidays with the warmth of family and friends around you. I pray for your good health and happiness. If I could gift it to the world, I would share with one and all, my contentment and joy as a mother, wife, sister and friend. Bless you all.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Seasonal Musings

I always complain like so many other people about how early retailers put out their Christmas goods. Yet, here I am again with Christmas less than two weeks away and I'm unprepared.

This past weekend I accomplished a few things. The house is finally decorated. The tree is up but not decorated. The children insist on all being present to participate in that and it's very difficult to get that scheduled. But it's worth the wait to have all the good-nature arguing and teamwork that does into that. They all have their favorite ornaments that they must put on. There have been years when we didn't decorate the tree under the 23rd.

Another obligation was an extended family gathering on my husband's side. It was calm and fun, lots of good food.  A third thing was the start of plans for my daughter-in-law's baby shower. Male readers might not agree, but I love a baby shower. They're so hopeful and filled with joy.

The only shopping I've done so far is bring in packages from the front porch and the mailbox. The rest should arrive this week.

Book outline is not very far along but I'm going to work on it this week. Cold weather brought a bit of snow, a dusting, this weekend. I DON'T like it.

I read an interesting stat in Writer's Digest Yearbook. In 2015, 54% of ebook purchasers use their phone to read books at least some of the time. I do that sometimes when I'm waiting at the dentist's or doctor's. I would guess that lots of people read the news on their phones. My husband does this now after fighting about getting a smart phone.

Another mention in WD Yearbook was how adult coloring books actually accounted for the 3% increase in print book sales in 2015. Does that count? I'm sure you've heard the thoughts of how coloring is a good stress reliever for adults. Not my thing.

Are you ready for the holidays? Any gatherings you must attend? Do you read on your phone? Are you into the coloring book trend?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

IWSG: December Edition

Welcome to the last IWSG blog hop of 2016. This online writing group is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. Members post the first Wednesday of the month and share their concerns, victories and ask questions of each other. There is not a more supportive group anywhere. Also, for the past few months, IWSG has posed a question that members can answer or not. This month, inquiring minds want to know:
In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what's your plan to get there?

This is something I do think about. Like most writers, I want a big, big publishing contract that will allow me to hire a publicist, and to have movie people bidding on the rights to my novel. But on a more realistic level, I want to continue to write my romances for the small publishing house I work with, but I also want to finally have one of my fantasy series picked up by one of the big publishers like TOR or Orbit.

Writer's Digest put out their annual yearbook magazine. I always like reading their headline roundup. One item of great interest is the sales numbers for audiobooks. Digital audio accounted for the biggest growth area for traditional publishers in 2014. That trend continued in 2015 with a sales increase of audiobooks around 21% from the previous year. If you're looking to take advantage of that trend, there's a giveaway going on over at IWSG blog, where you can try to win a free book telling you how to make an audiobook. Michael Burnette's The Independent Author's Guide to AudioBook Production could be yours for free.

With the holiday season upon us, TV has lots of reruns on. What will I be rewatching to get through this dry spell? Probably a little Daredevil, Game of Thrones, The 100, and I don't know what else. New shows I've enjoyed this year are Pitch, This is Us, and Timeless. I also hope to get my next romance series outlined before January first. So lots to keep my busy beside Christmas happenings.

Have you thought about a 5 year plan? Or longer? Do you have experience with audiobooks as a writer or reader? What are you enjoying on TV these days?

Monday, December 5, 2016

QotM and Winter is Here

The first Monday of the month is the Question of the Month blog hop started by Michael G. D'Agostino over at A Life Examined. Answer the question and then visit the other bloggers pondering this month's query.

"What does retirement look like for you?"

As most of you know, I'm a full time writer and don't expect to ever completely retire from that. But I also taught high school for 34 years before this and have since retired from that career. Thank goodness or I would be starving without that pension. So I write almost every day now, take care of our huge house and property and sometimes help my husband with his painting business. The only thing I'd like to change about my current situation that would make if feel like retirement is to down-size. That would give me more writing time and the financial savings would allow more money to do some traveling.

Like many people today, we're pretty careful of our money. I know so many older people who can't afford to retire and are working well into their seventies. Likewise, I know many young people who are struggling from paycheck to paycheck and can't even dream of retirement and save toward it.

Speaking of questions, don't forget this Wednesday is IWSG posting day. The question this month;
In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what's your plan to get there?

And in some Ninja news, Alex J. Cavanaugh has a prequel to his terrific space opera series coming out tomorrow. CassaDawn is set before the events in the other Cassa novels. You can pre-order today or get it on Tuesday.

Had a great writer's Christmas party on Saturday. It's such fun to spend time getting to know everyone a little better and the food was good too. I haven't really done much shopping but I do have some ideas of what I need to get for everyone.

On the other hand, winter is determined to arrive. We had flurries and some sleet a few weeks ago and last night, we had some more. The only comfort in that is that I get to quote Game of Thrones. I can't count how many times I watched the last episode of season 6.

I have two different ideas I'm working on for my next series. As soon as I finish the edits I'm currently working on, I'll have to make a decision about it.
"Indecision may or may not be my problem." Jimmy Buffet

Are you preparing for retirement yet? Have any holiday parties in the future? Aren't you glad our winters only last a few months and not for years like on Game of Thrones? And we don't have white walkers.

Monday, November 28, 2016


It's always so tempting for me to be lazy with my writing at this time of year. There is so much going on from right before Thanksgiving until after the new year. Hosting Thanksgiving is so much work and also involves more than one shopping trip for me.

Now December will bring various social gatherings, more shopping and the time to decorate. Baking, cleaning, and other various chores can overtake my life and the writing business gets pushed aside. It's during this time of year that I most often have to remind myself that this is my job, not a hobby to be picked up when I have nothing else to do. I have to put writing first just like I was going out of the house for a day job.

So I'm doing my shopping online. I ordered something for my daughter from this list of gifts for writers. Not saying which one in case she stops into my blog today. I'm hitting up Amazon for another small gift for each of the kids. I marked a few things at AC Moore craft store for family gifts and already have Christmas cards though I send out a small fraction of what I used to. My daughter is home to help with the decorating so that speeds things up. I also have the Christmas menu planned for this year, a plan to make it less work for me.

What I'm trying to do, is remove all the reasons I give into the temptation to cheat my writing time.
"He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else." Benjamin Franklin

Next Wednesday is the first one of December so get your IWSG post ready. This month's suggested but not required question is:
In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what's your plan to get there?
There's what to get you thinking.

Don't know about your house, but there was SO MUCH football on at our house over the past holiday. Many of you know I'm from PA, so there was a lot of Penn State fan culture happening. Fun times.

Did you watch some football last weekend? What percentage of your Christmas shopping have you completed and how much did you do online? Does your writing time suffer at this time of year?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Give Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving a few days early. This is a very busy week when you're the one hosting Thursday's feast. It's also a week when a lot of people are traveling. At least this year, I don't have to pick someone up from college. I feel for all of you that have to fight traffic.

Holiday menu at our house. Lots and lots of turkey, baked corn, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, stuffing, gravy, monkey bread, fresh fruit(so we feel like we're eating something healthy), pumpkin pie, apple pie and ... that's enough. Then rolls and sliced cheese for cold turkey sandwiches later in the day. Unlike many families, we have our Thanksgiving meal at 11:30 am. It was a tradition started years ago so my stepsons could have dinner at our house and their mother's house. We kept it up as they married so we could all be together.

Though I do a lot of work for that one meal, for the rest of that day and the entire next one, I do no cooking. It's leftovers for everyone.  It gives me a break from the kitchen and all the cleaning I do before Thanksgiving. I deep clean so I can decorate for Christmas the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Yes, it's that time of year.

On Friday, I'm sure my daughter and I will watch The Gilmore Girls on Netflix together. I'm excited for that. I haven't done any Black Friday shopping since I can't remember. Never really had much success on that day anyway. There are a few places I might visit on Small Business Saturday, mostly because I want to support them more than I want to find special deals.

I'm getting some guests lined up for the new year. I'm making plans. Still working on my edits for the last Outlaw book. I hope to have it done in another week. Not sure what I'm working on next which is unusual for me.

Still doing the 50/50 writing challenge with my local writing group. My numbers are lower as I work mostly on edits, but I'm writing every day.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, be you American or not. I have so much to thank God for, I wish I could spread the joy to everyone.

What are your Thanksgiving plans? Are you going to dare the Black Friday crowds?  Are you a Gilmore Girls fan? Do you have to do any traveling this week?

Monday, November 14, 2016


All kind of great things from the past week. This past Saturday was my birthday. Five of six children filled the house for a little celebration. Food and then more food. Thoughtful gifts and joyful company. The missing son and his wife visited on Sunday with more of the same. I'm so lucky. My youngest son took me to the movies as a gift. We saw Dr. Strange, which was great. But how could anyone watch that in 3D? Wow. I got a little dizzy on a regular screen.

"The best smell is bread; the best savor is salt; the best love, that of children." George Herbert

I hope you have a chance to see the Supermoon. The Full Beaver moon is going to be bright and close by. If you don't know what a supermoon is, read about it here

 This is the closest and brightest a full moon will be since 1948 and it won't occur again until 2034.

As part of my birthday celebration, my husband and I are going out of town for a few days. Both of us can't wait to spend time doing nothing but whatever we want.

Another book signing next Sunday, the last of 2016. So far this year, I've had pretty good success at signings but it's like writing itself. Don't count on a great hourly rate.

Though the election is finally over, the country seems more divided than ever. I think we need to think of people as individuals. Treat people with kindness and stop judging people with such broad strokes. If you voted for Trump, it doesn't mean you're a bigot, racist or sexist idiot. If you voted for Clinton, it doesn't mean you're a liar or person looking for freebie government handouts. Because the government and media say we are a country divided, it doesn't mean we have to agree or act in such a way. Reach out and bring America together again.

"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult." Seneca

Next week, it will be all about thinking about Thanksgiving. Can't believe it's almost that time. Now I have to go pack.

What do you think you're hourly rate is as a writer? Are you going to check out that Supermoon? Does 3-D movies mess with your head?

Monday, November 7, 2016

QotM and What I Learned

Questions posed by others really help with the blog content. On last week's IWSG monthly hop, the question was "What is your favorite aspect of being a writer." I had my answers and they were all things I liked about being a writer, but then I read Michelle Wallace's answer and it made me realize that she had said what I should have said. Please read her post here.

All my life, I've always loved learning new things. I love learning about all things. I want to know everything. I want to master things. And writers are always striving to improve. There is no mastering this career. You may write some masterful prose, but that doesn't mean the next thing you write will be as good or better. There's always something to learn. I hope I keep wanting to learn new things and grow as a person until my last day. Thanks, Michelle, for reminding me to look a little deeper for the answer to that question.

Michael G. D'Agostino of A Life Examined, runs the Question of the Month blog hop where all the participants answer the question Michael has posed for the month. So today Michael asks:
When was your first kiss?

LOL. I'm pretty sure it was the neighbor boy when we were around ten. His farm was next to ours. Our fathers were friends and helped each other out with certain harvests. Raymond was the same age as me but was held back in first grade so we weren't in the same classes at school. He was very nice and we called each other boyfriend and girlfriend at a time when neither of us cared about such things. I might have been in fifth grade when he kissed me on the cheek. Our lives diverged in high school and then I went to college and moved away. I don't think I've spoken to him since but I've heard he is a successful business man with a nice family. As I write this, my husband is reminding me that his kisses made me forget all the rest.

I'm very grateful for my family this week for lots of reasons. I often hear of families where the children don't get along. My children, two stepsons and four of my own, love each other. They know each others faults and tolerate them. They chose to do things together. They love family gatherings and there has never been an argument at one. I know the upcoming holidays are very stressful for some families and I'm feeling very thankful for what I have.

"Gratitude is the sign of noble souls." Aesop

Still in the middle of my writing group's 50/50 challenge. Next year we're considering all doing NaNo together. Could be interesting. Good luck to all those doing the November challenge.

Hope all of you in the USA are going out to vote tomorrow. What a terrible election cycle. The best thing about tomorrow is that all the ads will be over. How the next four years go may make these past months feel like a fun time. Remember, no complaining if you don't vote. Have courage, America, no matter how the vote goes.

"We will either find a way or make a way." Hannibal

Have you tried to learn something new lately? Does your family get along during the holidays? Do you remember your first kiss? Are you going to vote tomorrow?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

IWSG: November Edition

November already! And time for the monthly posting for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. This supportive group started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, offers advice, shares our woes and cheer for each others' successes. You can join this wonderful group by signing up here.  And even if you're not already a member, you can visit other bloggers today.

A few months ago, we started posing a monthly question to our members. Members don't have to answer it, but if they don't know quite what to post that day, they can use it.

This month's question:
What is your favorite aspect of being a writing?

I love being self-employed. I love working at home. The coffee is good at home, but I can also have a glass of wine while I'm at work. Reading is part of my job. I have a great office. I guess I just can't pick one aspect. I love being a writer. Oh, and I've met some great friends.

Other news. The IWSG anthology contest has a large number of great entries. Way to go, you wonderful writers. And I love that so many have submitted even though not everyone will be in the anthology, people will keep writing. This business is about never giving up.

More news! Crystal Collier has a new release. Timeless, the third book in her Maiden of Time series, is now available on Amazon. And to celebrate, the first book, Moonless, is now available for free but only for a few days.

Don't forget that Daylight Savings Time Ends this weekend. The dark will be coming early which doesn't bother me at all when it's cold out. I always get more writing done in the winter.

Recently in a shocking revelation, my husband and I discovered my daughter didn't know who Yogi Berra was. What is the world coming to?
"The future ain't what it used to be?" Yogi Berra

Do you like when the time changes? What do you like about being a writer? Are you grabbing up Crystal's free book?

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?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Series Bible and Fall Cheer

I hope you'll stop over at IWSG today. Heidi Hormel is guest posting about using Excel to create a series bible. Statistics show that readers love series. Lots of us write books in series. If you do that, there's a lot to keep track of and many ways to do it. Excel is one so check out Heidi's post.

When I taught school, I dreaded fall. Back to work and back to the hectic pace of the kids being involved in activities. The day would start shortly after 5 am everyday and many nights I was still doing the laundry past 11 pm. And if I wanted to write, I usually dug into my WIP after 9 pm. Meal times were staggered to fit the various schedules and often eaten on the run. I seldom had time to notice the beauty of the fall season. Now I do.

The leaves haven't started turning yet, but they will soon. The nights are cooling down starting this week which means excellent sleeping with the windows open. I'll miss my swimming pool when we close it later this week, but it also frees up the time I spend taking care of it. And I love hearing the geese flying over, especially at dusk and dawn.

Politics in America
The grass will grow slower with the cooler weather and free up more time for writing. My husband will be watching football all weekend, every weekend, which gives me a lot of uninterrupted time to write also. I'll also spend most Friday nights watching my son coach high school football which is a pleasure though his team is struggling this year.

New TV seasons start for a lot of shows I've missed. Once Upon a Time, Scorpion, Hawaii Five-O and a few new shows I'll probably try out. Now I just need to ignore all the political ads.

I hope you're working on your entry for the IWSG anthology contest. If you're not a part of IWSG, this is a good reason to join us and then next year you can be a part of it.

One of my recent books is now available at ARE (All Romance Ebooks). The Galactic Outlaws #2, The Outlaw's Rebel Lady has one of my favorite sharp and sassy heroine. I love banter between a couple and Jake and Poppy know how to snipe at each other.

Are you loving fall? Do you keep a series bible and what tech or method do you use? Do you have a new fall show to recommend? Can they really make a show to compare with the original McGyver?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

IWSG Anthology Contest 2016

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

Our awesome co-hosts today are C. Lee McKenzie, Rachel Pattison, Elizabeth Seckman, Stephanie Faris, Lori L MacLaughlin, and Elsie Amata!

September’s question of the month - How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

Announcing the 2016 IWSG Anthology Contest!

Eligibility: Any member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is encouraged to enter – blogging or Facebook member. The story must be previously unpublished. Entry is free.

Word count: 5000-6000

Genre: Fantasy

Theme: Hero Lost. It could be about a hero turned villain, a villain's redemption, a hero's lack of confidence, a hero's lack of smarts, etc. It can be about any kind of hero including superheroes, mythological heroes, unexpected or unlikely heroes, or a whole new kind of hero. This theme has plenty of scope and we’re open to pretty much anything along these lines. No erotica, R-rated language, or graphic violence.

Deadline: November 1st 2015

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted, previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details and if you are part of the Blogging or Facebook IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

We’re excited to see the creativity and enthusiasm that’s such a part of this group put into action. So don your creative caps and start writing. And spread the word!

Our amazing judges this year:

Elizabeth S. Craig writes cozy mystery series for Penguin Random House, Midnight Ink, and independently. She curates links on Twitter as @elizabethscraig that are later shared in the free search engine

Richard Harland finished his first novel in 1993 and resigned a university lectureship to become a full-time writer. With seventeen fantasy, SF and horror novels published since, he went international with his steampunk fantasies, Worldshaker, Liberator and Song of the Slums. He has won six Aurealis Awards and the A. Bertram Chandler Award in Australia, the Tam Tam Je Bouquine Award in France. Writing Tips

Laura Maisano has an MA in Technical writing and is a Senior Editor at Anaiah Press for their YA/NA Christian Fiction. She’s excited to release her debut YA Urban Fantasy SCHISM, and she’s finishing up the sequel UNITY.

Russell C. Connor has been writing horror since the age of 5, and has been in the self-publishing industry for a decade. He has published 8 novels and 4 novellas in both paperback and eBook, including the Box Office of Terror Trilogy and "Whitney," an epic horror novel about hurricane survivors fighting a washed-ashore sea monster. He also designs books for clients and assists them with self-publishing endeavors.

Dawn Frederick is the founder of Red Sofa Literary, previously of Sebastian Literary Agency, and she brings a broad knowledge of the book business to the table—with multiple years of experience as a bookseller in the independent, chain, and specialty stores; sales, marketing, & book development at a YA publisher, a published nonfiction author, and an agent associate literary agent at Sebastian Literary Agency.

Michelle L. Johnson is a literary agent, the founder of Inklings Literary Agency and has a business administration background in addition to a lifetime of working with books (sales, editing, and writing) and authors (marketing, promoting, event planning), and also has been a script/story consultant for an independent film.

Ion Newcombe is the editor and publisher of AntipodeanSF, Australia's longest running online speculative fiction magazine, regularly issued since January 1998. His qualifications and employment range from horticulture through electronics into literature and communications.
Author, Public Speaker, and Executive Producer, Lynn Tincher was born just outside of Louisville, Kentucky in the beautiful city of La Grange. She has written four books, with the fifth one currently in the making. Her first book, Afterthoughts was optioned for movie production by Kilted Pictures and Dancing Forward Productions in Los Angeles. It is currently in pre-production with plans to shoot in Louisville, Kentucky very soon.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Happy Labor Day

I hope all my American friends have the day off and get to spend this end of summer holiday with family and friends. Our house is a little empty with two of the children at the beach, one working and the other very busy coaching football. But after a hectic summer, I'm enjoying the slow pace and some quiet around here.

Rest is the sweet sauce of labor.  American Proverb

I'm getting that writing done and am very pleased with my word count. I ran across this interesting article about the daily word counts of famous authors. I've had 5,000 word days but it's not my normal pace.

Don't forget on Wednesday, IWSG will be giving you all the news about the next anthology. I'm scurrying to finish my book so I'll have lots of time to read the entries. Can't wait!

Also, if you're not sure what to write for IWSG's Wednesday post, you can use this month's question.
How do you find time to write in your busy day?

I'd also remind everyone to follow IWSG on Twitter. And hopefully, you'll follow me also. There are lots of great writing tips being shared.

I'm going to the bookstore today. Can't help it since I have a nice coupon. Must get another book! And I'll probably sit in the cafe and write a little bit. I won't just sit there and drink coffee though. That's just not right.

Short post since I'll back on Wednesday with the anthology announcement. Are you taking it easy today? How does your word count measure up to the famous writers? Are you following IWSG and me on Twitter?

Monday, August 29, 2016

Don't Forget the Writing Part

I've been busy with doing some things for the writing groups. Sending out some membership renewal reminders, writing up board and meeting minutes and preparing for the next meetings. Lots of little things that take up bits of time but can add up to a bigger chunk that should be reserved for some writing of my own. This week, no excuses. I'm writing!

If you're one of the IWSG people who prepare their posts well ahead of time, don't forget you can use the monthly question for inspiration for your post. For September;
How do you find time to write in your busy day?

"A questioning man is halfway to being wise."  Irish proverb

Many schools and colleges are back in session by now. And I'm so glad I don't have to follow the academic calendar or the bells anymore. I'm also so happy to be able to visit the library, the bookstore and basically any kind of shopping while all the kids are in school. The joy!
"Snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough."
Earl Wilson

Went for a haircut a few days ago. It seemed to grow really fast or maybe time is just flying by. I always thought my hair grew slowly but I've been more conscious of my diet in recent years so maybe it is growing faster. Time for a fun fact about that.
The average person grows about 138 feet of hair per day.
I guess those guys who have to shave for work every day believe that one.

Next Wednesday, get ready to learn the detail of the next IWSG anthology contest. It's very exciting and I'm expecting some great entrees with all the creative talent in our growing group.

One of the members or Pennwriters is hosting an anthology in the Christian genre. I haven't vetted this but I know there aren't tons of paying opportunities for writers in this area. Check out Gina Napoli's page and see if you're interested. She's paying a flat fee for articles.

Back into the writing cave for me between bouts of swimming in the last hot days of August. Not doing anything else except a visit to the library and lunch with friends, a few walks...

Does your hair grow fast? Thinking about any anthologies in the near future? Does the start of school influence your life in any way?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Appreciating the Job

My oldest son is a teacher and coach, following in the my path as well as that of his father. He coaches high school football and we love watching him at his job. He loves the sport and his players and you can see they love him back. It makes fall very enjoyable. When asking him about his coaching schedule for this week, he reminded me that he has two days of inservice. Inservice days are those hours teachers spend at meetings where hopefully planning and learning take place. As most teachers know, they're generally dreadful days. And I'm so grateful that I don't teach anymore or have to go to inservice. This September will mark the start of my fourth year as a full time writer. And I still love it.

My first year of full time writing, I wrote pretty fast. I've slowed down a little but I'm doing more in the business of writing and more with writing groups. My current WIP is taking me FOREVER. But a few plot lines clicked into place this past week and I figured something out that was bothering me about one of my characters. I expect the pace to pick up from here on.

"Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid of standing still." Chinese Proverb

Did you notice the Halloween candy and fall decorations in the stores? No! Summer is still here. I'm so bored with TV, that I'm looking forward to the start of the fall season. I'm not looking forward to
all the election crap that will also be on TV and the ridiculous things that will be said.  Last weekend, my daughter and I binge-watched the extended versions of The Lord of the Rings. Still cried when Frodo said goodbye at the end.

Last time I asked for suggestions on what to watch, you wacky readers turned my onto Stranger Things. I then talked my children into watching it. My 25 year old son said he's had some really bad dreams about it. I'm not into watching scary movies or shows but Stranger Things was different enough that I really liked it. So nothing scary, but what should I watch next?

This is the first September for me when I have no children attending school or college. I don't miss those tuition payments. For those of you with younger children who you hope to send to college ... good luck. But what I do miss is shopping for all those cool school thingies. New pens, pencils, clips, notebooks and all that lovely stuff that is so cheap this time of year. And I don't need any of it.

Are you getting ready for back to school or getting a child ready? Have a show for me to binge on Netflix or even a good movie I might have missed? Are you in love with your job? Anything you're looking forward to with the coming of fall?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Stuart Horwitz and News

Today, Stuart Horwitz is guest posting on IWSG and sharing a short writing lesson on the editing process. I met Stuart this past May at the Pennwriters Conference where he appeared as a featured

Stuart spoke about book tours in the workshop I attended. He's not only knowledgeable but very entertaining. He's not shy about sharing the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to booksignings. He has so much to share about publishing and writing. Please visit IWSG or his website. I have his books sitting on my desk where I only keep a select few within reach. You can also check out his tour schedule. He's going to appear at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference in September. That's a conference I have on my list of ones I want to attend.

Yesterday was my dear husband's birthday and it was quite a grand day. Three of our sons played golf with him in the morning and then the entire family met back at our house for pizza, cake and ice cream. It is so wonderful how they all get along. It was a lovely day and then became a brilliant day when our son and his wife of only one year shared the news that they are expecting. Yes, I cried tears of joy. I feel like telling all my friends. So now you know.

Having a place to go -- is a home.
Having someone to love -- is a family.
Having both -- is a blessing.
Donna Hedges

The Olympics have distracted me during my writing time. Those American lady gymnasts are something else. And the American swimmers, male and female, have been inspiring to watch. I wish the entire world could get along like the athletes do.

Last week marked my blogging anniversary. I started Susan Says in 2009. After a slow start that first year, I stumbled upon Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog and slowly learned how to grow my blog into what it's become today. I expect I'll still be here for a few more years though who knows what social media will look like down the road.

Don't forget to visit IWSG today and learn something about the editing process. I know I'm mostly alone in loving the summer heat. 112 degrees heat index last week when I mowed the grass. Nice! Much better than cold and snow. And warm summer nights help those tomatoes ripen. I'm giving them away by the dozens.

Did you learn anything from Stuart's post on IWSG? Have any special days this month? How old is your blog? Are you loving this heat too?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Slow Down, Summer

The warm months are flying by and I want them to slow down. But a lot of good things have come along during that time.

This past weekend at my local meeting of romance writers, we had a guest speaker and met at the house of one of our members. Geri Krotow hosted the meeting in her beautiful home. Other members brought food, delicious wonderful food, most of it not real healthy but terribly delicious. Geri is multi-published in romance and suspense, using her amazing life experiences to add reality to all her writing. She's also one of those very successful authors who shares generously of her knowledge to other writers.

My friend, Heidi Hormel, brought a special treat. These ham and Swiss cheese sliders were delicious and big hit. You know Heidi from her guest spots here and on IWSG. She'll be back next month with a guest post. Heidi is a multi-published author of contemporary western romances with Harlequin.

But to the reason for the meeting, our guest was Kimberly Rocha, founder of Book Obsesessed Chicks Book Club, Blog and Promotions. She does all kinds of things to help authors, from reviewing books to hosting authors at her book club. Then there is her promotions business which I don't know
much about. What Kim did, was give us lots of her opinions on what works for authors and what doesn't. A few tidbits. Facebook release parties are usually a waste of a writers' time. Better to spend time on an hour long Q and A with readers on Facebook. She claims paid Facebook ads are often very effective. She's against giving away free stuff and had many suggestions on how to increase newsletter signups. Other advice was to enjoy your readers but don't be afraid to block and unfriend and un-follow trolls.

In other good news, the third and last book in my Warriors of Gaviron Series, The Warrior and the Professor, is now available on Amazon. Unlike many of my series where the first book is often the
favorite, in the Warrior series, this third book is my favorite. Now if I could only get the third book in the next series done.

"Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things." George Carlin

More good news, my daughter arrived home from Morocco yesterday. I don't know yet where she's headed to next. She learned a  lot about parenting while over there supervising 17 teenagers. The idea of 'herding cats' may have been used more than once. She handled the difficulties well for being only 22 herself.

I'm in a happy place right now. Daughter home and safe, sun shining and iced coffee on the desk with me.
"Start the day off with a smile and get it over with." W.C. Fields
I'm not ever going to watch that video of the Olympic gymnast breaking his leg that's going around. If you've every had a serious orthopedic injury, you would understand. I wince even thinking about it. But I'm looking forward to many Olympic events. I like the track and field races best and the swimming is second for me. I'm going to try and spend the entire week not thinking about the presidential election.

Now that my daughter is home, I'm also going to go see the new Star Trek. I promised I'd wait for her. Everything I hear about it is good.

What good things are going on with you this week? Ever tried to herd cats? Ever break a bone? What do you think about Facebook for promotion? What are your favorite Olympic events to watch?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IWSG: August 2016

Today we're joined together in the monthly IWSG bloghop. Put together and led by Alex J. Cavanaugh, each member posts on the first Wednesday of the month. We encourage, share, comfort and help each other in our individual writing journeys in any way we can. After years of participating in this group, some of you might feel that you're shared the same thing month after month. If you're stuck on what to post, you can use (or not) this month's question.

What was your first piece of writing as an aspiring author? Where is it now, collecting dust or has it been published?

I'm going with the question this month. The first novel I wrote, The Greater Good, was not the first book I ever received a contract for. It was the novel I plotted out in my head years before I actually wrote. I wrote it by hand and then typed it on an old iMac desktop. Back in those days, everything was queried by sending out hard copies. I spent a lot of money on postage. But after I attended a number of workshops, I knew the book needed a lot or work. I put it away for a while and worked on the books I did have contracts for. But I loved that story. After many more drafts, I lost count, the publisher I'm currently with offered me a contract. In 2007, The Greater Good, was published. Nine years later, that book still has between 5 and 10 sales every quarter. And I still love that story. So dust off those old manuscripts and stories and give them another chance!

One of my IWSG friends has a book coming out soon!

Cling to God: A Daily Devotional  by Lynda R Young

Release date: 10/18/16
Published by Freedom Fox Press

Cling to God in the chaos of life…

Cling to God is a book of devotionals for every day of the year. The aim is to encourage Christians in their faith, to help them think about their beliefs and learn more about God. The devotions are short and inspirational so that people with busy lifestyles will still be able to spend time with the Lord each day. It will appeal to a wide Christian audience, to those new in their faith as well as those matured beyond milk and honey.

Lynda R. Young, a Christian first, writes devotionals, articles, and speculative short stories. In her spare time she is also an editor, game developer, artist, and dabbles in photography and all things creative. She lives in Australia with her sweetheart of a husband. You can find her here: BlogTwitterFacebookGoodreads

In case you're worried about the Zika virus, you should know that there are about 144,000 mosquitoes for every person on Earth. Today's not fun fact.

One fun fact that is actually funny. If you obsessively correct people's grammar, you may suffer from an obsessive-compulsive disorder called grammatical pedantry syndrome, GPS.

Where is your first piece of writing you did intending publication? Have your share of the mosquitoes found you this summer? Do you flinch when someone uses bad grammar around you?