Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day & End the Winter Blues

Christine Rains, Tara Tyler, and C. Lee McKenzie put together a Meme Bloghop to help chase away the winter blues.  Share something humorous or encouraging to smooth the way to spring. If you find writing difficult some days, just remember that only means you're doing it right.

Actually, spring is making an early appearance here. Sixties yesterday and fifty degrees today. Some cold spring-like rain on the way for the next two days. There are some bulb shots poking up through the ground here and there. Huge flocks of snow geese have been flying over by the hundreds. I love watching them.

Work associated with the writing groups I belong to is burying me. I'm definitely convinced to stay for only one term in each office. Paperwork, even when it's digital, is the burden of even nonprofit organizations.

Today is Leap Day, the traditional Lady's Day when the women can do the asking. Of course, in our modern world, there's no reason why the woman can't do the asking any day of the year. Lots of speculation about who started this day and the traditions and exactly when it started but to me, it only means that February and therefore, winter, gets an extra day of our lives.

Some more sad news about the future of small presses as another one closes. It was announced a few days ago that Samhain Publishing will be closing its doors. This is sad for their authors and all the editors and other workers at the publishing house. It's scary for those of us with other small publishers. Samhain has been around for a long time and is one of the larger small presses. They've been around since 2005 publishing romance and horror fiction. They've published over 2000 books from more than 600 authors over the years. Here's the letter they sent to their writers, where they demonstrate their professionalism and also share the things that have brought about their closure. Yes, Amazon is mentioned.

The current struggle of writers and publishers is a depressing thought for writers. I'm so happy with my publisher that I can't imagine going back to the beginning and starting a search for a publisher again.

"I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then." Lewis Carroll

But enough of this downer stuff. I'm determined to get that next book plotted out by the end of the week. Don't forget that Wednesday is the posting day for IWSG.

Do you know anyone who was born on or proposed to on Leap Day? Do you know any of the writers affected by Samhain's closing? Any signs of spring at your house?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wednesday Mishmash

Writing Advice

I received a lot of nice feedback on my post about 5 things I would be looking for in the third draft of my novel that I decided to share some more editing wisdom but from a source other than me. She Writes is a great resource for me and I come across a lot of informative posts like this. Top 10 Editing Tips For Your Final Draft by Kat Stiles. One can never know too much about polishing up a manuscript.

On My Desk

Is anything more exciting than starting a new book. I'm in the midst of plotting it out. I used to be an 80% pantser when it came to writing a novel, but I've learned that I write much faster when I have a good outline. Not that lots of things don't change as I go. I'm well into the plotting guts of the third and final book in my Galactic Outlaws series.

I'm giving myself some slack on getting this one done. I'll need to do a few rounds of edits on the two books I have under contract in the next few months. The A to Z Challenge takes up some time during April. And May is crazy with an entire weekend dedicated to my daughter's graduation from BU and another weekend dedicated to the writing conference I always attend in May. Plus, the weather will be nice! Pool opening, planting flowers and veggies, spreading tanbark, mowing grass!!! I can't wait.

Book News

Natalie Damschroder has a new release this week. Check out Aftershocks.

Her past and her present collide with earthshaking results. Who will be her future…assuming she has one?

Entertainment Thoughts

My daughter talked me into watching The 100. Bad move. I've been binge watching it on Netflix to catch up to the first two seasons. It's another of those dark shows like Arrow that the CW network comes up with. Another CW show that I've watched from its beginnings is Supernatural. I think this is the show's 12 season. And amazingly, it's still fun and interesting. It has its share of darkness but the writers always inject some humor and good music. I don't think most TV shows can keep it fresh for that long.

"Preserve the old, but know the new." Chinese Proverb

How many seasons do you think a show can hold onto its entertainment value? Any hints of spring in your neck of the woods? No fair Californians or people in the southern hemisphere. What's keeping you busy through March and April besides the A to Z Challenge?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Sign Up Day!

I encourage all your writer friends to visit IWSG today. Andrew Grey, faster writer in the north, east, south or west, is our guest today. He's giving away one secret to his speed as he talks about how he solves plotting problems. Stop over and check out his wisdom.

And today!!!! It's time to signup for the theme reveal blog hop for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. The theme reveal is one of my favorite days of the challenge. It's really inspiring to see what creative and clever ideas bloggers come up with. Some are impressive with the amount of research the blogger is doing. Some are writing challenges. Some are fun and entertainment challenges. Others are artful with crafts or cooking ideas. Then there are the ones who will be recommending books. I always add to my TBR pile during April.  And you still have a month if you haven't decided on a theme yet so you can sign up for the reveal even if you're still undecided.

Thinking about your blog and how effective it is? Here's a short article by Brian A. Klems of Writer's Digest with the 12 Dos and Don'ts of Writing a Blog. You've probably heard some of it before, but it never hurts to see if there's something you could do better.

Preserve the old, but know the new. Chinese Proverb

Today is the full snow moon but let's hope that's only an old traditional name and not an ominous warning.

Tara Tyler has a new book out. Check out Jolissa: An Anti-Princess Story.

Jolissa thinks an adventure will bring her happiness. She's got a lot to learn, and being so stubborn, she'll have to do it hard way.

I finally completed all my paperwork for one of my secretarial positions in preparation for the upcoming board meeting. It will be nice to spend my time on actual writing. Though after the board meeting, I'll have even more secretarial work to do.

Did you sign up for the theme reveal for A to Z? Know your theme? Need to learn more about plotting and writing fast? Any of the blogging tips sound new to you?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Keep On Digging

Non-writing Work
I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed the last few weeks. Did I take on too much? I finally finished the third draft of my novel and am ready to send it to my publisher. The book took me longer than I expected so I'm glad to shove it out the door. But it wasn't actual writing that had me feeling inundated.

"Pressure is something you feel when you don't know what the hell you're doing." Peyton Manning

I serve as secretary to two different writing groups. They're volunteer positions and I thought it would be a good way to help out and give back to two organizations that have helped me so much without being responsible for the big decisions. You know about good intentions. Without whining and complaining, I'll just say it's much more work than I expected and that work bites into my writing time. At least for the one group, I'll be able to complete a large portion of the work this month. For the other position, I pretend to know what I'm doing even though I'm lost. Too much chaos for my comfort.

"If you can't convince them, confuse them." Harry S. Truman

Another thing contributing to this pressure is being trapped indoors by the weather. I love the outdoors. Even when it's not cold, it's been a very gloomy winter with cloudy days and cold rain if it isn't snow. I need some sunshine!

But good things are happening. I received a contract for my fourth and final book in The Futhark Chronicles, Heir of Futhark. I roped in a great guest to appear on IWSG next Monday, Andrew Grey talking about plotting.

Pat Hatt has a new book out, A Not So Realistic World.  I'm  hoping he comes out with a new Profanity Granny soon. I wish my mother-in-law was still around for many reasons but she would have loved Profanity Granny. Did Pat know Hellion Helen Gourley?

Other things keeping me upbeat,  I received an invitation the York Book Expo in the mail. It's not until October but it was a lot of fun and reasonably profitable. Sign ups for the A to Z theme reveal is happening next Monday. You can sign up even if you haven't decided. You still have a month to make up your mind since the actual reveal occurs on March 21st.

I finally watched The Martian. It was okay and as uplifting as the book. But like in most cases, I much prefer the book.
I always look forward to the Olympics though there's always way too many ads. I'd rather seem more events. But I know it's all about the money. However, I wonder how much the Zika virus will cloud the games.

Are you looking forward to the Olympics? What non-writing part of the business of being a writer frustrates you? (You're not allowed to say promotion) Are you involved in any book events this year? Ready to sign up for theme reveal?

Monday, February 15, 2016

On IWSG today, our very own Joylene Nowell Butler, talks more about deep POV. It's something writers and editors talk about all the time but not everyone understands what it means. Check out today's post and last week's.

Book Signing

As many of you might have heard, we had some brutally cold weather in the northeast USA this past weekend. On Saturday we had the low temperatures, a brisk wind and drifting snow. Our annual book-signing event at a local greenhouse and gift shop that has been wonderfully successful in past years ended up being a complete bust on Saturday. No one to blame except the weather. Roads were drifted and dangerous and with the wind chill, the temperatures stayed below zero all day. On a grim note, there was a horrific traffic pile up on one of the interstates which took lives. Not a good day.

But I'm still working on that third draft of my second Galactic Outlaws series. At least the weather gives me an excuse to stay inside and write. Though I'm tempted to drink hot tea and read under a blanket.
"Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction." Anne Frank

Industry News

So I found this article by the New York Times. I mentioned in an earlier post that Amazon was opening its first physical bookstore. According to this article, they have intentions to open many more. Why when their online retail store is so monstrously successful? Must Amazon rule every thing? The truth is that despite the online store's inventory of anything you might want, many buyers of books still like the experience and ambiance of a physical store. Readers like to browse the shelves. So of course, Amazon wants in on that. Whenever a discussion among my fellow writers comes up, one of the things we talk about is the increasing difficulties for small presses in today's market. Will they survive as Amazon grabs more of the publishing industry into its net?

In other industry news, and something much less depressing, the anthology put together by IWSG is available for pre-order. Check out Parallels: Felix Was Here
Enter the realm of parallel universes!

What if the government tried to create the perfect utopia? Could a society linked to a supercomputer survive on its own? Do our reflections control secret lives on the other side of the mirror? Can one moment split a person’s world forever?

Exploring the fantastic, ten authors offer incredible visions and captivating tales of diverse reality. Featuring the talents of L. G. Keltner, Crystal Collier, Hart Johnson, Cherie Reich, Sandra Cox, Yolanda Renee, Melanie Schulz, Sylvia Ney, Michael Abayomi, and Tamara Narayan.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will expand your imagination and twist the tropes of science fiction. Step through the portal and enter another dimension!


On the entertainment front, I'm enjoying Legends of Tomorrow so far. I like the teamwork as the Legends get to know each other but the characters themselves with all their quirks and flaws are what make the show so interesting. Some team members aren't even good guys but this is their chance to be something better than they were.
 I'm giving the show Lucifer a chance. I'm not sure yet if I like it. I guess I want to see where they're going with the character. Redemption for the devil?
TV hasn't really been exciting lately. I despise the 'awards' shows where entertainers congratulate each other. I never watch a minute of it. I enjoy TV shows, movies and music, but it's only entertainment. Will prime time every have an awards show for medical people, teachers, policemen, firemen, social workers, religious leaders and volunteers who do really important work that safe lives and souls? Not likely since there is no money in that. Hopping off my soapbox.

"A man who has made a mistake and doesn't correct it is making another mistake." Confucius

Hope you had a great Valentine's Day or made it good for someone else.

Why do you think Amazon is venturing into physical bookstores? Did the brutal cold intrude on your weekend? Do you know how to write in deep POV? 

Monday, February 8, 2016

5 Things in the Third Draft

5 for the Third Draft
I'm deep in the edit cave and working the kinks out of The Outlaw's Rebel Lady. I made a list of things as I worked through the second draft and now I'm shining up the manuscript to send to my publisher. What things am I doing in this incarnation of the novel.

1. Using the 'find' feature to check for repetitive and weak words. Some of mine, very, actually, obviously, and the worst, just.  I've already done this in the 2nd draft but it always needs another look.

2. I check the timeline again. I usually pretty good with this but it needs to be perfect.

3. Dialogue tags? Are the ones I have necessary? Do I need to add some so the reader understands who is speaking?

4. I am writing a romance, so can I make the hero and heroine click more? Add a little more sexual tension?

5. Does every scene and chapter end in a way to make sure the reader wants to keep reading?

And here's the big thing. I want to have this draft done by next week at this time. Good thing we're supposed to have snow for the next two days. Hopefully, we only get the couple of inches they're calling for and not 30 inches like that last storm.
found on Facebook

What's New?

We had our writers' meeting last Saturday. It's always fun to get together with other writers. It's a really talented group but also very enthusiastic. Our president allowed time for some discussion of industry news and concerns. One of the things discussed was Amazon's new attention to books that have quality issues brought to their attention by complaints. Though some people are concerned, the majority feels this is to address books with major formatting problems or so many misspellings that customers find them unreadable.

Another issue discussed was the writers who have gone the self-published route and have now abandoned it. The most common reason is the amount of work they have to take on themselves. All writers now have to do the majority of the promotion for their books but don't we all just want to write? Many of these writers turning away from indie publishing are looking to small presses. Now if we all can survive Amazon's takeover of publishing.

Personal News

I decided on my A to Z Blogging Theme. I enjoyed my theme last year but I'm going to like this one even more. And the theme we're using over at IWSG, is going to be fun.
Last Friday, my oldest son, the one who got married last summer, asked me to spend the day with him. He scheduled a car inspection. So I picked him up at 8 am. We went to Starbucks until the bookstore opened at ten and hung out there until his car was ready around 5 pm. I took along a book I knew he would like, Son of the Black Sword. He brought his computer to take care of some emails. I took along a paper copy of my book to work on the above 3rd draft. And we talked about books, TV shows and movies, teaching, football, family, and all kinds of stuff. The day was the best gift a mother could ask of her children. He read the entire book, by the way. We both recommend it.

How many drafts do you do of a book before you send it to a publisher or agent? Have you heard about Amazon cracking down on quality of book editing? Did you come up with your theme for A to Z Challenge?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

IWSG: February 2016

New image for IWSG

It's the first Wednesday of the month and that means IWSG blog hop. This terrific group started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, is a time for writers to share our insecurities, ask for help and offer support and advice to each other. Though you may write alone at your desk, it doesn't have to be a lonely occupation. So join us and share.

It's that time of year when we gather our tax information in preparation of paying with blood and tears.
“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”Albert Einstein
My husband is a self-employed painter and I'm a self-employed writer so we always have to pay taxes rather than have any refunded. We do both have a lot of taxes withheld from our teacher pension checks but it's not enough to cover our other income. But as much as I groan at owing taxes, when I add up my writing income, I cringe. All those hours and so little money to show for it. What does that hourly rate work out to? About $.25 per hour. Add in the time spent promoting or the work I do for various writing groups and we're at about $.18 per hour. I'm making those numbers up but you get the idea. Why am I doing this?

I really do love writing. I like creating stories. I love it when a characters motivations and fears become so clear I can't wait to cause them more angst. I revel in that moment when my own writing makes me laugh or cry. I love being part of the writing community both those I attend in person and the online community I've come to know. I adore the emails I get from readers and the reviews from so many others. So few writers are actually able to earn a living from their writing alone. Most of us are like me, earning income from another source. But I'm going to keep writing. It may never make me rich but I didn't expect it to when I started. And who knows, maybe the SyFy channel will make one of my books into the next Sharknado. So I'll keep on trying.

Yes, every time I go to Boston, I feel like spilling a little tea in the harbor. Except I don't like to waste good tea. Many of you know I live in Pennsylvania. I don't like to talk politics but our state government has yet to agree on and pass a state budget that was due last July 1st. The question in the street is why can't we fire the bunch of them? So it is with great resentment that Pennsylvanians fill out those state income tax forms this year. It's better to laugh about taxes than cry.

“The IRS spends God knows how much of your tax money on these toll-free information hot lines staffed by IRS employees, whose idea of a dynamite tax tip is that you should print neatly. If you ask them a real tax question, such as how you can cheat, they’re useless.”Dave Barry
The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”Will Rogers

Are you feeling insecure this month? Dreading tax season? (Why do taxes get their own season?) How much do you think you make per hour writing? 

Monday, February 1, 2016

QotM and Lost & Found Hop

February already. The month of more winter but also of love. Time to think of what keeps you warm when the world turns cold.

Lost & Found:  Valentine's Edition

       Do you remember  that special feeling of love found?   And who hasn't experienced the emotional experience of love lost?  Some of you might have even lost a love only to find that person later for another go around.

And this blog hop is being combined with Michael D'Agostino 's first Monday Question of the Month blog hop. You can find the list at A Life Examined where Michael asks:
“When have you lost or found love?”

You see how the two hops have come together for one big fun time.

         Tell your story about love lost or found in our special Valentine's blogfest.   Your post can be a short fiction, an essay, poetry, or even a song--let your imagination run free.   Any genre is fair game, be it romance, historical fiction, memoir, or even science fiction.   After all there are no limitations when it comes to love.

          This special blogging event was inspired by a collaboration between Arlee Bird and Guilie Castillo-Oriard.   Joining in hosting will be Elizabeth Seckman,  Yolanda Renee,  Denise Covey.  and  Alex J Cavanaugh.   Don't be left out! 

After nearly 33 years of marriage, I can't really recall much about the loves I lost in the days of my youth. From the perspective of where I am now, they seem so shallow compared to the depth of what my husband and I share. As I write this, I think of all the sorrows and joys we've shared together. We've lost three of our four parents and a beloved nephew. We've stumbled through raising my two stepsons and our four children. We've struggled financially and worked long, long hours to see them through college. More than one day and night was spent in a hospital or a doctor's office because when you have children, that happens. Sleepless nights filled with worry and glorious moments of success shared with those wonderful children. And through it all, my dear Ron and I supported each other. It wasn't always easy or peaceful, but we've always been there for each other. We appreciate each other's strengths and forgive each other's faults. There has been more laughter than tears, more joy than sorrow and mostly there is love. My husband is more of a romantic than I am and no matter how difficult times were, he has always given me flowers for Valentine's Day, our anniversary and my birthday. I love the man and will always be glad that we found each other.

"It has made me better, loving you ... It has made me wiser, and easier and brighter."
Henry James, Portrait of a Lady

"Who being loved, is poor?"  Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

And it's getting closer. Later this spring, IWSG first short story anthology will be coming to a retailer near you. How about that lovely cover. More news coming your way soon.

Parallels: Felix Was Here
Freedom Fox Press
A division of Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.

Enter the realm of parallel universes!

What if the government tried to create the perfect utopia? Could a society linked to a supercomputer survive on its own? Do our reflections control secret lives on the other side of the mirror? Can one moment split a person’s world forever?

Exploring the fantastic, ten authors offer incredible visions and captivating tales of diverse reality. Featuring the talents of L. G. Keltner, Crystal Collier, Hart Johnson, Cherie Reich, Sandra Cox, Yolanda Renee, Melanie Schulz, Sylvia Ney, Michael Abayomi, and Tamara Narayan.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will expand your imagination and twist the tropes of science fiction. Step through the portal and enter another dimension!

Whew that is a long post for me! Don't forget, first Wednesday posting for IWSG is only two days away. Is February a romantic month for you or just another cold month in which to curse winter? Have you found or lost a love or perhaps re-discovered one? Isn't that a great cover for the anthology?