Thursday, May 18, 2017

Be Careful What You Wish For

by Linda Thorne

I might've aired a little too much about how to handle the interruption of my writing and promotion because of my full-time
day job in human resources. I was well aware that the company who paid me and provided my benefits had to come first. After all, I read Ayn Ryan's Atlas Shrugged back in the day. 

I started out airing about losing the freedoms non-authors had, like being able to spend a lunch hour in a restaurant. Instead, I spent my hour break each day "reading," which I believe all author's need to do to succeed. If the weather was cool (as it is the majority of the time in middle Tennessee), I'd sit in my car and read. If it was too hot or too cold, I'd drive to a hospital not a mile from where I worked and read in the hospital lobby.

Little did I know how good I had it back then when I could take a lunch hour to read. Last fall my job began to change. New owners, new structure, new business decisions made to stay profitable. My job became busier with every new week. I could no longer take the time to do much more at lunch than eat at my desk. I worked late in the evenings, from home, and came in on Saturdays. By the time January rolled around I published a post on another blogspot called, My Life As It's Been Since Last December and included the picture below. 

And that's exactly where I was, but I needed the job, I had to keep the job. My only hope was that things would return to normalcy. 

What I did not anticipate was that I wouldn't have a choice in the matter. Last month, one-month prior to my 9th year anniversary, my position was eliminated and the work distributed to others. I'm just now coming out of my shock stage, but again, I work in HR. I know these things happen.

So, I have the time to write while I look for a paying job, but here I am contemplating again. How nice if I found a four-day-a-week job instead of five. One in the writer/author world instead of human resources. A job close to home. Hopeful, but not likely.

In all my musings over balancing a paying day job with a non-paying start-up author job, I dreamed a little about letting the day job go; thus, the title for this post: Be Careful What You Wish For  


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Walking With Heroes

by Janis Patterson

As writers, we all interact with heroes every day, whatever genre we write. Be they shirtless cowboys with rippling abs or smart, street-wise detectives or canny FBI agents or sweet ditzy career women dusted with flour or bits of yarn. Books need heroes.

So does real life. As you probably know, earlier this month The Husband and I went to the NRA convention in Atlanta, and it was a simply splendid experience. And we did meet real life heroes. All kept their shirts on, and there was no sign of flour or bits of yarn, but they were indubitably heroes.

We got to hear Oliver North give a moving invocation at the Hank Williams, Jr. concert, and hear Lee Greenwood sing “I’m Proud to Be an American” live. Maybe Greenwood isn’t a real life hero – I don’t know – but his song is a paean to hero-dom.

On a more personal level, I got to speak for a far-too-short sliver of time with Sheriff David Clarke, who is a lovely and gracious man. I spent almost a quarter of an hour (waiting for The Husband to show up from some mysterious wandering) with two simply lovely men who were on Chris Kyle’s sniper team. (I’m sure there is a more militarily-correct term than team, but I don’t know it.) Both of them were friendly and gracious and very funny. Until our talk turned to Chris Kyle; then all three of us became somber, as we should have. We Americans lost a symbol; they lost a friend.

There were WWII and Korea and Viet Nam and Middle East veterans there; some wore their medals and embroidered hats proclaiming their affiliations, but some didn’t and I discovered their histories while simply chatting with them. (Yes, The Husband is right when he says I talk to EVERYBODY.) Some of these gentlemen were in scooters and some walked proudly on their own. Some had canes and some were in wheelchairs propelled by younger people, all of whom looked proud of their job.

These veterans were once young men, some scarcely older than children, who marched off into hell to protect our country and our way of life… and their loved ones. To a one they counted themselves lucky. After all, they came back to enjoy the life they had sacrificed so much to protect, while so many of their comrades did not.

These heroes did not need ‘safe spaces’ or riot like spoilt brats because things haven’t gone the way they thought things should or demand that the world be changed to suit their whims. They did what they had to do and then came home to build lives and fortunes both big and small and enjoy what they had earned.

Talking with them was a privilege, and one I shall remember forever.

The hero who most remains in my mind, however, is Norris Jernigan. A slightly built man, he served with the US Army Air Corps, 393rd Bomb Squadron, 509th Composite Group. He was an Intelligence Specialist whose function was to prepare information for bombing missions – maps, aerial photographs, etc – that the officers would use in the flight crew briefings. He’s one of the few men left (I think 2? Maybe 3?) who worked on the Enola Gay missions. A true hero.

Mr. Jernigan is quiet and soft spoken; he wrote a book and was answering questions about his service, but reservedly, without boasting or self-aggrandizement. I was honored to stand in the presence of a man whose skill and ability helped end WWII quickly instead of having it drag on and on with a horrendous loss of American lives.

The Husband (an amateur military historian) and I stayed in Mr. Jernigan’s booth for a while as they discussed various aspects of the war. Mr. Jernigan may be elderly now, but his courage has not wavered – when time came for us to leave, he reached over and kissed me… with The Husband not three feet away! It was a most pleasurable kiss, too.

Kissed by a genuine hero – that’s nice.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Why Am I Doing This?

Here I am, a great-great grandmother, yes, that's right--along with my 19 great grands, I now have 2 great-greats, and I'm still writing and promoting my books.

All of you authors out there know how hard this is. Yes, it's rewarding too--maybe not in a monetary sense for some of us--but the writing itself give us great satisfaction. I've been writing for so long I can't imagine giving it up.

I've been busy promoting my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, Unresolved, with a blog tour and setting up in-person events, How much has the blog tour helped with sales? Not as much as I'd hope, though I do know there have been a few.

In the meantime I've working on a new Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, which I need to finish. I'm getting there, but it's slow going. Not because the ideas aren't coming, but because my time is limited.
Hubby and I slipped away for five days to visit our eldest daughter and her family in Southern California (Temecula/Murrieta area). We had a great time.

Now I'm back at work--right here at home.

If you haven't as yet, you might take a peek at Unresolved.

It's available in paper and on Kindle from Amazon.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Am I a Writer or an Author?

Make Mine Mystery
May 2, 2017

Every day, I sit down at my desk and write for about two and half hour a day, three hours a day, seven days a week. I write with great anticipation, excitement, and fear. I write thousands of words. I delete a thousand more. I let the story guide me. I indulge my fantasies and plot lines. I write scenes I can see and feel intensely, with no idea where they’d end up in the book, and I worry if it would all came together in the end. 

And sometimes I feel like a writer, a real writer. It’s an amazing feeling. I’ve just  finished a book that I began two years ago, every step has been pain staking, the editing took over a year, and yet I’m never quite satisfied, and I stress over the outcome. And somewhere along the way, I’ve learned this lesson: everything I want and need out of writing a book comes from the actual act of writing a book. The rest of it –sales and marketing, what other people think – is the stuff that matters later or maybe it doesn’t matter at all, because I can’t control most of that stuff, anyway.

How’d the book turn out? Good, I think. It’s at the publisher right now, so in time I’ll let you know how it all worked out. I’m sure there will be another round of editing.

Something I've been Wondering About

Besides writing a post for this blog twice a month, I have my own blog: where I host many authors. Something strange has been happening that I don't understand.

When I put out an invitation for authors to guest on my blog, I always get many takers. We agree upon a date and they send me their post. Usually it's exactly what I've asked for, but sometimes I have to send a reminder about something the author left out that should have been included. However, that's not the problem.

On the day the post appears, I usually send a reminder so they can promote the blog. Hopefully, they've marked the date and know to do it themselves.

What I've found more and more, that too many guests don't visit the blog to leave a comment. Often others have stopped by and left a comment, but the guest doesn't reply. This seems so odd to me.

Whenever I'm a guest on a blot I not only promote like crazy, but I visit the blog right away to thank the host for having me. I'll return to the blog several times during the day to respond to anyone who may have left a comment. Beside just being common courtesy, it seems like good sense.

Why would you even want to be a guest on someone's blog if you aren't going to let people know about it? And why would you not thank the host publicly for allowing you to come visit and share about your book? Certainly doesn't make sense to me.

If there is a good reason, will you kindly share it with me?

And if you haven't figured it out by now, I love blogging, both writing new posts and reading what other people have to say.

Marilyn who also writes as F.M.

My latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, available on Amazon in paper and for Kindle.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Self Help Books Work If You Use Them

By Linda Thorne

These are all the writing self-help books I've read (and re-read) except for the last one that I'm still working on. I've studied them, considered their suggestions (some didn't work for me but might prove perfect for another author), and I've learned from all of them.
The very first was basic, which is what I needed. I was living in the little town of Hanford, California in 2005 and decided I'd write a book and maybe others. I did what I thought would be the first step and drove down to the single bookstore in the Hanford Mall and looked for books on how to write a book. There was only one: You Can Write A Novel by James V. Smith, Jr. The cover at the time was blue with gold print. To the left is how the current cover looks on Amazon. This was perfect for a beginner. It went into the basics - actually had me making index cards with character traits, scene cards. It had templates you could use to "log" your plot. The book went over what I know as basics now, things like discussions on what cliches are and how not to use them and why. I really thought writing a book would be easy. Yeah, right, but then that's another story. 

Then came this one by Sol Stein. Great. Loved it. Helpful. Again, I was going to write a book and it would be easy. Again, in hindsight - yeah, right!
Here are others I finished reading and dove back into many, many times. 

Here are my more current favorites that I will use over and over again.

Hooked (below) is the most recent self-help book I've read. It's an invaluable resource and I will read it again and again. The Weekend Novelist Re-Writes the Novel is one I started, but stopped halfway through. It is very good and very needed for my work in progress, A Promotion to Die For, but I don't need to finish it now. A Promotion to Die For is not yet complete enough for me to "re-write" it for publication. When every chapter is complete, I'll finish reading The Weekend Novelist Re-Writes the Novel and use it as a resource to polish my finished project before submitting it to my publisher. 

If you're an author, what self-help books do you use? Do they help you? Do you absorb all the information or, like me, do you have to re-read and review over and over?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Deadlines and Other Oddities

by Janis Patterson

Did you ever wonder about the etymology of the word ‘deadline’? It sounds so vaguely threatening. “You reach this line (time?) or you’re dead.” Did the kings of old give their serfs a deadline for bringing in their tributes and lop off their heads if they missed it? Come to think of it, I have known a couple of old-time editors who would have just loved the power to do that – in fact, getting one’s head (or job) lopped off on occasion would have been considered preferable to their reactions.

I wonder that those of us in the wordsmith world have not been able to find a more pleasant, less belligerent term for the time a manuscript/whatever should be turned in. Final day? Term line? End time?

Not that it makes much difference these days anyway. I grew up in advertising, back when deadline really meant deadline. Even being a few hours over the limit was enough to get you raked over the coals. When I moved over into journalism, missing a deadline could get you fired. Now it seems that a deadline is more of a suggestion than a distinct cut-off date, which is something I don’t understand. If you’re given a contract and a date your project is due, hadn’t you better uphold it?

Now there are a few reasons for missing a real deadline without notification to your publisher – death, ending up in a full body cast at your local hospital, things of that order – not that you feel you need a small vacay and will need an additional two months, or that you had another contract come up that offered more money, or any other reason, legitimate or not. If someone realizes they can’t make a deadline, they should notify their publisher immediately. I don’t see why people don’t get that.

On the other hand, there’s a lot about the other side of publishing I don’t get. Why have advances fallen, the quality of editing and proofing gone into freefall and all the responsibility for publicity fallen on the shoulders of the writers? (Unless you’re in the Roberts-King-Koontz stratosphere and, of course, generally excepting a listing in the catalogues.) Why are advances to celebrities and politicians astronomical (in the millions) when it’s pretty much accepted that their books not only won’t earn out, but will be seen on remainder tables and cut-rate bookstores for the next decade or two? This, when working mid-list writers, the ones who write the books people actually like to read and who are the mainstay of the publishing industry, find it hard if not impossible to support themselves on their writing.

I don’t understand. Too much focus on money, not enough on books, or the quality of books. Seems contra-indicative.

Like I said, I don’t understand, but I’ve got a deadline blowing dragon breath on the back of my neck and I’ve got to go work. If anybody figures it out, let me know.