Monday, May 29, 2017

The awful things about a writing career

(Blogger sent my MMM post to Oak Tree Press. Why, I simply can't understand. This is a second try.  I wonder where it will go, and why!)

The need for massive internet promotion when you don't have a kid handy to figure out the ins and outs of the technology you need to at least understand if not master.  Check

The isolation for days and days while you type words on a screen, ponder their appropriateness and even their connection to proper English.  Check.

The hours awake during the night while story ideas jiggle through your head and you then write notes on a lighted pad by your bed.  Check

Times when you get up at 2:00 a.m. to actually write a scene into your computer.  Check

The worry that some this or that in your story is (pick a word) boring, silly, dumb, inappropriate, spoiling, and so on.  Check

The worry about publishing details, whatever they may be.  Check

The isolation from former friends who haven't a clue how a writer's life works, ask unsettling questions when they see you and then, quite often, don't buy or read your books when they're published.  Check.

Nope, none of that, though of course one or more of them are problems many authors are burdened with. Yes, I am familiar with all of them. But they aren't the awfullest. (I am aware I used an invented word.)

And, the awfullest is--ta da--NO TIME TO READ OTHER AUTHOR'S BOOKS!

Mom read to me as a baby. I was sent to a pre-school and began reading books before I was five. Big print words about a flying pig and a lost doll. I still have those books and am forever grateful to their authors.

There was only one public library in our town and it took a long bus ride to get there, but Mom and I visited about once a week and I went home with a stack of books supposedly age-appropriate for a single-digit age girl hooked on reading. A librarian there eventually introduced me to Nancy Drew. The die was cast.  I didn't know it but, nearly fifty years later, I would become a writer of mysteries.

Appropriate age books? My Saturday task when I was in grade school was to dust the What-not in our living room. Many homes had such pieces of furniture in those days. A What-not was where you displayed special treasures on open shelves.  My mom's What-not had a heavy book on the bottom shelf to anchor it, "Gone With the Wind."  Not material considered age-appropriate for a child in third grade. It took over a year but, reading bits secretly each Saturday, I read that book. I still remember the plot very well, and much of the dialogue. ("I don't know nothin' about birthin" babies Miz Scarlett.") Truth be told, I learned a lot from that book and some of it was of value.

I went on to read all the available Nancy Drew Books, The Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins, and many more age-appropriate novels. I progressed to Agatha Christie, the "Dead British Ladies" (not all were dead at that time) and more. At my own birthday party I hid in my room for a time, reading, while my mother served cake and ice cream and entertained my friends with silly games. (Of course I read, the book's plot had reached a thrilling point.)

But now?  I was heading into our living room yesterday to spend a bit of time reading the most recent mystery novel by an author I know well when this computer called me. I had over sixty incoming message to deal with and I knew it. I turned around and headed into my office.

Sigh. So, dear writing friends, if I don't buy and read all your books and comment on line about how much I loved each one, you know why. As an author myself, I have little time to read anything but my own words.

Including these.  


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 authors 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.