Monday, June 19, 2017

Hot Reads and Weather

I love the heat and hate winter. I don't enjoy the rain like some people do. But even I think we need some this week. So let it rain, a bit.

I've read some good books in between working on my outline for my next book and finishing up some line edits for the one coming out shortly. Lesser Evils by Joe Flanagan was a great read. The
main character is so human and interesting. The story is suspenseful and very dark, but the ending allows the light to shine through. I will read more by this author.

I have a stack of library books to read but that won't stop me from going to the bookstore today. In other good news, my local library has extended their hours for the summer. I guess that means that donations are up or the county powers-that-be found money in the budget to actually put toward a worthwhile thing.

When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry. William Shakespeare

Father's Day was great at our house. Two of our boys took their father golfing which they all enjoyed despite the heat. I prepared some of my husband's favorite dishes, corn on the cob, pasta salad, meatball sandwiches, and the other children make time to spend at least part of the day here. My husband is an excellent father and deserves all the love that came his way.

The imprint of the father, remains forever on the life of the child. - Roy Lessin 

I'm polishing up the first page of First Dragon for a workshop we're doing at my next local writer's meeting. We're having three outside professionals come in and they'll evaluate first pages with the writers being anonymous. I also made a short list of fantasy publishers I intend to query that book too. My favorite is closed to submissions until the end of July so I'll probably wait until then.

Wonder Woman was great. Really glad I went to see it. We also rented The Batman Lego movie last week. It wasn't as good as the first Lego movie, but it was okay. My husband wants to rent the second John Wick movie next. I guess I can stand some endless violence and a main character I could care less about for an evening.

I won't be posting next week as my husband and I are going away for a few days to celebrate our anniversary. Finally. My next post will be for IWSG July version. The optional question for that post is: What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

Did you see both Lego movies? One better than the other? Summer getaway plans on your agenda? Ever attend a workshop where pages were critiqued in a group situation? Did you learn anything?



Monday, June 12, 2017

A Week of Celebration

This week in June is one of my favorite weeks all year. Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 35th anniversary. All the children joined us as usual, reminding us how full our lives are. We're going away for a few days later this month to celebrate alone.

"Grow old with me, the best is yet to be.Robert Browning

 This Wednesday, Flag Day, my one son turns 32. Now that he has his own child, I'm constantly reminded what a good baby he was and altogether a terrific child. Then next Sunday is Father's Day. That means another day with all the kids are at our house and goading my husband to play all day. Card, bean bag toss, and bocce ball. It will be fun.

Lots of my friends commented on the picture I posted on Instagram yesterday of the flowers my husband bought me. I so appreciated it, but it also reminded me of my determination to learn how to use and enjoy the app. I moved it up the list.

Another big thing on my list is finding a publisher for my second fantasy series. First Dragon, the book that led off that series, was published by a small press for about a year with almost no sales before the publisher closed its doors. The edits on the second book had been completed except for the final line edit. I need to find a publisher willing to take on a book that was out there already. The fact that the defunct publisher did so little with promotion and made no effort to help me leaves me with the hope that it wasn't because the book was bad that it didn't really sell.

Still have a lot of edits to do on that book. My publisher is used to me getting them back a little quicker than I did this time. I hope to get them done later today. After my daughter and I go see Wonder Woman.

I love reading hints and speculations about shows I'm looking forward to. Game of Thrones and Stranger Things are top on my list right now. GoT only has 7 episodes this season but I heard the last two are really long. I'm doing a re-watch from season one to the present. Currently moving closer to The Red Wedding lest I forget how terrible things have gone for the Starks in the past. Our family has a lot of fun speculating who will still be alive when the show ends. I'm also interested in the CBS show Salvation that is coming in July. A little like Armageddon.

Lots of chores to done around the homestead. I still have a few flowerbeds that need a lot of attention. My husband did some cleaning in the garage last week so I'm going to tackle the rest of it. I need to do my annual tree trimming to make mowing easier. Right now, I have two pine trees that try to know me off the mower. Inside the how, I have a stack of books for the second hand store and a box of things for Goodwill.
I always thought a yard was three feet, then I started mowing the lawn. ~C.E. Cowman

I read a good book last week. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. This book is very different but don't be put off when you look inside. It's written as a report complied from various sources. It looks confusing but isn't at all and is a very fast read. There's very little narrative and is almost all dialogue. It's the first in a series. The characters are interesting and the setting is really cool if you love space opera. I can see this book being a movie someday.

Have you read anything interesting? Have any chores you're dreading? Do you like to read speculations about TV shows?







Wednesday, June 7, 2017

IWSG: I Love June

Welcome to the June edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group monthly blog hop. This supportive group was the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. There is so much going on with this terrific group. Make sure you visit IWSG Home and see what project is coming next for members. It's exciting. It's great to see Pat Hatt and Nick Wilford moving into the administration part of the group.

The question for this month: Did you ever say "I quit?" If so, what happened to draw you back to writing?

I doubt many writers can honestly say they never thought about quitting. A little over a month ago, I considered it. And right after I signed a new contract for a book. Lots of things going on in my personal life. Things I had no control over. All the other responsibilities I had taken on nagged at me and drained my energy. So I trimmed my work load, set some priorities and kept with my writing. No magical epiphany. Sometimes writing is just forcing yourself to sit down at the keyboard and keep going.

So still here, working on some edits for that book I received the contract for. Admiring a little cover art for the first book in a dystopian romance series, Hunter's Exiled Lady. More about it later.

In other book news, in case you haven't already heard. Alex J. Cavanaugh's CassaStar is now available in audio book. Check it out on Amazon.

I hope you're still thinking about the #IWSGPit coming up in July. Today, if you write romance, you can practice by visiting #CarinaPitch.  Tomorrow, you can jump into Pitmad. Good luck. You have nothing to lose by jumping in.

I don't usually enjoy medical shows, but I'm looking for to The Night Shift coming back on for the summer season. Of course, Game of Thrones will be back in July. The new season of Sherlock is on Netflix already. It's really good if you haven't watched it yet.

A little science that sounds like fiction but isn't. If you haven't heard about the wasp that turns cockroaches into zombies, you can get all the facts here.

So what do you think about IWSG newest endeavor? Ready to do some Twitter pitches? Ever say 'I quit?'




Monday, May 22, 2017

What a Conference

I decided to post after all today. I made it back from the Pennwriters Conference Sunday afternoon. Like every conference, I came away with a pile of notes and lots of energy to dive back into writing and trying some new promotional ideas.

One of the speakers I enjoyed was Kathleen Shoop who shared pages and pages of information about self-publishing. I'm traditionally published by a small press, but indie-published authors know how to market. They have to if they're going to be successful. There's nothing quite so much fun as getting handouts at a conference.

On the flip side, as a board member who did a lot of work behind the scenes and some out in the open, the weekend was exhausting. And I love driving, but if you've ever driven through Pittsburgh, it's not much fun. The trip was four hours each way for me. Yawn!!! But I held strong and only bought one book while I was there.

Agent Mark Gottlieb presented a workshop on writing an elevator pitch. A way to tease your book in two or three sentences to an agent or editor. He shared some winning examples and I improved my short blurb for the dragon book I hope to find a new home for after the publisher closed.

Agent Eric Myers' workshop asked the question, 'How Far is Too Far in MG and YA?' I don't think he ever answered the question though the consensus did seem to be nothing is too far. I found it a bit disturbing.

One of the things I really enjoy about the conference is the mixture of writers. Nonfiction, short fiction, poets and novelists. Some are just starting their careers and many are multi-published. Everyone helps everyone and the mood is upbeat and supportive. One thing all the writers shared was their concern about how to use social media to promote and network. I could feel the stress of many of the writers as they searched for the answers to taming the monster of platform building.

My local writing group finished up our 50/50 yesterday also. I didn't complete my first draft like I wanted to because a lot of real life got in the way. But I'm almost done and I still had pretty good numbers for the 50 days.

On the entertainment front, I'm finally going to see Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume II on Tuesday. My youngest son is taking me as my Mother's Day gift. I'm such a lucky mom. I'm looking forward to the season finale of The 100 on Wednesday. It's been an exciting season. Still about 2 months until Game of Thrones returns. Killjoys is returning this summer also. I really like that show with its mixture of action, suspense with some humor thrown in.

Have any summer TV shows coming on that you enjoy? Have you read any MG or YA that you think went too far? Does platform building concern you? Don't forget to check out the new post on IWSG.





Monday, May 15, 2017

Opportunities Galore

Lots of things going on that writers can take advantage of in the near future. Calling back to last weeks' fun with Reedsy and #IWriteBecause, Reedsy is offering a 25% discount to IWSG members. If you're looking for some help with editing, design, promotion and marketing, they're a place to start looking. You will have to be a new account to get the discount. Follow this link to sign up.

Savvy Authors are having a pitch fest from May 17th to May 19th. I didn't look at their agent list but most of the editors and publishers seem to be for romance and/or YA. They have clear rules and also a page of instructions with examples of how to write that pitch. Even if you aren't interested, you should check out their page and let it help you prepare for #IWSGPit.

On June 7th, Carina Press, a digital first line of Harlequin, is holding its fifth annual pitch fest on June 7th. So if you have a romance novel to pitch, use this #CarinaPitch. They have guidelines on their site for what they're looking for.

This coming weekend, I'm attending the 30th annual Pennwriters Conference which will be held in Pittsburgh. I'm looking forward to not only networking opportunities but also have a few workshops picked out that I hope will be of use to me in promotion. Since I'll be there all weekend, I probably not post here next Monday, but I'll have lots of good stuff to share in later posts. Remember you can always check out the IWSG Conference Page and find an opportunity for yourself.

I'd hope to finish my WIP before the conference, but I'm going to be just short on that first draft. Working on the dark moment right now.

“I realized when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.” 
― Mitch AlbomFor One More Day

Hope those of you who are mothers had a good day yesterday. My children and husband did a wonderful job making mine special. It was great after a couple of really, really busy weeks.

"If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?" Milton Berle

I had some good news on the TV front when NBC canceled Timeless but then decided to bring it back in summer 2018. It was the only new show I started watching this past TV season. But three hours of TV shows per week is good for me.

Any good opportunities you're taking advantage of in the upcoming weeks? How did you spend Mother's Day? Did any of your favorite shows get canceled? Are you tired of rain where you live?







Monday, May 8, 2017

Plowing Onward

I hope I'll have a chance to watch lots of inspiring videos courtesy of Reedsy in their campaign to raise funds for a great cause. Share your short video of #IWriteBecause and they will donate $10 to the Room to Read organization. And here's another awesome thing for IWSG members, you can receive a $25 discount for Reedsy services. Read today's IWSG post to learn more.

I didn't post a video because ... life jumped up and bit me in the a** last week. Actually over the course of the past two weeks. It was difficult to keep up with my duties to all my different writing organizations and my own writing goals. There came a day last week when I was ready to quit everything. Every online group, every group I belong to and even quit writing the WIP I'm 60K into. Everything was too much. But I thought of my parents. I grew up on a dairy farm. For those of you who don't understand dairy cows, they need a schedule to ensure top production of milk. Every twelve hours, they expect the farmer to be there. No matter what happened, the cows get milked. No illness, family tragedy, or level of exhaustion or frustration can interfere with that schedule. And my parents always did. The cows got milked on time despite weddings, graduations, illness and grief.

So I kicked myself in the a** and here I still am. I apologize to my friends whose blogs I didn't have time to visit last week. I'll do better. I completed paperwork for my publisher related to my newest contract. I gathered all the paperwork together for my upcoming Pennwriters' board meeting and prepared my own reports and sent them. I prepared what I needed for my meeting of my local Chapter of RWA and attended that meeting on Saturday. I cooked meals for the family, mowed the dang grass, and got back to my WIP. Everything is not wonderful and good, but the cows are getting milked on time, to be metaphorical. For a few days, I felt like was letting everyone down. But my parents taught me that sometimes you just have to keep going until you come out the other side.

Onto another good thing. The Connective by Patrick Hatt is now available. I have this on my Kindle and it moved to the front of the TBR line though it sounds pretty spooky. As usual, Pat amazes me with his prolific writing. How do you do it, Pat?

I told you about my local RWA chapter being awarded the Chapter Excellence Award. They have this banner up at the RWA site. Pretty cool to be part of this dynamic group.

I didn't get to see Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, but I'm hoping my youngest son will take me for Mother's Day. He usually takes me to a movie I want to see that my husband doesn't for gifts. Counting on him.

Did you make a video about why you write? Had any dark days lately? Did you see Guardians? Are you getting your pitch ready for the #IWSGPit yet?












Wednesday, May 3, 2017

IWSG: May It Be Wonderful

It is May already and time to share our insecurities about our writing with the other members of our group. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for starting this terrific group. If you're not already part of it, sign up to be a IWSG member here.

What to know what's going on with the group? Check out a few of the events and happenings on today's IWSG post.

Big, BIG news! Yesterday, IWSG released its newest anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life. You can get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, BAM and Kobo. It's already getting lots of great reviews. You'll be hard-pressed to pick a favorite story.
What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

I hope you're practicing your Twitter Pitch. #IWSGPit You still have time to get it together. I'm working for a post on suggestions for closer to the July 27th, blastoff. Check out the rules at the IWSG website. Make sure you're following IWSG on Twitter.

If you're not already, you should be following IWSG on Facebook.  Lots happens in that very active group.

This month's question from IWSG: What is the weirdest or coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?
Actually, the most enjoyable research I ever did was for some of my A to Z Challenge themes. I'm currently researching things about bone marrow and immunity deficiencies. I always put a little medical science in my science fiction. That is actually some clue to what my latest series is about. A future where most humans have compromised immune systems.

In a pretty cloudy week, I did receive a contract last week for the first book in that new series. That did slow down my word count as I dealt with cover art questions and a few other real life things.

Do you have a piece of work you're ready to pitch in July? Do you like doing research? Do you have a favorite between Twitter and Facebook?