Monday, October 29, 2012

Lovely Links

I need to start writing blog post ideas down when they hit me.  For the second week in a row I've had some great ideas over the weekend and then totally forget what they were on Monday night when I'm scrambling to write my post!

Photo Courtesy:
My attention is all over the place, which means I've been gathering information on a variety of subjects including editing, editors, websites, marketing ideas and plot development.  Anyone who thinks self-publishing is the easy way out doesn't know all what it entails. Heck, I'm just scratching the tip of the informational iceberg and the amount of work is a little overwhelming.  But, guess what?  I'm really happy and calm about it all.  Just busy.

Since I can't really focus on any one topic right now to save my life, I thought I would share with you a couple of the links to blog posts I've read that have been helpful.

First, I've been working on plot development for a second book using the characters from Finding Meara.  I'd always planned to write more about Hazel and Arden, but thought I'd have some time before I needed to start.  Self-publishing wisdom indicates I need to get a second book out as soon as possible after the first, so I'm casting around the dark recesses of my brain for an interesting, book worthy plot idea.
With Nano coming up there have been lots of posts around about plotting, but I found the posts Pre-Writing: It's All About the Character and Growing Plot from Character by Robin LaFevers, author of Grave Mercy, particularly helpful. I've got the characters, I just don't have the plot.  The questions listed in the posts have started my brain whirring.  Besides the great posts, I just have to say I love Ms. LeFevers' website. It's absolutely beautiful!

I've worried about marketing ideas for quite a while, even before deciding to self-publish.  It's no secret that the weight of the majority of marketing falls on an author these days.  With self-published books increasing by 287% since 2006, the competition for a self-published author to gain positive attention and readers is at an all time high.  The post The New Path to Writing Success by Jon Bard on the Writer Unboxed site was both enlightening and uplifting, but the link to the post How to Build a Network of Fans on Mr. Bard's own site was marketing gold.  In the post he gives several practical and not at all difficult ways to connect to the ever-elusive reader.  It was after reading this post that I decided I needed to go ahead and get my own website going, and soon.  Hopefully, before the end of November, I'll have a shiny new website to show off, and can start implementing some of his ideas.

Laura Howard
I've also read several great posts on Laura Howard's blog Finding Bliss, and also The Writer's Guide to E-Publishing (WG2E). If you're interested in all things self-publishing, head over to either homepage and take some time to browse.  The series of three posts A Business Plan for Self-Published Authors on WG2E was a real eyeopener for me.

It's quite fun to list Laura Howard today, because I actually met her through the My Name Is Not Bob Platform Building Challenge in April.  Between then and now her blog has become a hot spot for Indie reviews, interviews and information.  She's also super nice!

Have you read any posts in the last several weeks you've found helpful?  If so, feel free to share in the comments!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Funny Photo Friday

Happy Friday, everyone!  I am so glad it's the weekend.  How about you?

Before we get to the pictures I wanted to share a funtabulous opportunity!  The marvelous Heather Webb at Between the Sheets is hosting a pitch workshop/blog hop/contest.  Go here (toward the bottom of the post) for all the details, but basically:

Sign up is from Monday, October 29th through Wednesday, October 31st.

Blog Hop is November 1st and 2nd

Contest is November 5th through November 9th - post your pitch in the comments section at Between the Sheets to enter a chance to get your first ten pages in front of agent Michelle Brower from the Folio Literary Management.

Go take a look and if you decide to participate (which I hope you do!) I wish you tons of good luck!

So, lets see some funny photos!  Last weeks winner was:

Cat News!

And here's the new ones!

The things we do to our pets!

The photo on the right makes me smile because he looks like he's hula-hooping. 

I mostly found this funny because I do get beavers and otters confused...all the time.

The following isn't necessarily funny, but I thought they were cool and had to share them.  

Star War My Little Ponies!

I so want a set--or at least the Darth Maul one.  Look for the Princess Leia in the metal bikini thing she wore in Jabba's Palace.  Too funny!  The Lando one is pretty cute.  I  have to admit I had a little crush on Lando back when I was (maybe) seven years old and The Empire Strikes Back came out.

I'm curious! Who is your favorite Star Wars character?  You can pick more than one, if you want.  

Did you like any of the photos more than the others?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

All Men (and Woman) Dream

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.  T.E. Lawrence

Photo courtesy of
Children are amazing, because they dream with open eyes.  Anything is possible.  Super strength can be imbued with a breath mint, or their friends can be daylight vampires (my son's favorite).  If they want something (and they have been encouraged instead of demoralized) they will try to get it, to make their dream possible.  They don't think about the other kids who haven't had their dreams come true.  They don't worry if their abilities are sufficient.  They don't contemplate the wisdom of chasing a dream.  They just jump in with both feet and work to make their dreams possible.

When I was born, among other interesting issues, my left hip was not fully formed.  I had to wear a horseshoe shaped brace to keep my hips in alignment until I was a year old.  I couldn't crawl regularly because my legs were strapped out to the sides.  My mother said I'd army crawl around the house, dragging myself along with my arms. She credits this time in my early development for teaching me persistence and determination, all before I even could talk (I did that late, too.)

Maybe she's right.  I do know that if someone tells me "no," my first response is "Oh, yeah? Watch me."  I'm sure other factors in my life (high school) contribute to that defiant attitude, but I believe it's that kind of attitude we have to take if we want to break out of the box the rest of the world wants to keep us in.  We have to be willing to take the lead from children -- jump in with both feet, and make our dreams possible.

What has helped you to develop a "watch me" attitude.
How do you dream with open eyes, and make your dreams possible?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Funny Photo Friday

What a whirlwind week it's been.  I swear it was just Monday.  It's always nice to make a painless slide into the weekend.

I've been editing Finding Meara in the evenings...again.  There is a lot to consider now that I've decided to self-publish, and a lot to read.  It's a whole new world.  I think the steep learning curve and expanded task list is part of the reason this week has flown by.

Anyway, let's move on to the photos! 

This is what my hair looks like around mid-winter.

There are some emoticats who resemble these expressions...

Snagged, right out of the air!

Dog torture.

I've been meeting a lot of people lately that make me feel like this.

Nothing I can say...

What have you been up to this week?  Which photo is your favorite?  I personally think the Cat News is hilarious!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Snippets. I have snippets of blog posts running through my aching head.  I think I'll share my snippets and then go to bed.

1. What about the Space Jump! I was totally enthralled watching the Jump live on Sunday. Every time I re-watch the footage, I still am in awe.  I included the video from Red Bull Stratos, in case you didn't see the Jump, or in case you want to see it again.  

My question is - what does he do now?  How do you top a supersonic freefall from twenty-four miles above the Earth?

2.  How-To Books.  I am halfway through four different how-to books.  The Plot Whisperer is my most recent acquisition, because I need to get started on the sequel to Finding Meara if I'm going to be able to release it next year as well.  (I know.  It sounds weird, considering I haven't even published the first one yet.)  So far the focus has been on me and my writer-ly tendencies, and overcoming weaknesses (such as procrastination.)  I've only read Chapter One, though.  

3.  People are strange.  I attended a staff development training last Monday, and then chaperoned my son's field trip last Friday.  At the training, I noticed woman preening each other.  You know, fixing each other's hair, straightening clothes. At the field trip, I saw the same behavior from the little girls.  It made me wonder if I'm strange, or if the adult woman who were preening each other were strange.  Is preening normal female behavior?  Personally, I prefer to take care of my own grooming, thank you very much. If something is amiss, I do appreciate a heads-up, but I prefer everyone keep their hands to themselves.

Well, my head now feels like it's going to explode, so I am ending this post.  Thanks for reading through the rambling to this point, if you made it that far!

What did you think of the Space Jump?  
Are you reading any good How-To books right now?  
What strange things have you seen people doing lately?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Funny Friday Photos: Flash Edition

It has finally happened. I have caught the internet issues bug.  Because of the insane amounts of time I've spent on the phone with my service provider for the last three days, I don't have enough time to get a long Funny Friday Photo post together, but I did see the LOL Emoticats and thought it was so cute, I had to share it.

I'll put the winner of last weeks photos at the bottom, and I hope you all have a great weekend!

And the winner of last weeks funny photos is...

No one! It's a tie between the Tiny Turtle, Black Beauty, and Confidence (the Husky.)

My favorite from the emoticats is :-} or :-P.  They cracked me up!

Anyone else experiencing internet frustrations? What was your favorite emoticat?

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Understanding the Brain to Beat Stress

Photo courtesy of
Increased levels of stress chemicals (cortisol and adrenaline) wreak havoc on our brain and bodies, interfering with memory, learning, mood regulation and even weight regulation.  Dopamine, with it's friendly counterpart serotonin, counteracts the meanie chemicals our brain releases when we are stressed.

Serotonin is the brain chemical that makes us feel calm and relaxed.  Dopamine is our brain's reward chemical.  When we do something that the brain wants to encourage us to do again, it releases dopamine.

Different activities will produce different levels of dopamine.  Do you want to guess at an activity the brain really wants to encourage us to continue, and so releases large amounts of dopamine?  It has to do with the propagation of our species.

Eating is another dopamine producing activity.  Apparently our brain wants us to continue to find sustenance so it can function. Makes sense, doesn't it.  Now I understand why I tend to head for the kitchen when I'm stressed, too.  

Other dopamine producing activities are (in no particular order):
  • Exercise
  • Music (90 beats/min or higher, with easy to remember, non-threatening lyrics)
  • Chocolate (actually increases dopamine production by 150%)
  • Social Success
  • Expectation of Money (such as the anticipation of pay day)
  • Vanquishing a known enemy (such as when your football team wins - but I wonder about beating the bad guy on a video game, too)
I wouldn't recommend gambling or attacking the human source of your stress--unless you want to end up penniless, in jail and more stressed. However, the next time you find your shoulder tensed into steel rods, your stomach tightened to the point you feel like barfing and can't shake a glum or cranky mood, turn on some music, eat some chocolate with a friend and/or get some exercise. Your brain will make you glad you did.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Special Edition: Why I've Decided to Self-Publish

Photo Courtesy of
Let me start by saying it's not because I don't think I'll ever get an agent or a publisher.  I haven't thrown in the towel of traditional publishing because I believe I will fail at the process.  I queried Finding Meara approximately four months and received eight rejections. Because all but one of the queries were just the query letter, I feel like my query was rejected, rather than my story or my abilities.  Obviously I didn't query long enough to feel like my story is a lost cause and I should slink off with my tail between my legs.

In that four months of querying, I did learn some things about myself, though.

Quick backstory.  If you remember several months ago I wrote a post about what writing is to me.  What I didn't relate in that post is how I realized that writing was not going to be the replacement career I'd been hoping it would be.  I understood that, even if I did become traditionally published, the likelihood of sales ginormous enough to quit my job was pretty slim.

Another epiphany is that Finding Meara is incredibly hard to define.  It's not because it doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up, but it's because I tend to write unusual, genre mixed stories. I've had feedback on a couple of different short stories where the editors asked me what exactly the story was. Is it romantic comedy? Horror? Thriller?  When I pitched to Lou Anders at the Pikes Peak Writer's Conference last April, I believe he requested my manuscript solely because he wanted to see what a novel described as Janet Evanovich meets Roger Zelazny looked like.  He cushioned me for the rejection he knew would occur before my pitch session was over because he knew it wouldn't be something Pyr could publish.  I've been told by editors my stories are well-written, enjoyable and intriguing.  In traditional publishing today, that's not enough.

Finally, I have never been thrilled with the idea of having an agent, but because I wanted to try traditional publishing I bit the bullet and started drafting a query letter.  Initially I viewed it as a challenge.  Then the new wore off and I started really resenting the process.  I don't want to be nasty, so I won't tell you all the unkind thoughts I had about writing a query letter, sending the query letter, and then getting rejected off of the crappy query letter I'd written.

Because I was now dialed into different agents and their websites/twitter feeds, I became increasingly disillusioned with how many of them treated aspiring authors.  The attitude of superiority many of them appear to have left me with a nasty attitude of my own. I know there are lots of wonderful agents out there, but I seemed to be finding the not so nice ones.  The only exception is Russell Galen, who is known as the kindest agent in the business for a reason.

Last Wednesday I was watching the twitter feed of a small press editor I had sent FM to in July.  He was tweeting, not so kindly, about the queries he was reading.  There were two Urban Fantasy queries he mentioned, either of which very well could have been FM.  He was dismissive, obnoxious and entitled.  He didn't even care that he was publicly humiliating people who had tried very hard to "get it right."  It was the proverbial last straw.

When my husband came home, I told him I wanted to self-publish.  He's actually been pushing me to self-publish since I started writing short stories. I kept holding off because my personality wants that outside approval of the "experts."  I have changed my mind.
Photo Courtesy of

Instead of sending my story to people who want to find a reason to hate it, I want to get my story out in front of people who want to find a reason to like it.

I wanted a traditional publisher to help me make my story the best it can be.  Now I will hire people to help me make the book the best it can be.  It feels really nice to have my future back in my hands, instead of waiting for someone to notice me.

Yes, I know it's possible I won't sell any copies.  I know the statistics for how many books are self-published a month.  I know how hard it is to get noticed in the sea of self-published books.  I know all the bad stuff about self-publishing.

But, I have to tell you, for the first time in five months I'm excited about writing again.  My story--which I really think is a good one--has the chance to be seen and enjoyed by people again.  I don't feel like I'm locked in a hole where I can't seem to find the key to open the door to get out.  Because that's how I've felt the last five months--like what I write, blog, tweet...none of it mattered because no one was going to see my stories, anyway.

And I write stories for people to enjoy.  I really do.  I've never understood people who say they write for themselves.

Besides that, I also had an epiphany regarding the fact I'm going to be fifty in nine years.  I don't have a lot of time to waste, first with trying to find an agent, next a publisher and then to get the darn thing out.  In nine years I could be sitting with nothing if I wait for traditional publishing to take a chance on me.  Or, if I keep a budget of $500 dollars, and sell ten books a year at a $4.99 price point, I might have made back my investment.

So, I'm entering the ranks of those who self-publish.  I know it's not the choice for everyone, but I am very confident it's the best choice for me.

Have you ever considered self-publishing?  If you have self-published before, do you have any tips or suggestions to share?  Anyone know of a good line editor who isn't insanely expensive?

Friday, October 05, 2012

Funny Photo Fridays

Somewhere around 1:00 pm on Wednesday I started wishing for the weekend, so I'm happy it's finally Friday.  It's not like it was a bad day--my heart was just at home.

I wanted to take a second and apologize to everyone for not being such a great blog visitor lately.  It seems like I just don't have as much time to get around to everyone's blogs.  I promise I'm trying, though!  To be honest, I'm finding it a little hard to motivate to get posts up on my own blog.  After two years of blogging, I might be running out of blogging steam...

But, we still have Funny Photo Fridays!  The winner from last week is:

And now for this week's photos:

My husband can't see the resemblance, but I think it's funny!

Oh, how true.

Yes, you are adorable. 

Have a fabulous weekend!  My favorite is the Jamaican horse.  Which is your favorite?

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mine

Those two little boys in the picture fill my life with brightness and laughter and meaning.  No, I don't possess them.  I don't feel jealousy over the relationships they have with others--my mother, my husband, their teachers.  I have always felt like they were little beings who came to live with us so we could keep them safe and teach them how to be good, productive young men.  But, I love them with a protective intensity that supersedes anything else in my life.  They are my family, they are my children, they are mine.


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