Friday, August 29, 2014

The Week That Was

I know many people in the USA are enjoying the unofficial last weekend of the summer. Labor Day means cookouts, a trip to the beach and the beginning of football season as well as the start of school. As a retired school teacher, I enjoy this weekend much more than I have in the past when it meant the end of summer break. The weather has been wonderful and a great preview of the lovely autumn weather ahead.

The Old Farmer's Almanac advises this: For good fortune, place salt and pepper shakers on the kitchen shelf before carrying furniture inside a new home.
Also: Don't ride the high horse; the fall, when it comes, is hard.

As a writer of romance, I found this article from BookBub interesting. Romance readers are tired of people treating their favorite genre as the 'poor relative' in the literary world. I found this article through the newsletter editor of CPRW, my local chapter of RWA. I'll introduce you to Heidi later. She just signed a very exciting contract.

And I realized that last week I forgot to include any quotes from my favorite writers. We'll go back to Tolkien today.
It is not the strength of the body that counts, but the strength of the spirit.

Some reminders. Like many other bloggers, I won't be posting on Monday. Please remember that next Wednesday is the first of the new month. So get your IWSG post ready as we step into fall. Do you have special plans for this weekend? Ever witness anyone make a painful fall from that high horse? Is your spirit stronger than your body? Ready for some fall weather?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Magic Comes With a Price.

Magic comes with a price is a common saying on one of my favorite TV shows, Once Upon a Time. As a parent, I believe I've seen magic at least and at best, prove of God's existence, four times in my life. All my children were born by C-section which means beautiful babies by any one's standards. No misshapen heads or abrasions from the trauma of birth. New parents worry about those fragile little bodies but the real worries come along when they get older. Once they walk out of that umbrella of 24/7 protection the parents learn the real measure of worry.

My Old Farmer's Almanac shared this stat for today as if they read my mind. Typically, A baby caused its parents to lose between 400 and 750 hours of sleep the first year. That's taking a year or so off those parents' lives. Last week the latest estimate of the cost of raising a child were released. According to this article in USA today, it cost $245, 340 dollars to raise a child to age 18. If you're like us and also help them through college, you're looking at some big bucks. But not a parent in the world would trade their little bundles of magic for that money.

As my children grow and go off on their own, I don't feel any loneliness in an 'empty nest' way. I worry that they're so far from my protection. They're smart, responsible people but that doesn't help me sleep at night. My youngest son is across the country in Colorado. The son with a heart condition. Early tomorrow morning my daughter leaves for a semester of study in Morocco. As she sat at the kitchen table with me practicing her Arabic, I felt my hair turning gray. Yes, it's a safe country, relatively. But it's way over there.

I remember giving my parents a needlepoint picture I made when I left home and moved hours away from them. It said the two most important things we can give our children are roots and wings. Tomorrow another one flies away.

Are you shocked at the price to raise a child today? Do you think the numbers of hours parents lose in that first year is accurate? Can you tell me something good about Morocco?

Monday, August 25, 2014

New Moon and New Book

Today is the new moon and I also have a new book released by my romance publisher. The Warrior and the Biologist is the first in my new series of science fiction romance novels. Mankind must trust their continued existence to a mysterious alien warrior when a predator impervious to all known weapons descends on their space colonies.

 The series is called the Warriors of Gaviron and the next two books are in development. That means I'm writing some really bad first drafts and hoping to have the second book ready by the end of the year.

As per my other books, my publisher sells new releases exclusively from their website for the first few weeks after their release. This practice makes more money for them and for me. It also takes advantage of their regular customers who are quite numerous. Small publishers come and go. New Concepts Publishing, though not the largest small publisher, has been around longer than most of them. Some of you may have heard of the latest small publisher struggling with revenue. Ellora's Cave has been around for quite a while also but they've cut staff and their authors are worried. Here's more detail in an article on Publishers Weekly.

The last book in my Recon Marine Series, The Marine's Doctor, is now available at all major ebook retailers and is enjoying good sales on Amazon and has garnished some nice reviews here and there. It wraps up that series and answers all the threads of that futuristic world.

I'm looking forward this week to the release of Brent Weeks newest book, The Broken Eye. It's the third book in his Lightbringer series. Can you tell I love to read and write series. I'm also looking forward the DVD release of season one of The Musketeers, the latest remake of that story by BBC America. It's very entertaining if you haven't checked it out yet.

Have you heard about Ellora's Cave and their troubles? Any new books or movies coming out that you're looking forward to? Should I be worried that the warrior on my book might look like a terrorist instead of an alien using a mask to protect himself from Earthling germs?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Week Wrap Up

Time for some wisdom from my trusty Old Farmer's Almanac Planner. We've been watching some of the Little League World Series so baseball is even more on our minds than usual at our house. According to the Old Farmer's, there are about 450 feet of wool yarn in a baseball. Lots of us have probably unwound an old baseball at some point in our lives. And on an historical note for tomorrow, Fannie Farmer opened a cooking school in Boston in 1902. Do you think they baked beans? A bit of dreaded news from the most recent publication of the Old Farmer's Almanac, we're going to have another cold and snowy winter here in the northeast USA.

I'm happy to finally be back at work on my WIP though I don't know if I'll make my goal for this month. I'm pretty much behind where I wanted to be but I've been spending a lot of time with my daughter before she heads off to college.

Sharing a bit of science news from BBC news, seems our ancient forefathers shared Europe with those tough old thick-headed Neanderthals for a longer period of time than we thought. According to the scientific speculation, the two species of humanoids probably did some trading and mostly lived in peace together. Amazing that two species could get along though they were barely civilized by today's standards but modern humans all of the same species can't. It really makes me question what the word 'civilized' actually means.

Did you ever unwind the guts of a baseball? Did you ever hear of Fannie Farmer's cooking school? Are you on target for your writing goals for the week, month or year? Do you think Neanderthals made good neighbors?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Plan Your Work

I may have mentioned one of my husband's favorite sayings before. 'Plan your work and work your plan.' It's used a lot around here and all six of our children use now in their adult life. One of his other favorites that they quote a lot is 'this country is built on hard work.' Usually they use those quotes where they have so much work to do they can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I might have mumbled those quotes to myself over the last week though colored with a bit of desperation.

I put in some long hours and reached all my deadlines. I wrote a post for IWSG on high concept fiction and prepared a post for this blog. I finished the edits on my upcoming release of The Warrior and the Biologist. These were the most extensive edits I've done for one of my romances and thanks to my editor's suggestion, it is a much better book now. And I made the deadline by about 24 hours to write an article for the newsletter of my local writers' group. Long hours but then again, this country is built on hard work.

When I asked my daughter, a junior at Boston University, to read over the article I wrote, she went all elitist on me about my lack of an Oxford comma where I could have used one. What followed was a delightful and spirited debate about using the serial comma. If you don't have a side in the Oxford Comma debate, here's a link with some pros and cons. Incidentally, since my daughter attends Boston University, rivals of Harvard, she would never call it the Harvard Comma like some people do. But by attending a university in the northeast, our professors are very pro-Oxford Comma.

Do you like our family sayings? Did you meet your deadlines this week? Do you have a side on the Oxford Comma debate? Do you call it by that name or another? Don't forget to visit IWSG for a special guest today.

Monday, August 18, 2014

7 Reasons To Be a Group

Recently I read a blog post about a writer who quit because she felt overwhelmed by the amount of time she needed to spend on promotion. The time she felt pressured to promote on social media had drained the joy of writing and only added stress to what had once been a dream come true. It was sad, and I've heard others express their frustration and distaste of that part of the business. Even authors contracted by the big traditional publishers must parcel out pieces of their writing time to promotion.

I have no easy answer because if a writer wants their work to read readers they must use social media to get their word out. This is especially true of indie-published authors and those published by small presses. But there are ways to lessen the stress. Don't do it alone. Be a group. A group blog. A group Facebook page. A group Twitter. Make a schedule and a plan so the group is active on whatever forum it is. What are the benefits? Most of the below refer to blogs but would be true for FB or Twitter also.

1. The most obvious is time. If you belong to group blog, instead of feeling like you need to post every day, you might only post every two weeks or even once per month. You're still active but not spending as much time.

2. Each member of the group brings their own strengths and widens the fields of expertise contributing to the blog. Do make sure the people in your group actually have something to contribute. Most writers do.

3. Having different people posting varies the 'voice' of the blog. Perhaps someone brings humor and another writes in a highly professional manner.

4. You have an immediate wider audience group. Each member brings their own friends, fans and contacts. Even if you start with mostly family, friends and known professional contacts, those branches will sprout and grow.

5. Each member will also bring connections to other forms of social media. Nearly all writers will have a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn presence. When they post and link their posts to those platforms, all members are appearing there too. It helps everyone.

6. Not to be overlooked is the security and comfort of being part of a group. You'll find support and assistance among your members. You'll learn things from them.

7. By having others depend on you to do you share, it will force you to stay active even when the business has weighed you down.

Please visit me today at the IWSG Blog, a group I'm very proud to be part of. Are you a member of a group blog? What do you see as the benefits? Does social media stress you at times? How do you motivate yourself to stay active?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Wisdom

This busy week is ending with a lot of work still on my plate. I have a final read through of my next science fiction romance, The Warrior and the Biologist, to get back to my editor by next Wednesday. I have an outline for an article I want to write for my local RWA chapter's newsletter due by Tuesday. And I have to get a blog post ready for the IWSG blog on Monday.

That is just my writers' work. For the second summer in a row, it manages to rain, a lot, a few times per week which means to the lawn and the weeds grow and grow and grow. I have a sizable property which means two hours of mowing and lots more than that of landscaping care. Add to that celebrating my husband's birthday, attending a celebration of our friends' anniversary and doing some shopping with my daughter for her semester abroad, and I'm pretty busy this weekend.

I can't let you enter the weekend without some shared wisdom from the trusty Old Farmer's Almanac. If there is a most common food that kids don't care for it might be peas, but did you know that 'Peas were a bedtime snack for royalty in 17th century France?' If you've ever eaten peas fresh from the garden, you would find them very tasty.

I don't know if any of my readers live in Vermont, but the painted turtle is the state republic of Vermont? And for good luck, you should put a coin in your home's foundation as it is being built. My father did that when we built an addition to our barn for the young stock. If my dad did it, it must be true.

What is keeping you busy this weekend? Ever have peas fresh from the garden? Would you have guessed they were a royal snack? Is there a coin in the foundation of your home? Any odd luck charms that you can think of? Want to mow my grass for me?