Monday, October 20, 2014

Survive and Thrive BlogFest

The blogfest is meant to bring awareness of disease prevention and early detection regarding medical conditions that may be averted or treated if caught in the early stages. Our desire is to motivate people to go in for early screening, and if a condition is caught early and treated, then our world just became a little better place to live.
The topics are wide open. You can post about a particular cause you support. Or you can share a personal or family experience that is near to your heart. What’s great about this Blogfest is you can inspire people to take care of themselves and their loved ones early enough to make a difference in their lives.
Hosted by
Stephen Tremp

I waited in the car at the middle school for my 7th grade son, James, to finish basketball practice. He walked out of the school rubbing his the middle of his chest. I questioned him about it and he confessed to having chest pains at times during practice and had experienced them months before when playing football.  After a visit to the family doctor who did and EKG and offered no answers, we ended up at the cardiologist. The doctor shook my son's hand, looked him up and down and said he knew what was wrong with my son. After an ultra-sound, his diagnosis of a form of Marfan syndrome was confirmed. People with Marfan syndrome often die early from heart conditions that result from this connective tissue disorder. If I hadn't noticed my son rubbing his chest, he might never have been diagnosed until the worst happened.

Though it doesn't happen often, the sudden death of a young athlete usually makes headline news. Almost all those deaths are a result of some type of cardiac failure. The majority of those cardiac incidences are hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which is a condition where the heart muscle thickens. Many of these deaths could be prevented by EKG screenings done before play is permitted such as is required in some other countries like Italy and Israel.  An abnormality on an EKG would then require further testing. On the other hand some physicians group claim there are too many false positives that would prevent healthy athletes from participation.  No one argues with the cost of these screenings, only the necessity. 

Young Hearts for Life is an example of a program that promotes and performs cardiac screening for your athletes. According to their website, sudden cardiac death claims 60 young people per week. These victims are most often male and participants in football or basketball.  I know many of my fellow bloggers had children who are or will someday participate in sports. Does their school and recreation organization require cardiac screenings? Read what other parents think about it.

James at the Broadmoor
The loss of a loved one hurts more than can be said. When it's a young person, perhaps a physically fit athlete, it is especially heart wrenching and so often preventable. As for my son, James, he has some life-long restrictions but he's a very healthy person. He has participated in track and field, baseball and cross-country since his diagnosis. He runs nearly every day, 10-15 miles, and lifts weights though he's not to ever lift more than half his body weight. He recently graduated from Penn State as a golf professional and is employed at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, the number one golf resort in the country for 2014. Every year he has an ultrasound on his heart and aorta and as long as his blood pressure stays down he's med-free. Not all parents have been as lucky as me. Is this a cause you could get behind?

We often think about health screenings as we age but there are tests we should insist on for our young people.  This blog hop was a super idea. Please read the other blogs and find some great causes to support and perhaps some health advice you should listen to.

Have you ever had an EKG? Do you know a young person with a heart problem? What health screenings to you believe are essential?

Friday, October 17, 2014

This Too Shall Pass

In central Pennsylvania, we've seen the sun for about two hours this week. It didn't rain EVERY minute. Sometimes it was only a constant mist or dark gloom.. And the wind! The sun is supposed to make an appearance today. I might actually be happy to mow the grass as that will mean it has finally dried up a bit. Sorry, I'm complaining about the weather. You know you'll have to put up with my whining about the cold all winter. Anything but sunshine isn't my thing.

This quote seemed appropriate for the day though I usually pick something from JRR Tolkien that has to do with writing.
Darkness must pass,
A new day will come,
And when the sun shines,
It will shine out the clearer.

And from the Old Farmer's Almanac:
The best thing to hold onto in life is each other. Audrey Hepburn
He who goes to bed hungry, dreams of pancakes. Maltese proverb

Weekend plans are to catch up on some outside yard work and do some actual writing. I've had to many other things going on lately that limited my time on my WIP. And if time permits I'm writing an article for my local writers' group newsletter.

Musa Publishing is celebrating their 3 year anniversary tonight from 7 PM to 9 PM EST. Take a chance to win lots of eBooks and a Kindle Paper White. All you have to do is visit their Facebook page. Musa is the publisher who had contracted my epic fantasy series, The Futhark Chronicles. So far I've been very, very impressed with the professionalism and efficiency of Musa. I'm excited about working with them. Drop by their celebration tonight and meet some of their authors.

Did that massive storm system hit your abode this week? Ever dream of pancakes? What are you working on this weekend or are you just enjoying some sunshine?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Monthly Special

Busy as a bee doesn't quite describe it here in the northeast. After all, those buzzing wonders don't work all winter long. As I've started into the second year of my career as a full time writer, I find there is no 'normal' month of work. There's always something going on in the writing side of writing or on the business side of writing. Or the real life issues side of writing.

Blog hops are every where. I enjoy them and find myself involved in at least one but usually more every month. Next Monday is the Survive and Thrive Bloghop. And of course the first Wednesday of every month is IWSG blog.

A big special over the course of the last six weeks has been the IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond project. I'm so proud to be part of that still ongoing construction. Can't wait for December!

Besides posting on my personal blog here, I take turns posting on the IWSG blog and today I'm at the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I also belong to a lesser know blog group at The Susquehanna Writers Blog. And I'm already preparing for the A to Z Challenge for next April.

Keeping up my author page on Facebook and trying to grow that has taken some time. I've become more active on Twitter and find I'm enjoying that more. Still haven't figured out LinkedIn but I'm there. I've also been asked to take on the job of secretary for Pennwriters, a state-wide writing organization. Don't even know how much that work will be yet.

On the writing side of writing, my most recent release was at the beginning of September. My romance publisher is doing a re-release of three of my titles with new covers, one at the end of each of the next three months. Musa Publishing has taken on my Futhark Chronicles and will be releasing them during four separate months next year starting in February. Some editing to do on those. And I just signed a contract for the follow up book to First Dragon

On the life side of writing, I'm still stressing about my daughter studying in Morocco. My hair falls out when I stress. LOL. It's getting very thin. And I'll be helping my son move back east from Colorado next week. A long day in the airport flying out there and two long days of driving back. Still, it will be nice to have one of the chicks safely back in the nest.

This isn't a whine post though I'm having some while I write it. What I've learned in my short time of being a full time writer is that you can be as busy as you want to be. There are so many things out there to get involved in. While I worked the day job, I would never have had time to do all these things. By getting involved in them, I'm making lots of friends, learning so much about the industry and giving back a little to the people who have helped me along in my career.

Do you volunteer your time somewhere in the writing community? What part of the writing business beside the actual writing keeps you the busiest? What events are you looking forward to in the next few months?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Finding the Zen

Today is my turn at IWSG. I hope you'll stop over for a visit. I'm discussing some ways to keep your word count up. You can add your own thoughts on how you do it.

As I look over my schedule for the next six months I feel a little, maybe a lot, overwhelmed. Lots of things going on. I would bore you with the list but it seems to get longer every day. On one hand I'm thrilled by all the good things happening. Flip side is concern that I won't be able to keep up. So I'm giving myself a pep talk.

As I work on my current WIP, I'm worried it's not of the quality I expect. I keep telling myself that self-doubt is only my inner editor at work. I need to that person to quiet down.

I've been getting a little anxious about one project that I haven't heard back on from one of my publishers. Patience, I remind myself. When I first started writing, all submissions to publishers went by snail mail. Multiple trips to the post office and lots of money involved in getting a double-spaced manuscript to an editor. So I only had to send an email and try to quell my impatience.

I've been working slowly on building my following on my author's page on Facebook. Facebook can really be a time suck and a place where you see some really irritating posts. Some people use social media to rant on and on about their political views and give the impression that if you don't agree with them you must be an idiot. I calmly un-follow them. Little bit of zen-ish behavior for me.

I'm happy to announce my latest science fiction romance, The Warrior and The Biologist is now available at all major digital book stores. As usual my publisher keeps new releases exclusive to their site for the first month. A good idea that earns more money for them and for me. In the book's first weekend out in the wide world its sales surprised me in a pleasant, zen way.

I also had the pleasure of attending a unique book signing yesterday at a local independent book store for my friend, Heather Heyford. A Taste of Chardonnay is the first book in her Napa Wine series from Kensington. Heather had an ice sculpture of a bottle of chardonnay, real wine, cheese and fruit. It was lovely.

Any thing interfering with your zen this week? What are your reasons for un-following someone on social media? Do you remember having to send submissions to editors and agents by snail mail? Have you attended a unique book signing? Do you have some wisdom on word count to share on IWSG?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Exciting Fall

I always enjoy the colors of fall and since I retired from teaching I enjoy the weather also though sweltering summer is my favorite season. Right before I wrote this post, one of my sons quietly called me to join him outside. A white-tailed doe stood in our driveway, not thirty feet away from us. After staring at us for a moment, she bounded across the road and out of sight. Then her two fawns, both with only a few spots remaining, walked past us, almost within touching distance. Our yard has provided refuge for a bounty of wildlife this year. Besides the four deer families we've seen with regularity, we have a resident skunk who usually keeps his smell to himself. A large hawk lives somewhere nearby and often sits on our pool fence. We've spotted bald eagles high overhead, blue jays every day, and numerous other colorful birds. We've also seen plenty of turkeys in the fields nearby. I LOVE living in the country.

For the writing business this week, I'm finally caught up on a whole lot of things that were not working on my current WIP. I intend to tackle that piece of work this weekend.

From the Old Farmer's Almanac this week: Experience teaches you to recognize a mistake when you've made it again.
Faults are thick where love is thin. An English proverb.

If you didn't visit IWSG for Anne R. Allen's post about the difference between dreams and goals, you really should. You might recognize yourself somewhere in her descriptions. I did.

Happy leaf raking, soon. Do you enjoy fall? See any wildlife around your abode? Has experience helped you recognizing your mistakes? Did you visit Anne at IWSG?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Many Paths

When I first started writing I dreamed of getting 'the call' and being offered a significant advance by one of the big traditional publishers. I did get a call from a medium-sized publisher once. It was very exciting as was receiving that first advance check. But the publisher world is constantly changing and evolving. Now there are many more paths to being a successful writer than one like my original dream.

That traditional route is still there and some find it and the advance. Many more writers are finding success with small presses. From previous posts you know I'm a big fan of those and work with three different small presses.

More and more writers are finding their niche by self-publishing. It takes a willingness to work and learn a few new things but there's a lot of advice and how-to information available if you want to take that route.

But the evolving publishing world has opened opportunities that just weren't there in the old traditional model. Novellas were virtually unheard of before the eBook. Some were included in anthologies but those weren't near as popular as they are now in the digital age. Now publishers and self-publishers can offer those 15-20K stories digitally at a price readers think is fair.

Collaborative writing is so much easier in this day and age. I've seem lots more of it than ever before. Serial writing is another form of story-telling that benefits from the digital age. Writers can offer their book in segments.

Another thing that has changed with the emergence of successful small publishers and self-publishing is that reissuing of older titles. In my case, that medium publisher who gave me my first advance changed the focus of their company and threw me and most of their authors of genre fiction under the bus. But I recently found a small publisher willing to take on that fantasy series and reissue it. In another example a romance novel I had with a small publisher had a really poor sales record. I took back my rights and convinced my other romance publisher to reissue it. In the old days that would never have happened.

Finding a publisher for poetry has always been a challenge but again the digital age has created a massive array of opportunities for poets to get their work to readers. So though we often complain a bit about how quickly the industry is changing, most of it is for the good of writers.

What did I miss in my roundup of pathways to success? Would you ever do collaborative writing or a publish your novel as a serial? Have you ever had a book reissued?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Gwen Gardner and Ghostly Gallows

I'm ever surprised at the unique ways writers weave magic in their stories. When the term paranormal is used to describe a book or genre, that covers a lot of different plot lines. Magical ideas are limited only by the author's imagination. Today Gwen Gardner visits and explains how the protagonist's  magical gifts in her latest book work.  

Double-Edged Spark 
Thanks for hosting me today, Susan!

Susan writes both science fiction and fantasy romance, so I thought I’d share a bit about paranormal romance. Besides the romance part, the different romance genres have something else in common. Such as, what can go wrong and in how many different ways?

I write two series’ with the same protagonist. Indigo Eady is a teenage ghost-whispering, psychometry-reading psychic whose father was murdered. Not only is that a mouthful, but that is a LOT of baggage. What happens when you combine all of that with romance? Chaos, of course! It’s enough to scare any guy away.

One of Indigo’s ‘gifts’ is psychometry. If you haven’t heard of it, the short version is that it’s reading energy through touch. You may have seen on television where a psychic holds an object, such as a watch, and from that receives a vision of what may have happened to its owner.

Indigo’s psychometric ability takes it one step further, which causes all kinds of problems for her. Since she’s dealing with helping ghosts to solve their murders, violence is generally involved. That violence is passed on to Indigo through the objects she touches. When that happens, blisters erupt on her palms and they pop and fester. Her hands are often red, raw and wrapped.

Since Indigo is so often running from the current threat, whether living or dead, she tends to be a bit clumsy. Yeah, she denies it, but it’s true. Her mishaps affect other people. Like Badger, her love interest.
 Only to herself does Indigo admit the spark of the attraction between her and Badger. And that spark causes her abilities to short-circuit or backfire in some seriously inconvenient ways.

For instance, one time Indigo purposely wrapped her palm around a pint of beer belonging to a suspect to see what kind of information she could get. She learned that he wasn’t exactly telling the truth--at a cost to her. Because just touching the glass got her rip-roaring drunk. Then she proceeded to blow chunks all over Badger’s boots while wallowing on the floor and informing him through drunken eyes how cute he was--all four of him.

Then there was the time she was chasing a ghost through the house, bursting into the kitchen in pajamas and bunny slippers with six inch floppy ears. Unable to stop, she slid over the table into Badger and was left lying across the table with her bunny slippers waving in the air. But he did find her am-I-interrupting? quip quite amusing.

Through their investigations, Indigo and Badger have fallen through crumbling buildings, been trapped underground beneath a cemetery, been pinched and poked by malevolent spirits in a dilapidated prison, shot at by a killer, kidnapped by a demon and chased by all manner of beings intent on doing them harm.
 You really gotta like someone to put up with it all. A few shared kisses in between all the chaos helps.
 Luckily, there’s that spark I mentioned. Yeah, a double-edged spark.

Blurb: Ghostly Gallows:

The case of missing paranormals is far from solved.
Hundreds of Sabrina Shores’ spirits are still missing.

In Second Death, Indigo and her friends escape an eternity underground in evil clutches. Back aboveground with a few missing ghosties happily in tow, one truth is painfully clear: the size of their problem is bigger than the village cemetery itself.

Now in Ghostly Gallows, new information leads Indigo and her fellow investigators to the ruins of Gallowsgate Prison, long abandoned by everyone and everything except malevolent spirits. It’s not called Gallowsgate for nothing when the noose swings a little too close to home.

Indigo Eady:

Much to her chagrin, Indigo Eady is a celebrity among spirits. She’s the girl who can see and speak with them. She has a proven track record in helping spirits find their murderers, so it’s no surprise when she’s drafted onto the Missing Paranormal Committee. Who better to help them than the experienced teenage ghost whisperer- investigator and her friends?

Connect With Gwen Here:

Buy Ghostly Gallows Here:

About the Author:

Gwen Gardner is a native Californian living in sunny San Diego, where her love of reading and writing led to a BA in English literature. Life is now complete with her husband, two dogs and a daily call from her daughter.

Since ghosts feature prominently in her young adult Indigo Eady Paranormal “Cozy” Mystery series and Afterlife series, she has a secret desire to meet one face to face - but will run screaming for the hills if she ever does. Gwen adores travel and experiencing the cultures and foods of different countries. She is always up for an adventure and anything involving chocolate - not necessarily in that order.

What is the strangest magic you've read about or written? Do you find yourself more attracted to ghostly or horror stories near Halloween? Do you believe in psychic abilities? Are you familiar with Gwen and her books?