Thursday, October 19, 2017

5 Good Things About Failing NaNoWriMo

It's October- and besides monster movies, football injuries, and early Christmas commercials, it's time for all the NaNoWriMo buzz. For the unknowing, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, takes place during November- where by writing 1,667 words a day, aspiring novelists hope to present a fully written novel of 50,000 by the 30th.

But some never finish.

Here are 5 good things about not finishing:

1- You started. You attempted. If I had a nickel for all the people who told me, "I'm going to write a novel" yet never even wrote a line, I'd have enough nickels to buy a very large overpriced frappucino. For so many people, beginning is the hardest part. Like Mary Poppins said, "Start at the beginning, it's the very best place to start..."  You've done that. Kudos!

“Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.” -Tupac Sahkur 

2- Doing any amount of writing let's you know your characters better. It's like what I call the 'E-Harmony of dating your character.' By starting to write your novel, you know a little bit more about them; not everything because writing, like dating, takes time to get to know your character. If you've written one chapter, that's like one date. Several chapters, a month of dating. Even after you finish the novel, you don't know everything about your character (sequels...). I know my hubs still surprises me after so many years and that discovery (usually) makes life more fun.

3- You're in the groove. Okay, so 1,667 words a day are hard; you have family, jobs, obligations. We all have situations that demand and steal our time. But if you got into the habit of at least writing even 100 words a day, and it becomes like that cup of coffee (or tea) that you must have every morning, you're creating a positive writing atmosphere and lifestyle. My first novel took 10 years to write as I juggled a full time job, college night classes, a house, and a husband. I wrote, in my car, on my lunch hour. (Yes, even in winter when it was cold! New Jersey winters can be brutal!) But I wrote almost every day. Use the smallest bits of time efficiently and consistently.

4- The word police didn't come banging on your door to take you away. This is a purely voluntary undertaking. While colleagues and friends may say, "Did you finish that novel yet?" you are not required to finish in that month's span. Maybe a family or friend needed you. Was there a move? A sickness? A lottery win and you were on the beach without access to your notes? Whatever the reason (and I'm sure it was a good one), you didn't finish. Even if you didn't have a good reason, that's your business, but don't let it prevent you from picking up where you left off. Finish the novel over the next month (yeah, good luck in December with all those holidays), next year- or if you're like John Grisham and me, the next 10 years to finish it. There are no NaNo police interested in your word count productivity. Don't put stress on yourself. There's always next year, and that's cool.

5- Look at what you've learned. Maybe 1,667 words are too much. Maybe you need a break after a week of intense writing. Maybe this novel won't work and you need to fix a major plot problem. Maybe you've met some people and get along well enough to start a new critique or support group. Maybe your novel needs to move from middle grade to young adult. Maybe a thousand different things that will change your novel-or you. This experience of not finishing could be a blessing, a boost, a life-changing epiphany for you. Embrace it, use it. And march onward.

So, there's always next year. Maybe by not finishing (I won't say fail because you haven't), you know what you need to do, or not do, to complete your next attempt. Let me encourage you join a NaNo prep class (go to the NaNo website, they can hook you up. I just gave a class at our local library). Take the year, or a month, to prep, make notes, outline. There's no law against finishing in six months.

But finish that novel- it's a dream you can make come true.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Good Intentions

I deliberated quite a few hours over whether to write about the Dr. Suess controversy- several authors felt part of a mural was racist. People have a right, and I think, an obligation, to be upset over racism in any form.

Especially when the racism is deliberate.

But was Theodore Geisel's illustration deliberately racist?

At the risk of getting vilified by everyone on Twitter and some in the book world, I don't believe the intent was there.

And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, the book at the center of the controversy, has a depiction of an Asian man with chopsticks, pointed hat and slanted eyes. Yes, it's a stereotype. Yes, it should not be among the illustrations featured. But the book was written, according to the very authors whose boycott led to the cancellation of the celebration, over 80 years ago.


Are we to start scrubbing our artistic history?

How much literature and other art, would survive?

Movies- made in China- by Chinese directors, actors, producers, etc. have used this same depiction; I have seen it. Should we ban those movies? Are they to be labeled racist traitors for their uses of the image?

I think it comes down to intent. Dr Suess had many wonderful titles promoting acceptance and diversity, like The Sneetches. His books promoted not only diversity, but conservation and inclusion. The Washington Post quoted the three authors:

"The career of Ted Geisel, writing as Dr. Seuss, is a story of growth, from accepting the baser racial stereotypes of the times in his early career, to challenging those divisive impulses with work that delighted his readers and changed the times. It was our hope that the administration of the new Seuss-ian institution would be able to take inspiration from Mr. Geisel’s journey and find creative ways to allow children of all backgrounds to feel welcomed (or, at the very least, provide context for this hurtful painting)."

The museum easily could have added a small sign as suggested by the authors and the celebration of a man who wrote wonderful stories for children, and grew- as the authors stated, would not have been cancelled. I think everyone lost out.

That part of the mural will be replaced, but I think of all the children and even adults who lost out on a wonderful day with many planned activities. There are some who want to ban Dr. Suess altogether, and that makes me sad. He was human, and we all are on a journey of growth. Who among us can say we always got it right?


Monday, October 2, 2017

Groovin' On a Monday Afternoon

Actually the song says Sunday afternoon, and I started this on Sunday, but it's Monday when I'll finish it. I claim poetic license.

After a frenetic and frantic summer, I got out of the groove of the writing business. I had a lot of commitments and events that stole my time. Plus, yes, I have to admit, I was discouraged. I've been querying agents (one hand has more fingers than I got agent responses), revising older manuscripts, and trying to get my Evolution Revolution Trilogy into schools and libraries. (Yeah, hitting a brick wall there.) Indies get no respect (but I've cried this mantra before and have to move on). It's so easy to tell someone to 'just keep writing' when they have writer's block (even though that's the best way to break it- write about anything, just write).

But what if you don't have the incentive to write? That's where I was. I had ideas. I had beginnings. I had outlines. But no will. I languished.

So I weeded my gardens, refinished the floor in the guest room then painted and spiffed it up, painted the master bedroom, started painting the hallways, read some books, worked at fixing up our church parsonage, hung out with some friends, and lastly, decorated for Halloween. Hardly a speck of writing in there. (Grocery and To Do lists don't count as writing unless it's for a character or plot).

But everyone's back in school or to work. My pool is closed up and it's too cold to hang out on the patio. My knee's had enough of the painting (although I do have to touch up the hallway paint where I spackled a dent.)

Time to get in the groove. Now. Okay, I'm going. *Sits there. Sigh...

My messy desk, which needs to be cleared before I can work. Add that to the list.
I have to revert back to a trick that I share with a few of my friends. The To Do List. I find it easier to mix the tasks up rather than list Writer Things to Do, Household Things to Do, Mom Things to Do. On the list are: Put up blog post (working on that now), spackle holes/paint in bedroom where I removed extra curtain rod (that's drying; later I'll sand and paint), I have to call the orthopedist for that stupid knee (I'll get to it...), and at 1 pm I have a conference call. Those are the things I have determined I MUST get done today. Additionally, I need to do the first revision pass on my Frankenstein short story for Leap Books anthology, Thus Are Our Souls Constructed (deadline is December, so go check out their website for details).

I already have some things halfway done, like this blog and fixing the holes in the walls.

See? Halfway done; spackled and sanded, ready for painting.
 The bed is made, kitchen cleaned, house straightened up. Damn, gotta wash that kitchen floor. But by writing this blog, being forced to do it every week (sometimes better late than never), it kept me writing at least that little bit and I can build on it now.

I'm going to call the orthopedist and get that off my list. Then, I'll make the holes disappear. Look at Frankenstein short, and then it will be time for my conference call.

Groovin....on a Monday afternoon.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Here's the one little secret I've been holding in; Publishers Weekly said they were going to review Evolution Revolution: Simple Machines! And they did!

Anyone who is in the publishing business knows it's not easy to get a review- but I got one for my Indie! It'll be out this week! AND it's highlighted in a boxed section- which means more attention for Jack! (imagine loud SQUEE here).

"...Readers will enjoy the banter among the animals, as well as the way Jack develops into a leader as he wrangles uncooperative animals into going along with his plan. Daniels’s elegant b&w spot illustrations appear throughout, adding to the story’s appeal." 

They give a brief synopsis and while they thought there were too many adjectives/ adverbs, they said in their email:

"Of the hundreds of self-published titles received each month, only a handful of the very best are selected for review."

I think they like me! And Jack! I know for sure they love Cathy's illustrations, so I'm going to put some here for you to enjoy.

And from Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans:

And from Evolution Revolution: Simple Lessons:

For everyone involved with Jack and his success, a 


Now I've got to get back to work. Who knows, maybe contract, agent, and movie offers will start rolling in! ;)


Monday, September 18, 2017

Thank Yous and Other Dead Traditions

I understand we now live in a digital world. Calling replaced letter writing, email, then texting replaced calling.

I miss Thank You, Happy Birthday, Get Well, Congratulations, and other important occasion notes.

My collection of unused thank you and personal note cards. 
A quick note saying thank you, or this gift is for you because-, or get well, or simply thinking about you, is such a joy to receive. It sticks out in the mail amongst the bills and junk, and instantly one recognizes the time, thought, and effort that went into it: selecting the card, ruminating over the words, writing it out, affixing the stamp, and mailing it. It's a very labor intensive task. It makes one feel special at that moment.

I miss getting those personal notes. Yes, texting is more expedient, and you can put cute little pics or emoticons, but it's not the same as a written communication. There is no elegance in texts. If it weren't for automatic spell check, our language would have devolved completely into 'lol' and other acronyms by now, so I guess we owe Apple, Samsung, and other phone manufacturers or software producers our thanks for saving proper language.

As a child, I hated writing out the thank yous to grandparents for birthday and holiday gifts. A truly awful thing for me was my grandmother calling me and asking, "Did you get the birthday gift I sent you?" I'd stammer a bit, and as soon as I could, I'd write that thank you. I learned to send it before that call came. And after my wedding and bridal shower, I had such a cramp from writing names, addresses and a personal note to every gift giver or attendee.

But that changed. I looked forward to getting those little notes, so I started sending more. I still include a personal thank you when I send out copies of my books to those who agree to review them or giveaway winners. Realistically, winners should be thanking me. I bought the book, hosted the giveaway, and mailed it to them, but I can't help thanking them for taking the time to enter and showing interest in my book. I wish I could send a written, not typed, thank you to everyone who bought a copy, convinced the library to stock one, or mentioned my book.

Besides free books, I've sent baby, bridal, and birthday gifts, with never received even an email acknowledgment. It seems manners are as dead as dinosaurs. Hold a door for someone, and they waltz through, not even acknowledging the courtesy (to which I say loudly to them, "You're welcome." Most have the decency to look embarrassed for the discourtesy. Sadly, when driving on the roads I don't expect anything more than for people not to kill or maim me, but in conversations, whether in person or on social media, courtesy is dead. Hiding behind technical anonymity, people are as rude and nasty as they accuse others of being.

Even my courtesies are dwindling. I used to send a follow up email to people who received a copy of my book several weeks later; "Did you get the book?" They'd reply, "Oh, yes." I wish they would have responded on their own and sooner. I no longer follow up (unless it's for a review) because I've sent a thank you in with the book, and if that doesn't make you respond, then you've forgotten basic manners and started the return to caveman ways, and nothing I do or say will change that.

More and better ways to communicate, yet we do less of really connecting. It's really sad, isn't it? But I thank you for listening.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Memories...Of the Way We Were...

It's hard to remember life before September 11th, 2001. The least I can do is remember and pay tribute to all those who were killed on this day 16 years ago. In the World Trade Center. At the Pentagon. In the airplanes. On the ground, trying to help and save others.

Every year, I put out a candle for just a little light on a dark day...


Monday, September 4, 2017

Schooling Hades...

            The chartreuse shirt sailed across the room, landing near the To Be Donated pile. I was so done with it. Just a few more shirts and I was done sorting and packing for college.
            College! In a few hours I’d be on my way to Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina. I’d given up fashion marketing and opted for Psychology- Abnormal Psychology. Meg chose to stay in the city and go to the New York Film Academy. Me, I needed space – and distance – from all the memories. For the past two years I’d done nothing but trip over the Greek gods and drowned in their drama.
            I thought wistfully about Caz- Castor. As a demi god, there was always some distant relative in the pantheon that had a grudge and was looking to put him under some kind of curse. He’d said goodbye and that he’d see me in what amounted to a century in human years. That was so not going to work for me. Sighing, I resumed my packing. It was probably best to leave all things Greek here.
            “Where’s my ski jacket?” I muttered.
            And there I was, wearing the latest slope must haves, lounging in an overstuffed chair near a cozy fire. Golden, gem encrusted cup in my hand. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone else’s manicured, long fingered, strong hand.
            I knew without looking it was him.

            Delaying the inevitable confrontation, I sipped the drink; mmmm, chocolate mint, of course my fave, and without even glancing over I said, “Are you allowed to be here? Isn’t Persephone waiting for you in a boudoir or something, wearing black leather, and ready to fight?”
            “Cherie.” His fingers pulled my free hand to his lips where he rubbed his teeth against my knuckles.
            I tugged, but he refused to let go.
            “You know that when she’s in another realm, I can be here. I thought we might have some winter fun, since I’m usually in Tartarus during your winter. I miss all the best skiing.”
            I rolled my eyes and couldn’t stop from looking at him. He smirked and with that slightly crooked smile that had been known to conquer all female resistance—except mine and Meg’s, I snorted.
            “You have to power to make perfect ski conditions anywhere, even Hawaii if you wanted,” I retorted, “so just return me back to my room. I have to finish packing for school.”
            He pouted a bit, then frowned. “I don’t understand why you bother with the whole” and he waved his hand tiredly, “school thing. I can give you all the knowledge in the world.” He snapped his fingers, and suddenly, I. KNEW. EVERYTHING.
            I could solve global warming. Ok, that was cool, Meg would be thrilled. It's one of the things she worries about.
            Finally I knew how to fix my computer glitches. Wow, that was handy. No more desperate calls to every geek I know at 2 a.m.
            I could tell Stephen Hawking where he was wrong. I would be a media darling.
            Euclidean Geometry actually hurt my brain. And when would I ever use that?
            All that knowledge was too much for my mortal brain stem. “It hurts!” I grabbed my head and moaned. A migraine would have given me relief.
            He snapped again and the knowledge was gone. Relief! He leaned forward, peering at me, his sparkling green eyes gazing deeply into mine, a stray auburn lock falling into his eyes making him look way too irresistible. “I can kiss it and make it better,” he breathed.
            Evil dude- most certainly, but holy Helen-of-Troy he was hot.
            That’s how he gets his victims, he charms and seduces them. Have some backbone! Meg’s not here to pull your butt out of the Greek fire!
            Taking a slow, deep breath and clasping my hands together, I replied, “No, I’m good, but you can give me a genealogy chart so I can keep your family straight. That would help a lot when one pops up and I don’t know whether to beg for mercy or offer them a cookie. Or, you could just tell me where I’ll be working in six years when I’m done with school so I can plan my wardrobe accordingly.”
            He huffed and stood up, stretching all glorious 6’4” of him. “Don’t worry about the family, they have more interesting things to do than keep track of your whereabouts.”
            Ouch! Forgotten already! I didn't remind him that it never stopped Persephone and Demeter and a few others from sticking their immortal noses into my earthly business.
            He leaned against the mantle. “And I can’t tell you the future. The three fates get rather pissy and change everything just to prove how powerful they are, and for messing up their ‘vision.’ A daisy gets stepped on and poof! All life could be wiped out by a meteor. They’re bitchy enough to wait until a new humanity rises out of the slime.” He crossed his arms over his chest, his toned abs and pecs lovingly gloved in his Under Armor.
            It’s enough to make a girl’s mouth water- unless she knows him for the scheming, lying snake he is.
            “So what’s the big deal with the whole college thing? I can give you whatever knowledge you need.” He waggled his eyebrows. “Or teach you myself... There are many delights...”
            Regretfully, I put down the hot chocolate and stood so I could look him almost in the eye.
            “Hades, some things have to be experienced. Everything I’ve read about you doesn’t come close to what you’re like in the flesh. At college I get to meet people from so many different places, different cultures. I get to be on my own, and try to balance school and responsibilities and time. I can't get that staying comfy at home.”
            “You did all that last year and the previous one,” he huffed, “when you had your scholarship to that alternative high school, worked for me, and still managed to ace your classes. Even when I whisked you off to Tartarus, as my guest, you managed everything.”
            I wrinkled my nose. “You mean as your captive.”
            “Guest, captive, very good friend, whatever title suits you.”
            I took a step back. “Not that good a friend. Anyway, it’s all about living my life, on my own terms. Learning to make good decisions, living with the consequences of bad ones. Where’s the fun in suddenly knowing everything, but never having experienced it?”
            He tilted his head. “Maybe I should experience some of this college.”
            I practically jumped up and down. “Oh, you’ll love the University of Alaska! Skiing, snowshoeing, the Iditarod. Just leave Cerberus at home, he doesn’t play well with other doggies.” The three-headed guardian of Tartarus was a big wuss- unless another dog came near.
            Hades looked puzzled. “But I thought you were going to the University of North Carolina.”
            I narrowed my eyes. “I am. If you want the complete college experience, you have to go where you don’t know anyone. And no using your super powers. Learn the old fashioned, mortal way; read, study, write a paper.”
            His brows dropped down, hooding his eyes. “I see. You don’t want me going with you.”
            I held up a finger, counting. “Let’s see: psychotic wife.” Up went another finger. “Insane mother-in-law.” Third finger rose. “You use your powers to get anything you want.” Another finger stood. “You’ll ruin any chances of me getting a date while you,” and I glared at him, “romance” your way through the student and academic body.” Finally, the thumb. “And who knows what will happen to the fate of mankind if your other wacky relatives drop in. Remember the havoc all of you created in NYC?” Poor Meg was branded a lunatic, mumbling to store windows when it was a communication portal so we could talk while I was in Tartarus. Some people still remembered that.
            He shrugged. “Yes, well I guess Persephone and some others might misunderstand that I was simply indulging my curiosity.”
            He’d be indulging all right, and not in the academics.
            He waved a languid hand and I was back in my room, amidst the chaos of heaped clothes and new bedding to be packed. 
            On the bed was a box, beautifully gift wrapped in gold, with a tag that read, “Sharisse, no tricks, I promise. L, H.”
            Should I believe him, and open it, or go by past experience?

Don't know the whole story? Catch up- first with 

Then with 

And tell Sharisse if she should open the box...

And if you're going back to school, have a great year and much success!