Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Enough! The Gloves Come Off...

No one knows better than me how tough the book business is. Unless you're a famous, or have hit the bestseller list with a previous book, authors have to do more and more of the marketing, public relations, and selling of their books with decreasing help from publishers. Everyone's scrambling for money and attention.

But that's not what I'm complaining about. Today, it's about trolls. Specifically, one who promises 'honest' book reviews and helpful marketing. They posted once in my comments, clearly trying to sell me on their services, and I allowed it.

Then they started posting two and three times (or more) on subsequent posts, even those that didn't relate to writing, like last week's post about my painting patio chairs. I've marked them as spam, but somehow they still manage to post in my comments.

So, NEVER USE HONESTBOOKREVIEWS.COM because they troll you until you want to commit felony homicide. (Maybe this will get their attention.) Seriously, if you have to harass and torment a writer to get them to look at your services (we won't), then how good can your service be? These people are as bad as the Replacements by Anderson Windows (they keep calling, mailing, leaving leaflets for new windows WHEN WE HAVE NEW WINDOWS...BY ANDERSON). I would never recommend these two because of the unrelenting harassment.

And as long as I'm ranting- PLEASE STOP SENDING ME STUFF: ASPCA, Disabled American Vets, St. Judes, USO, American Heart Association, and American Cancer Society, to name a few. I support a number of charities. There is only so much I can donate. I make these donations once a year, in October. Save $$ and stop with the 'gifts' which make me believe you're wasting the money I send you to help people and animals by SENDING STUPID STUFF. Playing cards? Almost everyone uses their iPad or laptop. Cards? People send email greetings. Calculator? Use my phone, thanks. And NO ONE really uses a paper calendar anymore.

So chill with sales pitches and stuff, save the earth by reducing this waste, and don't talk to me until October. Then you can all duke it out for donations.

Oh, and here's a picture of my kitty to make you feel better about being a pain in the ass.


Monday, May 18, 2020

Crafting, But Not With Words

Okay, with all this time while we #stayhome, I can get a lot of writing done. And I have. But sometimes, an author needs a break from word crafting. I used to do a lot of crafts when the kids were little, but I accumulated a lot of projects. I mean, how many wreaths and centerpieces are too much? I've since lost interest in cutesy décor. This past week though, I've been working not only in my meditation and food gardens, but also the décor around my pool. (I LOVE my pool.)

This is what I started with:

A neighbor was moving and put these chairs out for garbage pick-up. They were sturdy, although dirty and stained. Plus, I think someone tried to touch-up the paint because there were areas where paint was peeling. I have a pool, so I have parties and lots of people who need seats. Plus, every year at least one chair breaks. So I took these home. But I have high standards; I don't like anything that looks worn, and I strongly believe in recycle/reduce/reuse.

The first thing to do was scrub the chairs with a good detergent.

Then I sanded the chairs. Not only does it take off a lot of stains, but it makes the plastic a bit rougher and more porous, so paint adheres better. I already had a color scheme in mind (it tends to change every two or three years). Next, choose the right paint: one that is specifically designed for plastic. A spray can is better than a brush on paint, but you have to use the right technique. I've found to avoid runs and drips, you should not continuously spray, but do it by spraying a strip at a time. This also gives your finger a rest. And generally, you have to do two coats. Generally I choose a satin finish because experience has shown me that satin washes more easily than flat, and lasts longer, hides more imperfections than super glossy. Please use protective glasses, spray outside, not in enclosed spaces, and put a drop cloth (or cardboard) underneath.

This is the end result. I'm now ready for a party I can't have, but at least everything looks nice.

Stay safe, and treat yourself-and those working under these dangerous conditions- with love and patience. I hope we can meet in book festivals, libraries, restaurants, and other places soon.


Monday, May 11, 2020

Going Digital...

Yep, blog is late again. What's new with you?

Photo by Felipe Cespedes from Pexels

This year I was supposed to make a number of appearances at book festivals and camps. Like me, I know so many readers, authors, teachers, students, and fans will be disappointed.

But not all is lost!

Many events are going digital! So if you were planning on going to say, NerdCampNJ, there are workshops and presentations by a number of authors that you can access. Here's the Writer's Block presentation I did with fellow author Christine Uss:

NJ NerdCamp 

Even if you don't suffer from writer's block occasionally, Christine and I share some tips that may help you get past that awful rejection, or an editor's lengthy 'I love the manuscript but here is a gazillion pages of notes for changes so I'll love it more' roadblock.

Another presentation I'll be doing is reading from my middle grade novel, Evolution Revolution: Simple Machines in lieu of attending in person the Chesapeake Children's Book Festival. I'll post the links when available.

So don't despair! We're all doing the best we can. Feel free to contact me or any author that provides a social media link. We'd love to chat with you, especially about books! (ours, yours, whomever!)

Stay safe, stay calm, and write on!


Monday, April 27, 2020

Just... Breathe....

Behind your mask, six feet from everyone, in your home. Play video games, go to school online, Zoom conference with family and friends. Order necessities to be delivered. Put together puzzles, color rainbows for the window, post Thank You notes for essential workers.

We've done it all, and frankly most of us are getting cabin fever, sick of being corralled. (This is NOT a political rant against the #StayHome orders from federal and state governments.). Add to that days of rain and clouds and a reversion to cold weather, and a lot of us are ready to scream at the moon- or those with whom we're locked in. We want open spaces...

So here: a few pictures of just calm, peaceful scenes from both my yard and from Pexels Inc. May it bring your stress level down and help you get through another day, even a few hours of this pandemic as we wait for our lives to return to a partial semblance of what was our normal:

Photo courtesy of Pexels
Photo courtesy of Pexels 
Photo courtesy of Pexels

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Just know that I'm sending a warm hug to you all- we will get there because "This too, shall pass..." 


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Day 2 million and..? Who Knows How Long...

No more insults.

The boys are officially tired of the poetic insults on the fridge game. After... how many days? in #StayHome. I can't blame them. The game might have been more fun if there were more variety. Whoever selected the words clearly was NOT a writer- there were few adjectives, NO adverbs (I don't care what anybody says, adverbs are essential), and no pronouns. Verbs and nouns were seriously limited. I could have added some words, making them out of the fridge magnets from the dentist, the appliance repair guy, the old school numbers one, etc. But I think the time has come for something new.

As this isolation drags on (I'm not questioning the need for it, only lamenting how long), a lot of us are realizing that you can only read so many books, only write so many words (my butt gets tired from sitting so long), only watch so much TV. For some people, this is wonderful (my introvert friends are living la vida loca). But even though I'm not a wild party gal, I'm beginning to feel the strain. This means I need to find different ways to spend the time. Every day, I try to complete something on a list that I constantly update. Today I have two things already accomplished: I've posted on the Kidlit Authors Club social media, thanking library workers, and I'm writing this blog. Before I start on going over where I can possibly submit manuscripts while my agent isn't feeling well, I'm going to make the bed, put away the dishes, and then go outside for a bit. I'm sure I can find a few weeds to pull, clean up the sticks all over the yard, etc. I find I feel less restless, less anxious, if I break up the monotony and do a variety of things. We all need coping mechanisms and finding new ones as the others lose their luster.

I hope this post finds you well and safe. And boy is there going to be one big fat celebration (I foresee a pool party, ice cream from my favorite place, Polar Cub, and LOTS of pina coladas around the pool bar with friends and family) when this is over.

Till then, be seeing you- via Zoom, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, from across the street, etc.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Writing in the Time of Pandemic

We're all trying to deal with this pandemic and a new 'normal'. I've heard people "keep a journal" of our experiences as we are living this crisis. A decade or two into the future, people will either reminisce or want to learn about it.

I'm not a good journal keeper. Inconsistency is my biggest flaw because I get distracted by life, projects, seasons, family, etc. And then, there are days where there is nothing that I want to convey, nothing that is interesting. Kind of like always posting on Instagram. I'm scrolling past pics of food,  flowers, family pets, etc. because there are so many (and yes, I'm guilty of posting them, although not to a great extent). After a while, it becomes tedious. I want something fresh.

Another suggestion is to make notes for a future book. Nope, not doing it. There will be millions of other writers all across the globe with that same idea. If people think there are too many vampire books, in the next few years the market will be saturated with pandemic books. Already there are books hitting the market, via self-publishing. Besides not wanting to jump into that overcrowded boat, since I'm living it, I don't want to read about it. I'm not into 'issue' books; I find the angst boring, or overdone. I understand some people are very anxious over certain subjects and this pandemic is enough to give anyone an anxiety attack, depression, or other mental and emotional problems. I'm not disparaging them or the issues because in my family, we have members who must deal every day with them. I just don't want to read about them. Nor do I want to write about them. (This blog is the most I've written about the Covid-19 pandemic, and honestly, I think the next time I write about it is when we are finally free to move about.) There are, and will be, many stories about it so no one needs to hear/read mine. It's a story I don't care to tell.

But writing in general is hard during this time. I can't say I've ever really suffered from writer's block. Sure, I get stumped on a plot point occasionally, but usually within a day or two, as I'm doing mindless work like weeding, cleaning, or swimming, I can figure out a solution to my problem. Only this time it's different; I have a new manuscript started, but I couldn't find the 'groove.' It's a light-hearted romance, but I couldn't get 'in the mood' to write about love and happy things during such a grim time. There are a lot of writers, from what I read or see on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and just plain chat, that are having the same problem. And if the muse is hiding, unwilling to be found, I don't think you can force it.

The solution for me is to work on older manuscripts; revise ones that were thrown in a drawer, those that didn't get far with agents/editors, those that my critique group is red-penciling. Reading a whole novel pulls me in; I don't have to plan out the plot, or create characters, or set up resolution. All I have to do is read with a critical eye to see where I can improve, even if it ends up being a complete overhaul, because at least the framework is there. So far, I've revised three manuscripts. I have the first book I ever wrote, an adult horror, that is next. These were revisions I meant to do; I was going to do them all last summer, but... life. Then came retirement for my husband, and a vacation, then BAM! Covid-19. In this lockdown, there are fewer distractions: no bell practice, no setting up the church flowers, no trustee meetings, no concert practice, no going out for pizza, no visiting family. I didn't realize how much time I spent on these activities- nor how much I'd miss them. By throwing myself into revisions, my muse is peeking her head out. Last night I wrote almost 200 words. Not much when some people are cranking out 3,000 or more, but this is not a competition. I am getting things done that are important to me. There is no prize, other than self satisfaction, for writing the most words, or doing the most decluttering, or painting the most rooms. I'm not in it to win it.

So as this drags on, I hope to get that novel written and the other revised. Be kind to yourself if you don't accomplish everything, or even anything, on your To Do list, because surviving without emotional or mental harm, besides the obvious physical, is the goal. Be good to yourself, be compassionate of others, and avoid the crazies who think that because death rates seem to be leveling off or dropping, that they can congregate in large groups, or not wear their mask, or refuse to stay home.

Praying for better days...


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

And the Battle Continues....

More updates on the Refrigerator Poetry War...

The Mother:

It says "Men refuse to find their wings."

The Boys' response:

Gotta keep in mind that verbs, articles, and adjectives are very limited. Plus, they're not as literary as me.

Mom's comeback:

The boys were quick to rebut:

Ok, one more from Mom:

We'll see what the boys come up with...

Stay safe, and STAY HOME!