Thursday, October 30, 2014

Racers, To The Starting Line!

Okay all you brave souls, it's


NaNoWriMo 2014!
Are you ready?
Have you: signed up at NaNoWriMo ?
Written a cursory outline of your project?
Gathered all the materials you'll need?
Stocked up on comfort foods so you don't have to stop in the midst of inspiration?
Warned everyone that you'll be crazy at least once a day until you write?
Surrounded yourself with pictures, objects, texts to help you through a block?
Reminded yourself that it's about writing, not about perfection, and that if you don't finish, you're still a good person?
So many people are doing this. You are NOT alone. Reach out if you're struggling. Let's all cheer each other along. There is no prize other than personal satisfaction and knowing that unlike so many people who talk about writing, you're actually DOING it.
I'll be posting here and there (I won't be counting my blog as part of my NaNoWriMo word count because it's not my project), so I may miss a day or two.
Come December 1st, let's all catch up, take a breather and push off any revisions until January when there are no holidays and only long stretches of winter which is perfect for going back to work.
Until Saturday....

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bully For You!

It's October: National Anti-bullying Month.
In a discussion, you express your opinion on Facebook or Twitter and someone responds with a nasty, personal attack on you.

At the lunch table in school, your smart friend makes fun of you for getting a lower score on a test.

Your dad calls you a loser because you didn't make that score at the game.

Returning a paper with a failing grade, your teacher says you're the worst student she's ever had.

They are all bullies: that FB person, that friend, that father, that teacher. There was nothing constructive in their comments. The comments were meant to hurt, not to help.

October is Anti-Bullying Month. Almost all of us can share stories about being bullied. The more we talk and think about this issue, the sooner we can help end it.

Let's all be a hero- starting with ourselves.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Bwahahahahahahahaha! Did I Scare You?

It's time for Halloween!

Some of us love it, hate it or are obsessed with it. In the spirit of a happy medium. I'm taking a simple poll: What are your fave scary/Halloween movies? The categories, and my humble opinion, are:

Vampires: My absolute is Dracula, with Frank Langella (1979). Why? Because he made evil attractive, and death a nuisance- a trait I think humans maybe too gladly embrace. (But I was torn with Underworld Evolution (2006- loved Kate Beckinsale!)

Werewolves: Without a doubt, The Howling (1981). Dee Wallace is blithely ignoring danger signals--we know what's lurking in the woods. The best scene is when someone is in the psychiatrist's office, spying, and a werewolf hand reaches over to take the file. OMG.

Zombies: This is a toss up: I adored Warm Bodies (2013) because no matter how evil a person is perceived to be (aka R in the movie) we all think (and hope) that there is a spark of humanity in the worst of us. The other choice is Zombieland (2009). It shows that it's not always might--but basic common sense--that determines who lives. And, I like how the gals are not screaming, helpless twits who constantly need to be saved or are the victims.

Mummies: Without a doubt I don't think there is any competition--it has to be The Mummy (1999) with Brandon Fraser. Although, I would love to see a movie of Anne Rice's Rameses The Damned. I think it has potential to be the best mummy movie ever.

Witches/witchcraft: This is a hard one because you have funny movies like Hocus Pocus (1993, and the sequel coming!) or dramatic ones like Practical Magic (1998), but I'd have to choose The Witches of Eastwick (1987) because again, it all starts out so innocently...

Ghost: I could go the romantic route with Patrick Swayze in Ghost (1997), because we'd all love to believe our loved ones could touch our lives once more before moving on to a paradise. But for pure scare I nominate The Woman In Black (2012) with Daniel Radcliffe because of the ending. Others, like the Paranormal series, made me squeal, but I think this movie portrayed the essential elements of a ghost story- fright, uncertainty, doubt in one's mental state- and the important twist at the end.

Haunted place: The Legend of Hell House (1973) ties with The Shining (1980). Both creeped me out because you never knew if the person next to you was caught up in the weird occurrences--until it's too late.

Now there are lots of movies that were more frightening, but I chose these for the overall feel of believability (although I don't think there ever will be zombies, vamps, werewolves, etc.), because sometimes we're not sure if it's real or just our imagination...


Have a Happy Halloween!


(All pics courtesy of Microsoft)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Seeing Red...

It's been a crazy week, and the next two are going to be just as frantic. So I'm going to take a little breather and give us all a few moments of serenity and beauty:

Take a deep breath:

Close your eyes:

And just be in the moment:

Enjoy life. It's not all work. It's not all writing. It's not all doing everything that needs to be done immediately. It's about living.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Time for a Change...

I'm making a change to my blog; Fridays will become "Fiction Fridays" in which I will host a fiction writer. They may be brand new or established, but they will always be interesting. There may not be a new one every week, but I am happy for interested writers to message me (through my blog, FB, Twitter, email, or phone) if they would like to appear.

I've occasionally featured writers, but I'm very happy to have as my first in this new endeavor:

by my friend, Darlene Beck Jacobsen, fellow Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators member, and a hardworking writer.
Darlene loved writing since she was a girl. She wrote letters to everyone she knew and made up stories in her head.  Although she never wrote to a president, she sent many letters to pop stars of the day asking for photos and autographs.  She loves bringing the past to life in stories such as WHEELS OF CHANGE, her debut novel.
            Darlene’s stories have appeared in CICADA, CRICKET, and other magazines. When not writing, Darlene enjoys baking, sewing and tea parties.  She also likes hanging around forges watching the blacksmith work magic. She’s never ridden in a carriage like the one in the story, but hopes to one day. Her blog features recipes, activities, crafts and interviews with children’s book authors and illustrators. She still loves writing and getting letters.  Check out her website here:

I asked Darlene a few questions so that you could get to know her book better:
What was the most surprising thing you learned in your research?

The biggest surprise was discovering how Washington DC looked at the turn of the Twentieth Century. Even though it was the nation’s capital and center of government, it was very rural. With the exception of Pennsylvania Avenue and a few streets bordering 7th Street – the main street of commerce - there was only gas lighting and no electricity. Indoor plumbing was still a novelty. Many roads were unpaved or had cobblestones. There were farms and wooded areas surrounding the government buildings. Most people still rode in horse-drawn wagons, carriages, or buggies. Many goods were still made by hand. Those facts were instrumental in helping me set the scene and render an accurate time and place.
Did your research give you ideas for a sequel or other books?

I don’t envision a sequel to Emily’s story.  Her tale has been told.  It might be fun to find out what happens to Emily’s nemesis, Beatrice Peabody and her family.  How does Mrs. P survive the changes coming to her family as Beatrice discovers a different life at boarding school – a life away from her domineering mother.
What fascinated you about this subject/era most?

There was so much change that took place in such a short time.  From 1900 to WWI, people witnessed the birth of automobiles, airplanes, electricity, factory made goods, train travel across the continent, telephones, and modern conveniences such as canned foods, vacuum cleaners, washers and dryers and the like. Some of the changes were exciting as well as frightening. I tried to convey that ambivalence in the story.
Would you want to live in the era, or be your character?

Life was very difficult for girls and women 100 years ago. So much time and energy was spent in completing everyday tasks such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, and childcare. Women kept households running, but had little or no say in how they spent their own lives. It took two world wars for women to test their own courage and break away from the strict confines of home and out into the working world. Thanks to our grandmothers and great-grandmothers, our choices are unlimited.

What sources did you use in your research?

Primary sources included an invitation my grandmother received to a reception held by Teddy Roosevelt, a letter from the National Archives confirming that she met the President. I read his personal letters, visited a working buggy museum and forge, read numerous books on American culture at the turn of the century, corresponded via e-mail to experts at the Smithsonian, Sagamore Hill, Historical Society of DC and others whenever I had questions. I also perused old cookbooks, maps, Sears Catalogs, and newspapers to get a feel for the era. 

Here's a link to her book trailer:            
Kirkus Reviews says: "The strength of the text lies in Jacobson’s ability to evoke a different era and to endear readers to the protagonist. The prose is straightforward and well-researched, heavily peppered with historical references and containing enough action to keep readers’ attention."
 So stop by and say hello to Darlene and check out her book.

And remember, if you're a fiction author and want to be featured her on a Friday, let me know! (Please keep in mind that I write for middle grade, young adult, and new adult. Romance okay, erotica no.)


Monday, September 22, 2014

F word in review...


Yeah, I use the F word occasionally. Like when you fall on your butt while hiking and break your tailbone. It's almost expected and anticipated that you're going to let loose the F bomb.

But in book reviews?

I'm not a fan.

I understand some people are very free with the word, that's their style. But if you're judging me on my writing and style, you need to show some. I mean, how can anyone take you seriously if your vocabulary is constrained by constant F bomb usage?

And if it's in your novel dialogue, I understand if that's part of the character, but constantly wading through a stream of them does not add substance to the writing, it detracts from it. I think of prison criminals or street thugs yakking it up when there are more than a few.

When my sons let loose the flying Fs, I always tell them that it shows lack of imagination, especially when they are using it in context with someone being, well, an asshole. It's so mundane. Boring. Trite. Unimpressive. All good insults are those which the person being insulted isn't aware they were until they think about it. Think of Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings: "I don't know half of you as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." I still giggle over that one, and wish I had an opportunity to use it. Maybe at my own eleventy first birthday.

Then there are the tee shirts with that word or other obscenities printed on them. Okay, you made your point, "Look at me. Gasp. Be offended." Because sometimes, we are offended. Especially when my kids were younger, I didn't want to go to a theme park and see that or worse. I still don't like to see it. Wear it at home and annoy your family.

In the end, repetitious use is like what Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "Foolish consistency is the hob-goblin of little minds..." which means if you can only do the same thing over and over (i.e. dropping the F bomb) you're not too bright.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Put It On The List

To Do

  • vacuum
  • put pool stuff away
  • paint shed window
  • caulk kitchen counter
  • clean all curtains/drapes
This is just part of one of many lists. I like lists. They help me keep order, taming the chaos of so many things that need to get done. With a list, I can see exactly what needs to be done, which task is more important, which one I can do in a certain time frame, and add on whenever something new needs to be done.

And it lets me see the satisfaction of accomplishment with every item I cross off. Sure, some days only one thing gets eliminated--but it's a big one, like 'finish manuscript edits.' And then there are days with lots of cross offs--like make a phone call, send a particular email, dust the living room furniture. They are easy-peasey things, but I still feel good when they are done. 

I have lists for everything: household chores, errands to run, signings to set up, writing tasks, yardwork, etc. It's a great matter of pride to crumple up a list that has nothing left undone. 

Do you use lists? If not, what works for you? Share it with us.