Friday, May 28, 2021

What Characters did I like When I was Younger?

 I recently wrote a small essay about my characters. I have touched on that a time or two, but this time I was writing a bit of a why and realized it went all the way back to when I was a young reader....


When I was younger, I was a voracious reader. I read fiction and non-fiction. When I read fiction, I gravitated toward speculative fiction, but also read historical, contemporary, classics, kids stories (not as much choice as there is now!), even a little romance.

Recently, I wondered what characters stood out and why. I remember Podkayne of Mars, Starman Jones, Hosteen Storm (the Beastmaster), Menolly (from Pern), Bilbo Baggins, Ramona, Socks, Tarzan, and others. The why? I liked Podkayne because she kept fighting, even during overwhelming odds, Starman Jones? He was at the bottom of the heap and persevered to the top, without stepping on anyone. Hosteen had lost everything except his animal companions, but he carved a new life, made new friends. Menolly, Bilbo, Ramona, even Socks the cat, had various qualities of kindness, loyalty, willingness to learn and change, willingness to sacrifice for their friends. They were brave when they needed to be--all-around great people.

Many times in my growing up years, book characters were more desirable than real-life friends. Since I moved around a lot, that was often even more important.

When I started writing, I gravitated toward those kinds of character traits. Are my characters perfect? No, certainly not. But do they exhibit a desire to overcome cruddy circumstances, or overwhelming odds? Yes! Do I want them to exhibit kindness, understanding, tolerance, as well as smarts and really cool abilities? Yes. My cat character, TB, (Realms of the Cat), includes all kinds of animals in his circle of friends and allies, including dogs and crows, as well as people. Diego (Moon Crusher) learns to live with aliens of all sorts after he is cruelly kidnapped by aliens. Corree (Mendel Experiment), is determined to see both sides of many issues as she tries to save her family and friends. Noki loses so much, but he is still willing to learn, and grow. Sadly he has to adapt to things he'd much rather not adapt to. Even in my upcoming tall-tale, Billy Bob is physically perfect, but he uses his strength to help his neighbors and his kindness to help a bully become a friend.



     

What are your favorite characters and why?   firstbookscape@gmail.com


Friday, May 7, 2021

Cleaning Up After the Party

 I didn't receive any advice, probably because each person's journey is individual. Still, I did receive an answer to my question--is it worth it? A tiny little voice kept telling me all day that it was worth it. The idea of pulling away from what I've been doing for three decades seemed like a betrayal of the talent I had been given by the Master. He is there to overcome my mistakes, my insecurities, and help me along the path. 



It also helped that a couple of friends, one old and one new, saw one of my books at a party last night and were totally excited. The new friend won the book and her look of gratitude was balm to my heart. Okay, so I am not quite ready to grind away at the classes, courses, pundits, and how-to's for a few days. (Going to watch some of my grands for a week.) Still, I am a writer and I am going to keep on working as long as the creativity continues. 

Would still like to hear from anyone with similar experiences....

In the meantime, read! Doesn't matter whose book, or what book, just read and enjoy!



Thursday, May 6, 2021

Is it Really Worth It? (The pity party post)

 I have been wondering lately if all of this book writing/marketing/pitching, etc. is really worth it. I open my mail and see long lists of emails about market research, using the latest plotting tool, creating the right mindset (I am beginning to hate that word, since I apparently don't have the right mindset--my royalties suck) to sell my books. There are emails where folks offer their services, (hooray, they'll get my books out there in front of the readers), for only a few hundred dollars each. Email lists, social media ads, school visits, trailers, researching, and the list goes on and on.  

I learned that I need to schedule my time, stick to the schedule, sell myself... There is even a workshop for author introverts! All for a price, mind you. And I have paid some of those prices, only to feel overwhelmed and underachieving. I understand that there are so many different ways to make money in this business. But when I get all gung ho, and then do or say something that stomps on someone else's toes or writing psyche, I begin anew to wonder--is all this worth it? 

Writing is a part of my life. It has been for thirty years. I love creating stories. I crank out about a 1000 words a day. That part's easy. 


When I was writing fan-fiction, I dreamed of being a published author. Now I dream of writing fiction unfettered by the need for income, or reviews, or ads. I could probably make do on my retirement, but I am afraid I need the income my book writing would bring. Except it isn't. So here I am, stuck by my desires, temperament, and insecurities. 

Have any of the rest of you felt this way? How did you overcome it? 


Please let me know: firstbookscape@gmail.com


Monday, April 19, 2021

Spring is Sprung!

 



Onions are coming up in the grow boxes, along with radishes and a few carrots. A few tomatoes are growing on my planter tomatoes and we are under a freeze warning for the next two nights. 

Say what?! Okay, maybe it's spring but remember that ground hog? He's still in witness protection. Well, the tomatoes are in planters so I rolled the planters into the garage. I think I pulled something getting them in the wagon. At least they are safe for the next couple of days. Things like the cute little blue spruce have to fend for themselves, but then it's from Colorado, so it should be okay. 



Anyway, on a different subject, I got the ARC (advanced reader copy) of Billy Bob Flybottom and I am so excited! The illustrations are adorable and I can't wait for publication day. If you want to read an advance copy, email me and I can send you a link to Net Galley. firstbookscape@gmail.com  All I ask is that you leave a review there.

 I hope you enjoy the story. It's an early chapter book--an Appalachian tall tale. (And out of my own demented mind!) It also won a couple of awards--3rd place RPLA, 1st place Oklahoma City Writers, Honorable Mention in Oklahoma Writers Federation. Billy Bob is being published by Doodle and Peck Publishers out of Yukon, OK. The illustrations are by David Barrow. 


 I got back from Tennessee last week. It was a wonderful trip connecting with author pals and old friends. Things have certainly changed in a year, though. 



Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Happy, happy, joy, joy!!


February was an interesting month, at least in this part of the country. That is my excuse for not posting last month. It started warm, then the ground hog saw his shadow. (The joke I heard is that Phil is in witness protection now!) The Arctic blast that hit the middle of the country and hung on for more than two weeks was felt as far south as northern Mexico. Some people are still recovering. 

We were very lucky here in Oklahoma. While it was at or below freezing for about two weeks, we never lost our furnace or electricity. Water was left running the entire time, and even though a local main went out near the end, we never had frozen pipes. Not everyone was that lucky. We were blessed. (I will feel that way until the water and gas bills show up in our mailbox!)  



 While seven or eight inches is a lot here, the cold was the main factor in most people's misery.

Now with the weather report done, I am happy about other things! 

My husband and I were able to get our Covid vaccinations the first of this year. I know some are leary, but having had relatives and friends fighting the effects of the virus, a few unsuccessfully, I was ready to stand in a very long line for this shot. I have had almost no side-effects from it and I feel much safer. 

The other part of the happiness report is that I was offered a contract on a new novel. I don't have a publication date, but the publisher has already done the cover. It is absolutely incredible. I will make you wait a little bit on that!

 Okay, you talked me into it!

The novel is titled Crossroads to the Stars. It is an adult novel, could possibly be considered new adult science fiction, much in the tradition of Robert Heinlein, Andre Norton, Clifford Simak and the other old sci fi masters. The main character is Kendra Manning, the leader of the newly formed space exploration service. The adventure really begins when an abandoned alien base is discovered on the moon. There are technological wonders galore, but will they lead to adventure or death?

Another bit of joy is the progress of Billy Bob Flybottom. My publisher tells me that the cover art is almost complete, along with extra illustrations to go along with the extra chapters I wrote. The book will soon be ready for printing of the ARC (advanced review copies). Again, I will show off the cover later. (I don't have it yet.)

This is the part of writing that does make me happy; knowing that one of my babies is ready to be born. I have a prequel to Realms of the Cat almost ready to go to the publisher. I have a sequel to Moon Crusher ready to go to a critique group. Happy, happy, joy, joy! 

I realize there are other parts to this business that I have to learn, but as I do, that will raise my happiness level, too. 

What makes you happy--really joyful? 

Let me know....

Friday, January 8, 2021

 Happy New Year!!!  


(Using hubby's Christmas gag gift to say farewell to 2020. "Take that, 2020!")


It has started with a bang, but despite what we have inherited from 2020, there is great hope for this year. At least for me. I am so very optimistic that this year will be a wonderful year. Is it because it will be easier than last year? No.  Will it be better because the road is smooth? No, the road is extremely bumpy, as seen from events this week (1/6). 

I think it will be a wonderful year because I am determined for it to be a wonderful year. I am determined to be grateful, I am determined to be successful. I am determined to feel joy. In other words, it's inside of me. My attitudes, my goals, my outlook is up to me. If I decide everything is gloomy, it will be. If I find pleasure in a beautiful sunset on a really cold and gloomy day, I will be happy.   

Fun in the snow on New Year's day!


I know this sounds Pollyanna, but it's really true. Let's be grateful, let's be forgiving, let's be giving. Let's be kinder. Let's wait a moment before venting our anger and think about what our actions might do to others before we strike out. Let's make this a great year!!  

If these two can get along.... (Zorro, recently fixed, and Scamp)


Saturday, December 12, 2020

Don't Let a Pandemic Take Away Your Joy This Year!

  Regardless of one's religious affiliation, or even if you don't have a religious affiliation, this is usually a season of joy and gratitude. This year should be no different--especially this year! I wanted to wish everyone a blessed season, safety and health, peace and good will. I am including a small article I did for a Tennessee paper last year. It was from a time more than thirty years ago when my children were little....

"Christmas Past"

     Christmas can be such a magical time of the year, even under adversity….

     There was a Christmas when I wondered if we’d be able to give our young children Christmas presents. I had begun working for the McMinn County School system a few months earlier and we were still recovering from six months of unemployment.

     It’s times like that when you learn to count your blessings. I finally had a job and a car to get to said job (we hadn’t had a running vehicle for several months). We found a place to rent in Athens—no stove or consistently running water, but it sheltered us. Still, the paychecks allowed no extras—no actions figures or dolls, no fancy tree, no big turkey dinner.

     Then the miracles began. A friends said, “Come out to our land and cut down a cedar to decorate.” So we did and decorated it with our family ornaments and things the kids made. Then someone at Niota School, where I worked, caught wind that we had been cooking dinners on a hot plate. So one of the teacher’s husband, who worked at Athens Stove Works, got a small stove, the teachers donated for it and we had a stove for Christmas. (Hallelujah! I could bake again!) Then a service group from local Tennessee Wesleyan College took our two kids out for an outfit and toys. The kids were so excited! Then our church brought us a turkey and all the trimmings.

     We had so much to be thankful for that year.

     We decided that we were going to pay it forward after that whenever we could. A couple of years later, we learned of someone who had fallen on hard times. We bought an outfit for each member of the family, and some toys for the kids. Our church donated a Christmas dinner for them, too. We wrapped all the presents up, loaded everything in a couple of garbage bags, and then wondered how we were going to get this onto their porch and get away without being caught. These people lived way out in the country with no neighbors within a quarter mile and no trees to hide behind.

     We got creative and let the local missionaries know what we were doing. These were strapping young eighteen and nineteen year old boys who could run—fast! We drove as close as we could without being seen, and parked next to a hedge row. The two missionaries got out with the bags, crept around the hedge row and to the porch brightly lit by a single bare lightbulb. They set everything down, banged on the door and then ran, coattails flapping. Over the hedge they leaped and into our car. Off we sped, the young missionaries and our kids laughing like crazy in the back seat.

     What a wonderful feeling that was, knowing we had helped someone as we had been helped in our time of need. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Every one of us has been given the greatest gift mankind could ever receive on Christmas Day. Let’s pay it forward a little bit. Light the world that seems to have grown a little dim with pessimism and hopelessness.

May you all be blessed with those things you stand in need of as well as the spirit of gratitude. 

A picture of an even further back Christmas past. I think I might have also wanted my two front teeth, too. LOL