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



Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Simple Lessons Learned from Nano #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

I have already waxed poetic about Nanowrimo. Not going to go into it other than to say that doing two Camp Nano's this year during a pandemic showed me something. I needed some kind of goal to give me the motivation I needed to write the novels that I knew were in me. 



For instance, in March I probably was lucky if I did a couple of thousand words during the entire month. Maybe a little more if I also counted my journal on Sundays. In April, I did 30,000 words. In May, perhaps a third of that. June was almost as dismal as March. In July, I did another 30,000. Common denominator was Camp Nano. 



 My cat influenced; didn't hinder me!



I decided that I would set a goal for August and stick to it. I decided on the same as I had done at the camp months--30,000. In August, I met that. I am close to keeping to that goal in September as well. I have finished a sequel to one sci fi novel, a prequel to a fantasy novel, and I am currently working on finishing a fourth novel to a trilogy I did a couple of years ago. What will I do next? I have a couple of ideas and a novel that needs finishing. 

I basically said to myself, "This is my job. I am going to do this. I am an author!" To my husband, "I am going in my office and work." If I need to, I will shut the door. 

I don't know how long this will last. I hope for a long time because I went to too long with those dry spells and I didn't like it. Besides, I am no spring chicken and I want to to say my piece while I can! 

If you have ideas on how you keep productive, let me know!  

 Let the ideas take flight!!!



Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Have you Heard the Latest Joke, er Tech? #AuthorToolboxBloghop

 The other day I Tweeted, then Reddit. 






I put the same ad on Facebook (about thirty or so FB pages), pinned the ad on Pinterest, posted it on Linkedin, with more shares on Twitter and Reddit; then emailed the notice to my friends and relatives. It went on Instagram with scads of hashtags (my eternal thanks to my daughter for tutoring me in those!) I begged for reviews in Goodreads. The trailer went up on YouTube, also shared to different places. Oh, yes, and I mustn't forget the updates to my web page and the new "campaign" on my mailer list!


I knew from the outset that I would be doing my own marketing, but the world of computers has exploded since my first book was published in 2010. Amazon was barely tossing out Create Space, for crying out loud. 

I caught on to website building then someone pulled out a different 'platform.'  'New and improved' have been marching along like soldiers in a Veteran's Day parade ever since. I keep trying to keep up, to learn, but my poor Pooh brain struggles sometimes. The other day I heard about something called TikTok. It's a bit controversial in some circles so not going there right now. It's hard enough learning all the nuances of Zoom, Facebook live, Google live, etc. etc. especially with Covid messing up live selling and school visits. 

I did some quick searching. There is: Snapchat, Lasso, Qzone, Tumblr, Sina Weibo, Ask.fm, Flickr, Wattpad, Bebo, etc.  Granted, most of these didn't appear to be great marketing outlets, however, I used to think the same thing for Instagram and Twitter. 

Then I just saw this!!! I had to pick myself up off the floor!

75+ Social Media Sites You Need to Know in 2020


Just let me figure out the top half dozen!!!  

With that said, I would love to hear anyone's success story with a particular social media platform!  


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

What's So Great About Nanowrimo? AuthorToolBoxBlogHop




I have mentioned Nanowrimo a few times, but this time I am going to wax poetic about this motivational sensation that has helped me in times past when words had a very hard time lining up coherently on a page.


For those who are uninitiated, Nanowrimo is an abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month. It started about 18 years ago when someone suggested that it would be awesome to crank out a 50,000 word novel in a month. The month chosen was November. The whole idea is to begin on November 1st and by November 30th (Drat, why couldn't they pick a month with 31 days?) have a complete novel. 

Nano claims that some of the winning authors (meaning that you have finished the 50,000 words, not that you won any kind of an award), have gone on to be traditionally published. Writing coach Jerry Jenkins crunched the numbers and determined that about 1 in every thousand participants fit in that category. That's how popular this internet writing adventure is. Millions sign up every year. While that doesn't seem like a high success rate, the real success is the fact that someone actually put their dreams on paper. 


I will admit, for many years I participated, but didn't finish. It's darned hard to work full time in a public school library and also write about 1,500 words a day. However, in the same vein, working full time and trying to be an author isn't easy either and the motivation usually died on Interstate 75 as I drove home in the evening. 

Nanowrimo made me think of what I wanted to accomplish--a novel/50,000 words in a month. It gave me something to work for instead of making excuses and watching Wheel of Fortune. I had done a novel a month in my fan fiction days, but as I grew older, passed into mainstream authorship, the ability to stay up until 1 am and drive to work five hours later waned as did the motivation to sit down in the evening and work on a novel. So Nano helped me keep my attention on the story. It has given me the impetus to calendar time to work on my writing; something that most writing coaches tell you has to be done to be successful. 

Over the years I have actually had at least one or two novels end up being published that I had worked on during a Nano month--even if I hadn't made the 50,000 word goal. And the good news? After Nano became an annual phenomenon, they created Camp Nano. That takes place in April and July (working on one now). With Camp Nano, you can set your own goals. I usually do 25,000 words. 

Are my novels ready for prime time publishing on the 31st of the month? Of course not, but I have something I can work on, improve, send to my writing groups and eventually to a publisher. I am grateful for Nanowrimo. I am grateful for the sense of accomplishment that I have after fulfilling the goals. 





Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Sometimes Newer is not Always Better #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop



      Earlier this year, I did something I had said I was going to do for a long time—see if anyone—absolutely anyone—among web hosts supported FrontPage.



      I can hear the tech folks out there right now, laughing their heads off. Still, I was serious. When my, then, current web host quit the FrontPage extensions some years back, they suggested I use FTP. I used one for a few years, even while the web host was pushing me to switch to Word Press. Finally, even the FTP (file transfer protocol) quit moving my update successfully. 

      Okay, I get it. Word Press is what a majority of business web sites are built with, but it’s not that easy to figure out. At least for me. I had earlier heard it was more difficult, and maybe that gave me a bit of a block. Who knows? However, I was told that if I wanted the friendly techs at the web hosting outfit to help me, or do it for me, it was just a low fee. (Now I am laughing!)

      I was also told there were a couple of easier web building platforms and my web host offered them for free. Great! I tried and they didn’t seem that much easier. Besides, the free was for a couple of pages. Seriously? Three pages? For a business?

     So I finally had the bright idea to see if anyone—anyone!—still supported FrontPage. And I found a couple. I picked the one that seemed to have the best reputation and switched my site over to them. The start-up was a bit bumpy at times, but not as bad as I thought it would be. Finally, I (we--their techs were very nice) got it up. Since then, I have realized just how easy it was to fix changes on my web site and load the pages up with FrontPage extensions.

      Don’t get me wrong. At the beginning of this millennium FrontPage was hard for me to pick up, but when I did, it was love! Now I have redone my author site using some “best practices” from one of those online author courses. What bells and whistles I couldn’t add with FrontPage, I built with another service and plunked them onto my pages as jpegs or gifs. And when I’m ready, I just tell my FP to publish the page, put in my password and Bam! It’s there!

      To be honest, I have used the original FrontPage 2000 for almost twenty years. I only recently searched and found a brand new FrontPage 2003 update and loaded it into my computer. It has some nice upgrades from the old dinosaur, but I haven’t diligently looked into them yet. I am just happy to have something that is easy, quick, and doesn’t take me away from the other things that go along with the business of writing—like writing.  

Where there is a will, there is a way. Check out my website and see what you think. 
www.bookscape.net

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Ravings 


When I wrote an earlier blog, we were just in the beginnings of this 'new normal.' My cat and writing were keeping me sane. It's the beginning of June and, while there is some normalization, it's not like it used to be. It's not, "Oops, my chicken needs some oregano. I'd better run to Wal-Mart and grab some." My husband and I are part of that 'at risk' group who are supposed to be staying at home and letting someone younger do our shopping. While I do admit that ordering on line and doing curb pick-up is kind of handy at times, it doesn't beat cruising the aisles (for what you forgot to put on the list), at least for my husband. Before the pandemic, Wal-Mart was one of his exercise regimens. Two hours of walking. 

So now what? Most of the time I can talk him into earlier in the morning when it's less crowded, and maybe once a week instead of every day or every other day. (Hey, I like to shop like everyone else!) Or Sam's instead of Wal-Mart. It's not that he believes that his rights are being stomped on. He understands that this virus is deadly. He has his face mask ready as do I, but he can't stand the house after a week or so cooped up. (Gotten rather hot outside, too). On the other hand, even through we watch the scary news, there is still a small part of the brain that sees the virus as remote, off the scope of my internal radar and I'm sure it is the same for my husband. 

And then there are the protests. Again, small part of the brain sees the events on the TV remotely, but then I see what caused it and feel a mother's pain when I hear a dying man call his mama who had passed before him. I think about when I was growing up (without having to be afraid of such a thing happening to anyone in my family) and seeing protests. I am almost seventy now and it's sad to think that not much has changed in 60 or more years. 

I don't want anyone feeling sad or angry with this note, but please just think! Think about those who do feel fear when they leave their house. And think about how we can treat those around us-everyone!-with more compassion. More like we have been taught to treat others. Please understand, looting and breaking others property is totally wrong. Feeling frustration for a system that doesn't treat everyone fairly is totally right. Wanting to fix it is even more right, but I believe that it comes more from the heart than from laws. Laws help, but let's work on the heart at the same time.

Sorry, I had to speak a bit of my piece--publicly.