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. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2020


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. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Where do the Stories Come From? #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Where do the Stories Come From?

Someone once asked me where my stories came from. I will have to be honest, many of them came from the television I watched. Yes--that great wasteland we were told in the seventies would rot a child's brain. When I was a kid, I watched a great deal of Westerns. They were the big thing back then. I have a picture to prove it!

Tuckered out saving the West.

I watched television for a while and then created new stories for my favorite characters. I won't tell you which characters. The picture will give you a good clue as to how long ago this was. As I grew up, I used those settings and some of the characters, threw in my imagination and had so much fun. Alaska, New Orleans, forests and beaches, I could make up stories wherever I was.

In my grown up years, that imagination drew me toward fan-fiction. I have scads of stories. They were easier to write and didn't depend on publishers, agents, marketing, or the like. But eventually, that wasn't enough. My writing had improved and I wanted my book on that shelf; something I had totally created and that others enjoyed reading. So where did these new ideas come from?

Let's take my latest novel, Moon Crusher. That one actually came from my fan-fiction days--sort of. I thought to myself- What would happen if a boy from the old days (1829 California-just a little past the time of most Zorro stories) was captured by fearsome reptilian aliens?  It's not that there weren't alien abduction stories. It's not that there aren't stories about old timey folks meeting technology. Or modern technology going back in time to meet pre-industrial individuals. There are plenty. I just had to give it my own spin.

I wrote my draft when I went to the YMCA to work out on a recumbent bike. I was a school librarian in those days, so I took my opportunities when I could. I had a notebook, a pencil, tuned out Bill O'Reilly, and wrote while I pedaled. It was disjointed, sometimes unreadable, but the story of a young boy in overwhelming circumstances took shape. And what's more incredible, the big bad aliens took shape, too. They weren't just demonic reptiles or cats or whatever. They had personalities. Despite his gruff, sometimes angry demeanor, Commander Ziron became heroic. Diego's friend, Rreengrol became his BFF. The otter people were both amusing and courageous. They were slaves who wanted to be free just as Diego did.

A reviewer pointed out that this wasn't just a story of space battles and a boy overcoming horrendous odds; it was also about diversity and how a group of very different beings learned to live and work together.

Wow! I like that. I like that in the stories I read, too. All about getting along even when life stinks....

Check out www.bookscape.com.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

News and stuff

At the beginning of the year, I made a promise that I would post a blog once a month. Already blown it by missing April. Maybe I'll make up for it in May by posting more than one. Believe I really will as I signed up for a blog hop. Never heard of it until my publisher mentioned them.

Anyway, April was a very busy month, even with the craziness going on. The first part of the month was not a good writing time, but with Camp Nano calling the shots, I was obligated to write a certain amount by the end of the month. My intention was to finish a sci fi I had been working on for over a year now, but after I began doing edits on my upcoming book Moon Crusher, I suddenly had an idea for a sequel to that book and now have over 20,000 words on Moon Crusher 2. I worked with the editor during the month of April, and received an attachment of a cover for the book last week. Moon Crusher is coming out on May 25th! Very exciting, even if time before its debut is limited.

Another exciting event was the debut of an anthology from Bold Venture Press called Zorro, the Daring Escapades, which contains a novelette I wrote. To be perfectly honest, I feel legitimized in the writing of fan-fiction. What I have read in the book so far, these are very good stories!

This is going to be a short one. Have to get back to writing!!!