I absolutely love this time of year. The idea of dressing up my house with beautiful lights and wonderful smells is something I’ve looked forward to ever since I was a small child. I remember my dad pulling down box after box of tree decorations while my brothers, cousins and I worked to shove the tree stand onto the trunk of our newly cut Christmas tree. Our decorations certainly never looked like the designer trees you see in stores today. We were happy if the red puff-ball nose we’d glued onto our cardboard toilet paper roll reindeer stayed on and the strings on the handmade popcorn garlands didn’t break.
Fast forward to our busy hustle and bustle lives of today. So many people don’t have the time to make homemade decorations or to bake gooey double chip chocolate chip cookies. Heck, as writers, we’re lucky if we even have time to go gift shopping let alone do all the little extras that make Christmas so special for your family.
I know I sit at my computer eight hours a day, sometimes more, where I live in whatever fantasy world I happen to be creating that day. When people ask me “What do you want Santa to bring you?” my response is usually a blank stare and a mumbled “Can I get back to you on that?” Which brings me to the reason for this post. I thought I’d give my writer friends a list that they can print out and give to their friends and family of various items that might be appreciated by a writer. Some are whimsical, some are practical, but I hope something here might tickle your fancy. I’ll try to add three or four ideas to each new blog post I put up before Christmas.
1. The first item on the list is this wonderful clock that doesn’t let us procrastinate, get distracted, file our nails, walk the dog or any of one hundred other excuses we find to get ourselves out of putting words to the page. I personally love this clock…
2. One of my personal favorites are these coasters that make my imaginary friends legitimate.
3. And here’s one for the more practical minded. I have learned an incredible amount from reading Dean Wesley Smith’s blog over the years. He is considered one of the most prolific writers working in modern fiction. If you really, really want a gift that your loved one can consider a great investment in your life’s passion, ask them to buy you one of the many available lectures in his WMG Publishing Lecture Series. You won’t be disappointed. http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/lecture-series/
4. How about some help with your writing? Here’s one that I found especially helpful whenever I write about a character’s emotions. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have done an excellent job of illustrating the importance writers taking their innate skills of observation and transferring them to their characters in ways that are compelling to read.
I know holidays can be stressful, but try to look at the positive rather than the negative and most importantly, keep on writing!
One truism I’ve found as a writer is it’s easier to let life get in the way of writing than to let writing get in the way of life. I’ve decided to turn that trend around and get back to the business of writing. Five years ago, I was easily writing up to 3000 words/day. My writing business was thriving, life was fantastic and I didn’t have a care in the world. Then, insanity struck. I bought a 100+ year old house intending to do a quick 1 year renovation while continuing to write. Five years later, I own a beautiful turn of the century home, but where in the time prior to my madness I wrote three novels in two years, I have only written one novel in five years.
Right now, right here, I am publicly declaring that my writing hiatus is over. I intend to write more now than I ever wrote before. The madness, the insanity that has been my life for the past five years is over. I’m a writer, damn it. I’ve known I was a writer from the time I was a child. The written word is my chosen form of communication and I WILL write.
So, anyway, if anyone is still out there…. I’m Baaaack!!!!
Today’s post is an important one for you to read on many levels. It goes to the heart of what this blog is about. As you build your brand, the lessons you learn in this post are priceless and will set you ahead of the curve with most authors and others with a web presence.
Recently, a friend and colleague of mine, Steven Lewis, was contacted by Amazon and asked to change his domain by removing their trademarked “Kindle” from his domain name. Can you imagine having to change months, or years of posts and link relationships? When you read this, you’ll realize just what a daunting task this can be.
I approached Steven about sharing his story with us for a couple of reasons. First, I believe that Steven’s site is such a great resource for authors that I genuinely wanted to do what I could to help spread the word of his domain change. But second, this is a rare opportunity for me and my readers to learn, first hand, the “whys” and “hows” of a move like this. You truly have a unique seat at the feet of someone willing to open up and share this amazing experience with you.
LAST month, the Supreme Court decided to allow the importation and resale of foreign editions of American works, which are often cheaper than domestic editions. Until now, courts have forbidden such activity as a violation of copyright. Not only does this ruling open the gates to a surge in cheap imports, but since they will be sold in a secondary market, authors won’t get royalties.
As part of “The Next Big Thing Blog Hop” I was tagged by wonderful fellow writer Alexandra Wolfe. The purpose of this hop is to expose you to writers and their work that you might not have heard of before.
According to the rules of the hop, I’ve answered some questions below about my latest WIP, which are the same questions each Blog Hopper is answering. Other authors will be doing the same thing on successive Wednesday’s on their blogs. So watch out for more.
What is the working title of the book you are currently working on?
Credo’s Fire. It is the third in the Alex Wolfe Mystery Series.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
In all of my books I take a little bit from different cases I worked as an officer, and I combine that with a wicked imagination and a rollicking sense of the perverse to create a slightly realistic and slightly improbable fiction.
What genre does the book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?
I had to ask my daughter because she knows more actresses in the age range for my protagonist, Alex Wolfe. Of all the actresses she suggested, I like Melissa Peregrym the best.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your work?
Alexandra Wolfe is a fresh, funny, tough cop who skates on the edge of the law in her quest for justice.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I self-publish all of my books. In this day and age, unless a major publisher promises me the moon, I feel it is foolish to turn over the rights to my work only to get a fraction of the selling price.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your MS?
I haven’t finished the first draft, but it usually takes me about three months to get the first draft out, and then another month to get it to the editor and then to do the re-write.
Who or what inspired you to write this book.
That’s easy. I keep getting requests from people who read the first two books in the series to write the third. I’ve been busy starting a fantasy fiction series, The Seven Realms of Ar’rothi, and since I published the first in that series, The Spirit Child, I’m now ready to continue with Credo’s Fire.
What else about your work might pique the reader’s interest?
I always create strong female characters in my books who are multi-dimensional and who play well with others. Very often, readers comment that they’d like to be friends with my characters in real life, because they are honest, caring, loving, kick-ass women. I also write in several different genre’s and it is easy for readers to find action, adventure, angst or just plain entertainment .
Next in line:
The next author I’ve tagged is the incomparable Harvey Stanbrough. Harvey is an editor, teacher, guest speaker, seminar leader and a pulitzer nominated poet. To read his answers to these questions on December 26th, go to http://www.harveystanbrough.com/blog/
I’m going to take a minute and step back into my cop persona.
A friend emailed these tips to me and they were so good I thought I’d pass them along to my friends. I don’t know who originally wrote them, but the email said they were written by a female cop. I’m not writing these as gospel, and I KNOW a lot of people will have differing opinions. However, if a woman finds herself in any of these situations, maybe, just maybe, remembering one of these suggestions will save her life.
1. Tip fromTae Kwon Do :
The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!
2. Learned this from a tourist guide.
If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you…. Chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!
3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy.
The driver won’t see you, but everybody else will. This has saved lives.
4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc.) DON’T DO THIS!
The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go.
AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOUR CAR , LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE.
If someone is in the car with a gun to your head DO NOT DRIVE OFF,Repeat: DO NOT DRIVE OFF!Instead gun the engine andspeed into anything,wrecking the car. Your Air Bag will save you. If the person is in the back seat they will get the worst of it. As soon as the car crashes bail out and run. It is better than having them find your body in a remote location.
5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:
Be aware: look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side floor , and in the back seat.
If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.
Look at the car parked on the driver’s side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)
ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot. This is especially true at NIGHT!)
If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; and even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN, Preferably in a zig -zag pattern!
As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked ‘for help’ into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.
6. Crying Baby Scam
Another Safety Point: Someone just told me that her friend heard a crying baby on her porch the night before last, and she called the police because it was late and she thought it was weird. The police told her ‘Whatever you do, DO NOT open the door.’ The lady then said that it sounded like the baby had crawled near a window, and she was worried that it would crawl to the street and get run over. The dispatcher said, ‘We already have a unit on the way, whatever you do, DO NOT open the door.’ He told her that they think a serial killer has a baby’s cry recorded and uses it to coax women out of their homes thinking that someone dropped off a baby. He said they have not verified it, but have had several calls by women saying that they hear baby’s cries outside their doors when they’re home alone at night.
7. Water scam
If you wake up in the middle of the night to hear all your taps outside running or what you think is a burst pipe, DO NOT GO OUT TO INVESTIGATE! These people turn on all your outside taps full blast so that you will go out to investigate and then attack.
Please feel free to copy this to your blogs or email it to your family and friends. One of these tips just might save the life of someone you love.
As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!
It’s time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?
Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?
Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.
Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.
Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamines on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.
There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.
How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?
Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.
My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.
OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.
Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.
Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.
Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.
You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine. THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.