SENIOR SEASON AUTHORS

E3POSTED BY KAREN INGALLS

SENIOR SEASON AUTHORS

 How do we define a senior season individual? We usually immediately think of gray hair, wrinkled skin, stooped bodies, slow minds, forgetfulness, dentures, and canes.

Typical statements by seniors are:

My life is almost over

            I am too old to cook, clean, drive, exercise, etc.

            All my friends have died

            I feel so alone

 Or we do know those in their senior season who are thriving, surviving, and striving toward their goals and dreams.

Here are some interesting facts about famous authors who achieved their goals in their senior years. Laura Ingalls Wilder began writing in her mid-forties when she was working as a columnist and a freelance writer. She took all her years of growing up and published Little House in the Big Woods at the age of 64.

Penelope Fitzgerald graduated from Oxford and launched her literary career in 1975, at the age of 58. By the age of 61, she published her first book and two later won the Booker Prize for her book, Offshore.

 At the age of 70, John Howell started writing full time. He won honorable mention in a short story competition for Writer’s Digest in 2012. Since then he has four published books.

When he was 66 years old, Frank McCourt published his first book, Angela’s Ashes.

 Diana Athill is the oldest category winning author in the history of the Costa Book Awards. At the age of 91, she won the Biography Award for her memoir Somewhere Towards the End.

 At the age of 70, Mary Wesley’s first published novel was Jumping the Queue, published in 1983.

The conclusion I came to in researching and writing this article is that our age is only a chronological number and it is what we do with the days in our lives that truly matters. I encourage everyone to follow your dream, do not let age or any other factors slow you down.

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MY JOURNEY BECOMING A PUBLISHED AUTHOR

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Posted by: Karen Ingalls

Once I arrived home from the doctor’s office I knew that I wanted to journal my fears and questions, and what had been happening to my body for the past few months. Writing was a tool I had used most of my life to rise above, or outshine, sexual abuse, family alcoholism, untimely deaths, and divorce. After I heard the fateful words, “You have cancer,” recovered from surgery, gone through chemotherapy, and had begun a new life as a cancer survivor, a friend asked if she could read my journal. Days later she called to encourage me to publish my journal saying, “Women need to read this.”

Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir is a story of my survival, and that cancer, other diseases, or life-changing events are challenges from which there are opportunities for self-growth, ministry, and living more fully. God’s gift to me was my ability to write; the publication of this book is my gift to God. (https://www.amazon.com/Outshine-Ovarian-Cancer-Karen-Ingalls-ebook/dp/B00KI1HGZI/ref=sr)

  • Step one was to journal and write stories about my life, goals, and fears as an adolescent, imagining that someday my words would help others.
  • I explored the magical, informative, and historical world of literature; thereby, unconsciously determining the style of writing and subjects I enjoyed.
  • My journal about a life threatening illness was put into a publishing format after encouragement from others.
  • An important step was to trust a friend, who is an English professor, to read my novel and non-fiction manuscripts for objective feedback.
  • Seeking publication for both manuscripts by contacting publishers and agents required courage and willingness to receive rejection letters.
  • I followed the advice of my publisher, accepted challenges and critiques, and worked hard through the publishing and selling processes.

 If you dream to be a published author, then I say, “Don’t let anything or anyone stop you from traveling the sometimes bumpy, difficult, and rewarding road to make your dream come true.”

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Karen Ingalls is an author of three published books, two blogs, and many articles. She is an advocate for health/wellness, social issues, and ovarian cancer awareness.

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Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir 

Ingalls_DAVIDA_Frontcover_Web

Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens 

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Novy’s Son  

My Life: Humdrum but Useful

 Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeupThis post is by M. K. Waller

Where do writers get their ideas?

More to the point, where do I get my ideas?

When I blog, most of them are drawn from my life–things I’ve done, seen, heard, read about, or been told by trusted sources. It may take a while to choose one from the chaos that is my brain–my topic changed four times while I was composing this post.

But experts say, “Write what you know.”

So I do.

I’ve blogged about

a pebble changing the universe

extremism and the cat under the bed

pajamas and the Google fiber men 

Pajamas © Kathy Waller

no-cow branding

the life of an artist, parts I and II

hansel, gretel, cuthbert, and me

a parboiled goose

IMG_2679 (3)
Biting cat © Kathy Waller

a cat bite

eye of tot and toe of tad

feral chickens

my weird husband

Weird husband. © Kathy Waller

petting zoos and Methodists

girdles and teeth

going to Paris

starving in Paris

squirrels and seduction

W. F. Ward

a kiss

Everything on the list comes directly from my life. Humdrum as it is, it supplies little anecdotes I can share–even the errors, falls, parboiling, and girdles.

But my fictional characters are different.

They lurk in trees, find Mama cooking with ground glass, set fire to buildings…

I have never done any of those things, thank goodness.

Where did those ideas come from?

I don’t know. I’ll deal with that in a future post.

As soon as I’ve found the answer.

***

M. K. Waller aka Kathy Waller, writes short stories. Her latest, “When Cheese Is Love”, appears in Austin Mystery Writers’ second crime fiction anthology, LONE STAR LAWLESS. She blogs at Telling the Truth, Mainly.

A MODERATE MODERATOR

Stephen Buehler - Hands around knee
By Stephen Buehler

CCWC 2017 logo

This coming weekend, June 10th & 11th is the California Crime Writers Conference CCWC in Culver City. It’s one of my favorite’s and unfortunately, they only have it every other year. It’s a joint effort put on by Sisters in Crime/LA and Mystery Writers of America/LA. What I like about it is that I usually learn a great deal about the craft and business side of writing. For me, Left Coast Crime and Bouchercon are wonderful conferences but a lot of the panels are more about war stories and anecdotes and not actually learning the craft.  In In 2017,  CCWC has four tracks, Writing Craft, Industry/Business, Law Enforcement/Forensics and Marketing. You don’t have to stick to any one track.

 

This year, I’m a moderator for the panel, Thinking Outside the Box: Videos, Podcasts, Giveaways and more. I have three very knowledgeable members on the panel; Laura Brennen, Mary Putman and Ellen Byron. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.

Hollywood Panel
Writing About Hollywood Panel

I know a number of writers who don’t like to be the moderator, they would rather be the panelist. Being the moderator is a lot of work and I take it seriously. I become familiar with the author’s background and books. I’ve always loved research so I get to learn about writers I admire in detail. I’ve been the moderator on past panels: Real PI’s Who Write about PI’s, Writing about Hollywood and Writing in Another Media. Consequently, I now know who I can go to for information about real PI stuff, about the workings of Hollywood and writing TV/Film/Plays.

CCWC 2015 - panel 2
Moderating Writing in Another Media panel – CCWC 2015

One thing I don’t do are lengthy introductions. Many times, intros read like a long list of credits. When I’m an audience member I tend to zone out when they tell me what colleges they attended. What I like to do is include their work and bio in the questions I ask. For Instance: “Stephen Buehler, you write about PIs in your book Detective Rules and you also write about magicians in Mindreading Murders. Why did you pick those protagonists and are they very different characters? I think it’s a more palpable way to learn who the author is. Of course, I introduce who is who the in the beginning. It gives the audience and author a couple of seconds to connect directly with each other.

I also encourage the panelists to ask each other questions. With that said, sometimes you have the author who has a lot to say and takes up a lot of the time saying it. That’s where I wait for them to take a breath I and jump in, usually with a funny remark or question and then move on.

The last thing I like to do is leave enough time for the audience to ask questions. It gives them a way to get answers to questions that I didn’t ask.

I’m near the end of the blog. Does anyone have a question for this author?

Time’s up! Have to do more research on the three panelists.

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Stephen Buehler’s short fiction has been published in numerous on-line publications including, Akashic Books. Not My Day appeared in the Last Exit to Murder anthology and A Job’s a Job in Believe Me or Not An Unreliable Anthology.  He’s expanding his novella, The Mindreading Murders about a magician into a novel and shopping around his mystery/comedy P.I. novel, Detective Rules. On top of all that he is a script consultant, magician and dog owner.  http://www.stephenbuehler.com

 

 

 

 

Small Victories

 

propic11_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

Small Victories by author Ann Lamont is one of my favorite books. She is an inspirational writer and one can learn a lot by reading her works.

I think as a writer I always look at the big picture and am devastated when things don’t go my way. It is easy to want to give up and quit, just because things don’t go as expected.

But wait – what about the small victories? Ms. Lamont reminds us that the road can be motivation-721821_640long and bumpy, but if we take it step by step and give thanks for each victory, either big or small, we will reach the finish line.

Sometimes I think I’ll never get done with a project and it gets frustrating and annoying, often to the point where I set it down and let it rest for a while. But do I stop to give thanks for the small victories I receive every day? Sometimes it’s easy to forget.

kindness-710209_640It may be a pat on the back from someone you admire, it may be finishing a sentence or chapter, it may be meeting with a fellow writer to discuss your book, or it may be a bit of research you have been waiting for that suddenly drops in your lap.

It’s easy to get frustrated as we write and it doesn’t seem to be working well, but when you do stop to take time for the small victories, you’ll find yourself a much better writer and in a much better frame of mind.

Even if you need to take a break and come back to your writing refreshed, it’s a small victory.

lotus-1205631_640At night I write down all the things that made me happy during the day, including small victories. It is good fodder for sleep as I give thanks for what has been given to me, even when I have been frustrated and am ready to give up.

Have you read Small Victories by Anne Lamont? If not, I strongly suggest that you do. It’ll make you feel different as you go through your everyday work and writing and will make you thankful for all the small victories that occur in a day.

smallIs this a new concept to you? Does it sound like one you’d be interested in? Let me know in the comments!

Books by L.Leander:

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders

Inzaredonecover

 

Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer

Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)

inzaredtwocover

 

13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing

Linda's book

 

13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an Ebook

 

13marketingtipscover

 

You can also find L.Leander here:

L.Leander Books

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Author Page

L.Leander’s Book Reviews and Interviews

Twitter

LinkedIn

Goodreads

Google+

Publishing and Politics

Travis Richardson_5x7_300dpi (1) by Travis Richardson

There is so much I’d like to say about politics right now, but in a time of extreme polarization I feel very little can change people’s minds regardless of facts and insight. I feel both weirdly energized and depressed by the spectacle that is happening this election year. We’ve got who we’ve got because society has cultivated leaders for the past 20 years or so with an us versus them mentality instead of a bipartisan approach that could get things done in the interest of America. It is easier (and cowardly) to cross one’s arms and say “no” rather than work on a hard fought compromise. Sigh.

In some ways a writing career has some parallels to politics. Here are a few I came up with:

  • Writers get endorsements by way of blurbs. A good blurb from an esteemed writer with a following of readers could boost a writer’s sales much like a candidate bringing in celebrities, current and ex-presidents to stump for them.
  • Special interest groups play a role in promoting a book or an author. This could be family, reading groups, or reviewers with clout like Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly or New York Times.
  • A publisher, much like a party, gives a book/author a strong or weak push to the public. Bigger authors have more money dumped into promotions than smaller authors or publications, much like a presidential campaign versus a state congressional seat. And then there are the independents who have to promote all on their own.
  • Depending on what an author writes, people may get incensed, inspired or moved in some direction much like a strong speech at a rally.
Political Rally
Let’s get motivated by what that author wrote! (from JFK Library archives)

There are probably more similarities as well, but this makes me wonder how many writers would endure if they were subjected to the cruelty of the current US political system? Here are a few thoughts:

The day a person decides to run for office they are vilified when they chose a party. Perhaps not in their immediate community if the sentiment bleeds pure blue or red, but eventually the moniker of the chosen party will turn off a segment of people regardless of what one says. Without a doubt there are readers who will never open romance books and others who would never touch noir or science fiction. This a consumer’s choice and while there may be occasional disparaging words said about a certain genre, imagine if writers were called out on the radio and television shows and mocked for their writing on daily basis. This has happened in the cases of a few high profile publications like Fifty Shades of Grey and Morrissey’s List of the Lost. However, this literary snarkiness is rare and does not feature the outraged vehemence like so many political pundits and hosts.

What if by writing within your genre, you had to tear apart fellow writers to make an impression with the public like is happening in the primaries? Would more readers emerge from the woodworks, wanting to read an author’s work because they insulted another writer or would readers stay away from the mean spirited scribe’s work? I imagine it would be the latter. In the UK there have been a few incidents of authors (RJ Ellory and Stephen Leathersockpuppeting. These are rare and in the noted incidents, the authors tried to hide their identities. I’m sure the public’s outrage (and disappointment) has not helped sales.

antique-writing-desk
Will this writing desk be used for creation or destruction? (Image from Publicdomainpictures.net)

What if one publishing house doesn’t like that another house is going to publish a book that they have huge ideologically disagreement over. They badmouth the publisher and author with rumors that attack not only them, but go after their family and friends. When that and several other low tactics don’t seem to work they decide to nuclear: shut down the entire printing world. Whether it is gumming up all the printing presses, destroying all available paper or putting out a computer virus to corrupt all manuscripts, the object is that no books will be published, even if it includes their own catalog. So if they do this, they win right? Ugh. This is what happens with government shutdowns and other brinkmanship maneuvers. Nobody wins, everybody loses.

I could go on, but I’ll stop now before I make myself too sick. Thank God, publishing as twisted and messed up as it is has not as despicable as our freak show 21st century political process.

Any analogies you can think of?

______________________________________________

Travis Richardson has been a finalist for the Macavity short story award in 2014 and 2015 as well as the Anthony short story award in 2014. His novella LOST IN CLOVER was listed in Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Crime Fiction of 2012. He has published stories in crime fiction publications such as Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Offensive, Jewish Noir, and All Due Respect. He edits the Sisters-In-Crime Los Angeles newsletter Ransom Notes, reviews Anton Chekhov short stories at  http://www.chekhovshorts.com,
and sometimes shoots a short movie. His novella, KEEPING THE RECORD, concerns a disgraced baseball player who will do anything to keep his tainted home run record.  www.tsrichardson.com 

I have two stories come out this year so far. “Being Fred” in Thuglit Issue 21 and “Ted’s Mommy Lied” in Shotgun Honey.

smaller Lost in Clover for webthuglit13Girl-Trouble-225x300ADR #4 V3Scoundrels_final_coverdarkcornersvol.1issue2Keeping_The_Record-final_1024x1024shotgun honeyjewishnoircoverthuglit 21

Ten Authors Walk Through A Door

Travis Richardson_5x7_300dpi (1) By Travis Richardson

Did you hear the one about the writer walking through the door? Well, unless he/she was a drunk who bumped into the door instead of opening it, there is a high possibility that you haven’t, as most entrances are relatively insignificant. But in fiction, specifically crime fiction, walking through a door often introduces new characters or is part of an action sequence. Originally I had planned to document 25 great entrances, but with the time being as short as it is, I’m settling with these ten. I hope you enjoy them.

Edgar_Allan_Poe_daguerreotype_crop Edgar Allen Poe: Tell-Tale Heart

I thought we should start the list of door entering authors with the master of horror and father of the mystery. Tell-Tale Heart is a favorite of mine for the narrator’s egomaniacal insanity. Below, Poe documents the man’s feverish glee as he is about to commit a senseless murder.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch’s minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers –of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back –but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers,) and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

Chekhov Shorts in Color Anton Chekhov: The Bet

Chekhov is credited with developing both the modern short story and modern theatre. Last year I started reading and reviewing all of the stories translated into English by Constance Garnett at Chekhovshorts.com. While not known a crime writer, Chekhov wrote a few murder and criminal oriented stories. In the scene below, a man had made a two million ruble bet with a banker that he could stay imprisoned in complete isolation for fifteen years. On the day before the fifteenth year, the banker is bankrupt and feels compelled to kill his prisoner.

The banker tapped at the window with his finger, and the prisoner made no movement whatever in response. Then the banker cautiously broke the seals off the door and put the key in the keyhole. The rusty lock gave a grating sound and the door creaked. The banker expected to hear at once footsteps and a cry of astonishment, but three minutes passed and it was as quiet as ever in the room. He made up his mind to go in.

RaymondChandler_TheBigSleep Raymond Chandler: The Big Sleep

Chandler is the father of the hardboiled detective, and Philip Marlowe is his knight errant, chasing down lowlifes for his wealthy clients. While his writing is very heavy handed, its wry, cynical lines are admirable. In the section below, Marlowe has already met his client, General Sternwood, in a greenhouse with “nasty meaty leaves and stalks like the newly washed fingers of dead men” and just heard a scream come from the house he has been staking out.

I got back on the runway and took all of it and some of the hedge and gave the front door the heavy shoulder. This was foolish. About the only part of a California house you can’t put your foot through is the front door. All it did was hurt my shoulder and make me mad. I climbed over the railing again and kicked the French window in, used my hat for a glove and pulled out most of the lower small pane of glass. I could now reach in and draw a bolt that fastened the window to the sill. The rest was easy. There was no top bolt. The catch gave. I climbed in and pulled the drapes off my face.
Neither of the two people in the room paid any attention to the way I came in, although only one of them was dead. 

LAconfidentialcvr James Ellroy: L.A Confidential

I love L.A. Confidential. It is a book that assaulted my senses with its quick, machine-gun fire prose and the compactness of a ridiculous epic plot. It is a testament to the audacity of Ellroy’s mind. In the following scene, avenging Detective Bud White goes to a house where a kidnapped woman is being held after a gang rape.  It is a study of quick efficient writing.

Bud went in the back way — through the alley, a fence vault. On the rear porch: a screen door, inside hook and eye. He lipped the catch with his penknife, walked in on tiptoes. 

Get shorty Elmore Leonard: Get Shorty

The late great Elmore Leonard is almost known for his ten rules on writing as much for his unpredictable, character-driven crime novels. I think the following passage is a great example of Leonard sticking to rule #10: Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. Seven actions happen in the first sentence alone as mob collector Chili Palmer tracks down the man who stole his jacket.

He put on his black leather gloves going up the stairs to the third floor, knocked on the door three times, waited, pulling the right-hand glove on tight, and when Ray Bones opened the door Chili nailed him. One punch, not seeing any need to throw the left. He got his coat from a chair in the sitting room, looked at Ray Bones bent over holding his nose and mouth, blood all over his hands, his shirt, and walked out. Didn’t say one word.

savages Don Winslow: Savages

Savages is another book that was a game changer for me. Winslow plays with styles, sometimes writing a stream of consciousness chapter followed by dialogue written in a screenplay format or a two word chapter that summarizes a feeling, an attitude or as the ex-marine turned pot dealer Chon calls it, a badititude.

Chon opens the cabin door.
With his left hand.
Gun his right.
The problem is out cold. 
With a woman beside him. 

blood merdian Cormac McCarthy: Blood Meridian

This book is not for the faint of heart. It is a document about the savagery of the old west and, ultimately, evil consuming evil. McCarthy writes in a unique stripped down style that is visceral and in some places, awe-inspiring. I had hoped to find a section with the story’s embodiment of evil: a nearly seven foot, hairless monster of a man named the Judge. But since most of the story takes place outdoors on the Texas-Mexico border and the Judge makes his entrance through a church revival tent, I’ll give you this violent scene with the kid and his new friend Toadvine. They have just started a fire under a man’s door.

Tap on the door now, said Toadvine.
The kid rose. Toadvine stood up and waited. They could hear the flames crackling inside the room. The kid tapped. 
You better tap louder than that. This man drinks some.
He balled his fist and lambasted the door about five times.
Hell fire, said a voice.
Here he comes.
They waited.
You hot son of a bitch, said the voice. Then the knob turned and the door opened.
He stood in his underwear holding in one hand the towel he’d used to turn the doorknob with. When he saw them he turned and stated back in his room but Toadvine seized him about the neck and road him to the floor and held him by the hair and began to pry an eyeball out with his thumb. The man grabbed his wrist and bit it.  

pop 1280 Jim Thompson: Pop. 1280

I love the work of 50’s pulp writer Jim Thompson. He wrote some of the best twisted noir, and sometimes his stories were humorous as well. He’s best known for The Killer Inside of Me which has some great entrances, but I’m going with my favorite, Pop. 1280. It is a first person account from a man who reads like he is the dumbest man in Pottsville, Texas, which would put him in contention to be the stupidest man on earth. But Thompson pulls a brilliant literary slight of hand. Here is a nonviolent introduction to Sheriff Nick Corey’s spiteful wife.

I had to pass Myra’s bedroom on the way downstairs, and she had her door open to catch the breeze, and without realizing that I was doing it, I stopped and looked in. Then I went in and looked at her some more. And then I eased toward the bed on tippy-toe and stood looking down at her, kind of licking my lips and feeling itchy.

winters bone Daniel Woodrell: Winter’s Bone

This man is a master of prose and coined the term “Country Noir.” His sense of rural America, the poverty, the crimes, and the intense emotions the people have is spectacular. In this scene, an impoverished high schooler, Ree Dolly, cares for her younger brothers’ sore throats with whiskey and honey. While much of the book has Ree and her Uncle Teardrop knocking on doors, I like how one simple action says so much about Ree’s character.

Then came Harold’s turn, and as he swallowed somebody knocked on the door. Ree glanced at Mom, who got up from her rocker and shuffled away into her dark room without turning on a light. Ree went to the door and opened it with her boot wedged behind as a stopper should a stopper be needed.

hell on church street Jake Hinkson: Hell on Church Street

Hinkson‘s debut novel is stunning. The story is told by an amoral ex-Baptist youth pastor who fell in love with the preacher’s underaged daughter. Once a corrupt sheriff finds out, Geoffrey Webb is at the mercy of the man and things quickly spiral out of control. Hinkson questions religion, analyzes Arkansan values, and delves into the overall human condition with remarkable precision while maintaining a compelling crime novel pace.

When I turned the doorknob, my hand was slick with sweat. The door creaked like an old casket. I stepped inside. Directly in front of me a lot of moonlight shone through two big windows a few feet apart. It took a couple of long seconds for my eyes to adjust. I wasn’t even sure where the bed was. When my eyes settled down, I saw the big bed between the windows. I also saw Mrs. Norris sitting up and staring at me, cold moonlight glinting off the gun in her hand. 

So there are my ten. Did any of those entrances stand out for you? Do you have an example of an entrance that stands out from a typical door opening? Let me know.

Travis Richardson is fortunate to have been nominated for both the Anthony and Macavity short story awards for “Incident on the 405,” featured in MALFEASANCE OCCASIONAL: GIRL TROUBLE. His novella LOST IN CLOVER was listed in Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Crime Fiction of 2012. He has published stories in several online zines and anthologies. He edits the Sisters-In-Crime LA newsletter, reviews Chekhov shorts atwww.chekhovshorts.com and sometimes shoots a short movie. His latest novella is KEEPING THE RECORD. Find out more at: www.tsrichardson.com

smaller Lost in Clover for webKeeping The Record-final-24x36Girl-Trouble-225x300ADR #4 V3thuglit13darkcornersvol.1issue2

Boy, Am I Cranky

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Posted by Kathy Waller

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There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep. ~ Homer

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(A word in this post contains a zero in place of an o. If you find it, go to the head of the class. I saw it but now I can’t find it to correct it. There’s an and for an, too. Yes, this is pertinent to the subject of the post.)

Ten a.m., and I was dead tired.

IMG_0212I’d awakened at seven a.m., put sheets in the washing machine, piled three loads on the landing to do later, folded a load taken from the dryer, hidden one load of clean towels under the couch pillows so the guy cats couldn’t sleep on them, dressed myself, and driven downtown.

Now I was sitting on a stool at the computer bar of my office-coffee shop, checking email and thinking about continuing to revise the manuscript of a short story I’ve been working on.

But my tired went to the bone, and more to the point, the brain. I just sat there, IMG_0827staring at the screen, reading the most interesting emails, scanning a blog post here and there, eating pumpkin bread and drinking Earl Grey tea, and trying not to put my head on the keyboard and fall asleep.

Then a post on Kristin Lamb’s Blog: “Can Being Tired Make Us Better Writers?” appeared on the screen. The title seemed synchronous, so I read it.

I expected Lamb to say that being tired prevents our being good writers, that we need to rest our bodies and our brains before we address the page. I was wrong. Lamb says being tired can make us better writers, and she makes an excellent argument in supp0rt of her position. Contrary to my expectations, I agreed.

IMG_0830.1But Lamb’s tired and the way I felt that morning were two different things.

I’m sleep-deprived and my Circadian rhythms are a tangled mess. Several years ago, following a death in the family and some chronic depression that had crept back after a bit of respite–depression is insidious–I began staying up late at night. Then later. And later. Not having to meet and eight-to-five schedule, I was free to sleep in the morning as long as I needed to.

Complicating the matter was the tendency for my brain to switch on about nine p.m. and keep going until about four a.m. I have more energy then. I write better then. I move the refrigerator and sweep under it better then. Really, my best housework occurs about three in the morning.

I’m not a Lady Macbeth. When I go to bed, I go to sleep. The truth is, I’ve never wanted to go to sleep. As a child, I protested, mildly (I IMG_0832.1knew it wouldn’t work) but sincerely, every night when bedtime rolled around. I protested every afternoon at nap time. That never worked either. My mother said if I didn’t have my nap, I would be cranky all evening, and furthermore, even if I didn’t need a nap, she did.

But as college drew near, parents withdrew from the bedtime thing. One night when I was about sixteen, I was sitting in the living room when The Tonight Show came on. The older generation had disappeared. I realized I’d been left to decide. It was a little scary. I went to bed.

But in college, with no external controls, and dorm mates who kept odd hours, I forgot all about needing sleep or being cranky. I learned essays for freshman English flowed (relatively speaking) from the pen around one in the morning. Studying went better, too.

IMG_0838Everything went better, until the day I woke fifteen minutes before my eight o’clock speech class in Old Main, at the top of College Hill. I roomed at the bottom of College Hill. Any student absent from or egregiously late to Dr. Abernathy’s class had to atone by writing a report.

Suffice it to say I took my seat on the second floor of Old Main 7.5 minutes before class started. I didn’t look, or feel, good, but I was there.

Note: Only alums of Texas State University-San Marcos–Southwest Texas State University when I was there–will fully understand what I’m talking about. The dorms are on the low, flat side of the Balcones Escarpment. Old Main lies on the other side, almost straight up. It is well known that girls living in the dorms at the bottom of College Hill have the best-developed calf muscles in the Western Hemisphere.

IMG_0844Oversleeping never happened again. Every night I set three alarm clocks, two of which were across the room. And I never stayed up late before an exam. What I didn’t know by ten o’clock remained unknown.

Because I’d like to get to bed tonight, I’ll summarize the rest of the story:

I graduated from college, got dumber, and by the time I was in my forties, had my days and nights mixed up. Since I was working outside the home, I slept mostly on weekends. When I finally decided things had to change, I read about sleep deprivation and, with determination and a few melatonin tablets (and my doctor’s okay), I reset my sleep pattern. And my health, both mental and physical, improved.

IMG_0828.1But I am an optimist, which in my case means never learns from experience, or thinks she can do a thing the same way she did it before and get a different result. (There’s another word for that, but we won’t discuss it.)

So here I am with what my husband calls my Cicada Rhythms out of whack. During the day, I’m awake, but I feel ratty. At night, I wake up and feel fine. Or did. Until a couple of days ago. Now I just feel ratty. I’m putting my health at risk. I’m creating the perfect conditions for weight gain. My brain isn’t working as well as it should.

And my writing? Uh-huh. Being this kind of tired hasn’t made me a better writer. It’s just made me a zombie.

IMG_0837.1Anyway, after dinner, my husband kindly went out and procured a bottle of melatonin. I took a tablet thirty minutes before I expected to be in bed. That was over an hour ago. My eyelids are heavy. And typing is going more and more slowly . . .

So I shall end.

As I said in the beginning of this post, at the most basic level, I agree with what Kristin Lamb said in her post. But when I’m tired at the most basic level, I’m more likely to stare at a monitor and make my way slowly through my email than to write.

IMG_0842It’s interesting, though, that staring and going slowly through my email was what alerted me to Lamb’s post. Reading it made me realize why I was so tired. The realization led me to do something about it.

Tracing this back to its source, I find–if my brain hasn’t gone wonky again–that in a Rube Goldberg sort of way, being dead tired can make me a better writer.

It’s after midnight. And suddenly I’m awake. I could go on all night.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooo

*

Speaking of The Tonight Show, I found this video on Youtube: Kermit the Frog hosting in place of Johnny Carson. Vincent Price and Bernadette Peters (and I don’t remember who else) guest. It’s the entire show, from 1979, and one of the best. If you can take the time, watch it, even in little segments. Laughter is and sleep are good medicine.

 *****

Kathy Waller blogs at To Write Is to Write Is to Write and every fifth week at Austin Mystery Writers.

Satisfaction by Cher’ley

This post by Cher’ley Grogg

Chocolate in almost any form is great! Cake, candy bars, cookies, fudge, cupcakes, chocolate milk, chocolate ice cream and my favorite chocolate yogurt. (Fudge Recipe at the end of this blog) Chocolate activates endorphin in our brains and this causes us to have a feeling of satisfaction.

Another form of satisfaction is being in contact with people who would love to read your book.

If you have a computer, phone, Kindle, Ipad or anything electronic and if you are my friend you know I just did my first Kindle book give-a-way. I set my goal at 50 and I gave-a-way  209.  I am very satisfied with that amount.

This was my process:

  1. Decided the date and how many days
  2. Started contacting people with blogs (by contacting I mean begged)
  3. Changed my mind twice on the date
  4. Contacted more people with blogs
  5. Set the date with Amazon
  6. Contacted more people with blogs (finally reaching about a dozen)

Satisfaction comes from having friends who care and want to help each other. Here is a list of my wonderful friends who featured me on their blogs.

Drumroll-In please, in no particular order: 

I want to thank each of these lovely people for featuring me on their blogs.

 Linda’s Blog

 Nancy’s Blog

Kate’s  Blog

 Mike’s Blog

Neva’s Blog

 Doris’s Blog

 Allan’s Blog

Ginger’s Blog

 Lisa’s Blog

  Janet’s Blog

Hilary’s Blog

 Cher’ley’s Amazon Page 

I attended and shared each blog as much as possible. I also had several friends who shared the links that I put up on my various social media pages.

The next thing I did was to check to see what my give-a-way tally was about 3 or 4 times a day.

I checked twice a day to see how I was ranking in sales in the Action and Adventure category. I ended up ranking in the top 100 of ebooks sales.

It was a hard/easy process. I was excited through the whole process. It was also nerve-racking and time consuming. I don’t know yet if I will do it again. I am hoping to get some sales and some reviews from the give-a-way.

I want to thank everyone for bearing with me on the continual posts about my “Free Kindle Book” and thank everyone who downloaded it. I am grateful and satisfied.

**Have you ever put your book up for free? How did it go? What gives you Satisfaction? **

Easy & Delicious Fudge

Easy Chocolate Fudge

Prep:

  • 6 minsCooking:
  • 5 minsLevel:
  • EasyCooling:
  • 120 minsYields:
  • 24 servings

Ingredients

Directions

LINE 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with foil.COMBINE morsels and sweetened condensed milk in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Warm over lowest possible heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat; stir in nuts and vanilla extract.

SPREAD evenly into prepared baking pan. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Lift from pan; remove foil. Cut into 48 pieces.

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores. 

Stamp Out Murder”.

The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” This is an especially good book for your Tween Children and Grandchildren.

Fans of Cher'ley Grogg,AuthorAnd please join me on my Facebook Fanpage, that’s managed by one of my most faithful fans: Cindy Ferrell

Here’s a link to my WEBSITE

Don’t Talk To Me In That Tone of Voice! by L.Leander

propic11_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

Don’t Raise Your Voice To Me…

Ever heard that from a parent, friend or loved one?  I have.  Sometimes when we’re young we get a little sassy.  It’s normal for children to become independent and, well, a little bratty sometimes when they speak to those in authority.  Occasionally, (but only if I’ve had a bad day) my voice just might have a different timbre when I speak to my husband.  Now, I’m one of the lucky ones.  My husband is very low-key.  Nothing like his wife, who is always so busy flitting from one place to the other that she forgets where she’s supposed to be next or if she left the iron plugged in.  No, my sweet spouse doesn’t say a word, just gives me the raised eyebrow.  Stops me every time and we laugh.

What does that have to do with writing you ask?  Think about it.  Is your character’s voice syrupy sweet or belligerent?  Is it timid or confident?  Your reader needs to know through discussion what type of person is speaking.

action1_1We work for hours on character descriptions and setting, but occasionally we forget dialogue.  Simple conversation can make or break a novel.  If the reader is invested in the personalities that emerge from the pages of the book he or she will devour it until the end and tell everyone what a great read it is.

On the other hand, if the discourse falls flat and goes nowhere the reader will put the book down and walk away.

As writers we don’t need to be overly descriptive of our characters.action2_1  Show readers through good dialogue what the person is like.  Make their words strong and forceful or quiet and meek.  Allow the personalities to shine, to make a mark, to entertain and leave the reader in anticipation of what will happen next.

For instance, here’s a ho-hum sentence and an action sentence.

Shawn entered the smoky room and took a good look around.  He saw Rita at the bar and walked toward her, anger building up inside him.

And:

Shawn coughed as he entered the smoky room.  “Where on earth have you been?”  Beer splashed as he slammed his glass on the bar and took a seat next to Rita.  “I’ve been waiting for two hours for you to call.”

The first sentence is descriptive, yes, but the second is powerful.  We get from the dialogue that Shawn is angry through his words and his actions.  In the first sentence we are told those things, in the second we experience them.  Also, I’m one of the Stephen King believers in not using too many exclamation points.  Show the action.  It’s better than using the punctuation mark.

Here are a couple of good posts on descriptive dialogue that you might want to check out.  I found them very interesting.

Lafenty from Hubpages.com

http://lafenty.hubpages.com/hub/Writing-Great-Dialogue-Part-Two

Sarah Billington from WriteSideways.com

http://writeitsideways.com/dialogue-description/

Will your characters raise their voices today?  What will they say?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Books by L.Leander:INZARED Book Cover_1