Thursday, August 31, 2017


This will be my second time participating in this seasonal reading event. It's at the blog Estella's Revenge this year. I will try for the first level. Click the link above to sign up and see more details.

There are two simple goals for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VI Challenge:
1. Have fun reading.
2. Share that fun with others.
As we do each and every year, there are multiple levels of participation (Perils) that allow you to be a part of R.I.P. XII without adding the burden of another commitment to your already busy lives. There is even a one book only option for those who feel that this sort of reading is not their cup of tea (or who have many other commitments) but want to participate all the same.
Multiple perils await you. You can participate in just one, or participate in them all.
Peril the First:
Read four books, any length, that you feel fit (our very broad definitions) of R.I.P. literature. It could be Stephen King or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Shirley Jackson or Tananarive Due…or anyone in between.
Here is what I am reading:
  1. The Trouble With Magic--Madelyn Alt
  2. Pirates--Linda Lael Miller
  3. The Fall of the House of Usher and Four Other Tales--Edgar Allan Poe
  4. The Spiderwick Chronicles 1-5--Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
  5. Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: The Nixie's Song--Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
  6. Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch--Nancy Atherton
  7. The Shack--William Paul Young
  8. Ghosts--Raina Telgemeier
  9. The Spooky Express California--Marcin Piwowarski
  10. The Moonstone--Wilkie Collins
  11. The Turn of the Screw--Henry James
  12. Peaches and Screams--G.A. McKevett
  13. Bloodlines--Richelle Mead
  14. The Girl With All the Gifts--M.R. Carey
  15. Nightlight: A Parody--Harvard Lampoon
  16. Zombies Calling--Faith Erin Hicks
  17. Witch Buster--Jung-man Cho
  18. My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish--Mo O'Hara
  19. My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish: The SeaQuel--Mo O'Hara
  20. My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish: Fins of Fury--Mo O'Hara
  21. My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish: Any Fin is Possible--Mo O'Hara
  22. Blood Red, Snow White--Marcus Sedgwick
Challenge completed on October 27

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Seeing This Already?

How many of you have seen Halloween displays at stores already? Yes, there are already some up in my neck of the woods. I saw Halloween at Dollar Tree starting around the second of August. The above dimply is form the window at Goodwill, and has been up  And just today I saw Halloween stuff going up at Kmart. I expect to see more up by next week.  And then expect to see it at Target.

Who has even give thought to what they want to be on Halloween this year?  I've got some ideas, but haven't decided for sure.  It's only two days till the first of September, so no hurry, even though reminders are in the stores.

I won't get too much into this right now, butI hate that Christmas stuff shows up as early as the end of September, but in some cases even earlier than that.  As someone who one worked in retail, this scenario is all too familiar.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

How To Stay Sane While Writing a Novel


Show information about the snippet editorYou can click on each element in the preview to jump to the Snippet Editor. SEO title preview: How To Stay Sane While Writing A Novel - Writer's

It’s no wonder that so many authors are considered a little ‘quirky.’ Writing a novel is a pretty tough undertaking. The hours are long and lonely, the self-doubt is overwhelming at times, and then there’s the possibility that you might be rejected over and over and over again.
Any writer that has taken on the mammoth task of writing a novel knows that there are times during the process where they feel as though they are on the edge of a precipice - one step closer and they’ll fall, and descend into a madness from which they cannot escape!
Immersing yourself in a fictional world, waking up in the middle of the night overcome with an idea, or sweating with anxiety because you’ve realised something doesn’t work or you’ve got to kill off a character that you love, can all make you feel a little crazy.  Let's also not forget those days that turn into weeks that turn into months when you realise you’ve barely spoken to anyone else, washed properly or eaten something other than sandwiches too!
So what can you do to stay sane when writing a novel? Here are some handy tips to help you step back from the edge of that precipice and remain firmly in the real world.

Go outside every day
Make sure you make an effort to get outside every day. Even if it’s just for a brisk stroll or to head to the shops. Being cooped up inside your home for days on end is not healthy. Plus there is lots of inspiration out there in the big wide world, so go and experience it!

Have a good sleep routine
Don’t let your writing take over your life so much that you end up falling asleep at your desk at 4 am every morning. You need to have a good sleep routine to stay at your most focused and productive - never underestimate how important this is.

Get up early and start being productive right away
Start each day on the right foot by getting up early and getting to work straight away. If you’ve achieved loads by mid morning you’ll feel great!

Stay healthy
Eat good, nutritious meals, get some exercise, stay hydrated, lay off the caffeine and the wine! It can be easy to let your health slip when you spend hours hunched over your desk all day, but when it all catches up with you you’ll end up feeling sluggish and miserable - so pay attention to your health and you’ll be doing yourself and your writing a big favour in the long run.

Don’t abandon your family and friends
Believe it or not, there are some things that are more important than writing a book. Don’t let your relationships with family and friends suffer -they will be your support network and biggest fans when your book is finished after all. Always make sure you spend quality time with family and friends and don’t make it all about your writing all the time.

Stay positive
It can be so easy to feel disheartened when we suffer rejection or simply let those critical voices in our heads take over. Try to stay positive, and if you feel yourself getting too worked up and overwhelmed take a break, read experiences from other authors. This will help you realise you're not alone and remind yourself you are doing something pretty awesome and should be proud, whether you become a famous author or not.

Step away if you need to
Remember, your novel isn’t going anywhere, so if you need to take a break from it for a few days, a week, perhaps even longer, then that’s fine. Consider it giving yourself a much needed holiday. You’ll probably come back to it feeling refreshed and inspired, which will only help to make your novel even better anyway.

It’s important to stay sane during the writing process! If you do find yourself going a little crazy, try to follow the above tips and you’ll feel all the better for it - plus your writing will be better too!

I believe I have pretty much followed most of these while writing my memoir.  I now wonder what, if at all, I should attempt a novel about.  I really want to get back on my diary novel. 
I try to get out each day, even if it's only for a while. It gets hard to drive in the heat we are having in my neck of the woods right now (and it's expected to be even hotter in the coming days!)  I'm at the center where I work three days a week, where I'm with others like me. And on other days, I try to go to other places just to be out for a while.  I get fatigued easily, falling asleep during the daytime. My psychiatrist thinks it's because I'm not getting enough exercise, which has been hard to do in the heat.  Just walking has been hard in such hot weather. What else can I do? 
Trying to find an editor has been hard so far. One nearby service I've been able to locate charges .02 a word! (according the message they left on my phone). I don't think I can afford that. For a while, I felt I should forget even thinking about trying to get my story published. That was one thing I had trouble staying positive about. Right now, I'm not sure where else to look.  This is something I need to be working on, and I'm getting anxiety over trying to start looking again.
As someone prone to anxiety and panicking, I've done my best to be sane during the writing process. It has mostly gone well.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Two Spaces or Not Two Spaces?

Do you remember being told to put two spaces after the end of a sentence? You will, if you grew up in the age before word processing programs on computers. And you may still be doing this today. Just recently, however, I saw this:

How many of you have heard this? I never did until I saw the above image on a  Facebook group for writers.  Typical responses to this post have included people saying that some still do this by habit and that others have stopped using the two spaces.  But some want to still be two-spacers. I guess it's up to you.

Once (probably more than once!) when I was editing my story, I found myself looking for two spaces after sentences.  I then inserted a second space where I'd out only one. This was before I had seen the post above.  Now I think I will have to watch myself to see that I don't do this anymore. But as some of the responders on the Facebook post have said, it's a hard habit to break. I seem to be of that mind. 

I then found this article from 2011. (Apparently this practice has been going on longer than I realized!):

From that article:

Proper protocol is to use ONE SPACE after the period. 

Why? Because of modern typesetting! In olden days typewriters were monospaced, which meant every letter had the same amount of space on either side. But nowadays (unless you are still pecking away on a typewriter) your PC uses proportional fonts. These fonts assign proper spacing between letterforms (also known as "kearning") which is variable depending on what letters or punctuation sit next to each other. This means your computer automatically adjusts for proper space after a period. You no longer need to double space. 

Are you still in the habit of double-spacing? Have you heard this new rule?

Sunday, August 27, 2017

New Assemblage Creations

 Here is the one I made in class last week:

My Mom's friend said sculptures like these are known as "art dolls."  I had never heard that term until yesterday.

And here are other such sculptures made my others at the center:

The same guy made the creature with the octopus arms (made from small plastic silver spoons)
and the one with the poker chip face.

I brought most of the stuff to the center, but also brought out stuff we already had on hand, such as beads, glitter and sequins,  as well as the glue guns used to put the things together.

And here was something else that same guy made. He really got into this idea! This one, though, is more of a collage:

This was fun to do and I'm glad the others had fun as well. They really used their imaginations. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

How to Pick a Genre To Write In

How To Pick A Genre To Write In - Writer's

Many writers don’t consider the genre they are writing in until their book is written. It’s easy to believe that once you have finished writing your novel that it will become immediately obvious which category it falls into and when you are undertaking tasks such as submitting to editors or selecting the genres where your book should sit in Amazon, that it will be easy to define your writing in such a way.
However, only considering your genre after you have finished your story can lead to some problems. There are perhaps some stories that are easier to define. A classic romance, thriller or horror story for example. With many contemporary fiction books it can be a little more tricky, and in fact, you could find your story crosses the boundaries of many different genres, a little bit of romance but mostly a thriller, a ghost story with some comedy thrown in, and so on.
The trouble with not being able to clearly define your genre is that you then cannot clearly define your audience. One of the most important things you should be able to do when submitting your novel to publishers and agents, or when marketing it yourself, is be able to define who your audience is, to be able to prove that there is a market for your book out there, that there are readers ready and waiting to devour it.
If you are vague about your genre, agents and publishers will have a harder time being convinced they can sell your book. Where will it sit in a bookstore? Will readers be annoyed if they pitch it as a romance novel, when actually perhaps it is more of a fantasy book? It’s the same when you come to chose where to place your book, if self-publishing, on sites such as Amazon - if readers disagree with your choices then you could end up with negative reviews - readers do not like to be misled after all.
So how do you choose a genre to write in?

Write with an audience in mind
You should always consider your reader when you write. Before you start why not try to identify who your target audience is? Sketch out an idea of what they are like, get to know them, what motivates and inspires them? What makes them tick? Once you understand your reader you’ll have a better idea of the types of books they read, and therefore the genre you should place your book into.

Read many genres and see what resonates
Writing in a genre you love to read will make your life so much easier. If you love romance novels but try to write a hard boiled detective story you might find yourself in trouble. So read lots and lots of different books and then shape your story to fit which genre you like best.

Go to a bookstore and look at the books in each section, where do you see yours going?
If you have already written your novel, or have your story already mapped out in your head, go to a bookstore to try and help clarify which genre it fits into. Look at books by other authors and see which ones have similar themes to yours. This is also a great way of getting inspiration for your book synopsis and cover too!

Create a marketing plan
If you pick a genre that is really obscure, you might find it difficult to know how to market your book. Saying, that a niche genre could help you really focus on specific readers. Creating a marketing plan could help sway you one way or another as you decide what is best for your book.
At the end of the day when it comes to picking a genre to write in, sometimes it’s simply a good idea to go with your gut instinct. If you are torn between two, you could even make a pros and cons list to help you choose. Whatever you do, make sure you have a clear idea of the genre you are writing in, ideally before you start to write, that way you’ll have your reader firmly in mind and be more likely to write something that they won’t be able to resist.

If you have been reading my blog regularly since last year, you will know that I wasn't sure whether to write a memoir or a novel based on my personal experiences.  And you will be aware I did choose a memoir.  I had begun writing notes that sounded like a memoir.  I was beginning to feel satisfied with what I had begun, and that is why I decided to go in this direction. I had already read a few memoirs, including one written by bar owner in my home town.  But until that point, I had read considerably more novels than any sort of nonfiction, and I had once wanted to write a fictional story. Perhaps that will be in my future. Actually, I have already begun something of the sort. Just haven't made any progress on that one recently.
I was at a nearby branch of Barnes and Noble recently and saw that Prozac Nation and other memoirs and biographies of people with mental illnesses and depression are included the Psychology section.  I guess that is where mine will end up, too.  I'm not sure where they place the fictional books on mental illness  though. 
As far as an audience goes, I guess the one that I'm targeting is those who've gone through depression and treatment. I hope what I have done will resonate with other such people. 
The fictional story I began writing is a diary-style book set in the 1980s. Will there be a target audience for that sort of story? Would you read such a story?


Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Hard Truths Every Writer Must Face


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When many of us start out writing it is because we are driven by a passion, an urge deep within that spurs us on and tells us that we must do this.
Right at the beginning, everything seems fresh and new, we are full of adrenaline and excitement about embarking on this new journey, and wonder what the future may hold for us. We imagine that our writing will bring us deep fulfilment and personal satisfaction and that when we sit down to write it will be a pleasurable, creative and even an enlightening experience.
But that's far from the truth.
Look, I'm not saying that all of this is nonsense. In fact, writing can be all of the above and more. The trouble is that for novice writers the idealistic view of a writer’s life and the lofty expectations they have of what being a writer will be like come very quickly crashing down when they actually get down to work.
It is far better for us to be realistic, to understand what it really means to be a writer, to face those hard truths about writing and be prepared for what’s to come. Otherwise when we are faced with the reality of a writer’s life, and when we hit those inevitable obstacles and pitfalls on our writing journey, we’ll be better prepared for them and less likely to give up.
So what is it really like to be a writer? What are the hard truths that every writer must face?

You’ll procrastinate (and then beat yourself up about it)
You create a writing schedule, and you're so excited about the idea of starting that it never even crosses your mind that you won’t stick to it. Then suddenly when ‘real life’ gets in the way, your writing window gets smaller and smaller and then you realise you haven’t done any in three weeks and have forgotten half your story in the process. It’s so easy to find reasons not to write, and when we don’t find the time we tend to be extremely hard on ourselves. Make your writing schedule realistic and reasonable and learn to prioritise it. If it’s important enough you’ll find a way.

You won’t be very good (at first)
Some people are born with a great writing talent, but no matter how talented we are, our first drafts are always a bit rubbish, and we all have days where we look back at our writing and wonder what on earth we were thinking. It’s OK to be bad at writing. If you keep at it, you WILL get better.

You won’t like certain parts of the process - but you’ll have to do them anyway
A writer’s life doesn’t involve just writing. To give writing a real shot there is so much more to do. From editing to marketing you have to learn a lot of new skills - some of them you won’t enjoy, but just remember it’s all worth it in the end.

You’ll lose confidence in yourself
You’ll have days where you start to question everything. You’ll believe you are a terrible writer, you’ll be embarrassed that you even entertained the notion that you could do it, you’ll think about giving up. Know that every writer has moments like these, even the really, really good ones -but don't despair, for they will pass.

You’ll get writer’s block
You’ll have days where you sit down to write and absolutely nothing comes out. You’ll think your ideas have dried up and your creativity has vanished. Writer’s block is a curse, however, there are plenty of things you can do to get back on track.

You’ll get criticised, and it hurts
Every single writer who is brave enough to put their work ‘out there’ will experience criticism from others - whether you should listen to them or not is your call. However, we all know it hurts when someone doesn’t appreciate your writing, especially when you’ve put your heart and soul into it. But even the greatest writers of all time have been rejected, scorned and laughed at, so at least you can take solace in the fact that you’re in good company.

You have to actually practice and learn stuff
There is always room for improvement when it comes to writing, and there is lots to learn! Even if writing comes naturally to you, you should strive to get better and always do more.

You’ll have to market your own book
No matter which publishing route you choose, you’ll end up having to do some marketing of your own. Be it book signings to social media, marketing is part and parcel of the job.

You (probably) won’t become a famous author
At the end of the day, only a tiny fraction of writers go on to be famous and highly successful authors. You might be one of them, but it’s more likely that you won’t. Accept that and learn how to make writing part of your life without fame and fortune being part of it - the sooner you do the better.

If you’ve read all of the above, acknowledged it, accepted it and still have a burning desire to write, that’s great news. Let’s face it, some of the toughest things, the things we have to put the most effort into in life, are also the most rewarding and those that we wouldn’t change for a second (just ask any parent). So no matter how tough writing gets, you’ll keep doing it anyway - because you love it.

I think I am beginning to see most of these truths and have in fact, already seen some of them and knew about some of them before I even saw this blogpost. I'm already coming up with ideas on how to do marketing of my book, namely where to have book signings in my home town. I already know some places that would be great venues for such an event.  And I definitely will announce on my blog when my book gets published, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. 
 I already knew editing would be part of the process. That is pretty obvious. And same for rewriting. I was told long ago that "writing is rewriting is rewriting is rewriting..." 
I don't expect to be famous, though I have people I already know who will most likely red my work.
Right now, I'm taking break from my memoir and hope to work on another story I have started writing. Or maybe even something else entirely.  Maybe just doing a journal. Starting in September, a fellow client at the center where I work and attend will be starting a journaling class.  I think I should participate in this group. It should be helpful to my writing.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The 7 Deadly Sins of Self-Editing


7 deadle sins

1. Greed

Many authors damn their efforts from the start with a premature focus on snagging a lucrative book deal. They submit to agents or self-publish before their work is truly ready. But building a career requires that you lay a strong foundation of only your best work—and nobody’s first draft is the best it can be. Careful editing is the mortar that holds the story bricks together.

Penance: Resist the temptation to convince yourself your first draft is “good enough.” If you find yourself rushing your editing process just to leap ahead to pursuing publication, look for deeper motivation to sustain you. Remember that the revision process doesn’t have to be any less enjoyable than the writing itself: You’ll be setting out to find the magic in each word, sentence, paragraph. You’ll be tapping your creative soul for ways to add tension to every page, to find clever solutions to tough story problems. Greed looks toward the uncertain rewards of tomorrow. The joys of writing are available to you today.

2. Lust

Just as dangerous as the temptation to call your first draft “finished” can be the tendency to jump into a revision right away. Words and ideas flood your mind; emotions pump through your heart. But that mad creative rush can become excessive, harming your ability to clearly assess your writing.

Penance: Step away from your current project as long as you can bear it—then wait an additional week. You’ll need that emotional distance before you revisit your work.

3. Gluttony

A great novel is like a gourmet meal. It must be prepared carefully, and to specification, with complementary flavors and courses.

Getting carried away and stuffing in all the good ideas and beautiful word pairings you’ve got in your pantry can lead to overindulgence.

Penance: Put your manuscript on a diet. Pare down or eliminate scenes that don’t further the story. Examine plot points, characters, description, dialogue and exposition, until you have precisely what you need to tell your story, and not a character or subplot more. Then apply this same philosophy to your work at the sentence level, killing your darlings and eliminating excessive adjectives and adverbs, along with verbose descriptions. Bring out the flavor of both your story and your style, but stop short of overseasoning.

4. Pride

Even in the current age of publishing, where aspiring authors can and must act as their own publicists and webmasters and take on myriad other roles, editing is one thing you can’t complete alone. As a form of communication, writing needs an audience. Thinking you don’t need feedback from others isn’t just pride—it’s pride that can squelch your potential.

Penance: Seek the help of beta readers, critique groups and editors. In return for the valuable feedback you receive, share your growing skills by critiquing the works of other participants in return. Then take your humble approach a step further and volunteer at writing conferences, libraries or literacy programs. Start a neighborhood book club, a regional networking group or a listserv for writers. Read widely and blog about it. The more you support the literary community, the more likely it will support you.

5. Sloth

The lazy scribe is one who’s failed to develop and utilize all her natural talents. To draft a story—and then stop there—is to ignore the very nature of literature, which constructs meaning through the deft layering of craft elements. If you find yourself bucking that notion, you may be guilty of sloth.

Penance: Just like with physical exercise, whipping your talent into shape takes time and dedication. You don’t jog once a year and end up with a perfect body. So it goes with your manuscript. To build the endurance skills you’ll need for marathon writing and revision, you must continuously train: Do writing prompts. Do writing exercises. Keep your writing muscles toned through daily practice, and when you review your previous work, your mistakes and weak sections will become more apparent, you’ll be more capable of dealing with them, and you’ll be far less likely to walk away.

6. Envy

Creative people are notoriously insecure. You may covet one published author’s self-confident voice, or another’s way with words. Maybe it’s his humor, or her emotional honesty. If you fear your work pales in comparison, remember that those authors didn’t strike it big by mimicking others or wallowing in jealousy.

Penance: With a friend or writing group, analyze your draft for what is uniquely you. Is it your voice? Your descriptions? Your quirky observations about the world around you? Edit your manuscript again, with an eye for drawing that element out on every page. Editors and agents don’t want another x, y or z. They want what you have that nobody else does. So don’t hold yourself to an impossible standard by trying to be one of your peers.

7. Wrath

The editing process can inspire uncontrolled feelings of rage in a writer. It’s difficult to discover or to hear from a trusted reader that you might not yet have fully developed your work—but it’s also an important step in growing your organic talent.

Penance: Wrath will only get in the way. Ignore feedback at your own peril: What angers us most holds a nugget of truth. Find it. Listen for the gifts within the criticism offered, and use them to help inspire new ideas. Your manuscript can only improve as a result.

Those who have edited your own work: Do you feel you've followed one or more of these sins?  I still think I'm stealing other authors' thunder since I chose a topic that has been written about many times. But I am still writing from my own experience.  Perhaps this is what I was thinking at first when I thought my story was too similar to what had already been written.  Though I never saw this article until now.  

I'm still trying to find others who can read what I have written, but groups in my area are still nearly impossible to find.

And I have just inquired about how to begin looking for an editor in my area.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

More Assemblages

Last week and again this week the art class at work is doing assemblages.  We got a new client coming to the center last month and when I showed him the pictures of the one I had done at home and the one I did for the class  at work, he joked, "I wish I could go back in time," meaning he wished he'd been around to do the project.  Well, even if you can't go back in time, you can do the project again.  So I told this to my boss, the center coordinator, and she said it would be fine.   I had been   collecting game pieces, blocks and such in hopes doing one of these projects at home, but never have got round to doing so.  Even so, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do for the class.  But here is what I ended up doing:

All these game pieces were mounted on a corkboard that was a last-minute purchase at Goodwill before work last Monday morning.  Here is what it looked like:

Unlike last time, when others wishing to participate brought stuff for a theme or scene they'd wanted to create, many of them weren't prepared this time.  But then I got an idea so the others would have something to do.

I had so many of the blocks, more than I was sure I'd be using, so I let the others use the blocks and game pieces and other stuff I'd brought (including wiggly eyes, drink umbrellas, ping-pong balls and an old thread spool) and brought out stuff we have at the center such as glass gems, sea shells, beads and paint.  I had remembered seeing this online (I couldn't copy the image so I am linking it).

My suggestion was to use the blocks and other stuff to create a creature or a robot of some sort. When I finished my piece above last Wednesday, I decided to make something out of the blocks.   Here is what I did:

I offered to leave my stuff at the center so we would have something for art this week. Nothing was planned ahead of time for the coming week. This will give those who've already done one of these a chance to do another, if they wish, and those who didn't do one last week will get to do one this week if they choose.  I have some more stuff I am taking to use. Will let you know what I am doing this week once it's done.