Sunday, October 7, 2012

Blog Musings

This blog will be on hiatus this month as I consider how best to manage it and what it will be about.  It needs to be reinvented.  As you can tell, I've had many ideas, but few of those have I stuck with.  I need to decide what this blog is about, and that will take time, especially as I take on other tasks during this last quarter of the year.  So, please bear with me while I do some blog musing.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Creativity and the Circadian Rhythm

Are you a night owl or a morning person?  If you are a night person, you may want to try coming up with new fiction ideas and solving old ones in the morning.  If you are a day person, the best time is in the afternoon.  This data comes from Mareike Wieth and Rose Zacks as found in the article "To Speed Up The Creative Process, Slow Down" by Sam McNerney.  According to the research, it turns out you are better at creative thinking at non-peak times.

I found this information through a long and tangled path whose trail head began with Sue Shellenbarger's article "The Peak Time for Everything" and ended with Sam McNerny's.  But it was intriguing enough to make me wonder how true this is and which person I am.  I feel that I am a natural night owl, but because of my career, I have been forced into a day-time rhythm.  As for as creative ideas go, I generally record date and time for many writing-related things, but not always.  I'll report back in if I have enough data to figure out how true any of this is for me.

Cite:  McNerney, Sam. "To Speed Up the Creative Process, Slow Down."  Why We Reason.  N.p., 10 Feb. 2012. Web. 27 Sept. 2012.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Getting to Know Your Blog Neighbors: Two Regency Blog Posts

Swallowtail I've never been a social butterfly, but as the Internet cuts out the scary face-to-face aspect of socializing, I have no excuse to be a Net recluse.  So I decided to launch a campaign to spread my wings a little by reading, commenting, and linking to some blog posts.  I'm starting with my Regency blog neighbors.  Two of them.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New Paths, New Blog

I haven't been writing fiction much lately because I have been working some things out.  As my writing-related dreams go down different paths, so too must my blogs.  I will be working on separating out my fiction from this blog.  The new home is Weirding Out Fiction.  Once I get both blogs tweaked, I'll let you know my thoughts about my fiction and other things.  For now, bear with me, please, as some things get moved about.  Thanks!

Monday, September 24, 2012

More Book Buys

I've been trying to keep better track of my books buys, so this is likely to become a regular feature.  Anyway, I was busy Friday and Saturday.  I got 50 books for $12.90--or an average of approximately $0.26 each. They are listed below.

Friday, September 21, 2012

History Tidbit: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Herschel?

Turns out, the planet Uranus could have been . . . Herschel or Georgium Sidus.  When I was first reading this in the article "On Astronomy: The Solar System Explained, &c.," I couldn't figure out what planet the magazine and the original source, Mrs. Bryan, meant.  So I turned to Wikipedia article "William Herschel," and it had the answer.  Sir Frederick William Herschel discovered Uranus.  To curry favor with King George III, he named it the Georgian star.  Later, the name became Herschel.  Then, finally, Uranus.

So I guess the mnemonic could have been very different: My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Him . . . .  
Which would have tied nicely into the male-centric view espoused in this line: "In the center of the solar system is placed the sun, like the father of the family, surrounded by bodies dependent on his emanations, called planets . . . " (Bryan 88).

But hey, I'm just surprised by the fact they have articles on astronomy in a lady's magazine anyway.  Or that they think astronomy is "elegant and useful" knowledge for female readers (Bryan 88).  Especially considering that the original lecture came from a woman no less!  Huh, go figure.

  • Bryan. "Lectures on Natural Philosophy: The Result of Many Years' Experience of the Facts Elucidated" [Excerpt]. Rpt. in "On Astronomy: The Solar System Explained, &c."  La Belle Assemblee 3 June 1807:  88-91. Google Book Edition.
  • "William Herschel."  Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2012. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Writing Tidbit: Suspenseful Delight, Not Torture

In The New York Times, author Alex Stone explains the psychology behind why waiting is torture.  The article has some excellent points that I would like to highlight here and relate to writing.  In particular, I want to relate to how writers open up a question but delay when they answer it.  Sometimes the sense of suspense works, sometimes it doesn't.  Perhaps this article gives some hints as to why.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Got Books? Free Books Found!

Tuesday, Mom ran across a person with a table full of free books.  That's right, free books.  It seems like she wasn't the only one who checked them out, for while she was there, someone came back for a second helping.  But she managed to wrest these away:

Format:  Title; author/editor/publisher; genre
  1. Are You Normal About Money; Bernice Kanner; Nonfiction

  2. FUBAR; Sam Seder and Stephen Sherrill; Nonfiction

  3. If Aristotle Ran General Motors; Tom Morris; Nonfiction

  4. The Care of Fine Books; Jane Greenfield; Nonfiction

  5. Your Soul's Compass; Joan Borysenko and Gordon Dveirin; Nonfiction

  6. Sharing the Wealth: My Story; Alex Spanos; Nonfiction-Business

  7. The Millionaire Next Door; Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko; Nonfiction-Business

  8. Man of His Word; Promise Keepers (NIV); Nonfiction-Christian

  9. The Social Fabric Vol 1: American Life from 1607 to 1877; Thomas L. Hartshorne and Robert A. Wheeler and John H. Cary and Julius Weinberg; Nonfiction-History

  10. The Spiritual Awakeners; Keith J. Hardman; Nonfiction-History

  11. Beginning Writer's Answer Book; Jane Friedman; Nonfiction-Writing

And now, they found a new home with me :-D

Business Tidbit: Two to Five Percent Advertising

I've been looking into the process of starting up a business, and I came across an interesting fact about advertising.  Start Your Own Business suggests devoting "2 to 5 percent of anticipated gross sales" to advertising (Lesonsky and Entrepreneur Media 493).  And this is annually. 

This might be a good guideline for indie/self-publishers who spend money on advertising.  Actually, it is probably is helpful for any writer with a book out. I suppose if you use free versions of advertising, figuring out the equivalent value would work too.  Two to five percent. That's Entrepreneur Media's guideline.

Cite:  Lesonsky, Rieva, and Entrepreneur Media. Start your Own Business: The Only Start-Up Book You'll Ever Need. 3rd ed. Entrepreneur Press, 2004. Print.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

History Tidbit: Regency Era Tooth Whitener

Crest White Strips?  Why not try Prince's Cherry Paste.  Apparently, Regency era people wanted white teeth, too.  According to an advertisement in La Belle Assemblee, besides cleansing and preserving teeth, Prince's Cherry Paste whitened them (47).  I guess no matter the era or diet, a person had difficulties keeping teeth nice and bright and white.

Cite:  Prince's Cherry Paste. Advertisement. La Belle Assemblee 3 June 1807: 47 [Bell's Monthly Compendium of Advertisements for July, 1807 Section].  Google Book Edition.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

61 Mile Yardsale Goal: 100 Books for Less than $100

Well, I've been inactive thanks to a three-day yardsale called The 61 Mile Yardsale.  This started Thursday and ended today, Saturday, Sept. 1, and it runs along Missouri Highway 61.  I bought a lot of stuff, but the main thing I look for at yardsales is books.  I set a goal to buy a 100 books for less than $100.  I reached that goal, easily.  I bought a 140 books at a grand total of $42.80.  This averages out to about $0.31 each.  Can't beat that!  Anyway, there were more fiction books than nonfiction, about 79 compare to 54.  And most of that fiction was historical, 69 of them.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Study in Samples: Gunmetal Magic: Information

Information in Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

One of the marks of a professional writer is the deft handling of information, and there are some nice examples of this in this sample by Ilona Andrews.  The first nice handling comes in a character introduction.  If you recall in the last post, I mentioned that in Chapter 1 the sound in the MC's dream had a mirror in reality.  It was someone knocking on the door: Mrs. Haffey.  At Kindle Locations 193-200, the MC (Andrea Nash) describes the disheveled and worried appearance of her neighbor a floor below.  She has come pounding on Nash's door in her nightgown.  Just after this description and reveal of relationship, Andrews writes, "Normally Mrs. Haffey viewed her appearance as serious business.  In terms of battle readiness, she was my hero--I've never seen her without her makeup and hair perfectly done.  Something was really wrong" (Kindle Locations 193-200).  Andrews ties physical description reveal into the plot, into what is happening now.  She makes the description relevant.  After all, Monica Wood in her book Description, declares that good description is not only accurate but relevant (4).  Andrew's use of description here is not only relevant, it adds to story.  It adds tension.  Great job there.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Study in Samples: Gunmetal Magic: Openings

Openings of Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

Gunmetal actually has two openings.  One is an untitled prologue, and the other is the proper chapter 1.  I'll cover them both.

Untitled Prologue

This world needs setup, because it is our world, modern times, but it isn't.  Or rather, it is, but with a major, interesting twist.  The world has suffered an apocalypse by magic, but it is recovering well.  Andrews does an excellent job of setting this fact up right away through a faux document that explains that magic hit the world hard, but the people are still persevering.  Besides giving some basic facts about magic waves and magic powers, this document gives a hint of time frame.  This magic attack happened 40 years ago.  This information is told in an engaging writing style, and it is brief and quick.  It gets the simplest facts across, it gets emotion across, it hints at cool stuff, and then it moves on.  And this all within four paragraphs and one set of attributions.

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Other Jour De Fete Purchases: U-Dog-U

My mom and I saw a cute white dog walking around with a hat on, so we decided to ask if they got that at the Jour De Fete.  They had!  They got them at booth held by U-Dog-U.  So, we decided to go down and claim at least one of our own for our newest doggy.

Dog with Hat and HarnessDog HatDog Hat

My other Jour De Fete purchases: Wood!

Wooden Bowls and More

These are something I always buy, every fair I see 'em (though just usually not this many).  Homemade wooden cups and bowls and now candleholders.  There they are all in a row, nearly $60 worth of 'em.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Coming Soon

I'm a little behind on many intended blog posts.  I hope to post the rest of the Jour De Fete purchases this weekend.  Then, I want to start on my first in a new series, A Study in Samples.  Besides that, I have other ideas for blog posts--writing articles, research articles, business-related articles (remember Weird Wednesday?).  I also want to post details about my own fiction. 

Lotsa plans, yes, but little time.  My vacation is ending, and I am feeling the pressure (from myself) of getting another novel ready for eventual publication.

So, I'll do my best by this blog, but "tomorrow" might actually mean "next week," sometimes.  Well, maybe a lot of times ;-)  But at least this blog will be active and fun again.  Delays are worth that.  

A Study in Samples: A New Series

I recently found a writing ebook recommended on the OWW SFF mailing listHow to Improve Your Speculative Fiction Openings by Robert Qualkinbush.  Qualkinbush's book was a good, informative read about spec fic short story openings.  Thought-provoking.  So much so that I decided to apply similar analysis to novels--not just beginnings, but on what makes them tick, on what makes them purr.  Since I got a new ereader (Amazon's Kindle Keyboard), I decided I'd use Amazon lists.  (Mostly because this ereader has 3G, a must-have for someone who has no access to WiFi.)  Amazon has a Book list broken down by genre.  I picked Fantasy, and on my Kindle, it's automatically sorted by popularity.  From there, I downloaded samples. 

At first thought, a sample may not seem like enough to analyze.  But as Hooked author Les Edgerton writes, "A good, quality story beginning is a microcosm of the work entire.  If you capture the right beginning, you've written a small version of the whole" (7).  Edgerton is mostly concerned with material far less than a chapter in length.  Ebook samples often give more than that.  So if he can get so much out of a few pages, I feel much can be learned from a chapter or so.

And much can be learned about what works and doesn't work from such a sample.  You see, I'm not one of those people who believe commercially published writings are free from flaws.  No writing is perfect.  But that doesn't matter in this blog series, for the parts I want to tell are the parts that work well, because errors did not shoot a particular novel up the ranks, its excellencies did.  And a lot can be learned from the good stuff.

That being said, I have finished my first sample: Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews.


Edgerton, Les.  Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Them Go.  Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books, 2007.  Kindle Edition.

A Few Good Men: Friday's Child by Georgette Heyer

I wish this was A Few review, but it's not.  It's been too long since I read Georgette Heyer's novel to do it justice.  But even so, I'm still left with a strong, good impression of the manly goodness of not only the main male character but that of the three secondary males.  So in the end, all I can say is this: the men were excellent in this novel, and it was well worth the read.  Definitely one of my faves of Heyer's.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

More Jour De Fete Purchases - Coming Tomorrow

I have some more Jour De Fete purchases to post about, but it is getting late, so I will do so tomorrow.  These include cute dog purchases (sadly, not dogs, but dog products, but still cute), some more lotions and oils, some handcrafted wooden bowls and like, and one of those cool neckcloths you see people wearing at hot events like fairs.  If my aunt returns to the fair tomorrow and picks it up for me, I may have one more item to post about, homemade deodorant.  Until then!

More Bug Off Products

Repel Inspect Spray Because I am regularly sought out by tiny, flying bloodsuckers, I'm really into bug repellants.  The commercial products just don't cut it, and I don't like constantly dousing myself in their inefficiency.  So, at the Jour De Fete, I keep an eye out for pest-offs, and we found another homemade product.  This one is Grandma Bea's Repel Insect Spray. 

I like the fact that this one is a spray.  Mom tried this one out today and liked it.  I haven't had a chance to yet, but I am looking forward to using it so I can keep my blood to myself.

The creator of this product has several links you can look at, including a website under construction, an etsy page, and a facebook page.  Her email address is

Emu Products

twoemu1Something else I purchased at the Jour De Fete was some Emu products from Granny Lou's Emu Oil Products.  Rarely does a year go by that we don't purchase something from her, because we love her products.  This year, as my wallet was getting a little light, I only got two items: lipbalm and wound cream.

The main reason why I purchased the wound cream was because it is also capable of keeping off the insects.  I make up the mosquitoes' main course, so anything helps.  And because I could drown myself in commercial bug spray and still be carried off by the little buzzers, I am looking forward to natural products, especially a creamy one.  That way repeat applications won't be a toxic problem.


The lip balm I purchased because my lips are perpetually dry.  I believe Dr. Oz claimed beeswax products are great for protecting and locking moisture into lips.  And this one smells great.

So, good purchases all around.  And pretty containers too.

Birdhouse and Wind chime

We went to the Jour De Fete today.  This is a two-day craft fair.  We made a lot of purchases, including having Mom pick out two presents, one for her birthday and one item for her Christmas present.  Here is the early Christmas present.

Bird house made from recycled itemsBird house made from recycled items

We were tickled by the fact this product reused items.  The actual house part is made out of a plastic flowerpot, for instance.  We also liked the bottom.  Many times pretty birdhouses found at fairs do not have an easy way to access the insides of the birdhouse (for cleaning out old materials).  This one looks like it will be easy. Besides that, it had an interesting, bird-related scripture on it.  According to the King James 2000 Bible on site, the Psalm is "Yea, the sparrow has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Few Good Men: Upcoming Reviews

I did have to dip back into Heyer to find a testrogenic work.  In fact, I think it is my new favorite of hers, Friday's Child.  But it will be a busy week, so though I am finished with it, it won't be till Friday or the weekend before I get the chance to review it.

Concerning Gail Dayton's works, I have read the first and made it page 164 in the sequel, The Barbed Rose, and I don't think I can read any furtherThis work appeals only to a certain sect of people of which I am not one.  If you like to read about women having sex with multiple males, sometimes simultaneously, and the males liking it and being superfocused on her, this novel is for you.  For that is the main plot.  In the first novel, The Compass Rose, the demon killing plot doesn't really occur until say the last 50 pages of the 400-odd work.  (Can't remember exactly, it's in my to-trade-in bin.)  I don't expect this one to be any different.

But I don't want to seem like I am disparaging this work just because I don't enjoy orgies and super-doting men. Because the major appeal of this story is interesting worldbuilding--though, the first few chapters make it a little hard to get through.  Later on it gets less infodumpy.  However, I'd take an infodump any day if the works would explain what the heck men do.  Almost every position from military on down to bakers are filled by women 90% of the time.  They are admitted into some positions, like bodyguards of the magicians and some other military positions--mostly to channel some of their aggressive traits, the novels say, but still that cannot account for the lack of men in working positions.  Do they stay home and take care of the children from their group marriages?  Given the main female's background, I don't think so.  For it sounds like a second mother raised her.  So what the heck do the men do?

Besides worldbuilding, I enjoyed the strong female character in the first chapters of the first novel, which is saying a lot.  I don't generally like female MCs.  But she lost that strength steadily throughout the novel.  She has yet to regain it in The Barbed Rose.  In fact, the main female character has an almost fanficy feel to her (nothing wrong with that, for that's why I read the Twilight series), and the males definitely do.  They are almost all instantly supportive of the female MC, despite the fact that I find it hard to believe men like to share a single woman or that misogynistic males can change colors that fast or care to lose their nationality that fast through forced marriage.  The men generally also get along really well with each other fast, too.

I dunno.  I just can't get into it or don't get it.  Now if the demon-killing plots had been predominate, that would be another story. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Few Good Men: Musings

Just a couple things of note.  I mentioned considering a Reverse Bechdel a post or two back, but upon further reflection, I'm not sure it's worth the effort.

Also, I'm currently working on reading Gail Dayton's The Compass Rose.  Wow, this novel has a lot of estrogen in it (in an interesting way), but I'm up to page 182, and the males aren't really . . . I dunno.  Things are happening to them that is interesting, but I'm not seeing much of them, their personalities, what makes them tick.  Quite frankly, I don't know what to say about the men, because there isn't too much to say about them.  It's mostly about the main character, the female, after all.

So, I'm not sure if this one will work for A Few Good Men.  The problem is, after I read this one, I intend to read the other yardsale find that looks like it was set in this same world.  So, I'm thinking I'm going to have to find a short Regency romance and read that simultaneously or something.  Because if I get out of the habit of reviewing, I'll probably stop permanently.  Me and my attention span, you know--it's no bigger than a flea's, one with ADHD to boot. 

Well, we'll see.  I may need to just read something else simultaneously anyway to get my man-candy fix.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Few Good Men: Cherry Ripe by Claudette Williams

Gold Stars:  None
Squee Hearts:  None
Black Marks:  one
Testrogen:  Low

The blurb was what interested me in Claudette William's Regency romance, Cherry Ripe.  Shauna Elton is being forced into an arranged marriage by her step-mother Lady Elton.  Before she can learn Lord Damien Drummond is the intended, Shauna runs away, and she is rescued by none other than Lord Drummond, who has never met or seen his intended either.  By a sequence of events, Shauna ends up being the governess to Drummond's half-siblings, twins, a boy and girl Bromley.  Good fun, that.  Too bad lines like the following occur quite frequently throughout the novel:  "Why had he let her get away without bedding her?  What had happened?" (Williams 23).  Why indeed!  Needless to say, such lines don't earn Drummond any points in my book--any good points, that is.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Few Good Men: Reverse Bechdelness

Just for fun, I'm considering another category of judgement for my reviews.  In this case, it's a Reverse Bechdel Quota: two heterosexual men, alone, not thinking, speaking, doing, being motivated by women (this includes sex, lust, love, etc.).  The higher the number, the more often this phenomenon has occurred in the work. 

I think it's not too late to start it on my read-in-progress, The Compass Rose, because 74 pages into it, there has been only one scene between two men alone.  But it didn't leave females alone--in fact, they were in search of the women's tent (camp followers) for you know what.

To be fair, I don't expect this phenomenon to occur in romances.  After all, excluding LGBT fiction, romances are about a male and female getting together.  But I also don't expect to see this frequently in the genres I read either (fantasy, history and classics, horror, and science fiction), for they are so often romantic or romantically inclined.  Oh, well, we'll see :-)

A Few Good Men: Upcoming Possibilties

Another reason why I decided to start this review series was to read--and watch--more fiction.  Well, yesterday, I finished a finished a less-than-50-cent yardsale find, Cherry Ripe by Claudette Williams.  It too is a Regency romance.  And I'm currently reading another, 50-cent yardsale find in the form of Gail Dayton's The Compass Rose, which is a Luna published book.  This does not speak well for coming up with any gold stars, for love-interests are the backbone of these novels.  But Cherry has some interesting peripheral males and so does Compass.  So I should soon have some testrogen to talk about.  I hope.

A Few Good Men: A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer

Gold Stars: None
Squee Hearts: None
Black Marks: None
Testrogen Level: Low

 I came up with this series while reading a Regency romance last week.  Just as I don't like to speak bad about my role model, Georgette Heyer, I don't like to speak mostly bad about the men I review for blog series.  After all, "if one doesn't have anything nice to say, one shouldn't say anything at all" goes the old saying.  But I do have some nice to speak about the main character, Adam Deveril aka Viscount Lynton.

Lynton is of the Quality, but his late father left him with a mountain of debt, and he is considering selling his estates, which cares deeply for, to cover it and to make sure his sisters have their dowries and are cared for.  Though he has some initial qualms about it, he makes a marriage of convenience with a very wealthy Cit's daughter--a Cit being a member of the merchant class who does business in the City section of London.  The problem is Lynton is in love with a woman of his own class, Miss Julia Oversley, and because of his debt state, he has to call off the engagement.  Though that is not the end of their relationship.

A Few Good Men: A Review Series

Ninety percent of the fiction I read I read for the men, for the testrogen effect--the quality by which male characters appeal to female readers.  There are certain standards by which I judge this appeal.  First, the "good guys" receive black marks for misogyny, infidelity, male chauvinism, and womanizing.  They also receive it when a work dictates a cool character's coolness step by step, action by action, like a procedural instead of a novel.  Next, a gold star is handed out when the guy actually cares about something other than the love interest.  Finally, there are bonus points (squee-hearts) when this non-love-interest interest is male, for I love buddy fiction (bromance) and family fiction (in this case, siblings or father-son).  These are the standards by which I rank my "few good men."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

#Amwriting Link: 6 Reasons Your Blog is Scaring Away Your Audience

Found on #amwriting this morning:

Hey, you!  Don't do that!  6 reasons your blog is scaring away your audience by Melinda Atlas.

First off, nice voice in this post--I know, I'm weird, you're not supposed to notice or comment on things like that--but I did find the tips interesting.  The most useful or intriguing tip is under Point #4.  Point #4 concerns novel covers on your blog, what to do, what not to do.  Atlas suggests picking just one novel/cover.  Awhile back, I heard about an author who pointed all his links to one novel, which had links to all his works, or something like that.  This tip reminded me a little of that idea, and it sounds like a good idea to try, using one novel as a funnel for most of your blog traffic.  I'll have to muse on it more, but I'll probably try it.  But I want to wait until I got the right work, likely from my in progress so-called "secret" project (not so secret in that it is an intended for-the-love/free-fic project) or one from my episodic series I talked about in the last post.  Either way, it will be a bit before I can try.

Anyway, what do you think? 

Experiments and Writing Fun!

A big part of writing is having fun.  Another big part is experimenting.  Fortunately, for me, they go hand in glove.  In this case, I'm going to work on an episodic novelette series.  That's a little experimental right there for me, but the real experiment comes into play in how I write it. 

For my longer works, my writing plan that involves several phases of writing or edits or fleshing out and hoping around.  It's sorta new too.  But for this episodic series, I'm trying a different way.  You see, I get bored easy, so I figured, even if I am working on different parts for different works at the same time, if I'm doing the same process, some part of me will get bored.  So I decided to do something that is opposite of it.  That is, instead of doing a sketch draft, then a filling it out more in next draft, then filling out more again in the next plus fill in any place holders or research-related holes, and so on, for this episodic series, I'm working on each chapter until it is ready for nook proof.  Then I'll move onto another chapter.  I'm still going to try to write it a little out of order, in that I want to get two or three main chapters first: the beginning and the end (with the climax).  After that, I'll probably go in order.

So, that's enough of that.  What do you do to experiment with your writing?  What is your writing and rewriting process?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

#Amwriting Link: Top 10 Tips Blog Post

Found via #amwriting

My top 10 tips for fiction writers -

Couple interesting points on this one.  The first is Tip #2.  I generally see college course work being discredited on writing forums.  The main point being, it won't get you published, but if you can afford it, it can't hurt.  But then again, there can be cheaper methods to learning how to write, too.

Then there is Tip #7.  Much of the other advice I have found before.  That doesn't meant it is not useful, but as I've been working on writing and studying it for over ten years, I've just seen some of the advice before.  It's still useful for newbies.  But "know[ing] your weakness and push[ing] yourself to become an expert on the topic" is not something I commonly see as advice for new writers.  I really like this tip.  Back when I wrote fanfic, I used to hate writing dialogue, because I couldn't make it sound like the characters.  But I worked on it.  Now, dialogue is one of things I like to write, and I know I have improved. 

What do you all think of the post above?  Or the tips I pulled?

Sample Sunday - June 17

It's #SampleSunday time again.  Here's mine:

RT #samplesunday The dead's letters lead Roderis to a Possession and its Owner @jodiralston #nook #kindle #fantasy

#SampleSundays of Interest:
Below, I find and post links to interesting fantasy, history, science fiction, and horror from the #samplesunday list (listed in alphabetical order by title under each category).

Related Links:

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Skink by cicerocat
Skink, a photo by cicerocat on Flickr.

Photogenic skink. Found them in our railroad ties. There's a smaller one too. He let me get a few pics before he took off.

Butterfly on Sunflower

Butterfly on Sunflower by cicerocat
Butterfly on Sunflower, a photo by cicerocat on Flickr.
Here's a picture from the other day. Because of this little guy and his buddy (another frittillary), I decided to plant more black sunflower seeds to attract more butterflies. This one came up by accident (we feed wild birds) in the garden.

Not only do the butterflies like the sunflower, by the way, but the bees were crazy about it, too.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Seth Godin and Comparisons

And interesting Seth Godin post about comparisons  got me to thinking about how I compare myself to other writers and how when I do so, I always ended up depressed--but I like setting my own standards.  I even like setting my own goal dates and goal word counts, though I never make them.  But even when I don't make them, it is still less depressing than looking at what others are doing and seeing myself as falling short.

So, I think Godin's post is relevant to writers.  You shouldn't compare yourself to others, trying to be better than someone else, but rather you should just better yourself, period.

Sample Sunday - June 10

I'm doing an official #SampleSunday this time.  Here's mine:

RT #samplesunday Roderis gets letters from the dead. Sample chapters @jodiralston #nook #kindle #fantasy
#SampleSundays of Interest:

Below, I find and post links to interesting fantasy, history, science fiction, and horror from the #samplesunday list (listed in alphabetical order by title under each category).

Related Links: 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Serendipitious Finds

Sometimes you get little signs in life.  Mine was that I found a little book that includes "The Language of Flower" on Thursday at a Hastings bookstore.  It was only 50 cents. The book is A Bouquet of Flowers by Barbara Milo Ohrbach.  I've been working on Flower Language Compilation for fun and for research for my Secret Project, but I haven't worked on it for a week or so.  This was a sign to take it up again.  I have a few more public domain works I want to add to my Excel file before I am satisfied with my list.  I'll try to work on those this week.

Besides that bit of serendipity in book form, I also found The Indie Author Guide by April Hamilton.  (Not for 50 cents, but for $10.)  I've only just started looking through it, but it looks like it will be especially helpful when I do POD.

I love it when God sends good finds like this my way.  There were lots of other books I got there, including mostly 50 cent books, but these were the two finds I was most tickled with, but I'm sure the others will be unexpected sources of entertainment, research, or fiction fodder, too.

By the way, if you are interested in these books, please click on the links above if at all possible.  I'm an Amazon Affiliate and I get a little when people buy from my links.  Thanks!

Unofficial Sample Sunday

I'm doing an unofficial #SampleSunday, since I couldn't get with it today on KDP boards.  So I posted mine:

RT #samplesunday Roderis gets letters from the dead.  PDF sample of published ebook: #nook #kindle #fantasy #writing

And I'm finding any fantasy,  history, science fiction, and horror from the #samplesunday list, and posting the links of that looked interesting below (listed in alphabetical order by title under each category).  I hope to find some more to post today yet.


Science Fiction/Fantasy:

Science Fiction:
  • Hidden Fires by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel - Sample

Related Links: More Info about SampleSunday

Friday, June 1, 2012

SEO and the Writer

Interesting site about SEO and businesses at  This article includes several interesting tips--or rather SEO mistakes to avoid--some I've heard before, but some I haven't.  The two most interesting are "Sin No. 3: Not using descriptive internal anchor text" and "Sin No. 7: Thinking all search traffic will go directly to your home page."  Both made me think more about what I am doing with my webpage. 

For instance, I should be making more descriptive links, for that affects searches.  It's an easy trick, and one I'll try to do more often.

Number seven made me think about what each of my individual pages are showing.  I'm still working on building my webpage, but as I do so, I need to think of what type of message is coming across.  What kind of "branding" as an author am I conveying.

Good stuff.  Well worth the read for authors with websites.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Two Site Updates: LOTD/Amazon and Flower Language

The first update is Letters of the Dead is now up on  I'm a little behind on working on the other versions.

The second update is that I've compiled a (Victorian) Flower Language Dictionary from three public domain works so far.  Right now it is a rough version, but I do plan on adding more to it and making an html file on my site.  But for now, I only have Excel files.  Why am I doing this?  Because I intend to use it in some way in a story or two, but also because it's fun and I hope others will derive some pleasure from it.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Letters of the Dead: Now Available at B&N--Also, Samples!

Letters of the Dead is now available for sale at B&N.  I have started the upload process for Amazon/Kindle, and it should take around 12 hours for it to be available there.

But for the meantime, I have some samples available too, in different formats--epub, mobi, PDF, RTF, and HTML.  You will have to sideload the epub or mobi onto your device.  The PDF, though, isn't intended for reading on an ereader since I never found out how to make them work well with it.  Also, I'm not sure how to get the Open or Download Screen to pop open when clicking mobi or epub on the site, so you'll have to right click those for now.

Phew!  I tackle other site updates and Smashwords tomorrow.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Letters of the Dead Update

I started the process going on self-publishing LOTD. I've uploaded it B&N only so far, but I will work on other versions soon. It will take a day or so for the ebook to be available for sale on B&N. Next, I'll work on the Amazon/Kindle version.  After that, I'll work on a Smashwords version.

I'm just tickled that it's finally come this far.  It's finally ready.  It's finally going to be up.  This one had never left my mind, always whispering to be finished, but it gave me many problems since its origin in 2006.  Only by the grace of God have I managed to complete it today.

Anyway, I'll keep you all updated on its availability for sale and when downloadable samples are ready.

Note:  Original cover art images by digitalart (background; skull and crossbones) and Simon Howden (letter, quill, and ink pot). Cover by Jodi Ralston.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Updates and Good News

The first good news is that Letters of the Dead is finally ready for publishing.  As I try not to do business work on Sunday, I'll have to do one very-very-very last look through and fix on Monday and start publishing it to B&N.  After that, I'll start on the Kindle version.  And eventually (after I do a test run on The One Who Sees), I'll try it at Smashwords.  I'm exhausted but happy.

The second bit of good news is that my webpage is getting a new look.  It's only skeleton right now, but my main goal for rushing it into place is to have a landing spot for my ebooks (in the author's notes).  That landing spot will be the fiction page.  I still have a lot of work to do, but here it is so far

I'm pleased with my progress so far.  Especially considering I was good for nothing until Friday, and even then, not good for much, coughing my head off.  But that's a good sign.  When a cold moves into my lungs, that tells me it is almost beat.  It's the last place it stops by before my body gets over it entirely.  Today, my cough is far rarer, which is why I got most of my work done today.  I did a lot of ebook work yesterday, and more today along with webpage work.  And coming up soon, starting Wednesday I'll be on summer break at work so I can work on the site and catch up on all the things I've been neglecting this last couple months (such as emails, sorry!).

Anyway, I do intend to take a little break after I get LOTD on the two main sites.  Then I'll start on the sequel story to The One Who Sees.  Then after that I want to work on LOTD's sequel, Eyes of the Gods. I also hope to work on a Secret Project during all this.  But a break first.  Phew!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

No More Goal Dates for Me

I think I need to quit making goal plans with goal dates.  Why?  Because the very next day, I start breaking it.  It reminds me of Romans 7:8-11.  That the contrariness of knowing the Law makes you know what sin is and makes it that much easier for sin to come in.

Every time I set a date, very soon I find distractions and excuses that set me behind.  Well, no more.  Instead, I'll just work on my writing every day of the week but Sunday, and it will get done when it is done.

Context is Queen

On a writing forum I visit, there is a discussion about eliminating certain words from a manuscript.  But that reminds me of a discussion about grammar tricks, such as when to use who/whom, and inevitably someone suggests its best not to use tricks but to understand objects, subjects, and such to understand when to use which word.

I think the same must be done for eliminating "overused" words.  You put the word there, and unless it was a pure error, it had a function.  Understand the function of the word to make sure the replacement word has the exact same function and weight and still fits voice.  Also pay attention to what happens if you revise the sentence into something else entirely, for you still have to understand the function the sentence was playing.  In this case, if you intend a different function for the sentence, make sure it fits in the broader picture of paragraph, scene, voice, etc.

Basically, if content is king, I say context is queen.  Make sure you pay attention to her too.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Thought on Goodness and Writing

I was reading a discussion today on a writing forum, and it made me think.  Some people believe the only good work is one published by a traditional publisher.  So then, by this definition, what was the work before the publisher said "yes"?  Neutral?  Moderate?  Okay?  Bad?  Or was it possible it was good before and good after?

I'm not saying this to discount the worth of traditional publishers--they have their worth or they wouldn't be around--but to inspire confidence in writers that they can produce good works on their own too, no matter what they end up doing with them after they write "The End."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Update 2012

Sorry, I haven't been on the blog much--or online much in the last few months--but I do have plans for this blog yet.  While I haven't read many business books in a while, I am doing a lot research for my novels.  I'm thinking of Research Thursday posts in the future and eventually a return to the Weird Wednesday business-type posts.  Until then . . .