Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday Mailbox~ Nope

It's Monday and time for a visit to Tilda the Mailbox. Nope. Not Really. My mailbox has pretty much empty for the past two weeks except for spams.

So what do I talk about instead???

Oh, Happy New Years Eve y'all! Have any big plans? Painting the town red or sitting at home snuggling the one you love? I'm opting for the last one. Usually we go on the gambling ship. We've known the owners since before they brought their ship to town. Over the years we still help them out with customer service issues.

I hear y'all now. "But Jo! You're a minister!" Yep, I am. I might have one glass of champagne to toast with my loved ones and friends. "But there's gambling on that boat!" Yep there is. I usually only take what I can honestly afford to lose, and leave my ATM and credit cards at home. It's relatively free entertainment for us. We don't pay the fare, all our drinks are complimentary, and food is provided. I can go out to dinner at the local Olive Garden for more than it costs me on the ship for four hours of music, dancing, and being with other people.

This year will be different. Not because I can't climb the stairs, I can. Not because I can't climb steep ramps, I can. Not because I had a stroke, there are plenty on board ship to help me if I wanted to go. Not because I can't spare the fifty dollars, I have it in book sales alone last month. Not because I can't get dolled up to the nines, I can. I just don't want to go.

I'm basically a home body. Or at least have become one since my stroke. It's not that I don't want to go out, I do three times a week whether I want to or not. I've had years of going hither and yon, and I'm thoroughly enjoying my time at home. I've never really had a choice before. I might have some physical limitations before, but I never let it stop me from doing. Now I do because I want to.

I went to my cardiologist last week. No worries it was just routine. One major glitch was one of my muscle relaxers was also lowering my blood pressure. Imagine that! After years on blood pressure meds, I actually had the opposite problem. After a thirty-minute long conversation about alternatives, we hit on a solution. Problem solved. The complications of being elderly with a complex medical history is always a juggle.

My cardiologist asked me if I was driving yet. This kind of threw me for a loop. Although driving again was one of my major goals, I hadn't given it much thought. I kind of enjoyed not being the chauffeur these past seven months. It gave my children a chance to be helpful and boosted my husband's ego to be allowed to drive again. Although with my DH (darling hubby), it was a case of with holding certain medicines like morphine for him to be able to get behind the wheel. DUIs are not just for alcohol you know.

So one day I asked him if I could drive. I know I still have to go through the PT/OT eval. But what could it hurt to drive short distances? I had to try. Well, foot positioning was an issue because my right foot is in an immobilizing brace. I got behind the wheel. I was only going two blocks to another doctor's office. That couldn't be hard. It was only two right turns and I could creep along if I wanted to.

I've only been driving for over 40 years. Simple, right?  Wrong. I kept wanting to put my right foot on the gas pedal. The gear shift and ignition key were on the wrong side. With a bit of juggling...sliding the seat all the way back, moving my leg passed the center console (I have a minivan), moving the seat forward again, reaching through the steering wheel to turn on the ignition, and then over the steering wheel to put the car in gear all the time pressing the brake with my left foot.

The car was like smooth putty in my hands. She was an old friend getting together with another after a long absence. Sweet, I thought as I took my foot off the brake. It was at that point while backing out of the parking space that I realized how much my right side was involved in driving. I missed it terribly. No, I didn't back into another car or scape the cars either side of me. <So there! You only thought you knew the punch line :oP> I was backing up to the right one handed. I was spinning the steering wheel and fighting my right foot thumping against the center console wanting to join in the fun. The problem was the wheel wouldn't stay spun without the other hand supporting it. My hand and arm were moving like mad and I instinctively jammed my foot down on the brake. We made the two blocks in five minutes

Needless to say, I've had more practice since Christmas and have gained more confidence in my ability to drive. My DH bought me a steering knob for Christmas. It makes turning a whole lot easier. Thank God for the power steering, anti-lock brakes, and automatic transmissions.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Stroke Survival~ Having Fun Yet and Playing with Food

I'm embracing my one handedness in the kitchen. Well sort of, I'm playing. Do you remember how your mother chastised you when you were younger for playing with your food? I know mine did. That's something I never did to my children or grandchildren. I encourage it.

I have some very strong feelings on this matter.  I'm a chef because I love to play with food. I taught my retarded daughter fractions, reading, and what things felt like and tasted like by encouraging her to play with food. This same daughter was a pastry chef at a five star-five diamond resort, and still loves to play with food and different textures. She in turn encourages all children to play with food.

She received high praise from her boss for teaching a bunch of children (50) to build their own gingerbread houses. No parents were allowed into the class, and she made sure they were as clean as when the class started when it was over. He presented her with her very own Henckel chef's knife. If you are not familiar with this brand of knife, this is the Porche of knives. But I digress. What can I say, I'm a proud momma.

My DH (darling hubby) bought me a cake pop maker for Christmas as I mentioned last Sunday. I've been playing with it ever since. When you have one working hand anything you can pick up and eat is easier. With these at most, it's two bites and you get another.

Now you know me, Mrs. Abby Normal. I can't leave well enough alone. I start searching the web for other things I can make with this nifty new toy. For Christmas, I made penguin decorated cake pops. I didn't bother with the lollipop sticks because they looked cute on a layer of cotton candy snow on a plate. I also made a large vase full of Christmas ornaments decorated cake pops. (I got the direction online) I also made some reindeer. Nobody could believe I did it with one hand.

No roast beast with all the fixings, just some pop in your mouth desserts. Now, making them seven at a time was a bit of a hardship, but I was playing and having fun. It was an affirmation what I could do one handed.

But since then, I have been experimenting. I've made corn dogs by slicing a hot dog and then quartering each slice, and a box of cornbread mix. I use Martha White because Jiffy is just too sweet. Two hot dogs was all it took. My DH gave me the ultimate praise when he said they reminded him of the corn dog street vendors in New York City. The good vendors do not use frozen corn dogs. He and I used to live up in the northern and northern Midwest States, and then transplanted to south Georgia. A little mustard to dip them in and some tater tots and we had a meal in the time it took the tater tots to cook. No nasty grease to clog the arteries either.

Bisquick has a recipe for sausage balls as an appetizer on their website. Since I'm allergic to pork, I substituted turkey sausage, low fat grated cheddar cheese, and some rehydrated dry, minced onions. All I can say is, "OMG!" I've also made pancake and turkey bacon balls, cinnamon rolls (balls), blueberry muffin balls, and am still playing with the machine.

The Rubbermaid mixing bowls with the pour spout has a rubber grip on the bottom and makes a wonderful hand mixing bowl. It doesn't move stirring with one hand. If all else fails there is the Dycem mat. Muffins don't like mixers. They tend to get tough. Oh, did I mention I'm having fun? Yeah, I did and am. My writer brain started churning again. What else could be made in this little machine? Would there be a market for the recipes? Hm, another book? Possibly. Beyond Cake Pops is in the recipe testing stages. I've never written a cookbook before although many have asked me to. I'll never say never where writing is concerned anymore.

On Christmas day, the look in my father's eyes when I propped my cane against a bar stool and walked to him will always be held close to my heart. I have been practicing around my house for weeks. There haven't been too many times in my life when I've seen tears well up in his eyes, but this was one of them. He made a point to brush them aside and tell me to sit down before I fell down, but I could tell he was proud. It was something he never thought he would see again.

So I've turned the corner and accepted my one-handedness, not that it's forever. I still hold out hope that I may get it back, but until then, I'm becoming more handi-capable each day and doing some of the things I love to do. I'm still doing dishes in my bathroom sink. I tried doing them in a dishpan without good results. I made some new potholders for my kitchen using my left handed scissors and my sewing machine. My old ones seem to have been eaten by my daughter's washing, I haven't tackled the laundry yet.

So I'm taking it slow and easy because my energy level is still low, and combined with the heavy doses of muscle relaxers, it's a no win situation. Seven months post stroke and counting. This week I've hit the 32K word mark on the rough draft of Don't Get Your Panties in a Wad so the book is progressing one experience at a time. Still a mess as far as organization, but that too will change.

Next year, I had planned to buy back all my previously published copyrighted books, but that too is on hold indefinitely. Paying for therapy is #1. My focus for the coming year is to finish this book, maybe, and recover as much as I can.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Saturday Sauntering Scenes as We Say So Long to 2012

As the year 2012 winds down to a close, I look back at what has done and left undone. We wave bye bye to another year. Those things left undone or presently unrealized are probably at the top of the list for 2013.

In any case just what have I accomplished in 2012 retrospectively...

1) I survived by breathing in and out each day. Although sometimes, I did not want to. No I'm not suicidal, but life has a way of getting the better of me at times.

2) I wrote various books and published them in 2011-2012. Granted it was self-published titles which makes the author journey ten times harder with all the hats you have to wear, but I'm still glad I made the journey. I've learned a lot over the past two years. My novels and nonfictions are still selling well in spite of my lack of advertising for seven months.

I didn't get the e-versions of my books edited for Kindle. I did not get Zombie Apocalypse: Travelers rewritten and published. I did not get The Mayan Serpent edited and published. I did not get Surviving Hank edited and published. Those will have to wait until 2013. When I get the use back of my elbow and wrist, I'll attempt illustrating the Sweet Haven Children's Series. But all that will have to wait until 2013 or 2014. No, I'm not being hard on myself. Nobody expected me to have a stroke mid-year including me.

3) Although he's made some downhill slides, my beloved is still with me. We've had a tough twelve years with his battles with his heart and lung illnesses, and his cancer. I would not trade a second of the struggle for his survival with the alternative.

4) I've blogged fairly consistently, except for my time in the hospital, this year and hopefully can stick to this new schedule in 2013. My following has grown by leaps and bounds, although I only show two on the sidebar. Readership is up with more and more comments either here or in e-mails.

5)  We managed to live on our own despite my having a fairly devastating stroke half way through the year. For the first few months, we will be forever grateful for our children's help while we got everything situated. While I'm still on the mend, life is adjusting around my new disability. I am gaining strength every day. My arm is temporary dead, but with time I expect it to gain functionality. So long as I remember to breathe in and out to hold the frustration at bay.

6) The economy still sucks lemons, but I hope to return to my ministry work by February for at least one event. I have scheduled a wedding for a family friend who is marrying the love of her life. Speech slurring and monotone voice aside, she doesn't want anyone else to marry them. God bless 'em. They have both been going through my pre-marital counseling course. When I will return fully to active duty, I'm not sure yet. The courts still call me three times a week to check on me. It's good to be missed. Whether I will do any more weddings, counseling, or other ministry work in 2013 will depend on my therapies and my progress.

Looking back over 2012, it really has been a pretty good year. The last six months have been a challenge, but not enough of a challenge to leave me faithless and forlorn. We have been truly blessed in spite of the roller coaster ride through Hades.

So looking back, how has your year been?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Fun Review "Apollo 18"

 Apollo 18
2011   86 minutes
Gonzalo Lopez, Brian Miller, Timur Bekmambetov  

NASA's cancelled trip to the moon in the 1970s is the basis for this found-footage-style picture exploring if the urban legend were true that the mission actually did occur and the proof of extraterrestrial life exists on film.

My grade:
"A" for content
"A" for acting
"Yes" for would I watch it again. In fact, I've watched it 3 times so far.

 My eclectic tastes are showing because this movie is science fiction, conspiracy theory, and a thriller all rolled into one. The film maker would have you believe that the movie was spliced together footage of a secret Apollo mission. Having had watched the news of all televised segments of the Apollo missions in real life this movie comes pretty darn close.

The tension is felt as is the fear. Exploring a Russian capsule on the moon was riveting filmed by headlamps so you only get tiny glimpses of what is going on so it up the watcher in the astronaut's point of view. Everything was true to the 1970s because I can remember back that far.

Filmed in black  and white adds to the "authenticity" of the footage shown. It is believable. The action sequences are true to life. The website they show at the end...don't bother going to's a ploy. I was gullible enough to try. The movie has enough action and scares enough to jerk by paralyzed arm up. A reflex reaction like when I sneeze not positive/active movement.

My recommendation- See it and believe it or not.

Speaking of the Apollo missions did you know Neil Armstrong is often misquoted for his famous line?

He actually said, "This is one small step for a man. One giant leap for mankind."

Just a bit of trivia from a person who actually met him.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wednesday Writerly Ways~Writing Critiques

Have you ever belonged to a writing group and one person takes control, or one person does most of the work while others do the minimum? I've been part of groups that are so badly managed I just can't keep my big mouth shut. By the same token, I've been part of groups where there is no wiggle room for creative input.

The critique group I've been with for over twenty years has balance. It operates on a quid pro quo system. Before you can upload your chapter, you are required to do so many critiques. You are required to do X amount of critiques for every uploaded chapter. Depending on how fast you critique or write, you set the pace.

Now, authors come and go both published and wanna-be published. They write and read a variety of material in the process. Sometimes the best teacher is seeing something wrong in someone else's work before you rethink your own. That's the way it was for me and boy, did it take some pounding on my head to change certain things from the way I was writing it.

As an author, you have to grow a thick skin. In a critique group with numerous personalities, it goes double. Most times someone will cut your work to ribbons. You'll take everything in and wear it like a badge of shame. But, it's better to have someone in your critique group who will honestly do that before you send it out to an agent or publisher. If the group is good you will get lots of feedback.

Remember me, I'm Mrs. Overachieving-Everything. I tend to be pushy and brutal with a red pen. If three is required, I'll do ten. Will I catch every single mistake, no. Will I tell you the honest truth? To the best of my ability and try to balance the good with the bad, if possible. Do I believe in free-will of an author? Yep, I do. Nothing gets a cookie stamp of approval and there is always to improve creative writing. Take the suggestion, change it, or leave it. It's up to you as an author. It is your work the critique is about, but if two or more mention the same thing...I'd definitely look at it again.

Now, I might not know everything about English grammar although I do edit and/or critique other authors' work. When I first started writing my major stumbling block was comma splices. But when something is blatantly wrong with the sentence and I mention it, it should be noted. I have helped edit over 300 books to date and have been in the business for over thirty years. That counts for something. Some of these books are published and some hopefully will never see printed word on pages. Yes, some are that terrible. They should hire someone else to write it, which is why I do ghost writing.

What I lack in grammar skills, I make up for in consistency and redundancy. I'll catch it every time.  If something isn't clear or physically impossible, I'll ask a rhetorical question about it.  What I look for in a chapter or book I'm critiquing...

Consistency- You've changed the characters eye color without saying how. Your pronouns don't match the character. The rooms in the apartment magically change position between chapters. Sometimes as a writer, you are too close to catch these errors and it takes an extra pair of eyes. And no, I don't mean your mother's unless you mother is an editor. These are some faults I've caught during critiques and editing. I've even caught it in my own work, but before I show it to anyone else. Does consistently spelling a word wrong make it the right way to spell it? No. A spell checker may not always spell a word correctly so use it with caution.

Redundancy- You explain to the reader why the character does something and you beat a dead horse with it long after it's dead. Once is enough. The reader is smarter than you think.

Redundancy is also the overuse of the same word over and over again in rapid succession.  An example- I looked left and right and looked again to my right before I pulled forward. When I looked to my right, I saw a bicycle coming towards me. When I see something like the example I want to run from the room screaming, "My God! Someone get this person a thesaurus!"

It's easier to do than you think. I use a rule of thumb of one word per paragraph or even two. Never give your rough draft to someone to read. Nobody writes a perfect first draft. When I was learning English, I carried a thesaurus instead of a dictionary. I gained a better understanding of the word I heard or read. It's a good thing I kept English as my main language after my stroke instead of one my husband didn't know.

The physically impossible- Sometimes you get so caught up in the scene you are writing that you forget a step. Example- Cara's mother hugged her so tight she couldn't breathe. She was smothered between her mom's ample bosom. "It's okay, Mom," she said as she patted her hand. Can you see the error? How could Cara pat her mother's hand while in a bear hug? Fight scenes are usually where these type of errors occur, but not always. It will prompt a rhetorical question from me like, "How is this possible?" or "Something is missing." I don't want a long drawn out answer to me, but show me in your writing.

Tension and conflict- Now, I read a whole lot. I had all the Nancy Drew series in my read pile by pre-teenage years plus many classics like the complete works of Shakespeare. Now, it's almost 100 books or more a year. I'll often read the beginning of a WIP and wonder what the problem is. Where is the tension? Where is the conflict? I'll usually find it in the third or fourth chapter in novice writers. Usually conflict and tension go hand-in-hand, but they are different.

Think of the tension of the story as the rope pictured above. It slowly unravels getting thinner and thinner as it is pulled. Until finally, there is just one strand left holding the pieces of rope together.  The same is true with writing. What is the undeniable force pulling the rope apart in your book? Tension builds excitement for your reader. What are the stakes? How does it build the anticipation of the reader? What will happen when the strand of thread finally breaks?

Now, a book that is all tension, and skirmishes (conflict) to the ultimate climax is tiring. These are often the type of books readers say they can't put down. For the ultimate climax you've got to create a a situation in the reader's mind that's intolerable left on its own. The thread holding the rope together breaks and all bets are off.  For romance, the person literally can't imagine their life without this other person in it. For suspense or thriller, a good guy versus bad guy (it can be a person or situation)- winner takes all. Every book needs tension, conflict, and resolution.

If you find a good critique partner or partners, stick with them. They are a rare commodity. Equally sharing the work load, deadlines, and ownership of the group is also scarce, but can be found.

Do you have a critique group or are you looking for a new one?

I may have an answer for you.
Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Monday, December 24, 2012

For My Readers for Christmas

Every Christmas I do something twisted, er um special for the readers of my blog. This year is no different. I'm going to skip tomorrow's Tumbling Terms to spend time with my family, so I thought I'd post this instead of Monday's Mailbox.

I've created new lyrics to the popular Christmas song- I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas. I can't honestly remember how to add a midi file to my blog. I used to know, but it has leaked out of my memory. It must have been lost with all the brain cells I killed during my stroke. It's also the last time, I think, I'll be promoting some of my novels and books for this year on my blog. I think, only because being female I reserve the right to change my mind. :op

By the way, these lyrics are copyrighted to me, but enjoy them just the same.

If you don't know the song Click Here to hear and sing along with the new lyrics.

Available in paperback and e-versions
I'm Dreading an Undead Christmas

I'm dreading an undead Christmas
Instead of the ones I used to know.
Where dead stayed buried,
And didn't try to eat you
To only go deer hunting with my bow.

I'm dreading an undead Christmas
With every zombie I have killed.
May your days be biteless, and alive
And may all your Christmases be safety filled.
(Repeat from the beginning)

I'm Living a Survivalist's Christmas
Available in paperback and e-versions

I'm living a survivalist's Christmas
Just how it got this bad I'm not sure.
Eating dehydrated rations
and living in the bunker.
All of this we have had to endure.

I'm living a survivalist's Christmas
With jars of food I have stashed.
May your days be radiation-free and safe,
And may all your Christmases not be trashed.
(Repeat from the beginning)

I'm Surviving a Post Stroke Christmas

Under Construction
I'm surviving a post stroke Christmas
Not like any I've ever known.
With the tone and muscle spasms
And medicines up to the wazoo.
Just to cover the brace it takes a very long gown.

I'm surviving a post stroke Christmas
When my body will move I just don't know.
But I'm thankful just to be here, and alive.
May all your Christmases be just so.
(Repeat from the beginning)

Merry Christmas Y'all!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Stroke Survival~Baking and Doing Dishes

Now normally for Christmas, I'm feeding fifty to seventy-five people that's just the closest family members. My family didn't start out this was just my mom, dad, little sister, and me. We were just an ideal semi-American text book family.

My Girls and me
Then some friend of ours died in an automobile accident, and my family adopted their children...all seven of them. That was the population explosion in sheer madness in numbers. Later we grew up and had children of our own, and their children started having children. Up until the death this year of my step grandmother, it was four generations at any family gathering.

Every year I gave each family an assortment of cookies. Some were my own recipe and some were my grandmother's treasured recipes. That won't happen this year. Imagine... 144 dozen cookies! That's a lot of cookies just short of a professional bakery. Also this year marks, the first time I am not prepping or cooking for this small army of relatives. My stroke changed all of that.

I've done very little cooking since my stroke except for popping things in the microwave. It has been a major battle inside my brain with the former chef in me. I love to cook and bake. It has been a passion of mine since I chased all the servants out of the kitchen, and made my first vegetable soup and cake for my parents' anniversary way back in 1969. Bet that's longer than some of you readers have been on Earth. I've run a catering business, been the line cook, been the executive chef, been the general manager of restaurants, and a culinary instructor. So having to turn over the reins to someone else really gets my goat big time.

I asked my husband for one of those cake pop ovens for Christmas. I thought they wouldn't be to difficult to make one-handed. Since it just the two of us in the house, it didn't make sense to buy a pan which makes a dozen or more. Also it didn't make sense electricity-wise. Anyhow, it arrived last week just in time for my kitchen-aid mixer to die a horrible death. I can't really complain. It's lasted me ten years and I definitely put it through more than enough to make twenty standard hand-held mixers scream in protest with all the wedding cakes, cheesecakes, gallons of frosting, and meals I used it for.
Anderson cake 580 servings

So here I am with a new toy and unable to play with it. I have a hand held mixer. It was my backup for small amounts of colored frosting, but I have trouble using it now. Too many switches, bowls to hold, and hold the mixer too with one-handed. I bought a new stand mixer. It's a cheap one, but it works. I won't be making six to eight tiered wedding cakes again anytime soon.

Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting
I figured right. the cake pops were easy. The regular cake mixes made too much batter so I poured the leftover into Rubbermaid water bottles. One cake mix, I'm still not ready to make it from scratch, will make enough batter for a week of fresh cake, baking every other day  for us. The Rubbermaid water bottles are easy enough to handle one-handed. It's just squeeze enough into the cups and close the lid of the oven to bake. Four minutes and I have fresh cake. Decorating them is just melting some store bought frosting and dipping. I haven't tried fancy decorating yet just some swirls back and forth across them, and some sprinkles. But wait, as my confidence builds, I'll be experimenting more.

Another milestone I've made is figuring out how to wash dishes one-handed. Now I have an automatic dishwasher, but as little as we eat, it would take a week to make a full load. I mean really, two small pots, two plates, two glasses, and eating utensils for a dishwasher load? Who would do that? I don't put out serving utensils since I make up the plates from the pots and serve one hot meal a day.

I'll carry them to my bathroom sink. It's small. It has sides. I can fill the sink halfway with water and wash dishes to my hearts content. I will wash my sink before and after I do this. The last line is for all you people that went "Ewww!"when you read that. I tried to wash dishes in my kitchen. It was just to big to hold my dishes and try to wash them too. I just didn't have enough hands. Dish washing is usually a two-handed activity.

Unfortunately while taking the added time to figure out all this new stuff, my writing time has been impacted. While I'm still writing this week, I'm in Christmas mode, aren't we all? I think I accomplished 600 words in the manuscript. Maybe I'm trying to do too much once again. Possibly, but that's who I am Mrs. Overachieving-Everything. While it's been said that you should or try to learn something new everyday. I'm slower now. Instead of learning or trying five somethings everyday, it's more like one every other day. I'll be putting up a new snippet soon, so be watching.

So what have you learned this week?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Fun~ Review of "Stake Land"

Stake Land
 2010  98 minutes
Danielle Harris, Kelly McGillis, Connor Paolo, Michael Cerveris, Bonnie Dennison, Chance Kelly, Sean Nelson, Nick Damici, Adam Scarimbolo, Marianne Hagan
Vampires, Horror 
This genre-bending thriller combines vampires, religious fanatics and post-apocalyptic horrors with a coming-of-age tale that finds drifter Mister (Nick Damici) training young Martin (Connor Paolo) to survive the nightmare that has become America as they journey to New Eden. While they combat the mutated bloodsuckers and vicious humans seeking to rule the land, Mister and Martin rescue other wanderers and become a tightly knit family of warriors.
My grade:
"B" for content
"A" for the acting
"Maybe" for watching it again

Okay, I'm back into horror this week. I know I',m way behind the times this movie has been out for a few years. I actually misread the title when I first looked at it. I was wondering what does skating have to do with vampires? LOL Anyhow, what drew me in was the post-apocalyptic premise more than actual vampires. I don't necessarily consider myself a vampire fan. I'm more into zombies. After all, that's what I write.

For a vampire movie it wasn't half bad. Enough gore to hold my interest. No real make-me-want-to-pee-my-pants shocks. Good action sequences. The story line was interesting. I loved the unexpected changes of attitude in the character of Mister. All the characters were believable. I became invested in what happened within the family group. The mysterious Mister appeared in the beginning and disappeared in the same  way at the end leaving the watcher to wonder what happened to him.
All in all, a decent movie for vampire fans or not. But it's one of those movies, if you've seen it's enough.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday Writerly Ways~ Platforms Part Deux

This current topic had more hits on my blog than any other...a whopping 300+ page views. I got a slew of requests to expand on this topic so now I am. The previous blog on platforms was a beginners course and this one will get into a little more detail. In various blogs I have covered keywords, SEO, blogging, websites, and some marketing ideas.

That's all a platform is for... how will you reach readers. In marketing terms it's target marketing. But how do you find your target audience?

Today I'll focus somewhat on If you haven't joined then shame on you. There are quite a few sites like this one, but by far it's the largest. Last time I checked they were 3 million readers strong, but that was a year ago. For almost anything you want to read, they've got a groups for it and sometimes dozens. Join one or join ten, just be active within the group. THESE ARE READERS and writers.

So why is this so important? DOH! Without readers, writers and authors would be nowhere. These are the people that like to read what you are writing and there are millions of them! Get enough readers interested in your book and you've struck gold....can you see all the little dollar signs growing and growing with more zeros behind a number? They've taken out all the guess work of finding your target market. Essentially, you can chat with other authors that write in your genre and the readers. You find out what they like and dislike, and their trials and errors.. Valuable information and It's free.

Companies used to pay me thousands of dollars to conduct and analyze their surveys of their products. I would crunch the numbers and tell them where they could get the most bang for their buck.

This was prior to the information availability on the internet or they gathered information from their websites and didn't know what to do with the information once they got it. It was one of those, let's put a survey on our website and they got several hundred thousand responses. They had no idea how to sort through or analyze this gold mine.

And no, I won't be writing a book on this because they are a dime a dozen and various other websites offer this information for free...just like I do. I did write a pamphlet on the business aspects of being an indie author with plans to expand it to a full length book. Available HERE. I just haven't finished yet. It's still in my to-do file in pieces while I recover from my stroke. I gained my expertise for this by graduating from college, and building a company from the ground up for 15 years. I ended up having my three partners buy me out when my husband fell ill to the tune of almost seven figures. Not bad growth when you figure I started the company with $1,000.

One of the first things an agent or publisher will want to know is who is your target audience...the readers of what you write. The second thing they'll want to know is how well you know this market. What is your expertise behind writing this book or in writing? Do you read other authors in this genre market? If you write a blog you are showing your knowledge of what you are writing and how well versed you are in your genre. If you don't know the answer to these questions, you'll probably get a rejection and rightly so in today's depressed market.

Do you write articles on the subject your fiction or nonfiction is about? If you read my last Wednesday Writerly Ways, it was my uncalling to be an author and freelance writer. I wrote about my first book, Mommie, I Wish I'd Never Heard of Arfritis. I was an expert in the field, although I was not a doctor. I had a child afflicted with JRA and I volunteered at the Arthritis Foundation. I initiated the buddy system of pairing up children and parents with others for southeastern Georgia and western Florida, and it has been copied in 25 states. And, it all started with an article I wrote.

I belong to several writers groups some you can see links to on the left. I teach creative writing classes in a community enrichment setting and at writers conferences. A platform is your writing resume. It shows your experience. I've been lucky enough in my life to be encouraged in writing by the likes of Arthur C. Clarke, Eugenia Price, and Jack McDevitt to drop a name or three. I have a mailing list in place of not only writers, publishers, and agents, but readers and people in various walks in life who are interested in what I write. How did I meet them? How do you anyone with similar interests?

Yeah, I hear you. You haven't got thirty years in print like I do, how can I compete? Well, you start today. You take one step at a time (just like I did). You join groups. You blog. You attend writers conferences. You attend book signings and launches of other writers, and ask questions. You join reading groups.You meet people virtually and in person.  You learn your craft. Be a better listener than talker. The virtual option makes it much easier for you than when I first started. Social media is almost limitless.

You start with a few well placed foundation blocks and build that pyramid higher and higher. Every journey begins with a single step.

So where are you at in platform building?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tuesday Tumbling Terms~ Steps

It's Tuesday again so it's time for tumbling terms. Todays word is step.

step  (stp)
1.a. The single complete movement of raising one foot and putting it down in another spot, as in walking.
b. A manner of walking; a particular gait.
*c. A fixed rhythm or pace, as in marching: keep step.
d. The sound of a footstep.
e. A footprint: steps in the mud.
2.a. The distance traversed by moving one foot ahead of the other.
b. A very short distance: just a step away.
*c. steps Course; path: turned her steps toward home.
3. One of a series of rhythmical, patterned movements of the feet used in a dance: diagrammed the basic steps to the mambo.
4.a. A rest for the foot in ascending or descending.
b. steps Stairs.
c. Something, such as a ledge or an offset, that resembles a step of a stairway.
5.a. One of a series of actions, processes, or measures taken to achieve a goal.
b. A stage in a process: followed every step in the instructions.
6. A degree in progress or a grade or rank in a scale: a step up in the corporate hierarchy.

On Wednesdays I write about various subjects important to writers. The subjects vary between kernels, marketing, indie publishing, standard publishing, editing and various other subjects. Tomorrow I will be revisiting building a platform. I talk about the steps in building a platform or audience of readers.

As a writer you follow certain steps in the process of writing. As Bob Mayer, another author, is fond of saying, "You have to know the rules to break them."

Bad grammar and misspelling words is not one of the rules you can't break. I've bold the definitions above which are important to the writer. But everything in anything you do requires steps that have to be followed. You have to learn balance before you can walk. You have to learn how to walk before you can run.

As a writer, you start with a kernel of an idea. Think of an ear of corn, it takes a lot of kernels to make up one ear of corn. The same is true of writing. This one kernel is the basic idea for the story. Most often it is a what-if scenario. Each step is another kernel of corn.

So many of the emails I received about the platform blog was basically a give-me-a-faster-route to building a platform. There just isn't any. By learning the basic steps, you gain the knowledge and expertise you need to succeed. Of course, you can pick and choose, delete options and you might arrive one minute sooner like on the map. The dangers of missing steps can be disastrous or simply ineffective.

For example, this blog started out a year and a half ago with two followers. The followers were members of one of my writers' group. We all started blogging with small readerships. One fast tracked by joining with a blog following spree and jumped to several hundred followers  and continued to grow, but the quality of followers was mostly writers, not readers. I blogged sporadically; mainly to publicize my own works, and to other writers.

All that changed a year ago. I started getting people who read my books, followed my blog through various sites I advertised my blog on, and in my books. So although my blog/website changed, I grew into a better understanding of who my audience really was...people who wanted to know about me. What I write, how I write, market, and publish is all about me. This blog is all about me and the school of hard knocks that brought me to this point where I am in my life. It was another forward step. Now, I still have fewer followers but more page views. Which is better? Page views equal exposure so my track record looks better.

If I started writing this blog for readers and I haven't self published yet who would my followers be? Now, I've taken another step and expanded my audience even farther by adding my Sunday Stroke Survival. Yes, it's advertising for an upcoming book, but it's about my life as a stroke survivor and a writer. I'm taking the visitor on a journey how my stroke has changed my life and my writing. It's a story about recovery and the steps it's taking to recover.

Every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  Is a relatively famous quote. The original saying was coined by a Chinese philosopher, but it has changed to this term in recent years. It still holds true today. The journey is the accomplishment. The steps you take on that journey are just as important as getting there.

So what step are you on in your journey?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday Mailbox~ Quoting moi?

It's Monday so it's time to visit Tilda the mailbox.

Today's question is...

Do уou mind іf Ӏ quote a few of your posts as long аs I provіde credit and ѕources bасk to your weblog?

No, I don't mind if you quote me, but there are some stipulations to using any part of my blog.
  1. Ask- which you did.
  2. Refer back to my blog- which you said you would.
  3. Use my name- which you said you would.
  4. The website you wish to quote me on is NOT used on a pornography or sexually orientated unless it is  erotica writing- which you did not specify.
  5. It is NOT quoting parts of my books or novels which may appear here- which you did not specify.
  6. I want prior approval of which quote you use and the context in which it used- which you did not supply.
Those are my only stipulations. I'm pretty easy when it comes to quoting me. Since my name is a brand name, it's only logical to request certain things before quoting me. I don't want it to used in a negative light. The pornography stipulation is a personal one because of my ministry work and I would rather not be linked to those sites.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.