What I’m reading — December 2019

Or rather, what I am re-reading:

Travellin’ Shoes by V. M. Burns

in preparation for the 2nd book in the RJ Franklin Mystery Series which is available now!

Motherless Child by V.M. Burns

Love the main character, an honorable police detective in a small Indiana town. Also, love Mama B, his surrogate mother who has a giant heart, cooks enough food for the entire neighborhood, and possesses no filter whatsoever. 

 

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Great Writing Advice by Bethany Reid

Thirteen Ways to Get Some Writing Done Today

I just read a post about discouragement, over at The Write Practice, and that happens to be a topic I am well versed in. So here’s a sampling from my own little arsenal for writing in the face of discouragement.

  1. Remember Newton’s First Law, or this important piece of it: a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Pick up your pen, open a notebook, and start writing.
  2. Tell yourself you don’t have to write for very long — fifteen minutes, ten minutes, one minute. Just get yourself into motion on the page.
  3. Once you’re there, on that lovely page, if you can’t think of anything else to write, write about your discouragement.
  4. Give your discouragement a name — I mean this literally, a name like “Fred” or “Alice.”
  5. Give your discouragement a place to sit, maybe the couch opposite your chair. Talk to discouragement, sort of the way the Dixie Chicks talk to heartache in their song, “Hello, Mr. Heartache.”
  6. Unpack your discouragement. Write about how, at its core, it contains the word courage. Write about how another word for courage is heart. I recently had an “aha” moment that is relevant here. I realized (finally!) what the self-help gurus mean when they say don’t focus on what you don’t want. “Stop procrastinating,” for instance (one of my long-time admonitions to myself) focuses on “procrastinating,” which is what I don’t want. “Write with energy and vitality and love — right now” is a better way to get what I want. But there’s a little lesson here about discouragement, too. Thinking about it focuses on the courage at its heart (and the courage in your heart).
  7. Rewards are nice, but I kind of favor bribes. If you (like me) are always jonesing for a latte (double-tall, almond milk, please!), take your notebook to a coffee place. Get the damn latte. Write while you sip it.
  8. Looking through old drafts and feeling stuck? Choose one (if you have difficulty choosing, close your eyes and grab). Take it out for a latte.
  9. Read with a pen in your hand. If you find an abstract, non-sensual word like “difficulty” or “arbitrary,” write a list of images, sounds, tastes, textures, smells that you associate with that word.
  10. Write out (by hand!) a poem by your favorite poet, or a paragraph from a favorite novel. (Just doing this will get your hand in motion!)
  11. Ask questions. What do you love about this piece of writing? What are the coolest words in this poem or paragraph? What are the sentences like? How do they vary from one another? What trap-doors are here that drop you through the lines and into your own imagination?
  12. Rewrite the passage as if you are translating it into your own language.
  13. Instead of fussing over what to write, write a list of what you might write — think wedding and write something borrowed, something blue, something old, and something new — write a list of ten things (or thirteen!). James Altucher says when a list of ten feels beyond you, write a list of twenty, which helps you to lower your standards and write the nonsense that will get you where you want to go. Writing.

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An Open Letter to Amazon KDP Regarding Paperbacks

An Open Letter to KDP,

Amazon began as a bookseller, first and foremost. A purveyor of books. Then CreateSpace made it possible to publish professional-standard books affordably as an author. I have been a faithful customer since the beginning of Amazon. Both companies packed and shipped books beautifully and cared about the product they delivered.

CreateSpace is no more, and we are being forced to use Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) for paperbacks. KDP is shipping paperback books carelessly and thoughtlessly. All of the individual author copies arrive damaged, having been loosely plopped into an envelope and sent through the mail. No pride in product or care for the authors, or the very books that were the company’s humble beginning.

This is a true letdown and downgrade of a product I have always admired, supported, and endorsed on Social Media and to other writers and publishing professionals.

I truly hope KDP will consider a company-wide policy change in the care you take shipping KDP paperback books.

Otherwise, I will have to take my business elsewhere, and heartily endorse that other authors, small presses, and industry professionals do the same.

Regards,

Lana Hechtman Ayers, author and small press publisher

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Interview with Author Loren Rhoads

I’m excited to host an interview with author Loren Rhoads here today.

loren

Most writers I know were starry-eyed readers as children. What do you recall about the first stories that captivated your heart?

peter pan

My mom used to read books to my brother and me at bedtime.  The first one I remember falling in love with was Peter Pan.

dirt hills

 

I’m not sure what about the story intrigued me initially, but when I was four, my family moved to a brand-new house built in the middle of one of my grandmother’s fields.  There wasn’t any yard, then, just piles of dirt dug out for the basment. All around the house rose these little hillocks, covered in willows and weeds and wildflowers.

wildflower

Everything seemed feral, like something out of Neverland. My brother and I acted out our own Neverland adventures.  We were so disappointed when the steamroller finally came and smoothed everything out for a yard.

house flat

When did you start writing your own stories?

writing story

I’m not sure when I first started writing things down, but I remember when I started to tell myself stories.

 

My mom was a firm believer in naps. She was in her 20s, working full-time as an English teacher, with two kids under 5. She may have needed a nap more than we did.

napping

In order to get us to settle down, my mom made my brother and me get in her big bed with her.  I had to hold still so they could sleep.  I passed the time making up stories.  They were about mermaids, like the puppet Marina in the Stingray show on TV.

marina

What made you keep going?

girls

When I was in junior high, I met some girls who actually wrote their stories down so they could pass them around.  We didn’t think of ourselves as writers, really.  We just wanted to share the stories we had in our heads.  Sharing stories was a revelation for me.

imagination

I loved that I could create pictures that would live inside someone else’s imagination.  I took my first creative writing class in high school.  After that, I took every writing class I could find.

publish

What was the path to publication like for you?

long road

It’s been a long road.  I published my first stories in the 1980s, after I went to the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop.

clarion

Soon after that, I had a teacher who discouraged me from writing science fiction, so I turned to horror.  The horror community was so much more welcoming.

horror

Since then, my short stories have ranged from erotic horror to science fiction to urban fantasy, while my novels have been space opera and a succubus/angel love story.  I’ve written a couple of nonfiction books about cemeteries, too.

spec

What was the best writing / publishing advice you ever received?

Ray Bradbury photographed in his office in 1987.
Ray Bradbury photographed in his office in 1987.

Years ago, I met Ray Bradbury, my writing idol, at a book signing in San Francisco. I told him I was struggling with my first novel because I felt like I had to know everything before I could write a word.  I felt like I needed to be an expert.

 just write

He told me not to think about it so much.  “Just write,” he said.  “You’ll find out what you need to know as you’re writing.  Don’t think so much.” He was so very right. I’ve been a pantser ever since.

write freely

Was there any unhelpful or bad advice you can steer hopeful writers away from?

 write dont know

I hate “Write what you know.”  What you know can be boring.  Write to find out what you think. Write to discover things you want to know more about.  Write what you’re interested in.

 experiment

What would you like readers to know about your work?

cover

My latest project has been a series of short stories about a witch who travels the world to find monsters. Her stories combine my love of travel with the old “psychic detective” stories.  I’ve released three short collections on Amazon and plan an omnibus paperback edition of them for the fall.

Here’s the link to the first collection: Alondra’s Experiments

Nancy Kilpatrickauthor of_Thrones of Blood seriesPower of the Blood series (2)

What question do you wish I would have asked that I didn’t?

 camp

What am I working on now?  I’m glad you asked!

I’m editing a charity anthology for my local Horror Writers Association group.  The book is called Tales for the Camp Fire.  We’ll be selling them to raise money for survivors of last year’s devastating wildfire, the most devastating natural disaster in modern California history.  The book should be out in May. I am really excited about the caliber of the work in it.

199cemeteries_1a

To learn more about Loren Rhoads online,check out her site: lorenrhoads.com/

king

Thanks for stopping by! Happy writing & reading all.

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So Now What?–Getting Over the Post Book Release Blues

So now what? That’s what I am asking myself.

My first ever novel is a fait accompli. Saturday, July 7th was the official release day for my romantic time travel adventure novel, Time Flash: Another Me.

pile of books

(where to get a copy of Lana’s book)

Truth is, I should have known the answer.

I’ve had 9 poetry collections published to date–6 full-length and 3 chapbooks.

And each time, I was thrilled. And my friends were thrilled. And there was incredible buzz.

excited

I gave readings and shook hands and sold a few books.

But then, there was this huge sense of deflation–the post book release blues.

This giant now what?

deflated

How could I keep the excitement for marketing my books alive after the first couple of weeks?

How could I keep telling people my poems are something they should care about?

passion led

Well, the first thing I needed to do was remind myself that the words I put together in those books arose out of my deep passion.

And that passion to create remains alive in the words.

And those passionate words are meant to be shared, to connect, to embrace, and hopefully inspire others to create as well.

Inspire

So with the novel, as with the poetry books, I need to stay impassioned, stay positive, keep believing.

And I do believe in the magic and power of books.

Books by others have transported me and transformed me.

books magic

I need to believe my own words can do that too, for others.

(Yes, I truly believe my novel can bring delight!)

delight

And I need to stop feeling like a failure because my book isn’t instantly flying off the shelves or getting hundreds of 5-star reviews.

failure tiles

Putting a book into the world is always a long haul.

The words will be there for others when they need or want them.

They just might not want them right now.

We found out about this magical library from my Wallpaper City Guide for Stockholm. There's something beautiful about piles and piles of books and my inner compulsive sorter took great satisfaction in knowing that they were all perfectly categorized and laid out.

The marketing part of being a writer is the hardest for me.

I need to say in various and creative ways that my book may be a wonderful book for the reader.

And I may need to say it more than once for the reader to notice.

repeat

But I also need to keep to writing.

And keep believing the next story, the next poem, the next words matter too.

It can feel like an impossible balance–the marketing and the writing and the believing.

balance

But living a creative life is such a gift.

Being able to metamorphose your imaginings into something that truly exists for others to experience in the world is wonderful, indeed.

real

As long as I remember that wonder, I can stop feeling disheartened, and keep on going, one word after another.

power

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why I Love Grocery Shopping

I know a lot of my friends really, really dislike

going the grocery store.

 

cart

I can empathize with why.

We all have busy lives.

list2

Lives packed with too much to get done

in our limited waking hours.

too much to do

And the hassle of going to the supermarket,

often with kids in tow,

can just be overwhelming.

hate grocery 1

Plus, there’s the battle for a parking space.

parking

Rising food prices, limited resources,

will there be enough money to get everything on the list this time?

And then, there’s the long checkout lines.

Enzo Pocaro, center, of Boston, waits in a long checkout line at the Market Basket in Chelsea, Mass., Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. A blizzard warning was in effect for coastal areas from Connecticut to Maine on Saturday for a fourth major storm in less than a month, promising heavy snow and powerful winds to heap more misery on a region that has already seen more than 6 feet of snow in some areas. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

But the truth is

I really love going to the grocery store.

Maybe that’s why grocery stores feature heavily in my novel?

FrontCover159BoxFlat

I’m very far from anyone’s idea

of Suzie Homemaker, though.

I really dislike most household chores.

Can’t stand cleaning in any shape or form.

cleaning

I usually end up breaking stuff whenever I do clean.

And I am not a good cook. I burn everything.

burn

But oddly, I love doing laundry. (That’s a story for another day.)

 

laundry (2)

I work from home.

And the mess from my desk tends to overwhelm the rest of my house.

messy

Grocery shopping is a good excuse to get away from my own mess.

Get out into the world.

Plus, my repeated circumnavigating the store maze looking for where they moved the sunflower seeds counts as exercise.

exercise

But there are a couple more reasons I love going to the grocery store.

One of those is how much I love buying nourishing foods–

nourishing

okay, maybe I love buying a comfort food or two, once in a while.

When it’s on sale.

Or every week.

ice cream

 But the biggest reason I love to go grocery shopping is…

that the store is a wonderful place

to practice kindness.

kindness

I know that sounds odd.

But the grocery store–even in my small town–

is filled with people I don’t know,

probably doing a chore they hate.

druk

So while I’m wondering the aisles wondering where the devil

they moved the sunflower seeds to this time…

I look for someone who seems to need a little cheer.

Finding something kind to say is the easy part.

People have great haircuts,

 

haircut (2)

interesting t shirts,

tee,

pretty jewelry

jewelry3 (2)

fabulous eyeglasses,

glasses (2)

(yes, the employees deserve some kindness too)

pretty eyes,

pretty eyes

lovely smiles,

smile

wear colors that complement their skin.

color 3 (2)

Or maybe the person reminds me how at ease with myself I want to be when I grow even older.

There’s always something to say that brings a little light into a person’s day.

I love doing that.

It makes me feel a bit better too.

dali (2)

After bringing someone some cheer, I can face the rest of my work day with more energy.

Kindness is good exercise for the soul.

teresa

Do I worry that sometimes my good intentions will go awry?

Yes.

Have they gone awry?

flirt (2)

A nice old man thought I was hitting on him.

Well, that made his day, too.

So all in all,

kindness is worth the risk.

kind

 

 

 

 

 

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