Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Drabbled it !

Last October I challenged myself to write (or at least post) a drabble a day on my writing blog. A year's gone by and now, give or take the odd day missed and some with two postings, I've got a whole years-worth of drabbles. I've collected them into hand-made mini-books to sell as drabble-birthday cards, with a master copy on Lulu, Drabble-IT, that contains the whole set. (366, 'cause I added one, just in case the year in question should plan to leap.) If you should happen to be looking for a calendar with a difference (or with stories and poems), well, I'd love to sell you one...

Meanwhile I've challenged myself this year to post a dribble a day--50 words instead of 100. It's definitely harder so I'd really appreciate the occasional visit, just to keep me on my toes:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The 300 ?

I tried to follow a new blog today but a red-framed message popped up and wouldn't let me pass. It seems I'd reached my 300 limit, not that I'd remembered I had one. So now I have to "unfollow" some blogs before I can follow more.

No problem, thought I. I'll just get rid of all the inactive ones... So I clicked "manage" underneath my blogroll and found the management page doesn't bother to say when each blog posted last--in fact, it doesn't even say if the link still exists. So now I'm wandering, one by one, through 300 once-followed blogs to see which still post...

Meanwhile, there's that interesting question: Just how do you "unfollow" a blog? It's easy if there's a blogger navigation bar on top--just click on "Follow" and choose "Stop following." But so many blogs either don't have bars or weren't even made with blogger, so what about them?

I searched through help. The most popular advice was click "Follow" and... well, yes, but what if... Then I tried clicking on "settings" which brought up a window inviting me to log in, so I did and nothing happened. After a little more searching, I tried "settings" again; this time it brought up a window that offered the chance to stop following! Success at last. I'm no longer following a website where scriptural stories have disappeared into bathroom furnishings!

As of now, I'm following 291 blogs and I'm only down to D on my search through the links. What a pleasant way to spend a rainy afternoon...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Print on (Immediate) Demand

There was a story in our local paper this morning that promises an interesting future for Print on Demand

It seems that Lulu and HP have produced a print-on-demand machine that looks kind of like a large photocopier. Books uploaded and designed in a special section of Lulu can be printed on the spot with no long waits or shipping costs. Portland State University Bookstore is one of three locations trying out these "publishing machines." Professors can provide tailored text books at a fraction of the usual price, and test out the content before committing to the expense of traditional publishing. A 300page novel will cost around $12; a 100page book with color illustrations around $18... And, if I'm reading the article correctly, real people will really be able to publish there.

Just think, if this takes off; the machines might be installed in Office Depot or Kinkos, making print on demand affordable and immediate. Imagine printing small runs of our books for family and friends without the cost and hassle of postage. And one day, they might be installed in supermarkets, connected to the Lulu store on the internet, giving everyone immediate access to the whole Lulu bookstore... and more...

Monday, October 18, 2010

A wonderful Refracted review!

Erin O'Riordan, author of Beltane, Midsummer Night, and other books and short stories, has written an amazing review of Refracted on Gather. I'd have enjoyed reading the review even if it wasn't for my own book, and I get goosebumps as she tells me what associations my story invoked for her. Thank you so much Erin! Thank you more than I can say!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Muse and the Edits going well...

The Muse conference is so.... so good. I'm loving it. Of course, the homework takes lots of time, and the housework's not getting done. Dear son says no problem; he can't see the difference. Still, I did cut the grass yesterday 'cause the sun was shining and the ground had started to dry; neighbors aren't sons and they can see only too well when weeds start blowing in the wind.

I've also been writing and editing my first attempt at romance--Love on a Transfer. English boy and girl in America. Girl meets American. Girl dreams American dreams. Boy dreams girl... It grew to almost 30,000 words (in a week--I'm not sure how, though my Mum says I work well to deadlines. The Muse was my line, then the publisher I wanted to pitch it to wasn't there--does that make the deadline dead? Still, lots of other publishers are there, with great advice.) Now I think it's time to let my protagonists rest and stop talking to me--stop talking... please. If their story still looks readable in a few weeks' time maybe I'll take it for a walk; let a friend read it; let it stroll the internet in search of a home.

Ah well, back to Musing and homework, and housework maybe; I might have to do some washing or son might notice he's got nothing to wear.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Musing my way to the Weekend

My review of Redeeming Daisy by Tanya Hanson is one the front page of Nights and Weekends at the moment! How cool is that! And I'm frantically trying to slide a review of Little Madhouse on the Prairie by Marion Elizabeth Witte under the deadline for next month's Poetic Monthly. Meanwhile one of the classes at the Muse Online Conference is about writing better book reviews and I'm finding it very helpful. Other classes include publishing pitfalls, how to plot a novel, dos and donts of submissions, what is Christian horror, and many many more. The Muse is great, the time is weak, and the week is rapidly passing... But if you're a writer and you're not musing this year you should certainly consider it for next year. It's online, you can study at home, and the price is FREE!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Muse Online

I went to Wordstock yesterday and attended some really great talks about writing, publishing, the future, the dream and everything related. It was kind of neat to see the talks I went to were the ones quoted in today's paper. (I'll try to write about them soon.)

And today I started attending the Muse Online (week-long) conference. Yet more great talks, forums, chats, handouts, and even pitches. Of course, that "May to October" thing kind of messed up my plans to pitch. Finishing various stories in time to write queries was one of my tasks that got put off for the sons' graduations and never got done. Still, I did finish off my first ever romance today, which is surely an achievement. I'll try to clean it up during the week and see if it might find a home somewhere.

Meanwhile, if I'm kind of absent from the internet and slow to notice your posts, I apologize. Maybe life will get back to normal next week... or else like May, I "may" keep wondering where the time goes till next year.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fifty Five Words

I'm practicing writing "dribbles" (50 words) now I've written a year's worth of drabbles. Meanwhile Suzanne Tyrpak ran a competition for stories told in 55 words.  I won a $5.55 Amazon gift-card from her! Thank you Suzanne!

See Suzanne Tyrpak's ghost planet blog or kindeboard. to enjoy the winning entries. They’re really fun to read.

(55 words)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Rain is good for reading, right?

We had plans to go away this weekend. All that sunshine--we just had to make use of it. Then the forecast said rain.

So here we sit, the bags still packed away in a cupboard. I guess we're going nowhere unless in dreams--still, rain's good for reading and for dreaming, right?

And here's my list of books I've read as that reading journey continues... just click on the links to find my reviews on gather.

To Account for Murder by William C. Whitbeck:  Another great book from the Permanent Press. Like so many of their books, this one spans genres well beyond the obvious courtroom drama, and delves deep into questions of love and responsibility. It's not in the stores yet--I got lucky; they sent me a preview copy, and I loved it.

The Native Star by M.K. Hobson: A fascinating alternate history tale of 1800s America plus magic. I love the way science, religion and magic were all at odds and yet all compatible.

A Dozen Dreadfuls by Charlotte Holley: I was lucky enough to win this one in Gypsy Shadow's birthday celebration. It's a rather neat scary tale for young (and older) adults in the vein of "be careful what you hope for."

Right Hand up to God by M.J. Croan: A nicely told world-spanning drama linking terrorism, the IRA, Cuba, Australia and more in the tale of a girl who, right hand up to God, promises her dying mother in the Florida Everglades that she'll take care of her newborn brother.

Prophecy Moon by Laura Eno: An enjoyable parallel worlds fantasy that weaves the concept very nicely into a tale of choosing your battles and letting go of the past to reach out to the future.

War in Heaven by Charles Williams: An oldie, but probably a goldie, I really enjoyed this quirky read with beautifully drawn English countryside and characters, and a curiously scary take on the Holy Grail.

The Narrows by Michael Connelly: Well, I had to read this one after reading the Poet. My husband said I must. And it was good.

I did some writing too this week. I've revamped the opening of my Hemlock Edge series. Now just to let it stew a while and I'll try resubmitting it. Please wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October? Books and spiders and Halloween...

Is it really October? How did we get there? The leaves are falling but the sky's still blue. Spiders are blooming... ughghgh! And I spent the morning pulling ivy (and spiders) from the walls of the house, and digging green leaves with yellow flowers (which also have spiders) from round the foundation. Then I curled up on the sofa with a headache and dreamed of spiders.

So, October's the month of Halloween isn't it? That explains the Squidboo challenge over on Squidoo, and I actually got myself a trophy yesterday for posting my October drabbles there. Meanwhile I'm writing October dribbles this year, and trying to make stories in fifty words.

But here's the absolute best ever news about October: Gypsy Shadow Publishing, who published my eBook Refracted, are one year old this month, and they're celebrating by giving one lucky reader a free eBook each day. How cool is that? So head on over to Gypsy Shadow's Birthday Celebration and read all about it. It's not too late to enter, and there's a whole month of chances to win.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Beating the Mailman to the Door

Our mailman's great. He knows all his customers by name and even greets us in the street if we happen to be walking when he drives past. He knows which parcels will fit in the box and which require personal delivery. And he even always had a good word for the dog when we still had a dog. (In fact, one of our mailmen even had a biscuit for the dog, resulting in our dog's conviction that all mailpersons were best friends.)

Since I like books, our mailman often has book parcels for me. Sometimes they're surprises, like the gift of a hot-off-the-press hardback edition of "Once Wicked, Always Dead" by T. Marie Benchley which arrived yesterday. I reviewed a paperback ARC of Once Wicked Always Dead on gather a while ago, and it's wonderful to be able to share her delight in the finished product. Congratulations T. Marie!

Other surprise parcels contain pre-release copies of books from the Permanent Press. My most recent review for them is of The Dissemblers by Liza Campbell--a powerful literary ride that brings New Mexico and modern art to life, and just might change the way you see both . Unfortunately Amazon doesn't let me post reviews till the book is published, so I still need to transfer my review of the Dissemblers on gather onto Amazon.

Then there are the half-expected parcels, when I win books in contests on other people's blogs. I always love these, and try to review everything as soon as I can read it. (I've just joined and I suspect their similarity network software may be struggling to identify me through the maze of different reading genres, though it's certainly fun.)

And then there are parcels like the one containing Beat, by Stephen Jay Schwartz. This one came because of an email inviting me to join the blog tour for the book, the sender of the email rightly guessing that I might enjoy the book. And again, I've just posted my review of Beat on gather.

Our mailman's great. He know our little world like the back of his hand. But with books like Beat I can learn a little about some other worlds too; not worlds I want to live in, but worlds that are full of fascination, and peopled with wounded characters striving to beat their own demons. Even in his darkest moments, Detective Hayden Glass still seems redeemable and still merits the reader's sympathy. Michael Connelly described Schwartz's book as a "great original take" on detective fiction and he's right. Stephen Jay Schwartz is deservedly a Los Angeles Times Bestselling Author, and Beat is a deep dark ride into San Francisco's underworld leading to a haunted promise of hope and a future. Highly recommended.