Monday, September 17, 2012


One of the things that writers write about is Home – defending home, finding home, there's no place like home, etc., etc., etc.

Sometimes I look at the houses when I drive at night. There are houses with floodlights and houses with all the windows dark. And then there are the houses with the lights on in the windows.  Those are the houses that are home. People are making dinner, checking homework and tucking the kids in.

There's a light on, if someone is missing, they can find the way home.

I've got several homes: My mother's home, the museum where I work is a kind of home, and I have a home on the internet.

It's a place called Forward Motion Writers. I joined it 6 years ago, this month, and it's a home on the internet for me. I've made some excellent friends and went to writers' conferences with them, traveled to Australia to meet them, read their books and they've read mine.

It wouldn't exist without an amazing woman by the name of Lazette Gifford.  Officially, Zette owns the site. Unofficially, she's the den mother for a disparate bunch of egotistical, fragile, neurotic writers. (What? I'm one of them. ;-))

Zette's shepherded the group through some of the changes in the publishing industry, especially the rise of "Indie" publishing. There's a huge wealth of information on all manner of craft, genre and marketing. And the chat rooms are where we hang out and talk about our days, especially the writing part.

Thank you, Zette. I'll see you later. But I'll be home late tonight. :D

Monday, May 14, 2012

Random Act of Kindness BLITZ!

A smile. An encouraging word. A thoughtful gesture. Each day people interact with us, help, and make our day a bit brighter and full. This is especially true in the Writing Community

Take a second to think about writers you know, like the critique partner who works with you to improve your manuscript. The writing friend who listens, supports and keeps you strong when times are tough. The author who generously offers council, advice and inspiration when asked.

So many people take the time to make us feel special, don't they? They comment on our blogs, re-tweet our posts, chat with us on forums and wish us Happy Birthday on Facebook.

Kindness ROCKS!

To commemorate the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus, Becca and Angela at The Bookshelf Muse are hosting a TITANIC Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ.  And because I think KINDNESS is contagious, I'm participating too!

I'm going to blitz three people: Lisa Janice Cohen, Valerie Griswold Ford and Esther Mish. These three have been encouraging, friendly and supportive in my writing, cheering me on when I needed it and kicking me in the butt when I needed it.  Ladies, I will be choosing small writer's care packages for you, so keep your eyes on the mail :)  (Esther, I need your new address)

Lisa has helped me to order and structure my stories - especially as concerns stakes.

Val is constantly encouraging, an inspiration, and a friend in RL.

Esther is an amazing person, able to write with all those kids! and I can always count on a cheer *\o/* from her.

And, if you guys ever need something, a cheer or a crit, just let me know :D

Do you know someone special that you'd like to randomly acknowledge?

Don't be shy--come join us and celebrate! Send them an email, give them a shout out, or show your appreciation in another way. Kindness makes the world go round. :)

Becca and Angela have a special RAOK gift waiting for you as well, so hop on over to The Bookshelf Muse to pick it up.

Have you ever participated in or been the recipient of a Random Act Of Kindness?  Let me know in the comments!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Muse of a Busy Person

I've been too busy and brain-fried to do any writing.  I've been heading into work early and leaving late. Then dinner and vegging out – on the internet, chatting, watching the Mets, etc.  But too tired to write.

The Muse is apparently not amused.

For the past few nights I've been having vivid, vivid dreams, complete with turning points and twists. Last night, or should I say this morning's, dream involved the actress who plays Emma in Once Upon a Time.  It involved changing a turning point in time and what it does to the characters in this little drama. And a ferret named Moxie.

Emma and her friend, an older man who's a teacher, are no longer friends, she's got a new romance and Moxie doesn't know her anymore.  When Moxie bites her and runs, that's when I woke up.

I cannot wait until next week, when I can write again. (That's when work settles down. A little.)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Myth of "Free" Time

Work is very busy and we're short-staffed. I've been working like a demon and it seems to be holding together.

But I'm tired.

I also know, from past experience, that I get sick when I'm exhausted.  And I can't get sick right now. Not at all.

I have one full day off this week – today. I've already done laundries during the week, I started my weekly cooking binge last night and I've chosen very quick and/or easy foods to cook and I'll take a shower this evening instead of in the morning.

This is all so that I can schedule some free time. Only it's not free. It takes work to free it up, for instance.

I've used some of my free time to watch TV this morning. I try not to judge – down time is important, too.

But a good chunk this afternoon was spent playing. I observed a bookbinding class and now I've got the bug.  I worked on that for part of the afternoon.  Blogging is play and so is writing – I've done that, too.

Play is important for me and for all of us. I need to create, to make things.  I'm not sure that scheduling downtime and playtime will keep me from getting sick, but I hope so. It *will* make me happier.

What do you do when you "play"?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Forty Years

I've been reading a book on energy called, Reinventing Fire.  It's an interesting book, and one of the most interesting parts is where the author supposes how we'll get energy in forty years.

Now, it's almost impossible to figure out what the future will look like 40 years into the future. But it got me thinking about how far we've come in the last 40 years. And then 40 years before that:

Forty Years Ago

In 1972, traffic deaths peaked at 59,589.  Seatbelts had been mandated in new cars since 1968, but their use wasn't required by law until 1984.

In 2010 (latest available), traffic deaths were the lowest ever recorded, at 32,708. While some safety measures, such as air bags were also implemented, that's still a difference of 26,881 lives saved. Do you wear your safety belt?

Just before the Oil Crisis of the seventies, a gallon of leaded gas was 36 cents, in 1972. In 1975 – 57 cents.  Although we laugh at it now, that's a 58% increase.  Yesterday, I bought gas for $3.59.

In 1972, a Chevy Nova got between 8mpg and 15mpg. My Mazda3 (roughly the same size) gets between 28mpg and 32mpg. So efficiency has risen between 300% and 400%. And that's not with a Prius.

Eighty Years Ago

In 1932, the US was in the depths of the Great Depression and unemployment was 24.1%. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president by a landslide. And problems with agriculture lead to mass starvation in Russia.

The average cost of a new car was $610 and a gallon of gas was 10 cents.  But the average annual income was $6,510. The most popular car was the Ford Model B.

For some context: Al Capone was convicted of tax evasion in 1932 and Radio City Music Hall opened. Oh, and the parking meter was invented. Now we can pay for parking with our Smart Phones in NYC, at least.

TV had been invented in 1926, but shows weren't broadcast until 1935 – in Germany. TV wasn't broadcast in the US until 1941. And the first programmable computer wasn't invented until 1938- again, in Germany.

Forty Years into the Future

No one really knows what we'll have in the future – sometimes just thinking up what we want spurs it to happen. Star Trek had cell phones in the 23rd Century. Star Trek aired in 1968 and I bought my first "communicator" in 1995.

Maybe we'll be wearing batteries or have the internet in our eyeglasses. Maybe we'll grow our own food again, maybe not. Maybe we'll double our lifespans, or maybe we'll cause massive floods. Or we'll colonize Mars.

This, for me, is what's so intriguing about Science Fiction – what can be.


Monday, March 12, 2012


chain links.jpg

"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things."
- Steve Jobs

This theory also applies to the theory of knowledge that I like best.  You learn facts, but you don't know about something until you can understand how those particular facts relate to other things that you know about.

What does that have to do with writing?  Good question.

Well, nothing exists in a vacuum.  You have to have experiences to know about them, to write about them.  Some writers call this "filling the well" - a way of recharging so you can write.  So, if you're feeling blocked, drained, but you want to write, try telling yourself that you'll "write later", then go for a walk, watch a movie, cook something new - have an experience.  You can't connect experiences if you're starved for experiences.

Excuse me, please, while I take my own advice :).

What have you done lately?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Forward to Spring

Sorry for the silence recently.  I've been busy with work and have been laid low by a cold for the past two weeks.  Still very stuffy and  have a lingering cough.  Apparently, it's something that's been going around.

Here in the Northeast US, we've had hints of an early spring - pretty much all winter long.  We had snow for Halloween and one other snow "event", it wasn't even a storm.  It's felt like spring, even though it hasn't quite sprung, yet.

My mom has some crocuses and daffodils that have decided to blossom, but the trees are still in the budding stage.  And I've got some story ideas that I can feel the shape of, but they're not quite ready to bloom yet, either.

For some reason, the stories I have to tell need to simmer or ripen.  If I try to tell them too early, they don't work.  Golem, for instance, was simmering for a couple of years, then, when I saw it was ready to go.  Lawgiver is ripe, but the archeologists' story that runs alongside it is slowly ripening.  Hopefully, it'll be ready to go soon.

It's tempting to rush it, to pick the fruit before it's right. But that has never worked, at least not for me.  It's almost spring, but not quite.  All it needs is a little patience.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Software Review: Scrivener

In trying to think about something to blog about, I found another list of blog post ideas: 101 Killer Blog Post Ideas:

And there, on number three, was "Review Software".

How did they know??  I downloaded Scrivener's trial version and have been using it for the past three days.  So, let me tell you about Scrivener.

First, it's fairly easy to use.  It can be used as a word processor and it can import and export to several other word processors.  It can also export a file into .pdf and the different ebook formats.

It's also a notecard program, as simple to use as Supernotecard. And it toggles BACK AND FORTH between the notecard and the wordprocessor.  It also takes those notecards and sets them up in a really nice outline form.  Although I don't outline before I write, I find that outlining *while* I write helps me to figure things out.

Do I like it enough to buy it?  Yes, in fact, I'll probably buy it this weekend.

Note: If you "won" nano, go to the nano site:  For Winners, there's a code to get 50% off a copy of the Scrivener program, but you need to have won and validated your story.

photo by Flickr user Cranium, used under the creative commons license

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Worry: A Habit I wish I Didn't Have

Worry is like running on a hamster wheel.  You go round and round in circles, but you never get anywhere.  

And yet, I worry.  Mostly, I worry about things that I cannot control.  And that gets in the way of things that I can control.

I can't control the fact that there's an accident along my way to work.  I can control the fact that I left a little late, cutting it a bit too close.

I can't control what my significant other does.  I can control my reaction to it.

I can't control how my mother is doing.  I can control my own health.  But not if my energy is spent worrying about hers.

I can't control whether someone buys my story.  But I can get it out there - submit it to agents.

I'm not big on resolutions, but here's one: I'll try to focus my energy on those things that I can control.  And let go of the things I can't.

Photo Credit
“Hamster on wheel” sualk61 @ Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.