Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Most people revisit all kinds of trauma along with the tinsel and culinary delights we’ve come to expect. No, let me expound on that. From the depths of time family ties have been woven/braided/ designed to tether family units together. Usually it is the mother’s job and no matter how thankless it can seem to her, it will have the most lasting of effects on her family.
Skillfully woven webs of colors, smells, food, and musical enticements, designed to engulf the senses, morph into time-honored traditions permanently embeded into our psyches for all time.
The smell of cinnamon, the ringing of a bell, the list goes on forever. They reel us back to our roots every year, be they good or bad, reigniting our childhood memories and bugaboos in the process.
Autonomy so desperately sought or achieved through the ages reverts to previous patterns. Our past and present collides.
Yep, holidays are fun. So why do we do this every year? Do we only tie religious beliefs to family? Do we need a heady helping of retrospection every year? Does it somehow prove our worth? Is it an excuse to get together and party? Or, are we simply swimming upstream to our place of origin?
I love my family but during these times I find myself dreading gatherings...until I’m actually there. So what’s with that?
Monday, December 26, 2011
Where I come from in New York, we had a Christmas blizzard the likes of which no one had seen in decades. The kind of harrowing snowstorm you see on the Weather Channel or in a Lifetime Television Movie. That year, it could have starred my husband and I as we tried to make our way through feet of snow to get to the hospital. Our daughter was on her way, my birthing pains keeping time with the Christmas bells tolling at our local church.
We got to the hospital, and it was dark. No one had power and the parking lot was sparing of cars, though someone managed to shovel a narrow goat path to the front door. We walked in, my husband leading the way like Sacagawea leading Lewis and Clark, only to be asked, "Are you expected?"
I opened my coat, and the poor lady behind the narrow sliding glass looked at my burgeoning belly, a muttered "Oh!" the only thing she could manage.
We were told to head up to Maternity, alone...no orderly flying through the halls with me in a wheelchair. It was so quiet, the only thing that went through my head was the line from Twas The Night Before Christmas, "Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse." It seemed like forever, but the elevator finally pinged, and the doors slid open onto the Maternity Ward, also eerily quiet.
I was checked in and off we went to delivery. From there it was as frenetic as any normal day in the hospital, and at 8:38am December 26, a delivery nurse handed us the greatest Christmas present of our lives...all 6lbs, 7oz of her!
Today, thank God, she is happy, healthy...and 9 years old.
So I want to wish my daughter a very Happy Birthday...and to everyone else, a Joyous Holiday!
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Read outside the box: award-winning Romance Writing With A Twist!
The Minx Tobin Mystery Series: The Yuletide Yorkshire--Case Five (Desert Breeze Publishing)
Minx finds something unexpected under the Christmas tree. Unfortunately, it wasn’t left by Santa.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
I’ll start with the best news of all. Both my children are in college this year. WooHoo! It was a little shaky there for awhile, but they pulled through. My son just graduated from High School in June and is a freshman at the local community college on his way to Portland State. My daughter is now a Junior at Oregon State. What could be better than this?
And then there’s my publishing success. I’ve spent most of my life writing, and just as many years collecting those rejection letters. But this year I struck gold. My paranormal/suspense novel ALEX was published with Solstice Publishing! The e-Book came out at the end of May with the print version following in the middle of July. It was absolutely amazing to hold my book in my hands the first time.
Speaking of firsts, I had my very first book signing EVER on November 5th for ALEX at the Oregon Book and Author Fair in Central Point. Over fifty authors attended, and let me tell you, it was great! Not so much in the sales area, though I sold a few copies and ran out of flyers. But it was the interaction with other authors and readers that made it such a memorable experience.
With the success of ALEX, I searched and found the perfect home for my short romances with Breathless Press. I’ve had so much fun publishing through them! The staff and other authors who’ve signed with them are wonderful people and so supportive of each other. I couldn’t be happier. I also have a short ghost story released from MuseItUp Publishing. This was actually the first short story I sold, but they didn’t publish it until October to go with their Halloween theme. It worked perfectly.
What else? I’ve taken some great vacations with the family and also with just my husband. We visited Lake Tahoe for my family reunion. Me and Mark (my gorgeous mate) spent a romantic weekend at the Crater Lake Hotel. I’d say Mark is my soul-mate, but he’d think that was corny. I couldn’t think of being with anyone else, though. We also spent a week in early summer in eastern Oregon. We went to Kai Strand, my very talented sister-in-law’s, book signing for her children’s story ‘The Weaver’. Afterwards, we spent a few days at the John Day Fossil Beds. An intriguing, beautifully unique area of Oregon.
And now I’m fully immersed in the holidays. Oh, Happy Birthday to me, by the way! My Birthday was on the 12th. I tell my family that if we just pretend I don’t have birthdays anymore, then I’ll never grow older. They simply smile and throw a party anyway.
So, there you have my life in a nutshell. I think the gift I’m going to ask Santa for is that every writer seeking publication will know, at least once in their lives, the joy of holding their published book in their hands and experiencing the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that I’ve been blessed with.
Hope you have a very Merry Christmas!
Saturday, December 17, 2011
The joint study was designed to explore a fascinating topic - whether love is a "universally uniform concept". It was performed by the USA's State University of New York at New Paltz and Russia's Moscow State University. 1157 adults from Russia, Lithuania and the good ole' USA were asked to respond to 14 different statements about love. The US and Russia were picked because we've traditionally been considered to be polar opposites of each other. Lithuania was selected to participate because the researchers thought it represented a mid-way point between American and Russian cultures.
The study found that Eastern Europeans and Americans fall in love differently and view romantic love in totally different ways. Eastern Europeans fall in love much faster than Americans - 90% of Lithuanians and Russians have fallen in love within a month and 39% of those fell in love within a few days. Most Americans, 58%, say that it took them between 2 months and a year to fall in love. So Europeans are more romantic, right?
Wrong. Eastern Europeans consider love to be a temporary and unimportant state. They fall in fast, but they also fall out of love fast. And is that romantic? I think -- nyet.
"The idea that romantic love was temporary and inconsequential was frequently cited by Lithuanian and Russian informants, but not by U.S. informants," the researchers write in the journal Cross-Cultural Research. The Eastern Europe participants also referred to romantic love as "a stage," "unreal" and a "fairytale."
All of the groups considered friendship to be real and enduring and all considered that friendship carries expectations of honesty, loyalty and comfort. However, only Americans considered that friendship and comfort were required attributes of romantic love. Participants were asked to write down all the things they associated with love. The word "friendship" is completely absent from the over 500 things listed by Europeans as relating to love. Yet "friendship" was in the top 3 for Americans, appearing in 27% of the responses.
Cultural differences may account for friendship being important to romantic love for Americans and irrelevant to it for Eastern Europeans. After all, Eastern Europe is much more of a patriarchal society. In Eastern Europe, men run things whereas America's Anglo-Saxon culture gives women much more of a voice. Viewed that way, it makes sense that in Eastern Europe men would look for friendship from men and in America men and women expect friendship from both sexes.
However, the cultures agreed on the most important aspect of romantic love. All listed togetherness or being together as number 1. It was ranked first by 38% of Americans, 45% of Lithuanians and 50% of Russians. One of the most fun parts of romantic love - sex- was ranked differently by each culture - #2 for Russians, #7 for Americans and #9 for Lithuanians.
Here's how those lists of things associated with love broke down:
- Being together 50%
- Joy 20%
- Walk 17.5%
- Emotional upsurge 17.5%
- Happy 16.25%
- Kiss 15%
- Do things together 11.25%
- Temporary 11.25%
- Sex 11.25%
- Attention 10%
- Love talk 10%
- Surprise 10%
- Passion 8.75%
- Cinema 8.75%
- Travel 8.75%
- Tender 8.75%
- Attachment 8.75%
- Holding hands 8.75%
- Being together 45%
- Sex 25%
- Walking 24%
- Unreal 20%
- Beach/sea 19%
- Joyful 16%
- Travel 15%
- Moon stars 15%
- Candelight dinner 13%
- Night 11%
- Kiss 10%
- Talking 10%
- Fairytale 9%
- Delusion 9%
- Crazy 8%
- Holding hands 6%
- Being Together 38%
- Happy 35%
- Friendship 27%
- Mutual 20%
- Care 13%
- Love 13%
- Sex 13%
- Comfortable 11%
- Connection 10%
- Secure 10%
- Do Anything 10%
- Trust 9%
- Commitment 9%
- Gifts 8%
Researchers concluded that "for Eastern Europeans one will find less support by friends and family for those who have lost at love, there will be less of a discourse of betrayal, and also that the spurned lover recovers psychologically much quicker with fewer psychic wounds (however measured) than their American counterparts."
My take on all this? If romantic love is madness, then the Crazy Duck Lady is in the "write" business. :)
How about y'all - what things do you consider most important to romantic love or what activities or aspects do you most associate with romantic love?
Mary Anne Graham
Quacking Alone Romances
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Fiddling Lithuanian woman
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Thursday, December 15, 2011
Contest: Win a $15.00 Godiva Chocolates gift card!
Contest ends midnight EST 20 December.
How to enter and win?
Check out this photo. It says, "While shopping for your Christmas present..." and GUESS WHAT? YOU have to finish the tale in just a paragraph!
So instead of leaving a comment, leave a paragraph! Be sure to put your email address in the comment box with your paragraph.
Remember: Just one paragraph to write your amusing tale about this photo!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
This year I'm celebrating the friendship of these two gorgeous but very different purebred "blue" cats that are sharing our home.
Some of you may have seen my Blue before. He's my baby...a delicate looking Russian Blue who's the undisputed king of the house. Seven years old this year, he's been an only cat for five of those years.
Now, though, he has a partner in crime. LoverDog (LD for short) is a huge nine year old Chartreaux my human baby brought with him when he moved back home last month. Bounced around in recent years from one home to another, LD endured an airline journey stuffed into a crate that fits under plane seats with his human--this one who has vowed they'll be together as long as they both survive.
Mind you, LD outweighs Blue by more than ten pounds. For the first week or so, Blue was intimidated by all that bulk, taking refuge under the covers of my bed for long, solitary naps. Little by little, though, curiosity got the better of him and he started slithering out, looking and hissing at his new best friend. LD took it all in stride.
Soon they were sniffing and chasing each other, the best of buds who now share two separate litter boxes as well as each other's food and treats. They're enjoying the "cat company", or at least it seems they are...and we're all enjoying our two blue babies as we get ready to celebrate the holidays together.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza or whatever day is special to you...and a wonderful, prosperous 2012!
Sunday, December 11, 2011
I'm staying away from the NYT Bestsellers. My friends and family will have heard of those on their own. I'm trying to stick with small press and indie authors who need our support. Thankfully, in my work running tours with Goddess Fish Promotions, I've come in contact with hundreds of authors I wouldn't have otherwise heard of. And it's opening a whole new door for me.
I've gone on a search. Smashwords is one of the best places to look for small press and indie authors. And, many of those folks offer their eBooks at a super low price (many times as low as $0.99), so if I find something that looks just right for a friend ("Fezariu's Epiphany" by David M. Brown for the fantasy lover, "Brainstorm" by Gordon Kessler for the thriller lover, or "Farsighted" by Emlyn Chand for the YA lover for instance) I can buy the eBook and read it to make sure it's a good book. Most of my friends and family don't own eReaders, so I buy print.
And here's the neatest thing about indie authors. With some exceptions (David M. Brown lives across the pond, for instance, so it's cost prohibitive) they're more than happy to personally autograph a book and send it to you.
I suppose I could just buy a gift card to Barnes and Noble and send it, but I love that I'm able to use my knowledge of the small press / indie market to help them discover new authors they might not have found otherwise.
So, yes... it's books for Christmas this year! I've found a way to make my dollar do double duty.
What are some small press and indie author books you can recommend to me in all categories? Not just romance, but mystery, YA and more?
Friday, December 9, 2011
However, I do have something to offer. The new book is an historical mystery that begins with a Declaration of Dramatic License. See it below, and see what you think:
Declaration of Dramatic License
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
I'll tell you why. It's not that I'm close to my work, as if it were my "baby". Hell no. I can change a scene or take something out without a second thought. That doesn't bother me. What brings me down with edits is the time involved and the whole rethinking process to make sure everything runs smooth. It's a time consuming task, and quite frankly, I'd rather be writing. Edits always come through when I'm in the middle of another project. Not the editor's fault. That's just the way the world spins. So, I'm having to put aside the project I'm happily working on to revise the last book or the one from a year ago. Naturally, I don't want to do it. (The kid in me is coming out.)
After several deep breaths, I remind myself the finished product will be good. It always is. Not to mention, edits are part of the "writing process". I learn from my mistakes, which means I apply what I've learned to future projects, which should reduce the amount of edits. One day. I hope. LOL.
My urban fantasy novel, The Awakening, comes out next month (January 2012). Here's the blurb:Two investigators--one human, one vampire--find a young woman among a mass of dead bodies. She has no memories, and nothing but her clothes, two receipts, and a mysterious dagger carved with the initials 'SB'.
Claiming the Evil Dead
Sunday, December 4, 2011
I am a pantser. A flyer into the mist, as Jo Beverly says. I have tried to be a plotter. I did plot a complete book once, but I never even started writing it, or at least I had the first page done when I started plotting according to some grand scheme or other, and that is where it sits two years later. I was bored knowing how it all unfolded.
I have to keep going back to my mantra. Every writer is different. What works for one does not work for another.
Then why this article I hear you ask. Or is that me asking? Why bother? Well, to be honest, I just can’t help thinking about this stuff.
Here’s the thing – story is story. The art of writing story is as old as pictographs. There are certain things stories should have – at least in genre fiction. Certain peaks and valleys every story must touch. We’ve all taken the workshops, we all understand the concepts and the need for structure if you want readers to turn the pages. Hero’s journey, W plotting, three act structure, six stage structure, any advance on six — do I hear a 9? All great, by the way. Great. Helpful. Wonderful that writers have taken the time to offer these tools to other writers.
As far as I can figure it out, what a pantser does (no no there I go generalizing again) what I do, is go back and make sure the story hits the highs and lows required once the draft is done.
These are the questions I ask myself. What are my goals motivations and conflicts for the happy couple? Yes by this time they are the happy couple. Are they clear to the reader and not just in my head?
Where are my turning points? Did I take too long to get there? – thus losing tension along the way.
Is the black moment black enough? Is it driven by the romance or the external plot? Does it work?
|Coming in January from Harlequin Historicals|
What changed? Who is worse off now than at the beginning of the scene? If no one is, then it needs fixing. Could something even worse have happened? How does it tie back to their goal, their worst fear or their conflict. Is what they have decided to do next reasonable and does it lead to yet more conflict?
Are the motivations clear to the reader? In that particular scene, not the whole book. Whatever the character does, is it clear why the character does it? And the answer cannot be that the plot requires that they do that. If the plot requires an unarmed woman to go into a dark basement for no good reason, the reader will not buy it.
Without plotting the book, don’t you go off track? That is a plotter asking, of course.
The answer is. Yes. Terribly. The last book I handed in, well I just never did get hold of that sucker by the date it was due. And that’s where your editor and/or your critique group can help. And that is why you need to go back and use the tools in your toolbelt to polish and sand and rub. Or at least I do. And I did. Hopefully it turned out much better.
Well that was fun. My guess is there are all kinds of writers out there in addition to Plotters and Pansters, for example:
Plo-sters - They get an outline going through to the end then fly off the cliff, catching the odd tree branch
they planted on the way down, then leap again
Palonstters - who knows what they do, but they do it well
I wish to every success no matter how you spell what you are.
At the end of the day, it is the story that really matters to readers. But as I said, this is often a hot topic.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
And surprisingly, my partner and I were talking about it, and this holiday season is far more special than others have been, precisely because we're giving of our time and our energy. I'm going to bake cookies like a fiend, starting this weekend, probably. And I have a pattern for a homemade heating pad (filled with white rice) that I'm going to make out of funky and cute flannel patterns to give to my family members. (Got to love the remnant bin at the local fabric store.) (PS - Don't worry they don't have the internet, so they won't know what I'm giving them. Shhhh!)
In fact, in spite of all the work I have ahead of me, I'm looking forward to this holiday season. So I just wanted to stop by, wish you all the most joyous December, and I hope you all get exactly what you wish for this holiday season.
Now, I have some baking to do....
(You can learn more about the book above, a cute novella loosely based on our own experiences with a formerly feral kitten here: http://pinkpetalbooks.com/Dashboard-Kitten-Mary-Caelsto.html)
Thursday, December 1, 2011
This has been one aggravating week. Husband decided he wanted Netflex. That sounds easy, right? Grrrrrr. It is easy if you want to stream down to your computer. If you want to stream to your TV, well, just find the right directions. Netflex says buy one of three devices. We don't play games so I sent him off to buy a blueray, wireless built in. OMG! He ended up paying three times as much for the built in rather than one and an adapter, brings it home to me and disassociated himself from the process. I spent three days fighting my way through the connect process, starting with press the DPS button on your router. Sure after you tell me what a DPS button is. After I dug it out from behind the desktop, there wasn't any buttons on my router that I could see and nothing was marked with a DPS. That meant I had to find the software for the router, fire it up on the desktop in the other room, run back and forth comparing DPS WPA, SSIN and several other combinations of letters to find out what security system I have on the router, how to disable it in order for it to allow the blueray to connect. It took two days of working on it, quitting when I wanted to stomp on it, calming down, thinking about it, working on it, trying something different, etc. The second day I connected. Hoorah! Then the device tells me to go online, type in a code when prompted to activate it, and--there's no place to type in a code and no prompt to do so. Why, because they failed to tell me I had to register the blankety blank thing first. Another couple of hours of being sent to places online that didn't have what they sent me there to do before I finally happened across where I needed to be to register. Now back to trying to connect with Netflex on the devices confusing menu. Click and the device tells me I have to download update software for the device before I can. After waiting and waiting and waiting for the download to finish, a new message comes on telling me the signal was interrupted. I quit, start again, quit, moving the router, moving the device, etc, trying to find a stronger signal. Didn't happen. Every time I tried again, wait awhile then get the same message. The router manufacturer is willing to sell me a boaster system guaranteed to carry the signal to every room, just $200. No way. So frustrated beyond belief by the third day I go online to Dish, who have been advertising Blockbuster through their box. They have a boaster, 25 bucks, but you have to order online and have it shipped. He doesn't want to wait that long. Thinking a WiFi BB Connector is a WiFi BB Connector, I sent him off to the electronics store to return the blueray and wrote down not only WiFi BB Connector, but the brand name. He comes home with something five times as much and not wireless. Aghhhhh. So I took it back, cornered a geek, found out a WiFi BB Connector is really a signal boaster. Sigh. I really don't want to know all this stuff. I'm not even the one that wants Blockbuster or Netflex, and why he does when he hardly ever watches movies anyway is beyond me, but now I'm challenged. Oh, the boaster the geek wanted to sell me was three times as much and while I'm standing there I noticed a smaller thing that I'd seen on Dish's list of accessories.
So I ask, ”What is that?”
He says, “That's a receiver.
So I ask, “If I get a boaster and don't have a receiver is it even going to work?”
He says, "I don't know. We don't sell Dish here so I'm not familiar with it."
I say, "I'm not going to buy anything until I find out."
Okay, back online. Yes, you do need a receiver and without it, even if you have a boaster you ain't getting a thing. I have to add that I have a receiver that I bought for an older computer and I'm thinking if I went through all of this crap for days and have what I needed at home the whole time--well, the humor of the irony escapes me. It didn't work. It's a couple of years old, so this time, instead of getting in the car and driving 40 miles. Back online to get the manufacturers name of the receiver Dish sells. Ain't none. Call Dish distributors. Since it was a Saturday, only one answered. He doesn't have one in stock and really can't tell me anything because he doesn't do that part of it, but he does know Dish ‘sometimes’ makes their own and sells them so no one can go to the store and buy one easily. By now I'm so tired of it, I'm not even cussing. I just went online and ordered the damn thing. So after days of fighting incompetent, vague, and confusing directions and feeling like an idiot, the first question you know who asks is, "How long is it going to take to get here?"
I almost cussed again. ALL of the crap was because he didn't want to hardwire from my router to the box to start with. MEN!
But then when the new thingy gets here and a friend stops by while the husband is punching a hole in the wall to get the receiver (on an extension) closer to the router because there’s no way now I’m going to spend more on getting this setup—whew, long winded sentence—I make the comment or started to about why he even wanted it. He gives me that look and says, “I’m doing it for you.”
Yep, that shut me up. While thinking, You should have asked if I wanted it, which I very discreetly did not say, I couldn’t help feeling touched that he wanted to do something nice for me.
So, is this story over? Nope. With the hole on the other side of the wall, Dish receives just fine. That was when we discovered the deal with Blockbuster is a little different than Netflex through blueray. I kept wondering why Dish was being so generous, offering a way to get movies through their box for free instead of their pay for view. Well, golly, gee, not fine print, but pay attention to the wording. Blockbuster ‘rents’ the movies to you through Dish. If you want the unlimited number the monthly membership pays for, it’s on the computer or by mail. Now we have a receiver with nothing to receive, and I’m watching for a good blueray on sale, wireless not built in, hoping the otherwise useless receiver isn’t Dish restricted and the new blueray speaks in English instead of letters.
Larriane AKA Larion Wills, two names one author, thousands of stories
buy link for all in one place go to: Amazon
https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/ three and counting