Monday, April 30, 2012

Fun Facts about May

May, named for the Greek goddess Maia, is the fifth month of the year, and one of seven months that contains 31 days.  I found this tidbit interesting--No other month begins or ends on the same day of the week as May!

May's birthstone is the emerald, which means love or success. The birth flower is the Lily of the Valley. Those born before May 20th fall under the zodiac sign of Taurus, and those born after, are considered Gemini.

Holidays and Events:

April 29-May 5--Known as 'Golden Week' in Japan. A combination of 4 national holidays gives workers up to 10 days off.
May 1--Feast of St. Joseph
            May Day
May 3--Lumpy Rug Day (Why you would celebrate this? I do not know.)
First Saturday--The annual Kentucky Derby, the most famous horse race in the US is held.
May 5--Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in honor of Mexican heritage and pride. (This is also my hubby's birthday. Feliz Cumpleanos, Juan!)
May 6--Finally seeing The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Oops! That's just me. :)
May 10--Clean Up Your Room Day (Children, this can coincide with the holiday that lands on the Second Sunday!)
May 12--International Nurses Day. (Thank a nurse!)
Second Sunday--Mother's Day in many countries. (Don't forget to honor your Mother!)
Last Sunday--The Indianapolis 500 race.
Last Monday--Memorial Day commemorates the fallen service members of the United States.
Second Week--Bicycle Week, a yearly international event advocates bicycling as a means of transportation.
May 25--Towel Day, in tribute to Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

National Month For:

The Incredible Edible Egg
Brain Tumor Awareness
Military Appreciation
Skin Cancer Awareness
Correct Posture
Share A Story

Famous Birthdates:

02 May 1903—Dr. Benjamin Spock (108) Author of parenting books.
05 May        ---Courtney Rene (none of your business) Author of Shadow Dancer and Shadow Warrior.
06 May 1868---Gaston Leroux (143) Wrote Phantom of the Opera.
08 May 1940---Peter Benchley (71) Author of “Jaws
09 May 1873---Howard Carter (138) Uncovered the secrets of King Tut's Tomb
21 May 1916---Harold Robbins (95) Steamy novelist.
22 May 1859---Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (152) Author of Sherlock Holmes novels.
25 May 1927---Robert Ludlum (84) Wrote “The Bourne Identity”
27 May 1894---Dashiell Hammett (117) Wrote “The Maltese Falcon
28 May 1908—Ian Fleming (103) Wrote 14 James Bond novels.
30 May 1908---Mel Blanc (103) Voice of Bugs Bunny.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

"Crystallophobia (Fear of Glass)," by Jim Bronyaur & Rebecca Besser (Book Thoughts and Author Interview)

I recently had the pleasure of reading "Crystallophobia," the first book in the Series of Fears. Check out the Facebook page!

Although I'm a big fan of Stephen King, I haven't read horror in a long time. Actually, I don't remember ever reading a zombie story. What can I say? I live a sheltered life. But I have to tell you, I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed the story line and the fast-paced tension of this book. I literally sat on the edge of my seat and gnawed on a fingernail while I read.

Jim and Rebecca keep the action moving in this tale of a struggling small town called Streinersburg, Ohio. We enter the lives of the townspeople on a normal Tuesday morning, when a sudden explosion changes everything.

I'd love to talk more about this book and series, but I thought it would be more exciting if the authors answered a few questions for us.

~Welcome, Jim and Becca! Thank you for allowing me to read the first book in The Series of Fear. Is this your first collaboration?

Bec: We wrote some poetry together back in the day on Soft Whispers. A Line At A Time, I believe it was called. Other than that...this is the first story/book we've written together.

Jim:  Yeah, we had small stuff before.  This is our biggest to date.  And plus, it’s a series, so we’re sort of stuck together, for now. 

~Well, so far, so good. You two work well together. You both have amazingly twisted minds! How did this project begin?

Bec: A joke from a post Jim did on Facebook saying there would never be sparkling zombies. I told him we could rock them and make them badass... LOL

Jim:  Yeah, we have weird conversations.  I’ll say something random and Bec finds a way to turn it into a horror book.  We started writing this story last year but it fizzled out a little.  Then I saw a show about fears and it sparked an idea for a series.  I wanted to take fears and twist them… turn them in a horror series… it just so happened that we had this sparkling zombie idea with pieces of glass in their bodies, etc. so our first fear was born – Crystallophobia, fear of glass.

~The characters had me laughing out loud, cringing and even I felt a little sad for the two old ladies. I enjoyed peeking into the townspeople's lives. Who created which characters?

Bec: I had Sparkles, her mom, the teenager, and the ambulance drivers. :) Everything else is Jim because he started the story. LOL

Jim:  I enjoyed Sparkles… for the time she was there (hehe).  I just thought of a small town, hidden away from the rest of the world, and wrote.  My favorite character of course is Perkins.  His name is cool and he was just fun to build. 

~Which book is the next in the series? Could you give us a little hint what it's about?

Bec: Technology and The Devil/Demons.

Jim:  The next one is Bec’s idea.  It’s a sick premise and I fell in love with it.  A man who was raised Amish gets engaged and moves into a more modern time.  His fiancĂ©e gives him a cell phone as a present and soon he begins to think that technology is coming to life to kill him. 

~Ooh! That sounds like a good one too! How can everyone get their copy of Crystallophobia?

Bec: Kindle and Nook!

Jim:  Yup.  And soon enough, we’ll be distributed through Smashwords for .PDF, Sony, Apple, etc.

~Thanks again for stopping by! Good luck with your series. I can't wait until the next one comes out!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spreading The News--April 2012

Newspaper Isolated

April has been busy, busy. 

I just spent two nights at my girlfriend's house, watching her toddler while she and her hubby went to the hospital to have their second child.

Welcome to the world, little Raymond! 
Anyway, I have a ton of things to do...

I am only halfway through Robert Lee Brewer's April Platform Challenge, so my weekend will be quite full playing catch-up. (Stop by and take a look. Even if you can't catch up to be in the running for the prize, every author should do these tasks in order to build a good author platform.)

Calls for Submission

Rattle publishes poetry, translations, reviews, essays, and interviews. Now through August 1st, they are reading for a tribute to Speculative Fiction poetry. This includes Fantasy, Horror, Alternate History, etc. but they accept regular submissions year-round.

Tor accepts submissions for Science Fiction short stories and poetry. They pay .25 per word!

Celebrate Life is looking for holiday-related material and commentaries. No fiction or poetry! They pay .15 to .25 word!

Event, Canada publishes mainly Canadian writers, but are open to anyone writing fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction in English. They pay a minimum of $25 and a maximum of $500. Check out their website as they only read during certain months.

Knowonder! is still accepting submissions even though the magazine is on hold until June 1st. They have increased their pay to $25 for 500-999 word stories and $50 for over 1,000 words.


WoW! Women On Writing is having their Spring 2012 Flash Fiction Contest. Entry Fee: $10.00 and the guest contest judge is Regina Brooks, founder and President of Serendipity Literary Agency. The Theme is Open, with a word count of 250-750. There's a limit of 300 entries, so act fast!

Family Circle's Fiction Contest ends September 7, 2012. Up to two (2) entries per person, of no more than 2500 words.

On The Premises's Contest #17 is open until May 31, 2012. Make them laugh, or at least smile, in 1,000 to 5,000 words.

Writing Retreat

There are still some spots left at the Homeric Writers' Retreat & Workshop. Join Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest, and poet and author, Jessica Bell, August 2-8, 2012 on the beautiful isle of Ithaca, Greece.
Fee with accomodation and buffet breakfast is only 1,550 Euros!

Oh, and by the way, my blog hit 5,000 views today! I'm so excited! Thank you to everyone who visits. :D


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Monday, April 23, 2012

"Promise Not To Tell," by Jennifer McMahon (Book Thoughts)

"Book Thoughts" should have posted last Monday. Unfortunately, my brain was in a fog. "Spreading The News," which was scheduled for today, will post on Wednesday.

Interweaving past and present, Promise Not To Tell is a story of friendship, secrets, murder, and redemption. At its center is Kate Cypher, a reserved 41-year-old school nurse who returns to the small town of New Canaan, VT, to care for her Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother. The night she arrives, a young girl is murdered. Slowly Kate is drawn into the investigation—and deep into the childhood she’s tried to escape—for the killing eerily echoes the death of another young girl: her childhood friend, Del. Poor, misunderstood, Del suffered the taunts of classmates who shunned her and called her “Potato Girl.” But in Del, 10-year-old Kate found a kindred spirit, until a painful falling out shattered their relationship shortly before Del’s death.

"Promise Not to Tell" is Jennifer McMahon's debut novel. I recently talked about her second novel, "Island of Lost Girls." What can I say? I never do things in order. Anyway, "Promise Not To Tell" is a suspenseful murder mystery/ghost story which alternates between the 1970s and 2002.

The story took unexpected twists and turns and gave my heart quite a workout, but I also found myself in tears at times. This novel is quite unforgettable.

Kate and her mother live in a teepee on a hippie commune in Vermont. Del Griswold, who lives on a neighboring potato farm, dubs Kate her 'deputy' and the mysterious girl becomes her friend.

Kate just wants to fit in at school, but hides the truth about her friendship with Del because of rumors of the potato girl who rides naked on her pony and other assorted tales. She isn't cool enough to be friends with the popular girls, but she makes them believe she knows all about Del and can reveal the outcast's secrets. At the same time, Kate tells Del the secrets she learns about the popular girls.

Del is shunned and tormented by the class, and is brutally murdered. Kate lives with the shame of betraying Del, but still thirty years later, denies they were ever friends.

When Kate returns to Vermont to care for her ailing mother, another young girl is murdered and Kate's past and present collide in unexpected ways. Del does not rest in peace.

"One potato, two potato, three potato, four--she's coming after you now, better lock your door."


Do you have a book suggestion or your own published book you'd like me to read? 
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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Building A Platform

Construction Site

The gauntlet was thrown and I had to take up the challenge. My friend and fellow-writer, Claudsy, alerted me to an author platform building challenge run by Robert Lee Brewer. (Go Here if you'd like to join in on the fun!)

I figured, why not? I need to build my platform and besides, I work best under pressure of deadlines. I put on my hard hat and joined in on Day 4 but it took seventeen days for me to strap on the tool belt and get around to actually doing the challenge! Needless to say, as of this post, the rest of the challenge community is on Day 22 while I am still lagging behind by ten days. Have no fear, I WILL complete the challenge on time!

Some of the tasks are easy, and thankfully I already had a few of them done. Some tasks make you stop, think, and define yourself, while other tasks are about interacting with other blogs and writers, which is always a good thing. To sweeten the deal, Mr. Brewer is giving away a copy of 2012 Writer's Market Deluxe Edition (which he edited) to one lucky challenge participant.

Hopefully, I'll get a copy of that book, but realistically, I know that by the end of the 30 days, I will make some new writing friends and have a better social media presence. Then, I'll have to figure out how to keep them all up to date.

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Author Spotlight--Claudette J. Young

I first met Claudette (affectionately known as Clauds) on the Institute for Children's Literature forum, back in 2009. I was a scared, shy, (no, really, I am!) beginner looking for a critique group to help me hone my new writing skills. Clauds invited me to join her, Christine, Peg, and Deb, and they welcomed me with open arms. We became a tight-knit little group--full of ideas, great advice, and plenty of support.

Eventually, illnesses and lack of time caused our little group to disband, but I'll always consider that critique group, and especially Claudette, as one of the biggest influences of my writing life. I'm so lucky to have the honor of interviewing this wonderful woman.

Claudette J. Young began life very early, sucking in information and experience like her mother’s vacuum inhaled grass stems and dandelion fluff after a day in the sun. She’s lived in many areas of the country, preferring to experience places for longer than vacations allow. Along the way, she’s collected characters, dialects, and impressions, that get translated into poems, essays, and stories. Claudette began sharing those translations in 2009 and continues to write with passion and determination. Her success is defined by her own criteria and satisfaction.

A sampling of Claudette's published works:
Yahoo News/Associated Content (Travel, op-ed, children’s story, Yahoo Writer Style Book)
SuperTeacher Worksheets (Math Word Problems and quizzes,incorporating reading comprehension with problem solving and logic skills)
Sea Giraffe Magazine [online] (Poetry pending release date)
Soft Whispers Magazine [online] (Poetry)
The River Literary Journal [online] (Poetry)
Small River Stones Journal [online] (Poetry)
Prompted: An International Collection of Poems (Poetry Anthology)
My Friend, Smories and other online magazines(Children’s stories)
ICL Newsletter (Articles for children’s writers)

~ Hi Claudsy! So nice of you to visit with us today. Your bio says that your success is defined by your own criteria and satisfaction. That sentence exudes confidence and contentment. Too often, we writers have a hard time reaching that state. How long did it take you to reach that level?

How long? Well, I’d say about 50 years sounds about right. For me, writing was a dream that few believed in and fewer encouraged. I needed to get old enough that I no longer cared what anyone thought about my activities. I came to a place where I could own my own life without having to seek approval from someone else. Of course, going through “TheArtist’s Way” by Julia Cameron didn't hurt any, either.

~"The Artist's Way" sounds interesting. I just had to put that book on my Amazon Wishlist!
You’ve lived in many places and your life is quite eventful. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?

I’ve survived to be sitting here,f or one. I’ve been a teacher, a corporate systems test engineer, successfully owned and operated my own business, taken advanced degrees, worked jobs few would believe, and on and on. In all that adult life, I think the greatest accomplishment I’ve made is arriving to senior status without totally losing my mind or going postal.

I am stunned when I look back on all that’s happened during my lifetime. It’s enough to dislodge anyone’s reality base. I figure so long as I can function to a decent degree each day without falling into a constant fantasy of living on another world, I’m doing okay and accomplishing a small miracle. That’s difficult for a writer to do some days, I know, but possible. So long as I can keep myself from reading out loud in public, I’m okay. Oops, that’s another writer’s habit to be wary of.

~You have three blogs. (Claudsy’sCalliope) (Trailing Inspirations) (Claudsy’sBlog [wordpress])

Three blogs!! And they are all informative, energetic, and current. You also have an impressive list of published works--poetry, articles, worksheets, novels, and short stories. What a broad spectrum! Where are you most comfortable? What do you find the most challenging?

Three blogs? Let’s make that an active four blogs. I snuck one in on you over at BlogHer that I’m doing daily right now, due to challenges that I’m pushing to meet. And let’s hold off on celebrating the novels for a bit. The three that I’m working on aren’t with a publisher quite yet. They’ll get there before too long, I hope.

As for where I’m most comfortable, I don’t know that I can give you a definitive answer. At least, not a concrete one. I tend to begin any project with the belief that with enough study and time I’ll be able to conquer it, regardless of what it is. Believe me, that leads to frustration—big time. I’ve always worked with a personal expectation of my doing it perfectly and quickly in my first shot. Such expectations aren’t easy to live with. It’s taken me years to accept that no one but God performs such feats.

The understanding doesn’t prevent backsliding, though. Take travel writing, for instance. I love reading and writing travel articles. Some that I write are much better than others. My sister’s and my travel book has been a nightmare to work on. Why? Because I can envision too many angles to take the book and its information. We finally settled on an inspirational book, with a couple of extended sequels, that speak to only that one aspect of our experiences.

Whenever I sit down to work on the manuscript, I must force my thoughts as a laser beam focused on that specific vein and not allow my thoughts to wander off the path. That is difficult for me on this book. My earlier training of extrapolative thought processes has programmed me to use a different type of thought. Changing focus for only this one project makes for challenging writing sessions.

Writing essays, memoir, etc. allows me to stretch my skillsets, which also keeps me interested in writing. My biggest challenge is confining a wandering/questioning interest pattern. I’m very comfortable with research. I can get lost and totally absorbed when doing research and find dozens of paths to take with articles on whatever subject I’ve delved into. Alas, that can lead to its other problems. (Note: please reference the above two paragraphs.)

My biggest daily challenge is getting as much of my work finished in the least amount of time. That’s ongoing; to which, I’m sure, most writers can agree. My nemesis is learning fast enough to keep current with the demands of the writing business and the technical knowledge necessary to navigate my marketing needs.

I take writing courses constantly--always learning something new so that if, for whatever reason, I can’t do one type of work, I’ll have another to fall back on. That’s critical for me. I’ve just begun another this weekend, while finished one at the same time. Of course, this does eat into my writing time, but it pays for itself later, especially when a course is free.

~Do you have a secret talent?

If I do, it’s still very much a secret--seriously. Those who know me know that I’ll try most things at least once, just to see if I can do them. Once I conquer them—I don’t have to become a master—I move on to something else.

When I lost most of my sight in my late twenties, every gear I had moved into experimental mode. There was so much to learn, so many demands, so much adjustment. My brain got reprogrammed to take in so many tiny variants of my surroundings that I can’t even fathom now how I navigate in the material world.

I used a dog guide for a long time, all through university and then through corporate life. My second dog was with me through my teaching years. After that I used either cane or sighted guide. I know that any day could be my last day of having any kind of usable sight. My subconscious sweats the small stuff most of the time and adjusts to accept new sensory data that I’m not consciously aware of.

Concentration is my best friend. Distraction causes me great distress. Crowds disorient me and the noise level gives me a headache. I’ve been in hypersensitive mode for so long that I’m wound like a spring most of the time.

My training in so many fields, with and without sight, has set up a unique way for my brain to process information. Extraneous info zips in and out without making an impact, unless it concerns me, personally. But more than that, I’ve learned to associate across so many genres and subjects that I blend information constantly. I take one detail from this, add it to two details from that, and create something we can call new. It’s automatic for me. It also creates that problem we spoke of earlier. It creates so many angles on a subject that focusing on one can turn painful.

~In February, you took on a blog challenge themed, “Relative.” Once a week, I’d grab a cup of coffee and settle in to read your posts about the special people in your life. I laughed, I cried, and reminisced about some of my own family members. Tell me, will you turn those posts into a memoir?

One of my writer friends asked that question while we were doing the challenge. I had told her about the challenge and she took it up and ran with it, as well. And that’s exactly what she intended to do with her posts later.

For me, though, I had to be terribly selective about what I chose to tell and what to leave alone. We all, I think, have those types of memories that are much too painful to relive, even for ourselves. That challenge was one of the hardest writing exercises I’ve ever done. I cried through each post, for different reasons each day.

Someone asked me if those posts were cathartic. I don’t think so, not really. I feel things deeply. I think in pictures and emotion. Going back through the memories I used for Claudsy’s Blog brought back all of the associative memories, too, which weren’t all sweetness and light. So much of the time I hurt for the people I remember, not for myself. I know what they endured, aspired to and failed, found and lost.

Besides, I have too many other projects in the works right now. Ten years down the road, I’ll think about it...

~Finish this sentence:  I’d love to make over _________, but I’d never change________.

I’d love to make over _America_, but I’d never change_the Constitution_.

~Thank you so very much for stopping by and sharing with us. Keep writing!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fun Facts about April

April is the fourth month of the year and is one of four months with a length of 30 days. April starts on the same day of the week as July and ends on the same day of the week as December.

April's birthstone is the diamond the the birth flower is typically the Daisy or the Sweet Pea. Those born before April 21st are born under the zodiac sign, Aries, and those born April 21st and after are considered Taurus.

Holidays and Events

1st--April Fool's Day
2nd--National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day
5th--Rubber Eraser Day
7th--Passover begins
8th--Easter Sunday
11th--Eight Track Tape Day
15th--Tax Day
17th--Cheese Ball Day
22nd--Earth Day
24th--Pigs-In-A-Blanket Day
26th--Pretzel Day

Last Friday in April--Arbor Day
Fourth Thursday in April--Take Our Sons and Daughters To Work Day

National Month for:

Jazz Appreciation
Pets Are Wonderful
STDs Education and Awareness (Goes hand in hand with the third one on this list.)

Famous Birthdays:

April 2--Hans Christian Anderson (1805) Danish author of many famous fairy tales.
April 3--Washington Irving (1783) American author of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."
April 4--Maya Angelou (1928) Poet
April 5--Booker T. Washington (1856) Educator, author and founder of Tuskegee University
April 8--Buddha
April 10--Joseph Pulitzer (1847) Publisher and creator of the journalism prize.
April 12--Tom Clancy (1947) Author of novels about war and intrigue.
April 13--Eudora Welty (1909) Author of short stories and novels about Mississippi life.
April 15--Leonardo daVinci (1452) Brilliant scientist and painter.
April 20--George Takei (1937) Played Mr. Sulu on Star Trek, and has a hilarious Facebook page.
April 21--Charlotte Bronte (1816) Author of "Jane Eyre."
April 22--Vladimir Nabakov (1899) Author of "Lolita."
April 23--William Shakespeare (1564) Writer of comedies, tragedies, and histories.
April 28--Terry Pratchett (1948) UK's best-selling author of the 90s.
                Harper Lee (1926) Author of "To Kill a Mockingbird."