Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In Twitter and In Life

In Twitter and In Life

1. There are no do-overs.

2. Think before you speak. (And try to spell-check)

3. Just because nobody answers you, doesn't mean they aren't listening.

4. Don't be annoying. If you keep saying the same thing over and over, no one will listen.

5. If you ask a question, and someone answers, be kind enough to acknowledge that person.

6. Be nice to people.

7. There will always be cliques. If you're not in a clique, it's okay. Really. If you're in a clique, see #6.

8. Don't ignore people unless they're annoying or not nice.

A Short List of Friendly Twitter people to follow:

Me, of course! @deestan62

Belinda Witzenhausen (writer & editor) @BWitzenhausen

Andrea Buginsky (YA writer) @AndreaBuginsky

Ksenia Anske (writer) @KseniaAnske

Lydia Aswolf-Cary (writer, blogger, dispenser of #tweettreats) @LydiaAswolf

Cheryl Kaye Tardif (writer) @CherylKTardif

Freeange (an uplifting and friendly soul who loves to read) @poemgal

Lisa Rodrigo (daytime soap opera blogger) @thesoapspiel

Cheri Lynn Frye (lover of Outlander novels) @CelticFrenchFry

Tablo Publishing (publishes e-books) @tablopublishing

Brickstone Publishing (publisher) @BrickstonePub

Carol Marrs Phipps (Fantasy writer) @Car01am

Sarah Allen (writer & blogger) @SarahAllenBooks

Khara House (poet) @ourlostjungle

Elyse Salpeter (writer) @elysesalpeter

My Not So Real Life (teen book blogger) @MyNSRL

So tell me--What life lesson has Twitter taught you? Don't forget to share your twitter name. We'll be sure to follow you too!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

SHOW & SHARE--Workspaces--Anne E. Johnson

Anne E. Johnson

Where the Magic Happens

by Anne E. Johnson

I can’t really call this my writing space. Almost all my first drafts are born of pen meeting paper in the corner of a coffee shop, on a subway seat, or on my living room couch. This picture shows my revising and editing station. However, as any writer knows, that’s the stage when the magic in a book is uncovered and allowed to flourish.

Yes, yes, it’s a mess. Insert famous quote here (attributed to Einstein) about the importance of clutter to the development of genius. But in this junkyard are buried countless comforting items and features that keep me seated and working for hours at a time. 

Inside info? Why sure! Here are two elements of my workspace philosophy:

The “desk” itself is not a desk. My ancient laptop sits on a sewing machine table from the 1940s that my great grandma used for its original purpose when I was a little kid. It’s beat up and even squeaks a little, but I love it. 

Perpendicular to that, forming what’s called an “ell-shaped desk” among hifalutin types, is a truckload of notes and manuscript pages (and a box of Kleenex for when a sad scene makes me cry) dumped onto an aluminum TV-dinner table. 

For an extra chuckle: the long cardboard box you see behind the computer contains a “real” desk that simply needs assembly. That box has been sitting there for years because I won’t give up my sewing table.

I need company, protection, inspiration, humor, and comfort while I’m working. Therefore I keep myself surrounded by a bevy of friends: 

For company and support, there’s a picture of my husband. 

For protection against the lethal brain drain of negative thoughts, there’s a poster and action figure of The Wolverine. 

For inspiration when the idea factory threatens a strike, there’s an ever-changing gallery of creative people I admire. At the moment I’m watched over by playwright Terrence McNally, painter Keith Haring, and dancer/director Tommy Tune. Of course, I’m inspired by books, too, but we own over a thousand; only a tiny percentage of them are stored near my work station.

For humor, there’s a giant plush pineapple, a clock shaped like a chicken, and two friendly monsters named Nerdyworm and Plum, painted by a company called Kudu-La.

For comfort, especially in the winter when the office gets very cold, I keep a pair of fluffy pink slippers in front of my chair.

Visit Anne's website to discover all the magic she creates!

Twitter-- @AnneEJohnson

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Anthology Angst

A few years ago, I wrote a short story. The story was one of those "what if" ideas that popped into my head and wouldn't leave. I had no particular market in mind. Every so often, I would pull out that story and revise and submit. Eventually it found a home as part of an anthology with a small publisher.

In December 2013, the book was finally completed and offered through I was so excited! I ordered a single copy for my personal bookshelf. When it arrived in the mail, I performed all of my book rituals--I ran my hand across the glossy cover, I brought the book up to my nose and inhaled the wonderful scent of paper and ink, I gently fanned the pages a bit to check out the black typeset on the cream colored pages, then, I closed the book and hid it between two other books in my to-be-read pile.

That's right. I said I hid it. Why? Well, I don't know. I knew what my story was about. I knew I proofread my work before it went to print, but I didn't know the other authors. I didn't know the other stories. I break out into a cold sweat when someone reads my work. What if people hate it? I know, I know. I had put it out there for the world to see. That's the chance I chose to take.Suddenly I felt shy and unsure of myself.

I've heard people say that being a writer is a lot like parenting. Our stories are like our children. Having one of those stories in an anthology is like a parent bringing their child to their first day of school. All the parents stand around, holding onto their child's hand, knowing they should let go because it's time for them to leave the shelter of our homes, get out into the world, and hopefully become a source of pride. But we also fear whether our child will be accepted. We don't want them to be criticized. 

As writers and parents, we can only hope we did the best job we could, forming and nurturing our offspring. I know I need to own this thing. I need to grab that book out of its hiding place, do some marketing and tell the world all about it. 

It's pretty cool really. I was part of this project that brought 14 writers together. Our stories, just like our children, may be individuals, but in an anthology, they meld together into a group with a common purpose. I am a part of this book of stories, in all its glory and even with its flaws. 

On the first day of school, once the children are coaxed into their classroom, the parents stand around, feeling awkward. So I decided that I'll be that one parent who invites the others over for a cup of coffee and some conversation.

I hope they come. We'll see what happens.

In the meantime, check out our collaboration: Contrary Cats (my baby is on page 55)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Charles John Huffam Dickens was born on February 7, 1812. He published 15 novels and numerous short stories, non-fiction, poetry and plays. Charles Dickens is regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian Period.

I found this beauty in a used book store.

Dickens was a critic of poverty and social stratification in Victorian society. His novels were often works of social commentary.

Writing at his desk.

Dickens preferred blue ink as it dried faster than other colors, eliminating the need for blotting.

In his Gad's Hill Place home, Dickens had a door built to look like a bookcase. Behind the door was a secret room.

If you're a fan of Dickens, you may enjoy the Charles Dickens Museum Gift Shop where you can purchase dip pens, bottled ink, quills, blotting paper, and other Dickensian objects like this Oliver Twist bowl .

Did You Know?

  • Charles Dickens loved magic and would perform for friends.
  • He was an epileptic.
  • His first business card listed his occupation as a shorthand writer.
  • Dickens enjoyed cold showers.
  • The Arabian Nights was the book that inspired him most.
  • Dickens was obsessive-compulsive and frequently re-arranged the furniture in his home.
  • He was friends with Hans Christian Andersen.
  • Charles Dickens would walk 20-30 miles a day. (The fact that he and his wife had 10 children may or may not be the reason.)
  • He preferred to write in the wee hours of the night.
  • Dickens sometimes combed his hair a hundred times a day!
  • He preferred sitting and observing the poor and lower middle class than to dine with the upper class.
  • Dickens was an insatiable cigarette smoker.
  • Dickens died on June 9, 1870 and is buried in Poet's Corner at Westminster Abbey.