Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Jury Duty & Proofreading

Well, jury duty is a pretty darn good place to accomplish some much needed proofreading and editing! I took the vampire novel with me and got through several chapters. This is version #3 in print...and still I am finding stuff that needs changing and correcting. There are missing letters and commas. Sigh...sometimes I think there is a gremlin at CreateSpace that deletes random letters when it's transforming the file from word to PDF or whatever it does.

I was going along great guns, but there were only 2 cases scheduled in Chicopee District Court today and both settled without going to trial. I was there all of two and a half hours...well, 3 hours total because I got there just after 8AM without running into expected traffic and road construction delays.

Then I was distracted by my favorite thing- storm clouds, and one of my least favorite things, laundry. Took an awesome shot of a shadowy male head and shoulders emerging vertically from a fluffy white cloud. Behind him is the snarling face of a male lion or a Foo Dog- whichever one you prefer to see. I think it's one of the coolest cloud pictures I've taken since the Old English Sheep Dog puppy cloud and the black faced sheep cloud!

I should have jury duty more often...I can accomplish a lot sitting around doing nothing else constructive while waiting for lawyers to work the art of plea bargains and deals. In 35 years since the state of Massachusetts switched to the one day one jury system I've been summoned for jury duty numerous times...and NEVER have I  made it into a courtroom to even be considered as a juror. I am so bitterly disappointed in the system! However, I did find out today that if you're 69 you can write on your form that you no longer want to be summoned for jury duty once you're 70 years old! Woohoo! I don't think I'll be wanting to sit in a stuffy little jury room at that age anyway. So, the way it's been going, I doubt very much I'll ever sit in the juror's box and listen to a court case. Thank God for Perry Mason reruns that satisfy the desire for a little courtroom drama in me!

Back to editing The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation. Vampire novel is back in the holding pattern.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Slow Going

I've been sidelined by an especially bad RA flare. I am NSAID intolerant and refuse to take opioids because I don't like how they make me feel and I can't focus or think on them so have always refused- even after surgery! Not for me. Therefore, ice and heat as needed, rest, and not overdoing it because it affects my joints and tendons making me feel like a disjointed marionette with lose strings attached-wobbly and unbalanced.

I did make it downtown for an hour yesterday during Busker's Day to listen to some of the musicians playing on the sidewalks, to sit and chat with friends under the Artworks tent and to visit authors Melissa Volker and Tom Deady at the tent they shared on the green for the library's Summer Reading event. Then I stopped into Blue Umbrella Books to chat with Jessica and Joyce about the WhipCity Wordsmiths. I need the local indie bookstore onboard as we'll be looking to utilize their open floor space beginning in September. It was a beautiful sunny, hot but breezy day. I grabbed a soda at Runtz mini hot dogs stand where Marion Dunk and Chip were playing their guitars.

Came home and reclined in my chair with Revere purring on my chest. Did some more editing in The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation. I'm done with The Fairlawn Investigation but haven't corrected the digital version yet. Slow progress due to fatigue and low energy.

Kelly, meanwhile, was motivated by my editing Teleport to do her own read through and edits. Happy to say she has released her second novel and it's available on Amazon, but not yet in the local book store.

I plan on going to the Agawam Public Library's ReadLocal event tomorrow evening. It's Kelly's birthday, I have to work, so I'm hoping I'll have enough energy left at the end of the day to drop by and visit with the authors and see what's new with them, and maybe add to my pile of books to read!
Hoping to see some familiar faces there and meet some authors I haven't hd a chance to meet yet.

Kelly's a motorman at the Connecticut Trolley Museum. We took separate vehicles to Dunkin Donuts this morning as she had to leave from there to get to the museum and I had errands to run. She was dressed in her navy blue pants, black shoes, black vest, white shirt and motorman's hat, with her pocket watch and fob clipped to her vest and tucked into the vest pocket. She received a sort of startled look from the girl behind the counter and then a smile. Then all the patrons were looking at her and smiling. She looked like a living anachronism- because seriously, who dresses like that these days? It's fun to watch people react to her out of the context of the trolley museum, and I think she gets a kick out of being a walking advertisement for the museum.

Hope to write something today...it's been awhile because RA also causes mental fog apparently- can't stay focused which is a huge disappointment and frustration. It's also worrisome because if this is progressive, then how many more years do I have to write if I'm not going to be able to think and get into the zone I need to be in? That, to me, is scary stuff because writing is my passion and I don't want to lose it!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Just Doing It- A Writer's Group Emerges

Well, Kelly and I have been kicking this around, and at first I was all No, no and NO, I will not even attempt this...but people kept asking and expecting, and I am not the kind of person who likes to disappoint, so I reconsidered and we kicked the idea around some more. Next, I reached out to a few local author friends and acquaintances and received enthusiastic responses.

Next came the formulating of the group because there are a million writers groups out there where writers of various skill levels sit around a table and write to prompts and then critique one another's work and maybe discuss a subject and then go home and do their own thing until the next meeting with possibly no contact between members in the interim.

I once belonged to a group like that. It rapidly grew tired and monotonous.

Therefore, on the membership applications I asked what each applying member wanted from the group and a lot of them said they wanted to learn something, improve their writing, and enjoy socializing with other authors/writers and developing a camaraderie among local writers.

I took all this input and created a group that will be member driven with a moderator for each meeting- a member volunteer or one assigned or selected at the preceding meeting who would basically act as the referee/ringmaster and make sure the topics remain on writing and writing related matters and not gardening and an exchange of recipes. Members will be given an opportunity to discuss their current or past projects, their triumphs and dismal disappointments. Everyone will bring something to the table, And occasionally we'll have fun flash fiction prompts and write and do the traditional critiquing, back patting and ego stroking if so inclined, and grow comfortable with one another.

I want authors/writers to step up and mentor new and young writers, and beta read for members who are seeking feedback on their projects. Kelly and I have accepted the application of a book reviewer who might have time to write one day in the future. Picking the brain of a book reviewer- what author doesn't want to know exactly what makes them tick?

I also want the group to host several local author fairs over the course of each year, host read-ins at bookshops and other locations as allowed, and we would have one all-day writer's retreat with a potluck picnic just to have fun and talk among like minded people about writing, and maybe other things because it will be a very relaxing day. A possible segment of the day might be Sparks- where we sit around an bounce story ideas off one another trying to spark someone to write something outside their wheelhouse or comfort zone.

I want this group to have full membership participation- members don't have to stand up and lecture on the pro and cons of traditional versus self-publishing or whatever, but everyone should have a voice that's heard.

So, from No to Go...WhipCity Wordsmiths is now a reality. The public is welcome to read the blog, but only approved members will be given author access to post n the blog, and anything we deem inappropriate will be removed. Let's try to stick to topics on writing and related matters.This blog can be viewed by typing whipcitywordsmiths.blogspot.com into your browser. It's BLUE- you can't miss it!! (If you are a member and an author on the blog then you might get a different view of the blog as such since you can post n it)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mike's Trolley Stories

I just finished reading stories 4 & 5 set at the Connecticut Trolley Museum and written by Kelly's friend (and mine) Mike Brenner. I thoroughly enjoyed his stories. Kelly and I will be helping him ready his work for making the five linked stories into a book. This is Mike's first attempt at writing a book- and I was impressed by the quality of his writing, and the amount of research he put into making all the details in the stories as accurate as possible.

It also touched me because I am a New England girl since birth and every year since childhood there have been a couple trips to the trolley museum to ride the cars. And every year since I was a little girl the motorman has given a speech about how the museum owns the right of way all the way to where the trolley park once stood and how they hope one day to lay down the track and make a little park at the end of the line. I'm in my late 50's now. They did make the current line longer- a mile and a half in length. It was shorter when I was a kid in the 60's. But, I doubt I'll live long enough to see the Connecticut Trolley Museum's dream come true.

Anyway, I really loved the stories- I laughed and cried and felt warm fuzzies and cold chills. I disliked the bureaucrat and loved Trolley Three and many of the other characters. They all seemed familiar to me.

Good job, Mike Brenner! Even if this may be your one and only attempt at writing a book you pulled out all the stops and brought the trolley back to the barn after giving this reader one heck of a ride on the rails to the dark side and back!!


Sunday, June 18, 2017

What's On My Plate?

I have three novels to proofread and edit- slowly making my way through The Fairlawn Investigation at present, with The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation to follow, and then the vampire novel that poor neglected book!

I just put Mike Brenner's stories 4 & 5 into a binder and will start reading them for him today as his beta reader. I'm looking forward to this because the first three he's sent me have been very good! I expect no less from these two!

Weekends are much too short. I would prefer to work two days a week and write/edit/proofread/beta read/etc five days a week- then maybe I could catch up with things!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Three Projects to Finish

I just finished proofreading daughter Kelly's second novel, Teleport. She made all the corrections that I'd found needed to be done last evening while I was getting a haircut. I think she wants to go through it again herself to see if she wants to tweak it a little more before letting it go out there into the marketplace.

Meanwhile, I have my vampire novel patiently awaiting another proofreading and continuity check because I changed things since proof number 2. I also have both Amberton Paranormal Investigation Society novels to proofread. I've been slowly going through Fairlawn since finishing Teleport. Therefore, the three novels are in their almost ready for publication stage.

Tomorrow is the first Local Author Fair at the Southwick Public Library. I need to finish getting ready for this event tonight so I can grab and go tomorrow morning. I'm really looking forward to seeing author friends and meeting authors I haven't had the opportunity to meet yet. I understand there is a child author that will be there, too. And, hopefully, my neighbor, Sonia Ellis will have gotten her application in in time so she'll also be there.

I'll have Black King Takes White Queen with me for this event as I believe we are being limited to one book...that wasn't quite clear.

Next Tuesday morning author friend Melissa Volker and I are supposed to be on an early morning radio program here in town with Bob Plasse formerly of Westfield on Weekends...will have to jolt myself awake with a cup of joe that morning! I owe Melissa a copy of butterscotch-a collection of stories. It's already in my car so I'll have it with me. I just need to remember to take it in with me to give it to her!

Off to prepare for tomorrow! Watching artist friend James Johnson-Corwin paint tonight- he's doing a Stephen King themed painting (maybe Pennywise?) around 10PM. He's painted a wave rolling into shore and a droid so far this week. He's amazing! It's been a great way to unwind after a long day- watching him paint live on facebook!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Felt Good To Write Last Night

I have been so busy this year that I haven't done much in the way of new writing except for ghost stories. I had an idea for a new novel over a month ago, started writing it twice but it stalled both times. Started this novel for the third time at 8:30PM last night and wrote until 11:30PM. I am 5,588 words, 11 pages into it and this is just chapter one where the main characters first begin to interact...and then he takes off for Europe to continue mastering his craft, which is mechanical clock making. He's already adept at it, but he wants to learn everything there is and continue improving n his amazing clock towers. And he has a terrible secret that will follow him wherever he goes.

I didn't want to stop and go to bed, but I had to work today, so made myself hit the hay and sleep instead of staying up writing all night like I really want to.

The work day seems so long when you really want to be home working on your new novel, but someone's got to earn a living in the house, and I guess that's me.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Judith Sessler, Local Author

I have four books by western MA author Judith Sessler- Saints and Sinners or short stories from the bizarre to the sublime,  Fifty Shades of Green Coffeehouse Confessions of the Uncommon Joe,  Fifty-One Shades of Green The Emerald Inn Behind Closed Doors,  and The Legacy of Aidan McManus. I have read and enjoyed them all, and am looking forward to her next story collection.

I first met her last December during a pop-up shop event at the local indie book shop in town. We chatted a little bit, but I knew another author there, Melissa Volker, better so spent the majority of my time chatting with her and her mother who designs t-shirts with book themes.

I have wanted to meet Judith (Sandy) though. We've been friends on facebook since December, and she's sent me stories to beta read and provide feedback on, which I've thoroughly enjoyed doing for her. We laugh at one another's posts and chat message occasionally.

Yesterday I had the chance to really meet her at her book event for The Legacy of Aidan McManus. This book is resonating with me on many levels as it is a story of immigrants coming to America in the late 1800's thru 1900's, settling, struggling, establishing themselves, raising their families, hoping and praying for a better future for themselves and their children. The majority of her characters are of Irish descent, but there are some Italians in the mix because America is the great melting pot of blended cultures, after all.

I am a product of that blending of cultures. My father's family immigrated from Poland in the late 1800's, settling first in Suffield, CT where relatives had already established themselves as farmers. They moved to Hatfield, MA known for its onion, potato and tobacco crops. This is where my father, a first generation Polish American was born in 1928. He couldn't speak English when he started school and was sent home to learn English, which he did. His older brother played the accordion and had his own band on the radio that also played local weddings in the Greenfield/Northampton area.

The paternal side of my mother's family immigrated from southern Italy- Naples and Palermo areas. My grandfather was a first generation Italian American born in Greenfield, MA in 1905, in the middle of a pack of thirteen children. It's from this grandfather, a great oral storyteller, that I've inherited my ability to tell a story.

My maternal side grandmother was from French Canadian stock that immigrated to Canada from France, then migrated south into Maine where some of them remained while others traveled further south into western Massachusetts to work in the mills in Colrain (Kendall Mills) MA. My Mom was born in the little village of Griswoldville, MA in 1930, a second generation Italian/French Canadian American.

I am second generation Polish American on my Dad's side, third generation Italian/French Canadian on my Mom's side. I grew up listening to my grandparents talk about their families. My Italian relatives first settled on Mulberry Street in New York City where they all were barbers. My great-uncle Alfred and his son Donald, and my great-uncle Nino were barbers in Orange, MA and Pittsfield, MA. My uncle Nino had a purple Cadillac that my brother, swears he drove down the sidewalk when he took him and my Dad to get haircuts when we were visiting my great-uncle George who worked for GE in Pittsfield in the 60's. (My brother later drove his AMC Javelin down the sidewalk in Greenfield, MA when he went to college there- wonder where he learned that bad behavior from?)

Getting back to the point, The Legacy of Aidan McManus, was like reading history that had a personal meaning as well because her characters experienced things, lived in tenements, struggled, shared triumphs and tragedies just like my real life ancestors did. The only native Americans are Native Americans, the rest of us all immigrated from somewhere. Although the characters in the book are Irish and Italian, they could be Lithuanian, Czechoslovakian, English, Dutch, German, Ukrainian, Australian, Chinese, etc.

Judith has a way of breathing life into her characters, making them feel like people you might know from your own life. Her stories move along quickly and flow smoothly.

I really enjoyed meeting her again yesterday and having a chance to talk to her more about writing, our shared "hobby" of writing and being authors, our families, and projects we're working on. I firmly believe in supporting local authors and writers and try to make it to as many local events as I can. I've discovered many amazing books. Large publishing houses pick and choose and tend to go with established big name authors. I follow one author, who is up to book 11, about to release book 12 in the same series with the same characters basically rehashing the same thing. I would love to see something fresh and new from her, not the same thing only changed up a tiny bit from book to book. The horse is getting tired and this rider is about to fall out of the saddle and look for a fresher ride.

Judith offers a lot of variety in her writing. She even has some young readers in The Travel Kids series. She's versatile and entertaining. I highly recommend her.

Her books are available on Amazon and at Blue Umbrella Books here in Westfield and can be ordered from either location. Blue Umbrella's phone number for orders is 413-579-5383.

I am now happy to say that Judith (Sandy) and I have a bond as authors and friends. I'm looking forward to seeing her again at the Southwick Public Library's first Local Author event on June 17th from 10:30AM-12:30PM in Southwick, MA on Route 57.

Five stars for local author Judith Sessler from me, an avid reader and fan and it's not just because I'm an author and her friend. I've been a prolific reader forever so know a good book when I read one!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Proof Proves A Powerful Plus

The print proof copy of The Fairlawn Investigation arrived today. Just paging through it quickly I immediately spotted a humongous screw-up in chapter headings that leap from the pages, slapping me in the face. There are TWO Chapter 2s. There are inconsistencies in font size, and the use of digits versus spelled out numerals. How this ever got by me when I was putting the book together mystifies me as it's never happened before! I must have been editing on another planet- planet GoofUp.

I guess, when you scroll through a computer layout of ones novel, view it in digital proof layout when you're putting it all together and you don't take the time to look at an enlargement of every single page because you find it TEDIOUS...then you'd better order a print proof copy in order to catch what would be tremendously embarrassing errors BEFORE you okay the proof and your book is suddenly out there with your name on it and you find yourself wanting to crawl under a rock in shame!

This is why I like self publishing- because, if I was a lazy person and just approved this book and it went out for sale on Amazon and THEN I found the OMG MISTAKES, I can always pull the book and fix it, whereas big name authors don't have the luxury of yanking their books with boo-boos off the market- and believe me, I've seen some big publishers let books with errors that, as an author, would make me cringe and grind my teeth to dust, go out to the reading public. I've thrown such books aside in disgust- both with the author for not catching this stuff and the publisher for going forth and publishing unacceptable editions that will never grace my personal library shelves.  Don't they employ proofreaders anymore? What exactly do editors do? Don't they read the books, or even look at them? Are they lazy? Ignorant? Or just out to make money off a hard working writer- who should also be ashamed of themselves for submitting a work with so many mistakes.

Anyway- as a self publisher using the CreateSpace platform, I can quickly pull a book that I discover doesn't meet my standards, correct it in a day or less and have it back on the market within 36 hours of pulling it- and readers probably won't even know it was a hot mess when it made it's debut.

Anyway-advice to all self publishers is proofread your work, make it the best it can be...and then order a print proof and read it again because there are gremlins in your computer who enjoy messing with your hard work! You're bound to spot it once it's in print! Your work represents you as an author- if you're work is sloppy you won't make a good impression of persnickety readers, you won't earn the respect you want to receive. And you'll have that gut clenching experience of finding your wonderful book selling for a quarter in a bargain book bin at a library book sale or tag sale.

My books are a reflection of me and who I am as an author/writer- I want them to look their best when they leave home- like it's school picture day. I certainly don't want them looking neglected, as if I don't care what other people (ie. readers) think; like I just wanted them out of the house.

Respect yourself, respect your work, respect the intelligence of the reader- order a print proof copy and actually read it, examine it with a fine tooth comb, pull out a blue pen and don't be afraid to write all over the pages. If you're going to put a book out there, then make the effort to make it the best book it can be.

A proof copy is a powerful plus in the author's tool box.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Celebrating 25 books in 24 months

June 2017 marks two years since I began self publishing the accumulation of novels and stories in my house. It all began with a free two copies of my 2014 NaNo novel Medea that I finally got off my butt and self published through the winner's goody offered by CreaeSpace that year. The offer was extended and I decided to just go ahead and get my two free copies and be done with it.

I was disappointed with how the two books looked- not with CreateSpace, but with myself, because I really didn't know anything about self publishing at that point. Kelly, my computer and techno savvy then 23 year old daughter began instructing me on how to put together a better book- and I went on less than a month later to re-do the book, giving it a more professional appearance.

Afterthat...well...it occurred to me that a print book was smaller and easier to shelve than a binder, which my dining room and a tall cabinet in the den were crammed full of, not to mention three log drawers in file cabinets in the den...stories were literally taking over the house!

I began putting together story collections (Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, The Sweet Hearts Collections, and Christmas stories), and then focusing on the novels that I was suddenly churning out, having discovered that I could write full length novels in 2011.

I basically have self published a book a month, plus one. And there are currently 3 more novels about to come out, two already in the final proof stage, the third in the revision, almost ready for first proof copy stage.

Some days it's overwhelming to look at all the stories and the in=process novels still littering the dining room, but I can see gaps in the rows of binders in stacked milk crates, and have condensed the number of binders in file boxes stacked behind the dining room table. I think I'm making progress...but some days it's discouraging to see how much there is left to sort through, organize and do something with.

I have. more or less, been writing my entire life, but the majority of material that I have to sift through has accumulated since the 1990's. Earlier stories will probably just sit in the file cabinets quietly suffering abandonment until someone at some future time rediscovers them.

I feel that I have begun to accomplish some goals in my life- that once all this has already written material has been tackled and dealt with that I will be able to move on and publish one or two novels a year. It doesn't help that I am still writing. I write a NaNo Novel every year (since 2012), and occasionally a couple other novels during the year that make it into print, plus annual Christmas stories, Halloween stories, and now a dozen or so ghost stories for a recurring event at the local indie book shop I am involved in. I'm still writing while still trying to catch up and deal with everything I've already written.

At the two year mark in my journey of self publishing- I look at all the novels and collections I've created on my own in that time. I reflect back on all the work I've put into designing the books, and recently redesigning the majority of them to make them look and read even better. I do everything myself (well, okay, Kelly shares the proofreading and assist with adding headers and footers and the page numbers because I haven't mastered that yet, have maybe done it on my own one time out of 25) from write the books to designing them inside and out, publishing them and sort of marketing them and promoting them. I work full time so this is my other full time job. I haven't made much money with this one, but writing has always been my hobby, not something I ever expected to make any money on. I write to entertain myself, my family and friends. That I can entertain other readers is kind of a scary thing because you're basically throwing your heart and soul out there in front of total strangers- some chew you up and spit you out but I've learned to let that go because everyone is different and not everyone has something nice to say. I have been fortunate in receiving mostly good reviews of my work. I have also been incredibly astounded to have had a novel shortlisted in a major award contest recently. (And that was before the novel had undergone its final revision and all corrections had been made!)

In two years I have gone from obscure hobby writer to recognizable author (in my home town and surrounding towns). I occasionally get a fan letter or email. They usually make me cry. I'm just like that when someone takes the time to contact me and let me know they enjoyed what I've written.

I'm doing things I never thought I'd be doing. I'm a fairly private person...rather reclusive when not at my day job, staying in my house and writing. But now I attend local author events, participate in a recurring reading event, and have even begun laying down the groundwork of a different kind of author/writer group.

In 2011 I wrote my first novel. In 2012 I wrote my first NaNoWriMo novel. In 2013 I wrote the novel Kelly had been waiting for since 2003 as my NaNo novel. In 2014 I wrote Medea as my NaNo novel, expanding a short story I'd written for Kelly when she was in elementary school, and growing it up to young adult/new adult level for her. This was the first novel I self published under the pen name Victoria Bell, which I do not use anymore. But Medea was the novel that got me into self publishing all because of the free goody awarded to winners that year donated by CreateSpace- 2 free copies of my NaNo novel.

I've advanced as a writer/author and developed some self confidence in my own ability to tell a story. I have always been riddled with self doubt holes like Swiss cheese.

Two years- 25 self published books (plus one young reader book)- I'm pretty satisfied with what I've accomplished so far- and proud of myself from taking that first step forward out of total obscurity.

Other than all this, I really don't have much else to say about myself except I give 100% in my every day job as a medical secretary(where my work is helping patients obtain medications, durable medical equipment and home services, etc.)  and do the same when I come home in the evening and sit down to write after dinner nearly every night.

I'm not sure what lies ahead as I begin year three as a self published author...we'll just have to wait and see!

Monday, June 5, 2017

WhipCity Wordsmiths

Kelly was kind enough to redo the brand new blog for the WhipCity Wordsmiths for me so now I can start posting some basic info on it as I work toward getting this group up and running. Bear with me...my life is all about time constraints.  In the meantime, she's written and posted hilarious bios about me and herself on the members page for your enjoyment!

You can find the blog at whipcitywordsmiths.blogspot.com

Southwick Public Library Local Authors Event

I will be attending the Southwick Public Library's first Local Author Event on Saturday, June 17th, 2017 in Southwick, MA. I will have my recently OZMA AWARD shortlisted novel Black King Takes White Queen with me at this event. I wrote this fantasy/magical realism/coming of age novel about witches and warlocks for my daughter for her 25th birthday. She's been a Harry Potter fan since elementary school and has written Harry Potter fan fiction with her former college roomie and best friend, Bethany. So, I wanted to give her the next level up from Harry Potter, with a strong female lead character who grows into her role as Queen through the first few books in the series. The novel also is strong on relationships- family and friends- and working through problems that arise. There is also an aspect of social issues such as tolerance, working together for the common good, standing up to evil even when you think you'll fail. It's a modern day new adult/adult novel that is fairly hefty, but there is a lot of groundwork laid in this first novel for future volumes in the series. Black Knight, White Rook, the sequel, is already available in the marketplace, continuing Ivy and Romney's story, and Ivy's growing further into her role as Queen, and Buck's emergence as the black knight who protects and champions her while her husband, the King, struggles to be the leader he is destined to be while raising their toddler son, Ezra, the Black Prince.

I'm thrilled that fellow local authors Judith Sessler and Rhonda Boulette will also be at this event. Rhonda and I met at Articulture2017 this past April and became fast friends. I've been Judith Sessler's beta reader for a few projects that she's developing. She won the sribbled in proof copy of my new story collection butterscotch with her fast response to a spur of the moment facebook giveaway. Happily, she gave me positive feedback ont he book!

Just had an email from Sonia Ellis, another local author who happens to be a neighbor of mine. She's going to apply for a table at the event- hope she gets a spot!

Looking forward to this event which runs from 10:30AM-12:30PM.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Establishing the WhipCity Wordsmiths

It started out as a sleep deprived post on facebook when I jokingly posted that I was considering starting a writer's group of my own and asked who wanted to be a litwit..

It kind of floored me when five or six people fairly quickly posted that they wanted to join.

In researching the term litwit, I found that it's a registered trademark so that name cannot be used by a group of authors and writers, or anyone else.

So, I'll be creating a blog for WhipCity Wordsmiths that you'll be welcome to visit in the near future. You can read the sketchy basics below...things are still evolving...slowly...very slowly...

Why am I doing this after saying that I would not?

There are a couple of reasons. The primary reason is that I've been asked a dozen times to do this and have been reluctant to agree. However, the fact that I keep getting asked by different people has made me realize that there is still a need for some sort of a writing group in my home town.

The secondary reason is that I have a passion for writing and the written word. I also know that authors/writers are a different breed of people. I've discovered that non-writers have a very difficult time trying to comprehend how someone can pull a story out of their head (much like a stage magician pulls a rabbit out of his hat). Like the rabbit hidden in the hat, the story is already there in the gray matter inside a writer's head. A magician uses misdirection, deception, distraction, and sleight of hat to perform his magic tricks. A writer basically transfers words from their brain to their computer, notebook, journal, or any available scrap of paper that can take ink and creates a story, a poem, a research article, a teleplay, a memoir, a novel...whatever. The magic happens inside the skull where it is entirely INVISIBLE to everyone, except the author who may have visual images or something akin to a movie running through their mind. Making it visible in print- now that is a real trick! It's a trick that amazes me again and again every time I sit down at my laptop and start tapping the keys! (It pretty much astounds my family and friends, too, because whenever I drop a new book in their laps they look at me like I just sawed the cats in half and put them back together, half tuxedo cat, half tabby cat-how did you do that?.) Writing is just a part of me, a part of who I am- it's definitely not a trick or an illusion. It's a talent, a gift, a blessing, a curse, a passion...a natural part of me. It is so not a trick, although when I suffer writer's block I really wish that it was!


I have a busy life. I work full time. I write full time as a hobby. I'm actively involved in another hobby (vintage/antique button collecting). I'm a wife, a mother and I manage my home which is essentially a third full time job. I have a health issue that involves random flare-ups when I'm absolutely miserable and don't feel like doing anything but lying in bed or sitting in a chair impatiently waiting for a remission to kick in. I'm not exactly sure I have the time and energy necessary to devote to this venture, so I'm loosely creating a group that will have to be self-directing, self-supporting (with an overseer or two who'll step up to the plate if I go missing) that will connect people via a blog, a social media page, and a single monthly meeting that will not be attendance mandatory because people have busy lives like I do. What happens at meetings will go up on the blog (I hope) so no one is left out.

This will be a group for authors and writers at all skill levels where they can discuss writing, anything to do with writing, and their projects- and anything else they want to talk about as long as it has to do with writing and it's not offensive to others. It's for all ages, so bear that in mind. I've always encouraged young writers. Writing is important. Reading is important. I believe in mentoring young writers. I believe that practice does make you a better writer. I believe there are born writers because I didn't make a conscious choice to do this, to write. It has always been a part of who I am, however, I can honestly admit that I was not a very good writer when I first started applying pencil to elementary school lined paper. I have grown and evolved as a better writer because I never put my pencil or pen down. I kept writing. I kept reading. I used a dictionary and a thesaurus and learned a lot of words so that my writing would grow and get better- not grow tired and stale.

I believe that a bad day of writing is better than a day of no writing whatsoever.

I support local authors because I am one of those. I read big name authors because I enjoy their writing and the stories they have to tell. I've read good  books and bad books- awesome books and truly terrible books. (Well, I've tried reading truly terrible books...I've never actually made it through one.) Maybe I've even written some truly terrible books- I don't know.

Anyway- I'm working on step one- creating a blog for authors and writers who have a passion for the written word in all its myriad forms- haiku, poetry, prose, essays, themes, flash fiction, blogging, short stories, novelettes, novellas, novels, epics, speeches, plays, teleplays, movie scripts, magazine articles, research articles, textbooks, journal articles, how-to books, marketing materials...whatever you write.

As time allows, I will move on to step two....a social media page. And then step three...an actual group. Like with my writing, sometimes I don't start at the natural beginning, but jump in at the place that I want to start at first, and then I go back and fill in all around that central point.

We'll see what develops.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Paranormal Investigator Novels Coming

Way back in 2003 I began writing a novel about a group of paranormal investigators based at a college in Burlington VT. I never got very far with that, much to Kelly's disappointment as she had been looking forward to reading it. At the time, I had never written a novel and didn't think I had it in me to write a book. I lost confidence in myself and set it all aside in a binder...which she often pulled out to look through wistfully.

In 2011 I wrote a novel using the same characters and titled it The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation. I actually finished that novel. It ticked my daughter off that I 'stole' the characters from The Fairlawn Investigation and wrote a whole novel that wasn't Fairlawn! It took me until 2013 to wrote the first novel, The Fairlawn Investigation. And it has subsequently taken me four additional years to get around to tackling revisions, continuity issues, and general editing and proofreading of Fairlawn to get it ready for publication.

Tonight, I'm going into CreateSpace to order two print proof copies so Kell and I can read through the just revised novel and see what we can catch that may still need to be tweaked. It's crazy how the world has changed in 14 years...and my characters would be 14 years older than they were when I started the novels- so I had to edit out all the dates I wrote into the text so there are no real reference points and they can age gracefully throughout the series of novels.

There are two additional novels started in the series besides the two finished novels. The Persian Garden Theater Investigation links to the first two. The Rose Hall Investigation will also connect up through a reference to the location in the third novel.

Since creating these characters 14 years ago I feel as if I've come to know them very well- they're like old friends.

I'll reveal a secret here- in The Fairlawn Investigation I actually fictionalized two real people I know- my office manager and a coworker. I made them both guest investigators from a ghost hunting  investigation society based in the Berkshires which are just next door to where we all live.It was the first time I transformed real people into fictional characters. I subsequently fictionalized my sweet, elderly button collecting friend Pauline in several stories. She was always thrilled to find herself in a new story!

Another aside here- Kelly liked the idea so much that she borrowed it for her novel Parapsychology which she recently self published. She even borrowed Dr. Beeler from my novels and mentioned him in hers! I might have to give her a nod and borrow her characters in the third novel!

I'm going to go order the proofs and then it's back to proofreading The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation so I can get these two novels out of the milk crate and into reader's hands as they were meant to be!