Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Page Straight From Ralph Bland - #apagestraightfrom

Long Long Time
Ralph Bland

Our first date was on a Friday night the next week. It was a week before Good Friday and the weather was as perfect a spring night as I could remember. Of course I was just getting to the age where I was starting to compare current moments with those of the past, and this sense of having a personal history was new and strange to me. I didn’t know it so much then, but it was like my first little foray into the land of middle age, and it was unique there at first to be able to say I’d known somebody thirty years or this or that happened to me a quarter of a century ago. I drove to Caroline’s house that night listening to “Light My Fire” by the Doors on the radio, and it occurred to me as a sudden enlightenment that Jim Morrison had been dead for seventeen years. It seemed like yesterday. I was walking around at Waters and everybody who wasn’t dead from the ankles up was in a state of shock.

She lived in the upstairs of a house owned by a preacher and his wife. The house was one of those 1930s barns of endless square feet and multiple bathrooms and balconies and a wide array of bedrooms where the Brady Bunch and their pals would all have a place to sleep. I had to climb a stairway already bursting with ivy and wisteria to make it to her door, which was connected to another balcony at the back of the house, which she assured me was private and peaceful and if it was taken away from her somehow she would never find a way to get over it. I stood at her door and looked for a moment at the wicker chairs and the cloth divan, felt the soft spring night breeze on my forehead and imagined myself here with this girl and the May stars somewhere out there behind the railing and the trellis, and before my knuckles grazed the door I was hooked.

“You’re either the slightest bit early or I’m my usual self who’s somewhat late no matter what circus is coming to town.”

She stood in her doorway wearing some form of jeans that were the deepest blue I could recall, like an octopus had risen from the deep and left its cloak on her, and a white silk blouse that clung to her in precisely the manner I hoped I would. She smelled of something far away, something to the west somewhere I’d never been, and I found myself leaning toward her just so I could breathe her in. Her eyes were green and tiny pearl earrings clung to her ears, and I looked at her and knew she was twenty-two, twenty-three, and I felt the curse of being thirty-eight and the idea that soon it would be all over, this standing here in the spring night breathing in all that was enchanted on a balcony laced with magic, this loveliness within my reach and the beating of what remained of my heart, and I knew if I did not try and catch this dream song and hold it in my head and balance it on the tip of my senses the spring would pass and the summer would wind away into Autumn, and I would look at forty and it would never be the same again. And I said no to the thought, because I looked past the stars and saw what that awful morning would have me be.

So in that moment, on that balcony beneath a Southern spring circle of moonlight and stars, I willed myself to be in love with Caroline. I promised myself the salvation of love and youth and spring.
Amen and farewell, I told myself, to all that had gone before.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


There are pitfalls in every career or job choice . . . so what are some pitfalls for the writer?

·         Do you have a vision of where you want your writing career to go?  You should have an idea of where you’re headed . . . otherwise it’s like taking a trip without looking at a map first.  You’ll never get there if you don’t know where you’re going.

·         That brings us to goals . . . which should be short term and long term.  With short term - schedule daily, weekly, and monthly goals. 
o   Don’t limit them to just writing – personal and spiritual goals are also important.

·         Risk is the catalyst that makes you more productive.  This might sound strange and when I heard this in a conference – I thought really?  But it makes sense.  Risk makes you try harder and it also pushes you to grow. 

·        Are you organized?  Don’t waste time trying to find research notes, to whom and what you’ve already submitted, or even great story ideas.  You’re making it harder than it has to be.  Get yourself notebooks (one for story ideas, one for each book, one for research, etc.) and keep everything in one place, you’ll thank yourself for it!

·        Wasting time can keep you from accomplishing what you want out of life.  Take control of time by logging a two-week diary and take a look at where it's going.  You need to maximize time and make it work for you.

    Your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect.  Some writers naturally have to perfect a chapter before moving on – if that’s you – okay.  But if it’s not, you could be a perfectionist at work -and you’re hurting your chances of ever finishing that first book.  Why?  There’s no such thing as perfect.  Every writer learns from each book – and grows – each book getting better along the way.  Try going from start to finish, then do your edits.

·         Have you ever forced your writing?  I tried it a couple of times – it just doesn’t work.  The writing wasn’t any good.  You have to understand your own creative rhythm and trust it’s part of being a good writer.

    Don’t totally isolate yourself.  You truly need interaction with fellow writers and friends.  Without support – it’s easy to get discouraged and just quit.  Don’t let that happen to you.

·        And finally, stay positive even if your writing is screeching to a halt.  Focus on the positive and soon your fingers will by flying across the keyboard. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier, Backed By Science by Belle Beth Cooper

This is a great article – and I felt compelled to share it with you.  It’s a bit long so I’ve spread it out to three blogs (22nd, 27th and the 29th).  I couldn’t stop reading . . . it’s all about ‘how to become happier.’  J  Rita
Posted on Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Written by Belle Beth Cooper

Happiness is so interesting, because we all have different ideas about what it is and how to get it. It’s also no surprise that it’s the Nr.1 value for Buffer’s culture, if you see our slidedeck about it. So naturally we are obsessed with it.
I would love to be happier, as I’m sure most people would, so I thought it would be interesting to find some ways to become a happier person that are actually backed up by science. Here are ten of the best ones I found.
1. Exercise more – 7 minutes might be enough
You might have seen some talk recently about the scientific 7 minute workout mentioned in The New York Times. So if you thought exercise was something you didn’t have time for, maybe you can fit it in after all.
Exercise has such a profound effect on our happiness and well-being that it’s actually been proven to be an effective strategy for overcoming depression. In a study cited in Shawn Achor’s book, The Happiness Advantage, three groups of patients treated their depression with either medication, exercise, or a combination of the two. The results of this study really surprised me. Although all three groups experienced similar improvements in their happiness levels to begin with, the follow up assessments proved to be radically different:
The groups were then tested six months later to assess their relapse rate. Of those who had taken the medication alone, 38 percent had slipped back into depression. Those in the combination group were doing only slightly better, with a 31 percent relapse rate. The biggest shock, though, came from the exercise group: Their relapse rate was only 9 percent!
You don’t have to be depressed to gain benefit from exercise, though. It can help you to relax, increase your brain power and even improve your body image, even if you don’t lose any weight.
A study in the Journal of Health Psychology found that people who exercised felt better about their bodies, even when they saw no physical changes:
Body weight, shape and body image were assessed in 16 males and 18 females before and after both 6 × 40 mins exercise and 6 × 40 mins reading. Over both conditions, body weight and shape did not change. Various aspects of body image, however, improved after exercise compared to before.
We’ve explored exercise in depth before, and looked at what it does to our brains, such as releasing proteins and endorphins that make us feel happier, as you can see in the image below.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Round Robin Blog with Ginger #RndRbn0714

 How effective do you think book giveaways or contests are? Do you think all the free books through Amazon and the library offered to prime members affect your efforts? What are the best promotions you've participated in?

Wow, I'm torn over the question since I'm with a publisher who has exclusivity with Amazon.  Somehow those free or 99 cent books do parlay into sales, but I'm not sure how.   What I do know is that giving away books also seems to bring "snarky" reviewers out of their hiding places and make them feel inclined to "dis" ones work.  That's even more puzzling to me.  I guess I just don't see the point in ruining the career of someone I know has toiled long and hard over something about which they feel a great deal of passion.  For every one who feels like me, there are two dozen who take pride in just being mean or hope to eliminate their competition.  Yes, all authors, even the mainstream stars, get bad reviews, but when it's evident that your book hasn't even been read, the meanness is hard to comprehend.

In order to compete with freebies, my publisher lowered the prices of our books to try to be more competitive.  The sales didn't increase greatly, but that came about the same time that "self-publishing" became all the rage, and I think the reason had a lot to do with new author's seeing a way to cut out the middle-man and enjoy all their royalties.  Sadly, some of the books released were amateurish attempts at writing a novel, because there is no way you can circumvent the process unless you've already been through it, learned, and know the key tricks to turning a story into a novel.  If there is one thing I've discovered by being an author it's that the learning never stops.  I cannot count how many times I wished I had known "this or that" when I wrote a previous book.  Learning is great, but it can be frustrating at times.  So many rules, so little time.

So in answer to the question...I've tried giving away books as prizes, shared chapters on blogs, share all my posts on FB, Google, and Twitter, and I still haven't found my niche.  I get more likes and shares on jokes and videos than I do on anything "bookwise" that I post.  Even if I share on one of the many topic specific groups on FB to which I belong, I still don't recognize much benefit to my efforts.

I do have a Paypal receipt framed.  It's for $3000 for one book, for one month, but my success was all about "timing."  The book released right after the December that over a million Kindles sold, and I guess my book being promoted at the time was lucky for me.  I consider it a once in a lifetime moment, but  that check sure was a nice one.  :)

 Amazon distributes a large list of books that are free, the lending library allows Prime users to read one book of their choice monthly at no additional cost to their membership, and thousands of authors host contests daily...the yahoo loops are filled with invitations to participate.  I often think giveaways are detrimental to sales because everyone will wait to see if they are a winner and then forget about your book when they aren't. So, in a way, I guess when your competition does what you do, yes, giveaways can be detrimental to sales.

 What I've been reading is the importance of "branding" and marketing to the right audience.  Now if I an figure out the how and who...I just might see my royalty checks increase.  Until then, I keep reminding myself I never started this career for the money BUT...the good new is Jude Pittman, owner of Books We Love, with whom I'm published multi times has just released this statement as part of a press release:

 Of course, any great author would be oppressed without an extensive distribution network for their work. To that end, Books We Love Ltd. has just signed a deal to distribute their books in print in the USA, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. Red Tuque will also be handling a portion of the distribution in Canada, with both distributors releasing a combined twenty-five titles this coming fall.
 “This print distribution is a big step for our authors, returning their work to its original format. Of course, we’ve not forgotten about eBooks and currently have over four-hundred titles exclusively available through Amazon Kindle. With each book priced at $4.99 or under, getting some of literature’s forgotten heroes into your hands has never been cheaper,” Pittman adds.
 Am I bet!

Now, time to see how others responded to this same question.  Follow the links below.  I know I'm going to.

Rhobin Courtright at
Ginger Simpson at
Margaret Fieland at 
Connie Vines at
Diane Bator at

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Freebits with Ginger Simpson #frifreebits #blogshare

Today, another six from White Heart, Lakota Spirit before I switch to another book.  I hope you enjoy this selection and want to read more:

Set up:  As you've already read, Grace's family has been attacked by a small war party and killed.  In this scene, she's been taken back to the camp of Chief Lone Eagle and his tribe:

 Lone Eagle crossed the compound in search of his son. Nearing his mother’s lodge, raised voices came from a crowd gathered at the far end of the village. He quickened his pace toward the commotion, thoughts of finding Little Cloud lost.

Six young warriors rode into camp—their faces and horses painted for war. Shock and confusion jolted Lone Eagle at seeing his nephew, Little Elk, among them. Where had the group been? He had no idea they’d left the village. He shoved his way through the throng.

His gaze shifted to the white woman tethered and stumbling behind the Appaloosa of his nephew’s closest friend, Black Crow. Each faltering step testified to her exhaustion. She struggled to
remain standing. Her chin lifted momentarily, and she looked directly at Lone Eagle. Long blonde hair hung in matted strands. Her blue eyes, barely visible beneath the dirty tresses, were wide
with fright. One sleeve of her soiled dress hung in tatters down her arm, and crimson chafe marks marred her wrists. Raw and weeping red spots peeked through the veil of dust on her bare feet.

Rage burned within Lone Eagle. He stood in the path of Black Crow’s horse and raised his hand. “As your Chief, I demand to know what you have done.”

The band dismounted. Little Elk came forward, pride shining in his eyes. “My uncle, we rode together to make war against the whites. We have brought a captive as evidence.”

Lone Eagle’s icy glare spanned the young braves. He stepped closer to Little Elk and leaned in until they were almost nose-to nose. “Your chest puffs with pride, but your actions were foolish.” He fought the urge to shake some sense into his nephew and knotted his fists at his sides. “How dare you decide something without advice of Tribal Council! You have no right to put the tribe at risk of war. By bringing a wasichu captive to our camp, you place our people in danger and bring shame upon yourselves.” you want to know what happens next.  Well, if you do, you can find your own copy of White Heart, Lakota Spirit on my amazon page.

Now scoot on over to my friends' pages and see what excitement they share with you today.  Like what you see?  Let us know, and keep coming back.

Jamie Hill
Tricia McGill
Juliet Waldron
Taryn Raye
Kathy Fischer-Brown
Rhobin Lee Courtright
Margaret Tanner

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