Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Twas the Night After Christmas

On the night after Christmas, quiet as a mouse...
the new puppy had scattered bows and ribbons and wrapping paper all over the house.

Clean as I would, exhausted as I could be,
there was always a new surprise in store for me.

When at last I was done and the trash was hauled out, 
I sat down to relax, but there suddenly came a shout.

I jumped up from my chair, alarmed by the clatter, I ran to see just what was the matter.

And what to my wondering eyes should I find? 
The puppy had eaten a hole in the behind 
of my partners favourite shorts...

In rebuke no doubt for spoiling his sports. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Toonz

A Holiday Season (trick or) Treat: A dozen or so of the best (or worst) Songs ever. Enjoy!

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth - Spike Jones & The City Slickers

I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
- Shirley Temple   ...

... and while we're on the subject of Hippo's,
One Hippopotami - Allen Sherman

What? I didn't say it had anything to do with Christmas.

I want Eddy Fisher for Christmas
- Spike Jones & The City Slickers
Here Comes Fatty Claus
- Rudolph & The Gang
Mommy, wont you buy a baby brother (or sister) for me
  - Spike Jones & The City Slickers

A Barnyard Christmas
  - Spike Jones & The City Slickers
You Ain't Gettin Shit for Christmas
- Red Peters

Twelve Gifts of Christmas
- Allen Sherman (A personal favourite)
Happy Pagan Present Day
- Richard Felnagle
Santa Song
- Adam Sandler

I almost forgot!  Holiday for Strings - Spike Jones & The City Slickers

... And let us not forget...

Achmed The Dead Terrorist Carols
  (Jingle Bombs) - Jeff Dunham

Here's Wishing you a Happy (Insert pagan or secular holiday of your choice)!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Information overload, the early years - The Boston Globe

Five centuries years ago, a new technology swamped the world with data. 

What we can learn from the aftermath?

An absolutely fascinating read at 

Friday, November 12, 2010

My question is this; Why aren't YOU participating in NaNoWriMo?

                   I was told today that "NaNoWriMo writers are psychotic."

Demented maybe, but consider please; I am a writerMy normal daily output is usually somewhere around four thousand words. Usually that's divided between several projects... both writing and editing.

I don't usually count all the other extraneous writing I do in the course of a day, but I became curious after all the scribbling I've been reading about how those participating in the project are "wasting their time" and how those "words would be better spent elsewhere." 

                          Curiosity killed the cat.

I created a small utility programme that allows me to turn a counter on and off when I'm typing blog entries, emails and messages on GoodReads, Facebook and couple of other daily communications and networking apps.

Granted that it may be ten words here and fifty there... but I discovered that I cumulatively write somewhere around two thousand words a day. 

     Writing 1,667 words in a day equals 50,000 in a month.

So, imagine what would happen if you were to take all the words you write between chat and notes and texting and remarks that you make during the course of a day, and focus them on one task.

During the month of November I've cut my external commenting down by over half and focused all my writing effort toward one book... the one I committed myself to start writing during NaNoWriMo.

        P.S. If my counter is correct, this message, sans title contains 314 words.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

12 reasons to ignore the naysayers: Do NaNoWriMo

If you want to write a novel in 30 days, don't let anyone stop you. Not even Salon's Laura Miller.

From the LA Times: 12 reasons to ignore the naysayers: Do NaNoWriMo

It's NaNoWriMo Time

It was a dark and stormy night. 

Well, not really... Actually, it was a cold moonlit night. The tree's had dropped their leaves and dumped thousands of acorns underfoot, causing every step to sound like a thousand people eating crunch bars in unison.

While we're off doing the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), we invite you to read The UNLOCKED Project Never-Ending Story, and contribute... if you dare!

Monday, November 1, 2010

We ARE the Champions!

And the 2010 World Championship goes to:

                            The San Francisco Giants!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Won't They Ever Learn?

ABFFE Earns Injunction in Alaska (From Publishers Weekly)

Booksellers, librarians and other media groups won an injunction on Thursday in Federal District Court in Alaska to Senate Bill 222, which made anyone who operates a Web site that features content deemed "harmful to minors" criminally liable.

The plaintiffs--among them Fireside Books, the Alaska Library Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the AAP, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund--claimed the bill infringed on citizens' First Amendment rights and would also result in potential prosecution for librarians and retailers based on what they lent and sold online and in their stores.

The plaintiffs' attorney, Michael Bamberger of SNR Denton, said the statute was "overbroad" and his clients were happy the courts recognized it posed a "clear violation of the First Amendment rights of all citizens, in Alaska and throughout the country."

SB 222, as the bill is called, was signed by Governor Parnell in May; the details of the case, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, et al. v Sullivan, and Alaska, can be found at www.akclu.org.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

And The Sign Said…

“…. that despite my authors invectives, I persist in my efforts to seek publication.”

Dear (Name Withheld)….

It is rare indeed that we receive submissions from fictitious sources; enough so that our curiosity was indeed aroused. 

Having perused the proffered sample submission, we feel that we must extol your author to further calumnious verbosity.

Kind Regards;

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Outline What?

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) begins on the first of November. So many things to do and so little time to prepare for thirty days of concentrated mind-altering insanity.
First on the list is deciding what it is you're going to write: fiction, nonfiction, comedy, satire, poetry... 
Wait a minute! A fifty thousand word Novel in poem form? Well, maybe not. 
It doesn't hurt to have an idea of the story you want to tell, or what genre it fits. 
Next, forget that your idea is going to be seen by hundreds, or possibly thousands of other writers, or that it may inspire others. 
As my friend and publishing columnist for the Toronto Examiner, Renee Miller wrote: "Have faith in your ability to write something truly unique. The important part is the writing, not the concept. Anyone can take a concept and do something with it, but only a select few will do something wonderful."
After that comes the easy part: writing an outline of your novel. The amount of detail is up to you, but it should include a summary of events, main characters, settings, etc.
It's neither as easy as it sounds nor as hard as it looks.  
The hard part, the writing of a novel, or at least the first fifty thousand words of one, in thirty days and thirty nights is the hard part.  Don't worry about editing... that comes later.
Oh... and Don't forget to stock the pantry.  

Good Luck to all, and may sanity prevail.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Picture Books Aren't in Trouble Just Because NYT Says So.

"The worry of the day is the The New York Times article that tells us that the picture book market is fading as parents push their kids into chapter books. Now the kidlit folks will all go crazy defending picture books and deriding parental pressure. 

But people, we are forgetting one important thing here. This is The New York Times. And in terms of children's and young adult literature, this is what they do. Some writer comes up with a topic in this field in which they know very little. They "research" that topic with a few interviews, an observation or two, and a quote from man on the street. Or in this case, parent in the bookstore.** 

They've done this with the topic of Young Adult literature being too dark. They've done this with summer reading lists being too light. They've done this with The Catcher in the Rye being useless for today's teens. And with Twilight as the defining book for our generation. Or profiling a family that blogs about children's books as being this amazingly unique concept..."

Read the rest at MotherReader

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Read Banned Books

Banned Books Week 2010 is the twenty-ninth annual celebration of the freedom to read. This freedom, not only to choose what we read, but also to select from a full array of possibilities... be it books, magazines, newspapers, films, broadcasts, plays, performances, electronic publications, or exhibits, is firmly rooted in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. 

Although we enjoy an increasing quantity and availability of information and reading material, we must remain vigilant to ensure that access to this material is preserved; would-be censors who continue to threaten the freedom to read come from all quarters and all political persuasions. 

Even if well intentioned, censors try to limit the freedom of others to choose what they read, see, or hear.

“If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” 

- U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, in Texas v. Johnson

Friday, September 24, 2010

I go a tumblr-ing. Watch out for that first step.

With BLOGS on LIveJournal, Blogger, WordPress, Web-Pages on Weebly, Facebook and Twitter accounts and working on publishing a book or two or more, you'd think I'd settle on one or two and call it a day.

But as I continue my experiments in mixed media and multimedia publishing, it seems that there is yet another new experience to be had.
A Couple of days ago I began experimenting with 

So far, the experience has been enlightening.  You can click on the logo above to visit my experiment.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Avast Ye Scurvy Bilgrats!

Aye Matey's! It be International Talk like a Pirate day

Brung to ye by NPArrrr!  National Pirate Radio.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

And The Award goes to...

"It's a major award!"

No, it's not a "leg lamp," like that priceless work of 'Illumnifying Electric Artthat Ralphie's dad receives in A Christmas Story.

It's better... because it comes from a friend, fellow author & Dangling On The Edge blogger Renee Miller-Johnson.

Thank You, and congratulations to all the other Blog Award Winners.

My Blog will wear it, proudly.

While we're on the subject of awards... 

I have one of my own to give; to Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Glen Beck and the whole gang over at The Tea Party. It's the:

Award. Wear it proudly, guys. 

We now return you to our regularly scheduled circus.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Dribble, A Drabble, a Flash In The Pan.

A group of us have been experimenting with Flash fiction &  what is known as a Drabble.

The formal definition of Flash is; a complete story with protagonist, conflict and resolution. Its extension varies from 200 to 1000+. Originally, flash was defined as a piece written in 750 words or fewer. The word count is not a flight of fancy, but the text contained in two opposing pages. 

The formal definition of a Drabble is: a complete story with protagonist, conflict and resolution in exactly 100 words. Title and credit(s) don’t count. 

The purpose of the drabble is brevity and to test the author's ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in an extremely confined space.

It is required that it be a short work of fiction. It is not required that it be a he-said/she-said, or even that there be any action. 

The results were both interesting and entertaining.  I'll post some samples soon.

But .... the reason I mention it?  Our friends at
are holding their fifth annual  Three Minute Fiction Contest 

Your story must begin with the following line:

"Some people swore that the house was haunted."

Plus, your story must end with this line:

"Nothing was ever the same again after that."

Including these lines, your story must be 600 words or less. One entry per person. Your deadline is 11:59 p.m., EDT, on Sept. 26.

So... what are you waiting for? 

Get out of here and go write your story!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Sunday Funnies - From Friday

Click on the header... Enjoy, and have a safe and sane holiday.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

NSFW: A Modest Proposal For Authors Who Abandon Their Publishers — Give Me A Break

Click on header....

Article from TechCrunch.com

Written by Paul Carr

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Blogs & Social Networking: The eight hundred pound Gorilla in the room?

From an author’s perspective, how beneficial is Blogging?

I think it's important to differentiate Blogging as a social tool from using a Blog as a marketing tool.

If you're "selling," your blog content is going to be far different from that which you might use for say, establishing and maintaining a public presence... although some manage to do both.

There are hundreds of Book Blogs on the web, created in lieu of a website because it allows for interaction with readers in a way that a site cannot.

As to content? Like a website, most post a synopsis and maybe a sample chapter linked as a read-only content page, with links to research, the publisher and any other web presence you may have.

The rest is just marketing.

It's not direct selling ... It is marketing...by establishing and maintaining a presence in the social network infrastructure.

What it should not be used for is over-hyping your book(s). That is a guaranteed way to turn people off, and in the end your hype becomes seen as just another source of Spam.

How effective is marketing by social networking?


How many people bought a book because of what they read in a reviewers column in the trade presses or on a book review Blog or on a paid for book website, or simply via word of mouth... or because it was on the discount table at the local book sellers?

I haven't found any statistics to prove that any one medium is more effective than another.

I can say that book ads on Blogs are noticed, that book blog sites are reviewed by reviewers, and that in a time when the majority of the worlds societies are largely 'plugged-in', social networks like Facebook do help make the connections between book and author which does in the long run have a positive impact upon sales.

The important point is this: In today’s world of lower budgets and increasing scrutiny of costs by the bean-counters... and especially if your books are published by a small imprint or POD publisher, the onus on marketing... on getting what you've published out into the public eye and creating an interest in it... is largely on you, the author. That means using whatever venues are available.

Whether any venue is worth the effort, depends upon how you answer the next question.

How badly do you want to sell your book(s)?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Old Friends - New Stories

Turn back the hands of time to 1991. That was the year that I discovered a book titled The Sheepfarmer's Daughter. It was not at all what I had expected it to be. I found myself enthralled, no only with the characters but also the world that had been created by the author, Elizabeth Moon.

I wound up searching a number of second-hand bookshops to find Divided Allegiance and finally Oath of Gold, the second and third books about the life and deeds of Paksenarrion Dorthansdottor.

In 2005, during a visit to a bookshop in Florida, I found… wrapped in plastic and misfiled, a brand new copy of the Omnibus Edition of The Deed of Paksenarrion. I sat down and re-read the stories, and fell in love again.

Now, twelve years after the publication of Sheepfarmer's Daughter comes the Oath of Fealty, a return to that world. I found myself once again ensorcelled by the stories of the lives of so many of who I have come to think of as familiar old friends.

I was entranced and delighted, and I hope you will be as well.

The stories continue in March of 2011, with Kings Of The North, from Del Ray Books.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Will Google's Net Neutrality Shift Complicate the Book Settlement?

What follows is a post from Publisher's Weekly on the continuing saga of the Google Settlement.

Will Google's Net Neutrality Shift Complicate the Book Settlement?

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's Here... and it's Free

Never review your own work... even if... No! Make that especially if you don't want to be accused of having multiple personality disorder.

Besides... what do you say? I love my own writing? The best short story I've ever written?

It may all be true, but it sounds silly, conceited and self-serving, yes?

Of course it does.

Inside UNLOCKED: An Anthology you'll find a collection of stories by a group of very talented writers, some of whom are already published, all of whom are busy perfecting their chosen craft.

We hope you'll enjoy reading the stories as much as we did creating them for your entertainment and enlightenment.

...and a special thanks to authors Rita Webb and Wendy Swore for their hard work as anthology editors and organisers of the promotional pages and resources.

Gwendolyn McIntyre
Author of The Key to a Good Education
Friday, The 13th of August, 2010


You are under no obligation, but I would ask a boon of you, dear readers, which is: In exchange for this FREE book, I would hope that you might make a small donation to help Doctors Without Borders to help others.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Writing Anxiety: How Fear of Failure Can Affect Your Writing

In my youth I was a practitioner of the sport of fencing.  Due to the emphasis on the mental component of the game, the sport is often referred to as  “physical chess.”

A fencer must both be able to anticipate, plan, and make proper decisions while coordinating body movements at high speeds.

While fencers of all different skill levels commonly bout each other, it is often the courageous fencer who is better mentally prepared for their upcoming challenge.

Those who feel that they may not be able to beat their challenger typically have a defeatist mindset.

This is not unusual given that stressful situations often create feelings of nervousness, doubt, and worry; the components of the defeatist mindset.

The same is true of writing. Writing is an entirely mental game. Writers who feel that they may not be able to succeed typically suffer from the same feelings of nervousness, doubt, and worry.

Anxiety that occurs before a tournament can be distracting for a fencer. Instead of focusing on their fencing, they're worrying whether or not they might win. For a fencer who experiences this quite often, their chances of losing increases, continuing their cycle of self-doubt, inability to focus, and loss.

The same is true for writers. Worrying about how much better another writer is, or how well written someone else's manuscript is, instead of focusing on your own work increases the cycle of self-doubt, inability to focus, and procrastination.

Some people are not nervous all the time, but only in certain situations, such as competitions. This is called state anxiety.  It can be experienced as cognitive anxiety, which is when someone has negative thoughts, such as pessimistic self-talk. "I can't finish this [manuscript]" or "My agent will never accept this [manuscript]."

It can also be experienced as somatic anxiety, which occurs along with the physical symptoms (butterflies in the stomach, sweating despite lack of exercise, cotton mouth, and/or rapid heart rate) of anxiety.

Some people are anxious all the time. This is trait anxiety; a personality characteristic caused by in a wide variety of stressful situations.

What makes some competitors and writers nervous while others are not? While there are many factors that can trigger state anxiety, a recent study focused on the one particular form of trait anxiety that could be the culprit;

Fear of failure.

Individuals who experience fear of failure are more afraid of losing (or getting something wrong) than feeling as though they are able to succeed to begin with. Athletes who suffer from it often work harder than others because they don’t want to lose. Or, they may avoid competition because they feel too afraid that they will lose.

Actions such as these can impair a writers perspective of their abilities, and can inhibit them from reaching their potential.

Recent research involving fencers who experience high fear of failure  show they are more likely to experience high cognitive anxiety. That is, those who see competition as a threat (rather than an opportunity) because they might lose, are at an increased risk of suffering from cognitive anxiety.

These nervous feelings are common, but can be potentially harmful , especially in competitive situations.

And if the writers market is anything, it is certainly competitive.

If you find that fear of failure or state anxiety is a problem, here are a few simple steps you can take to overcome it:

• Keep a journal: Getting the thoughts out of your head can make room for focusing on your writing.

• Talk to someone you trust who is a good listener.

• Practice deep breathing techniques.

For more serious inquiries, I urge you to seek the help of a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tool Time - For Writers

Every writer has different needs, a different way to work at their craft.

For some it's a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor. For others it's a way to storyboard their work, which means a way to organise their notes and cards on character and world development.

Still for others, it's tools that help them to plan and manage scenes for the stage or the silver screen.

And some like to work simply with the basics, a full screen editor, that allows them to focus only on writing, but with the ability to organise it by Chapters.

A Spell checker is always a good thing, as long as you don't use the auto-correct feature... many an un-intented consequence has resulted from such usage. The same can be said true of Grammar checking tools.

Still for others there are tools for checking repetitive word usage.

... and the list goes on.

Depending upon the platform (PC, Apple, Linux, Unix, Stone Tablet & Chisel... or a tablet of paper and a pencil) the writer prefers to work with, there are different tools to meet those needs.

We use a variety of tools to meet those needs, and being primarily a Mac (Apple) users, our tools reflect both our platform of choice and our individual tastes in how we work.

I use CopyWrite for basic story organisation and 'writing,' and Scrivener for organisation and development.  My partner also uses StoryMill.

There is Microsoft Word, but we also employ the open-source equivalents; OpenOffice, and it's Mac-specific counterpart, NeoOffice.

... and the list of tools, like the needs of the writer, goes on.

Speaking of which...

Here's a remarkable list of Applications for Writers.

If you're a Windows user, don't fret. There's a list near the end of the page of applications for you too.

Paul Mitton, over at Dark & Secret Writes, has a review of Windows Tools for Writers

... And for the Linux fans amongst us,  a collection of " Linux Tools for Writing.

If you find Scrivener interesting and you're a Linux user, the Scrivener-like WWMKR might be of particular interest to you.

We invite you to tell us about the tools you use to help you succeed in this, our chosen craft.

And as always, should you have questions, our expert consultants will be happy to advise you.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Coming Soon

                                                               Unlocked:  An Anthology

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Weak Off

Missing in Action:

We shall return to our tour of notable bookshops next week. Dealing with crises, meeting several deadlines and riding to ground the contractors who are supposed to be remodelling my master bathroom have, at present, superseded nearly all else.

Nitting and Picking: I've been nitted and picked at for a lot of things, mostly for what apparently are (in the eyes of American editors) ghastly grammatical abuses or miscues in my writing. Well, I'm not sorry. I may live in this country but I am still a Briton, and I shall bloody well use the Queens English if I so choose. If editors wish to change my words and thereby (quite often) change the meaning of a turn of phrase, so be it. The damage from the resultant train wreck is upon their heads.  

A Severe case of Apologitis: It seems that I, along with most of my fellow Brit's are now being taken to task for being overly apologetic. It is true that we do say I'm sorry quit a lot. It does not make us weak or submissive or simpering idiots. We are simply not as rude as most people. We are, for the most part, brought up to have better manners.  

"I'm sorry, but there appears to be a fly in my soup... and he appears to be doing a back-stroke."  

"I'm sorry, but we're all booked up at the moment. It would seem your reservations are for our hotel in Moldavia. Have a pleasant trip." 

Being willing to readily say "I'm sorry", writes Christopher Fowler, "make us more appealing human beings. It says we’re aware of encroaching upon each other’s space, that we respect the rights of strangers, that we practice equality instead of showing superiority."  

And I'm sorry if you don't agree, but that's the way I see it as well.  

Till next time.

"I say, Waiter? About that fly?"

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Independent Book Places for Kids

Visiting Kansas City? Take a wander out to 'mellifluous' Brookside and visit The Reading Reptile.

This is a wonderful bookstore for children and parents alike. Take a few minutes to simply stare in amazement at the walls and ceilings (no... sorry, you'll have to see it for yourself) before browsing the amazingly large book selection.

Illustration by Lisa Campbell Ernst

If you're in the Chicago area, please don't miss a visit to The Magic Tree Bookstore  in beautiful Oak Park. A great place for the young and adults alike.

And don't forget Women & Children First on North Clark Street. The wonderful women who run this store are a national treasure.  Go... visit, browse, chat, buy a book.... Please.

If you're in Milwaukee, please don't pass up The Rainbow Booksellers on Vliet Street. This is another treasure in the world of independent bookstores. A great selection of children's books in a relaxed  atmosphere.

Our last stop today is in Indianapolis at Kids Ink Bookstore on North Illinois Street. The link will take you to their Facebook Page.

A lovely little shop crammed full of children's books and goodies. Definitely worth a visit, or tow, or more.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Friday Fish Wrap: The Late Edition

File this under Farking Insanity and Complete Stupidty

Arizona  (Yes... This is a link, so click-it)

I'm with Tammi on this one. Whatever you folks have been smoking down there, it's time for detox.


I'm a fantasy writer, (Yes... one of  them) which often puts me on the wrong end of the argument with the SciFi crowd.

There are plenty of people out here in the real world who will opine that fantasy fiction isn’t “real writing.” Science Fiction authors complain that fantasy writers too often take the 'fluffy-bunny' approach to writing, which is their way of saying we use too much 'magic' in our work.

The complaint is that Fantasy, or if you prefer 'Speculative Fiction' depends far too much on 'crutches' to work around a problem.  If a character gets in trouble, they simply reach into their bag of tricks.

What's in the bag(man)?

Nothing up my sleeve.

Not again,Bullwinkle!

Reaches into hat and.... TaDa! A fluffy bunny.

OOPS!!! Not exactly.

Remember the old tales about St. Nick and his magic bag?

I'd bet even money Harry Potters room-of-requirements came from inside of it, as did Patricia Wrede's magic pack (Talking to Dragons) that dispenses whatever one just happens to need.

Then there's Diane Duane's wizards (Kit & Nita), who always have a "'pocket' of temporal space" handy in which one can conveniently store a lot of things far too large for ones own pockets that, like J.K.Rowling's sword in the sorting hat, might just come in handy.

But always with the caveat that it gives you what you need - and not what you want.

... Next Time: The Fluffy Bunny, Part II

Meanwhile, you can catch the latest news at: