Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rain, Rain. . . Come again another day!




I may be weird, but I like rain. When my sons were little, we used to don raincoats, umbrellas and boots and go out into the elements. We splashed through puddles, snatched worms and dropped sticks into fast-flowing currents.
Those were good times. Now, when the sky clouds up, I remember those walks. They still make me smile even amid dark clouds and falling drops.
Visiting Websites recently, I found other people who wanted to talk about rain. Some are fond of rain and others just wanted to share a laugh. (What more popular a topic than the weather!)
I hope these quotes will cheer you through the rainy month of April.






1. Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. -- Langston Hughes
2. Rain, whose soft architectural hands have power to cut stones, and chisel to shapes of grandeur the very mountains. -- Henry Ward Beecher
And: The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain. -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
3. It’s best to read the weather forecast before praying for rain. -- Mark Twain
4. Rainbows apologize for angry skies. -- Sylvia Voirol
5. Under my head till morning; but the rainIs full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply. -- Edna St Vincent Millay
6. If I’m on a golf course and lightning starts, I get inside fast. If God wants to play through, let him. -- Bob Hope
7. Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain. -- Author Unknown
8. Rain showers my spirit and waters my soul. -- Emily Logan Decens
9. Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet. -- Roger Miller
10. Many a man curses the rain that falls upon his head, and knows not that it brings abundance to drive away the hunger. -- Saint Basil
11. There's always a period of curious fear between the first sweet-smelling breeze and the time when the rain comes cracking down. -- Don Delillo
12. The best kind of rain, of course, is a cozy rain. This is the kind the anonymous medieval poet makes me remember, the rain that falls on a day when you'd just as soon stay in bed a little longer, write letters or read a good book by the fire, take early tea with hot scones and jam, and look out the streaked window with complacency. -- Susan Allen Toth
13. There will be a rain dance Friday night, weather permitting. -- George Carlin




How about you? How does rain make you feel? Do you like rain? Hate rain? Do you have any fond memories of rainstorms? Drop me line. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.








Monday, April 27, 2009

Weeding With Friends

Where I live, we’ve jumped straight from winter into summer – we’ve hit the 90s for the past 4 days straight. I think there were a bunch of rainy days in between that might have been spring. Either that, or it came and went while I was out west skiing. Now, thanks to all that rain, my flower beds are sprouting like crazy – and not with just flowers. So to beat the heat, I’ve been spending the mornings while it’s still somewhat cool weeding. Once it gets too hot for me, I crawl inside, shower and then start another kind of weeding.

As some of you many know from my last post, I’ve received a request for my latest manuscript. Woo hoo! However, it came with a big BUT – I need to cut 15-20K words before the editor even wants to see it. I nearly cried. I’d already cut 10K before I even pitched it. I don’t know where else to cut. (Can you tell I’m one of those writers who has trouble killing her darlings?) But sometimes you're just too close to the flowers to see the weeds and I know if I want to have a hope of selling this book, I’m going to have to do some serious pruning to get this manuscript closer to 100K or it’s going to be an auto-reject before they read word one. So what’s a girl to do? Call on her writer friends. And I have two great ones who are going above and beyond the call of duty. They are giving my manuscript a cold read and telling me what phrases, sentences, paragraphs and *gasp* even scenes can go. And I promise not to argue, whine, or cry over what needs to go in the compost heap. Hopefully between the 3 of us, we can weed the dandelions from the roses and I’ll end up with a beautifully manicured garden – er, um, manuscript.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Scaring the Muse

Recently I’ve been doing some serious soul-searching. Several things in both my writing and my personal life happened almost simultaneously, and I just wasn’t able to deal with all of it. There was nothing really big, mind you, just a bunch of stuff that built on each other rather like tiny bits of dust and lint clinging together to create the mother of all dust bunnies. And then I found out something very interesting: dust bunnies scare my muse.

Suddenly, in the midst of my private crisis, I lost the desire to write. As it stands right now, I’m contemplating where to go from here. I seriously doubt that my love for writing is gone forever. Writing is a part of me. I’ve never been able to go very long without writing. Deep down, I’m sure I’ll get back to pounding on the keyboard eventually, but right now I have to deal with my reluctant muse.

Yes, I know, I wrote this blog entry. Yes, that is writing, but I struggled with this entry. A lot. Unusual for me. I may not know what to write about, or exactly what to say, but figuring it out is usually a challenge, a challenge that I have almost always met with joy and anticipation. Today, on the other hand, it’s all about passing on what I’ve learned from this painful episode.

I believe a large part of what’s wrong with me is burn out. I love writing, especially fiction, but I’ve been writing for a long time. Over the last few years, since I decided to get serious and make fiction a career, I’ve focused so hard on writing that there was little else in my life. Yeah, I spent time with my family, but usually when there was a problem somebody needed help with, or if I was exhausted and had no choice but to take a break. It was very, very rare that I did something just because I wanted to — and when I did I tended to feel guilty. I felt I should be doing something else, something more productive. I’m disabled, so I didn’t even have a day job to focus on. It was all writing, all the time. I didn’t fill the proverbial well. I didn’t appease my muse. So she hid in a corner and isn’t speaking to me.

Right now, I’m trying to make a decision about where to go with my writing. It’s a complex issue, due to my disability. And a writer’s anxiety and confusion is worse than dust bunnies when it comes to scaring muses.

I have to make some hard decisions. Writing for fun, career, submitting or not, how to shape my career should I decide a writing career is what I want. I have to consider things like how much can I physically do every day, every week. Will getting a big (and big is a relative term) advance lose me my social security (otherwise known as food and a roof over my head), or could a big sale possibly be the beginning of something wonderful.

I never though I’d live to see the new millennium, and I never thought I’d have these sorts of issues to deal with. I’m on unexplored territory right now. And I have a feeling I’m going to find out some interesting things about myself. But whatever happens, I don’t ever want to become so overwhelmed by writing that I forget to take time for fun, for me. And my advice to all you writers out there: fill that well. It isn’t just a catch phrase, it’s essential to a writer’s well being.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What’s Up With the Weather?

Last Saturday, southern Wisconsin’s temperature was hovered around 60. That’s pretty good for this time of year in the north country.
I went for a long walk around my neighborhood. I took pictures of my daffodils and crocuses. I planned to blog about spring flowers, but Tuesday morning I was in for a surprise.
I awoke to … snow, big fluffy flakes falling outside my window.
Wow, what’s up with this weather?


The quirky April snow inspired me. I’ll blog today not about spring flowers, but about our fickle weather. Web surfing I found others who have felt compelled to comment on the weather.



Here are some of my favorite quotes:
1. The trouble with weather forecasting is that it's right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it. -- Patrick Young
2. When all is said and done, the weather and love are the two elements about which one can never be sure. -- Alice Hoffman
3. Weather forecast for tonight: Dark. Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning. –-George Carlin
4. Bad weather always looks worse through a window. -- Author Unknown
5. Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative. -- Oscar Wilde
6. The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. -- Mark Twain
7. Weather is a great metaphor for life - sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and there's nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella. -- Pepper Giardino
8. Don’t knock the weather. If it didn’t change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn’t start a conversation. -- Kin Hubbard
9. Any proverbs about weather are doubly true during a storm. -- Ed Northstrum
10. April weather -- rain and sunshine both together. -- English saying
11. Money is the opposite of the weather. Nobody talks about it, but everybody does something about it. -- Rebecca Johnson
12. There is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. -- John Ruskin
13. Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine. -- Anthony J. D’Angelo


What’s the weather like where you live? Is it still snowy? Sunny and warm? Commiserate with me or brag. I’ll enjoy hearing from you.






Sources
http://www.quotationspage.com/subjects/weather/
http://thinkexist.com/quotes/with/keyword/good_weather/
http://www.quotegarden.com/weather.html
http://www.saidwhat.co.uk/topicquote/weather
http://thinkexist.com/quotations/weather/2.html

Monday, April 20, 2009

WRW Writer’s Retreat

Whew, I just got back from the annual WRW Writer’s Retreat in DC. Fun, exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. I go every year and it is without a doubt one of the best conferences (I hate to call it that because it is so much more) I have ever attended.

Day 1

Driving, driving and more driving
Although Richmond is only 2.5 hours away from Leesburg, anyone who’s ever driven around DC knows you have to factor in an extra week just to get from point A to point B. My critique partner Liz and I spend the time brainstorming ways to kill off the stepmother in her latest WIP.

Arrive at Carrodoc Hall, Leesburg
It’s a Holiday Inn connected to a 1747 mansion, complete with scarred plank floors, intricate woodwork and I’m sure a ghost or two (although they didn’t make themselves known when I was around). Not as atmospheric as the 19th century Hilltop House in Harpers Ferry (the old Retreat location) but still nice. I help Liz set up for the multitude of gorgeous gift baskets that will be raffled off at the end of the retreat then it’s time for…

Cocktails on the Veranda
The moment I step outside with chilled chardonnay in hand, I’m pulled into conversation with none other than Meg Ruley and Carla Neggers. What fabulous ladies. We chat about everything from black ice and broken bones to kids and flat tires. Then it’s on to…

Dinner
Carla Neggers gives a great speech. If you ever meet her, ask her about the rubber chicken and airport security. Hilarious.

Agent-Editor Panel
Author Kathy Seidel poses audience questions to the editors and agents. Who knew Jennifer Enderlin was secretly a flight attendant?

More Cocktails on the Veranda
The weather is too perfect so we hang out on the veranda again, chatting and laughing and getting to know each other again since it’s been a year since I’ve seen some of these people (so far, no singing but it will come, I’m sure). After one or two adult beverages it’s off to bed. The next day starts early.

Day 2

Editor/Agent Interviews
My first is with Deb Werksman of Sourcebooks. She’s not interested in my WWII paranormal *pout* but loves, loves, loves the premise of my dragon book and the other books in the series. She asks for the full of DRAGON and mini-synopses on the next 3. Yeah! But before I send it she wants me to cut 15-20K out of my ms. *Argh!* I’ve already cut 10K. But I promise to try and wonder how the hell I’m gonna do it. Next is my interview with Meg Ruley. We chat a bit but when I mention dragons she stops me right there. She loves medieval, likes time-travel, but doesn’t do dragons. *pout* But she says it sounds like something fellow Jane Rotrosen agent Annelise Robey would like and to pitch it to her with her referral. Meg also promised to put me in touch with an ex-editor turned independent editor who might be able to help me trim down my wordy ms – again. She also recommends I pitch to Helen Breitwieser who’s also doing interviews at the Retreat. Since I’m spending the morning helping keep the other editor/agent interviews on schedule, I’m there when Helen comes out for air. I give her the 30 second elevator pitch:
Her: What do you have?
Me: Medieval time-travel.
Her: Love medievals. Love time-travels.
Me: It’s got a dragon-knight hero.
Her: Great. I love dragons.
Me: There’s other books in the series that involve the gryphon, unicorn and other bestiary characters.
Her: Sounds fabulous. Send me the partial and be sure to put ‘dragons’ in the subject line. I’ll be looking out for it.
And she’s gone. Quickest and easiest pitch I’ve ever done. *G*

Workshops
After lunch with Deb Werksman (nice to chat casually with her again) and several other authors, I finally make it to some workshops. PC Cast talked about creating YA characters (that is one funny woman!), Carla Neggers discussed work vs. play in your writing, then Katy Hershberger (publicist for St. Martins) talked about Romancing the Media. All very entertaining and informative.

Dinner and Ding Dongs
More drinks on the veranda followed by dinner. Keynote speaker PC Cast enlightens us on centaurs and double genitalia -- it cracks me up every time I recall her speech. The poor bartender was just dying. Then comes the highlight of the evening…

Romance Jeopardy
Picture Jennifer Enderlin, Kathy Seidel and Karen Smith in poodle skirts singing most of the questions (or is it answers?) Tracy Farrell, Carla Neggers, Beth Harbison and Meg Ruley were among the members on my team. We lost royally. There are no words to describe it, except to say “This game is NOT fair.” You had to be there to understand that. Suffice it to say, great quantities of wine were consumed by all. My roommate and I stumble into bed sometime around 1 am.

Day 3

Skip the early morning workshop to have a leisurely breakfast and chat with others who straggle into the banquet room, then go to an author panel on well endowed heroes. Since this is a PG site, I won’t go into details on that one. *G*

Raffle
I help my critique partner draw names and hand out baskets. I win Rebecca York’s wolf basket. Yeah! (my daughter loves wolves)

Goodbyes
After many, many hugs all around, we head home exhausted and reinvigorated. If you’ve never gone to the WRW Writer’s Retreat, you should. There’s not another one like it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

PR/Marketing? What's a publisher's take?

I got into a (somewhat) heated discussion this week on Facebook about a publisher's definition of PR versus marketing. My contact with editors and agents at both big and small houses has left me with an impression that some consider them one and the same, even though some publishers still have both a marketing department AND a PR department. The idea of both marketing and promotion is to get the word out about your book, whether it is still being written, is in the galley stage or is on the book shelves.

Many of the editors I have talked to express their hope that authors will be doing some of the "PR" work themselves, preferably before the book even gets purchased. Many agents and editors go to find out if you have a web presence the minute they decide they might like your book. While it doesn't mean you HAVE to have 1,000 friends on Facebook or MySpace or a huge number of followers on Twitter, it should show that you are out there in cyberspace ready, willing and able to put yourself before the public, talk about your writing, your books and anything else that might help you brand yourself and build a following online.

Those authors who still believe it is the publisher's job to do all the PR and marketing may not be selling to their full potential, and their publishers may be disappointed at their lack of eagerness to help promote their own work. If you're not someone like Stephen King or Laurell K. Hamilton, your publisher probably isn't going to put major buckage into publicity for you. There are a lot of authors out there who know the value of self-promotion - and online, it's pretty much free in social networking sites to get your name in front of hundreds or thousands of people.

If you don't believe me, there are some who make a decent living helping others learn to put themselves out there. Consider M.J. Rose and Douglas Clegg, and the course "Buzz Your Book." It's all about creating your own buzz if your publisher can't or won't do it to your satisfaction, or if you're still in the writing stages. And that can even help you land a publishing contract.

Anyway, think about it and do what you need to.

Also, remember the Brenda Novak Juvenile Diabetes Auction starts May 1. If you haven't been to check it out, it's at www.brendanovak.com. I'll be donating again this year, so go bid and bid often. There are prizes to win and great deals to be had, for writers, readers and everyone in between!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

To Tweet or not to Tweet

I belong to a local chapter of Romance Writers of America based in Des Moines, Iowa. We're called the Iowa Romance Novelists. Yesterday, our guest speaker was Cheryl Corbin who introduced us to Twitter and how authors can make it work for them. She was fab!

I've been avoiding Twitter because I was worried it would be a real time sink, but I think after listening to Cheryl's talk, I'll give it a try. Let me see if I can remember the high points...
Don't follow everyone, develop relationships. In other words, just follow a few people at a time and respond to their posts. Don't just make them your friend...make friends with them.
Be professional. Remember that you're trying to get people interested in your books. Rants won't get you anywhere - assuming you can rant in just 140 characters.
Quality not quantity. You don't have to tweet every little thing you do. People do not want to know you blew your nose today - they want something interesting. They want to be entertained.
Write about writing. If this is your author account, then write about writing. What your process is like. What you're working on - but no spoilers. Write teasers. This was a cool point, because I'd never really considered doing this before. On Facebook I talk about finishing a chapter and stuff, but I'd not considered writing a one line teaser about a chapter in progress, etc. Cool concept.
These are just some of the basics. This was a very neat class and Cheryl was an excellent teacher. So consider jumping on the Twitter bandwagon and get tweeting. Follow me at http://twitter.com/francescahawley .













Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Jagged Look at Lightning 2 (Answers)


Well, some of you have waited a week to find out how well you fared on the Lightning Quiz. Drum roll, please. Here are the answers:

Header from samulli

1. True. According to http://www.ucar.edu/, Florida and the Rocky Mountain region do receive the most lightning.
2. False. I always thought this was true, but most the sites on my source list debunk it. They say that although rubber doesn’t conduct electricity, you do conduct it -- and rubber doesn’t lend you much, if any, protection.
3. False. Because lightning can run along the ground, your chances of being shocked are greater if you’re lying on the ground.
4. False. Lightning likes tall objects. Trees are a favorite. If you have to hide under a tree, look for one that’s shorter than others around it. .
5. True. Lightning is approximately 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. True. Each flash of lightning may be three to four lightning strikes. This is why lightning appears to flicker.
7. True. When lightning shoots toward the ground, it opens up a channel in the air. Once the light leaves the channel, the air around it collapses, creating the sound of thunder.
8. True. When counting between the sighting of lightning and hearing of thunder, every five seconds equals one mile.
9. False. Apparently lightning can strike 10 miles away from the storm. Because light waves travel faster than sound, lightning can strike long before thunder is heard.
10. False. Lightning actually can -- and often does -- strike in the same place. In fact it can hit favored places multiple times in a storm.
11. True. Accordingtohttp://lighteningstorms.suite101.com, the Empire State Building is struck an average of 100 times per year. Thank goodness for its elaborate system of safeguards.
12. False. As long as you don’t touch the metal of your car, it should keep you almost as safe as being indoors, but that is due to the structure around you, not the rubber tires.
13. True. According to several of my sources, the average person actually does have a 1 in 600, 000 chance of being hit by lightning.


Disclaimer: Although I’ve tried to verify these facts by using multiple sources and cross-referencing them, I’m not an actual researcher and – as you might guess – I haven’t tested these facts in person.

Sources
http://www.ucar.edu/communications/infopack/lightning/kids.html
http://www.weatherwizkids.com/lightning1.htm
http://skydiary.com/kids/lightning.html
http://lighteningstorms.suite101.com/article.cfm/lightning_fact_and_fiction
http://feelingsandflowers.com/136/april-showers-bring-may-flowers-%E2%80%93-discussing-the-rhyme/
http://www.fema.gov/hazard/thunderstorm/index.shtm#2
http://www.fema.gov/kids/thfac.htm










Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pitching to Editors and Agents

I have to tell you, I've been exploring the "social" media of Facebook and Twitter, in addition to my web page and MySpace, and it's enough to keep a person too busy to write. But yesterday (Saturday), I tweeted or twittered (whatever) about pitching to an editor or agent at a conference, so I thought I'd share with you guys as well.

Every year, I get to organize pitches for two or three (or more) writer's conferences, and apparently, I've become the go-to girl for such things. In June, I'll be attending a conference for which I have secured three editors, one confirmed agent and possibly another, and two movie producers. I'm kind of proud of myself, happy I was able to provide this quality and quantity to this con and ready to spend some time myself talking to my pitching guests.

On the first day of this con, I'll be doing a workshop on pitching. A lot of the people who have signed up are already excited to attend my workshop, and I hope I can provide them the information and confidence for them to ace their pitch sessions and hopefully get asked to submit.

So here are some of my tips to make your pitch sessions work for you.
#1. First, please dress appropriately. I can't tell you how many people show up in sloppy or costume clothes, looking goofy or scary or both. I'm pretty sure most agents and editors don't want to sit down with people dressed like that. Business casual is my suggestion, because sometimes the editors/agents show up dressed in suits and blazers, and sometimes they're wearing jeans and T's. If you dress business casual, you show you're in the business of writing - not the weird end of the scale.

#2. Shake hands firmly, but not too firmly. I hate those limp fish handshakes. Ick. A handshake can tell the other person a little bit about you, so shake hands like you mean business, because, again, writing IS a business.

#3. Be on time, and be prepared. Have your pitch rehearsed and perfect. Practice in front of the mirror, if you have to, but be ready to talk when they ask - "So tell me about your book." And always have a backup. They might not want your first idea, or say something like "I don't think that will work for us," so be prepared to pitch something else. You need to have a second pitch, also, because the editor/agent wants to know you have more than one book in you. Make yourself a cheat sheet if you have to.

#4. Don't bring your book, manuscript, sample chapters or anything but your cheat sheet unless you have a) asked permission or b) been asked or invited to do so.

Well, that's a start. If you have questions, please leave a comment and I'll get back to you.
In the meantime, happy writing!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I met my deadlines

Whew... Last week, my Ellora's Cave editor sent me edits for my second book, a medieval paranormal erotic romance called Seeking Truth. The good news...not many huge changes to make. The bad news? Because the story was pretty clean, when she sent me the first version she gave me two days to finish edits. Aaaaaargh.

Fortunately, I was not freaked by this because the same thing happened with my first book. Evidently, I edit the crap outta these suckers. I'm soooooo glad I do. I made the requested edits and sent it back...BEFORE my deadline. I was very proud of myself. She sent me version three - more edits. Some logic issues cropped up and because I was skating close to my word limit I had to keep track of every word I added. This time she gave me four days. I brought it home in three. Yaaaaaaay, me.

Finally we had some final things to look at. A couple of words I used in the text were not used with the meaning I used them until the 1800s. This book is set in the 1100s. So, I sat at the typewriter to write a brief...VERY brief author's note. Then I put in brief dedications. Edited my blurb three or four times, picked out the excerpt for the book and deep breath - I was done.

Until I reread the blurb later and realised I'd used the word "pleasure" three times in two paragraphs. Gaaaaagh. I fixed it and sent a frantic email to my editor with the corrected blurb. All is well.

The book is off to the copy editor and now I wait for the cover art and a release date. The cover art form required several edits too because, typical me, I included waaaaay too much stuff. I'm really anticipating this cover. My first cover rocked - the artist, Dar Albert, created exactly what I wanted. I don't know who the artist is this time, but I'm always impressed with the gorgeous covers on EC books. I have no idea when the book will be released either - but it should come out yet this year.

Time to get in gear for book three. This one will be a shapeshifter book. At least I think that's book three because I'm working on three right now. A shapeshifter book, a followup to my medieval, and a Regency historical. Life is pretty darn good. Or as SNL alum, Garrett Morris might say if he were in my shoes, "Erotic romance has been berry berry good to me."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Jagged Look at Lightning 1


We Wisconsinites were supposed to be blessed with a spring snow last weekend. What’s up with that? It’s April. Where are the showers promised in Thomas Tusser’s rhyme, “April showers bring May flowers”?

After five months, I’m weary of snow. If we can’t have sun, I prefer rain, most often in the form of those promised showers. I like thunderstorms, too. And lightning fascinates me.

Mind you, I realize lightning is dangerous. About 100 Americans die every year when struck by lightning. Lightning has been known to kill more people in a year than hurricanes or tornadoes. And those who live after being struck by lightning often suffer long-term consequences, such as memory loss.


So, what I’m recommending is studying lightning from inside a safe harbor -- in your home. Or learning about lightning from libraries or Internet surfing.
To help you start, I’ve devised a True and False quiz. Make your guesses in the Comments and next Thursday, just a short week away, I’ll share the answers.

Header from samulli
1. In the United States, Florida and the Rocky Mountain region get the most lightning. T or F?
Rubber-soled shoes or rubber car tires will provide protection against getting hit by lightning. T or F?
2. When you’re outside in a lightning storm, lie flat on the ground. You’re safest close to the earth. T or F?
3. If you find yourself in a lightning storm, run to the nearest tall tree and hide under its branches. T or F?
4. The temperature of a lightning flash is hotter than the surface of the sun. T or F
5. Each flash of lightning may actually be 3 or 4 different strikes of lightning targeting the same place in rapid succession. T or F?
6. Lightning causes thunder. When a lightning bolt travels from the cloud to the ground, it actually opens up a little hole in the air, called a channel. Once the light is gone, the air collapses back into the hole and creates a sound wave we hear as thunder. T or F?
7. You can find out how far away a storm is from you by counting the seconds between a lightning flash and the clap of thunder. Every time you get to 5, the storm is a mile away. So at 10, it’s 2 miles away.
8. If you don’t hear thunder, you’re safe in a rainstorm. T or F?
9. Lightning seldom hits the same place twice. T or F?
10. Got the last one right? Then this should be no challenge. Lightning strikes the Empire State building an average of 100 times every year. T or F?
11. Being in a car is safe during a storm because cars have rubber tires and will cause the electricity to travel into the ground. T or F?
12. You have a 1 in 600,000 chance of being struck by lightning. T or F?



I’m guessing you like watching storms, too. And watching lightning. Do you know a lot about our stunning electrical shows in the skies? Test yourself. Take the quiz. Record your answers in the Comments. I’ll check in during the day and let you know how you score. Go ahead; you’ll enjoy it.




Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Rediscovering the Past

This weekend my mother gifted me with a piece of the past--my paternal grandfather's passport.

Fascinating stuff.

No pictures back in 1901, so the Italian passaport listed a physical description. I never met my grandfather so this was way beyond kewl.

He had red hair (although he was southern Italian--Calabrian, in fact.) He had BLUE eyes. So I guess those Germanic tribes really did make it all the way down to the "toe" of Italy after the fall of the Roman Empire. He was short and had a moustache.

When his passport was issued, Italy was still a monarchy. So everything official was by the decree of His Majesty Vittorio Emanuelle III.

And because it WAS a monarchy, class systems still existed. So here's the kicker, under the heading of status, my grandfather's passport reads contadino: peasant.

As Dean Martin sang, Ain't that a Kick in the Head?

Loved it,

Talia

Monday, April 6, 2009

Let It Snow!

What the heck do you mean, let it snow? It’s April for crying out loud. We’re done with snow. Well, maybe the rest of the girls at the diner are but as you read this post on the first Monday of April, I’m probably gliding down the Naked Lady run on Snowmass Mountain in Colorado. Ah, a week of skiing with my husband and two kids in the great Rocky Mountains – now that’s definitely worth raving about. Of course, since I’m writing this post before we leave, I can’t rave in real time. I’m just anticipating all the fun we’ll be having, as long as we can make our connecting flight from Denver to Aspen. So you can keep your spring flowers this week – I’m snowbound and loving it!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Dream Big!

I’ve loved to write from as far back as I was able to put pencil to paper, but for most of my life, being a published author was just a dream I kept mostly to myself. I had some success getting short pieces published, but deep down it was the dream of a book with my name on the cover that burned heavy in my gut. Toward the end of 2007, after years of hard work and rejection, Samhain Publishing offered me a contract. In May of 2008, Shadows of Evil was published as an ebook, and my dream came true.

Still, it wasn’t until just a few weeks ago that I actually held that dream in my hands. That’s when I got my author copies of Shadows. Last Tuesday, March 31, the print edition of Shadows of Evil became available online at places like My Bookstore and More, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and for order at your local bookstore.

My dream became a reality.

Working with Samhain Publishing is a wonderful experience. Some of my friends have had less than stellar experiences with New York publishers, and I am thankful things worked out the way they did for me. I am where I need to be in my career. Where I go next is still to be determined.

Writing is a long, hard road, and there are choices at every turn. It’s tempting to focus on the money aspect of publishing—frequently to the detriment of our fragile writer’s hearts and souls. While money is important, there are other considerations. A wise businessperson understands that.

Each of us is captain of our own career-ship. Each of us has to decide the things that are the most important to us at each stage of our careers. Each of us has the freedom to do just that.

And that’s the best part of this crazy, wonderful writing gig.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

In Celebration of Fools





You’ve probably heard the expression, “Every Fool has his own day.” And that Day was yesterday, April 1st. So, in honor of April Fool’s Day this blog celebrates fools.
The Free Dictionary defines a fool as “One who is deficient in judgment, sense or understanding. Or someone who acts unwisely or someone who has been tricked or made to appear ridiculous.”
Being made to seem the fool is a big fear for many people, but sometimes being a fool is something to aspire to, a good thing, at least every once in a while. Maybe that’s why we have April’s Fool’s Day.


Header from samulli



1. The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.-- Mark Twain
2. Every man is a fool in some man’s opinion. -- Anonymous Spanish Proverb
3. However big the fool, there is always a bigger fool to admire him. -- Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux
4. A fool must now and then be right by chance. – William Cowper
5. There are a good many fools who call me a friend, and also a good many friends who call me a fool. --G. K. Chesterton
6. Looking foolish does the spirit good. -- John Updike
7. It's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and leave no doubt. -- Mark Twain again
8. He who lives without folly isn't so wise as he thinks. -- François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld
9. He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever. -- Anonymous Chinese Proverb
10. A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool. -- William Shakespeare
11. Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists of not exceeding that limit. -- Elbert Hubbard
12. Sometimes one likes foolish people for their folly, better than wise people for their wisdom. -- Elizabeth Gaskell
13. Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed. -- Mark Twain, a third time.

How did you celebrate April Fool’s Day? What do you think about being foolish? Or being a fool? Is it good or bad? Voice your opinion. Please leave a comment.














Sources
http://wilstar.com/holidays/aprilfool.htm
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/
http://thinkexist.com/quotes/with/keyword/fool/
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/fool.html

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Why, Why, Why?

I know the title of this post sounds like it's going to be a rant, but that's SO last week. It's not, I promise. You know how you have that one friend (okay, maybe you have several) who insists on emailing you chain letters, "Hug Your Friend, Pass This On!" quotes, internet rumors, and "What Is This Country Coming To?" lists, forwarded to them by their friends ten or so times? These forwards generally aren't personalized, aren't to your taste, and (especially if you happen to be of a different mindset, religion or political belief system than your friend) are occasionally offensive.

But sometimes, you don't delete them automatically.

Sometimes you go ahead and open them because you're having a weak moment, or you're bored, or you think you're clicking on a different email but your mouse is touchy and it opens the Multi-Forwarded email instead.

And sometimes, you stumble across something that really makes you laugh and you realize why people have that impulse to share things in the first place.

The internet can really help us connect with others in shallow and meaningful ways alike. And that makes me happy, because as a writer, I'm so much better with "words" than I am with people. Before the internet my social circle was severely limited, and now it's not. Sure, not all of the people I correspond with are close friends, but I didn't even have many passing acquaintances before the internet who would want to forward me a joke...or whom I'd want to share a joke with in return.

I hate the internet sometimes, because the anonymity seems to breed...well, you know. But I also love the internet.

I got this email several months ago from someone who doesn't forward many things, and when she does, they're pretty on target. While I could have chosen a few select individuals from my address book and added to the chain (I'm totally having 3 years bad luck), instead I saved it to share with just the right audience. You!

But at least I have personalized it with this introduction!

*** Why, Why, Why? ***

Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are almost dead?

Why do banks charge a fee on 'insufficient funds' when they already know there is not enough money?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars but have to check when you say the paint is still wet? [Ewwww, this is gross, smell this!]

Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him? [This one is my favorite.]

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Whose idea was it to put an 'S' in the word 'lisp'? [SSssatan, perhaps?]

Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?

Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized? [In case somebody else PUT something in there!]

Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance? [I love this one, too, and I totally do it!]

Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end on your first try?

How do those dead bugs get into those enclosed light fixtures? [Wormhole! Er, bughole?]

Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?

In winter why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat? [To annoy our husbands, natch!]

***

Jody W.
www.jodywallace.com
 
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