Saturday, May 30, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Now, as an adult, the holiday has a more somber quality. I remember those who served our country, those who are in dangerous situations currently, and those who have or are suffering.
In other words, I think of our military.
Here’s a selection of factoids I hope you’ll find interesting:
1. Memorial Day may have originated as Decoration Day, which initially took place May 30, 1868 -- just a few years after the Civil War -- at Arlington National Cemetery.
2. General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic wanted such a day to remember the almost 620,000 soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War.
3. New York was the first state to officially recognize Memorial Day -- in 1873.
4. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., as Memorial Day’s official birthplace.
5. In 1971 Congress made Memorial Day a national holiday. Congress also placed it on the last Monday in May.
6. Placing flags on soldiers’ graves is a cherished tradition of Memorial Day.
7. Presidents and other people of importance place a wreath of flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
8. At 3 p.m. on Memorial Day, many Americans observe a National Moment of Remembrance. They stand in silent reflection or listen to Taps, the bugle tribute.
9. I remember learning these words to the “Taps” song. Perhaps these aren’t THE official words, but they always come to mind when I hear Taps.
Day is done, gone the sun, from the hills, from the lake, from the skies. All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.
10. Another longstanding tradition of Memorial Day is visiting the cemetery to place flowers on graves.
11. Sometimes veterans sell red poppies and people wear those artificial flowers in remembrance of our military patriots.
12. Researching Memorial Day, I discovered that the notion of red poppies comes from a poem written by Moina Michael:
We cherish too, the poppy red That grows on fields where valor led, It seems to signal to the skies That blood of heroes never dies
13. Moina Michael also came up with the idea of selling poppies to help soldiers in need. In 1922 the Veterans of Foreign Wars began selling poppies and that’s when it began coming to the attention of a majority of Americans.
A footnote: Yes, patriotism is a key component of Memorial Day. At the same time, it announces that summer is just around the corner. Summer means swimming lessons, bike rides and camping trips, and for me, college courses.
Looking toward this fun but busy season, I’ve decided to limit my blog postings to the 2nd and 3rd weeks of the month. I hope you’ll continue to look for me then. I will, of course, be eager to visit you.
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Monday, May 25, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
My first novel length work - Protect and Defend - is a paranormal suspense erotic romance. My second novel which will be released on May 29, 2009 bends and blends the genres even more. This one is a medieval paranormal erotic romance. I wonder if eventually I'll manage to blend all the genres I enjoy writing into one very weird but exciting book. Can you imagine a medieval paranormal suspense time-travel erotic romance? Sounds almost scary, huh. Believe it or not, I'm contemplating it. Yeah, really.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Although I just happened to stumble upon my first labyrinth, quite unintentionally, I would – in time -- grow quite fond of the labyrinth experience. It became a coping mechanism, a place of peace, a way of preparing for the day ahead.
Let me explain: Last summer my church set up a labyrinth walk, which I ignored because I was too busy preparing a four-week curriculum and lesson plans for India. Fortunately, I got a second chance: a labyrinth in Tamil Nadu, India, on the Lady Doak College campus.
As a former teacher of English Language Learners, I was part of a group of 10 American teaching volunteers who spent a month teaching English at a southern India orphanage. The orphans were cheerful, friendly, enthusiastic and bright — a joy to teach. The Indians who assisted in our program were thoughtful and competent, but I ran into a problem.
Even though I was her supervisor, one of my co-volunteers – a professional person turned volunteer teacher – disagreed with many of my teaching techniques. She was big-hearted and generous, but I found her opinionated and bossy. In short, we made each other angry.
Eventually, we had a confrontation.
Too agitated to be around others, I decided I would walk the school’s labyrinth. Before I got very far, my mood began to ease and my turbulent thoughts mellowed. My initial brisk pace slowed. By the time I arrived at the center of the labyrinth, I found myself talking with God and brainstorming solutions.
When I stepped out of the labyrinth I felt better and ready to resume my work.
The labyrinth, as I said, became coping device for me. I got to know that labyrinth pretty well and, after a time, I got to understand my strong-willed co-worker. Although we probably never will be close, we came to an understanding -- an understanding that started on the pathways of a labyrinth.
Header from samulli
That experience inspired me to learn more about labyrinths. Here are 13 things you might not know:
1. Although some definitions might disagree, labyrinths aren’t mazes. Mazes have intersections and require you to make choices about which way you go. No such decisions are needed in a labyrinth.
2. Labyrinths have one pathway into and out from the center.
3. Unlike mazes, labyrinths don’t attempt to trick you. There are no dead ends or blind alleys.
4. Labyrinths require you to make only one choice and that is whether or not to enter.
5. Labyrinths are found in many cultures. The Hopi nation used the labyrinth as a symbol for “mother earth.” It wove that labyrinth into its baskets and actually carved some just outside their pueblos. Archeologists believe these labyrinths date back to around 1,100.
Petroglyph Hopi Arizona 1000dc
6. Apparently labyrinths were common throughout England and France in the late 16th century. Shakespeare may be referencing labyrinths in his play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
7. Sweden and other Scandinavian countries have created stone labyrinths along the coasts. People believe sailors built them to gentle fierce winds by trapping them within the stones.
8. In the Christian tradition, labyrinths mirror the spiritual journey.
9. One of the earliest Christian labyrinths is in the church of St. Reparatus in El Asnam, Algeria. It was formed out of black and white tiles in 324 A.D.
Labyrinth in S. Maria-di-Trastavera, Rome found in Mazes and Labyrinths by: W. H. Matthews
10. You can make labyrinths out of many mediums. There are stone, turf, fabric and tile labyrinths.
11. Some churches such as Grace Cathedral in San Francisco have traveling labyrinths made from wool or canvas.
12. There are even paper and painted labyrinths you can trace with your fingers.
13. Labyrinth walking has gained popularity recently. In 1998 the New York Times dubbed that interest the "Labyrinth Movement.”
Want to learn more about this intriguing subject? You’re invited to visit these sites:
“Walking a Sacred Path,” by Lauren Artress
“Mazes and Labyrinths,” by W. H. Matthews
“Mazes Around the World,” by Mary D. Lankford
“Labyrinths and Mazes,” by Jurgen Hohmuth
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I got my author copies two weeks ago, and they're stacked in a place of honor high on the top shelf of the book cabinet my hubster made for me--out of reach of children and cats alike. (Actually they're out of my reach unless I stand on a stool.) They're right beside my few remaining copies of A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH, which is cool, and right now I have no copies of my Red Sage anthologies because I've given them all away.
Although I absolutely adore ebooks and am buying most of my own reading in electronic format now, nothing beats the feel of your own book in your hands, glossy and crisp, weighty and new, not a single typo to be found (because I refuse to LOOK for them).
I'll even be signing SURVIVAL OF THE FAIREST on June 27, at a wonderful indie bookstore, Sherlock's Books, located in Lebanon, TN. It's a local store--when you stay home with small children, cross-country booksigning tours aren't really in the picture (or the budget)--but the staff is amazing and the store itself is pretty much perfect. I'm not signing alone, but with a group of local romance authors from the middle Tennessee area. I can't even imagine the pain of doing a booksigning solo, although I know a lot of authors have lived to tell such a tale. Maybe one day I'll be popular enough to merit that test of faith.
Anyway, it's an exciting time in an author's journey, no matter her career level, when the author copies arrive, the booksigning looms, the reader mail pours in--okay, okay, no reader mail to speak of for an unknown author like myself, but my mom did email me to remind me she expected her free copy when she came to babysit last week. That counts, doesn't it??
If you'd like to try your chance at winning your own free copy of SURVIVAL OF THE FAIREST, I am holding a contest until the end of the month at my website here: http://www.jodywallace.com/contests.htm
Happy reading, all!
Monday, May 18, 2009
A while back, I spent months focusing on one particular editor because one of her top authors wrote time-travels with humor running throughout the books. I thought, hey, that’s what I write. Maybe Susie Editor will like my stuff too. But when I finally Googled her and found a blog interview a fellow writer had done with her, guess what I found? She doesn’t like time-travels. But how can that be, I thought? One of her bestselling authors writes time-travels (or at least some of them had time-travel in them). I’m guessing a lot of unpublished authors were thinking the same thing I was and that’s all she was seeing come across her desk. Let me tell you, that was a lot of time and effort down the drain on my part.
Now I do my research. I saw a contest coming up that had an editor at St. Martins judging the paranormal category. St. Martins doesn’t take unagented submissions. I Googled the editor and found a blog interview with her in which she specifically states that she “loves humor--if a book makes me laugh, I'm automatically hooked.” Sounded like the editor for me. I entered the contest. I finaled and this editor who loves humor ranked me 1st place and requested the full manuscript. Yeah for me! My research paid off this time.
So where do you start? Google is a powerful tool. Search for the editor’s name (works for agents too). You’ll be amazed at how many hits you’ll get. I often include ‘interview’ or ‘blog’ as one of my search words to narrow down the results. Many times you’ll find an author who’s done a blog interview with them. Read them. The more recent, the better.
Join the editorsagentsandblogsohmy Yahoo loop. There’s always info being posted there on the latest news. You can also search the records to see if there are any blog links regarding a particular editor or agent.
If the editor or agent has their own blog, read it regularly. If they tweet, follow them. If they have a Facebook or MySpace page, friend them.
We often think of editors and agents as these faceless people who hold our fate in their hands. But if you take a little time and do a little research, you’ll discover more about them than just their name.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
"Authors should attach their full manuscript in a Word or .rtf document, along with a 3- to 7-page synopsis. Dorchester is currently acquiring fiction in Romance, Horror, Western and Thriller genres. For full descriptions, see the Submission Guidelines.
The body of the email should contain the material of a normal cover letter:
* contact information, including physical address and phone number (so we don’t call a Californian at 9 a.m. EST);
* word count (70,000-90,000 words);
* the genre of the novel;
* and a brief, tantalizing description of the plot.
Authors who currently have submitted via regular mail should not resend their material. Submissions should be sent to submissions(at)dorchesterpub.com."
So get your stuff ready to submit! Don D'Auria will be attending an LA convention in June - the Bram Stoker Awards Weekend, doing pitch sessions for yours truly, along with Medallion owner/editor Helen Rosburg, Agents Peter Miller and Robert Fleck, and two movie producers, so it will be a great weekend.
We'll be posting other paranormal news and tidbits this week, so if you have a question, please let us know!
Thanks, and happy writing!
Friday, May 15, 2009
You’re probably asking how the heck would a character know why a writer writes what she writes. Well who else? See, in spite of what they may tell you, writers have no idea why they write what they do. I’m going to tell you a secret, (I’m whispering here) it’s the characters who decide the stories a writer writes.
The procedure is for a group of characters to get together. We then debate the kind of story that particular writer seems more suited to write. Then we send one or more characters to the writer. She usually fights us when we try to tell her our stories, but somewhere down the line one of us will intrigue her, and she’ll submit to our demands…I mean agree to tell our stories.
Eventually we know what she seems more suited to write, and from that time we’ll send characters whose stories that writer should be competent to tell. Sometimes the stories seem very different, but we don’t go by the genre/subgenre thing. We go by other criteria, intricate, involved criteria.
I decided Cheryel would be a reasonable choice to tell my story. Some of my friends told me I was crazy. “Go with Nora Roberts,” one of them said. Yeah, like I want to stand in line that long. No, I wanted a newer writer, one I could get to sooner, and manipulate more easily (oops, did I say that out loud?) So I decided on Cheryel. She is stubborn, though. She wanted me to drive a car called “Kia.” Can you imagine! Eventually I convinced her that Kia is my name not my choice of vehicle, and we got to work. Once she got into the listening-to-her-character mode, I was able to guide her through the telling of my story.
So that’s how it works. We characters decided that my story was something that Cheryel should be able to write. Since my story involves a romance (with that yummy Garrett!) you would call it a romance. And since ghosts and an evil wizard are involved in my story, you’d call it a paranormal. Dark, sexy, funny, scary; my story has it all (big grin).
So now that we characters know that Cheryel can write my variety of story competently we’re sending more characters to her with similar types of stories.
And that’s how Cheryel became a paranormal romance writer.
Hugs and kisses,
Kia Wolfe, character
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I’ve been going on and on about my spring flowers for at least a month. Long enough that you probably want me to stop talking and show you the flowers. So here they are:
1.These are Red Emperor Tulips. Of all the flowers I cut and give away, I get the most compliments about these. You can’t tell from the picture, but they’re the size of a dessert or salad plate.
2. Somehow this lily of the valley found its way to the front of my house. The rest of her kind are in the backyard, under towering trees, and are just now getting ready to bloom.
3. These purple tulips were planted by my son. I’ve no idea what their official name is, but I enjoy them nonetheless.
4. This is a double pink tulip. It’s my favorite tulip this year. I hope to get even more of these this fall.
5. This is a double white tulip. It’s nice with the hostas.
6. This is a common variety of lungwort or pulmonaria called Mrs. Moon. Its pink buds turn blue when they open.
7. Another … you guessed it … tulip.
8. What else but daffodils?
9. A wood anemone, I think. It’s lovely, but only blooms for a short time and doesn’t make any more of itself.
10. On the other hand, this flower multiplies incredibly well. I should do something about this dandelion, but I consider it pretty.
11. More tulips. I plant lots of tulips because I enjoy giving them away.
12. My pachysandra managed these blossoms this year.
13. Here’s the bleeding heart in the backyard. It was one of the plants I brought from my old house. For a couple of years I worried that it wouldn’t survive, but this year it’s thriving.
Do you garden? Do you like flowers? What’s your favorite?
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I just read a fun post over at Mama Writers about things you need as a writer and a mother. Instead of putting my list in their comments section I thought I'd share it here!
12) My laptop. I don't think I could go back to pen and paper or a typewriter!
11) TiVo. I can tape shows for the kids to watch when I'm desperate to work just a little and I can tape my own shows to watch whenever I get a chance, which might be months later!
10) A comfortable place to sit. I'm struggling with this one right now because it seems like anywhere I sit for more than 45 minutes starts hurting some part of my body -- my back, my knees, my wrists, my neck...something. The result is I move around a lot, which isn't unhealthy but it sure does interrupt the flow.
9) Enough sleep. I don't know how people manage on insufficient sleep every night. We did that when the children were small, and let me just tell you how low my creative drive was! Heck, my drive for EVERYTHING was low...my drive for socializing, hubby time, cooking, cleaning, working, standing up, taking showers, eating...everything was low except my drive for sleep. "Enough" varies by person, I do know that much, but for me it's 7-8 hours a night. I can run on a deficit every now and then but not every day. Been there, tried that, have the dangerous near-miss stories to prove it.
8) Interaction with other writers. I can't keep my chin up in a vacuum. I need to celebrate, commiserate, share ideas, gossip and complain with other folks who "get it". Not just on the computer, either, although internet interactions definitely help.
9) Something good...or bad...to read. Back to the vacuum thing, I need to know what's happening in the market. Not just to assess my own work but for my own enjoyment. The day I stop enjoying reading is the day I stop writing. If I were to quit writing, I'd still love to read. Granted, the BAD things to read serve a very different purpose than the good things, but they are still illuminating :)
8) Good health. I try to make myself eat right, do that sleeping thing, have regular check-ups and even sometimes exercise (more drastically than moving from the couch to the chair because my butt hurts on the couch.) If Mama gets sick, the household comes to a halt, as does my writing.
7) My husband. Because he's awesome and makes me want to write mushy love stories. Also because he is a very flexible, patient man who is happy to cook dinner or clean house or grocery shop or play with his girls while Mama works. Not all the time--but sometimes. I always worry he's going to get huffy about it and he never does. I must not be pushing my luck yet :)
6) Will power. I need it to limit myself to 2 cups of coffee a day, X minutes online a day, wise food choices, revisions, you name it. When you're a Mama Writer (or any writer), your time to yourself is frequently limited. You must maximize it instead of fritter it away. I'm not talking about 5 minutes here and there (more on that later), but when you have a block of time. Sometimes you have to sacrifice things you really LIKE in order to write. Especially when you're not under contract and when nobody's giving you deadlines, this can be hard. So will power is essential. (And if you give in on the extra coffee, your jitters may not lend themselves to useful writing!)
5) Air popped popcorn. On my "work days" -- when one kid's in school and the other's at our wonderful sitter -- I could easily munch the WHOLE DAY without stopping. Air popped popcorn with spray butter and popcorn sprinkles keeps me from feeling bilious and bloated by the end of the day. Plus after I eat one batch of it, I've got enough kernals stuck in my teeth to keep me busy the rest of the day, ha!
4) Some level of competency in the kitchen. This goes back to the "eat healthy" thing but also nurtures me and my family in a way that is hard to replace. If I don't cook a dinner that's not just edible but tasty--and not just tasty but healthy--then that's a day all of us enjoy less than we would have otherwise. I try not to obsess over health and food, especially not since we're setting an example for two girls in a society where body image issues are HUGE, but I don't want to teach them food and taste don't matter, either. Plus, a nice meal that I cooked myself exercises my creative spirit in a way that's sort of similar to writing, but I get my efforts "published" at 6 pm that night :). Also, if I cook I don't have to do the dishes.
3) On that note...frozen dinners or take-out options that don't make me want to stab myself in the meaty thigh! I can't cook EVERY night, man. I have been known to get a bit...distracted, especially on my work days, and fail in the kitchen.
2) A new laptop. Okay, I'm just saying that because I am paranoid my 3 yr old one is about to die. I have been backing it up quite frequently. If my laptop goes and I have to sit a spell without one because we haven't saved up enough cash for it...YIKES! I don't even want to think about it. Somebody give me a piggy bank so I can start saving now!
1) Some type of childcare. School, family member, noxious tv program, babysitter, duct tape (ok, not really duct tape), I don't care. Whatever you can afford and countenance. You may have cooperative children who don't raze the house down to the foundation whenever you take your attention off them for a moment. You may have older children, no children, I don’t know, but if you don't have any real writing time, time when you ONLY have to think about words on the page, it's going to put a serious crimp in your creativity.
Some people are great at switching gears--they can take 5 minutes waiting in the pick-up line or I don't know where and make it work for them. I cannot jump right into the writing, no matter how hard I try or what strategies I use. I've been trying for 7 years now and haven't gotten any better at it. It's like functioning on less sleep. Some people can do it or learn to do it and some are not built for speed, so to speak. Knowing this is just part of knowing your strengths and weaknesses as a writer and how to work around them.
Either way, that's my number one lovely writer Mama thing--childcare. I can't even tell you how my overall mood and productivity have improved since #1 started school and we found a wonderful sitter for #2 to hang out with 2x a week. Now if only my writing income would improve to cover the expenses...
SURVIVAL OF THE FAIREST--In Paper, Samhain Publishing
LIAM'S GOLD--In Electrons, Samhain Publishing
Monday, May 11, 2009
So years later, when I decided to try my hand at writing, did I write what I loved? Nope. I sat down and tried to write one of those epic historical romances. It had a Highland laird, a warrior heroine, an evil father, revenge, coerced sex, illegitimate pregnancy, angst, deception, drama, and even a case of amnesia thrown in. Everything but the kitchen sink. Did it sell? Nope. And now that I know what I know, I’m not surprised. But at the time I was heartbroken. Why didn’t anyone love my great masterpiece? Then I heard those prolific words that gave me that ‘ah ha’ moment every author has. Not ‘write what you know,’ because unless you’re a history scholar or time traveler, no one really ‘knows’ what it was truly like to live in a time not our own. No, the prolific words that got me started writing in the paranormal genre were ‘write what you love to read.’ And so I did. And you know what? That book practically wrote itself. It flew from my fingertips with all the pieces falling magically into place. It was a book with bumbling guardian angels and reincarnated soul mates set in WWII Pompeii. By the time I finished it, I had what I thought was a pretty darn good book. Someone else thought so too, because it landed me an agent. Did it sell? Nope – mainly because of the WWII thing -- but it came very close. Was I heartbroken? Yes. Did I give up on the genre I love? No. I’m still writing humorous historical paranormal romance, but I’ve moved on to a more marketable time period. Will my latest and greatest medieval time travel with a dragon-knight sell? Who knows? But judging by the contest wins and the editor interest I’ve been receiving lately, it just might. And now that I’m a better writer and know what type of book fits my voice, I might dig that first book out from under the bed and blow off the dust bunnies. Maybe with some paranormal elements thrown in (and at least one or two kitchen sinks thrown out), it could turn into something special. All it takes is a little magic. *G*
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Header from samulli
Facts about Mother’s Day and Moms in the U.S.:
1. Mother’s Day was the brainchild of Anna Jarvis. After her mother died in 1905, Anna began a campaign to establish a national holiday that celebrated mothers.
Photo of Anna Jarvis
2. In 1907, she celebrated the first Mother’s Day at St. Andrew’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia, by passing out 500 white carnations to the mothers in the congregation.
3. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a joint resolution from Congress that honored women’s role in the family. The joint resolution called the holiday Mother’s Day.
4. There’s no shortage of mothers in the United States. As of 2004, the estimated number was 82.8 million. Wow, I can’t even imagine a figure that big, but I guess I’m one of those mothers.
5. Did you know that 55% of American women between the ages of 15 and 44 years old are moms.
6. The average number of children mothers are having these days is 2.1 (based on the 2006 report).
7. In 2005 the average age for an American mother giving birth for the first time was 25 years old.
8. August is the month most women give birth.
9. Tuesday is the day most babies are born.
10. There were 5.6 million U.S. stay-at-home moms in 2006.
11. Mothers are very important in children’s lives and in most cases still spend the bulk of their time with their young children. Between 54% and 79% of children age 6 or under eat breakfast and dinner with their mother.
12. Eighty percent of first time mothers held jobs while pregnant.
13. This year Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 10, so if you haven’t gotten that special person in your life a thank-you gift, you still have time. Popular Mother’s Day gifts include jewelry, Mother’s Day cards, cosmetics and floral arrangements.
Do you celebrate Mother’s Day? What are your thoughts about Moms or Mother’s Day? Do the facts I’ve listed seem true in your life? Please share what you think.