Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Everything Old is New Again

Long ago, as the earth was cooling, people used odd machines called “typewriters” to compose notes to one another.
These machines were developed after the discovery of electricity, but they were powered by a different source, human fingers. And they were called “manual” because of this.
They were difficult to use, these first “manual” typewriters. They consisted of a series of letters at the end of long rods, attached to a board, also with letters. When a finger hit a letter on the “keyboard”, the rod that held that letter would move and imprint the letter on a piece of paper, using an inked ribbon.
This was a huge step up from clay tablets, stone carving or foul fowl feathers, and the new technology was embraced by most people.
Not by the folks who wrote the stories you found in your daily newspaper, though.
These guys were lazy, or just conserving energy, so when they typed something other than their story, they used shortcuts.
“Manual” typewriters took a lot of pressure to pound the “keys” on the “keyboard” for that the impression showed up on the paper, so the first thing those guys eliminated was capital letters. To print a capital took an extra “keystroke”. The next thing those guys eliminated was a lot of punctuation. Again, an extra stroke.
Instead, they’d sling the carriage return and just start another paragraph.
So for a time everybody wrote like e.e.cummings.
But that wasn’t enough. It still took extra time to write notes or instructions to the men who actually set the type, using a machine adapted from a typewriter called a “linotype.” This machine produced a line of type (letters) molded from the pot of hot, liquid lead at the side of the machine.
Not incidentally, the molten lead floated around in the air and coated everything, including the coffee we drank.
Writing was getting trimmed, but it sill took more time than was warranted on composing messages to friends or other useless drivel, like notes from your interview, so abbreviations evolved.
c u
u r a pal
And it wasn’t enough to use abbrv., you could also cut whole words out. For instance, if you wanted to say, “I’d appreciate it if you would respond to my question,” you could say “gimme yes or no.”
Invariably, the “I” was dropped also. “hope all is well,” “coming over?”
As things go, this technology went the way of swan feathers, until today lots of people correspond using only their thumbs and a string of seemingly miscellaneous letters. OMG, BFF, ROTHWL, LOL, IMHO.
Gibberish? I think not. Just the evolving result of those memos and notes we typed to each other. I still seldom use caps when I correspond, now by email, with friends still in the business.
When you write email, do you write in complete sentences and use capitals?
I’m tickled to think that the texters believe they’ve discovered something new.
We got there first.

When the earth was cooling, Michele Drier was a staff writer at the San Jose Mercury-News and caught the tail end of manual typewriters and hot lead. The lead is gone but the caps never came back.

Her mystery, Edited for Death, set at a daily newspaper, is getting well-reviewed. The Midwest Book Review calls it, “Riveting and much recommended.”

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Want To Bite Your Neck

I'm writing a vampire story. It's a short and I hope to sub it for an anthology. I swore I'd never write a vampire story, but it really fits to make my hero one of the undead. I'm trying to avoid every stereotype in my prose, but dang it's difficult. There are so many of them, and let's face it ... the theme has been well played out.

But readers still seem to go gaga (and not in the Lady way) for them, so... I thought I'd list some of my favorite vampire movies. Yes, I've been watching them for inspiration, and maybe that new idea or twenty.

Vampires Suck ~ 2010. This was the one that spoofed the Twilight saga.

Interview With The Vampire ~ 1994. Loved the book, and the movie did it justice.

Blade ~ 1998. Yeah. No need to elaborate here.

Underworld ~ 2003. Some really cool special effects in this one.

Forever Knight ~ 1989 to 1996. Not a movie, but a TV show that I was so sad to see end.

Son of Dracula ~ 1943. Campy and hysterical.

Bram Stoker's Dracula ~ 1992. Cream of the crop. Lush and scenic.

Salem's Lot ~ 1979. Based on the novel by Stephen King. Need I say more?

Nosferatu ~ 1922. Still the scariest of them all.

Dark Shadows ~ 1966-1971. We lived to watch this show every afternoon.

Did I list your favorite?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

13 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Professional Cycling

Greeting Diners,
Happy First Day of Spring! With the warmer weather, I’m thinking about breaking out my bicycle. Maybe you are too—and I’m betting our guest will give you further inspiration.

Please welcome Kimberly Menozzi,

Because I'm writing a novel set in the world of professional road cycling, I've had a distinct case of "Cycling-on-the-Brain" in recent months. As a result, I'd like to
share with all of you some of the trivia tidbits I've picked up along the way.

13 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Professional Cycling

1) The first organized bike race was in 1868, with the first World Championship in 1893.

2) When the modern Olympic Games were established in 1896, cycling was one of the events. It has been an Olympic event ever since.

3) The oldest race ridden annually is Liege-Bastogne-Liege – the first race was held in 1892.

4) There are different types of races, including single-day/night races, multiple stage races and even marathon races.

5) In a stage race, there are different kinds of winners, including: the winner of each stage, who is the first across the line; a points classification winner (who collects points by sprinting for interim wins at different times through the length of the race); a "King of the Mountains" (or Queen, in women's races) winner who collects points by being the first rider over the summit of each climb; and, finally and most famously, there is the overall winner, who has the fastest time of all the riders.

6) It is possible for the winner of a bike race not to be the first one over the finish line on the final day. In 1990, American rider Greg LeMond actually won the Tour de France without winning a single stage. He still had the fastest time overall.

7) During a single mountain stage, depending on the length of the stage, a cyclist can burn anywhere from 7000 to 9000 calories.

8) There are three "Grand Tours" in road racing, all of which have (on average)twenty
one stages: The Giro d'Italia (Italy), The Tour de France (France), and the Vuelta a Espana (Spain).

9) This year's Tour de France will cover just over 3,479 km (2,161 miles) in 23 days.

10) Cycling is very much a team sport. Within a team, riders with different specialties (climbers,sprinters and domestiques) work together to protect and advance the Team Leader, who is usually (but not always) the strongest all-round rider of the team.

11) The overall winner of the Tour de France in 2007 received €450,000 after riding 3,569.9 km (2,218 mi) over 21 days of racing. The prize money, however, was shared with his teammates.

12) Many of the terms used in cycling are French or Italian in origin.

13) The average speed of the peloton (the main group of riders) in a stage race is frequently in excess of 50 km/h on flatter sections and around 60 km/h in the final kilometres of a stage. However, the speeds encountered in bunch sprints (the manic rides at the end of flat stages) can vary considerably. There have been winners in previous stages of the Tour de France who have reached speeds in excess of 70 kilometres an hour.

While you’re waiting for Kimberly’s novel about cyclists, you might want to check out her current

“Wow. You weren’t kidding, were you?”
Emily took a small sip of cappuccino and sighed.
“It is as I told you, eh?”
“Proprio così.” As Emily looked around the bar, she felt a
small smile blossoming. “This place is positively charming, too. How did you
find it?”
“I told you before,” he said in a bad imitation of an American
accent, “‘Bologna is my town.’ I know where everything is here.”
“Sì.” He nodded, raising his eyebrows a notch too high. “Veramente.”
“So you’re a professional tour guide, then?”
“No. I spend a lot of time in the University Quartiere.”
“You’re a teacher’s assistant?”
“No…” He stirred his caffè macchiato idly, shaking his
“Well, a student, then. You don’t seem old enough to be un professore.”
“Don’t I?” He leaned forward and the small table jostled between
them, the cups clinking in their saucers. “Look closer.”
It felt like a dare, a childish challenge, so she leaned nearer
too. Her courage faltered after a moment, but only after she’d noted the laugh
lines around his eyes and the few gray strands in his hair.
“Don’t fall for it,” Jacopo’s voice scolded at once, almost
making her flinch. “Kill time with him if you must, but for Heaven’s sake,
don’t let this go any further.”
She pulled off another piece of her brioche and popped it in her
mouth to keep from thinking about the hint of woodsmoke and earth in Davide’s
“There’s something I’d like to ask you,” she said before she could
lose her nerve.
“Che cos’è?” He was running a finger over a lacquered-over
message someone had scratched into the surface of the table.
“On the train this morning—you were watching
me, weren’t you?” She laughed nervously and shook her head, blushed and looked
away. “I’m sorry. You know, right when I said it, I realized how...”
“Sì,” he interrupted softly. “I was watching you on the
train, but there is a simple explanation.”
“And what might that be?”
“Well, I confess: at first, I saw you across from me on the train,
and I thought, ‘What a lovely woman she is’.”
Facing him once again, she chuckled in spite of her embarrassment.
“Oh, please; I saw so many stylish, elegant women on that train. I’m not like
“I saw the magazine you were reading,” he said, as if that would
explain everything.
“Yes…?” she encouraged with her hands, drawing him forward.
“Well, then I thought, ‘She’s intelligent as well. That’s
wonderful.’ So I couldn’t take my eyes off you.”
Emily laughed more freely, waving her hand, shooing his words
away. “Oh, please…”
“No, è vero, è vero,” he laughed too. “But there’s more, of
“Oh, really? Okay, what is it?”
Smiling, he nervously busied himself with brushing up the crumbs
of his brioche. “I saw you with your magazine and then… I saw the article you
were reading with so much interest.”
“You could see which article I was reading?”
“You’d read it, too?”
“Sì, sì. Many times, in fact.”
“Imagine that… I would never have guessed something like that would catch your attention.” A wave
of relief washed over her, now that the mystery of his “attraction” was solved.
“You know, I thought the article was very interesting, but I’m not sure I
completely understood it. My Italian isn’t perfect and there were some rather
abstract concepts and complex language in it…” She trailed off, a realization
dawning. “Oh, lord… ‘Davide Magnani’.” She put her hand to her forehead,
embarrassed. “You wrote it, didn’t you? That’s
why your name rang a little bell in the deep, dark recesses of my mind.”
“Sì, I did. It’s just that other thing I do when I’m not
teaching or speaking to educational conferences in Padova…”
“Amazing… I mean, what are the odds of reading an article and
having the author sitting right across from you on the train like some average
Joe? Or, in this case, like some average Giuseppe?”
He chuckled. “I would think that the odds are probably quite
“So you were in Padova
for a conference, then?”
“Sì, I was there for a sort of…come si dice—‘workshop’,
for professors and enthusiasts of modern literature. I spoke about the article,
explained my theory, that sort of thing.”
“How interesting. I wish I could have heard it, too.”
He laughed loudly before covering his mouth with his hand, abashed.
“What?” she asked, puzzled. “What was so funny about what I said?”
“I’m sorry. You must understand, though, that I’m not used to such
politeness. Most people are not interested in what I talk about, except for my
fellows and the students who are obligated to take my course to gain their
degrees at university.”
“Okay, but I was reading
it, wasn’t I? Wouldn’t that indicate a sincere interest?”
He shrugged modestly, a faint pinkness shading his cheeks. “We all
read the magazines in the doctor’s office, whether we have an interest in
fashion and gossip or not.” He looked around the bar, his smile still pulling
at his mouth when he faced her again. “Emily, tell me the truth: would you
really be interested in the speech I gave?”
“I would, yes. I really would.”
“Then I have something else you might enjoy equally. Come with me.
We’re nearly there, anyway.” He stood and hoisted his knapsack over his
shoulder while she got her coat and shoulder bag.
“Nearly where?”
“You’ll see. Come.” He held the door for her and once again they
braved the February cold.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

First Day of Spring?

Really? We've been having Spring since October and now it's like early Summer. So as kitchen supervisor I've decided to go ahead and open our Snow Ball stand early.

This means we'll have to take turns manning the controls of the shaver and making ice. You gals up for it if it means free snow balls? With the bad weather headed this way later tonight and tomorrow we'll have an extra day to practice and make a schedule. Lol, maybe be should have one called the Thunderbumper. What color would it be? Not sure anyone would be interested in gray ice. Someone suggested a crawfish snow ball. Can't say that sounds appealing to me but then neither does Spearmint.

So what are your favorite flavors? I'll make sure I order plenty of supplies. Bring your kids by to get a Spiderman, or a Jolly Rancher, or a Bayou Gummy Worm with your employee discount!

Check out the flavors we offer in the ad above. New suggestions are appreciated. The employee with the best selling suggestion gets free snowballs for their family for the Summer!

Livia Quinn is a paranormal romance writer when she's not serving up snow balls to customers of all ages. Her paranormal Destined for the Storm is due out in May 2012. Fire in My Blood, by Marcella Rose, is available now at your favorite ebook store.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Indie Author Spotlight: Out of the Ashes

by Lori Dillon

Book Blurb:

David and Sera are soul mates destined to be together, if only their bumbling guardian angels could do their job right.

First united in Pompeii A.D. 79 as a privileged merchant's daughter and a slave gladiator, their young love is cut short when Vesuvius unexpectedly erupts. After several botched attempts, their angels get one final chance to bring the couple together and personally escort them back to war-torn Italy, nearly two thousand years later.

Sera is now an archeologist excavating the ruins of Pompeii and David is an American soldier masquerading as an Italian, sent to spy on the Germans camped near the ruins. With the help of their earth-bound angels, David and Sera must overcome deception, heartbreak and the forgotten tragedy of their past lives. Working side by side in the ruins where they died centuries ago in each other's arms, David and Sera's relationship grows from a guarded friendship to explosive passion as they excavate their own bodies and, in doing so, unearth the love of a lifetime.

Those of you who are regulars here at the diner know that every other Monday I do a review of an indie book. Today, well, it’s my turn. Finally, after starting this journey back in August, my first baby has gone out into the world. Woot! This is exciting and terrifying at the same time.

I’m not going to review it myself because of course I think it’s brilliant and wonderful. *G* This is the book of my heart that landed me an agent and came thiisss close to selling to NY a few years ago, so hopefully readers will like it too. To celebrate my debut release, I’ll be giving away 3 copies (ePub or Mobi) of Out of the Ashes. Just leave a comment by 5:00 EST on Friday with your email address and I’ll have Random Picker select the winners. Good luck and thanks for following me on this incredible journey.

Out of the Ashes is available now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. The trade paperback will out soon, too. *fingers crossed*

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tips for Writing YA

Do you write YA? Today I attended a program led by two of my local RWA chapter members, Rae Ann Parker and Cate Hart, entitled, "High School, Superpowers and the Love Triangle." We learned quite a few interesting things about YA's growth as a genre over the past several decades and the current state of the market, and I thought I would share some highlights with everyone.

1) Protagonists of YA novels are generally 15-18 years old. It is rare that they are younger than that or older, such as college age.

2) In YA, a teen begins the book as a child but, through facing tough, more adult situations, generally ends the book (or series) with a mature perspective.

3) In middle grade books, one difference is the protagonist retains the child's perspective on life, despite what are doubtless harrowing adventures and experiences.

4) Voice is one of the primary factors in the YA novel, and tips for achieving a good YA voice including relaxing your grammar, embracing your inner drama queen and the use of first person POV.

5) High school or some facsimile thereof often plays a big part of the YA novel, and if it doesn't play a big part of the novel--the reason why it's not a part of the novel is prevalent, such as, the novel takes place in a future where there is no school or the novel takes place during summer or what have you.

6) YA characters are often orphans, have "bad parents" who don't pay enough attention to them, or are generally unsupervised. The reasons for this are varied.

7) YA books aimed at a female audience very frequently contain romances, and those romances often feature the love triangle. This triangle works best if the male love interests (since the viewpoint character is usually the female) have some sort of relationship as well instead of being totally separate.

8) YA books often have more of a happy for now than a happily ever after ending, although there is a current market tendency to include epilogues with weddings or to include weddings in the books themselves.

9) YA horror is something several editors said they were looking for, but they were not looking for YA novels in which the protagonists meet when paired at school as science lab partners, as that device has been used many times.

10) In the love triange (#7), the heroine often ends up with the guy who causes her character to experience the most growth.

YA is a huge, huge genre right now, and if you'd like to have Cate and Rae Ann come give their workshop at your chapter or writer's group, you should contact them! The presentation had a lot more information and detail than I've shared here, and they also give away a lot of door prizes. Recommended :).

Jody W.  *

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Soundtrack for a New Release - The Banshee and the Linebacker

The Banshee and the Linebacker is out. 

The Blurb: Two brothers, both on course for tragedy.
A girl tormented by visions of their deaths.
Changing their fate could mean sacrificing her heart.

Music is a huge inspiration for me. As a result, I've created unofficial soundtracks for all my novels and novellas via Youtube. For The Banshee and the Linebacker the link to this soundtrack is:
It includes:

Chapter 1-2 The Vision = Alex Clare's Too Close
Chapter 3 Dinner with the Parents = Flo & The Machine's   Kiss with a Fist
Chapter 4 The Date = One Direction's What Makes You     Beautiful.
Chapter 4-5 Tara Takes Action = Bjork's Army of Me.

Chapter 4 End of the Game = The Temper Trap's Sweet Disposition.

As an extra treat The Banshee and the Linebacker is FREE for a short time at Amazon:

Entanglements is FREE too!

Come and get em before they return to full price!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Edits - One Year Of Survival

It's been one year since I received my first edits. At the time, I did a blog post on them if you care to read it HERE. I've learned a lot in one year, and I thought it would be fun to compare how I felt then with how I view edits now.


This one still rings true. I recently had the chance to put this one into practice, and I'm glad I did. One should always behave in public, and that includes online. :)

2) Realize how much time and work your editor took with the changes.

Very true. But edits should improve the story, not re-write it. Sometimes you and a particular editor are simply not a good fit.

3) Learn how to use Track Changes in Word.

Just as true now as it was a year ago. Oh, and for you Word For Mac users, Word is the industry standard. Deal with it. I hate it too but there's no changing that, okay? Just understand it's a Microsoft product and even though it says Word For Mac, it won't play nice all the time on your Macbook. When things start locking up, restart your machine. Works like a charm. :) Oh, and SAVE OFTEN, just in case.

4) Read through the entire thing first, slowly.

This. In fact, I would add give yourself a day or two to do this. You'll miss things the first time around, and after practicing #1 you might find it's not quite the disaster you first believed it was.

5) Try not to freak out as you do.

Hell no! Go ahead and freak out. Rant to the cat. Throw things. Just don't toss your laptop around by mistake. :)

6) Edit at the time of day you're most fresh.

Oh whatever. Just get them done. If your life is like mine you're lucky to sit down at eight in the evening to finally get some writing done.

7) Break the document into number of pages you need to edit each day to make your deadline.

See #6. Work till you drop is my motto these days.

8) Then double that number of pages, and set that as your daily goal.

In other words, even if you're stressing about the edits, don't miss your deadline.

9) Go through each change one at a time. Slowly.

It depends. If you're accepting them you can speed along pretty quickly. If, on the other hand, you're doing extensive re-writes or spending a great deal of time writing comments about why you've rejected so many of the editor's changes, you'll need to go slowly anyway. Especially because of #3.

10) Remember it's your story. If something doesn't sound right, read it out loud. If it still doesn't sound right, don't accept the change, and write your editor a very sweet comment explaining why it just doesn't sound right. They're human beings too. :)

Seriously, it is your story. If you truly believe you're right, stick to your guns. If you need to talk to someone about it, do so. If you need to email your publisher with your concerns, make sure you've passed #1, #4 and #5 first. That way your email will be professional rather than a diva rant. You don't want to burn a bridge or start a cyber war over edits.

11) Take frequent breaks but make your daily goal of so many pages. If you get behind, you'll only stress yourself out trying to make up the pages, and the changes won't be as good as if you took your time.

Yep. Still true.

12) Celebrate!! You have edits! From an editor! And you're on deadline! That means you're one step closer to the finished book, and it means you're that much closer to being a paid writer. :)

Still true! With the exception of one incident this past year, my editing experiences have been positive and fulfilling. The changes improved my stories and taught me so much about my writing.

Your turn! Tell me how you approach edits. Any words of wisdom you want to share?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Frying Up Your Muse

My crit partner called me the other day with a premise for a new story. It begins with her homeless heroine entering a rundown inner city business to escape a pair of thugs/gangbangers. Instead of being chased back out by the crusty shop keep, she’s offered a job on the spot after old crusty gets a gander at her Aunt Fanny’s antique bracelet circling her grimy wrist.
“Okay, what comes next?” I ask.
“That’s all I’ve got,”says my crit partner.
Thus began a brisk brain storming session where I visualize and suggest a variety of
possibilities, backstories, and surface problems that could grow from her
inciting incident. We finish with my friend claiming that I’m a creative whiz
and me knowing the truth: I’m a fraud. A fraud because when it comes to my own
work in progress I routinely freeze up. I play it safe, predictable, boring,
yawn, snore…
Why does it seem so easy to come up with the fresh, exciting ideas for someone else’s project and not at all easy for one’s own? Possibly it’s because we writers are so darn serious when it comes to our own work. Maybe we’re too caught up in the details instead of the big picture. Who knows? Maybe it’s just me, but one thing I do to snap out of my storyline funk is read the newspaper.
I have a file filled with newspaper articles – stupid criminals, unexplained fires, bridge collapses, train collisions, disappearances, rapes, suicides, even DWI stories.
I clip the offbeat and quirky, valiant or tragic, humorous or heartbreaking – anything, everything that snags my attention and (more important) illicit an emotional response. All this goes in a file to be pulled out when I’m stuck story wise or tempted to go the safe, boring route. For fifty cents I have a front row seat at humanity’s theatre and plenty of fodder for my characters. Not a bad deal, yeah?
Now it’s your turn to share. As a reader, what is the craziest news story you’ve ever read or watched? Even better, have you ever experienced something in your own life that you swear would make a bestselling novel or movie?
Now for you writers, do you have a trick, technique, or gimmick you use to help you develop surface problems and plot points? If so, tell us about it!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Save the Date - Reanimate

Who doesn't love prom season? Even though I'm far from what may be classified either high school age or a "girly-girl," I can't help but get a certain sense of nostalgia about the event. Maybe it's fond memories of my own senior prom, maybe it's one too many high school themed movies glorifying the event, whatever it is, you can't deny the sentimental allure of overly aquanetted hair, a soon-to-be horribly outdated dress, an embarrassingly corny theme, and the hint of newly decaying flesh in the air...

Wait, what?

That's right, folks. If you live in Nashville, TN or any of the surrounding areas, it's once again time to mark your calendars. The third annual Promocalypse is scheduled for April 28, 2012 in the Cannery Ballroom. What is the Promocalypse? It's a prom...with zombies! As stated on the official website:

"For far too long, social events have unfairly excluded Zombiekind. If you are one of the reanimated dead, or are in a relationship with one, there is no reason to hide in the dark any longer! If you are a living human who is sympathetic to the cause of Reanimated Rights, or have ever been Zombie-curious, you are also welcome to join this historic event. For one night, let's put our differences aside, dance, and have fun!"
So it's the prom, but instead of high school drama and curfews, you get a cash bar and zombies. Really, what could be better?!

Human or zombie, prom attire is mandatory and strictly enforced. What does the discerning, fashion forward attendee wear to a zombie prom? Check out the previous prom photos for ideas.

If only I weren't pregnant, I'd be ROCKING the zombie heels!

Tickets will be on sale soon. Check the Promocalypse Facebook page for details.

If you were (or are!) planning to attend a zombie prom, what would you wear? Would you be a human at an otherwise undead event, newly deceased and decorated with just a hint of properly placed blood, or go the full zombie, with fabulously ghoulish makeup and the finest in fashionably mauled clothing? What are your must have promocalypse fashion accessories (zombie cameos are all the rage)? Most importantly, do you believe inter-lifestatus love can last?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

In Celebration of the Weather: Snow Facts

We’ve had very little snow this winter, but last week we had one of those classic snowfalls. Huge, glorious flakes. I watched the show from my backyard window and realized how much I had looked forward to seeing the white stuff. Yesterday, all the snow melted before I’d even gotten used to it. I wasn’t ready for it to go. To remember it, I decided to share some facts with you.

    Header by Samulli

  1. Every winter, one septillion or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 snow crystals fall.

  2. Why so many? Probably because it takes almost a million crystals to make a snowflake.

  3. Not only that, there are about 180 billion molecules of water in an average snowflake.

  4. Snow, like water, actually is clear and colorless, even though it looks white.

  5. Snowflakes always have six sides.

  6. People believe each snowflake is unique. I can't dispute it.
    Yet there are some general rules to their creation. No. 1: When the temperature is close to freezing, snowflakes are larger and more complex.

  7. No. 2: When the temperature is very cold, well below freezing, flakes are needle- or rod-shaped and simpler in design.

  8. In 1951 the International Commission on Snow and Ice produced a fairly simple and widely used classification system for solid precipitation. This system defines the seven principal snow crystal types as plates, stellar crystals, columns, needles, spatial dendrites, capped columns, and irregular forms. Here’s a chart to help clarify the different types. ...

  9. Of course, snowflakes never fall singularly. Often they came in storms. The United States experiences an average of 105 snowstorms a year.

  10. The intensity of the storm determines its name. A snowstorm is a heavy snowfall.

  11. A blizzard has wind and snow and obscures visibility. A snow shower, on the other hand, has intermittent precipitation. And, of course, flurries are the lightest and briefest snowfall.

  12. When it snows, the reported average amount of snowfall per day is about two inches.

  13. And what about mountain snow? Well, in the western United States, it provides 75 percent of the water supplies there.

Do you like snow? Has it snowed yet in your hometown? Please let me know. Thanks.


The snow pictures came from: If you’re a fan of snow, you should consider checking out this site.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

For When You’ve Blown Up Your Computer

I enjoy watching other people work at the Otherworld Diner. Actually, there’s a good reason I enjoy watching other people work there. It’s not that I don’t want to, but basically I’m afraid that I’ll blow something up if I tried it.

You probably know people like me: People who may or may not be on time because their wristwatches inexplicably fail, people around whom mechanical things go wonky for no apparent reason, people who have to accept that fancy machines may not be in their cards. People who have to replace the alternator in their cars more frequently than expected because the darn things seem to wear out faster than the norm, according to the mechanic. People who annoy their employers because they somehow manage to blow up a computer. Or two. Or (wince) three. In three months.

Anyway, people like me lay waste to technology without trying, without thinking, without even taking a second breath. (The second breath comes after something sparks and the device shuts down.) For years I assumed it was just me: I was just the unluckiest person in the world when it came to mechanical stuff.

Then one day I read an article in which it all became clear: It was my electromagnetic field that was at fault. Everyone has an electromagnetic field, you see – if you’re alive, you have one – and basically, it’s like your appendix, in which most likely you’ll never have any reason to notice it. Most likely. Then there are a few for whom that is not the case. Some people have heightened emfields, you see.

People with emfields that are heightened tend to have a problem with watches, have a problem with mechanical, electronic or electrical devices, and really can’t do much about it. Yes! There was a reason why mechanical things seemed to hate me!

And this is the good thing about being a writer – you’re always on the lookout for interesting, quirky ideas. I couldn’t do much about not making things explode, die, or spark out, but I could still make it work for me. So I figured I would use this unfortunate tendency and make it the structure beneath my latest novel, on sale next month.

In Static Shock, people with heightened electromagnetic fields, nicknamed “Readers,” are a twist in evolution, an anomaly in a society that has become technologically dependent. Readers, who are second-class citizens in that society, can’t wear wristwatches, get too close to a TV, nor drive for fear they will shut down the electrical system of a car. As you’d expect, computers become worthless doorsteps quickly around Readers. Career prospects are limited.

Reader Jeanne Muir, who’s spent most of her life as the ward of a university heavily involved in the study of these people, gets a job offer out of the blue, but when she takes it, she finds herself framed for attempted murder. Because Readers are not held in high esteem, she’s an easy scapegoat, and it doesn’t look good for her. Knowing she was set up and the odds are against her, Jeanne can’t let herself be taken into custody — and risks accepting help from mysterious Ran Owata, a fellow Reader who is no longer accepted among their kind. Can she trust him? Does she have a choice?

Static Shock is a fast-moving young-adult adventure story, and I had fun writing it. Everytime the computer sparked out on me, I knew I was going to get my revenge — by telling a story about it! Everytime I got stuck in traffic because the alternator went out on me, I knew I was going to get my revenge—by using in a tale about technology and how it runs our lives. (For instance, this blog post, which you’re reading in a technological format.) If you’ve ever wondered what life without your computer, your smartphone, or your iPod would be like, you might get an inkling in this story.

And that’s why I like sitting on my favorite stool at the Otherworld Diner, watching the coffeemaker perk and the jukebox start up on those classic, corny country western melodies, but keeping far away from them. I think it’s best for us all, don’t you think?

A Mark on the World

A Mark on the World

By Shirley Bourget

“Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni! What is this you have scribbled on my kitchen wall?!”

“I am sorry Momma. It is a masterpiece! The hand of God giving life to Adam!”

“Well you better get it off of there before ‘The hand of Momma’ takes your life from you!”

Do you suppose the mother’s of our world’s prodigies ever had moments like this when their kids were growing up?

I am awaiting the arrival of my first grandchild – our daughter will bring her into the world sometime later this month. I have found myself thinking a lot about when my own “baby” was a child.

As a new mother I wondered what she would become and how she might leave her mark on the world. At times, I wondered if she would even make it to adulthood, she was a very imaginative little girl and seemed to always get into some kind of calamity every day! I guess most kids do. I can’t help but smile when I think of all the possibilities my granddaughter will have in store for her mother!

Anyway, I wonder if my granddaughter will have any particular talent (like her exceptionally spectacular grandmother), being as she will be a March baby. She will either be a Pieces (imaginative, sensitive, and compassionate) or an Aries (adventurous, active and outgoing). Either way, I think my daughter has her work cut out for her!

My birthday is also this month and so is my son-in-law’s. This got me to thinking about birthdays and about Zodiac signs and about why hot dogs come in packages of ten when hot dog buns come in packages of eight, but that last part will have to wait for another day’s investigation.

Michelangelo was a March baby. As a matter of fact, today marks his 537th birthday. He was born on March 6, 1475. This Italian Renaissance Sculptor, Painter, Poet and Engineer, was one of the greatest artists of all time. His works like the Pieta’, the Statue of David, his paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and his architectural work at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome are all proven legacy of his greatness.

Michelangelo was a person, just like you and I. His apprentice noted that he was moody and that he was also rude. He was credited for being “indifferent to food and drink, eating more out of necessity than pleasure”, no doubt evidence of his artistic nature. He was also “rough and uncouth, his domestic habits were incredibly squalid”. This helps me to not feel so bad when I barricade myself behind my writing desk and forget to feed my husband, myself, the houseplants and the family dog. (Do we still have a dog? I haven’t heard it lately…) I don’t have to be ashamed of the mountain of dishes and laundry everyone has to climb over just to get to the kitchen! (Where is the kitchen anyway, I seem to have forgotten how to get there). My point is, greatness demands our attention and we cannot ignore it!

I’m not sure what my granddaughter will do with her own life or what greatness she has in store for us. It doesn’t matter. She is part of a legacy.

I know my legacy on the world will not equal that of Michelangelo’s, but mine will hold no less beauty. When I look into that tiny face, she will be more beautiful to me than any other masterpiece.

My legacy is my daughter, my son, and now a granddaughter.  These are my masterpieces. Oh, I have my writing, and even a few paintings that I have put together over the years, but these cannot compare. My legacy doesn’t hang from a ceiling or stand in a marble hall, or even lie between the pages of a book. It lives and breathes, loves and cries. It drips with beauty and inspires hope. My legacy is life and the world was immediately changed the day it touched the horizon! Please help me welcome the next chapter of greatness into the world! Elizabeth Lynn South, we cannot wait to meet you!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Indie Publishing: Don’t Skimp on the Editing

In my previous post on the business of Indie Publishing, I emphasized how important it was not go the cheap route on covers and try to make them yourself if you have the artistic ability of a turnip. The same goes for editing. No author, even NY bestsellers who've been publishing for 20 years, should edit their own work. The simple fact is after you’ve worked on the manuscript for months (or years), your brain tells you what you ‘think’ is there on the page and you won’t see the mistakes even though they’re dancing the conga right in front of you. “But I have critique partners who’ve read the manuscript,” you say. Sorry, critique partners are great for big picture items like pacing and plot holes, but they aren’t editors. The English major at the local community college is not an editor either. Neither is your husband, mother, sister, or great Aunt Bertha who loves to read romance. Unfortunately, in the misguided attempt to save some money or in the rush to get their book uploaded for sale faster, some authors think they can skip this step.

Repeat after me: DON’T DO IT.

So how do you go about finding an editor? With the boom in self-publishing has come a boom in the freelance editing business. Unfortunately, anyone can hang up a shingle and call themselves an editor. There is no special editor training school or accreditation or licensing. So you have to tread carefully and do your research.

Ask Around

Ask other indie authors who they’ve used. Most are more than willing to toot their editor’s horn if they did a good job for them.

Check Their References

Before you even approach a potential editor, check out their web site if they have one. Often you’ll find testimonials from authors, but better yet look at past projects in their online portfolio (hopefully they have one). I like to look at what books they’ve edited. Have they done any work for big name authors you’ve read? Do they do a lot of work in genre fiction or is their focus mostly on non-fiction?

Get a Sample Edit Done First

Most editors will do a sample edit for you for free. This is usually about the first chapter or so. Look over it closely. Do you agree with most of their changes and suggestions? Or does the editor seem heavy-handed? Does the editor get your voice or is she trying to change it? Some authors get sample edits from several different editors to see which one fits best.

Make Sure the Editor is Right for You

There are lots of good editors out there, but not all of them will be a good match for every author. I write paranormal romance, so I want an editor who is familiar with the genre and who has edited several romance authors before they get their hands on my book. I don’t want an editor who specializes in high-brow literary fiction or celebrity autobiographies. They may be good at what they do, but they would not be the right editor for me.

Plan Ahead

All the good editors are booked well in advance. When I first started on this indie publishing journey, I hired my editor in August. Her earliest opening was in December. Once your editor gets to your book, it will take a while to do the edits. Depending on how long your book is and how extensive the edits are, a first round of edits can take 1 to 2 weeks. Then you have to go through the manuscript and incorporate those changes. This depends on how extensive the revisions are and how fast you can get them done. Then you will send the revised manuscript back and the editor goes over what you’ve done. There may be another round of edits if your book needed a lot of revision. The editing service I’m using also includes a separate proofreader who will go over the manuscript again. This stage will take another 1 to 2 weeks. That’s 4 to 6 weeks MINIMUM you need to allow for the entire editing process (and that’s provided things go smoothly). So if you plan to release your book in October, you should start shopping for an editor in April, if not sooner.

Be Prepared - It’s Gonna Cost Ya

I cringe when I hear an author say they paid someone $50 to edit their 100,000 word manuscript. There's no way that 'editor' did a good job. If they did, it’s a fluke and they are undervaluing their work. Most editors worth their salt charge between $1 and $4 a page. If you're going to self-publish, plan on spending the money to get it done by a professional editor. In fact, there are several NY editors who’ve left the publishing houses and opened up their own freelance editing businesses. These editors are usually top dollar ($4 per page and up), but they know the business and are often worth their weight in gold. If this sounds like a big expense up front, remember that this is a career investment and, just like the cover expenses, it can be deducted on your taxes. Consider it money well spent.

So there you have it. Cover artwork and editing are two places you don't want to go bargain basement shopping on. Indie authors often get slammed for sloppy editing. Don’t let that be you. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression on the reader and you need to make it count.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cadence Denton, Flustered Fry Cook

A lifelong Southerner, this cook will fry anything and believes butter always makes it better. Cadence is accustomed to a slower-paced lifestyle. If it gets too hot in the kitchen, don’t be surprised if your burger is burned and your taters are raw! She feels at home in dark, greasy-grimy places which could explain why she writes dark, gritty paranormal romances.

Connect With Cadence Online


My Blog:


Email: cadencedentonauthor [at]

Friday, March 2, 2012

Rule Number 1: Cardio

I've often joked that I only run when and if something is chasing me. Well, welcome to the 5K where fleeing for your life is all part of the deal.

Run For Your Lives is a zombie infested 5K that combines running (boring!) with a zombie infested obstacle course (less boring!).

The basic rules of survival are simple enough:
- Each participant will be given a flag belt before the race. The flag belt represents the participant's health level.
- Throughout the race, there are zombies who will try to capture these flags (i.e. health)...and possibly eat some brains.
- Once a participant has lost all of her/his flags, it's game over. The zombies have won.
- Health bonuses are hidden throughout the course. If a participant finds a health bonus, she/he can save her/his life by carrying it to the finish line.

Sound easy? Not quite. As if the zombies aren't enough, there are 12 natural and man-made obstacles lining the course for participants to complete. Mud, fake blood, water, barriers...all are fair game. There are also multiple routes, which can turn the 5K into a 10K if you're not careful. Some zombies are stumblers and shamblers, but others are that unholy breed of fast zombie and can actively chase after the runners.

If running for your life through a zombie infested apocalypse sounds like your thing, or if you'd just like to watch the proceedings, the next Run For Your Lives zombie infested 5K is TOMORROW in Atlanta, GA. If you can't make it tomorrow, there are other dates scheduled across the country later in the year.

For more information, to sign up as a runner, or to register as a zombie, check out the Run For Your Lives website.

Now for the real question. As an observer of the zombie 5K, who do you root for? The participants...or the zombies?