Ways to Support the Author in Your Life

Writing can be crazy-making. We read posts making fun of the writing life, our quirks and insecurities, our endless search for balance. I’m blessed to live with a person who supports my passion, values my work, and stays out of my creative way. Charles Yallowitz wrote this great post with another take on how to support the writer(s) in your life. In case you missed it…

Legends of Windemere

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Many of us have seen the above picture and it’s right.  That is a great way to support an author that you enjoy and want to see them continue.  Yet, there is another area of support that I wanted to touch on.  What do you do if the author in question isn’t a favorite, but part of your non-cyberspace circle?  Maybe a spouse, a sibling, a friend, or somebody that you interact with outside of a computer.  Is there anything else you can do besides the following phrase?

“I support you and know you can do it.”

This is a powerful phrase, but you have to be ready to back it up with actions such as simply telling others about the book or even beta reading if asked.  Don’t say it and follow up by asking about the author’s Plan B, grilling them about sales made, pointing…

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Flood Moon

pixabay tpsdave

pixabay tpsdave

In my fantasy world, the month of the Flood Moon slides into fullness as winter wanes. The snow begins to melt, gorging streams and unleashing ice floes in swollen rivers.  The cold isn’t over and the snow still falls between sheeting rains, but as the days grow longer, bulbs thrust their green fingers from the loam in a sunny corner.

If the sky is clear, the full Flood Moon will shine tonight.

en.wikimedia.org

en.wikimedia.org

Excerpt from Flood Moon, Eye of Blind

Gallard and Percy joined brothers Hywel and Malven at the Crow’s Nest tavern. The flaxen-haired pair from Glanmor had sailed with the Seabourne for four years with nothing to show for it except callouses. Coin dripped through their fingers like seawater. The two crewmen sat half in the cask already and Percy downed his first ale, intent on catching up. Gallard ordered a slab of beef, buttered potato mash and a stinky mushroom soup. He’d swig a tankard on the backside to wash it down.

“Woulda been here afore,” Percy complained, scratching his cow-licked head. “But Gallard makin’ me tramp up and down the hill like a grounder.”

“Lookin’ for Meriel still?” the older brother, Hywel, asked.

“She’s disappeared,” Gallard replied, unsure of his next step.

“She’ll find the Seabourne if she can,” Malven said. The brothers were hard to tell apart, except where Hywel boasted the start of a thick beard, Malven’s chin refused to grow a single pale whisker. “We’re here every week. Don’t seem like she’d miss us.”

“That’s what worries me.” Gallard’s food arrived, and he swatted away Percy’s finger that scooped at his potatoes.

“Shame puttin’ her in the locks.” Percy slugged down his ale and ordered more for the table. “Too old fer me but pretty elsewise.”

The brothers guffawed, slopping their ale, and Gallard frowned as the brew doused his supper.

Tears in his eyes, Hywel patted Percy’s shoulder. “She wouldn’t give you a wink, Perce, even if she were an old sea hag with green teeth. You’re no looker.”

“My teeth isn’t green.” Percy scowled. “They’re barely near yellow.”

Hywel and Malven bent over laughing, and Gallard pushed his supper away. “You need another drink, Percy. The teasing won’t hurt so bad.” He filled Percy’s tankard and poured one for himself. Percy swallowed it down and Gallard poured him another.

The Crow’s Nest filled as the day lengthened, crewmen and yardsmen finding seats on sturdy benches. Voices rose, ale spilled across the tables and floor, and there remained enough good-natured tolerance for stumbling drunkards to keep the peace. Gallard figured Percy was already sloshed beyond the borders of hope, and Hywel and Malven made sloppy drunks, reminiscing about the old days in Glanmor when they stole crabs from  traps and steamed them on the rocky shore. Gallard remained mildly sober, enough to get them back to the ship without drowning.

**

Today I head home to the rainy Northwest, timely with the start of the Flood Moon – Hawaii’s forecast predicts high seas and, well, flooding of beaches and low-lying roads. I’ll be winging over the Pacific for much of the day, losing time as my planetary destination spins away from me. I’ve been remiss in keeping up my blogging duties, but I’ll catch up quickly tomorrow. Enjoy the full moon tonight!

Under the Sea – Shark Tales and Manta Rays

pixabay - skeeze

pixabay – skeeze

I was 16 years old when Steven Spielberg released the movie Jaws. After watching that film, I didn’t go in the ocean for 15 years. I guess I’ve always had a vivid imagination and being featured on the seafood menu didn’t appeal to me.

When my first marriage fell apart I was 31 and suddenly alone. Our friends were his friends. My family lived thousands of miles away. I gave up the house for a small apartment, didn’t ask for alimony or child support – anything to break free of a relationship that had run its course.

I was adrift.

I needed to “get a life.”

With nothing to do besides climb the walls, I decided to try a “discover scuba” event. We blew bubbles at the bottom of a community swimming pool, and I won a door prize of a mask and pair of fins. Three years later, I had not only discovered a fun group of friends but had worked my way up to rescue diver and divemaster. I went on three shark dives in the Caymans.

Yep, I patted a shark.

Diving was my cure-all for divorce.

When I met my husband, Randy, we made a deal. I would become a Boston Celtics basketball fan and he would learn to dive. So began a successful decades-long marriage.

The last time we dove was in 2001, our last vacation. This trip is long overdue. To celebrate, this is what we did last night:

I once again apologize for closing comments. We have a couple days left in paradise before returning to the rain … and perhaps a glimpse of the coming spring. Hope your weekend is full of joy and peace 🙂

On Vacation in Hawaii (without the girls)

My husband and I are on vacation, our first in 15 years. Why has it been so long? We could blame it on kids, work, unemployment, lack of funds, family obligations, broken down cars and leaky roofs, college educations, and a host of other excuses. Here’s the real reason- my husband has two girlfriends.

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Honey and Lulu

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Honey and Lulu are sisters. The “girls” haven’t spent one day in a kennel since we rescued them in 2004. I think they might be spoiled.

Well, one of our human kids offered to fly up from LA and dog-sit for a week. It was the only way my husband would agree to leave his loves. I’ve dragged him reluctantly off to Hawaii for a long overdue vacation. We arrived yesterday afternoon and my husband has only called home four times 🙂

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We arrived to wind and cloudy skies

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The sun turned the Pacific silver.

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The sky began to clear as the day waned.

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Sunset over the Pacific

I closed comments for this one, so the hubby gets a bit of undivided attention. Wishing everyone a wonderful week. ❤

 

Love Is In The Air

Children’s author Mike Allegra cracks me up. I’ve never been much into the Valentine’s Day hoopla. Well, that changed with Mike’s take on those chubby little cupids that flit around shooting love arrows. Yet two days away, this will put a grin on your face and some Valentine’s fun in your heart. Enjoy.

Hey, Look! A Writer Fellow!

The lovely and talented Susanna Leonard Hill is having another blog contest! I like to enter those. So I did.

The rules are simple: In 214 words or fewer, entrants must write a Valentine’s Day story where one of the characters is grumpy.

Enjoy!

Be-Suited CupidCranky Cupid

Corky smiled down on his loyal platoon. “Today’s the day! Today we launch our arrows in a war against loneliness!”

The cupids cheered. Well, most of them:

“Harrumph.”

Corky ignored this. “Today we make the world a happier place!”

“Harrumph!” the heckler repeated. He followed it up with worst swear word he could think of:

“Stinkypooperpot!”

“Gerald!” Corky barked. “Watch your language!”

“Why do we have to wear this?” Gerald grouched.

“You’re not wearing anything.”

“I know! Why do cupids need to be naked? Why must we show the world our creased caboodles? Why do we let everyone peep at our dingle wingle do-dahs?”

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Eye of the Beholder

pixabay - natureworks

pixabay – natureworks

I don’t know why the science of light and color caught my attention. Perhaps it’s the fantastical element of how this intricate world works that intrigues me. The initial leap sent my imagination cartwheeling. Another perceptual shift in reality and possibility. More inspiration.

My first memory of the nature of color is the moment I learned that when we interpret something as being “red,” the object is actually all the colors except “red.” Red is the merely the wavelength of light the object reflects. This rule applies to every person and thing entering our vision – we see reflected light, not what is absorbed, not the “color” they are, not the solid objects at all.

Well, in my little pea-brain, that’s mind-blowing.

pixabay public domain pictures

pixabay public domain pictures

Waves of light are received by the unique cones and rods in our retinas and interpreted by our one-of-a-kind brains. Each eye has about 6-7 million cones that receive intense levels of light and create the sensation of color. Each eye also has about 120 million peripheral rods, which are more sensitive to dim light and transmit black and white information to the brain. This is why nightfall drains the color of the day. It’s not magic after all.

Biologically, what I see is different from what you see. Red to me is different from red to you. It’s all interpretation, perception, not of solid objects and entities but of waves of light. As I look around my living room this morning, I shift my perception, aware that I see only light beams.

It’s all light, all perception, beauty in the eye of the beholder.

So where does this science take me? Straight into fantasy, of course.

pixabaystevebidmead

pixabay – stevebidmead

When writing The Melding of Aeris, I researched the visual perception of animals. In the book, humans have developed the ability to graft animal skin, scale, horns, other stuff, and eyes to their bodies. (I know, weird, but that’s me). I learned that although humans discern a broader spectrum of colors than most mammals, many animals perceive color better than we, see sharper and farther or have vision highly attuned to movement. A variety of birds, fish and insects see the shorter wavelengths of ultraviolet light invisible to the human eye.

Well that’s cool. What else can’t we “see?”

pixabay geralt

pixabay geralt

Centuries after Newton first observed that color is not inherent in objects, our scientists experiment with bending waves of light. Since all we see is reflected light, it makes sense that if we bend it around something, we render that thing invisible. In The Bone Wall, a few characters have developed the ability to manipulate light waves. Of course, to my thinking, if we have the skill to bend light, why not waves of sound and heat as well? I travel that path without a second thought.

I’ve always liked musing about perception, chipping away at the borders of what I imagine is real. I like watching science “discover” what ancient wisdom has been teaching for thousands of years. We all experience those laughable moments when science proves a truth we already know. At the same time, I relish my eye-opening moments when science flints a spark of creativity and leaves me with the question, “What if?”

 

 

Vanished – 50 Word Story

commonswikimediaorg2

commons.wikimedi.org

Blue sails pearl her dreams. Perhaps, he’d become a seafarer without time for farewell. He’d debark with a sack of treasure on his back, moonstones harvested from night mines, urns of green oil smelling like summer grass, a wooden box of promises kept, a smile on his lovesick face.

***

Short and sweet today as the Overlord is joining grammy and grampy for the weekend (his mama has a cold). Bear with me as my blog presence will be somewhat curtailed by a requirement to play 🙂

16 Reasons to Read your Words Aloud.

pixabay free image - ClkerFreeVectorImages

pixabay free image – ClkerFreeVectorImages

Most writers have learned the importance of reading their words aloud. It’s advice I heeded early on and am happy to pass along.

Writing works on myriad levels. On one level, it’s the mechanical delivery of a story, the typing of words according to rules. It’s fingers on keyboards, reams of paper and editing drafts. Beneath the surface, writing is meaning-making through narrative, tapping universal themes and archetypes that existed before man first etched his carvings into cave walls.

As an art form, writing has the ability to transport a reader into another world. We paint with words on the mind’s canvas, compose the music of language, stir smells, tastes, and tactile impressions. The goal is emotional immersion, being present in the experience.

I have an irksome sensitivity to the sounds of words, the rhythm of phrases and sentences. When I search for the right word, it’s not just the meaning I’m chasing. I’m looking for the right number of syllables, the sharpness or softness of the consonants. As I nestle a word into a sentence, I listen for the subtlety of alliteration, a rhythm in the flow of the words that form phrases, phrases into paragraphs.

A story has a natural cadence that arises from sentence structure, word choice, and the balance of narrative, dialog, and exposition. By reading our stories aloud, we’re able to experience that cadence the way our readers do. As part of an editing process, hearing the sounds of our words polishes our work. It’s a positive step not only for individual careers but for the indie community as a whole.

pixabay free image - ClkerFreeVectorImages

pixabay free image – ClkerFreeVectorImages

Why it works:

  • Our wondrous human brains expertly and unconsciously correct and smooth over our mistakes.
  • On top of that, we are familiar with our work – we’ve written it, edited it, read it, and lived it. We no longer need to read each word it to read the sentences.
  • Reading aloud forces our brains to focus. The goal is to go slow, read each word, and hear the writing “fresh.”

Reading aloud is one of the most powerful proofreading techniques around, and reading from a printed copy is even better. It further tricks the brain by changing up the visual (as well as providing room for notes).

So what are all these amazing benefits?

1) Typos, missing and misplaced words: Since our brains automatically correct our mistakes, these small errors can be hard to see. Note that if you find yourself verbally stumbling or reading a sentence twice, there is probably something tripping you up.

2) Punctuation:  Like typos, these errors are easier to catch (especially if you read a printed copy).

3) Repeat words: (Example) The drizzle descended with the clouds. They waited inside the shelter for the drizzle to cease.

4) Repeat gestures: Everyone’s nodding, smiling, or raising an eyebrow.

5) Repeated rhythms in sentence structure: (Example) Biting her nails, she strode to the window. Glancing outside, she saw the carriage approach.

6) Starting sentences the same way: (Example) He fell asleep to the music. He dreamed of her swollen face and the blood in her hair. He reached for her wrist, and he felt no pulse.

7) Stacked prepositional phrases: (Example) He stood in the garage under the fan by the car in his underwear.

pixabay free images - OpenClipartVectors

pixabay free images – OpenClipartVectors

8) Repeated information: Telling the reader twice that the character shut the door or was surprised by the phone call.

9) Information that needs to be reordered: The character reacts to the gunshot before the reader hears it. (Much better the other way around.)

10) Missing information: The character trips over the cat in the bedroom when last the reader knew he was eating ice cream on the living room couch.

11) Overly long and run-on sentences: Look for sentences that are difficult to read in a single breath or that lose their coherence. (Example) Sam galloped to the steps, leapt three at a time, and landed on the mat, but nothing prepared him for the ice that had formed unexpectedly overnight despite the forecast for fair weather, and he fell flat on his back.

12) Inconsistencies: A character wears a green shirt, and a few pages later, the shirt is blue. Or you’ve indicated that the character can’t see because it’s pitch dark, yet you’ve described the room.

13) Dialog: People generally talk with a natural rhythm of sounds and pauses (or not for some characters). When read aloud, stilted language will sound unnatural and tongue twisters will interrupt the flow. Anything that requires a pause for a second read is worth a revision.

14) Transitions: Transitions from one topic or scene to another may happen too abruptly and need smoothing out.

15) Pacing: Reading aloud is particularly helpful in identifying sequences that are racing by too quickly, slogging along, or wallowing in backstory.

16) Tone: Does the tone sound right? Too formal or casual? A book has an overall tone as does each scene and character.

Do you read your work? Has it helped?

Share your tips and insights.