Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Nugget #118 -- Writers as Revolutionaries

Writers are revolutionaries. It’s true. There’s no
way to get around that. But first and foremost
(pardon the cliche) writers are writers.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

[Link] Diversity in Your Characters: A Conversation About Economic Inclusion with Stacey Cochran

by Fiona Quinn

Stacey - 
So I'm not entirely sure why love stories generally feature middle class, working class, or upper middle class characters. I think it has something to do with escapism. But, yeah, there's a whole population of people in America and around the world who don't fit those socioeconomic categories, and they want the same things the rest of us want. A roof over their heads, a committed, meaningful relationship, a sense of peace and hope, and a safe place to raise their kids. Eddie & Sunny is a novel that represents that population, a population that is too often under-represented or simply ignored. The irony is their love story is all the more poignant for its unconventional nature. At least I hope readers see it that way.

Fiona - 
I thought about the books from the depression era but in those books all of the population faced the same daunting situation. In this book you juxtaposed those with means and often wealth with those who had gone days without food. Was that hard to write?

Stacey - 
Yeah, I've not thought about that aspect of it before, but America in 2012-2014 is not the depression era. It was some neo-recession era, where a small portion of the population is just very wealthy, and the rest of us are struggling to pay the bills each month, keep food on the table, etc. It's like there's two polar opposites in America today. I think that was definitely one of the things I wanted to put on the table for readers to consider and discuss. I mean how many of us are rich? Seriously? And how many of us worry and struggle each and every month to make ends meet? I suspect the vast majority of us. Eddie & Sunny, in that respect is our story.

Read the full article: http://thrillwriting.blogspot.com/2015/06/diversity-in-your-characters.html

Monday, January 15, 2018

#MotivationalMonday -- Character Development: Hard Mode


Saturday, January 13, 2018

[Link] GOOD WRITERS BORROW, GREAT WRITERS REMIX: WHY IT’S OK TO REUSE, REPURPOSE, AND RECYCLE FICTION

by Lincoln Michel

This morning I took my cup of coffee and laptop to a desk to work on an old short story I’ve been kicking around when I made the greatest mistake any writer can make: I opened Facebook.

Between posts on the current horrors of the Trump administration, my timeline was filled with discussions about Sadia Shepard’s debut short story “Foreign-Returned” in this week’s New Yorker, which the author Francine Prose had been attacking in a series of Facebook posts. Prose was offended by the fact that Shepard’s story used plot elements and even language from a story by the late Mavis Gallant: “the only major difference being that the main characters here are Pakistanis in Connecticut during the Trump era instead of Canadians in post-WW II Geneva,” Prose said, calling the story a “travesty.” Other authors pushed back, with Marlon James, for example, noting that he didn’t notice this “self-righteous venom being dished out […] when Jonathan Safran Foer took as much as he wanted from Jessica Soffer’s “Beginning, End.”

The short story I had opened, and then abandoned as I fell into the social media hole, is titled “A Feeling Artist.” It is an homage to Kafka that takes the plot of “A Hunger Artist,” but sets it in a version of the contemporary world where a “feeling artist” finds his popularity eclipsed by young cellphone app and YouTube artists who do rapid-fire feeling acts instead of his carefully crafted long-form sadness performances. I don’t know if this story will work or not, but I know that taking an element or two (or even three or four) from a work I love and reconfiguring them into something new is one of my most generative practices. So I immediately got sucked into the debate.

In the comments of Prose’s posts, other authors said they were contacting the New Yorker to complain and many suggested they’d never read something that was inspired by another piece or used similar structures or plots because they wanted to read “original” pieces with “imagination.” No matter how one feels about Shepard’s story, the ahistoricity of these comments, though predictable, was still surprising. We know, for example, that William Shakespeare’s plays frequently borrowed plots, characters, and even names from other plays. And we know that countless great works of art have been created by adapting Shakespeare’s plots to different settings (Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood) or reworking his characters in a new way (Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead). And yet time and again I see authors act like homage, pastiche, and remixing is some kind of lesser form of creation. That it doesn’t count.

An art form is a conversation between artists. Literature is massive ballroom stretching through time in which authors debate, rebut, woo, and chat with each other. (A genre is perhaps a dialogue in one corner of the party.) They steal ideas to make them better. Or to make them different. Or to expose the problems in them. We know all this, and influences are regularly discussed in English lit classes. And yet, in the world of contemporary creative writing, people get upset when that dialogue is something we overhear.

Read the full article: http://lithub.com/good-writers-borrow-great-writers-remix/

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Can Non-Series Fiction Compete with Series Fiction? (A Reader and Writer Roundtable)


Is it possible to build a strong reader base without writing a series? The logic today for selling books and building readership seems to be a series of series, where one book leads into the next, then into the next, etc. Is the time of the stand-alone adventure novel is legitimately over (except in the case of big-name writers)? What are your thoughts, oh readers and writers and publishers? (Oh my!)

Tally Johnson: Things seem to be main-character driven. Like the Jack Reacher books for example. The sequential series do well but an overarching lead seems to be the key.

James Palmer: Generally speaking, series are easier to build audience interest. I'm trying to go with trilogies that end after three books, then starting a new unrelated trilogy. We'll see if it works.

Simon McCoy: Stephen King developed a fan base even though most of the time his characters appeared only in a book or two, but he was writing horror for the most part rather than adventure or pulp. I think it's more common for a reader to fall in love with character(s) or setting more so than the style the books are being written.

Evan Peterson: King really has a lot of cross-pollination of characters between his novels, regardless of whether they are stand-alone books or parts of a series.

That said, King came up in a time before everything was a series like it is now. Were he to just get started today, I wonder if he'd have the same success with the same books. The successful stand-alone novel is a rarity now, and even rarer is a second successful stand-alone novel from the same author

Richard Laswell: As a reader, I prefer stand-alone books, no matter the length. I often feel that a sequential series is more of a marketing ploy by the publisher in a bid to milk more money from a storyline.

As an example, had Stephen King not had control of The Stand, I could easily see a publisher chopping it into two or three separate novels.

That said, there is something which appeals to the human mind in the idea of linear narrative. To be able to experience a character grow into their full potential is very rewarding.

Robert Freese: I'm not much into series. I read Joe Lansdale's Hap and Leonard series but that's it. I've never had any interest in writing a series, but I am currently writing a sequel to one of my earlier books. But that will end the story. No interest in writing about these characters over and over again.

Selah Janel: I mean, comics not included, most of Gaiman's work is stand-alone, but he tends to tap into archetypes and pantheons that people are at least aware of or has really strong protagonists in his YA stuff. Andrew Davidson's Gargoyle blew things up when it came out and I don't know if he's done anything else since then. I think if anything, series get promoted more constantly because the character names etc are constantly in the public eye vs a single title which has a marketing shelf life to an extent. I think it really depends on genre, audience, and a good story as much as anything else.

Amanda Niehaus-Hard: I’ll read a good series, but I don’t mess with serial novels at all since I have never read one that was well done (apart from The Green Mile and Dickens).

They need to be stand-alones to get me interested or marketed as a long series, like Game of Thrones or Wheel of Time.

John Hartness: The horror genre is mostly standalone, as is literary fiction and several other genres. Fantasy and science fiction are largely driven by series, but then you have runaway successes like The Martian. So traditional publishing can still make best-selling stand-alones when they throw their weight behind it. But most successful indies in sci-fi and fantasy are working in series. Today. But wait six months, the industry will reinvent itself again.

Neen Edwards: I think that's why I like The Dresden Files. Each story is different and can stand alone, but I love the main character enough to read his different adventures. However, I'm not big on series in general that go on and on about the same plot. It gets boring after a while.

JH Glaze: I say screw conventional series!

Rob Cerio: The big exception to this in recent years was Ready Player One, but that book hit the nostalgia drum so hard...

David James: I think Dan Brown seems to be doing okay with his Langdon novels and he's still a relatively new author being popular only after The DaVinci Code took off a little over a decade ago. I suppose it's all a matter of the readers and the type of book. I had read Brown before he became popular, so I was already satisfied and wasn't "jumping on the bandwagon" at that point.

Series that have built over time isn't fully a recent trend, although it's more prevalent now. Think the Dune novels by Frank Herbert (especially before his son Brian and Kevin J. Anderson finished the story after his death, although you can consider those too), the Foundation novels by Asimov, even Robert Jordan began his series (which I think is really what began this current trend) in the early 90's.

Yet, Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy, Dean Koontz, and others, all had series of novels with the same characters, and even if they could be individual adventures, each one tended to flow into the next. I just love the adventures of Dirk Pitt, Jack Ryan, and Odd Thomas.

Kevin J. Anderson is an established author, and he still works hard to get out as many different novels as possible. I would recommend his Dan Shamble novels to you as a good example of something he attempted recently -- kind of along the lines of what you're suggesting - which has gained a following.

There are a lot of examples out there and others might be able to name some. I guess it depends on just how big of a following you desire.

John Gerdes: What about somebody like Kurt Vonnegut who did not ever write a series but had a lot of recurring characters?

Pj Lozito: We were all stunned at Pocket when Walter Mosley deviated from Easy Rawlins. He wanted to publish new characters, a literary novel, a science fiction novel, non-fiction, a play, YA. It didn't hurt his career in the least.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Nugget #117 -- Rule Number One

So that's rule #1 and rule #Only. A good story opening
should trigger something in the reader that makes him
or her want to keep reading. It has no other purpose.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Stephanie Osborn, "The Interstellar Woman of Mystery"


Few can claim the varied background of award-winning author Stephanie Osborn, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery.

A veteran of more than 20 years in the civilian space program, as well as various military space defense programs, she worked on numerous space shuttle flights and the International Space Station and counts the training of astronauts on her resumé. Her space experience also includes Spacelab and ISS operations, variable star astrophysics, Martian aeolian geophysics, radiation physics, and nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons effects.

Stephanie holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences: astronomy, physics, chemistry and mathematics, and she is "fluent" in several more, including geology and anatomy.

In addition, she possesses a license of ministry, has been a duly sworn, certified police officer, and is a National Weather Service certified storm spotter.

Her travels have taken her to the top of Pikes Peak, across the world’s highest suspension bridge, down gold mines, in the footsteps of dinosaurs, through groves of giant Sequoias, and even to the volcanoes of the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest, where she was present for several phreatic eruptions of Mount St. Helens.

Now retired from space work, Stephanie has trained her sights on writing. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to over 35 books, including the celebrated science-fiction mystery, Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. She is the co-author of the Cresperian Saga book series and has written the critically acclaimed Displaced Detective Series, described as "Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files," and its pulp-bestselling prequel series, Gentleman Aegis, the very first book of which won a Silver Falchion award. She has dabbled in paranormal/horror as well, releasing the ebook novella El Vengador, based on a true story. Her recent popular science book, Rock and Roll, a discussion of the New Madrid fault and its historic quakes, was a multiple-genre bestseller! Currently she's launching into the unknown with the Division One series, her take on the urban legend of the people who show up at UFO sightings, alien abductions, etc. to make things...disappear.

In addition to her writing work, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery now happily "pays it forward," teaching math and science through numerous media including radio, podcasting and public speaking, as well as working with SIGMA, the science-fiction think tank.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

My current work is the Division One series. It's a whole series where I envision my take on that urban legend of the guys in the dark suits who show up after UFO encounters, alien abductions, and the like, and make the evidence disappear. It's been used a lot in fiction, especially by Hollywood (the eponymous MIB films, the Matrix films, the X-Files, Outer Limits, etc.), but I'm going in a slightly different direction with it. The organization, in my version, is part of a much larger bureaucracy, the Pan-Galactic Law Enforcement and Immigration Administration (PGLEIA), the law enforcement arm of the galactic government. The precinct in which Earth falls is Division One, hence the title of the series.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

Oh, I don't know that I have themes that run through everything I write. Some series use parallelism, others use friendship/family/clan/tribe, etc. If there's a subject or theme that is in most of my books, I think it's probably something along the lines of, "serendipity isn't."

What would be your dream project?


I have two. One is an epic series about Atlantis as a worldwide culture as well as a place, and its ultimate downfall in an asteroid impact. It'd be somewhere between fantasy and hard SF, actually. The other would be a life of Christ with emphasis on the essential Jewishness of His life and world; too many Gentile Christians have lost sight of that and lost some lovely symbolism in His actions and teachings as a result.

The problem I'm having with both projects is the incredibly large scope. I don't know where to start. The fact that I'm not myself Jewish doesn't help me on the second project, either. I have to learn it before I can write about it, and I'm not sure what I need to know.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

My first book, Burnout. I've learned so much and grown so much as a writer, I just would like to go back and rewrite it and let it reflect that growth.

What inspires you to write?

Ideas. Characters. Situations. There is no one thing. If I get an idea for a story, or a character, I run with it.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

Wow. That list would almost be an article in itself, I think. But the principal ones would have to be, lessee:
Arthur Conan Doyle
H.G. Wells
J.R.R. Tolkien
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Lois McMaster Bujold
And those are just for starters.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

Right about halfway, at least the way I write. Because I spend probably at least as much time researching as I do writing. And I use the same research techniques that I did when I was doing active science and technology for NASA & DoD for a living.


Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

I'm releasing a new Division One book roughly once per quarter, and there's already four books out. So the new books are coming quick, in every sense of the phrase!

Already released:
Alpha and Omega
A Small Medium At Large
A Very UnCONventional Christmas
Tour de Force

Coming soon:
Trojan Horse (Jan 2018)
Texas Rangers (May 2018)
Definition and Alignment (July 2018)
and more past that!

What happened in your life that prompted you to become a writer?

I've never NOT been a writer. I was writing poetry in elementary school, and short stories by junior high. But when I started getting ideas for entire novels, probably, oh, 25 years ago, I realized I might be able to do this as a professional author sort. It took a long time to get my first book published (which was NOT the first book I wrote, but hey), and then things took off. I'm still not making a living at it, but I have hopes as the royalties numbers start to increase.

What are the books that made you want to be a writer? What are the reasons they "got" you like they did?

No one particular book that I can recall. I've read far too many for that. It was rather the overall effect, rather like a storm surge from a hurricane -- there's no one particular wave that causes the flooding; rather, the water just keeps coming up, and up, and up...

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Being unable to "see" the events about which I'm trying to write. I'm very visual when writing -- my writing has been described as "cinematic," which is a legitimate adjective to apply, because it's like I'm watching a movie play in my head and then writing down what I'm seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, etc. So if I know what comes next, but I'm literally not seeing it, I can't write it.

How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not?

It depends on the writer! LOL No, some of them really do help -- by teaching me things about the craft of writing (e.g. head-jumping, how to structure dialogue, etc. are all things that other writers have taught me about -- Travis Taylor was my writing mentor for many years, and not only did he help me get started, he taught me a lot about that sort of stuff). Others teach me about the marketing and promotion aspects. Others...seem to actively discourage other authors. I'm not sure why.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Filling in the gaps. I write cinematically -- which not only means I visualize it first, it means I do NOT write sequentially! I write as the scenes come to me, then splice it all together and connect the dots. Sometimes I'm temporarily stuck figuring out how to get from point A to point B.

What does literary success look like to you?

Literary success to me is having a regular schedule of book releases and making enough money from royalties to pay all the bills and still be able to bank some for a rainy day. REAL success would be a NYT best-seller that enabled me to buy a bigger house! LOL

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book or story?

I have several series; I tend to enjoy writing them. If I get hold of one or more characters that I love, they become like friends and I don't want to go off and leave them, so I write more books in their universe.

But I also have some stand-alone books, too. It all depends on what the story demands.

Which famous writer (dead or alive) would like like to have coffee (or tea, no coffee snobs here) with, and what would you want to talk about with him or her?

Aw! I only get to choose ONE? Decisions, decisions. I'd probably go with somebody dead, because I've already met so many wonderful living writers and had coffee, tea, lemonade, whisky or entire meals with them!

I think, if I had to settle for just one, it might be Arthur Conan Doyle over high tea, because I love Victorian gentlemen and I love his characters -- Sherlock Holmes, Professor Challenger, etc. I'd enjoy picking his brain about where his ideas came from, both for the characters and for the stories. Not to mention a comparison of forensics, then and now, could prove interesting.

For more information about Stephanie and her work, visit:

Website: http://www.Stephanie-Osborn.com

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Osborn/e/B0026DM46M/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1429811278&sr=8-1

Alpha and Omega: https://www.amazon.com/Alpha-Omega-Division-Stephanie-Osborn-ebook/dp/B01MXNQTFJ/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Friday, January 5, 2018

Preach it, Rev. Green! (aka, It Ain't Easy)

Note: A little something I felt the need to remind myself.

I started writing with a more lit focus, but with a love for genre fiction, and my earlier writing reflects that struggle between lit and genre in a way that made me, well, me... I want to embrace all kinds of work and style and create something new in pulps, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, superheroes, whatever.

As Kermit sang:

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why
But why wonder why wonder
I am green, and it'll do fine
It's beautiful, and I think it's what I want to be 

So, I'm gonna be green because, well that's what I am.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Barbara Doran and Her Immortals of Wuxia

A New Pulp writer of SF and Fantasy, Barbara Doran was infected with a love of reading from an early age thanks to her father. It was he who introduced her to S.J. Perelman and P.G. Wodehouse, as well as Heinlein and Asimov. 

Reading, for some, inevitably leads to writing, and Barbara started early. Pulp titles like The Shadow and Doc Savage were among my early influences. She also adored The Green Hornet TV series, in part because of Bruce Lee and in part because it was ahead of its time when it came to how it treated minorities.

She has two sons, both teenagers, a husband and a dog. There’s also a cat who thinks Barbara belongs to her.

When she's not chasing the teenagers, husband or dog about on their appointed rounds, she is generally writing and can be reached at BarbaraDoran@sumergoscriptum.com.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

My latest book, Tales of the Golden Dragon, continues the adventures of Tiger and Dragon, the masked heroes of Strikersport. When several gangs of thieves descend on Strikersport and accidentally summon four of the Eight Immortals of Khaitan, it's up to them, and some new and old friends, to keep the town in one piece.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

Being of Chinese descent, I often draw on themes from Chinese mythology and fantasy. I'm particularly fond of wuxia (martial arts) and xianxia (fantastic martial arts) stories so they show up quite frequently in my pulps.

What would be your dream project?

Aside from being allowed to write a good Green Hornet movie (and there are others I'd trust with that first), there's a Doctor Who story I'd love to see filmed. There's a type of Dalek the Doctor created back in the Troughton days who deserves a comeback.


If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

There are bits and pieces of Claws of the Golden Dragon I'd like to improve on, especially now that I have a better idea of the world.


Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

Somewhere around the middle. I think of the science part as being the framework that holds the plot up and keeps it from flopping around. The art is how you cover that framework and present it. Put too much on top and it's going to slump. Put too little and the inner workings reveal themselves.

How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not?

One of my writer friends and I facebook each other about our trials and travails. She's taught me a huge amount of stuff about the publishing world, and I get to give her someone to laugh at/with when we run into odd fandom/writing problems.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Vocal editing. One of my steps in the process is to read the story aloud so I can hear where I'm getting too wordy or missing a word. I've tried using text to voice software but it never pronounces the names correctly. By the time I'm done, my throat feels like sandpaper. Painful but so worth it in the end.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book or story?

I like having connections in my stories. The one I'm working on now (Goldrush Wuxia/Xianxia) is set a great deal earlier than the Strikersport stories and has nothing to do with them directly, but there's a connection and will probably be more if I get to do a series.

Find Barbara on the Web: 

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B014BTCLRA
WEBSITE: http://www.sumergoscriptum.com/barbaradoran/
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/SumErgoScriptum/?ref=bookmarks
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/SumErgoScriptum










Saturday, December 30, 2017

[Link] World building tips: Writing engaging settings

by NowNovel

World building tips often focus on fantastical genres such as fantasy and sci-fi because they entail creating worlds wholly other to our own. Yet it’s important to create an immersive, interesting and credible setting, whatever your genre. To create an entire fictional world, one to rival Westeros, Hogwarts (or Dickens’ London), read these world building tips and cautions:

1: Make a checklist of world-building details you want to include

We believe in our favourite authors’ invented worlds because there is enough detail and specificity to make them real. Legions of younger and older readers fell in love with Rowling’s Hogwarts, for example, because (in part) they could imagine her setting to its edges. Readers could picture the castle from the long tables and floating candles of its dining hall to its outer, more dangerous limits. The nearby ‘Forbidden Forest’, for example, or the menacing vegetation and grounds feature that is the unpredictable, thrashing ‘Whomping Willow’.

Great fictional worlds, like this one, have contrasts, details, atmospheres. The vaults of Rowling’s crypt-like bank, Gringotts, for example, have a different tone and mood to her student-filled castle.

Make a checklist of details you want to include in your novel’s world, whether you’re evoking a magical setting like Hogwarts or a real one like modern-day Paris.

Items you can include in your checklist...

Read the full article: http://www.nownovel.com/blog/world-building-tips-engaging-settings/

Friday, December 29, 2017

LATEST PRO SE THRILLER OF THE WEEK DEBUTS!

AKA THE SINNER: THE GAMES OF DYING MAN AVAILABLE FOR $1.49

Pro Se Productions Presents the Future of Digital Storytelling -- THE PRO SE THRILLER OF THE WEEK.

Each week, a new 'episode' of one of four rotating series will be released as a digital ebook for your reading pleasure. From Espionage to Supernatural, From Crime To Suspense, each week readers can find what they need in the PRO SE THRILLER OF THE WEEK.

AKA THE SINNER: Episode Two-THE GAMES OF DYING MEN by Kevin Beckett.

A woman far from her native homeland or her adopted home comes seeking a brother out to put right a wrong. A wrong that has placed her entire village in danger. Not finding her brother, she discovers herself to be a fugitive and a mark with a bounty on her head. Mix in a Russian madman, a down and outer wanting to get back in the good graces of his Family, and maniacal money men and you have a high stakes game that only a certain kind of man can play and hope to win...a Sinner.

AKA THE SINNER: THE GAMES OF DYING MEN by Kevin Beckett. Concept created by Tommy Hancock. Featuring a stunning cover, formatting, and logo design by Antonino Lo Iacono and Marzia Marina is available for only $1.49.  This episode is a part of Kindle Unlimited, so KU Members can read it for Free!

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies to review this book, contact Pro Se Productions’ Director of Corporate Operations, Kristi King-Morgan at directorofcorporateoperations@prose-press.com.

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to www.prose-press.com. Like Pro Se on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ProSeProductions.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

[Link] Plan to Get Organized in 2017- and Succeed!

Editor's Note: Want to get more writing done in 2018? Then get organized. Organizing the non-writing part of your life will help you make more time to do the stuff you love -- creating great characters and stories! If I could add one tip to this, I would add this tidbit I learned during my time as an office desk-jockey... It's called the 2-minute rule, and basically, it means that if a task pops up and you can take care of it in two minutes or less, then do it and get it out of your life and out of your head. If you can't, or if you can't stop at that moment to take care of it, then put it on a list to do IMMEDIATELY after you finish what is keeping you from it now. 

by Darla@HeartWorkOrg.com

Hmmm. Somewhere along the way, we’ve gotten “decluttering” and “getting organized” confused with each other. Look, I love decluttering probably more than anyone you know, but there is no prize for the one who purges the most toys, clothes, papers, and whatever is hiding in the basement. A 30-day plan to declutter your house might be helpful, but it doesn’t get you organized. Throwing away 75% of your clothes will definitely free up space, but it’s just as likely to lead to a buying binge as it is to bring joy.

What makes for a life that is organized? Like everything worth doing, the answer is simple, but perhaps not easy.

An organized life comes from lots of small daily choices made consistently.

So let’s not do another 30-DAY ASSAULT OF ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL THINGS TO DO EACH DAY OR YOU ARE AN ORGANIZING FAILURE. Isn’t that what it feels like? Let me offer another approach…

Read the full article: http://heartworkorg.com/2017/01/04/plan-to-get-organized-in-2017-and-succeed/

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Nugget #116 -- Making Sense of the Human Condition


Let’s look at myths and legends. They tried
to explain the world, to put people in a place
that made some kind of sense. They tried to
uncover some truth about the human
condition. That’s my calling as a writer
and my understanding of the craft.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS TALES OF THE GOLDEN DRAGON

Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to announce the release of the third book in writer Barbara Doran’s fantasy adventure series; “Tales of the Golden Dragon.”

As the Feast of Hungry Ghosts begins in the northwest port city of Strikersport, monsters and actual ghosts begin appearing throughout the city causing all manner of chaos. Thus the city’s twin protectors, Dragon and Tiger, enter the fray and set about uncovering the reason behind the sudden appearances.

Their revelations lead back in time to a horrendous massacre in the village of Batsu, a province of the magical kingdom of Khaitan.  Have agents of ancient deities come to Strikersports to wreak vengeance on the guilty? And if so, what is the magical artifact and its connection to an animated shi shi lion roaming free through the city.

“This is series is catching fire with our fans,” reports Airship 27 Managing Editor Ron Fortier. “Having a heavy Chinese influence in mixing magic and martial arts, these books capture the thrills of all those classic Kung Fu thrillers.” Hawaiian based artist Gary Kato provides the interior illustrations while Art Director Rob Davis our colorful cover.”

Once again Barbara Doran spins a tale of imaginative fantasy filled with colorful heroes, villains and oriental gods wielding amazing powers. It is a frenetic, pulp actioner fans will not be able to put to down.

AIRHSIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – PULP FICTION FOR A NEW GENERATION!

Available from Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Happy Holidays Re-Runs

We've got several years of holiday-themed posts in our history here at Bad Girls, Good Guys, and Two-Fisted Action, so this year we decided to create a special re-run post of some of our favorites -- just because we love you and want you to have some good times and fun seasonal memories. 

Enjoy!


What's your favorite Christmas story? Why?

Well, like in most things I can't pinpoint down to a single favorite, so I'll have to do a list of my top three.

1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess

I tell my family and friends all the time this is the second greatest redemptive story for the holidays. Everything in this story hinges on the moment when every Who down in Whoville (the tall and the small) comes out to sing the joy of Christmas in spite of their missing tinsel and presents. (Which incidentally is why I don't like the live-action movie version. It totally changes the mood Ted Geisel was aiming for.)

2. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

One of the most beautiful, most sacrificing love stories ever told. Period. The first time I read this I felt sad that the lovers would lose their cherished possession, but each reading since makes me happy for them to have found such love for each other that values the stuff so little ultimately in order to focus on the loved one instead.

3. The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson

There's a tragic beauty to this incredibly sad story. If I can ever capture the pathos of tragedy in a story as well as Anderson does in this tale, I'll not have written a single word in vain.

For more fun Christmas tales, visit:


In light of holiday giving, what
are your preferred charities?

St. Jude's Childrens Hospital
http://www.stjude.org

Fans for Christ - it's okay to be a geek and a person of faith too
http://www.fansforchrist.org

Reading Is Fundamental - encourages literacy among people all over the U.S.
http://www.rif.org/

Keep the Arts in Schools
http://www.keepartsinschools.org/

Compassion International - provides food, clothing, and education for third world countries
http://www.compassion.com/

First Book - Helps all children have books of their own.
http://www.firstbook.org

Habitat for Humanity - provides housing for low-income families
http://www.habitat.org/


ASPCA - prevent cruelty to animals
http://www.aspca.org




What are your favorite holiday movies?

In no particular order...

Gremlins
Die Hard
The Bishop's Wife
Batman Returns
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Trading Places
Christmas in Connecticut
White Christmas
Holiday Inn
Nightmare Before Christmas
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Muppet Christmas Carol
Santa's Slay
Silent Night, Bloody Night
The Hebrew Hammer
A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott)
Die Hard II
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Edward Scissorhands

Home Alone (only the first one)

And the ones topping the list:
Scrooged
It's A Wonderful Life
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (sue me, it's TV)
The Little Drummer Boy (ditto)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (yep)
A Charlie Brown Christmas



Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Seasons Greetings to all (and God bless us, everyone! -- thanks, Tiny Tim)

... "That's a noise," grinned the Grinch, "that I simply must hear!"
He paused, and the Grinch put a hand to his ear
And he did hear a sound rising over the snow
It started in low ...
... then it started to grow ...

But this--this sound wasn't sad!
Why, this sound sounded ...glad!
Every Who down in Whoville,
the tall and the small,
was singing--without any presents at all!
He hadn't stopped Christmas from coming--it came!
Somehow or other, it came just the same.

And the Grinch, with his Grinch feet ice cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling:
"How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
He puzzled and puzzled, till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before:
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store--
Maybe Christmas--perhaps--means a little bit more."

And what happened then--well, in Whoville they say
That the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day.
And then the true meaning of Christmas came through,
And the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches--plus two.

-- Dr. Seuss, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas"

=======================================

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus. 

-- Matthew 1: 18-25 (KJV)



What are the holiday traditions that have shaped your life?

Christmas the previous Casa de Taylor, circa 2010.
Well, like most folks I know, my family travels all over the place during the holidays visiting family. We drive to the four winds to spend time with my family, my wife's family, and to various other parties, activities, and functions that come with the territory when one has three kids in middle and high school.

But for us, the real fun begins on Christmas Eve. Our tradition is to open one present that night while we listen to Christmas music and drink hot wassail (Lisa makes the best wassail!). After the presents, we'll often watch a classic Christmas special (favorites are Rudolph and How the Grinch Stole Christmas). After that, it's time for bed.

On Christmas morning, nobody is allowed to dig into their stockings or gifts until everyone is awake. Usually my teenage daughter Charis is the last human awake. Then we empty the stockings first before breakfast. One thing we've always done is to take turns rather than everyone emptying them all at once. That way the person opening the gift gets all the attention for that time, and then so one (yes, like a board game).

After stockings, we typically have a nice breakfast and clear away the dishes before we actually start opening presents. Once we've back in the living room, we read the Christmas story from Luke 2, and go around the group mentioning all the things we're particularly thankful for during the year. Only after reflecting on what we already appreciate do we dig into the wrapped gifts.

At that point, we takes turns again, opening presents one at a time, in a circle, giving each gift and recipient our full attention. (After all, why spend all the time looking for it if you're not going to enjoy watching it being opened?)

Once all the gifts are done, like everyone else, it's time to solve the puzzles that are the packaging and then a mad scramble for batteries.

Perhaps for me, the most important part of our tradition at the Casa de Taylor is that we take turns with the presents, and do that only after reflecting on the good things we're already thankful for first.

But enough about me, what are your holiday traditions?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Have Yourself A Very Regency Christmas! New Releases From Virginia Brown and Sharon Sobel!

We Hope You Have A Very Regency Christmas!


The Once Upon A Regency Christmas Duet Books by Virginia Brown and Sharon Sobel are now available!

Don't forget to sign up for updates on your favorite authors!


Mistletoe Magic by Virginia Brown
 
This Christmas will change everything!

Sinfully handsome, wrongfully accused, he is offered money and respectability in exchange for his freedom...

Nicholas Hawkely, second son of a duke, newly resigned Captain of HMS Renown, finds his recent betrothal to the spinster daughter of a wealthy banker most inconvenient. After ten years of fighting Napoléon, he has dreams of traveling the world on new adventures, not marrying a woman chosen by his father.

Jilted spinster, reluctant heiress, she wants only a quiet life with no complications...

Charlotte St. John prefers quiet pleasures such as riding through the park and birdwatching rather than dances, soirées, or an arranged marriage. Horrified that her father has chosen the disgraced son of a duke to be her husband, she escapes the city for a peaceful Christmas at the Sussex country home of a friend.

But in fleeing their fates, they run right into them when, days later, they both find themselves at the same country estate, trapped by a blizzard, celebrating the yuletide season. And they quickly learn not to underestimate the power of mistletoe...and Christmas miracles.

Amazon
B&N

Under a Christmas Sky by Sharon Sobel
 
Crashing through the snow...

Julia, the newly widowed Lady Leighton Kingswood, is hardly in the mood for the holidays. But thanks to the persistence of Julia's sister-in-law, Lady Laurentia Howard, she soon finds herself braving the dreadful weather to venture out to the Howard estate to celebrate Christmas. She's hoping for a peaceful interlude...until the coach crashes and the driver disappears, leaving her for dead.

The horrid weather is making Willem Wakefield wish he were still in the East Indies. But he's on a diplomatic mission to deliver some important documents to Princess Charlotte, who'll be attending the Howard's Yuletide celebration. Except on the way there, he comes across an overturned carriage and finds a beautiful woman on the verge of freezing to death. Once he has her safely in his coach, he realizes his only option is to take her to the Howard estate with him.

But it isn't long before he realizes that he'd like nothing more than to keep his Lady Frost all to himself. And for much longer than just the holidays...

Amazon
B&N


Friday, December 22, 2017

BIOTERROR WITH A TWIST-PRO SE THRILLER OF THE WEEK-‘THE OUT-OF-TIMERS: FEVER’ DEBUTS FOR $1.49!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Pro Se Productions Presents the Latest Episode of the Future of Digital Storytelling-THE PRO SE THRILLER OF THE WEEK.

Each week, a new 'episode' of one of four rotating series will be released as a digital ebook for your reading pleasure. From Espionage to Supernatural, From Crime To Suspense, each week readers can find what they need in the PRO SE THRILLER OF THE WEEK.

The Out-Of-Timers: Episode Two-FEVER by DAVIDE MANA

Three people, each an expert in their respective fields, and near masters in many things. For different reasons, they are considered to be not long for this world, living on borrowed time. They each have also been known to be risk takers, daredevils of a sort, so even without their own individual issues, they could, at any minute, put themselves in situations that could take them out. They are brought together as a group by a man known only as Mister Davies to form the most unique of teams. Working both on individual missions and as a group, The Out-Of-Timers are sent on jobs to basically confront evil, help those who need it, and save the world.

Deadly Diseases in a Designer World!

A relief hospital is attacked in Africa, its staff massacred. The mysterious Mister Davies puts his three best operatives into play to determine if terrorism, rebellion, or something more sinister is at play. Between globe-spanning espionage, death-defying action, and stunning, horrifying science, the aged spy, the terminally ill scientist, and the marked ex-cop uncover something that they've never seen. A plot that may mean the entire world is Out of Time.

THE OUT-OF-TIMERS: FEVER by Davide Mana. Concept created by Tommy Hancock.

Featuring a thrilling cover, logo design, and formatting by Antonino Lo Iacono and Marzia Marina, THE OUT-OF-TIMERS: FEVER is available now at Amazon for only $1.49.  And this episode is a part of Kindle Unlimited, so KU Members can read it for Free!

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies to review this book, contact Pro Se Productions’ Director of Corporate Operations, Kristi King-Morgan at directorofcorporateoperations@prose-press.com.

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to www.prose-press.com. Like Pro Se on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ProSeProductions.