Tag Archives: writer

Belly Dancer to Writer

People have asked me how I transitioned from having a twenty-plus-year career as a belly dancer to my present career as a writer. The two seemed so unrelated. I have to admit I had a head start because I spent over fifty years searching for my family after being orphaned as a small child and when I finally found a family member, I wanted to write about it. But in further pondering the transition question, I surprisingly found similarities between the two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The main hat I wore during my dancing years was as a Belly Grammer. I was hired to surprise someone for their birthday, anniversary, farewell, get well, reunion or event, with a ten minute dance routine consisting of three parts. The first part was lively Arabic music, accompanied by the rhythm of my brass finger cymbals. Then it slowed down for some pretty, mesmerizing veil work and the last part or finale was lively again, punctuated by the clinking sound of my tambourine. My guest of honor was seated in a chair by himself with people in a circle around him with room for me to dance in the middle. During the routine I presented him with a red banner with a gold glitter message of the occasion and included his name and a red rose. I also crowned him with my veil and tambourine during the number. It was good clean fun and became a very popular way for people to honor coworkers, bosses, family members and friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During this time, I attended seminars all over the U.S. and became a professional performer in shows that concluded those lessons. I met other dancers who became friends and I traveled out of the country as well. This opened up trade show jobs and Greek Night events, wedding receptions, gigs in New York and New Jersey in night clubs, fundraising for the Leukemia Society, and as a staff writer for an international dance magazine. I danced for actor Cliff Robertson at a Scottish Céilidh and for Whoopi Goldberg on a movie set and Mr. Winton Blunt, former U.S. Postmaster General asked me to dance in his home for Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki Bin Nassar. Two military bases in Montgomery, AL, near my home, had numerous events for which I was asked to help them celebrate. I started taking students in my home studio and was asked to teach at Auburn University and later to choreograph a production number for the theatre at Auburn U. I even did a tailgate party in the parking lot at Auburn University before a championship football game. I remember being absolutely amazed I was actually able to find my tailgate hosts without any trouble at the super crowded stadium that day!

Medieval Fantasy Dance

 

 

 

You’re probably getting the idea by now, dear reader, that one thing led to another in my dance career, and you’d be absolutely right. The scope for providing opportunities for dance was constantly changing and growing. In developing a routine for my belly grams I was telling a story through my movements and in some of the other shows, I was following a theme and creating a narrative through the dance itself. The magazine staff writer job and having to come up with written lesson plans for my college teaching stints were most helpful in my development with writing, but finding my sister was the clincher and I started writing a mystery novel involving my search for her. Years later, when my agent found my publisher and my book came out; it was time I retired from dance and start my new career. I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to have been blessed with two careers I loved so much! What about you? Have you had more than one career that you’ve loved?

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.

14 Comments

Filed under Art, musings, writing

A Sermon For The Mellow by Chuck Thurston

I took a couple of English courses in college requiring I write poems, and I wrote quite a few. An instructor remarked at the time: “Your poetry is very personal.” This was not a compliment. He explained that my efforts were poems with little meaning to anyone but me. They were sound in structure, but narrow in expression. It represented a view of my personal life and conflicts, but not in a way that illuminated it for anyone else. I was doing little more than writing irate, self-aggrandizing editorials with a rhythm and rhyme scheme.

I was then a young married father, with all of the associated struggles. I had a good job, but knew I would find my level in it sooner or later, and it wouldn’t be all that high. The war in Vietnam was turning into the horror many had feared. The Peace Movement was burgeoning. The skirmishes for civil rights had begun. Smoke was in the air and it wasn’t all gunpowder or tobacco. I was an angry young man. Worse, I bought with unquestioned agreement, into almost every extreme pronouncement that complimented my own resentments. I had become what can easily turn into that most dangerous of humans – The True Believer.

Believers of one stripe or another have been around as long as humankind. That’s a good thing. Belief precedes experiment, which precedes verification, and well – it’s the only way we ever gather the facts on anything. Scientists call it a hypothesis. Copernicus woke up one morning and said to himself, “Gee, I believe the earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around!” He was, as it happened, a great mathematician and developed a heliocentric model that made sense. Let me extemporize on that a bit. Copernicus couldn’t prove his belief – but no other mathematical model made sense to him. Those who believed otherwise went to great lengths to construct models that were torturous in their description of how things worked. These models did, however, jibe with the religious dogma of the time. Although Copernicus got away with it, Galileo, born almost a hundred years later, took most of the heat for this hypothesis – almost literally; he was threatened with death at the stake if he didn’t recant. This threat came from – you guessed it – True Believers.

Now there is nothing wrong with true belief on its face. And there is nothing wrong with an enthusiastic and impassioned defense of it. In their time, humans have given unquestioned obeisance to Paleolithic superstitions, Bronze Age myths and legends, Hebrew tribal laws, prophets, shamans and cultists, medieval alchemists, mystics, psychics and self-proclaimed wizards. All of these authorities have vestigial form today, and we have upped the ante with media-fueled baloney by the megaton. You are free to believe any of this you want. Be my guest.

If it were left at that, people could go merrily on their way chasing Bigfoot or hunting down the Appalachian Devil Monkeys. But a lot of True Believers don’t want to leave it at that. True Believers have harassed and taunted women and gays; True Believers have killed, with routine nonchalance, young people who made romantic attachments their families didn’t approve of; True Believers have flown airplanes into skyscrapers; True Believers have concocted bogus evidence to justify inciting wars. Like the old geocentric model makers, True Believers have warped new insights or observable evidence to match their convictions. “If you don’t like the diagnosis,” said the quack surgeon, “we’ll retouch the X-rays!”

I once attended a religious ceremony where a man officiating told me that I was cursed if I did not believe as he believed. I would, he assured me, roast in perpetual torment after I died, unless I adopted his particular beliefs. He did not actually say that he had placed a curse on me, but it wouldn’t be putting too fine a point on it to interpret it that way, if you ask me.

Well, I didn’t believe that for a minute, and would have told him so, but held to manners I had learned at mother’s knee – a lack of which apparently did not trouble him. His position, to be sure, was met with murmurs of approval from a sizeable part of those in attendance – troubling in itself. The rest sat on their hands along with me and accepted their damnation with polite demeanor. He graciously invited anyone troubled by his pronouncements to meet with him after the service, where we would be set straight. I demurred.

The world has become infected by TBs. Countries are torn apart by factions settling scores for perceived slights perpetuated centuries ago. Politicians embrace their way or no way. The Age of Chivalry is dead and the Age of Civility is evaporating. Statesmanship is moribund. Progress is deadlocked because negotiation and collaboration are dirty words.

My cafeteria lunch mates and I used to have heated discussions on the day’s hot topics, and great philosophical issues. There were always a couple of TBs in these groups. I represented a puzzling anomaly to them. I confessed to a profound curiosity about our whereabouts in the hereafter, but no real ideas on whatever might take place or whoever might be going wherever.

“But Thurston, you have to believe in something!” I was told.

Note: TBs often express things this way; to which I say “Why?”

 “It isn’t just a belief,” I told them. “I know for absolute certainty what happens to us when we die!” This always made them hoot. “We will all be recycled,” I said.

Now you can’t argue with that – and they couldn’t. I’m not talking about that spiritual component. I let the TBs work that part out, and keep it to themselves when they do; but – if every atom in our bodies isn’t sentient, then certainly some critical mass of them must be. We’ll find out one way or another in eight billion years or so when the Sun runs out of fuel and that big fusion bomb implodes and gobbles up its planetary children. Think of that. Assuming we ourselves haven’t incinerated everything by then, our urns or caskets will be atomized and the contents will be off on another adventure. I believe, with no evidence to back it up – Jeez, I’m not a TB, after all – that those contents will accrete again, gravity being what it is, and who knows? Not me, not you, not even Stephen Hawking – who has his own views on it, but is smart enough not to advance them as gospel.

I like the way Richard Feynman put it, “I am a universe of atoms, and an atom in the universe.”

Frankly, there is more empirical evidence to support my scenario than there is the fiery pit described by the proselytizer mentioned earlier.

I eventually returned to poetry after I got over the idea that I had to write angry stuff. I couldn’t begin to match up with Sassoon, anyway: “He’s young; he hated war; how should he die/ when cruel old campaigners win safe through?/ But death replied: ‘I choose him.’ So he went,/ And there was silence in the summer night.”

Whooo! No competing with that! I had to set my sights much lower and settled on doggerel. In fact, I discovered that I didn’t have to knock much polish off of my serious stuff to drop down into this stratum. I whacked out a few lines and thought myself pretty good at it! This would be my poetic niche!

The Lightning Bug

 The lightning bug with logic smug,

Lights up the summer skies,

To find a mate and procreate;

Those clever little guys!

 

The logic here is very clear,

To all who empathize.

So, don’t be coy, dear girl and boy;

It pays to advertise!

Now look – my light verse does not mean that I am glib about the woes of the world. I know full well there is suffering and hunger. Humans can rationalize anything, and a lot of TBs have rationalized cruel responses to ideas they can’t make themselves believe. Don’t join that crowd. One amazing feature of our great gift of free will is the ability to hold several opposing views in our brains at one time without going nuts. Hang out with me for a while.

Here is my belief for this day: It is beautiful outside. I believe I will get a good cigar out of my humidor, give myself a healthy pour of something red, sit out on my deck for an hour or so and ponder all of this. You’re welcome to come over and join me. You can pass on the stogie and choose the booze if you want; or maybe light up a cheroot and pass on the vino. You can bag them both and bring your own iced tea. I don’t believe you’ll be cursed any way you go.

Postscript: The air quality code was green, so my wife joined me on the deck. I didn’t get in an hour of private ponder, but she sat upwind of me, had a glass of wine and the company was welcome. Oh, and later that evening, I came across an article by scientists who have lowered the sun’s time to extinction from 8 billion to around 5.8 billion years. We don’t have as much time left as we thought.

Post-postscript – “A Sermon For The Mellow” will be in Chuck Thurston’s next Senior Scribble – “The Bathroom Reader (Your Results May Vary)”. Look for it later this year – if wine and an occasional cigar don’t get him first.

7 Comments

Filed under writing

When Blogs Sleep by L.V. Gaudet

I have been in something of a dry spell for the past months when it comes to writing, blog posts especially.drought

Lack of inspiration is only a part of the problem.

Most advice on how to have a successful blog boils down to one frequently repeated piece of advice.  Post interesting content regularly.

Easy, right?

The problem with that is not only do you have to come up with ideas of blog posts to write about all the time, but they also have to be interesting to other people.  Okay, so that is only half the problem.  The other half is having the time.

If you do not keep up on regular blogging, you can find your blog has gone to sleep and so have you as a blogger.  Your blog followers’ interest will wane when there is nothing to follow.  You become as forgotten as yesterday’s news.

People are fickle that way.  Once you lose them, you can find yourself starting over to create a following all over again.

It can also be harder to dig yourself out of that slump once you are fully entrenched in it than it is to keep writing regular posts.

inspirationboxGetting inspired takes time.  It takes a lot of things, but all of that means little if you do not have the time to let yourself get inspired.

Everyone finds their inspiration in their own way.  A quiet walk in nature, sitting alone enjoying a coffee on a Sunday morning, reading, letting your mind roam on your commute, people watching, these are just a few.

If you do not have the time for that in your busy life, you can find yourself feeling irreparably caught in a dry spell with no end in sight.

When the inspiration does come, it means not losing it, maybe having the chance to write it down before your busy day melts the thought away into a blank mind void.  And then you still have to have the time to sit down and write the article, edit it to perfection, and polish it.

Evasive-Manuvers-penguins-of-madagascar-13157021-607-478Time is both valuable and, at times, insolently evasive.  Time is not on my side.  Not lately.

If you are like me, and like many other writers, your writing by necessity comes a distant last after everything else in your life.

Bills have to be paid and family and home taken care of.  Commitments for work, school, and both immediate and extended family will always push writing time back.  By the time you have finished your work day and commute, feeding and chauffeuring your kids to their activities and back, and getting them into bed, you might find yourself lucky enough to have an hour left to make lunches, throw a load of laundry in, and pick up; and maybe even a moment to or two to write.

This can make you feel a tremendous self-imposed stress to do that writing you are missing out having the time for.  It is too easy in the rush of life and trying to fit in writing to forget what is important.  Never let yourself miss those family moments because you are pushing yourself too hard to do too much.

lessons-in-lifeThe most important lesson I ever learned in life I learned from my own toddler.  Back then, I was doing the stay at home parent thing.  Daycare for two would have cost most than I was making, so we opted for me to stay home.  Every time we went to Wal-Mart to shop for groceries, we passed a display of plastic and fabric fake flowers.  They were depressingly fake, but every time she would make me stop to smell them.  It was not just a memorable moment to be cherished; it was a life lesson.  No matter how hurried I felt, there always had to be time to stop and smell the flowers, whether they smell like anything or not.

Take each moment as it comes.  As the saying goes, take life one moment at a time.  That is the only way to do it when life gets busy.  I spend my lunch breaks editing, and with the distractions that is about all I can manage.  I try my best to note it down when inspiration hits and gives me an idea.  I write in stolen moments.   I do what I can to keep up on the major things while, unfortunately, the little things are often left to slide along with the housekeeping.

When I do have a moment (or thought I did) for writing, it may be interrupted and quickly evaporate.  My advice: no matter how frustrating you find it to have to try to seize those too often lost moments; do not let it become either a chore or a barrier to your life and family around you.

dullWhen your writing is just bland and dry, and inspiration has failed you, you might have to just accept that and cede defeat.  This time.  One of the lovely things about social media and networking is the very nature of it.  It is, for the most part, shareable.

People blog because they want to be noticed.  They want followers.  They want more visits to their blog.  What better way to have that happen than to have followers share their posts?

When the inspiration flows strong, get as much out of that as you can.  If you can snap out six or eight witty blog posts and another half a dozen ideas for later, you are on one killer roll!  Do not post all those great posts at once, but save them.  Spread them out and have some back up posts for those dry spells.

Make your blog more interesting with guest blogs and outside articles.  Invite guests to guest blog, have reviews on their books posted, reviews they wrote on other books posted.  Even just sharing other bloggers posts on your blog that you enjoyed and found interesting.  It is all about driving traffic to both your blog and theirs, and everybody wins.

Distraction is the writer’s curse.  Nothing can kill a writer’s mojo like distraction.  As a parent, I cannot turn my kids away when they need attention just because I am trying to write or edit.  The same goes for your life partner.  These are the most important people in your world, and hopefully your biggest fans and supporters.

When I do have time to write, it is often in the chaos of distraction that comes with a small house and no escape.  You feel like you are central to everything going on in your house because you are, literally, if you have no other room to escape to.  And even if you do have somewhere to go (unfortunately I don’t), if you are like me, they will just follow you there.

It is not easy to write with all the distraction.  And you certainly cannot do your best writing.  But, at least you are finding that bit of time.  If nothing else, you can edit and jot down notes for things to add later.  I certainly do not recommend writing under the cacophony of distraction, but busy people sometimes just have to do what they must.

At the moment, I am being distracted by one child (Okay, a “tween”.  She hates to be called a child.), who is not yet in bed and has a never-ending need to talk to me, a dog requiring my undivided attention, and a very persistent housefly that apparently does too.

recyleIf all else fails, you can always recycle.  Reuse, reduce, recycle.  Isn’t that the saying?  Oh, wait, that’s for reducing trash waste.

In all seriousness, when you are really stuck for something, you can always take an old blog post and re-write it.  You might be amazed at what you learn doing that.

Not only does your writing change, but so does your opinions, feelings, and knowledge.  Writing is a flowing creation that is never stagnant.  The industry itself is ever-evolving.

Over time and practice, your writing continuously improves.  Re-writing an old blog post is a good lesson in that.  Re-writing old stories, whether fiction, blog, or other, is like taking a walk down that memory lane to those old photos of your youth.  Yeah, you remember those old sick clothes and ridiculous hairstyles you laugh at now.

So dust off that old post or story like an old record and play it again, only better this time.

No matter what gets in your way, lack of inspiration, time, distraction, or anything else, you keep on writing.  It’s not what you are, it’s who you are.

You press on because you are a writer.  I am writer; hear me roar.

.

.

 

L. V. where the bodies areGaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are

What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions?

Watch for book 2 of the McAllister series coming soon at Second Wind Publishing, LLC:  The McAllister Farm.  The secret behind the bodies is revealed.

Links to purchase this and other upcoming L.V. Gaudet’s books

Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

https://angiesdiary.com/bookoftheweek-web/081-botwoct262014.html

Follow L. V. Gaudet:

Facebook author page

Google+

Instagram

Pinterest

Twitter

WordPress

 

4 Comments

Filed under L.V. Gaudet, writing

The Passage of Time and Little Details by L.V. Gaudet

Just as in life, little things in your story would change with the passage of time.  It’s not a necessity, of course, but those little changes can bring a sub-layer of change to the reader’s unconscious mind.  And if they do pick up on it, it’s a nice touch in adding depth to the story.

 

They said goodbye in the spring.  She ran her fingers through his hair that was cut short just the week before, the hair tips following the curve of the top of the ears they were just shy of touching.  If it were any shorter, it would be called a brush cut.

She frowned inwardly at that.  She had always disliked brush cuts.  They reminded her of the father she had lost the day he enlisted in the army when she was only six.  He died years later, coming back for brief moments between tours of duty.  But something had changed in him.  When he came home for good, he never came home all the way.  Something of him was left behind in the war-ravaged wasteland that was left behind when so-called peace came and sent the soldiers home.  He killed himself ten years ago on her twentieth birthday.

 Now, years later, as she said goodbye to her own six-year-old son in the spring, it felt like a piece of her had been torn out.  She had watched him walk away, holding his father’s hand, her estranged husband, with his freshly cut short hair, she swore she would never let her son join the army like her father had.

 Her husband had joined the army too.  That’s why she left him.  She could not bear to live that again, to have her son live it like she did growing up.

 Summer is over now and fall is coming.  Her son’s summer with his father is over and school starts in a few days.

 She turned at the unmistakable racket of the approaching train, watching anxiously down the tracks.  Butterflies flitted in her stomach.  She told herself it was at seeing her son, but the reality is was over seeing them both.

 The train pulled into the station and she waited the interminable wait of one waiting for their loved ones to arrive in the designated arrival area.

 She held her breath and forced herself not to run to him, to tear him away from his father’s hand and squeeze him tight.

 There he was.  It felt like her heart would leap right out her throat.  Her throat constricted and her eyes burned.  Where is he?  Her son was alone.  How could he send him alone?  He’s only six!  But then her son turned, and he came through the crowd.  Her heart leapt and sank at once.  He was dressed in uniform.

 Her son ran to her, face cracked into the biggest smile she had seen since she said goodbye to him in the spring.  She got down on one knee, opening her arms to him, and he ran to her, throwing himself into her embrace and wrapping his arms tightly around her neck.  She ran her fingers through his hair, the tips of his hair reaching just past the top of his ears.

 “Mommy,” he sighed into her shoulder, “your nails got longer.”

 She looked up at a sense of a presence close by.  Her estranged husband stood over her looking down.

 “You look thinner,” he said. From his expression, she wasn’t sure if it was an attempt at a compliment or sarcasm.  He was still bitter at her for leaving.

 “You were supposed to bring him back last week,” she said, narrowing her eyes at him.

 

If you picked up on it, the above starts with a reference to the boy’s recent haircut and his hair being trimmed above the ears.  When he sees him again, the boy’s comment on her nails is a distraction to the reference to his hair now being just below the tops of his ears.  The ex-husband’s comment on her weight could go in any one of many directions.  It could be used as a reference to a longer space of time since she left him.  It could be a hint into his character, or her own wasting away at the end of her marriage.  It could even mean she’s become more healthy and fit since leaving him, at a healthier weight than before.

 

Even if the character doesn’t noticeably change, and neither does his or her immediate surroundings, some things can’t help but change with the years. Some things grow (plant life); other things inevitably deteriorate with age. Things become modernized as they have to be replaced. After all, that fridge in the kitchen will not last fifty years seemingly untouched by time.

 

images (4)It might be an old ice box from before the age of refrigerators, then be replaced with an early style fridge, eventually becoming more modernized as each one has to be replaced. (Just as an example, assuming the character even has one.)  Or it might be a fridge at a place the character frequents, even if that frequency is once every decade.

 

A change like that the character is certain to notice. Similarly, horses and wagons eventually become replaced by increasingly modernized cars.  Everything has a finite lifespan, whether it is a fruit fly or something that lasts for eons. A small sapling tree will grow and grow, becoming a massive tree and eventually dying.  A stone wall will weaken and crumble over time.  Look around you; everything is touched in some way by the passing of time.  Pick things that can be described well by you and easily be identified by the reader.

 

It is little details that make a story.  The odd little things that might catch one persons eye while no one else in the room even noticed.  Throw them in at the oddest of moments.  A moment so divine, that it is almost out of place – almost.

A moment of utter seriousness, where  picking out that one ridiculous detail only serves to bring home to the reader the gravity of just how serious it is.

That one out of place almost unnoticeable thing in a time of grief, to show how strangely the mind might work in a moment of stress and confusion masked by forced peace and quiet, to reinforce on the reader the many levels of the story and its characters.

 

Amidst the crowd of mourners packed into the room like cattle in a cattle car on the way to be rendered, Annie alone noticed the little loose thread sticking out mournfully from the fabric of the seat where Mrs. Peckham sat.  Annie stared at that thread, mesmerized, unable to look away.

 A stray thought teased at her mind.  With all these people staring at Mrs. Peckham, watching her sit there lost in her private world of grief, weeping for her child so tragically torn from her breast by the drunk driver, what does that thread mean?  Is the chair unraveling in sympathy to the shattered lives of all the mourners who’ve sat there day after day?

 She looked around, wondering if anyone else saw the thread and what thoughts it provoked in their minds.

 

No matter how farfetched and deep within the realm of the unbelievable a story may lay, it’s the little details that suggest it might just be possible.  It’s the ability to sell the story as a “what if”, the idea that just maybe this *could* be real if our world were shaped a little differently … that is what makes a good story.

 

L. V. where the bodies areGaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are

What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions?

Watch for book 2 of the McAllister series coming soon at Second Wind Publishing, LLC:  The McAllister Farm.  The secret behind the bodies is revealed.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00015]

 

Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

https://angiesdiary.com/bookoftheweek-web/081-botwoct262014.html

Follow L. V. Gaudet:

Facebook author page

Google+

Instagram

Pinterest

Twitter

WordPress

2 Comments

Filed under How To, L.V. Gaudet, writing

How Not to Get Noticed by Other Writers, Agents, Other Publishing Types, and Book Junkies

noticemeThis is my own personal 10 steps on how NOT to get noticed by other writers, agents, various other publishing types, and assorted book junkies.  These tips, of course, are in no particular order.  Failure to follow any one or more might risk exposing yourself to being (gulp) noticed.

Step 1 – Don’t be funny.  Seriously, humor brings smiles, which then bring good feelings.  Humor, smiles, and warm fuzzy feelings breed a sense of familiarity.  If someone in any way feels that familiarity towards you, you feel like a friend to them and you have been noticed.

Step 2 – Don’t follow blogs and other websites.  You never know when the author might peek to see who is following.

Step 3 – Don’t use a memorable picture.  We don’t all like the idea of pasting pictures of ourselves online for the whole world to see.  Sometimes we’d prefer a photo of something else, like your cat or an apple, or better yet that generic silhouette default picture a few billion other users are using.  Best to stick with the generic silhouette, everybody is sick to death of looking at the Grumpy Cat and all those other over-used images.  If you use a memorable picture of something interesting, you risk being noticed.  Worse, use a good picture of yourself and you might be recognized across more than one social media site.  Then you would feel like a real person to others instead one of the multitude of online semi-anonymous acquaintances.

Step 4 – Don’t bop around blogs leaving comments.  Sometimes those comments actually get read.  You never know when someone might decide to follow the link back to your own blog, and then, you got it, chances are you’ve been noticed, and maybe even a few more followers.

Step 5 – Don’t blog regularly about writing, being a writer, your hobbies and passions, family, cooking recipes, or the thousands on thousands of other things people blog on.  A regular blog gets followers.

Step 6 – Multi social media.  This is a definite ‘no’.  Sharing and posting your own blog posts, links to others’ blog posts and book reviews and reviews on their books, and general sharing across multiple social media sites is a recipe for disaster if you want to stay entirely anonymous.

Step 7 – Don’t follow other writers and publishing world peeps in sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, et al with wild abandon.  They have a tendency to follow back and even re-tweet/repost your posts to their own followers if you do the same for them.  That will only build your online presence, instead of keeping you in that obscurity it is so easy to hide behind.

Step 9 – Be selfish.  Don’t do favors for others without the expectation of a return on your investment of time.  Hosting other authors in the forms of interviews, guest blogs, and posting links to reviews on their books or reviewing their books for nothing more than the exchange of a free copy of their book, these are all recipes for disaster when you want no one to notice you.  Not only will those people share your posts with their own followers, they might even be grateful, appreciate your kindness, and even return the favor some time.

Step 10 – This one is maybe the most important.  Don’t keep writing and writing and writing. The more you write, stories, blogs, and anything else you publish for free download or for sale, the more likely it is that you will develop a fan base.

Now let’s get serious about why you really read this article.

When you feel rejected, dejected, and let down that no one seems to be noticing you … stop it.  This isn’t high school; it only feels like it is.  Everyone out there is trying so hard to get you and everyone else to notice them, that they might not even see you.  Yes Virginia, it is a popularity contest, and the winners are the ones with publishing contracts and large book sale counts.

We all want the same thing, to be writers; and not just that, but to be published writers and have someone love our books.  In order for that to happen, you have to be noticed.  People have to find your book and actually buy it, read it, and rave to their friends about it.  The hard part is getting your book noticed in the sea of books out there.

Don’t let yourself feel down about that when it doesn’t happen.  Even some of the most popular authors struggled in the beginning to be discovered by their fans.  We are all struggling for the same thing, so you are not alone.  Getting discovered has as much to do with luck and it does putting yourself out there and working hard.

And, as a final word, don’t assume that breaking any or all of the rules above will get you noticed.  Sometimes you just have to be at the right place at the right time, and sometimes you have to do something very noticeable to get noticed.  The World Wide Web is a vast dark and dusty weaving of emptiness filled with the intangible beyond your computer screen.  Sometimes, you just can’t get noticed sitting in a room by yourself no matter how hard you wave your arms.   And other times, you might hit on that one magic stroke of luck and you are made.

 

 

L. V. where the bodies areGaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are

What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions?

Watch for book 2 of the McAllister series coming soon at Second Wind Publishing, LLC:  The McAllister Farm.  The secret behind the bodies is revealed.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00015]

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00015]

Other links to purchase L.V. Gaudet’s books

Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

https://angiesdiary.com/bookoftheweek-web/081-botwoct262014.html

Follow L. V. Gaudet:

Facebook author page

Google+

Instagram

Pinterest

Twitter

WordPress

 

49 Comments

Filed under How To, L.V. Gaudet, writing

The First-Ever by A.J. McCarthy

I’m a newbie. This is my first-ever blog. But, since this seems to be a period of many first-evers for me, I think I’m probably up for it. After all, I had my first-ever phone conversation with a book publisher a few months ago. It was followed by my first-ever offer of publication, with two more following quickly on its heels. This, of course, led to a few other very pleasant first-evers, and I can hardly wait for the rest.

However, for now, I am dealing with the blog. How should I approach it? Throw in my first chapter? No, it’s too soon for that. Should I try to portray myself as a scholarly, experienced author, quoting Shakespeare or Hemingway? No, I don’t think I would be able to pull that off.

The truth is, I have never referred to myself as an author even though I have been writing for years. Until I had an actual contract in hand from a real publisher I couldn’t bring myself to associate my name with that elite group. I felt like a pretender to the throne. Even now, with only a contract and a book waiting to be published, I’m not shouting to the hills that I am an author. I still don’t have a copy in hand to use as proof.

Since I came on board with Second Wind Publishing I have been regularly checking out the website, the blog and the authors. And, even though I have never met any of them in person and only a few by e-mail, for some reason, I feel an affinity with the group. I feel like I will be joining a family. As in any family, each one of us will have our different techniques, our different way of approaching challenges, our unique personalities, but that doesn’t mean we can’t live harmoniously and learn from each other.

The last part of that statement is currently my biggest challenge. I have a lot of learning to do. I have to learn the processes involved in publishing a book, from the editing to the cover art. I have to learn to think like an author. But, perhaps most of all, I have to learn how to market my novel, or at least do as much as I can to help. I have to become a more diligent Facebook person. I need to learn to tweet, post, like, and share on a regular basis.

For now, I am learning to blog. I have read many blogs in the past, but have never been an active participant. For my first-ever I feel it’s premature to offer my first chapter, and my other experiences as an author are too limited to speak of as yet. So I will begin by telling you a little about myself.

I am a married mother of two beautiful girls, Rachel and Brianna, aged 21 and 17 respectively. Since they are the bright point of my life I’m sure I will be writing about them frequently in future posts. I live just north of Quebec City, Canada, and I work as the vice-president of finance for a manufacturing company. My name is followed by the initials CPA CMA which identify me as an accountant with a specialty in management accounting. My husband, Steve, works in computers and donates a large amount of his time as a volunteer fire chief in the small municipality where we live. I consider this to be my real life.

My fantasy life has only just begun to bear fruit. It began about 10 years ago, when I decided to try my hand at writing, and I discovered a new activity which was surprisingly enjoyable. Over the years, I built a small inventory of books that live communally and passively on my computer. I sent out submissions, mostly to agents, to no avail. Last summer, I pulled out ‘Betrayal’, a manuscript I had written years ago, dusted it off, and reached out to a different segment of the publishing community, the small publishers.

To my great delight, I received three offers for Betrayal. A decision had to be made, and I have to say, a lot of my deliberation was based on my gut-feeling. And that is where Second Wind Publishing comes in.

I have a feeling I will be joining a new, exciting, and accepting family. So far, I have been very fortunate with my families, both immediate and extended. My hope is that this new group of people, most of whom I will never meet in person, will become a different type of family. Some will inspire me to write better, some will help me to focus my energies where they should be focused, some will point out my mistakes, and some will applaud my successes, however large or small they may be.

Another decision to make (heavy sigh). What will my next blog be about? Will it be time for the first chapter? Should I post a picture of my dog and rant about how cute he is? Maybe I’ll think about it a bit longer and I’ll send out a tweet to let you know what’s coming next.

***

A.J. McCarthy is the author of Betrayal, a suspense thriller published by Second Wind Publishing.

9 Comments

Filed under books, fiction, marketing, writing

10 Things I Didn’t Learn from Strangers by Sherrie Hansen

There’s an old expression in our family – you didn’t learn that from strangers – that I’ve heard said many times over the course of my life.  Some people say, well, that nut didn’t fall far from the tree. Same idea. When I was 9 or 10, I thought I was so different from the rest of my family that I must surely be adopted. Now that I’m a bit older, I can see how closely certain personality traits passed down through generations of Hansens, Lightlys, Paulsons, and Millers are intertwined, and how much they’ve affected who I am and how I live my life.

Danish Girl

My family history and the tales of my growing up years may not be as story-worthy as Laura Ingalls Wilder’s, but our Little House on the Big Farm was bursting with colorful characters that have and continue to impact my life in ways I’m both oblivious to and very aware – the perfect storm of nature and nurture. I feel a great sense of connectedness to prior generations of my family, especially since moving back from Colorado Springs to northern Iowa / southern Minnesota where I grew up. Here are 10 things I didn’t learn from strangers. 

Food - Black Forest

1. Cooking Up a Storm:  I started out the week making a big batch of Grandma Hansen’s Chicken Pie with Grandma Victoria’s Baking Powder Biscuits dropped on top for a church gathering at the Blue Belle Inn. Later in the week, I found a family recipe for Scottish Ginger Snaps in a cookbook and made them at a cooking seminar. Grandma had labeled them “Grandma’s Ginger Snaps” which means it was my great-great grandma’s recipe. Whether it was Grandma Vic’s famous Sunday roast beef dinners and homemade apple pie, or whatever goodies Grandma Hansen happened to be cooking up for her family, neighbors, or the occasional thrashing crew, I was taught how to cook it up right. And make lots of it. Besides, it was either stay inside and cook, or go out and drive tractor, which I did not like to do.

baby-blue-cinderella

2. No Matter How Tired You Are, There’s Always Time for a Bedtime Story – or Two, or Three:  Sitting around during the day, reading, when you should be working, is frowned upon in our family 😉, but at bedtime, that all changes. My Grandma Hansen was one of the best storytellers I know, and her funny voices for the Little Red Hen, the Big Bad Wolf, and the Three Little Pigs still play themselves over and over in my mind. I follow the lessons learned even today, working hard at my bed and breakfast all summer and fall, making hay while the sun shines, and telling stories – writing novels – in the winter when things are slow.

Iowa - sunset 2010

3. Being Stubborn Has Its Perks:  Danes (I’m half Danish) are a stubborn lot. But along with sheer willfulness, which can be a bad thing, comes tenacity and dodged persistence and stick-to-itiveness and the very building blocks that have helped me achieve my goals, get published, run a successful business and more. Don’t be a quitter. Never give up. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. Remember the Little Engine That Could saying I think I can, I think I can, over and over again until he could and did?Zion - Sunflower 2013 Sun

4. Keep Looking Up:  My Great-Grandma Paulson wrote these profound words in my autograph book when I was ten or eleven. I knew what she meant – keep your eyes on Jesus. It’s the first rule, and the thing that makes everything else come together.

Mopar

5. Mopars Rule:  Okay, so I strayed from the fold when I was young and foolish. We try to forget those years… the Toyota Corolla, the Mazda 323. Today, I’m back where I belong. I drive a PT Cruiser. My brother drives a Dodge Ram. My parents are on their third or fourth Chrysler mini-van. What can I say? We all tend to vote the same way on election day, too.

Scotland flowers by the sea

6. Getting Something for Nothing is One of the Greatest Joys on Earth:  Found treasures, whether they be bargains or cast-offs nobody wanted bought for a little bit of nothing at a Crazy Day sale, or simple gifts from the earth like agates or fossils or a pretty red maple leaf pressed flat in a book or a little cluster of acorns, are some of the best things in life. If you haven’t tried it, you should – still. The Hansen way to thrill-seek.

Scotland Fishing Shack

7. One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure:  I can’t walk like an Egyptian (good dancing genes do not run in our family), but I can talk like an auctioneer, or at least I could when I was little. My Grandpa Hansen took me to so many auctions that I picked up the lingo. More importantly, I learned about repurposing and adaptive reuse, and refinishing, and respect for the past – all things that hold me in good stead even today. I grew up snuggling under quilts made from worn out wool suits, watching Grandma working in aprons and wearing dresses made from flour and feed sacks. Water was used at least five times before it was thrown out on the garden to make the strawberry patch grow. And yes, I firmly believe that tin foil has three or four lives. And you should ask me some day about the things my Dad makes with discarded doors. Waste not, want not.

KY - staircase

8. Worrying Doesn’t Help, But We Do It Anyway:  There are several genes that I wish I had gotten from my family, but didn’t – the Fix-It Gene, and the Green Thumb Gene, for example. I did, however, get the Worry Wart Gene. I try not to succumb, but if you’ve got it, you’ve got it.

Food - Cookies Noah

9.  The Compulsion To Have 10 of Something When You Really Only Have 9:  This one was my husband’s idea. I think the word he’s looking for is perfectionism. He’s right. In my world, everything needs to be just so. Neat. Tidy. Even Numbers. It’s a disease.  But seriously, if you’re going to do something, why not do it right?

HansenFamily2

10.  The Family That Prays Together, Stays Together:  It was very important to my Grandma Hansen that we cousins got to play together. She facilitated countless family get-togethers and events where we were all together. Our family isn’t perfect – we have our share of black sheep, and family members who go their own way. But when we go to Mom and Dad’s for Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s a joyous occasion, sharing not only food, but memories, and laughing about things we did when we were kids. The more nieces and nephews who show up, the better. I’m thankful that the glue that holds our family together is good and sticky. I think it’s called love, and I come by it naturally.

4 Comments

Filed under life, musings, Sherrie Hansen

Loyalty

Have you noticed that a characteristic such as loyalty seems to have vanished in our modern day world? It is a tragic loss if it can not be revived. Companies no longer seem to care about their employees and employees change jobs for a few dollars more in a pay packet.
In my parents and grandparents day, people got a job with a company, worked their way up the ladder and for the most part retired from that company after many years of loyal service. This is an out of date notion. Workers, for the most part, are no longer loyal to one employer. In recent times, there are those who job hop, hoping that the new company will offer better pay and benefits. Or they may play one company off the other to negotiate the best deal. However, this is not so prevalent anymore with the job market what it is now.
Employers do not encourage loyalty in their workers like they did once upon a time.
A friend of mine gave a company fifteen years of service and loyalty. Then she was let go along with three others from this same company. There were no satisfactory explanations for their terminations; just good-bye with no severance, no references and few prospects in the job market today. There are not many openings for jobs on that same managerial level.
Another friend recounted to me that her company wants people to start sharing more of their responsibilities because the company wants to eliminate numerous jobs. They have not said what jobs, or which employees will be released, so the sword of Damocles hangs over them all. The company also has offered early retirement sweet deals that are available to the first fifty of the one hundred and fifty that are eligible. Even with retiring fifty people, they still will cut jobs.
Another horrifying item that surfaced about this company: someone distributed a book about ~ how to treat employees so poorly that they quit, leaving the company without having to pay the unemployment fees.
I wonder what is happening in our world.
Where is loyalty?
I remember a story my dad told me about a friend and client of his.
Mr. Lubin loved to bake, and he was good at it. His hobby blossomed into a small business as he took over the family kitchen. Soon the demands for his baked goods grew, and he moved his enterprise to the garage. Orders came in consistently allowing him to first rent, then later to purchase a building of his own to keep up with the growing demand.
In the process of his expansion from the kitchen to the garage he needed proper packaging for his goods. He called a number of companies and met with their salesmen. He had a specific package in mind. No supplier had it readily available. The salesmen told him that his demands could not be met. His order would be too small to make it worth their while. Except for one young man who needed to establish himself with his company. He said it would be worth a try. He would do what he could to fill the order. A week later the man returned with what they company could do for Mr. Lubin. The men shook on the order, and the salesman got the ball rolling to create the packaging Mr. Lubin wanted.
Mr. Lubin’s business grew and grew over the years allowing him to build his own building to make all his bakery products. As his fame and fortune grew, the salesmen from the companies that told him he was too small to bother with began to come back, they offered sweet deals, they undercut the price of that first salesman who had taken the risk with Mr. Lubin’s order.
Mr. Lubin would simply smile; shake his head and say; “No thanks.” He let them know that he was remaining loyal to the man who had been with him from the early days. That the salesman who had had taken the risk to create his packaging needs deserved his loyalty.
Another facet of his loyalty was his constant ability to keep his promises. Mr. Lubin did business on a handshake and his word. His word was his bond. He did not need contracts or signatures. He never reneged on an agreement, if he told you something was going to be done, it was.
Mr. Lubin was also a devoted family man. We all have at some time heard of his company, many of us have enjoyed his products. He named his company for his daughter, because after all; Nobody doesn’t love Sarah Lee.
In this world where loyalty, honesty and keeping a promise means nothing, I am reminded of Mr. Lubin and his principals. An honest, hardworking man who built a multi-billion dollar business from something he loved to do. Mr. Lubin was a man who remained loyal to those who were with him from the earliest days, believing in him, in his product and his abilities. Loyalty was rewarded ten-fold.
My father spoke of Mr. Lubin with admiration and respect. I hope his story will empower you to take a look at where your loyalties lie, and create a better world, because you become a better person. Loyalty is a dying virtue. We can revive it by being loyal. I’m in…are you?

3 Comments

Filed under writing

Ghosts of my past and present – by Nicole Eva Fraser

Mikmaq womenWhen I was in my thirties, I discovered major secrets on my mother’s side of the family: she was Pennsylvania Shawnee a hundred years back on her father’s side, which was forgivable—but her maternal great-grandmother and many other female relatives were full-blooded Micmac Indians from Canada. My mother’s disowned brother was the rebel who had hunted down this truth.

Having Micmac blood was kept a family secret because, in early 20th-century Boston, Micmacs were considered contemptible, inferior creatures, similar to the low-caste untouchables of India.

My mother’s parents were social and professional climbers who benefited from the Scottish heritage that lightened their hair and skin. Their Indian blood, however, explained the fierce eyes, the broad foreheads and faces, the silent endurance and the melancholy that persisted through the generations to me.

My mother’s mother’s side of the family descended from Scottish Highland troops, who came to Atlantic Canada around 1800, and their Micmac Indian wives. The women were native to the region that became Campbellton, New Brunswick, across the Restigouche River from Québec.

Those original Scots settlers married Micmac women, had sons who grew up and married Micmac women, and so on. In the 1890s, some of these men packed up their wives and children and emigrated from Canada to Boston in search of better lives. The full-blooded Micmac women, my great-great grandmothers and aunts, were closeted away, and died before I was born in Boston in 1959.

Soon after learning about my hidden heritage, I found out through research that the Micmacs are a tribe with very little recorded history. The one book I uncovered is a cobbling-together of disparate historical items dating back to the 1500s—journal notes from French and Scots explorers; a few drawings and, later, photographs; Quebecois census pages; transcriptions of brief conversations with Micmac elders.

A few of those disparate pieces of history gave me an immediate sense of connection to my ancestors.

For example, the first French explorers who sailed into an Atlantic Canadian harbor in 1534 were greeted by tribesmen who ran into the water bearing gifts and calling, “Nikmaq! Nikmaq!” which means “My kin-friends! My kin-friends!” The innocence and naiveté of the Micmacs’ open hearts led ultimately to their destruction—a fractured innocence I relate to.

French explorer Chretien Le Clerc, writing around 1680 in Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula, said, “One cannot express the tenderness and affection which the fathers and mothers have for their children. I have seen considerable presents offered to the parents in order that they might give the children to certain Frenchmen who would have taken them to France. But this would have torn their hearts, and millions would not induce them to abandon their children for a moment.” That fierce, tender, all-consuming love runs also in my veins for my sons.

And the eighteenth-century missionary priest Abbé Maillard documented the Micmacs’ affinity for rhyming metered verse: “I take care of observing measure and cadence in the delivery of my words…I affect, above all, to rhyme as they do…If I read this (language) to you myself, the rhyming talent of these people would be obvious.” I was born with a flair for rhyme and meter, a quality that led me into a surprisingly successful career writing verses for commercial products.

Beyond the connections of history, Micmac myths and legends rang true to my own difficult growing-up story.

Micmac legends are dark; nothing is as it seems; no one is as they seem; very few of the tales have happy endings. Hideous, violent beings stalk the innocent ones, and at any moment, a seeming Hero could become a Villain and vice versa, because the universe is unpredictable and unreliable.

Many of the Micmac legends are universal—they would ring true for lots of people. Tales about marriage being a dangerous partnership. Cautionary tales about the mistake of flaunting your Power. Stories about the strong bonds between siblings, and between people and animals. One story about a grief-stricken father who braves the terrors of Ghost World in a desperate attempt to bring his child back from the dead.

I could see that the universality was one reason the Micmac legends had endured.

And that was the beginning of my novel The Hardest Thing in This World. I decided to weave, with universal threads, a story about ghosts, mental illness, and family—threads that many of us share.

I wanted to write a story that whispers to the reader, This is a little bit of what it was like for me, for us. This is how I see it. 

A story that asks Do you want to know what it was like? or Was it this way for you, too?

A story that invites the reader in and says I hope you try to understand, or You belong.

Your stories matter. Your life matters. And when you’re gone, your stories remain to affirm I was here. My life had meaning.

Nicole Eva Fraser is the author of The Hardest Thing in This World, released by Second Wind Publishing in October 2013.

15 Comments

Filed under history

GOALS

4 January 2014 

Goals.  January is the time to start fresh, make new goals and promises to do better, to get more accomplished and to follow through.

Goals are what keep us going, keep us motivated.  We all have goals, dreams and plans.  We dream about them, make lists so we can tick items off and measure pour progress as we make plans to have those dreams become reality.  We think about our goal’s potential, do what we need to and wait for them to manifest.

Creating your goal is the first step in making it happen but that is only the first step of many. When we give our goals a purchase on reality by voicing that goal, or putting it in writing we set something in motion.  Then as we strive for the changes needed to accomplish our goals, unfortunately, we awaken all the little demons that like to trip us up in our struggle to reach our goals and make positive changes in our lives.  All those blocks, fears and even the shame that has stopped our progress in the past can be counted on, one more time rear their ugly heads and do all they can to retard any forward momentum we have gotten going. 

Don’t give up.  Don’t let the negativity, the blocks, fears or shame stop you.  We do not need to have those negative impediments derail us in our pursuit of the goals we have set.  In order to achieve our goals, at the very least, we have to make some changes in our lives. By making these changes we are making room for our goals to manifest, to come into being in tangible and measureable ways. One way to think about these changes can be as simple as cleaning out the excess junk in your attic, or close or even your garage so you can make room for the things you want, the goals you have set.

We need to clean out the junk of the past, the rubbish that clutters our path, trips us as we try to pass, or garbage we hold onto to shame ourselves into failing because we may not feel worthy.  These are spiritual blocks and will take some work to clear, but it can be done, and must be worked on so that our goals have somewhere to take hold, put down roots and flourish.

I know I have a great deal of work to do in order to reach my goals.  I know they can be achieved with hard work, a willingness to let go of the past both in the spiritual wounds as well as the physical stuff I have kept that is no longer necessary.  Every day, I will do something, large or small to reach my goal.  At the beginning of the journey, it may seem like it is so much, but as the days pass, little by little I will erode the blocks in my path, for I am determined to reach my goals!  You can do the same and together the journey will not seem so lonely or arduous.  Happy New Year, and may all your goals be achieved.

S. M. Senden: author of Clara’s Wish and Lethal Boundaries.

 

2 Comments

Filed under writing