Weekly Roundup – Surviving the Polar Vortex and Mediocre Movies

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Well, that was fun.

Much of the U.S. was slammed by the polar vortex last week, and I can’t say I’m sorry to see it gone! I suspect this “winter on steroids” is going to be our new normal, if ANY weather patterns can still be regarded as such. Personally, I missed two full days of work and was almost clobbered, twice, by other cars. Even at home I was bundled up trying to stay warm while the gas company asked everyone to turn their thermostats down. Still, I was most grateful to get through it with my health and automobile intact!

This week, we are supposed to get three days of ice, but without the bone-chilling temps and wind. I don’t mind winter, I simply hate having to drive in it. I suppose it’s the price I pay for living in such a beautiful part of the country, enjoying all four seasons. Fortunately, there is little threat of fires, floods, mudslides, earthquakes, hurricanes, or extreme heat waves – yet.

Enough about the weather! A few weeks back I went to see Mary Poppins Returns, and wanted to share my thoughts about the film. It was fun to return to her world, and the sets, costumes, and acting were all top-notch. Even so, Lin Manuel Miranda smiled too much and seemed to have nothing to do except show up whenever the script called for another song and dance. Emily Blunt was a wonderful Mary Poppins, though she was a bit too grouchy for my taste and over-played the character’s vanity.

My biggest disappointment was in the totally forgettable songs and musical numbers, some of which should have been cut altogether. There wasn’t a single tune such “Spoon Full of Sugar” to keep me humming after the film was over, or even immediately after the scene was finished! Overall, it was a pleasant film and not a bad sequel considering how long it’s been since the original.

As a writer with a vivid imagination, I still want to know what Mary really is: witch, paranormal being, umbrella goddess?? Where did she come from? Why doesn’t she age? Who else is getting her attention? Is she single? Where does she live when not floating through the sky? Most important of all – why does she wear those ugly shoes?

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My beta reader feedback for Traitor’s Moon is still trickling in, so I’m really not much closer to finishing the book. Rats! I really wanted to release it by next weekend, but it doesn’t seem realistic now. A problem with the concluding chapter and Epilogue was pointed out, and I am busy adding and deleting material to strengthen the ending and create a better bridge to book three. The work needs to be done, and I’m thankful a beta reader pointed it out, but it seems every time I turn around there is one more thing I need to tweak. I’m at the point where I simply want to be FINISHED with this book, get it out there, and move on!

By the way, last week’s bad weather and time off work allowed me to get my taxes done. I eagerly await my refund…

PS – Happy Birthday Sue!

Reader Roundup 6-13-18

Reader Roundup is a weekly update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Seems as though everyone and their mother is trying to sell me their book on how to be a successful author. Much of the material I’ve seen is repetitive, common sense stuff with little value. Allow me to share some helpful gems which are worth repeating – and I won’t even charge you for it!

  1. SLEEP. A consistent sleep schedule with 7-8 hours per night is essential to supply your mind and body with the energy and creativity you need. Shortcuts lead to lethargy, sluggish thinking, and a lack of productivity. No more excuses – DO IT!
  2. STOP. Stop writing before you are finished. What?? The best way to jump-start your writing the next day (and avoid writer’s block) is to stop before you complete the section/chapter you are working on. I find it very helpful to leave myself brief notes which include the things I still want to say, giving me grease for the wheels when I come back to it later.
  3. FORGET. Forget about the guilt if you can’t write something every single day! I work full time and often have days of zero writing. There are enough pressures on my time and psyche, so laying a guilt trip on myself is destructive and pointless. Yes, a serious author must remained committed to the task, but there’s no need to beat yourself up in the process.
  4. COLLECT. I’ve mentioned this before, but always be prepared to record ideas when they make themselves known. Just because you are on chapter one doesn’t mean you should ignore a great idea for chapter six or even the end of the book – or subsequent books if you’re doing a series. Write it down, send yourself an email, record it on your phone – whatever works for you. The point is not to let good ideas get away simply because they occur to you at an odd time. Once forgotten, they may remain so!
  5. EDIT. Go over your manuscript with a fine tooth comb, and then hand it off to a team of beta readers. Make corrections and then re-read the thing from start to finish to see what else you and the others have missed. Repeat as often as necessary to produce the cleanest possible product. If you cut corners here, you are shooting yourself in the foot. Readers will forgive occasional mistakes but they will not give your book(s) a second chance if it is riddled with errors.
  6. COVER. You must have an attractive cover if you expect people to seriously consider looking at your book. Even if your writing is top-notch and the manuscript has been carefully edited to within an inch of its life, you have one chance to grab their attention. Spending the time and money to do it right will pay for itself many times over. Remember this – many potential readers will initially see your book cover in a thumbnail size, so make certain it’s clear and eye-catching.
  7. BLURB. Writing a book description, or jacket blurb, is one of the hardest things an author must do. It has to be brief, yet catch and hold the attention of a potential reader within seconds. It ain’t easy! You are competing with hundreds of other books, and readers are looking at the cover, blurb and price to determine if they want to purchase. If you lose them right out of the gate, all your hard work on the manuscript will be for nothing. Personally, I use my beta readers to help me determine if the blurb is doing its job. If not, I write as many as necessary until they give me a thumb’s up.

There are probably a zillion other things I could mention, assuming I’m even aware of them myself, but this is a good start. The next step is marketing, which is a minefield each author must learn to navigate for themselves without losing limbs, and I’m not going to pretend I have it figured out. For now, focus on writing a great story and preparing it for publication, since that in itself is a huge milestone and worth celebrating!

Do you have tips and tricks to share? Comments/questions? Just want to say hello? I would love to hear from you! Click HERE.

***Update on my current manuscript, Traitor’s Moon. I finished chapter one today and am ready to move on to chapter two! This may not seem like such a big deal, but it’s an indication of real progress. I’m eager to write about new characters as well as old friends from book one who have an integral part in the story.