Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cutting The Cable

A little off topic tonight, but having gotten tired of watching my TV cable provider creep up the charges even with promo offering that I have to keep renewing (by threatening to quit), I finally got fed up. Time to see if I could live without almost two hundred bucks going out the door a month. Not one to be too impulsive, I decided to step into the idea like sticking a toe into cold water.

Now, skip this if you haven't got wireless internet at home. Gotta have wireless internet.

First is the whole "What about my local channels?" thingy.  Answer? A $16 indoor antenna since I'm within twenty five miles of the broadcast towers. I got all the HD channels perfectly. The modern TV doesn't need a channel receiver - and it will even search and load up all your channels for you. First worry gone.  For those further out than 25 miles there are bigger antennas and even small outside antennas that might do the job.

"But I can't record!"  Okay, it's time to step up and get a Roku USB. Plugs right into the side of your TV and hooks to your wireless internet.  Opens up a whole new world.  Get Hulu (think it's free with commercials) and you've now got all of your local channel series right there - all of them extending back years.  Interestingly enough, the series come across better than with my cable provider.

But what about "Walking Dead" or "Dr. Who"?  That's BBC and AMC and neither are on Roku's service providers. But...get Amazon's streaming service and you can purchase each new episode for a couple bucks when they come out.  You can also get a season pass and it'll still be far less than what you're probably paying on cable.

So what's the downside you ask? Well, you'll lose the convenience of one big channel guide to surf through as far as I can tell. You'll be switching between the USB input and your antenna a lot.  Not sure either's worth a couple hundred buck a month. Also, this stuff isn't for the techno-challenged. If you can't figure your way around a remote or TV setup menu, you might want to pass.

So there you are.  There are also alternatives to the antenna like staying with just basic cable, but you'll still save.

Now I'll get back to writing.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Queries Part Two

Before I start my post I too want to join Elizabeth Fountain in sharing  my sympathy for all of those wounded or killed at the community college in Oregon. As our world gets more and more violent, I, an historian by training and inclination and a strong believer in the cyclical nature of things, achieve a sliver of solace knowing that these difficult times will one day evolve into more peaceful ones. Just wish the waiting wasn't so damn hard. Now onto my post.

Last month I shared with you my plan for snaring an agent and have done exactly as I said I would: I researched and have queried five agents between three and four weeks ago. I've not heard back from any of them and plan to send them email reminders within the time frame they specified. I'll check their websites this week and find that out.

In the meantime, I've been revising a YA romance I wrote over a year ago and despite not noticing any sparks of brilliant writing as I'm revising, I can say that this is a solid YA mystery/romance. I've purchased the Guide to Literary Agents 2016 and have found quite a few agents interested in YA romance so as soon as my two writing critique groups agree that they like my first pages, I plan on querying for this book as well. I figure if one type of story doesn't peak interest in an agent, maybe another one will.

There are some solid sources for finding out about agents and their interests including:

Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog This is a good site and he usually lists one or two agents actively seeking clients. I'm new to this site and don't know how often she lists agents, still the ones she lists here are a good starting place.

Publishers Marketplace I have a membership that costs $25 a  month and can cancel it at any time. I use it to find out who's selling what. Once I get an agent, I'll most likely cancel.

Even though at times I feel that it's all so hopeless, I keep plugging away and hope you are too.

Gabby and Susan - two writers with completely diffferent visions.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Stories that humanize

Out here on the west coast, we are reeling from yet another tragic incidence of mass violence. In our stories, we examine all aspects of the human condition, including the urges and demons that contribute to outbursts of violence.

And we must. Even when tempted to shirk the dark, fiction writers can offer views of our emotions, thoughts, plans, dreams, fears, and hopes that help us all realize the essential truth that holds us together:

We are all human.

I remember studying historical tragedies in high school and college, and reading over and over again that in order to carry out systematic violence, the first step is to dehumanize those at whom the violence is targeted.

Perhaps our most powerful weapon against violence is the stubborn refusal to dehumanize anyone. So, in our stories, let's keep uncovering the humanity in all our characters. (Hey, in sci-fi, even robots and aliens can be humanized.)

Let's tell stories that help us understand one another and ourselves, in all our frailty and glory.

After all, isn't that why our species invented storytelling in the first place?

Elizabeth Fountain writes stories of aliens and angels, and dogs who save the world. Again. You can find out more about her work at her web site, Point No Point.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Glory Bells

Sometimes the best plot devices come to us from myths, legends and lore of old. Many are oral accounts of history, some are the storyteller's explanation of natural and supernatural forces, and some are based on the obsessions of the storyteller. These obsessions often translate into what we now call theme. The best tales, the ones we remember, are written based on an obsession the author feels strongly about.

So now you’ll read a retelling of one of those old tales from days of yore. It’s so old in fact that I’ve had trouble finding an original source, though it was told to me countless times while I was growing us. You’ll find the theme is as old as man. Through greed we can be our own worst enemies. But for now, simply enjoy. And if you find a way to use it in one of your books, then I will be happy.

Brightly colored shields lined the sides of the Viking ship causing it to glitter in the sunlight. Its sail, painted with bold stripes, created bright patches of color against the sea. The Viking sailors were in a happy mood. They were warriors on their way to conquer and plunder. They roared with jubilation when the lookout shouted, “Land ahead!”

As the ship neared the English coast, one of the men cried out, “Listen! I hear the sound of bells. Where does it come from?”

Each man stopped in his rowing. They strained to catch the faint, sweet tones that floated out over the restless waters. “It’s easy to see where the bells are,” said Thorlund the leader. He pointed to a church that stood on the top of a distant hill. “They are in that tower,” he said. “And I want them. They will bring a good price back home.”

The cliffs rose high and rocky. On the top, stood the beautiful, graceful church. The Vikings beached their ship and dashed madly up the cliff and at last reached the bell tower. There was no one to stop them.

The bells were not easy to take, however. The men had to hammer, and tug, and pull before they could loosen the bells from their posts. At last the plunder was stowed away on the ship. The Vikings boasted to each other of their deed.

“It would be a great pity to save the bells just for ringing,” said one. “We could melt them down and make them into spears and swords for the metal is sound.”

So they talked on and on about possibilities. None noticed the sun was slowly setting and the sky was growing dark. The ship was some distant from the shore when a sudden mighty wind swooped down upon the small craft and the colorful sail was torn from the mast. Giant waves now towered above the ship. The wind screamed and howled about the Vikings like a pact of wounded wolves.

The storm had come so swiftly that the warriors were confused and frightened.

“What shall we do?” one cried.

“We are lost!” screamed another.

“Back to shore!” shouted Thorlund. “Put back to shore at once!”

“But where is the shore?” the helmsman asked. “It’s so dark I can’t see.”

“The bells! The church bells could have guided us!” another cried. “But they are gone from the tower and we ourselves took them.”

The fury of the storm increased. Lightening flashed. Thunder rolled. Rain came down in torrents. There was a dreadful crash. Then the wild wind whipped the waves into a giant whirlpool. The once-proud ship was sucked into the very center of the whirling waters.

The storm passed quickly. The sea grew calm and the sun gently brushed away the dark clouds. Not once trace of the ship or its crew could be found.

Now people who know this legend say that the bells can still be heard today. They say that every evening at sunset the beautiful sound of bells can be heard over the water. And that is the story of the Glory Bells of Whitby.

Assignment (You didn't think I'd let you off too easy, did you?):
Identify five things that make you really angry and that you would like to see changed. Things that you are or could become obsessive about. Review or read your last book or current work in progress. Does the theme stem from one of your top five issues? Sometimes obsessions are good things. They make you/your writing unforgettable.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

A short essay on our origins, or a homily to early homonyms

This week I am posting a trusted author's blog: Bob Hart.

By Bob Hart
A Frivolette in 2600 words. A short essay on our origins, or a homily to early homonyms.
 To a new author there is nothing quite as thrilling, or more daunting, than to present work to other writers for their opinion, which they naturally consider educated and meaningful. Not that every writer necessarily wants to, but it is a tradition that passes for a write-of-passage (sic) for books and stories. The reasons a writer exposes any work to public review are legion; attention and approval, respect, putting others in their place, strutting their stuff, or in New Age language, self-actualization. The reasons that reviewers review these proffered works are legion, their own attention and approval, garnering respect, instilling fear, putting others in their place, strutting their stuff, or in New Age language, their own self-actualization.
You arm yourself with twenty copies, or disperse them via cyberspace, hoping more than five other writers show up, down half a bottle of Maalox, and set forth. You expect consideration, reasoned comment, an apologetic exposure of possible weaknesses, and suggestions that might possibly help you enhance your work, and certainly praise for a masterpiece that strikes at the emotional heart of the reading public. What you hear might depend on a spousal argument before breakfast, dyspepsia, or a traffic ticket on the way to the meeting. But putting human frailties aside, how on earth did this practice of artistic self-flagellation come about?
As this is a politically incorrect history of the writer’s evolution, to paraphrase Huizinga, history is a way a group wishes its actions to be remembered, so I am getting my version in first. Forget what the intelligentsia say on their own behalf about how they became such erudite spokesmen for us all—this is the real skinny.
Question: What is a story?
Answer: A tale of derring-do you want to share with others. We freeze a period of time, an experience, imaginary or factual, which has emotional value and resonates with our listeners or readers. A story is the oldest form of human communication; one that entertains, educates, or scares someone’s pants off.
Since the first group of our ancestors gathered around a fire, we have shared tales. At that early stage of human development, our ancestors had limited subjects to talk or fantasize about. They focused on daily life, hunting or food gathering, lack of or an overabundance of sex, and fighting off dangers or rivals. These provided stories to while away an otherwise boring evening, and were the foundation of the genres of adventure, horror, romance, crime and mystery. Maybe a bit of romance or erotica if they seized partners from another camp-fire group?
Narcissistic storytellers expanded the genres by talking about themselves and their deeds in autobiography and memoir, and the more charitable among them told a biography or two. Probably a little early for historical. Since we were begotten by the camp-fire folk repeatedly begetting, children also figured in the mix. However,children and young adult stories were a small group as even then they were expected to be seen but not heard.
Our ancestors were not dumb—they survived, didn’t they?—but their knowledge was limited. Some of this exists in story-tellers today, so we know it’s genetic. However all those spooky things outside the rim of light, and the lack of understanding of natural phenomena led to the growth of the fantasy and paranormal, genres, which in turn begat myths, fables, fairytales, and legends.
One can’t tell stories, particularly about others, without slipping in a funny tale or two, so the late night camp-fire comics gave rise to humor. Poking fun started here, adding to the growth of erotica. The spiritual genres had to wait for the emergence of shamans, priests, ministers, and clerics. Science fiction was an even later development for obvious reasons.
Camp-fire tales were the creative Big Bang of the literary world, from which would develop audiences, platforms, Robert’s Rules to keep groups in order, and The Chicago Manual of Style.
Camp-fires begat storytellers and listeners, and attracted wolves. Storytellers begat writers and readers. Wolves begat dogs. Writers begat genres. Readers begat reviewers, and dogs begat breeds. Begorra!
Each group evolved its Ying and Yang, but the camp-fire environment shaped their behavior. The first camp-fires developed into two groups, those who told stories, and those who listened, which in turn became writers and readers.
How did they survive? A few lucky storytellers earned a bone or two, a few berries, or a better seat near the fire. Others had a harder job to develop a platform, exploit the limited social media of the day—shouting, and drum beating—widen their audience and increase their market share, or get rid of the competition. At times, we think our meetings are tough. Ha. Their’s was a really brutal time.
The great historical conundrum is how storytellers evolved into writers.
First they had to learn how to write, the main incentive for which was to settle arguments over copyright and plagiarism between the ‘got it mades’ and the ‘wannabe’ storyists, and back their argument with a transcript. When it was found that solving these disagreements with rock and club often lost the point of the story, a group leader put her fist down with a firm hand and told them that submissions would only be accepted in one of two formats, scratched in clay, suffix SIC, or written in stone, WIS.
Writers held several advantages. Their stories could be read by the read/write gurus of other camp-fire groups. They didn’t have to be present when their works were read. They reached a wider audience, and there was a sense of permanence.
As clay and stone tablets were difficult to carry, it birthed flash fiction and short stories with all the associated rules against wasted words and waffling, so that hard won word forms, the adjectives and adverbs, found they were displaced by strong nouns and action verbs. This led to arguments over style, and the first self-help writing courses.
Writers had to wait for kings and emperors to build stone walls for their own self-edification to find something longer to write on, and historical scribes to develop papyrus to take their master’s dictation about their wondrous deeds, before writers could develop an alphabet (or several), scribbles, graffiti, cursive writing, and graphic arts. At that time, there were no formal rules of grammar so sentences and paragraphs could be of any length!
Artists insisted writers wouldn’t remember what their little squiggles meant, and they coveted the wall space, so they insisted on adding their two cents worth with pictographs. See how effective they were? Pop along to Egypt and check out a temple. Easy reading?
As stone tablets, long walls and priestly papyrus were expensive media, and scarce, errors were severely punished with rejections. from Latin reiectus, past participle of reiectare “throw away, cast away, vomit”—or if you want a longer definition, “to refuse to acknowledge or submit to, to refuse to take or accept, to refuse to grant, consider, or accede to, to throw out especially as useless or unsatisfactory.” Whatever—they didn’t get published. Now the anomaly is that the Neolithic writers existed before Latin, but their words for rejection were lost when the corner was knocked off the Rosetta stone. Anyway, some of us are still stuck with rejection.
Camp-fire evening get-togethers had a profound effect on wildlife, what with the flames and smoke, to say nothing of the noisy babble, and odd bits of meat and bones being thrown around. Story-telling as a form of communication was so powerful however, wolves crept up to listen, became scared of the dark, wouldn’t leave and became dogs. This persists to this day. Tell a story even on a Saturday morning, or even better, publish one. Listen to those strange sounds from your reader-listeners; “wow, yuck, great, rubbish!” It’s the wolves creeping closer.
Dogs are not politically correct although their critic descendants try to be. They do not drop parts of their language that offend others such as the barkwhine, and growl. These persist even in the presence of humans and cats. They don’t know right from left unless they are trained to herd sheep so they tolerate all of us—well, most—including some they might consider ovine. We know they understand us, and they are brutally honest. Most of us don’t realize that they can mimic emotion and expression without the slightest idea of what they mean, just that they appreciate the results they get. Guilt and shame for example; dogs don’t feel them but they sure make humans think they do. We can trace our behaviors, canine and humine, back to the camp-fires. Similarities are not surprising as we have been associating together for longer than we have made wine, which later became a staple at literary functions.
Writing is a mixed blessing. It is more permanent than the ephemeral spoken story, but recording one’s brilliance on a stone wall or a sheet of purloined papyrus is akin to using an unsafe server. They can be scribbled on, or painted over, and occasionally, deliberately destroyed. And writers beget critiques, critics, reviewers, and party-poopers. Remember, those that can, do; those that can’t, should seek another camp-fire.
Writers wanted to write better stories. Readers wanted them to write better stories. Readers wanted more entertaining writing. Writers wanted more intelligent and understanding readers. Writers had to learn to leave out the bits that readers didn’t read—this saved stone slabs, walls, and papyrus—and readers had to read like writers and understand why they didn’t leave bits out. So writers started reading other writers in an incestuous relationship that was first fanned by the flames of a camp-fire. They shared their aspirations by mutual critique. This evolved into a symbiotic love/hate relationship to bridge the chasm between otherwise well behaved people.
Thus were writing groups born.
It’s hard to believe, and harder to accept, that writers and critiquers evolved from the same stock, and we can trace our behaviors back to the same roots. That relationship includes dogs, so it is not surprising that we all share certain characteristics. This is shown by the number of dog word associations, idioms, proverbs, and sayings. At least 100, to over 500 depending how strictly you interpret the associations.
Writers, readers, critiquers, and dogs behave and express themselves as determined by their ability, acumen and jealousy—that’s also a gene thing, and the way they were nurtured after they left the safety of the camp-fire. Look around you. Check out the behavior of the writers and readers.
I identify those around me in terms of canine behavior. Well, we all have the traits we evolved with, and these traits have modern human counterparts. Since writers groups gather to tell each other stories and critique each other, let the ravishing begin!
I shall not bother explaining our role as writers. We know who we are, our skill with words, and our ability to thrill people with our farfetched lies, otherwise known as fiction. Writers like to believe their style and voice are unique. Accomplished writers know, and woe betide a reviewer who disagrees. They can be unfriended. While this is not the painful experience it once was around the camp-fire, it is no less a form of ostracism—one of those long erudite literary words after the Greeks and Romans developed philosophy.
I am concerned with our behavior on the flip side of the coin, critique or review. The way our works are received depends on genre, attitude, and as mentioned before, might be influenced by spousal argument, dyspepsia, or a traffic ticket on the way to the meeting. But basically it comes down to the persistent behavioral canine traits that are buried in all of us related to breed characteristics, attitude, and manner.
Do critiquers and reviewers act like Terriers who never stop worrying a point, or like happy Boxers, hinged in the middle so their remarks go both ways, all slobber and twist, to the laid back approach of a Labrador, the eerie quiet of a Basenji, the vocal yappity-yap-yap of a Chihuahua who likes the sound of its own critical voice, or the Beagle who will sniff out anything they can get their teeth in—I’m sometimes surprised that punctuation, spelling, and formatting seem so tasty when the problem at hand is the story and has it been told the best way possible. Some of your fellows, like Rottweilers, eat stories alive!
And they do it in different ways. Some grab big hunks of your story, some worry over small bones, and some get a meaty phrase stuck in their craw. Some content themselves with scratching around the edges, as if looking for fleas and other ways to irritate. Some act as if they were stalking around in the dark.
All the breeds can at times behave in particular ways.
Like the young of any breed, some will be fawning; pups trying to be dogs. “It’s so wonderful, I particularly like…” This shows their inexperience or they are trying for a date. Be tolerant. We all started there, for as Dr. Seuss said, “Adults are just outdated children.”
Some act superior like Afghans, canine variety, of this world. Nothing quite meets their approval. Gerunds should be gerundive; past participles, the past tense of a verb; adverbs and adjectives are for the weak of expression. If all else fails, they will argue over the size of the periods.
Some can be downright aggressive, pretending to be the Pitbulls of the group. They growl and stalk stiff-legged around your manuscript, but usually they are kitty cats in disguise until they see a small furry writer. Then the genes take over.
The standoffish are the Borzois of the group. They say very little because they consider themselves too brilliant to comment as an excuse for not understanding a word you have written, try to appear sophisticated, decline to get involved, but act as a threat by never letting you forget they are there. They occasionally growl in their private darkness as they hide from the light.
The opinionated, like the Border collie, always direct you in the direction they want. “I’ve re-written paragraph three to show what you should have meant.”
The apologetic or scared often carry a history of spending time in a sheltered writing group. They allow their insecurity to peer between the comments of others.
There are fear biters in all breeds. This is no less the case with critiquers. The fearful attack first in case someone attacks their work.
And we must not forget the hesitant. They run forward with their comments, hesitate, and leap back, “I am not sure. I think. Perhaps. Oh, it’s just me.”
And beware the unrecognizable, those in disguise. Some are actually cats. Quite a different animal. Unlike dogs, which are pack hunters, cats are ambush hunters. They purr over your work and swat you when you relax and least expect it.
That is the brief unofficial and unauthorized history of the writer/critique phenomenon, and the remarkable similarity in our critiquing behavior to the canines, which evolved alongside us from wolves to dogs
So when you next decide, in a very long sentence, that there is nothing quite as thrilling, or more daunting, than to present work to other writers for their opinion, or expose your work to public review, arm yourself with twenty copies, or disperse them via cyberspace, down half a bottle of Maalox and set forth, expecting consideration, reasoned comment, an apologetic exposure of possible weaknesses, and suggestions that might possibly help you enhance your work, you can now interpret critiques, theirs and your own, understanding our origins and the evolution of the characteristics when we whine, bark, snap, growl, or purr at each other.
Possibly the end.
Bob Hart is the spouse of Veronica H. Hart, who was meant to do today's post, but has been temporarily sidetracked and unable to put together a post. Dr. Hart is a reliable and respectable author of several books of his own and a great supporter of his wife, even learning to cook, though he claims it is in self-defense or he'd never get a meal.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

It’s Almost Like Being in Love

Now that my debut fantasy, TRAITOR KNIGHT, has been unleashed upon an unsuspecting world (of course if the world had been paying the least bit of attention it would have suspected) I find my situation very much akin to being in a new romantic relationship.

Like the fellow who has just fallen in love, I’m starry-eyed and singing, walking on clouds, riding unicorns up rainbows, and generally feeling about as happy as an entire colony of clams

At the same time, like our love-struck hero, I’m nervous, uncertain, and jumpy. I’m questioning every reaction, second-guessing every action, and never sure if I’m on the really right track. Did I come on too strong? Not strong enough? Should I have sent flowers? What did that oblique comment about her sister’s boyfriend who drives a Mercedes mean? How long before I can call her again? Does she like me? 

Those are the things the newly-smitten swain obsesses over as he contemplates the object of his adoration. Similarly, the newly-published author, compulsively refreshing the Amazon Best-Seller rankings, obsesses over things like: Am I annoying people by mentioning my book too often (especially on social media)? Am I not mentioning it enough? Can I ask that famous author for a blurb? Is my new book trailer cool enough? Why didn’t that Rafflecopter giveaway generate more interest? How can I get more reviews without begging and whining? And, most importantly, how are my sales?

It’s a balancing act, to be sure. And I’m not sure which is more difficult—being in love, or being in publication. Now that I’ve experienced both, I’m still deciding. But no matter what, the whole riding-unicorns-up-rainbows thing is pretty cool. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go read up on the care and feeding of unicorns.While checking that Amazon ranking just one more time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What Do Readers Want to Read?

Have you ever been reading a story, and you put it down because it’s terrible? It just doesn’t offer anything for you as the reader to bite into. It got me to thinking: what do we want from fiction? Here’s a few ideas.

(1) Escape
Some people want fiction to allow them to escape from the reality they know. A story that takes them clear away from their lives.
(2) Change
Some readers desire fiction to inspire change. These works create waves in the real world and things can be changed for the better because of these works.
(3) Laughs
Belly laughs are desired by some readers. They want a sublime humor, the kind that is critical of humanity—critical, but hopefully kind because it is darn hard to be a human these days.
(4) Challenge
Some want the tales to be like puzzles they have to solve. These works don’t worry about explaining themselves. They present reality in an amazingly complicated way, on their own terms.
(6) Happy Ever After
Perhaps, because of a difficult life, a reader seeks a HEA ending.

(7) Surprise
Some readers want to be shown aspects of the human condition they’ve never seen before. It may be a surprising turn of phrase, an image or a scintillating piece of dialogue—if the surprise element is present, this prose is gratifying.
(8) Suspense
There are those who love suspense, crave excitement. Will the villain harm the hero? Will the hero get away? Will humanity as we know it survive?
(9) Real Characters

They want characters so real, so well-drawn that they feel like they know them intimately and care about them completely.
(10) Meditative quality
Some people need their fiction to be like a drug, something they can get lost in.
*Before you write, it’s important to know some of the things readers want from their fiction, so that you can deliver the goods in your stories. Before you write, make a list of some of the things you like fiction to give you. What makes a great story great? For, ultimately, you are giving a gift with your fiction to your readership.

What do you want to give?

January Bain/Angelina J. Windsor
Seventh Son

Monday, September 21, 2015


Recently, an email arrived announcing that one of my publishers, Secret Cravings Publishing, was closing. Every author dreads losing a publisher, their books, covers, and the relationship they’ve developed with their publisher, editors, and other authors. Their business model was great, their contract fair, and they paid on time. The publisher/owner was a pleasure to work with and I wish her, the editors, and the other authors only the best.

As an aside, it’s difficult for publishers to be successful when readers download pirated books for free and some authors believe that giving away books is a great marketing tool (I disagree – over 1000+ books are available for free on various sites.). Remember the old saying about not buying a cow when the milk is free? Also, self-publishing has become so easy that almost anyone can release books – regardless of their merit.

As a romance author who writes in several genre, I was contracted with several publishers because I wanted to keep my romance books separated by sub-genre. Secret Cravings published my contemporary hot military books and Sweet Cravings published a sweet Christmas story (with a touch of spice) last year.

So what happens to your books when a publisher closes? That depends. The books should be removed from the sales sites and authors should receive a reversion of rights letter. Some contracts provided for an automatic reversion of rights if the publisher closes. For those who have never experienced a publisher’s demise, it can be very messy – personally and legally. Some publishers just walk away, leaving the authors to fend for themselves. One even left the country, taking the assets that remain. Fortunately, the SCP publisher, despite her obvious personal devastation, committed to taking the books down and returning the rights as quickly as possible. She worked tirelessly and completed her work within two weeks. 
An author has several decisions to make. (1) Submit to another publisher. Some publishers will accept submissions of previously published books. The publisher might require a reversion of  rights letter for books to be considered for publication. Expect to write a cover letter, provide a synopsis which summarizes the entire story (including the ending), and a copy of the book in whatever format they required. (2) Self Publish. Depending on the number of books involved, authors might decide to self-publish. The  book is already edited. The author, however, usually does not own the cover of the book. The author can buy the cover from the artist, make her own cover, buy a readymade-cover, or commission a cover from an artist. Some companies/individuals will contract to publish the books to the various sites for a flat fee or a percentage of the profits.

My personal decision is to submit my stories to one of my other publishers, hoping they will pick up the stories. In the meantime, I’m taking the opportunity to edit/add to my stories before sending them off. More next month.


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Does Your Child or Grandchild Read Enough?

Remember the days when if you were board, you picked up a book because otherwise your mom would find extra chores for you to do? Or was that just my mom? Do you remember reading just for fun? Have our busy life styles and dependence on electronic media inhibited our children and grandchildren, pushing them further from the basics such as reading? Sure we can read on our phone, computers and tons of other gadgets, but is that what the kids are using them for, reading?

The frightening truth:
2/3 of children that don't read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in Jail or on Welfare.                            19% of US high school graduates can't read.
70% of prison inmates are illiterate.

Where to start:
A good goal for beginning readers is to read or be read to for 15-20 minutes a day and school age children should have 30 minutes which can be a combination of reading aloud and being read to.

Can notice shapes, colors and babble about what is on the cloth, vinyl or cardboard pages. You may notice they will try to imitate your rhythm or the rhymes of language.

Short stories that match the illustrations are great. This age loves books that repeat words or has sounds spelled out such as animal sounds. Your toddle can't sit still? You can still read aloud as they play on the floor. Hearing the language is the first step.

Three and Four-year-olds:
Stories about the real world, animals, vehicles and situations they can relate to are a big hit with this age group. Rereading favorites until a child can retell the story as they turn the pages is the early stages of becoming an independent reader.

After Five:
Although reading some books by themselves, continue to read to the child and have them read to you. It is a great time for bonding, open-ended questions and discussions. I remember, even in fifth grade, my favorite part of the school day was when our teacher read to us out of a chapter book, everyday.

Start your own library at home from garage or library sale books. Attain a library card for your child and let them choose books. Don't forget, if a child doesn't know what a word means, you can look it up and teach them how to use a dictionary! Read and make recipes together. Read signs aloud in the car and at the store. One character in my children's chapter book, The Curse of King Ramesses II has to tell her father something new she learned everyday. If she can't think of anything from school, she researches a fact, memorizes it and shares it with her father at the dinner table.

Reading carries through to all aspects of our lives. From the basics of applying for a job to reading instructions for putting something together, or to the sheer enjoyment of getting lost between the pages of an adventure. I was one of the kids with a book and a flashlight under the covers when I went to bed.

I'm author Victoria Roder and I write something for everyone. Have children or grandchildren? My picture books include, What If A Zebra Had Triangles and An Important Job to Do: A Noah's Are Tale. Are the kids reading chapter books? Sled Dog Tales and The Curse of King Ramesses II are adventure filled and fun. I also created a puzzle book for teens and adults and have a coloring book coming soon. If you like murder mystery check out Bolt Action. Ghost Stories? You'll love Haunting of Ingersull Penitentiary. Please check out my website Thanks, Victoria Roder

Friday, September 18, 2015


Z:  We need to boil this paragraph down to pistachio size.  It is too wordy.  (He points to the computer screen)
A: You have pistachios?  Where are they?  Share.  
Z:  It was just a turn-of-a-phrase.
A: Ok!  (note to self... buy nuts)  Every word is needed.  (Her chin rose defiantly) But we can change periods to comas, adjust caps and it could work.
Z:  It would be a run on sentence, a paragraph long. 
A: I like it. 
Z:  You didn't stick to the outline.
A:  Soooooo.
Z:  Duh!  You know, I'm a plotter's plotter.  I pre-plot the plot, and outline that first, but only after I pre-plot the outline.  This is not intended to be dismissive but completely honest.  Because we work together, we have wonderful sessions where we outline.  We texture locations and pre-define characters.  It is rare that on the fly do we ever vamp in a new direction.  That would be unfair considering we share the geneses and development of every project.  Oops, you just saw the engineer in me, a vision becomes reality within a certain set of guidelines.
A:  Live long and prosper Mr. Spock!  Like I haven't seen that side of you constantly.  I also see the pyloric sphincter in you.  Which means I don't have to do any of that anal stuff.  Besides, it is only a paragraph. 
Z:  You are the resident PITA and question everything and like to change.  We need to keep structure.  
 A:  However, when we are in the midst of creating and want to go in different directions, it makes interesting banter.  
Z:  Banter or cursing?
A:  Banter.  If I cursed you... I'd be a witch... and I am not.
Z:  So, cuss?
A:  I'm a cuss free zone.  (She pauses and smiles... evilly)  So, ok, I give.  I will follow the plot... plot... plot...but not before I run off down the rabbit hole out the squirrel’s niche round the borrow, and then you  grab me by the seat of my pants (metaphorically) and sets me down ... and then I will follow the  plot... plot... plot...  which can bore the bejebeebees out of me, so I jog off to thinking about Green Acres and Ham Hocks... but you'll just pull on me breeches and I will again follow the plot... plot... plot... because I like being the panster.  Pansters are needed.  Pansters unite!
Z:  You're impossible.
A:  (Eyes widened as she spots a bag of pistachios peeking out of the bookcase)  You lied! 
Z:  (Looks sheepish)  I was going to surprise you after lunch.
A:  Hand it over wise guy.  And just for that the paragraph stays!
Z:  It ain't easy being me.
A:  (Munches) Will these turn me green?

We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at (Write - Blog Dawn - in subject line) and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane - -