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Sunday, September 17, 2017

OUTWITTING PLAN B, by Mollie Hunt


                                                                                                
I recently heard an interesting bit of wisdom from an unexpected source. The source was actress Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica, Longmire) in an interview at a comic-con, The wisdom was:

            When you are working toward a purpose, don’t have a Plan B.



This really struck a chord with me, the idea that we often defeat our own purposes by giving ourselves an easy way out.

Pursuing any goal is bound to be fraught with roadblocks, but if we see these as reason to quit or even delay, we lose our momentum and may never make it to where we want to be.

     The falling bird must fly.
     The feral cat must hunt.
     “Do or do not; there is no try.”  — Yoda



In other words,  if you really want something, the best route to take is straight ahead, through all the difficulties and disappointments, as if your life depends on it. Okay, I can do that.

In a way, I feel like that’s what I did when I quit my job to concentrate on writing. There was no plan B, and for several months, no income either. Thankfully I have a supportive husband who covers little details such as the mortgage and food, but this wasn’t about money anyway. If I wanted a comfortable income, I could have stayed in that life-sucking job. I had already written several books working around the full time hours. I had given readings and attended events, skipping work when necessary. But it wasn’t enough. It was a compromise, with dullness weighing heavily against the flight of the soul.

I have never regretted my decision, and now all my days are centered around my writing. I have picked up a few part-time jobs I enjoy such as cat sitting. I have stopped wanting to buy things I don’t need (and thinking I need things I don’t). Though I have a long way to go to support myself by my books, that doesn’t even come into play. After sixty-some years of life, I finally feel like a whole happy flawed alive person.

My Plan A is to write like hell, pursue every opportunity that comes, and drop the rest in God’s lap. It’s working for me; will it work for you?


Katee Sackhoff

  
PS: Katee is from Portland. I’m so proud!



About Mollie Hunt: 

Mollie is the author of the Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery series, featuring Lynley Cannon, a sixty-something cat shelter volunteer who finds more trouble than a cat in catnip. Mollie is a member of the Oregon Writers’ Colony, Sisters in Crime, and the Cat Writers’ Association. This year she won a CWA Muse Medallion for her 3-part blogpost series, “Life Stages”. Like Lynley, Mollie is a grateful shelter volunteer. 

You can find Mollie on her Website: http://www.lecatts.wordpress.com/, her Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/molliehunt, and her Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/MollieHuntCatWriter/. Sign up for her Extremely Informal Newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/c0fOTn.




Friday, September 15, 2017

Commas & FANBOYS by Zina Abbott



I have discovered one of the difficulties of becoming a professional writer later in life is someone, somehow, has changed English grammar.


In eighth grade back in the dinosaur days, I aced English grammar. I was still of an age where I was comfortable with “rules.” Like math, where two plus two always added up to equal four, if there was a hard and fast grammar rule, I ingrained it in my brain. Through the years I’ve fallen back on those rules to get me through my school term papers, my creative writing efforts (which were few and far between while I raised my six children), to correct my children’s term papers, my business correspondence on my jobs, and my reports and grievance files as a union steward.
Then I started writing fiction—novelettes to full-length books—only to discover someone along the way has changed the rules, especially in regards to the use of commas. I first noticed it when a ran across either a blog post or Facebook discussion about it no longer being necessary to use a comma before ending a sentence with the words “too” or “also.” Example: “I want to go to the store, too.” is now written as “I want to go to the store too.”

WHAT?!? That comma in the sentence is a rule. That has stuck with me from dinosaur days until now. However, after doing a little research, I discovered that current style manuals have declared that little ol’ comma is no longer necessary.

My most recent line editor just shattered for me another rule. It involves FANBOYS. What are FANBOYS? That almost sounds a little risqué. No such luck. It is an acronym for:


For
And
Nor
But
Or
Yet
So

I don’t recall any rules about FANBOYS from my eighth grade grammar class up through college. I was kindly told by my latest copy editor friend there is a reason. In the “old days” coordinating conjunctions which joined independent clauses always had a comma before them. Example: “I went to the store, and he insisted he go with me.” Now those commas before the “and” (or any of the FANBOYS conjunctions I might have used in its place) is no longer necessary unless the author wants to place them there for effect, or to create a pause for emphasis, or as part of a character’s speaking style.

WHAT?!? We can be creative? There are rules, but we don’t always have to stick to them? My thirteen year-old grammar ace self would not have found that acceptable. Neither would have my eighth grade English teacher.

And, it used to be a big no-no to start a sentence with any of the FANBOYS. Nor, did you use a comma after a FANBOYS at the start of a sentence because starting a sentence with a FANBOYS just was not done. But, it may be done now for effect. Yet, if the author wants to use a comma for effect, he or she may. Or not. For "someone" have changed the rules. So, someone like me who loves to start sentences with FANBOYS conjunctions finds that particular change in the rules to be a good thing. 

But, any writer who wants to be published needs to find out what set of grammar rules their editor or publisher prefers and write in a style acceptable to that publishing house.

In other words, find out what style manual your publisher uses and how hard and fast said publisher sticks to it.

I actually have a style manual in my possession I purchased decades ago. It is the one published by Merriam-Webster. Unfortunately, I have never hear of anyone declare they use that style manual. Several publishers like The Chicago Manual of Style. The rules in the various style manuals will be similar, but not always the same, because someone, somewhere, somehow has changed some of the grammar rules in the last half century.

Or, if you are really lucky, your editor may rely on what she learned in her eighth grade grammar class back in the dinosaur days.

Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. Her novel, Family Secrets, was published by Fire Star Press. Her novelette, A Christmas Promise, along with the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series were published by Prairie Rose Publications.

Please visit and follow the Zina Abbott’s Amazon Author Page by clicking HERE.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

New Release -- TEXAS JEOPARDY by James J. Griffin

Texas Ranger Jim Blawcyzk lands in hot water when he kills a drug dealer in a shoot-out between the Rangers and a gang of modern day outlaws deep in the heart of Texas. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg as he uncovers the criminal connection between these same drug dealers and a slew of murders taking place across several Texas counties. 

When the hit men come after him and his family, they get more than they ever bargained for—the fight is on, and Jim Blawcyzk is one Ranger who is determined to get his man, or die trying. 

As a deadly shooter chases his wife, mother, and baby son through city streets, Jim takes the battle to him in the most personal way he can. A Texas Ranger to the bone, Jim Blawcyzk vows to protect and defend his family, friends, and beloved home at any cost, in this deadly TEXAS JEOPARDY…

EXCERPT

     Jim leapt from his truck, shotgun in hand.
     “Texas Rangers!” he shouted. “Nobody move. Down on the floor, now!”
     He fired one round from his Remington into a shelf of empty glass bottles for emphasis. One man toward the back started for his pistol, but a bullet between his feet from Jerry’s pistol quickly discouraged him. He dropped to his belly, and put his hands behind his head.
     “Next one who tries somethin’ like that will wind up dead,” Jim warned. “Get down on your bellies, hands behind your necks, and stay there. Don’t even wiggle.”


      

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

New Release -- PROTECTING HER HEART by Diana Tobin

After years on the run from her past, Rose Kelley is happily settled in Webster, Maine. Content to stay in the background for safety’s sake, she has learned to hide any hint of being a young, vibrant woman.  But when she finds a dead animal on her porch, she fears her abusive stepfather has found her, despite her precautions.   Though Rose has learned not to trust anyone, she must turn to the one man who can help her—the local game warden.

Drew Zimenski has dedicated his life to making a difference wherever he can—and being a game warden enables him to do just that.  Rose Kelley needs his help, but she is a puzzle to him—she goes out of her way to hide her beauty, but his body is on red hot alert every time they come into contact.  A gruesome discovery at her house has Drew charging in like a knight in flannel armor—and he’s determined to save the lady from whatever she’s running from.

Drew’s need to protect Rose becomes all-consuming, but his fear of failure holds him back. Will Rose’s love be enough for Drew to see the man he truly is?   

EXCERPT:

     Game Warden Zimenski followed Ethan to the back of the house where a blue tarp was tented over a sawhorse.  Ethan removed the tarp and stepped back with a motion of his hand to what lay beneath.
     Drew stepped closer.  Not the most gruesome sight he’d seen, but not a pleasant way to start the day, either.  “You got kids, Ethan?”  Too many footprints trampled the snow between the patio and a house closer to the lake.
     “Yes, two daughters.  The youngest was looking for the cat this morning.  Fortunately, one of my guys found it first.”  When Drew gave him a narrowed look, he added, “My hockey players.”  Ethan gestured toward the guest house.  “I coach the Wolves, and we billet a few of the players.  They’ve been sleeping in the guest house, but come up to the main house for meals.  The plumbing isn’t finished in the guest house, so we’ve been leaving the back door unlocked so the boys can get in.  Depending on what you tell me, that’s going to come to a stop until my contractor gets the work done.”
     “That explains all the footprints,” Drew nodded to the snow-covered ground.  “An animal killed your pet.”  He straightened to stare into Ethan’s eyes.  “A two-legged animal.”


     

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Slow and Steady Wins the Race


I'm a slow writer at the best of times. I'm in awe of authors who churn out multiple books a year. I will never be in their ranks. Most of the time I'm okay with that. Right now it's a bit of a struggle.

I began the year with big plans:

Revise and submit Saved by the Belle (It was published by Fire Star Press on Aug 8th.)

Complete and publish the next entry in my Paws and Effect series (It's Meow or Never was published in February.)

__ Complete and submit Dances with Werewolves, the next full-length novel in my Kudzu Korners series

__ Complete Something Whiskered This Way Comes, the 3rd entry in my Paws and Effect series, and submit it to the Kindle Worlds program

__ Use National Novel Writing Month in November to write a rough draft of my first inspirational romance, Finding Faith

As you can see, I only have two of the items on my list checked off. And, I'm struggling a bit with that. You know from some of my earlier posts that my mom passed away earlier this year. For me, grief and writing were not a good mix.

About the time I started getting my writing groove back, we decided to start looking at houses. My husband and I both grew up in the country (some would say the boonies) and we wanted to get back to a rural environment. Almost every evening after work was spent driving endless miles looking at what seemed like hundreds of houses. As exhausting as it was, the process was totally worth it. We closed on our new house at the end of July and moved in the first weekend in August. The past six (eight?) weeks have been filled with a plethora of boxes (packing and unpacking) and next to no writing. As a matter of fact, this post and a post for my personal blog are the only things I've written in the past couple of months. But hey, it's a start!

Our new house, aka The Cabin

I'm the queen of beating myself up over things both big and small and it would be easy to get discouraged about the lack of progress I've made this year. But, in my ongoing effort to stop being so hard on myself, I'm choosing to look at things from a different perspective. I have six published stories - six. That's not too shabby for someone who, a decade ago, wouldn't even have dreamed of being a published author. Take that, negativity!

Now that we have our house in a livable state, it's time to dust off my laptop, find a quiet corner, and get back to work on Dances with Werewolves. I'm looking forward to that magical feeling that occurs when the words start flowing. After all, the only way to fail is to give up. Right?



How do you pick yourself up when you're feeling down?



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