Subscribe to My Newsletter!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Tidying Up Letters--Or Not

Daughter #2 bought Marie Kondo's book a few years ago. Using Ms. Kondo's guidelines, she cleaned her apartment by getting rid of the clutter.

Daughter #2 is on her spring break and is now using Ms. Kondo's principles to clean out her room in our house. When she moved out, she only took a few boxes of stuff with her. The rest of it stayed here. So now, she is cleaning out her high school memories, books, and papers.

Meanwhile, I read parts of Ms. Kondo's book and--inspired by my daughter--decided to tackle some of my own clutter. I had several accordion files filled with emails from way back. There were full-sized letters from our daughters, my sisters, and my parents. Back in the day, we used to print out the emails because there wasn't enough memory to keep them. At least, I think that was the reason.

Yesterday, I went through one accordion file of emails. I read many of them--or skimmed some of them. I tossed out about half of them. But it was hard. It was delightful to remember those days. Everything in those letters was history--family history--detailing a specific time when two of our daughters were in college, when my sisters were bringing up their younger children, and when my parents were still with us.

The old email letters were printed out in the time of Netscape, when we had dialup service for the Internet. Nowadays, My sisters call or text me. My daughters call or text me. My sister-in-law is the only letter writer left--though at Christmastime we receive letters from some other friends.

There are others like me who find letters too precious to pitch in the recycling bin. There are suggestions about putting them in a scrapbook, or actually making a book out of the letters. Both of those ideas are great possibilities.

It is good to get rid of clutter and I agree with Ms. Kondo about many things--but not my letters.

What would you do?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Guest Post: Erin Lorence with DOVE STRONG

Erin Lorence
Today my special guest is Erin Lorence, another Pelican Book Group author. She lives in Bonney Lake, Washington with her husband, Brian, and their two daughters, Brooke and Savannah. Her lifelong love of reading, her gratitude to God, and her enjoyment of hiking in Central Oregon all inspired her to write the Dove Strong Trilogy. 

Here's the book blurb:

Dove Strong loves God. She loves standing chin up, fists clenched when facing Satan’s attacks. But there’s one thing she doesn’t love—other people. So when this spiritually-gifted, antisocial teenager is chosen to join other believers in a trek across Satan’s territory, rattlesnakes and evil-intentioned Heathen aren’t her biggest challenges. But failure isn’t an option. In a month, the Christian Councils will decide the Reclaim, a vote on whether there’ll be a war between Christ’s and Satan’s followers to take back America. It is up to Dove, God’s messenger for peace, to reach her Council in time. Because if she doesn’t, things could get bloody.


And now for an excerpt!
With a gasp, I leaped over to the spot next to my shoes—the place I’d left my clothes. On all fours, I patted around on the hard—now puddled—white squares. As if my missing tunic shirt and pants had somehow become camouflaged. 
I whirled around, searching. I pried open a small door next to my legs and stuck my head into its dark, cluttered depths. 
Slowly, I shut it, rolled back onto my heels, and hid my face. 
My clothes—they were gone. Completely. Utterly. Gone. 
I crouched there for about five seconds. 
Then I got mad. 
It took me another few frustrated moments to figure out how to wear the one towel in the room that wasn’t maple leaf sized. No matter how I tried, it wouldn’t cover all the skin it needed to. I wrapped the towel under my armpits and around my wet underclothes, which left my shoulders, arms, and the lower half of my legs still showing. 
I yanked open the door, expecting to trip over Melody. 
I didn’t. 
She’d vanished. 
Not my biggest problem right then. 
“Where are my clothes?” My hands death-gripped the towel while I stormed at Wolfe. He sprawled on a cushioned bench, holding up a skinny, rectangle electronic. Then he dropped it. The whistling died. 
Where are my clothes?” I was ultra-conscious of my gangly, fish-belly white legs and arms. A startling contrast to the deep tan of my face and hands. 
He stared. 
Rage boiled up, staining the room red. A snarl started deep inside. I began to shake. “Where are my clothes?”
He eased upwards and backed away. “Whoa, bird girl. Relax.” His hands went up. “It was just a...a...I’m washing them—they’re in the machine. Hang on.”
In two strides, he left the room. His head reappeared. “By the way, seriously nice tattoos. Uh, right.” 
A minute later he returned holding a dripping wad of brown material. He handed it to me with a cough. “They’re a bit damp still. Should I throw them in the dryer?” 
My anger drained away. Leaving me with a hole in my chest. 
I shook out my tunic shirt—a hand-woven, goodbye gift from my mom, aunt, and grandma. The fibers were created from special plants grown on our property. The Breastplate of Righteousness design stitched on the front tilted lopsided. Pathetic. 
My traveling outfit hadn’t only been a surprise but a tribute to the Armor of God from the Bible. The one my family knew I loved. And the only tangible reminder of my family I’d brought with me. 
“They were all stiff and brown. And I—"
“They’re supposed to be that way.” 
“See, they’re still good.” He snatched the crumpled pants and flattened them. “They’re not ripped or nothing.”
Under his hands, the symbolic belt around the waist frayed and twisted like old corn silk on a compost heap. 
I took them back and lurched toward the white room to put them on. 
I will not cry over pants. I will not
“That,” he spoke from closer than I’d expected, “is the most wicked sword tattoo I’ve seen in my life.” 
I slapped my left hand over my right arm, hiding part of the ornate Sword of the Spirit that ran from shoulder to elbow. 
He leaned over me. “What’s that on your other arm? Oh, it’s a shield—nice, the way it wraps around. I wouldn’t have taken you for the inked type. Hey, I can see part of one above the towel. Something gray?”
I yanked the damp cloth up to hide the Breastplate of Righteousness no one was supposed to see. 
But the moisture at my eyeballs dried. I still had Trinity’s more permanent reminder of herself and home. 
God gifted my cousin with the ability to create beauty out of anything. Out of nothing. 
She told me once that when she met an object, her mind automatically saw its potential. To her, a body was a blank canvas. She’d been adding artwork to her own body for years—something her mom was OK with. My mom wasn’t so supportive of tattoos. 
Of course, that hadn’t stopped me from accepting Trinity’s offer a few months ago. I couldn’t pass up a permanent reminder of my spiritual protection and weapon. All guaranteed by my Lord’s mighty power. 
“Your ma and pop OK with so many?” 
“Where’s Melody?” 
“Ha! I didn’t think so. My grandma didn’t do the conga either when I got mine. Did you see it? I’ve only got one. On my back. Not as cool as yours but...OK, OK. Don’t go all postal on me again. Bite-sized screamers right outside. See? Through the glass there? Those are her boots behind the woodpile. She’s staring at the clouds or something.”
I nodded, not bothering to check. That girl was obsessed with sun sets. Every night, she’d watched the blue horizon melt into oranges and pinks while I’d set up camp. But tonight’s sky was way too thick with gray clouds for color. 
“It took her roughly, oh, one millisecond to bail on you when she realized it was only her and me.” He flashed a hangdog expression, which I didn’t buy. “I don’t think she likes me.” 
“Try not tackling her so much.”
He was still cracking up when Melody screamed.

Erin's website:  www.erinlorence.com
                            www.dovestrong.com
                                                      
Buy Links:


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Free Books--One Reader's Opinion


There has been some discussion as of late about whether offering books for free helps authors to snag new readers. As an author, I have offered several of my books for free on Smashwords for a limited time. Many people downloaded the books. Have they bought my other books because they enjoyed the free ones? I don't know and I doubt it because sales of my other books did not go up.

I am not just a writer. I am a reader who just happens to have some special privileges. One of my special privileges is that I can get free books from other authors in the hope I will write reviews and post them on Amazon.

This is like handing crack to a cocaine addict. Am I always delighted to get free books and add them to my formidable to-be-read pile of books.

The little gif above shows some of the books I received at the Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference. Would I buy one of the author's other books because I got one for free? The answer is a qualified maybe. I have so many books to read and I am continually acquiring them, that the possibility of me buying another one of the author's books is remote--although, I have to say that if the book was in a series, there is a better chance I will buy another one in the series.

I always do my best to support other writers in my community. I have bought many, many books by other authors. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten around to reading all of them. Does this stop me from buying more books? NO!

I buy plenty of used books, too, at library book sales, yard sales, and flea markets. I buy ebooks on  Kindle on a regular basis. Ebooks are inexpensive. Why wouldn't I buy them?

I still buy paper editions from Barnes & Noble, too. Friends and family know I am crazy about books so I often get gift cards to Barnes & Noble. (Yes, let the world know you have a serious reading habit and they will happily help you drown in books.)

As a reader, I love free books but I also spend money to buy the books I want.

As a writer, I really believe all authors should be paid for their work.

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

What About Music In a Novel?

Photo by stevepb on Pixabay
I learned the words to many songs when I was young. My mother sang all the time--mostly the songs of her generation, but some even older than that. I took piano lessons for a short time, paid for with my babysitting money. My middle sister took guitar lessons, so I learned a bit about the guitar as well. I sang in the madrigal choir in college. For many years, I sang and played an accompaniment with the guitar in the folk choir at church. Then I married a man whose main hobby was music. Our daughters took piano lessons for years--until they went to college.

While I am not an accomplished pianist or guitarist, I have memorized the lyrics to a gazillion songs from the past, though I don't know much about current popular music. However, sometimes when I'm strolling through a store, I might hear a nice tune playing through the speakers as I load my cart with groceries. Then I'll go and search for it. If it really touches me, I'll buy the sheet music.

Surrounded by an abundance of musical scores, I have sometimes included the mention of a number of songs in the books I write. In The Cowboy's Miracle, I used several ancient western ballads. In my upcoming book Patriot's Courage, I have made references to the song "Amazing Grace," one of my favorite hymns. It was first published in 1779 by John Newton. (There's an interesting conversion story on John Newton that you can find at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace)

I am well aware that a writer must be careful about using lyrics or songs in their stories and not only because it is difficult to secure the copyrights on the songs. Using song titles often dates the story and since songs go out of fashion quickly, future readers may never have heard of the song you are referencing in your book. See Jason Sanford's blog post: http://www.jasonsanford.com/blog/2015/8/why-writers-should-rarely-name-songs-in-their-fiction

Writer's Digest has a very succinct post about using song lyrics: https://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/questions-and-quandaries/legal-questions/can-i-use-song-lyrics-in-my-manuscript  Jane Friedman has a longer and more detailed guide: https://www.janefriedman.com/permissions-and-fair-use/

In my current WIP, I was tempted to use the titles from a playlist for EMTs and paramedics. Instead, I made vague references to the heavy beat of the songs and the way the protagonist reacts to the music. That's the safe way.