Friday, April 29, 2016

Back it Up

Time for a public service announcement...

Last night, I saw a most tragic and extremely feared thing had happened to a writer acquaintance of mine.  Her computer died.  And she lost a months' worth of work.  A months' worth.

:shudder:

I freak when the power goes out and I lose five minutes worth (my autosave is set at five minutes).  Back in the Great Computer Crash of 2006, I lost months worth of pictures.  Including all my cat's baby pictures.  :sniffle:  But I didn't lose any work.  Back in 2004, I wrote a most awesome scene in my first book, turned the computer off and went to sleep.  The next night when I opened the file, the scene was gone.  I freaked.  Lucky for me, I'd opened an older file when I wrote it so it was saved - just not in the right spot - so I recovered that.

Point is... I cannot imagine losing all that ever again.  Those experiences made me twitchy.  Every night I work, I email myself a copy of the manuscript I worked on.  If I do a bunch of work early in the day, I email that before I walk away to do other things and then email it again if I work on it at night, too.  Hell, I've emailed myself 3-4 times in one day.  I email myself using my gmail account, so the copy is offsite should my harddrive fry like it did in 2006.  The other stuff I back up to a USB drive.

And I back up my pics way more often than I used to.  (Not as often as I should, but still...) 

Plus, I keep another USB drive in our safety deposit box. The USB drive has EVERYTHING, so in the event of a fire or a tornado where the house is wiped out, my data is still safe. (I really need to swap the one at home for the one in the box and do another backup.) 

The point is, you should really have one way to backup your computer to something other than you computer.  And you really should have another way to backup your computer offsite.  And if you can combine the two for daily use - like emailing your files or some cloud type thingy.

Maybe you think I'm paranoid.  I probably am.  Still, the thought of losing data scares the crap out of me.  I hate being scared.  One way to get rid of that particular fear is to back shit up.

When was your last backup? 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

RELEASE DAY!! The Hitwoman and the Mother Load

It's here!

Book 14 in the Neurotic Hitwoman series.





You think you've got problems? Don't talk to Maggie Lee about problems. 

Her mother's escaped from the loony bin, and rumor has it she's robbing people for ice cream money. 

A mob boss is insisting she liberate his daughter from a mental hospital that Maggie's pretty sure she belongs in. 

And people keep trying to kill her. 

While Maggie deals with all that, she must also contend with her dysfunctional family; the challenges of parenting her orphaned niece; a handsome, but dangerously curious reporter; a hot manny who lives under her roof and gets under her skin; a smooth and sexy con man; and a certain murder mentor/cop redhead. And, honestly, it's getting too much to bear. Good thing she has her talking animals to confide in. 


But with everything that's going on, can the intrepid, yet inept, hitwoman figure out how to keep everyone she loves safe without ending up in jail or killed? 

Or will she just take up residence in a rubber room herself? Truth be told, she could use the break. 



AMAZON

iBooks

KOBO

Monday, April 25, 2016

An Ode To Spring. Or Not.

I'm kidding. I have no idea how to write an ode. But if I did it would be to spring. Or Lowe's. We spend a lot of time there this time of year so I'd know what I was talking about although I wouldn't say I was passionate about home improvement stores. Also odes can run very long and I don't have that kind of time.  Nor do I have rhythm. Or any kind of rhyming ability. 

But spring it is and I'm eternally grateful. 

The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death was April 23rd.


I saw Romeo and Juliet last week. Done by our local theatre. I confess it's not my favourite. I much prefer his comedies. Which is a bit of an overstatement, I should say if it must be Shakespeare, I prefer it be one of his comedies. 


Otherwise, I confess to having taken a bit of a break from my work-in-progress. Which is a good thing. It needed to percolate for a bit. I've spent some time filling the creative well. Now it's time to get back at it. 

Favourite Ways To Fill My Creative Well

  1. Watching Live Theatre
  2. Walking
  3. Being On A Great Reading Run
  4. Talking Craft At Writing Group Meeting
  5. Working On A Different Project

What's your favourite way to stay inspired?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Turkeys... Chillin'

They look like they have the right idea.

Some days I think we should all be like these two turkey hens and just chill out.  Soak up some warm rays of the sun and not worry too much or get our feathers ruffled. 

What about you?  You chillin'?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Cover Reveal -- THE HITWOMAN AND THE MOTHER LOAD

I'm still tweaking the blurb for THE HITWOMAN AND THE MOTHER LOAD but I thought I'd share the cover.




If you're not caught up with the Neurotic Hitwoman series, all the books can be found HERE


If you are caught up with the series, you might be interested to know that some characters from earlier books show up in this one.

Make sure you're following me on FACEBOOK to find out when the book becomes available.

Speaking of Facebook, check out COZY WITH A TWIST a new group consisting of myself along with authors Gina LaManna and Colleen Helme. We're going to have games, giveaways and a lot of fun!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Six Word Stories

Legend goes in the 1920’s someone bet Ernest Hemingway ten bucks he couldn’t write a story in six words. He came up with:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

He won the bet. He even went so far as to declare his six-word story his best work. That’s saying something since he went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea followed by the Noble Prize for Literature in 1954. Wikipedia states “Hemingway's distinctive writing style is characterized by economy and understatement, and had a significant influence on the development of twentieth-century fiction writing.” 

I’m no Hemingway expert, I’ve only read the one short story, but even I get the point. Less can be more. No unnecessary backstory. No convoluted, lengthy explanations. Zero research. Only possibilities.

Here’s an example of a six-word story by Margaret Attwood, our Canadian goddess of the written word.

Longed for him. Got him. Shit.

There are short stories known for their extreme brevity (1000 words or less). They contain the usual: a protagonist, conflict, complications and an outcome, some of which are hinted at or implied. Nanofiction involve at least one character and a plot and are exactly fifty-five words in length. Drabble – one hundred words. Who knew? 

Have you ever tried your hand at flash fiction or postcard fiction? Do you want to have some fun today? Give the six-word story a try and post your efforts in the comments.

Friday, April 15, 2016

I rode my bike! (and how that relates to writing)

Big thanks to B.E. for covering my Wednesday slot for me!!


I rode my bike this week!!!!!

Okay, I know you're thinking, "Big whoopdeedoo, Jen" but for me it was a big deal since it was the first time I'd been able to since my knee surgery last summer.

I love riding my bike. I hadn't had one for twenty years or so and when I got one again it was a purely logical decision. I needed exercise and a bike would allow me to do that without pounding on my poor knees and feet.

I'd forgotten how much simple joy can be found in taking a ride around the block.

Every time I climb on my bike, I get to channel my younger self.

I revel in the wind against my face and the sensation of freedom the ride offers.


(That's not me. I'm pretty sure they didn't even have helmets when I was a kid.)

I do so love to throw my hands out and mentally yell, "Look, Ma, no hands!"

I'm also big on singing the Miss Gulch song from the Wizard of Oz when I'm pedaling hard.



I'm sharing all this because as I was riding my bike this week (hands on the handle bars) feeling some of that youthful joy, I realized that I'm missing that feeling of fun in my writing.

Writing is work.
Work is ________.

How would you fill in the blank?

Work is hard?
Work is necessary?
Work is drudgery?
Work is not fun?

But it used to be. No one ever starts writing thinking those things.

We think:

 writing is exhilarating
writing is an adventure
writing is cool
writing is fun

Somewhere along the way, with deadlines and edits and all the "work" that comes along with writing and publishing a book, we (okay I) can lose sight of what a marvelous journey we get to take with our craft.

I'm making an effort to remember/rediscover/celebrate the joy of writing. I'd appreciate any tips you might have to share.

Mine is to go for a bike ride.





Wednesday, April 13, 2016

B.E. Takes Over

Heh.  I bet you weren't expecting me today.  I swapped with JB.  And now you're stuck with me.  Bwa ha ha. 

For the past few weeks... months... okay, the past year or so, I've been so buried in trying to bring all my books out into the world, I haven't really been paying much attention to anything else.  In doing so, I think I might've forgotten something really important - the readers.  You guys.  You're why we do this after all.

Okay, so part of it, if I'm being honest about myself, is the need to get these stories out of my head and into the world.  The 'out of my head' part is necessary so my head doesn't explode.  The 'into the world' part is so I don't sit here wondering if I've just wasted the better part of twelve years. 

I mean, if the stories weren't meant to be read, why would any of us bother editing?  It's not like it's exactly fun - at least not for me.  I can write stories all day for myself.  Duh. 

Anyway, part of being a published author is being out there and available.  Accessible, at least to a certain extent.  Yeah, umm, that's something I struggle with anyway, so it's the first thing I shift aside.  I'm a hermit.  But I should still be a friendly hermit.  :waves from her spot under the rock:

And it's not that I'm not friendly.  I just don't think about it sometimes.  It's like walking through Walmart.  Some days, I smile and nod and tell people to have a nice day.  Some days, I'm lost in my own head and the only thing on my mind is getting through the list so I can go back to my hole.  It's not you.  It's me. 

Other authors really do this part so much better.  They're fun and interesting and approachable.  I see them out there doing it.  Like the wallflower at the dance, watching the other kids having fun but fearing the chance that should I trot out onto the dance floor, I'll be dancing alone.  (Ugh, shades of my 10-year class reunion coming back to haunt me.)

Anyway, feel free to follow me or friend me or whatever.  Follow along on this wild ride that doesn't always make much sense.  If nothing else, it should be interesting.

Oh, and thanks for following the Killer Chicks.  JB and Karyn are the cool kids.  And thanks, JB, for letting me have your spot on the dance floor today.  It totally rocked.

Now's your chance to leave a comment.  Tell me who you are and what you're up to in life.  Or to quote a line from Muppet Christmas Carol "Come in and know me better, man."

Cuz, hey, I'm the kinda gal who quotes Muppets.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Costume Changes

I'm watching the first episode on the second season of Outlander. A period piece based on the books by Diana Gabaldon. It's makes me think of a blog post I wrote a while back about outfitting your characters.

We all have a personal style. A way of dressing that makes us unique. We all have a closet containing items we love, the one's that boost our confidence. Those articles  of clothing that make you stand a little taller or sit a little straighter. Then we have the casual stuff. Maybe even the quirky. The pieces we need to make up our work wardrobe. Because of course I'm sitting here all nicely showered and rockin' a great outfit. Not planted in front of the computer wearing a monstrous, seen-better-days black cardigan and wrinkled pajamas.
Of course, our closets also contains the not so great choices. The cast-offs. The clothes that somehow shrunk or stretched in the wash. Your favourite look from the eighties you're hanging on to for no good reason. The dress we bought on impulse. 
Just like our characters.
"Oh, no! Hipster. No. Do not think we are on the same team, we have nothing in common. I wear knit hats when it’s cold out, you wear knit hats because of Coldplay." Max, 2 Broke Girls

When it comes to creating a character's personal style it's not only fun but necessary to emphasize personality. Every one of the characters quoted above can be considered over the top. Not only by what they say and how they act, but how they dress. Their style reinforces their personality. And a character's style can change to enhance the advancement of the plot or the help showcase their character arc. Like us humans out in the real world, characters have their good days and their bad ones, often in extremes. How they dress or put themselves together can help reflect their state of mind.

Which takes me on a little detour into costume design? Besides the obvious fact of characters having to wear clothes.
Example: The 2005 movie version of Pride and Prejudice - The costume designer spoke about Mr. Darcy's wardrobe and how uptight and buttoned up he was at the beginning of the movie. How they gradually loosened him up in terms of wardrobe choices and fabrics to reinforce the changes to his character.
Makes sense, right?
The following quote is taken from The Secret Lives of Costumes. It's a great look into the world of costume design.
"I take my cues from the characters and their surroundings as written in the play, as well as from the stylistic choices of the production. In the same way that an actor builds upon the framework of traits and actions of his or her character in the story, I read what the character does and says for clues about what they might wear. I also need to think about how best to reflect a character’s evolution through the development of the story. Sometimes the character is best served by creating contrast between how a character behaves and what he or she looks like."  Judith Bowden, Canadian Designer

It's something to think about when developing characters. We need to think about style in terms of character development, even if it's not obvious or part of the plot. We all know Eliza Doolittle undergoes a transformation in My Fair Lady. Usually it's not that obvious in terms of wardrobe. Using subtle changes can make an impact, too.
Do you have a favourite costume from a movie? Use wardrobe changes as a tool in your own writing?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Pimpin' for a Friend - A.A. Chamberlynn and Martinis with the Devil



Today I have a special pimpage post about a friend's upcoming release.  A.A. Chamberlynn (Alexia to her friends) is launching the first half of her self-published, full length novel - Martinis with the Devil - into the world this Monday (April 11th).  The 2nd half will be available on the 25th, so not that long to wait for the rest.  Which is good since I already waited long enough for this puppy to be out in the world.  She released quite the tease of a novelette in this world last fall - Black Magic and Mojitos.  Yummy stuff, folks.  

Now, without further ado...

About the book:
When offered a job on the Holy Representative’s special security team, bounty hunter Zyan Star couldn’t be less interested – until she finds out it’s her most hated of exes that they’re trying to track down. He broke her heart and dumped her, which in turn led to the loss of her soul at the hands of an immortal soul thief. Now she too exists on a diet of souls, with the occasional martini thrown in for good measure, and she’s had over two hundred years to fantasize about revenge. She just didn’t quite imagine it playing out alongside the emissaries of Heaven.

Working with Eli, the uptight angel that heads up the HR’s security, is just about as much fun as Zy expects. He of course wants her vampire ex brought to justice through legal avenues, which is very inconvenient and incredibly boring. As she dives into the case, however, she realizes there’s more at stake than her plot for payback. Like, the free will of mankind, and preventing the minions of hell from taking over the sovereign dimensions.

This job is going to push her to the limits of her abilities, and there’s just a slight problem with that: the powers she’s suppressed for centuries after losing control of them are exactly the powers she’s going to need to save the HR, end her millennia-old ex and stop Lucifer’s little plot to join the party and invade Earth.

Savior of humanity? Not so much. Or so she thought.

Alexia’s Bio
Alexia lives in Florida. When she's not writing or reading, she can be found playing with horses, drinking wine, traveling to the next place on her global wish list, or maybe doing yoga. She is represented by Sandy Lu of the L. Perkins Agency.



Martinis with the Devil, Part One buy links:

Smashwords:
B&N:
Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Martinis-Devil-Part-Zyan-Star-ebook/dp/B01CXT1RR0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1459961280&sr=1-1&keywords=chamberlynn

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

I love my whiteboard!

I love my whiteboard.

Pretty geeky thing to say, I know, but it's true.

I've got a big whiteboard (3 feet by 4 feet) that sits on my desk. Sometimes I use it to brainstorm. Sometimes I use it to plot out my story. But most of the time it serves as my "rah rah!" board.



I've got all kinds of encouraging notes and quotes written on it. Things like "Consistency is key" and "Consistent hard work leads to success".  (Consistency is my theme of the month for April.)

When I start my workday I begin by sitting down and reading those notes aloud to encourage myself.  How dorky does that sound? But it works for me.


I have a weird emotional attachment to this whiteboard.  Not long after I'd split with my (now, blessedly EX) husband, just after I'd moved to Florida, I bought it at a garage sale. 

It was like me, ruined. (I was horribly depressed at the time, and that's how I felt...ruined.)

The previous owner, some sort of electrician, had used it at a scheduling board for years. He'd covered it in a graph made from thin strips of electrical tape AND he'd used regular markers on it. 

But I'd always wanted a big whiteboard, so I gave the man fifty cents and carried it home.

Rehabbing that "ruined" whiteboard became my own rehabilitation. Every night, when the dark closed in and I was feeling loneliest I went out to my covered porch to work on it.

First I peeled off the tape...which took forever since it had been on there for years.  Then I used
Goo Gone to remove the residue from the tape. This was also a really slow process.

Then I had to deal with removing the marker. I did that by buffing it out with toothpaste.  (White toothpaste...otherwise it would have caused more problems.) This took hours, every night for weeks.

Some would have considered this a waste of time, but for me it was time well spent.

This was my therapy.  It was slow and there were times I didn't think I'd ever get it done, but all those hours paid off, both in terms of the board, and myself.

The board is still not shiny white and there are a few rough spots on it, but it serves its purpose.

When I sit in front of the "rah rah!" board, the words written on it are inspiring, AND the work behind them is reassuring.

So THAT is why I love my whiteboard.

Tell me Killer Friends: What do you own that YOU have an emotional attachment to?




Monday, April 4, 2016

Is It Spring Yet?

Enjoying a glass of wine, watching the Junos and blogging. And doing it all from my new chair. The Junos are Canada's version of the Grammy's. The Weekend? He's ours. He can't feel his face but that didn't stop him from picking up some hardware. I'm a country music fan and one of my favourites is Dean Brody, who also won an award.




His songs often appear on my writing playlists. The above song in particular gives me plenty of small town inspiration. Music is integral to my writing process. It quiets the busy noise in my head.

Oh! My Chair!


Is this a good time to mention that I love my new chair. I'm still busy working on edits. As well as blogging from A to Z.

Insert fabulous idea that came to me whilst snuggled in bed which I'm failing to retrieve from my memory banks this morning. Gone Baby Gone. Looked up menopause and memory loss. Relieved to find out it's a thing. I could probably file that under over sharing.

Maybe it's spring fever? Maybe that's why I'm finding it hard to concentrate? My mind is wandering and searching for signs of spring in this northern half of the northern hemisphere. Making lists of things needing to be done outside. Imagining the types of flowers to be planted. Looking forward to relaxing outside in the sun and the warm. Bare legs. Cocktails on the patio. I don't want to be sitting inside. I want to be outside doing after being cooped up for months. We took a country drive on Saturday and, even though there's not a blade of green grass in sight yet, the sun was shining and the birds were soaring. We've actually seen a couple of butterflies. I don't know how they're surviving since yesterday the temperature dipped down again to +5 C. But it warms my heart to see them.

How about you? Are you suffering from spring fever?

Friday, April 1, 2016

April 1st - No Foolin'

Hey All.  Today is April First.  Now, a lot of people would refer to it as April Fool's Day, but I don't go for all that pranking stuff.  I don't like to be fooled.  Not that keen on people who are fools.  Certainly don't want the butts of these jokes to be called fools, when really all they are is unsuspecting and trusting people. 

Yeah, I'm a stick in the mud.

My sisters used to sing me a song... "Every party needs a pooper, that's why we invited you. Party Poo-per."

Yah.

Don't get me wrong.  I can joke with the best of them.  Hubs and I constantly cracking each other up.  Word play, mostly.  Silly songs.  Funny observations.  We don't prank. 

I mean, think about it.  Pranks are usually mean.  Even when they're harmless, their intent is to make someone feel stupid. 

Jus' sayin'.

And now you can return to your regularly scheduled fun while this party pooper proceeds with her day - one in which I will believe nothing anyone says or posts.  Some fun, huh?  woo... hoo.

On a happier note, twelve years ago today, I laid eyes on Hubs for the first time.  I was 99% in love with him already, but when I turned the corner and saw him standing by baggage claim, I fell the rest of the way.  Hard.  So, yeah, I guess it was love at first sight.  Preceded by 6 weeks of communication so I loved the man inside before the actual seeing.  :grin: