Thursday, October 19, 2017

October Meeting

Our October meeting is Saturday, the 21st at Blue Umbrella Books, 2 Main Street, Westfield, MA.
A few Wordsmiths have contacted me to let me know they will be unable to attend. A few others who were unable to attend last time will be there this time.

Melissa Volker has come down with a virus so her discussion is postponed, Here's hoping she will be feeling better soon! I work in a medical office and we've been seeing a lot of upper respiratory virus lately. Thankfully it passes in a week or so- rest, fluids...and lots of good books to curl up with!

Looking forward to seeing as many of you as can make it!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

National Novel Writing Month

Hi all.

I know some of you expressed interest in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) at last month's meeting. That said, I wanted to let you know I'm hosting an info session on Friday (20th) to talk about NaNoWriMo and answer any questions you might have. It'll be at 6 o'clock at Blue Umbrella Books. Or you can catch me after the meeting on the 21st.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

In Which I Gush

I just want to take a minute this evening to thank the WhipCity Wordsmiths who are a cohesive, collaborating, cooperative, competent, group of writers, authors and others who jump right in with both feet to promote the literary arts in this community (and surrounding communities, too, when called upon!)

When Artworks of Westfield, Inc. opted to sponsor an event during the upcoming PumpkinFest I was called upon to book the authors for the Art & Authors portion of the plan. As soon as I put the word out that we were looking for authors I had responses- all Wordsmith members. When Shawn Flynn realized he was already booked elsewhere on the 14th he contacted me and recommended an author acquaintance of his who readily agreed to take his place when I emailed her. We had five authors, originally, and then Geri Johnson expressed interest and we had room so she was onboard as well.

To get that kind of enthusiastic response on fairly short notice- and to have so much solid talent signed on is nothing short of amazing. I am incredibly thankful to our authors who will be with Kelly and me on the 14th, and also thankful to the authors who expressed regrets at being unable to attend because they too were previously booked elsewhere. The support and camaraderie of this group is beyond belief!

So, please excuse me for gushing this evening when I say "Thank you so much!" to all of our authors for putting their hearts and souls not only into their writing but into volunteering, making themselves available, jumping onto the bandwagon,...for everything you do in addition to having taken WhipCity Wordsmiths as a group and making it your own.

Also, a special thank you to author Melissa Volker who is always there when I need her. Our late night messages back and forth always cheer me up. She has gone above and beyond for the Wordsmiths by volunteering to speak at our next meeting. And for stepping up to fill a gap in the Ghost Stories LIVE! permanent cast and agreeing to read on October 28th despite a previous engagement in eastern MA that day that she will have to leave early from. I owe her so much for all she does I'll be in her debt for the rest of my natural life!

Bill Westerlind has also been terrific, masterminding the events that Artworks of Westfield, Inc. will be sponsoring during PumpkinFest allowing me a walk-through of the Old Town Hall to preview the author space, for his enthusiasm and support of local authors and everyone else involved in this event. His quick responses to texts, messages, and emails have been most helpful.

I also should thank Andrew Curran for sending me his book and other writings which I am thoroughly enjoying. He has so much energy and talent!

Considering we've only just come together for the first time as a group this past month, we're already making things happen- and I'm grateful to each and every one of you for being the totally amazing, creative, I go again! You're the best and the highest praise I can give you is to say I am proud to call each and every one of you a WhipCity Wordsmith!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Writing Again

After spending most of this year revamping the interior text layout of ALL my previous books, and updating the covers to make the books look much more polished and professionally published, and then creating 7 smaller volumes of Christmas stories (3 stand alone novellas- The Winter Solstice Ball, A Major Production and The Red Velvet Suit and 4 small collections by type of story- Family, Inspirational, Past and Present- Christmas With the Family, Christmas Inspirations, Christmases Past and Christmases Present), and then doing two stand alone novellas for Halloween- The Girl With the Ivy Tattoo and The Magic of Cross and Crowe, plus totally redoing a 9-12 year-old age group chapter book (Isabel's Initiation) and another novel geared toward new adults (The Unwilling Witch) that had previously been published under a pseudonym, also both suitable for Halloween, I am finally buckling down and getting back to writing new stuff. I think I've basically written only some ghost stories this year and put together some story anthologies of already written material. Oh, and then I put together the mother/daughter creepy story anthology Disturbing also which is a collection of fourteen of my ghost and horror stories, and five of Kelly's ghost and supernatural/paranormal stories. This should be available at Pumpkin Fest on the 14th also.

Well, I did finish writing the second novella in Bending Birches, but it was mostly written so that really shouldn't count as something new since it took less than a weekend to complete.

The sequel to Black Knight, White Rook has been percolating in my brain pan for a little while now. On Sunday, the first of October, my favorite month, I began writing it. I've averaged about 5,100 words a day (yeah, that includes working 8-5 at my regular job, coming home, eating dinner, and then writing until 11:30PM the past two nights.) I'm satisfied with the direction the book is going. Already a lot has happened. The characters are about a year and a half older than they were in the last book. Romney and Ivy have a fourteen month old daughter. Ezra's about to start kindergarten. And a group of disgruntled black arts practitioners in Castleton has begun a reign of terror on the Black King and his White Queen and their family (and friends).In the first and second books Ivy has grown into her destined role as Queen, and she continues to grow and evolve in this book. But we'll also see more of Romney as King because he is furious about his family being endangered by this group. He's grown up among these people and now he's crossing swords with them. He has always thought of them as friends, but they are now his enemies. It's not an easy job being king, as he's finding out in this book.

I have a Nano novel to write starting November 1st, so I hope to get this one written before the end of the month! October is busy with an author appearance at Pumpkin Fest on the 14th, an author event for the official launch of Out on October 21st followed by the next meeting of the writer's group WhipCity Wordsmiths when the author event is over. I need to write a new ghost story this month for Ghst Stories LIVE! which will be held on October 28th. I'm also helping put together a second Ghost Stories LIVE! anthology in time for that event.

Busy bee me!

Oh, a few months ago I was driving through town and saw our infamous mechanical clock tower open at high noon (I believe I wrote about that previously.) The clock tower inspired a novel idea by the time I pulled into my driveway less than fifteen minutes later. Well, I made several false starts on that novel, but beginning on November 1st, I will finally be writing that werewolf (lycanthrope, actually) novel as my NaNo novel. Let's see if I can write The Clockmaker's Son in 30 days or less!! I love a good writing challenge!!

It feels so good to be writing again!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

October is Almost Here!

By the end of this coming weekend October will be upon us!
There has definitely been a shift in the air today. Last night I walked out of a meeting at 8:30PM into 82 degrees humid heat! Ugh! Tonight, there's a crisp coolness to the air and a breeze with an 18 degree drop in the temperature compared to last night! The still green leaves on the oaks are rustling as I type this with the kitchen windows open, but I had to close the door as it was too cold sitting here with the breeze coming through the door.

October 14th is the Fall Family Festival/Pumpkin Fest event downtown. I want to thank the Wordsmiths who contacted me about table space for this event in the old Town Hall- Kelly, Sandy, Geri, and Sonia. We'll also have Connie Bombaci from CT with us (courtesy of Shawn Flynn who suggested her in his stead as he was already engaged on the 14th for another event.

For this event, Kelly and I collaborated and created a co-authored book of tales that we titled Disturbing. I've been self publishing Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales and Ghost Stories since 2015. My stories have Miss Peculiar's byline. Kelly has chosen to call herself Miss Spectyr (her choice of spelling). It was fun picking stories, many of them unpublished, for this volume which features the eerie eyes of our linden tree in the front yard gazing back at the reader from the cover. Had to hunt through a gazillion photos on the computer to find this shot- it's creepy...and disturbing!

On October 21st I'll be at Blue Umbrella at 2PM to discuss my somewhat different vampire novel, Out. In Central Europe, vampires have been being outed (involuntarily and then voluntarily) over an eight year or so span. A man whom Irina has had a crush on since childhood has come out as a vampire- but that hasn't swayed how she feels about him any, despite her father being a member of the anti-vampire group the Silver Sword Society. Irina works for Dimitra Chernova, a late night talk show hostess who has a reputation for provoking her guests and putting them on the spot. That's about all I will say here about the book except that it's a romance, a social commentary on intolerance toward certain groups, and a smidge of horror.

Immediately after the author event at Blue Umbrella will be the WhipCity Wordsmith's October meeting. Melissa Volker will be leading a talk on how authors need to engage their audience at read-ins and author events to increase interest in the book and make more sales. I probably could use her advice prior to the meeting, but I'll do my best- and then learn some more from her afterwards for the next event!! Be sure to bring your periodic table element notes so you can write during the meeting!

On October 24th, Kelly, Melissa, and I will be on Bob Plasse's Tuesday morning radio program on WSKB 89.5FM broadcast from Ely Hall at Westfield State University. I have no clue what we'll be talking about but I'm sure some of it will be about books!! If Kathleen Palmer is thrown into the mix it ought to be a crazy morning! I've known Bob since my 13 years working behind the counter at Conner's, Inc at 34 Elm Street.

October 28th is the next edition of Ghost Stories LIVE! at Blue Umbrella, a recurring ghost story telling/performance art event hosted by Russell Atwood and Pugsley, the Fiendish Ghost. This will mark the one year anniversary at Blue Umbrella for this event. I've been fortunate enough to be a cast member since last October. I enjoy writing new ghost stories to read. Russell put together an anthology last year, and I'm hopeful there will be a second anthology this year! Kelly and Melissa have also participated in Ghost Stories LIVE! for which they've also written and read new ghost stories. It's a great event, gaining in popularity.

What else is happening in October? It's the perfect time of year for cemetery crawls (Kelly and I are taphophiles who like to photograph old cemeteries), visiting haunted houses to chase ghosts, dancing with witches, chasing werewolves across the fog-shrouded moors, hunting vampires, and so forth. Whatever it is that you like to do in the fall...even if it's jump into a humongous pile of crisp, brightly colored leaves, and then go back inside to toast your toes before a crackling fire while sipping apple cider or hot chocolate- well, enjoy!

Flawed Periodic Table

Unfortunately I failed to scrutinize the periodic table attached to your homework assignment (preparing for the October writing at the meeting). I just chose a nicely tinted version. Kelly was looking at it last night and realized that it's flawed. However, it's just an example. If you go online and Google Periodic Table there are plenty of them out there to help you choose and element and come up with reasons why you and that element are a close match.

If you didn't receive your advance paperwork for October's writing assignment in the meeting it will be coming via snail mail shortly with the next newsletter.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

September 23rd Meeting Notes

Today was the inaugural meeting of the WhipCity Wordsmiths, a group for writers/authors. The meeting was held at 3PM at Blue Umbrella Books in downtown Westfield, an indie bookshop that hosts author events, pop-up shops, and meetings regularly. They are a strong supporter of the arts in Westfield and we're lucky to have Blue Umbrella in our community!

The meeting began with a long distance phone call from Wordsmith/author Mike Walsh from the Northeast Kingdom (northern VT). Mike called to wish me luck with launching the group and to show his support for his fellow Wordsmiths. It was incredibly thoughtful of him to call...and we'll work hard to find a way to connect him via Skype or facebook live or whatever means we can at the October meeting.

Susan moderated the inaugural meeting, reviewing the statement of purpose/mission and welcoming the 16 people in attendance today. A half dozen or so more had contacted Susan or Kelly prior to the meeting to express regrets for not being able to attend- and that is fine. That's what this blog is for, to keep us connected when we can't be together in person.

After reviewing the expectations and other general information, like how the WhipCity Wordsmiths have a valuable resource we can tap into in the non-profit group Artworks of Westfield, Inc. (a group that supports all the arts and culture in Westfield) and a brief discussion about the upcoming Fall Family Festival/Pumpkin Festival (where authors have an opportunity to promote their books and do readings) we went around the table introducing ourselves and giving brief biographies as to who we are and what we've done or hope to accomplish in the field of writing.

We discussed how no one should feel inadequate because they haven't published anything or haven't even really written anything yet. This group is for writers at all levels and is a source that can be tapped for feedback, help, support, encouragement, coping with writer's block, dealing with feelings of frustration and self doubt, for bolstering self confidence, for finding the writer within and channeling it outward into print. Melissa spoke up and told the group that no one should begin a sentence with, "I don't know if this is any good or not," or "I'm not sure I did this right..." There is no right or wrong, there may be good and bad, but put it out there anyway. You cannot move forward as a writer if you take hesitant steps.

Writing is a craft. Very few can pick up a pen and write beautiful and profound things instantly. It's a skill that is honed over time. You have to have the desire to write within you. If you have that desire burning within you then you need to let it out. It may scorch and burn the paper at first, but from the ashes of those first written words there will arise a phoenix in its own good time.

And that is where the support of people who have that same burning passion comes into play. Writing is a rather solitary art form. Most of the time very few people see an article, a chapbook of poetry, a novel, an anthology, a song lyric being written and developed- they only see the finished product, and even then they have to commit to reading the words before they can experience the art of the written word employed in its creation. It's very different from watching an artist paint a picture. It's different from watching a sculptor chisel a form from a block of marble, or a metal sculptor weld pieces of metal together into a new form. The literary arts require a reader to commit to reading a book and react to it cerebrally and viscerally. We'll touch upon how to draw the reader into your work at a future meeting.

Favorite words were brought to the meeting, written on an index card, or written on a card at the meeting if the member was new (there were three new members who joined this afternoon, and one that had joined this morning). The cards were folded and put into Kelly's deadman's hat, jumbled up and then passed around. Wordsmiths were given 5 minutes to write whatever they wanted, including their selected word from the hat in whatever way they wanted.

We went around the table and read what we had written. It was interesting and amazing to hear what can be done in five minutes with a word drawn from a hat. It shouldn't have been so surprising since we have a group loaded with talent, but still, you never know what will come out of a writing prompt! Well done!

Melissa Volker talked a bit about author readings and will expand upon the topic of how to amp up an author reading at the next meeting. She will be next month's moderator.

Ironically the next WhipCity Wordsmiths meeting is scheduled for Saturday, October 21st at 3PM, one hour after my author event for the launch of Out, my new vampire novel. But, Melissa has already planted a seed in my brain, so this reading should be better than previous ones.

Sandy Sessler contributed a box of MaMa Cakes mini cupcakes as refreshment at the meeting which was much appreciated! Yummy X 10!!!

Russell Atwood filled us in on Pumpkin Fest, what's happening at Blue Umbrella that day, the next Ghost Stories LIVE! event on Saturday, October 28th in the evening. Russell is also working on a new Ghost Stories LIVE! anthology with new ghost stories contributed by Melissa Violker, Justin Baillargeon, Kelly Buffum, and Susan Buffum.

Glen Ebisch will be doing a talk on current women mystery writers at 2PM at Blue Umbrella Books on October 28th. I was at his history of the mystery genre and really learned a lot! If you're able to attend, please do so!

The meeting concluded with some socializing. Some members had to leave, but other stayed and chatted, catching up on what's new.

Overall, the meeting was well attended, and everyone participated and offered something, which is how the group is supposed to work.

Members in attendance today were Susan Buffum, Kelly Buffum, Patty Wright, Sandy Sessler, Joyce Collins, Judith Foard-Giucastro, Guiseppe Giucastro, Lynnmarie May, Melissa Volker and Lex Volker, Lindsay Stenico, Andrew Curran, Glen Ebisch, Susan Foley, Richard Rubin, and Russell Atwood.

New members today include Patty Wright, Richard Rubin, Susan Foley, Judith Foard-Giucastro and her husband Guiseppe Giucastro.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Wordsmith member Wayne Weatherwax's wife Sally who will be undergoing another surgery and recovery and rehab. We wish her all the best.