Friday, August 18, 2017

Welcome Andrew!

I'd just like to welcome Andrew Curran to WhipCity Wordsmiths. Andrew is our newest member and we're looking forward to meeting him!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Accident by Glen Ebisch

I received local author Glen Ebisch's email newsletter a couple of weeks ago in which he offered three free copies of one of his new books to the first three people who contacted him. I contacted him to invite him to become a WhipCity Wordsmith, which he did do. He filled out his application and emailed it back. And he sent copies of The Accident signed and personalized to Kelly and me. Kelly has taken hers with her on his current road trip out to Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York State. It's quiet here without her across the table from me every night, so I've been doing some reading. She took Sean Sweeney's Model Agent with her also, a book I've been reading, so I grabbed The Accident.


I didn't intent to stay up late last night but I had to finish the book. Yes, it's a page turner! Mystery/suspense with well drawn characters, red herrings, plot twists, a coastal Maine setting I felt entirely familiar with. Glen has written a taut novel with some psychological shadows playing through the background. I tend to ramble on, so will just say that I really enjoyed this book and absolutely couldn't put it down last night until I had reached the end. 5 stars and a snap! Highly recommended.


Once again, I reiterate- many of us are local authors. I am an avid supporter of local authors and have quite a collection of fantastic books written by them in my bookcase, and hope to add more. As I read the books I always try to post a review, because reviews matter to local authors. So, please, if you read a book by a local author, and there's a site, such as Amazon or goodreads where you can go to post a review, please take a few minutes and leave a review- even if it's just a couple of words- like Great book! Or, this author has a knack with characterization. Whatever you want to say- please say it and make the author's day.


Now I'm off to go post a review of The Accident for Glen...and I hope to add more of his books to my local author shelf in the near future!


Bravo! Well done! My heart is still pounding!





Friday, August 11, 2017

Conversation With Mike Walsh This Morning

This is an excerpt from a series of messages exchanged with Vermont author and former Westfield resident, Mike Walsh this morning-


Mike: Just sitting here remembering something that happened a couple of years ago. I was at a family gathering. The father of a fellow author was there. Their child had written six books and was proud of what they had done. The father looked at me and said, "She has tried this writing thing. She didn't do well with it, so it is time for her to move on to something else." I was flabbergasted with his comment. It is bad that most people feel that way. Namely, if you haven't made a lot of money at writing it is not worth doing it. I have never talked to the person about this. That author knows that she has done well in creating all of those stories and that is all that matters. This issue is something that all new authors have to learn to overcome. I was going to post this on the website but thought better of it. I don't want to discourage anyone. The fact that less than 5% of our population writes is important. Less than half of that number writes more than one book because of the superficial success measurements society puts on all of us. To write is to bare our souls to the world. It takes courage and commitment.


Susan: You should put this on the blog. Yes, it can be discouraging, but it's something authors have to deal with, and that is why groups in which authors support and promote one another's work is important. It keeps us from feeling so alone and hopeless in the world.


Here are some additional thoughts I've had since this morning.


I am the mother of an author. I have written for my daughter for her entire life. The greatest gift she's ever given me is her sitting down and writing stories for me. She began writing stories in first grade. They were better than the average first grader's work, which was pointed out to me by her teacher during a parent teacher conference. I had begun writing around that time myself, so I didn't think much of Kelly's ability to plot and write a story at that age. Her work wasn't always perfect. There is no writer living or dead who has ever sat down and written the perfect, flawless piece.


What I never did was say, oh, what are you wasting your time for? I encouraged her, supported her, and as she grew up we have grown together as writers and authors. She has self published two books. I am terribly proud of her. I would never dream of telling her it's time to try something else. She is a writer. It is in her blood and DNA. To squelch that would be akin to stepping on a pretty bug because it serves no visible purpose. EVERYTHING has a purpose. Musicians play the music that threads and resonated through their souls. Poets, authors, playwrights, screenwriters, blog authors....anyone who writes cannot NOT write. It is who they are.


Instead of discouraging creativity we should always make an effort to encourage it and nurture it. Most of the time creativity will not pay the bills, those boring routine but necessary jobs pay the rent and grocery bills and utilities. If a publisher gloms onto you and promotes the crap out of your work more power to you, but it's actually a very small percentage of authors who attain that lofty status. The rest of us labor away at what we love to do, pouring hearts and souls into our works and reaping extremely limited rewards, BUT, the greatest reward is following your dream and writing those books and getting them out there into the world.


And the best marketing tool is word of mouth. Who is better at promoting your work than you yourself? Your local author friends who also make author appearances. There are all kinds of writers in the world, and all kinds of readers. I always ask people who come to my table, what do you like to read. If it's not something I write, but it is something one of my author friends does write, I say, well, here's the name of a terrific author who writes books like that. I think you'll enjoy them. I may not have a sold a book, but I may have helped another author sell a book. I want to promote this idea of a network of authors and writers supporting one another and promoting one another's work.


And we should never discourage anyone with the guts to put pen to paper and write. I was a horrible writer when I first started writing. But I kept writing and my writing grew as I grew. I evolved and so did my ability to use words to evoke images and emotions. Never stifle the desire to write in anyone. Encourage, nurture, support, mentor, monitor and never forget, you were in that place once.


Another way to support other authors is to read their books and review them. You won't like every book, but always find something positive to say. If it's not your cup of tea, say, "Although this is not a genre I normally read I did find the authors ability to evoke images and emotions both poignant and provocative. If you like (insert genre here), then you're certain to enjoy this book." Keep it positive. Keep it simple. Keep it honest. Keep it in mind that your author friend will return the favor.


Well...I was just supposed to post that piece Mike had written to me this morning...and as usual, sit me down at the computer and I'll write forever!



Opportunity for a Literary Event

On October 14th, potentially from noon to ?, there is a fall Family Festival Day with a pumpkin carving event happening in downtown Westfield. With this event there is an opportunity to hold a literary arts event, possibly in the former Carson Center Building across from the green beside the church. There would be a small room available for authors. I'm putting feelers out now to find out if there is any interest among the authors in our group in having a table at the event to showcase your work? I need to get a general idea of how many authors would be interested so space can be planned. Email me at sebuffum415@gmail.com, or comment here on the blog where I'll see it. I would need to know by the first week of September at the latest. The festival is family oriented with the big event being pumpkin carving and decorating on the green, possibly buskers (musicians) playing at various locations downtown, art & photography for sale in the former Carson Center.


Any opportunity to get your books and yourself out there in front of the public helps promote and market your work, and earn new fans! And it's also been fun chatting with other authors during lulls and keeping up with one another in a relaxed and fun setting!


Think about October 14th and let me know if you're available and interested so I can set something up.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Welcome To Joyce Collins!

A word of welcome to Joyce Collins who joined WhipCity Wordsmiths today. We're happy to have her as a member. Joyce is interested in writing for genealogical projects, and writing about her travels. She's also interested in writing memoirs. Welcome!

Inaugural Meeting Scheduled- September 23rd

While this group was founded by Susan and Kelly (mother/daughter Westfield authors) around the beginning of July and this blog was set up for members to post on, we have not yet had an inaugural meeting, or any other sort of meeting. However, that has not deterred 16 writers/authors/reviewers from joining fairly quickly once word got out.


Today I had an opportunity to visit with Russell Atwood at Blue Umbrella Books at 2 Main Street, Westfield, MA. During the course of discussing a number of topics I mentioned I needed to see the store's schedule so I could book a first meeting date and time. Tom Deady has an author event on September 9th. Kelly and I have a button show on the 16th, our local button club is hosting so we need to be present since we provide breakfast and dessert at lunch, and usually host the annual auction. September 23rd was free so I grabbed that date and chose 3PM since most people have eaten lunch by then and have accomplished the majority of their weekend errands. The store is open until 6PM so we're generously booked from 3PM-6PM which should give us plenty of time to start this group rolling. A general notice that persons interested in joining but undecided, and those who are curious and want to see what the group is all about has been posted. They have been invited to come and observe and join, if they'd like to.


I was going to try to do an initial casual get together this month, but Kelly's taking off for Illinois, New York State, Pennsylvania and who knows where else doing a transportation (railroad, trolley and antique/vintage cars) this month, so she'll be out of town for two weekends, and people are still on vacation and preparing for college, so we'll have an opportunity to get to know one another at the inaugural meeting. Snacks and beverages will be provided. All I ask is that you bring a notebook and a pen, your favorite word, and your enthusiasm.


If you could drop me an email by September 16th to let me know if you can make it I'd appreciate it as I'd like to give Jessica a ballpark number of people who can attend so she'll have enough seats for us set up.


If you are unable to attend don't worry- I'll send a Meeting Summary by email or snail mail, and post it here on the blog, as well, so everyone stays connected and up-to-date and no one feels left out.


Bring your ideas to the meeting. We'll do a couple of fun writing things at this first meeting, but also come prepared to meet and greet one another with a brief bio and a short summary of your work.


Looking forward to seeing you on September 23rd, 2017 at 3PM at Blue Umbrella Books in Westfield!

Welcome Geri Johnson

Just want to post a word of welcome here to new member Geri Johnson. We're happy to have you with us!

Friday, August 4, 2017

One Inquiry So Far

We've had one inquiry so far from a person interested in what the group is all about. Right now we stand at 15 members. Just wondering what the rest of you feel in regards to the number of members- enough? Room for 5 more? Bear in mind that not everyone will be able to attend meetings, and some live at a distance so will not be at meetings, but are present here on the blog.


I'd appreciate your thoughts in regards to membership number.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Press Release = Advertising in Westfield

I sent a press release to the Westfield News last night and received a response letting me know that there is such a plethora of press releases swamping their office that the groups press release may not be published for "quite some time", however, I could contact sales and PAY for an AD, if I wanted it to appear "sooner." Needless to say, I opted out of paying for a press release to appear as an ad. I am not advertising anything. The group collectively has zero dollars because we do not collect dues.


I did post the piece about our current membership drive on several social media sites for FREE and am happy to see members sharing the posts that I've put up on various sites they belong to. As always, we are very supportive of one another. I'll look around for other places where they accept press releases without charging for them.


Meanwhile, everywhere I go I am spreading the word. Anyone know anyone in the English departments at the high school or WSU? I'm sure that there are other students, like our Lindsay, who have talent and might be interested in joining a supportive group that will help them grow and chase their dreams.


Any other ideas?

Monday, July 31, 2017

Beta Reading X 3

I'm currently beta reading for Ron Taylor, a friend of member Mike Walsh's, Melissa Volker one of our esteemed members, and Mike Brenner, Kelly's friend who surprised us both by sitting down and writing 5 rather amazing, connected trolley museum stories with paranormal elements that we're helping him clean up for possible publication. Mike lives in Minnesota and is reluctant to join, thinking he's not good enough- we're trying to convince him otherwise and sent him an honorary membership card hoping it would spark him to join...he hasn't joined yet.


I'm also still plowing through the 4th proof copy of Out which I really want to submit to By Light Unseen Media in Pepperell, MA- they do high quality vampire material, not Buffy the Vampire Slayer stuff or campy rehashes of what everyone else is doing. My vampire novel is a little different from the ordinary, although it is also partly a romance novel with a bit of horror, which I do not normally write.


Since May 31st I have been working on and self-publishing four books while feeling as if I haven't been doing much of anything at all. I've also been writing a little in between- and still I don't feel as if I've made any progress anywhere. I an satisfied that I have mastered using my own photographs on the covers of the five most recent books, not stock photos from CreateSpace. Now that I know what I'm doing I can dig into the photo archives on our computer from the probably thousands of pictures we've taken over the years, and find something suitable for future covers. I may revamp older covers again in the near future. It depends on just how ambitious I get.


I don't usually take vacation time until October, my favorite month, but even then, I tend to spend quiet time writing when I'm not having to go to work every day.


What's everyone doing this summer?







Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Book Review .... Beartown by Fredrik Backman

I finished Beartown by Fredrik Backman early this morning ... my head is still buzzing! What an extraordinary read. I highly recommend it!

My review is on Goodreads

Summer Projects

I have an acre of beta reading to do for three authors, but after feeling lousy since May, I decided to just work quietly on a couple of projects on my to-do list and get them done and out of the way. Therefore, Bending Birches, a conjoined pair of novellas have been completed, and that book is now available. By conjoined, I mean that they go together. Bending Birches, the first novella from which the book's title derives, can probably be read independently, but Seventh Year Itch needs to follow Bending Birches for it to be completely placed in context and understood. This book is in the 5x8 format.


Yesterday, I extracted all the cat, kitten, puppy, and dog stories I'd written from previous story collections and combined them into one book titles Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs. There is one previously unpublished story called Franklin, which is actually a ghost cat story and also a little foray into fantasy. I had it all put together last night, and after a number of technological glitches with the main computer, my HP Stream, CreateSpace, and my phone I finally got the cover photo uploaded. The photo is one of my favorites of Revere and Riley Beans, our cats. I've begun using my own photographs on the covers of my books when possible. So, now I am living with two cats with huge egos because they are on the cover a book! (Just kidding!)


Today, I managed to read a number of chapters in one book for Ron. I am into the second longer story in Mike B.'s five connected stories. And I just glanced through Melissa's sequel to The Thirteenth Moon and hope to begin it soon.


Kelly and I took time before lunch today to watch Sandy Sessler's May 23rd interview on WSKB 89.5FM on Bob Plasse's WOW It's Tuesday radio program on facebook. She was great and they were funny together. Kelly and I will be on his program, with Melissa Volker, on October 24th. Those of you who know me know that I'm not much of a talker, and Kelly is even less a talker than I am, so I'm not exactly sure how that will go, but I hope they have some good music to fill the gaps!!


Hoping to get a press release into the About Town column of the Westfield News about the WhipCity Wordsmiths. They have been curiously uncooperative about publishing anything related to me in the past...which could be because I'm not one who has had a whole lot of free time to constantly be out there promoting my work. I work for a living and write as a hobby (prolifically, evidently). When Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs is released this week I will have 14 story collections, 13 novels, 1 young adult/new adult novel, and one young reader chapter book out there- a total of 29 books, with #30 already written and in the fourth proof copy stage as I think about submitting it to a publisher, something I've been reluctant to do in the past because I don't like giving up control of my work (trying to read mass market published books lately infuriates me because they are so riddled with a variety of errors that should have been caught before going to the presses!) I am far from perfect, but using CreateSpace allows me to pull my books and make the corrections I need to make, and they put it right back out there. I wouldn't be able to do that with a publisher...and I don't know if I want to grind my teeth down with annoyance and frustration if someone else publishes one of my books and I find errors in it. That's just the way I am-unrealistically a perfectionist. (I probably need therapy, but I also see a lot of comments about readers not liking finding grammar, verb tense, continuity and other errors in the books they read, so I don't think it's just me.)


Anyway-two little projects quietly accomplished in the past week, some beta reading done today...and now it's time to get ready for the work week ahead...I wish I could work two days a week and write/read five days a week. I'd be a lot happier!


Also did some brainstorming at the kitchen table last night about some things WhipCity Wordsmiths can do in the future...we'll discuss them at a meeting and on the blog once things get formally rolling.







Friday, July 28, 2017

Welcome to author Glen Ebisch

I received local author Glen Ebisch's newsletter about his three (yes, that's 3) new books the other day. I've been to two of Glen's author events at Blue Umbrella Books in the past and thoroughly enjoyed his presentation and book discussions. Kelly and I are fans with several of his books on our library shelves already.


I asked if he'd be interested in joining the group and was delighted when he accepted. He promptly returned his membership application- so Wordsmiths, let's warmly welcome him into the fold! He's an intelligent man, a terrific writer, and he's possibly even more prolific than I am! (Although, as a group as a whole- we have produced an impressive body of writing among us!)There's lots more I could say, but it'll be fun for all of us to get to know him better.


Another recent addition to our membership is Westfield author Sonia Ellis (who lives on my street-which makes three Westfield authors residing on the same street- how many cities or towns can boast about that?)


Anyway- check out the membership page and the Book Gallery. Kelly has added Glen's and Sonia's bios and will be adding Glen's many books to the gallery as soon as she gets decent images of them. She's set placeholders for as many as she could find so. We also need an image of Sonia's book, but that shouldn't be too difficult to obtain!


Welcome to WhipCity Wordsmiths!



July Newsletter & Membership List Mailed

This morning I mailed out a brief July newsletter and a membership list to all members I have mailing addresses for- watch your mailbox!

WOW ... Lots of New Posts!

It was great to see so many new posts today!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Request


  Recently I have working with a friend of mine that I served with in the Army on his first book. Sandy Sessler was kind enough to edit it for him. He was real appreciative of her assistance. \
  I expect the edits to be completed soon. Because of that I am looking for beta readers to give him honest feedback on the story. The story is about how he became a journalist working in Appalachia after getting his degree.
   If you are interested in doing this leave me a comment or contact me at justsomeoldman@gmail.com









Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Partial Novels

I close my eyes, trying to focus and organize my thoughts. It's like trying to control chaos with a whip that keeps lashing back at me in the maelstrom.


I was searching for the sequel to a novella I wrote a few years ago when I came across a bright yellow binder in a file box. I plucked it out, opened it and was stunned to find it was 145 pages of the first version of Black Knight, White Rook, the sequel to Black King Takes White Queen. I remember writing the beginning, with Ivy in her crafting room, her eye drawn by a flash of white outside beyond the greenhouse window. When she investigates she sees an albino crow attacking what looks to her, at first, like a fallen slender tree. Her grandfather is out in the yard playing with his three-year old grandson, Ivy and Romney's little boy, Ezra. In moments, the tree moves, lifts its head and she realizes with horror that it is a huge serpent that the white rook is attacking and attempting to blind as its feathers are not spattered with the snake's blood. Ivy's wand is not close at hand She realizes that by the time she invokes the retrieval spell to summon her wand to her hand, and then invokes the death spell it will be too late for Ezra.


The novel starts with a bang and continues rather relentlessly as Ivy's black witch sister returns with her evil black warlock husband in tow. They are power hungry and determined to destroy the fragile peace Romney and Ivy's union in the first novel has brought about between black and white arts practitioners.


I wrote 145 typewritten pages of this novel before I realized that it wasn't quite the story I had envisioned, and was much darker and heart wrenching than I wanted the second book to be, although the one that was written afterwards that is published is pretty dark and difficult to read. In the pages in the yellow binder, Ivy's grandfather is slain. I didn't want that to happen in book two. This second novel is more about the rift between Ivy and her older sister Holly and how evil has rushed in to fill the growing void between them. Holly and her husband have kidnapped Romney and Ivy's son in this version, as well as Ivy. Ivy has managed to escape, as she does in the published version, but Ezra is still in Holly and Trowbridge's clutches.


There is a lot of good writing in those 145 pages that no one will ever read, specially in regards to the depth of Romney and Ivy's love for one another. But, with every novel I write, I pack as much as I can in every page, so, although I feel satisfied with the Black Knight, White Rook version that was published, my heart aches because this one was also very good.


I have other novels that I have written several versions of. The first novel in the Talon supernatural grim reaper series, I wrote the book four times. It was originally a series of four stories I wrote for Kelly for Halloween. Then I wrote a novel version of the four stories. In third person. Then I rewrote it, still in third person. I didn't like it because I felt it should be told from Bryce's point of view, how she experiences what happens in her life. So I wrote it again, and then one final time in which I removed some material which was then included in book two in the series, and added some additional material in book one that shows more of Bryce and Dr. Talon's developing yet still very volatile relationship, and Bryce's trying to wrap her head around the fact that the grim reaper has been on the periphery of her life since childhood, and while he was a terrifying figure, her dawning realization that he is and always has been her protector. Then comes her awareness that the grim reaper and Dr. Giles Talon are one and the same. It all had to be presented in a certain way-so the fourth revision hit the mark. But the other three versions are still sitting in binders in the dining room- still good stories, but not quite the right story written in the right way.


There were also several versions of the first Archetypes novel. Also good stories, but not quite the way I wanted it to be.


I don't want to throw these novels and partial novels away- they were each a labor of love, but I'm not quite sure what to do with them. If you're a writer then you know how much of yourself you put into everything that you write. It would be like throwing out a part of myself. So, I feel compelled to keep them around..at least for the time being!


Maybe, if I go back and read some more in this unpublished novel I will find the inspiration to pen the third novel in the series (one or two, or even maybe three times, until I get it just right!).


I did eventually find the sequel partial novella to Bending Birches that I had been looking for. I'm currently working on finishing that story, Seventh Year Itch. The two novellas will then be combined in one book in the near future. Then, maybe I'll get back to finishing The Lakeside Manor Investigation since Kelly is anxiously awaiting that sequel since I'll be writing a few of her characters from her novel Parapsychology into this novel. 


I was just thinking that I should have a bookshelf for only partially written novels- a place to call their own where I could revisit them...I really don't have the heart to let them go.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Hatred

Hate is the double barrelled gun of your eyes aimed at me!

Awareness

To become aware is to be in anguish
For tis easier to be unaware within ourself.

To embrace another is to be able to Embrace yourself

The Getto

The street is quiet only the distant sounds of the city breaks the quiet hum
Trash and Garbage heaped here and there
reminds of those that do not care
Broken windows, doors and promises too
remind them of me and you!
The darkness returns again to shroud and hide societies forgotten ones again

Change

Out of the foggy mist of my past
Reveals to me a person who cannot last
I wish that I might see hope for people; some like me
The bowels of my being I've rocked at last
To give me hope and forget whats past
Now the Sun is rising to the Horizon high
Bringing hope for all people like you and I

1975 Satellite Beach FL.

Cuban Refugees

I came to escape injustice
To the land of the Free
Yet I encountered injustice to my people and me
My land was raped by War
My people cast themselves from it shore
We hurried away to wait somemore
To once again return to our shore
One day soon we will return
to see our Cuba land of the Free

1975 Miami

Musing on Race Relations

I grew up in Florida in the mid 1950's. We had Jim Crow laws and policies in effect. White only drinking fountains, white only restrooms etc. The dividing line was Central Avenue bisecting the city from Tampa Bay on the East to the Gulf of Mexico on the West. If you were a person of color you  lived south of that imaginary border only. This change in my life happened at age nine when we moved from rural Connecticut to Florida.
I had been in integrated schools in New England and suddenly there were only White children in school,my neighborhood etc. Slowly over the next nine years of my life I saw my parents attitude change to conform to the segregated norms of the South.

I joined the U.S. Navy there at age 17 and went off to boot camp in Great Lakes,IL. Suddenly there were people of color in my Recruit company and Senior enlisted personnel of color.
This switch in upbringing would have some profound impacts on my views of America, The South and the Military which would become my career from 1964-1983.

In the 1970's the Army and Navy were experiencing racial tensions and riots at various Navy and Army installations. The Department of Defense (DOD) established a new inter-service school called DOD Race Relations Institute. I volunteered for this 11 week course which was followed up by a 6 week internship training at the Human Resources Management center in San Diego,CA. The following writings are from a small journal I kept of my experiences during this schooling and of a weekend we spent in the Cuban neighborhoods of Miami Fl.

Societies Degradation
Row after Row, Tier after Tier
Societies Degradation!
Cages,Cages, always Cages
Societies Shame!
Dirt here,Dirt everywhere
Societies Blame!
Bare,Dirty, Bars and Screens and Wall
Societies Child!
All heaped and pushed together in Steel, Concrete and Stone!
No today, No Tomorrow, only Forever
Societies Degradation!

The above was written after a visit to the Dade County Jail (locally called the stockade). We were given free access and allowed to talk to any and all inmates. My partner who was a U.S. Army Sergeant suddenly recognized one inmate who had recently been discharged from his Army Unit, here he was in Jail already.
After Graduation I spent the next 3 years as a Race Relations Education Specialist working in Alaska,
 and aboard the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower CVN-69 as part of the pre-commissioning crew.


It was a very enlightening 21 year career. When I entered the Navy in 1962 if you were a person of color that meant you worked either as a member of the Deck Force, Engineering, or asa a cook or Steward. If you were Phillapino you could only be a Steward. Women or WAVES were only allowed to be in Yeoman or Personnelman,  or  the Hospital corpsman ratings.

Thankfully over the years that all changed. Regardless of color or race anyone today can be in any specialty. The first Woman just recently applied to be a Navy SEAL and Woman officers have been serving aboard all types of ships, and even Submarines. Yes its a better Navy today for all.

finally another writing after my Miami experience in 1975 reads as follows

I Must Never Forget
I must Never forget what I have seen!
The wrongs left uncorrected
The people left without hope
The emotions I experienced
Those that shared with me their self
I must never forget that becoming aware I felt the anguish of ignorance and the pain of truth
Let my awareness always remind me of those who helped me to become aware
I must never forget that awareness needs always to be reinforced by looking into the past,present and future.
For awareness is all things, forsaking nothing.

I found this old notebook while sifting through far too many books I own to select some to be recycled. Glad it survived 42years of travel and storage.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Feedback



      As a writer we are always excited when we get feedback on our work. Yesterday, while my wife and I were at a Yard Sale I was surprised with some.
     It came from an author of children's books that I have worked with a couple of years ago. This person has read most of my books.
     This person just looked at me and said, " I love your writing style. Whenever I am reading one of your books I feel like we are sitting across a table from each other having a conversation over a cup of coffee."
     When I recovered I thank them for the compliment and told then that is one of the short comings of my writing. I write exactly as I speak.
     Times like that are what keeps as writer going. Knowing that someone has enjoyed what you have written is the greatest compliment someone can give you.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Mask at Ashley


It was the mask that called me to attention, halted my forward progress. So black and intricate, wrapped with exquisite precision around the head from front to back, a small equal splash of white at the edge on each side, the eyes lost somewhere in that amazingly seductive, majestic veil. The lines were crisp, the design mesmerizing as I stared up into the tree. Frozen.

We watched each other, at least I watched the mask. I sensed it watched me but I could not confirm eyes were behind that mask. It spied me with unflinching intensity; the svelte, sleek dirty yellow body positioned strategically about six feet above me. The high ground, a position of advantage.

Time felt stopped as we held our gaze, me, the mask, watching. Then came the small sequence of infinitesimal movements that precipitated the sudden bolt of action. The mask shifted its focus to my right, for just a second or two, low, apprehensively, anxiously then back to me. Testing, probing, exploring.

When I noticed the change in visual angulation of the mask, sensing the mask was watching something else besides me, I slowly reached for my pocket. The mask immediately perceived my movement, looked back to me from the previous focal point to my right, slightly in front of me, low to the ground. What was the mask so intently watching?

I refroze in place. We resumed our optical standoff. The mask looked on less intently now, perhaps a bit more relaxed and comfortable with the new normalcy of my presence, an acceptance of this new object of nature. To the mask, did I now appear to be as inanimate as the soil, rocks, branches and grass around me? Did my stillness invoke reassurance and safety?

The instant I felt our standoff had evolved into an understanding, the mask made its move. With grace and purpose and complete disregard for me, the mask darted from the tree to a small but sturdy and leafy stalk of vegetation slightly in front of me, to my right, about three feet tall.

Food. A meal. The standoff with the mask was all about food. Whatever was on that leafy, green sprig of summertime vegetation just off the gravel walkway was irresistible to the point where my presence would not detract the mask from snatching up that tasty little entomological morsel.

The black mask of the cedar waxwing lingered for just a second or two to secure his catch and off he went, his flight erratic, perhaps evasive, making his way to another tree further ahead closer to the water’s edge.

I never was able to retrieve the camera from my pocket in time to photograph this beguiling encounter with the mask but my memory will forever record yet another intriguing interaction with the natural world at the Ashley Reservoir!        

A Nod to Webmaster Kelly

I just want to thank Kelly for all the work she does on the blog. She is currently working on updating the Book Gallery page and has inserted placeholders for titles she doesn't yet have cover images for. We're having a scanner issue at the moment so several new titles are only in the gallery with place holders at this time.


If your cover art has changed (I am notorious for redesigning/revamping my covers- butterscotch receiving the latest updated cover-still awaiting a copy with new cover so it can be uploaded) and you want your new cover displayed in the gallery please send Kelly a quality image or get her a copy of your book to scan (returnable). We'd love to keep the book gallery up-to-date so viewers can see your work and link to your retail location and perhaps buy your book (-s).


Also, if there is any new info you want added to your bio on the Members page send it along to kellybuffumauthor@gmail.com


Great job, Kelly!

Doing Something Different

I have more or less been the Queen of self-publishing and, truthfully,a control freak, because I do not trust other people with my work...therefore, I have had to take a really deep breath here when making the decision to shop my one and only vampire novel to a publisher who is not me. I am working on the 4th print proof copy, making what I hope will be the final revisions and tweaks (after just over 2 years of laboring over this one) before sending off a cover letter with synopsis and author bio, and first three chapters.


Writing has always been my hobby. I've shared my stories with family and friends and few others. It was only two years ago, after so much arm twisting that it finally broke something stubborn and self-protective within me that I began "leaking" my accumulated work into public places.


I think the public aspect started with Blue Umbrella Books with Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales Volume I and a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt in the store for Miss Peculiar's Curiosities. This led to an invitation to do Ghost Stories LIVE!...which I accepted (that first event was extremely nerve-wracking for me because I am not a public speaker, but I did thoroughly enjoy it once my reading was over and done with! I've since found it less traumatic to read in front of an audience and like coming up with new stories for the events because I've always liked a challenge.


I've made a few local author appearances, and people have now begun to recognize me...but more times than not I work all day, write all night, and miss a lot of opportunities to promote my books because of health issues and an essentially not very outgoing personality. I'm okay once I get to know someone, but I'm more of a thinker and doer than a talker and socializer.


But, I'm going to go out on a limb and pitch Out and see what happens. As they say, you won't know unless you try. I don't have nerves of steel, but after a smidge over two years, I have a relationship with the characters in this novel and feel an obligation not to fail them as their creator, so I am doing something different and not self-publishing this novel just yet.


If you want to read it, I can send it (to WhipCity Wordsmith members only as a beta read-message or email me if interested) as an attachment in its not quite up to my standards yet 4th incarnation. You probably heard me shouting in frustration when I began reading this proof copy this past Thursday night and found a little continuity issue in the very first chapter- it just took the rewording of one or two sentences to remedy, but it was like a chisel blow to my self-confidence just the same. Sometimes the littlest blows can open the largest cracks which in turn allows self doubt to invade a writer's psyche.


Sandy Sessler has the 3rd proof copy with all it's markings and yellow title. Green title (second proof) and red title (first proof) are practically unreadable with revisions, corrections, and tweaks, the green titled one especially!) The fourth cover is purple roses & title- which will be its final look if this all goes nowhere and I self-publish the book.


This all sounds both promising and grim- but the reality of being an author and writer is that there is often this duality of nature involved- the highs of having a project you love and have worked hard on and want to be successful with, and the lows of being consumed with self doubt, lack of self confidence, worries over the story not being as original and fresh as you hoped it would be, or not as good as you think it is...so, sometimes, I guess, you need to climb up to the highest platform and take the leap into what looks like a very small rectangle of water far below and hope for a decent score in the end.



Friday, July 14, 2017

I Hate it When...

I hate it when I'm halfway through writing a novel and another story DEMANDS my attention and then TOYS with me after I start writing it and it says, well, maybe it would be better this way, so I start again and it turns out it's not the same story at all, so where did THAT come from? Why does my brain jump track in the middle of something and then lead me on a merry romp on two different yet similar lines?

I am plodding (or should that be plotting) my way toward my next goal of 30 books self-published which is way excessive by anyone's standards except mine. The Fairlawn Investigation and The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation just got their final tweaking, and in the case of Fairlawn, another cover image change to avoid copyright infringement, and a credit and info for the photo used on the cover of Victoria Wayfarer after diligently tracking it down via several searches to make sure I was getting it right. There was no copyright info available, so the URL and info I found will have to suffice as photo credit. And then Out needed a final cover other than just black with the word Out in red- so deep purple roses now grace its cover with purple font on black. It's a vampire romance but it's also different in that while some horrific things occur in the book it's more about self discovery and tolerance than anything else.

I touched upon that theme, tolerance, in Black King Takes White Queen and Black Knight, White Rook- where vastly different witchcraft and magic practitioners had to set aside their differences and work together to defeat a truly evil black witch. The work Romney and Ivy started in Black King Takes White Queen continues in Black Knight, White Rook even as they deal with more evil doers who seek to tear them apart and destroy them. It is still about learning to live together and to respect one another's differences while finding unity in individual strengths.

So, while I sit at my kitchen table feeling guilty because the book Kelly wants me to write, The Lakeside Manor Investigation, (it will include several characters from her novel Parapsychology) simmers on the back burner while Archer Mills and Cherry Forbes allow me to tease out their true story from a hundred miles of knotted plot- I can't help but think that this was how my 2015 NaNo novel, Life Skills, started- with a binder full of short stories that explored Remy Bryce and Lissa Beresford's relationship- all of them scraped once NaNo rolled around and their real story emerged- which turned out to be a surprise even to me since I had no idea what the book was going to be about- I just wrote and wrote and wrote for 23 days (weekdays after work and more or less all day and into the night on weekends), then spent the rest of the month editing and revising the novel.

I suppose this happens to every writer- stories leap frogging over stories being written. It's like having a hundred young children all vying for your attention, but it's the quiet child in the corner you really ought to notice, that's the one who really has the best story to tell. Just getting to that child can be a struggle though...so, back to Archer and Cherry for now, while keeping an eye on that shadowy child holding her story close to the vest...one day I will reach her!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Predation on Alexander

The blur of black splashed across my peripheral vision. The squawking cries of the jay piqued my interest. They’re back, visiting the site of the atrocity, the scene of the crime, the marauders returning to the kill zone.

I live in what I consider a much gentrified, suburban section of Westfield where the manicured lawns are always green and plush from the incessant watering and the bushes and shrubs are meticulously trimmed and shaped. When I think of predation, images of wildebeests being mercilessly dragged to the ground by hungry lions or a zebra being ripped apart in a crocodile’s death roll immediately come to mind. Predation in Westfield? Oh yeah it happened, on Alexander!

Several weeks ago I got a text message from my wife that a bird brawl broke out in our front yard. Robins vs. Jays … not baseball, birds! The robins built a nest in the crab apple tree in our front yard. Awesome construction quality, very poor site selection … far too low in the branch, so low I could easily reach up and touch the nest standing directly beneath the bough. I sensed vulnerability.

The jays and robins were screaming at each other and my wife went outside to break up the fight. Robins defending their turf, protecting the little ones in the nest from what she perceived as the aggressive blue jays she speculated. After a brief respite however, the yelling and screaming started up again. Shriller tones, different intensity, and higher frequency of distress … the ravens had descended upon the tree, one in the tree above the nest, one at the nest’s edge. The young robins were hauled away like the flying monkeys scooping up Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I am certain the ending for the baby robins was considerable different than that of the Dorothy and her little dog!

Relative peace returned to our modest property of just under one acre surrounded by fairly dense woods that provide the illusion of country isolation when the foliage is plush. Despite the harsh realities of life and death playing out in the front yard, a pair of robins successfully nested under our deck off the rear of the house. The deck stands about twelve feet off the group and the nest location was perfect. Several years before, robins nested in the same location and successfully produced multiple generations of hatchlings. I watched the family of four baby birds grow to the point where half of their little bodies protruded above the top of the nest. Fledging was very near! All was well. Until it wasn’t.

One evening the birds were fine. The next morning the nest was on its side on the ground and no birds could be found except for a portion of a wing on the top step on the deck. Something struck during the night. Body parts marked the site of more predation.

Several weeks passed and to my surprise the robins are at it again, this time in the cone shaped dwarf spruce just outside our front door. I am unsure if it is the same couple who suffered the raven attack earlier in the season. This looks and feels like a great location to raise a new brood of American robins but … do the ravens know?

The flash of peripheral black I experienced while I sat in my office overlooking the front yard was a raven revisiting the robin’s nest in the crab apple tree plundered earlier in the spring. Did they expect the nest to be refilled? Can they sense the presence of baby robins someplace in the yard?

I’m concerned. It seems predation has taken up residence on Alexander this summer!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

First Mother/Daughter Author Appearance Booked

Back in April, Bob Plasse invited me to be on his radio program on a Tuesday morning along with author Melissa Volker. He accidentally double booked the date in June that we were going to appear as local authors, friends, and strong supporters of one another's work, as well as supporters of other local authors.


Since then some things have shifted in my life. Kelly has self-published two novels, becoming the new author in the house. And she and I have established this group for writers and authors here in Westfield that has its official kickoff rapidly approaching in September 2017.


Bob threw out some dates that he had openings available for. This morning , after he accepted my revised proposal that Kelly and I appear together on his show because we both write and we're spearheading this group, and both she and I have some books dealing with the paranormal and supernatural (I have two new paranormal books coming out later this month and she was kicking around the idea of a sequel to Parapsychology the other night), we settled on Tuesday, October 24th as the date of our joint appearance on his radio program.


It ought to be interesting as neither one of us is especially extroverted, but we're better when we're together than when we are not. I've known Bob since I worked behind the counter at Conner's Inc. (1996-2007), and we got reacquainted during Articulture in 2016.


I don't know if there are any other mother/daughter authors in Westfield, but with 29 novels and story collections between us, we're probably the most prolific (numbers 28 & 29 are being released simultaneously later this month, number 30 is in the print proof stage, and 31 is currently about half written). Anyone visiting the house would probably be overwhelmed by all the manuscripts lying around in file boxes and milk crates, not to mention the three file cabinets in the den...I know I feel that way at times! There are a few gaps here and there...but not enough yet!


Anyway- get up early on October 24th to catch us on Bob's radio program broadcast from my alma mater WSU (where Lindsay Stenico will be starting this fall!)





Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Dinner

I am late to the party on this one but I finally read The Dinner. You can check out my review on Goodreads.

Oh how I wish publishers would stop with the comparisons to Gone Girl to market books. STOP IT! But you already knew my feelings on this marketing ploy.

This was a nice little read that at the onset felt like an emotional exploration of the limits of parental morals when their children commit unlawful acts until it blossomed into a study of creepy, sinister psychopathology. Psychosis + nipping at the margin of morality = trouble!

With one hundred more pages and the drop of the Gone Girl comps this could have been a really great story for me. But is was good ...three stars!

Membership Drive Has Begun

I put the word out on facebook yesterday in a few places that WhipCity Wordsmiths is accepting applications for membership, with information that the applications are available at Blue Umbrella Books and via email by contacting Kelly at kellybuffumauthor@gmail.com.

We currently have 13 members.

I was wondering how much interest there would be in a very informal meeting on the lawn at Stanley Park on a Sunday afternoon in August? Bring a blanket, a chair, or whatever will keep you comfortable, a snack and a cold drink or two and we'll get to know one another and begin hashing out what we want and expect from this group and kicking around ideas for a local author book fair- or just talk about projects we're working on and whatnot.

I know there's tons of stuff going on this summer, but some of you have also expressed a desire to get things rolling...so I'm throwing this idea out there.

Monday, July 3, 2017



   This is a story that I think many of you will enjoy.

    A few years ago I was co-hosting a blog-talk radio show with Gordon Osmond where we interviewed international authors weekly.
     If you are not familiar with Gordon, most people aren't, he was a Wall Street lawyer for thirty years, author of eight success full plays, author of six books, and a book reviewer on Book Pleasures. He also taught English in Brazil in his final years.
    During one of the interviews Gordon asked the author what genre her book was in. Her response was, " Non-fiction with some fiction thrown in." 
   At that point I lost it. My response was, " What? What? That is not possible."
   Gordon spent the rest of the interview holding back his laughter.
   It is my opinion that we need to understand our genre and our target audience. Without that we as authors will have no success at all.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Gone Girl ... a Red Flag Warning

The publishing world seems fixated on Gone Girl comparisons to market books! Have you noticed? Invariably however, at least for me, the comparison to the blockbuster novel by Gillian Flynn always ends in disappointment.

My latest experience with the Gone Girl marketing ploy was The Dinner by Herman Koch, a NY Times best selling novel that was recently made into a movie. Positioned as "A European Gone Girl ...", I finished the book this morning feeling, "so what is the big deal? Gone Girl this ain't!" Don't get me wrong, The Dinner is an interesting read, laced with darkness, a warped sense of mortality and an incessant undercurrent of mental illness, but far from extraordinary that is Gone Girl. Using Gone Girl as a branding mechanism raises expectations but in this case, The Dinner underdelivered relative to my heightened expectations. I think this marketing strategy hurts rather than helps an author.

Which brings me around to my thought about literary branding, merchandising and marketing. What do you find the most effective way to position your books in the marketplace? Do you think about your brand? Do you have a brand? Is marketing a consideration at all?

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Additional insights from The Weird World of Words

Here are some other things I learned this afternoon that should be interesting to writers/authors/readers/reviewers/etc. while breezing through Mitchell Symons' The Weird World of Words A Guided Tour-

"John Milton used 8,000 different words in Paradise Lost."

"The average reader can read 275 words per minute."

"The vocabulary of the average person consists of 5,000 to 6,000 words." (So, if you're hearing the same thing from someone over and over again, you probably are.)

"The nine words: the, of, and. to, it. you, be, have, and will make up a quarter of all the words used in English."

"Accommodate is the most misspelled word in English."

"Strengthlessness, eighteen letters long, is the longest word in the English language with just one (repeated) vowel."

"The only fifteen-letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable."

"Just 1,000 words make up 90 percent of all writing."

Fascinating fact because for many of us this has a local connection- "Dr. Seuss invented the word nerd for his 1950 book If I Ran The Zoo."

"Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words."

And because you've probably always wondered about this, "Aphthongs are silent letters (in words such as the 'k' in know and the 'p' in psychology.)

And, bear with me here, a little history of where it's from:

Ever wonder about the words blog and blogger? Here's the history in a nutshell:  "It was an American blogger-one John Barger- who set the blog rolling when he started what he called a 'weblog' in 1997 on the basis that he was 'logging the web.' Almost immediately, another American (Peter Merholz) broke the word 'weblog' into 'we blog' and later just 'blog.' From blog to blogger was inevitable."

So- always play with your words and have fun- you're a writer or author, after all! No license is required to have fun with words!

That word is...um.....

I was reading  Mitchell Symons' The Weird World of Words A Guided Tour this afternoon and found the word I needed a few days ago when I couldn't think of the word I wanted. Here is a quote from the book: "The word lethologica describes the state of forgetting the word you want."

I suffer from lethologica quite often. My lexicologist has prescribed me a thesaurus and a dictionary. All writers should seek the help of a professional lexicologist when they are having trouble word finding.

Delilah of Sunhats and Swans

I finished Delilah of Sunhats and Swans last week. Great little story that left me with a warm feeling of peace and contentment. My review is on Goodreads.

Musing on a Friday Afternoon!


"It's not the heat it's the humidity" is the saying that comes mind as I walk around the parking lot of my office building, working towards my daily movement (steps!) goal. My conversation with a fellow book reader and reviewer helped distract me from the sweat running down the center of my back and the discomfort of the heavy, sticky air pasting my hair to my scalp. Did I mention that I detest heat and humidity? Suffering the indignity of both at the same time drives me crazy.

But this is not a weather report or a message to the meteorological complaint department. This is about reading books and talking about books and how books can bring different people, even complete strangers, together. This is about my call of distraction today.

Kelli and I were strangers. We met on Goodreads. She lives in Norwell, MA, attended UMass-Amherst, and is a prolific book reviewer.

I spend a lot of time on Goodreads, maybe too much. Coincidentally enough I went to UMass-Amherst albeit over a decade earlier, drank my share of really, really cheap beer at the Blue Wall and equally have a love affair with the coast of Maine.

I was introduced to Kelli through mutual Goodreads friend Lisa from the CT shore. I don't remember why but I was afraid of Kelli. Maybe it was her sharp tongue or superior whit. I read her reviews and watched her vehemently defend her positions on books and authors. Maybe it was not fear at all. Perhaps it was intimidation. Yes, that's it. She intimidated me even though we had not one iota of interaction. So if we never met or interacted in any way, then I am intimidating myself right?

Lisa, from somewhere in CT, one of the shore towns I think, highly recommended I befriend Kelli on Goodreads. I did. Now we talk once a week about books and the folks who write them. We critique the plot, dig into the language and the flow of the story, poke at the believably of the tale and share our relationship with the characters.

Nothing personal my literary friends but somethings, often times really, we question the author's judgement, challenge the story-line and walk away with some very strong opinions about the books we read that we share on Goodreads

The power of books and the people who write them can bring total strangers together to not only discuss your creations but forge lasting and enduring friendships centered around your written words.

Thank goodness for the authors in the world!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Oh the Frustrations!

It's Friday night and I've spent about 45 minutes trying to launch a post and ... nothing! White blocks instead of text, text without color, text in black instead of white.

I've had enough of this .. good night!

About 30 Days in Existence- Group Update

WhipCity Wordsmiths has reached 30 days since inception.

Although I was just joking around when I put up a post on facebook saying that I should start a writers group (something I hadn't even been considering at the time) I began getting inquiries about the group within moments of the post's appearance and people wanting to join. This gave me pause and I quickly had to reconsider. I'd been asked several times but declined. I have RA so working full time and writing in all my spare times more or less consumes all my energy. But Kelly agreed to help, so we discussed it some more and decided that we could start a different kind of writers group with one meeting a month and a blog where members stay connected and every member can post.

I couldn't use the name I'd used in the original post because after researching it I found it was a registered trademark of a library related thing, so I kicked around alternative names. I came up with all sorts of names but decided against KeyPunchers, PenPushers and anything with the name Westfield in it. I've always liked that I live in the Whip City (Westfield once being a leading manufacturing center of whips back in the day), so I crammed the words together and then realized I didn't want the word writers in the name either, so came up with wordsmiths because writers and authors are artisans of literary works. We use words to craft our stories. Thus, WhipCity Wordsmiths became the name of the group.

As soon as it had an official name, Kelly and I had Shawn Flynn (The Kitty Who Rescued Me After I Rescued Him)on board. I don't know whether he was serious or not but he wanted to be VP so that's what he is. Basically the VP steps up to run the group should I be unable to. Shawn is very personable and outgoing with a great smile- a terrific public face for the group whereas I am full of bright ideas but a quiet, more reserved person by nature, as is Kelly.

The Mike Walsh (Eddie's Method, The Wizard's Return, Just Some Old Man, etc.) joined from his home in VT. His roots lie in Westfield and his enthusiasm for the group extends all the way up into the Northeast Kingdom.

Fourth member was Bethany Almeida, Kelly's former college roomie and best friend who has written a novel (unpublished at this time and fan fiction, etc.). Bethany is currently working toward her PhD in Bioengineering at Brown U. in Providence, RI. She's my extended family daughter.

Next came Wayne Weatherwax (author, Artworks Westfield), Bill Westerlind (book reviewer, aspiring writer, Artworks Westfield), and Lindsay Stenico (new writer about to be published).

With the membership growing rapidly by word of mouth, I contacted some author friends to invite them to join. Soon, Judith 'Sandy' Sessler (The Travel Kids series, The Legacy of Aidan McManus, etc), Rhonda Boulette (Flitten Kitten Fairytails, T's Adventures on Bear Paw Ridge series), Melissa Volker (Delilah of Sunhats and Swans, Anabelle Lost, Hidden, etc.), and the real Kate Anderson (Hospital Hill, Shadows On The Ward, and publisher) signed up.

We have a dozen members in less than 30 days without an official word about the group having been released yet- that's pretty amazing!

Official word that the group has been formed and is accepting memberships will go out in mid-July Right now people are taking vacations, spending time with their families during school breaks, traveling, having fun and relaxing. They have other things on their minds than joining a writers group. Jessica does have a sign and applications available in Blue Umbrella Books, and if members want to post about the group on their facebook and other social media platforms that would be fine.

Meanwhile, I'm glad to see members posting on the blog and hope it continues. It will keep the 12 of us connected while we wait for September to arrive.

I've put out some ideas what I want from the group and welcome members ideas- this is an us group not a me group so feel free to throw ideas out here on the blog and we'll hash out what we're going to do at the first meeting.

I think, when we have our first meeting, I want everyone to come to the meeting and bring their favorite word- I think most of you now know my favorite word is butterscotch! What's yours? (Okay, I have a lot of favorite words and you probably do, too...but just pick one!)

Thus ends the month of June...

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Author Interviews



    Many of the people in this group have heard me suggest that they get interviewed by Fiona McVie. For those that do not know her, she is someone that has been interviewing authors from all over the world for some time now.
   Soon she will have her four thousands interview. That is a large accomplishment for her since she holds down a full time job and has a family. Because of that she has graciously allowed me to interview her for that event.
   I am not going to give anything away here but the interview will surprise you when it gets posted. If you haven't had a chance to interview with her you should. Her reach in the field is an international one and it never hurts to get your name out there. If you are interested in interviewing with her let me know.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Writing to Music

I was wondering how many of us write to music?

Sometimes, when Kelly and I are writing at the kitchen table, she'll have Pandora on and we'll listen to Irish music while we work on our current projects.

In the past, I've listened to all sorts of music while writing. I like Irish, Gaelic, French, Italian (Zucchero is a favorite of both Kelly and me), and South American. I've listened to classical and classic rock while writing. I like Louis Armstrong and Peggy Lee. Sometimes the music sets the mood. Sometimes the music is background that helps me focus on what I'm feeling while I write.

Next question- how many of you sing along while you're writing? It's amazing to me how the brain can do three or more things at one time- allow you to sing to a familiar song, follow a train of thought, and type the words of that train of thought as you're belting out the words of the song you're listening to (without typos!) And maybe you're thinking about other things simultaneously, like what to make for dinner, calculating when the wash needs to be transferred to the dryer, or when you're going to find time to run out and put gas in the car because you've been driving around on fumes and have an appointment or meeting tomorrow.

Sometimes writers really flex their brains!

When I'm driving in my car on the way to work, on the way home, while running errands, or whatever-I listen to all kinds of music on CDs, never the radio. The radio annoys me with its constant interruptions so it's kind of pointless in my car other than the fact that it's connected to the CD player. While driving and listening, ideas for stories often come into my head and the little spiders in my brain start busily weaving story webs upon which characters dangle waiting to be set into motion by the movement and flow of their unique story.

I don't think there's a writer anywhere who can turn off the flow of creativity. There's no main switch you can throw to halt it. Even when there's a power outage (writer's block), it's like there's a little generator thrumming in the background providing the energy a writer needs to move forward again and reconnect to the grid in their brain. This is usually when contact with other authors and writers becomes an asset because the little generator within the stalled writer/author can draw power from the creative energy authors and writers exude when in contact with one another.

I attended a writer's coffeehouse once. I was late arriving, but the moment I walked through the door it was as if I walked through a shimmery curtain into a ion-charged atmosphere that danced across my skin and worked its way inside, flipping switches and lighting me up.

Anyway-these are today's thoughts.

The final thought is that as a member of Artworks Westfield I have become acquainted with some talented local musicians. I'm thinking that it would be cool to have a group write-in, maybe during the January doldrums, with an acoustic guitarist playing, or a violinist, fiddler, keyboard player, rhythmic drummer, piper (my brother-in-law has a whole collection of recorders and wind instruments he plays) or whatever...just to see what sort of inspiration strikes when writing meets music.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Just An Odd Aside

Tomorrow is Kelly's birthday. She used to have from scratch chocolate cupcakes, but then decided she liked angel food cake (my traditional birthday cake since I was a kid) better. So, this morning I baked the cake. When it comes out of the oven you have to flip it upside down and let it cool before taking it out of the pan. Well- we usually balance the pan on canned goods, except we eat more fresh vegetables these days and I finally pitched the vastly outdated canned veggies during a cupboard cleanout sometime shortly after my April birthday- so we just had three cans of fruit (that no one will eat but still have good dates on them), but no can to support the middle of the cake except a small can of tomato sauce. There ensued a search for the right height prop to boost the can's height to support the center of the cake pan (the tube). Well, the right height object turned out to be a paperback copy of Laura by Vera Caspary that was in a stack of books on the dining room table!

That leads me to this burning question- what is the strangest thing that you have put a book to good/not so good use for?

Sunday Ramblings

I've been sidelined the past two weeks with a huge RA flare, and while I still have numerous aches I am beginning to come out of that foggy funk that accompanies a flare and leaves me unable to focus on anything and too fatigued to do much but sit in a chair and stare into space (while visions of stories dance in my head) feeling frustrated and disappointed that these flares come more often and I'm NSAID intolerant, which means there is very little I can take to knock down the inflammation. I'm also allergic to prednisone. And I absolutely refuse to use opioids because I do not like how messed up they make me feel- I have this thing about mental clarity.

Anyway-while I've been doing a little bit to get this group up and running, I really need to give a huge nod to our webmaster, Kelly, who has been pouring her heart and soul (and IT/HTML skills) into putting up the member bios and then creating the new Gallery page, which is still a work in progress as she doesn't have clear images of all members book covers yet, but what she does have she's done a great job with! The books are shown alphabetically by title and some may have older version covers. If your book has a new cover or your book is on the gallery page with a place holder label because she doesn't have an image, you can send her a good scan or picture of the new cover or your book's cover to kellybuffumauthor@gmail.com and she'll swap it out/put it up. She was scanning covers from my collection of local author books so I might have older covers in my collection. Anyway- if a public viewer says, "Oh, I heard Delilah of Sunhats and Swans is a good book they would find the image in the books with titles that start with D. Or, hey, Kelly has a new book called Teleport out- I saw it on facebook" you'd find that under T. Some of us are known by our book titles (like I'm known as Miss Peculiar although only 4 of my 25 books have Miss Peculiar in the title. Wouldn't it be cooler if I was known as Talon...another series with 4 books in it so far about a frosty Medical Examiner/Coroner who is also a smokin' hot grim reaper and his volatile relationship with his portal who is much more than he's realized she is). Anyway- Kudos to Kelly for creating the Gallery page. And yes, she has added a link to Blue Umbrella Books where many of us have books on the local author shelf and where many of us also hold author events thanks to Jessica Martin's wholehearted support of the literary arts- and we'll also be holding meetings in her open floor space soon!

Meanwhile...today I have made attempt #6 at starting the novel about the clockmaker inspired by seeing the mechanical clock tower near the twin bridges open at high noon one Saturday this past May. I am starting with the ending this time and working from there.

I did feel well enough to go downtown for a little over an hour yesterday for Busker's Day and the Summer Reading Kickoff sponsored by the library. I sat under the Artworks Westfield tent chatting with Artworks and WhipCity Wordsmith member Wayne Weatherwax about various subjects such as transportation museums we've visited, how to fly a helicopter and the upcoming airshow. Then I risked life and limb to cross the street to the green (there really is green grass on the green which surprised me- from the street you just see concrete) On the green I visited with authors Melissa Volker (another WhipCity Wordsmith member) and author Tom Deady who were sharing a table. I have Melissa's books in my local author library, but wanted to meet Tom and check out his books. His book Haven just won a Bram Stoker Award. I have read some Stephen King in the past from Salem's Lot through Tommyknockers, although I skipped It because of Pennywise (clown phobia). I thought John would enjoy Haven, and possibly Kelly, too, and I figured I'd read it also. So I took home both of his books he had for sale, and gave him a copy of Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume I as a hello, nice to meet you gift.(I gave Melissa Kelly's marked up proof copy of Teleport so she could check that out, plus my one and only young adult novel Medea and my one and only young reader book Halloween Story, both self published under the pen name Victoria Bell, because she writes young adult and I value her opinion since it's really not a genre I normally write. These are stories I wrote for Kelly in elementary and middle school that she's read over and over again through the years. I then headed back across the street with photographer Danny Nason and hiked up the street to where Runtz Mini Hot Dogs was set up in the empty lot. Marion and Chip where there playing their guitars. I grabbed a soda then headed back to Main Street to visit Jessica at Blue Umbrella Books. Holy moly! She really was wearing a dress as Wayne had said earlier! She looked summery! I hung out for a few more minutes under the Artworks tent with Tom Sawyer (musician) and Andrew Surprise, then had a brief talk with Cheryl Crowe as we headed to our cars. By the time I got home it felt good to put my feet up. Revere, of course, took the opportunity to settle on my chest for a catnap- and I took a brief nap, too, until Kelly got home from her day at the East Windsor and Branford Trolley Museums.

After dinner, after doing as much editing as I could take of my own novel, The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation, I cracked open Tom Deady's Eternal Darkness and began reading at about 10:40PM (never a good time to begin reading a creepy book, but what the hey, it was summoning me and when a book calls to me, I usually obey its command!). Well...at twelve-oh-two AM I had to force myself to put a sticky note bookmark between the pages and close the covers and go to bed so I could get up before 8AM to have breakfast with Kelly before she went off to the trolley museum to be a motorman today. If I lived in a world where I made the rules and I had no other responsibilities I would have been up reading all night! What I've read so far I've liked. I'll read more tonight because I really don't mind reading creepy stuff late at night-it doesn't give me nightmares.) The only thing that has bothered me about the book so far are the flies...I've never seen anything like it before! Bugs creep me out! (But it is a cool idea, and I am always one to appreciate a creative and cool idea!)

I also exchanged text messages with my friend Patrice who now lives in FL last night while assembling Mike Brenner's five connected trolley stories into one binder (in the correct order) in preparation for doing some editing for him (Kelly will also help him out with this first time writing project). She and I talked about writing. I've always thought that she has a compelling story to share in her. She just needs to buckle down and start writing it. One of these times I will convince her that this is the path she needs to take.

Now, I'm going to go back to writing for another hour before Kelly gets home from the museum and dinner needs to be put on the table. Then there'll probably be some more writing happening after dinner, between ironing scrubs for the week, and some reading before bed.





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Friday, June 23, 2017

Book Gallery

We now have a book gallery!

This page is reachable from the top bar. It provides cover images of members' books. Each is clickable and will bring you to Amazon (if applicable).

Note, I've still got a lot of placeholders going on. This just means I didn't have a convenient copy available for scanning today. If you'd care to help me out and send over a decent quality scan or photo, it'd be appreciated. Else wise, I'll be scouring the web at some point, probably not until Monday.

I think I also have some older edition covers. Those can be upgraded to new pictures upon request. It'd be nice if said pictures were kindly provided.

Okay, I've sunk enough time into this for today. Good night and wishing you all a good weekend.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

How Do I Get Ideas?

For me, ideas can literally come from anything and everything.

I can be listening to a song, half listening to conversation around me, or just a simple thought that I had.

However, lately I've noticed that they enjoy coming to me at times when I am doing something that involves me having to use my hands. For example, doing the dishes, when I'm listening to music, taking a shower, when I'm out and about and can't whip out my laptop. And they always appear in the form of, movie clips. Have you ever watched a movie and then sometime passes when all of sudden you're discussing a certain scene that happened and you can picture it perfectly like you just saw it yesterday?  That's how ideas come to me, in movie clip  form.

But the weird thing is, and I'm not sure if any other writers experience this or not, but when I'm hit with an idea, it's not the entire thing. It's just a snippet.

Like really? You can't indulge me with just a little more information.

Here's an example:

I was doing this dishes and listening to some music, because why would a writer need her hands after all? Anyway, I was minding my own business when all of sudden this random guy comes to mind. I'm 18 years old so at first I brushed off as nothing, if anything I was just daydreaming so I wouldn't bore myself as I did the dishes. But as I keep listening to this song, I see that I'm looking up at him and we're in a school hallway. Suddenly he's smiling down at me and I get this feeling that someone just poured ice water down my back. The longer I stared up at him, his smile twisted into a smirk and I felt like if I didn't leave then something bad was going to happen.

It was in that instant that I wasn't just day dreaming, no...someone was telling me a snippet of their story.

Because when I get an idea, to me, it's not a random, it's the characters revealing their story to me. I see it as they are people themselves who were looking for someone to write their story down for the world to read. So it's  privilege to be able to write their story, that I was chosen to write it.

And it's the best thing in the world, I absolutely love it. I wouldn't trade it for anything else.

😊

-Lindsay Stenico