Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Could this be what I think it is?

I wonder if the veil between worlds is thinner in Scotland? Take a close look at this picture. Do you see the curling wisp of white smoke twisting up over the wall of Edinburgh Castle? I snapped this shot while touring the castle during our trip at the beginning of this month. I wanted a picture of the great view across Edinburgh and especially the coal-tarnished spire of the church on the right.

I didn't notice this odd-looking stream of white smoke crossing the picture until we'd arrived home and printed the pictures. I use a digital camera and always check the shots on the viewer plus we downloaded the pics onto my netbook each night when we returned to our room.

There also wasn't a sign of any smoke anywhere that day. I've got the nose of a prize-winning bloodhound coupled with a monstrous sensitivity to smoke of any kind. I'm a reformed smoker, haven't had a cigarette in over twenty years. I’m a better smoke detector than the sort that needs batteries.

When I saw this phenomena the first time, I asked my husband if he remembered any smoke that day and jokingly added that perhaps it was one of our ancestors saying hello from the other side.

My husband descends from Clan Maxwell. My lineage traces back to the MacDonalds. Perhaps this visitor wished to be noticed by its descendants from "across the pond".

We'll never be certain what it was that day and I know some folks will laugh and blow it off. But I hope it was one of our long ago kin making contact from the other side. I wish them peace and safe journey.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

How much is too much?

While talking to another author earlier today, I was asked how I thought I was doing in the Writing With the Stars contest. After swallowing hard, I kind of shook my head and confessed that I had misgivings about this voting stuff.  He didn't quite understand what I meant until I expounded on my doubts. "I'm afraid I'm not very good at putting myself out there and scrounging up votes.  I don't want to alienate people by constantly harping on and on about the contest."

He immediately bobbed his head in agreement.  "I know exactly what you mean.  I just unfollowed and unfriended this one individual because of their incessant posts and tweets about nothing but buying their book.  That's all they ever did. Read this excerpt.  The buy links right here.  I finally had enough - I GOT THE MESSAGE.  All they ever talked about was selling that damn book."

Which begs the question: how much is too much?  Twitter, Facebook, Myspace - there's an endless list of social networks out there that authors use to get the word out about their stories, connect with their readers and let them know what's going on in their world. 

But I've decided this global marketing thing can be much like walking a tight rope.  I have to admit, I've grown a little weary at times with people who seem to hold down that BUY MY BOOK button on the various forums.  Don't get me wrong, I love hearing about the new releases and reading the excerpts a couple of times...but when it's endless, it gets a bit old.  My book, BEYOND A HIGHLAND WHISPER comes out in February.  Will I be guilty of doing the same thing?  I hope not.  Knowing my fear of irritating people (writer = introvert), I'll run the risk of not talking it up enough.

I'm of the mind that blogging about the other stuff in our lives (trips, pet's antics, adorable kids, writing stuff) will (hopefullly) be more welcomed in the "readersphere" then a constant stream of BUY MY BOOK.  Of course, I could be dead wrong and just fooling myself into thinking this so I'll have an excuse not to pester people.  What do you think?  How do we as authors strike the perfect balance?

By the way *ahem* and *clearing throat with a shy gulp* - the link to vote on round one is here if you'd like to help me out.  Tomorrow is the last day to vote in this round:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

*Sigh* I danced with a handsome Irishman!

Have you ever experienced one of those once in a lifetime moments?  The kind that makes it utterly impossible to stop smiling?  While on our tour of Ireland, I had one of those moments that still elicits a *happy sigh* everytime I replay it in my head.

One night of our visit was spent enjoying the lively entertainment at Tayor's Three Rock Pub.  Celtic musicians, wondrous dancers that could've starred in a Broadway production of Riverdance and an Irish comedian so funny he had us gasping between bursts of laughter filled the evening.
 During the livelier tunes and the dancer's heart thumping steps, I clapped along with the music and tapped my foot in time with the Celtic beat.  The music sang to my soul. 

At the onset of the final performance, the emcee announced the Celtic dancers would be choosing partners from the audience to join them in the final reel.  I knew I wouldn't be chosen.  I was well back from the front row, perfectly safe in my middle of the crowd seat.  Or so I thought.

I'd turned to take a sip of water and my husband leaned in close and whispered, "You're had."

I looked up and a lovely, dark-eyed Irishman stood in front of me with his hand extended.

I shook my head.  "Oh no, I can't."

He flashed his wicked smile, grabbed my hand and pulled me up from my seat.  "Oh yes, ye can!"

And we danced.  Well.  He danced.  I hopped up and down on one foot and tried to follow his grinning instructions to move this way, spin now, cross here, and etc., etc.

At the end of the reel, he gave me a warm hug and a hearty, "Well done."
     I melted.  Yes.  I'm old enough to be the striking lad's mother.  Yes.  I hopped up and down on my one good foot like a lame duck. (I'd broken the other one earlier in the trip.)  But in my memories, I floated light as a feather across the floor with a darling Irishman!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Writer's Alphabet

See the new footwear I acquired when I returned home from my trip? My husband thinks I'm extremely hard-headed.  I prefer to think of it as determined.  On day one of our trip to Scotland and Ireland, I twisted my way down a step and managed to break two bones in my foot.  On day two, I did it again.  Apparently, I'm a slow learner.  However, I have now FINALLY learned that while walking down steps and taking pictures, PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE YOU PUT YOUR FEET.  The reason my husband believes I'm a bit stubborn is because I didn't go to the doctor until we returned.  I gimped around on my lame foot for two weeks because I didn't want to deal with a clinic visit during my trip.

Anyway, for some strange reason (I have no idea why my mind works the way it does) silly head used this mishap to come up with the following writer's alphabet. 

A - is for author.  I write stories.  Hey, that's me!
B - is for bestseller.  That's what I want my books to be.
C - is for cliche.  Bad things! Everyone's heard it a thousand times.
D - is for determined.  If you're not won't survive.
E - is for email.  It can make or break your day.
F - is for Facebook.  A social place for work and play.
G - is for gulp.  What you do when you get a reply about your book.
H - is for happy.  What you are when an editor requests another look.
I - is for impatient.  What an author must learn not to be.
J - is for job.  We do this when we'd rather be writing.
K - is for kindness. Authors thrive when this is laced through a constructive critique.
L - is for looney.  Some people think we're this just because we listen to the "voices" of our muse.
M - is for manuscript.  The official word for our babies that we've nudged out into the world.
N - is for neverending.  There's always a story brewing.
O - is for opinion.  Everyone has one - sometimes good and sometimes bad. *sigh*
P - is for proof.  We do this a THOUSAND times and still don't see that one error until AFTER we've hit SEND.
Q - is for query.  A plea to editors, agents and publishers to please love our "baby" as much as we do.
R - is for revise.  If we revise it just one more time...maybe then it will be perfect.
S - is for story.  That's what it's all about.
T - is for tension.  What a good story has.
U - is for unwavering.  An author must never give up.
V - is for voice.  Find your "one of a kind" voice and shine!
W - is for writing.  What else would we do if not for writing our lovely tales?
X - marks the spot to sign on the contract we all hope to win.
Y - is for yelling at the computer when it doesn't save your file.
Z - is for Rebecca Zanetti - my great mentor in the Writing With the Stars contest!

How about your writer's alphabet?  What "descriptions" would you use?