Words to Warm My Heart

piano red rose violin

This week’s topic was one that I proposed: “What are the nicest or most inspiring things people have said or written about your writing? How did it affect you?”

When I first started writing and blogging, I had a few friends who followed my blog and some actually commented. One of my scrapbook friends particularly loved a post I wrote describing the peacefulness I felt as I walked along the shore of a nearby lake during a weekend retreat. She told me that my words brought back the fun and camaraderie we felt during our time together. Others had nice things to say about the short stories I submitted to various online magazines. Those tributes reaffirmed my goal of finishing my novel and getting it published.

It was a few years after that before I finally celebrated the publication of my first book. I kept busy, writing and learning the craft through workshops offered by local writing groups. My first full-length novel was The Samurai’s Garden. This was the book of my heart, a story about a former samurai soldier trying to find his way during the turbulent years after the feudal system gave way to western ideas, and the samurai class was abolished. It took about seven years from the time I first started the story until its publication. But when it was released, there wasn’t a lot of excitement around here. Only one of my five children read it. I’m not sure if anyone else related to me has, and frankly, I’m not surprised. Japanese history isn’t exactly something they’re into. But most of the reviews I received for that book have been good, and I’m grateful. 

One reviewer went far beyond the usual observations of story line, character development, and editing. When I saw it, I took a screenshot and saved it, as authors and reviewers have from time to time complained of reviews disappearing. Every now and then I’ll pull it out and read it again, because it is truly special.

Review

I have no idea who this person is, but I am truly thankful he or she took the time to leave this review. These words have inspired me to keep working through dry periods when I can’t seem to string a sentence together. They reaffirm my belief that the stories we write have the power to transport the reader into new and fascinating worlds, and to have empathy for those who are different from us. 

These are turbulent times. But words can take us away to better places, if only for a short while. It truly warmed my heart to know that I did this for one reader.

Posted in book review, Books, characters, Dealing with stress, history, inspiration, Patricia Kiyono, Why I Write, writers | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Guest: Kristen Lamb

Kristen and I have been Facebook Friends for years and yet wires crossed. I have been trying to get her in for an interview for some time, but once we made contact, it worked. BOY, did it work! Kristen could not possibly have been more generous with her advice and candor, (something from which I can certainly learn.)

On her author’s website she describes herself this way:
“Kristen Lamb is an author, blogger, international speaker and unrepentant troublemaker.”

She’s fun, but I have not seen any real trouble from her. (Sorry, Kristen!) I find her profound and funny.

(In other words, I steal her memes all the time.)

Kristen is not only a writer, and from what I can tell, a help in every form to other writers, but also   has had  incredible success as a blogger with mentoring advice,(Just read below to see her numbers!)

Welcome!

Kristen, we recently addressed tips for writers here, but you have made a career of it with books, online classes, speaking engagements and blogs. Writer’s Digest named your blog one of the top 100 websites for writers; that is quite a feather in your cap. I hardly know where to begin. I admit to not having read your posts until now, and I am truly finding them informative and enjoyable. Please tell our readers what to expect and how to sign up for your writing and story crafting classes.

Before I answer the question, I want to clarify something. I’ve definitely earned a reputation as an unrepentant troublemaker, because I don’t pull punches when it comes to our industry.

*pulls out soap box for a moment*

For instance, I was one of the first whistleblowers on the ‘exposure’ grift and how large media companies like Huffington Post were shamelessly exploiting writers. They promised exposure in return for unpaid work and even bragged about not paying their ‘contributors.’
The grift went like this.

Hey, Kristen, we really loved your blog about ‘How to Write Epic High Fantasy Readers Crave.’ We’d love to have you post that here on Huffington where you’ll get access to our millions of readers. You don’t even need to write a new post.

Seems like a good deal, right?

WRONG.

First, they didn’t allow me a place to advertise or directly purchase my books (as in no shopping cart). I had to hope someone would LOVE me enough to click my tiny name that was hyperlinked to my author site and buy.

Sure, and I’m a Chinese jet pilot.

They knew their readership wouldn’t click past the article itself or, if anyone did, it would be RARE.

Meanwhile, every one of those unpaid articles earned them fat cash from advertisers. Also, because they intimated that posting frequent quality content would lead to paid work, where would I likely to send readers?

Y’all fill in the blank.

What they failed to tell their writers was that, in the world of algorithms, Huffington Post not only was making hundreds of millions off naïve writers willing to work for FREE, but this method also cannibalized those authors’ digital footprints (platforms) as well.

It wasn’t enough to make money off free labor, but to add salt to the wound, this technique decimated the author’s hard work on their own site.

What too many authors don’t understand is that, in cyberspace, the bigger fish wins.
This means if I have an author blog that I’m using to create a brand and on-line presence (which I STRONGLY recommend), the more content I create, the better rankings I enjoy with search engines like Google.

Problem is, the moment I start cross-posting the same content on mega-sites, algorithms penalize me for duplicate content. The bigger site wins.

Here’s a post that explains.  [https://authorkristenlamb.com/2017/10/pay-the-writer-2-out-hustle-the-hustlers/?fbclid=IwAR0P-T-kwHADEUur26vQxsYM1AD9eMvxGmLWdVsqertbk4Epc5yXDEmwN38]

At the time I raised a ruckus, the U.K. editor of Huffington boasted about having 13,000 ‘contributors’…and that was just the U.K. They were making (as of 2016), $2.3 BILLION from an unpaid workforce that they didn’t have to offer benefits (like paid vacation, healthcare, or unemployment).

Adding even more insult to injury, since writers were essentially ‘volunteers,’ Huffington didn’t have to pay the usual taxes because the ‘contributors’ technically were not ‘employees.’

And what REALLY set me off was how they were taking advantage of a naïve writing pool, ignorant to how they were being used.

One author cannot compete with the digital footprint made by a company harnessing the collective power of tens of thousands of writers (sorry, ‘contributors,’) posting every day, every week, year after year.

What this means is that, if anyone went searching for that author on-line, search engines would direct them to Huffington Post and the exploited author’s blog might as well not exist.

Arianna Huffington cashed out when she sold Huffington Post to AoL. She made $400 MILLION dollars from an unpaid workforce that her company duped into believing that their articles eventually would lead to paid work.

Which it didn’t because of the precedent Huffington set.
Huffington Post pioneered this ‘exposure’ model and soon, other on-line magazines and sites could longer compete. So, what did they do? They adopted the ‘exposure dollar’ pay scam.

This, effectively, obliterated a writer’s ability to make any money doing freelance work in between books. Freelance work once was highly lucrative. Writers could make hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on a single piece. After Huffington Post?

Everyone expected us to work for FREE.

Think of the EXPOSURE!

That’s all well and good, but my grocery store doesn’t take exposure dollars.

Anyway, I called them out…and took a ton of heat. [https://authorkristenlamb.com/2016/02/shame-on-you-aolhuffington-no-more-literary-booty-calls/?fbclid=IwAR0n4b0YSGatSXV8yA7nYBwdOZSg34rprEB-Am2hb6g9FLVjPdOlZb9lsRY]

But I don’t give a fig about what billionaires think of me. I care about writers. I launched a lengthy blog campaign blasting them and calling them out for what they were—thieving, lying predators.

I did everything I could to educate authors. [https://authorkristenlamb.com/2017/10/pay-the-writer-2-out-hustle-the-hustlers/?fbclid=IwAR0P-T-kwHADEUur26vQxsYM1AD9eMvxGmLWdVsqertbk4Epc5yXDEmwN38 ] It was a long hard road, and I was called the ‘c’ word more times than I can count (‘caring’ was not that word). But I didn’t care. If I had to burn down the Internet, I was going to stop the exploitation.

It took time, but guess who finally started paying their ‘contributors’?

Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

So, in a way, this is what folks can expect on my blog. Bluntness is my superpower. I’m an odd chimera of crusader, mentor, teacher, and armchair comedian.

My blog is a holistic resource for authors—newbie to veteran. We’re in the entertainment business. Two words—entertainment and business.

The product is critical, and it’s unlikely an MFA program will train you how to be a commercial author (or even a literary author that might sell some books). Even if they could, that’s a ton of student debt to incur and years in school that could be dedicated to practical learning.

Writing is an artisan skill, much like being a blacksmith. We start out as the apprentice then move onto journeyman, then hopefully onto master.
Thus, I post a lot on craft. This is the entertainment side. How do authors write something readers want to BUY? Additionally, how can we learn to write quality books quickly?

***We can’t have five years between books if we hope to make a living.

Then we have the business side. WE are the brand.

James Patterson, Sandra Brown, Nora Roberts, Clive Cussler, George R.R. Martin, Stephen King, etc. My goal is to train authors how to make their name alone a bankable asset.

Thus, I talk about blogging, social media, branding, life etc.
There are a ton of ‘experts’ out there selling social media snake oil. They are happy to scare the crap out of an uneducated writer and convince them that they cannot possibly build a brand alone.

Oh, but for so many thousands of dollars, they can do it for you.

NO.

Many companies are using techniques that haven’t worked since the pre-digital age and that have never sold books in the history of ever.

I’m not adding in this next part to brag as much as I want to be transparent. I’ve never hired outside help, run any ads, etc.

My blog, last year, had almost 14 MILLION visits, and 310K unique visitors. I’ve had single blog posts that have garnered almost 10K shares to Facebook directly from my page.
These numbers are almost unheard of for a writing blog (which is extremely niche).

I simply relay these numbers to make a point. There are folks out there claiming to teach writers how to blog, but when you visit their blogs, they have virtually no shares and no comments.

If they can’t even make their own blog successful, how are they going to help anyone else?

Thus, if anyone reading this wants help from an expert? Go for it! There are some great people out there. But check their site first, get references, and do some basic research before handing anyone money.
Beyond the brand and platform part of being an author, I feel we are wise to know what’s happening in our industry.

I post a lot about all the changes in publishing, and, since I was trained as an analyst, I’ve demonstrated a unique ability to project market trends months, if not years in advance, so authors could prepare and even take major advantage.

All in all, I wear a lot of hats (working to hang many of those up). There’s a lot that goes into being successful in this business and I’ve simply felt a calling to be there to help.

Your “Rise of the Machines”, advises writers on the use of social media in the careers. What do you see as a general weak spot for most people?

A few years ago, I would have said authors weren’t using it enough. Now? Too many writers want to fixate on being experts with social media instead of improving their writing skills. They write one book then fixate on marketing it to death.

Also, “Rise of the Machines” isn’t really a social media book. It’s a branding book that merely happens to teach social media.
I wrote the book to be evergreen. Social media platforms change, but humans never do. If you don’t believe me, go look up your ex.

…or don’t. Y’all get the idea.

Thing is, if we understand people, we’re in a better position to locate then cultivate a loyal fanbase.

What sort of content is likely to attract followers? How do we create a connection? I’m in the business of helping writers turn bystanders into superfans. Superfans are evangelical. They read every blog, share our content and tell everyone they know about our books.

They’re also far more likely to leave thoughtful reviews…lots of them. Building a relationship with our support base is what makes all the difference.

My platform is actually fairly small if one looks at raw numbers. I don’t have millions of subscribers. Not even close. But my amazing fans are extremely generous, and they go out of their way to promote my content and books.

One continual problem I see in writers is that they feel that they need to use every word in the thesaurus. I love this quote from you:
“English teachers didn’t mind we used twenty-five metaphors on one page because their goal was to teach us how to properly use a metaphor…not how to write successful commercial fiction.”

What else do you find that writers need to unlearn?

These days, most writers need to learn. Too many armchair authors are getting into our industry believing it’s some literary lotto. They don’t even read fiction and it’s obvious when I try to read their work.

They don’t understand structure, POV, and many don’t even understand their genre. For instance, I’ve had writers pay me to look at a mystery, but there is no crime in the beginning. Sometimes not at all. HUH? That is the entire point of a mystery.

Or I’ll see a romance and the romantic interest is the villain. No. Romance is strict. There needs to be an HEA (Happily Ever After) or even the more modern HFN (Happily for Now), or it isn’t a romance.

Most ‘novels’ I see aren’t novels at all, merely a lot of words and ‘stuff happening.’ These days, with over a million self-published books hitting the market per year? This won’t do. Not for anyone wanting to do this professionally at least.

Other advice books of yours are “Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer”. ( I am sure that my other blog often wonders if it has been left orphaned), and “We Are Not Alone” (The Writer’s Guide to Social Media).While putting this together, I asked to join “WANA” your “Tribe”. Please explain its intention to our readers and how it all came about.

My early social media books were more How To. Back when I wrote those early books, writers were terrified to use email. These days, there isn’t a need for a book that teaches you how to sign up for a Facebook account.

“We Are Not Alone—The Writers’ Guide to Social Media” literally had images and step-by step instruction about how to post a tweet.

We’ve pretty much figured all that out.

I created W.A.N.A.Tribe as a support base for writers. It’s a NING (sort of a private social media site), but I pay $70 a month to maintain it. Why? No ads, no spam, no distractions.

For anyone who is a member, you CAN create a tribe that is either public or private. This is useful if, say, you want to have a writing group. You can upload documents and have critique sessions. This is especially helpful nowadays with the whole COVID thing.

When I used to teach long-term workshops, I would create a private tribe where attendees could upload pages. We’d then comment, offer feedback, submit the next revised versions, etc.

For the past six years, however, we’ve mainly used the chat section. We run what I call sprints every day, all week. Someone, usually me, will time for an hour. During that hour, the goal is to do something productive.

Sure, it can be working on the book. But writers have a life that doesn’t stop because of a book. Sprints can be used for folding laundry, yoga, writing a blog, whatever. At the end of the hour, you simply report what you accomplished.

It’s great peer pressure, and, since there are a lot of veteran writers in there, a new writer can see the operational tempo of a pro. We are also there to support each other, offer help, collaboration, advice, or even goof off.

It serves as a sort of virtual workplace. We hustle, then have a break and chat at the digital watercooler. No news, drama, ads, or spam.

It’s a great place to get away from all the news and drama and negativity as well. With everything that’s going on in the world, it can be hard to get out of bed some days. At W.A.N.A.Tribe, we work hard and play hard.

The videos on your blog are a riot. You have a ‘partner in crime’ there, Cait Reynolds. How did your writing partnership form? Do you collaborate on other projects?

Cait was a fan who hired me for a consult a few years ago and we hit it off. I don’t like to say I kidnapped her…more ‘involuntary adoption.’ I wanted to write a Western and she was an expert at writing historical fiction.

She’s since taught classes for me, blogged on my site and we are currently recording a dark comedy podcast called ‘BFFs: Bad Friends Forever.’

We’d hoped to launch back in May, but 2020 has made launching…challenging.

For the moment? I’m working on my own projects and she has hers.

Right now, everything is in a holding pattern and we’re writing a series and creating more podcast content during this meantime. When the world and events are out of your control, the best advice I can give is to focus on what is within your control and then be patient.

Do you truly get the type of writers and submissions you portray in the videos, the same plots, the cookie cutter characters, heroines with the same violet or emerald eye color ,the not-so-celebrity tell-alls? They are funny from this side, but I imagine it gets to you. As far as I am concerned, the biggest writing crime is lack of research. To me it is the height of hubris for ‘writers’ to assume that they can make it up on the fly, but that their writing and story will leave everyone to enthralled to care otherwise. Do you get any other impressions?

Before we get too far into my answer, I want to begin by mentioning I’ve probably BEEN many of the silly characters I portray. Might be why I play them so well. I’m not having to do much acting.

I confess. I started out as an unteachable jerk. I thought because I made top grades in school, I therefore was instantly qualified to write a mega-best-selling book.

Craft books and classes were for the *hair flip* untalented.

I kid you not. My first novel was 187,000 words long. I just kept writing until I was all… “Um I guess that’s long enough. The End.”

That was…until I joined a local writing group of actual authors. I was certain they’d be awed by my genius. Nope. They summarily handed me my @$$. After my first critique, I sat in the library parking lot and questioned my will to live. I almost gave up.

But I was committed.

Week after week I took the beating, pages dripping red. This was back when writing groups had actual professionals, those vetted by NY. It took four years to pass muster with my critique group, but I still couldn’t make it past the NYC gatekeepers.

Page to page, my writing was strong. No more red marks but I still wasn’t getting anywhere. I wasn’t growing.

What was going wrong?

I needed more. I sought out two particular published authors—the toughest in the business—for feedback on more than five pages at a time.

My mentors were brutal, and both made me cry (which is no easy task). They didn’t pull any punches. In fact, it felt less like author training and more like Kill Bill 2, but maybe I’m being a tad dramatic.

Regardless, it was exactly what I needed. Bob and Les intuitively understood I still had too much ego in the way. If I couldn’t get over my ego, nothing they could teach me mattered.

We have to be teachable. If we’re not open to change, and our ego gets in the way? We’re doomed.

It took years to learn what I now freely share.

For the record, I still have my first novel. Since it bites visitors and pees on the furniture, I keep it in the garage where it keeps burglars away.

Thus, what I’m about to write? Trust me, it isn’t me lecturing down from some high pillar. I’ve done all the dumb stuff so y’all don’t have to.

Back to your what you talked about in your question. In the current market especially, we have a lot of folks writing novels, folks who don’t read. Some actively boast that they don’t even like to read.

Would you want to eat food created by a chef who only ate Hot Pockets?
Since these writers don’t read prolifically (or at all) this limits vocabulary. They also can’t study technique. They’re limited when it comes to descriptions.

My challenge is this. If we can’t write a description that’s any better than something a random person off the street (who’s a non-writer) could come up with? We should dig deeper. We’re supposed to be wordsmiths.

Raven hair? Emerald eyes? Not that we can’t use these descriptors.
But could we try harder?

I read at least four books a week. Granted, most are audiobooks because I have a life and my laundry and dishes are somehow in possession of cloning technology. But when I discover a truly excellent book, I buy a paper copy and dog-ear and highlight that sucker. I study it like a textbook, because that’s what professionals should do in my opinion.

This said, I have a number of pet peeves.

First, lack of research
[Everyone who reads here knows that is what eats at me, as well-T]

I see so many mistakes that make my blood boil, especially since research is ridiculously easy these days. There really isn’t any excuse for getting simple details wrong.

If you want to write crime books, then it’s your job to understand jurisdiction and procedure. Understand what’s the sheriff’s jurisdiction versus police. What’s the difference between a coroner and a medical examiner? Know where the responding officer’s duties end, and the homicide detective’s job begins.

Certain genres we have to be super careful. I’d say anything involving crime we need to be well-versed and well-read because our audience generally are forensic junkies.
If you put guns in a book, learn how guns work or don’t bother. I once threw a book across the room because the author’s MC ‘put the safety on her revolver.’

Details matter.

There are too many new writers who (mistakenly) believe they can write fantasy and that gives them a pass. They can simply make up everything and don’t have to research. Not true. First, one needs to do world-building to make sure everything remains consistent. Then what sort of fantasy is it? There are many types of fantasy and the world must be congruent to the historical period it will be most closely associated with in the readers’ minds.

Anachronisms can become a major concern. For example, if you’re writing a sword-and sorcery story in a world of dragons and knights and castles, then that world must be consistent with what readers will think about being in that world.

If a character glances up to check a clock? Or writes with a fountain pen? Or has a child playing with a toy train? It will throw the audience right out of that world.

Trains don’t belong in a world with knights in shining armor.

***Yes I’ve seen all these anachronisms in samples.

All that said, while research is essential, it can’t take the place of an excellent story.

If we’re well-read, we’ll actually find that we don’t need to do as much research because we’ve already become so immersed in well-written stories. Thus, we already know much of the necessary material.

For instance, if we’ve read stacks of the top crime novels, watched the best shows, listened to the premium podcasts, then we already know much of what we need. We’re better prepared.

I believe where a lot of the problems come in is that too many new writers believe because they made good grades in school, they should instantly be able to write a mega-best-selling novel.

Remember, I made that mistake. It happens. Just appreciate it is OKAY to be NEW.

Your first, personal choice is writing fiction. Are you planning to return to it? Do you write in other genres?

I released a novella “Dead Line” a couple years ago that was part of a box set. I’m currently turning it into a full-length mystery suspense. I’m also working on finishing the Romi Lachlan series. “The Devil’s Dance” is out, was very popular, and has gotten excellent reviews. The novel was supposed to be a standalone, but fan feedback has encouraged me to turn it into a trilogy (part of the cover redesign).

I currently work as a ghostwriter, so there are books that I write, but am not listed as the author. There are a lot of clients who want or need a book and don’t have the time or skill to do it themselves. For instance, a successful C.E.O might want to have a business book. Or, a celebrity wants to write a memoir or a self-help book. That’s when that person would hire me to work with them, then I do most if not all of the actual writing.

What can you tell us about growing up in Fort Worth, Kristen? What is life for you in Dallas for you and with your family?

Most of my growing up years were very hard. My mom was a single-parent and my father disappeared for quite a few years. I had to grow up quickly since Mom was struggling through nursing school and my little brother was legally blind.

I changed schools constantly and endured my fair share of bullying because of my clothes, or where I lived, or simply being the ‘new kid’ all the time. It’s where I learned to be funny (defense mechanism).

But my mom insisted we serve at church and give what little we had even if it was simply time.

I dropped out of high school twice, but finally returned and graduated when I was nineteen. From there, I attended a junior college, applied for a military scholarship and won a full ride at Texas Christian University to become a doctor for the Air Force.

After three and a half years as a Neuroscience major, however, I had a slip and fall accident on campus. They didn’t close the school even though there was an ice storm.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize when I fell, I’d fractured my back.

I lost my scholarship and, since I couldn’t pay the high tuition, was unable to transfer to a less expensive school. I spent the next year or so relying on a cane to move about. I changed majors so I could finish earlier and worked every crappy job (mostly night jobs) to pay my bills.

After my back healed, I went skydiving, rock climbing, bouldering, mountain biking (before it was cool). If it was stupid, reckless and on top ten list of bad ideas? SIGN ME UP! I was an adrenalin junkie.

The day after I graduated, I  hopped on a flight to Damascus, Syria for an internship (I thought I wanted to continue in Mideast studies).

When I returned, I took a job that required a lot of travel into the industrial areas of northern Mexico. I also signed up for as many volunteer missions into the rougher parts of Mexico and Central America as I could.

Some might think spending a week in a jungle swinging a sledgehammer in the rain breaking up concrete isn’t exactly fun. But for me? Those are some of my best memories.
When you’re in places with people who have almost nothing and they’re still so kind and happy? Willing to share what little they have? You come home to the U.S. and you’re so grateful for what’s too easy to take for granted. At least I did.

Anyway, for too long I felt like a loser and a failure. It took a long time to see how those tough years made me stronger, taught me to keep going and how to deal with setbacks and loss.

Key lessons for anyone who wants to make it as an author.

As for now? I have the world’s best husband. We’ve been married eleven years and together for twelve. He works for an I.T. division of my small company.

We work from home, so we’ve been homeschooling our son since he was seven. We live in our own little bubble as a tight-knit family.

Before COVID, we went to the gym all the time and to Six Flags almost every weekend. Now? We’re repainting every room in the house. I’m trying to find the floors in my closets. I dream of one day being an organized person. I’m beginning to believe the floors really are lava and laundry and cat fur are there to keep us safe.

Do you have any other talents that you tap?

Talents? I don’t know about talent since I seem to have to learn everything the hard way.

Since I homeschool my son, I tap into my education and background to teach him. Even though he’s only ten, he’s getting a university level education in many areas and supplement with books and lectures from The Great Courses.

I push him harder than any ‘real’ school for sure.

Is there anything else you’d like for our readers to know?

Perfect is the enemy of the finished. Normal is a setting on the dishwasher, and fair is a weather condition. Just keep going. All of this is a process. Lighten up and give yourself permission to be new, to be imperfect or even a hot mess.

Anyone out there who seems to have it all together probably is really good at lying or hiding the crazy…or they’re just plain dull. Crazy makes the best stories. Life is messy.

We’re all struggling and if you’re not struggling and not failing? Then probably a good sign you’re not striving to do much of anything all that interesting.

 

Thank you, Kristen! ( I had no idea that we had so much in common when our lives seem so different!)Please let everyone know how to get to know you and your work:
blog:
  https://authorkristenlamb.com/?fbclid=IwAR2EKM7yBqQZyyTL16lDMR6JPmY188Rc3axyjZIzSUqh1hWl8HRubu5BvOA

Facebook: Kristen Lamb

http://Instagram: kristenlambtx

http://Twitter: @KristenLambTX

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Sherlock’s Female Adversary

Irene Adler Takes the Stage

By Jeff Salter

Good Night, Mr. Holmes
By Carole Nelson Douglas

I love it when an author focuses on a fairly minor character in one famous book or series… and gives readers a brand new story from the POV of that minor player. And that is what Douglas has done by bringing Irene Adler back to life — she died at the end of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original tale. At the beginning of this new iteration, we are quickly reminded that Sherlock Holmes had little use for women in general, but had a special place in his heart for Adler, whom he had tracked and studied while hired by the King of Bohemia to search for an incriminating photograph.

Irene Adler “has a soul of steel…the face of the most beautiful of women and the mind of the most resolute of men.”

As y’all will logically guess, I’m a big fan of Holmes. While I have not read all of Doyle’s S.H. adventures, I’ve read quite a few. More significantly, I’ve devoured most of the BBC-broadcast adaptations of Doyle’s work, with Sherlock masterfully portrayed by the late actor, Jeremy Brett.

I also liked the 14 Basil Rathbone versions of the 1940s, though I thought they took too many liberties with the plots and timeframes [and also made Dr. Watson something of a comic bumbler].

While I did watch two seasons of the Benedict Cumberbatch versions more recently on TV, I found them interesting only as detective stories and did NOT enjoy seeing my beloved characters thrust into the cyber-whiz 21st century.

The recent film adaptations featuring Robert Downey Jr. were fast-paced and adventurous—with authentic-looking costuming and settings – but I did not appreciate the liberties they took with Doyle’s characters and plots.

douglas_good_night_mr_holmes

Good Night, Mr. Holmes is the first Irene Adler novel, now in eBook with Readers Guide.
The New York Times Notable Book Of The Year
Also winner of the American Mystery Award for Best Novel of Romantic Suspense
RT Book Reviews Award for Best Historical Mystery

The author’s Amazon blurb:

When American aspiring opera singer Irene Adler rescues orphaned parson’s daughter Penelope Huxleigh from a London cutpurse, it starts a crime-solving alliance as strong as that of Holmes and Watson. Irene moonlights as a private inquiry agent while awaiting her career break, which brings her into the orbits of such luminaries as Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker and puts her on the trail on Marie Antoinette’s fabulous lost diamond belt. A prestigious assignment as prima donna at the Prague opera house almost makes Irene the Queen of Bohemia, but a royal murder and caddish Prince force her to flee back to London…where she will become the only woman to outwit Sherlock Holmes.

My reactions:

Douglas is painstakingly faithful to the words and actions of Holmes in Doyle’s original story… but she (of course) gives Holmes additional lines and stage business in order to advance the liberties she takes in expanding Adler’s comings and goings.

As Doyle did with the original tales – telling the story mostly from the perspective of the “sidekick” Dr. Watson – Douglas reveals most of this story through the POV of Penelope Huxleigh [aka “Nell”] who is basically rescued from the street by Adler.

I enjoyed Adler’s mixing with writers, artists, and composers of that period, including Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, and others. Douglas obviously did a lot of research to get those characters “right.”

I liked the sub-plot with the lost jewels of Queen Marie Antoinette… and the sub-plot of the bitter senior Nelson who died before revealing what he knew about the location of those jewels.

**** SPOILER ALERT ****

My beefs?

That Adler is supposedly “recommended” by someone at Scotland Yard to do some detective work for Mr. Tiffany — the American jewelry magnate. But it’s never explained upon what basis that recommendation was tendered.

That the Tiffany case seems to be urgent… yet it is many months later when Adler finally delivers the goods. And in the meantime, there are many months in which Adler seems to have completely lost interest in the case even though she (physically) possesses some of the important clues.

That Adler urgently sends for Nell (who rushes from London to Bohemia) but – once Nell arrives – Adler makes her wait several hours before even revealing why her help is so urgently needed.
That Adler would bribe one of the King’s minions (coachman, I think he was) to send or deliver her trunks to Paris (as a ruse)… but somehow believes that same minion will NOT reveal the truth to his actual employer / ruler if asked.

That Adler is supposedly in hiding and in fear for her very life – upon her frantic return to London – yet hardly much time elapses before she’s printing and distributing flyers announcing her availability for concert bookings. Really? Is that Adler’s definition of “laying low”?

That Adler’s sidekick – Nell – is the one who’s spent the most time with Mr. Norton. Yet she hardly bats an eye when Adler and Norton (Nell’s boss) go to the continent together and come back essentially engaged.

There were lengthy chapters in which Irene is abroad singing and slowly coming into the clutches of the Prince (later King) of Bohemia. While all that occurs, Nell is a clerk-typist for Mr. Nelson and other attorneys. We don’t learn much at all about Holmes during this period. During this stretch, the plot is not really advanced at all, except in the sense that it positions Adler to be something of a gilded cage “prisoner” in the new king’s palace.

Summary:

My beefs aside, I think anyone who enjoys Sherlock Holmes stories will appreciate this new adventure featuring Irene Adler. There are other novels in this series and I’m sure Douglas has exciting new ways that Adler can be woven into the real and fictional world of Victorian England.

Douglas thoughtfully appended the complete Doyle story, “A Scandal in Bohemia” which introduced Sherlock Holmes to Irene Adler. It was refreshing to read that again and to see how modest were the mentions (of Adler) from which Douglas gleaned sufficient meat for us to dine upon.

The Author’s Bio Blurb from Amazon:

Carole’s 63 novels include two Las Vegas-set series: the alphabetically titled 28 Midnight Louie feline PI mysteries partially narrated by a “Sam Spade with hairballs”, and the Delilah Street Paranormal Investigator noir urban fantasies (werewolf mobsters and Silver Screen zombies) in a paranormal Sin City. Carole’s also written historical and contemporary mystery and romance, science fiction thrillers, epic and urban fantasy, all to come out in e-Book for the first time ASAP. She’s the first woman author of a Sherlockian series and the first to use a female protagonist (Holmes’ out-witter Irene Adler), in the New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Good Night, Mr. Holmes. A four-time Romance Writers Rita Award finalist with RT Book Reviews Career Achievement awards in Suspense, Mystery, Versatility and as a Pioneer of Publishing and holder of many Catwriters’ Association Muse Medallions, Carole rescues cats and works at home among mannequins in vintage dress. She does a wicked mean Marilyn Monroe impersonation, but her literary muse is definitely feline: mysterious, playful, and packing sharp shivs in velvet gloves.

* * * *

Interesting article by Douglas in which she partly explains what compelled her to write Adler’s own story:

https://mysteryscenemag.com/blog-article/3237-why-cant-they-get-irene-adler-right

[JLS # 497]

Posted in Miscellaneous | 9 Comments

Review: Cowboy Out Of Time

cowboy

Did I ever mention that I like time travel novels? Most of the ones I’ve read have been fun reads, and this one is no exception. Let me share a blurb with you, and then I’ll tell you what I thought of it.

Blurb:

Dumped in my lap at a few minutes before five o’clock on Friday — the deputy wants to drop off a confused wanderer? Our Social Services aren’t equipped to handle a tall, rustic cowboy who looks like he just stepped out of a movie Western… dust included.

But the deputy’s gone and the cowboy is suddenly my responsibility. Or is it the other way around? Hunt Weston announces he’s come here to protect me! From what or whom, he doesn’t know. But he’s come a long way… in both distance and time. Yeah, this Weston character claims when he went to sleep last night, it was 1885. That’s a hundred years ago.

No ID, no proof of his claims — unless you count the authentic vintage clothing and that original Colt Peacemaker strapped to his hip. Other than his gun and a rugged Bowie knife, this cowboy’s only possessions are 32 silver dollars… all minted before 1885. And the only documentation he possesses is a torn half of a playing card… with my name, this town and county, and the date October 6 — two days from now.

Weston can’t explain anything… indeed, he doesn’t understand it himself. In fact, if anyone had tried to convince him that he’d traveled 100 years overnight, he would’ve laughed in their face. But here he is… sent by a mysterious stranger to protect me, Elvira Rose Roamer.

Oh, did I mention that when Weston saw the name, Elvira Rose, on the top half of that card, he thought he was being sent to protect my great-great-grandmother, Elvira Rose Bolling — whom he’d met and grown fond of… back in 1885?

My Review:

I totally enjoyed Cowboy Out of Time. First, I loved Hunt. He was a cowboy on a quest who didn’t hesitate to do what he needed to do to fulfill his mission. I also loved the way he spoke.  And of course, his reactions to the modern world were amusing. I liked Rose too, but Hunt was my favorite.

I thought the plot was credible and well thought through. It pulled me in with no trouble. Also, the historical info seemed correct.

The romance between Hunt and Rose was well done. They didn’t lay eyes on each other and instantly fall in love. Their love grew organically as they learned more about each other.

The book didn’t end the way I thought it would, but it did set up book number two, which I’ll be waiting for. Well done, Jeff!

 

 

Posted in book review, Elaine Cantrell, Miscellaneous | 14 Comments

Guest Author: Annette Briggs and The Magical Tome

Annette BMy local chapter of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) has been a constant source of inspiration and encouragement since I first decided to start writing fiction more than ten years ago. Annette Briggs is one of the most stalwart members of the group. This is a lady who always has the right thing to say, can be counted on to help out in multiple capacities, and is ready with a listening ear. She always has writing news to share, but never seemed to reach the point of submitting her manuscript anywhere – until a few months ago, when her steampunk novel The Magical Tome was released. I asked Annette to come and share with us what it was that provided the final push to get her book in front of readers, and she kindly obliged. Welcome!

* * * *

Thank you, Patricia Kiyono, for inviting me to be a guest on Four Foxes, One Hound. Patricia and I know each other because we’re both members of Mid-Michigan RWA, a nurturing place for both published and not yet published writers.

My journey as a writer started when I was young. During my elementary school days, I drew comic strip stories. By junior high school I had a constantly growing story I passed around to a few classmates to read. At fourteen, I pitched to my local newspaper and sold them essays for their editorial page. Then life intervened. I attended Michigan State and married. Marriage and family raising slowed me down but taught me some lessons that I hope are reflected in my stories. Selling the occasional article, short story, or interview was no longer enough for me. I wanted to write novels, and I have been obsessing upon creating them for longer than I care to admit.

My debut novel, The Magical Tome, began quite a few years ago when I attended a writing class at WMU. As a mother of five with many irons in the fire, I had gotten to work on my thirty page assignment long after I should have. Thirty pages! Due in the morning! I knew I had to write something that would keep me awake. And this novel began that moment.

As a teen, I had been a big fan of science fiction, especially of the “vintage” variety– Frankenstein, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. When a person reads and views science fiction, that person learns to expect the unexpected, and in some cases to encounter stories where the characters overcome the impossible, like time travel. Steampunk included many of the qualities that I liked. I also have a fondness for buckles, laces, corsets, and well-equipped goggles. And I realized those stories could be enhanced and complicated by a hot romance braided into them. My writing a steampunk romantic adventure was what I desired.

Writing and polishing this story took much longer than most bystanders (my husband and children) could bear. Over the years, The Magical Tome had become a story well beyond the 30 page assignment that spawned it. It had become a novel of not quite 90,000 words. But I had finished a vampire story ahead of it. I had sold some articles to a local newspaper, and I had created another newsletter for a service group I’m in. But I had not been faithful in submitting it to publishers. In fact, some family members thought I would never get around to selling that story they believed in. Thus, my grown-up daughter, so believing in the story I wrote, put it up on Kindle without me knowing it. And not just on Kindle, available through print on demand at Kindle, too!

Needless to say, it was like being tossed into the cold and churning ocean without water wings. But here it is, out there, on Kindle. Now it’s my job to let people know what the story is about and where it’s available. I may not yet be swimming, but I am at least dog-paddling.

Many thanks to Patricia, Angela, Elaine, Jeff, Tonette for letting me be your guest today.

51xnikqe5qlBlurb for The Magical Tome:
Twenty-first century coed Emma and hot shot British actor Peter find themselves prisoners of mad scientists in Steampunk England. Their only hope to return to their lives is to return a magical book to its rightful owners. If an angry queen, a raging mob, and a couple of thoroughly ticked off mad scientists, and a deadly jinni aren’t obstacles enough, they complicate everything by falling in love.

The Magical Tome is available on Amazon.

You can find Annette Briggs at her website and on Twitter and Amazon.

Posted in authors, Books, Guest, Guest author, Guest author post, novels, Patricia Kiyono, writers | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

Summertime, and the Writin’ Is Easy…Not

How has the uniqueness of the Summer of 2020 affected our writings so far?

With me, it’s been devastating,

Back in April, I posted on trying to get my act together for a ‘new normal’. I realize that phrase has no reasonable meaning whatsoever; there is nothing ‘normal’ about my life and there never has been.

I figured there would be a silver lining in having to stay home, it being extra time and fewer distractions from writing time. BOY, was I wrong.
For one thing, we’ve been unnerved. HOW contagious is this? WHAT measures are necessary? Are we over-doing it? And personally: How do we weight the good of others against self-preservation; Self-preservation, to what end?

Without boring you with family history and dynamics, suffice it to say that we are taking precautions, but have had to weight others’ needs and our own needs to see to them against sitting here, listening to things happen that we could alleviate, just sitting here in fearful and isolation. How can we truly help and not just let ourselves worry and watch things happen, and do so without undue risk because, well, then what?

It’s a weighing game.

Then there is The Husband, who keeps getting all caught up in the virus and other news. He tends to stray too far in one direction, following what is online, and there is no moderation online. Normally, he is moderate; he judges by actions, by people’s character and by their fruits, as I said : normally. Being cooped up , away from people living real lives and with the ‘all-in’ attitudes of most people in the news and nearly every politician, it has been a real struggle for him to not go over-the-edge one way, and I have had to do daily ‘realing-in’,(sic; as in ‘reality’). It is exhausting.

And he wants to watch shows and movies. And he uses the computer where I write, (to get caught up as mentioned above). I guess that I should try getting on the other, off-line computer, but I haven’t tried as yet to squeak out the time.

Also, this year, with so much having been shut-down, we have more wildlife and we have taken a real interest in them. Our occasional woodchuck shows up. We have more bunnies and they took over our ‘burn pile’ of brush, as has the chipmunk. We’re seeing him (her?) a lot, as with the new and more versatile species of birds that have come back to the yard after many years, (they had gone with the building of houses around us), we are feeding and watching them.

(The cats are also greatly enjoying watching them, I think. However, they may be more frustrated.)

Plus there is at least one of the family of opossums we had here earlier still hanging around. A little dry cat food on the porch at the garage keeps it/them here, which we hope will cut down on the slug and snake populations, if nothing else.

This is all lovely, but distracting.

All of the above has kept me away from the keyboard much of the time, and I even stay too distracted to write or edit much in my head.

There are still the family problems, which keep me fuzzy-headed: family members unwell that I cannot visit, and that is hard . Son#2, Grandbaby and the wife/mother moved 2,000 miles away. Son#1 is a First Responder. The Grandteens have normal teen angst and other problems. My own health problem, I try to ignore, but which my body reminds me that I can’t ,nor can stay awake and clear-headed as I used to

I don’t know what the Autumn will bring. It may be that I have far less time or a great deal more, depending on the need and the location of family members. One may be leaving for far parts again, or may be basically moving in. As for the other, I am not certain, either; she may be here again to stay for a while.

I am determined to make something of a schedule around here, which gives me definite keyboard time. It’s been hard, but I don’t think it is impossible.

Wish me luck

Posted in Autumn, big plans, Daily life, Dealing with stress, decisions, experiences, Family, Miscellaneous, summer, time management, Tonette Joyce, writing | 8 Comments

In the Doldrums

The “Summer” that began in mid-March

By Jeff Salter

Topic: We’ve previously discussed how summers typically affect our writing schedules or outputs, but this summer of 2020 was unique in many ways. Tell us whether these unique factors affected your writing… and whether that was to the “good” or the “bad” in terms of output. (JLS)

Wow. Lots to think about with this topic. I had envisioned it might be scheduled around the END of summer, rather than the middle… but I don’t suppose it makes much difference. The die is likely cast for this summer… and here in KY, our summer effectively “ends” before the first week of August, when schools re-open. That’s assuming they’ll re-open at all this year.

I recall last summer (2019) huddling with several of my sprint-mates to help all of us stay “accountable” to do more writing than we’d apparently been inclined to do for one or more previous summers. And I think that effort was reasonably effective. Patricia Kiyono kept us apprised of the weekly commitment and each of us would check in at week’s end to report on our writing progress. It was, of course, in addition to our weekly sprint. That suggestion had arisen when some of us were commiserating about how we’d had such high hopes for ADDITIONAL creative output during the summer months when many of our external obligations were suspended for that season.

a-cat-nap

This is me… since about mid-March

Well, THIS year – this dreadful, bizarre, disorienting season of CoVid-19 – has been (for me) doldrums without end. In fact, I hardly noticed Spring and Summer — those months have just felt like extensions of the craziness that began in mid-March with all the pandemic restrictions.

Normally, I’d expect that with so many of my external obligations not only “non-essential” but actively restricted by “governorial” edicts… I’d have more time to focus on my writing. HA.

When things began shutting down in mid-March, I was buzzing along with my first draft of my newest novel. I was intent on getting that draft complete before I turned my attention to the hated annual ritual of IRS Tax Preparation.

I also knew I’d soon be receiving the second round of edits on my sequel in the Time-Traveling Cowboy series. But I was not braced for the speed with which the third round of edits and the galley-proofing hit me. Suffice it to say, if the powers-that-be had not seen fit to grant the extension to July 15 for submission of tax returns, I’d likely have been tossed into tax jail.

Well, I did manage to finish that first draft… and hustled my way through the second draft. Submitted that to two Beta Readers, and then I got swamped by the aforementioned edits… plus a lot of personal issues that wrecked my concentration and sapped my emotional energy.

I have not yet completed the final touches on the tax paperwork to deliver to my CPA — though I have an appointment for tomorrow (Fri.) morning to meet with her.

And I have not yet been able to muster the energy or willpower to return to the third draft of that newest manuscript. Once that momentum was wrecked, it seemed to have sucked a bit of creative life out of me.

Plus, I’ve fallen prey (again) to the lure of the TV… to watch some of our favorite British mysteries.

Of course, I began this period (mid-March) with a couple weeks of jaw pain from a difficult molar extraction. That’s never a good way to jump into an entirely “new normal.”

Even though I was not allowed to visit my exercise place for most of 10 weeks, I did do a lot of walking with my wife here on the property: we walked some 43 miles in April, about 55 in May, but only about 28 in June. The June figures were lower because of weather, two sets of company staying over, and me being allowed to return to my exercise place around mid-June.

Conclusions

What have I learned (about myself) in a time when my external demands have been greatly limited?

I tend to drift too much, apparently.

Not able to concentrate as well, it seems.

And… I snack much more than I should!

Question:

What about YOU? Has this summer seemed “different” from more typical summers? How?

[JLS # 496]

Posted in Miscellaneous | 7 Comments

More Time to Write, Right?

We’ve previously discussed how summers typically affect our writing schedules or outputs, but this summer of 2020 was unique in many ways. Tell us whether these unique factors affected your writing… and whether that was to the “good” or the “bad” in terms of output.

To say that the summer of 2020 is unique is probably an understatement. I’m missing a lot of things that I always enjoy doing.

First, there’s family vacation. We always go to Garden City Beach in South Carolina, but most of the Covid 19 cases are there around the beach. Neither my son nor I wanted to take the chance of anyone getting sick. So, no vacation this year.

I’ve also had to cancel several standing weekly events that I enjoy. No more weekly dinners with my friends, no more church study group, no more Saturday nights with people we’ve gone out with for over a quarter of a century. I feel unsafe to even hop in the car and drive downtown to shop for things I really need, things like chocolate, sandals, or puppy dog treats. I’ve been good and mostly stayed home because I already have lung issues. I really don’t need Covid 19.

So, now I have more time to write, right? Well, not really. I sit down in front of my computer, and if I reach a place in the story that requires a little more concentration I’ll just quit. I tell myself that I’ll do it tomorrow after I get up when my brain is sharpest. And most of the time I do try, but somehow having a whole day in front of me with nothing to do sucks all my motivation away. I have a completed manuscript that needs a final edit before I send it in, but I can’t make myself do it. Apparently, the busier I am the easier it is for me to accomplish tasks. Before I retired I longed for more writing time, but I now plainly see that I should be careful what I wish for.

What about you? Do you do better when you’re busier?

Posted in author's life, Elaine Cantrell, Miscellaneous | 6 Comments

Writing in a time of Covid

This week we’re discussing our writing during this crazy summer and how it has affected it.

Over the past several months everything has changed. My family is evolving. We’re home more often. We’re spending even more time together (which I didn’t know was possible). We’re finding ways to express ourselves, we’re finding ways to create. I’ve recently taken on the task of decorating the kids’ bedrooms. All three of them are getting switched around. I started it all at the same time which means things are chaotic here.

When it comes to my writing, I am able to get more and less done. My friend Kelly told me about this app called Forest. Basically you get to grow a garden on it but in order to grow your garden you can’t touch your phone for a certain amount of time. If you do then whatever plant you’re trying to grow will die. We use this while we’re doing sprints. It has been fun to do these little sprints together and see what we can grow in our little gardens.

I’m currently working on three stories. Plus Wyatt and I have been tossing around some ideas for a children’s series. I told him he can do the illustrations for me if he wants to. He said he needed to practice some more. He has some problems drawing people.

Now, when I do get to sit down to write there are constant interruptions. Just like when I am on the phone they seem to know when I am writing. Suddenly, that is when they’re hungry, they don’t feel well, they need to order something, they need to borrow my laptop, and on goes the list. I don’t write at night anymore, even though that is when I was always most productive. I just can’t seem to stay up late to write. By the time I get done reading a few chapters of whichever children’s classic we’re reading I am wiped out from a full day of wrangling the kids. So while I feel more productive because I am getting sprints in I don’t think that there is a lot of writing getting done. My days are filled with interruptions but let’s face it. I welcome those interruptions. I am doing what I can to make sure that children are healthy; both physically and mentally, during this crazy time.

Writing helps me to keep my mind occupied. When I write there is no virus. The world is a happy place, it is a safer place. So when I can escape to my writing I do.

 

Posted in Miscellaneous | 4 Comments

Writing Life BC and AD

Laptop blank screen

The blank screen is every author’s nemesis!

This week, our resident hound posed this prompt: We’ve previously discussed how summers typically affect our writing schedules or outputs, but this summer of 2020 was unique in many ways. Tell us whether these unique factors affected your writing… and whether that was to the “good” or the “bad” in terms of output.

My short answer: the world health situation had a negative effect on my writing output.

Looking back, I realize my priorities were completely redirected. My life BC (Before Covid) included several outside activities, organized by a full schedule. Writing took place on days and times when I wasn’t sewing, teaching, card-making, scrapbooking, or performing in a musical group. It sounds like I didn’t have much time for writing, but I actually did. Since my attention span isn’t great, it worked better for me to have several short pockets of time throughout the day for getting my writing done.

But things changed AD (After Distancing). When the local universities closed on March 12, my teaching schedule changed, my performing groups discontinued, and my social groups could no longer met. This had a ripple effect on other things. Instead of short periods of time, I now had the entire day to occupy myself. Once I completed my online teaching responsibilities, I started sewing. At first, I worked on quilt tops for my church quilting group. Then, my granddaughter, who worked in the ICU at a local hospital, asked for people to help supply her unit with isolation gowns. And then, of course, I started making face masks. My cabinet sewing machine broke down, so I took out my portable and set it up on my desk, which meant that my laptop was relegated to the kitchen table, not far from the TV that’s on 24/7. And since I almost always forgot to don my bluetooth headphones, my writing didn’t get the focus it needed. I did manage to complete my Monday blog posts and do basic promo, but as for my current work-in-progress, I’m at the point in my story where I need to read it from beginning to end and fix plot holes. And that has not happened. I’ll occasionally think of something that needs expanding or something that needs to be added, so I have more words than I did in March, but I have the sinking feeling that I’m nowhere near finished with this tale. And that bothers me, because I should have had the book finished by now.

Restrictions have started to ease in Michigan, although I am still cautious about going out. We order takeout or delivery once every two or three weeks, but we have yet to eat inside a restaurant. My musical groups have not resumed, mostly because they all meet in school buildings, which are not yet open. My quilting group has been informed that we will be allowed to resume after the first of the year. My writing groups continue to meet online. And of my social groups, a few of them have met at parks, each of us bringing our own food and drinks. I have finally been able to see and hug my grandchildren, but since senior living facilities are still in lockdown, I have to communicate with my mom by phone or FaceTime. Gradually, my calendar is filling up – not nearly as full as it used to be, but enough that I have to refer to it from time to time so that I don’t forget to “show up” where and when I’ve made a commitment. And gradually, I’m finding the motivation to write and edit. It might only be one chapter or scene at a time, but I feel I’m making progress.

My father used to say, “If you want something done, ask the busiest person you know, because that person has learned to manage his or her time effectively.” I’ve always known that the busier I am, the more I get done. I’m back to making to-do lists, prioritizing so that tasks get done on time. I learned that I won’t be teaching this fall due to budget cuts, but that’s okay. I’ll miss interacting with students, but I won’t miss the paperwork. I assume the time I spent on those will soon be filled with other things – like maybe clearing out the house, now that the donation sites are once again accepting things. It’s good to be busy again.

But this break sure has been nice.

Posted in author's life, Dealing with stress, experiences, hobbies, inspiration, Life, Patricia Kiyono, The Author Life, time management, writing | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments