Monday, January 13, 2014

2014 Writing Process Blog Hop

One of my goals this year is to do more promotion, and what better way to start, than by jumping onto the beginning of a blog hop that will hopefully run the whole year. I’d like to thank April Erwin for inviting me to join this blog hop, and introduce you to her.

April Erwin:

“I am a plethora of things in one. I love that word. Plethora. I heard it for the first time in The Three Amigos movie. I think it describes me pretty well. (Does that sound conceited? Hope not.) So, why am I a plethora? Let's see, I'm a novelist, a singer/songwriter, a certified graphologist, a photographer & Sunday school teacher. I love to read, scrapbook, travel, bake, & watch movies & TV. By day I write, and tutor reading and spelling to dyslexic and reading challenged individuals. Is that Plethorific enough?”

Here are the questions we’re each answering:

What am I working on?

My current WIP is the story of Kristen Jensen, a morbidly obese woman who goes through treatment with the addicts and alcoholics at the VA to treat her food addiction. The program is somewhat different from most in that it is based on SMART Recovery instead of the Twelve Steps. The book follows her through the program, outlining the basics of the program and digging into some of Kristen’s issues as she works the program and does her homework.

While she’s there, she meets Sean Wesley, lead singer of The Haystack, a country/rock band that’s been around for years. Although the VA doesn’t usually treat people with the kind of wealth Sean has, his manager pulled several strings to get him in there. Kristen has difficulty believing a handsome, successful man like Sean could possibly go for her, but he was a fat kid and he’s impressed with her intelligence, bravery, kindness, and sense of humor. He sees the thin person inside struggling to be set free.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Except for the romance, this book is very autobiographical. It chronicles my own obesity issues and struggle to lose weight. I am a Navy Veteran and I really did go through SMART Recovery at the Danville, IL VA. I have lost 140 pounds and I plan to include my before and after photos on the back cover of the book.

Why do I write what I do?

I have a degree in writing from Columbia College in Chicago. In my first class, my instructor told us to write what we know. I asked him what the difference was between writing about ourselves and fiction, and he said, “Write it the way you wish it was.” So, I guess that’s kind of what I do.

The first book I started that got published was about getting dumped by my husband in a town I’d never heard of hundreds of miles from home where the only other person I really knew was the woman for whom he’d dumped me. I actually started that book in that class. Twenty years later, after I’d been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, I added that to the mix. My ex said the reason he was leaving me was that he couldn’t stand my mood swings, and that had been an on-going argument between us before he accepted the job in that town. He worked outages at various nuclear power plants around the country and I had been begging him to settle down at one plant so we could have a normal family life. Well, Comes the Dawn turned into Rock Crazy. I moved it from Oswego, New York to Rockton, Luna. But instead of leaving his wife, Katie, for someone else, Scott McGowan dumps her to convince her to get a chip implanter in her brain that will cure her bi-polar disorder in hopes they can have a normal life and maybe even start a family. My life how I wish it could be—cured of my bi-polar disorder with something other than meds, not divorced, and settled in a community with friends and even a feeling of family.

However, Rock Crazy wasn’t the first book I published. I thought I’d write a paragraph or two about some of the background characters, and they took over and became their own book, Rock Bound. Frankly, I’m not sure where that one came from!

How does my writing process work?

I’m not sure I have a “process.” I’m definitely a pantser. I start with sort of a log-line in my head. I kind of need to know where I’m starting and where I’m ending up before I start writing. How I get there is sometimes a surprise. For instance, in Full Circle, one of the girls turns out to be a senator’s daughter and has a major argument with her dad. I didn’t see that coming; it just kind of happened. I guess I just sit down at the computer and words pour out of my fingertips. When I was in school we talked about our processes. I worked full time, went to school and was active in Overeaters Anonymous. I was a non-custodial parent, partly because I knew something was wrong with me, but not what. Anyway, we were expected to write at least sixty pages each semester. That was the minimum to pass our writing courses.

I left home at six-thirty/seven a.m. most days and got home at eleven-thirty/midnight most nights. My classmates talked about having to have just the right music or absolute silence; having to clean the house or pick the cat hair off the couch in order to be able to write. I wrote at work during my lunch break while answering phones and greeting clients. I wrote on the El on my way to work and from school. I wrote in restaurants. I wrote in the computer lab at school. I wrote wherever and whenever I could grab the time. Process? Who had time for a process? I had rent, tuition, and a long-distance phone bill to pay.

My process now that I’m “retired” is to just sit down and work at least a couple of hours each day. I also edit for Jupiter Gardens, am Editor of the Marketing for Romance Writers Newsletter, run the Roses and Thorns review site, and volunteer twice a week at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center. I like to stay busy. ;-D

Those were the questions we each received. It wouldn’t be a blog hop if you didn’t have someone to hop to, now would it. I’ve chosen three authors who will answer these questions in their blogs next week and each of them will introduce you to three authors. Here they are:

Beth Barany:

Based in Oakland, California, Beth Barany writes magical tales of romance and adventure to transport readers to new worlds where anything is possible.

She's the award-winning author of HENRIETTA THE DRAGON SLAYER, a young adult fantasy novel (Book 1 of the Five Kingdom series.)

In her off hours, Beth enjoys capoeira, traveling, and watching movies with her husband, bestselling author Ezra Barany, and playing with their two cats, Kitty and Leo.

Beth’s Website & Blog:

Candy Caine:

With nearly 200 short stories and her third novel soon to be in print, sweet and spicy, Candy Caine keeps her husband, Robert, on his toes in their Long Island, NY home. Supportive of her writing career, he’s always willing to help her make certain the scenes in her stories are authentic. After all, technique is so important for good writing. When asked why she began to write, Candy says: “I’ve always loved books and my biggest thrill is to bring the joy of reading to others. That’s what writing is all about.”

J.J. DiBenedetto

J.J. (James) DiBenedetto was born in Yonkers, New York. He attended Case Western Reserve University, where as his classmates can attest, he was a complete nerd. Very little has changed since then.

He currently lives in Arlington, Virginia with his beautiful wife and their cat (who has thoroughly trained them both). When he's not writing, James works in the direct marketing field, enjoys the opera, photography and the New York Giants, among other interests.

The "Dreams" series is James' first published work.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Small Story for Page Three by John W. Germond


Harry Fletcher can’t for the life of him figure out what exactly the ‘nugget’ of information his colleague, Eddie Concannon, uncovered prior to his death is. Picking his way along the threads of information, Harry soon finds himself at odds with government officials and his own newspaper seems to be involved in the collusion. Join Harry as he deciphers the clues and enjoy a journey into the world of investigative reporting set against a colorful back drop of characters and locations.


Although I wrote fiction as a child and teenager, I didn’t seriously consider writing as a career until I worked at the National Public Radio affiliate in Charleston, South Carolina.  I was hired as the secretary/receptionist fresh out of secretarial school, and I practically venerated the four journalists for whom I worked.  They talked about how great it was working in Public Radio where they didn’t have to worry about their stories clashing with the interests of advertisers or sponsors, because at the time PBS and NPR were supported entirely by government grants.  My bosses had complete Freedom of Press.

Harry Fletcher does not have that freedom.  His colleague, Eddie Concannon, was working on “A Small Story for Page Three” prior to his death.  A gurbernatorial candidate led a commission investigating corruption in the judicial, State’s Attorney’s and police departments that led to several indictments.  It was that commission that catapulted him into favor for the candidacy for governor.  Concannon told his wife he’d uncovered a “nugget” prior to his death, and Harry decides to follow it up before writing the story.  As he follows the leads, he clashes with his publisher who makes it clear—the editors and reporters do not determine what goes into the newspaper; he does.  It doesn’t matter who has corroborated the story—if the candidate says it didn’t happen; it didn’t.  Printing it could hurt the man’s candidacy.  (And Richard Nixon never had any tape recorders in the Oval Office because he said he didn’t.  Printing the Watergate story could hurt Nixon’s presidential legacy. Really?)  Why is Marcotte so invested in killing this story?

Harry is an old-fashioned newspaper man.  He’s more interested in writing the whole story than in finding a sound-bite or grabbing the front page.  He tracks down leads and corroborates them with more than one source, and he protects his sources.  But we don’t just see him at work.  We see him at home where his marriage to a younger woman is going through a rough patch, which doesn’t help matters.  One of his sources is an attractive woman whose husband is also out of town, and an envious colleague reports a bit of flirtatious banter during an interview as a full-blown affair.  While the story is told in first person, Mr. Germond’s characters are all fully-drawn, interesting, and engaging.  The story is fast-paced and a real page-burner.

I would love to see more from this retired newsman who finally wrote that novel so many journalists have stuffed in a drawer, but he left us three days before this book was released.  At least he got to see the galleys.  RIP Mr. Germond, and thank you.

Length: 224 Pages
Price:  $5.95

You’ll notice I always include the publisher’s buy link.  That’s because authors usually receive 40% of the book price from the publisher.  Editors and cover artists usually receive about 5%.  When you buy a book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or another third-party vendor, they take a hefty cut and the author, editors and cover artists receive their cuts from what is left.  So, if a book costs $5.99 at E-Book and you buy from there, the author will receive about $2.40.  If you buy the book at Amazon, the author will receive about $0.83.

Downloading the file from your computer to your Kindle is as easy as transferring any file from your computer to a USB flash drive.  Plug the USB end of your chord into a USB port on your computer and simply move the file from your “Downloads” box to your Kindle/Documents/Books directory.  I actually download my books using “Save As” to a “Books” file I created on my computer that’s sorted by my publisher, friends, and books “to review,” and then transfer them to my Kindle from there.  That way, if there’s a glitch with my Kindle, the books are on my computer.  Your author will be happy you did when he/she sees his/her royalty statement.

Thanks for visiting. RIW

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Housetraining Puppies & Adult Dogs by Lori Verni-Forgosi

dog train

Welcome to the Dog Training Challenge!

What is it? A group event in which housebreaking issues are eliminated once and for all! (Now that the kids are back in school but it's not holiday season yet, it's the perfect time!)
  • Puppies: All need house training!
  • Older dogs: Many still have accidents, whether frequent, occasional, excitement wetting, etc!
  • Already housebroken dogs: Teach your pet to use a designated area instead of your entire yard!
What do I have to do? How do I win?
  • Everyone wins by no longer having to deal with accidents in your house or poop all over your yard!
  • One person at random wins the $20 Petsmart card... however, you can earn extra entries the more you participate!
Yeah, yeah... clearly the author is selling books. How much is this gonna cost me?
  • Yes, Lori Verni-Fogarsi is the author of this book and hopes you'll buy one and participate. But honestly, this is not some sort of huge money-making venture for her! (Let's face it... if she were looking to get rich, there are better ways!) I know Lori is a genuine person who truly cares about dogs and their owners!
  • The book will be only $2.99 during this entire event! (Kindle version, which you can read on any computer or smartphone as well as Kindle, iPad, etc.) If you prefer paperback, it normally retails for $14.99 but Amazon often offers it for less. (For example, right now it's $12.92 with free shipping.)
Okay, sounds good. How do I sign up?
  1. Get your copy of "Everything You Need to Know About House Training Puppies & Adult Dogs" from Amazon.
  2. Enter your information into the entry form below to confirm that you have the book & are participating.
  3. Start reading & following the methods!
  4. Return to Lori's site regularly to participate in the discussion, ask questions, &/or get extra entries in the entry form! (Additional entries will become open to you once you've done Step 2.) Bookmark this page so it's easy to find!

How do I know if my dog's issues will be covered?

Housebreaking Dogs Book Cover

The book covers LITERALLY every housebreaking issue you could possibly think of! Including, but not limited to:

  • General confusion about where to "go."
  • Leg lifting/territorial marking.
  • Occasional accidents in a certain room.
  • Won't go out in the rain (or other weather issues).
  • Excitement or fear-related wetting.
  • Accidents in the crate.
  • Won't go in front of you outside.
  • Accidents after moving to a different home.
  • Accidents when visiting.
  • Special section for rescue dogs.
  • Teaching your already housebroken pet/s to use a designated area instead of your entire yard.
  • And more!
Ready? Let's go! START HERE: (Step 1): Get your copy of "Everything You Need to Know About House Training Puppies & Adult Dogs." STEP 2: Use this form to confirm that you have the book & are participating. (You may need to wait a moment for the form to load.) Do some extra entries now if you'd like. a Rafflecopter giveaway STEP 3: Read the book & follow the methods! (It's a short, easy, read!) STEP 4: Visit the main event page regularly to ask questions, participate in the discussion (in comments, below), let us know how your dog is doing, gain additional entries, etc. Congratulations on taking the first step toward enjoying your pet, home, and yard more! I encourage you to take some time to visit these fabulous blogs who are all helping support this amazing event! Just click their titles to visit!

Sunday, September 01, 2013

My Aviation History

I’m a baby boomer, a child of the space-age.  Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier two years before I was born and I was six when the Russians launched Sputnik and the Space Race was on.  To me, flying was as natural as walking or driving, if you had enough money to do so.  My family wasn’t poor, but we weren’t rich either.  We were part of President Eisenhower’s vast Middle Class, although I saw us as part of the lower half because my dad drove a truck, my mother worked in a factory (much to my embarrassment), and we lived in the city, not the suburbs.  Oh, we had a TV, and Daddy bought a new car every two years.  We lived in a house, not an apartment, and I was in Girl Scouts and choir and I got new clothes every spring and fall, and I heard the usual admonitions about children starving in China if I didn’t clean my plate.  I got a transistor radio when I was ten and my own stereo when I was twelve, and every summer we visited my cousins in the country, so maybe we were upper middle class in terms of income.

When I was ten, I went to visit my cousins over Spring Break.  My uncle drove me up to Iron Mountain, Michigan from Chicago, but then his plans changed and he couldn’t drive back.  How could my family get me home?  I don’t know who came up with the idea of flying me home, but my aunt put me on a North Central Airlines flight.  I flew on a converted Douglas C-47. The plane was a troop transport during World War II, converted from a DC-3 passenger plane.  After the war, many airline companies bought the surplus planes and re-converted them to passenger planes.  Like Sydney Bellek and Elian Davies in M. S. Spencer’s Lapses in Memory, I received my “wings” on that flight.

My next flight was aboard a Cessna.  I don’t recall the model.  My sister, brother-in-law, and their best friends rented a cottage in Eagle River, Wisconsin and took me along to babysit.  That was a disaster.  I was fine in the city, but when a raccoon got into our garbage outside the only door I could have used to go for help, and I was stuck in the woods without a phone, this city girl panicked thinking it was a bear.  The next time the adults went out, they got a sitter for me.  But I digress…  We went on an aerial tour of the resort area, and at the age of twelve, I got to sit up front, next to the pilot.  That was so cool!

I didn’t get to fly again until I graduated from high school.  My graduation gift from my parents was a trip to Los Angeles to visit an aunt and uncle out there.  I got to see the mountains and go to Disneyland, but I didn’t get to see the ocean.  That was my first experience on a jet.  I believe it was a Boeing 707.  I had a few flights on those and 727s—a couple more vacations, and then my flights to and from Boot Camp and the Navy Hospital at Oakland, California.  The difference is in the engines.  A 707 had engines on the wings, while 727s had them on the tails.

I discovered the Boeing 737 Baby Jet when I was engaged.  My fiancĂ© was stationed in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and it took two flights to get there from San Francisco.  Three, if you counted the chopper service across the San Francisco Bay!

Yes, I’ve even flown on helicopters.  San Francisco and Oakland Helicopter Airlines made sixty-two passenger flights per day across the Bay between the two airports, using Sikorsky S-62[3] turbine helicopters.  They even had flight attendants who would make sure each passenger’s seat belt was properly fastened.  Once we were airborne, they would jump up, pass out mints, sit down, buckle up, and we would land.  It was much easier to get to the San Francisco airport than taking busses.  I had to really hang onto my wedding gown when I went home to get married.  It got caught in the updraft and was headed for the rotors!

The weekend of my twenty-first birthday was quite an adventure.  I flew home on a hop out of Travis Air Force Base on a C-131 cargo plane.  We sat backward and instead of a flight attendant, we had a burly sergeant telling us how to don our parachutes and pull the oxygen tanks off the wall in case of an emergency.  (Yes, I used that in Rock Bound.) There was a trailer on board in which some brass were flying across country for some sort of meeting.  We stopped at an Air Force Base in Kansas while they met with someone there.  The sergeant took inside the trailer.  He said it was the one used by the Apollo 11 astronauts during quarantine when they returned to Earth.  I didn’t appreciate the historic significance at the time, because I didn’t realize he meant Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins when they came back from the Moon.  I thought he meant one of the later missions.  Eventually we made it to Scott Air Force Base near St. Louis, and I caught the last civilian flight to O’Hare.

I couldn’t catch a hop back to San Francisco, so I grabbed a civilian flight.  It was a Boeing 747 with a piano bar, and since it was my birthday, I didn’t have to pay for my drinks.  Flying from Central to Pacific time, my twenty-first birthday was twenty-six hours long.  Sydney and Elian spend time aboard a 747 with a piano bar in Lapses of Memory.

My last interesting flight was the hop I caught to Hawai’i.  It was a Lockheed Orion P-3 used by the Navy for anti-submarine and marine observation operations.  I was assigned the starboard observation post.  Being the only female aboard was fun.  I got to sit in the catbird seat behind and above the pilot and co-pilot and watch the sun set over the Pacific.  The navigator let me speak to a picket ship in the middle of the Pacific whose only job was to steam in a tight circle and speak to aircraft to let them know they were on the right course to Hawai’i.  They hadn’t heard a female voice in months.  The drawback was that since I was basically a hitch-hiker, they didn’t bring along a bucket for the head.  Translation—there was no ladies’ room.  And, because the P-3 flies low to spot submarines in the water, it’s not a jet aircraft.  It’s powered by four turbo-props, so it’s slower than a jet.  A flight that takes about four hours by jet takes six hour in a P-3.  Yup—six hours with no restroom.  I didn’t care about seeing my husband when we finally landed.  I just needed to find the facilities.  The crew wanted to wash the plane and put fuel onboard.  I convinced them to let me out at the fuel tanks.  My husband, who had been in the control tower when we landed, was on the stairs and missed my sprint across the tarmac. He was quite flummoxed when the plane finally taxied to the terminal and I wasn’t on board.  The pilot told the tower I was on the flight—where had I gone?

It’s been awhile since I’ve felt the power gathering beneath me, the G-forces pushing me into my seat as we tear down the runway, and the sudden smooth freedom of flight.  I miss it and hope to feel it again someday.  But if I don’t, I hope you will.  And no, I’ve never joined the Mile High Club.  For me, flying’s fun enough.  I cry on takeoff for sheer joy.