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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ludington Daily News Column- June 2011

 I did get my newspaper column done on time, but forgot to blog about it. It was due on Monday, and I actually zapped it off the the editor several hours before the deadline.

Several times a year the column features other people who "get off the couch." This month I wrote about a paddling journey that a group of people took this month the entire length of the Muskegon River. It was named Voyage of Discovery, and had the purpose of surveying the river's ecological health.

I called the watershed organization which sponsored the trip, and also one of the people who paddled the entire distance, for interviews.

"21st Century Voyage of Discovery

The Manistee River is the third-longest river in Michigan. Can you name the two that are longer? Did you guess the Grand, just because of the name? You are right; it’s longest. Which one is in between? That would be the Muskegon..."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chapter 10 of News from Dead Mule Swamp

This chapter has taken forever to finish. I started it almost a month ago, and then decided that it was time to have something significant occur to keep the plot moving along. That changed the chapter from one of mostly dialogue to a lot of moving people around and meeting someone new, and setting up this next piece of action.

That took a lot of words! In fact, this chapter is twice as long as the previously longest chapter. Hmmm. Maybe it should be split into two.

Nevertheless, I got a big chunk of the story done to take to the West Side Gang writers group last night. Since it was really rough (I finished just in time to take it), they offered some good suggestions.

It is a little odd to hear one chapter of a book about once a month. I know, since some others are also bringing chapters. There usually needs to be a little update to remind people who the secondary characters are and what previously happened.

I should be good to go with the next few chapters now, as this latest plot complication plays out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Program Booking

The program on June 21 has spawned another booking on September 21 for the Academy of Lifelong Learning, an arm of the local West Shore Community College.

The goal of the The Lifetime Learning Academy is "to become the leading provider of continual learning and enrichment to adults with programs that promote growth, culture, and spiritual life through academic courses and social interaction."

I know they do a good job of publicity, so it should be a great venue.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Interest from Cozy Cat Press

Cozy Cat Press has expressed an interest in News from Dead Mule Swamp!

"A 'cozy mystery' is a fun mystery that features an amateur sleuth--often female who uses brain power over brawn. The protagonist hero/heroine usually stumbles into investigating a crime--typically murder. She--or he--is generally a likeable, sympathetic character. In fact, most of the characters who appear in "cozies" are likeable--and often eccentric. Cozies move fast, with lots of exciting plot twists. That's what a cozy is. Here's what a cozy isn't--violent, profane, or sexually graphic!"

Cozy Cat is a consortium rather than a publisher. They collect mysteries with a similar style and work together for publicity and marketing. See Cozy Cat Press

Guess I better write faster.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I May Know More Than I Thought

A friend called me today and wanted some advice for her adult daughter who has written an elementary-school level book. The daughter had been talking to some self-publishing company that sounded to me like a terrible choice. Very little concern for the author, very high cost, etc.

I was amazed to discover that I now knew enough about some of the options available to actually help someone else make some choices as to how to proceed- query a traditional publisher, vanity press, print on demand, self publish, etc.

I certainly don't know enough yet to be writing articles about the topic or to lead seminars, but I sure know more than an average person. I think I've graduated to being a "professional" writer.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Two Program Bookings

Just this week I confirmed two more program bookings, both in September. On the 13th, I'll be in Marquette, Michigan giving one of my two keynote talks. They haven't decided which one for sure, just yet. I'll stay overnight with a friend. In fact, I may go a day early so that I can do some hiking around Marquette. It's a beautiful place! This program will be sponsored by the North Country Trail Hikers Chapter of the North Country Trail Association.

Then I have to boogie home on the 14th, because I have a program in Pentwater, Michigan on the evening of the 15th of September. This will be a shorter presentation, "The North Country Trail in Michigan." This one came as a direct result of putting out some flyers last Tuesday night. Several people from the Sable Dunes Audubon Society were there, and they want me at one of their meetings. They chose this title because it's a shorter program, and they don't usually have hour-long presentations.

I am really pleased at the steady requests for speaking!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Submitted "Secret Spring"

The poem, "Memory of Life," that I submitted for the Ludington Public Poetry Project was too long. They want shorter poems. I was completely uninspired until tonight when I read the poem "Mornings at Blackwater," by Mary Oliver. Suddenly, I had an idea based on a spring my dad showed me on our property when I was 14. I couldn't believe that I hadn't ever found it in all my years of roaming and exploring. The poem begins:

Secret Spring

My father told me about the secret spring
the year I turned fourteen.
I thought...

Ludington PPP is a small program that posts poems by local authors around town for people to read. The theme this time is Spring and Summer. I'd really like to have one poem posted, so I hope this one is more acceptable.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sounding Board

I spent the afternoon with a friend who also writes. She mostly writes poetry, but has recently begun a series of short essays. She has self-published two of her books of poems and one of them sells quite well (just to give her some credibility as to quality).

This is the second time we've gotten together this summer. She's been in California for two years. We do some visiting, but a lot of what we do is to read our works to each other, out loud, and ask for feedback.

It's a very constructive time, and we have fun too.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Program and Book Sales

The program went really well! Despite torrential rains and lots of lightning and thunder there were 50 people who showed up. The library that sponsored the program was really happy- that was a high turnout for their program series. I concur that it was a good turnout. I usually get large groups when the program is for an outdoor or hiking club, but not always so many when it's aimed at a general audience. This was also in my local area, part of the Pentwater Library summer series. I hadn't yet given this program locally, so that might have helped, although there were only about five people there that I knew.

I sold four copies of North Country Cache, and one copy of Devotions for Hikers, so that was also a great success. That's a good sales percentage for that size group.

And, one good "rule" of public speaking is that you should never leave a program without having the next one lined up. I may have pulled that off. If the man I spoke with follows through, I'll have a program in September.

I personally have difficulty pushing my books as hard as I need too. I tend to be more retiring when it comes to sales, and would like books to sell themselves. But that is totally unrealistic unless you happen to be on the NY Times Bestseller list (ha!). I think I did a pretty good job last night, for me.

Here's a piece of phenomenal news! Last week I paid off the last of what I borrowed from a couple of friends to publish North Country Cache. I still haven't paid off what I borrowed from myself, but all the money made tonight can begin to go toward that goal. Since I'll need cash for North Country Quest in the next year or two, that is a great milestone.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Getting Ready for a Program

I am giving one of my programs this evening, "The North Country Trail and the Kitchen Sink." It informs people about the trail through my own adventures on my end-to-end hike. It's also my best marketing tool for selling North Country Cache.

There are a few little tweaks I want to do for the program (nice that Power Point is so easy to work with!). I also have to redo my brochure which lists all the various programs that I can give. I now have my own digital projector, and so I need to remove the part that says I need one. I'm going to raise the price for my two keynote programs a bit too. Now that I AM the only woman to hike the entire trail, I think my credibility demands it.

Wish me lots of book sales! This is actually a local program, at one of the area libraries. I haven't given a local showing for a long time, and never of this particular program, so I'm hopeful of a good turnout.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Succintly Yours- Flash Fiction

Grandma's Goulash regularly runs a Flash Fiction challenge. Quite a few people enter. Here's my next installment of fewer than 140 characters (you can choose 140 characters or 140 words). The extra credit word is "fabricate." Here's the picture that is to be the inspiration:

Here's my story:

"Fabricate clews? Never! I am the sleuth extraordinaire, not the butler who did it. Excuse me, I spy a mote of sinister dust."


To see other entries visit Grandma's Goulash

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Check Was In the Mail

I've been holding my breath until I actually got paid for the article in Your National Forests. Not that I didn't think the Forest Service was good for it... I think I'm still in shock at how much they paid.

If you can actually read that, go for it. I'll just say that yes, there is a number higher than one in front of the word "hundred."

I've been told that writers actually get paid in this range once they are established and credible. It wouldn't break my heart to enter that circle.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bio Added to Twin Trinity Books

My bio and an author interview has been added to the Twin Trinity Books store.

To see it, click on TTM Authors & Staff in the left sidebar, and I am number 48 (they aren't in any particular order).

Owner, Michelle L. Devon, says that the covers will be done and the books ready for purchase this weekend. And, she is offering a fantastic deal for early bird interest. Here's her offer:
We're offering you a special right now that if you sign up for an account on the Twin Trinity Media website prior to June 20th, we're giving you a $5 store credit. This is enough to buy several shorts, or you can use your credit to purchase a discounted copy of any of our fine paperback books
All books will be available in a variety of formats for Kindle, Apple iStore, nook, Mobi, and also pdf or plain txt for reading on the computer. Why not sign up right now before you forget, and you can buy some interesting stories as soon as Monday.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Contracts on Two Stories

Yesterday was a stellar day! I received (and signed) contracts for two of my short stories that have been accepted by Twin Trinity Media. They are listed at the store as Upcoming Releases from Twin Trinity Media. No cover art available yet, and as of this morning, my bio hasn't been added to the Authors List. But it's all part of the process.

As soon as all the mechanics are done, they will be available for under $1 each. The two stories are "Toby and Harry," submitted under the theme of Anger. and "On Time for the Wedding," submitted under the Wedding theme.

I have several more stories which were accepted for digital downloading from TTM, so those will be showing up over the coming months as well.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Make Publisher-Editor at Shared Reviews

I knew I was getting close, but I awoke to find this posted on the Shared Reviews blog this morning:
Joan Young has just earned the first Publishing Editor badge on SharedReviews. The bar was set high, and through the difficulties we’ve had over the last few months, an amazing feat. She has proven herself as our TOP author in the system based on the criteria of effort, perseverance, and achievement.

Congratulations Joan, everyone here at the company is very proud of you, and we hope you enjoy this moment for the amazing feat that it represents! We’re going to award you a special prize of $50 for this great achievement.
This is partly due to persistence, striving to make top levels during any phase of growth that the web site has experienced. Yes, I can write decent reviews, and now articles since general content has been added, but like any writing site, one needs a body of work to do well. I've tried to keep adding content regularly. Some months I mangage to write more than others.

Shared Reviews has gone through several phases in an effort to remain viable and serve its authors. They are currently working toward a complete overhaul of the site. All regular authors are waiting rather impatiently and some are choosing to participate less until these changes are made. I'm looking forward to the "new" site, whenever it is complete.

Owner, Peter Ejtel, admits that he didn't expect anyone to reach this level so "soon." The current levels of accomplishment were unveiled last September. Those of us who had been there a long time and had completed a certain number of tasks were set at levels which matched with those achievements. At that time I began as a Publisher-Rater, level 1. So I had to build to level 10, completing more challenges along the way.

In the end, the thing which I needed was more high ratings of my own writing, and the author has no control over when these will happen. But last night, someone gave me the final push I needed to go over the top.

Now, in addition to earning money from readers, I will have some administrative rights and responsibilities, and will earn $25 residual income a month in addition to earnings from readers. It's been a lot of work, but I think it's worth it!

Use this link if you would like to join Shared Reviews.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

West Side Gang- Writers' Group

Came home from the writers' group last night a bit put off. Most of the members are of one particular political and spiritual persuasion, and they often get off on tangents promoting those and bashing all who may not agree with them. They just assume that anyone who likes poetry is of a similar mindset. This was actually said aloud at one meeting.

I wonder how long it will take for anyone to notice that I am very silent when these discussions take place.

I enjoy the writing support and the thoughtful comments about things I take to read, but if I wanted to discuss politics and/or religion I would have joined a different kind of group.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Succintly Yours- Flash Fiction

Grandma's Goulash regularly runs a Flash Fiction challenge. So far I've been inspired every other week. Here's my next installment of 140 words. The extra credit word is "lavender." Here's the picture that is to be the inspiration:

Here's my story:

"...and lavender is such a nice color for a nursery, since we don’t know if the babies will be boys or girls or some of each. I want deluxe feather beds for each of the eggs, you know, the kind with eider down, that will be especially warm for our little ones. Are you listening, dear?"
"See, I’ve been talking with Alexis, she’s the goose that lives down at the south end of the pond, and her nest is much better positioned than ours. She has a wonderful location with afternoon shade, but yet a good stretch of water between her and the fox. I realize that it’s not entirely your fault that we didn’t get here first this year to claim the best spot, but we really have to do something special to show her and Freddie that..."


To see other entries visit Grandma's Goulash

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Your National Forests Article

Three copies of the Summer- Fall 2011 issue of Your National Forests came in the mail yesterday. They added graphics in addition to my photos, and the article looks really great! I added the circle around the place on the cover where it indicates the story on the inside. That's pretty cool that it is mentioned on the cover.

The check is supposed to follow very soon. A real check. As in, a new printer for me check.

Here's what the article looks like:

I'm off to add this to my resume!

The magazine will be available as a pdf soon from the National Forests web site. I'll add a link when that happens.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Editor for North Country Quest

This has been a crazy busy week. Barely time to get necessary things done, so writing of any kind took a big hit.

However, today I spent the day with my hiking/biking/writing buddy, Ellen. She confirmed that she will help edit North Country Quest, and urged me to get busy on it.

I also re-read a couple of my short stories. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I still think they are pretty good. All but one is being published at some point through Twin Trinity Books. So that leaves one story hanging out by itself. If I could get my act together, I should write some others to go with it and put it out in an ebook, right?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

West Side Gang- Writers' Group

Tuesday night was a meeting of the West Side Gang- They liked chapter 9 of News from Dead Mule Swamp a lot, and most of their suggestions were small changes for clarity, not any problems with the story.

I came home and re-read everything I had done to date. Found one small thing I needed to change to keep geographic consistency in the town I've created, and did some other clean-up. It's really invigorating when other people like what you write and want to hear more.

The man who is handling the Public Poetry Project wasn't there, so I don't know if my poem "Memory of Life" was accepted or not. Last night was an "extra" meeting (not the regular date), so we will meet again next Tuesday, and he should be there, so I hope I'll get an answer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chapter 9 of News From Dead Mule Swamp

The West Side Gang is meeting tonight, and I wanted to have something new to take. The group is doing one thing for me that I had hoped: poking me with a stick.

I finished the next chapter (first draft of course) of News from Dead Mule Swamp. In it Ana Raven (the main character) meets Jerry Caulfield, the newspaper editor. Here's a sample:

As I sipped the wonderful coffee, Jerry placed a small white china plate with a black border and silver edge in front of me. The black border wasn’t plain, but was enhanced with a black-on-black intertwining of two Greek meanders. The butter knife he added was sterling silver, bearing the letter C. I was starting to feel inadequate again, just from the weight of the money in the room, but he grinned amiably and tossed a paper napkin on the plate.
6489 words so far, with the story maybe a third told- so I'll estimate 20K words for the book. That's about the length I was thinking- a short, fun mystery. Maybe that's too short- it works out to about 100 pages in print. Should I go for 150 pages?

Is anyone following this at all? Should I introduce Ana on the blog?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Product Review at Shared Reviews

Wrote up one more review for Shared Reviews. This brings my content count there to 558, and I'm solidly in first place for now!

This time I reviewed the Digital Concepts 51-in-1 Card Reader

Friday, June 3, 2011

Product Review at Shared Reviews

Today was a very busy day, but I managed to get one more review done for Shared Reviews, and it put me back into first place.

I reviewed the toddler book No T. Rex in the Library.

I don't anticipate having any time to write tomorrow. It's National Trails Day!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A New Month at Shared Reviews

I hope to step up my participation at Shared Reviews again this month. I'm back up to #2 in rank.

I wrote a new review today: Altec Lansing Speakers- Powerful but Awkward to Move