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woman readingLike most writers, I am a voracious reader and have been most of my life. While I do tend to gravitate toward certain genres, I usually enjoy reading anything well written. And, like most readers, I have favorite authors. (more…)

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Writing is a touchy business. All subjective and sometimes VERY opinionated. Tom Hanks famously said, “there’s no crying in baseball.” Well, let me tell you, there’s a lot of crying in the writing business. (more…)

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beach-writer

Lots of people think authors live a glamorous life; sitting in a beach chair, toes in the sand, large floppy hat, cool beverage with little umbrella in the glass with a laptop or tablet on their lap, just tap, tap, tapping away on the keys until – BAM – 90,000 words later, a best-selling masterpiece appears. The next day someone slaps a gorgeous glossy cover on it and plasters it all over the Barnes & Noble front window.

bookstore-window

Then, after several hours of tap, tap, tapping, said author dons oversized dark glasses and some sparkly flip flop sandals, gets into their luxury sports car and dashes off to some posh restaurant for lunch with their editor, agent, and some movie producer from Hollywood to discuss the details of turning your latest masterpiece into a Hollywood blockbuster.

power-lunch

Spoiler alert – that NEVER happens. Oh sure, JK Rowling probably does that NOW, but not when she first started. Steven King is a household name and James Patterson’s name gets tossed around a lot on movie sets and such, but seriously, that didn’t happen overnight.

So, how did it happen? I’ll tell you – I have no idea. Believe me, I wish I did. I wish I knew what secret, besides hard work and perseverance would shoot me straight up that ladder to the beach chair in the sun because God knows I would love love to dig my toesies into some white sand right about now. Not to mention that little umbrella drink.

Here’s what I do know, those people spent many, many long days and sleepless nights fussing over the right words, the parts they deleted and maybe shouldn’t have, the opening scenes that should work but for some reason don’t, a reviewers harsh comment, hours of endless re-writing.

working-woman

In other words, they worked hard and they didn’t quit. They didn’t let disappointment ruin their vision.

And, despite how it seems to authors most days, they didn’t reach a certain level of fame alone. What? You’re saying others helped along the way? Absolutely. A lot of people probably helped and didn’t even know they helped. Strangers can help strangers. Readers can help writers. Here’s how:

helping-hand

Buy books, read books, talk about awesome books.

A great way to take it up a notch, is to leave a review. It’s easy, it’s free, it doesn’t take that long, and it goes a long way in helping authors’ careers. Here’s a few places where you can leave a review: https://www.goodreads.com/https://www.amazon.com/; or http://allreaders.com/.

Go to book signings if you can and BUY THE BOOK, even if you gift it to someone else.

Spread the word on social media. A “like,” a “share,” a comment, helps boost that author’s visibility. It seems trivial, but like election time, every vote matters. (Please don’t make this political people. God knows we don’t want to go there again.)

book-with-bowGift a book. A great way to help authors is to buy books for someone else. Especially in this day and age of electronic gadgets, almost everyone has an e-reader of some fashion. If not, you can download a free app to most smart phones. Heck, you can read books on your home computer. What better gift for a person who has everything or no longer wishes to “collect things?” Again, it’s easy and relatively inexpensive. Some e-books are less than a dollar. Gifting an e-book is super easy through Amazon or other on-line e-book retailers. All you need is the recipient’s e-mail address. What a lovely surprise for the recipient to open their e-mail and discover a gift! And it won’t clutter up a closet or shelf.

 

comment-boxHere’s how I’m going to help some authors this week: Every person who posts a comment on this blog between now and Friday, February 24th, will be gifted an e-book of my choice. Simply leave a comment and mention your favorite genre so I can choose an appropriate book for you from one of my favorite starving authors. Some of you I can wager a pretty good guess about genre, but others not so much. If I don’t already have your e-mail address, send me an e-mail at jansen.schmidt@yahoo.com so I can make sure your e-book arrives. (Caveat: I will only be gifting from Amazon so you’ll have to have a Kindle in order to participate. Sorry to those who prefer other e-reader methods.)

You in turn can help the author of the book I gifted to you by posting a review and I strongly encourage you to do so. I’m acting on good faith here that you will leave a review. If you do not wish to write a review and post it on any or all of the sites I listed above, please let me know if the comments. (Caveat: If you absolutely hate the book I gift you, please do NOT leave a bad review. An honest review yes, but not a scathing one.) Remember, the purpose of this week’s blog is to help each other out. I’m helping readers, you’re helping writers.

trust-quote

That’s it. Easy peasy. You can pass the word to your friends if they want a free book all they have to do is leave a comment and their e-mail address. I’ll do the rest.

So, thanks in advance to all who post a comment and enjoy your books!

How do you help starving authors? Do you routinely leave reviews? Do you attend book signings? Do you have an e-reader?

Word of Day: Acroter

Fun fact about me: I have 3 e-readers but I prefer paper books.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, February 2017. Photos courtesy Google Images.

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start

As a writer, it’s important to know where to start your story. “You start at the beginning,” is the obvious answer, but as all writers know, it’s not that simple. You see, stories always “start” way before the real story starts. Characters have lives before you meet them on the page. (more…)

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chapter oneWell, I finally did it; I started a new book. That’s right folks, after nearly 2 years, I’ve starting composing fresh characters in a fresh setting. I was beginning to wonder if this day would ever come again, but – whew – it’s here. (more…)

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As you all know by now, about a year ago my husband and I moved to beautiful Vicksburg, Mississippi. This little hamlet is steeped in history. One of the most defining battles near the end of the War Between the States, occurred on the very ground I walk every single day.

Vicksburg waterfront

(more…)

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I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I try to pop in every day or so to see what’s going on with my “friends.” Sometimes I post stuff, sometimes I like stuff, sometimes I use those cute newfangled emoticons. Usually, what I do is snort, scoff or laugh at other peoples’ posts.

woman on computer

Ever notice that there are some people you can bet money on what their post is about? I have. I’ve comprised a list of the FB personality types I come across most often on my feed. Because – and I think I’ve said this before – I’m a giver, I’ll share my analysis with you. Please keep in mind that some people fall into more than one category and I am in no way asking you to unfriend me. This is simply my observations about the most commonly posted stuff. I, undoubtedly, have fallen into one or two of these categories on occasion myself.

Here goes:

Bragging soccer mom – These posts are ALWAYS pictures of their kids with some clever or cute sentiment about how amazing the littles are. I’m not opposed to these posts, I just get tired or seeing them. “Here’s number 412 of Johnny at X event.” “Here’s little Susie all dolled up in her ____ (fill in the blank).” “followed 2 seconds later by another of Susie in one of her other 800 cute outfits.” Are you living your life vicariously through your kids? Can we see just one picture of you doing something interesting?

family in car

Overjoyous grandmother – Yup, this one’s like the one above only it skips a generation. Again, I love seeing the cuteness, so don’t stop, but you might want to throw in an occasional instructional video about how to cook something sinfully delicious that no one’s ever going to cook up. Your grandkid didn’t get cuter in 15 seconds.

sick woman

Perpetual sick-o – Do you, like me, have that the one (or a dozen) “friend(s),” who always has something ailing them? Sometimes their ailment is accompanied by a disgusting picture or description of their illness. Or, if they’re not sick, someone in their family is. Let’s find something positive and post that tomorrow shall we? I’m tired of hearing about everything that’s wrong with you and/or your loved ones.

Excessively needy –  These are the people who subtly boast about how awesome they are by posting negative stuff. Like how much pain they’re in because they’ve just climbed Half Dome at Yosemite in 15 minutes. Or they have injured themselves – again – for the umpteenth time in karate class earning their tenth black belt. Do these people just need sympathy or do they think they’re bad ass? I have no sympathy. I’d rather you just post the accomplishment and leave it at that. If it’s the pain you get off on, then just say that, don’t use the poor, poor me post to brag about yourself.

Humorous meme sharer – I think these are the people who appreciate good humor but are themselves not funny so they post cartoons or pictures with captions that make people laugh. I love a good laugh, and I have often shared some of these clever witticisms, but once in a while I’d love to see an actual post that you’ve typed up yourself.

funny meme

YouTube abuser – This one’s pretty easy to figure out. Have you noticed how many videos are being posted on FB these days? Seems like I get dozens of them a day. They slow my computer down. Let’s use the video clips sparingly people.

Political activist – This one is self-explanatory. Just stop people. Stop right now. I know where you stand from the first hundred dozen posts. And – here’s a shocker – your posts are not going to get me to change my mind or my opinion. Stop already.

nature

Nature lover – Only posts pictures of nature too beautiful to be real. (See photo above for example.)

Save the world prayer seekers – Again, stop with the pictures of grossly disfigured children. I don’t need to see them. I know where to donate charitable funds. I’ll pray for everyone not just these poor unfortunate souls.

Sales people – This one is tough because as an author, you want to make people aware of your books and where to buy them, but some authors seem to only put “buy me” posts up. I’d like to know a little bit more about you. Let’s see some clever posts by the author so I know whether or not your book might be enjoyable.

buy book

World travelers – Ever notice how some people always seem to be going somewhere or doing something? I am sure they have regular lives like normal people, but every day there’s a new post from somewhere other than their home. Yay for them and I love the super cool photos or super cool places, but sheesh, when do you do your laundry or pay your bills?

So there you have it, my analysis. Keep in mind, this is just my own personal FB feed and yours will look different. However, I’m sure if you take the time to look and keep track, you’ll find one of two of the types listed above on your feed too. And again, don’t hate me people; this post is mostly tongue-in-cheek.

If you fall into one of these categories and you think I’m making fun of you, well, I probably am, but that’s how I roll. If you really know me, you know that I laugh at myself as well and if I’m laughing at you, it’s because I really like you. If I ignore you, watch out; that means something else entirely. I scoff because I care.

How about you dear readers? What kinds of trends do you see on Facebook? Do you get tired of some of these offenders? I’d love to add to my list, so let me hear your thoughts.

Word of the day: Hautbois (alternate: Hautboy)

Fun fact about me: I think I’m one of these FB post offenders.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, April 2016. Photos courtesy Google Images.

 

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It’s national poetry month, or so my calendar tells me. That means nothing to me, except for the fact that I’m neither a poet nor a fan of poetry.

poetry motto

However, I do appreciate some literary works that technically fall into the poetry category. For instance, I do like some of Walt Whitman’s works, especially his Leaves of Grass. While I don’t get all gushy and weep at the words and the way they are arranged on the page, I do feel “moved,” be reading certain passages.

Walt Whitman

So, in honor of national poetry month, and my simple-minded understanding of Walt Whitman’s compositions, here goes my tribute:

“Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body . . . .” (Leaves of Grass)

My favorite part of that: “re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book.” Love that. And now I’m off to stand up for the stupid and the crazies.

flowers in forest

Happy April followers and friends. In my opinion, the picture above is nature’s poetry. Wouldn’t you agree?

Do you enjoy poetry? Do you understand poetry? What’s your take on the excerpt above?

Word of the day: Gabelle

Fun fact about me: I once had a literary agent tell me my manuscript was too poetic. Ha! I scoff at her analysis.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, April 2016. Photos courtesy Google Images.

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Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

You know, when you write something, and then you finish writing it, and then you read it, and then you fix it, and it’s pretty darn good, so you send it to your critique partners, who point out all of the ugliness and you think, “this is crap,” so you change stuff and fix things until you just know it’s a masterpiece, so you send it back to your critique partners, who confirm that in fact your work is “better,” so you give it another once over before shooting it off to your beta readers, who point out some awkward sentences and misspelled words and stuff and then you think, “I suck,” but you put on your big girl panties and read it again, and then you think maybe they’re right, so you fix the weirdness and make some more changes, to the point where you’re really comfortable with this quintesential all American novel, so much so, that you enter it in some writing

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

contests and hold your breath for the feedback to arrive, and when it does your eyes bulge out of your head, your mouth drops open and steam explodes out of your ears, at which point you think, “who wrote this garbage and why did they think it was good enough to enter it into a contest,” but you stand determined to fix the piece of crap, because you’ve invested months in these strings of words and, after all, you are a writer and you will write, so you edit yet again and then, once more, for good measure, until you’re absolutely sure this is the most awesome thing anyone has ever read, but just to be sure, you beg your critique partners to read it one more time, and they tell you that it’s really good now, so you attach that brilliant prose to your sparkling query letter and e-mail it off to your dream agent, who in turn replies that they’re not interested in your story at this time, but that, as any author knows, all novels are subject to opinion and just because one person isn’t interested, doesn’t mean someone else won’t be, yadda, yadda, yadda, so you swallow half a bottle of tequila and

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

send the same, less-than-stellar manuscript off to the second most dreamy agent on your list only to receive the same boilerplate rejection letter, which is really just a lame ass, cop out way of saying you’re a loser and your work sucks, but thank you for playing our game, but you refuse to cry any more tears over their drivel and decide that maybe it’s time to bring out the big guns, so you hire a professional editor who sends back your work covered in red ink which justifies what you already knew but didn’t want to admit: “I’m a writer!”

Yeah – that’s where I’m at.

Writing is hard. The end.

Image courtesy Google Images

Image courtesy Google Images

So, what’s going on in your world? Any positive advice for the bummed out writer? How do you stay positive when querying?

Word of the Day: Viridian

Fun fact about me: My favorite Disney movie is Mary Poppins.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, January 2016. Photos and images courtesy Google Images.

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