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State of the Author: Harried

Wow. Just too many balls in the air. So far this week, I’ve had two feral cats to the vet for different issues. The first one, our little Steve Rogers kitten (my husband named the litter this time, so we have a bunch of furry, hissy little Avengers) had to go in for a severe upper respiratory infection. The fact that I could scruff him tells you how low he felt. I came home with antibiotics that we’re mixing in either wet cat food or baby food, and hoping for the best … because I can’t medicate him. The good news is, he and the other kittens (as well as mama) are chowing down on it … and while it means none of them get the full abx load, they are at least not going to be harmed by it. Plus, ...
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Another Diploma!


After creating two characters who are travel writers (Diana Corbett in Bayou Fire and Stephanie Marlowe in my current work-in-progress, Pompeii Fire), I decided to learn what they actually do! Feedback Form Sent By: Eva Chelmsford Course Title:     Travel Writing Business Diploma Overall Grade:  Distinction Overall Percentage:   94% Overall strengths of assessment including understanding demonstrated: An outstanding result, your answers were knowledgeable, explanatory and well written which outlined an overall knowledge and comprehension of the course material.  Congratulations!  Areas for improvement if necessary in this assessment: Not applicable.  Original link
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Music Monday: “Down on the Corner”


Well, here we are on Day 10 of the challenge. I am trying to get past my dislike of the new “block editor” here on WordPress. We’ll see how long that lasts. Anyway, today’s challenge is “a song that’s been stuck in your head.” This could be for good or ill, I suppose. In any event, here’s one of mine: Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Down on the Corner.” Enjoy! Original link
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Sample Saturday: “Sui Generis”

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I entered this essay in an Editor Unleashed forum competition eleven years ago,  for which the theme was “Why I Write.” Raison d’ecrire I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Whether it was little stories for myself, poetry or plays for class assignments or even some truly dreadful fan fiction, there have always been words pouring from my pencil or pen. “Why” is an interesting question. I have many friends who have never felt the urge to write anything beyond their school assignments, let alone write and publish a book (I have three under my belt and am working on a fourth). It would be easy to be flippant and say “the voices in my head want to get out,” but it is so much more th...
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Weekend Reads: “It Was Never About a Hot Dog and a Coke”

It was never about a hotdog and a Coke
It was never about a hotdog and a Coke by Rodney L. Hurst Sr. My rating: 5 of 5 stars August 27, 2020, will be the 60th anniversary of a horrific event in the history of Jacksonville, Fla.: Ax Handle Saturday. Rodney Hurst was 16 years old when the event took place. He was president of his local NAACP Youth Council chapter; his elementary school history teacher, Rutledge Pearson was the adult advisor. Pearson encouraged Hurst to join the chapter at age 11. The students learned public speaking techniques and parliamentary procedure, as well as how to coordinate actions for civil rights. Thus, Hurst and some of his fellow council members planned a sit-in at the local Woolworth lunch counter. B...
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Frequently Asked Question: There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?

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This month’s question from the Insecure Writers Support Group calls for a great deal of speculation. I am not The Amazing Kreskin, so this is not my strong suit. All the same, I have some thoughts. 1. An understanding by authors that, while it’s perfectly fine to run your business as you see fit, there are a lot of reasons to use wide distribution rather than going exclusive with one retail partner. One of those reasons is that it’s narrow, short-term thinking. Not all partners hold the same market share around the world, and it’s a good idea to make sure that more people, rather than fewer, have access to your work. 2. Monetizing your work is not the endgame. Writing for the love of it is f...
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State of the Author: Hanging On By My (Colorful) Fingernails


I wrote this on FB earlier today: Acknowledgment and accountability moment: I have reached the point where I must admit I’m in depression. I recognize that it is situational. As we approach four months in shelter-in-place, I miss the presence of colleagues in the office. I have not been able to keep up my walking program between my now-healed injury and the heat wave, although I hope to do a little today. And please don’t get me started on all of the police brutality incidents. I am having a hard time focusing on things, and it takes longer to accomplish things. I haven’t written a word in a couple of weeks that isn’t a planned blog post. Thank you for reading; I sometimes find that if I tel...
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Music Monday: “Play That Funky Music”

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Hi, all. It’s Day 9 of the challenge: a song that makes you dance. There are several, but this Wild Cherry tune from my junior high school days tops the list. Please enjoy this this 2017 live performance by Rob Parissi of his band’s 1976 hit, “Play That Funky Music” … and see if you don’t wind up dancing yourself! Original link
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Here’s a Real Blast from the Past

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I had to reach up to take the photo, since I couldn’t reach well enough to take it off the wall for a scan! This is my diploma, with honors, from the Defense Information School‘s Public Affairs Officer Course 4-90. Original link
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Sample Saturday: “In The Eye of The Storm”

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Hello, everyone. This week’s snippet comes from my award-winning second novel, In The Eye of The Storm. In this scene, Claire and Veronique (the narrator) are living on the Presidio of San Francisco in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake.  Claire takes a stand against bigotry while helping serve earthquake stew to her fellow refugees. The earthquake was a great social leveler. Nabobs and poor folk alike stood in long queues for food and coffee. On a particular afternoon, Maman and I were helping to serve food when some of the society ladies took it upon themselves to try to tell her how to behave. They whispered about Maman as she ladled another spoonful of pale stew onto a plate and handed...
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Weekend Reads: “Too Much”

Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today
Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today by Rachel Vorona Cote My rating: 5 of 5 stars The day that I read an excerpt from this book, wherein the author talks about the Ramona books, I cried. I am not exaggerating. She describes how Ramona, whom I adored as a child, is larger than life — and how this challenges the people around her. I cried because I’ve been called “too much,” “larger than life,” and more, for as long as I can remember. “Pipe down!” was constantly aimed in my direction. Another friend says that I emote like Niagara Falls. I knew I had to read this book. In it, I found a series of essays about Too Muchness across areas like sex, food, mental health, and mor...
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This Just Happened


Given the huge crisis of confidence I’ve had as an author, this is a Very Big Deal for me. Here are my proctor’s comments: Feedback Form Sent By:  Janet Johnstone Course Title:  Novel Writing Diploma Overall Grade: DISTINCTION Overall Percentage:   100% Overall strengths of assessment including understanding demonstrated: Exceptional quality of work, your responses were detailed, explanatory and clearly communicated. This demonstrated a vast knowledge of the course material. Your hard work was evident throughout the course work, well done. It was a pleasure to mark your work. Areas for improvement if necessary in this assessment: Not applicable. Original link
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Music Monday: “Waterloo”

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Hi, everyone. We’re on Day 8 of the challenge: a song that’s your “guilty pleasure.” Now, I will tell you that I no longer feel guilty or embarrassed about liking what I like. That said, this is a long-time favorite that I wouldn’t confess to for ages. Please enjoy ABBA’s “Waterloo.” Original link
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What’s cooking? A culinary journey through history – The History Quill

For the Roman emperors, providing food for the people of Rome was a big deal (hence, Bread and Circuses, a line in a poem by the satirist Juvenal). Food for the Romans also carried a religious significance, with many festivals having dedicated feasting days. As the western world’s first global superpower, Rome had access to food and dishes from every corner of the empire. A Roman could look forward to such delights as wild boar, hare, snails and as a special treat – dormice. Garum, a paste made of fermented fish guts, was especially popular. Inns, taverns and roadside stalls would all sell takeaway foods. These were mainly for the lower classes – food eaten while coming and going. For the up...
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“Flowers of Europe” in Author Shout Cover Wars Competition

Flowers of Europe
Hi, everyone. I am super-proud of my cover design for Flowers of Europe. It’s part of this week’s Author Shout Cover Wars competition, and I would love it if you would vote for me. Click here to vote. Thank you for your consideration. Original link
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#5onFri: Five Ways to Keep History Relevant in Your Novel — DIY MFA


Over the past ten years, historical fiction has become more relevant to readers. As authors, we want to write fiction that helps readers understand their own lives, here and now. Perhaps we also would like to offer readers a visit to another time, a visit that can show how the past has shaped our present… via #5onFri: Five Ways to Keep History Relevant in Your Novel — DIY MFA Original link
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Weekend Reads: “Bending Toward Justice”

Bending Toward Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing That Changed the Course of Civil Rights
Bending Toward Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing That Changed the Course of Civil Rights by Doug Jones My rating: 5 of 5 stars Senator Doug Jones’ memoir is not always an easy or pleasant read. He takes us deep into the hearts and lives of Bobby Frank Cherry and Tom Blanton, the two KKK members whom he successfully prosecuted for their roles in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that killed Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, and Carole Robertson. We see a lot about the racial politics of the 1960s, in which all four perpetrators were set free by a white jury, and how those politics had not changed nearly as much as one would have hoped in the 1990s when the two still-...
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I’m Sick of Being Silent

Black Lives Matter Post
I don’t know how many times I’ve said on this blog that “I try very hard not to be political here, but …” and then I say what I need to say. There aren’t going to be any more preambles when I say what I need to say. Yesterday, I left yet another group for romance writers. I didn’t do it with any fanfare, or statements like “I’m taking my pail and shovel and going home.” I shook the dust from my shoes and walked away. I’m sure I won’t be missed; I’m a not-quite-midlist author, for starters, and there are more than 7,000 people in that group. I’m not one of the cool kids. The decision was an easy one, after one of the members made the following statement in a discussion of whether or not to us...
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Music Monday: “China Girl”

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Hi, everyone. We’re on Day 7 of the music challenge: a song that’s been covered by another artist. I chose “China Girl.” According to Gimme Danger: The Story of Iggy Pop, which I am presently reading, the song is about heroin addiction. That’s pretty far removed from the inter-ethnic love story portrayed by David Bowie’s music video. Here are both singer-songwriter Iggy Pop’s version and David Bowie’s cover for your consideration. Original link
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Sample Saturday: “In The Eye of The Storm”

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Hi, everyone. Today’s sample is from my award-winning novel, In The Eye of The Storm. The narrator here is Veronique, the teenaged daughter of Claire Delacroix LeMaître and her late husband, Erik. Enjoy! —– I believe that the most beautiful man I have ever seen was Amedeo Modigliani. He came to Paris just a month or two before we left, and I remember seeing him at table when Max Jacob brought him to sup with us. His dark curls and deep brown eyes, his beautiful face; I was smitten. I didn’t care that he was Jewish, Italian — or that he was in love with an English woman named Beatrice (while living with a dreadful French woman called Jehanne). I was determined to marry him. Even though I was ...
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