Justine: Flexing Your Writing Muscles

manlifting-weightsIn many ways, writing is like working out. The more you do it, the easier it is, and the more stamina you have. On the flip side, when you stop working out, it’s a bitch to get back into it again.

One of my New Years Resolutions was to get moving for 30 minutes a day. Aside from not writing, I’ve also been neglecting myself, and I decided, after reading this stunning NY Times article about how much of your LIFE you can lose by being inactive, that I needed to Continue reading

Michille: Write Your Novel In A Year – Week 52

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Mark Gottlieb, Trident Media Group

One of my favorite blogs did an ongoing bit last year called “Write Your Novel In A Year.” It ended with Week 52: Keep the Momentum Going. The goal for the last week is to work on ideas and strategies for your next book. And then the blogger says, take a break, immerse yourself in someone else’s stories, and do imagination exercises. The last ‘pin it, quote it, belief it’ of the year was “I oscillate between thinking I’m crazy and thinking I’m not crazy enough” (Joyce Carol Oates). Yep, been there. Continue reading

Michille: First Lines

heath-when-the-duke-was-wickedEvery now and then, I (or my daughter, another voracious reader) bring home a bag of random books. This time, it was a bag of books from a colleague. We sat around the dining table after dinner tonight (last night for those reading this on Thursday) and read the first paragraphs of several of the books. There were several Debbie Macombers which I brushed off. I’ve read her stuff before and it’s great, but she doesn’t even open the bedroom door, much less close it after the kiss, and I like the sexual tension in stories and she doesn’t deliver that. There was a Nora Roberts and since she breaks a lot of rules, I wasn’t surprised that hers didn’t deliver the expected (it was a prologue), but Chapter 1 nailed it. We added in a Fern Michaels, a Susan Wiggs, a Lorraine Heath, a Kresley Cole, an Elizabeth Hoyt, and a Jayne Ann Krentz. In the interest of brevity, I’m going with the first lines of these books. It was illuminating to discuss which first lines intrigued us into an interest in reading further. Here is what we read. Continue reading

Nancy: Because 2016 Isn’t Through With Us Yet

20161226_michael-slide-2b6y-videosixteenbyninejumbo1600The curse of 2016 has once again reared its ugly head. As I’m sure you’ve heard, we’ve lost another icon, singer/songwriter/philanthropist George Michael. As much as so many public losses have hurt this year, for me, this one cuts deeper. George Michael’s music was a big part of the soundtrack to which my husband and I fell in love. We continued to follow his music and performances through the years, even when those were hard to come by in the States, and we loved what he did for the LGBTQ community. We were excited to take our daughter with us to see him perform at Equality Rocks in DC in 1999, and to his 25 Live Tour in 2008. We even contemplated flying to Copenhagen to see him perform again, but the shows sold out before we could get tickets.

So today has been a sad one for us. We’ve been consoling ourselves with  his music, which, of course, lives on. Below are  links to a few of my favorite George Michael live performances. RIP, George Michael, and give David Bowie and Prince a hug from us.

George Michael Unplugged

Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert

Concert for Linda

Jilly: Back Up Your Work (Dead Tree Version)

Did you know the UK still prints its laws on vellum? This may sound like something out of a Terry Pratchett story, but there is a tall tower in the Palace of Westminster full of rolled vellum scrolls inscribed with legislation, including some dating back more than five hundred years.

Earlier this year the House of Lords voted to discontinue vellum scroll record-keeping on cost grounds. You’d have thought this was the ideal opportunity to bypass paper and go direct to digital-only storage, but after due consideration the Cabinet Office decided to stick with scrolls (and agreed to pick up the bill). The reason might be that we Brits love a good tradition (true!), and I’m sure there are digital libraries of new legislation as well, but there are sound reasons for deciding to keep  physical records.

Those reasons apply to writers, too. Continue reading

Justine: A Yahoo! Reminder…Backup Your Work, Encrypt, and Create a Good Password

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A visualization of data breaches by year and number of records stolen. Image courtesy http://www.informationisbeautiful.net.

With all the recent hoopla about Yahoo! data breeches, DNC hacks, and password reset emails that give hackers access to your personal life, I thought it would be appropriate to remind everyone of a few basic digital safety precautions. Below is a repost (with some tweaking) I did a couple years ago. The information I presented then is just as important now, if not more so.

The three key things to remember are:

  • Variety (as in having more than one password — there’s a tip below on how to create one that’s different for every site, yet easy to remember)
  • Frequency (backup your data frequently, change your passwords regularly)
  • Redundancy (have more than one backup, preferably a cloud-based backup as well as something local)

Keep yourself — and your data — safe!

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Today’s post is admittedly not that inspiring…unless you don’t want to lose your work. Awhile back, I happened upon a post by Mat Honan about how his iPhone, iPad, and Macbook were completely erased, and his Twitter and Google accounts compromised. The hackers did it with a few digits of a credit card number that show up readily on Amazon. He lost EVERYTHING. All the pictures ever taken in his daughter’s life. Documents he saved no where else. In a word, it was catastrophic. You can read about his “epic hacking” here.

Then the other day, I had a terrible dream about my house and all of its contents going up in flames. In my dream, I said to myself, “Oh, it’s okay…I have a backup!” and then I realized that I’d been doing backups on a too-small external hard drive (I’d been putting off getting a larger one). That dream was the impetus I needed to buy a larger external hard drive, and reevaluate not only what I was backing up, but how. Continue reading

Justine: Foreshadowing, Part 2

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About a year ago, I wrote this post about foreshadowing. My husband had started watching “Sons of Anarchy” and from the get-go, I knew who the bad baddie was going to be. I wasn’t much interested in watching the show, but I was even less interested when the obvious became TOO obvious.

I was disappointed again this weekend (there have been lots of disappointing Continue reading