Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints

I have lots of books to be read, stories to be written, and tasks to complete from my ever-expanding ToDo list.  Naturally, I decided to stop by the local craft store the other day, just to look around.  I didn’t need anything, of course, but they had yarn on sale and I found some that was pretty and super-soft (and did I mention on sale!), so naturally I had to get it.

That is why instead of reading or writing or doing, I’ve spent the last few evenings after work turning six skeins of pretty, super-soft yarn into a pretty, super-soft blanket, courtesy of my trusty “J” crochet hook.  Can a person really have too many blankets?  I’m hoping the answer is no, otherwise I might have to go into the blanket-fort-building business, just to justify their existence.

Anyway, the weather has taken a turn toward the chilly in recent days – perfect time to curl up on the couch with a my new fluffy blanket, a pot of tea, and get some words on the page.  I have a number of stories in progress, not to mention several shiny new ideas floating around, but I think I’ll start out giving today’s random words and writing prompt a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Michille: Get Ready to NaNoWriMo

NaNo-Shield-Logo-Web

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

I plan to NaNo this year. I usually plan to every year with varying degrees of success. Part of my prep is to look for organizers, brainstorming sheets, writing ideas, tips, etc., to provide ideas and motivation. Here are some I’ve used in the past and some I just found:

Writers Write (one of my favorite writing blogs) posted an organizer a number of years ago that some might find helpful which lead to a brainstorming worksheet and 30 tips (with lots of links for other helps).

I found some resources on the NaNo website. There is a NaNo Prep page that has useful resources. There is a webcast today that I plan to watch at 1 p.m. There is a young novelist workbook on their site, too. It is targeted to students, but I found some helpful things in the high school version. Writing buddies. I’ve never worked with one although there is one linked to me on my page and Nancy emailed me about it back in 2015. If you want to add me as a writing buddy, my NaNo name is mikeely. Or send me your name and I’ll add you to mine. There used to be a reference desk where you could ask research questions and there were some doozies on there, but I can’t find it this year. In the past, I found inspiration from some of the wacky questions people asked.

There are a lot of community NaNo happenings all over the world – all over Africa, Asia, Canada, Europe and I only scrolled a third of the way down the region page. San Francisco has a Night of Writing Dangerously. There are several write-in opportunities in my area. I’m not sure if I’m going to do one. The only time I went to one in my town, the writers all had weird furry hats on shaped like animals, except the guy with the reptile on his shoulder. Not my cuppa.

Writers Digest got in the tip game, too, with 30 Tips for Writing a Book in 30 Days and plenty of other sites have tip pages, including The Writing Cooperative, Bustle, and Storyist. And Galley Cat has a post with links from two previous NaNos

Did you know Water for Elephants (Sarah Gruen) was a NaNo novel? So was The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern), Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell), THREE Marissa Meyer books, Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress.

What are you doing to prepare?

Elizabeth: Author Squee – Judith Flanders

When my son was little we had a rule when trying new foods:  you can’t say you don’t like it until you’ve tried it three times.  That meant a number of foods that were disliked right off the bat because they were “different”, actually wound up getting a, “hey, not bad, I like it”, by the third try (mushrooms, I’m looking at you!).

While I don’t have a 3-time rule for reading, I have found that sometimes it pays to give a new book or author a second (or third) try before writing them off.

A case in point would be Dogs and Goddesses by Jennifer Crusie Lani Diane Rich, and Anne Stuart.  The first time I read it, I didn’t like it at all and may have envisioned dropping it in the wood-chipper.  In hindsight, it wasn’t that the book was bad rather that it differed from what I had been expecting.  When I read it again (for school) sometime later, I really enjoyed it, because I knew what to expect.  If I hadn’t given the book a second chance, I would have missed a good story (thank goodness it didn’t wind up in the wood-chipper). Continue reading

Jeanne: How Are Those Amazon Ads Working Out for You? Part 1

Amazon LogoToday I’m going to provide a brief survey of Amazon ads and how they work for authors.

Disclaimer: I did my research on the Internet. Although I tried to cross-verify all the information provided below, it’s entirely possible I fell prey to some of the misinformation floating around the Web. (!) Eight Ladies Jilly and Kay have both taken classes on Amazon advertising, so I’m counting on them to correct any egregious errors.

There are three types of Amazon Ads:

  1. Headline Search Ads (primarily for brand awareness)
    • Allows you to display multiple products at once
  2. Product Display Ads
    • Allows for interest targeting
    • Allows addition of custom copy and images
    • Allows selection of pages on which to appear on (i.e. similar products or competitive products)
    • Clicking link sends customer to vendor’s website
  3. Sponsored Product Ads
    • Keyword-driven
    • Auction-based
    • Allows for custom copy but not custom images
    • Clicking link sends customer to book’s Amazon product page

Sponsored Product ads are the ones best suited for selling books, so we will focus on them. Continue reading

Nancy: The Power of Women’s Stories

A few weeks ago, I had one of those strange juxtapositions that sometimes happens in life. While many in the US and across the world were riveted to the broadcast of US Senate testimony, I was immersed in a deep-dive workshop with writing mentor Jennie Nash. While I was submersed in discussions about the value of women’s narratives, pundits were debating whether one woman’s narrative should have any impact on a lifetime appointment to the US Supreme Court. And while my friends and I were celebrating the many opportunities for women to publish their stories in this day and age, one woman was painstakingly recounting her own personal story in the public square. A story that was ultimately whitewashed and dismissed by an all-male panel of senators.

For many of us, it was one hell of an emotional week. Continue reading

Jilly: Girl With Sword

Michaeline and I both found ourselves captivated by the same snippet of news this weekend: the story of Saga, an eight year-old Swedish girl who found an authentic 1,500 year-old sword while playing by a lake.

Click here to read Michaeline’s post, which includes links to news articles as well as one of the best Monty Python sketches ever. Micki also points out that last summer a seven year-old girl found a sword in an English lake associated with Excalibur, King Arthur’s legendary blade. Are you seeing a pattern yet? Micki is, and she’s developed a Theory. Check out her post to find out more 🙂 .

My response is simpler than Michaeline’s. I just love, love, love the Girl With Sword trope (must add it to my Id List), and judging by the number of GWS Fantasy and Urban Fantasy book covers currently gracing the Zon, I am not alone. I added a few examples to this post, so those of you who don’t read fantasy can see what I mean.

I hadn’t really thought about it until this weekend, but swords are special, right?

These images are about more than seeing a strong, powerful heroine defend her community or embrace her destiny. I don’t think I’d respond the same way to Girl With Crossbow or Tomahawk, and I’m really not keen on Girl With Gun.

I think there are three main reasons I’m all over Girl With Sword:

1. Swords have the weight of history behind them. According to Wikipedia, renowned swords appear in the folklore of every nation that used swords. The Vikings, Maori, Samurai; Parsifal, Charlemagne, Beowulf, Arthur… Give your heroine a sword, especially one with a name, and you’re placing her in the pantheon of legends. Continue reading

Michaeline: The Conspiracy We Need NOW

A young girl from the early 1800s carries a big fancy sword over her shoulder.

Girls keep finding these swords. What are they going to do with them? (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

What am I talking about? I’m talking about girls finding swords by lakes. If you’ve been on social media at all in the past 48 hours, you’ve probably heard about the little girl in Sweden (named Saga! Her name is Saga! How perfect is that?) who found a rusty old pre-Viking sword while playing near a lake.

If you haven’t heard about it, you need to check out this article in English from Sweden, or this Bustle article. The Bustle article also reminded me that this isn’t the first time this century we’ve heard about a “lady of the lake”. LAST summer, there was a little girl in Cornwall named Matilda who also found a sword in the pond that, according to local legend, had yielded up Excalibur, the sword King Arthur borrowed from the Lady of the Lake, and which eventually spawned one of the funniest Monty Python skits (3:16) of the 20th century. Matilda’s father said he thought the sword must be a movie prop that isn’t very old, but still, it remains. In September of 2017, a seven-year-old girl finds a sword in the lake. Sometime in the summer of 2018, an eight-year-old girl finds a sword in the lake, and this time, it’s a historical sword.

Do you see the pattern forming? I predict that in the spring of 2019, a nine-year-old girl is going to find a sword, probably somewhere in Germany, and this time, she’s going to save the entire world with it! The Ladies of the Lakes are collectively fed up with all our nonsense, and they are ready to get things fixed. No sense in waking up good ol’ Arthur. He borked it last time with Modred and Guinivere, so it’s time to put someone sensible in charge.

This, my friends, is the conspiracy we need now. The secret society of ladies of the lake could bail us all out! Sure, it’s no basis for a rational system of government, but we’re dealing with an awfully low bar these days.