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Friday, February 26, 2010

Celebrating Words! Words Matter Week!!

Go to the website to download your own poster.
Looking toward the heart of the city

They stopped plowing and this is the street.

Many people in the country have had a lot of snow this week. We had over a foot here in White Plains. Last night during the full force of the snowstorm my daughter took these pictures from our window in the hotel. I posted them on Facebook too, so you might have seen them:) I thought they were so good I decided to post them.

Anyone who listened to Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages yesterday heard one of the best shows ever!!! I was privileged to have as my guests all six members of the "creative collective" of children's picture book authors who are participating in the month long celebration of Women's History Month by doing readings, panel discussions and exhibiting their art work in three bookstores and a gallery/restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. They are: Melanie Hope Greenberg, Selina Alko, Miriam Cohen, Aileen Leijten, Pat Cummings, and Meghan McCarthy. For more information you can read my article about this. So the interviews were so great and I wanted to continue speaking with these amazing authors for more time. I invited them all to be guest authors on this blog and I hope to be bringing them all here eventually.

The first author to visit the blog will be Melanie Hope Greenberg, the leader of the group, who has published Mermaids on Parade, which uses the annual Mermaid parade in Brooklyn. They march down to the ocean and overlays a fictional story in a child's point of view. Melanie will be here to talk about her career and the Women's History Month event. Anyone who missed the show can go to Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages.

On the same show I interviewed Samuel King, who has written a story that will soon be on Amazon. It is called "The First Angry 'Man' " and is written in the point of view of a sentient being or a hologram. Besides this story, Sam has written a novel, novellas and a screenplay. His writing is clear and for science fiction this story doesn't require you to learn too many things. One of the problems I have with almost all science fiction is learning about the new worlds that they create. It was bad enough with Harry Potter, but some of these stories give you characters with almost unpronounceable names and worlds that have too many details. With Sam's story you basically have two locales.:) It's easy to keep track of everything and all the characters. I'll remind you when his story is available for download.

Just when I thought that there has been a week for everything comes one for words.:) I was invited by one of my friends to become a fan of Words Matter Week and of course I never say no to a friend.:) So I went to the website and found this awesome poster that you see here. I love the Mark Twain quote too. As a writer, words usage is part of my everyday life so I am publicizing it here.

Words Matter Week is from Monday, March 1st through Sunday, March 7th. This event is sponsored by the National Association of Independent Authors and Editors and is done during the first full week of March. There are events by librarians and teachers as well as anyone who wishes to participate. There are blog challenges during the week, which will be announced on the website. But this week has a higher purpose. If you donate $2.50 you are giving one book to a child through First Book. So if you are interested in helping to further the reading of a disadvantaged child please think about donating to this worthy cause.

Tomorrow we will officially move into our new apartment!!!! We have been going over, at least my daughters and I, and hanging out there. I did my radio show there yesterday. But my husband has NEVER been there since we signed the lease. He doesn't know what it looks like with our stuff in there. Also, the place smells of ozone. I'd rather that than smoke - believe me! It will be interesting to see his expression when he sees it tomorrow. I can't wait to unpack everything including my Betty Boop collection. I have no idea where they will go since my daughter says it will be tacky to put them into the china cabinet in the living room. I might have to go get a new cabinet with glass doors to display them in my bedroom. But where will I put it?:) But that is another discussion.:)

My apologies to all of my blog friends. Usually I feature at least a blog a month, but because of my situation I have hardly done any blogs. So I hope to remedy that by featuring at least one of my favorite blogs a week. I appreciate all of my followers who have had to put up with my sporadic posts. The long "velvet nightmare" is almost over. I can't wait for my life to go back to a relatively normal situation.:)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Big Announcements!!!

Pictures of Our New Place!!

A lot has happened since I last posted. First of all a giant thank you to Janie Franz for being the best guest author I ever hosted!!! While she was a guest on the blog her book became a bestseller and I am thrilled for her. The interview was considered great from so many people my face is a permanent red!!!!:) Seriously, thank you to all the people both on the blog and off the blog who commented and enjoyed the interview. Janie was an excellent guest author to interview!!!

Now for the big announcement:

The winner of the free ebook is:

cassandrajade !!!!!!

So please let me know your email address so I can send you the free ebook. You are going to love this story.:)

The other big announcement is that in the game "Where Will We Live" there has also been a winner!!!! Yes!!! The Ehrentreu family has found a great place to live, but it is not in New York and that makes me sad. We have decided to move to Stamford, Connecticut to a beautiful apartment that has everything we could ever want.:) I won't tell you the name of the place, but you can see by one of the pictures here that it is right near the water and we love that!!

For awhile it looked like there would be no place for us, but then we found this and believe me it didn't seem possible that we would find a place at all. Yet a few days after I posted my last post there it was!! We are very excited and though it might be a little smaller than our last place it is going to be much more fun in every way. It has an exercise area right on our floor. Now I have absolutely no excuse not to work out:) There is a pool right outside our apartment and the water of Long Island Sound is right outside the gate!

So thank you to all the wonderful people who kept me sane during this very trying time. We are still not quite finished yet in the old place and I am sure that the whole incident is not finished yet. There might be some legal implications that my husband, the lawyer, is now working on with his legal eagles.:) To all my friends both here and on Facebook I say a giant thank you and I love you all!!!

The next week is going to be very busy, so I might only post once or twice more. I had hoped to have my review of The Bowdancer, but didn't have a chance to write that either. Again Congratulations to Janie Franz for her terrific achievement! By the way, if you want to continue to leave comments for Janie, if you leave them on Welcome Guest Author Janie Franz I am sure that one of us will still answer you. Unfortunately, the contest is over.

Thank you to all my readers and to any new readers who visited for Janie's interview. I hope you will come back occasionally to read more of my meanderings.:)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Welcome Guest Author Janie Franz

Today I am very pleased to present a guest author! It's wonderful to do something different for a change and I think once you meet Janie Franz you will see what an usual writer she is.:)

More about the game"Where Will We Live" after the interview.

So without anymore meandering here is Janie Franz. Her bio says she is a Southerner from Tennessee living in North Dakota. She has written three non-fiction books and one fiction one. Before she began writing seriously she was a radio announcer, a booking agent, and a yoga/relaxation instructor. She is married for almost forty years and has two grown children, a daughter and a son. Music is a thread that runs through her family.

I met Janie Franz on the MuseConferenceBoard message board talking about wanting to join a blog tour because her first fiction novel The Bowdancer had just been published by Breathless Press. Since we got along so well I booked her for a guest author interview. As luck would have it both of us were free today, Thursday, my usual guest author post day.:) Here is the interview:

Guest Author Janie Franz Interview

Barbara: Please tell our readers about yourself. Everyone can read your bio, but tell us something that is not on your bio.

Janie: I come from a long line of liars and storytellers. I had an uncle who couldn't read or write, but the man could spin a yarn. When we'd go visiting when I was a child, the women would be in the kitchen, talking about who had affairs with who and showing each other their operation scars. I found that to be so boring and really depressing. The women were so solemn. I'd always slip into the living room where the men were and sit in behind my uncle's big chair and listen to his stories about fishing and hunting and mountain “haints.” His stories were funny and full of mountain expressions---and the men laughed so hard! And they weren't sharing around any moonshine either!

Barbara: How did a southern girl from Tennessee wind up in North Dakota?

Janie: My husband had just finished grad school with a degree in rehabilitation counseling. It was really a niche degree that didn't offer a lot of placements in Ohio where we were living at the time. As my husband was sending out resumes, I knew the possibilities were limitless. We could move anywhere in the country. All I asked was no place flat or cold......Well, guess where we ended up? The flattest, coldest place in the country!

Barbara: You have written two non-fiction books, The Wedding Planner Book and The Wedding Ceremony Book with a Texas wedding DJ, Bill Cox. Would you please tell our readers how this happened?

Janie: I am a full-time freelance journalist. As part of the early days of establishing my business, I looked for writing projects every day. I saw a post for a collaborator for a book on weddings. As Bill and I corresponded, getting to know the scope of the project and each other better, his wife asked him, “Bill, why don't you just call her and talk to her?” His answer was insightful. He said, “I want to see how she expresses herself on paper.”

Bill and I did research, and he sent me a lot of anecdotes about being a wedding DJ. I did a lot of writing and editing. We did the reception book first and then the ceremony book. Bill had the first copies of the reception book printed himself. Because we started seeing a demand, he went to a POD company. Eventually, he changed companies and we have it at BookSurge now, and are very pleased with them.

Barbara: Tell us about the book you wrote yourself: Freelance Writing: It’s a Business Stupid. Why did you write it?

Janie: Actually, I was really tired of people treating me and my business as if I were just occupying my free time with a little hobby. I was at a big entrepreneur show here, doing a presentation on freelance writing, when someone from a graphic design company in a booth near mine came over and asked if I just was doing this little hobby. And that came from a young woman!

I looked her in the eye and said, “You have a graphic design business, right?”
“Yes,” she said.
“It's a full-time business for you, right?”
“Yes,” she said.
“It's just the same as mine. I'm a full-time freelance journalist. I make money at what I do and I pay taxes, just like you.”
Needless to say, that's where the title came from!

But I also saw a need for writers to have good tools that they could use to start a business. I've worked out a lot of bugs in the past decade about doing this. I'll be doing a week-long workshop at the Muse Online Writers Conference in October called Freelance Writing: It’s a Business Stupid!.

Barbara: Good for you! It's amazing how some women take on a male role and will try to belittle others who are basically doing the same thing as they are.

Barbara: You have your own online music publication, Refrain Magazine. How did you get started with this? What kinds of articles do you publish? What is your submission policy?
Janie: I had written for a local entertainment newspaper since 1998, covering music and art sometimes. I also wrote freebies for the local daily newspaper here, too. When the entertainment newspaper stopped distribution in my city, I worried that music lovers here, venues, and bands wouldn't get the word out. So, in June I jumped off the cliff and called a band publicist I know and he pointed me to a great web master, who hosts my site and set it up for me. I keep a very detailed calendar at the site and I also write a lot of the material you see up there. The magazine is read by folks from all over the country and in some foreign countries, but mostly it's popular in the Northern Plains.

I have had a few people as guest writers and I welcome their work. I can't pay anybody because there are no ads on the site at all! I do have a page called Hot Venues, Cool Friends that points to some local clubs and services. In order to pay for my domain name and hosting fees, I've routed money from another writing project strictly to cover this.

Barbara: Where and when were you a radio announcer?
Janie: I was a public radio announcer for a local college station here about ten years ago when I went back to school to earn my degree. I also did a brief stint at a local easy listening station after that. I realized that commercial radio is really controlled by the music industry. Public radio has a lot more leeway in music selection. I also have been a guest for the past three years on the same public radio station doing some previews of bands for a big regional music festival here. I'd bring in music selections and I'd have a conversation with the Program Director about the music. Unfortunately, that music festival is no more.
Barbara: It's sad how many music festivals have had to cut back on their programs or have disappeared entirely in such a short period of time. We got to the Falcon Ridge Festival almost every summer and this year they have had to pare it down even further. When the economy is bad things like music festivals get the short end. So sad.

Barbara: You say in your bio that you were a booking agent for a groove/funk band and a yoga/relaxation instructor. Have you ever incorporated anything into your writing from either your radio career or your other careers?

Janie: You know, I've thought about doing a mystery series about a band roadie, but it never got very far. I might resurrect that idea. As far as the yoga and things along that vein, I think I'm tapping into a bit of that with The Bowdancer Saga sort of indirectly.

Barbara: What made you decide to start writing fiction? What do you think are the differences between writing fiction and non-fiction?

Janie: Though I had begun writing short fiction as a child, I never aspired to have anything in print until I took a creative writing course in high school and my teacher wanted us all to get something published before the school year ended. Though I was the person who was supposed to be specializing in fiction, my first sold piece was an essay. Later, I sold a couple of poems. (The poet in the class sold short stories. Go figure!)

When we moved to North Dakota, I thought I’d become a stay-at-home wife and write. Well, children came and that writing dream was put aside. When my children were small, I sent out a story or two, but no acceptances. I did receive a couple of handwritten rejections and once got a second read from Redbook. Those stories went into a drawer.

As I built my freelance writing business, I couldn’t take time for fiction because I needed to make money and I also knew just how consuming writing fiction could be. As my business became stable, I thought that I might make some time.

Last year, at the Muse Online Writers Conference, Lea Schizas, who runs the conference, asked for attendees to send in book pitches. I had a couple of novels in a drawer that I was just beginning to do some substantive editing for and I had some short fiction. I didn’t have any longer work polished to the point that I could pitch it. After the deadline for pitches came and went, Lea asked us to see if we could help fill in the few openings she had. I looked at the publishers’ guidelines again. I wanted to help Lea out so that she would be able to offer pitches again at the next conference. There were a few of the publishers that took shorter works so I sent in two and got a slot for each of my pitches.

The first pitch asked for a rewrite from first person to third and to resubmit. I did that and it is pending at the moment.

The second, Breathless Press, asked me to send my work to them. That was The Bowdancer, which was a novelette at the time. They liked it, sent me a contract, and the work grew into a novella through the editing process.

I like to think that an act of kindness got me published.

You asked about the differences between writing fiction and non-fiction. I’ve become rather efficient and I like to think I’m skilled at writing non-fiction. I’ve written for over a hundred publications, probably producing a thousand articles and I’ve interviewed about as many people. You get into a rhythm for that. You have a conversation with someone, you do research, you transcribe your interview, you find your hook, and you write.

But fiction is quite different. Even though I work from a very brief outline, I still may not know what really will happen. The outline acts like a compass, pointing me in a direction, and the writing, particularly the characters and how they interact, fills in all of the details. I immerse myself into the worlds I create and into the characters. The writing becomes sort of a transcendent experience, a merging into the creative flow. It is what a lot of artists experience. This, however, doesn’t guarantee that the quality of the work that is created is worthwhile. It just means the experience of creating is.
Barbara: I'd like to tell my readers that the situation that she described here is what Lea does for all the conference participants. I missed out on those sessions, but so many writers were able to find publishers to read their work.
Barbara: Would you please describe a typical writing experience for our readers? What is your writing process?

Janie: I know a very prolific novelist and journalist who writes her fiction first thing in the morning and then deals with the non-fiction. I can’t work like that. I found that I can’t write fiction during the day, especially if the phone is ringing or I have to do interviews. I also don’t write on the same computer.

I try to occupy my journalism “office” at my desktop during the morning and afternoon. I close that office down in the late afternoon and move to my fiction “office” at my laptop across the room. Here I deal with marketing and such. Then in the evening, I write fiction. If I have a day that is short on the journalism end, I write earlier. Lately, I’ve had interviews bleeding into my evening hours so I have had a shorter time in the evening for writing.

I must confess that during the writing of the next two books in the Bowdancer Saga, I sometimes found myself looking down at my hands on the keyboard and then looking at what I had written and been totally surprised by what I found.

I do enjoy my characters and have bonded with them intimately.

Barbara: Isn't it amazing how your characters sometimes take over and you feel like they were sitting on your fingers as you wrote? I have had that experience so many times. It's like they're talking inside of your head and you are just a bystander who has her fingers on the keys ready to take down their words.:)
Barbara: How long did it take to get your books published? Was it different for fiction and non-fiction?

Janie: The non-fiction books, as I said, were self published so that was just a factor of finding the right company to do the work and being able to pay for it. For fiction, it has taken a lifetime. I’m 60 years old. But once this opportunity opened up for me, it was almost instantaneous and I’ve been caught in a whirlwind. I’ve also been writing actively now, trying to balance fiction and non-fiction.

Barbara: I can picture you now going from one computer to the other as you switch from non-fiction to fiction.:)
Barbara: Please give our readers a synopsis of The Bowdancer.
Janie: My book blurb describes the book this way: Jan-nell, a young healer and keeper of village lore, despairs of ever finding the child who will be the next bowdancer or a man worthy enough to love. When Bastin and his bandit crew interrupt a wedding, Jan-nell is called upon to treat one of the men who has been injured. Bastin is a highly intelligent man who has his own story to tell and he shares that and more with Jan-nell. They are intellectual equals but perhaps not spiritual ones. A quirk of fate shatters all that Jan-nell knows.
Barbara: The Bowdancer is a very short novel. Was it a short story before it was a novel?

Janie: The Bowdancer was always a novelette. It just grew into a novella during the final edits with my publisher. When I wrote it, I realized that it might have the seeds of being the beginning of a trilogy or series.

Barbara: What inspired you to write The Bowdancer?

Janie: I first discovered Jan-nell, the bowdancer, in a meditation. I saw her take that first bowshot with a flaming arrow across the sky. That became the first scene in the story. While in meditation, I asked Jan-nell what her name was and found her conflict. I took notes about my meditation, but I never encountered her again. I eventually wrote her story and Bastin popped into it.

The Bowdancer begins the saga, which will present a series of books that explore gender, roles, cultures, the arts, spirituality, and different concepts of family---and hopefully will offer some romance and adventure along the way. I do think the whole Bowdancer Saga empowers women, even though we are sometimes caught by circumstances. Women have a resilience that allows us to flow with those circumstances perhaps a bit better than men.

Barbara: Have you thought about writing a sequel to it?

Janie: Actually, I just finished books 2 and 3 in the saga. They are both still novellas, but much longer. The Wayfarer’s Road was just sent to my publisher, and Warrior Women will follow later this month. We’ll begin final edits and do cover ideas after that. I’m hoping it will be ready by the end of the month, but we’ll wait and see.

Barbara: Do you have any WIP’s? If so, are they fiction or non-fiction?

Janie: I’m currently working on The Lost Song, the fourth book in the saga. And, I’m working on a much longer work about an woman archaeologist who is transported into the far future after a holocaust that has rendered America into a primitive feudal land. Her only hope to survive in this new world is to become a royal consort. It’s not exactly standard romance. But, well, I don’t write standard romance.

Barbara: Is there anything that you would like to add?
Janie: The whole series has a lot of songs in it. My husband, who is a singer/songwriter, is currently working on writing a few to be included in a companion CD or at least to offer mp3s for download. I also hope to eventually offer a few pamphlets on herbs and trailside cooking as incentives to buying the books. We’ll see how that works.

Barbara: Thank you for coming and I hope you had fun.
Janie: No, thank you for having me. This has been a lot of fun!

Barbara: For me too! It was so great getting to know you and reading your book. I recommend The Bowdancer to all of my readers. If you are interested in reading a short, but well written adventure/romance set in another world you will love The Bowdancer. I know that I am looking forward to reading the sequels.

Please feel free to leave a comment or a question. Though it may take some time to get to you the winner of the contest will get a book. At this time I am not sure what that will be. My library is now packed up and being ozoned.:) Janie Franz and/or I will be here to answer and comment too.

Janie is going to be a guest on my radio show Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages. Also all of you should try to take a look at the new Robins Falls Magazine put out by the head of Red River Writers, April Robins. Some of my writing is in there too.:)

And now another segment of "Where Will We Live" the new reality show starring "The Ehrentreu's". We follow them as they search for a new place to live after being homeless due to a fire causing the building commissioner to condemn their building. After looking at every kind of apartment in large buildings and in two family houses, separate houses, and town homes they decided to look at a place in Connecticut, which is very close to where they live now.

Ta da!!! This might be the last place they have to look!!! They felt like this could be home for them. (Cue the sappy music) It has everything they need to be happy and plenty of room for all four of them. And it overlooks a beautiful harbor with those sailboats that transform any place into a picture book setting.:) Keeping their fingers crossed that this is the one!!!

Until the next time, don't forget to leave a question or comment to enter the contest and hopefully good news for "The Ehrentreu's" on "Where Will We Live". Thank you to all of my readers who continue to read these crazy meanderings and to the new readers who have come here. Yes, it is always this crazy!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Where Will We Live? The New Family Game!

If you are my friend on Facebook and/or Twitter you might have been seeing these posts saying how we can't find a place to live since the fire. Yes, we are still living in a hotel, but even that had a problem.:) Last week we were jarred out of our rooms with the fire alarm message. We had to get our coats and of course my computer and go out into the cold night. It was in the teens that night and there was no place to get warm. We got into one of our cars and drove away. When we drove away we learned that it wasn't a fire at all but a flood. A water main had burst causing a gas leak! We had to get another hotel right away and found it less than a mile away. That one was twice the price of our first hotel and believe it or not though the lobby was more plush, our first hotel was better. The first hotel, Residence Inn by Marriott in White Plains, NY needed major help. When we left it water was pouring out of the automatic opening doors and the hotel was ringed by all kinds of fire vehicles. We didn't know it at the time but we would have to spend three nights away from this place. Also my computer got damaged when my daughter dropped it. To make up for it, though, both my daughters bought me a brand new laptop! Yay!!!

We were getting comfortable here and it felt like home a little. Then this came along and jarred the whole family. I'm beginning to think we really are a sitcom family.:)

The problem with finding a place to live is that everyone has a perfect place in their head and no one wants to compromise. For each one of us there is a deal breaker. Certainly for me it has to have a high end kitchen and modern bathrooms. But the places we have seen that have these have lousy looking small bedrooms or other strange rooms that can't be changed. Another member of the family refuses to live in any place with ceiling fans. Ceiling fans!!! My husband claims to be out of the picture as far as making the decision, but so far he has been the one to say no to everything. This decision reminds me of how women whittle down their choices for guys from the best looking with money who treats them well to the one who shows up.:) We want a great place, but the truth is that the one that we can all agree upon will be the one we choose. We're looking at apartments close to the hotel, so maybe we can get a place soon.:)

Think of our search like a reality show. We're racing to find a place before we are thrown out on the street. Can our team find a place to live within our budget that will satisfy our standards in the time provided? Or will be thrown on the street? Ready, set, go!!! You have been introduced to the situation on the first program. Will the Ehrentreu's find a place to live before they deplete all their money living in a hotel? Or will they be forced to live on the street? Stay tuned for the next part of the amazing new family game: "Where Will We Live?"

If I sound a little crazier than usual it is from preparing for this new game.:) As you will see on the next show family tensions are very high as one after the other of the family members are sucked into the frenzy of choosing. Which one will crack this week? Find out as you follow the adventures of the Ehrentreu family on "Where Will We Live?" On the next show watch as we decide the city in which we will live.

Amazingly this blog will once again be hosting a guest author on
Thursday. At least I hope it will be Thursday, but it could be Friday. It all
depends on how this week's game goes.:) Her name is Janie Franz and she has a new story, "The Bowdancer" that is published as an eBook by Breathless Press. Janie has also co-written some non-fiction books, The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Book, The Ultimate Wedding Reception Book with author Bill
Cox and she is the author of a writing manual, Freelance Writing: It’s a Business, Stupid! Janie also has many book reviews as well.

Please join me as I welcome Janie Franz as my guest author on Thursday, February 4th to learn more about her and her work. I am looking forward to the interview, since this is the first one of the new year.:) Janie will also be my guest on Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages in the coming months. More about that in the next post.

Thank you to my readers and to all the people who have been following my story since December 31st. I appreciate all of your kind words and they have helped me very much during this unusual time for me and my family.:) Until the next time....
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