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Warm Yourself With Winter Reading

Warm Yourself With Winter Reading

Although the Polar Vortex is gone—at least for now—and despite Punxsatawney Phil’s predictions of an early spring (and did you know that statistically he is wrong more often than not?), most of the nation is still in a deep freeze.

What to do with your free time? It’s not gardening weather; it’s too early to plant anything. You can’t go out and practice pitching or batting. You can’t shoot hoops. Not with snow still on the ground in many places, and ice in some. If you’re into winter sports, great, but most of us don’t own snowshoes or a snowmobile, nor live near ski slopes.

How about staying in where it’s warm and curling up or stretching out with a good book?

Books are really an all-season enjoyment, but reading is particularly satisfying when there’s nothing else to do but watch TV. (Blecchh.)

You can buy new books, re-read old faves that you have on your shelf, or go to your local library to borrow a few books (or more. (Naturally, as an author, I hope you’ll BUY a book or a few books to help support my fellow authors—or maybe even buy one of my own books.) But reading books is good wherever you find them.

The dark and cold of winter is a good time to read new books (or books you simply haven’t read yet) from your favorite author, or in your favorite genre, whether that’s sci-fi or self-help, parenting or romance or inspirational/motivational. Bios of famous people? Tell-all tattlers? Political musings? Cookbooks? Craft and hobby help?

So pick a book to read. Heck, pick a few books. And settle back in your favorite comfy chair, or stretch out in front of your fireplace if you have one, or stretch out on (or in) your bed and READ.

Spring will be here before you know it!

Let's Not Promote Hate

Let’s Not Promote Hate

I was reading an unpublished manuscript—I don’t want to name the title or the author, and the circumstances of my reading it are irrelevant here—but the book, a work of fiction, made a group of Muslim refugees the “bad guys.”

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Appreciation

Appreciation

When someone does something well, do you tell them you thought they did a good job? When YOU  do something well, whether it’s cooking a difficult and impressive recipe, growing some spectacular orchids, doing an amazing cabinetry job, or giving a great speech, don’t you like to receive praise that tells you your efforts were appreciated?

Authors are no different. We like to know that our readers appreciate our books.

There are several ways in which you can praise an author’s work. The one that does him or her the most good is to post a good review online. Where did you by the book? If you bought it on Amazon, you can leave a review there. If  you bought it somewhere else, then leave a review wherever you bought it.

There are other things you can do, too. You can post a notice on your Facebook timeline. “I just read a fascinating book,” or whatever words best describe it: “very well written,” “compelling,” “useful,” “helpful,” “marvelous”…. If you’re on other social media, you can post notices there, too.

And you can write to the author directly. Many times, an author’s bio in the book, on the back cover, or on the website from which you bought the book contains a link to the author’s website, and almost all websites have a contact page with a link or a form whereby you can send a message to the site owner—in this case, the author. Your message can be as short as “Loved your book [and insert the title here, as the author may have written more than one book, so let him/her know which book you are referring to].” Or you can be a bit lengthier and tell the author why you loved or liked his or her book.

If you can’t find a direct contact link for the author, try sending him/her a note c/o his/her publisher. Most publishers will forward to the author any email or snailmail that comes in for them.

But authors are people, just like you. They like to know their efforsts are appreciated. Why not tell them? Or tell the world how much you enjoyed what they wrote.

No New Year's Resolutions!

No New Year’s Resolutions!

Here’s a radical idea: DON’T MAKE ANY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS!

No! Instead, make a list of ACCOMPLISHMENTS you wish to see yourself attain in 2019. What do YOU want to accomplish in 2019? Declare it…and then DO it!

Let’s start close to home, with readers and writers. Are you a reader? How many books did you read this year? Did you determine you will read five more, 10 more, 20 more in 2019? Whatever your target number, choose a number that’s feasible…and then live up to it.

Are you a writer? What are YOU going to accomplish? Finally sitting down and writing that novel that’s been brewing in your head? Finally starting your memoirs…to be continued as time goes on? Trying your hand at a different genre just to expand and grow? If you’ve written only short-form (articles, blogposts, and such) up till now, will you determine to accomplish writing your first whole BOOK this year? If you’ve written only nonfiction, do you want to try your hand at writing a novel in 2019?

Now on to other folks…what do you want to make it your intention to accomplish this year? Start a new business? Change jobs for one that pays better or that you enjoy more…even if it pays less? Go back to school to get the degree or training you need  to get the job you really want? Move to another city? Find someone you want to spend the rest of your life with? Or divorce the spouse who makes your life miserable or simply doesn’t bring you the happiness you want and deserve?

Have I hit on one or more things you would like to accomplish in 2019? If not, it’s because I don’t know you personally and don’t  know your circumstances. Do you want to accomplish reconnecting with your favorite aunt, with whom you’d lost touch? Do you want to accomplish crocheting 100 afghans for 100 of those children stuck at the US border? Do you have a really audacious desire to run for public office? Determine that in 2019 you will set up the foundation for your campaign—an office, a campaign manager, a speech writer—to be ready to campaign in earnest in 2020. Or perhaps your municipality will even hold local elections in 2019, and THIS is the year you will run for election! Better get organized quickly!

Whatever you want to accomplish in 2019, decide what it is, determine that you WILL accomplish it, and then DO IT! Let 2019 be YOUR year!

Year-End Thoughts

Year-End Thoughts

As the year draws to a swift close, it’s inevitable that we look back on the 12 months past. Some of us will do so with regret or even anguish, while others will do so with satisfaction or a warm glow.

Where do you stand?

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Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

For a change of pace, nothing this week about books, libraries, reading, book signings and similar events, or such. Instead, we’re going to talk about words,or more specifically word choices. And, even more specifically, this will be a rant about other people’s rants.

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Christmas Inspirations

Christmas Inspirations

How is a writer to write about Christmas when there’s no snow on the ground? Is that your question?

Yes, I live in South Florida, where the only snow is artificial (or in snow globes),but what many non-writers don’t realize is that Christmas books are, of necessity, written long before the holiday season. In fact, they might even be written when the snows of the previous winter—up north—are still melting in the spring thaw. It isn’t just South Floridians and Southern Californians who need to ignore rising temperatures when writing about sleds or Santa.

Books published by a self-publishing outfit tend to go through the publishing process faster than books published by a traditional publisher, but even with a self-publisher, you need to allow time for editing, layout, cover design, proofreading,printing, trimming, binding, and shipping, as well as such items as securing an ISBN and generating a barcode. And, as there are inevitably other books being worked on in-house, you can’t expect your book to go through each of these processes lickety-split.

With a traditional publisher, the time is even longer—and don’t forget the three months it may take before the acquisitions editor even gets back to you with an offer to publish. (Or a decline, the industry term for a rejection, which can delay your quest for your book’s publication even longer as you resume your search for an interested publisher or decide not to delay any longer but to go ahead and self-publish.)

So it’s very possibly sweet springtime or even sweltering summer—and that’s pushing it if you’re going with a traditional publisher—when you write your Christmas picture book, Christmas romance, Christmas mystery, or holiday decorating how-to or Christmas goodies cookbook.

How does a writer trick herself into a Christmas frame of mind when the air-conditioning is fighting the summer heat and the swimming pool outside her window  is sparkling in the summer sun? Well, if you live in South Florida, as I do, unless you are a new arrival, you have long since acclimated to writing about crisp autumn leaves when there are none, writing about snowy trails and carrot-nosed Frostys when no such sights are on offer anywhere around, and relying on imagination (or memory, if you are a transplanted northerner) to write your winter holiday-themed books.

Maybe you crank the a/c down to where you need to don a sweater and a muffler for comfort as you sit at your computer. Maybe you put Christmas music on the stereo. Maybe you’ve saved snow scapes and other wintry scenes, cut out from magazine, which you now tape onto your wall to look at in order to get yourself in the right frame of mind.

It’s no tjust us book authors. I have heard that songwriters write their Christmas songs in July.

Some professions require good imaginations.

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