Monday, December 29, 2014

Full circle

Did anyone see the article in NY Times about Amazon's Unlimited ebook service? Times are changing, again! Once upon a time, the only way a write could get published was through a traditional publisher. Then, self-publishing came along. I, myself, rode that wave and made a nice tidy sum marketing myself through Google and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Then, they started charging for ads. Today, it's too expensive for my small business to advertise on social media; and my posts don't show up without the ads. Therefore, that wave is over for me.

Today, writers have Amazon Kindle Unlimited giving their books away as fast as they can write them. The NY Times article says there are too many writers, and you know what that means? Basic supply and demand from Economics 101. Supply is up; price is down. That is just a fact of economic principles. So, what should we do about it?

For me, I'm using my experiences to teach in a classroom (at least until technology takes that away!). As far as writing, I'm doing it for my own pleasure. I enjoy writing; and, someday, if I work hard enough, perhaps someone will want to publish what I write. I guess I have gone full-circle: publishing, self-publishing, and now back to publishing.

What about you?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Mystery Progress and Software

This morning I woke up at my usual time and started working on my mystery. I am using Scrivener to  create an outline of sorts. I really like this software. I created chapters, then I created cork board note cards for the first two chapters. That's as far as I got - bare bones outline of the background and murder.

I worked on character sketches using the character feature and even put in some "photos" of my main characters. Now, when I work on the characters, I can look at the photos and get a "feel" for their personality. For names, I downloaded the popular names of the decade from Social Security website for each decade in my book. After I found a first name, I used Scrivener's Name Creator feature for a last name. I didn't put a lot of effort into names as I will probably change them or they will get changed if I get published.

Scrivener Screenshots
There is a places feature on Scrivener as well, but I didn't do much with it yet.

I was having trouble getting my dates and times mixed up, so I did a search and came up with Aeon Timeline. I'm using a demo of this to see if it works. So far, I am really impressed. I can create a timeline of events and intersect it with people who interact with those events. The software computes ages of your characters as well. I'll write more about this software as I do more with it.

Aeon Timeline Screenshot
I also downloaded a sample of Scapple, which is a software created by Scrivener. It is a tool for creating and connecting ideas. I haven't used this one at all yet. I will keep you posted.

Scapple Screenshot
So, I feel like I had a productive day. I don't have a lot of time each week to work on writing, so I have made myself a schedule to keep writing a priority. Otherwise, I won't write at all. As most of my friends know, I am still teaching part time. I am also the chauffeur for my vision-impaired husband, I work part time as an accountant for both my son and daughter's self-employment, and, when I have free time, I scrapbook, read mysteries, work out at the gym, and walk my dog. So, it's a challenge, but scheduling is helping. Each day, I have a specific task and I only deviate for doctor appointments, if I have to. Even if it takes me the rest of my life, I'm determined to write this mystery!

Mystery Writing Basics

I found a nifty resource for mystery writers written by Gillian Roberts, author of You Can Write a Mystery. The information is a brief extract from her book and provides quite a bit of information that will get you started on your first mystery.

Lesson #1 —Where do you get your ideas?
Lesson #2 —Writing your character's stories.
Lesson #3 —Amateurs, Semi-Pros, and Pros: Who will be your sleuth?
Lesson #4 —What to think about when you think about your setting.
Lesson #5 —Descriptions the reader won't skip.
Lesson #6 — It's all in your point of view.
Lesson #7 —Making the reader care.
Lesson #8 — How to write what you know (about murder).
Lesson #9 — How to write what you don't know.
Lesson #10 — Talking about dialogue: Part I.
Lesson #11 — Dialogue, Part II: Ways to present dialogue.
Lesson #12 — Do actions speak louder than words?
Lesson #13 — Playing Fair and Keeping Secrets: Hiding clues.

Check it out on her website at

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Scrapbooking Christmas - Part II

This year, I created some of my Christmas cards and gifts using my scrapbooking supplies and got them all in the mail on Monday. It was very time consuming, but it was well worth while. I feel like it makes Christmas that much more special. For those of you who are interested, here are photos of some of my projects: 

Inspired by Gina K
Also inspired by Gina K
I don't remember where I got the inspiration
for these cards.

Tags with money envelopes on the back.
Christmas 2014 mini album
Raining Cats and Dogs Gift box and cards
Last, I made a Dr. Who notebook for my daughter. She's a big fan. I took a brown notebook, covered it with blue paper (her favorite color), cut out some Dr. Who images from a magazine and covered them with mod podge. After attaching these items, I added some glittery stuff as she likes all things glittery! 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Enjoying my Christmas Break!

I’m definitely enjoying my Christmas break. First, my husband, Oreo, and I went to Dallas for the weekend to shop, walk, and visit my son. It was beautiful weather both days we were there. We stayed at La Quinta where they allow dogs at no extra charge – love that! The room was huge! It was two rooms in one. Oreo loved it, especially chasing her toy off the bed, across the room, and back again!

We went to a beautiful park on Saturday and walked around the lake. Then, we went to some bookstores where I bought some new mysteries to read. Had dinner with my son at Season’s 52. This is a wonderful restaurant. Wish we had one here in Broken Arrow!

The only bad part about the weekend was the drive home. It rained so hard that I had to pull over for a time. I followed a big rig the rest of the way so I could see the road. It was terrible!

This week, I spent some time planning biology lessons for next semester, moving books around to prepare for our eventual move, working on my mystery and picture book, and making Christmas cards. In addition, I continued to play “Driving Mr. Daisy” taking Bill to various appointments and ham radio functions. 

I hope you are having a nice Christmas season as well. 

Garrett the Ferrett

I've been working on my Ferret in the White House story again. Polished it up one more time and sent it off to another editor. I can't seem to give up on this one. :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


In my progress towards writing a mystery, I got sidetracked with an idea for a children's picture book.   So, now, I'm working on both of these at the same time. I've already got the picture book roughed out and I want to work on it through Christmas so that I can have it ready for critiques in January. Our writer's group has a one-day critique session in January in preparation for meeting the publishers and editors that come to the conference in March. So excited!