Thursday, December 29, 2016

Year End Review/2017 goals

I've watched a few of these MarieTV spots on YouTube, but I really liked this one for a year-end review process:

So here are my answers to her 3 questions:

1) What did I do, create, or experience this year that I'm really proud of: I am picking experiences here. I am proud of my continued dedication to my swim lessons.  Now, this may seem peculiar, but if you factor in how afraid of water - much less actual swimming - I had been in the past, you can see how sticking to the lessons for a year and a half now is quite the achievement. I really look forward to my lessons: the time in the pool, learning a new skill (I'm currently struggling with the dolphin move) and fine-tuning it until it's just about perfect, and frankly, doing something I thought I'd never do.

The other experience I'm proud of is my attendance at the EFA National Conference.  Again, it might seem weird to you outgoing types, but for this introvert to go into (what I perceived, anyway) a large group of strangers and make it a point to talk to new people - well, it was a big deal.

Dinner out in NYC

Cool book walls at the resturant

Me and Mary Norris, of The New Yorker

2) What mistakes did I make that taught me something?  What lessons did I learn that I can leverage? I'm not sure what I'd consider a mistake in 2016; I'm sure there was something I did wrong at least once. So I think I'm going to say my mistake (and not one isolated to 2016) is my tendency to think I can't do something...that I don't have the skills or the talent or the innate quality to be successful at whatever that particular "thing" is. But the truth is I can do things I think I can't (see above re:swimming).  I'm learning all the time...I just have to realize I can and I am, and feel confident that I even if I am a beginner or novice, every expert started just like me.

3) What am I willing to let go of? This one is a bit harder. I don't like to let go of things (just ask my husband!). But maybe I can let go of my disappointments (I really don't have to dwell on them, especially in the middle of the night!) when things don't go quite my way...or the way they have always gone. I need to let go of that negative attitude, that negative mindset, when it sneaks up on me.

So what about you? Can you take a few minutes an answer these 3 questions? Share in the comments (if you dare!).

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Oh, You Are So Punny!

The first time I met The Boy's current Girlfriend, we were in Denver, visiting The Hubby's family.  So it was me, The Hubby, The Boy, The Girlfriend, Grandma, and Aunt Dee driving down the highway. And one of us (not The Boy or the Girlfriend) starting making some snarky, punny conversation.  We all laughed a bit and then quieted down.  I looked back at The Girlfriend and said, "Doesn't being with someone's family explain a whole about them?" 

My family has always appreciated good word play.  And sarcasm (but that's another post for another time). Maybe that's why I love reading and books and authors-and yes, even editing-so much.  I grew up with words running around in my head, even if I never spoke them.  

The editor groups I participate in on Facebook have no shortage of pun enthusiasts.  Here's a recent post: 

And not to get on a political note here, but I couldn't help but laugh at this one:


My brother just shared Mental Floss's article on puns (This Is Your Brain On Puns - which, of course is a play on the anti-drug commercial "This is your brain on drugs" with the fried egg). It's a pretty quick article on how the left and right sides of your brain work to figure out puns.  

A few years ago, I found out there was a contest of puns: the O. Henry Pun-off World Championship.  I'm not sure how this wonderful event found its way into my world, but it's a cool idea: a bunch of people celebrating our wonderful world of words and often employing humor to do so. 

I've decided to run another contest for 2017, and this time I'm letting you all know what it's about.  And if you guessed puns, you'd be right. So for all of 2017, I'll be keeping track of the puns (or just the stuff the tickles my funny bone) and have a year-end poll for the best pun of 2017. 


Friday, December 9, 2016

The Beauty of Automation

Okay, this is just a test of the emergency broadcast system.  If this was a real emergency, you shouldn't be on the should be doing something to stay alive.

Seriously, though, I am testing out a new service to have all my blog posts show up on my Atwater Group Facebook page.  So if this shows up on Facebook, I know I did it right. 

And if it doesn't....well, I'll guess I'll keep trying.

Getting My Ducks in a Row

So, I've actually got a workday where I have no work to do...but yes, there is work to do!  I've just spent the last hour or so adding tags to all of my blog posts.  I had some in there, but I really let that part of blogging go (not that any other part of my blogging has been a shining example of good blogging, but whatever).

And it was fun to revisit some of those older blog posts and remember some of what prompted them.  It was kind of like reading my work diary over the past few years.

Anyway, back to work... Part of the reasoning to get the blog posts properly tagged/labeled was to make it easier to search and to jump-start some ideas for my 2017 blogging.  (After all, if I've already talked about something, do I need to keep harping and harping on it? Maybe...) So I am setting up a spreadsheet with ideas, categories, and a calendar so I can be a bit more organized for blogging in 2017 (see goal #4 here).  I am thinking I might ask anyone who has done an Author Interview to do an updated one - although I haven't figured out what new questions I'd ask.  But I think it would be cool to see how authors have changed (if at all) and what their writing career looks like now - sort of a "Where Are They Now" thing.

But I am really going to try to get my ducks in a row to give me a good start to 2017 and beyond. Not that 2016 was horrible or anything, but I feel like I need to be more prepared for things, not just go at them willy-nilly. Or get distracted by squirrels - that's Dudley's job!

(And aren't you impressed about this second blog post in under a week?)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Am I Crazy or What?

Yes, yes, I know it's been several (okay, almost six) months since I last wrote. It's just been so busy - in so many great ways.  My last post was just after my summer vacation, and after that wonderful, restful was back to work! And more work! And volunteer work! And some house projects (okay, I didn't really do any real work...I was just there to see all the work get done and make sure no one melted away in the oppressive August heat).

And The Boy and The Girlfriend visited at the end of October.  It was nice to visit with them...and have him take my car on adventures as they went to Boston for a friend's wedding. Some things never always want the keys to the car.

Now Thanksgiving is over (let us give thanks!) and Christmas and New Years is staring us in the face.  And I suspect 2017 is going to be just as busy, crazy, eventful, happy, sad, interesting, terrifying, and uplifting as 2016.

But I have a few changes in store for 2017, so I'm working on my goals early this year.  And by early, I just mean not on Dec. 31. I'm going to take some time over the next few weeks (even if it's just 5 minutes before I go to sleep) to really think about the things I want to accomplish for 2017.  Here's my preliminary list, in no particular order:

1) 2017 is a "go to a writer's conference" year (2016 was my EFA conference, which apparently I only blogged about in my dreams).  I had thought it'd be Romantic Times in Atlanta, but I don't see many (actually, I think there was only 1) of my authors signed up to go.  So I'm thinking I might go to RWA Nationals in Orlando instead.

2) That leads into the probability of joining RWA, and maybe an online chapter.  There are a few chapters in my state, but I'm not sure I have the actual time to go to an actual meeting.  And that's because...

3) In addition to everything else I'm doing already, I've decided to head up the CT Chapter of the Editorial Freelancers Association. Our previous leader got a full-time job editing, and doesn't have the time to continue.  I really liked our meetings, even when they were just networking/talking with other editors, so if I wanted them to continue, either I had to wait for someone to take the position or do it myself...otherwise the chapter would have been dissolved. So, yeah, after waiting a few weeks and checking in, no one else had expressed any interest in heading up the chapter.  So...there you go.

It probably seems a bit crazy for me to take on this additional responsibility. After all, I can't even keep up with a blog on any kind of regular basis, right? Which leads to...

4) I am going to write out a schedule of blogging.  It won't be much - maybe twice a month - but I need to get back in the habit.  I often use my blog posts to illustrate a point to my authors (how many of you have seen a link in the manuscript comments to a post I'd done in the past?), so it's a useful tool for me to have.  And if I had a plan of some sort, I could either follow it (Gasp! Follow a plan!?!) or ignore it for something I felt needed to be touched on.

How about you? Are you thinking ahead to 2017? Do you have ideas about what you'd like to accomplish?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Good News, Bad News

So the good news: I have finally completed the facelift to my website (  The bad news: It took so long, I need to update it already!

But seriously, you guys have been sending me such great manuscripts that I've been keeping very busy with you know, actual work instead of spending time on the website.  (Which I am totally okay with, by the way.)  I have been keeping up with updating my Facebook page with those new releases - keep them coming!

More good news (for me, at least): I managed to take a real vacation!  Yup, the hubby and I went to Denver to see our son, my mother-in-law, and my sisters-in-law.  We spent the first few days by ourselves, though, at the Springs Resort in Pagosa.  It was so wonderful.  I'd never been to a hot springs before, and it was a great experience.  We picked "the Romance Package," which included a couples' massage.  The resort has about 25 different pools, each at different temperatures so there is a variety to choose from - including an over 18 section to cut down on kids running around.

Then, it was back to Denver to visit with family.  We had a great time with my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law, but it was especially wonderful to spend time with our son and meet his girlfriend.  We got to see his office (okay, it's a room in a building downtown) and see some of the volunteer work he does.  He took us on a walk downtown through Poets' Row, a group of apartments named (surprise!) after poets and writers:

But now we are back home, getting into the swing of things.  It was nice to get away (and to take a real break from working) but I am happy to be going through those wonderful manuscripts you send my way.

And maybe I'll try to update that website in my spare time!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

What to Leave In, What to Leave Out

I've always been fascinated with obituaries. Even as a young girl, I'd read the obits in the paper.  Sometimes it seemed so sad when I read about someone who died young - you know, age 40 (yikes!).  It was amazing to me that some people could live to 80 or 90!

It was kind of cool to read about their families, who was left behind, and the things they did during their lifetime. A bit of inspiration, I guess, that families matter, the little things we do add up to big things, and what kind of an impact a person could make on the small circle of family and friends, and maybe even the larger circle of the community.

But I was always puzzled why they never really said how they died.  (Hey - I was young and wanted answers to all my questions - which, I suppose, hasn't changed much!) It was "suddenly passed away" or "passed away unexpectedly" or "at the end of a long illness."  At least with that last one, you could get some sense of what happened.

I thought that for history's sake, an honest obituary would be a historian or anthropologist's dream.  How many people died in the 1860s from war-related issues vs. farming accidents, for example? Or how many people died from suicides in the 1920s? 

But lately, there's been more of a trend to include the story behind the death, notably with drug overdoses.  Those rare pieces give the reader a peek into the life of someone caught up in a situation they couldn't overcome, to act (sometimes) as a warning to some or as a balm to others that they are not alone in their struggle to deal with a loved one's unsuccessful fight with their demons.  See the articles on Addiction, Suicide and Obituaries and Huff Post, for example. 

This rarity, unfortunately, does not seem to include celebrities: anytime someone halfway famous dies, you can bet you'll hear the truth behind it: Robin Williams: first we hear it was depression, but then his widow tells us he suffered from Lewy body dementia. Joan Rivers: complications from surgery.  Jim Henson: pneumonia.

Now it seems there's a new idea in town: the mean obituary.  I was reading this piece on CNN (When vengeful obits go viral, who's to blame? ) and read some of the words written about 94-year-old Wilma Black, who died December 22 in North Carolina.It was a paid death notice, written and placed by a family member in the Raleigh News & Observer's advertising section. Wow.

But I think the most compelling reason I like to read the obits is to hear about people: people like me, people not like me; people who made a wide impact on the community, people who lead a quiet life.  I want to hear about their stories.

And story is what draws me into a book: a way to exist in these characters' world, whether it's a sci-fi/fantasy location or a person struggling with life and love. So, authors, pay attention to your characters and make your readers care about them too!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Taking A Stand...Against Standing

Now, I don't want to come across as militant, but I am ready to take a stand...against standing. Standing in doorways, in hallways, in rooms, and in front of me - I can't take all this standing.

Let's look at an example:

I turned around and saw him standing in the doorway.

Well, unless he is in a wheelchair, or for some reason he wouldn't be standing (maybe he's been hobbled like Paul Sheldon in Misery and he can only drag himself from place to place), why does a reader need to know he's standing? It'd be a miracle if he was wheelchair-bound and suddenly he stood in a doorway.  That's important information in that instance.  But just a guy in a doorway? What else would he be doing besides standing?

Okay, maybe he's leaning against the doorframe.  Maybe with a smile on his face I can't resist.  Or maybe he's crouched slightly, gun in hand and ready to shoot me (or maybe the guy who's holding me hostage - yeah, that's better).

I turned around. He leaned against the doorframe, a smile on his face.  Not just a smile, but that smile.  The one that got me every time.


I turned around. I barely had enough time to register the crouched form of a man before I saw the gun come up and heard the kidnapper fall to the ground.

See? No standing needed.

Give me some action!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Exciting Changes

So, I've been putzing around with my know, just something fun to do in the evenings.  With the new year, it's always been a time to look at things and re-evaluate. One of the things I examined was my webpage and logo.

And it was time to freshen them up.

The last few weeks I've been playing around with new software (cool effects! new gizmos!) and contacted a company to work on my logo.  I'm still working on the website - and frankly, it'll definitely be a month or more before it's ready for prime time - but I'm pretty happy with the logo.

As part of the logo process, the company (The Logo Company) sent me several images based on my answers to their questionnaire. I spent a few days looking at a few of them and testing them out on my webpage design software. I culled down the contenders to two and consulted my in-house go-to guy.  He gave me reasons he liked one and what he didn't like about the other.

But there was a third one in contention.  I decided to ask for that one to use as graphic icon and picked out my new logo.

So, I'm happy to give you a sneak peek at the new graphic:

And soon, when the website is closer to being ready, you'll be able to check out the new logo!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Editors - the Writer's Natural Enemy

I want to make this clear: I didn't come up with the title of this post.

I was searching online (for what, specifically, doesn't really matter) and ran across this post on George R. Martin's website:

Editors: The Writer’s Natural Enemy

The author (maybe you've heard of him, or his Game of Throne saga?) gave a speech in 1979 where he talked about the importance of editors.  Now, his definition of editor may or may not still work here in 2016 (especially considering the rise of indie and hybrid authors and the general state of traditional publishing) but I found some of it highly amusing:

Left to their own devices, writers talk about only three things; the three most important things in the world.
They talk about money, they talk about sex, and they talk about editors.
Money and sex are things that most writers want and never get enough of. Editors are things that most writers don’t want and get all too much of. I’ve often heard writers ask other writers why there have to be editors in the world.
But later on, he has this to say: 

Yes, there are a lot of ways for editors to go wrong.
Fortunately, a surprising number of them go right. It never ceases to amaze me. What is a good editor like? A good editor offers you decent advances, and goes to bat with his publisher to make sure your book gets promoted, and returns your phone calls, and answers your letters. A good editor does work with his writers on their books. But only if the books need work. A good editor tries to figure out what the writer was trying to do, and helps him or her do it better, rather than trying to change the book into something else entirely. A good editor doesn’t insist, or make changes without permission. Ultimately a writer lives or dies by his words, and he must always have the last word if his work is to retain its integrity.

I hope that I am in that category of editor (copy editor and proofreader, really) for my authors. I'm not looking to be the enemy of the author - I want to be the champion, the cheerleader, the advocate, the supporter ("If you can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter!" - bonus points if you know where that quote is from).

So, I am looking forward to a grand 2016, supporting and cheering on all my authors as they continue their careers and fulfill their writing goals and dreams.