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Showing posts from November, 2019

Thanksgiving Day - November 28, 2019

Most of us who live in the United States participate in—or at least are familiar with—the observance of Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday in November. Traditionally, families and often friends get together for a meal of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, veggies, cranberry concoctions, pumpkin pie, and a host of other goodies, as well as the warmth and good feelings generated by the company, the food, and the occasion. When and where did this tradition begin? As a child, I heard stories of Pilgrims and local Indians sitting down together for a meal to celebrate a successful fall harvest. Ink drawings cemented an image of sharing and camaraderie in my mind that remains to this day, but sometimes stories and images don't tell the real stories or the whole stories. So, wanting to know the truthfulness of my youthful impressions, I sought historical verification. The results of my search were somewhat surprising and occasionally disconcerting. Rather than writing a long article about

National Make your Pets' Food Day

I’ve been making my dog's food for a couple of months now because of all the talk about grain-free diets being bad for your dog's heart, then all the talk saying that wasn’t true. I’ve been feeding Bogie a grain free salmon diet but thought why not give him both? So I started to experiment. Ellis Vidler, my talented writer and editor friend, and her husband, have been making their dog’s food for years. My choice to try this became even more a determining factor when I saw all the commercials for a packaged “fresh” dog food that is now the rave. I don’t know how expensive it is, but it couldn’t be fresher than cooking the food myself. I researched the Internet for recipes and came up with a few of my own. I also decided not to give fresh food only, so Bogie gets the homemade food in the morning and dry food in the evening. That way he has the best of both food worlds. Bogie isn’t one of those dogs who gobbles his food in two seconds, like my son’s dog. No, sometimes he doe

National Espresso Day: Musings on coffee and critique groups

Happy National Espresso Day to you!! If you are a tea drinker, your day will come ( April 21st , specifically), but no need to wait to celebrate. You are welcome here today as well. Whether coffee, tea, or something else, gathering together with people of like minds to hash through things over a cuppa is a wonderful way to connect. In the world of writing, such kaffeeklatsches can often be found in the form of critique groups. As for me, I'm a critique-group believer and an unrepentant consumer of triple-shot lattes. Image by StockSnap from Pixabay Right now, I belong to two face-to-face critique groups. One meets regularly every Friday at lunch. We share chapters by email beforehand (sometimes the chapters come flying in the night before), and gather for sandwiches, coffee, and critiquing a bit before noon on Fridays. We are fast and efficient. Our meetings usually last about an hour, occasionally stretching to an hour and a half, if there's a lot of material to g

National Take a Hike Day is November 17th

Taking a hike is a great idea, but this year on National Take a Hike Day , November 17th, I will be six days post-total-knee-surgery. Taking a hike will consist of trips to the physical therapist three days a week and trips to the bathroom or kitchen on weekends and non-PT days. Pixabay However, when I’m mobile again, taking a hike might include one of the wonderful natural areas or walking trails in my own Northern Colorado town, a more ambitious climb into the small hills to the west, or even a real hike up the big hill to look out over Horsetooth Reservoir in Larimer County. I’m more of an armchair hiker these days than a real adventure-seeker, so reading about extreme hiking or watching a film or two helps give me a sense of life outside my neighborhood walks. One of my favorite reads is A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson  The trail stretches from Georgia to Maine over 2100 miles of this beautiful country. I once had a d

Books In Target Stores

After we write our book and get a publishing contract, or publish it ourselves, the really hard work of marketing and promoting takes over our lives. We invest in some advertising and do a lot of social media marketing, but sometimes it feels like we're throwing wet pasta at the wall to see what will stick. It's often a crap-shoot when it comes to seeing a return on investment in terms of actual sales, not to mention all the time we put into these endeavors - time that we are not using to write that next book. When it comes to getting books into the hands of readers, most publishers and indie authors target book stores. After all, that's where people go to buy books unless they buy from online retailers. But what about other brick-and-mortar stores? For a short time I was connected with a group that held signings at Kroger grocery stores in 2012.  When I first heard about those, I was surprised at the idea of selling books along with the lettuce, but I thought, what t

#FridayReads - Dracula

On this day in 1431, the inspiration of one of literature's most famous and most enigmatic villains was born -- Vlad Dracula the Impaler. Interestingly enough, today is also the birthday of Bram Stoker (1847), the author who immortalised the legend of the blood-thirsty Romanian prince in his character the vampire Dracula. How about you? Who in history was born on the same day as you? Or how about historical events? If you have a dig, you might find something that inspires a story... just as the fearsome voivode of Transylvania captured the imagination of a middle-aged Irish novelist over a century ago. If you'd rather read a classic than write one this weekend, Dracula is available for download from Gutenberg . Elle Carter Neal is the author of the picture book I Own All the Blue and teen science-fantasy novel Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin . She is based in Melbourne, Australia. Find her at or

Holiday Tie-Ins

Related novellas and short stories are a way of keeping your readers' attention between releases. Stories that tie in to the holidays offer unique marketing opportunities. January : A new year's celebration can be utilized in any genre. Characters can face a celebration gone wrong, review the past, or make resolutions for the new year. There is a reason it is referred to as the "bleak midwinter." February : Valentines Day is a perfect fit for the Romance genre. A novella gives you an opportunity to explore the love lives of secondary characters. There could also be a Valentine murder or a paranormal celebration. March and April : The spring equinox is ripe with opportunity for paranormal rituals, childbirth or expectant parenthood, perhaps madness that leads to murder. May and June : May Day was a time for celebrating new life. It is a good month for a wedding, paranormal conflict, or a slighted lover to take his revenge. July and August : The summer heat ca

Are All Lawyers Really Sleazes?

This year (2019), Love Your Lawyer Day falls on Friday, November 1. Because the three protagonists in my second novel are lawyers, I couldn't pass up this holiday.  My book research took me face to face (or phone to phone) with three attorneys, all willing to share information and answer my questions. To my surprise, one interviewee noted upfront, "All lawyers are sleazes." Since he was in a position to know, he must have spoken the truth—or so I first assumed. Then I began to wonder. Were those words really accurate? Was he parroting a commonly held belief about his profession? Or was he being sarcastic? I don't know. My personal need for those of the legal profession has been (gratefully) limited. However, my first experience seemed to bear out the sleaze designation. The man was nothing short of lecherous. Shocked and horrified at his unwelcome advances, I quickly left and never again visited his office alone. (Unfortunately, I'd already paid him,