Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Do you know? (Warning, this is about software)

For those of you who still have full-time jobs, did you know that Microsoft has a "Home User Program" (a.k.a. HUP) available to companies who have an Enterprise Agreement. Enterprise Agreements, or EAs as they're known in IT-land, are typically for large organizations, but I have seen them in mid-sized companies as well.

Why am I talking about Microsoft licensing? Well, because it saves me money! And no, I don't get anything from Microsoft, I can't even mooch spiffs and for folks in IT that know me well I'm a pro at that.

The HUP offers Microsoft Office licenses at a very steep discount. I received my latest HUP announcement in my work email today. Office 2019, fully owned license, will cost me a measly $14.99 plus tax. I can additionally order a CD to be shipped to my house (which I always do) for an additional fee. Roughly speaking, for about $50 I'll have a CD that I can use to install on whatever machine (you only get 1 license though) and have it on-hand in case I ever need to reinstall it.

For those of you that don't have HUP available to you and can't afford O365 subscription prices there are options available to you for open source office suites. My favorites are Libre Office and Open Office. In part due to the software companies that support these community developed open source projects, and in part to the interfaces. They are easy to use, don't have a lot of unnecessary features, and even my mom (who hates computers) can get around in them. Very best part is that they are free!

The caveat with the open source programs is that Amazon doesn't support them. The good news is they do have a PDF converter built in, but you may have to fuss with formatting a bit when creating an eBook upload for Amazon or any other site.

If you do have HUP available to you, take full advantage of it. Even if you don't need an upgrade, buy it while you can. You never know when you may need to replace a piece of your hardware and do a re-install. The IT gremlins are numerous and plenty, backups of data are just one piece of your "weaponry", physical copies of your software is another.


Saturday, August 18, 2018

A Trail of Michigan Authors



Barnes & Noble in Muskegon, MI is having it's 3rd annual event bringing local authors and readers together for a meet & greet & signing. Pick up a new book, or bring a few to be signed. Some of the GRRWG members will be there along with local award-winning authors such as Steve LeBel and Scott Payne.

We'll get a list of our members that will be there posted shortly.


Saturday, October 28, 2018, 1 - 4 p.m.
Barnes & Noble
5272 Harvey Street, Muskegon, MI 495444



Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Queen has left the planet

All the buzz today is about the loss of our Queen of Soul, the amazingly talented Miss Aretha Franklin. I'm old enough to remember when she dominated the charts. When her song "R.E.S.P.E.C.T" was the anthem for young women everywhere, demanding our right to be treated as equals, when feminism was still "new".

I've always loved her voice. My grandfather loved her power, her stance as a strong women, and her fearlessness. He was not what I would consider a music fan, but when it came to her, he was all ears.

Miss Aretha taught me a lot, at a young age, even though she didn't know it. I suspect the adults (at the time) in my family didn't realize it either. Aretha's songs taught me that women can stand on their own two feet, taking care of business and family, and that we should never settle for less.

I will miss her, she was one feisty woman, and I loved watching her put younger singers "in their place". Truly the Queen Bee (sorry Beyonce, but Miss Aretha was, is, and will always be the True Queen of Soul) of Motown, and popular music in general.

Now to find a fitting way to give her a nod in one of my storylines. She made the world a better place.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Inspiration from the Baking Aisle

I was shopping at Meijer over the weekend and run across a new baking item that I simply had to have, so I could go home and experiment. There was no specific plan for it, no real thought process behind it, I simply grabbed it and put it in my cart.

Fast forward a few days, and I've used to my taste buds delight, and up popped my characters who'd gone into hiding/grieving/holiday/whatever for the past few months. April was hard, I lost my Uncle, my old dog, and one of my young dogs all in the span of a month. All of them unexpected, and my writing got shoved into the back corner of the closet.

Delighted as I am that they're chatting up their story lines, it's still a bit of a rough time. I've been resorting to dictating to my phone, using my Dragon software, and any other short cut I can find to get the words out as I run around the house puppy-proofing. Because, yes, we are getting another puppy so the lone puppy here will have a pack member to play with.

Once the decision was made to get a new puppy, Jess (one of my favorite characters) decided to lay claims on it, making it necessary for me to find a way to introduce a dog into her story line.

Pantser that I am, it's both easy and hard to add a dog into the mix. Which book should he/she be introduced into, how does he/she fit into her future story line, as well as her life.

It's all good in the end, the writing is flowing again and my characters are back to tease me with new ideas. I'll take inspiration any time I can get it.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Research vs. Writing - The Inner Battle

I have two book series that require a lot of research. Lately, I've been focusing more on research in lieu of writing and am struggling to get back on track with both. The research for the series is vastly different, the happier research involves the various world religions, the other deals with a particularly evil time in recent history. Both affect me differently, both in my desire to dig deeper and in my need to write.

The religious research is so interesting I tend to lose track of time. The topic is fascinating, I'm learning quit a bit and finding each religion has pieces I enjoy and others I despise. Yet I want to learn more and not stop to write.

World War II, in particular Hitler and his inner circle is equally fascinating. It is sad, morbid, and at times deeply disturbing as I can parallels with today's society and the German situation as Hitler grabbed more and more power. Mengele's experimentation is the most disturbing, yet I need to understand him a bit better as I need to understand his methodology in order to make a part of my story line work.

It is hard to force myself to write after doing research, as my drastically affects my writing. I didn't plan on becoming a writer or author, my original career choice was to be a Veterinarian. I'm a long way from that now, with a day job that eats up  60+ hours a week (don't get me started). My characters found me and insisted I begin writing their stories.

I'm trying an experiment over the next month. For every hour of research I do, I have to write at least 100 words on any of my books. They don't have to be good words, it doesn't have to be "gold", I simply need to get some words on the page. I'm hoping that will help jump start my writing output.

What do you do to get your writing mojo back?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Starting Over

I've been working on a WIP, rearranging the middle of a mystery, and forwarding pages to my "volunteer" editor. I've changed enough of the middle now that I'm having to rewrite the ending in order to throw the reader off and still keep them interested.

It feels like I'm writing an entirely new story, which is somewhat true. The main story line is the same, but there's some new scenes I hadn't seen coming that have thrown me for a bit of a loop and making it necessary to come up with some new red herrings. Established writers will occasionally put out the piece of advice that you will "normally" need to write five books before you're really ready to be published. I'm not sure I have that much patience.

As this book gets straightened out and polished up, I'm gearing up to get back into the routine of sending submissions, and receiving rejections. I'm ok with the rejections that I do get back - at least they're responding. I greatly appreciate the ones that come back with suggestions or any kind of feedback. It's not personal, what I'm sending them simply isn't a fit.

I look at submissions as if they are a job interview (and I've had hundreds of those). If I get an agent or publisher I want to be as good a fit for them as I want them to be for my book. Yes, it's a bit strange to have that frame of mind, however I've been in the business world long enough to separate the business from the personal.

So I find myself back at square one, with a different book series, still looking fondly at my first book series (yet to be published), at the start of a new year. Seems fitting.


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Bye, bye, bye 2017

While I'm not all that thrilled about getting older, I'm happy to say goodbye to 2017. It's been a rough year for a lot of people. Mother Earth hasn't been happy, throwing lots of strange weather our way from fires to hurricanes to tornadoes. If she was a toddler, I'd suggest she needs a nap.

Family and friends were affected by the fires in California, those in Puerto Rico are still trying to get some fractional semblance of "normal". Other friends have been flooded out, or had their houses knocked down by winds. It's be a roller coaster much of the year.

I'm looking forward to my characters starting up their chats again. They've been far too quiet as they've stepped back to let me deal with all of the chaos.

So bring on 2018! May it be filled with less chaos, more character chatter, higher word counts, and a little bit of peace.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Are you a NaNo'er?

NaNo is rapidly approaching. For those new to NaNo, NaNo is short for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a novel in a month, 50,000 words minimum to be more accurate,.  It starts November 1st and ends at 11:59pm November 30th.

I've done it several years now, I don't always make my goal as my day job tends to get in the way and I find myself on-call on again this year right in the middle of NaNo. But I'm prepping earlier than usual.

If you've been on the fence about possibly writing the novel idea tumbling about in your head, this may be the kick in the pants you need. I did write my first novel in a month, long before I'd heard about NaNo, so I know it can be done.

There are many previous winners who have been published, 449 since 2006, not including those who self-published. That is a shorter list, however, it is still inspiring.

The nice thing is that NaNo has loads of resources available to us writers, all of it is free. NaNo is also a non-profit and, due to donations from a variety of sources, has expanded it's programs to include virtual writing camps, special programs for young writers (grades K-12), and programs for libraries.

Each region has leaders that help with questions, organizing write-ins, and keeping your motivation going. Some regions are more active than others, but there's usually at least one write-in event, giving you a chance to meet other writers and get some additional inspiration.

This year I'll be working on the second book in my Coven Sisters series, wish me luck!

If you'd like to know more about NaNoWriMo, check out their site at: https://nanowrimo.org

Friday, September 1, 2017

Summer's End


Hope everyone has had a great summer! I always try to get a lot of writing done during the months when I'm not teaching and the two orchestras I play in aren't meeting. But somehow, the time is quickly filled with other commitments, and all the writing and sewing projects are still incomplete. Now that the fall schedule is starting, I've got to kick things up a notch or two.

I always get more done when I have a plan. The first step is to write out in broad strokes what I want to complete by the end of the month. And then I'll break it down into smaller steps. This afternoon I sat down and figured my four main goals for September. Tonight or tomorrow I'll figure out what needs to happen each week so that on September 30 I'll be able to say they're done!

What do you want to finish by the end of this month?
                                       
                                      ~ Patricia Kiyono

Monday, April 24, 2017

Interview with an Editor and Member Chris Allen-Riley

Member Elle Clouse interviews fellow member Chris Allen-Riley on editing!  Join Focus on Fantasy Romance as they discuss the editing process and cover some pitfalls facing new authors.

Mentioned in this podcast: Writing Slices; Reading the Books that Teach You to Write https://writingslices.wordpress.com/
Find out more about Chris’ writing as Bronwyn Green here: http://www.bronwyngreen.com/
And check out Round Table Author Services here: https://roundtableauthorservices.wordpress.com/
More Focus on Fantasy Romance episode with Elle here.