Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mommy Brain or Senior Moment by Diane Burton

I am so glad that scientists, and the general public, are finally recognizing there’s a reason mothers forget things. And not just new mothers. It’s called “mommy brain.” With all that mothers have going on in their lives it’s no wonder they forget. They have to balance children’s activities, work (paid or volunteer) outside the home, and marriage. Plus housekeeping. Moms are bound to forget things. When my children were younger, I had a huge office-type calendar on which we wrote our activities using a multi-colored pen. Four people, four colors. I let everyone know if it wasn’t on the calendar they were in deep doo-doo. I couldn’t be expected to pick someone up from baseball practice if I didn’t know about it. Telling me didn’t count.

Fast forward several years. With only two of us, you’d think I could remember things. Nope. It has to go on the calendar—regular size now. I even have a calendar on my computer for blog guests and my own blogging assignments. So why did I forget that today was my turn to blog here? Because I didn’t look at the calendar.

Whenever I schedule my posts (usually the night before), I’m amazed that some of the other authors have their posts scheduled so far in advance. I admire people who are well prepared. That is not me. I’m the last-minute type. I fritter away my time, or get so involved in my current WIP, then rush around to meet my deadlines.

When those of us of a certain age (don’t you love that expression that encompasses so many years?) forget things, we use the term “senior moment.” I think senior moment is mommy brain grown up. Frankly, I like the term mommy brain better. Either way, that’s why this post is late.

At least, I didn’t forget altogether. Right?

When Diane Burton isn’t blogging here on the 8th and 30th of each month or on her own site http://dianeburton.blogspot.com/ on Mondays, she’s writing romantic adventure stories that take place on Earth and beyond.This week, she left her brain in outer space.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Critique Partners and Win a Book by C. Marie Bowen

Welcome Ms. Bowen to The Roses of Prose. Keep reading to find out how you can win one of her books!

Critique partners. Love ‛em? Hate ‛em? Need ‛em? I’ve had more than a few. Some good, some bad. A few wandered off and got lost somewhere. Are you still out there? I’ve been told I need them, and I’ve been warned against using them. Here are a few things I’ve learned about the elusive and highly valued critique partner.

1. Never a friend or family member. Your sister might be a great Beta reader, but CP? No.

2. Where to find them? Mine have all come from on-line classes. Similar genres and similar goals are helpful. You want to publish your work, so find someone who also wants to publish.

3. Never take your CP’s word for a fact change to your manuscript. You’ve got Google. Check it out. If they’re right, you learned something. If they’re wrong, you dodged a bullet.

4. If you’re the one questioning a fact, send a link to support your suggestion.

5. Correct their spelling, punctuation and repetitive errors without assuming they don’t know how to spell. They’ve read their work a dozen times. Their brain sees it as it should be, not how it is. Help a CP out and just add the apostrophe and skip the lecture on contractions.

6. Always welcome suggestions, but don’t feel obliged to take them. Sometimes, a crazy idea from your CP will spark something completely different inside your head.

7. Never be upset if they don’t take your suggestion. They know where they’re going with their story.

8. If they wander off, let them go. Set them free and wish them well. Re-tweet their successes and don’t ask why, just let it go.

9. When you find one you work well with, it is magic. I love my critique partners, and I know my work is much better, fuller, and cleaner because of their efforts.

10. Appreciate their hard work. A well done critique shows, with lots of corrections, suggestions and questions. In return, read their work—twice—and be an advocate for their success.

I know I wouldn’t have the success I’ve enjoyed without my critique partners. A shout out to C.A. Jamison and Jodi Hale for their unflagging support and tough love.

I welcome additions to my CP list in the comments below. One commenter will receive a free ebook of either my novel Passage, or one of the anthologies I have a story in. Winner’s choice!

Passage - blurb:
After a car accident, Courtney Veau has a “near death” experience, and returns to her past-life in the post-Civil War west. When she wakes in a present-day hospital, Courtney realizes she’s returned to her own hollow existence. Heartbroken, she knows she left behind not only a family she loves, but life with the man who shares her soul, a man she’ll love forever, Merril Shilo.

A carriage accident nearly takes beautiful Nichole Harris’s life, stealing her memories completely. Plagued by amnesia, she is confused by flashes of memory that are out of time with the world around her, and seem to belong to someone else. Only Nichole's own strong emotions remain to guide her—and as others try to take control of her life, she fights a desperate battle to survive. Merril Shilo is someone she should know, and though her memories fail her, she is stunned by her passion for him—and the remembered agony of a broken heart.

Merril Shilo is the love of Courtney’s life—no matter when that life might be. The memories and emotions of her life as ranch heiress Nichole Harris consume Courtney’s mind—and her heart. Courtney soon finds her desire for Merril threatens her sanity, as he beckons from a past she can no longer reach. She would give her life to return to her soul-mate, if she could only find the passage back to him.

Passage - excerpt:
The long shadows faded into twilight. She'd found what she came for—proof this house existed. There was no longer a reason to stay; and yet, just the possibility she might hear his voice again kept her waiting one more day.
Outside the window, night took final possession of the day. A few porch lights came on down the block. Headlights swung around the corner as a car turned onto the street and illuminated the pavement. The headlights winked off and a car door slammed.
Behind her, the room took on a familiar chill. She turned from the window and pressed her back against the heavy drapes as the echo of boots pounded up the back stairs. She gasped when he raced into the room, vaguely luminescent in the darkness. He was dressed in denim trousers and cotton shirt, with a silk scarf tied loosely around his neck. Where's his hat? Had he lost it in the dash up the stairs? That wide-brimmed cowboy hat was such a part of him he seemed naked without it. His hair had come loose from its binding, and he shoved it out of his face with a familiar motion. She stood close enough to read the emotion play across his face, a mixture of fear and bewilderment. His breath was labored, and his anxiety tangible as he stopped and looked right at her. Her mouth fell open in surprise and her heart tightened in her chest. Does he see me?
He took a hesitant step toward her. “Nichole?” His voice filled with horror, he whispered her name from another life.
Yes! Merril, it's me.” Courtney stepped toward the specter.
His head turned. His attention called away from her open arms. “Oh, sweet Jesus.” Merril fell to his knees and reached for something no longer there. “Nicki, please don't go. Stay with me.”
Merril, I'm here.” Her heart ached for him and for herself, but her plea went unheard.
Sobs shook his wide shoulders.
Her heart clenched to witness his despair. She longed to comfort him, to assure him she was there, but could not. In defeat, she sank to her knees beside the grieving apparition.
Nicki, don't leave me. Look at me—” His hushed voice, choked and broken.
I'm right here, my love,” she whispered, but the room grew warm and Merril Shilo faded back into the past. Courtney hung her head in the darkness and fought back tears. One question was answered, at least for now.

Connect with C. Marie at any of the links below.

Amazon Author's Page                       Facebook                     www.cmariebowen.com

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Look in the Mirror by Betsy Ashton

I was all over the place on this post. So many things are milling around in the blogosphere, on the airwaves and with the voices in my head that I had to write about identity. Your own identity is an intensely personal thing, because it is how you see yourself.

I can look at myself in the mirror each morning and see the size 6 woman I used to be. I used to have dark hair, no wrinkles and a serious tan every summer. I could see myself as Wonder Woman, that incredible image of a woman super-hero who fought crime and won. I could see myself as young and idealistic, who thought the Baby Boomer generation could change the world through our sheer numbers. And I would be lying to myself.

I used to be a six 6 back, oh say, thirty years ago. I had the flattest stomach in the world. I was lean and mean. And I was tanned. All over. No tan lines. But that is for a different post. Maybe.

I can fool myself into believing I'm that twenty-something, but the reality is different. Not worse, just different.

The voices in my head shape my books. I have to live in a character's head for a long time before I really get the identity of said character. How does she see herself when she looks into the mirror? Does she self-identify as good? As bad? As something the reader knows she clearly isn't?

I can no longer fool myself about not being twenty-something any longer. Neither can my characters fool me into thinking they are something they aren't. My idea of facing them in the mirror is to see their flaws, their strengths, their weaknesses. It's my task to select the traits, warts and stretch marks that make them into readable characters.

In my latest WIP, I guarantee my main character isn't all that likeable. She's definitely interesting. I let her get away with fooling herself at the beginning, but reckoning day is rapidly approaching. When we reach it, you'll feel seismic upheavals. Stand in a doorway and brace yourself. I don't think this character is going to like being "outed" for the person she is.

Have you every written about a character who was self-delusional? How did you solve the problem?


Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, which is now available in e-book at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Inch by inch, life's a cinch.

Yard by yard, life is hard.

I had one of those Panic Mode days today. This happens to me when I get behind at work. Keep in mind, 'behind' is a relative term. There's often just the appearance of being behind: I have a few emails stacked up (OK, a hundred or two, because I was out of town again).  I have to evaluate what to work on, I need to prioritize and sort out what is important and what isn't.

Inevitably, when this happens, I end up feeling way stressed -- waaaayyyy stressed. I always have to take a deep breath, look at the Stack of Stuff, and just start digging through it. Usually an hour later I look up, realize I've accomplished a lot, and I start to relax. But there's always that initial "Oh, no!" Panic Mode.

I managed to avoid Panic Mode most of this spring. I deliberately turned my back on things that bugged me. I didn't rise to the bait when people posted annoying things. I kept my opinions to myself. I didn't do things that annoyed me (a lot of promotion, or exercising on days when I just damn well didn't want to). I gave myself a break. I relaxed.

What surprised me was how easy it was to slip back into Stress Mode. BUT -- and here's the biggie -- I can easily envision how easy it will be to slip back into Relax Mode. I've found that I accomplish almost as much when relaxed as when stressed. I used to think that being wound tight as a clock was the way to accomplish things.

Au contraire.

So I'm going to practice what I preach and relax today. I'm not going to panic. I've accomplished a few things already. Now I'm going to pick away at a couple of other things. And then I'm going to do what I want to do.

Can you do that? Can you shuffle the Stack so there's less stress? Maybe not today, maybe not every day, but ...

Try it. You might like it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Not Your Mom's Middle Age by Brenda Whiteside

Two days ago was my 47th wedding anniversary. Yes, I know...amazing, but not the point. I actually know quite a few couples who have been able to stick together that long.

Middle age is what I'm thinking about. My husband and I spent the night in Jerome, Arizona. Jerome is an old mining town that hangs on the side of Mingus Mountain. It's long been a haven for artists of all art forms, mystical adventurers and bikers. We heard there was a band playing in the Spirit Room, and we spent the afternoon listening to good ol' waist-down rock and roll, danced a little, and people watched.

Early on I realized all but a few of the patrons drinking and dancing and acting crazy were around our age. I
mused that the hippie-art crowd of the 70's had grown mature. No, maybe mature is the wrong word. They'd grown older. The general atmosphere and goings-on were anything but mature. We laughed a lot. This wasn't my mom's middle-aged group. I was embarrassed for some of them, but mostly I fit in so I cheered them on. What's really great about growing up is not caring what anyone else thinks when you're being yourself. Yea!

Jerome is a designated historic site. If you're Arizona bound, I'd highly recommend you visit this unique tourist town. But be prepared for one heck of a drive up the mountain on a road with so many switchbacks you might get dizzy.

P.S. I'll be at the hospital all day when this posts. My sister's husband is having a heart procedure and I'll be there for support. I'll check in as soon as I can.

Brenda spends most of her time writing stories of discovery and love entangled with suspense. The rest of her time is spent tending vegetables on the small family farm she shares with her husband, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Together, they’ve embraced an age-old lifestyle that has been mostly lost in the United States - multiple generations living under one roof, who share the workload, follow their individual dreams and reap the benefits of combined talents.

Although she didn’t start out to write romantic suspense, she’s found all good stories involve complicated human relationships. She’s also found no matter a person’s age, a new discovery is right around every corner. Whether humorous or serious, straight contemporary or suspense, all her books revolve around those two facts.

Visit Brenda at www.brendawhiteside.com.
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com
She blogs about writing and prairie life at http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/