Recently I was invited to come speak about my books and life as an author to the 20th Century Club in Gilmer. This was a new experience for me. Even after all these years, I still fight to overcome my reluctance to talk to strangers about myself.
The group of ladies were so warm and welcoming that I soon felt at ease. They had asked me to talk specifically about Troubled Times, a novel that had been written and published quite a few years back. In fact, this is the book that took me to visit my alma mater Norwich Free Academy to address the joint high school classes there. But that's another story. Perhaps at a later date I'll write about the book tour I arranged.
With no prepared notes other than the selection of a couple passages I'd decided to share from the book, I rambled on about the story I chose to tell and my motivation for telling it. A bit intimidating for this transplanted Yankee to be explaining to a roomful of Southern Belles.
But that familiar Southern graciousness filled the room and when the questions came, it pleased me to hear such thoughtful responses.
All in all, it was an enjoyable experience, especially the delicious spread urged upon me after the meeting. Most especially rewarding was the eagerness to own copies of my books which I just happened to bring with me.
And to think, this all came about because a fellow author had invited me months previously to set up a display of my books at her store when the town was holding a special event.
It all comes down to taking advantage of the opportunities offered and never let your personal sense of inadequacies hold you back.
Friday, February 20, 2015
Finally breathing normal after the fabulous mini-vacation I had last weekend. Above is a photo of Rosevine Inn, a bed & breakfast located in nearby Tyler, Texas but the picture only hints at what this place offers. My sister and I spent two nights there and enjoyed the most relaxing, comfortable, hospitable place I've ever had occasion to stay at.
She drove from San Antonio just to share this marvelous experience with me. The whole package, rental car, gift card for expenses, and two nights at a bed & breakfast for the both of us was a generous, loving Christmas present to my sister from her family. Whoopee!
Owners Becca & Bert built the place in 1986 and over time have perfected the art of hospitality. Decorated to have the feel of a 1930's home, Rosevine Inn offers its guests all the modern amenities with a lot of fun surprises. Who would believe a fully-functional player piano, which I spied soon after entering. The host, Bert, immediately pulled out rolls of perforated paper and soon had the instrument tinkling out old familiar tunes.
The weather didn't co-operate to allow our indulging in the hot tub but some of the other guests did enjoy a lively game of Bocce. More fun times were to be had in the two-story red barn on the property whose game room included a pool table, board games, and an area to relax around a fabulous stone fireplace.
Most special were the sumptuous and delicious breakfasts, served at our convenience. We spent our free time shopping, indulging at Starbucks and of course, sampling a few of Tyler's fine restaurants. All in all, a great time of relaxing and unwinding was had by both of us.
It was hard to leave on Monday morning, but duty called and reluctantly we returned to our waiting families.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Cucumbers are one of my favorite summer vegetables.
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, Cool here means imperturbable rather than having a low temperature. Being calm and composed, self-possessed in a stressful situation.
The phrase ‘cool as a cucumber’ (c.1732) embodies ancient folk knowledge that was confirmed by science in 1970. The inside of a field cucumber on a warm day is 20 degrees cooler than the air temperature.
The phrase was first recorded in John Gay's Poems, New Song on New Similies, 1732: "I ... cool as a cucumber could see the rest of womankind." http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/38500...
The term “cool as a cucumber” is actually derived from the cucumber’s ability to cool the temperature of the blood. Also when applied topically, cucumber really does cool the blood and eases facial swelling, which is why cucumbers are so popular in facial regimens. This information came from http://www.thetowndish.com/2013/07/15/10-facts-you-didnt-know-about-cucumbers/
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Never said I would admit this,but I like blogging. I've been told a blog is simply the best, fastest, and easiest way to create your online persona. Well, only time will tell if that's true or not.
I've learned your blog posts should all serve larger goals. Aimless blogging is almost as bad as not blogging at all. So I'm going to try and focus on particular topics, such as writing, odd sayings of our English language or other things that influence my writing. Maybe even something a bit more personal once in a while.
It's been said more people will enjoy reading it if the writing is more approachable. Try to include glimpses of your personality in your writing to make them feel more comfortable with you.
Advice is to be organized really well. I chose a working title that opens the door to a variety of subjects and hints at the sometimes incongruity of situations.
Other recommendations are: don't copy-and-paste and not give credit where credit is due. I must remember to link back to the actual page from when I capture the information I share. To cite someone's content on Twitter, I can just include a "via @username". If I publish a post from a guest blogger, I should always mention the guest blogger's name, give them a short bio, and include a link to their website.
I must keep reminding myself that there will always be more things I can do to make my posts better.
Sunday, February 8, 2015
Words and paper go together like ham and eggs, peanut butter and jelly, Mom and apple pie. The cave painters of the Neolithic Age use earth walls, the Egyptians invented papyrus. For eons, man has been putting marks on a solid surface or paper in an effort to communicate.
In my opinion, nothing can replace the scratching sound of a pen on paper, the march of black marks across a blank line, the heft of a bound book, or the rustle of a turning page.
Then came the digital revolution and the's tilt shifted a little more, gained a bit more of a lean.
Now we find ourselves awash in a flood-tide of instant communicating, black markings on a white screen that can morph in a blink of an eye into four-color images. Combinations of symbols and letters now replace a well-constructed sentence as we feverishly expend energy and consume time, trying to verify our existence and remain a constant in others' consciousness.
As an author, I still choose written words to communicate, to share with others what is important to me, to allow others a glimpse into life as I experience it. I fear I will never relinquish that simple act of taking pen in hand and using ink on paper to express my thoughts.
Although I realize I must move with the times, use the tools of the present as I do at this moment on my computer's keyboard...but, dang! It's hard for an old dog to learn new tricks.
Sunday, February 1, 2015
Authenticity – nothing but the true you
Blog – an insightful website
Content – valuable content
Define your audience – focus on their needs
Email List – develop one and use it
Focus – define your brand and focus on niche audience
Graphic – create classy, tasteful design s
Help Others – find ways to be helpful to others
Help Others – find ways to be helpful to others
Influencers - seek out leaders and be of value to them
Join – find and join groups; get involved
Keywords – to help Googlers, build a list of keywords and use often
LiinkedIn – a have-to for professionals
Media – identify most useful to you and use them
Network – make connections locally, regionally and globally; spread your business card
Opine – make your stand known; don’t be bland
Questions – ask for help, ideas; be a good listener
Recognize – acknowledge everyone who assist your success
Slogan – create a catchy phrase that expresses what you have to offer
Teach – build your brand by becoming a trusted teacher
Understand triggers – learn the importance of reaching emotions
Voice – develop a unique voice
Win Friends – the key to word-of-mouth publicity
eXamine – analyze your results and build on successful attempts
I don't recommend anyone attempt to accomplish all these tips immediately - nibble away at the list and take on only what you're comfortable doing at first. Creating a brand to be recognized by is a long-term project.
Friday, January 30, 2015
This is the only time of year I don't appreciate the many trees on our acreage. Besides the thick layer of fallen leaves that needs disposing, what I most detested are the sweet gum seed balls. This year's harvest has just started dropping. A glance at the bare branches overhead tells me there are lots more to fall. Their indiscriminate scattering are a real pain underfoot because the solid object doesn't give when you step on it. When it's working time and I walk to my little cabin this time of year, my progress resembles the stumbling of a drunken sailor.
I took time to wander about the garden beds that look dismal about now and was delighted to discover the early paperwhites have just started opening their fragrant buds. Thinking to cheer my sister in Conn., I snapped a picture and emailed it to her.
In another part of the yard, the early daffodils have pushed up several inches already and the flower buds are already fat with promise. However,what usually happens is that about the time they're just about fully open, one of our famous fronts from the frigid hinterlands comes blasting through and puts everything in a frozen state.
So...I guess weather changes are just something you have to learn to live with. As far as I know, no one's been able to tame Mother Nature yet.