Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hiring An Editor

I’ve talked about my novel, THE INK OF TIME, a lot on this blog. I’ve been working on it for a long time. And as you may know, I’ve been kicked in the pants by my baby sister to get this project to its next stage. See “My Sister Says Tick-Tock,” posted this past April.

I’m happy to say, after much research, I have hired an editor! 

Image courtesy of Google
I typed “Editors for Hire” into Google and started by just clicking on everything that came up. And I looked a lot of web sites.  I came up with a list of about seven editors that felt right to me. I wanted someone unassuming and reasonably priced.  (You’d be surprised at how many editors’ web sites were just the opposite of these two things!)

Also, I really needed an editor who likes science fiction. THE INK OF TIME is not hard-core Sci-fi, it doesn’t take place in a strange new world, but it does have time travel, which is considered a subcategory of science fiction.

Image courtesy of Google
As I've said, I made a list of seven names, out of a million. That seemed like a good start, so I went back though those seven and starred my top three picks. A few days later, I looked up the first starred name on the list and thoroughly went over her web site. I really liked what I saw.

Like all the other editors, she offered a variety of serves in a range of intensity. Such as ‘light edit’ or ‘heavy edit,’ etc. All services were described and suggestions  given as to which service one might need most/first.

Image courtesy of Google
However, this editor went a step further. She provided samples of a light and heavy edit of the same document. An apples-to-apples comparison. That really got me interested.

So I emailed her. And she emailed back!

I’ve asked her to do a Manuscript Evaluation of THE INK OF TIME. She will read my novel two times and then write a detailed critic letter about the work. She told me it would take her (only) three business days to get back with me.

I’m on pins and needles! I’m not scared. I’m excited.  I think I’ve grown emotionally as a writer. I’m becoming more confident in my work. Oh, I know I’ll have to make revisions and changes and who-knows-what, but I say “Bring it on!”

Image courtesy of Google
I’m not there yet, friends. But I’m closer than I was yesterday.

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself.


P.S. If this partnership works out, I’ll share my editor with ya’ll!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Don't Talk to Strangers

It was early September. The temperature and humidity levels were perfect. I was driving down a busy four-lane thoroughfare with my driver’s side window down, listening to the radio. The street light ahead was red and a truck next to me slowed for it at the same rate as me.

The passenger rolled down his window as we both drew to a stop.
“Hi,” the passenger said. I stared straight ahead, pretending I didn’t hear him.

“Hi,” he said again. I continued to stare straight ahead, but contemplated rolling up my window. And-get this-I thought that would be rude. Even at the same time I was thinking this situation could turn dangerous, I thought to roll up my window would be rude.

All sorts of horrible scenarios flashed through my head, beginning with being flipped off to having a gun pointed at me.


A third time!

Human nature is crazy. I didn’t want to look his way. I didn’t. I wanted to ignore him. He was only five or six feet away from me. Just ignore him I said to myself.

And I looked over.

“Hi.” It was young kid. Probably in high school. I gave a feeble wave. He turned toward the passenger in the middle seat as he rolled up his window. That was it.

The light was now green and off they sped. I saw that it was two young men/boys and a girl with a brown ponytail who rode in the middle between them.

I watched them, as I drove thorough traffic, for as long as I could. I wanted to see if they “Hi’ed” anyone else, but there were no more red light opportunities.  They turned off into a local park.

I’m sure those kids were just goofing off. Maybe playing an ‘ I dare ya’ game. And that’s fine. I did that kind of thing back in the day, too.

The thing is, in this world things can spin out of control at any given moment.  I still can’t believe I looked over. I did exactly what he wanted me to do. Geesh!

Also, I hope that they specifically picked me for their little game because I looked so benign. But what if I wasn’t what I appeared to be? I, too, could have been something scary for them. I don’t want to be the kind of person that expects the worst out of my fellow human beings. And I don’t want to be naive and think that all people are good. I know they’re not.

So where’s the happy-medium?

I’m hoping that my intuition would let me know what to do. I hope that I looked at the guy because I somehow knew it was a simple situation of kids goofing around.

Another side of me says that I faced my possible danger instead of ignoring it.

How many times in our lives have we done something that Could Have Gone Badly? For me, probably too many to count. Being aware of those times, well, I don’t know if that’s helpful or not.

Both images courtesy of Google

One of my favorite saying is “Be the good you wish to see in the world.” That’s what I try to do each and every day. Facing possible scary situations shouldn’t change that daily goal.

There’s another saying, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Thanks for that one, Teddy R. 

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself,


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Personality Tests

Have you ever taken one of those “personality tests” on Facebook? I have. A lot of them. I don’t know why I take them; I just think they’re fun.
I’ve learned what color my aura is, I’ve done spelling tests, vocabulary tests, and grammar tests and I’ve taken the Image Test, you know, Is it a witch or a young girl? type of thing a few times. Oh, and I can’t forget about the various color tests for personality. Yeah, I know. I’ve done lots of them. Lame. 

Back in the day magazines used to have these types of tests. I remember taking them in teen magazines, and when I was older, ones in Cosmo.  (I don’t even know if magazines run tests/quizzes any more.)

I think these personality tests have finally Jumped the Shark because I ran across a new book titled 2 Kinds of People: A Visual Compatibility Quiz, by Joao Rocha.  It's an adult book, not a kids' book! (The perks of working at a library!)

And yes, I did the test. And Tim agreed to do it with me, because, you know, as the title states you need, um, two people. (I didn’t think he would do it with me, and that would have been  a first “test” I think, but he did!)

There were eighty-five dual images to look at. I was pretty sure Tim wouldn't want to look at all of them, so I didn't show Tim the ones I knew for sure, I just scored them. See the handy-dandy wheel to the right? You're supposed to turn the dial for each "same" answer. I just tallied instead.

Same. Roll on the right side.
This one we didn't know what it was trying to say.
The red movie has a 12 on it and the
purple movie has a 15 on it. Besides color, that's
the only difference in the pictures.
We gave ourselves a point anyway.

Me sunscreen on the left.
Tim Aloe Vera.

Out of eighty-five total points, we scored sixty-six matches. We're considered "Peas in a Pod", just seven points from being "Soul Mates."  Works for us. If we were too much alike, life would not be fun, challenging, and exciting.

By the way, we just celebrated our thirty-fourth wedding anniversary. We've decided that we'll keep going. Have fun today with the one you love.

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself!  




Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Star Date 233: 21 August, 2017

When I was a little kid, I had a long, narrow poster of our solar system taped to the wall above my bed. Space intrigued me then and it still does.
Image courtesy of Google.

Monday’s Solar Eclipse was so in my wheelhouse. 

So much so that at 11:15 a.m. that day Tim asked me to run an errand with him. I said I couldn’t because of the eclipse. He reminded me that it was a cloudy day. I still declined and said it might get sunny enough to see the eclipse and I didn’t want to be in a store if it happened. I'm glad I stayed home!

Here’s how it went down in my little corner of the world.

11:48 A.M. Clouds. Yoda and I are not happy.

12:02 P.M. Then I see it. My shadow. I look over my shoulder. The sun!! Yippee!

12:04 Still doused in clouds, but getting clearer! To get these pictures, I put my eclipse glasses over the lens of my iphone. You can see the outline of the frames at the top of the pictures.


The clouds thinned even more and I had awe inspiring view of the moon moving in front of the sun. The sun glowed so brightly to my left (east) while the other side faded out into complete blackness. It was hard to comprehend that the sun was behind that blackness (the moon), yet its rays could not be seen. 

Just awesome. I wish I had better words to describe the power and majesty of it all.

I made a pinhole viewer from a Pringles can. The clouds kept the image from being crisp and clear, but I was able to get this one picture of the crescent sun!


No words are needed here? Right? 

I stayed outside for the full event. Over and back. 

We didn't have full solar coverage here. About 91 percent, but that was enough for me. At the eclipse midpoint, the sun looked like the top edge of a golden fingernail. 

The moon covered all but the top left edge of the sun. When the moon moved, the top right edge of the sun appeared first. Then grew larger on my right hand side. 

Daylight turned from bright-white to yellowish-golden. The birds were quiet, but the Cicadas sang like crazy. 

A light breeze passed over us for about a half hour, and the temperature dropped four degrees.

This was the best picture I got though my improvised lens screen (aka eclipse glasses.)

It was a great day to revel in the glory of God's mighty creations! (After the eclipse, it got really cloudy here again.)

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Rock the Chalk

Downtown Iowa City

Erin and the granddaughters and I had a “girls’ day” in Iowa City the other day. Iowa City is the home of The University of Iowa and the Iowa Hawkeyes. It’s a college town, and college towns are famous for showcasing our freedoms of personal expression.

One of the things we did was attend an event called Rock The Chalk. Several streets in downtown Iowa City were blocked off for individuals or teams of 2 or 3 to create chalk art right there on the street. 

The granddaughters love chalking and we thought they might like seeing some chalk art. We were hoping they would maybe get a chance to chalk for themselves.

This guy drew his company logo. There were several business and non-profit chalk art advertisements.

This young man created a chalk portrait of his nephew. At first it almost looked like a photograph.

And this one was a self portrait. (I have no idea if it really looks like that guy or not! I just liked the colors in it.)

The fish (bass???) and hawk were so cool. Every serious artist had a small grid-drawing of the piece they were creating in chalk.

Blue Hummingbird Chalk Art
Above is a Zentangle. The creators were part of a Iowa City park and rec Zentangle Art Club. They were impressed that I knew their creation was a Zentangle. They invited me to join them on Friday mornings!

The People's Choice was this puppy-dog curled up for a nap. His hair looked so realistic!

Of course, these two are my favorite artists. The community art square was a hit with all the kids.  Many of the creations by the little kids mimicked what they'd seen. It was cool knowing they were inspired by the art they saw. 

We had a great time! Rock the chalk indeed. Thanks Iowa City!

Go ahead. Step out in your community. You never know what you might find!

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself,


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Silent Corner, by Dean Koontz- A Review Sort Of...

Image courtesy of
Google from Amazon
The first Dean Koontz book I read was By the Light of the Moon, published in 2002. I’m not a big fan of horror, guts, or gore so the fact that this book captured my attention is strange enough in and of itself. 

And the book is even stranger.  Here’s the gist:

It begins with a “mad scientist/doctor” injecting a serum into unsuspecting strangers. He tells them, while they’re tied up, ‘Either you’ll die (from the injection) or you and your world will become astounding.’ 

Well the characters, of course, do not die. (Else no book, right?) They gain some super-human skills from the serum injection that the bad guys are willing to kill them over. (They already off'd the doc.) 

My favorite character in this book is the autistic adult (yet younger) brother of the main character. Unbeknownst to big brother, little brother has also been injected and gains the ability to time travel, which he calls Folding. Their brother-to-brother conversations are charming and take the edge off my “nervous scardy” for a little while.

The Silent Corner, by
Dean Koontz
Fast forward fifteen years. Today I just finished our book club pick, The Silent Corner, recently released by Dean Koontz. FBI agent, Jane Hawk, (Koontz’s newest hero) is searching for some answers. The untimely death of her husband and many other unlikely victims have caused Jane to “go rogue” from the Agency.

This story is scary, not because of zombies, evil spirits, aliens, or supernatural events- there is none of that in this book- but instead because of its possibility of being very, very real.

Point number one: The “dark web” is in this story. – Just this week on the national news a report from Italy about a young female model being abducted and nearly sold into human trafficking ON the dark web. It’s a real thing with real bad dudes. *

 A nanobot on a blood cell. Image courtesy of Google.
Point number two: Nanotechnology plays a prominent part in this book. -Also real. Science, technology, and medicine all wrapped into one. Its implications are nothing short of miraculous. Little machines in our bodies that fight cancer or brain tumors or whatever. Machines the size of molecules. **  

Except in The Silent Corner nanotechnology takes a horrible turn. Bad guys are using the technology to alter the human brain. Make people do what they wouldn’t do.  All sorts of shit hits the fan.

Image courtesy of Google.
As a writer myself, I loved several things Mr. Koontz did in this story. First, every story worth its salt has a protagonist that has a need. Check.
Also, every major character has a back story that motivates what they do. Check. 
Good stories don’t have random characters that  do nothing to move the story forward. Check. (Homeless guy on page 34 becomes a player later in the story.) 
And, finally; Beautiful language does not a story make. Tell the story and the language will emerge. Like this: 

“ Together…they ascended on foot through a meadow carpeted with a variety of grasses and decorated with formations of chaparral lily in early bloom. Rabbits dining on sweet grass hopped away from them or sat up on their hindquarters to watch them pass. Cicadas sang, and orange butterflies with narrow dark margins on their wings took flight.”

Poetic, huh? I can see it, feel it. I know where the characters are. Oh, and I know all hell is about to break loose soon. (Shout out to Lisa Cron, author of Story Genius. Click here to read my post about this book.) 

Inside the book jacket of
The Silent Corner.
The next Jane Hawk story, The Whispering Room, will be released November 21, 2017.

Jane won some hefty battles in The Silent Corner, but she didn’t win the war. I hope to find out if Jane conquers this particular evil group, if she has it out with her estranged father, whom she’s “called out” after many years of no contact, if Dougal will to be her side-kick or backer, and how her son Travis is fairing.

I'd love some reading suggestions. What have you been reading lately?

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself.




Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Learning Stuff Like a Kid

Recently I’ve been interested learning more about the habits of hummingbirds, glaciers that moved across Iowa, and the solar eclipse that will happen on August 21st.
Glacier on Land. Courtesy of Google Images
Eclipse Image courtesy of
Museum of Aviation

Outside my window just now!

Several weeks ago I read an article in our local newspaper about creating “hummingbird feeding zones,” instead of just having a hummingbird feeding spot. It went on to say that a zone – several feeders in a small area- attract hummingbirds better than just having one feeder in your yard. I hung 4 feeders in the trees around our yard this summer and see hummers every day rather than occasionally, as I had in previous summers.

Terrace Farming. Image courtesy of USDA
and Iowa Agriculture Literacy
Then, last week we traveled to western Iowa where they have to terrace farm because the land is so hilly. Terrace farming seems so foreign for Iowa to me. 

But it got me thinking. Northwest Iowa boasts the only glacier lake in the state, the eastern side of Iowa features bluffs and cliffs all along the Mississippi River; while central Iowa has the very best soil for growing crops. I’ve heard of The Drift Plain, but what is that really? Glaciers. I want (need) to know more about how they shaped the topography of my fair state.

Courtesy of Google Images
Knowledge begets knowledge, I think.

While all of these can be researched on the internet, I find juvenile fiction books to be a perfect source of basic information. That’s how I taught myself to knit. Children’s books are direct and to the point.

A patron I have at the library is a guide/chaperone for a tour company. I can always tell where she’s going to be traveling by the juvenile non-fiction books she checks out.  Piles of books on D.C., Arizona, and Florida. Quick facts. Easy to read. It’s all there in juvenile fiction. (Don’t worry if you’re not a juvenile, it’s o.k. for you to read them!)

Oh, and about the eclipse? Well, that one is a totally on-line research topic. And it’s fascinating. Free up your calendar now for August twenty-first!

Go to the library! Check out some kids books on topics you’re interested in. Learn new stuff. It’s fun!

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself!