Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Braining Up My Novel: THE INK OF TIME Needs a little more ink!

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I recently found a podcast about authors marketing their own books, called The Creative Penn. The podcasts are about the writing process, creativity, author mindset, and a variety of other good stuff, along with the marketing side of writing. The creator, Joanna Penn, a huge proponent of self-publishing, has recorded over 300 episodes in the past few years.  I’m working my way through all them on my daily walks. Each and every episode has given me at least a nugget of information that is useful and applies to my writing life; however, one episode in particular, sent me directly to my Amazon account to order a book!

Courtesy of Google Images
Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (*Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere), by Lisa Cron is that book.  Besides having a whopping twenty-seven word title, it focuses on the science of brain and story-telling. Really cool and interesting stuff!

As a former (yet always) teacher, brain science and how the brain works and learns is an integral part of teaching. If educators can’t or don’t teach to the patterns of how the brain works, what is the point? I’ve spent a lot of time over the years learning (the little we humans really understand) about how the brain works and processes information.
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When you're hungry...
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It all starts with our NEEDS. Our need for shelter, security, and food, you know- survival. If any one of these things is not being met, optimal learning cannot happen. (Just the other day at my part-time job my boss wanted me to pick out some tee-shirts. I told her I couldn’t concentrate on that because I was hungry. Tee-shirts. I couldn’t pick out tee-shirts because I was hungry. It brought me back to the classroom in my mind and all of the times students came to school and told me they were hungry.)

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Telling stories is as old a time. And do you know why? Because stories give information of experiences and times past. Lisa Cron says, “…we come to every story we hear – not just novels, which, evolutionary speaking, arrived on the scene about five seconds ago -  hardwired to ask one question in what’s known as our cognitive unconscious: What am I going to learn here that will help me not only survive, but prosper?” (p.14)

I’m studying this book like it’s a college course. I’m highlighting and taking notes in a spiral notebook. I’ve created a table document for the ‘What To Do’ assignments where am creating new scenes for my two novels, THE INK OF TIME and my yet unnamed elevator/earthquake story.

 I’m excited to add more to Otto’s story (THE INK OF TIME), and I know I’m going to need some beta readers (again) for that story. I want to get it right before I publish- and yes, I think I might just self- publish.  (Scary!) If you think you might like to give being a beta reader a try, send me a message. Beta reading IS HOMEWORK!  I’d love a few more perspectives on this story.

Since this post is all about brain science, ask yourself this: Which way do I learn/remember best:
A)   I write everything down.
B)   I underline or highlight information.
C)   I use different color pens to stay organized.
D)   I listen to learn.
E)   I learn best when someone shows me how to do something.(Youtube?)
F)   I need a quiet place to think/learn.
G)   I need to move around a lot to process information.
H)   Music helps me learn.
I) I like to draw or read diagrams to learn/ figure things out

(Seriously, this list could go on and on. You get the idea… Now how are you going to USE this information about yourself???)

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself!


P.S. And think about being a beta reader for me :)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

My Social Media “Presence”

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They say a writer needs to have “a social media presence” to be a successful author. The sooner the better, they say. By ‘they’ I mean all the web sites I’ve visited, all the articles I’ve read, all the podcasts I’ve listened to, all the books I’ve researched, etcetera, etcetera- that’s the  ‘they’ I’m talking about. They who seem to know. They who have experience. They who have connections. Them guys.

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That’s one of the reasons I have this here blog. One, to get more practice writing frequently and on a deadline, and, two, because they said I should.

But one site(this blog), does not “ a social media presence” make. My Facebook page can’t really count as a second site because it has nothing to do with reading books or writing books. It’s like most other people’s Facebook pages—you know- filled with pictures of little kiddos dressed up for Easter and dogs doing weird things.

That leaves me with a couple other choices like Instagram and Twitter. (And probably a few  dozen other social media sites that I’m not yet savvy to.)

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Instagram’s focus is on visual media. Take a picture, give it a caption, and post it. Twitter allows pictures, videos and very short posts of just 140 characters or less.  (This is the length and breadth of my social media knowledge.)

My brother-on-law suggested I set up a Twitter account. He said I wouldn’t be sorry. He said I gotta have Twitter if I want a social media presence. So I did. I didn’t have any idea what I was doing. I had to ask a few people for advice and guidance, but that’s o.k.  I’m all about finding out information from those in the know.

And you know what? My brother –in – law was right. I’ve posted my blog to Twitter, but more than that, I’ve tagged some famous people in my tweets. That’s the very best thing about Twitter- you can send a message to ANYONE. 

I’ve receive messages back from (*fan-girl alert, fan-girl alert!*) several published authors!!!!!! EEK!

Courtesy of Google
Blake Crouch, author of, among others, Dark Matter; Heather Gudenkauf, fellow Iowa girl and author of, among others, The Weight of Silence; Ann Hood, author of, among others, The  Book That Matters Most; Sharon Creech, author of, among others Love That Dog; Sonya Sones, author of, among others, Saving Red; and, Kate Messner, author of, among others, Marty McGuire have all tweeted me, liked, or retweeted my messages. So Cool!
And, yes, I’ve saved every message I’ve received from these authors. Just like I’ve saved my rejection letters.  They’re all proof that I’m being a mover and a shaker in my chosen field.

Also because of my Twitter activity, bookish places have started to follow me on Twitter! How cool is that!?!
Courtesy of Google Images

Oh, and I just recently opened my private Pinterest board about THE INK OF TIME, so I guess that makes three. Hey, I’m on my way!

Now I just need to sell a book.
Working on that one, too. J

Let me ask you to do this: Seek out the advice of someone you trust on something that’s important to you. Their perspective will give you new perspective.

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself,


P.S. You can tweet me @ NadineNmr

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

My Sister Says, “Tick-Tock”

I sent my sister a children’s book for Valentine’s Day.  She doesn’t have any little ones at home. No grand kiddos nearby either. I sent the children’s book to her because the main character in the story shares her name. And a-not-so-common name at that. Nanette- spelled exactly the same, too!

A page from Nanette's Baguette, by Mo Willems.

Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems, is the name of the book I sent to her. It is an absolutely hilarious story about a girl, Nanette, who is sent to the bakery for a baguette and eats it before she gets back home.

My sister, I love her so, chewed me out. She was pissed because- and I quote: “I thought you were sending me a book YOU wrote!”

Silly girl. First, Mo Willems is a super talent. In no way would my work ever be compared with his. Second, my sweet sister thinks I’m that good. She has no idea of, number three, how hard it is to get a book published.

I shared the above information with her and she said. “So, what are you going to do? Wait forever?”  Geesh. Tough crowd.

After stammering around a bit, I told her I really wanted to try to be published in the traditional way. I felt it held more prestige- that it would be proof that I’m a decent writer. I didn’t want to be lumped with a group of self-publishing wordmongers who create elaborate worlds with weird names where odd creatures, with weird names, go on all sorts of conquests and have lots of trials and tribulations but a real, true story is not really told.

“Well,” she said. “Have you set yourself a date for how long you’ll pursue traditional publishing?”


“I think you should. Just set a date.”

She knows how long I’ve been working on THE INK OF TIME. Between writing, editing, beta readers reading, educating myself on what needs to happen after the writing is done, and sending query letters I’m on at least year five since I typed this first paragraph:

He didn’t have one tattoo on his body. His skin was marred with scars, and he felt no need to hide them. Otto Daniel didn’t care who noticed. When he walked into the tattoo shop, the one with the “help wanted” sign in the front window, he told himself he could use the irons again, if just for a while- until he figured things out.”
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Too too scary.  But I said to her. You’re right. I need to set a date and move on if it doesn’t happen. You’re right. You’re right, I said, trying to convince myself.

Man, I hate it when my little sister kicks me in the butt.

I think about what Stephen King said:  “…the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”

But then there are some really great self-publishing success stories out there. Like Andy Weir’s The Martian. He posted this story, week by week on his blog/website . It became so popular he self-published it as an e-book on Amazon. That became so popular that big publishing company came a-calling, followed by a big movie production company.

Hugh Howey, author of the Silo Series, Wool, Shift, and Dust, has a similar story. He didn’t want to get caught up in the long waiting game that is traditional publishing. He felt he could do it himself and get his books out much faster. That’s all he really wanted to do- write books and give them to people to read and enjoy.

So, sister dear, I am researching. And researching. And more researching. Thinking and planning. I haven’t given up on the traditional query-an-agent route, but I’m widening my horizons by looking into the self-publishing market.

I know, sis. Tick-tock. And thanks for the kick.

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Medicine and Other Such VooDoo

A while back Tim and I took a vacation to Jamaica with a group of friends. We stayed at a resort that offered a variety of activities each day. One such activity was a tour of the resort gardens. We decided we could give up an hour or so at the beach to get some education about the natural flora of the area. Two of my girlfriends love to take pictures and thought it would be a great opportunity to photograph some plant-life.

I took notes on my phone- just in case I wanted to blog about our experience.  (I’m a thinker! HA!)  Our tour guide, the head groundskeeper, was very knowledge about all of her plants. Just watching her, you could tell the gardens were her pride and joy. The plants, her babies.  

However, her Jamaican accent made it hard for me to understand what she was talking about most of the time. The names of the plants were all unusual and unknown to me. I used my phone to take notes and entered what she said phonetically.  

Well. Some of the things I wrote are not even plants.  Luckily, Google knew what I was trying to find and saved me, so now I can talk about a few of the plants I took notes for. 

The Jamaican people are very in tune with using natural elements for healing. They seem to have a tea for whatever ails you!  

At the resort, every day featured its own flavored/infused water. Monday was Lime Water Day. Tuesday was Cucumber Water Day. Kale Water Day. Lemon Water Day. Raspberry Water Day. And at each water cooler was a sign proclaiming the benefits the Daily Infused Water.

Back to the garden tour:  Our tour guide showed us Ginger Lily and told us that it can be a tea or essential oil to relieve stomach problems like nausea and indigestion. It’s also purported to help liver function. Strong Back Burr tea is supposed to help with back pain. And Soursap is a plant claimed to have cancer healing properties.

The only plant I knew- and knew for its healing properties- was the Aloe Vera plant. It has many uses but the one I’m most familiar with is its ability to soothe burns.  Everyone has aloe gel in their bathroom closet for sunburn relief, right?

I got a first-hand look at the healing properties of the aloe plant while on vacation. 

My sister-in-law was bitten/stung by an insect while she was on a bike ride. She tried to ignore the sting, but within a few hours the area was red and hot. She went to the resort's health clinic where they were ready to give her a prescribed antibiotic. She didn’t want a prescription, just a topical ointment.

The head gardener/groundskeeper who’d given us our tour the day before saw my sister-in-law’s problem and told her she could help. The groundskeeper went outside, cut off some aloe and spread the gel from the cut piece onto the sting. Then she covered it with a band-aid. 

The very next day the area was completely healed. No sting mark. No reddened skin. No nothing. Wow!

When I got home from vacation, I went out and got my own Aloe Vera plant.  This summer I plan on testing its use as a natural sunscreen.

My husband, Tim, suffers from cluster (migraine) head-aches. I’m thankful that the science of medicine has become so technologically advanced. However, we have learned, for us, popping a pill is not necessarily the best way to treat his head-aches. The medicine helps but it just masks the pain. We want to try to stop the pain.

Image courtesy of HealthCMi
on Google Images.

Acupuncture: The ancient Chinese medical art of pain reduction. It’s been around for over five-thousand years.

Palmer College of Chiropractic
courtesy of Google Images

Chiropractic adjustment. We live in chiropractic ground zero. Palmer College of Chiropractic, just a few miles from my home, has educated men and women and sent them to the far corners of the earth to help people in pain.

We are using both of these alternative treatments to alleviate Tim’s migraines. Only time will tell if they work.

I pray daily- several times a day- for His hand on Tim offering comfort and the grace of pain relief.  It's the very strongest of medicine.

I am thankful I live in a country where medicine is plentiful, personal choices are encouraged, and prayer is not a crime.

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself