The Healer and the Pirate

The Healer and the Pirate is available now on Kindle and Nook, and in print at Lulu and Amazon!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Healing Field at Tempe Town Lake

Every year at Tempe Beach Park, they set up flags in the park in memory of the people killed in the 9/11 attacks. It's touching and sad.

Some of the cards have very, very basic information. Some have more detail. If you click the images, they should enlarge so you can read them.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Long time, no write!

Work's been so busy lately, which can make it a little hard to write. At least, when my work also involves writing, albeit nonfiction!

I did recently review Karyn Henley's Eye of the Sword. It's a rollicking fantasy, though the portrayal of angels was not my thing.

The one thing I have managed to update daily is Daily Duffy, if tiny bears and/or Disneyland Resort interest you. I can hardly wait to go back again...!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Disneyland Dream Suite

So I've never been in the Disneyland Dream Suite and never will be there...but here's the most amazing trip report I've ever seen on it!

As for writing, the main thing is to plow along, I think, and not get distracted by the Internet.

D'oh! I did pretty well at lunch today and my story finally seems to be progressing. One big part of writing is not only giving your characters a goal, but giving them goals the reader can care about. One of the problems I had was that my main character had a goal, but not one that was very I upped the stakes.

Not wanting to die is a less abstract goal!

Monday, July 16, 2012

It's Like This, Cat - Mini-review

So as I mentioned earlier, when I went on vacation the return flight home had no wi-fi. I had downloaded "It's Like This, Cat" by Emily Neville after running a search for free books involving "Coney Island."

When I started reading, I had forgotten all about it and assumed it was an indie book. It seemed perhaps a little simplistic and at the start I could tell the male point-of-view character was written by a woman. Other than that, it was kind of a sweet read, definitely entertaining in an airplane.

So then when I looked at home I realized it won a Newberry Medal in the 1960s as a children's book. Ah well.

My main complaint is that the cat initially draws the reader in, but by the end of the story the cat seems insignificant. The author even reminds the reader that everything happened because of the cat, but I feel like if you need reminded, the story hasn't done its job.

Obviously it's a good story, though, what with the Newberry and all. It's kind of funny how even a self-published author would mentally criticize something they thought was an "indie" book. Though in fairness, I was at a writing panel at Tus-Con one year and the group of writers, led by an author/panelist, figured out how we could improve the opening paragraphs of Dune. So I think it's more my writer's editing tendencies than it is judging a book because of my perceptions of the author.

I think.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Review - Rivet Your Readers With Deep Point of View

Did you know Southwest Airlines offers wi-fi on some of their flights now? I recently went on vacation and experienced it...I'm not so fond of flying so I thought it was GREAT to wile away the time on the computer, while 30,000 feet in the air.

Really, I'm going somewhere with this.

On both of our flights wi-fi. So, I finished 3 (short) books instead!

One of these books was Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson. I downloaded it  for Kindle when it was briefly free. (And interestingly, read it after finishing George MacDonald's The Light Princess, written in the 1800s, and probably the opposite of deep POV.)

The basic idea of this book is to write "closer" to your point-of-view character. As it says very early on (you can see it in the "Look Inside" option on Amazon):

In order to remain firmly inside the (point-of-view character's) head, nothing in a scene can be presented for reader consideration that is outside that character's awareness.

Easier said than done, of course, but this brief book does a good job of defining and offers some techniques that will benefit all fiction writers. There are brief exercises, as well. (Admittedly, I was on an airplane so just typed my answers into my Kindle, instead of writing them out with detail, which may have been more useful.)

Nelson mentions basic things that I learned from other writing groups (you almost never need to use phrases like "he saw", because anything that's presented through a point-of-view character is something the character saw). She also has a lot of things I hadn't thought of. There is a very good explanation of writing your paragraphs in a linear/logical order, which will benefit all writers (even non-fiction).

For me, the main shortcoming is that (if I recall correctly) all the examples are from Nelson's own works. Obviously getting copyright clearance from other authors would have been more difficult, but I would have liked to see how other authors approach the same problems. (And I felt just a tiny bit like I was reading a sales pitch for the books cited!)

Something else this book taught me is that, as a reader, I don't actually want to read deep POV for the majority of the book. Taken out of the context of a book, I actually preferred a few of the "wrong way" examples to the "right way" examples, such as:

Shallow: Joy rocketed through Adrienne.
Deep: A grin the size of the big, blue sky stretched Adrienne's lips. If her feet met the sidewalk, they sure didn't know it.
I see where the second example is "deeper" but it didn't engage me or make me feel like I was in Adrienne's head. I never think of a grin stretching my lips. Maybe I'd feel differently reading it in the context of a book (if she'd EARNED this happiness and I could feel it with her). But standing alone, I'd rather know what happens next then read two sentences describing how she's happy.

For every example I disagreed with, there were probably two where the "deep" version was stronger. Here is a gem, where I thought the Shallow was all right, but the Deep is much better:

Shallow: Despair tugged at Jenny's heart. No one ever believed her.
Deep: Jenny wilted into her chair. What was the point of trying to defend herself?

So although I discovered I actually prefer a touch of narrative distance, I'll definitely try to put some of the tips in here to use.

If you actually WANT to write deep point of view (which is a very popular style nowadays) this should help you quite a lot. Even if you don't, it's worth a read just to get clarification as to what people mean when they say "deep point of view" and to find a few tips that will tighten your writing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ways to Plan a Novel - Part 3

So this is probably one of the more unusual ways to plan a story you'll ever see, and frankly I'm not so sure it'd work for a full-length novel. But I think I like how it's been working for a short story.

Back in the day, I wrote and drew some poorly-drawn comics. Despite my mediocre-to-poor art, I had some followers, and I may revisit them and write them into stories someday. Mostly I like sketching and have no patience for polishing the sketches. Comics were great because once they were drawn, I could tweak the dialogue pretty easily, but the basic plot had to stay the same unless I wanted to redraw (and I didn't). And if I wanted to change the whole plot? Nah; too much work. It's also a visual medium.

Cut to 2012, and I found myself having trouble writing a short story without Maggie. I couldn't get passionate about the characters and had difficulty setting up scenes.

Cut to...

I used to lay out my comic with 2 pages to a sheet of paper, which left more room for dialogue and art (or maybe "art" should be in quotes). As you can see, the sketches are...well...sketchy, though co-workers who spotted me in the lunchroom noticed they weren't words, so that's something. Since the sketches here are in no way ever going to be used as comics, I squeezed 4 pages onto one side of a sheet of paper. Then I wrote out the actions and (revised) dialogue in the story itself.

How is it going, you ask? I'm cautiously optimistic. Right now I've got the whole story typed out and am in the stage of editing what is in effect draft 2.5 or so. Next week I hope to let you know if this method really worked long-term or if it was just a method to get me interested in a project again.

Though I guess the latter isn't the worst thing in the world, now that I think about it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ways to Plan a Novel - Part 2

I've repeatedly alluded to using the Snowflake Method to plan a novel. The problem is I always see possibilities, even when I'm more than halfway through WRITING the novel.

Speaking of possibilities, I was recently struck by an urge to time-travel back to 2003, so I brought out my old DVDs of the short-lived show Tru Calling. The premise is that when Tru Davies (who conveniently works in a morgue) is near a person who had an unnatural death, the person may call for her help. When that happens, the day rewinds and she wakes up when the day started (a la Groundhog Day) and has to try to save the victim. Not every episode is great, but I found it enjoyable.

Rewriting a story and publishing BOTH VERSIONS? Yes, that's my idea of a perfect job. No wonder I like time travel stories so much.

In fairness, I also happened to see my first episodes--the last two of Season 1--when my parents were in Ohio and my grandfather was at death's door himself. So the thought of rewriting life to "fix" the deaths touched me more than it may have otherwise. I guess that's part of the beauty of writing. You never know when your story might hit someone at the exact right moment, when a story that's "just OK" will seem jaw-droppingly amazing to them, or even bless them unexpectedly.

Oh, and speaking of writing, Doris Egan (more famous for Buffy and House) actually blogged about where the show was going before is (already short) second season was cut shorter. Her blog in general is fascinating if you're interested in TV writing at all.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Update on Blogger

So those who follow my blog may recall that Blogger recently made me want to throw my computer out the window.

What's odd is that shortly after I did all that complaining, and shortly after I wrote a sternly-worded bug report to Blogger, the "Switch to Old Blogger" option randomly seemed to appear in my settings. I admit, maybe it was a coincidence, and maybe the option was always there (though I really thought Blogger had said "Old Blogger is gone forever and you can never have it back"). Maybe Google has an automatic logarithm to figure out how upset someone is when they submit a bug report--or just looks for words like "revert" and "old version" and then gives that option. Or maybe it's just a blessing that either came when I needed it, or when I opened my eyes to it. Whatever it was, I'm grateful.

Anyway, for now, blogging is fun again! Yes, I know someday Google will switch to new Blogger, but hopefully by then it will be a little more functional!

(EDIT: As I submitted this post, I got a "Conflicting Edits" error, even though I only have one Blogger window open anywhere. Oh, Blogger. Up to your old tricks again, I see!)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ways to Plan a Novel - Part 1

I think I've mentioned I don't care for the word "Pantser" (or "Panster") as a term for a writer who has trouble plotting in advance.

Janni Lee Simner (Bones of Faerie) apparently writes five drafts to get to a decent draft! I'm afraid I may be that way as well...I love NaNoWriMo but always end up with something that is completely unsalvageable... I'd be interested to see what would happen if I attempted NaNoWriMo 2 or 3 consecutive years, always writing the same story...

Anyway, for almost all writers, a good portion of writing is rewriting. I know that's true for me!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Hiking "A" Mountain

Just a few pictures from hiking "A" Mountain in Tempe, Arizona. I believe the formal name is Hayden Butte. It's very close to Tempe Town Lake.

For those of you from out of town, "A" Mountain is roughly 3 times the height of Mount Everest.

Yet I somehow made it to the summit!

It would have been more exciting if a few little kids hadn't been running around the lookout point like they weren't even out of breath. Or if a couple men in business clothes hadn't just climbed up the whole thing. Whatever.

OK, it's really just a little hike; I can't find my record of how long it took to get to the top but it couldn't have been more than 20 minutes or so. The first maybe 2/3 is paved but steep and the rest is a trail with stairsteps and handrails. I'm so wimpy I had to use the handrail when offered, but no one mocked me. Aloud, anyway.

Going down the mountain on the paved road was so steep, I preferred to take the longer gravel/trail route around, which was more scenic anyway.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Thank you, Blogger, for being awful

So tonight I discovered that my automatically scheduled blog post on the Kinyn Chronicles blog (review on Tom Pawlik's Beckon) actually didn't publish as scheduled. Frustrated, I told it to publish.

An hour later I decided to actually LOOK at the blog. I know, waiting to check is a rookie mistake, but in the Compose screen, it looked fine.

Look how great it looked on the website!

Yes, the book is THAT EXCITING!  But I didn't mean to write the review in all caps. So anyway, the post had only been up for about an hour before I fixed it.  The problem seems to have developed by pasting from Google Docs into Blogger.  To fix it, my co-author Maggie suggested I paste everything into the HTML field.  Which worked...except it killed all the formatting.

As an aside, did you know Blogger considers returns to be formatting, exactly as important as italics or bold? And in Firefox, at least, it doesn't automatically add the "<br />" code they require for a new paragraph? So I was left with a 1200 word paragraph of unformatted text to break into paragraphs and format and such. (Maggie says paragraphs work better in Chrome. Note to self, try Blogger in Chrome.)

So anyway, why am I thanking Blogger for being awful? Well, if it had been much less awful, it would have published properly the first time. But if it had been slightly less awful, it would have published the EXCITING ALL CAPS review at 8 AM!

Why didn't it publish? I actually had it scheduled. Like a reasonable American, I set it to publish on the third day of the week, which on almost every calendar I've seen, is Tuesday.

I'm not sure what country Blogger considers its homeland. Does California use a different calendar than the rest of America? Anyway, they use a Monday - Sunday calendar. (Is there any way to fix that? It still throws me.)

So thanks for being awful, Blogger. I think. I'm excited to see if I still want to throw my computer out the window when I try you in Chrome.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Daily Bathing in the 1920s

So I was thinking that daily bathing was a hot-topic or interesting issue in the 1920s, since a high school student won an essay contest writing about it.  Then I see it was a contest "instituted by M. S. Lott, Plumbing and Heating establishment for the purpose of bettering health conditions in Lehi by interesting pupils in seeking and writing on the subject."  An interesting read by Margaret F. Thurman, though I am not keen on the thought of a cold bath, even for a minute.  (Then again, in 1920s terms, I'm middle-aged.  How sad.)

--American Fork Citizen, American Fork, Utah, May 20, 1922

I always thought it was "Cleanliness is next to godliness" but either "goodliness" is a standard variant (the phrase came up nearly 10,000 times on Google) or maybe it was a Utah thing.

Monday, May 14, 2012

CostumeCon 30

I've gotta say, this one photograph pretty much sums up the point of CostumeCon.  It's primarily about sewing and making costumes! It is an annual event that goes to a different city each was Tuesday that I found out it was happening in my state.  :P

The first panel I went to was on blocking a 1920s hat, by Mela Hoyt-Heydon, who is quite the milliner.  She made Rose's giant hat from Titanic. Using a tortilla bowl as the hat block!

Here are 2 of her less famous hats.

Some people were in costume (I'm guessing more as night came; it was about 100 degrees outside). Here are some costumes that were on display.

I had plans that evening (it being around Mother's Day and all) so I wasn't able to stay for the masquerade, so I missed a substantial amount of the experience, since I just saw a few panels, the display, the con suite (which was serving Mexican food right as I got there!) and the vendor's room.  Size-wise it felt pretty similar to Tus-con. Definitely worth a visit if you're local and have any interest in costumes!

I don't know about going next year (Denver) or even the year after that (Ontario, I think?) but 2015 is in Charleston, South Carolina, which could be interesting. (In their promotion to try to get people to vote for them, they said something about flappers and pirates...1920s and pirate costumes are two of my VERY FAVORITES...I wonder if I should start saving...)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cat at Hayden Flour Mill in Tempe, Arizona

Hayden Flour Mill is one of the oldest buildings in Tempe. It's rather dilapidated now (though the silos look OK). 

It is not completely abandoned.

It liked to look at me but got shy and ran off if I reached for it. I went away and came back and someone had evidently given it some canned cat food. I could smell it on the kitty, and you can see the can!

Yup; no better way to eat up a blog entry than to post a cute kitty picture. Even if it's not your kitty.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Characters Keep Coming Back

I'm still working on a short story that's changed main characters, storylines, POV characters (twice!), storylines again, and even themes. More changes than I can count at this point. One thing the story really needed was a clear antagonist (see: Why Every Story Needs a Zombie by Jody Hedlund).

No, the character I started with in my imaginings a couple years ago isn't the antagonist (I don't think). But my antagonist has a...let's call her a victim of sorts, I suppose. My jaw dropped today when I realized this victim could VERY easily be a slightly revised version of that character I had intended to put in this (now-changed) story. Which means that I could write a companion story where her story gets told after all.

Well, I think it's interesting, anyway.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Last C.S. Lewis Interview; Tetris at MIT

Found this through Matt Mikalatos' blog; the reported last interview with C.S. Lewis. Some fascinating thoughts about Christianity, writing, space travel, and even a brief touch on C.S. Lewis meeting Billy Graham!

And this is pretty cool. Tetris on a building at MIT.

Friday, April 20, 2012

1920s Baking Mixes - Aunt Jemima Company Cake

A Cake Mixture With Many Possibilities--"Add Water and Bake"
LAYER cakes, cup cakes, drop cookies and cottage puddings come out of Aunt Jemima's latest creation. This product contains flour, sugar, shortening, powdered skim milk, baking powder and salt. all the cook needs is water to make a batter. In the Institute we used one and one-eighth cupfuls to a package, which is more than the directions call for. This made a simple, plain cake, which is best eaten as a cottage pudding or covered with a good frosting. One package (three and two-third cupfuls sifted) is sufficient for the usual cake, at about 16 cents.
Possible Improvements
One or two eggs added to the batter, decreasing the amount of water by a couple tablespoonfuls, makes a richer cake, which browns beautifully, and such ingredients as coconut, nuts, chocolate and spices give delightful variations. Any frosting improves the cake, whether baked in layers or in muffin pans as cup cakes. Do not stint the flavoring in either cake or frosting. Almond in the cake and chocolate frosting are an excellent combination. Delicious apple cake and fruit puddings are produced from this mixture when combined with the fruit and baked in a deep cake pan--easy desserts which are quick to make and good to eat.
How It Analyzed
The flour shows an analysis of 5.7 per cent protein, 11.6 fat, 26.9 sugar and 2.5 per cent total minerals. The 2.2 per cent milk sugar represents a little over a half pint of skimmed milk to the package. The baking powder content is slightly higher than in the cakes made at home, but not excessive for a packaged product, which must stand shipping and storage and cannot carry egg easily.

--New York Tribune, April 23, 1922

The product in question is "Aunt Jemima Company Cake." I couldn't find any links to the company cake online…just lots of pancake ads that are cute until you get to the creepy racist stereotypes.

--El Paso Herald, December 6, 1918

The same page also has references to "Muffin Makins" (an instant muffin mix) and "Flako" (an instant pie crust) as additional convenience flours.
The busy housewife and business woman alike (shall we include the bachelor who sometimes likes to play at cooking in his apartment) find in these flours a key to variety that requires but little skill or time in the turning." For the "unskilled laborer" gets expert assistance through these mixtures….The Institute does not for a moment advocate emergency cooking as a regular procedure, but it finds a useful and legitimate place for such well prepared products in short-cut cookery.
--New York Tribune, April 23, 1922

Anyway, this was all news to me, since Bisquick's official site certainly implies it's a revolutionary baking mix. Even more astoundingly, Aunt Jemima's official site claims its Buttermilk Pancake & Waffle Mix came out in 1957 and its "Just Add Water" version came out in 1970. Yet the "just add water" pancake mix was EVERYWHERE by 1918 and probably earlier. The fine print in the ad above even notes you can use it for waffles! The Food Company Cookbooks has a good writeup on Aunt Jemima and an even better writeup on Jenny Wren Flour, another precursor to Bisquick.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thank God I'm When I Am

I've been fascinated with the idea of other worlds and times as long as I can remember. Narnia, 1800s, 1920s, Ren Faire fun would it to be live in any of those places!

Or would it? OK, so Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter had a grand time growing up in kings and queens!!!! All the other kids from Earth just had brief adventures. I'm sure it would be amazing to visit Narnia, but I'm not sure I'd want to live there (unless I was royalty in those amazing royalty clothes). And even little Shasta from The Horse and His Boy would note that being royalty isn't always fun either!

The 1800s...rather unusual for a woman to make her way independently. Never mind the child mortality rate...I likely would have lost at least one family member growing up, if I even survived that long myself. And corsets may be fun to wear for costuming, but I'm not sure about all day long.

1920s? Most of the necessities of modern life were actually around then...but no Internet. Enough said.

Ren Faire live in the real Renaissance would entail a large chance of dying of the plague. (By the way, if I learned nothing else from Connie Willis' Doomsday Book...if you ever go back in time to plague-era Europe, get to Scotland.)

Scotland. It's slightly safer!

It's fun to imagine the good old days, but I shudder to think about how women and non-whites and even many servants were treated through many of those "charming" time periods. No, I don't have a human maid, but machines do so much of the menial work for us today.

It's fun to dream, and I still think it would be fun to visit another time. But I'm sure God put me WHEN I am for a reason. And I'm glad to be here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

When writing comes full circle

So I've been working on a short story (tentative title: "The Savior and the Selkie") for quite some time now. When I started it, the point of view character was the female lead, but I swiftly changed it to the male lead because I found him more interesting. (Never mind that in the romance genre, it's unusual to have a story JUST written from the male's point of view.) Several versions of the story later, and guess what? Yup. Switching back to the female's point of view after all.

I wish I could use the Snowflake Method better, but most times I just need to start writing things out to actually know where I'm going. Though I did the first couple steps of a Snowflake on my new improved short story (I think doing the WHOLE thing on a story that should be less than 10,000 words may be a bit much) and it seems to be holding up.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Joined the Dark Side--I mean, Pinterest

Finally started a Pinterest account. Can't say I've done terribly much with it...I'm not sure it's quite my way of doing things. (Particularly given that there are some concerns about potential copyright violations.)

Right now I'm mostly using it like a set of photo albums.
But yeah, I'm there. Are you using Pinterest? If so, has it sucked up all your free time and/or ruined your life yet? :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Real Meaning of Easter 1922

Probably one of the most interesting facts in connection with Easter, which, to those of Christian belief, marks the Resurrection of the Saviour, is that its origin dates back to the old Jewish Feast of the Passover.

"The first Christians being derived from or intimately connected with the Jewish Church," says a Church historian, "naturally continued to observe the Jewish festival, though in a new spirit, as commemorative of events of which those had been shadows. The Passover, ennobled by the thought of Christ as the true Pascal Lamb, the first fruits of the dead, continued to be celebrated and became the Christian Easter."…

Increasing importance has been attached by Christian communities in later years to Long or Good or Great or God's Friday. It is probably, as the day on which Christ offered up his life for the redemption of the world, the most sacred and solemn of the Christian year. In the churches on that day the altars are stripped of all decorations; except the Cross, which is veiled in black; the hangings are all black and the day is given over to prayer and meditation. The note of sacredness and solemnity has found its way even into secular affairs, many of the states of the union having made it a legal holiday. The custom of celebrating the day is involved in obscurity; though from the earliest times, every Friday among the Christians has been observed as a Fast Day, as every Sunday has been a Feast Day, and the connection between the one as marking the day of the Crucifixion and the other as marking the day of the Resurrection easily traced.

--The Coconino Sun, Flagstaff, Arizona, April 14, 1922 (Page 3)

Have a blessed Easter, everyone! He is Risen!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Bonnets

Yes, even in the 1920s, Easter wasn't a completely religious holiday.

--The Ogden Standard-Examiner, Ogden Utah, April 16, 1922 (page 3)

Don't they look like silent movie starlets? Not indecent, per se, but kind of a weird way to celebrate the resurrection if you ask me.

Interestingly, the designer, Lady Duff-Gordon, was a survivor of the Titanic.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Writing in the 1920s

Here's a little ad from the Evening Public Ledger in Philadelphia (June 15, 1921).

I find it kind of odd to imagine the problems writers used to face. If you read the ad you can tell exactly what problems many fountain pens had (they could leak, needed to be refilled often, required repairs (!)). This remarkable pen--which had no such problems and could write for two miles without a refill (per, about as long as a modern-day ballpoint)--sold for a mere $4.00. (Per Historical Currency Conversions, that's about $50 in modern dollars.)

Most people don't even pay that for their touchscreen phone nowadays!

Yes, people could write in pencil, granted, but now many people write directly on their laptop. It's easy to edit without having to retype pages upon pages. Publishers don't have to manually typeset each page. Computers have become our typists and our typesetters. Well, I guess more accurately, most of us have become our own typists and some of us have become our own typesetters, using computers as a tool.

I wonder if authors' thought processes were different in the 1920s, knowing that what they wrote couldn't be rearranged so easily. How much harder must it have been to write back then!

Though they didn't have the Internet to distract them back then, so maybe it is kind of a wash.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Alternative to Google?

So lately I've been getting kind of twitchy over Google's privacy policies. (I know, ironic that I say this on Blogger, a service run by Google.) Namely, the idea of personalized search, selling everyone's personal information, etc. I've been looking for an adequate alternative and I think I may have found it in Goodsearch.

GoodSearch: You Search...We Give!
Is it really worth a halo?

As I understand it, Goodsearch runs through Yahoo and it gives a penny per search to the charity of your choice. Elsewhere on the site they note half the revenue goes to the charity of your choice. I can't swear to you that it is legit, although it has been profiled on major TV networks. Once you're set up, you can change your default search engine in your browser (on mine, to the right of the address bar) to Goodsearch.

I'd say the results are fine for about 90% of the things I search. And I'm one of those people who runs a LOT of searches. I signed up about 2 weeks ago and the site says I've earned just over $4.00. Not bad for something that's free to me.

If the search doesn't get me what I need after a couple tries with different words, I just change my search browser to Google and find what I really want. But Goodsearch is a way to give less of your personal data to Google (while giving it to another party, but at least you earn some money in return...probably). Works for me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Reviews/Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour

I participated in the Christian Science Fiction Fantasy blog tour on my other writing blog, for the Kinyn Chronicles.  I have a review of Matt Mikalatos' Night of the Living Dead Christian and My Imaginary Jesus. Also a revelation that I am, in fact, a robot.

Anyway, I've been working on a short story and when it's done and edited, Maggie and I are hoping to give it away for FREE!  We'll see what happens.

Monday, March 26, 2012

How to Use Freegal from your library

OK, one of my friends was having trouble figuring out how to use Freegal so I thought I'd put up some visuals. Your library may work slightly differently, but this should be the basic method.

1. Go to your library's website and find Freegal.

2. At my library, you go to the "My Library" menu, and then choose "Freegal."

Click to enlarge

3. Enter your library card number and library PIN.

4. Enter in the artist (or other search criteria) of your choice. You can download 3 free songs each week.

Click to enlarge

When you've downloaded your 3 songs you will see a message "Limit Exceeded." That just means you have to come back next week (Monday at 12:01 AM Eastern time) for more music.

I have a list of some of the Christian artists on Freegal here.

Look! I saved you $3/week! You know what you can do with $3/week? Buy my book. Or more seriously, pocket it or give a couple extra bucks to charity/your church. Enjoy!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Relaxing, 1922 style

I still think old ads are one of the best ways to see what life used to be like back in the day.

--The Colville Examiner (Colville, WA) March 25, 1922

Imagine going out and buying a record for the night's entertainment. Just a few years later, people would imagine relaxing by the radio, not the Victrola. And a few decades after that, people would watch a black-and-white TV with the family. Now I relax with the TV on and hanging out online.

I also have trouble imagining a day when women had to do the backbreaking work of laundry once a week!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More notes on collaboration

So all my writing blog (as opposed to blog writing) energies for the past few weeks have been on the blog for The Healer and the Pirate. We've been talking about collaborative writing. Some interesting stuff over there, and I believe this Saturday we will be posting on Maggie's Rule.

Collaboration posts!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy Belated Birthday, Pirates of the Caribbean!

Pirates of the Caribbean is 45...yesterday!

It's nearly impossible to get a good photograph inside the ride without a high-end camera.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.

(As long as I don't have to hurt anyone or steal anything.)

Friday, March 9, 2012

1920s Washing Machine

I've said it before and I'll say it again--my great-grandmother would be so ashamed to see me think complaints about doing laundry. This seems to be the most modern machine of 1922, which does sound pretty much like ours nowadays.

Suppose you could wish a washing machine!

"Wouldn't you wish for a machine that would never require you to put your hands in hot, sudsy water to rinse, blue, or dry ?"

--The Columbia Evening Missourian, March 11, 1922

The ad on this page explains pretty much how it works.

You'd still have to hang the laundry on the line, of course. I saw an ad for a 1920s dryer once, but out in Arizona I'm sure they did not sell well.

As a woman who hates cleaning, I've got to say I'm glad it's not 1922.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bible on Kindle

A friend of mine recently mentioned she wanted to buy an electronic Bible so she could just search for words easily. I suggested she buy a Kindle instead and get a Bible program for it. My reasoning is that a Kindle is a lot more flexible and can hundreds of books (religious or otherwise).

Looking at, most of the electronic Bibles look similar to my cell phone, which is something between a smart phone and a dumb phone. (And most cell phones can run a Go Bible just fine.)

On my Kindle I have the English Standard Version, which appears to be a pretty good translation. It is fairly easy to navigate, and it is currently FREE!

I also downloaded the HCSB--I'm not the biggest fan of this version, but again…free!

So you can get 2 translations for the price of a Kindle. Other translations range from $0.99 to at least $19.99.

Even in the easy-to-navigate ESV version, it's still faster for me to thumb through my regular Bible. I don't use the Kindle for church. But for personal Bible study I find it valuable. I don't know of any good notetaking apps on Kindle, but I downloaded the app Notepad for 99 cents and use it to type in my prayer requests.

Anyway, I think the Kindle might be worth the price if you JUST wanted to use it for reading the Bible. If you want it for other books, too, then it's a great purchase.

If you have a Nook, here are some free Bibles you can probably load into your Nook (and possibly other readers).

Thursday, March 1, 2012

1922 Calendar and Furniture

So 1921's calendar matched up perfectly with 2011's, and 1922's matched...until February 29. LEAP DAY! ARGH!

Interesting, though--Disneyland and Walt Disney World had a promotion, "One More Disney Day" (where Disneyland and The Magic Kingdom were open from 6 AM on February 29 through 6 AM March 1).

So when I did a search of the papers from February 28-March 1, 1922, what did I find?


--The Democratic banner, Mt. Vernon, Ohio, February 28, 1922


Note they appear to call daybeds (?) "bed davenports." And a $100 bed davenport costs $75.

Here's a cool picture of Hoover-Rowlands.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

To Write, or to Learn?

The Tucson Festival of Books is fast-approaching! I'm considering going; it's always neat to hear what authors have to say. And it would be fun to leave some flyers in the food court. ::whistles::

But when it comes down to it, I've heard dozens of authors give tips on writing. When what would help me more than any set of tips I can think of is this:

Shut up and write!

That's all. I don't think there is any magic bit of advice that will take the place of just buckling down and focusing. So I might be doing that in a couple weekends, instead of the Tucson Festival of Books.

Then again...Miss Hannah's Gourmet Popcorn might be there again this can I say no to rainbow popcorn???

(this sandwich from Beyond Bread was also amazing)