When I sold my first book, a friend suggested I start a Mail Chimp account right away. Mail Chimp is a popular newsletter program. It’s free. It’s easy to use. So I signed up for an account and put a “Subscribe to my Newsletter” tab on my Facebook author page. There is also a spot to sign up here on my website–far right column, scroll down a bit.

And that’s where I stalled. With the pending publication of my second book (and some other exciting prospects in the works), when I saw an on-line class for Mail Chimp, I immediately signed up. I finished the class earlier this month. If nothing else, I now have a better sense of what I want to accomplish with my newsletter. And, in my usual fashion, I know more about what I don’t want than what I do want.

So Issue One of the Comptonplations™ Newsletter is now a work in progress. I plan to issue it the first week of February. There will be exclusive newsletter subscriber content. There will be a list of places where I’m guest blogging, and the topics I’ll be covering. I will issue a newsletter only when I have something news-worthy to announce. I think this will be fun!

This past week sealed it: the back yard project is officially on hiatus until spring.

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According to Wikipedia, acrobatics  is “the performance of extraordinary feats of balanceagility, and motor coordination. It can be found in many of the performing arts as well as in many sports (sporting) events, and martial arts. Acrobatics is most often associated with activities that make extensive use of gymnastic elements, such as acro dancecircus, and gymnastics, but many other athletic activities — such as ballet and diving — may also employ acrobatics. Although acrobatics is most commonly associated with human body performance, it may also apply to other types of performance, such as aerobatics.”

Really? Clearly the creator of this so-called “definition” was never a mom who works a full-time day job and is trying to pursue a career as a published author. More than ever before, being an author also includes being one’s own agent and publicity/PR guru. Oh, and sometimes there are freelance editing jobs. Let’s not forget active involvement in  a local RWA chapter. Having so much on the plate goes far beyond mere juggling. And none of this includes life: cooking; cleaning; grocery shopping; spirituality/religious obligations; exercise. I don’t know what I would do if my children were still living at home and needing all the extra-curricular stuff that consumed my time for so many years.  No wonder I’m tired. No wonder I have trouble finding time to actually write.

A writer’s life is truly an example of extraordinary feats of balance, agility, and motor coordination. Maybe  it should be an Olympic event.

I reserved the movie Authors Anonymous from my library after someone recommended it. The plot sounded amusing. I’m in a writing group. I’m always looking for a good flick.

The story started out cute, a mock-umentary of sorts, and I thought I would enjoy the movie. But almost immediately, the alleged heroine wasn’t likable. She never went to college. I don’t see that as a problem. But she couldn’t name a favorite author. She couldn’t name any author. Throughout the entire movie. She’d never read a book, yet she was a writer and became extremely successful during the course of the story. She’d never even heard of Fitzgerald or Hemingway. Because she’d never been to college.

EXCEPT: I read Fitzgerald and Hemingway in high school. I went to a small, rural public school, not a posh, private school for exceptional students. We read The Great Gatsby, The Old Man and the Sea, and several other books/authors mentioned in the movie.

I really didn’t like the portrayal of successful authors as ignorant. Authors read other authors. Even the prolific Nora Roberts says, “I don’t think you can write — at least not well — if you don’t love stories, love the written word. One of my greatest pleasures is falling into a story someone else has written.”

The other female in the writing group couldn’t pronounce anyone’s name.  She was trying to come off as smarter than she was, and it didn’t work for her.

The only redeeming quality in the movie was the realistic portrayal of vanity publishing.

This movie may have been directed by a woman, but the underlying misogyny of the writer and his jealousy of the romance genre were first and forefront.

One star.

I’m going to be restructuring WIP Wednesday after the first of the year, with a guest author only once per month.

I’ve had so much fun meeting a variety of writers, most of whom I would love to hang out with, sipping wine, listening to great music, and talking about our favorite TV shows from the past.

I’d like to thank everyone who participated by taking the time to answer my questions as I tried to find a unique twist to the author interview. Hope you all had as much fun as I did.

WIP Wednesday will continue every Wednesday, but I’ll be talking about my own Work In Progress on the dates I don’t have a guest scheduled. I do have some wonderful authors lined up–and a list of others I plan to reach out to. I do hope you’ll continue to join me here every Wednesday.

Apparently one of my neighbor’s father was selling plants out of the back of his pickup. My landscaper bought a bunch.

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My landscaper also moved some stone.

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Then it started raining. Almost daily. For weeks. So here we sit.

Today I’m delighted to host author Taryn Elliott for Work In Progress Wednesday. Taryn, what are your top three dream destinations and why?

TE: Hawaii – hello…it’s Hawaii. Ireland – went once and wanted to immediately figure out a way to live there forever. San Francisco – I’ve been completely intrigued by that city for years.

MJ: What is the top book on your TBR pile?

TE: PRISONER – Skye Warren & Annika Martin.

MJ: If you didn’t write, what would be your creative outlet?

TE: #1 would be graphics and design, but since I actually get to do that because of writing…I’ll say jewelry design. I used to love to do it, but there never seemed to be a decent return on it for selling my work.

MJ: Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

TE: Hair tie – I have wild, long hair and I’m always sticking it up.

MJ: What do you normally eat for breakfast, or do you skip it and get straight to work?

TE: Depends on my level of sleep deprivation. I normally like a little sausage egg and cheese scramble.

MJ: Describe your ideal/dream writing space.

TE: A tower with one big, circular desk that I can have all set up for writing, research and design. And the perfect chair that is made for me and my shortness. LOL!

MJ: Name 3 things on your desk right now.

TE: Charger for my phone, Bose speakers for my tunes, and about 5 fruit snack wrappers.

MJ: Do you listen to music when you write? Explain.

TE: YES!! I make a Spotify playlist for every story.

MJ: Do you collage your story before writing? Explain.

TE: Yes, I have a Pinterest board for all my books. All my chars have pix and clothes and setting pictures. As well as a few inspirational ones. Ahem.

MJ: I know what that Ahem means. What do you love most about your WIP hero?

TE: Logan King has an amazing capacity to love – even with all the trouble following him around, he is falling hard for Izzy. I love that protective instinct in him.

MJ: What genre is your current WIP?

TE: Sexy Romantic Suspense.

MJ: How did you chose the setting for your current WIP?

TE: I love upstate NY. But I have a crap sense of direction – so I didn’t want to make any mistakes. So I created my town and have allllll of the control. Muahaha.

MJ: LOL! Okay, now it’s time for the lightning round! Addams Family or The Munsters?

TE: Addams Family

MJ: Stephanie Plum or Eve Dallas?

TE: Eve Dallas!!!!

MJ: Favorite TV show?

TE: Supernatural

MJ: Favorite band when you were in high school (Marching band doesn’t count)?

TE: Def Leopard.

MJ: Coke or Pepsi?

TE: Pepsi Max.

MJ: Favorite ethnic food?

TE: Italian.

MJ: Now, can you share the first few lines of your current work in progress?

TE:  I literally have just started the plotting on book 2; Bulletproof Weeks.

MJ: Great title! And you just had a book come out last week –where can readers find it?

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TE: Anything But Mine is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks.

MJ: And how can readers stay current with what you’re up to?

TE: My website/blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Goodreads.

MJ: Thanks for joining me today, Taryn, and good luck with sales!

 

 

 

I have never cooked a Thanksgiving Dinner in my life. We’ve always gone to my mother’s or (in the early years of marriage) to my in-laws’ for the holiday. In recent years, we’ve all started contributing to the meal. I seem to be in charge of the “yellow vegetable” category.

I made butternut squash with baby spinach several years running, but spinach and cranberries have been added to the ever-growing list of foods someone in the family can’t eat. We also try to avoid dairy (two severe allergies plus several intolerant of  lactose) and gluten (one severe allergy). In 2012, I tried to make a Sweet Potato Galette, which didn’t turn out quite as wonderful as I’d hoped (the story is here), but did become the basis of what I’m now asked to bring to all autumn/winter feasts (fresh fruit salad is my spring/summer contribution). This dish is more savory than sweet–the thought of marshmallows on sweet potatoes makes my teeth ache. And yes, some of these photos are from that earlier blog.

swwet potato 01Wash the sweet potatoes. Please note I purchased long, narrow ones to better facilitate the slicing process.

Peel the potatoes. Then slice (I use a ripple mandoline, but this year, I purchased a new slicer thingamabob.)

2012-11-21+18.11.22I usually buy 6 sweet potatoes, which makes just enough of a side dish for our family of 14 (give or take).

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I also chop one sweet onion (which tends to be large). I mix all of this together with Wegman’s basting oil. (If you don’t have a Wegmans near you, perhaps your supermarket sells seasoned oils. If not, you should move some place where there is a Wegmans. It’s worth the move. Seriously.) Put the mixture in a casserole dish/glass baking pan (My lasagna pan is perfect). Bake at 400F for about 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

The great thing about this dish (besides meeting everyone’s dietary requirements) is that I can make it the night before, then take it to my parents’ in Tupperware and reheat it in their microwave right before the meal is served. Couldn’t be easier. Unless someone else made it.

I’m so lucky that my family can still be together on the major holidays. We’re a clever bunch of people who try to accommodate each other whenever we can, and that’s good, too. Getting together isn’t about the food, though. It’s about being a family and being there for each other.

“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.” Eric Hoffer

 

 

 

Today it’s my pleasure to welcome author Nicki Greenwood to Work In Progress Wednesday. Nicki, what are your top three dream destinations and why?

NG: 1) England. Maybe I’m just hoping to run into Benedict Cumberbatch. 2) Ireland. My family has some roots there, and I love places with an “old soul.” 3) Australia. Because it’s just that awesome.

MJ: What is the top book on your TBR pile?

NG: Reading it now: Written in My Own Heart’s Blood.  by Diana Gabaldon. With the arrival of Outlander on Starz, I’ve finally caught up with the series. This book is one of her best!

MJ: If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be and why?

NG: I’m finally at a good enough point in my life to say I’m happy being me. I’m doing the things I always said I was going to do—mainly, writing books!

MJ: What a great attitude! Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version of the story?

NG: The Horse Whisperer, by Nicholas Evans. Totally unsatisfying ending. The movie, while still heart-wrenching, is at least satisfying.

MJ: What do you normally eat for breakfast, or do you skip it and get straight to work?

NG: I’ll wolf down a breakfast sandwich and chug an iced coffee, and then it’s off to work for me.

MJ: Describe your ideal/dream writing space.

NG: My office, but with Hugh Jackman as a personal assistant. :D

MJ: As long as you keep your hands off Henry Cavill–who is mine–you can have whomever you like as an assistant. Name 3 things on your desk right now.

NG: You mean there’s a desk under all this paper? (Besides the paper, I have my ever-present Chap Stick and a stuffed Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon. *grin*)

MJ: Do you listen to music when you write? Explain.

NG: Most of the time. I will compile a soundtrack for my books, and play it incessantly as I write the book. If I hear an inspiring song for a particular scene, I put it on repeat while I write. Occasionally, I have books that refuse to be written to music. Then, I just use the songs to get the spark going, and turn off the iPod during writing time.

MJ: What is your favorite genre to read?

NG: Historicals, oddly enough. I love to read them, but the idea of writing one is just mind-boggling.

MJ: How did you chose the setting for your current WIP?

NG: I knew from the start of the series that it would be Vermont. The book “decided” it would be autumn, since Vermont in autumn is just breathtaking.

MJ: Now it’s time for the lightning round. Wine-red or white?

NG: For drinking, either, as long as it’s a semi-sweet. For cooking, either, and as dry as I can get it.

MJ: Cinco de Mayo or St. Patrick’s Day?

NG: St. Patrick’s Day, unless I’m at Salsarita’s on Cinco de Mayo.

MJ: Last movie you saw in a theater?

NG: How to Train Your Dragon 2

MJ: Favorite TV show?

NG: NCIS, The Walking Dead, and Once Upon a Time.

MJ: Coke or Pepsi?

NG: Pepsi.

MJ: And for the main course! Please share the first few sentences of your current work in progress.

NG: This is from Fire, book 3 of my Elemental Series.

“Mommy!  Mommy!

The pitiful scream hardly reached Ethan Sutter’s ears under the roar of a flame-induced whirlwind.  He held up an arm to shield his face and strengthen the protective bubble of power surrounding his body.  His skin glowed, and the flames dampened, pushing in and then turning immediately back as though they’d hit an invisible breakwall.

Fire rushed up the wooden skeleton of the apartment building, devouring the structure, but unable to penetrate the protective sphere of his power.  “Kid, where are you?” he shouted.

MJ: Wow! That certainly left me hanging. You have a new book out now, Flashpoint,  from your Gifted Series. Where can readers purchase it?

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NG: Flashpoint is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Wild Rose Press.

MJ: And how can readers stay in touch with you?

NG: I can be reached through my website, my blog, my Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Goodreads, and YouTube.

I have always been attracted to the idea of yoga. Calming mediation, spirituality, plus the physical benefits seem like a wonderful combination. Several decades ago, I signed up for a local school’s adult education class in yoga. I went once. First of all, I have a bad knee and couldn’t do many of poses. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, I was with older women who couldn’t wait to try “this yogurt stuff.” Seriously. There was no mental inclusion, just twisting into pretzel shapes. I was in the wrong venue.

Now I am an older woman myself. I’ve wanted to try yoga again. I want to be centered.

I bought a yoga mat.

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I bought a yoga DVD.

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I bought books about yoga and writing.

 2014-11-09 17.37.28 2014-11-09 17.15.23 2014-11-09 17.13.59But DVD wouldn’t play in the player in my bedroom. There was no room to roll out my yoga mat in the family room.

Then I bought a new lap top computer. The DVD plays in the computer, so I tried  doing yoga in my living room. There was enough room to roll out my mat, but that was about all.

I’m not a fan of exercise. I do wonder if I’m more attracted to the idea of yoga than actually practicing it.

We’ll find out soon. I “reclaimed” my home office.  There is now plenty of space for yoga practice.

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 We’ll see how it goes.