Weird Words and Freaky Phrases – Part 1 – Etymology and Monkeys

The English language has a lot to answer for. It’s a polyglot of corrupted Latin, Anglosaxon, Germanic, Celtic, Frankish, Danish – with input from Indian languages and other sources. It’s illogical, contradictory and, in some cases, bloody odd. Britain has been invaded and influenced by celtic tribes, Jutes, Danes, Normans and Romans.

Usage and meaning change with time, misunderstanding, common usage, dialectic differences and many other factors.

Language is mutable and the study of it infinitely fascinating.

Any non-native speaker has their work cut out learning the nuances (Latin – origin ‘nubes’ meaning cloud’, to Middle French – nue/nuer to make shades of colour), dialects (also Latin – Middle French) and phrases or sayings that many people use but don’t understand.

Etymology (/ˌɛtɪˈmɒlədʒi/)[1] is the study of the history of words.[1] By extension, the phrase “the etymology of [a word]” means the origin of a particular word. For place names, there is a specific term, toponymy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymology

 Origin of Etymology

‘late Middle English: from Old French ethimologie, via Latin from Greek etumologia, from etumologos ‘student of etymology’, from etumon, neuter singular of etumos ‘true’. –

https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/an-introduction-to-etymology-eight-great-word-origins

Don’t get this mixed up with ENTOMOLOGY – which is a branch of zoology studying insects.

Freaky phrases:

Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey – meaning – it’s really cold (in case you hadn’t realised)

Origin – The story goes cannon balls on ships used to be stored in a brass tray called Brass Monkey – and in very cold conditions it would contract and spill the cannon balls out.

However

  • The OED does not record the term monkey or brass monkey being used in this way
  • Cannonballs weren’t stored on deck on the off-chance there would be battle (they’d roll around everywhere in rough weather. Shot was stored in the gun spars or shot garlands into which round shot was inserted ready for the gun crew to use).
  • Shot would not be left to the elements, where it could rust, potentially causing explosions of the cannon when fired.

Being the sort of person I am I looked up how cold it would have to be –

‘The coefficient of expansion of brass is 0.000019; that of iron is 0.000012. If the base of the stack were one metre long, the drop in temperature needed to make the ‘monkey’ shrink relative to the balls by just one millimetre, would be around 100 degrees Celsius.’

At which point cannon balls rolling around is probably the least of your worries.

However, a ‘monkey’ was a gun or cannon dating from the 17th century and the Monkey tail was a lever used for aiming it [Source: The Oxford English Dictionary. New York: Oxford University Press, 1933.]

And the sailor who collected the powder for the cannon was a ‘Powder Monkey’ (not a nice job, don’t get a spark in that area)

It may also have referred to the three brass balls that were a pawnbroker’s sign.

Early usage in the 19th century reference other parts of the ‘monkey’ – cold enough to freeze the tail, nose, whiskers, toes etc. off and possibly referred to brass monkey statues from China which were popular imports. The ‘balls’ freezing is a variant – because humans will be humans. That part of the anatomy did not appear in print until the 1930s. It’s possible the naval origin is a sanitised origin

Author Herman Melville (Moby Dick), uses the phrase in Omoo.

See also:

https://www.wordorigins.org/big-list-entries/brass-monkey-cold-enough-to-freeze-the-balls-off-a

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brass_monkey_(colloquialism)

Guest Post – Desiree Villena – How to Market a Book Without Breaking the Bank #Bookmarketing #Books

How to Market a Book Without Breaking the Bank

You know what they say: you have to spend money to make money. Or, as the Roman playwright Titus Maccius Plautus put it in the original Latin, Necesse est facere sumptum qui quaerit lucrum.

That’s right: the financial mind behind this maxim wasn’t some Daddy Warbucks wannabe — it was a writer. And though Plautus wasn’t selling ebooks on the web’s best self-publishing companies, his wisdom still applies to indie authors working today.

Fortunately, investing in your writing career doesn’t have to mean emptying your savings account. Giving your book the perfect, professional cover might require a decent payout up front, but promoting your book is a different story. When it comes to getting your work in front of readers’ eyes, a little DIY can go a long way.

Not sure where to start? Here are three ways to market your book without breaking the bank.

1. Set up an author website

First thing’s first: you need a home base for all your marketing efforts. And that means setting up a killer author website.

You don’t have to get fancy, with all manner of flashy animations and mini-apps. In fact, you should keep in simple, paring away all the distractions so your most essential content stands  out. That means putting your work — and links to buy your work — front and center, along with an author bio so readers can get to know the person behind the stories.

In addition to compelling descriptions of all your books, make sure to feature some high-res images of your cover art too. Not only will they lend some visual interest to your site without distracting from your most important content, they’ll help you ensure your books are recognizable right from the thumbnail. Just think of The Great Gatsby, with its lipsticked mouth and glossy eyes, projected in an inky sky over a glowing cityscape. Or The Catcher in the Rye, with its iconic, burnt-orange carousel horse. That’s the level of brand recognition you want for your cover art. And to get there, you’ll have to start by giving it pride of place on your website.

How much will all this cost you? Well, you can set up a no-frills website for free on WordPress. It’s best to register a domain name, though, so you can set up your shop on, say, AnneAuthor.com instead of AnneAuthor.wordpress.com. Don’t worry — a domain name will only cost you about $10-12 a year.

2. Build out your mailing list

After you fill out your site with tantalizing tidbits about your book — and yourself — there’s one more thing you should make sure to add: a place to collect your visitors’ emails. Once you have them, you can feed them into an email marketing platform like MailerLite to promote your books through newsletters.

Of course, not everyone who stumbles across your website will want to give you their contact information for free. That’s why you should entice them a little with a lead magnet. Think of this as a freebie that will draw them in like iron to, well, a magnet. Offer to send something interesting to anyone who signs up — maybe a short story you wrote, or the spreadsheet that took you from brainstorm to publication when you were first writing your book.

Every email you collect with this bait is marketing gold. Those are all people you can woo over time, so that they’re eager to preorder when your next book is set to launch. And best of all, growing your mailing list won’t require dipping into your bank account, at least at first. MailerLite lets you collect up to 1,000 contacts for free. Once you’ve broken past that barrier, you can move up to a paid subscription tier for $15.00 a month, which will let you handle 2,500 emails. But until you hit that benchmark, all you’re investing is the time it takes to craft your lead magnet.

3. Get more eyes on your site with a blog tour

Now, let’s talk about how to feed more names into your mailing list — for free.

During pre-COVID days, one of the most glamorous (and most expensive) book marketing tactics was the book tour. We can’t all be like sci-fi phenom John Scalzi, hitting up 24 cities in five weeks. We can, however, try to replicate that whirlwind dynamic with a blog tour.

On a blog tour, you’ll write guest posts for a wide range of websites frequented by readers in your genre. In exchange for providing your “hosts” with intriguing content, they’ll give you a platform to promote your work. Just make sure to link out to your website — and tell your visitors there’s something in it for them if they offer up their emails.

Unlike a traditional book tour, with its nightmarish tangle of logistical considerations, a blog tour isn’t hard to set up. Just look for book blogs that specialize in your genre, and see if they’re open to guest submissions. Then, get in touch with any promising candidates and pitch something you’d like to contribute. For a craft-focused blog, that could be an inside look into your writing process. For a book reviewer, you could offer a free copy of your latest title in exchange for their honest impressions. The key is to pitch something each blog’s readers would love to read.

The best thing about this promotional hack? It’s completely free! Now, get out there and start connecting with your future fans.

 

Noobs’ Guide to Self-Publishing – Reviews on KDP/Amazon

(C)A L Butcher

 

I haven’t done a Noob’s Guide article for ages, but during lockdown I’ve spent a lot of time on the KDP forums. If you’re unaware of these they’re the forums for Kindle Direct Publishing and offer guidance from other author/publishers to their kindred souls. There’s a corps of veterans (including myself) who have been around long enough to answer most of the questions – Hitch runs a service for newbies and knows a lot about formatting, Booknookbiz, Notjohn and Levi’s Companion are always willing to help out.

That said there are dozens of newbie authors who simply don’t read the help pages. Most of the answers to the regular questions can be found there, or a simple check on the forum pages – for the hundreds of similar questions asked every month.

READ THE DAMN FAQ AND HELP PAGES! Seriously. It will save a lot of bother.

One of the recurring questions is about reviews. An author posts up that review he or she knows about can’t be posted or has been taken down. Why?

Let’s start with a bit of history: several years ago a whole host of authors were gaming the system. Getting reviews by paying people to leave dozens of fabulous five-star reviews, and other rather underhand methods. It caused a storm. After that the big bad Zon got a little sensitive about product reviews, particularly in relation to e-books.

A review is only of value to the customer looking at it (and hence to Amazon) if it is impartial. A review from your mother is NOT impartial. A review from your mate Dave who thinks your book is great is NOT seen as impartial.

Think about it. You go to buy a product and all the reviews say it’s the most awesome thing ever created do you stop and think, ‘Really?’ There will ALWAYS be someone who doesn’t like a product, and that is especially true of books. Most books, if they have been reviewed, have a mix – some readers will love the book, some will be meh, and some will hate it. All are perfectly valid opinions. Do you love every book you read or movie you see? No, of course not. And that’s the other thing – what I like in a book is great worldbuilding and awesome characters. I can overlook the odd typo or editing issue. Some readers will hate a book with technical problems. Some readers will like a book with juicy sex scenes, and some won’t. Some readers will not mind violence, and some will put the book down for this.

How much is too much? That’s subjective.

Would you buy a product if you thought those reviews might be a bit dodgy? Maybe? Probably not?

Amazon changed their review process in 2017 as a result of this scandal (see link for the official guidelines). 

  • A customer has to have spent $50 (or equivalent) in the last 12 months to leave a review.
  • Persons who share a household or are well known to the author cannot leave a review
  • The author cannot review his/her own book (although I’ve had a few emails suggesting I review my own books – well done bots).

The guidelines state that social media friends or followers are allowed to leave a review. In reality, this is a very grey area. There are several posts a week from people who say follower so and so has told the author they cannot leave a review for book X. Where is the degree of separation on such relationships?

How do you define a friend on Facebook? Someone who is in the same groups as you and you comment on their posts? Do you chat to them in messenger? Do you share links? You can bet Amazon tracks this stuff and pulls reviews if it feels there is too much of a relationship there.

Personally, I’d say if a reader contacts you to say they can’t post it may be BECAUSE they feel they know you well enough to do so that they cannot post.

Reviews are for customers – not for authors. It is NOT an author’s job to contact KDP, or whine on the forum that a review doesn’t post. Advise the customer to email community-help@amazon.com and ask why. If an author does it the likelihood is Amazon will take a hard look at the other reviews on that author’s book.

Amazon does, in theory, allow review copies to be given out – but you cannot demand a review. If any incentive is offered it invalidates the review and reviewers are supposed to state they had a free copy for an unbiased review.

‘You may provide free or discounted copies of your books to readers. However, you may not demand a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review. Offering anything other than a free or discounted copy of the book—including gift cards—will invalidate a review, and we’ll have to remove it. To learn more, see our Community Guidelines.’

‘Additional Guidelines for Customer Reviews

The following guidelines apply to Customer Reviews in addition to the other guidelines given above:

  • If your review is removed or rejected because it does not comply with our guidelines concerning promotional content, you may not resubmit a review on the same product, even if the resubmitted review includes different content.
  • Reviews may only include URLs or links to other products sold on Amazon.
  • Customers in the same household may not post multiple reviews of the same product.
  • We may restrict the ability to submit a review when we detect unusual reviewing behavior, or to maintain the best possible shopping experience.
  • You may not manipulate the Amazon Verified Purchase badge, such as by offering special pricing to reviewers or reimbursing reviewers.

To learn more about Amazon Verified Purchase views refer to About Amazon Verified Purchase Reviews.’

Customers can remove or amend their own reviews (and I have done this).

‘We remove reviews that violate our Community Guidelines. We also remove reviews if we unlink two titles that were incorrectly linked. The reviews will only appear on the detail page of the book for which they were first posted. To protect our customers’ privacy, we only share information about specific reviews with the customer who posted the review. If a customer contacts you about their missing review, ask them to write to community-help@amazon.com. Customers can also remove their own reviews.

Customer Review Guidance.

In short – it is NOT the author’s job or business to deal with reviews that can’t be posted.

Do not expect reviews just because a reader has bought your book. Reviews on books are about 1%.

As a reader I don’t review every book I read. I doubt many readers do. Do you?

Ratings can be left without a text review.

If the review is not complementary – tough luck. Not everyone is going to like your book. Move on. Do not react, do not comment. It’s none of your business.

(C)A L Butcher

Other useful links about the review process on KDP and some of the articles on the issues of dodgy reviews.

Other products have been subject to these shenanigans:

https://www.authorimprints.com/amazon-book-review-policy-authors/

https://www.lovemoney.com/news/52275/amazons-battle-with-unbiased-product-reviews

Phone Chargers https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/01/which-uncovers-fake-five-star-reviews-flooding-amazon/

https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/07/exposed-the-tricks-sellers-use-to-post-fake-reviews-on-amazon/

https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-bad-review-practices-crackdown-2018-4?r=US&IR=T

Guest Post – Mary Ann Cherry – It Isn’t Just About the Verb

Today we welcome Mary Ann Cherry – author of the Jessie O’Bourne Art Mysteries

ALOHA!

IT ISN’T JUST ABOUT THE VERB

My short talk is about adding excitement to your writing, not about the difference between active and passive verbs. To use active words instead of passive, you must first know the difference. so even though most of you are old hands at it, I’ll give a short explanation.

Recognizing passive voice takes attentiveness. The biggest giveaway is some form of the to be verb in a verb phrase. The “to be” verbs are essential in writing. But with overuse, they can also be an enemy of the novelist or short story author.

So let’s first go basic.  In passive voice, the subject receives the action such as: This scarf was made by my grandma. Or…the building was demolished by the storm. Sometimes, in the passive voice, you can’t even tell who is performing an action. For instance: The building was demolished. (By what?)

In active voice, the subject performs an action such as: My grandma knitted this scarf. Or…the storm demolished the building. Or better yet, get some action going:  The scarf twisted under grandma’s knitting needles, growing and stretching like the beanstalk in that old fairy tale.

Phew. That’s done. Now let’s talk about how to use words to activate scenes, characters and descriptions that don’t bore the reader. Active writing isn’t just about the verb. It’s about engaging the reader. So when I talk about active words, I am talking about words that elevate a story from the mundane to the exciting—or at least to the interesting. Choices between boring and exciting can be as basic as what your character is eating or drinking. Words should be painting a picture in your reader’s mind. They should bring taste, smell, and color. When you are writing fiction and have a choice between active and passive verbs think physical. Think “show don’t tell”. It helps to start with the basic sentence and then reevaluate the words.

  • She was drinking apple juice
  • She drank apple cider
  • She sipped hot cider with mulling spices

Okay, there you have the basic. Now, think physical. Think Aloha moment…that which is different will always stand out…

  • She lifted the mug to sip steaming cider, redolent with the heady smell of cinnamon and cloves and hot enough to burn her tongue—badly. That can show rather than tell…another way to show rather than tell.

 

She lifted the mug to sip.  Now give the CIDER a personality – “The amber cider burnt an angry path down her throat like flowing lava.”

The steam, the heat, the smell, the burnt tongue all bring the reader into the moment. It’s about engaging the reader. Active words overhaul a boring story the way exercise shapes and sculpts a flabby body.

Does it have to be verbs that make a story seem to rumble with action? It is certainly better to use verbs that show action instead of the boring passive verbs. However, I have found those can be overdone easily as well.  To augment those words that move, that suffocate, that rejoice, use words that entertain—that DO something to the reader’s experience.

When someone picks up a book, they want to be entertained. They want to be sucked into the story until they become part of it. They want your hero or heroine’s life to become their alternate reality, if only for a short time.

What makes that happen?

Let’s talk people. Fabricate a character readers love, or a character that readers love to hate without making them look in the mirror so often, or have their ex-wife tell about what a jerk they are. Instead, do most of it with—and I’ll repeat it–action!

DESCRIBING YOUR CHARACTER: Description of the character doesn’t have to be dull. A description can be active, and inanimate objects can be given life.

  1. She looked in the mirror and saw freckles, red hair, and her favorite blue shirt– okay, we’re describing the woman…but it’s a bit dull.
  2. Freckles and red hair run in the family – she hated both… a little more active.
  3. Her red hair curled about her face and freckles peppered her nose and cheeks. With an action verb, notice that the freckles have become a living thing? They participate in the story.

If you want more drama, then think more physical. The freckles are alive, but give them something to do.

  1. Freckles didn’t just run in her family – they stampeded through generations of O’Bournes like the running of the bulls in Pamploma.

Character traits: You can describe your character’s personality the same way, but usually it is better to give examples of what the character does to SHOW true character rather than describe it.

  1. Adam is selfish
  2. Adam is a penny pincher – too clicheʼ
  3. More active – Adam pinched pennies until they squealed like piglets.

Or think show don’t tell…

  1. Adam lifted the heart-shaped box and flipped it over to look at the price. Would it take the twenty-dollar box of truffles to make her forgive him? Or could he buy the ten-dollar box of assorted candies and have the clerk gift wrap it free? He took the smaller box off the shelf and handed the clerk his platinum card.

 

LOVE SCENES – of course passion should be active. At least one hopes.

  1. John is passionate about Carrie… informative but boring
  2. John kissed her
  3. John swept her into his arms and kissed her passionately – better

Think physical…think action

  1. In the middle of the sidewalk, John yanked her to him as though saving her from an oncoming bus, then kissed her until traffic stopped.

DESCRIPTION – How about scenic descriptions? They can be active as well.

Tumbleweeds rolled across the dry ground and settled against the fence like waves rolling in from a brown ocean. The clay soil crunched and cracked under Jason’s feet.

Instead of “The sky was cloudy grey ”  anthropomorphize… The wind grew in strength and the oppressive grey clouds trembled like goose-bumpy teens slipping into a haunted house.

FEELINGS AND MENTAL ACTIVITIES are not exempt from action…from page 132 of WRITING the THRILLER by T. Macdonald Skillman…

“…Comprehension swept away denial, eroding her self-control, allowing the fragmented thoughts swirling about her to tumble out.”

Example two – show, don’t tell…from Cherry –

She stood slightly bent, the broken thoughts swirling about her weakened body like the serpent hair of Medusa. She put her hands to her pale face and heard a feral muttering, realizing the sound burbled from her own mouth. The truth will out.

ANTHROPOMORPHIZE: How does the “humanizing” of inanimate objects, the sky, a kitchen table, a random thought or a tumble of nut-brown hair make your writing more exciting and active? Readers spend their days sitting, watching, listening. They yearn for something exciting to do but either haven’t the time, the money or the inclination. The elderly live sedentary lives. The ill are bed-ridden. The activity of words used in extraordinary ways pulls them into the story and gives them an experience. It doesn’t have to be monumental—just different from hum-drum. The story doesn’t have to be outlandish. It just needs to be told in a manner that gives the couch potato a sense of something happening. Let them experience movement and delicious description vicariously.

Colors can be active. The correct color gives personality and mood in a scene. We all know this but seldom think about it.

Which one brings a love scene to life?

Example one: Her billowy dress was low-cut and in his favorite color—a pale, baby’s breath pink (makes you think right away of babies and diapers, doesn’t it?)

Example two: Her billowy dress was low-cut and in his favorite color—a blast of erotic red (red is erotic, aggressive, demanding…

EMOTIONS have color. You may hear “red-hot anger” – you never hear “pink anger”. Any shade of color that would have white added to it, pink, pale lavender, light blue, denote weaker emotions. The primary colors vibrate in your writing. Make sure you use them in ways that are appropriate. Use variations such as crimson for red, ultramarine for blue, etc.

COLORS—especially in a scene: Think about things you like to do and places you like to travel Each one should have a color that comes to mind. We seldom think about that but it part of the way our world works. Morning starts with white bread that becomes brown toast or a blackened charcoal slab fed to the birds.

Color affects mood in our daily life and will do so in the book. A grey drizzly day, a happy sunshine-filled blue sky, etc. Make yourself set the stage. Color can do that in a similar manner of the active verb without having to elaborate. But when you join both together they rock!  A noun that has some latent action will help…

A shimmer of pale-blue draperies –where are we? A bedroom? A B&B?
A blast of Navy-blue – are we at a military parade?
Green –we can’t think green without thinking “nature” and grass OR envy, depending on the scene
A riot of yellow sunflowers – we can almost see them waving in the breeze
How about an explosion of crimson? – we immediately think blood

Colors that sound like food or include food activate two senses—vision and taste—without the reader even realizing it: Nut-brown, candy-apple red, caramel, coffee-colored, creamy white and so on…

Again, let color be active by humanizing the tint or shade and making it DO something…

Black erupted across his vision…
Sea-green rushed in, hammering the beach with wave after wave…

ALOHA!

COLOR SENSE: Excerpts from How Color Affects Our Mood by Rachel Bender
“…
There are several reasons why colors influence how we feel. …There are social or culture levels as well as personal relationships with particular colors,” explains Leslie Harrington, executive director of The Color Association of The United States, which forecasts color trends. …You react to color.”

  • RED – Red is the hot, crazy girl of colors, evoking powerful emotions such as fear, anger and passion. The mood red conveys changes dramatically when you lighten it (sweet and innocent pink) or darken it (sophisticated burgundy).
  • GREEN – associated with the environment, it puts you in a relaxed or refreshed mood
  • YELLOW – Yellow carries both positive and negative connotations — from sunshine, which conveys a joyous, happy mood to jaundice and sickliness
  • BLUE – Psychologically, blue is the opposite of red — it lowers blood pressure. Red picks you up and blue takes you down, but not down to depression level. That may be because if you look to nature, such as the sky and the ocean, blue conveys tranquility. That’s also what you project when wearing the shade. Blue is also associated with trustworthiness, strength and dependability — hence, the blue power suit.
  • ORANGE – Orange evokes action. It is said to stimulate enthusiasm and creativity and symbolize vitality and endurance. It’s a little “edgy”

PASSIVE VERBS –  The forms of the verb “to be”

When? Who? Form Example
Base form   be It can be simple.
Simple Present I am I am here.
You are You are here.
He/She/It is She is here.
We are We are here.
They are They are here.
Simple Past I was I was here.
You were You were here.
He/She/It was She was here.
We were We were here.
They were They were here.
Simple Future I will be I will be here.
You will be You will be here.
He/She/It will be She will be here.
We will be We will be here.
They will be They will be here.
Progressive form   being He is being unusual.
Perfect form   been It has been fun.

Check out the info for the blog tour.

Heroika Skirmishers – Cas Peace and her Character #Fantasy #HistoricalFiction

Author section

  • Name: Cas Peace

Give us a brief synopsis of your story: Britain is a country rich in legends and myths. Any writer seeking inspiration for a story concerning battles, skirmishes, mythical creatures or heroic deeds could do worse than research the many wonders of our misty Isles. For my second Heroika story, “Black Quill”, I did exactly that.

I’m from Hampshire, southern Britain, and soon unearthed the legend of a cockatrice that reportedly lived near a local abbey. When I also discovered that this abbey had connections to Queen Ǽlfrida, mother of Æthelred, called the Unready, I simply had to combine the two stories.

Queen Ǽlfrida became the prioress of the abbey after her husband, King Edgar, died, and she reportedly had Edgar’s son killed so her own son, Æthelred, could inherit the throne. Æthelred, whose nickname ‘the Unready’ is a derivation of ‘unraed’, or poorly-advised, forced his mother to give up her powerful status as queen and become prioress of the abbey as penance. And it seems that tragedy and sly dealings dogged the former queen because before Edgar married her, he sent his best friend, Æthelwold, to check her out. Æthelwold fell for her and married her himself, and Edgar was so furious when he found out that he had Æthelwold killed. What a family!

In my story, “Black Quill”, the life of a disabled farm girl becomes irrevocably entwined with the fates of both the abbess and the cockatrice—producing a denouement that is anything but simple.

What are the challenges in writing historical fiction/fantasy? I find the main challenges revolve around invoking a realistic, visceral atmosphere, enabling the reader to immerse themselves in the story as fully and naturally as possible. In many ways, I find it easier to achieve this with a historical fantasy rather than one which comes purely from the writer’s mind, because there will be readers already familiar with the chosen setting. The hard work comes in the research which, if thoroughly and successfully carried out, enables the writer to surround themselves with ancient sights, sounds and smells, allowing the writing to flow seamlessly, already imbued with the ambience of the time. Solid historical facts play their part too, although in fantasy, of course, facts can be twisted and adapted, providing hours of fun for playful writers and readers alike.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? When I first started writing I was definitely a pantster, mainly because I hadn’t intended to become a writer and certainly didn’t know what I was doing! I was simply filling a few bored hours by writing out a little scenario I’d had in my mind since watching a kids’ TV show in the ’70s. Wow, did that open some floodgates! Before I realized it, I’d written around 300,000 words, and those words eventually became my first Artesans trilogy. The second and third trilogies were written in a similar way; although this time I understood more about my craft. Since that heady, exciting, scary and immersive time, however, I have learned the pleasures of plotting, very necessary seeing as I’m writing a prequel to the events in that first trilogy. But I’ll admit that I still crave that incredible, irresistible feeling of words desperate to be written, rushing through my mind and onto the page.

What did you want to be when you grew up? When I was a kid, I really had no idea what I wanted to do. I was average at most things scholastically: best at English, abysmal at anything to do with numbers (still am!). The exams I took were generic, and I only achieved good passes in English, Biology and Art. I did toy with the idea of going to art college to study fabric design, but throughout my childhood my heart really belonged to horses. My parents couldn’t afford for me to have one and neither could they really afford to send me to college, so I finally found a good school of equitation and enrolled as a working pupil. This meant you had living accommodation and meals provided, and received a clothing allowance for work clothes, but there was no wage and you worked with the horses in return for lessons in equitation and horse care. It was a good arrangement and I had a great group of co-workers around me. I passed my initial exams to become an Assistant Instructor, and remained at the establishment for several years as a wage-earning instructor. Now, I incorporate horses into my writing, as my love for them has never waned.

Character Section

Name: My name is Gytha

Tell us a bit about yourself: I am the daughter of Rathgar, a farmer. I had a twin sister, Larna, who was killed. My father took another wife, Anice, after my mother died and she gave him two more children: Anice cared nothing for me. They call me the cursed girl because I saw great evil but didn’t die like Larna did. They say I caused her death, and that evil is sure to find me again.

How do you come to be on this adventure? My father had to find a place for me because my crippled legs mean I cannot work on the farm. I was useless to him and no one would wed me. But I am quick and clever with my hands and so he sought a place for me at the Benedictine abbey, where I might learn to copy manuscripts and scrolls. The abbess, who once was Queen Ǽlfrida before her son forced her into the abbey, took pity on father’s sorrow over the death of my sister and eventually agreed to take me. That is the reason I was here when the evil finally found me.

Tell us a bit about the society in which you live: Our Anglo-Saxon society is structured and ordered. Our countryside has been formed into areas called hundreds, and shires. We have laws and government. The language we speak is known as Old English. We worship the Christian God and there are many abbeys and monasteries throughout the land. Although there are also kings, the bishops, abbots and priors wield great power. We have been relatively peaceful for many years but recently there has been an increase in Viking raids on England. The Danes are keen to take back the land King Edgar took from them—land they first stole from us. But these are matters for kings and leaders. I come from a line of simple farmers; all we can do is farm and try to survive.

Are you brave? Is it brave to run from a monster? Is it brave to leave your twin sister to a horrific fate? Is it brave to survive being crippled, faced with a useless life? If so, I am very brave, for I have done all these things. Larna’s voice in my mind tells me all will be well, and so I endure for the sake of my sister.

How do others see you? I am called the cursed girl—I am the girl who survived seeing the devil, the girl who should have died instead of her sister. They see my twisted, ruined legs; they never see my nimble, clever fingers. They hear me speak of Larna’s voice in my head and hear madness. They would much rather not see me at all and, in the abbey, they do not have to.

Do you believe in a god? I believe in the Christian God. Most of England believes in the Christian God—the bishops and abbots make sure that we do. Yet we also believe in the ancient evils, and there are some in the countryside who still practice the old rites, the forbidden rites, the druid rites. There are hedgewives and witches still and, of course, there are Danes who refuse to spurn their pagan beliefs.

How do you define a hero? I have never met a hero. I suppose a hero would be a great warrior, someone like King Edgar who subdued the Danes in England. Or maybe a hero would be someone who rescued people from disasters, who gave up his life to save others. I am a simple girl with no life—what do I know of heroes?

Do you love anyone? Do you hate anyone? I adore my twin sister, Larna. I speak to her all the time and she speaks to me, even though she’s dead. She is my only friend. I love my father, even though he gave me to the abbey. It was not his fault; he could not afford to feed a crippled, cursed girl. I don’t really hate anyone, although I don’t like father’s second wife, Anice. Anice only cares for her two young children.

What do you REALLY think of your author? I am not sure why she decided to tell my story above all the others she could have chosen. But I am grateful to her, because she has given my useless life some meaning.

Do you have a moral code? Father taught us to be honest, to be kind to others, and to respect others’ property—especially Seyerd, the farmer who owns land next to ours. He grows delicious fruit and father says we’re not supposed to pick it without permission. But if the branch grows across father’s side of the hedge, why should we not? The abbey where I now live has strict rules, and everyone must obey the abbess.

If you could have three wishes what would they be? The first would be that my sister had not died. The second that I was never crippled. The third that father had never wed Anice.

How do you view yourself? I was a happy, cheerful, helpful child before the monster came. After, I was quiet, because I was shunned by people who thought I was cursed. I became sad, fearful that father would send me away because no one would wed me. At the abbey, I work hard and make no trouble because I need the shelter the abbey provides.

What is your favourite thing? My favorite thing in all the world is to hear Larna’s voice in my head. It is my redemption, my promise that all is not lost, that I will one day be with her again.

Do you think you make a difference in your world? Of course not! What difference could a useless girl like me make to the world?

 

AUTHOR BIO (short)

Amazon UK Bestselling author Cas Peace lives in the lovely county of Hampshire, southern UK. Originally, she trained and qualified as a teacher of equitation. She also learned to carriage-drive. She then spent thirteen years in the British Civil Service before moving to Rome, Italy, where she and her husband Dave lived for three years.

As well as her love of horses, Cas is mad about dogs. She currently owns two rescue lurchers, Milly and Milo. Cas loves country walks, working in stained glass, growing cacti, and folk singing. She is also a songwriter and has written and recorded songs or music for five of her Artesans of Albia fantasy novels. They are available to download free from her website.

As well as being a novelist, Cas is also a freelance editor and proofreader. Details of her Writers’ Services and other information can be found on her website: http://www.caspeace.com.

Heroika 2 1.2 FINAL JPG

A Literary Legacy

At the end of November 2019 my father passed away after a long illness. When discussing what to put in the Eulogy with my sisters we all agreed on the legacy he’d left us – a legacy far more valuable and less easy to quantify than money or a house. A love of reading and storytelling.

Dad left school at 16 with a basic education – he was, apparently, rubbish at art, woodwork and behaving himself but excelled at English, maths and history. He was a born storyteller. Times were different then, and even had he wanted to continue in education it would have not been possible financially. He joined the army at 19, was wounded in action and left partially sighted after being hit by a roadside bomb. (Not much changes in war).

Despite this he still loved to read – mostly westerns and historical books – but struggled with the print size to the end of his days. Both parents encouraged us to read, and both read avidly. Often the sitting room would be filled with people – noses buried in books and there were always books in the house. A trip to the local library was a treat.

Dad told stories about runaway pork pies and mischievous sausages, not to mention household implements which rose up against their masters. I vividly remember the wicked saucepan that hit its owner when it was replaced, and a hosepipe that went on the rampage. All told with my father’s wicked wit and gleaming eyes.

He loved poetry, particularly Kipling, and even a week before his death was able to recite one of his favourites word perfectly (even though his memory was going, he was confused about most things, in pain and on a whole raft of meds). His whole face was aglow when he spoke poetry.

Cargoes – by John Masefield was one of his favourites. The first verses would be read with wonder and then the final verse – well that was read very fast and loud. Reflecting the beauty of the old, fine ships and the somewhat less elegant British ships…

Of all the things Daddy gave us – love, a sense of humour, a belief in ourselves, not taking crap from anyone, to me the love of the written word was the finest – and the most ensuring.

I’m a writer and a poet, both my nieces write, my sister teaches English and drama, and the other sister is an artist and loves history. We all love books, and have FAR too many in the house.  The love of reading and storytelling will live on, and so it should. Storytelling is what makes us human, and it brings us freedom, adventure and emotion.

Thanks Dad, we will miss you.

This is one of Dad’s (and my) favourite poems Twenty Bridges from Tower to Kew

 

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Abbie Johnson Taylor #Uniqueauthors #Memoir #Poetry

Author name: Abbie Johnson Taylor

Please tell us a little about yourself. What makes you a #Uniqueauthor (or artist)? I’m the author of five books: two novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My stories and poems have appeared in various anthologies and journals. I’m visually impaired and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my totally blind late husband who was partially paralyzed by two strokes three months after we were married. Before that, I was a registered music therapist and worked for fifteen years in nursing homes and other facilities serving senior citizens. I taught braille, facilitated a support group for blind and visually impaired adults, and served on the advisory board to a trust fund that allows the blind and visually impaired to purchase adaptive equipment. To learn more about me, please visit my website at http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com.

Please tell us about your publications/work.

My latest book, The Red Dress, a novel, was published in 2019 by DLD Books. In 2016, my memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, was released, also by DLD Books. In 2014, That’s Life: New and Selected Poems, was published by Finishing Line Press. In 2011, another poetry collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, was published by iUniverse. In 2007, my first book, another novel, We Shall Overcome, was released, also by iUniverse.

As a disabled author, how do you overcome the extra challenges involved with producing your work? Because of my visual impairment, I use text-to-speech software on my computer that reads to me what’s on the screen and tells me what I’m typing. I also use a braille tablet, both as a display with my computer and as a stand-alone device for email, word processing, and other tasks. I read print with the help of a closed-circuit television reading system.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Do you think the publishing world is disability-friendly? For me, the most challenging part of being a writer is marketing my work. Because I don’t see well enough to drive, I can’t just hop in my car and drive around my state or country, selling books. I have to rely on others to take me places. So, I’m limited in what I can do to promote my work.

However, I’m fortunate to have discovered Tell It to the World Marketing, a business that promotes authors mostly through social media. I recommend them to any writer or business owner needing help with publicity.

The publishing industry is not friendly toward disabled authors. Many sites like Amazon are a challenge to navigate for a visually impaired person with screen reading computer software. Traditional publishers like Finishing Line Press have proofs in formats that are not accessible and stringent requirements that make publishing a book difficult for a visually impaired writer.

Thank goodness for DLD Books. They help authors with editing and format manuscripts for publication through Amazon, Smashwords, and other online retailers. Their rates are reasonable, and they do great work. What’s more, they contract with Tell It to the World Marketing so you’re not paying extra for those services. I recommend them to all authors.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Too late, I learned that if a piece is published on a website or blog, it’s considered previously published, and most journals and anthologies don’t accept such work. If I’d known that when I first developed an online presence in 2005, I would never have posted so many of my short stories and poems on my website and blog.

What’s your greatest networking tip? Start a blog and post regularly. I post to mine at https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com three days a week. It’s also important to categorize and tag your posts so readers can find topics of interest and search engines can more easily discover you. You’ll be amazed at how much traffic you’ll draw when you do this.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? I’ve been told to eliminate adverbs and elaborate dialog tags when writing fiction. Although other authors, even bestselling ones, don’t follow this advice, I’ve discovered, over the years, that my writing flows more smoothly as a result.

What’s the worst advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Get an agent. In the summer of 2005, when I was ready to publish We Shall Overcome, on the advice of my sister-in-law and a writer she knew, I researched agents and sent queries. Most were rejected, and I didn’t even hear back from some of the agents I queried. I also contacted some publishers directly with similar results. A year later, I decided to self-publish the book with iUniverse.

If you really want to be a bestselling author, find an agent or traditional publisher. Good luck. If you just want to get your work out there, don’t bother. Self-publish instead.

Which authors have influenced you the most? Danielle Steel has influenced me but not in a positive way. After reading her work, I’ve figured out how not to write. Although she tells compelling stories, and I’ll continue to enjoy her books, her habit of providing too much description in her narrative drives me up the wall sometimes.

What is your writing space like? My office contains a three-corner desk which holds my computer, printer, closed-circuit television reading system, and other odds and ends. Behind me is a smaller desk I use for labelling and stamping envelopes. In one corner is a stereo I rarely use. I play music on a smart speaker while working. I sometimes write in my recliner or outside when the weather’s nice.

Tell us about your latest piece. The Red Dress is a work of women’s fiction about how such a garment is related to the lives of three generations of women. Here’s the synopsis.

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

What’s your next writing adventure? Several years ago, I started a collection of short stories set in my home state of Wyoming. Reading a similar collection by Ann Beattie inspired me to do this. Her stories are set in Maine.

Links

Blog: https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/ybmouz5y%20

Website: http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Abbie-Johnson-Taylor/e/B00GDM1BWK/#nav-tophttp://

 

Bio

Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of two novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. She lives in Sheridan, Wyoming. Please visit her website at http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com.

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Robert D. Sollars #Uniqueauthors

Author name: Robert D. Sollars

Please tell us a little about yourself. What makes you a #Uniqueauthor (or artist)?

I want to save lives and entertain people. My personal belief is that if I can help save someone’s life through my training and consulting or achieve success by getting published as a writer themselves…my mission is complete and accomplished.

Do you think the written word (or art) bring power and freedom? Absolutely it does, depending on the political persuasion and how well it is documented, without omissions or lies, then a work of non-fiction or fiction can literally change the world. Having said that, you must research and discover for yourself what is being said and the facts presented and not necessarily take the given facts as the facts…statistics and facts can be massaged by omissions and not reporting of the entire set of facts.

As a disabled author how do you overcome the extra challenges involved with producing your work? I am very fortunate that I have several people who can help me with technological issues with the computer, which is usually the only issues I have. My wife, best friend, and others all help me get over the inaccessible websites and when I can’t access websites and other items I need for the books.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Do you think the publishing world is disability-friendly? The publishing world is definitely not disabled friendly. They have tried, but despite federal laws that require that websites be accessable many, far too many, are not…still. There are numerous barriers in submitting your work such as one popular site where it is nearly impossible for a blind writer to submit their own work…someone has to help us do it or do it completely themselves…and then there are other issues with trying to sign up for webinars and stuff and the sites won’t let you do it…coming back to forcing you to have someone else do it for you if you want to listen.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Write what you want when it comes to fiction and with non-fiction write what you are passionate about. I would far more successful if I had learned that before going blind in 2003.

And how hard it was to raise the greenbacks to self-publish books like mine and how hard it is to get people interested in your topics. Most of the media outlets, I’m sorry to say, are mired in their own sensationalism to report real facts and research.

What’s your greatest networking tip? Get out there and mingle with other writers, editors, publishers, publicists, and the myriad of others who may be able to push you forward with your career.

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? The wildest subject I’ve ever looked at? I’m not a wild and crazy guy in my non-fiction, LOL. I’ve researched BDSM and other fetishes for fiction

As for my speciality…I look at all the pertinent facts, papers, reports, and etc. for anything I put into my books. The only one I didn’t do any research for was my customer service book in 2018…it was all based on personal experience and things I’ve learned in 40 years in the security field.

I don’t generally have to do a lot of research for my non-fiction books, since it is my work speciality. As for fiction, I create my own worlds and fill in the blanks along the way and if I have to, I’ll go back and revise it to keep a proper perspective on it so it doesn’t distract.

How influential is storytelling to our culture? Everyone tells stories, whether they believe they do or not. Story-telling is a tradition that dates back hundreds of thousands if not millions of years. It is a way to pass along information and to entertain. If we stop telling stories, usually for entertainment purposes then we as a culture will die of asphyxiation.

Our culture began with storytelling. Long before language, the written word, and alphabets, we had storytellers. They were known by different names to whatever culture you were in but they were all storytellers. It was a way to stay abreast of the news, stories from far away, and entertainment.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Write what I want to write and don’t worry about the critics.

From Tim Allen “Never give up. Never Surrdender!”

What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? You’re not a college graduate. Go to school and learn the book way of doing things and you’ll be better off.

No one wants to read that crap (speaking of security). Write something interesting if you’re smart enough. This from a former publicist.

*Please tell us about your publications.

 I have 4 books out since 2009. The first one was so poorly edited I won’t even discuss it.

The 2nd one was “One is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace Violence” (Amazon 2014)

“Murder in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Prevention” (Amazon 2018)

“Unconventional Customer Service: How-to Break the Rules to Provide Unparalleled Service” (Amazon 2018)

What first prompted you to publish your work?  I’ve been writing for nearly 40 years, ever since high school. I’ve published innumerable articles and blogfs but never a book, which was always my dream. I started working on the One is too Many & Unconventional Customer Service nearly 2 decades, but after going blind…I had the time, expertise, and knowledge I decided now as the time to do it.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Knowing when to stop writing and say enough is enough so as not to confuse the reader! All experts in their field can talk all day about it but the trick is to know when to leave without the reader wishing they’d picked it up…in other words, make it readable and not like a textbook.

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’? I would have to say a pantser with fiction but not really a plodder with non-fiction. I pick out the facts and research I need to utilize, not hiding anything of course, and then decide where in the book it needs to go. Sometimes the same facts appear in several plaes in the books…just depends on the topic.

Fiction is definitely pantser…I get my ideas from my dreams and let the characters tell me what the story is, including their names. When I get up in the morning…voila the story nearly writes itself and is, most of the time anyway, not bad.

If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat. Al Giordino or Dirk Pitt from Clive Cussler…the beer and burger guys, not the fancy smancy cuisine that they can eat.

What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work? Well, while it is expensive, if the author is proud of their work and think that people will enjoy it…then give away a few free copies! You don’t want to break the bank doing it, but if you get it into the community and around your region, state, or city, then people will start talking about it and hopefully, it will generate sales. I try to give away copies to those who helped me in some way during the proves…whether it be advice, computer issues, or anything else. Others I give away and have gotten some sales from doing. I just have to remember that talking about death & destruction in real life is not a sexy topic and people don’t like discussing it in ‘polite company’.

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? If an author doesn’t comment on a negative review, then they can open themselves up for even more ‘abuse’ from the reviewers. If they respond without getting nasty and refuse the ‘invitation’ to be as nasty as the reviewer, eventually those trolls will go away and you can delete their reviews.

If the comment are good, a simple “Thank you. I appreciate your review on my book.” (and you could add if you desire…Please pass your comments along to friends & family)

How do you deal with bad reviews?Answer them with politeness, courtesy, and professionalism.

Sort these into order of importance:

  1. Good plot
  2. Great characters
  3. Awesome world-building
  4. Technically perfect

If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? Jim Qwilleran on the “The Cat Who” series by Lillian Jackson Braun. The reasoning is this simple. A simple man who happens to be a reporter falls into billions of dollars because of an obscure family relationship. He then stll lives simply but begins benefitting the small rural community and county he is now a resident of.

I want to give away that kind of money to help innumerable organizations but alas…no billions for me!

Which authors have influenced you the most? Rod Serling, Clive Cussler, Lillian Jackson Braun, John Scalzi, Diane Carey, & A.C. Crispin.

 What is your writing space like?  I have my desk in a spare bedroom against the wall, a window on my left, where my cat spends her time watching me and the birds. The door is on my right, my wife’s desk behind me and surrounded by filing cabinets & shelves…some would call it cramped but why do I care? As long as I can type…

Tell us about your latest piece? I am in the process of doing the final editing on several pieces, including “Murder in the Office: A Practical Guide for Prevention” and a series of novellas based on sci fi and fantasy “Three for Victory” & “The Cat”

What’s your next writing adventure? After I finish those above, I intend to begin finishing all of the other writing projects I’ve had hidden away since getting cancer last winter…a ton of novels, novellas, and other things that are just languishing at this point.

What was the last book you’ve read?“The Cat Who Blew the Whistle”

Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline? Yeah, well, but the brick & mortors are still there and probably will be for a very long time. I worry about the possibility of an EMP and the fact no one knows to read a book without a screen any more.

With the influx of indie authors do you think this is the future of storytelling? Absolutely, so many wonderful stories out there. Fantastical worlds filled with wonder, awe, & cataclysmic destruction. Then it resets and you can read another!

Are indie/self published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? They used to be, but with the advent of so many independent publsihers such as bookbaby, and several others, anyone can write and hae a bookpublished. I do have to say though a quote from Ambrose Bierce is very appropritate in these times “The covers of this book are too close together!”

Is there a message in your books? I would like to say that, even in my security books, everything has hope to it and you just have to keep working towards it is all. I try to convey that but whether I succeed or not…

How important is writing to you? Let me put it this way…I’ up and at the computer by about 3:30 every morning (mon-fri) and usually don’t quit until about 4:00, taking time for the news and lunch if necessary.

Links

www.facebook.com/robertdsollars

dldbooks.com/robertdsollars

@robertsollars2

Bio

A somewhat strange 58-year-old blind guy with what has been called weird, unique, quirky, and ddown right stupid ideas, Robert has been blind since moving to the Phoenix area in 2003, 6 weeks after getting there. He lives with his wife, lover, a cat, and a volatile sense of volcanic anger and hostility.

Irritating the hell out of most people. he follows his grandfather’s habits of going to bed early (by 1800 hours) and rising between midnight and 0200. Coffee is drank black and he has more than a few health issues to fight along the way…cancer, kidney transplant, intestinal issues, and too many to mention.

A Day in the Life of… Lynda McKinney Lambert #Uniqueauthors #Visualartist #Wordsarepower

Meet Author and Visual Artist:

Lynda McKinney Lambert lives and works in the Village of Wurtemburg, in rural western Pennsylvania.

Lynda Lambert

  1. Please give us a brief outline of who you are. 

I wear a variety of different hats. I use this word, hats, to describe an actual object, as well as a metaphor that portrays myself.  It is a little thing – but important.

Today, I am working on P.R.  for my latest poetry book, Star Signs: New and Selected Poems, just published on July 15.

Star Signs: New and Selected Poems showcases my professional career as a poet from the mid-80s and takes readers to the latest poems, written just before the book was published.

I  give readers 54 poems in this collection.

2. You’re a writer and artist – how is this reflected in your typical day?

Now that I am retired from my international teaching career, my days are more flexible, even, unpredictable. I love it because I embrace randomness and chance in my life.

In my Writing Life:

 I am often writing during the nights because I’ve never been one who sleeps much. I sleep in short periods of a couple of hours at a time. Typically, I am up working in my office between 2 and 5 am. 

My days begin early because I have 2 dogs to take out – they like to be out by 6 or 7 am.  It gets me moving, so that’s a good thing.

I do very little work after 5 pm. Evenings are my downtimes when I might watch some TV, or just listen to a book or relax. I like to sit and think – thinking takes a lot of time. You have to intend to think, and then set the time aside so you can actually do it.

 In my Artist Life:

I make art only during the daytime.  Because I have profound sight loss, I use an Acrobat CCTV – which is an electronic device that greatly enlarges my working area – it is a closed-circuit TV. My eyes are only able to work at this intensity in the mornings or afternoons.  After that, they are too tired to work any longer. So, you won’t find me making art in the evening or night.

On the days I am making art, I like to focus only on that.  I go to a place of “timelessness” in my studio and I am always unaware of the passing of the day while I am working.

Either way, my writing or art day begins after I’ve taken care of the dogs and cats. Bob will get up around 10 am, and he can take care of his own breakfast or whatever else he wants to do.   We often begin to work outside in the summer months, or inside the house in cooler weather.  In summertime, I tend my flower gardens.  My husband takes care of the yard work.

Like everyone else, we have appointments and essential trips to different places for groceries or exercise or social communications. Typically, we go to the gym 3 mornings a week for weight resistance training or cardio workouts.

My THEMES:

Nature is a predominant theme in my writing and my mixed-media fiber art.

I observe the day, the season, and watch for changes. I listen to the sounds of life, changing weather, and all the little details and nuances that we experience at any given day or night. I am so conscious of changing seasons, the quick turning from one to the other almost like magic.

In my writing, I describe the natural elements in my world, and in my art, I use the natural elements such as water-worn river stones; gemstones & crystals from different locations in the entire world; fabrics, and found objects.  I use the objects in the art, and in my writing, I also use them as metaphors or subject matter.

Other themes in my work:

*The passing of time

*Memory as in collective memory or place

*History – searching out the historical context of ideas

*Passage or Journey; a sacred Pilgrimage from one place to another

*No separation between sacred and secular

 

3. Do you work at another job?

My job is to be at work when the Muse arrives.

My responsibility is to arrive at work on time each day.

When I was working as a professor of fine arts and humanities, I had to fit my writing and art-making in-between my responsibilities at the college.  I wrote my first book, Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage, from my journal jottings, drawings, and research that I did each summer. I taught a month-long course, “Drawing and Writing in Salzburg.”   Whatever the students were working on that day, I was working right alongside them in the classroom or in the field.  We met each morning at 8 am to begin our day. By 9 am we were often on a bus on our way to a location for that morning’s creative work.  Our class ended at noon (Monday through Thursday), so this gave me afternoons and weekends that were free for me to pursue my personal work.  I usually travelled to a different country each weekend, where I wrote in my journals and did photography and drawings.

As a professor, I had to squeeze my personal work in-between my heavy workload during the semesters.  Not only was I working on my own art and writing projects, I was also actively exhibiting my art in galleries and museums all over the world. It took a great deal of discipline to be able to do this intensive work.  So, I’ve always been a person who is focused and willing to put in the hours that it takes to be successful in what I am doing.  Retirement just opened up the door wider for me to create even more work because it eliminated the rigid teaching schedule I lived with for many years.

 

4. How did you fit in a family or ‘real life’?

I married my husband Bob, when I was seventeen years old. He was twenty.

We celebrated our 58th wedding anniversary this year.

We have 5 children and my life was completely occupied with cooking meals, doing laundry daily; managing our home and the children’s activities and needs.  We were active in their school and church life. My children were the center of my life and it was important that I was there to take care of our home, and all of them.  My first commitment was to my family.

My heart’s desire, was that I wanted to go to college, and I wanted to be a teacher.  That part of my life would not begin until I was forty-two years old, and the children were all in high school.

My academic career began at age forty-two, and I had a single focus. I intended to “go all the way” with education.  I intended to earn not only a BFA in Painting, but I would pursue the terminal degree in fine art, which is an MFA. I intended to be a college professor. I actually earned the MA in English along the way, too.  I had a passion for writing and making art – so this seemed like a good idea for me. From the beginning, I worked across disciplines.  And, this eventually led me to my teaching position at Geneva College, a Reformed Presbyterian college in western Pennsylvania. Because of my dual degrees in fine art and English, I was hired to use my expertise in the Humanities at the college. This work is both challenging and educational as a life-long learner. I loved doing research in my fields.

I advised students:

“Don’t give yourself permission to do less than what you have a passion for doing.

 Follow your passion and your abilities – you want to do work that makes you happy to get up each morning.

You want to do what you dreamed of doing.

Never make a plan for your life out of fear. Go for your highest purpose and you will get there.”

 I also believe in excellence. This does not mean I think that perfectionism is to be admired. It is not an admirable trait but perfectionism is a liability.  By the word, “Excellence,” I mean to be your best.   Perform at the highest level you can, and do the best job you can possibly do. That is not perfectionism.  It is holding on to your highest potential and working hard to make your dream, Plan A, your reality.

In 1976, I took my first class in painting.  Soon, painting was at the heart of my creative life. It was pure magic.

With 5 children and a husband to take care of.  I realized from the beginning that I had to be time conscious in order to live a creative life that was separate from family obligations. We have to have our personal identity, something that is ours alone to pursue.  Our “do” is not our “who,”  and I’ve always believed in my purpose in life – to create beauty and to keep memories alive for others.

5. Are you very organized?

This is a tricky question to answer.

At first, I thought, yes, I am very organized.

Then upon further reflection, I thought about how we live surrounded by chaos.  It is our normal condition of being a human creation.  We are finite creatures; we are flawed.

How we think about chaos matters –

I think it is better if we begin to think of mastering the chaos.

 

A plaque in my office reads:

“Nur kleine Geister  brauchen Ordnung,

ein Genie  beherrscht

Das Chaos.”

 

Translation:

“Only little spirits need order,

a genius mastered

The chaos.”

Links/samples/etc.

An Introduction to Lynda McKinney Lambert:  https://www.lyndalambert.com/

My Books:  https://llambert363.blog/lyndaslinks/

Lynda’s Media Kit:  https://www.lyndalambert.com/media-kit/

“My Books” on my blog:  https://www.lyndalambert.com/lyndas-books/

Listen to my poem, “To the Curator of Small Things,” in the Summer 2016 issue of Wordgathering. read by Melissa Cotter:

http://www.wordgathering.com/past_issues/issue43/poetry/lambert.html

LINK_ to my poem and voice recording of “Star Signs: in the December 2016 issue of Wordgathering – Read by Melissa Cotter:

http://www.wordgathering.com/past_issues/issue40/poetry/lambert.html

Lynda’s Authors Page- Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/author/lyndalambert

Lynda’s Official Authors Page: http://www.dldbooks.com/lyndalambert/

 Smashwords – get my ebook:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/lyndalambert

Link to Lynda’s author Site at DLD Books:

http://www.dldbooks.com/lyndalambert/

 

My Blogs:

Website & Blog:  Lynda McKinney Lambert  – Official Author’s Website

Scan-A-Blog – A quiet Place of Inspiration, Art, Nature, Literature

Below – Photo: “Lynda with Tamukeyama,” by Bob Lambert

Lynda Lambert

Photo of Lynda – wearing one of her original hand-knit jackets in ombre shades of blues and aqua.

She is also wearing a one-of-a-kind necklace of Swarovski crystals and gem stones. She designs knit clothing, talismans, jewelry, and wall works.

Lynda is seated in front of her Tamukeyama Tree in her Zen Mediation Garden. Photo by Bob Lambert.