Posts Tagged ‘authors’

SAMSUNGHow long have you been a writer? Or have dreamed of becoming one?

How many of you pictured yourselves stretched on a chaise sofa, dictating your wonderful, flowery prose to an assistant as your editor phones with book promotion tour information, lots of money stacked in the corner or, better yet, your staff caring for your every whim as you release book after New York best seller book….

No, that is not the average life of a modern writer. And most likely not the life of a pre-modern writer. Unless you are the new Barbara Cartland…and even this picture is just too much to have been her every day normal life.

Writing is a solitary life. Very few writers have an assistant at their beck and call. Editors (seen only in old movies) usually do not do JUST YOUR BOOK, but edit hundreds of manuscripts every year.

We write. We query. We send proposals. Someday we could get a great contract deal or a following which allows for less querying and proposing….just more writing.

Writing is not a profession to enter into if you want instant fame, instant gratification or throngs of fans. Being J. K. Rowling is not something that happens every day. We can wish it, we can dream it….but write for yourself, to share your craft, to feel good about your gift and especially for those who read your work. The glory comes from knowing you have touched someone else’s life…and hopefully in a good way.

Sometimes I write curled on the sofa or sitting in the floor as my cats try to chase away my thoughts. Sometimes I go to my quiet office and allow my daydreams and characters to come to life. Sometimes I grit my teeth and stare at an empty page  or into that vast empty space where my imagination refuses to go. Sometimes I cannot type fast enough to catch all my thoughts.

Such is the life of an author. A writer. And wouldn’t you know, most of us absolutely love it…sharing those thoughts that capture our imagination and hoping they inhabit your thoughts as well…




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Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material. ~~. John Steinbeck

It is the end of January already? Wow! And I have found the perfect quote for me… I am so guilty of rewriting as I write……. the main thing that gets me behind in my goals. Thank you, Mr. Steinbeck, for this is advice I need to post above my computer and heed!

Writing and aiming for those stars!


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Don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work ~~. Pearl S. Buck

I love this quote. Very simply put… if you are going to write, then write. These last couple of years have been hard for me, wanting to keep my writing going and not having the ‘mood’ hit me… finding myself sitting on the sofa hours after saying I would write… then finding the mood just didn’t hit me. It isn’t and shouldn’t always be that way. Writing is a passion, yes, but for those of us who want to be authors, it is also a job of sorts. Nothing gets accomplished without actually sitting there before the computer or with a tablet or with pencil and paper…and writing.

Remember, this is the time I am making my biggest steps to achieve my goal! How about you?


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One question that is heard these days around the writing circuit is, “What is your brand?”

At first I felt the question needed a question from me. “Brand? My shoes?” Maybe they recognized the clothing I wore, maybe they just were dying to have a pair of jeans like those I wore, or maybe even they admired a piece of jewelry. No…these days I hear more about branding even though I had always felt it was more obvious what type writer was, well, what.

I know one writer whose brand is vampires. She writes romances based in the world of vampires and sorcery. That’s cool. Another writer I know is marketing to young adult readers. She writes books of romances mainly between couples in their really early twenties. I’ve even seen some young adult romances with characters in their late teens. And yes, I know authors who love to write erotic romances as well.

Brands are definitely important, I suppose, if you meet a group of writers and want to establish exactly what each author writes. Do they write Regency, Victorian, Westerns, contemporary? Do they write about vampires or zombies, do they write about high society Regency couples or modern couples in middle class America? Perhaps they write strictly about a certain part of the country or a certain sub-genre. Maybe their work is sweet, perhaps it is a bit spicy…perhaps it is incredibly erotic.

I’d grouped writers into categories most of my life…never realizing I was actually branding them in my head. But, to be honest, knowing the brand you represent and the way you market your books based on that knowledge gives you an idea of what you will do once your book is ready for the public. At conferences I’ve seen authors wearing clothing that defines their work…many are often in character for dinners or events. Victorian dresses, vampire teeth, boas or supernatural characters are not that unusual. It definitely shows me what books these authors write. I love how easily I recognize their brands!

Yes, I am beginning to see the way branding works for writers. As in any other profession…it is good to know how to market your work and to whom. By identifying your specific brand you are able to reach the right demographic for your book.

I’m still learning about how to build my brand…

What is yours?


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How many of you are writers who have attended author conventions? I love these events…if, for no other reason, it is because I come home with loads of books, excerpts, bookmarks, goodies and other writing aids.

But. Yes, these days there is always a ‘but’. Travel is becoming more difficult when you leave home with one suitcase and come home with that one suitcase…and loads of other goodies that you really hadn’t planned on stuffing into that one suitcase along with your clothing. Well over half of said suitcase is filled with paperback novels. Alongside these novels are bookmarks, business cards, handy-dandy post-it pads, etc. Plus, this year I actually won a raffle (I was shocked, I never win stuff!) that contained delightful goodies like coffees, chocolates, items for pampering myself like soaps and gels, a mug for said coffees, wine glasses and wine, an eReader and more!

That one suitcase has reached a definite fifty pound limit…so I have filled the complimentary book sack I’d received with some items and, when it was filled, I filled my gift bag (quite large thank goodness) that had come in the original book sack. Some things are stuffed into my extra-large purse (at least I remembered to bring that one this year) and I may have some things in my jacket pockets! Hope no one bumps me in line…I promise I am not a bookstore thief! I like the rattan basket that contained my cute gifts so I’ll be toting it too..

So, if you see a crazy lady lugging an overly stuffed suitcase with an overly stuffed purse on one shoulder and an overly stuffed book bag on the other…and dragging an empty basket…I am truly not crazy, just headed back to the comforts of home,


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I have just learned that today, August 13, is International Left Handers’ Day. Launched in 1992 by the Left Handers Club, it is one way to raise awareness of the disadvantages and advantages of being a left-handed person. In many places events are held to celebrate the day with festivities like left-handed tea parties, sports events and letting right handers see what it is like to be a lefty for a day! It illustrates the ways being a left-handed individual is more difficult for a person in a right-handed world!

When reading about this subject I was surprised to learn in some cultures left-handed people were once thought to be evil. Also, I’ve learned Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine de Beauharnais were both left-handed, making them perhaps the most famous couple who were both ‘south paws’. Check out sites online about left-handed people to see just how amazing some of these facts are! en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handedness  theweek.com/…/5-surprising-facts-about-lefthandedpeople  www.lefthandersday.com/

According to some reports, it has been said being a lefty could be an advantage…many famous sports figures have been in this category. Our current US President is left-handed; and scores of musicians, artists, writers and others are listed on the site of the Left Handers’ Club. Mark Twain and Eudora Welty, two of my personal favorite authors, are fellow lefties!

As a left-handed child I remember problems with composition books (that darn spiral was on the left…ever try writing with your hand above and over that thing…), scissors (yup, I tried every way possibly…try cutting with your thumb in the side for your fingers and your fingers in the thumb position…can we say uncomfortable), three-ring binders (same problem as with composition books multiplied by at least ten), school desks (these were made for kids that were right handed…I remember sitting practically facing the right wall just to be able to use those desks), and so many more items. Even that #2 pencil…we lefties would be left with the edges of our palms covered in a dark smear from our hand trailing over all the words we’d written.

My mother was ‘changed’ as a child from being left-handed to right-handed. It was often done back then, sometimes because it was thought to aid in a child’s development to be right-handed, also sometimes due to superstition.

Today though, I’d like to share some names of left-handed people who made it in this right-handed world:  Marilyn Monroe, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Queen Victoria of England, Prince William of England, Allen Funt, F. Lee Bailey, Sir Paul McCartney, Neil Armstrong, H. G. Wells, Natalie Cole, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Don and Phil Everly, Seal, George Burns, Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Tom Cruise, Steve McQueen, Danny Kaye, Barack Obama, Alistair Campbell, James “Gentleman Jim” Corbett, Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, Sarah Jessica Parker…….whew, the list goes on and on.

Have a wonderful day…try using that left hand at dinner tonight…could you do it?


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Avon Books makes donations from sale of select books for National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Funny how a person can remember exactly where he or she was when something bad happens that affects your life profusely. I have days that are forever etched in my mind. One of the foremost is the day I found out my mother had ovarian cancer. Even worse, I was sitting with her at that exact moment and I often wonder what was going through her mind when she heard that word…that awful “C” word…no ones wants to hear.  That day began a journey that lasted a little over three years. A journey that I spent with my mother…trying to be her support through the bad days and helping her live life just a little better on those good days.

September is recognized as National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. September is the month I lost my beautiful mother to her fight against this disease (September 23, 2004). In a touch of irony, teal (one of mother’s favorite colors) is the official color of the ribbons, jewelry and other items used to bring awareness to this deadly cancer.

How can a vibrant person who loves life and has a great respect for health get mixed up in this fight? How can one so aware of the health of others not see this coming?

Long regarded as the ‘silent killer’ ovarian cancer is almost always detected in late stages. A person is incredibly lucky to be diagnosed in the first stages. Many are able to get help while the disease is in the second stage. But…most ovarian cancers are found in stage three and stage four. For those unfamiliar with these stages, let me give a quick primer. In Stage One, cancer is limited to one or both ovaries. Stage Two has the cancer in one or both ovaries and it has spread to other pelvic structures. By Stage Three not only have one or both ovaries been involved with the disease but also either the cancer has spread beyond the pelvis and is in the lining of the abdomen or cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. The tumor is limited to the true pelvis but also malignant extension to the small bowel. By Stage Four again one or both ovaries are involved and the cancer has actual metastasized to the liver or lungs. Also, the pleural fluid (excess fluid located around the lungs) contains ovarian cancer cells.

For each of the first three stages there are three grades of I, II or III…each a step worse than the next as far as the exposure to the cancer.

Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary, just a few weeks before her diagnosis. Mama was already quite sick.

My mother, when hers was found, was already at Third Stage, III. Not to be graphic, but to be helpful to you, her cancer had spread into her pelvis area, her abdomen and its lining. None was found in her lymph nodes. When she had surgery two LARGE tumors were removed…one located right at her stomach; also she had to have the protective lining to her abdomen removed, leaving her susceptible to herniation of that area of her body. With the ascites (fluid) that occurs with many cancers plus this loss of abdominal lining, she often had to have the fluid drained (I actually sat with her many occasions when this was done (mind you, she was awake for these procedures)…while it relieves pressure on organs and gives the patient relief it also speeds the accumulation of even MORE fluid).

I know I am not painting a pretty picture, but it is a picture of a wonderful, brave woman who loved her life…suffering one of the deadliest cancers today. Unfortunately, ovarian cancer is not called a silent killer for nothing. Symptoms are not very easy to spot. And when they are, often they are mistaken for gall bladder trouble, weight gain or other maladies.

During Mama's brief remission

My mother thought she had gall bladder trouble. She experienced some bloating and had trouble with not wanting to eat at times. Food didn’t seem to agree with her…either she wasn’t hungry or although hungry she couldn’t eat very much. Spotting/unusual bleeding occurred even though she’d already gone past menopause. She never mentioned constipation or abdominal pain to me but these are also signs of a possible illness. Her stomach appeared distended, which she attributed to a possible gall bladder problem. Again, nothing alarming and nothing too out of the ordinary that she felt in danger. Taken all together, these symptoms are quite obvious she was sick. But they all didn’t happen at the same times. Also, by the time these symptoms are all coming together there is a great possibility the cancer has ventured into the Stage Three area.

According to ovariancancer.org you should also watch for other symptoms that have been commonly reported by women with ovarian cancer. These symptoms include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse and menstrual irregularities. However, these other symptoms are not as useful in identifying ovarian cancer because they are also found in equal frequency in women in the general population who do not have ovarian cancer.

These are not silent symptoms. A person can and does notice these unusual or uncommon things as they happen to the body, especially a combination of a few. These are signs that you take and run straight to your doctor!

Early detection is KEY! For those in the high risk category, there is the CA-125 test, while it does have false positives…it measure the concentration of protein CA-125 (elevated numbers are found in cancerous cells). Transvaginal ultrasounds are a wonderful backup to this test. My mother had these tests done at regular intervals while undergoing chemotherapy and during a brief remission to measure the rise or fall of the number of cancer cells…determining the advancement or sometimes loss of numbers in cancer cells.

OVA1 has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for determining risks for surgery and helps determine if surgery can be done by a gynecologist or a gynecological oncologist –  a doctor who is specially trained to treat women with gynecological cancers. My mother’s surgery was done by a gynecologic-oncologist.

Pelvic exams, like those you get in your annual exam (ladies, get those examinations) do not usually detect ovarian cancer. If it does it is usually in the advanced stages. They are helpful and should not be overlooked as they will be part of the official diagnosis and staging of ovarian cancer. They are also vital in keeping other medical problems at bay.

Avon Books has made an initial donation of $25,000 to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. And Avon has announced that beginning August 30, it  is committed to donating 25¢ from the sale of each book, physical and eBook, in the “K.I.S.S and Teal” promotion between 8/30/2011 and 2/28/2012, up to an additional $25,000 toward programs that support ovarian cancer patients and their families. Be sure to look for the KISS and Teal logo on your next Avon purchase! You can also go to their web page to make individual donations.

A ‘critique raffle” is being held by fellow writers for author Heather McCollum…who is fighting ovarian cancer with dignity and with grace. Five fellow authors are donating critiques to be raffled at $1 per chance with the proceeds going to fund awareness of ovarian cancer and the need to find a cure. I find this a sweet, heartfelt gesture and would love anyone reading this blog to check it out at http://www.virginiakantra.com/CritiquesforHeather.html.

Treatment of ovarian cancer includes one or any combination of the following: surgery, chemotherapy, intraperitoneal chemotherapy and radiation. Naturally, a person could expect hair loss, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, nerve problems, sexual issues, diarrhea or constipation, differing tastes of foods and problems with teeth and gums and what is known as “chemobrain”, forgetfulness or trouble concentrating following chemotherapy. If it goes into remission please continue to get regular checkups, for around 70 percent of patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer will have a recurrence.

My mother enjoyed a few months without chemotherapy and with low CA-125 numbers, then it returned and seemed to never respond to treatment. According to the ovariancancer.org site:

One of the factors in determining a patient’s risk of recurrence is the stage of the cancer at diagnosis:

  • Patients diagnosed in stage I have a 10 percent chance of recurrence.
  • Patients diagnosed in stage II have a 30 percent chance of recurrence.
  • Patients diagnosed in stage III have a 70 to 90 percent chance of recurrence.
  • Patients diagnosed in stage IV have a 90 to 95 percent chance of recurrence.

We need better early detection. We need reliable tests that can find this illness in its earliest stages. We need more accurate screening tools!!

Please take a few minutes to look at a few ovarian cancer sites. Famed Saturday Night Live member, Gilda Radner, died of this disease. A great organization was founded by her husband after her death because she’d felt “no one should face cancer alone”. Along with the sites I’ve mentioned, visit Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, A Survivor’s Journey For Women with Cancer, Ovarian Cancer?? Pass the Wine…Now!, Wikipedia List of Women with Ovarian Cancer…or one of the scores of sites for information concerning finding, treating and curing this disease.

Please, listen to your body! Insist on more attention to ovarian cancer research and testing. Ladies (and gentlemen) please pass along the link to this blog to raise awareness with others who should know more about this deadly cancer. Let’s raise awareness among our writing (and reading) community!

Let’s make many, many more people aware of this most deadly disease,


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