Friday, November 6, 2015

How to plan for NaNoRiMo

World wide writers summon their creative selves, their writing how-to and their persistence to tackle

National Novel Writing Month 

From Wikipedia comes this explanation: 

- an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words (the minimum number of words for a novel) from November 1 until the deadline at 11:59PM on November 30. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to get people writing and keep them motivated throughout the process. The website provides participants with tips for writer's block, local places writers participating in NaNoWriMo are meeting, and an online community of support. The idea is to focus on completion instead of perfection.

This year I am not formally registered but have declared my goal within my writers' circle and now here to the world at large.

  • I calculated that I need 1,666 words per day to reach 50,000. 

  • I have a list of possible scenes stated in a few sentences each. 

  • I have Scrivener set up and my blank page ready to accept words.

  • I got my lucky hat ready.


  • Day 1. My brain yelled at me: "Start the the car, start the car and drive away quickly." A big black hand banned me from my writing program.    I wrote 0 words.

  • Day 2. 0 words 

  • Day 3. 0 words. 

  • Day 4. I visited with a writer friend (BC Deeks) and we discussed the problem. Brenda's suggestion: make a goal to write just one sentence. We hammered out what that sentence would be. When she left, I sat down and wrote it. And, surprise, surprise, another 710 words followed and I had my first scene. 

  • Day 5 - Sat to write one sentence. Did 317 words -- but it only took 15 minutes.

  • Day 6 (today) I wrote that one sentence and got a total of 314 words in under 15 minutes.

Is it my 1,666 words? NO

The Point:

A few words are better than no words.  

By setting a (ridiculously) manageable goal in the face of an unnamed reluctance, I managed to start. And I am continuing and that big black hand saying "NO" has faded to mere wisps of smoke.  For now I'm focusing on one 15 minute chunk at a time. November 30th will show the result. Check back then to see my total word count.

Are you writing for NaNoRiMo? 

How to you keep at it? 

What fears try to sneak in? 

Let us know how it is going.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Mysteries with Laurel Heidtman

An author's world with Laurel Heidtman aka Lolli Powell

Kentucky based author Laurel Heidtman joins us today for some Q. and A. and a glimpse into a writer's life.

Q. Laurel, tell us a bit about you.
 A. I write mysteries under the name Laurel Heidtman and romances under the name Lolli Powell. I live with my husband, four dogs and two cats on private land surrounded by Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky. Over the years, I've paid the bills by being a dancer, a bartender, a police officer, a registered nurse and atechnical writer. I draw on that life experience and my two English degrees to createstories that I enjoy writing and hope readers will enjoy reading.

Q: How many books have you written?
A: I’ve written and published two mysteries under the Laurel Heidtman name and two romances under the Lolli Powell name. One of the romances, The Wrong Kind of Man, is a romantic suspense so it crosses the genre line with some bad guys, action, murder, and a little something else I’m not going to say. I’ve also got another book that I wrote back in the nineties, but haven’t yet published. One of these days I’ll get it out, clean it up, and put it out there!
Q: Reviews are helpful (usually) to authors and readers. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice how to deal with the bad?
A: I read every review, but I don’t respond to them. I think readers leave reviews for
other readers. By reading a review, an author can learn a lot about how readers are
receiving their books, but I don’t think they should respond in any way.
However, if a reader contacts me directly via my two websites’ contact email, then I
certainly respond. I’ve thanked the people who told me they enjoyed my books, but I
also answer—politely—anyone who says they don’t care for them. For example, I
received an email from one person whose niece bought her a paperback of Catch A
Falling Star at an author panel. She was offended by the vulgar language of some
characters in the first chapter and wrote to tell me she’d thrown the book in the trash. I
responded in a polite manner and told her I was sorry she was bothered by the
language and that I only put it in the mouths of the characters who would talk that way
in real life. Since then, I’ve made a point of warning anyone who buys a paperback of
my mysteries at a live event about the language, and so far it hasn’t stopped anyone
else from buying a copy.

As far as advice on how to deal with bad reviews, all I can say is try not to let it get to you. Not everyone is going to like what you write. Most people won’t say anything if they can’t say something good, but a few will. Read the bad reviews with an open mind. The writer may have a valid complaint that will help you improve your writing in the future.
Others are just “haters,” as a writer I know puts it. All you can do is ignore those. For example, I have a one-star review on Amazon from a woman who got a free copy of my book through LibraryThing. I sent the free ebook copies out on a Saturday and on Sunday—the very next day, she wrote a one-star review calling it “one of the worst books of 2014” and complaining she struggled to get through it. Considering she’d had the book no more than a day, I’m betting she didn’t even read it, or at least didn’t read much of it. The only thing to do is ignore a review like that.
Q: What are you working on now? What is your next project?
A: I’m actually working on two books now. Once before I worked on a mystery and a
romance at the same time. If I bogged down in one, I could take a break and work on
the other and it kept me fresh. I’m about a third of the way through Runaway Angel, the
first book in a romance series that begins in the sixties, and have three chapters of a
thriller titled Whiteout. I hope to release Whiteout by the end of this year or the
beginning of next year, but I’m going to hold Runaway Angel back until I have at least
one more in the series ready to go.

I’m also hashing out an idea for yet another romance series and another book in the Eden mystery series, but I won’t start either of those until I have at least one of my
current ones done. Two books at a time—yes, but more than that? Don't think so! I
value my sanity too much!
Q. Have you ever gotten into a bar fight?
A. No. I’ve only attended them as a spectator.


Both books are only available for sale through Amazon or CreateSpace. The ebooks are available through Unlimited and KOLL as well.

Bad Girls
Amazon link: (Canada)
US - Bad Girls

Cal Becker, the former Chicago cop turned insurance investigator
readers first met in Catch A Falling Star, is back in Eden—and he’s brought his eighteen-year-old niece with him. Marnie Becker is a troubled young woman with an alcoholic mother and drinking problems of her own. When Cal offers to pay her way through Raven University and move to Eden with her, she jumps at the chance to change her life. But on the day of their arrival, she disappears.

It wouldn’t be the first time she ran away when the going got tough. Has she done so again rather than face the challenges of her new life or has something happened to her? Cal has hopes for a new life for himself in Eden, and when Marnie goes missing, he doesn’t know whether to be worried or angry. But when the beaten body of a young girl is found in Daniel Boone National Forest, he fears his worst nightmare has become reality—or has his worst nightmare only begun?

The Wrong Kind of Man  (Canada)
US - The Wrong Kind of Man 

At thirty years of age, Maggie Fields has had her fill of “bad” men. Unbeknownst to her, her investment counselor husband had paid for their luxurious Denver lifestyle by scamming his law-abiding clients and laundering money for his law-breaking ones. He lasted two nights in jail before a client who didn’t trust him to keep his mouth shut had him silenced permanently.

Maggie fled to her hometown of Vichy, Indiana, and safe haven with her grandparents. Now all she wants is a quiet life as a reporter for a small town newspaper. That quiet is shattered when her ne’er-do-well uncle shows up on her retired doctor grandfather’s doorstep with a wounded and very sexy friend. Did the friend really injure his shoulder while changing a tire, or is he the man shot by the homeowner during an attempted burglary of a house just outside of town?

Maggie soon has reason to believe the homeowner is not an innocent victim, leading her to wonder if her uncle and his friend are involved in organized crime. But in spite of her suspicions, Maggie finds herself drawn to the wounded stranger and realizes the bad experience with her husband hasn’t dulled her taste for the wrong kind of man!

Find Laurel at her website and on Twitter.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What was the price of public urination circa 1900?

Town ByLaws & Fees, . 2015

Just recently the town of Tabor, Alberta consolidated a group of old bylaws and added some new ones. For example the law declares you can't spit, swear or scream in public. The fee for the first offense would cost $150 and a second offense could set you back $250. For spitting in public you'd pay a $75 fine.

This isn't a new concept. Many locations have similar rules about fighting, assembly, spitting and
Notary Seal, circa 1900
public urination. And they go back a long time. However prices for the offenses have gone way up. My mother, who had heard the following story of a public urination incident from her father, repeated it often in her repertoire of family stories.

Civil Court Case, circa 1900

Sherbrook Hotel circa 1900
Prior to the WW1 my grandfather was the Justice of the Peace in Sherbrook, Nova Scotia. He assisted the circuit court Judge in legal matters and presided over civil cases.

Like many small towns, the local hotel had a bar. One evening a gentlemen I will call Mr. Smith was enjoying beverages at said bar. Beer affected him the same it does most of us, and later in the evening he went outside. Deciding the outhouse was too far away, he picked a shaded spot beside the wall and relieved himself.

Unfortunately for him, the two spinster sisters in town were returning home from a prayer meeting. They witnessed his indiscretion and reported him. In due course, Mr. Smith came before the Court and pleaded guilty. My grandfather had searched his law books and town by-laws and fined Mr. Smith a nickle for public urination.

Mr. Smith marched over to the Clerk of the Court and slapped down a quarter. Turning on his heel, he stomped toward the back of the court.

The Clerk called after him.. "Mr. Smith don't you want your change?"

With one hand on the swinging door, he turned back and bellowed his response. "Keep it. I farted too." 

Oral story telling was the first way of keeping track of events. Our family has numerous stories told over the generations. My mother wrote many of them down and story tellers - oral and written - populate our family tree. 

Does your family have stories that have been passed down through the generations? Please share if you'd like.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Do you believe in ghosts?

A plethora of ghosts.... Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Two (honest) tales....

These were told to me over Thanksgiving Dinner in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia back in 2013. The story teller is a reputable gentleman with a wonderful gift for telling stories. To the best of my memory these are his stories.

Gallows Hill Legacy?

Terry was working as a carpenter repairing various parts of the Lunenburg Academy. While on his own, finishing some work in one of the towers, the hairs on the back of his neck raised and a track prickled across his scalp. He turned slowly.

In the middle of the tower hung a man, strung up by his neck, the sightless eyes staring straight at Terry. He closed his eyes and shuddered. When he opened them again, the vision was gone. Creeped out, he left the tower for the day. However, twice more before the renovations were completed, Terry saw the poor man. He never did know why the apparition appeared to him, but as it didn't offer him any harm, he let the fellow alone.

Childish company...

Some time later, Terry was working as the night security in the old school. He went in at supper time as the work for the day finished. One of his duties was to go through the three story structure on a walk-around to make sure no one had snuck in to vandalize the place. On his first tour he reached the third floor without incident. He glanced back down the stairwell and realized the light was on in the library. He was sure he had turned it off. He raced back down the stairs thinking he'd missed seeing someone.

Sure enough, the light was on and there was a young boy sitting at one of the tables with a book. "What are you doing?" he asked the lad who looked up, smiled and said, "Just reading."

Although it seemed odd, Terry decided to leave the boy there. After all, he was doing no harm. "You can stay for now," he said. "But not long." The boy nodded. On his next walk through, he found the boy still there. "It's getting dark," Terry said, "Your mother will be wondering where you are. You need to go now."

The boy turned, smiled and---poof---was gone. Terry shivered and shutting out the light and locking the door, continued on his rounds. He did not look in the library again that night.

Real ghosts? His imagination? Stories to entertain us? True or fanciful? You decide. But I believe him. And check out more Nova Scotia Ghost stories. They can't all be "made up." Can they?

Lunenburg Academy History 

Settlers arrived in the area in the 1600's. A century later, German speaking settlers came to the area and settled Lunenburg County. As recently as the 1960's there were old folk in the area who still spoke a version of German.

The massive, three-storey, Lunenburg Academy was first built between 1893 and 1895 on Gallows Hill. Lure has it that more than one person was hung on this hill. The school, still used today for grades K to 6, has numerous ghosts connected to it in other than the two tales above. Given that is is surrounded on three sides by a graveyard with stones dated back to the early 1700's, it's no surprise. The evening walking tour can fill you in on more than one story as can this site. (Historic