Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sunday Snippets - Sundry Somethings

I'm out of town vacationing so my "Sunday Snippets - Sundry Somethings" is on hiatus till I get back. Here's a little humor to help you through.



Friday, June 29, 2012

How we met....

Melinda Dozier is hosting a blog hop to celebrate her 16th anniversary. The story must be told in 100 words or less and a photo taken around that time displayed. Enjoy!


Yellowstone National Park, 2008

What do you get when two people who have lost spouses of 19+ years meet? What do you get when those two people are both full-time RVers and don't own a house? What do you get when those two people both ride motorcycles? In July 2008 at an RV rally in Gillette, WY we found out.  

Within a year, my RV was sold, a new motorcycle was purchased for me and we married in front of family and friends from both sides. Karma? We like to think so. We think our late spouses knew we needed to meet.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

FOTO: Flowers in Florida - 2004

From time to time I'll post a photo that I've taken at some time. Nice scenery, unusual topics, or just a picture that I like.

[click for larger view]
©Donna B. McNicol ~ http://donnamcnicol.com

“Spiritual blossoming simply means
blossoming in life in all dimensions
- being happy, at ease with yourself
and with everybody around you.”
~ Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
(1956-)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The ABC's of Me - A to M

Several writerly blogs I follow have done this and I thought I'd give it a try...enjoy!

Author - Am I one yet? Not in my mind...eventually though!

Blanchard - My maiden name, traced back from Massachusetts to England and then to France.

Carpe Diem - Something I try to do every day. Losing my husband at 58, the person I thought I'd be with the rest of my life, taught me to savor every day to the fullest.

Donna - I've never particularly liked my name. There is no good nickname, it's boring and in the 1950's there were too many of us. I tried to talk my parents into letting me spell it Dawna. No go. Today kids would just do it. LOL!

Exeter - This is where I lived during my high school years, Exeter NH. It's not my hometown, that's Duxbury MA, but those years are still memorable ones.

Fly - The movie The Fly was my first ever horror movie. I was maybe 10 years old which made my brothers 7 and 4 and our mother decided to take us all out to the movies. She obviously hadn't read about the movie and had no idea of the horror it involved. To this day, that is one of the scariest memories of my childhood.

G rades - I was basically an A student, well until I met up with Geometry. For some reason we just didn't get along and in tenth grade I got my first C.

HOT...not sexy hot, but hot flash hot. Over three years and still waiting for them to stop. :-(

Imperfect - "I refuse to wait for my perfect tomorrow, I'll continue to savor my imperfect todays."

Journal - I'm a writer and writers should have journals, or so the pundits say. I've bought them, I love the look, the feel, the clean white lined paper. I write maybe once or twice and never continue. But I still buy them and collect them and look at them....

Killers - I have fallen in love with books involving serial killers and I don't know why. Maybe because I spent so many years reading romance novels? James Patterson and Alan Jacobson are two of my favorite authors.

Love of Life - This is a common trait of both my current and late husband, a real love of life. Taking each moment and making the best of it. I work hard to do the same in their honor!

Motorcycle - I learned to ride at age 55. Ten years later my only regret is that I didn't start much younger. The freedom on riding is something only another rider or a dog can understand.
Watch for N - Z.....
PS. Be sure to stop by Christina McKnight's blog about writerly motivations...you'll see me there!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Did you ever?


Did you ever wonder why you have this need to write? The need to spit out words on to paper without regard to whether someone else will ever read it or not?

When did it start? As a youngster, teen, adult or late in life?

Did you make up stories when you were little?

Did you have an imaginary friend?

We all have our own beginnings, hope you'll drop a comment about yours.

I wrote a little about mine here: My writing origins

Monday, June 25, 2012

Brand me!


Yesterday I talked about adding a favicon to your blog and that brought to mind another topic...branding. No, not the calf type of branding, establishing YOUR brand.

I'm not going to re-invent the wheel here, there are many articles on this topic written by more knowledgeable people than I. Here's a few of my favorites:

One of the best articles on the topic is from Jeff Goins, "5 Important Tips for Building a Strong Brand
Joanna Penn's "How To Discover and Build Your Author Brand"
Michael Hyatt's "7 Ways to Build Your Author Brand Online"
AuthorMedia and "Build Your Author Brand in 5 Easy Steps"

Okay, I think I've made a good start. I'm on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest,  Goodreads and Amazon. I have my blog and my website. I comment on blogs, I write in various Facebook writing groups, I try to contribute useful information when I can. I think the one thing left to do is start some type of mailing list, maybe a small newsletter. Gulp!

One good thing, I was lucky that the photo I initially used has worked out well. Joanna Penn touched on this, "Try using the same photo across multiple social networks so people recognize you."  So, whenever you see this picture, you know it's me!


How do you think you're doing in branding yourself as an author? Got any tips to pass along? Likes or dislikes in what you've seen with other authors?


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Favicon me!

It's time to add a favicon to your Blogger.com blog - one little tip that keeps your blog looking professional as well as helping to identify it among a group of website pages. For years professionals have used favicons to identify their websites. For those with blogs hosted on their own domains, it's been an easy enough process to create the .ico file and upload it to the home directory.

But for those of us using Blogger, we were left out in the cold. Not any more! If you look at your browser tab, you will see the custom icon that I use for my blog as well as my website, DonnaMcNicol.com

I use a stand-along blog reader, RSSOwl (which I'll be reviewing in a later post) but it give me a chance to easily show you how favicons help differentiate your blog. The standard B for Blogger blogs and W for WordPress blogs are obvious....and boring. ;-)


Blogger has made the process even simpler, you just need an image that will be quite clear (keep it simple) and you can upload it. They will handle the conversion to a .ico file.

Here is a blog that explains the process in more detail: How to Add Your Favicon to Blogger It uses the old interface at Blogger. If you are using the new dashboard (not sure if everyone has been converted), here is how it will look to you (the steps are the same). Click to enlarge.


Don't be afraid to try several images. Once loaded you will see the small image on your Blogger layout page. Don't like it? Not clear enough? Load a different one.

Here are a couple of place to search for icons: Find Icons and Icon Finder Think about what you want to represent your site. It could be as simple as your initials, a logo you already have or something connected to the purpose of your blog. For me that was easy....at least the first time. I am a writer, so I chose a quill pen. Later I changed to a small head shot of me. Oh, and remember my write-up on Irfanview? That's what I use to resize images and save them as an .ico file. Works perfectly, I even make icons to use on my desktop shortcuts. Happy icon hunting!


Twitter Account Changed!!!!


Just a quick shout-out to all my Twitter followers...I just changed my ID from @DonnaBMcNicol to @DBMcNicol

Why? Because it's shorter so I can write more in my Tweet (and in RT's or retweets). I'll be changing all my website and blog links today and I hope you'll get me added to your list with the correct name.

Oh, and be sure to check out my new Twitter account for my Write 4 Ten blog: @Write4Ten

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sunday Snippets - Sundry Somethings

Wait a minute? Didn't I just write this? Can a week have passed already? Phew, no wonder I'm tired. ;-)

Hoping you are enjoying your summer. I'm not a real summer person, I don't deal well with heat. Give me spring or fall anytime, especially fall. But I know summer will be over before we know it and that means we'll be back on the road, leaving Tennessee for Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. Friends and family - it's all good!

I've been busy on the computer this past week. I took the input from my critique partner and edited chapter one of  "A Montana Chance" [reminds me, I need to update the excerpt on my website], adding two new scenes. I also finished chapter two, with three new scenes and four new characters (they just seemed to crawl out of the woodwork). Got the critique back on that, will tackle it next week but want to work on chapter three first....wait, no. That's not right, I have to do an insert chapter which will become chapter two, and two will be three so I'd be writing four...nevermind. It will all work out...

Randy also recommended several books to me and I ordered one, The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. I'm going to start reading it tonight and hopefully it will help me with some of my newbie writing deficiencies.

Let's see, what else. Oh yeah, I'm going to Ft. Lauderdale on the 28th for a total of ten days (including driving time). I'll be visiting family, getting a little sun, meeting my great-granddaughter for the first time and maybe, just MAYBE doing my first tandem sky dive. Oh my! Anyway, I'll try to post daily but don't hold me to it.



I know you like short posts on weekends, so I'll close with a little humor:

[savagechickens.com]

Friday, June 22, 2012

Be Inspired

I got tagged from Bullish Ink for the "Be Inspired" blog hop. It's all about writers talking about their inspiration and how they put that on the page.

So, here's the plan:
    1.  Answer the following ten questions about a current WIP.
    2.  Tag five other writers and link their blogs so we can all hop over and read their answers.

It's that simple.

Now for the questions:

1.] What is the title of your book?
Since my only published book is a short story, I'm going to use that. The title is "Lost and Found".

2.] Where did the idea for the book come from?
I wish I remembered. I initially wrote it in 1996 to be submitted to a womans magazine. I recently dug it out, updated it and published it as a short story.

3.] What genre would your book fall under?
I guess it would be contemporary fiction although when I started it was supposed to be a romance.

4.] Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Hmmm, Sarah would be played by Amanda Seyfried and Carl would be played by Chris Pine.

5.] What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
After moving from Chicago to rural Baxter Springs, KS, Sarah wonders if the country is any better than the city when her eight year old son, Brian, goes missing.

6.] Is your book published or represented?
It is self-published on Amazon.

7.] How long did it take you to write?
Again, I wish I could remember. I spent a couple of hours editing and updating it recently.

8.] What other books within your genre would you compare it to?
No comment since it's a short story.

9.] Which authors inspired you to write this book?
I've been inspired by way too many authors to even think about singling out just one.

10.] Tell us anything else that might pique our interest in your book.I never intended to make anyone cry, as I said, it was initially supposed to be a romance.

Now for the interesting part, chosing five authors to challenge!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

FOTO: Yellowstone National Park - May 2005

From time to time I'll post a photo that I've taken at some time. Nice scenery, unusual topics, or just a picture that I like.
[click photo for larger view]
©Donna B. McNicol ~ http://donnamcnicol.com

“You get more negative reactions than
positive reactions as you go through life,
and the big lesson is
nobody counts you out but yourself”
~ Buddy Ebsen
( 1908-2003)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sweet Banana Ink

My good writing friend, Ruth of Bullish Ink, has a thing about bananas. In fact, sweet bananas. In case you wonder why (or even if you don't), you need to read a post she wrote almost a year ago. Sweet Bananas

So fast forward to now when three friends, including the aforementioned Ruth, decide to create a comfortable spot where, as they put it, "Where writers and words come together to play". The name of this site? Sweet Banana Ink, of course. All writers are invited to participate, posts will be done on a rotating basis. You can get all the details on their submission page.

Wondering if Sweet Banana is for you? Read this excerpt from their website.
Sweet Banana is right for you if:
  • You don’t have a blog but want to share something you’ve written
  • You have a blog post or story that you’d like to give a second chance
  • You want to announce a writing event
  • You want to plug your book
  • You want to share an essay on the craft
  • You want to join a blog hop but don't have a blog to post on
  • You’d like to get a ‘blind’ critique from your community of peers
  • You’d like to give a review of a favorite fiction book
  • You’d like to give a review of a favorite book on the craft
  • You’d like to share a story or post that doesn’t fit the criteria of your own blog
Oh, by the way, today (hopefully) my Write for Ten scribblings for the prompt of 'coffee' should be the featured article of the day!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Writing Excuses

Most of the time we writers have a million excuses about not finding time to write. I thought it was time to reverse that and come up with some ways to use writing AS an excuse. Here are my top excuses. I hope you'll get creative and post some of yours!

  1. Invited to your ex-sister-in-law's brother's two year old daughter's birthday party at Chuck E Cheese?  "I'm sorry I can't come but I'm waiting for an important call from my agent/editor/publisher."
      
  2. When being nagged by a spouse or S/O reply with, "I'm sorry, did you say something? My characters were having a fight and I couldn't hear a thing."
     
  3. Getting too many phone calls? Change your voice-mail message to something witty like, "I'm sorry I can't take your call. I'm in eastern BFE (your choice of location) doing research for my next book. Leave a message at the beep."
     
  4. Someone mention the dust bunnies? Easy! "Dust bunnies? Oh my no, those are the fairy beds. If I clean them up they'll create all kinds of chaos!"
     
  5. Class reunion? Family gathering? No problem. "I'd love to come but my computer just ate my last three chapters, just as the hero told me he needs me....SERIOUSLY needs me."

Monday, June 18, 2012

Awards and Thank you's

Over the last two weeks I've been the recipient of several blog awards and it's time to pay the piper reciprocate. So here goes...and forgive me if I missed any. It's been a busy couple of weeks.

First, thank you to Lizzie Loodles who nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger award. I've had a couple of nominations for this one already but LOVE getting recognized (who doesn't).


Here are the rules as passed to me:
1. Thank and link back to the person who nominated you. (check)
2. Answer 10 questions. (done before - check)
3. Share 10 random facts about yourself (so done before - check)
4. Bestow the Kreativ Blogger award on 7 fab bloggers. (see the end of this blog post)

Okay, now the second and third awards came from Kaye Draper and L.G. Keltner who each nominated me for the Liebster Award.

Once again, here are the rules as passed to me:
1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog. (check)
2. Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you. (check)
3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog. (check)
4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less. (see the end of this blog post)
5. Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog. (well, yeah....)

Hopefully I will pick folks who do NOT have these awards...but sometimes it still happens. I'm going to choose 7 + 5 + 12 / 2 = 6 blogs. They can take both awards or chose one, their option. BUT, they should follow the rules, not be like me. ;-)

So here goes, my half dozen random, fab, awesome, quirky, fun, informational blog choices are:

1. Donna Galanti because her posts always make me smile.
2. Kern Windwraith because she's a survivor.
3. Moonduster because I love her name.
4. Allan Douglas because he writes such great comments.
5. Stuart Nager because I like his flash fiction.
6. Anne Mackle because I can hear her accent when she writes.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Summer Book Promo

If you missed my free book weekend in honor of Father's Day, you can still snag my books for .99 at Amazon. Check it out!

I hope you'll give my brand new short story, Lost and Found, a try. Love to get some reviews!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sunday Snippets - Sundry Somethings

Another Sunday rolls around and I'm still trying to recuperate from our five days in Nashville at the Music Fest. We really enjoyed ourselves and already bought tickets and reserved our campsite for next year!

We have settled into Maple Hill RV Park in Jamestown, TN where we will spend most of the summer. We love coming back here, wonderful mom & pop park run by great folks. I think this is our fourth stay here. You can also find them on Facebook.

The motorcycles are unloaded and by the time you read this, we should have gotten in a few miles. It's been way too long for both of us.

Not all has been upbeat though....when Stu unloaded his trike he discovered his reverse gear is broken. We'll have to get it into the dealer's this week. Strike two, got one load of laundry washed when it stopped working. Stu cleaned out the trap underneath (got $1.27 in change) and still no go. Will be looking for a mobile RV service. This makes three since my shoulder issues cropped up, I did make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor for next Monday. [Update: washer is FIXED!!]

Thought you might get a kick out of the Father's Day coffee mugs I got him at Amazon...finally, mugs that will hold a FULL cup of coffee from our Keurig coffee maker.

 

Okay, enough blathering....here are some links I hope will be of interest to you.





Now for a little humor....
A visitor to a certain college paused to admire the new Hemingway Hall that had been built on campus. 
"It's a pleasure to see a building named for Ernest Hemingway," he said. 
"Actually," said his guide, "it's named for Joshua Hemingway. No relation 
The visitor was astonished. "Was Joshua Hemingway a writer, also?" 
"Yes, indeed," said his guide. "He wrote a check."



Friday, June 15, 2012

Write on?

[source]
I recently upgraded my laptop from a 15" to a 17" and I love the expanded screen size. I run the old Vista style sidebar and keep it on top. It seems I've gotten very used to the larger size keyboard as well. My old Gateway had a more cramped keyboard as I discovered when I spent some time cleaning the hard drive before passing it on.

Lately I've given some thought to an inexpensive "something" to write on, exclusively. Something to keep me from dabbling in email, social media and blog reading when I should be writing. I've thought about a cheap (maybe refurbished) laptop in at least 15", an ultra-notebook, or even a tablet with a detachable (or wireless) keyboard. As a last resort, I picked up a couple more three subject notebooks and some colored pens. ;-)

What is your primary writing instrument?




  
pollcode.com free polls 

So, does anyone have a second computer....just for writing? What about wireless keyboards and larger monitors? Inquiring minds and all that....LOL!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Science Fiction and TV Shows

[photo credit: Barabeke via photo pin cc]
I enjoy Sci-Fi shows, both the good and the bad. On the bad/funny side were "My Favorite Martian", "Lost in Space", "Mork and Mindy" and

For some reason I was thinking about Sci-Fi shows that I really loved, ones that got canceled before their time (in my opinion). Some were allowed to wrap up the series, others just dropped off the schedule, to never be seen again.
  • Strange Luck
  • Quantum Leap
  • Firefly
  • Three Moons over Milford
  • Jericho (more post-Apocalyptic than sci-fi)
  • Caprica
  • Sanctuary [don't know if it has been renewed yet]
Some of these might not be traditional Science Fiction but because they dealt outside the norm, I consider them so...some might deem them Fantasy. That's okay, I like both genres. LOL! There are many other good shows (and even not so good shows) that came and went. How many generations of Star Trek have their been? I only watched the first two iterations (and enjoyed them both).

If you watched any of my cancelled shows, I think you'll see my love of all things quirky. I also never take things too seriously...television, movies and reading are escapism for me. I partake for relaxation and escape. If that makes me "trite", so be it. I am what I am.

Got any favorite shows you're missing?


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Critique Partners and Beta Readers - check!

[source]
When I first started writing my novels, I never thought about what I needed when I was done. I knew I'd write a first draft, let it percolate, go back and read/edit and repeat. I've never been part of a writing group so the idea of critique partners was foreign to me.

I soon realized, after reading other blogs and chatting with other writers, that I was going to need both of these. The problem was, I had no idea how to go about finding them.

I knew I could use family and close friends for beta readers but I was worried about getting honest reviews from them.

Then I read Rachel Harrie's blog seeking to help writers link up with each other. I was fortunate to connect with two great critique partners and I feel a lot better about future edits on my books. I also have found a couple of folks willing to be beta readers, folks who aren't afraid to "tell me like it is". My husband is always my alpha reader and initial proof editor. He does a great job and I appreciate the time he takes for this.

How did you meet your alpha/beta readers and critique partners? If you are self-publishing, how are you dealing with all the details/duties an agent and editor would slog through? All thoughts, ideas and suggestions are appreciated!