I C Summer Blog Tour – “Navigating the Writing Path: From Start to Finish”

My on-line writing buddy, Louise Redmann, thought of me as a participant in this great blog tour from I C Publishing (www.ICPublishing.ca). Thanks so much, Louise, I had a great time answering the questions and thinking about writing more than usual. Please visit her blog at https://louiseredmann.com/?p=423 and soak in the photos of her awesome first-hand research opportunities.

Here are my responses to those questions:

1. Share how you start your writing project(s). For example, where do you find inspiration? Do you outline? Do you jump right into the writing? Do you do all of your research first?
I have a few ideas that came to me from dreams, one or two that evolved while I was reading some book that didn’t go the way I thought it should, or watching a movie with the same situation. I’ll have a conversation in my head out of nowhere, between two people I don’t know. Inspiration finds me, I rarely have to look for it. Sometimes my husband gives me an idea with a pun or silly thing he will say. I jump right in to jotting down the notes about the idea, and over time have filled notebooks and computer files. It’s not likely that I will get all my ideas written out, but I hope to come close. I outline if I have a complex story that I need to keep track of, but I don’t expect to adhere to the outline rigidly. Funny thing about research, I do a lot of it before I write, but I can’t count the number of times I have paused mid-sentence to go look up one detail that I forgot to clarify.

2. How do you continue your writing project? i.e. How do you find motivation to write on the non-creative days? Do you keep to a schedule? How do you find the time to write?
Motivation to write is always an issue that comes up in my Scribophile group. I don’t have much trouble in that direction, but if there seems to be a gap between what I want to write and what’s forming in coherent sentences, I walk away for a while. I read, watch a movie, pull weeds, clean the kitchen, play with the odd parrot or two (I live with way more odd parrots than that) and in general free my brain to work out the problem. I have a schedule that gives me about 20 to 30 minutes in the morning before I go to work, and two evenings when I can squeeze out an hour or so. The weekends are split between what must be done to keep things running, like bird cage cleaning, feeding, watering, people food shopping, events, and so on, and Sunday which is my sacred writing day as much as possible. Now and then, during breaks at work I pull out a pad and pen and start making outlines, notes, even posts for my blogs that I later transcribe. It’s all good.

3. How do you finish your project? i.e. When do you know the project is complete? Do you have a hard time letting go? Do you tend to start a new project before you finish the last one?
I give my project to others to critique and read for me. When they can’t nitpick any farther, then it goes to my live-in editor, who formats, spell-checks, nitpicks a bit further, and then it’s done. I don’t have any trouble letting go because by the time we reach the end of the process, I have read the story a thousand times at least. I do start new projects before I finish one to keep myself from getting bored, and also to keep up with various projects that keep coming along.

4. Include one challenge or additional tip that our collective communities could help with or benefit from.
My characters grow in my head, and I learn surprising things about them as time goes by. I found a great way to bring out some of those secrets and peculiarities is to interview the character. It’s fun and it helps so much to give the character free rein over the keyboard. Another great idea is to list five to ten things your character would have in their medicine cabinet, or freezer, or closet. Then put it into a sentence that starts: (Character Name) is the type of person who has (list things) in his/her (pick a location from the three choices above.)

This has been great fun! I hope more of you will want to jump in and participate in this tour. Here are the two great writers and bloggers who agreed to carry the torch from here:

Kate Whitaker writes for fun and profit from the woods of Pennsylvania. You can most likely find her sitting at her kitchen table yelling at kids and cats as she tries to figure out a new way to kill made up monsters. http://wordsthatburnlikefire.wordpress.com/ (I love the chapters she shares on Scribophile, we’re talking serious talent here!)

Ian Faraway is a silly person, and has this to say about himself: I’m not that old but not that young, though I act like my 3 year old niece on a sugar rush at times! I hope this summer I’ll have enough time to write more, and do more in the writing community! Occupation: I’ve been writing since I started writing… all in all, it’s been a very strange day! Interests: Writing, Chess, Games, that thing where you take a pen and write words on paper, learning, joking, exercising. Websites http://ianfaraway.blogspot.com/ (Ian obviously has some not-so-serious talent)

Please drop by and say hello to these talented folks, and help us spread the tour far and wide! Enjoy your week, and I’ll be back on Sunday.


Around the World in 80+ Books, Part 11

Next week will be the final installment of this page-and-globe-trotting trip. I can’t wait to get home, unpack all the books I marked to read, and get to work. Plus I have a blog hop on Wednesday! Lots of good questions coming up, but let’s be off.

201. Antigua and Barbuda. Lovely island settings for books are very appealing, but so many come with histories of slavery, colonization, and suffering. There’s little to document why the native population on the island died off with the coming of Europeans, it could have been from diseases they brought to the island, or the lack of nutrition provided to slaves, There’s an accepted theory that just the psychological effect of slavery caused the high death rate of the natives. What a great setting for a paranormal story of old sorrows and painful disillusionment. Antiguan Redemption by Patricia Harrington hasn’t been reviewed yet, and the story description is exactly the same as above, but that’s enough for me.

202. Armenia. Yes, we’re jumping around the globe but in alphabetical order. Sometimes, you just have to take your chances and go with what seems the best choice. Ervand Kadavakiac by Hayk Khachatryan is a fictional account of a 6th century king, about whom I could find very little information. That alone makes this book a great read. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6666299-ervand-sakavakiac

203.Barbados. Back to the islands, and a story about a youth caught between the colonized world he lives in, and the fresh ideas coming from a teacher about independence and pride in yourself and your culture. We all need more of that. No Man in the House by Cecil Foster is about the Caribbean by a Caribbean writer. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2238326.No_Man_in_the_House?ac=1

204. Bhutan. Quick, go get your globe and point to Bhutan! Time’s up. Did you find it? The happiest kingdom on earth, the little corner of heaven tucked into a jungle and mountain? There it is, northeast of India, and no, it’s not where all the disposable lighters come from. You thought I was going for the easy humor, didn’t you? There’s not a book on the list of novels set in Bhutan that I don’t want to read. But the problem is, the place is so awesome that the books are mostly non-fiction. So as a lover of birds and plants and fine art, I picked A Painter’s Year in the Forests of Bhutan by A. K. Hellum. First off, the title is a lie, this person took two years and tries to act all cool about the title. If he or she just told the truth, there would be an increase in Gross National Happiness. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/388831.A_Painter_s_Year_in_the_Forests_of_Bhutan

205.Bonaire, St, Eustatius, and Saba. These islands make up the colony of the Netherlands Antilles. The best things going there is the impressive sea life and diving tours. And it might all be gone by now if not for one man who saw what had to be done and did it. Captain Don Stewart hated seeing movies come out that created fear in tourists with regard to the sea. And so he wrote a book called Sea Trauma to talk about the real dangers underwater. http://www.infobonaire.com/captdon/publish.html

206. Bosnia and Herzegovina. Back in the war-torn lands of Eastern Europe. One book set here has a great title, When History is a Nightmare. The Turks are occupying the country in The Devil and the Dervish by Meša Selimović, in the 18th century. A Dervish monk is keeping a separate peace in his monastic life when the rest of the world intrudes through family ties. What would you do?

207. Botswana. The series of Ladies’ Detective Agency books tempted me, but the title of this true story captured my greater interest. Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide by Peter Allison introduces you to the concept that only food runs. Lots of 4 and 5 star reviews, and on my to-read list. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/891224.Whatever_You_Do_Don_t_Run?ac=1

208. Brunei Darussalam. Oh dear, no novels or even true stories set in this country. But there is a text book called Language, Power, and Ideology in Brunei Darussalam by Geoffrey C. Gunn. Standing out in the region for having a high rate of literacy, still no authors have emerged yet. Perhaps the text book can tell us why. http://www.amazon.com/Language-Power-Ideology-Brunei-Darussalam/dp/0896801926

209. Guernsey and Aldernay. Well, mostly Guernsey. A book with a great title and an awesome premise. A book happens to find the exact person who would most be interested in it, as well as able to connect with the writer of a letter tucked inside. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows has mixed reviews claiming that the book is too sweet. The heroine is just too perky through the whole story, and there’s not enough about the quirky inhabitants of the island. Well, read it and see for yourself. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2728527-the-guernsey-literary-and-potato-peel-pie-society?ac=1

210. Kiribati. Everyone always wants to go to the beautiful tropical islands, but the people stuck there complain that nothing ever happens. So a good choice for a book here is one where Something Happens. And maybe to a person not usually on the island. Food of Ghosts by Marianne Wheelaghan is this story, based on experiences of the author’s mother. The reviews are predominantly positive, including one stating the book is a thrilling, entertaining, and exotic whodunnit. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16143019.Food_of_Ghosts

211. Liechtenstein. This unfortunate country has had a thrilling history as much as any European state. But beyond a very poorly received Danielle Steele book and a few ancient classics, there’s little to read that takes place there. We have a manga, a children’s story about a skinny cow, and a biography of a very expensive piece of furniture. And a trio of kids escaping the Nazis, a so-so Harlequin romance, and porn. So let’s just walk around the country for a while and see if anything inspires us to write. Harry’s Mountain Walks in Liechtenstein by Lloyd P. Clark gets us off to a good start. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6363097.Harry_s_Mountain_Walks_in_Liechtenstein

212. Luxembourg. A good deal larger than Liechtenstein, this country has more books from which to choose. But the first one snagged me in with a great title, and the summary kept my interest. The reviews are pretty good as well. In The Elf of Luxembourg by Tom Weston, teenage sisters visiting Europe from America (California, as we learned in Alex and Jackie Adventures #1. This is #2) get involved in a prophecy and some odd characters, as well as some fabulous shopping. A young adult story that includes some history lessons and great black and while photos. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7801221.The_Elf_of_Luxembourg

213. Malawi. As one reviewer pointed out, so many books that take place in African Nations are sad and depressing, with everyone surrendering to the belief in hopelessness. So while a true story, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba is unique for telling the tale of a person who never gave up hope, and always kept his dream in view. Malawi has wind to spare, and in spite of being called crazy for wanting to use that wind to improve the lives of everyone, William stayed focus and positive. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6419887-the-boy-who-harnessed-the-wind

214. Martinique. This Caribbean island is known for being the birthplace of Josephine, Napoleon’s Empress, and for the eruption of Mt. Pelee in 1902. The land should also be known for author Patrick Chamoiseau, who writes stories from his own life, from the history of the island, and from his charming imagination. In Chronicles of The Seven Sorrows, he creates a marketplace cast and a story which brings folktale characters to life. No reviews yet, but worth a read. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/949068.Chronicle_of_the_Seven_Sorrows

215. Isle of Man. Sometimes it’s hard to track down a book set in a remote location. If GoodReads can’t find it, I look for other sources, but eventually come back to GoodReads for the reviews and book information. Safe House by Chris Ewan is set in the Isle of Man, written there, and had a premier party when it was released. The “hero” is an every-man type, plumber and repair man. A woman disappears, he knows he is being lied to, and a detective comes in from London. One review suggested this story had a “Who Really Cares” feel to it, but as long as it doesn’t go all Wicker Man on us, I would side with the others who enjoyed the suspense and the read. And it’s got a bit with a dog.

216. Macedonia. Thanks to Mary Renault, I went through a stage where I had a serious crush on Alexander the Great. Fire from Heaven is an awesome read, but too easy to suggest here. And so many of the books are about Alexander, like Annabel Lyon’s The Golden Mean. The time of Alexander created lasting animosity between various peoples of the area. In 1966, Tasko Georgievski published the award winning Black Seed, about the civil war making ethnic Macedonians criminals for their heritage. This is the first translation into English. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3479995.Black_Seed__A_Classic_Novel_of_Modern_Macedonian_Literature

217. Maldives. Thor Heyerdahl believed the islands had been inhabited a thousand years earlier than most historians believed. There are several books Goodreads lists, then claims it can’t find. And one that has no clue to what it’s about. A couple of books I have put on my read later list, but the first one doesn’t really take place on Maldives. The second is suggested because people who read the first one liked books about younger men and older women. But no Maldivian books. So let’s look at legends, shall we? Mysticism in the Maldives: Eyewitness Accounts of Supernatural Encounters by Ali Hussain. That ought to make you lose a little sleep. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12122268.Mysticism_in_the_Maldives__eyewitness_accounts_of_supernatural_encounters

218. Moldova. Not a very stellar recognition to be the poorest country in Europe. Most of the books are about children becoming sex slaves and dying of AIDS unless rescued by a mission or such. So I picked two books here. The ones more about the people. The Good Life Elsewhere by Vladimir Lorchenkov has top reviews from people who enjoy dark humor. A talented author who can be very funny and very sad at the same time will weave a special story. Come on, an Orthodox priest’s wife leaves him to elope with an atheist art dealer. What’s not to love? https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18755811.The_Good_Life_Elsewhere The second book is Bessarbian Nights by Stela Brinzeanu, also a well-reviewed story, that follows a close trio of sisters who live with traditions and superstitions while longing for the modern world. As one of them stumbles into a horrific situation, the other two unite to save her. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21424404.Bessarabian_Nights

219. Monaco. Grace Kelly will never die. A dozen books on her life, her marriage, her children, and the lifestyle in Monaco keep her alive. There is also a helping of porn written about Monte Carlo. While Ian Fleming Casino Royale would be good, it’s a bit dated. I like the sound of an end-of-career football hero reunited with his first crush, and the secret she has kept from him. Which is really easy to figure out if you read these kind of Romances. Manacled in Monaco is a catchy name, and the first of Jianne Carlo’s Mediterranean Mambo series. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5630946.Manacled_in_Monaco

220. Montenegro. The name says it all. The Land of the Black Mountain. Lots of histories of the country, and lots of picture books of the rarely seen Montenegro. If I spoke Montenegrin, I would recommend the poetry book by native Petar II Petrović Njegoš . Instead, there’s this tramp across the beautiful land guide called Montenegro or Bust by Paul Richard Scott. He obviously loved the experience, and shares it vividly.

When we wrap up next week, I’d love to hear your favorite books from the list. And I’ll see you on Wednesday for something really fun.

The Formula of Love

Well, it’s a tie. Only one vote came in on the three possible candidates for modeling my heroine after, and then there’s my vote. But as the official tie breaker, I get to pick the one I want. My friend and fellow writer who voted picked my least favorite of the three, to my amazement. She felt the first picture was too sleek and modern-looking, and the third, my favorite, looked too inactive to be a heroine.

I’ve been large size since sometime after my 2nd birthday. I’ve juggled emotional issues and depression and low self-worth, and by some luck managed to stay alive long enough to meet a man who loves me more than I love myself. I’m not saying being overweight is not a problem. I found a plan that works for me and I have lost 70 pounds in the last two years. I’m taking a break and doing maintenance currently while dealing with financial stress (that is going away, hooray!) and getting through the last months before my retirement.

One thing that made the weight loss work is a support group that I found, and that I in turn support through my gift, writing. I take the notes for the group, and keep the information fresh in their minds. We have a great facilitator who is a certified nutritionist, and once a month we have a special speaker who has an amazing alphabet soup behind her name. She works with mostly young women who have eating disorders. She’s lost a few patients, too. It’s a very deadly condition that usually starts with a negative remark from another person. Or maybe just a friend tells you how to drop a few pounds quickly by purging. Size bigotry is killing more people than we realize.

I’m less active than I would like to be, but not long ago (within the last millennium) I took part in three times weekly aerobics classes, hiked with my dog on weekends, and went to as many social events as I could afford. Just last year I was in Tai Chi, my favorite form of exercise, and walk a few times a week at work, plus volunteer to walk dogs at the local humane society. Anything to keep from cleaning the house.

So to prove that size does not equal inactivity, I went on line. I found a wonderful site called Monica Wants It. This plus size beauty blogs about do it yourself decorating, crafts, entertaining, and weight loss. http://www.monicawantsit.com/search/label/fashion

I zipped over to Daily Venus Diva, a fashion place for beautiful and curvy women. I am so impressed and amazed that there are fashion models out there, working, and larger than I currently am. The site is for fans to follow large size celebs but it’s great for a quick boost of window shopping. http://dailyvenusdiva.com/

Tess Munster is a plus size beauty, a model, and a campaigner for acceptance for all sizes. I love her t-shirts that read “Eff Your Beauty Standards.” http://theplussizelife.blogspot.com/

There’s even a Plus Size Mag with the hottest BBW models in the business. http://www.plus-model-mag.com/2013/07/hottest-bodies-in-the-plus-size-modeling-industry-2013/

And I fell in love with The Militant Baker’s spoof of a certain clothing store’s ads. Who is that delectable eye candy she is posing with? I may have to pin him somewhere. http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/23/living/abercrombie-attractive-and-fat/

But I really wanted to find out more about the model in the photo that got my vote. You see, something clicked in my writer brain when I looked at her, and now I know a lot more about my hero. He’s a large man, tall, broad shouldered, big feet to go with it all, and learning to live on board a space-challenged sailing ship that he commands. A larger, softer woman would feel more comfortable in his arms. And that’s part of the equation, the formula that equals sexual attraction that unfolds into love. I am miffed that I have to put this story on ice for a bit, but it is unfolding in my brain.

Kate Dillon is the model. She is an active and interesting person. She’s educated, she survived her “non-trivial eating disorder” and she likes herself better every day. http://www.vogue.com/magazine/article/a-life-in-full/

And more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-541288/Supersize-Me-The-Top-Model-Who-Piled-Pounds.html

And this: https://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/model-kate-dillon-speaks-outa-about-being-too-skinny-too-plus-size-and-whats-up-with-the-crystal-controversy-2015056.html

What I want to say by all this is, don’t judge! Love yourself, and don’t let others judge you. You are Perfect, Whole, and Complete! See you Sunday for more book travels.

Another Pause

Sorry to stall our trip around the world by books again. But I need time to scope out the remaining countries and find the best stories set there. To fill this spot, let’s see if there are fun things to learn and look at involving vacations.

Books! Maybe your first thought isn’t pleasure that you can read on your vacation, but I could not go anywhere without a book. And if I were going to be gone more that two days, I would need a couple of books. And a word search book. So there are lists of books to read on vacation. Because doesn’t everyone take two weeks in Hawaii or the Bahamas? Sorry, going to the Hawaiian BBQ or the Caribbean booth at the street fair does not count.

Fodor is a name associated with travel books and such. But here’s a great list they put together on 10 Books to Read on Summer Vacation: http://www.fodors.com/news/10-books-to-read-on-your-summer-vacation-10559.html I want to read them all, but numbers 5 and 7 top the list for me.

The New York Post is selling you the 29 Best Books of the Summer: http://nypost.com/2014/05/24/the-29-best-books-of-the-summer/ I do like their definition of R&R.

I notice a little over-lapping of titles, which is good. This list is mostly unique from the other two: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/07/2014-books_n_4550607.html

Of course, there are some pretty awesome movies about vacations. My favorite is Weekend at Bernie’s. And I’m glad to see it at the top of the list, even though I disagree with a few of Complex’s other choices. http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2012/06/the-25-best-summer-vacation-movies/adventureland

Rotten Tomatoes has a similar list: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/national_lampoons_vacation/news/1922976/total_recall_best_summer_vacation_movies/ and just in case you aren’t a single young adult or a teenager, here is a list of vacation movies for the whole family: http://www.allmovie.com/characteristic/theme/family-vacations-d1416 (nice to see some foreign language films in there)

There are other things to take care of when planning a vacation trip. Especially if you have pets. And if you want to take your pets on vacation, you can always claim the animal is a service animal. Bring Fido can give you some ideas of places that welcome a dog without subterfuge. http://www.bringfido.com/destination/region/united_states/

If you’re visiting the western states, Sunset Magazine has a list of the top 22 places to bring your dog. http://www.sunset.com/travel/dog-friendly-vacations and Pets Welcome has information about traveling with cats for the masochists in the audience. http://www.petswelcome.com/vacations

What about the house while you are away? Or what if you can’t afford a fancy hotel or time share? You are in luck. There are a number of services that will match you as a home owner or a sitter, like House Carers. http://www.housecarers.com/ And then there’s Home Sitters America. http://www.housesittersamerica.com/

Let’s say you only want to watch really nice, over the top estates and such. Look at Luxury House Sitting for a job just about anywhere, from Honolulu to Normandie, France to – La Mesa? Wait, I was born in La Mesa. That can’t be a luxury house area, can it? http://www.luxuryhousesitting.com/homes.php

Check and see if you have the luggage you need. These days, it’s pretty hard to get everything you will need packed and checked onto a plane, even if you are only sleeping over at a friend’s house. Fodor (remember Fodor?) has a list of luggage they reviewed with an eye to checking it on the plane. http://www.fodors.com/news/best-luggage-checked-bags-2013-6506.html

And here’s a similar list from Smarter Travel for carry-on bags: http://www.smartertravel.com/photo-galleries/editorial/10-best-carry-on-bags-for-every-traveler.html?id=606

Of course, when you get back, you’ll have stories like these to tell: http://notalwaysrelated.com/tag/vacation

Possibly these, if you are flying. http://www.flightsfromhell.com/

I am assuming you already have a camera to take on vacation, and not leave somewhere. So you can look at photos like this to remind you forever of the trip. http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g152515-d1235077-i95720016-Happy_Ending_Cantina-Cabo_San_Lucas_Los_Cabos_Baja_California.html

I’ll see you on Wednesday to announce the look of my heroin. So far, there have been no votes for any of the choices. That means I can pick my favorite. Have a good week.

Crowded Virtual House

At any time, I have multitudes of characters inhabiting my head. I carry story ideas that have been waiting their turn for 25 years or more. All romances, some erotica, some also science fiction, but the majority are Regency.

While I am working on the story, they come closer to the surface. I finished my Regency erotica Book 1, and the characters in Book 2 are clamoring for my attention. But I have a deadline for a story that will be part of an anthology, with a bartender and his boss lady. Also there’s a regular Regency romance with an agent, while the second book in that series has started but is waiting these other priorities.

That second Regency is at an interesting point, and I feel the characters glare at me now and then. I’ve talked about both characters in previous blogs. The main male character is a dandy, whom I interviewed, and the main female character is a Regency nerd, deeply engrossed in Roman antiquities.

I have a SciFi Romance that ground to a halt when critiques on Scibophile had more questions than comments about the planet that I had no answers for. I’m waiting for a chance to do some world building to figure out how the ecological disaster came about. Then I can get the MCs back on track for a happily ever after.

Eventually, thanks to my love of the Master and Commander, Aubrey and Maturin, books by Patrick O’Brien, I will deal with an inspiration involving a captain in the British Navy in 1801. I finally fixed on his name, something gallant but not already in use. Now the FMC needs to be discovered. She is an English woman who has relatives in France, living along the channel, who stayed after a visit to help out her relatives. What will bring them together? What will keep them apart philosophically/ What will each of them have to sacrifice for a HEA?

The best way to keep all those characters separated is through character sheets, especially very detailed ones. But on the fly, I just need a reminder of the basics, eye color, hair color and length, height, build, physical condition, obvious things people notice about the person. I need to find a way on-line to pull up a character card with basics and in-depth details available with one more click. Here’s my favorite character sheet so far: http://www.uncleanarts.com/writing/tutorial/tutorialcharacter.htm

Lately, I have developed a great collection of models and such on whom I base my characters or who resemble what I had in mind for the character. Pinterest is the best ever in this regard. Not only do I find characters but also houses or towns or whatever! Here’s the captain: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/514606694893848864/

Here’s the hero in the sequel to The Viscount’s Mouse: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/514606694894257684/

And his love interest, my Regency nerd:

I could spend more time looking through Pinterest than writing, so I have to put limits on that activity. And if I haven’t completed my imagining of this character, it could be a choice between one model and another. So here’s your chance to help.

The love interest for the captain is a mid-twenties English woman of French heritage, in 1801. Vote for Link 1: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/514606694894666716/
Link 2: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/514606694894666730/
Link 3: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/514606694894666796/

I’ll shared the winner next Wednesday. And Sunday, we’re back to travel by book!

Around the World in 80+ Books, Part 10

Why is it that after you buy a new car, you find an article telling you the one you should have bought? Or after you gave all your money to that nice man in Nigeria that you discover it may have been a hoax? So here are ten things to be aware of BEFORE visiting Macau, our last stop on the previous ear lobe of our journey: http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/02/travel/10-things-macau/ So, on we go.

181. Hong Kong. As a kid, I was blessed with a sister who worked at the local movie theater. On Saturdays, as often as not, I went to work with her, and took a perverse pleasure in sitting in the front row so that the folks who had waited in line could be surprised that anyone else was in the theater. Good times. However, I saw many movie trailers for films I never saw, and one of the more memorable was The World of Suzie Wong. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnepiAcqb_g Sadly, I was not old enough to watch the whole movie, and besides my church at the time didn’t much care for it. Now I have discovered a book on which the movie was based! The timeless story, it says, of the love affair between a British artist and a Chinese prostitute. Hmm. If you say so, but timeless isn’t the first word to come to my mind. Book by Richard Mason. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/701773.The_World_of_Suzie_Wong

182. French Polynesia. Tahiti figures in many daydreams of excellent vacation destinations. Living there wouldn’t be half bad either. Frangipani by Celestine Hitiura Vaite explores the relationship between a mother and daughter. I never had a close relationship with my mother after I turned 18, and I have been forced out of my daughter’s life. So I understand the popularity of this book. The consistently high ratings in the reviews is encouraging. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1013627.Frangipani?from_search=true

183. Niue. At this point, I ran out of countries I picked up off of Google Maps. I knew there had to be more. However, some people have an odd idea of “country.” Several uninhabited and uninhabitable islands showed up. Niue, however, is beautiful and the world’s smallest country. I wonder how many Niues could fit in Rhode Island? Well, as such, no books showed up as being set there, and that may be a spark of creativity to someone. But then I found this wonderful article on a native son of the island, a self-taught artist who has delved into the world around him and inside him. Great discovery.

184. American Samoa. I know several folks of Samoan ancestry. My part of California is a pretty popular location for islanders, foremost because so many other islanders are already here, I assume. But I never get over the beauty of island people, their voices, their inner peace in the midst of outer turmoil. What a gift they bring with them and pass on to the children. Why would anyone want to leave Samoa? There was a very popular song in the US after World War I. How you gonna keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paris? In this case, maybe, after they’ve been on Facebook. Pouliuli by Albert Wendt is a tale of an island community facing modernization.

185. Tuvalu. Many books about island countries are memoirs and real stories. Nothing wrong with that, though I try to avoid the overtly religious just because. Where the Hell Is Tuvalu?: How I Became the Lawman of the World’s Fourth Smallest Country by Phillip Ellis is exactly what the title says it is. The reviews are mixed, and well, people don’t much like lawyers, so that has to be figured into this equation. Read it and make up your own mind.

186. Tonga. I love lobster. I don’t love it enough to live without running water and electricity. How would I recharge my phone or my laptop? However, for some folks, it’s a dream come true. A Farm in the South Pacific Sea by Jan Walker explores this running away from civilization from a woman’s point of view. Mixed reviews, but I will put it on my to read list.

187.Fiji. Can you believe it’s taken this long for me to post a romance? Well, this is a Romantic Suspense, I guess, and not the least of books from the author. The Trouble with Paradise by Jill Shalvis starts with a great heroine, someone many of us can identify with. The woman becomes a klutz when in the presence of an attractive person of the male persuasion. Add a murder, a storm, a ship wreck, and leave me alone with the book for the afternoon. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/519743.The_Trouble_with_Paradise?ac=1

188. New Caledonia. Frankly, I’m not done with old Caledonia. Highland Way says it best. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okn0pIq03-E But eventually all travelers need to move on, or they become settlers. Sometimes settlers are abandoned, and we’ll look at that more closely in a few posts. But in French Sand by Catherine Broughton, we hear the term Doctor of Tropical Diseases. Okay, then! Good thing diseases aren’t transmitted through the written word. One review states that the author knows the setting and that aids in bringing this story to life. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14428208-french-sand?ac=1

189. Solomon Islands. We have another great non-fiction stop on these islands. Solomon Time: Adventures in the South Pacific by Will Randall. Once a school teacher in civilization, Randall is sent to the islands and finds lots of things that amuse him. One reviewer said there were things to smirk at, but no real plot. I don’t think my life has a plot, but I have been entertained by it.

190. Marshall Islands. And yes, more memoirs. No phone, dim lights, no motorcar. But a wonderful beach, lots of warm people, and a global disaster poised to destroy it all. Surviving Paradise: One Year on a Disappearing Island by Peter Rudiak-Gould is a great look at what global warming means to the most affected by it. I firmly believe that what happens to any one person on the planet happens to all of us. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6923108-surviving-paradise?from_search=true

191.Wake Island. A coming of age, important lessons about life book would be great right about now. Fortunately, James B. Kilpatrick wrote A Little Piece of Heaven: Growing up on Wake Island for us. There are no reviews of the book yet on GoodReads, and few details on the book summary, but I would have loved to grow up somewhere close to military left-over installations.

192. Guam. Even though the only two reviews were written by the author and her best friend, I thought Attitude 13: A Daughter of Guam’s Collection of Short Stories by Tanya Timangelo would be an excellent introduction to the island. Also I had never heard or seen the term Chamorro before. Plus, the author describes herself as a Goddess in training! Amen, Sister!

193. Palau. Most visitors to Palau spend the time there under the beautiful blue sea. I am sure this has nothing to do with the country’s willingness to accept Guantanamo detainees who could no longer be detained due to lack of evidence. I found only one author associated with the island, and he was Japanese. Atsushi Nakajimi only went to Palau to teach, but had very bad asthma and the climate did not agree with him. He died some time after returning to Japan. He wrote about great classical Chinese folktales, legends and histories, which seems to be a popular genre in Japan. So until someone writes a book set on the island, here’s the Moon Over the Mountains.

194. West Papau, New Guinea. Rosemary I. Patterson sounds like someone I would enjoy knowing. Some of her other books have real sparks of humor in the titles alone, and cover such subjects as access for mobility impaired persons, and love of gambling among senior citizens. I just may come back and look at those another time. Today, we are highlighting The Last Wild Place: An Adventure Novel Set in West Papua by this clever lady. No reviews on GoodReads yet, I hope I will be the first!

195. Andorra. If you are a long time Star Trek fan like me, your first thought is that the citizens of this tiny kingdom in the Pyrenees have blue skin. And odd little antennae. The answer is no, but the place still has great scenery and wonderful history. Also if you have studied history in a broad swath rather that specializing in 18th century Scottish rebels, for example, you know weird little trivia such as the Viking warriors got around Europe and were prized guards in Russian courts. So it’s pretty clear that the interbreeding of Scottish and Norse peoples could produce fierce warriors that did not find what they wanted in the Isles, and wandered to, oh let’s suppose, Andorra and kidnap a luscious wench or two. If You Dare by Kresley Cole is the first in a trilogy about the MacCarrick Brothers, and is one of the few books by the author not involving supernatural characters.

196. Anguilla. We are traveling now on no particular route, zipping from one part of the globe to another. Here we are, back in the Caribbean. There are the flip-flops I lost overboard! So it’s very fitting that the book for this island is about people who can travel through time. Ripple Rider: An Anguillan Adventure in Time by Anne Goldfarb presents an interesting concept of time travel, and she will never know why the use of the term “squiggly lines” can render me nearly hysterical. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12388489-ripple-rider?ac=1

197. Cayman Islands. Honestly, could you walk past a book titled Cayman Cowboys? No, neither could I. Eric Douglas writes a series called Mike Scott Adventures, and this is the first one. No reviews yet, interestingly enough. The plot involves kidnapping and diving and a possible romance triangle, were this a romance and not an adventure. Yippee-Ky-Yi-Yay, my dears.

198. Clipperton Island. I have to go here, not to stay, not even to get off the boat. Just to say I saw Clipperton. No book, but there’s a great article that chronicles the brief inhabitation of the island, and the sad history thereof. The Tyrant of Clipperton Island by Marisa Brooks is such an awesome story, I have no idea why there’s no movie about it yet. There’s sex and violence and women triumphing in the end. Anyone have Spielberg’s number? http://www.damninteresting.com/the-tyrant-clipperton-island/

199. The Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea islands. I can’t believe they used kingdom. Anyway, this is a place that doesn’t really exist, kind of like Israel after World War II. This place has a Facebook page, however. This micronation came about when Australia refused to recognize same sex marriages. Australia apparently thinks they are better than Colorado, California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey (REALLY?) and a total of 19 states. Better than Belgium, Norway, South Africa, Sweden (obvious) and France (also obvious), for a total of 17 countries. No book yet, but I would not be too surprised if one is available soon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_and_Lesbian_Kingdom_of_the_Coral_Sea_Islands

200. Gabon. A great place to stop in West Africa. And a great novel about the struggles of old and new traditions, the tragedy of normal life, and the misconceptions of jealous people are to be found in Mema by Daniel M. Mengara. One reviewer had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Mengara in person at a lecture, and assures us he is that one thing we all want in an author. Polite. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3364431.Mema

We’ll make our usual Wednesday detour and then see what else there is to see in the rest of the world. Have a great week, see you on Sunday.

Ten Commandments of Being a Writer

The First Commandment: Thou shall find many ways to tell your stories. The best way will be the one that works naturally for you.

The Second Commandment: Thou shall make time to write every day. Let me repeat that, for this is the greatest Commandment: Thou shall make time to write every day. Five minutes, an hour, or half a day, just do it.

The Third Commandment: Thou shall write only to rewrite. Write in a forward direction first, from start to finish. Only then may you seek the path of edit and rewrite.

The Fourth Commandment: Thou shall never think that you write poorly. Or that what you write is crap. If you have the drive to write, listen to your heart. The story will be tightened and improved through critique groups, editors, and your own improvement.

The Fifth Commandment: Thou shall need a critique group. You need supportive friends who are also writers, who can critique your work without damaging you. And you need to learn to critique in return, to bond and grow in your craft.

The Sixth Commandment: Thou shall know the evil that is writer’s block, but also thou shall know that it, too, shall pass. Sometimes writer’s block is your mind’s way of saying, take a break! Go watch a movie, read a book, clean out the garage. The words will come when you return. Anxiety helps no one. Deep breath, and relax.

The Seventh Commandment: Thou shall always seek knowledge, from blogs, workshops, books, and friends. If you stop learning, you stop the creative life inside you. Blessed are the perpetual students, for they shall know more than anyone.

The Eighth Commandment: Thou shall nourish thy body through healthy foods, fresh and unprocessed, low in fat, low in salt, and taken in proper amounts at regular intervals. Thou shall drink water without impurities whenever possible. Coffee should be taken in moderation, no more than a quart at a sitting.

The Ninth Commandment: Thou shall seek the sun or light of day once in every 24 hours. Thou shall keep sacred the movement of the body, in gentle exercise every day. Exercise builds muscle, muscles fuel the metabolism, and the metabolism keeps a writer healthy and creative.

The Tenth Commandment: Thou shall sleep once in every 24 hours. Thy brain needs to clear its cache and reboot, your body must recharge, and you must let the muses whisper the next story into your dreams. Sleep at least 7 hours, and if possible, take a short nap each day. Sleep well.

See you on Sunday!