Thursday, June 30, 2016

Remember the Why

I saw a great quote the other day:

People lose their way when they lose their why. ~ Michael Hyatt

Wow.  That's so true!  Remember the why and you'll find your way.  The 'why' is the journey's goal, and the way is the trip to get there.

Couldn't be more true when you have a goal.  Keep your eye on the prize and each step will get you closer to your reward.

So, today, remember the why.  Remember why you started toward your goal, no matter what it is, and you'll find your way again.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Forced Dialogue and Overwriting

I've read a lot of my friends' manuscripts.  I can almost always tell who has entered a contest with the book.  Here's a big clue--the first three chapters are polished to the point of overwriting, since that's what you usually submit to the contest.  After that, the writing falls off--there are typos, overused phrases, etc.

So what is overwriting?

It's describing everything in detail, making sure the five senses are hit.  It's using the other character's name a lot in dialogue (I've noticed that more and more on television shows, by the way).  It's making sure every line of dialogue has a dialogue tag.

Why isn't that a good thing?

It does a few things to the story.  It slows the pace (more description slows things down a lot), it makes the writing boring, and the writer loses their voice in the process.  The writer's voice is what makes their writing unique.  It's the 'tone' you hear when you read, like the person is telling you a story.  When things are overwritten, the story becomes flat.

Something else that happens is forced (and rotten) dialogue.  I began reading a book that was recommended by a friend.  The dialogue was so forced and the actions really off, I had to stop on page 2.  Forced dialogue is what people say that doesn't fit, or they wouldn't say it in real life.  Actions that are 'off' to me, are things that are overly dramatic.  It doesn't happen in real life.

I don't remember the name of the book that had that problem, but here's what it was like:

She slammed her book onto the desk.  "That's it.  I'm through with this job."  She plopped into her chair and put her head in her hands.  "I'll never work again."
"Ha ha," Jack said.  "You've said that before."
 "Ha ha yourself.  At least you have a job.  Everyone should work, according to what society tells me.  But I'm done."


Now, who says 'ha ha'?  They laugh.  And what society tells me?  HUH?  I can almost see this happening in a high school play.

Here's another example:

“I need him now!”  I turned an inch, throwing a nasty glare to my assistant, Sam.  “Where’s the man who can take care of…this.”  In dramatic fashion, I waved my hand in front of the ugly sculpture.  “Fix this.  NOW!”  I fell into my chair and leaned back.  “You need to get this done.  The client will be here in an hour and we can’t have this guy armless, Sam.”
 “Yeah, and I haven’t been paid in two months.”  He threw his clipboard to the floor.  “This problem is now yours.  I’m done with your drama and fixing everything for you.  Jane, you’re on your own to talk to Mr. McAbree, the worst client in the world, from Scotland.”

See the backstory dump in the second paragraph?  See the overuse of the names in the dialogue?  Not good--either one.  Also, exclamation points and all caps--not good at all.

I say to play it out in your head or read it aloud.  If it sounds off, it probably is.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Study in Characters: the Overachiever

When I was a kid, my teacher told my mom that I was an underachiever.  I was so proud (I was young) until I found out what that meant.  Eh...it is what it is, I guess. LOL!  But now, I'm working from sun up to sun down and beyond (I was working until after midnight last night and then got up at 5:30 to get to work), so I guess that 'underachiever' label was a little off.

Regardless, one of my kids is a MAJOR overachiever.  Yes, she's bright, but she over achieves just to tick others off.  Here's an example:  in middle and high school, she'd get assignments done early and turn them in.  For projects, if she was given two weeks, she'd do them the night they were assigned.  The teacher would get upset, because they'd give the students time in class to work on it.  What did my kid do?  Other homework for other classes.  She ended up graduating with a 4.0 GPA a year early, just because she wanted to.  She was sick of high school.

Now that she's in college, she has a 3.98 GPA with two A- grades (they count less than an A).  She's upset about those A- grades.  If she gets a point off any test, she argues with the professor to give her the point, even though she has like a 99 percent on the test.

She had a class this past semester where they had to work with clients.  She loved it, because she had to report her hours that she worked on the client's project.  She overachieved there, BIG time, trying to outdo everyone else.

So the next time I'm going to write about an overachiever, I'm using my daughter as an example.  With her, it's not that she overachieves for herself, but to show up everyone else.  It's her motivation.  I applaud her for doing well, but sometimes, the overachiever has to let others take over.  My character, when I write about him/her, won't allow that.  She/he has to be in control or else.

Who's your favorite celebrity overachiever?

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Windsor Hum

When I was a kid, we traveled to Canada, through upstate New York, through Niagara Falls, and across a bit of Canada.  One night, we stayed in a place called London, Ontario.  It was a wonderful place to visit.  The owners of the hotel sat at poolside with us, practicing their English.  My parents were learning French from them, in return.  My siblings and I just swam.

When we came home, though, we went through the tunnel from Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, and then back home to PA, where we started from.

Recently I read an article about the Windsor Hum.

If you're not familiar with the area, here's a map of Windsor in relation to London, Ontario, thanks to Google Maps.


And here's where Windsor is, in relation to Detroit.  Windsor is in purple and Detroit is in red.



In the articles I read, the tiny town of Windsor has been subjected to a hum for a long time.  It's a nasty sound, interrupting people's sleep, upsetting animals, and being downright a nuisance.  It gets louder at night, shaking people's homes, upsetting everything about a quiet life.  It not only affects Windsor, but other locations in the area.

The people attribute it to steel making on man made Zug Island, but can't get the plant to quiet the hum, since it's across the border from their own country.  Zug Island is in blue on the map.  The Island is shrouded in secrecy.  It's top secret with just a few ways to get on and off the island.

It's hard to hear the hum over the Internet with regular speakers.  So I can't hear the hum.  However, my writing mind got to work and I THINK I have a plot worked out in my head for Paige Ryter to tackle.

I can hardly wait.  

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

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References:





Friday, June 24, 2016

The Puzzle that Sparked Debate

My darling sister sent me the following the other day:

Brain-splitting equation that even a MATHS TEACHER can't solve has the entire Internet baffled... So do YOU know the answer?

Why send it to me?  Because I have a bachelor's degree in math.  Does that mean I can add?  Nope.  I'm terrible at it.  Talk to any math major and most will tell you have issues with basic math functions.  Besides, I got that degree WAY back in 1982.  Yes, I taught math for 3.5 years, but since then, pretty much nothing other than the odd math problem my kids would bring home.  My husband has math and computer science degrees.  Once the kids hit high school, the math was his.  I just didn't remember all of it.

Anyway, so my sister sent this to me article, wondering what the answer was.

Here's the problem (as taken from the article):


If you read the entire article, it states that the equation can't be solved as written.  Why?  Because the blue flowers in lines 2 and 3 are different than the blue flower in the last line.

If you look at it algebraically, you'd have:

Red flower = A
Blue 5-petal flower = B
Yellow flower = C; two flowers = 2C  (Assuming that's two yellow flowers together on the third line)
Blue 4-petal flower = D

The three top lines would then be:
3A = 60
A + B + B = 30, or A + 2B = 30
B - 2C = 3

And the last line would be:
B + A x (4 petal blue flower) = ?

Substituting and solving gives you (for the first three lines):

3A = 60  thus, A = 20.
A + 2B = 30.  Since A = 20, 20+ 2B = 30.  So 2B = 10 and B = 5
B – 2C = 3  Since B = 5, 5 - 2C = 1.  5 - 1 = 2C and 4 = 2C. C = 1

Thus far:
Red flower = A = 20
Blue 5-petal flower = B = 5
Yellow flower, two flowers = 2C; C = 1


According to the write up, the blue 5-petal flower is 5, so the 4-petal flower must be 4.  Given that argument, the answer would be 81:

By using substitution in the last line:
C + A x D = ?
1 + 20 x 4= ?
? – 1 = 20x4
? = 80 + 1
? = 81.

(OR, since you do the equation in the order of operations, 20 x 4 = 80 and add 1 on).

But I disagree.  The 4-petal flower could be anything.  What says it's 4?  Why do the number of petals have anything to do with it?  Why isn't it just a 'misprint' for the 5-petaled flower, so the answer would be:

C + A x B = ?
1 + 20 x 5 = ?
1 + (100) = 101

(Since you do the equation in the order of operations, 20 x 5 = 100 and add 1 on).

We'll never know if it's supposed to be a 5-petaled flower or a 4-petaled flower.  Thus, it’s unsolvable.  The answer (?) is 20 x (blue 4-petal flower) + 1, whatever that is.

My sister was amazed I could come up with that, but it's written RIGHT IN THE ARTICLE.  Cracks me up!


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Plan Your Work ...

Recently, I heard the phrase:  

"Plan your work and work your plan."

I'd never heard it before but it makes sense.

Although I can't find out who originally said it, it seems as if many people have said the phrase.  Some of them said it in different ways, but the meaning was the same.  Greats such as Margaret Thatcher, Vince Lombardi, and others have used the phrase in one way or another.  There's even a phrase in the Bible that alludes to the phrase (Proverbs 21:5 -- Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty. ~ New Living Translation).

But what does it mean?

It means you make a draft for what you want to get done then follow the draft to get the work done.

Wow.  Few words but so important.  If you do that every day and actually fulfill your plan, think how much you'll accomplish.

I spend a lot of the day just wondering what to do next.  This might help, if I plan what I intend to do and then take it one step at a time to work the plan.  Create the plan and then do the job.  Easy, but effective.  Make every minute count and you'll be rewarded with a job finished.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Reference:
“Plan Your Work & Work Your Plan”: Great Life Skill or Waste of Time?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Who Owns a Paragraph?

Last week, I talked about the mechanics of writing dialogue.  I hinted at 'who owns a paragraph' in that post.  I wrote:


All related information for that sentence should go in the same paragraph.  That person who's speaking owns that paragraph.  Everything in that paragraph is what they're doing, what they're thinking, what they're saying.  No one else.
I want to expand on that thought.  Not only is the person speaking in charge of that paragraph, but if there is no dialogue, only one person can own that paragraph.  So the person thinking also owns it.

There's a famous author out there who does the following:

"She's brilliant," Jane said.  She was so certain she was right, but Ralph whipped out his checkbook and knew he was in charge.  "She might be brilliant but I'm richer."

Notice how there are TWO people here who own it?  Jane's speaking yet we're in Ralph's 'head' because he knew he was in charge.  He's even speaking at the end, but it's not obvious to the reader, since Jane was speaking at the beginning.

Even though this author is famous, the way she writes this is wrong.  It should be:

"She's brilliant," Jane said.

She was so certain she was right, but Ralph whipped out his checkbook and knew he was in charge.  "She might be brilliant but I'm richer."

Two paragraphs (I divided them by a blank line), because Jane is speaking in one and owns that paragraph, while Ralph is thinking in another and owns that one.  We're in Ralph's point of view for this scene.  The part that states 'she was so certain she was right' is in Ralph's thoughts.  The comment at the end is Ralph's, because it's HIS paragraph.

It's easy once you figure it out.  One character owns every paragraph.  

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Study in Characters: Upper Class

Ah, the upper class.  A cut above the rest of us peons, looking down from their ivory towers.  They're the 'haves' and we're the 'have nots' to most members of the upper class.

In my latest book, 'You'll Call it Home,' I have a few characters that are 'upper class.'  One, in particular, sticks out in my mind.

In the book, Jasper comes from wealthy parents, who fixed him up with Penelope Brander, of the Florida and Texas Branders.  Jasper and Penelope were arranged to be in a relationship, to put together to wealthy families.

There's just one problem...Jasper doesn't love Penelope.  Jasper loves Eliza.  Penelope is nothing more than a gold digger.  Penelope refuses to do anything on her own, because work is...well, you know...beneath her.

It's not until she meets Shelby, Eliza's mother, that Penelope is finally put in her place.

That's the best thing when writing about the upper class--putting them in their place.

I loved writing that scene, because Shelby explained to Penelope that she's no better than anyone else and her daddy's money isn't Penelope's money.  However, when writing it, it made me think.  Penelope had to be lonely, not having any connection to anyone, unless it involved her social status.  Granted, Penelope was a loose woman, so I didn't feel that badly for her.

Yeah.  I know.  I need a life, myself, when I start feeling badly for characters I have to put in their place.  :)

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books/Markee Anderson

Monday, June 20, 2016

Research for Extreme Travel 6: Turkey

I've written quite a few of the 'Extreme Travel' books, and have done a lot of research into the place where Kes is heading next.

The sixth book is the one I'm editing right now.  The title is 'Questionable Job Security,' and here's the cover:




The team is heading for Turkey (mainly Istanbul), which is a very interesting place.

Did you know:
  • Istanbul is the only city in the world that is part of two continents?  It's part of Europe and Asia.  The city is divided by the Bosphorus Strait.  The city used to be called Constantinople.
  • It's home to 13 million people (about the same size as Belgium), and is the largest city in Turkey, but isn't the capital.
  • 99% of the people in Istanbul are Muslim (Sunni)
  • The nightlife of Istanbul is more relaxed due to most of it being on the European continent.
  • The cities in Turkey can be dangerous
Now, when I write fiction, I want to find the most interesting things about a country.  So I scour the local news, the warnings to give it more life.

In Turkey, from what I read, the pickpockets, the shoeshines, and the cabbies can be crooked.  Just like everywhere else in the world, that doesn't mean all of them are, but it was a warning I read when I was doing research for the place.

Also, I learned that people seem to touch more, especially in crowds.  Thus, I had to put this into my story.

The food--outstanding.  I love researching the food of a place.

To find out more about Turkey and the warnings, check out the references below.  I loved working on the plot, because it wasn't as much about the country, but certain people in the country who turned out to be good or bad, depending on their 'crime.'  I think this one was one of my favorites of the Extreme Travel Books.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

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Reference:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day!

To all you father figures out there, I thank you!  

Happy Father's Day!



Friday, June 17, 2016

This Guy is Amazing! (as in Amazing Race, too)

If you've seen the latest season of the Amazing Race, you'd know Zach King.  This past season, they invited YouTube sensations to race around the globe.

I took it upon myself to look this guy up, once they showed what he could do.  This guy is incredible.  He has a Vine page--see for yourself what he can do.

Zach King on Vine

I'm so impressed with how he can take something so commonplace and make it very interesting, using stop motion camera (I'm assuming) and creativity beyond belief.  Amazing Zach!  I'm impressed!

Have a great day,
SweetTale Books

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Holoportation -- How Cool is This?

I came across this article on my Facebook feed:

holoportation: virtual 3D teleportation in real-time (Microsoft Research)


This is something straight out of a Star Wars movie.  You can talk to and interact with people far, far, away, like they're right in front of you.  I can see so many applications for this, such as for the medical field, diplomacy between nations, and even for schools.  If you told me when I was a kid that this would become possible, I'd have scoffed in disbelief.

But now, it's a reality.  How cool is this!

Have a great day,
SweetTale Books

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Mechanics of writing dialogue

I've seen quite a bit of bad writing in my time.  Some of it involves dialogue--not just the bad dialogue in itself, but the actual mechanics of that dialogue.

In general, here's what is considered to be correct for writing dialogue:

"She was one of my cousins," he said.

All related information for that sentence should go in the same paragraph.  That person who's speaking owns that paragraph.  Everything in that paragraph is what they're doing, what they're thinking, what they're saying.  No one else.



Here are a few things I've seen:
"She was one of my cousins."  He said.
Why wasn't this good?  There should be a comma after 'cousins' and 'he' shouldn't be capitalized.  It wasn't a typo in the book I tried to read, either.  The entire book was formatted that way, so I finished reading the first page and was done.


Here's another one:
She had to explain.
"She was one of my cousins."
She knew it didn't make sense, but he had to know.
All of that information is in separate paragraphs.  They should be in the same one, so the reader knows who's talking in the dialogue.  This was so annoying to me, I had to skim the rest of the book so I wouldn't get angry.  I'd have stopped reading if the author hadn't been a friend of mine.

And, one more:

"She was one of my cousins," said Jeremy.

If you're writing genre fiction in the US (not children's fiction), then it should be 'Jeremy said.'

Thus, if you're writing, study the mechanics, or readers (like me) will throw the book away before getting past page one.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Study in Characters: The Intellectual

This week, I'm looking at the intellectual character.  They're the type who think they know everything  They're highly educated, and can be pompous and annoying.

I've known a few of these types in my past.  They can be very degrading and put themselves on a pedestal.  My oldest sister had a few of these types as friends.  They'd sit around and discuss 'intellectual things' while the rest of us had to work for a living.  LOL!

I have yet to write a story with one of these characters, but intend to in the future.  I'd love to have an average person bring this type down, just for fun.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Monday, June 13, 2016

Ever Been to Lithuania?

When our son was in 7th grade (he's almost 24 now), the students had to do a 'country of the month' project.  They formed teams and had to do projects for their chosen country.  For example, they had to do a 3-D project of a landmark, do a report on things to see in that country, research the native foods, etc.

Since our son has Asperger's Syndrome, he was extremely antisocial.  Thus, he refused to be in a team with anyone.  I became his teammate.  For you parents out there, you'll more than understand this.  If the parent doesn't help the kid with projects, they will fail the class, since the competition is great.  We learned this when our son was in 5th grade, and did a project on his own.  He couldn't compete with the kids who had their parents do their projects for them, buying artifacts for their civil war project.  Thus, my son got an F on that project.  He complained to the teacher, saying he did his by himself, but the teacher pointed to the other projects and said, 'how can I give you an A when their projects are clearly better.'  Yeah.  They'd cheated.

So by 7th grade, the all-important project competition was in full-swing.  None of our kids were allowed to turn in a project unless it had the 'parental approval' to guarantee the stupid competition game between parents would give our kids good grades.

Then came the country-of-the-month project.  Each month, our son would have to do part of this project.  He tried to choose a country that would give him easy projects, but by the time he'd decided on a country, it was gone.  The popular ones went first.  He was stuck with the country of Lithuania.

However, in hindsight, this choice was a great idea.  Lithuania is a Baltic country that has a rich history.  The tiny country became part of the Soviet Bloc in 1940.  They'd then been occupied by German troops in WWII from 1941-1944. After that, the Soviets annexed it again.   Residents fought back, but in a peaceful manner, beginning in 1988.  In 1989, they all formed hands and joined in on the 'Baltic Way', which extended from Vilnius in Lithuania, Riga in Latvia, and Talinn in Estonia.  It was a peaceful political demonstration.  By 1990, Lithuania became the first of the Soviet republics to declare independence from the Soviet Union.  The rebellion was interesting, because the locals did things like tear down a statue of Lenin and put up a statue of Frank Zappa.  It marked the end of communism.

To show a sign of solidarity against oppression, Lithuanians would put a small candle house (as seen here) in their window.  It also showed food was available at that home.

It's one of the few places I know of that heats their roads in the wintertime, so the ice and snow don't interfere with traffic.  They use hot water used in homes through pipes under the streets, instead of a hot water heater in their homes.

There's an outdoor museum called 'Europos Parkas' (or The Park of Europe) including 3,000 old television sets, considered modern art.

Of course there are castles (we created a replica of Trakai Castle out of wood and clay).  Also, the president of Lithuania at the time had lived in Chicago (Valdas Adamkus).  One of my friends knew him and told us to write to the guy.  My son did, but he never replied.

Overall, I have to thank our son's 7th grade teacher for having the kids research a country.  At the end of the school year, the kids made the local food for that country and had a food festival for parents and students to taste the local fare.  Our son made bookmarks with translated Lithuanian phrases on it, including 'our hovercraft is full of eels' (Monty Python reference).

Now I want to see Lithuania.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

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More information:
19 Interesting Facts about Lithuania
Lithuania
The day holding hands changed the world
Candle Houses
The Park of Europe
Castles and Fortresses in Lithuania
Trakai Town and Castle
They tore down Lenin's statue and raised one to Frank Zappa
The President of the Republic of Lithuania

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Dessert for the week: Blueberry Buckle

Have you ever had 'blueberry buckle'?  It's like a coffee cake with blueberries in it.

Here's a recipe from Taste of Home (http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/classic-blueberry-buckle):



TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. Bake: 30 min.
MAKES: 4-6 servings 
Ingredients
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh blueberries

TOPPING:
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup cold butter, cubed

Directions
1.      In a small bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Fold in blueberries. Pour into greased 9-in. square baking pan.
2.      For topping, in a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over blueberry mixture.
3.      Bake at 375° for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Originally published as Blueberry Buckle in Reminisce May/June 2005, p50

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Now, in my house, we're always on a diet.  Whether we stick to that diet is another matter, but in theory, this cake wouldn't be well received, just on principle.  However, I'd bet it'd be gone within a day.


So, to counter the 'I'm on a diet and can't eat this' phrase, I lightened it up a bit.  It tastes a little bit different, but it's still pretty good.  Here are the 'new' lighter ingredients, with the changes in caps (where possible) and starred.  I also think a 'serving size' doesn't have to be 1/4 of the entire cake.  1/8 is more likely, which is a small piece.

Ingredients
1/4 cup UNSWEETENED APPLESAUCE*
1/2* cup sugar
1 egg
1* cup all-purpose flour
1 CUP WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup SKIM* milk
2 cups fresh blueberries

TOPPING:
1/3* cup PACKED BROWN sugar*
1/2 cup GROUND DRY OATMEAL
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4* cup cold butter, cubed

Even though it's still high in carbs, at least the calorie count is lower.


So, for 1/8 of the entire blueberry buckle, here's what happens with the nutrition (I used My Fitness Pal's recipe tab to get these results):

Classic cake (the first recipe from Taste of Home):


And, with a lighter version (my starred, capped version):


My guess is your family won't even notice the difference, but their waistline will!

Enjoy!  Have a great weekend!
SweetTale Books



Friday, June 10, 2016

Newsflash! Book #56 Just Published: 'You'll Call it Home'

If you like small town romances, you'll love this one.  Even if you're not a romance reader, I can guarantee this one will make you smile.



You'll Call it Home
by Markee Anderson


Blurb:


Eliza Kingston's small town seems to come to life when the rich single stranger pulls his red Jaguar into her diner's parking lot. No one from out of town visits Heartflower, Wisconsin, unless they know Ray Kingston, Eliza's dead husband's evil grandfather.

Jasper Radford is a successful architect, working with his very wealthy father to build amusement parks, resorts, and office buildings.  On his way from Florida to Montana, he stops his red Jaguar in the tiny town of Heartflower, Wisconsin, for a good meal and gas for his car.

One chance meeting will bring two hearts together and change the town of Heartflower forever.

~~~~~

Excerpt (Chapter 1):

If he hadn't needed gas for his red Jaguar, Edward Jasper Radford III, or Jasper for short, would never have seen the town of Heartflower, Wisconsin. When he passed the sign for the town limits, he had to smile. Someone thought he was a poet.

"It doesn't matter wherever you roam, nothing rivals Heartflower—you'll call it home." He chuckled as he read aloud. The poem was handwritten below the sign for the town limits. Sounded like a place Jasper wanted to visit, but he couldn't stay long. He had to get to his meeting out west.

If only this town was in Montana, he'd be more likely to stay and scout out the area. The more he looked around, this was the sort of place he'd envisioned for the gigantic resort he and his father's company planned to build. But who, in their right mind, would come to Wisconsin? He could persuade tourists and future landowners to go to Montana or Washington State, but Wisconsin? Most people couldn't even find it on the map, unless they liked cheese, snow, and football.

He drove on the tree-lined rural road, past a farm and a small stand near the road, which advertised their early harvest for sale. But Jasper wasn't interested in the local produce. He was running on empty and needed a full tank to make it out west. Just gas, maybe a quick bite to eat and he'd be on his way.

The speed limit went from 55 to 25 in a hurry, so he slowed to accommodate the tiny town. There were maybe six businesses, total, lining the street, but he had to obey the laws. He didn't need some local newspaper picking up his speeding ticket and blasting it all over the front page. His goal on this trip was to be as low profile as possible. No one could know he intended to buy as much property as he could in Montana. He'd buy the whole state if need be. Since he and his family were extremely wealthy and famous, he could afford just about anything.

A small gas station up ahead advertised gas, cigarettes, and a restroom. Might as well stop there at some point. But first, he needed to eat and he wanted something substantial—not something from a gas station. Then he could come back and get a full gas tank for the trip. Always think logically and every step had to be in order—his father's voice rang in his head.

He passed the gas station and kept driving. About a mile down the winding street sat a little diner. Just a bite to eat, he'd then go back and get gas and be on his way to Montana.

Letty's Diner sat on the edge of a big body of water. Jasper drove into the gravel parking lot, kicking up dust as he put his foot on the brake and stopped. Instead of worrying about the paint job on his expensive car, his attention turned to the men out fishing on the lake. There must've been ten boats in the afternoon sunshine, just hanging out on the water. Jasper longed to be able to relax someday, but first, he had to create his legacy. He had to make his father proud, putting the Radford name on everyone's lips around the world.

The thought of taking one day off to fish appealed to him. Even if he didn't catch anything, it was a dream of his to learn to relax. However, it wasn't to be. Time was money and he was losing both fast by driving from Florida to Montana instead of flying.

He turned off his car and pushed open the door, stepping out onto the gravel. Once he stretched from sitting for so long, he closed his door, beeped the car locked, and headed to the front of Letty's Diner.

He took the two steps up onto the porch and read the menu. 'Delicious fare at fantastic prices,' it advertised. They served diner food.

He looked up at the building, which was in need of major repair. From the falling tin roof to the rotted wood on the side, it needed help. What he could do to make this place shine. But he wouldn't say a thing to the people inside. His background in marketing and architecture wasn't going to interfere with a good meal. No, he'd just eat and get gas, then be on his way to his destiny to build his dad's legacy. Uh…his legacy. He had to keep reminding himself of that fact. This was for him, since his dad was considering retiring from Radford Industries to pursue other interests. He'd never told Jasper what those interests were, but if Jasper could guess, it was playing golf with the big wigs. Regardless, when his dad walked away, Jasper would not only have his own business, he'd take over his entire dad's company of building huge office buildings and resorts worldwide. The responsibility would feel insurmountable, but if he just kept Dad's one rule of logical order in mind, he'd be fine.

With a last glance over at the fishermen, he ran his hand through his hair. If only he'd been born into an average family, he could enjoy life instead of having to go, go, go, every minute of every day, working up to twenty hours a day, every day. Dad was a slave driver. Even his mother was a go-getter as the chief of medicine in a hospital in Florida. Unlike his brothers and sister, Jasper had followed in his parents' footsteps in drive.

Even so, Jasper longed for a slower life, to actually take the time to savor a few moments before he retired and realized his entire life had passed him by. He wanted to marry, have a few kids, and that white picket fence in a small town where everyone knew everyone else.

He took a breath. He was a Radford. Time was money. So he grabbed the doorknob and yanked open the door, where he seemed to be transported to another time and place, inside the family establishment called Letty's Diner.




Web page:
You'll Call it Home

Buy links: ($2.99):
Smashwords
Amazon
Kobo
Barnes&Noble

Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Fun Game when WiFi/Internet is Down

In our house, whenever the microwave is running for more than 30 seconds, all computer WiFi signals on the first floor (where the microwave is located) dies.  Thus, whenever you want to run the microwave, you have to alert any computer users in our house of that fact.  This wasn't a problem in the past, but because of the dogs, my husband and I have both moved our laptops to the first floor, so we can be there when they need to go out.

I had to turn on the microwave the other day and complained that I had nothing to do now.  I had to wait for the green beans to finish steaming.

Our college aged daughter sat down at my computer and showed me this game for when WiFi is down.  If you click on a link and it shows a dinosaur at the top, that's where the game begins.

It looks like this:




If you don't have that screen, type google.com at the top and if you're not connected to the Internet, it'll show up.

Click on the dinosaur and then press the space bar.  You'll see that little dinosaur come to life.  The goal is to jump over cacti, by using the space bar.  If you run into a cactus, you die.

Cool game to keep people entertained while waiting for WiFi!  LOL!  My daughter has played it so much that the daytime in the picture turns to night. LOL!

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Greatest Generation

I get these emails from Instructables.com.  The emails have the coolest ideas of how to deal with issues in life.  For example, there might be one entry about how to make an automated greenhouse, or silicone wedding band ring, or even a hamster wheel standing desk (which is VERY cool, by the way).

But this one struck me the most of all the posts I've read on that site.  Making Dementia Puzzles for my Dad.

It's not only about making the puzzles.  But this man's father was getting old, and dementia was setting in.  The old father had been in the military, along with his wife (the author's mother).  The father had always been there for others, always giving.  It's an absolutely amazing story of a son's recollection of what his father had been through, and was now losing his memory and his mind.

If you have the chance, read the first page (especially after the family pictures).  You'll be in awe of both the son, the mother, and the father.  That dad was part of the 'Greatest Generation,' someone who I'd be proud to know.

We recently watched a movie called 'The Intern,' with Robert DeNiro as an elderly intern to an up-and-coming owner of a clothing business (Anne Hathaway).  The plot wasn't too bad, but what intrigued me was how classy DeNiro was compared to the younger characters in the movie.  That generation was amazing, knowing how to be tough yet silent, and just to do the job without whining.

I want to write about a character like that some day.  Classy and dependable.  We need more of the 'Greatest Generation' around now, more than ever.  With more and more of the 'it's all about me' generation, we could learn a lot about the classy folks who preceded us.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Portfolio? Great idea!

Our daughter is in a  major that incorporates art, web design, and technology.  She has to use all her talents for this major, and should become a web designer/media technologist when she graduates in December.

Thus, for this summer, I told her to start looking for a job.  You'd think I was telling her to move the earth, from the way she complained.  So I went online to see what was out there.  Most of the jobs for this type of work require a portfolio.

A portfolio?  When I hear that, I think of those oversized folder thingies with lots of art work inside.  Most of the art work can be smudged (done in pencil), so there are protection papers between the drawings.

I'm so old fashioned. LOL!

I looked up portfolio examples, to see what's out there.  It seems to be a slightly newer idea to put everything online to sell one's skills, or so I found.  But the competition to have a great portfolio is fierce.

Here are some examples of what I'm talking about:

Adham Dannaway
Jessica Shambra

And a few more from 45 Brilliant Design Portfolios to Inspire You:


Get the picture?  Very creative, and makes you want to click on things, if possible, to see more.  A portfolio is basically selling one's skills through showing examples or a showcase of previous designs or art.  It showcases your accomplishments

What do these portfolios have that's different from a website?
Professional portfolios can include:
  • Résumé
  • Samples of work/writing samples
  • Recommendations from references/clients
  • Professional biography
  • Contact information
  • Media kit (see media kit under more references, below)
  • Skill statement
  • Qualifications
  • List/link to papers or published material
  • Computer competency certificates
  • Tools/skills (like powerpoint, websites, blogs, etc.)
  • Professional memberships including LinkedIn
  • Certifications, degrees, awards, community service

These portfolios shouldn't be very long with just enough to show off the skills of the user.

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I thought about this for a bit.  What if authors had something like this, instead of, or in conjunction with a website?  What if there was a way to look up an author's portfolio to see more about the writer?  Would that help sell more books?  I'm considering it.  Now, someone, talk me out of it, or into it.  LOL!

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books




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More references:

Media Kit:

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Study in Characters: The Slacker

It's nice to have an 'arsenal' of character types to bring into a plot.  Thus, I've been collecting these types of characters in my head, in the event that I need them.  I'm going to share these with you.  You might think I'm talking specifically about one person, but these character studies are a compilation of these types, all rolled into one.

First up, the Slacker.  His name?  Slack Idle.  Slack is the type of person who:


  • thinks he knows all but when push comes to shove, he knows nothing
  • always has an excuse for not doing their work
  • takes a leadership role so he doesn't have to actually work
  • loves to party
  • never starts an assignment/project until the last minute
  • blames others for his lack of conviction
  • doesn't do more work than he absolutely has to
  • does enough to just get by

So, in a book, Slack would be the one belittling the main character, telling the MC that they are worthless, when in reality, Slack is the worthless one, because he's lazy.  By belittling others, Slack makes himself look better.

Know anyone like Slack in your life?  Yep...we all do.

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books


Monday, June 6, 2016

Take Me Away to ... New Mexico!

One of my books, sometime, will be set in New Mexico.  We visited there in 2013, when we were empty nesters for the first time--just my husband and me.  All three of our kids were in college, and we felt free!  We could see what WE wanted to see, didn't have to go to the pool, and even got to take afternoon naps.  LOL!  For those of you with kids, you'll understand this.

Anyway, NM is a beautiful state.  We were there in early October for the balloon festival in Albuquerque.  We stayed in Santa Fe, though, because all the hotels were booked in Albuquerque.  We also drove up to Taos, which is an ideal setting for a book.  It has a small-town feel, but is big enough that you don't know everyone.  Shops line the downtown and they had some sort of animal fair going on when we were there.  It's at the base of the mountains so the backdrop is amazing.

What surprised me the most was how sunny it is.  We live in Wisconsin, where it's cloudy most of the winter, and various clouds during the rest of the year.  It's just not nearly as sunny and bright as it was in NM.  My friend, Valerie, told me NM is where she wants to live, because nothing ever happens there.  Man, is she wrong.  There's always something fun to do in NM.  I wish we'd have been there longer, so I could see more.  

Here are a few pictures, so you can get a feel for what is there:








We also went to a farmer's market (it was cold outside that day) where there were chili peppers everywhere.  It's a sign of hospitality, or so I'm told.


And of course, a reference to little green men and Roswell:



Just from these pictures, I can think of quite a few plots that take place in NM.  What do you think?

Have a great day!
SweetTale Books






Sunday, June 5, 2016

Writing Injuries

I came across this post that I found very interesting:  Realistic Injuries.  Writing injuries is tough, because I'm not a doctor.  Writing the treatment for the injuries is even tougher.

So I decided to make a list of how to write injuries, from blog posts and websites around the web.  I hope this helps:


3 Things to Know About Harming your Characters by Elizabeth Otto
Hurting Your Darlings - Describing Realistic Injuries In Fiction
INJURIES REFERENCE LIST
Realistic Injuries
Writing Physical Pain
Writing Realistic Injuries
Writing Realistic Injuries (warning: graphic images)
Writing Tips #121: Writing Realistic Injuries
WRITING TRAUMATIC INJURIES REFERENCES

Who knew there was so much pain out there?  Good luck writing about it!
Have a great day!
SweetTale Books

Saturday, June 4, 2016

I Had No Idea

Here are some interesting tidbits I found this past week:

*****
Did you know you can see all the Google Doodles from past days?  If you didn't know it, Google puts up interesting 'doodles' almost every day, celebrating someone's life or holiday.  Here's a list of those things:  Google Doodles

*****

You should shuffle a deck of cards 7 times if using the 'random riffle' shuffle.  (The random riffle shuffle is modeled by cutting the deck binomially and dropping cards one-by-one from either half of the deck with probability proportional to the current sizes of the deck halves.) 

If you use the 'overhand shuffle,' you need to do it 2500 times to make it truly random.  (Shown here:  Overhand Shuffle) See Seven Shuffles to find out more.

*****

From 100 Random Fun Facts:

  • When hippos are upset, their sweat turns red.
  • Banging your head against a wall burns 150 calories an hour.  Wow.  I could lose a lot by doing that, including brain cells.  Cool!
  • The person who invented the Frisbee was cremated and made into frisbees after he died!
*****
From 99 Interesting Facts About The World To Blow Your Mind:


  • Otters sleep holding hands
  • If you were to remove all the empty space from the atoms that make up every human on earth, the entire world population could fit into an apple.  Trippy!


*****

  • Money notes are not made from paper, they are made mostly from a special blend of cotton and linen. In 1932, when a shortage of cash occurred in Tenino, Washington, USA, notes were made out of wood for a brief period.
  • A person can live without food for about a month, but only about a week without water.
    If the amount of water in your body is reduced by just 1%, you'll feel thirsty.
    If it's reduced by 10%, you'll die.
  • In the Durango desert, in Mexico, there's a creepy spot called the "Zone of Silence." You can't pick up clear TV or radio signals. And locals say fireballs sometimes appear in the sky.
  • Sound travels 15 times faster through steel than through the air.  For some reason this was interesting to me.  So sound is faster than a speeding bullet?  LOL!


  • Have a great day!
    SweetTale Books